2019 04 – Newsnotes

Notes On The News

by Gwydion M Williams

Climate – A Witch’s Brew

Drunk drivers mostly get home safely.  Safe and sober drivers cause accidents.  But laws against drunk driving are not a pointless interferences in the freedom of The Individual.

Likewise climate-saving laws.  Things we should have done 30 years ago.

Every climate model that predicted disaster also predicted small areas of unusual cold, along with the general warm-up.  But the Centre-Right in the USA flatly deny it.  Elsewhere they delay or evade the need to act now.

Resistance to new regulation is normal enough.  I am old enough to remember the tremendous fight against police using breathalysers to curb drunken driving.  Likewise parking meters.

We could have lived with high traffic deaths, had we been callous enough.  We will not easily live with the massive climate shifts that have already begun.

Last October, I said ‘Abnormal is the New Normal’.[1]  It remains so:

“Cyclone Idai has had a ‘massive and horrifying’ impact on Mozambique’s port city of Beira, the Red Cross says.

“It made landfall on Thursday with winds of up to 177 km/h (106 mph), but aid teams only reached Beira on Sunday.

“People have been rescued from trees, homes have been destroyed and roofs were ripped off concrete buildings, head of the Red Cross assessment team, Jamie LeSeur, told the BBC.

“The cyclone has killed at least 150 people across southern Africa.

“More than 80 people have died in eastern and southern Zimbabwe.”[2]

We should call them all hurricanes, not Pacific ‘typhoons’ and South Asian ‘cyclones’.  All exactly the same thing, except those south of the equator turn in the opposite direction.[3]

This African hurricane began in the warm waters between Mozambique and Madagascar.  Brushed Madagascar, killing three people.  Was vastly worse on the African mainland:

“The people of Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi aren’t prepared because, well, storms of this strength aren’t all that common in this area. The last time these countries experienced a storm this intense … was Leon-Eline in 2000. Though that storm was much stronger—a Category 4—it didn’t hit Mozambique the way Cyclone Idai did.”[4]

Just a bit of bad luck?  No!  Like a child killed by a drunk driver, the likely cause is clear enough:

“There are at least three major ways that the Mozambique floods are related to climate change: First, a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor, which makes rainfall more intense. Idai produced more than two feet of rainfall in parts of the region — nearly a year’s worth in just a few days. Second, the region had been suffering from a severe drought in recent years in line with climate projections of overall drying in the region, hardening the soil and enhancing runoff. Third, sea levels are about a foot higher than a century ago, which worsens the effect of coastal flooding farther inland”[5]

And worse is expected:

“Cyclone Idai, the tropical storm that ravaged Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, has been described as the worst weather-related disaster to hit the southern hemisphere, and the UN says more than 2 million people have been affected. Storm-surge floods of up to six metres have caused widespread devastation.

“Experts said it was too early to draw specific conclusions from Cyclone Idai, but the rapidly changing climate meant the destructive power of such storms was only going to increase in the future.”[6]

The biggest worry is that either the Indian monsoon gets switched off by the global changes, or that rising temperatures and humidity mean that large parts of India and other tropical zones become too hot for human survival.  Lizards would do fine, but humans in hot climates must sweat to stay alive.  If our bodies overheat, we die.

Would you take 3 or 4 displaced Indians into your home?  Unlikely.

Or pay a lot more tax to settle them somewhere?  Also unlikely.  And which of the nation’s jealous nation-states would let in tens of millions of them?  The USA has the space, but assuredly not the willingness.

Would you just leave them to die?  People would try to dodge that.

If we act in time, there should be better solutions.

The widely-feared 12-year limit is for the arbitrary figure of an expected global rise of 1.5 degrees.  We should have acted much sooner, but anything we do would make things less severe.

A crash could happen.  Racist governments in rich northern countries might hunker down and let most of the world perish.  We might recover from that eventually: but it is much better not to go there.

 

Britain: Mild Warmth and Gross Inaction

From a British viewpoint, the very mild February was a nice surprise.  Flowers bloomed early.

But what it means is something else:

“This week’s record winter heat in the UK was so far above normal trends that scientists have been forced to reconsider their statistical models, with one expert calling the temperature jump ‘incredible’.

“UK temperature records have tumbled in the past 10 days… Wales set a new UK high for the season for 20.8 in Porthmadog. This was beaten on Wednesday, when Kew registered 21.2C.

“Even taking into account the underlying 1C of global heating from carbon emissions this was a surprise to some scientists…  A climate researcher … who has conducted a preliminary study of the trend data … said the probability of this week’s temperatures was close to zero.

“‘This is an incredible jump in record temperatures. If you asked me a few months ago, I would have said it is ridiculous,’ he said. ‘It’s at least a one-in 200-year event, but it could be more because my statistical tools break down because this was so far outside what we are used to in February.’…

“Time was running out but the government was going backwards on climate action. ‘Since 2010 almost every existing sensible climate measure has been torched: zero carbon homes scrapped, onshore wind effectively banned, solar power shafted, the Green Investment Bank flogged off, and fracking forced on local communities.’”[7]

Meantime, merry fools in the USA think a sudden burst of Arctic weather means that Global Warming is an alarmist liberal myth.  But all climate models predicted local outbreaks of unusual cold amidst the general warming.

Irregularities in the Jet Stream let freezing polar air move south.  It was normally blocked under the old and rapidly-vanishing norm.

 

Zionism – All Loyal Jews Must Join a Sinking Ship

The Soviet collapse convinced the Palestinian mainstream that they had to settle for a limited Palestinian state within majority-Arab parts of British-Mandate Palestine.

That was the basis of the 1993 Oslo Agreement.  It was generally seen as conceding an independent Palestinian state, in return for Palestinian leaders conceding that it was legitimate for Israel to exist on land taken from Arabs since the 1940s.  Technically, it did not quite say this.[8]  But nothing else made sense.  Applied honestly, it might have ensured the long-term existence of Israel.  If no one got greedy.

Sadly, most Israelis did get greedy.  Greedy and angry, offended by a militant minority of Arabs who had not accepted the peace.  But they also never let a real Palestinian state be created.

The creation of British-Mandate Palestine made no sense, unless the long-run aim was an overwhelmingly Jewish state.  Britons had mostly accepted European Jews as part of the White Race, whereas the Arab inhabitants of Greater Syria were doubtful ‘Levantines’.  Religion also counted: Britain went along with the French creation of The Lebanon, where a Christian population surviving from the mediaeval crusades should dominate.

Greater Syria had been defined as such by the Ottomans.[9]  It was distinct from the three Ottoman provinces that Britain re-organised as Iraq, lumping together several very different populations.

The Ottomans in 1872 had separated out the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem.  This was 84% Muslim Arabs, 10% Christian Arabs, 5% Jewish, and 1% Druze Arabs.[10]  Britain took this and added the southern third of what had been the Beirut Vilayet.  The middle third became The Lebanon, small enough that its Maronite Christians might dominate it, and did in fact dominate until Israel destabilised it.  The northern third was part of a smaller Syria.

Land to the east of British Palestine was defined as Transjordan, later Jordan.  It was successfully ruled by a moderate and pro-British monarchy.  They came from Mecca, and another branch of the dynasty was imposed on Iraq for several decades.

The British idea was for a fragmented Arab world with British Palestine being gradually taken over by displaced Jews from Continental Europe.  Jews in Britain were accepted, but Britain wanted no more of them, despite their general creativity and hard work.  Likewise the USA.

British-Mandate Palestine after 1945 was a convenient dumping-ground for vast numbers of displaced Jews.  These understandably wished to flee Eastern Europe, after surviving Hitler’s extermination efforts, which killed more than half the Jews that he had control of.  The rest survived, because even Nazis had trouble killing people who were obviously helpless.  They usually had to do it out of sight, mostly in gas chambers.  And they shut these down and tried to hide the evidence when the Death Camps were due to be liberated by the Red Army.

But Britain had been inconsistent in its management of Palestine.  The Arab population was rebellious when they saw themselves being displaced by vast numbers of newly arrived Jews with an alien European outlook: very different from the Arabic-speaking Jewish minorities some of them were used to.  Hitler wanted all Jews out of Germany: out of Europe in general.  He balked at killing them in vast numbers, which only became official policy from 1942.  But Britain was unready to carry through its original notion of dumping them in Palestine in the face of Arab resistance.  Arab loyalty or hostility would count for much if there was a new World War, which was all along feared.

In 1948, the United Nations tried to settle the issue by partitioning British Palestine.  It was done with bias: Jews would have been a small majority in the areas given to them.

What actually happened was the much better-organised Israeli forces driving large numbers of Arabs out of an Israel that was much larger than the UN settlement.  This lasted till 1967, with Israel in the 1956 Suez Crisis taking the Sinai and Gaze Strip, but later handing them back.  The Sinai was never seen as part of Israel.  The dense Arab population of the Gaze Strip made it hard to handle.

It was otherwise with the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem, and also the Golan Heights.  The Golan Heights overlook much of Israel, but Israel did consider giving it back to Syria in negotiations that eventually failed.  President Trump has now recognised it as part of Israel.

The West Bank would have been the core of a real Palestinian state, but to Israelis it is ‘Judea and Samara’, their historic homelands.  There was a reluctance to pull out settlers, or even to prevent more and more land being taken for Israeli settlement.  That was probably the main reason why Israel never gave an acceptable deal to Yasser Arafat .  Arafat was an inept and irritating politician; but also the best man to have legitimised the continued existence of Israel in the eyes of Arabs and the wider Muslim world.

The failure to make a deal means that Israel is very clearly not a democracy in the modern sense.  It is a democracy for Jews only, just as South Africa was a democracy for the so-called White Race before the end of Apartheid.  Most Arabs have votes, but no real control over their own lives.

Rather than recognise this, Israel and its overseas supporters insist that Israel is and has always been a victim of unreasonable Arab hostility.  And that this is so obvious that anyone who fails to agree must be full of bitter hatred against Jews in general.  So Labour is denounced as anti-Semitic, even though hostility to Jews as such is rarer within Labour than in British society generally.[11]

Israel has received a lot more tolerance from the left than other states that behaved in a similar manner.  There was and still is a lot of sympathy for Jews.  But in the last 10 or 20 years, too many Jews have been lining up with the New Right, and ignoring massive injustices.  Being timid and short-sighted: seeking acceptance by the powerful rather than ordinary people.  There are still many fine exceptions among the global Jewish population, but they are a dwindling minority.

Centre-Right policies are also heading for a disaster.  The New Right have failed to improve the economy, and have been in a deep mess since the 2008 crisis.  They could easily split into weak centrists and a revived Hard Right.  This has already happened with Trump in the USA, and with Hard Right parties elected in Poland and Hungary.

This Hard Right is currently more hostile to Muslims than to Jews, or hostile to Russians in Ukraine.  But they basically don’t like Jews, and might at any time turn against them.  Or more realistically, refuse to help Israel if the going got tough.

And it could get very tough indeed.  My article Fear of Socialism in the last issue accidentally left out a final paragraph:

It would be hard to stitch together a grand alliance including Pakistan with its nuclear weapons and Turkey with its efficient NATO-trained military.  But it could happen.  What then would be the future for Israel?

[Omission corrected in the on-line version.]

This remains a real danger.  And the conventional New Right is increasingly a ‘broken reed’ that a returned Jeremiah would surely be warning about.

Talk of a ‘moaning Jeremiah’ is mostly an insult: but the warnings he gave were entirely accurate.  Quite possibly because they were re-written by later compilers: but gloomy warners should never be scorned.

What’s happened in the West from the 1980s has been 1% gaining at the expense of 90%, with 9% breaking even.  And with overall economic growth slowed, but not as much as the dominant 1% have gained.  They have a larger slice of a cake that is smaller than if the West had kept confidence in the methods that had worked well in the 1950s and 1960s.[12]

There are more Jews in the losing and break-even social strata than among the winners.  But also more Jews among the winners than for other communities.  And the new system relies heavily on getting communities to fight each other, even though this defies the official ideology of abstract greedy individuals looking at nothing but financial gain.

There is also an official insistence that any hostility to Jews be treated as hundreds of times more important than hostility to lesser breeds of human.  This does not, of course, make Jews safer.  It feeds the whole system of community antagonism that the Centre-Right depends on to win elections.

Back in June 2016, I spoke of Zionism’s Suicidal Militancy.[13]  This remains the tragic truth.

 

Snippets[14]

Reform and Perish!

“Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are missing a trick over trade

“US-Japan agreement on structural reforms in 1990 could be model for current China talks…

“Japan, for example, agreed to tighten enforcement of its competition laws, loosen ties among its keiretsu (industrial groupings), make it easier for large retail chains to open stores and reduce the bias toward using land for rice farming…

“As it happened, the ‘Japan threat’ began to melt away soon after the SII – but not because of US or Japanese trade policy. Instead, Japan’s three-year financial bubble burst in 1990 and its economy has never quite recovered since.”[15]

It does not occur to them that the ‘reforms’ might have blighted what had been a very successful Japanese economy.

Yes, there was a financial bubble: but most societies suffer these and bounce back.  Japan has never recovered the economic vigour it had when it trusted in a version of the New Deal or Mixed Economy system that was Western orthodoxy from the 1940s to 1970s.[16]  They lost faith in a system that worked a lot better than the New Right obsession with Imaginary Capitalism.

One hopes the Chinese have learned from this.  At the time of writing, it remains unclear just what deal they will make.  Or even if a deal will be made.

***

Boeing’s Nose-Dive

“Boeing faced an unthinkable defection in the spring of 2011. American Airlines, an exclusive Boeing customer for more than a decade, was ready to place an order for hundreds of new, fuel-efficient jets from the world’s other major aircraft manufacturer, Airbus…

“To win over American, Boeing ditched the idea of developing a new passenger plane, which would take a decade. Instead, it decided to update its workhorse 737, promising the plane would be done in six years.

“The 737 Max was born roughly three months later.

“The competitive pressure to build the jet — which permeated the entire design and development — now threatens the reputation and profits of Boeing, after two deadly crashes of the 737 Max in less than five months. Prosecutors and regulators are investigating whether the effort to design, produce and certify the Max was rushed, leading Boeing to miss crucial safety risks and to underplay the need for pilot training.”[17]

Boeing installed software that would take over and point the aircraft’s nose down if it felt it was too high and risking a stall.  And would do this in defiance of the wishes of the human pilots.[18]

If this arose from a faulty instrument and the system was intent on crashing into the ground, the only permitted solution is to disconnect the faulty instrument.  But most pilots were never told about this.

So far two aircraft have been crashed by this, in each case killing everyone on board.

***

Brexit

Things are moving very fast.  My blog speculation from the 22nd still stands as I write.[19]  But with an update after the confused voting on the 27th. [20]

Tory bungles matches the old joke about substandard British management: My Indecision is Final.  Hang onto power, even if you can’t use it competently.

***

Previous Newsnotes at the Labour Affairs website, https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/past-issues/.  Also https://longrevolution.wordpress.com/newsnotes-historic/.  I blog every month or so at https://gwydionmw.quora.com/, and tweet at @GwydionMW.

 

[1]              https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/recent-issues/2018-10-magazine/2018-10-newsnotes/#_Toc527368677

[2]              https://www.bbc.co.uk/news

[3]              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriolis_force

[4]              https://earther.gizmodo.com/cyclone-idai-poised-to-become-southern-hemisphere-s-dea-1833406709

[5]              https://grist.org/article/cyclone-idai-lays-bare-the-fundamental-injustice-of-climate-change/

[6]              https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/19/climate-change-making-storms-like-idai-more-severe-say-experts

[7]              https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/mar/02/uk-temperature-jump-february-incredible-climate-weather-carbon

[8]              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oslo_I_Accord

[9]              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Syria

[10]           https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutasarrifate_of_Jerusalem

[11]           https://gwydionwilliams.com/048-anti-semitism-and-zionism/fewer-anti-semites-in-labour-than-tories/

[12]           https://gwydionmadawc.com/037-adam-smith-misleading/the-mixed-economy-won-the-cold-war/

[13]           https://gwydionwilliams.com/048-anti-semitism-and-zionism/zionisms-suicidal-militancy/

[14]           Previous Newsnotes at the Labour Affairs website, https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/past-issues/.  Also https://longrevolution.wordpress.com/newsnotes-historic/.  I blog every month or so at https://gwydionmw.quora.com/, and tweet at @GwydionMW.

[15]           https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/mar/22/donald-trump-and-xi-jinping-miss-a-trick-over-trade

[16]           https://gwydionmadawc.com/037-adam-smith-misleading/the-mixed-economy-won-the-cold-war/

[17]           https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/23/business/boeing-737-max-crash.html

[18]           https://www.newscientist.com/article/2197581-crashed-boeing-737s-lacked-upgrades-that-could-have-warned-pilots/

[19]           https://gwydionmw.quora.com/Brexit-on-22nd-March

[20] https://gwydionmw.quora.com/Brexit-at-28th-March-playing-chicken

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