Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.
Breath growing short
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain:

Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see
So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls
On that small tree
And saturates your brick back garden walls,
So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?

Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air.
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.

My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do
Is live to see that. That will end the game
For me, though life continues all the same:

Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,
A final flood of colors will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.

Clive James, Japanese Maple

There are periods in human existence when the inevitability of a great upheaval, of a cataclysm that shakes society to its very roots, imposes itself on every area of our relationships. At such epochs, all men and women of good will begin to realize that things cannot go on as they are; that we need the great events that roughly break the thread of history, shake humanity out of the ruts in which it is stuck and propel it toward new ways, toward the unknown, toward the search for the ideal.

One feels the inevitability of a revolution, vast, implacable, whose role will be not merely to throw down the political ladder that sustains the rule of the few through cunning, intrigue and lies, but also to stir up the intellectual and moral life of society, shake it out of its torpor, reshape our moral life and set blowing in the midst of the low and paltry passions that occupy us now the livening wind of noble passions, great impulses and generous dedications.

Pyotr Kropotkin, Words of a Rebel

The apocalypse was quiet. It had a way about it, a certain charm. It could be called graceful. It was taking a long time.

People prepared for an apocalypse that they could take up arms against, bunker down with. People hoarded filtered water, canned corn, dry milk, batteries. They published books on how to get things done in the new post-world, a world that they always imagined as being much like our own, only missing one or two key things. They might imagine, for example, that survivors would reemerge onto a planet stripped of all vegetable and plant life. First, the animals would grow vicious and then starve. It would be important to hoard as many of these animals as possible, pack them in salt and hide them away to keep. You’d want to have a supply of emergency seed to grow in a secure location, maybe using sterilized soil that you had already hoarded. Then you’d want to gather a crew. One muscle man with a heart of gold, a scientist type, an engineer, a child, and somebody that you thought maybe you could love, if you survived long enough to love them.

You, Disappearing by Alexandra Kleeman - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics (via guernicamag)


David Schnell (German, b. 1971), Durchblick, 2004. Oil on linen, 90 1/4 x 49 in.


David Schnell (German, b. 1971), Durchblick, 2004. Oil on linen, 90 1/4 x 49 in.


A submerged idol of Hindu Lord Shiva stands in the flooded River Ganges in Rishikesh, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, India, on June 18, 2013. Monsoon torrential rains have cause havoc in northern India leading to flash floods, cloudbursts and landslides as the death toll continues to climb and more than 1,000 pilgrims bound for Himalayan shrines remain stranded.


A submerged idol of Hindu Lord Shiva stands in the flooded River Ganges in Rishikesh, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, India, on June 18, 2013. Monsoon torrential rains have cause havoc in northern India leading to flash floods, cloudbursts and landslides as the death toll continues to climb and more than 1,000 pilgrims bound for Himalayan shrines remain stranded.

A Truncated Interview on Racism | Charles Eisenstein

At a conference (Economics, People, and Planet) in Denmark, a tall Nordic-looking man and a mixed-race woman wearing press badges asked me for an interview. They put me on camera and the woman said, “I’ll ask you the same question I’m asking all the keynote speakers. What does the conference topic have to do with the most important issue facing the world today?”

I paused for a moment, wondering what the most important issue facing the world today might be.

Before I could answer, she said with a little exasperation, “Racism!”

I said something like this:

Racism is a key enabling factor in the economic system that is ravaging our planet. You see, inequality is built into the system, and racism is a way to make that inequality palatable. You can say, for instance, that black people deserve to be poor because they are black. Without racism and other forms of chauvinism, you see everyone as brothers and sisters equally deserving of a good life, and economic injustice becomes intolerable. However, racism isn’t the cause of economic injustice; it is one of its justifications or excuses. Inequality, intensifying inequality, is built into the system, and if it didn’t fall along racial lines it would fall along some other lines. If you could magically remove racism, in our present system there would still have to be some on top and others on the bottom. In fact, I have read arguments that racism was basically invented as a justification for slavery – an effect of slavery and not a cause. Because after the fall of the Roman Empire, slavery fell out of favor in Europe. It was considered wrong to own another human being. In order to own one then, a way had to be found to dehumanize people, to make them less than fully human. Racism was how that was accomplished. The same kind of thing goes on today: even if we no longer think it is OK to own someone, more subtle forms of slavery and oppression seem acceptable when we see other races or cultures or any subgroup as inferior. It means that working to end racism, which is important for many other reasons as well, also helps to address economic injustice. And vice versa, it also means that changing the economic system removes a basic motivation for racism.

The woman became angry. She spoke at great length about how racism is the cause and not the result of economic injustice, that we whites had better watch out because people like her are going to rise up and overthrow us, and what I need to do as a white male is stand down, shut up, and give people of color a voice. The scene was beginning to attract attention from one or two of the organizers.

After several minutes of this, I became annoyed and asked her, “If you think I as a white male should shut up, why are you interviewing me?”

At that point she and her assistant were hustled out by the organizers. Apparently they hadn’t been invited, weren’t bona fide press, and had basically crashed the conference.

I wasn’t very happy with this result. The experience the woman walked away with merely reinforced her feeling of being oppressed and silenced. Reflecting on it, I think the problem was that I believed this was actually an interview. It was not – the interview as a cover for another kind of interaction. If I’d realized that earlier, I’d not have attempted to elucidate my views and instead would have just listened to her, asked for her story. There is real pain there, and no intellectual argument about whether racism is the cause of economic injustice will change that. 

The US and France Are Teaming Up to Fight A Sprawling War on Terror in Africa | VICE News

In July of this year, France launched Operation Barkhane, an ambitious counterterrorism initiative spread across five countries in Africa’s Sahel and Sahara regions. The mission seeks to build upon the success of the French military intervention that drove al Qaeda-linked jihadi militants from northern Mali in 2013, and comes at a time when the US is expanding its own counterterrorism operations on the continent, setting the stage for what some analysts consider a burgeoning Franco-American alliance in Africa.

"This is a new chapter in French-American relations," Michael Shurkin, a former CIA analyst who is now a political scientist at the RAND Corporation, told VICE News. "There is an unprecedented level of cooperation going on."

In an August 11 memo to US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama, citing an “unforeseen emergency,” authorized the transfer of up to $10 million “to assist France in its efforts to secure Mali, Niger, and Chad from terrorists and violent extremism.” The move hints at a division of labor in which the US foots the bill for a cash-strapped French military that is both logistically and politically better placed than the US to engage in combat operations in the Sahel.

An even more striking example of US-French counterterror cooperation in Africa may have taken place earlier this month, when US airstrikes in Somalia killed Ahmed Godane, co-founder of the al Shabaab Islamist group. Subsequent reporting by French magazine Le Point suggests that the actionable intelligence leading to Godane’s death came from the French, an indication that the two nations already have mechanisms in place for tight cooperation at a highly sensitive level.

All of this comes as part of what analysts have dubbed the US military’s “pivot to Africa.” Although the US has engaged in counterterrorism activities in Africa since 2002, military operations have grown rapidly under the Obama administration. Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti remains the only official, permanent US base in Africa, but over the last decade, a constellation of sites, including “intermediate staging bases,” and “cooperative security locations,” have spread across the continent. A near-constant rotation of US military personnel, intelligence operatives, and private military contractors who engage in humanitarian missions, civil affairs activities, bilateral training exercises, and covert operations is now underway in almost every country in Africa.