Category: Beamnews

Mother Nature

Mother Nature.

God, science, atheism. This is what humans debate constantly, wherever you go. Yet the real visible force eludes them. They trample over her. Take her for granted. She gives us all that we are and have, and then takes it all away.

While we ignore her we create more malleable alternatives. Such as God and his prophets.

Science is also basic, yet scary in its vastness of the universe and lack of answers. It makes us irrelevant and confused.

We are at a stage where our so called evolution has the power to destroy us, and really piss her off. Yet we are not nearly close enough technologically to escape her wrath. Just like spoiled children with the arrogance that we rule our destiny. She does.

A God made by us and for us is distant yet palpable. He is our creation to comfort us, and us alone. Forget all the creatures great and small whom we pretend to like only for brief entertainment. In God we create the usual boundaries which make us more secure than the unknown of science. We constantly praise him so we can get favors in return.And God’s merchants do very well for themselves in his name. In God we have managed to remain tribal, as we are in every way, with a multitude of religions.

Atheists then are the religion which reject God. And they can be just as tedious as their counterparts. They have no hierarchy but obnoxious believers spread everywhere.

Yet the true ultimate force with the final say is our mother whom we live with daily. Trample her, scar her, try to change her. Basically what mothers go through.

This one’s love is not unconditional. There is no time for that. And all her creatures are equal to her. She is a bitch and eventually replaces us, and all we hold dear. Eventually if we make her mad enough she will discard us as a species, and create a new one. Been done before. We have no choice but to live with her until she tires of us. With her, all things are clear and not within our control. We choose to ignore that completely. We think of gods which we cannot see. Yet we see the real force every minute of our lives. And she shakes us through our lives and throws us away when it is our time. But we can’t think of this as it is not worthy of who we are. We must have a supreme being who can provide an afterlife and tease our imagination. Like the spoiled child, we are rotten, and feel entitled. We don’t even know how to coexist with other beings, much less each other. We coined them as animals to make them inferior and separate to our ilk. Just as we do within ourselves politically with race, color, religion, and the list must go on.

Hope is the only thing we have in life. This four letter word is the only force which keeps us thriving. God forbid we could see the future.

Mother Nature gives us hope, but within the same scope as any other being on the planet. No exceptions. It’s such a shame that the only view into the future which she gave us is the notion of our own mortality. That really sucks. Probably a trade-off for being at the top of the food chain. A reminder that someday she will get us without warning or ceremony.

The party’s over! For every one big and small. Sure would be great not to even be aware of it.

Gloves Off Plea.

Gloves Off Plea
October 15, 2012

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
Fax: 202-456-2461

The Honorable Joseph Biden
Vice President of the United States of America
Fax: 202-456-3463

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. N.W.
Washington DC.20500

“We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
Benjamin Franklin
July 4, 1776

Dear Fellow Citizens.

I must first state that my belief lies between the formulation of good or bad policies, as well as sincerity, be it liberal or conservative.

There is no doubt in my mind that you and Mr. Biden are sincere and want the best for this nation. Mr. Biden I have to admit has always been a favorite, and his strength lies in his outspoken style which goes against the robotic society we have become.

I appeal to you, as I still don’t see the gloves coming off in exposing Mr. Romney and his cohorts for the pathological liars they are. Mr. Romney like G.W. Bush is self assured and even more presentable than the latter. This leaves me very worried, as we are no longer dealing with a normal Republican Party.

In the first debate Mr. President, you only criticized the fact that Mr. Romney was changing his economic tax policy suddenly before the elections. You never really put him on the defensive for all the endless changes in policies to broaden his base. Understandably for a party that was left in an ideological vacuum by the last administration.

Then you mentioned that you both pretty much agreed on Social Security. The past administration is hardly mentioned . Mr. Biden did touch on the fact that had they privatized Social Security we would be in a disastrous state especially following the Wall Street mess. Mr. Ryan however in the Vice Presidential debate did reassert that the youth should be able to choose and invest how they wished in the private sector, therefore hinting at bringing back the same plan of a privatization of Social Security.

You never expose them for all the reasons they just want to see you fail, or the reasons you were held back. This makes it difficult for the majority to understand where the blame lies. Mr. Romney comfortably says that as President he would eagerly work across party lines. A fact they are unwilling to do in the opposition.

What frightens me is that your opponents are smooth and the average voter will not fully understand what you have tried or failed to do, and the average person likes the determined unflinching arrogance they portray. In your various speeches you expose some of these issues, but I believe that they are succeeding in using their well oiled machinery and unflinching rhetoric, no matter how baseless, in convincing many who do not understand the complexities. The fact remains that the televised debates are crucial in gaining the upper hand.

Mr. Romney and the present Republican Party, I have no doubt don’t give a damn and have shown how they are willing to switch policies to recreate a base, and use the most verbally childish attack tactics to win the votes. A party, which after the last administration was devastated into an ideological wasteland and has no bearing on the Republican Party of past. This is a party that created a base for all sort of outrageous ideas that could never have been voiced in its past history. From Mr. Gingrich’s dubious family values, to Mr. Akins psychopathic view on women’s rights, to the constant rhetoric of protecting the first amendment and religious freedom. Religious freedom is not under attack, and fundamentalists have more power than they wish to admit, but it is in their makeup to feel attacked. Religion, sexual behavior, family values. Sounds degenerately obsessive. And the economy?

Why cant people show some basic strength of character and admit that the previous administration created a mess rather than blame the failures on Obama, and even Carter. Why not say it, and take the stand that mistakes were made within the Republican Party and that they will be fixed accordingly.

Like the Gore-Bush debacle, you well know Mr. Obama that these people are not to be taken lightly, and they have become extremely dangerous to the nation. I don’t see them anymore as just another party, or the opposition to the Democrats, or whoever. They are the opposition to truth, and good faith; all that we have lost. But they do a good job without shame, and have always been cohesive, organized, and well funded.

I beg of you to take the gloves off and fight them with the bayonets that they would use against you.

How unpatriotic is it to have a platform claiming that the major goal is to see Mr. Obama be a one-term president. This is nothing short of treason, especially in a crisis.

These people are never really exposed for who they really are, but they are relentless in exposing their opponents. Yet when they are in power they are hardly scathed by the Democrats.

A crucial issue the Republicans are never confronted on are their endlessly repetitious anti abortion policies, and the sacred preservation of the unborn fetus. Yet they are against most programs to assist the children who are actually born in hardship. They are on their own.

Many of the comments and actions from the present Republicans or sympathizers are actually more dangerous and unpatriotic than the so called ‘hostiles’ we are searching for, as these people are at the core of the system, and able to paralyze it.

I immigrated to this country, from Europe in the mid seventies for ideological reasons. I was not a Soviet mole, but I found the US to have a more flexible society, educational system, and less entrenched elite. A lot has changed since then on both sides of the ocean, and I can tell you that most of the policies that were implemented were plain to see and extremely depressing.. The contrast of the Patriot Act was so close to the Enabling Act passed after the Reichstag fire in National-Socialist Germany. Thank god we had more checks in place, people woke up, and the wishes of the Bush administration were somewhat curtailed.

I remember at the time Mr. Obama, you and Mr. Biden were at the confirmation hearings of the Bush appointees and neither of you were happy and had great arguments. But in the end you grudgingly gave your approval. This can no longer happen as the consequences are too dangerous and you are both I feel our last bastion. It is no longer even the party of McCain and Palin, but something much worse without shape, no real sense of direction, but definite aggression, with all the return to medieval ideologies, unbefitting a world power, to go against whatever few real democratic principles we may have left in this oligarchic system.

So I beg of you. Please expose, attack, and put them on the defensive for all to understand and see, as well as really hammer in what you have tried to do, and failed to do, and why. Leave no doubt in anybody’s mind. Because there is way too much doubt out there, even amongst your initial followers. Something Mr. Clinton tried to explain. All speeches mention the constitution and the never-ending republic. This nation has been extremely lucky so far. But for how much longer?

I thank you for taking the time to hear me out, and I hope you can be there another four years this time with the gloves off, and your bayonets.

With my most devoted sentiments.


PS. I have included FDR’s Second Bill of Rights which is always a great read, especially now. In no way is it meant to be patronizing, but it can be refreshing.

Franklin D. Roosevelt
State of the Union Message to Congress January 11, 1944
To the Congress:
This Nation in the past two years has become an active partner in the world’s greatest war against human slavery.
We have joined with like-minded people in order to defend ourselves in a world that has been gravely threatened with gangster rule.
But I do not think that any of us Americans can be content with mere survival. Sacrifices that we and our allies are making impose upon us all a sacred obligation to see to it that out of this war we and our children will gain something better than mere survival.
We are united in determination that this war shall not be followed by another interim which leads to new disaster- that we shall not repeat the tragic errors of ostrich isolationism—that we shall not repeat the excesses of the wild twenties when this Nation went for a joy ride on a roller coaster which ended in a tragic crash.
When Mr. Hull went to Moscow in October, and when I went to Cairo and Teheran in November, we knew that we were in agreement with our allies in our common determination to fight and win this war. But there were many vital questions concerning the future peace, and they were discussed in an atmosphere of complete candor and harmony.
In the last war such discussions, such meetings, did not even begin until the shooting had stopped and the delegates began to assemble at the peace table. There had been no previous opportunities for man-to-man discussions which lead to meetings of minds. The result was a peace which was not a peace. That was a mistake which we are not repeating in this war.
And right here I want to address a word or two to some suspicious souls who are fearful that Mr. Hull or I have made “commitments” for the future which might pledge this Nation to secret treaties, or to enacting the role of Santa Claus.
To such suspicious souls—using a polite terminology—I wish to say that Mr. Churchill, and Marshal Stalin, and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek are all thoroughly conversant with the provisions of our Constitution. And so is Mr. Hull. And so am I.
Of course we made some commitments. We most certainly committed ourselves to very large and very specific military plans which require the use of all Allied forces to bring about the defeat of our enemies at the earliest possible time.

But there were no secret treaties or political or financial commitments.
The one supreme objective for the future, which we discussed for each Nation individually, and for all the United Nations, can be summed up in one word: Security.
And that means not only physical security which provides safety from attacks by aggressors. It means also economic security, social security, moral security—in a family of Nations.
In the plain down-to-earth talks that I had with the Generalissimo and Marshal Stalin and Prime Minister Churchill, it was abundantly clear that they are all most deeply interested in the resumption of peaceful progress by their own peoples—progress toward a better life. All our allies want freedom to develop their lands and resources, to build up industry, to increase education and individual opportunity, and to raise standards of living.
All our allies have learned by bitter experience that real development will not be possible if they are to be diverted from their purpose by repeated wars—or even threats of war.
China and Russia are truly united with Britain and America in recognition of this essential fact:
The best interests of each Nation, large and small, demand that all freedom-loving Nations shall join together in a just and durable system of peace. In the present world situation, evidenced by the actions of Germany, Italy, and Japan, unquestioned military control over disturbers of the peace is as necessary among Nations as it is among citizens in a community. And an equally basic essential to peace is a decent standard of living for all individual men and women and children in all Nations. Freedom from fear is eternally linked with freedom from want.
There are people who burrow through our Nation like unseeing moles, and attempt to spread the suspicion that if other Nations are encouraged to raise their standards of living, our own American standard of living must of necessity be depressed.
The fact is the very contrary. It has been shown time and again that if the standard of living of any country goes up, so does its purchasing power- and that such a rise encourages a better standard of living in neighboring countries with whom it trades. That is just plain common sense—and it is the kind of plain common sense that provided the basis for our discussions at Moscow, Cairo, and Teheran.
Returning from my journeyings, I must confess to a sense of “let-down” when I found many evidences of faulty perspective here in Washington. The faulty perspective consists in overemphasizing lesser problems and thereby underemphasizing the first and greatest problem.
The overwhelming majority of our people have met the demands of this war with magnificent courage and understanding. They have accepted inconveniences; they have accepted hardships; they have accepted tragic sacrifices. And they are ready and eager to make whatever further contributions are needed to win the war as quickly as possible- if only they are given the chance to know what is required of them.
However, while the majority goes on about its great work without complaint, a noisy minority maintains an uproar of demands for special favors for special groups. There are pests who swarm through the lobbies of the Congress and the cocktail bars of Washington, representing these special groups as opposed to the basic interests of the Nation as a whole. They have come to look upon the war primarily as a chance to make profits for themselves at the expense of their neighbors- profits in money or in terms of political or social preferment.
Such selfish agitation can be highly dangerous in wartime. It creates confusion. It damages morale. It hampers our national effort. It muddies the waters and therefore prolongs the war.
If we analyze American history impartially, we cannot escape the fact that in our past we have not always forgotten individual and selfish and partisan interests in time of war—we have not always been united in purpose and direction. We cannot overlook the serious dissensions and the lack of unity in our war of the Revolution, in our War of 1812, or in our War Between the States, when the survival of the Union itself was at stake.
In the first World War we came closer to national unity than in any previous war. But that war lasted only a year and a half, and increasing signs of disunity began to appear during the final months of the conflict.
In this war, we have been compelled to learn how interdependent upon each other are all groups and sections of the population of America.
Increased food costs, for example, will bring new demands for wage increases from all war workers, which will in turn raise all prices of all things including those things which the farmers themselves have to buy. Increased wages or prices will each in turn produce the same results. They all have a particularly disastrous result on all fixed income groups.
And I hope you will remember that all of us in this Government represent the fixed income group just as much as we represent business owners, workers, and farmers. This group of fixed income people includes: teachers, clergy, policemen, firemen, widows and minors on fixed incomes, wives and dependents of our soldiers and sailors, and old-age pensioners. They and their families add up to one-quarter of our one hundred and thirty million people. They have few or no high pressure representatives at the Capitol. In a period of gross inflation they would be the worst sufferers.
If ever there was a time to subordinate individual or group selfishness to the national good, that time is now. Disunity at home—bickerings, self-seeking partisanship,
stoppages of work, inflation, business as usual, politics as usual, luxury as usual these are the influences which can undermine the morale of the brave men ready to die at the front for us here.
Those who are doing most of the complaining are not deliberately striving to sabotage the national war effort. They are laboring under the delusion that the time is past when we must make prodigious sacrifices- that the war is already won and we can begin to slacken off. But the dangerous folly of that point of view can be measured by the distance that separates our troops from their ultimate objectives in Berlin and Tokyo—and by the sum of all the perils that lie along the way.
Overconfidence and complacency are among our deadliest enemies. Last spring—after notable victories at Stalingrad and in Tunisia and against the U-boats on the high seas—overconfidence became so pronounced that war production fell off. In two months, June and July, 1943, more than a thousand airplanes that could have been made and should have been made were not made. Those who failed to make them were not on strike. They were merely saying, “The war’s in the bag- so let’s relax.”
That attitude on the part of anyone—Government or management or labor—can lengthen this war. It can kill American boys.
Let us remember the lessons of 1918. In the summer of that year the tide turned in favor of the allies. But this Government did not relax. In fact, our national effort was stepped up. In August, 1918, the draft age limits were broadened from 21-31 to 18-45. The President called for “force to the utmost,” and his call was heeded. And in November, only three months later, Germany surrendered.
That is the way to fight and win a war—all out—and not with half-an-eye on the battlefronts abroad and the other eye-and-a-half on personal, selfish, or political interests here at home.
Therefore, in order to concentrate all our energies and resources on winning the war, and to maintain a fair and stable economy at home, I recommend that the Congress adopt:
(1) A realistic tax law—which will tax all unreasonable profits, both individual and corporate, and reduce the ultimate cost of the war to our sons and daughters. The tax bill now under consideration by the Congress does not begin to meet this test.
(2) A continuation of the law for the renegotiation of war contracts—which will prevent exorbitant profits and assure fair prices to the Government. For two long years I have pleaded with the Congress to take undue profits out of war.
(3) A cost of food law—which will enable the Government (a) to place a reasonable floor under the prices the farmer may expect for his production; and (b) to place a ceiling on the prices a consumer will have to pay for the food he buys. This should apply to
necessities only; and will require public funds to carry out. It will cost in appropriations about one percent of the present annual cost of the war.
(4) Early reenactment of. the stabilization statute of October, 1942. This expires June 30, 1944, and if it is not extended well in advance, the country might just as well expect price chaos by summer.
We cannot have stabilization by wishful thinking. We must take positive action to maintain the integrity of the American dollar.
(5) A national service law- which, for the duration of the war, will prevent strikes, and, with certain appropriate exceptions, will make available for war production or for any other essential services every able-bodied adult in this Nation.
These five measures together form a just and equitable whole. I would not recommend a national service law unless the other laws were passed to keep down the cost of living, to share equitably the burdens of taxation, to hold the stabilization line, and to prevent undue profits.
The Federal Government already has the basic power to draft capital and property of all kinds for war purposes on a basis of just compensation.
As you know, I have for three years hesitated to recommend a national service act. Today, however, I am convinced of its necessity. Although I believe that we and our allies can win the war without such a measure, I am certain that nothing less than total mobilization of all our resources of manpower and capital will guarantee an earlier victory, and reduce the toll of suffering and sorrow and blood.
I have received a joint recommendation for this law from the heads of the War Department, the Navy Department, and the Maritime Commission. These are the men who bear responsibility for the procurement of the necessary arms and equipment, and for the successful prosecution of the war in the field. They say:
“When the very life of the Nation is in peril the responsibility for service is common to all men and women. In such a time there can be no discrimination between the men and women who are assigned by the Government to its defense at the battlefront and the men and women assigned to producing the vital materials essential to successful military operations. A prompt enactment of a National Service Law would be merely an expression of the universality of this responsibility.”
I believe the country will agree that those statements are the solemn truth.
National service is the most democratic way to wage a war. Like selective service for the armed forces, it rests on the obligation of each citizen to serve his Nation to his utmost where he is best qualified.
It does not mean reduction in wages. It does not mean loss of retirement and seniority rights and benefits. It does not mean that any substantial numbers of war workers will be disturbed in their present jobs. Let these facts be wholly clear.
Experience in other democratic Nations at war—Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand- has shown that the very existence of national service makes unnecessary the widespread use of compulsory power. National service has proven to be a unifying moral force based on an equal and comprehensive legal obligation of all people in a Nation at war.
There are millions of American men and women who are not in this war at all. It is not because they do not want to be in it. But they want to know where they can best do their share. National service provides that direction. It will be a means by which every man and woman can find that inner satisfaction which comes from making the fullest possible contribution to victory.
I know that all civilian war workers will be glad to be able to say many years hence to their grandchildren: “Yes, I, too, was in service in the great war. I was on duty in an airplane factory, and I helped make hundreds of fighting planes. The Government told me that in doing that I was performing my most useful work in the service of my country.”
It is argued that we have passed the stage in the war where national service is necessary. But our soldiers and sailors know that this is not true. We are going forward on a long, rough road- and, in all journeys, the last miles are the hardest. And it is for that final effort—for the total defeat of our enemies-that we must mobilize our total resources. The national war program calls for the employment of more people in 1944 than in 1943.
It is my conviction that the American people will welcome this win-the-war measure which is based on the eternally just principle of “fair for one, fair for all.”
It will give our people at home the assurance that they are standing four-square behind our soldiers and sailors. And it will give our enemies demoralizing assurance that we mean business -that we, 130,000,000 Americans, are on the march to Rome, Berlin, and Tokyo.
I hope that the Congress will recognize that, although this is a political year, national service is an issue which transcends politics. Great power must be used for great purposes.
As to the machinery for this measure, the Congress itself should determine its nature—but it should be wholly nonpartisan in its make-up.
Our armed forces are valiantly fulfilling their responsibilities to our country and our people. Now the Congress faces the responsibility for taking those measures which are essential to national security in this the most decisive phase of the Nation’s greatest war.
Several alleged reasons have prevented the enactment of legislation which would preserve for our soldiers and sailors and marines the fundamental prerogative of citizenship—the right to vote. No amount of legalistic argument can becloud this issue in the eyes of these ten million American citizens. Surely the signers of the Constitution did not intend a document which, even in wartime, would be construed to take away the franchise of any of those who are fighting to preserve the Constitution itself.
Our soldiers and sailors and marines know that the overwhelming majority of them will be deprived of the opportunity to vote, if the voting machinery is left exclusively to the States under existing State laws—and that there is no likelihood of these laws being changed in time to enable them to vote at the next election. The Army and Navy have reported that it will be impossible effectively to administer forty-eight different soldier voting laws. It is the duty of the Congress to remove this unjustifiable discrimination against the men and women in our armed forces- and to do it as quickly as possible.

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth- is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill housed, and insecure.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our Nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.
One of the great American industrialists of our day—a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis-recently emphasized the grave dangers of “rightist reaction” in this Nation. All clear-thinking businessmen share his concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop—if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called “normalcy” of the 1920’s—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.
I ask the Congress to explore the means for implementing this economic bill of rights- for it is definitely the responsibility of the Congress so to do. Many of these problems are already before committees of the Congress in the form of proposed legislation. I shall from time to time communicate with the Congress with respect to these and further proposals. In the event that no adequate program of progress is evolved, I am certain that the Nation will be conscious of the fact.
Our fighting men abroad- and their families at home- expect such a program and have the right to insist upon it. It is to their demands that this Government should pay heed rather than to the whining demands of selfish pressure groups who seek to feather their nests while young Americans are dying.
The foreign policy that we have been following—the policy that guided us at Moscow, Cairo, and Teheran—is based on the common sense principle which was best expressed
by Benjamin Franklin on July 4, 1776: “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
I have often said that there are no two fronts for America in this war. There is only one front. There is one line of unity which extends from the hearts of the people at home to the men of our attacking forces in our farthest outposts. When we speak of our total effort, we speak of the factory and the field, and the mine as well as of the battleground — we speak of the soldier and the civilian, the citizen and his Government.
Each and every one of us has a solemn obligation under God to serve this Nation in its most critical hour—to keep this Nation great — to make this Nation greater in a better world.

What is Tribalism?


Are we not going towards globalization, and isn’t that a good thing? The new world order, the one block. ‘ Hands across the sea.’ Always great ideas to think we are improving and can be closer to each other than we really are. That we are evolving and understanding each other better. Maybe but not yet. So far globalization has been a stealthier way, the usual political language, to promote the raw capitalist tools, which exploit cheap third world labor. It sounds great because it is supposed to help the poor masses with jobs . It ends up being a more politically correct version of slave labor where you are paid a pittance and manufacture for the developed countries, oblivious to pollution, unions, insurance, etc.

So politics and economics aside, the fundamental flaws remain in that people need approval, familiarity, security, and shelter. They are not really open minded but still very tribal in their real evolutionary capacity to feel secure.

We have more information available to us now but one must know how to get it. The U.S. mainstream media has become more isolated and two dimensional towards the tribal way of thinking. One can seldom get real internal news except that which affects us. Very few stations are left, and mostly radio, who offer that view.

Globalization is romanticized as a great evolution, but it is too big and incomprehensible for the majority, and ends up not being a social concept at all but one of economic exploitation of the Third World by the industrialized wealthier nations.
This is in truth the politically correct continuation of the dependence imposed on the third world after colonization ended. Backing leaders who will exploit their own country’s resources to provide the wealthier ones with cheap raw materials and labor. The control may not be as direct but you don’t need standing armies and administrations. You leave that up to the natives and just give their leaders the concessions to make them happy. It actually works much better and is less of a headache, especially for the US who is a lousy colonizer.

The human brain is limited in what it can accept and can only remember or feel comfortable with a certain dose of social contact. It can only accept so many numbers of friends. Most don’t really want to be bothered by alien ways of thinking. They want the shelter of their churches, country clubs, political parties, nation states, languages, money, religion, race, and sex.

We have improved somewhat but what is political correctness other than refined prejudism. Words are important and are used to conceal real intentions and motives. Word codes are important to make people feel better about dastardly deeds. Like ‘Special Treatment’, ‘Relocation’, ‘Globalization’, ‘Democracy versus Socialism’.
The other factor rarely talked about is the more people there are in the world, either we will have to find ways, or isolate even more. You must fit in somewhat comfortably. So globalization can only be political.

We are not yet evolved enough and are actually seeking smaller communities as the world becomes overcrowded. So it is the reverse because it becomes intolerable.

So with all the information at our disposal our mindset has not evolved to where it can accept the mindset of different cultures, as it can be overwhelming, and frankly not interesting to most how other part of the world think. This is very true of religion where it makes people feel more comfortable in putting complex issues into manageable clear categories. It is indeed a blessing if one can believe in such simple order and an afterlife.

Tribalism is still the pivotal part of our psyche no matter how modern we think we have become. This is the constant gap between technological evolution and the ability to control it. The younger generation is more tolerant, yes. Of course there are improvements growing up in a multiracial society, but in the world as a whole conflicts continue. Besides finding comfort in a subculture in order not to get lost is more a fact in the U.S. today.

Globalization is therefore the modern or politically correct way in which the wealthy tribes exploit the poor ones, and nothing more. It is not about reaching out across the seas to better appreciate and know each other, but about modern economic exploitation.

Certain things improve in some ways slowly, while the deception also evolves in more sophisticated ways. Because the core of basic human and animal behaviors do not change that quickly and wont. So technology will continue to accelerate beyond our capacity to curb its power of destruction away from our basic instincts. And we will continue to have access to world markets for cheap modern slave labor, and the modern corporate media will make it sound positive.

Like political correctness it is all these terms which are created to sound so appealing, cultured, and compassionate, and hide the real motives. History does repeat itself but of course with different formulas of more sophisticated forms of deception. This is where the real evolution lies.

© 2010 beamcorp.com

The Crier Of Berlin – Final Travelogue Of The Cold War

The Berlin Wall near the Brandenberg Gate one year into construction.

The Berlin Wall near the Brandenberg Gate one year into construction.

West Berlin May 1989

A convoy drives up Strasse der 17 Juni, and stops a few hundred feet from the Brandenburger Tor. The men begin unloading a bronze statue which they carefully place on a stone pedestal in the middle of the avenue. The statue is that of a young man with shoulder length hair, wearing a frock. Forlorn, his hands cupped around an open cavernous mouth, calling out across the wall, through the Brandenburger Tor. For all the oppressed around the world he cries out: “Freiheit, Freiheit, Freiheit.” On it’s base a simple plaque reads: “Der Rufer,” (the Crier).

In the past

Walking down the majestic Unter den Linden, I contemplate the sole relatively intact section of imperial Berlin where the few remaining grand structures stand in a more or less congruous style. In it’s heyday it was the Champs Elysées of Berlin, the stylish center of pre-war Germany’s capital. Now it is East Berlin, or simply Berlin capital of the “New Germany.” Frozen in time, like most East Block cities, with large invisible populations. An omnipresent and potent smell of coal hangs in the nippy winter air as one walks down a major thoroughfare unperturbed, like a boulevardier of bygone times. On the hour one gawks at the goose-stepping soldiers coming down the sidewalk for the changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. A brief reminder that someone is still, somewhat, firmly in control. The sun sets early, four thirty, five o’clock. The streets are faintly lit. There is little activity, except for an occasional lone, East German, Trabant auto spewing out obnoxious fumes from it’s two stroke engine, zipping by on the eight lane boulevard.

The subdued activity and quiet atmosphere is relaxing for an outsider, because it’s a novelty one doesn’t have to endure. I continue my walk down, enjoying the cold air and the serene atmosphere.

I perceive the Brandenburg gate and the wall immediately beyond it. Yet I can’t approach them because barricades precede them by approximately a hundred meters. The gate is therefore inaccessible to both East and West Berliners, except of course for communist officials, and other like “progressives.” My mind wanders over the wall where the whole sky is illuminated by city lights. A powerful hum and a cacophony of sounds and modern musical beat rise from the forbidden city beyond.

My curiosity is aroused for like many East Germans, I have never been to West Berlin. On subsequent visits to East Berlin, I always entered through a neighboring Communist country. Therefore, my sense of comparison was dulled, for I had time to adapt to the radically different way of life so reminiscent of a time warp, and could not feel the impact of gloom and grayness which most Western visitors described upon entering East Berlin directly from neighboring West Berlin. It was difficult to imagine the radical contrast between the quiet city where I stood and the noisy forbidden city beyond the concrete wall. A surreal contrast within such a small area made only possible by the omnipresent threat of the nuclear age.

November-December 1989

When the first segments of the wall came tumbling down on November 9th, 1989-twenty eight years since it’s construction in the early hours of August 13, 1961-I thought this would be my last opportunity to compare the two sectors of the divided city. The dam was leaking and there was nothing to stop it, short of Soviet backing.

It was also the last opportunity for my wife, who had been barred from travelling to the Communist Block, to catch a last glimpse of forty four years of darkness which were now ending at an alarmingly accelerated pace, to witness the dusk of the Cold War, and the final conclusion of World War II.

Visiting Berlin is the most efficient method of comparing two radically different political worlds in an accessible area of space. A divided city, the likes of which the world has never seen. An anomaly made possible by the omnipresent nuclear Sword of Damocles. West Berlin, literally an island in the midst of a hostile political ocean, encapsulated by communist East Germany could not have survived under any other circumstance.

West Berliners are like islanders, at times feeling trapped and claustrophobic, but without the sense of security provided by a body of water. A feeling especially prevalent among the younger generations, stifled by a lack of space and increasingly diminishing population and expectations, from an exodus, resulting from these frustrations. Many outsiders, and West Germans often uneasy about venturing in this strange territory, surrounded by hostile forces and international tension.

We took a sleeper on train 243, Paris-Berlin-Warsaw, from Paris-Gare du Nord which would take us all the way to Hanover where we would switch carriages on the same train to a sitting compartment, because the direct sleeping car was full. Due to the unusual political circumstances all modes of transportation into Berlin were booked.

We elected to take the train, as a palpable alternative to hectic air travel, and to observe how the borders between East and West Germany had been affected during the last month’s changes.

The sleeping trip was pleasant and somewhat reminiscent of bygone days; although slightly. The conductor was probably the only true reminder of a time when it was a true joy to travel by train. Impeccably groomed with white hair, a full beard, and conductors uniform. He had the combined authority and deference held by many old school professionals.

We arrived in Hanover, changed cars, and made ourselves comfortable. Soon after we arrived in Braunschweig, the last major city in the Federal Republic, where many East German shoppers embarked to return to the Democratic Republic. The huge crowds had somewhat subsided since the euphoria that began with the opening of the wall, a few weeks back. It was already commonplace.

The West German border guards went through the train checking the passports and disappeared. We arrived at the West German border station of Helmstedt where the locomotive was changed from an electric to a diesel- since there are few electric powered trains in communist countries- and then nothing. I told my wife to look out for stringent control by the “Grenzpolizei der DDR” – dogs, soldiers checking the roof and toilets for stowaways, taking apart bedbunks, using mirrors to check all hidden recesses- and then to look for the watchtowers and huge trenches dividing East and West Germany in the countryside; the only other man made division which can be seen from space with the Great Wall of China.

Nothing happened. The train kept going and the entire countryside became white with frost, and a thick layer of mist and fog. The sun was but a dim circle. This melancholic scenery was the only indication that we had entered the dreaded East German State. The frozen countryside was interminable. It felt like we were in Siberia. Above all there were no people, and very few homes to be seen, purposefully, except in the immediate vicinity of the few train stations we hastily passed by.

An East German border guard finally came by, looked at our passports, took a transit visa which was on a separate piece of paper, from the portable mini briefcase hanging around his neck, which once opened doubles into a convenient mini desk ready with stamps, visas, and all bureaucratic paraphernalia required for customs purposes. This will undoubtedly remain as one of the most practical vestiges of communism. He stamped the visa, courteously handed us the whole thing back, and left. My wife looked at me as if all I had told her in the past about rigid border controls had been a product of my innermost fantasies. The trip was without incidence. So much that I decided to take photos of isolated wood fences along the landscape to pretend they were part of the wall, so as not to disappoint anyone expecting a modicum of excitement for future slide presentations. The waiter came by to ask us to go to the restaurant car. When we declined, because we had too many suitcases which we couldn’t leave behind, he even offered to bring us two gristly Wienerschnizels, which we gladly accepted.

The train entered West Berlin at the border station of Berlin Wannsee, to go on to our final destination of Berlin Zoo station, the central station in West Berlin, aptly named for it’s location next to one of the world’s largest, and most diverse zoos.

My wife suggested that we bring our suitcases to the entrance door, so that we could quickly get off the train once we arrived. I declined, saying that there had been few people on the train so far, and that it probably wouldn’t be a problem getting off. My mistake.

The train pulled into the station, and was continuing on to Warsaw. As soon as it stopped, the doors flung open and a human tidal wave came into the car, pushing and shoving. They came on with huge television sets, suitcases, boxes. Just foraging their way forward. I quickly took one of the suitcases and fought my way through the narrow hallway, as I asked them to let us get off. They were totally expressionless, like greedy automatons. They mindlessly pushed ahead like a herd of cattle. They were Poles eager to get on the train to Warsaw like there was no tomorrow. After five minutes, I finally got to the entrance area where I dropped the one suitcase and painfully struggled back to the compartment to get the other suitcase and the three smaller pieces of hand luggage. It was a nightmare, the flood of Poles was increasing by the second. Women were being pushed against the walls of the hallway. People were pushing forward with their huge boxes. I am usually not one to panic, but I was totally powerless and afraid the train was going to leave any minute. I kept screaming that we must get off, but all in vain. I told my wife to start throwing the luggage out of the window, and that we should jump after them. I was also concerned for the suitcase I had left at the end of the car. Could I ever get back there to retrieve it. I freaked out when I realized that I couldn’t even throw the luggage, or my wife out because people had started crawling in through the windows. There seemed to be no escape. It was like an invasion of locusts. As my frustration increased, I began to aggressively push my way against this human tide as if my life depended on it. We finally made it out of the train with all our luggage after an interminable fifteen minutes. We both sat on a luggage cart shaking and totally drained of any strength we had left. We hadn’t experienced this even on our second class travels through India, whose trains have a reputation for being full to capacity.

As we sat on a luggage cart, a tall, well groomed, impeccably dressed man, erect as a lamppost, came and asked me in German: “Is this the train to Warsaw?”

“Yes, you’d better get on.” I replied in the same tongue.

“It seems full.” He replied with a shy smile, and dazed abandon. Then just turned around and walked away, strait as an arrow. We began to laugh hysterically, as the crowds on the train gawked at us, some embarrassed, some oblivious.

This type of situation was to be seen throughout the West Berlin subway stations and other means of public transportation, although it slowly subsided as the novelty of new found freedoms wore off. The Poles were the primary black marketeers. Buying cheap goods in East Berlin and selling them in the West. Buying goods in the West and taking them up to Poland. Poles were considered the Americans of the East Block, because they were allowed to have Dollar bearing interest accounts from money they acquired working abroad. A legal and common practice in Poland for years often yielding higher interest rates than Western markets as an additional incentive. They would then go to other East Block countries, especially Hungary, to purchase goods they could not get in Poland. This was one of the many ironies of East Block nations: Poles have ample cash and few consumer goods, Hungarians have plenty of consumer goods and little cash, East Germany has the highest standard of living in the East Block, but total travel restrictions; until November 9th.

The next day, our friend Carmen, from Frohnau, a Northern West Berlin suburb, located in the French sector, wanted to show us the sights. I made it clear to her that during this trip, my only concern was to get a perspective of the divided city, and not the usual historical sights. I could always visit the few remaining historical sights anytime in the future. At this particular time in history, the particular human events were of interest. Just a few weeks earlier, the wall had opened up. Something that no one thought would occur within their lifetime; not even spy novelist John Le Carré as he stated on French television. Having visited East Berlin on several occasions, but never West Berlin, I needed to compare this unique historical situation, before it changed forever.

Carmen wanted to take us to the KaDeWe. The largest and most unique department store on the continent. The Harrods of Berlin. Who cares, I thought. She insisted that it was worth the time and that she only wanted us to see the food section on the top floor. Besides it wasn’t too far from the hotel, on the Kurfürstendamm or “Ku’damm,” the main shopping hub, and central artery of West Berlin.

The weather was cold -5C (23F), and there were constant smoke alerts. All evils came from the Eastern sector of the city, so why no all pollutants, like coal smoke, and the added pollution from the two-stroke “Trabi” cars belonging to newly freed adventurous East Germans. The East German invasion of shoppers had somewhat subsided since the last few weeks when the wall came down, but was still in vigor. There were regular smoke alerts, and my wife had severe itching of the eyes as a result of the pollution. I was relieved to discover that you don’t only see the air you breathe in Los Angeles.

We entered the KaDeWe and began another struggle to get to the food market on the top floor. Between the throngs of Christmas and East German shoppers it wasn’t as frustrating as the Polish invasion on the Warsaw train, or the subways, but crowded nonetheless.

The elevator finally arrived to the top floor after an omnibus ride that stopped on every floor, as hordes rushed in bearing gifts like the Three Wise Men.

I travelled extensively, and I have seen all types of food markets. From the most extravagant to the most rudimentary. However, what we discovered was impressive. There was the whole floor of a department store with the best quality foods from all over the world, displayed with German precision and cleanliness. Each section had an area where customers could sample that section’s delicacies. Many would just sit on stools around the bar, or at tables, depending on the arrangement, and socialize. So much for the American fifteen minute lunch break.

I do not mention this episode for purely gastronomical reasons, but to show the disillusionment felt by those who came from the other side of the wall. I lived in the West and I was impressed. East Germans were at first astonished and happy, but once the euphoria subsided, it was quickly replaced with anger. The feeling of having been cheated and betrayed for thirty years. Why couldn’t they have shared in this wealth. Why had they been locked in for so long.

The last remaining justifications for these questions vanished when there were increasing rumors of corruption and unsocialist behavior, like the lavish lifestyles of the top communist party leadership in the Northern East Berlin suburb of Wandlitz, where they retained opulent residences with modern Western appliances, servants, private boat docks, et cetera. There was increasing evidence that top cronies of former leader Erich Honecker, like former economic minister Gunter Mittag and cohort, Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski had embezzled millions -over 100 million- of dollars in hard currency. This further disgusted the population and few remaining party loyalists who had certain beliefs in the system and in government austerity measures for socialist development. This led to the complete communist leadership collapse the next day, December 3rd, whereby Mr. Egon Krenz, who ousted Mr. Honecker, and the Politburo resigned en masse.

We proceeded to the Strasse des 17 Juni, which leads to the Brandenburg Gate. As I mentioned, no one has access to the gate itself except for Warsaw Pact military personnel, and Communist party officials. The wall is directly before it on the Western sector, and there is a no-man’s land on the Eastern sector, whereby the access is barricaded approximately one hundred meters before the gate.

All along this Western section of the wall, there is a narrow path bordering the wall. There, people were strolling and watching the scattered entrepreneurs, hammering away at the wall to get a piece of the rock. The whole area sounded like a quarry. No matter what the size of the hammer and the chisel, the wall still broke off into small, thin pieces.

The same scene was prevalent next to the wall at Checkpoint Charlie, around Friedrichstrasse. There, the Americans were, of course, the best equipped. With professional tools: large, sturdy hammers, giant chisels, goggles, gloves, the works. “Where’s the jackhammer?” I asked.

As we continued walking alongside the wall, we noticed this awkward looking youth holding a torn piece of aluminum piping and walking with great determination and anger. He then stopped, looked up at the wall and began whacking it with the thin pipe like a madman. I could either conclude that he was either trying to dislodge a loose piece or that he was punishing the wall. In any case, he didn’t have an easy task ahead of him.

Surprisingly, West German border guards would stroll by the wall in duos and aggressively confiscate the weekend miner’s hammers. Maybe they thought that they would soon be out of a job. A few minutes later, the East Germans would come by in pairs, relaxed, hands behind their backs, as if on a weekend stroll, amiably smiling at everyone. As if to say: “You see, we are not the bad guys after all.” There was a trio of East German guards hunched over the wall, peering down, completely at ease, enjoying the activity below. They couldn’t have been over twenty one years old.

A nine year old girl peered through one of the recent slits between the concrete block sections which make up the wall. What she saw was no longer really forbidden but would soon be accessible to her. Maybe she even was from the other side. It was no longer an issue.

My friend Carmen, always the philosopher, was outraged at anything to do with this wall. She didn’t want to come and see it. She disliked the foreigners who came to collect pieces of it, often for profit, rightly saying that it was just a passing fad and not a reality for them. She even refused to have her picture taken in front of it. For Carmen, and many Germans, it is a symbol of oppression, a wall of shame, which they do not want to be a part of in any way, and certainly don’t appreciate all the media hype. However toward the end of the day, after witnessing all the excitement and confusion, she grabbed my arm, and shyly said in a soft voice. “Please take a photo. For when I have children.” I took a snapshot of her in front of a side view of the Brandenburg behind the wall and the old Reichstag beyond, on the Westside, with a trio of border guards standing atop the wall, thumbs confidently tucked in their belts, peering down, smiling. It was a majestic site, with the warm winter light hitting the sides of the imperial buildings, giving them a rich golden appearance of contrast.

At the end of Strasse des 17.Juni, facing the Brandenburger Tor, there were large demonstrations, from the Polish Solidarity to anti fascists, to neo Nazi’s, and best of all a group of leftists chanting the communist Internationale to amused East German guards lying down atop the gate. “Le monde a l’envers,” as the French saying goes.

Another presence stood behind the crowds in front of the wall. Crying out for all the oppressed around the world: “Freiheit! Freiheit! Freiheit!” His plight and those for whom he cried out, was finally being heard through the cracks all across the East, to the Pacific, after forty four years of silence. German sculptor, Gerhard Marcks’ “Der Rufer,” (the Crier) placed there eight years after his death and six months before the collapse of oppression throughout Europe, could not have been present at a more auspicious time. The call of this forlorn man, cupping his hands around his mouth, was not only being heard but being answered at a phenomenal pace.

On the other side of the Brandenburg, the wall was immaculate, totally graffiti free, obviously because of it’s inaccessibility. Although right after the opening, a French company sent gallons of paint for East German artists to start painting that side of the wall. The government agreed to certain sections, and the artists needed little convincing.

Throughout the years, this wall has stimulated remarkable creativity and humor among artists from the world over, which will hopefully be preserved for historical and artistic purposes, and not for profit.

We were told on the East side that due to the extreme thickness of the wall, approximately nine meters, in front of the Brandenburg, it will not be torn down but that two gaps will be made on each side of it. Which is exactly what the two German governments ended up doing right before Christmas, on December 22, 1989.

As we walked down Unter den Linden, it was as I remembered it. Quite, serene, and chilly. I always seem to choose to go on those trips during the coldest season. It must be a subconscious masochistic effort on my part. Every Time I go to the East Block, winter seems to be there.

My wife expressed the same feelings I often conveyed to her. Like walking down an old European boulevard, during our childhood. Clean, quite, with few people, few crowds. Not the push and shove of the other side. Frozen in time with the smell of coal of yesteryear. Never tell an East Blocker that you enjoy their cities because they remind you of how Europe must have felt like some thirty odd years ago. I did that once in Poland, and the reaction was definitely not one of appreciation. “That was not intended,” I was bluntly told, with a menacing finger pointing at me.

We walked by the Bebel Platz, formerly Opernplatz, where suddenly out of the cold and the serenity, echoes could be heard from the past. On that spot in 1934 Dr. Goebbels organized the largest book burning ceremony to weed out undesirable authors from good German thinking. It was the period where everyone screamed. The ones in power screamed the loudest, as their victims screamed. Some screamed of arrogance, some from frustration, some of elation, most eventually from despair, as they all collectively fell into the darkness, deprived of any remaining rights of human decency.

The wall surrounding the Brandenburg gate, and the rest of West Berlin, is the reminder of that darkness to a country who plunged Europe into despair. A reminder by an equally ruthless Stalinist regime who’s people suffered the largest number of casualties from the madness, and imposed an era of deprivation and shame on a conquered continent. The Soviet Union having lost twenty seven million.

The Brandenburger Tor, the symbol of Imperial Berlin was built in 1788-89 by the neo-classicist architect Carl Gotthard Langhans. It has since been the symbol of Germany. A symbol of victory for victorious Prussian armies who marched triumphantly beneath it. A symbol of humiliation by Napoleon’s armies who entered Berlin through it. A symbol of rebirth and decline as lauty storm troopers and SS men organized massive torch parades under it’s columns. Various German army divisions proudly celebrated as Europe was being conquered, until one of the last oddities of the Third Reich, as General Jukow’s bomb’s rained all over Berlin, a last small contingent of troops was dispatched with marching band, amidst the ruins, to parade in full uniform, under the gate, in honor of Hitler’s 56th birthday, on April 20th, ten days before his suicide. Ever since it has stood as a symbol of a punished and divided nation, aptly demarcating two different worlds. One, communist, stretching Eastward through Siberia and ending at Vladivostok. The other, capitalist, spreading Westward through the Atlantic and across the American plains.

From this devastated city, little that was remains. Only isolated buildings and mementos. Otherwise, everything is postwar. Most people are shocked by how little remains. The famed Alexanderplatz, the eclectic and shady quarter of pre-war Berlin, with its cobblestones and old buildings, dramatized by Alfred Döblin’s “Berlin Alexanderplatz,” are no longer to be found. Instead, there is a huge modern mall area with massive East Block style hotels, and the pride of East Berlin, “Fernsehturm” the TV tower, affectionately nicknamed “Telespargel” (tele-asparagus), majestically rising above a red neon sign, “Neues Deutschland,” the New Germany.

It reminded me of the last time I was in East Germany, when the signs of change were nowhere to be found, I liked to tease people about the nostalgic titles still being used in the New Germany such as the daily “Neues Deutschland,” or “Deutsche Reichsbahn,” the national railway which kept its old name according to a postwar agreement. They would look at me with pride and disdain, saying, “aren’t they great names?” I would counter by saying that they were used during the Nazi era and did not have a very positive connotation to outsiders. They would simply reply, that it could not have any bearing because all the fascists were in West Germany and that the New Germany had never been polluted by such ilk. I often heard these shameless, ethnocentric, types of arguments throughout the East Block. It always fascinated me, how shamelessly they would endlessly propagate these arguments. Contrary to common perceptions, I never had problems approaching people in communist nations, but I often had these type of foolish arguments. I guess Lenin had a point when he thought the Germans would make good communists.

During part of the trip to East Berlin, or Berlin, as it’s simply known in the New Germany, we travelled with an Englishman named Michael, whom we met at checkpoint Charlie, where “Charlie’s retired, November 10, 1989,” as the clever graffiti reads, on the section of the wall before the checkpoint.

As we waited in line to have our passports checked, this rather distinguished white haired man, fully equipped with ski jacket, camera, and small backpack, approached me with what seemed to be authoritative German, and even rumbling his R’s, which I guess is the only way to authoritatively exercise one’s knowledge of that language. He asked me if he was waiting in the correct line. I replied in equally authoritative German that it was, but that this particular checkpoint was for foreigners, and that Germans had their own checkpoints. For some reason, I managed to pull it off, and he mistook me for a German. He therefore asked me what I was doing waiting at the wrong checkpoint. I didn’t know whether to feel flattered. Too bad the cold war was over, I might have become a good spook. I told him that I was American and he then admitted to being English. I asked him that with my complexion, brown eyes and black hair, he must have therefore assumed I was Bavarian. He didn’t have much to say to that, and even believed me. As we waited in line we talked of different matters concerning our two respective nations. When it came to the issue of drugs in England, he didn’t believe it to be a major problem beyond “the traditional sniffing of glue, and such like substances.”

Anyhow, on a quiet stroll back at afternoon’s end on Sunday, December 3rd, with Michael, we desperately tried to find a table for coffee and pastries. It was -5C, and we were tired and hungry. The tea rooms were pleasant but packed, although there seemed to be plenty of them. Typically of communist countries, there are not that many facilities for the number of people. When you consider East Berlin has 1.236 million (156sq mi) versus 1.879 million (185sq mi) people in the West, you realize the scarcity of facilities and the general absence of crowds in the streets.

In the tea room, we were all questioning the poor waitress as to what one could get for the minimal amount of allocated East German Marks we had left. Most foreigners become increasingly conscientious of what they spend in these countries because they have to change a certain amount of hard currency to enter, and are not allowed to take any out. The authorities usually don’t check but most people are fearful anyway. Besides it cannot be traded in external markets, so except for collecting purposes it is useless. I must add, from experience, that most Westerner’s fears in communist countries seems to be instilled by their own peer group and group organizers who in order to avoid any potential problems instill the fear of God and Lenin into their compatriots. I have rarely had any confrontations with the locals or the authorities, and have always found them to be quite receptive, as long as one doesn’t infringe on their taboos, like in any society.

I always end up feeling ashamed because one would normally end up spending too much money in the West, while in the East, the most open handed become misers. Of course, I guess they are not to be blamed because there is little to buy that is up to Western standards. That’s the greatest dilemma of these countries and why they have to update or simply remove an antiquated system of centralized production. This is the central, and only real premise of Perestroika, not democracy but economic parity with the West. Motivation, through self determination, means economic prosperity. I think! After all, let’s not forget that Gorbachev is a communist in the true sense of the word.

I barely had enough for coffee, and since I was hungry, I decided to pay in Deutsche Marks and keep the remaining East German bill (DDR Mark) as a souvenir. I always valued keeping bills as souvenirs instead of buying outdated, colorized postcards.

When we were all satiated, warm, and rested, we proceeded to walk back towards the checkpoint. On our way we noticed masses of people huddled in front of SED (Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands) Socialist Unity Party headquarters, the ruling communist party of the New Germany. There, different politicians were making fiery speeches denouncing the party’s role and abuses during the last few decades. A few people I talked to, which included party members, said the whole politburo and Mr. Krenz had just resigned because of past criminal activities against the people, and that the party was reforming internally.

As I mentioned earlier, many were angered at the corruption from Honecker cronies which ran in the hundred million dollar figure. Even remaining party loyalists who truly believed that certain austerity measures of the last thirty years were in the name of positive socialist development became disillusioned and outraged at the scope of theft and hypocrisy of the men of Wandlitz, the glitzy party suburb, North of Berlin.

Some members threw down their party memberships and trampled them, exclaiming that a whole nation had been imprisoned for decades just to be plundered by bureaucrats. The culprits were indeed criminals, having deprived their own people of their freedoms and aspirations, for personal greed and self advancement.

One cannot but stop to wonder. Autocrats throughout the world never seem to realize that in the end, no accumulation of material wealth can replace the power they would one day lose. The Shah and Marcos learned this. Although their loot paid for their expenses in exile, they were persecuted, broken men. Men like Somoza and Ceaucescu never had the time to reap the interest, much less the capital of their booty. The most fortunate of twentieth century despots, and probably the most ruthless, was Stalin, who died on his deathbed, the most powerful leader in the world after having assembled the largest empire. Although his extreme paranoia left him discontented.

I remember asking a Jewish family in Moscow a question which always left me perplexed. “Who was worse in your opinion, Hitler or Stalin?” “Stalin. “They said after little hesitation. “Because with Stalin, no one ever knew where they stood, no matter what position they held. With Hitler, people had a better idea where they stood, depending on race or political affiliation.” The worst of two evils I guess. I always felt sorrow for the Russians who were relieved when they thought the Nazi hordes would deliver them from Stalinist slavery, to only find out that the former classified them as subhuman.

When officials finished telling us of their plans for reform, my wife briskly stuck out her hand, wishing them luck and congratulating them. It was such a sudden response that they were somewhat startled. They awkwardly removed their gloves to shake our hands, not quite knowing what to do. After they left, Michael somewhat perplexed, whispered to my wife, “Do you think we did the right thing? You know, after all, they are Communists!” My wife just eyeballed me as we departed.

The same Michael, had earlier shown remorse at how the RAF high command resorted to the bombing of Dresden on February 13 and 14, 1945, with 800 aircraft, which devastated the city, and killed upward of 35,000 people. He thought that they (General “Bomber” Harris) would have been tried as war criminals had Hitler won the war, “and rightly so,” he said. I proceeded to relieve him of his passing guilt by reminding him what it would have felt like living under the Nazi boot. He was quickly relieved, and we moved on.

By the way, I always found it ironic that Bavaria, the cradle of Naziism, was left relatively intact, while the other states German states were not so lucky.

Like most visitors of these parts during these historical times, I wanted to bring back a piece of the wall. A practice which many, more philosophical, Germans didn’t take kindly to as I mentioned earlier. The only problem was that no matter how hard, or how well equipped one was, only small chunks would chip off. Concrete takes upward of twenty years to cure completely, and once its cured, it’s definitely cured. A kid in his early teens was selling thin contorted small pieces sprawled on old computer printouts. It was inconceivable for me to buy a piece. It wouldn’t mean a thing.

My wife had collected tiny morsels from my isolated mining endeavors, whenever I found someone kind enough to let me borrow their tools for a few minutes. But I wanted something more substantial, to serve a purpose; artistic or otherwise. I had studied this period of history so extensively, it was important to me.

Carmen, on the other hand was shocked at this grotesque quest for souvenirs by everyone, but she half heartedly agreed that it would not be beneath me to have a piece.

We were to meet Carmen at the hotel on our return from the New Germany to West Berlin.

After we washed up, a knock came on the door and there she was with a funny mischievous expression, half embarrassed, carrying a heavy black canvas bag. Out came a large incongruous chunk of wall, of about one cubic foot, with metal reinforcement rods and barbed wire still attached to it. She had gone to dislodge it while out walking the dog, with her mother, near her home in the French sector in the Northern suburb of Frohnau. There was this loose piece of wall where someone had been shot trying to escape a few months earlier.

We were to leave island Berlin by plane. I wanted to take the train, but the irony is that it’s often cheaper to go by plane. For some unknown reason, there always seems to be some special discount rate creeping up on me. Although one saves time, I find short airplane rides to be quite exhausting.

A postwar agreement only permits allied aircraft, flown by allied pilots to fly in or out of West Berlin, in three assigned corridors, as is the case for trains, and automobiles. Only since early 1990 is Lufthansa allowed to fly in. Whenever the West German Chancellor would fly in to West Berlin, he would have to disembark his plane in West Germany, and board an allied aircraft for the remainder of the journey.

This also illustrates the inevitable fact that Berlin is still under military occupation, and that it is not part of the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany, but has its own imposed rules, and local government. The Four Power Status-United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union-is still a fact of daily life.

The Allied armies hold parades throughout the year as the Russians do in their sector in East Berlin. A constant reminder of the status quo, and the fact that Germany never signed a peace treaty, at the end of World War II.

These factors coupled with the fact that Berlin was the capital and cultural hub of Germany create an atmosphere and way of life that is different from the rest of the country. Since the war, it’s peculiar isolation as a political island in the middle of East Germany, and it’s Four Power Status, have magnified these differences.

The people are definitely more cosmopolitan and liberal than in the rest of Germany, because of these factors. Many Berliners I talked to said they would have difficulties living in any other part of Germany.

The attitudes towards the Allies are mixed. The younger, postwar, generation seems to have a greater affinity for the French, and unlike the rest of the nation, many speak fluent French as well as English. This affinity for the French is in part cultural and also a force majeure.

The United States is widely viewed as imperialistic, regarding it’s policies throughout the world, and especially Latin America. In a culturally free spirited, and politically liberal minded city like Berlin these issues are taken seriously. Good thing we left right before the U.S. invasion of Panama.

The English, as usual, don’t really mingle too much with the natives, and are mostly isolated and aloof. This was their strength during colonial times, but in today’s world it just seems to create resentment.

This leaves the French as a more palpable alternative, closer in Continental thinking, and more willing to mix with the locals. Besides, the French contingent is mostly made up of younger troops. Most of them draftees, in their early twenties.

I wrapped my large chunk of wall inside the canvas bag Carmen gave me, checked in the luggage and took the wall as carry on. When I got to the security check, this large Germanic woman, reminiscent of Hitler’s Maidens, forbade me to take it on and said that it must be checked with the rest of the luggage.

I went back to complain to the young fair haired girl at the check in counter, who was surprised, and mentioned that security people can often be a nuisance. I guess the whole concept of security connotes being a pest to some in order to protect others. She went to discuss the matter, but to no avail, since the Germanic Cerberus had the final authority when it concerned matters of security. She simply said that it might fall on someone’s head, and that was the end of that.

I asked the ticket girl to make sure that it was safe and asked her to stick a fragile sticker on the bag. She laughed. “OK, but it’s lasted thirty years. I am sure that it will make this trip.”

Epilogue 1989

Once the euphoria at the opening of the wall subsided, people became less emotional and more realistic. The harsh reality is not really an issue of brotherly love but boils down to pure economic interests. The governments on the other hand are intent on unification for the long term. With the option gone of East Germany as a socialist alternative to West Germany, it is difficult to substantiate this separation any longer for most Germans, or logically for most. Many Germans are afraid of the East’s integration and would prefer a nebulous East Germany, although as a question of pride and facility, the majority favor unification. West Germans are afraid of the drain that it will create on their economy especially if the West German Deutsche mark replaces the East German Ostmark-DDR mark-which could have strong inflationary consequences, and wipe out most East German’s savings. On the other hand the new cheap manpower and rebuilding of obsolete industries in the East are a great asset for West German businesses.

East Germans are terrified at the thought of their savings becoming worthless, their becoming second class citizens, and their country and it’s social benefits being overrun by a system they are not familiar with. The capitalist system can indeed be quite ruthless when a nation and a people have been subsidized for so many years. The thought of their new freedoms being overrun by their rich West German neighbors without their having a chance to enjoy the benefits, in their own way frightens them. It is however a solution of facility for most East Germans because unlike other East Block countries they can hasten their recovery by just being saved by the Bonn Government. There are certain advantages to this, which often means sacrificing your own values and way of life.

Basically, it would be easier for everyone to keep both Germanys separate, including for the Germans, but as the lure of unification as a gut reaction of nationalistic pride approaches it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep the prize away any longer. A prize which scares many. The best example, was Poland’s recent request to keep Russian troops in for protection while not too long ago, they wanted them out.

When I asked people where they thought the capital would be in the event of reunification, many would humbly reply that it must remain in Bonn. I knew that Berlin would be a controversial choice, bringing back un-democratic memories, but nonetheless a symbolic one. The Reichstag has not been in use since it was burnt -by the Nazis- in 1933. This action generated the end of German democracy, and it has not been used since, although it has been almost entirely rebuilt and used for certain state functions. The re-opening of the Reichstag would signify the end of the partition, the return to democracy, and the real end of World War II.

If this is to be, one can only hope that the long and painful lessons which all have suffered will not be forgotten in the ensuing euphoria and the normalization between the two cities and two nations. The German’s always had the potential to excel, no matter what extreme they chose. Let’s hope that in their unity they will not aspire to the arrogance and nationalism of the past, and will fully integrate in the European continent.

Furthermore, it will be to everyone’s advantage to have a united Germany in the European Community. Not only because Germany is crucial to the EC concept-Germany and France being the driving force-, but because all nations will then be interlinked, which will create more check and balances, and will limit radical actions by individual nations. Also, with the diminishing influence of the two superpowers it will be to their advantage to leave matters of security to a unified European continent, and avoid at all cost the creation of vacuums and non defined spheres of influence, which was the case between the wars. The superpowers should not be hasty, and fully participate in these negotiations until all parties feel secure.

Only then will the “Crier’s” call be truly heard.

At Present

Since those cold historical days in 1989 many changes have taken place. Some positive for some, some negative for others, and definitely too rapid a change for most in both Germanys. West Germans have felt abused and taken advantage of in other ways feeling they have to work and unfairly allocate monies to subsidize their “less qualified” Eastern brothers. The East Germans on the other hand feel they haven’t had the chance after twenty four years to naturally emerge and adapt themselves to their new found freedom but have instead been thrown into a radically different system and have felt humiliated by it. These changes should have been more gradual as I mentioned earlier so that everyone could adapt and retain their integrity, but the politicians seized the day and wanted to get things moving and irreversibly on the way. There is also something to be said for this kind of shock treatment which could only have worked within the two Germanys.

As for Carmen and many other native Berliners who had such high hopes of these changes bringing “Island Berlin” out of it’s stifling isolation, they have moved elsewhere because this is exactly what happened. Berlin has been thrown at the center of the world stage and this expansion, change, massive international influx and the problems these bring have proven too harsh for many natives to enjoy.

So is the price of a quick fix. One that will no doubt pay off. And nothing worthwhile ever pays off without a sacrifice.

The Crier’s plea for freedom has been heard but should stand as a reminder to the Germans and all nations that the price of oppression, suffering caused to one’s own people and others, and the adaptation and re-adaptation of the past decades should never be forgotten.

The End

© 1991. www.beamcorp.com. All Rights Reserved

Opinions are like @$$#*!($. Everybody has one.
Ancient Friscan proverb

The High Price Of Double Standards And Short Term Policies – An Open Letter Industrial Nations. Ref:Iraq.

To those concerned:

Ensuing a decade of extensive arms trade with Iraq, it seems that all parties involved are reaping the fruits of their investments.

Iraq, on the one hand, has managed to build the world’s fourth largest army, and has been very resourceful at adapting this acquired military technology to their own needs on a road to relative self-sufficiency, uncommon among Third World nations.

On the other hand, the major economic powers have made a fat profit supplying this equipment while justifying these actions as a balancing strategy against Iran, during the Iran-Iraq war.

The present Gulf quagmire is a direct outcome of short term policies, combined with stubborn disregard to available information regarding the Iraqi government’s goals, and ruthless acts towards it’s own people. Were it not for greed and the promotion of short term goals, there would be a greater understanding of the region and it’s leaders, and the major industrial powers would not be in such a serious predicament.

Our policies have fed the dreams and demons of Saddam Hussein and his Ba`th party, thereby condemning the Iraqi people and allied soldiers to death. To those who were not purely motivated by blind political and economic commitments to anyone opposing Khomeini, but were aware that the policies of Saddam Hussein’s government were among the most ruthless in the world, caution was always a reality. It was not a mystery that Iraq had a long history of bloody dictatorial politics, of which Saddam was merely a by-product. We were also aware of Saddam’s frequent purges, and physical elimination of all opponents, including close friends and family members. Yet we conveniently chose to ignore these facts, just as we ignored the devastation of the Iran-Iraq war, and Iraq’s subsequent use of chemical weapons against Iranian troops, and Iraqi Kurds in the town of Halabja. Ghastly acts which prompted minimal reaction from Western governments, and the media, up to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, where it was no longer convenient to be unaware of these facts.

After the Iraqi aggression, we heard officials cry out “No more Munichs!” “No more Rhineland’s!” would have be more appropriate. The question is, why encourage nations to accumulate such a military buildup in the first place, and turn a blind eye for the sake of trade and short term political interests, while justifying that “the enemy of our enemy must therefore be our friend.”

In light of present and past blunders, it is imperative to have control over how and why we supply governments with sensitive technology, especially to political leaders with dubious profiles, and dismal human rights. It is time to acquire a real sense of responsibility which seems to be lacking beyond our borders, due to an underlying and often sublimated feeling of bigotry which permits us to forego any moral obligation, particularly in regards to developing nations. We can no longer take the approach that it is acceptable, and good business to supply weapons of destruction to countries which do not directly affect our values as long as they quietly fight each other and do our dirty work. It is an arrogant, and irresponsible attitude which worked within the contained spheres of influence of the Cold War.

Direct Western power involvement in this conflict is finally bringing a growing acknowledgement of responsibility to the surface. The reluctant acceptance that we voluntarily chose to ignore trade restrictions which existed against Iraq, as a balance against Iran, and that our administrations consequently offered little or no interest in regards to reports of severe human rights abuses within that country. The Germans are finally showing belated concern as to the criminal nature of the activities perpetrated by German companies who sold chemical, and nuclear know how to Iraq, and the acceptance that the leaders of these companies should indeed be treated as criminals. Furthermore, the Allies are beginning to realize that the traditional balance of the Cold War (U.S.-Israel, U.S.S.R.-Arabs) was never a valid long term option, for Israel or the Arabs, and that the never-ending Palestinian dilemma will have to be resolved if there is to be a long term balance in the region.

The Iraqi situation is an extreme case in point of First World double standards throughout the developing world. It is time that we stopped justifying our actions according to Theodore Roosevelt’s maxim that “He’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.”

If we are to increase our compatibility between nations, and their peoples, we must drop these self-righteous attitudes, and make intelligent, long term policies using the wealth of information at our disposal, and start acting like the democracies we claim to be, and not like the nations we are trying to curb, for if we truly have democratic ideals, they should not stop at our borders.

Every nation has its own set of interests regardless. If we disagree with these governments basic ideologies, then we should not be supplying them, because our interests will eventually diverge.

If we feel the economical need to supply arms and technology of mass destruction, then we must accept that they will not always be in our best interest and that this situation can be alleviated by creating an international organization which can effectively control decisions on trade, not only for the recipient nation, but at the source of our governments. It would in effect enforce the restrictions passed by the legislatures. An important guideline would be to sell this technology to nations who are in full compliance with the United Nations resolutions, and international law. In the shrinking world of the information age, where common markets between nations are being formed, the time would seem right for implementing such steps. The world is becoming too small and the weapons too lethal for short term simplistic ideals. In light of these threats we must redouble our efforts to make rational intelligent decisions.

The end of the Cold War and the unique stability of fear it created has brought an era of danger of an even greater magnitude. In a world where communist countries are on the verge of civil war, with countless nuclear weapons at the disposal of potential extremist governments (eg: Soviet Republics), global economic problems, high population growth, and massive ecological disasters, how we conduct policy for the long term and resolve these issues, will indicate whether we survive into the 21st Century.

We must reach a different level of political and economic consciousness to understand a new world with deep rooted problems. This must include a wider range of checks and balances for the conduct of political and business interests. The demands for reforms and a new way of thinking are hardly idealistic, but require a higher degree of mental sophistication on all levels (political, economic, cultural) to bridge the widening gap between modern technology and a lagging emotional evolution. There is little time left for indecision, shortsightedness, and double standards, for they do not benefit anyone in the long run. If we are indeed entering a new world order, then we cannot do so without modifying our perceptions.

A. C. Citizen

© 1991. www.beamcorp.com. All Rights Reserved


Helicopter Frost Abatement

Gary Ball, an independent citrus and avocado farmer from Fillmore, says that helicopters are his most valuable weapon against frost. The use of helicopters for frost abatement in Southern California started about ten years ago and has become more extensive in the past four years. It is quickly becoming one of the most effective ways to protect avocadoes, citrus, and strawberries, against frost destruction.

One of the helicopter companies used for frost control by farmers is Air Cavalry, Inc., based at Van Nuys Airport. The main participants in Air Cavalry’s frost program are, it’s owner and commander Albert Cito II, an ex army captain who served four years in Vietnam. Wayne Richardson, the energetic chief pilot who is known amongst his colleagues for flying off the handle. Chuck Davey, a funny guy who laughs so much that one can’t help but laugh along with him. Mario Fatigati, a cool, pleasant, smooth talking Italian-American, always looking for a deal, who runs a mobile pet grooming service on the side. These pilots are the frost warriors awaiting the farmer’s word to lift-off within minutes and eradicate an invisible but deadly enemy. The degree of collaboration between the farmer and the pilot is precise, “They [the farmers] know exactly where they are all the time, like a military organization they keep you programmed ahead of time so that you’re ready to come out at a moment’s notice and raise that temperature if necessary, and raising that temperature one degree can be the difference between a failure and a saved crop,” says Al Cito.

Terrain, orientation, wind, moisture, and vegetation are all conducive to frost formation. The type of terrain where crops are located is important. Most of the groves are in gently rolling terrain in the Santa Paula and Ojai valleys. “The rolling nature of the land causes the low pocket to collect supercooled air, and it’s in that low pocket that the problem occurs,” says Al Cito. Gary Ball, a citrus and avocado farmer out in Fillmore, says that each one of these elements can increase frost twofold. For instance, Gary’s field faces Southward, and has 5 to 6 nights of frost per year, versus fields facing Northward which have between 10 to 15 nights of frost per year. In addition, clear windless nights where the temperatures fall below freezing are ideal for frost formation. Because of this, Gary and other farmers have removed their wind shields, mostly composed of eucalyptus trees. Other factors like dry ground and weeds also increase frost.

The purpose of the helicopter in this process is twofold. First, the rotor downwash moves the air which stirs the leaves. Creating friction, which generates heat. Second, during the night, the heat which is trapped by the Earth during the day rises as the ground cools. This results in a layer of warmer air above the cooler air covering the ground. When you have an increase in temperature with height, this is called an inversion. The helicopter’s function is to push down that inversion into the cooler air on the ground.

Since the warm air will tend to rise, this effect will last for about an hour, depending on how cold the night gets. The helicopter then has to repeat this process. It flies above the orchards in strait patterns. Unless a field is clearly separated by wires or trees that define a clear border, only a single helicopter can be used per field, to prevent a collision. During very cold nights the pilots will literally continue to fly until they run out of fuel. The fuel for the operation is stored in 55 gallon drums with hand pumps. This is done simply because during the stretch of time it would take the helicopter to refuel at Van Nuys, the farmer could loose his crop. Al Cito stresses the importance of this service: “Now, think about this, when a strawberry farmer looses his crop, he’s lost a lot. He’s lost a whole years worth of work, and he’s not going to make anything when comes harvest time. When an orchard grower or a grovier looses his crop, he’s not only lost this year’s crop, he’s lost his ability to make a crop because those trees have to be mature before they bare fruit.”

In conjunction with helicopters, farmers use diesel powered windmills, smudge pots, and microsprinklers. These are not as efficient as a helicopter because they are fixed, require constant upkeep, and are labor intensive. Gary Ball says that the helicopter is not cheap, but it is only used for a few days out of the year. The windmill’s height does not always coincide with the height of the warm air they are to use, and the horizontal wind they create cannot get past some of the trees. The helicopter on the other hand has the ability to change altitude and find the inversion (warmer air) and feed the air to each individual tree. Smudge pots are cheap to purchase, costly to operate, and very polluting. Chuck says that it’s like flying through fog when they are on. The use of water sprinklers to keep the Earth moist is a a useful means of retaining the heat within the soil. Because water freezes slower, moist soil will freeze at a slower rate than dry soil.

The comparative figures are interesting. A helicopter covers 100 acres for $250 an hour while a windmill only covers 10 and costs 15-20000 Dollars plus fuel and maintenance. Gary says he would need eight machines. You need about 40 smudge pots per acre at one gallon per hour of diesel at 0.50-1.00 Dollar per gallon.

A typical frost alert scenario might begin with Gary, after checking his preliminary weather report at 10:30 and final report at 18:30, he deduces that frost might be a factor that evening. He calls Wayne around 16:00. Wayne then calls Chuck to tell him that he will be on standby for the night. Chuck comes in to the Air Cavalry at around 18:00. He puts on a turtleneck, long johns with a rear trap door, and apres ski boots. Then he dons his bright, polyester filled, orange overalls “so if I crash they can locate me,” he says. He goes out to preflight the helicopter and then returns to await the farmers call giving him the go-ahead. Sometimes the go-ahead never comes. In that case the pilots do not get paid their hourly rates but a night standby fee. Chuck says that it’s cheap insurance considering the unpredictability of frost. Some farmers will call them before midnight if they feel the frost threat has subsided, some will not. In which case, Chuck often end up sleeping on the floor.

The call comes in. The helicopter is preflighted and ready. Chuck jumps in, straps himself tight, cranks it, the rotors are turning, he lifts off. He arrives at the field 30 to 40 minutes later. The farmer says the temperature is decreasing fast. Chuck takes off and hovers fifteen feet above the trees, not too low so as not to destroy the foliage. “It’s like mowing your little lawn, all night long,” says Chuck wearily about the constant, straight line, hovering pattern above the trees. The farmer communicates with the pilot through a handheld transceiver. He tells Chuck to divert to another area of the field which is getting colder. Gary or his foreman positions flares or bright lanterns to direct the pilot. Each area has a thermometer which the farmer can gauge, since the whole field does not remain at the same temperature. Chuck looks at the fuel gauge. Its getting low on fuel. Time to land. On the ground, he refuels from the 55 gallon drums tanks the Air Cav. brought, and Gary brings him coffee, “it was dark out there, dark and cold,” Chuck said. The night is getting colder, so he has about an hour to rest before he must go up again to slap that warm air down on those trees. This can go on till sunrise and can get very boring and tiring. There are also many inherent dangers like having an engine failure in the dark with few spaces to land, or hitting wires.

Mario had a package deal when he flew over a field on a hillside with wires going up on each side of the hill and crossing in the middle of the field, like an “H” pattern. In addition, there were wind machines blowing air at each corner of the field, which made flying all the more fun. When he finally had to refuel, he had to drop into an enclosure of high eucalyptus trees where the fuel drums were placed, and had engine failures on landing and takeoff from the fuel site. At dawn he had barely enough gas left to make it back to Van Nuys, after having flown over six hours. “It sounds funny now, it wasn’t funny then,” Chuck mentioned later.

There is no doubt that there are certain dangers in this type of helicopter flying, but none that a conscientious pilot can’t overcome. From what we have seen, the helicopter is not just a luxury in the fight against frost, but an efficient and economically viable means of protecting crops.

© 1989. www.beamcorp.com. All Rights Reserved

Genetic Engineering: Probing in the Dark?

Science is a first-rate piece of furniture for a man’s upper chamber, if he has common
sense on the ground-floor.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

The quality of our future through genetic engineering will depend on how rational and prudent we are in evaluating our findings and forging ahead. With the advent of genetic engineering we are no longer dealing with inanimate inventions but with complex living alterations, which can affect our entire biosphere.

Initial controversy over this field began with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1980 of Diamond Vs Chakrabarty (447 U.S. 303) which set the precedent for the patenting of microorganisms. On April 7, 1987 the US Patent and Trademark Office based itself on the Chakrabarty case and extended patents to cover all multicellular organisms except for humans (under 35 USC 101-Inventions Patentable). From this decision, on April 12, 1988, the first patent for a multicellular organism was awarded to Harvard College, and about two dozen more are pending. Although these decisions are controversial, the Patent Office and the Supreme Court acted on sound legal principle based on precedent. Since such legal principles are often based on technicalities, morally relevant issues must therefore depend on Congressional supervision.

Members of Congress (Sen. Mark O. Hatfield R-Oregon and Rep. Charlie Rose D-N.Carolina) have attempted to curb these decisions but with little long term success.

The question remains that if the Chakrabarty case evolved from the patenting of microorganisms to multicellular organisms, what prevents it from evolving to humans.

In light of potential abuse in this matter, it will be Congress’ responsibility to curb business and military ventures in genetic engineering. Various interest groups and the media, not always for the right motives, are also important forces which can spur public opinion to these problems. This is a major concern because the profit and power motive supersede caution and actual necessity. A patent should not mean “carte blanche.”

A fundamental problem in our contemporary societies is that we have been unable to bridge the widening gap between scientific and sociopolitical evolution; maturity. This leads to a multitude of problems which we must learn to control before we forge blindly ahead. Our scientific innovations are too far reaching and therefore dangerous for us to further avoid prudence as to their long term effects, e.g. drugs which are brought to the market and considered safe are at a later date found to cause unforeseen side effects.

Since anything created by man alters the environment, we must think carefully before acting. In the latter part of the 20th Century we have exponentially destroyed many of our natural elements. Since the end of World War II the problems we face due to modernization are numerous. They range from the depletion of the rain forests by 40 % which provide over 1/4 of our oxygen. Over 1000 animal species have been destroyed through the advent of careless technological applications. We severely depleted the protective ozone layer of our atmosphere, already a known fact in the early 70’s. Waste disposal impasse. The hazards of nuclear power and radioactive waste which we are unable to store much less destroy safely even in the absence of natural disasters. Problems of destruction by acid rain due to environmental pollution. Etcetera.

In nature, the evolutionary process takes millions of years. During which time period different species evolve and change with their environment to create a stable and balanced biosphere. this is called Succession. Succession is a crucial part of this topic because with genetic engineering we are attempting to alter lifeforms in a short period of time. The rapid introduction of new organisms on an ecosystem can have devastating effects. I.e., The Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly) which appeared in 1981 and devastated crops throughout Northern California for two years and a 100 million dollar price tag.

Our biosphere suffers because changes occur too rapidly without accurate control and understanding at this stage. Can we safely create new lifeforms when we are incapable of safeguarding our own present natural habitats. Can we then safely assume that new patented species of animals will not cause harm to the breeders, consumers, and other natural habitats. The rapidity at which these species could be created would not allow for the timely observation that one would have with selective breeding.

An important answer to the uncertainties of genetic engineering can be found in gene mapping. It is the most efficient way to understand our genetic makeup. Through better understanding of the genetic code, scientists are learning how to decipher the human genome, which contains all the genetic information on humans. It is estimated that the genome’s information and the mapping of its structure will take between 10 to 20 years, for over 90% of the genome’s code sequence has no known function.

Until we acquire additional information we cannot claim to follow a prudent course. But with patience, gene mapping is the best way for optimizing our use of genetic engineering; to offset the negative unforeseen effects.

It is therefore too early and far too dangerous to meddle with a whole balance of life at this early stage of the game without full awareness of all known present and future ecological consequences, just for the sake of pride and profit. The profit motive, further encouraged by the government’s patent law.

Genetic engineering could be most productive in improving our life quality, such as the treatment of ailments, aging control,non animal testing, etc. But as recent agricultural developments show, we must also learn to successfully integrate genetic advances with the economy. Through genetic engineering we have increased the resistance and efficiency of farm animals. Therefore, we have a huge surplus of agricultural goods in the United States and European Economic Community. This was demonstrated by the failure of the 1985 farm bill (U.S. dairy herd buy out program). Low feed prices and genetic improvements not only make this obsolete but compound the problem. At present, agriculture and food problems do not need to be improved through genetic engineering but through political means. The majority of the world’s food problems come with political ineptitude.

We have reached a period in our history when we can no longer compromise our environment for political or economic questions. The pressures on our biosphere have reached a saturation point. The tradeoffs are no longer in our favor.

We must first be aware and able to control the normal inputs we make on the environment before we can effectively control altered genetic inputs we make on that environment. It is therefore imperative that genetic research be done in a strictly controlled environment. That provisions be made for dealing swiftly with products of such research leaking into the environment. That Congress help keep strict supervision, at least until further advances in genetic engineering come to fruition.

Any new developments we wish to make cannot be successful if they do not balance in the biosphere as a whole. Genetic improvements can only be achieved through concerted sociopolitical maturity resulting in a greater grasp and respect of our environment and all its combined elements.

© 1988. www.beamcorp.com. All Rights Reserved

Tactical Nuclear Weapons – Breaking The Nuclear Threshhold

At the height of Operation Desert Storm, people throughout the United States advocated the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, as the appropriate U.S. response to an Iraqi chemical attack against allied forces, thus expediently ending the war and reducing allied casualties. It is possible that this threat dissuaded Saddam Hussein from using his weapons of mass destruction, in which case nuclear weapons effectively played their role as deterrents.The disconcerting fact is that these nuclear advocates were ready to use these weapons regardless of the moral implications such actions would bring to the world stage. It was especially frightening to see that these proponents were not fringe elements of society but constituted a wide range of people, from the man on the street to the high level politician.

First of all, to counter one weapon of mass destruction with another weapon of mass destruction, chemical versus nuclear in this case, gives little moral credence, because both kill and maim innocent civilians. The latter is simply more sophisticated and more devastating than the former. Then, to claim that these weapons could safely be used by Allied troops in the field of battle, and that their aftereffects could be kept localized has about as much logic as the containment of chemical blasts. But the most devastating aftermath would be that the psychological inhibitions against the use of nuclear weapons would forever disappear. A decision which would irrevocably undermine the United States’ credibility to stop nuclear proliferation and would in effect set a precedent to sanction the use of such weapons.

When the United States dropped the nuclear bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the argument then was also that these weapons could save countless Allied lives by preventing a massive ground assault. Whether or not this was justified, the difference then was that the novelty of these weapons could somewhat justify their use because of unknown aftereffects, coupled with the decisive advantage that the U.S. held the nuclear monopoly.

Then, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union’s parity with the United States made these weapons tactically viable only as deterrents because in the case of a superpower conflict, the devastation incurred on each nation would be so great that there could be no winner. Thus the principle of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD).

Now that the Cold War is over, the assumption seems to be in the minds of many, that the Soviet counterbalance is no longer a major threat and that it would be feasible to use these weapons on a limited scale. One must not forget however that the same old threat is still present in a much more chaotic world where the Soviet Union and many other nations are in mounting disarray. Whereas before nuclear weapons were not used because of MAD, setting a precedent now would plunge the world into chaos and a renewed, more dangerous arms race, with a wider range of participants.

The complexity of nuclear weapons combined with the high technology required to deliver them has so far kept their proliferation in check. Proliferation will increase when nuclear technology becomes more affordable. Tactical nuclear weapons offer such an alternative versus long range strategic nuclear weapons because they are smaller and do not need the sophisticated delivery systems of their long range counterparts. Furthermore, since these weapons make tactical sense against an opponent who does not have a nuclear capability, when proliferation spreads, it will do so quickly, because other nations will then need them as deterrents.

It is already a grave mistake that we use double standards and turn a blind eye to certain nations who acquire a nuclear capability (e.g.,India, Israel, South Africa), while we have no problem understanding the danger of proliferation when it comes to Iraq. In our war against Saddam Hussein, our underlying fear was always Iraq’s acquisition of such weapons at a future date, like their acquisition of chemical weapons, which the West provided. If Iraq had indeed waited to acquire a nuclear capability, they would have been invincible. However, one must keep in mind that more benign countries could revert to nuclear weapons if threatened. One must not rule out that in a future war over Kashmir, India could go nuclear against Pakistan, just like Israel could go nuclear if they felt cornered in a future Middle Eastern conflict. A nation’s internal democratic principles will not necessarily create eternal restraint in light of external aggression, and furthermore, these new members of the “nuclear club” are far from stable, and it is not unreasonable to believe that Saddam type figures could emerge in India or South Africa at a future date. We are now watching the Soviet Union and its disintegration – something that just three years ago was unthinkable.

The U.S. cannot and must not be the policeman of the world, but it can and must check nuclear proliferation. The reason being that it is the only stable superpower left, which gives it greater legitimacy. But in order to do so it must not set the wrong example – by ever utilizing its nuclear arsenal – which would legitimize other nations to follow suit and permanently break the nuclear threshold. If we are to gage military superiority, we should do so in light of the accuracy and effectiveness of conventional weapons, and never allow ourselves to throw in our nuclear arsenal as an extension of that superiority. To do so would be a grave mistake with unknown aftereffects, uncertain ramifications, and dubious moral justifications. If – as the democratic superpower – we still have a certain de facto moral leadership, then we must take every step to retain that leadership; at least where nuclear weapons are concerned. An important priority in this post war environment is to set strong guidelines to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons, in conjunction with effective organs of control (international security systems and a forceful central agency) to uphold these decisions. The success of international cooperation in the Gulf could provide a model for international cooperation via the United Nations in the area of nuclear proliferation control. There is still a chance to prevent a future scenario where there will be no other option but to use nuclear weapons against another nation with suchlike weapons. In an ever complex and chaotic world, if we fail to act now, we will certainly face a very bleak and chaotic future.

© 1991. www.beamcorp.com. All Rights Reserved

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