Friday, November 08, 2013

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Climate change deniers have been all up in everyone’s face about how the hurricane season was so moderate this year and so maybe global warming is untrue. Yea. About that…

2) A President who apologizes? Next you’ll tell me one will want to balance the budget!

3) I wonder who will be the first to submit a bill of impeachment on that point.

4) How crazy are Teabaggers? This crazy. Not content with losing the governor’s race in Virginia to one of the most corrupt people in politics, they want to double down on the Cooch.

5) Little noticed in the hoopla about the elections this week, what with Chris Christie punching out the Bouncy Clown the Democrats ran (and who did a whole lot better than anyone could have hoped) and Bill de Blasio kicking the GOP to the curb, was even more bad news for the Republicans: a Green Party candidate for the first time outdrew a Republican opponent. Serpe ran in the City Council 22 district election, won by a heavily favored Democratic machine party candidate, Costas Constantinides, who was running in a predominantly Greek neighborhood as a favorite son. Serpe pulled 15% of the vote. By comparison, no other Green party candidate pulled in ten and many pulled in less than one percent. Republican Daniel Peterson polled 11.2%, possibly because he was invisible for the entire cycle. Serpe is the first Green Party candidate to place second in a race that featured both major parties.

6) You’ve heard of the Six Fingered Man? Here’s the Six Finger asteroid.

7) Speaking of space oddities…

8) And even more space talk.

9) Could we soon have a nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Iran?

10) Finally, peeing: ur doin’ it rong.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

The Next Great War

You may or may not be aware, but World War III has already started. We just haven’t gotten caught up in it. Yet.

To appreciate how Congo descended into this madness, you need to step back more than a hundred years to when King Leopold II of Belgium snatched this huge space in the middle of Africa as his own personal colony. Leopold wanted rubber and ivory, and he started the voracious wholesale assault on Congo’s resources that has dragged on to this day. When the Belgians abruptly granted Congo independence in 1960, insurrections erupted immediately, paving the way for an ambitious young military man, Mobutu Sese Seko, to seize power—and never let go. Mobutu ruled for 32 years, stuffing himself with fresh Parisian cake airlifted into his jungle palaces while Congolese children curled up and starved.

But Mobutu would eventually go down, and when he did, Congo would go down with him. In 1994 Rwanda, next door, imploded in genocide, leaving up to a million dead. Many of the killers fled into eastern Congo, which became a base for destabilizing Rwanda. So Rwanda teamed up with neighboring Uganda and invaded Congo, ousting Mobutu in 1997 and installing their own proxy, Laurent Kabila. They soon grew annoyed with him and invaded again. That second phase of Congo’s war sucked in Chad, Namibia, Angola, Burundi, Sudan, and Zimbabwe—it’s often called Africa’s first world war.

In the ensuing free-for-all, foreign troops and rebel groups seized hundreds of mines. It was like giving an ATM card to a drugged-out kid with a gun. The rebels funded their brutality with diamonds, gold, tin, and tantalum, a hard, gray, corrosion-resistant element used to make electronics. Eastern Congo produces 20 to 50 percent of the world’s tantalum.

While the UN was able to pressure the external forces to withdraw, the mineral wealth of the Congo remains both elusive and plentiful, just ripe for some organized nation to exploit. Like perhaps the United States. Or China.

I’ve noted in the past the fascination China has with sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Nigeria.

Nigeria is not immune to the unrest in Africa. If anything, it may be the bullseye for the violence and upheaval. The next great war that engulfs the planet may not pit Muslim against Christian, but the Islamic world against China (who has her own issues with its Islamic minority, the Uighurs). At stake, the economic future of the entire planet, relying as heavily on technology and the promises of technology to come, that requires the minerals and energy under African soil.

And it seems my prediction from 2010 may be coming true. And if you think the US is pissed at Pakistan for allowing the Muslim fundamentalists such free rein with nukes lying around, imagine being just across a mountain range from them. It is not looking good for the world.