05/6/15

Leaving – a poem by Owen Kavanagh

Leaving

I’m a romantic to the depth of my soul
profound is my loss for unattained goal
dreams of sharing life with a mate
all I can manage is living with fate

I’m fatalistic – life’s passing me by
caught in a muddle of stuff that I try
like so many others… alone at my core
not even seeing the world at my door

Reincarnation may be the best hope
back to the future just hoping to cope
I’m not actually planning to die on this day
but when my time comes I’ll be thankful to say

“I’m leaving now, for places unknown
I trust you’ll continue to do well on your own
I’ll call when I get there … wherever it be
I’ll send you a postcard when I’m actually free”

You don’t seem excited but didn’t before
you’re not a believer in fortunes of war
somedays may be lonely may even regret
all the years that we lingered after we met

Life has many facets you proudly proclaim
then back to ignoring the love that you shame
you don’t know you’re hurting or being unkind
it’s narrow horizons that make you half blind

When love is so foreign it must seem too strange
when joy’s unfamiliar it’s not in your range
perhaps the kindest thing to be done
is to leave
and good wishes for your life thats to come

twochairs garden

09/28/14

Nuke Me Nuke You

NukeBlast

If you are thanking you’re lucky stars for being born in a commonwealth country such as Canada, Australia or New Zealand because, according to the release of The Economist – Intelligence Unit’s, “the best cities to live in the world” report, nine of the top eleven are in these countries, be glad and grateful. Based on stability, healthcare, culture, environment, and including such things as education, what type of crime is prevalent, levels of censorship and availability of good quality housing and goods, the top ten cities to live in the world are Melbourne (Aus), Vienna, Austria, Vancouver (Can), Toronto (Can), Calgary (Can), Adelaide (Aus), Sydney (Aus), Helsinki, Finland, Perth (Aus), and Auckland, New Zealand.  Such places are also some of the most expensive places to live in the world.

If you would like to gloat for awhile, please, I didn’t. Because in reality, no matter where one lives, many find life is a struggle most days, especially trying to keep ones sanity intact. But if you are jumping around and fist-pumping, the following article should perhaps not be read at such a time.

It is a piece that formed in my head August 6th, the day of remembrance of Hiroshima, and I started thinking about some research into radiation sickness I had been doing, my knowledge and research over the decades of the accuracies of World War II, and not the Hollywood version, and how in a heartbeat, everything could change, because a few countries have nuclear power in both warheads and reactors, with most of the reactors run past their forty year life-spans. So if you do not need distraction from your distractions, or your bubble popped, the following might be a downer. But then as stated, it could all shatter in seconds anyways.

Such a looming threat though should only make us more concerned into making each day count, for ourselves and those around us and within our communities, and to be aware of such threats, and most importantly, allowing ourselves to talk about such things. If you are going to venture forth and read further, next time you have to vote, think about to whom you will be bestowing upon such a right and who you are hiring, and that your concerns will be acknowledged.  It’s supposed to be our voice, not theirs. And if being the eternal optimists, to remember it is not too late to stop nuclear madness.

In the final months of World War II the States were in the process of becoming the new and dominant world empire, since the British Empire had torn her guts out over the course of two world wars and had roared its last hurrah. As for those still alive who actually think Germany would have stormed North America, and we’d all be speaking German are delusional. They could not even take Britain. As for the Japanese, they had no interest in North America, there plan was to delay the Americans, while they took control of the natural resources in Southwest Asia. They felt they had only about a year to sixteen months to take what they could, before the industrial might of the States would produce enough to stop them. They were correct. On a side note, if the American carrier fleet was not at sea the day Pearl Harbour was attacked; the Japanese might have had a few more months’ leeway, at the most.

All over the world, many countries were shaken to their cores, on their knees retching after the previous years of war. Some countries lost a generation of their population, especially when the majority of deaths in World War II, by far, were civilians. All together, including deaths from war-related disease, famine, and in captivity, 85 million people died in World War II, nearly four per cent of the world population at the time.

Military deaths totaled 22 to 25 million, the remainder, 55 million, were civilians. It was what war would become in the 20th century. Drop bombs on cities. Where destroying another’s industry, was deemed far more important than nearly exterminating entire populations. And as the war went on, the bombs became only bigger, and more and more civilians felt their wrath.

In Nov 44’ the Americans were close enough in their island hopping to begin fire-bombing Japanese cities. The majority of Japanese homes and businesses were made of wood and paper. It was a turkey shoot.

By March 45’ a typical bombing raid over Japan had escalated to operations such as Operation Meeting House, carried out that month, where 279 B-29’s, flying at an average altitude of about 2100m (7000ft) above Tokyo, would drop 1665 tons (3.3 million lbs) of incendiary bombs, mostly 230kg (500lb) cluster bombs, which would explode at about 659m (2250ft) releasing 38 napalm carrying incendiary bomblets.  The effect was total destruction.  Forty square kilometers (15.8 sq mi) of the center of Tokyo disappeared in firestorm tornados.  Twenty-five per cent of the city ceased to exist. Over 280,000 buildings and homes were destroyed.

At the time, Tokyo was the most densely populated area in the world, with about 103,000 people every 2.59 sq km (one sq mi). And while there is an array of estimated deaths, with such a density, logic would dictate that it was probably much worse than the estimated 90,000 to 150,000 deaths, and over 200,000 injured.  It would become the single most destructive bombing raid on a civilian population in history, more than even Hiroshima and Nagasaki, four months later.

By June 45’ sixty-seven cities had been firebombed in such a way, with over half a million civilian dead, untold numbers injured and burned, and over five million people homeless.  In contrast, and if you do not include the 9,500 members of the US Merchant Marine who died, the States lost only 2,500 civilians over the course of the entire war, while the Soviets lost over 19 million.

After breaking the Japanese military code in 43’ the Americans had been listening in on Japanese communications, and after June 45’ were receiving a lot of traffic concerning the Japanese perhaps surrendering.  Though officially the Japanese, like Winston Churchill, continued to give word that they shall never surrender, behind the scenes steps were being made towards peace.

The Japanese Islands were surrounded, with nothing going in and nothing coming out. Forty per cent of the urban areas of their largest six cities ceased to exist, with the guts of what remained of their industry totally devastated. And having lost nearly five per cent of their population, over twenty-five per cent of both their army and navy, millions injured, and cities no longer existing, there was no doubt the Japanese were losing the ability to continue or even defend their homeland.

Their last ditch effort kamikaze and banzai attacks, expending men, aircraft, and ships were their last gasps. It’s getting desperate when after losing one of the heaviest and most powerful armed battleships ever made, the Musashi, in Oct 44’ during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, sunk after absorbing seventeen bombs and being torpedoed nineteen times, the other, her sister-ship the Yamato, would steam out with a full complement of crew (3,332 men), and a full payload of ammunition on a one way trip to Okinawa in April 45’. The Americans were on her like a pack of wolves, and after eleven torpedoes and six bombs had crashed into her, she keeled over, her magazines exploded and scattered what was left of her into dust and pieces.  Of the crew there were only two hundred and eighty two survivors.

The Japanese and the Americans, also knew that Russia was on its way, with the Trans-Siberian railway running full out since the defeat of Germany in May 45’, as Russian troops and material were being priority posted to their east coast in preparation for the assault on Japan. The Japanese also knew that if the Russians were to assault them, Stalin would not worry about how many of his soldiers died to take Japan.  And no matter how well they defended their island, the Japanese people knew they would no doubt be nearly exterminated. As it turned out, over the coming months the Americans would give a shot at doing the exact same thing.

The Russians had already beaten the other Allies to Berlin, now their intentions were on beating them to Tokyo as well. This was something the American leadership could not accept. So in typical American logic, to speed up any peace negotiations, they decided to obliterate even more Japanese cities and force them to surrender to America alone. Further deciding to drop nuclear bombs instead of conventional bombs, and call them funny names like Little Boy and Fat Man.

But proving karma can very often be a bitch, after delivering parts and enriched uranium for the Little Boy atomic bomb (destined for Hiroshima) to Tinian, in the North Mariana Islands, the heavy cruiser, USS Indianapolis would continue onto Guam, leaving there on July 28th 45’ and steaming for the Philippines.

At ten minutes past midnight on the 30th, the Japanese submarine I-58 would put two torpedoes into the Indianapolis, and a mere twelve minutes later three hundred sailors would go down with her, while the remaining nine hundred went into the water. Four days would go by until by chance, a PV-1 Ventura, patrol bomber on routine patrol would spot men adrift. Doing a flyby, all they could do was to drop a life-raft and a radio transmitter and get the word out. Later that day a PBY Catalina arrived on scene, and against orders landed on the open sea, picking up fifty-six survivors. Thereafter, the destroyer Cecil J. Doyle would show up and begin coordinating the rescue. Within twenty-four hours, six more destroyers would show up to assist.

While nearly nine hundred went into the water ten days previous, by Aug 8th, when the search was called off, only three hundred and seventeen would come out. The sinking of the Indianapolis is the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the US Navy.

Meanwhile, on August 6th Little Boy had been put together, armed and loaded into a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, named the Enola Gay. Named by its pilot, Paul Tibbetts, Jr, Enola Gay was his mother’s name, who he honored for her support and strength when earlier he had given up a medical career to become a military pilot. So instead of healing and caring for people, he could instead drop bombs on them.

Before this mission the Enola Gay had practised by participating in the fire bombings of Kobe and Nagoya, two of Japan’s most populated cities. To simulate dropping an atomic bomb, they dropped five-ton pumpkin bombs. Similar in size and shape, as well as ballistic and handling characteristics, they proved to be nearly as destructive, carrying 6,300 lbs of explosives each.

On August 6th, Tibbetts and a crew of eleven would take off from Tinian, and soon rendezvous with two other B-29s, The Great Artiste, carrying instrumentation, and the Necessary Evil, to take photos, because they still did not have any idea how it’d go and how destructive it would be, nor did anyone know anything about how radiation affected humans. They were like babes in the woods thinking they were explorers.

Hiroshima was selected because of the three possible choices, the weather was sunny and clear, which was excellent for the Americans because they wanted to take pictures and see what these atomic bomb things could do. Little Boy was dropped from 9,470m (31,000ft) and detonated at about 600m (1968ft) above Hiroshima, which at the time had a population of about 350,000. Though considered very inefficient, with only perhaps 1.7 per cent of its fissile material (140 lbs of uranium) fissioning, it still created a blast equivalent to sixteen kilotons of TNT (14.5 million kg / 32 million lbs).

One square mile of Hiroshima’s center disappeared, with resulting fires destroying an estimated 12 sq km (4.4 sq mi) of the city. 80,000 people would die, with more than 70,000 people injured and mostly burnt. Nearly 70 per cent of Hiroshima’s buildings ceased to exist.

The Enola Gay was 18.5km (11.5mi) away by the time they felt the shock waves from the blast. Looking back, pilot Tibbetts would describe what he saw as simply “that awful cloud.” It was undoubtedly the moment when some say that the possibility of the apocalypse was passed from the so called gods’ hands, and into our hand.

The next day the longest medical experiment in history would begin and continues to this day. Red Cross Surgeon, Terufumi Sasaki, arrived at Hiroshima and started the first intensive research study to understand the symptoms and dangers of radiation exposure, which we humans had not experienced before at such levels.

In 1946, the States jumped on board and commissioned the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), of the National Academy of Sciences – National research Council. Made up of scientists, the ABCC felt that a “detailed and long-range study of the biological and medical effects upon the human being” was “of the utmost importance to the United States and mankind in general.” In 1956 a detailed description of all the data they had collected was released.

In 1975 the Atomic Energy Commission would change the administrative organization of the ABCC, where it was to be funded by both the States and Japan and be now called the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), and which is still in operation today.

Four days after Hiroshima, on August 9th 45’, the B-29 “Bockscar”, piloted by Major Charles Sweeney, dropped Fat Man on the city of Nagasaki. While Little Boy was classed as a simple atomic bomb, Fat Man was a more technologically, sophisticated design, and far more powerful.  Containing a core of about 6.4 kg (14lb) of plutonium, (not uranium like that of Little Boy)  it exploded at 503m (1,650ft) with a blast yield equivalent to 21 kilotons of TNT (19 million kg / 42 million lbs). It generated heat estimated at 3,900 Celsius (7,050 Fahrenheit) and winds estimated at 1,005 km/h (624 mph) at detonation.  As at Hiroshima, one square mile of Nagasaki was instantly destroyed, and then quickly engulfed in ever spreading multiple tornados of fire. Deaths from the blast were estimated in the range of 40,000 to 80,000 people. Dropped 3 km (1.9mi) off the planned center, the surrounding Urakami Valley and its intervening hills protected much of the actual city. The death toll could have been much higher.

Aug 9th was also the day Russia began their, Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation, which would be the last campaign fought in WWII. Perhaps the horns blew to attack and the tanks moved forward, just after they had all witnessed this second bright flash of light that had burst out from the eastern sky.

Russian troops would take Manchuria, Inner Mongolia and North Korea down to the 38th parallel in eleven days. The Japanese had ten times as many casualties as the Russians, with over 80,000 dead and more than 640,000 troops taken prisoner. It is the worst Japanese army defeat in history.

On August 14th, with the Russian offensive winding down on the mainland, having only taken five days thus far, and ending on the 20th. Keeping the pressure on, and though for all intents and purposes not needed, the Americans would send 828 B-29’s, escorted by 186 fighters over Japan, firebombing  and devastating the cities of Iwakuni, Osaka, and Tokoyama during the day, and Kumagaya and Isesaki that night. Estimated deaths range from 250,000 to 850,000 people.

The next day, Aug 15th, with well over one million of her citizens incinerated over the past nine days, Japan surrendered to the Americans. In reality and confirmed by many who were involved and as already noted, the Japanese were already ready to surrender, whether their remaining cities were further fire-bombed and two atomic bombs dropped on them or not. And in reality, they would have surrendered long before any such American or Russian invasion, because before such an invasion they would have been first bombed back to the Dark Ages, or even earlier.

In fact, America’s original plan was to drop another atomic bomb in the third week of August, three more in September, and if still needed, another three in October. If this had actually happened I wonder if I would be sitting here pecking on a computer, and would you be sitting there reading?

The Russians were extremely disappointed with Japan’s surrender to the Americans, but now realized they themselves will have to start producing their own atomic bombs, much like the Nazi’s were doing before their defeat, and the deadly game began.

In total, the States dropped 160,800 tons of bombs on Japan; ninety per cent of this was dropped in the last five months of the war. Arms manufacturers made over $4 billion (1945 dollars) from these raids. They had also made another $30 billion on bomber operations in Europe. Overall, they made over $330 billion on World War II and thought, why stop there.

Beginning in 1952, the first generation of atomic bombs, those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would evolve into thermonuclear weapons, which were developed for maximum weapon energy yield (the amount of energy released when detonated, expressed in TNT equivalent). Such weapons, also known as hydrogen bombs or H-bombs, can have yields greater than 50 kilotons. In comparison, Little Boy was a gun-type uranium-235 fission gravity bomb, and as already mentioned had a yield of about 16 kilotons or 32 million pounds. Fat Man, an implosion type plutonium-239 fission bomb, and had a yield of about 21 kilotons (42 million lbs). Both of these bombs could just about fit into the back of a full size pick-up truck.

From 1946 to 1958 the States would use the Marshall Island group, in the South Pacific, as their testing laboratory, having no consequence or care for the thousands of Marshall Islanders who lived there. Undoubtedly, because of the Americans continued belief in their exceptionalism which allows them to disregard the health and welfare of all others. The human guinea pigs which the Marshall Islanders became were exposed to horrible and often deadly levels of radiation, and used by the Americans for studying the effects of radiation on human beings. The surviving Islanders would eventually all be re-located to the island of Ebeye, be paid $150 million “for all claims, past, present and future”, and delegated to live in a typical American-style slum there.

Exacerbating what has already been done to the Marshall Islanders, today they also have the unfortunate distinction of being at the forefront of global warming and one of the most affected by climate change. The islands that make up their land are on average only about two meters (six feet) above sea level. Through continuing erosion and imminent rising of the sea level, in fifty years nobody will be living there.

The Islanders continue to speak out against the existence of nuclear weapons, and bring their case to the higher courts. For they know all too well the horrifying risk nuclear weapons pose to human beings. They also continue to, in an ever louder voice, speak out against global warming, because they  know the horrifying risk climate change also poses to human beings.

For twelve years the Americans would detonate 67 nuclear devices in the Marshall Islands, the equivalent of one point five Hiroshima bombs daily, including the detonation of the Castle Bravo device in 1954. The scientists expected a yield of about 4 to 8 megatons from the device, but were thrown back when instead they got 15 megatons (15 million tons), their most powerful test to-date. It was more than one thousand times larger than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Hooray?

By the early Sixties their new favorite nuclear weapon of choice would become the B41, the most powerful nuclear bomb ever developed by the United States, with a maximum yield of 25 megatons.

Not to be outdone in the race, in 1961, over the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Sea, north of the Arctic Circle, the Russians detonated their Tsar Bomba device. It is the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated, with a yield of 50 megatons (50 million tons) which equals over 2,600 Hiroshima’s.

The Russians had tested their first nuclear device in 1949, and besides the Tsar Bomba device, have detonated another 454 devices since then, affecting thousands of people, and much of the local environment around the test sites.

Today there are nine countries that have successfully detonated nuclear weapons. Five of them, the States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China are members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  India, Pakistan and Israel are not, while North Korea used to be in the NPT, but withdrew in 2003.

Much of the world’s nuclear arsenals today consist of warheads either in the 400 kiloton range, about 200-270 kg (440-600 lbs) in weight, or the B-series of nuclear bombs, which have yields up to 1.2 megatons. Though only weighing just over a ton (2200 lbs), their yields are seventy-five times more powerful than Little Boy’s. All living things within 7.4 km (4.6 miles) would instantly die in a firestorm.

While the smallest nuclear warheads are about 270mm (10.75 inches) diameter, about 400 mm (15.7 inches) long, and weigh around or 23 kg (50 lbs), with an estimated yield of about 10 tons, able to fit into a suitcase or a large backpack and capable of destroying  two square blocks.

Further to perspective, a conventional bomb that contains ten thousand tons of TNT would have to be the size of a cargo train one hundred cars long, and would be hard to launch, or get up to speed. A ten kiloton nuclear device on the other hand will fit into the back of a pick-up.

Such a device would inflict 500,000 to 2 million deaths if released in a large city, killing by blast, fire and radiation, the effects of which cannot be contained in time or space. Besides the immediate deaths, there would also be millions of radioactive fallout casualties, civil liberties would be withheld, privacy would be non-existent, and the world economy would be affected. We have all already seen such scenarios at movie theatres our whole lives, as if being prepared for such an event.

As already mentioned, some of the B-series nuclear devices prevalent in today’s nuclear arsenals are over one megaton (one million tons). When they detonate they are 30 times brighter than the sun, seeing it as it went off from 43km (27mi) away would instantly burn your eyes out.  At its core a firestorm would explode, sucking in oxygen and air and instantly replacing it with carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide. If the initial blast of fire does not kill you, you will immediately die of heat stroke, asphyxiation and/or gas poisoning. All fuel sources for kilometers around, whether cars, trucks, propane tanks, natural gas-lines, and gas stations would immediately explode. Over 9 km (6 mi) away, the heat wave will melt eyeballs, cause third degree burns and instantly ignite any wood. 64 km (40 mi) away, houses will shake, lighting fixtures will crash to the ground, and windows will all be blown out. There will be nothing left hanging on any walls or from exterior of house. Twelve seconds later the shock wave would remove it all.

As for medical care for the survivors, most injuries will be for 2nd and 3rd degree burns. Any with over 50% of their body burned will be left to die or be killed so that they do not die in pain. Thousands in all directions would be homeless, hungry and dazed, in coma-like states of shock and fear.

You could be half a world away and still be affected. Radiation is like that. When released into the air, it becomes minute moisture droplets, which gets inhaled, washed and blown out to sea and soil, contaminating crops, marine life and fresh drinking water. There is no way to decontaminate exposed people and if exposed to high levels of radiation, the human body immediately develops acute radiation sickness.

In two weeks your hair falls out, hemorrhaging under the skin begins, along with severe nausea and diarrhea, and then eventually dying from bleeding or infection. Men are rendered sterile; while women stop menstruating with spontaneous abortions occurring among those pregnant. Nearly everyone will have shortness of breath.

Children and fetuses are affected the quickest because radiation causes changes or mutations in DNA, which may then go on to cause cancer, especially thyroid, bone cancers and leukemia. The human body can repair DNA changes or damage, but only if the repair process happens faster than the time it takes the damaged or mutated DNA material to replicate. But in children and fetuses, their cells divide at a faster rate. Any babies that are born, most likely will be micro-cephalic, with tiny heads and severe mental disabilities.

In five years there will be a major epidemic of leukemia. Ten years later, solid cancers will begin appearing in all the organs, the lungs, breast, thyroid, brain and bone. Genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, diabetes, dwarfism and metabolic disorders, along with epidemics of malignancy and random unavoidable genetic mutations, will be passed on for generations.

Back in the arms race, by 1960 the Americans had laid a plan for an all-out strike on the Communist world, and not just the Soviet Union. The Soviets also had such a plan, but their plan was based on their belief that it would be the States that would launch first, so their plan was to counter with everything they had, hell be damned, you nuke me I nuke you. Proving both countries’ governments were equally insane.

A year later, the Soviet leader, Khrushchev proposed sharp mutual reductions in offensive weapons. The just elected Kennedy administration rejected it, and instead began the largest strategic and conventional peace-time military build up in world history. The Cold War began.

Khrushchev continued dialogue for reductions in conventional forces and nuclear arms, but being so out-gunned and with his latest offer rejected, it forced him to deter somehow the further build-up of American nuclear weaponry by placing nuclear weapons in Cuba, which coincidence or not, the States had been planning on invading in a few months. But you know what they say about best laid plans.

In October 1962 Khrushchev offered to withdraw missiles from Cuba, if the States would withdraw their missiles out of Turkey. Though Kennedy was counseled that there was a thirty-five to fifty per cent chance that nuclear war would break out, regardless, he refused the offer, and demanded that the Cuban missiles to be the only ones removed.

The Soviet’s indeed removed their nuclear missiles from Cuba, while the States moved a few more Polaris nuclear submarines into the Mediterranean to replace the few out-dated de-commissioned missiles they had in Turkey. With the crisis over but the cold war to continue, America’s attention was removed from Cuba, and was now being focused on Vietnam.

But Khrushchev continued calling for reductions in nuclear warheads, and in 1963, in gesture, he withdrew forces from East Germany and called on the Americans to reciprocate. Once again the States rejected such an offer. Meanwhile the Russians, who had been invaded and nearly completely destroyed many times over the past hundred years, especially the last forty, became ever the more concerned about America’s buildup of its military and nuclear capabilities, and ever the more paranoid about the fact most of the American’s nuclear arsenal was pointed at them.

As tensions rose, accidents began, and continue to happen, for we are but only humans. A close call happened in 1983 when Russia’s early-warning systems picked up an incoming missile strike from the States. Immediately putting their own nuclear systems on high-alert, the Russians prepared to follow protocol and retaliate with a strike of their own.  Russian Officer Stanislav Petrov disobeyed orders and did not report the warnings, and sure enough what was detected was a blip and false. Though he was officially reprimanded, Petrov disobedience might have saved the world.

In 1995 Russian radar mistook a Norwegian weather rocket for an American nuclear missile. While senior military members advised Russian president Boris Yeltsin to immediately launch a counter-strike, he refused.

Close calls with nuclear weapons in the States include, in January 1961, a B-52 bomber broke up over North Carolina, dropping two nuclear bombs on rural Goldsboro County.  Recently released reports have found that “By the slightest margin of chance, literally the failure of two wires to cross, a nuclear explosion was averted.”

Other accidents include an B-47 that crashed into a nuclear weapons storage facility at Royal Air Force base Lakenheath, in Suffolk, England, a hydrogen bomb accidently dropped over Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and not exploding, and in 2007, a B-52 that flew across the States from coast to coast with six nuclear cruise missiles on board, armed and ready to go, which the pilots and crew did not know they had.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) 2011 report estimates that there are over 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world. Ninety-five per cent of these weapons are controlled by the States and Russia. At the height of the Cold War there were 70,000 nuclear weapons in the world. Of these weapons only four countries have actual deployed nuclear warheads, meaning warheads that are already placed on missiles or located on bases, close at hand and always ready to launch.

In 2011, there were about 5,027 missiles, deployed on either land or on a submarine, and ready to fire. The States had 2,150 of them, with about 2,000 kept on high operational alert and ready to fire at a moment’s notice. Russia had 2,427, though it is estimated that five years previous, the Russians had only 25 to 50 per cent of their nuclear warheads actually secured and accounted for, which is sort of scary don’t you think?

By 2013 the number of active nuclear warheads had reduced to about 4,100 from the previously mentioned 5,027, and the total number of nuclear warheads in the world dropped from 20,000+ to about 17,300.

Under the terms of the New Start Agreement, ratified in 2010, the States and Russia are supposed to reduce their nuclear arsenals to 1,550 each, by 2017. The other two countries with deployed nuclear weapons are the United Kingdom with 160 deployed weapons and France with 290 deployed weapons.

Besides their deployed nuclear weapons, the States also has an additional 6,350 weapons for a total of 8,500, Russia has another 8,570 weapons for a total stockpile of 11,000, the UK has an additional 65 warheads for a total of 225, and France has another 10 for a total of 300. China has about 240 weapons, India 90, Pakistan 100, and the Israeli’s, supposedly; wink-wink nudge-nudge, 80 weapons are non-deployed. North Korea is also included though the exact number of weapons is very small, probably under 10.

Yes and to a certain extent, the States and Russia have been very modestly reducing their nuclear arsenals over the past few years, but continue to keep them at a ludicrously high level of overkill. The UK, France, China and Israel meanwhile have held steady with their arsenals, while India and Pakistan are locked in a race for even more weapons. Another nuke me nuke you moment waiting to happen.

After the breakup of the USSR in 1991, Kazakhstan, the last of the Soviet republics to declare independence and become the world’s largest landlocked country by land area, and ninth largest country in the world, also inherited over one thousand nuclear warheads, one hundred and ten ballistic missiles, and the nuclear testing infrastructure at Semipalatinsk. But by 1995 they had returned their entire nuclear arsenal, the fourth largest in the world, back to the Russians and closed down all testing facilities. It is a glaring example, because every other nuclear armed country would not dream, nor be allowed to do such a thing. How could they when nearly all their foreign policies are dictated by the military option and deterrence by force.

Even if the intentions of nuclear armed countries are strictly for nuclear deterrence, and have no ambitions to actually use them, the risk is still there of nuclear conflict by accident, miscalculation or by design. It’s why there are only two universally accepted principles of nuclear power. One is that as long as there are nukes someone will always want one, and two, sometime, somewhere, they will be used.

While many experts agree there are far too many nuclear warheads in the world, some believe that nuclear deterrence can still be achieved with less, say anywhere from 900 to 150 warheads globally, with each warhead, on average, six to eight times more powerful than Little Boy or Fat Man, with some, thousands of times more powerful. Such numbers of warheads are still plenty enough to eradicate us and many other species from the face of the planet, but at least not enough to do it thousands of times.

Meanwhile the Americans, increasingly ill-kept nuclear arsenal alone (7000 weapons), could destroy many earths, many times. Despite this, today the States’ nuclear budget is upwards of $56 billion per year. And in typical fashion, in 2014 president Barack Obama, with one side of his mouth saying he is working on abolishing nuclear weapons, announces plans to spend $1 trillion on the American nuclear arsenal in the next thirty years. Then attends the anniversary of Hiroshima, in Japan. I don’t get it.

Instead of some lunatic who gets possession of a smaller nuclear device and is able to set it off in a city, which would by itself kill tens of thousands and injure many more, what about simply just two countries going at it?

According to a computer simulation of the use of one hundred Hiroshima-size nuclear weapons on cities in South Asia, the smoke and ash from the resulting firestorms would fill the upper atmosphere, blocking sun light for perhaps ten years or more, and lowering temperatures to ice age levels. Rainfall will drop to nearly nil, causing most of the key agricultural areas on the planet to have significantly small windows to grow anything. This in turn would cause what the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) estimates will be, at least two billion people starving to death in the years following, more than 25 per cent of the world’s population.

As to immediate deaths, in the last two years of WWII one million people were dying each month, in this simulation; the deaths would be a million a minute. To achieve this, the one hundred weapons used, represents only six one-thousandths of the nuclear weapons that exist today. An all-out nuclear war could end civilization and most life on the planet quite easily. Yet countries spend billions upon billions to have such ability, even though they too would be affected. Why oh why are we such a crazy species?  And so much more chimpanzee like than the Bonobo.

We are so powerful we can destroy all the living things on the planet, which includes us, yet are still not smart or moral enough, to control ourselves. We are already doing it to the climate, to each other, hell why not by nukes too. How deluded and arrogant have we become, as we continue shitting on the planet in which we live.

And though we are often reminded that the table is indeed slanted upwards, the nuclear industry, unequal societies, religious madmen, and human-induced climate change are all about our government’s policies, foreign and domestic, and how they are dealing with it, or as most often the case, not.  This will not change because not enough of us are willing to stand up for what matters to us as humans, we are unable to disrupt our daily routines, and because of the sad fact that only about three or four people out of ten actually vote, on a good day. If it is raining this number often drops even lower.

Besides nuclear warheads, nuclear reactors are also scattered across the globe, many of them insanely built on fault lines, and all just as adept at spewing forth radiation into our midst.

In the Seventies, the nuclear industry and their governmental cronies in the States, dreamed of having at least one thousand nuclear plants spread across the country, including one hundred along California’s earthquake-prone coast, up and running by the year 2000. In reality, as of 2014, there are only one hundred reactors in all the United States, many of which are indeed aging, or already past their expiry date.

The energy engineer, and lawyer, David Freeman, encapsulates the history of the nuclear power industry as, “promoted as too cheap to meter, turned out to be too expensive to use, the road to nuclear proliferation, and the creator of radioactive trash that has no place to go.”

Much like the madness of thinking one needs nuclear weapons to feel safe, nuclear reactors are deemed safe energy, and are supported by many governments. Reactors are similar to nuclear weapons, possibly even worse, because in reality they too are uneconomical, uninsurable, unsafe, unnecessary, unprotect able, either from attack or earthquake, and for most of them, if there was an accident, so many people live in the vicinity of most reactors, there is simply too many people to evacuate everyone.  And no matter the technology, another flaw with nuclear power plants, and weapon systems, is that they are operated by humans. It is why the cartoon character Bart Simpson works at one.

In the early Sixties, the Atomic Energy Commission estimated that if a typical nuclear reactor in America suffered a total meltdown, it would make an area the size of Pennsylvania un-inhabitable. Lo and behold, less than twenty years later, in Pennsylvania, in 1979, one of the Three-Mile Island reactors partially melted down because of a stuck cooling valve. Within two hours the top of the core was exposed and turned into 2760 degree Celsius (5,000 degree F) molten lava, which pooled down onto the 15 cm (6 in) carbon steel floor and began burning its way through. It was nearly half way through when somebody finally noticed and the plant was shut down.

If it had kept going, and burnt through the steel bottom of the reactor, then through the concrete floor of the containment building, it would have hit about a meter (1 yard) of water that the stuck valve had amassed there and would explode, blowing it’s containment dome apart and hurling massive amounts of radioactive contaminants into the atmosphere and surrounding area. Eventually the walls , 15 cm (6 in) of stainless steel would also melt into a lava-like pile which when slumping down and making contact with any remaining water or debris would also explode.

The only option is cement and sand being dumped over the entire area, to somehow keep it contained over its millions of year’s half lives. No matter how well protected, all who do the laying of cement and sand will die.  As to the radiation that got away, nothing can ever be done about that.

To this day the radiation released at Three Mile, and how far it expanded outward is still totally up in the air, as it were. While thousands of Pennsylvania down-winders have tried class-action suits, they have been thwarted each time by federal judges dictating from their benches that not enough radiation had escaped to harm anyone. Many others have taken the millions of hush money the owners of Three Mile Island have discreetly handed out over the years.

A few years after the accident at Three Mile, the state of Pennsylvania rescinded its cancerous tumor registry, saying that there was no evidence of anyone having been killed. Yet many other studies have confirmed heightened infant death rates and excessive cancers among those downwind of Three Mile, even the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has confirmed of excessive death, mutation and disease rates among local animals.

In 1986, in the Ukraine, at the Chernobyl power plant, due to power surges in its core, one of the reactors exploded, which set off a nuclear chain reaction, but was cut short by another explosion three seconds later. More than 400 times more radioactive material than Hiroshima began to be dispersed into the atmosphere and surrounding lands. The fallout encompassed more than 100,000 sq km (3861 sq mi), blanketing Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. In all, 40 per cent of Europe, including the British Isles, was contaminated at some level.

The initial blast killed more than fifty people, with over four thousand quickly developing cancers. Overall deaths attributed to Chernobyl’s fallout are estimated to eventually be from 250,000 to 500,000 people according to some reports, and in excess of one million people by others.

The children of course have been the most affected, with some 80 per cent of children born downwind of Chernobyl damaged by birth defects, thyroid cancer, long term heart and respiratory problems, and mental illness. Even today, studies have shown that only one in five children living downwind of Chernobyl can be deemed healthy.

In 2011, three of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, melted down, including their outer walls, which exposed their fuel rod pools, which are now in constant risk of not being cooled enough. Each reactor core at the plant contains as much radiation as one thousand Hiroshima bombs, with their spent rod pools containing two to ten times more radiation than that. Though the accident was caused by an earthquake that devastated the region, it blatantly exposed the weakness of greed and ego which is the nuclear industry in Japan, and elsewhere.

The place is still so dangerous that even cameras do not last. Cleanup to plant, maybe get fuel rods under control, and try to figure out what to do with the ever growing in number of radioactive cooling water containment tanks, will take an estimated forty to fifty years. The cost of the cleanup is estimated to cost billions upon billions of dollars. Wherever the debris is buried, it will still last millions of years, while the radiation released into the atmosphere will mix with the radiation isotopes already there, from natural sources, Chernobyl, Three Mile, and all the nuclear testing from decades ago, and continue to circulate around the globe. Along with what was released into the air, millions of gallons of highly contaminated water, continues to flow from the crippled reactors, mix with groundwater and stream into the ocean. The latest leak was not noticed for nearly a month and a half.

Three years now and counting, after the disaster at Fukushima, thyroid rates among children affected by the fallout are now forty times normal. Of the 375,000 people who lived nearby and survived the quake, about 200,000 kids have been tested and suffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, such as nodules and cysts. The rate is accelerating as time goes on. According to the Radiation and Public Health Project, where only three types of cancer are expected among children, more than 120 childhood cancers have been indicated.

And though over 60 per cent of the Japanese population are opposed to their government re-starting up many of the 48 nuclear reactors shut down in the wake of the disaster, and despite worldwide disapproval and concern over inadequate oversight or safety precautions, the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company are pushing for a restart.

Meanwhile the radiation plume from Fukushima is now (summer of 2014), finally blowing over North America’s west coast, but both the Canadian and American governments have no interest in any meaningful testing of how much is arriving, especially in the water, so the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, has stepped up with a crowd-funded research project, offering to assist citizens along the coast with monitoring isotopes levels.

To date extremely low trace amounts have been detected, and are well within safety guidelines for drinking water. But as Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole has stated “When you don’t know, people can speculate all kinds of things, so I think it’s important to get measurements, and since the governments aren’t doing it, we thought the public has a large concern we’d ask them help collect and fund the sampling.”

Sadly, no matter how many hundreds of tonnes of radioactive water have been released from Fukushima into the ocean, and to what effects it has on sea life and ourselves, it still pales in comparison to the acidification of the earth’s oceans by the billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide being absorbed by sea water every single day, emphasizing even further our collective ignorance.

In summary, with everything else going on in the world today, including our moral compass’s no longer working, we still have the threat of nuclear annihilation, whether it’s a limited strike between India and Pakistan, a few reactors exploding, or just one nuclear weapon in the hands of terrorists. We have somehow ignored such dangers since the end of the Cold War, but such complacency has not taken away the fact each and every city in the world is still vulnerable to nuclear destruction.

Since the summer of 1945, when the apocalypse became human property with the splitting of the atom, and the full exploitation of extracting fossil fuels began in earnest, we have had our heads in the sand of capitalism, consumerism and ego. Indeed, we have been very well distracted, but with all that life is, who wakes up every morning thinking they will be fried that day. Nuclear annihilation is far too much to contemplate when all the while the fragmentation of human affairs continues within our communities and homes.

But, the nuclear threat still very much exists. As for fossil fuels, the extraction continues, but now from ever more difficult places and using far more destructive means to do so, such as fracking. By way of a vast array of coal mines, oil and natural gas wells, on land at sea, and under the ice, the power of a very small number of big energy companies and energy states like Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, now has the capability of leaving human life on this planet in ruins. Especially since the bulk of the energy resources extracted is used up by the world’s military industrial complex, through perpetual war.

Part of me believes that all these issues can be dealt with, not through violence, but by being accountable for our own lives and voting for people who will be your voice. Policy will not change until we the citizens can turn our ideas and opinions into actions. This is where a nation’s true power exists. But then another part of me feels the corporate and military factions have already won even though everyone, including themselves, will lose in the end.

But in truth, history has shown that motivated and disciplined people with a collective grievance against something that is wrong, often times on many levels, are the biggest threat to any government. In Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan’s 2011 book, “Why Civil Resistance Works,” they studied 323 specific goal orientated campaigns that have been started by citizens to overthrow either a dictatorship, or an authoritarian regime, throughout the world, and found that nonviolent people-power movements were twice as likely to succeed as violent insurgencies.

If we do not care about our humanity, a changing earth certainly does not, nor do the corporate elite. An exploding nuclear device definitely will not give a care in the world as to our feelings, or where we live, whether it is the best place on earth or not.

Further linked reading,

Union of Concerned Scientists

Nuclear Information and Resource Center

Greenpeace

World Information Service on Energy

Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility

International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility

08/20/14

Teabags by Mrs. Henderson

 

 

Tilling the Soil

 

Whilst making my tea yesterday afternoon I was compelled to ponder. What effect did tea bags have on the staple  industry when our modern world discarded their trusty kettles and Brown Betty combinations steeped just right to perfection, to on the fly zap it in the microwave. Hence having glue fasten our strings on. How relieved must the string suppler have been. How rejoiced the glue factory must have been …. Did they see this shift in demand coming ?

 

 

 

 

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    08/13/14

    Robin the Mensch

    RobinWilliams

    Robin Williams 1951 – 2014

    “You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

    At first I thought it was just me and my often silly human mind. But I felt the earth move yesterday. Not in the physical realm but in the global consciousness we all share. After bumping into people all day who are close to me, I found I was not alone. Prolonged hugs seemed to be the norm, instead of just saying see you later.

    08/6/14

    The Day that Robert Newhouse Died by C.K.Baker

    The news today this twenty-fifth day of July, Twenty Fourteen.

    “Man”ing up in Texas

    Geldof overdose

    Needles at the bed stand

    Starlet comatose.

    California dreaming

    Killer meets demise

    Hurling in a taxi

    Puke fee on the rise.

    Fighting in the Gaza

    Jordan’s Holy war

    Rebels on a mission

    Jihad underscore.

    The North Korean riddle

    Pales in grand design

    Crisis on the border

    Planes fall from the sky.

    Cooking on a deadline

    Tempting tapenades

    Herbs are in the spotlight

    Wines that give a nod.

    Brewers fill the beast

    With pork a starring role

    50 shades of gray

    A freckle and a mole.

    Google maps the body

    DOW at record highs

    Uber hits the market

    Corn is on the rise.

    Apple on its earnings

    Caterpillar dead

    European sanctions

    Banks have shit the bed.

    Clippers threaten boycott

    Longhorns follow purge

    Lynch is out of training camp

    James is on the verge.

    Leinarts taking pot shots

    Coughing up a lung

    Lions take a licking

    Fans are throwing dung.

    Another day in Vegas

    Primm from A-Z

    Rolling out an ankle

    A flying SUV.

    Quiet tempting spaces

    Made better by design

    Multicolor pea coat

    Silence fuels the mind.

    Stabbing in the subway

    Goat caught in a well

    Apes are selling tickets

    (but leave behind a smell).

    Puberty on trial

    A man without a head

    Teachers feel alone

    (Take them to the shed!).

    Jonah’s tomb destroyed

    Wreckage in Mumbai

    “Sugar Daddy” sites

    Freedom 85.

    The immigrant debate

    Russia’s mounting toll

    Unions on a mission

    “heads are gonna roll”.

    Beaches for the nudist

    Hotels are on the cheap

    The best generic brands

    A list you HAVE to keep.

    Planning your estate

    Questions from the camp

    A mansion up for sale

    Where once they filmed “The Champ”.

    Midwives threaten action

    Aboriginal act

    Truckers want a “push”

    That train has left the track.

    Sharks are found in Fundy

    A prized but perilous catch

    Food we love to hate the most

    An irrefutable batch.

    A family on the brink

    “I want my kids to fail!”

    Politicians drains all hope

    A ban on Israel!

    Follow out each headline

    Let media be your guide

    All these things did happen

    the day that Newhouse died.

    07/29/14

    My “Peace in the Middle East” Piece

    Quick as a bunny, where is this picture taken?

    tehran

     

    It’s not entering Vancouver BC, nor any other similiar city in the States. But it could be.

    It is but a large, typical human city, with the only differences perhaps being in diet, language and skin color. But then in most major cities today around the globe, multiples of such differences are coexisting within their own populations, and makes such cities, as the one shown here, so cultural, vibrant and alive. People, who are young and old, whether man, woman or gay. Of different beliefs and traditions, yet still get along with one another. A few have too much; far too many have nothing at all, while some are actually comfortably happy in the middle. Such cities are populated predominately by good folk; whose lives sometimes only get disrupted by wayward souls not handling today’s society, elected officials, middle management, entitled and rabid by-law aficionados,  fools, or the occasional true bastard or bitch. Life in the city.

    Most are not concerned with world affairs at all, because instead, they are trying to focus on their own life, their own world-view, and the lives of the individuals who make up their life. Just doing the best they can, and trying to make each day count, and perhaps mean something, for not only themselves but for their friends and family as well. Hoping to make a difference and being happy with what you got, and with what one can achieve. All the while simply trying to put food on the table and have a roof over your head where you can crash, quietly, securely and safely. And each day go out into the world and do whatever you need to do, just don’t hurt anybody or yourself doing it.

    The picture above is of a city that once the Nazis get done with persecuting, starving and killing, especially those who resist and shoot back, the Jews held within the Warsaw Ghetto, then move into the realm of trying to exterminate them…….. Oh my, I am sorry, wrong century.

    The picture above is of a city that, once Israel is done with killing as many Palestinians in the Gaza Ghetto as they can, and then afterwards continue to persecute and starve the survivors, because such people have been made into “the other”, thus looked at as less than human, much like they themselves once were, will be next on Israel’s agenda and list of things to do, and kill if they have to.

    Making their enemies, less than, is why in Israeli mathematics, perhaps one, maybe two, Israeli soldier deaths equal, or as often the case, be of greater value than, five hundred Palestinian civilian men, women and children killed.  Or that they stress to the media that they warn beforehand a neighborhood which will be reduced to rubble and that for the Palestinian people to run and hide. Run to where?

    The Gaza strip is surrounded. For all intents and purposes it is a large concentration camp. To their west lies the Mediterranean Sea, where offshore an Israeli Naval armada sits and pounds them daily. Their 11km (6.8mi) southern border is heavily fortified by Egypt, who doesn’t like Sunni Muslims, which make up much of the Gazan population. To the east and north is their 51km (32mi) heavily fenced, mined, and armed border with Israel.  While the sounds of jets, helicopters and drones, hum from the overhead sky 24/7. All together, the Gaza Strip is 41km (25mi) long, 6 to 12 km (3.7 to 7.5mi) wide, with an area of only 365 km sq (139 sq mi). Within this space 1.8 million people live, well sort of live, with over half under the age of eighteen. The density is 5046 people every squared kilometer (13,000 people every square mile), making it one of the most densely populated parts in the world. Somebody farts and others will smell it, so of course a tank round’s explosion will kill and maim everyone around it, whether one is hiding or not.

    Because in reality, Andrew Exum, a former US army officer and defence department special adviser on the Middle East, and who has studied Israel’s military operations, says this about what is going on in Gaza today, and how difficult it really is to target individuals and not have any collateral damage, “There are good strategic reasons to avoid using air power and artillery in these conflicts: they tend to be pretty indiscriminate in their effects and make it difficult for the population under fire to figure out what they’re supposed to do to be safe.” 

    Military analysts and human rights observers say Israel is still using predominately, unguided, indirect fire with high-explosive shells, which are totally inappropriate for use on the Palestinians in Gaza. Exum adds, “[Israel’s 155m howitzer] shells have a lethal radius of 50 to 150 metres and causes injury up to 300 metres from its point of impact. Furthermore, such indirect-fire artillery (meaning it is fired out of direct sight of the target) has a margin of error of 200 to 300 metres.” Obviously meaning, the Israeli’s are killing Palestinian civilians on purpose.

    As for rockets fired into Israel, it’s a war; and being the elected body, Hamas is allowed to defend themselves and fight for the end of their apartheid, much like what went on in places like Soweto and Belfast back in the day. Besides, their crude rockets are often either shot down, land harmlessly in open areas, or yes sometimes, even fall short. As far as the Israeli population in range, all they really have to put up with is occassional falling from the sky debris, which has only killed three people. Meanwhile the Gazans are getting the holy book thrown at them. Military technology and hardware being tested, missiles, jets, cruisers, tanks, drones, helicopters, ever more heavily armed and supported ground troops, and who knows what, because this time, the Israeli’s are intent of finally ridding themselves of these lesser people they have locked up in Gaza. Especially the children.

    According to Pernille Ironside, who runs the UNICEF field office in Gaza, it is estimated that so far roughly “373,000 Palestinian children have had some kind of direct traumatic experience as a result of the attack and will require immediate psycho-social support. This is in addition to the 408 children reported as killed and the thousands left wounded.”

    After Gaza, and with flared nostrils, filled with racism and exceptionalism, Israel will no doubt once again focus and be obsessed with the city pictured above, and its country. But not before world leaders will stand in front of podiums, and in strong voices, once again announce that we must never forget what just happened in Gaza, but must remember it always, so that such a thing may never happen again.

    Government controlled mainstream media in Israel, the States, and to an ever greater extent as of late, in Canada, already deems the country pictured above, “the other” as well. So when Israel actually does something, the no doubt disproportional casualties and destruction will be easier to swallow. If they do go in, I’m sure the States especially, but a few other countries as well, like Canada perhaps, will continue to obediently stand behind them in lap dog like support. Hopefully the saner people of these countries, as they are increasingly doing, will stand up and tell those whom they voted for to cease and desist, though I highly doubt such a fantasy happening.

    As to the situation in Gaza today, it looks like I’ll sadly have to add an attachment to The Borborygmus Which is Palestine – An Essay on Apartheid, which I posted in December/2012, and after the human atrocities are over in Gaza, I will be able to compare it to the transcripts of the Nuremburg Trials, oops did it again, wrong century. Sorry. I mean compare it to possible future war crime trials against Israel. Though in reality, the States will never allow such a thing to happen, because they are complicit, with no one to hold them accountable for anything they do, much like the Israelis, nor do they both seem to even hold themselves accountable anymore, perhaps they can’t, I don’t know.

    As a superpower the States does seem to be fading in many parts of the world, not so much militarily, but the disdain, lack of respect and actions other countries now show, and act upon, towards American diplomats, who are still clothed in attitude and so-called ideals, like so-called democracy, speaks volumes. Much of the chaos in the world today was created by the States, and many sociopathic hawks and beurocrats, running many governments all over the world, are not buying the American loud and proud bullshit anymore, and are willing to take the risk and simply take what they want. Alas, the madness which is human history continues.

     

    The picture above………Tehran, Iran   Sept.2012    Photo: Fred Dufour/ AFP/ Getty Images

     

     

     

    06/13/14

    Prologue to Plague of Guns – A Dense Essay

    The border between Canada and the United States is nearly invisible when compared to the sieve of a steel and concrete wall being built between the States and their southern neighbor Mexico. And though there are many similarities between Canada and the States, there are also just as many differences. For instance, Canadians are clearly distinctive, while Americans have to tell everyone that they are. Canadians are also very aware, thus, cautious and resistant to being assimilated by the Americans. At least that’s what we’d like to think. If others look at Canadians and Americans as being cut from the same cloth, they would be grossly mistaken.

    The States seems to be filled with characters written by someone else for their own reality show. Their corporate and government leadership and oligarchy obviously psychotic, much like Canada’s as of late. All so out of whack from reality that many of them actually believe they will come out on top even after the earth’s climate is devastated. They trust that they’ll be able to withstand monster tornados, food shortages, earthquakes, oil spills, or a lack of drinking water, or the insanity of the current gun epidemic. And still make money doing it.

    But no matter the shock or what the Americans do and say, we watch them like we watch for a train wreck. And though we still peek through our fingers, their ever increasing immoral societal stench those at the top have created, keeps our noses turned away, but you can still smell it. Not only does it cloak us Canadians, but also people all over the world. They have no idea how ignorant they look on the world stage, nor how much their fear and hopelessness is shining through what is a closing window, which when closed, furious anger will shatter.

    Their blatantly obvious psychopathic military industrial complex’s foreign policy has made them simply bullies, creating mortal enemies worldwide, which will last generations, all to keep America safe and secure, and of course creating perpetual profits for the American arms-manufacturers.

    Guns in particular, have become a plague upon the planet, especially in the States, to the point of being a flesh-eating disease. And much like some other diseases; obesity, consumerism, perpetual war, incarceration, addiction, and ever growing disaster capitalism, the gun epidemic has become a highly profitable venture to a few, while wounding or killing the rest of us, kind of like cigarettes.Plague Mask

    With almost as many guns produced during Obama’s first four years of office than in all eight years of George W. Bush’s administration, such a love and proliferation of guns has brought only blindness to the reality that America’s gun epidemic has also become one of its biggest health crisis, something Obamacare could never cure. And even though over 70 percent of Americans want gun reform and more controls, the right-wing white guys will never let it happen. Indeed, the majority of the population in many democracies, including Canada, have no impact on public policy, economic elites like organized lobbying interest groups do.

    With cracks in the fabric of present day society splaying out in all directions at a cheetah’s pace when in pursuit of their next meal, the States has become a country that one could swear is either trying to act out a national suicide attempt, or trying to pull off the largest home grown terrorism operation of all time. Like Jim Jones in Guyana, but on a much grander scale, because the kool-aid has already been greedily gulped back. Much of this has to do with the abundance of guns now available, because when unbridled capitalism, marketing, firearms manufacturers, the Republican right wing and the NRA, along with hundreds of their lawyers, got together in the seventies, the epidemic of gun violence in the States began to ever increase in frequency.

    These mad organizations and economic systems which have created the current gun violence epidemic, the differences in gun laws in the States and Canada, and remedies and suggestions will be covered in the Epilogue of this essay. A brief history of Canada and the States before and after, the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was enacted, will be discussed in the middle of this essay, in what I call the Background Check, because how each country was raised has a lot to do with the perceived need to be armed or not today. This Prologue will let the numbers tell more of the story.

    What got me shaking my head, lighting up a candle and pulling out the quill and ink in the first place, was finding out that in the United States there now is nearly one gun for every man, woman and child with little or no regulation in how to obtain one. It was a cry and laugh moment. It is insanity.

    When speaking of guns I am including handguns, rifles, shotguns and certain assault weapons, which Americans need in case one of the few remaining big-game animals or a lone rabbit bobbed and weaved fast enough that the first twenty rounds missed it. But I’d also like to add that hunting has never been the issue with guns. It’s been what other people do with them and how easily available they are that has been and is the issue.

    In my article, Murder by Gun, posted in September, 2011, I cited the gun numbers at the time; 45 million Americans possessed over 200 million firearms, including 66 million handguns. Nearly three years later, with a current population of 317 million, American citizens now own well over 300 million guns, including 115 million handguns. A further half a million guns are bought by Americans every year, and shockingly, only 12 percent of all these guns are registered.

    In comparison, the second most armed country in the world is India. Their current population is 1.27 billion, with over 6 million more people added each year, and yet they only possess 45 million guns.  Today there is one gun for every ten people on the planet. If you include the States in the statistics, that changes the ratio to about seven guns for every ten people in the world.

    Over 47 percent of households in America own at least one gun, with 20 percent of the population owning a handgun, which many can walk around with at any time, because of course, just in case. National Rifle Association vice-president, spiritual leader to some, and Mad Hatter of the club Wayne LaPierre, refers to ownership of a firearm as morally obligated vigilantism. Vigilantism I suppose against an out of control federal government, whatever the party, or against perceived enemies, which can only be themselves, and their fellow Americans.

    But then LaPierre also sees the world as a place: “where there are terrorists and home invaders and drug cartels and car-jackers and knock-out gamers and rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping-mall killers, road-rage killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids, or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse the society that sustains us all”, but fails to mention and include the paranoid and psychopathic, which would sum up his breed nicely, as well as his followers. And the fact that all those killers he mentioned are American. While in reality studies show that the gun the American suburban family buys to protect itself and which is kept in the home, is 43 times more likely to kill a household member than to be used in self-defense.

    In Canada, with a current population of 35 million, there are about 9.9 million guns, including 1.1 million handguns (a restricted weapon in Canada). Nearly two million Canadians (5.4 percent of the population) currently hold a valid firearms license for almost 7.5 million registered firearms and 350,000 are handguns. Only 15 percent of Canadian households own a long gun, and only 3 percent possessing a handgun. Overall, it works out to about 23 guns per 100 Canadians, while in America, as already noted, there are now basically 100 guns for every 100 Americans.

    The American military possesses three million guns, in addition to everything else they have acquired, including the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. They work with an annual budget of $750 billion (20 percent of their country’s federal budget), which is more than the next 16 largest military budgeted countries combined. And though they are not threatened by any nation and are a military without equal, supposedly fighting the war on terror by way of protecting American and corporate economic interests globally, yet totally ignoring the fearful commercial interests, ineffectual politicians and government officials, and the home-grown terrorist, back in the States. And though the States have the most heavily armed populace in the world, their people still live in fear and continue to be the utmost in paranoia and narcissism in one fell swoop.

    China has the second highest military budget in the world, spending $119 billion a year, with Russia spending only $59 billion. Canada’s military budget is $20 billion, with the military in possession of 233,949 firearms.

    American Law Enforcement who try to keep it together and protect citizens, instead, are faced with two out of every three 911 calls being concerned with addiction and mental illness. This is also the situation in Canada, but in the States the police forces are increasingly being made up of ex-military personnel with skeletons and demons rattling in their own closets as a result of their war experiences. These people possess over one million guns. And much like the country’s military, they exist in perpetual war. In Canada the police forces hold 124,270 firearms.

    The States don’t just use their guns to kill each other though; they also produce enough to supply the world. They are the biggest provider of guns globally, selling 70 percent of all guns made. To feed these guns, 14 billion rounds are manufactured worldwide every year, enough bullets to shoot every human on the planet, twice. The States provides 40 percent of them (5.6 billion), or enough bullets to shoot every American 17 times.

    Because the States has weak gun laws and few controls regarding access to guns, what an American can buy easily and legally is often just as easily sold illegally to a country like Canada which has more controls. In many States one could buy a handgun every week. Why one person would need perhaps fifty handguns every year is anybody’s guess. But some States have recently “come down hard” and have changed this rule to where a person can only buy one handgun a month. I know. Wow and big deal.

    Of the handguns seized in the course of a crime by the Toronto Police in 2010, 70 percent originated in the States and were trafficked illegally to Canada. In Mexico, 68,000 people have died from guns since 2006. Of the guns recovered, over 90 percent were smuggled from the States.

    The majority of industrialized countries have some form of gun licensing and registration of firearms, with strict controls on access to assault weapons and handguns. However, only two countries, the United States and Yemen, treat gun ownership as a basic right. The remaining countries view gun ownership as a privilege.

    Therein lays America’s problem. In the States nearly every citizen living their life within a society on a planet swirling down the toilet of environmental and moral disaster can get a gun. Furthering the madness, since 1980, forty-four states have passed some form of law that allows gun owners to carry concealed weapons outside their homes for personal protection, while in eighteen States; you can walk around in public with a gun on your hip. So of course it is more often the norm that over half of homicides happen after or during an argument between two people who know each other.


    There are believed to be about 30,000+ deaths by gun every year in the States, about 20,000+ by suicide / 10,000+ by homicide, with 2 percent of them being children. Guns currently kill more children than cancer does. Not included in this number are the additional 1,000+ deaths per year from unintentional firearm injuries. In Chicago in 2012 alone, 500 people were murdered by gun. This by itself is more than double Canada’s total gun homicides in any given year of about 200 people, or 0.6 people per 100,000. The States averages about six gun homicides per 100,000.

    Since 1960, there have been 1.3 million gun deaths in America. Currently 282 people are shot every day; of these, 32 are murdered, with another 51 committing suicide. Examples for context, in Vietnam from 1955 – 1975, 58,000 American soldiers died. These numbers match the American civilian population that dies by gunshot every two years. In the first seven years of the Iraq debacle, 4,400 US soldiers died, the same number of civilians currently killed by gun in the US every seven weeks.

    Sadly, considering the States is perhaps the most economically advanced nation in the world, there have been about two mass shootings every month over the past five years, with Americans 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of all other developed nations. As it stands today, one in three Americans knows someone who has been shot. While every year on average, roughly a hundred thousand Americans are killed or wounded by guns.

    American males have a 1 in 2,317 chance of being shot at least once in their lives. While the odds of either winning a lottery or dying in a terrorist act in North America, is the same, about 1 in 20+ million. And while one person out of every 100,000 dies by bee sting, at least five people out of every 100,000 will die by gun.

    According to the U.S. Department of Justice, there are about 5.4 million violent crimes committed in the United States every year. These include simple/aggravated assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, rapes, and murders.  Of these, about 436,000 or 8 percent were committed by offenders armed with a gun. And though the US homicide rate (per 100,000), committed without guns, is less than twice the Canadian rate. The rate of homicide with guns in the US is six times higher than Canada’s, with American homicides with handguns seven times higher than Canada’s. This pattern can also be seen in robberies without firearms where the rates are comparable for the two countries, yet in the States, of the half a million robberies every year, 36 percent of them are committed with a gun, a rate of 55 per 100,000. In Canada there are about 32,200 robberies each year, with only 14 percent of them involving a firearm, a rate of only 13 per 100,000.

    Though the States has higher homicide, aggravated assault and robbery rates than does Canada, Canada has higher rates of motor vehicle thefts, break and entering, and arsons, with both countries sharing the same rates for theft, about 2,300 cases for every 100,000 people.


    Another big difference between these societies relates to the issue of privilege versus right. Holding a driver’s licence and owning a gun should be privileges not rights. No one should be allowed to carry or shoot off a gun or drive a car without proving to the public that he or she can safely and responsibly do so.

    The States has 679 impaired drivers per 100,000. Canada’s rate is 277 per 100,000. And while drunk-driving fatalities have decreased over the last couple of decades in both countries, in the States they still represent 31 percent of the over 33,000 traffic deaths in the States each year. Today about 10,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver, 30 people every day, one death every 48 minutes. This is coincidently, the same number of homicide deaths by gun each year.

    Of the 1,200 traffic deaths involving children younger than 14 years, 17 percent were caused by an alcohol-impaired driver. And while 1.4 million Americans are arrested for driving drunk each year, it only represents about 1 percent of the 112 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving among adults. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes, injuries and property damage in the States totals more than $51 billion.

    In 2010, of the nearly 300,000 Canadians injured in motor vehicle crashes 2,541 died, and of these fatalities 1,082 were impairment-related. It’s estimated that about 63,800 injuries happen every year due to impairment related crashes in Canada – roughly 175 per day. The annual cost of alcohol-related crashes, injuries and property damage in Canada, is estimated to be about $20 billion.


    Much like the alcohol and drug addiction epidemic, from drunk drivers to crack heads, America’s gun epidemic is not a race problem either. Guns offer equal opportunity tragedies, no matter what the mainstream media crows. And though Afro-Americans do indeed account for the vast majority of homicides by gun, a white person is almost six times more likely to be killed by another white person than by a black person. According to FBI homicide data, in 2011 there were more cases of whites killing whites than there were of blacks killing blacks.

    Within corporate-mainstream media, gang-related deaths in the States are thought of as an Afro-American problem, while in fact, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, for the period of 1980 to 2008, a majority (53.3 percent) of gang homicides were committed by white offenders and the majority of gang homicide victims (56.5 percent) were in fact white. According to statistics from the Justice Department collected from 1980 to 2008, white men are more likely to kill than any other racial group. However in gun related homicides, black men outnumber whites, especially when it comes to drug-related offenses. White men top the list in most of the other categories, showing that they were more likely to kill children, the elderly, family members, and their significant others, and tend to commit more sex-related crimes and gang related crimes, and are more likely to kill at their places of employment, than Afro-Americans. Most gun murders involving Afro-Americans are between men and usually over a drug deal. And despite racial biases, studies show that Afro-Americans are no more likely than whites to use or sell drugs, in fact, Afro-Americans make up only 14 percent of addicted American drug users.

    Eighty-three percent of gun deaths by white people are suicides, 14 percent homicides, and two percent accidents, with a white person five times as likely to commit suicide with a gun, as opposed to being shot with a gun. For each Afro-American who uses a gun to commit suicide, five are killed by other people with guns, the gist being that whites are far more likely to shoot themselves, while blacks are far more likely to shoot others.

    In Canada, there are approximately 600 suicides by gun each year or 1.79 per 100,000. In the States there are 20,000 suicides by gun each year (6.03 per 100,000) and as previously mentioned, over 80 percent are white males. One can also include the twenty-two American military veterans who are currently taking their own lives with a bullet every month. Men and women who enlist to serve their country, to make a difference, be deployed to another country and culture, which in most cases are people who wish they could be simply left alone, and hope to help, lend a helping hand and give guidance. Unfortunately they try to accomplish this while holding an automatic assault weapon in their hands. After they come back heavy guilt enshrouds their lives, the nearly schizophrenic disconnect from being told you were helping and defending America, but knowing deep down you were not doing either.

    Although the number of suicides by gun is double that of homicides by the same means, they tend to be subdued tragedies, very hush-hush affairs, and only whispered about between family and friends, if talked about at all, though a celebrity taking their own life is big news. Suicide is also absent from any discussion of gun policy, instead it is all about murders, especially mass killings. Yet reality dictates that the availability of guns does indeed increase the risk of suicide, because it allows for impulsive suicides that otherwise might not occur. And while 2 percent of Americans do kill themselves every year, heart disease and cancer still accounts for nearly 48 percent of all deaths in the States and in most of the industrialized countries of the world.

    Then there are the non-fatal gunshot wounds. For every two firearm deaths, there are five non-fatal firearm injuries. Of the 30,000+ people who die by gun every year, an additional 65,000+ are treated in emergency rooms for non-fatal gun injuries, while over 30 percent of traumatic brain injuries and 15 percent of all spinal cord injuries in America are caused by gunshot wounds. It is estimated that another 24,000+ gun wounds were either superficial or treated privately. Direct medical costs for non-fatal gunshot wounds tops $6 million per day and are the leading source of uninsured hospital stays, of which half are paid by the taxpayer.


    There has been much recently in global news, of the escalating wave of mass killings involving guns. In the States from 1982 to 2012, over one thousand people have been killed or injured in 62 mass killings and counting, with this number rising every month, and as of late, nearly every week. One in five who are killed are 12 years of age or younger.

    Half of these mass killings happened in the last seven years. Yet over the same time frame, more people died from migraines and accidents than by mass murderers. In fact, three times as many people died from sunstroke. But still, fifteen of the worst mass shootings in the last 50 years among developed countries happened in the States, with Finland in second place. The States is currently three times more violent than most of the developed world, with the most violence taking place in their southern States. But then American society was built upon slavery, genocide, aggressive racism, euro centralism, and exceptionalism, so what would one expect?

    According to the FBI, a mass shooting is where at least four people die and is usually at the hands of a lone shooter, who blasts away in a public space, half the time doing so in a school or workplace. Of the past 62 mass murderers, 48 were white and only one was a woman. Average age was 35 years, with the majority having problems in their lives, just like everybody else. Seventy-one of the 143 weapons used were semi-auto handguns, along with 20 assault weapons and 42 weapons which had multiple, high capacity magazines. The vast majority of weapons used in these cases were obtained legally, only twelve were not.

    Yet compared to all gun related homicides, mass killings only account for less than 1 percent of all deaths by gun. But the corporate controlled media loves telling the repeated and hyped-up stories about them, as we obediently follow along, enrapt, and inching ever closer into thinking that perhaps we too should buy a gun – you know, just in case. It’s called marketing.

    How we treat mass killings via mainstream group-think, is we focus on the shooters’ skin color (mostly white), or their manner of killing, such as gruesome violence, or whether children are involved, or religion, or national identity. Such events are looked at as simply being a bunch of disconnected incidents that can’t be helped and have nothing to do with each other. Besides, mass killings are always done by the lone shooter, a terrorist, or someone mentally ill, thus, the “crazy man.” But you’ve got to wonder, killings or assassinations, especially when most of the victims in mass killings are either Muslims, immigrants (illegal or not), gays, liberals, women, intellectuals, comrades in arms, students or Afro-Americans.

    Many of the mass killings over the last couple of years, especially in the States and Europe, were carried out by white men who often are a member of the racist radical right, and who either immediately killed themselves afterwards or surrendered, mugging proudly for the camera – a terrorist claiming to be a patriot, with their acts not thought of as terrorizing anyone, but instead, hate crimes.


    The American laws in some States are such that you can be packing while enmeshed in road rage and completely out of control, or dealing with neighbours, especially if they are a different colour, or the kids in the truck next to you whose music is too loud, or simply someone who’s pissed you off and you feel threatened, as you shout-spit in their face, as a matter of fact, I do own the fucking road and what are you going to do about it. Or as is often the case, with gun in hand, they manage their nagging spouse, because for some Americans, it seems to be in their nature that only through violence and threat of force can they communicate with people. They already entertain themselves in such a way.

    The right of every individual to possess a gun in the States also allows people who might be depressed about their life or with lack of future opportunities, at least can own a gun. One can also be panicked and armed, confused and armed, dying for your next crack hit and armed, in a jealous rage, or lost in body and soul, and simply overwhelmed with life, but be packing. In reality, the vast majority of deaths by gun are committed by very sane people, who feel weak or threatened or just pissed off with their life, and have the capability and power that they lack, to even up the score by the use of a handgun that can fire off huge numbers of rounds in a heartbeat.

    Such a distorted world view, especially in the southern States, is fueled by intense anger and impotence in controlling one’s own life, which leads to, it’s always somebody else’s fault: the fault of the “other.” People are unaware of having been programmed to act in such a way. Chauvinism, cruel retribution, a perverted Christianity, and the celebration of a mythical white Anglo-Saxon history through cinema, have separated these people from reality, with the next destination along their road – American fascism. They’ve become unrepentant of the past and misinterpret the expectations of a privileged society, simply because one is white. They are also scared of the future, and with their ignorance still believe that a white man’s life exists at the center of the universe.

    Most of the people defined above don’t look at the gun epidemic as a problem at all; rather their concern is the right to have a gun epidemic. America has become orthodoxy, where they actually believe they are the greatest country, not only presently, but in all of human history. From the git go, American society has viewed itself superior to other classes, races, origins, habits, diets, cultures and political preferences. They are taught to believe in their own subjective superiority. They feel unique and nearly a divine race. I call it arrogance of the ignorant, simple bravado. And it has distracted them from hearing that the toilet has been flushed on their society.

    This facet of American society is, unfortunately, the driver behind their country’s gun problem, because beneath it all there’s nothing but fear and helplessness, with hope and love seemingly unattainable anymore. In the countries in the world where there is an ever widening gap between those who have money and the vast majority who do not, such as in the States and Canada, research shows that more begin to suffer health and social problems, lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality rates, more suicides, more murders, imprisonment, teenage births, less trust, obesity, mental illness and drug and alcohol addiction, than other developed countries. If you add in the fact that people have little or no influence over government policy, with most political decisions being made with no thought to the people. And an ever widening social polarization, deep racism, disintegrating family values, hunger, joblessness, and violence, it’s no wonder many Americans believe that to be disarmed means being further disempowered. But whether actually psychopathic, mentally ill, uneducated, ignorant, abused, or just having a bad day, an American can be reassured that they will survive, as long as they are armed. “Having a gun in one’s hand erases human inequality and alters human possibility.”


    As mentioned, mass killings are always big news, good for the advertisers who support the media business, and a boon to the cinema and television industries, because they know such things as evil and madness contain the elements of the unintelligible, things which resist explanation. We watch, grimly fascinated, by such events, yet also feeling guilty for it for some reason, perhaps because we ourselves feel the fear and helplessness against such evil and look for an answer based on the killer’s upbringing and psychological history, desperately seeking an explanation on why they choose that victim, when in fact, an explanation may not exist. And at the same time knowing each one of us has such evil within us, and the ability to lose control or exact revenge. It’s all about how it can be controlled, and having the daily discipline to do so. It is hard work, but peace and love have always worked pretty good.

    Some look at mass killers as individuals who are simply responding to the world in which they live, revolting against an injustice upon themselves, whether imagined or otherwise. Individuals confused about their identity, yet fatalistic at the same time, believing they are creating their own actions, thus their own destiny. Others believe a mass killer’s violence comes from conspiracy or influence, where the killer’s self is moulded by others, and somehow deemed more meaningful.

    Someone, often adolescent, immature and white, who walks into a school or theatre and starts indiscriminately blasting away, has probably done the same thing on video games hundreds of times already. He has, no doubt, since birth seen literally thousands of images of death, killing, and guns on all sizes of screens, fiction or otherwise, and just maybe, had a typically bad childhood where he was abused, beaten and bullied, and though that person might not even have serious mental problems, we must say they do, and say they are serious ones at that.

    A 2001 study done by the U.S. National Library of Medicine looked specifically at 34 adolescent mass murderers (under 19 years) between 1958 and 1999. All were male, 70 percent were described as a loner, 61.5 percent had problems with substance abuse, 48 percent had preoccupations with weapons, and 43.5 percent had been victims of bullying. Three out of four did not have a documented psychiatric history of any kind.

    In the States, 6 percent of their population suffers from serious mental health illnesses. If one were to include minor mental health disorders, 26 percent of their population or 58 million people have to deal with this form of illness. In fact the leading cause of disability in the States and Canada today, is major depressive disorder. But these people are not all running around shooting people, far from it. But in the States, when they do decide to kill, they are able to kill in greater numbers because they are armed with a gun, which is usually plural.

    Dr. Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke University School of Medicine, and one of the leading researchers on mental health and violence says that:

    “just because someone has a mental illness and they committed a crime, the illness isn’t necessarily why they did it. Among these people with serious mental illness, the risk factors for committing a violent crime appeared to have more to do with the overall risk factors for violence: being young, male, socially disadvantaged, and involved with substance misuse. But on the face of it, a mass shooting (for example) is the product of a disordered mental process. You don’t have to be a psychiatrist: what normal person would go out and shoot a bunch of strangers?” “People with serious mental illness are 3 to 4 times more likely to be violent than those who aren’t. But the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent and never will be. Most violence in society is caused by other things. Even if we had a perfect mental health-care system, it won’t solve our gun violence problem. If we were able to magically cure schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, which would be wonderful, but overall violence, would go down by only about 4 percent. I’ve done these back-of-the envelope calculations. If you were to back out all the risk associated with mental illness that’s contributing to the 300,000 people killed by gunshot wounds in the last ten years, you could probably reduce deaths by about 100,000 people. Ninety-five percent of the reduction would be from suicide. Only 5 percent would be from reducing homicide. Mental illness is a strong risk factor for suicide. It’s not a strong risk factor for homicide.”


    When we humans are evil, as many of us can be, I’m sure we tend toward being slightly psychopathic for brief moments, for some it can be ongoing, but such behaviour as murdering a group of one’s fellow citizens is not a mystery so much, because it can be socially explained; it is a reflection of our societies. Bad people in the world doing bad things to others are more often than not, simply products of today’s society, with logic dictating that when guns are prevalent there will be more killing, whether mentally ill, or as in most cases, not.

    While the adage, that if everyone was armed it would be a real safe place to raise the kids, is utter bullshit. If every talking, stumbling, imperfect, smarter than we need to be human being surviving today’s quickly changing world were armed, the only thing holding our societies back from a blood bath would be for everyone to trust each other unambiguously, and actually expect everyone to act sensibly, empathic, calm, and in control of their emotions: In other words, pure fantasy.

    Meanwhile we believe every mass killing is committed by a crazy person, because it makes us feel better. But if the mass murderer is a young Arab man we deem him a terrorist, while a white extremist bombing a mosque or abortion clinic is a hate crime. One of the murderers of the five hundred killed in Chicago in 2012 is a just a gangster. The distraught father killing his family, he seemed like such a good hard working man his neighbours refrain. An American who joins the military and participates in unspeakable actions overseas, returns with no support from government and is often times trying to cope with serious issues in their head, and prone to shooting themselves once returned home, a hero.

    The current gun laws in the States, of course also allow the monsters and psychopaths to be armed, for they have every right to do so, though many of them don’t need to be armed, because they surround themselves with bodyguards and henchmen. In fact, many of them are those manufacturing the guns and passing them out like party favours. And though psychopaths by nature are morally insane, they are usually people who “are intellectually above average and understand the nature and practical consequences of acts that are forbidden by law and society, and although they are often highly intelligent, they are simply unable to accept the moral nature of their choices”.


    When we humans were still hunters and gatherers, the ones with psychopathic natures were made to disappear and/or be banished, because often their decisions would, could and did, affect the safety and survival of the group. But ever since we began gathering in villages and towns, the psychopaths took control of the food and water and rose to the top of society. Like the gods they created to control us, we can no longer banish them, lock them all up, or make them disappear, because it would decimate Wall St, Washington D.C., offices in Ottawa, and most of the corporate elite, including many dictators, prime ministers and presidents of the world. Though not all are insane, many are undoubtedly highly psychopathic, if we abide by the definition. I am referring to the true definition and not slang. That “People who are psychopathic prey ruthlessly on others, using charm, deceit, violence or other methods that allow them to get with they want. The symptoms of psychopaths include: lack of a conscience or sense of guilt, lack of empathy, egocentricity, pathological lying, repeated violations of social norms, disregard for the law, shallow emotions, and a history of victimizing others.” It is also not curable, because being psychopathic is not a mental illness.

    Though there is no treatment for it, eminent criminal psychology researcher, author, and Order of Canada member, from the University of British Columbia, Dr Robert Hare, stresses that most psychopaths don’t commit murder, but are all social predators, pointing out that, “Much of a psychopath’s behaviour, even the neurobiological patterns we observe, could be because they’re using different strategies to get around the world. These strategies don’t have to involve faulty wiring, just different wiring.”

    I bring up the topic of psychopaths within this article on gun violence, not because they are running around shooting everybody in sight because they’re not. Most of them are simply human sharks, moving through their communities, taking what they can from usually the weak and unaware, strictly for their own gratification and egos. And yes many are also at the top of society, who feel and act similarly, with each having their own projects to work on and corporations and governments to run. They operate with greed dictating their methods, no longer worrying about a curtain to shield them from our view, or considering an iota of anyone’s feelings, and are supported by legions of drone-like underlings consisting of lawyers, managers, brokers, bankers, and middle managers.

    Two of the worst psychopaths running around today, are the American weapon manufacturers and the National Rifle Association, who have combined to bastardize the Second Amendment of the American Constitution to basically achieve sales targets and ever more vast amounts of cash, which is actually being very American. This is all accomplished because those elected, rather, those who have spent the most money get elected by getting people to vote for them by promising the world. Then when in office they abide by what young bureaucratic whips, party leadership and lobbyists, who have paid the most, tell them what to say and do. What has been produced by such people has created the world’s current gun epidemic. They deal in death for the almighty dollar and nothing else.

    In reality, the majority of homicides, whether by gun or not,  arise from arguments, fights, drug deals and domestic disputes, while half of all murders involve a family member or intimate partner. We kill those closest to us. If guns are easily accessible, of course they will be used.

    Gun violence is happening around the world, but it should not be so surprising that much of it is happening in totalitarian states disguised as democratic industrialized nations, populated by people who have simply become self-sufficient individuals, who only hang out with others who make similar personal consumer choices. Most are living paycheck to paycheck, if you got one, in a world that has become but a marketplace, which itself is based on fantasy and celebrity culture, with many brainwashed into thinking guns are cool. Many of us are living in communities where the politics are warped, and common sense, morality, and empathy have been lost or significantly undermined. Throughout the population, people are strutting around like it’s all about them, staring deeply into their phones, possessing the personalities of peacocks and attention spans of hummingbirds, maybe even thinking a camera crew is following them around,  This is not the case everywhere of course, but it is spreading as fast as obesity.

    All the while climate change continues to affect our only true necessities as human beings, food and water, as our urban infrastructures, social services, education and health care erodes and fall down around us. But we still put on a mask each day and go to work. We are programmed to be proud of what we do, no matter what that may entail. Meanwhile everyone is so overwhelmed with information that they are stupefied, and finding it ever harder to believe what they are told. Underlying all this is what is hidden and ignored, and what is damaging us mentally, the reality that the majority of us are nothing but slaves, with little or no passion, nor love or peace left anymore in what we do; instead many of us are left with nothing but lust and greed for all the things out of our reach. And yes, many of us are depressed in some way, and yes, many of us will experience what could be classed as breakdowns or psychotic breaks from trying to fathom the contradictions that make up our lives where nothing is black and white anymore, just a sickly grey. Into this mixture the States adds insanely vast numbers of guns, colouring the world a far deathlier shade of grey, which inevitably bleeds red.

     

    To be continued………

     

     

    01/14/14

    April 10th, 1950 – Happy 63rd Birthday by Owen Kavanagh

    Hello Inquisitive readers,

    Here is the latest poem submitted by Owen Kavanagh, of Victoria B.C. If anyone out there pens poetry, and would like it posted onto site, please submit through “Comments” and I will gladly publish it for you. As to articles, opinions and essays that I usually post, on what was a fairly consistent basis, I’m a bit behind, as since September much of my time has been filled with work (apartment manager), which keeps me fed and housed, and another passion of mine, coaching Midget level (15-17 yrs old) hockey here in Victoria. I find hockey is a great team game to teach life lessons, especially with the age group I work with. On the other hand it can also be said that it gives me practical experiance to challenge a Physcology degree.

    Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to be posting new stuff soon.

    Peace.

    Now please enjoy Owen’s latest, “April 10th 1950 – Happy 63rd Birthday”

     

    How trying for the centipede to tie-up all his shoes

    once laced into the hundredth pair it’s long past time for school

    so off they come and put away, the busy work is done 

    our centipede can rest his feet at setting of the sun

     

    Humans have a hundred pair of thoughts to guide their day

    each to inspire the when & where which carry them away

    to wander barefoot down some path, to crunch on stone to peak

    to splash about in muddy pools, to hide beneath the leaf 

    10/21/13

    The Lost Mahout by CK Baker

    the lost mahout

    black cat in
    a white wicker chair
    pear leaves
    strum
    the high wire
    creeping vines
    on the hedgerow
    root ferns claw
    the sun drench bank

    picket wall stained
    on cedar
    sow bug jumps
    the grated  worn step
    four legs
    on a foot path
    biscuit brown
    trailers
    fill the pipe

    spiders march
    on dew web
    knots and rivets
    cut at the seam
    maples wide
    on the canopy floor
    sap balls ping
    the front gate

    dandelions drift
    on west breeze
    berries plump
    at shepherds grove
    wood sill holds
    the broken stained glass
    letter box lined
    by the shoe scrub

    delft ware
    on the snap line
    numbers drawn
    for the promising guest
    junior poised
    with mouth agape
    birds and squirrels
    whistle their jovial tune

    gold finch
    darts the sea ranch
    mountain steam brisk
    at lush green pass
    crafters window
    in the alpine
    follies await
    the days task

    copper roof on a
    mud wall
    airedale set on
    woven front mat
    watchmen of the
    hollow…
    earwigs and mites
    scurry under
    rustled wet leaves

    frogs leap at corner creek
    shutter bugs sit
    at gryphons lair
    still water ripples
    at the deep pool
    the folding tips
    and fingers
    on fishers bridge

    brother bear
    on the cut shelf
    silver fish
    come to life
    whiskey jack high
    on india green
    elijah and xavier
    pause at the days end

    fin

    ———————————————————————————————

    ©CK Baker, 2013

     

    09/30/13

    You have got to be kidding me – The 2013 Queens Jubilee Awards

     

    Diamond_Jubilee_Medal_webOnce again, to honor and commemorate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II ascension to the throne of the British Empire last year, Canada awarded another 60,000 “deserving Canadians” the Diamond Jubilee Medal. Each Member of Parliament will be giving 30 medals to their fellow citizens “for their contributions to the country, their province or their region.”

    The medal honors those who have made significant contributions to their country, or achievements abroad which brought credit to Canada. It is an award that can honor anyone, from ditch digger to bureaucrat. Unfortunately, morality, maturity, character or ethics are not factors in the selection process. And one could only hope that 99% of the medals given out, from Haida Gwaii to Newfoundland, are for contributions to their communities and fellow Canadians, and are people who make a difference that they are here and alive, and assisting their neighbours in whatever way they can.

    I wrote an article on the inaugural awards given out last year, and of my sheer amazement when a member of parliament gave medals to two anti-abortionists, prone to fire-bombing, with one of them in prison when given the medal. But since we must award ignorance and entitlement in equal shares, continue to enact laws and regulations simply to protect the stupid and the corporations, and to continue to have to suffer fools, some of the selections for the Diamond Jubilee Medal this year has made me mutter in my beer, you have got to be kidding me, really. I shake my head in befuddlement and embarrassment.

    Lucien Bouchard is a lawyer and politician who up to 1990 was a member of parliament and held various positions in the Progressive Conservative government under the Prime Minister at the time, Brian Mulroney. Bouchard stepped down from the Conservatives in 1990 after the Meech lake Accord, which he felt wasn’t sufficient in determining the rights or distinctions of Quebecers. PM Mulroney would later state that trusting Bouchard as much as he had was his most costly and regrettable error as PM. Bouchard would go on to form the Bloc Québécois, and lead them in the 1993 Federal election where they won 54 out of 75 ridings in Quebec, giving them the second most seats in the House of Commons. It was the first and only time in the history of Canada that a separatist was the leader of the opposition. Bouchard quickly realized that most of the 54 elected Bloc members didn’t speak English well enough to participate on the Common’s floor in parliament so he declares that henceforth, Bloc members will only speak French, which they still do today.

    In 1995 the Quebec referendum was held, which would decide whether Quebec would separate from Canada. How close was it? – 50.58% against separation, 49.42% for. The next year Bouchard was elected premier of Quebec and held the position until 2001. In 2002 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II, the QE II Golden Jubilee medal was awarded to those Canadians who had made “an honourable service in military, police, prison, and emergency forces, or for outstanding achievement or public service.” Bouchard received one, and today he receives another, proving being a monarchist or not, and wishing Quebec was separate from both the Queen and Country is not a criteria.

    Then we have Alfonso Gagliano, former accountant and politician, who worked in government as a Liberal, from 1984 to 2002 in various capacities, including Minister of Labour, Canada Post, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, and Political Minister for Quebec. It was always whispered that he had links to Montreal and Quebec organized crime, but to-date Gagliano still denies any involvement. In 2002 he was given the post of Canadian Ambassador to Denmark, but in 2004 was dismissed for being perhaps involved in the “sponsorship scandal.” The scandal involved Gagliano when he was Minister of Public Works, and a $100 million program that was set up intending to raise the federal government’s profile in Quebec, but instead simply went to Liberal friendly ad agencies.

    With an overall operating cost of $14 million, the Gomery Commission was established to conduct a public inquiry into the scandal.They would find that $2 million in contracts were given out without any bidding process, $250,000 was found to be added to one contract for no additional work, and $1.5 million was awarded for work that was never done. At the conclusion of the inquiry, Gagliano would be the highest ranking Liberal to ever be charged with deliberate dishonesty, rather than negligence. Soon after, Liberal Premier Paul Martin expelled Gagliano from the Liberal party for life. But this year Gagliano has won a Queens Jubilee Medal, for being an outstanding Canadian, and instantly tarnishing all those who actually deserve the award.

    Another Jubilee winner this year is Pamela Wallin, a television journalist and game show host, who in 2002, was appointed Canada’s Counsel General in New York City by Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chretian. She held the position for four years, then in 2006, sat on the board of Bell Globalmedia. A year later she would be sitting on the board of Oilsands Quest Inc., Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc., an investment and wealth management firm, and on the advisory board of BMO Harris Bank. As a bonus, the same year, she was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada.

    In 2009, on the advice of Conservative Prime Minister Stevie Harper, Wallin was appointed a Canadian Senator. Four short years later, in 2013, she would step down from three paid positions she held outside of the Senate, when she became embroiled in the Senate expense scandal, where in Feb. 2013, Senators Wallin, Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, and Mac Harb were forensically audited on suspicion of fraudulent claims. In May 2013 Wallin resigned from the Senate Conservative caucus, and in August was ordered to pay back $121,348 in improper expense claims. In September she would write a check and pay it off. The case has been referred to the RCMP, and Wallin is under a continuing investigation.

    Coincidently and astonishingly, fellow Senator Brazeau, also won the Queens Jubilee Medal this year. A Quebecer, Brazeau was the National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) from 2006 to 2009. In 2009, amidst a sexual harassment complaint brought against him to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, and facing allegations of improper spending of funds received by CAP for aboriginal health programs, Prime Minster Stevie Harper recommended Brazeau to become a senator, and so he became. At the time Brazeau tried keeping both, his senator’s seat and his national chief of CAP job, thus collecting two publically funded six figure incomes. He wilted quickly and the next day resigned from CAP.

    While sitting as a Senator, Brazeau had one the worst attendance records of all 105 members. From June 2011 to Apr. 2012 for example, the Senate met 72 times; Brazeau was absent 25% of the time. As Deputy Chair of the Human Rights Committee he was absent 31% of the time. On the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples he was absent 65% of the time. Enough said.

    In Feb 2013, he was kicked out of the Conservative Party after being arrested for assault against a woman. Recently suspended as a Senator, Brazeau is also under RCMP investigations into housing expenses and tax-filings, prior to him becoming a Senator, as well as currently under RCMP investigation for Breach of Trust.

    Other recipients of such an honour, were 36 year-old Ray Novack, who lived above Harper’s garage for four years when Harper was serving as leader of the official opposition, and who is now Harper’s brand new Chief of Staff, after Harper lost his old Chief of Staff to the Senate scandal. And, also brand new, Deputy Chief of Staff, Jenni Byrne, who also won the Jubilee Medal. And heck, why not? Justin Beiber also received the Queens Jubilee Medal. Methinks for being a cartoon character.

    I myself know a fellow who is into car crime. Enjoys smashing windows, stealing cars then destroying them, but who also happens to keeps dozens of Canadians in work, from cops to insurance companies, tow-truck drivers, mechanics, jail guards and repairmen. It’s like he creates an economy around him, helping other Canadians provide for their families. He has been staying home over the past few weeks waiting for his own Queens Jubilee Medal to come in the mail, and is confused and worried because it hasn’t arrived yet.