Dark Age Watch

What is a dark age?

Sunday, October 23, 2005
China 'betrayed' in tariff row "Yongtu, who now heads the influential Boao economic forum for Asia, said: "Entering the WTO was a very important moment for China. We spent a long time selling the idea to the Chinese people, and persuading them of the benefits of free trade to our own economy. Then when we had free trade, the EU introduced tariffs against free trade. " International disorganisation Protectionist istincts are never far away. The EU, supposed to promote free trade, is actually more concerned with shoring up local monopolies, and the WTO seems to be functioning in much the same way.

Making a killing "The American government is hiring private security firms to stabilise Iraq — and paying them a fortune to do it. But many of them are unregulated and operate outside the law. Jon Swain joins the hired guns on the streets of Baghdad — and assesses the real cost of privatising war." International disintegration Reliance on mercenaries is one of the most classic symptoms of a declining civilisation.

Europe is hanging by a thread: "The EU is in an existential crisis over what it is for, where it is headed, how it is to be governed and how to win popular Europe-wide consent. Despite the appearance of normality, the crisis is beginning to paralyse the entire operation." International discohesion Reports of the EU's demise are exaggerated. Nevertheless, it is swimming against the tide of history and will surely not survive beyond 2050. The first secessions are a trip-wire, to look out for.

Arctic exploration creates new alliances "The bleak and barren landscape of Europe's Arctic north belies the glittering glory of the oil and gas riches hidden in its underbelly." Organisation

India ready to open Kashmir camps "India says it is prepared to open relief camps for earthquake survivors from the Pakistani side of Kashmir as early as Tuesday" International cohesion Nature's implacability reminds us of our common humanity. One day, humans will put aside their differences and unite in a sense of love and mutual understanding. But it will not happen for another billion years.

NASA shake-up part of strategy to revisit moon: "In his first seven months on the job, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has announced the replacement of eight of the agency's 14 top career civil servants, a mass beheading seldom seen in a city where the political folks are the ones who routinely get the ax." Internal organisation - pro-innovation An administrative re-organisation is going to take America back to the moon. Hmmm.

'80 crimes' in night of violence "Police have begun a murder inquiry after violence in Birmingham in which a 23-year-old man was stabbed to death and 80 offences committed. It followed a week of mounting tension among the black and Asian communities in the Lozells area following the alleged sexual assault on a 14-year-old girl." Internal discohesion/disintegration Riots are of course part of the permanent backdrop of history, but it seems significant here that we have the barbarians at the heart of the trouble and fighting it out amongst themselves. The Franks and other barbarians are supposed to have caused much trouble to the cities of north-eastern Gaul when Rome was in decline. In due course, they made themselves the masters of Gaul and founded the dynasties that would rule Europe for the next 1500 years.

Saturday, October 22, 2005
US seeking world domination: Khamenei "Iran’s Supreme Leader accused the United States yesterday of seeking global domination and vowed that his country would not give into demands to abandon its disputed nuclear programme." International discohesion in the face of attempted international integration The US may be seeking global domination but its actual prestige and control seem, if anything, to be going backwards.

Tensions mount as China and Japan go one-on-one International discohesion

Globalisation 'is bringing people together' "Yousuf Islam, former pop singer turned Islamic preacher, said globalisation is bringing people together, "hence every-body is beginning to learn about each other". " International organisation-cohesion coupling

Eritrea rejects UN flight request International discohesion

Sunni area 'rejects Iraq charter' Internal discohesion

Friday, October 21, 2005
Chavez warns U.S. against invasion "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that his government is preparing for a possible U.S. invasion, and he warned that such "aggression" would send gasoline prices in the United States soaring." Wars coming soon?

Bush: Hariri report 'deeply disturbing': "President Bush on Friday urged the United Nations to address the findings of its new report implicating Syrian and Lebanese officials in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. " Wars coming soon

Afghans outraged over alleged desecration "Islamic clerics expressed outrage Thursday at television footage that purportedly shows U.S. soldiers burning the bodies of two dead Taliban fighters to taunt other militants and warned of a possible violent anti-American backlash." International discohesion

Les etrangers: "Seventy-two percent of Britons questioned in a recent survey believed the French warranted their negative stereotype, while only 19% of French believe the Brits deserved their 'Rosbifs' tag. But where does Britain's anti-French feeling stem from?" International discohesion. Some things, at least, remain predictable.

Teachers to get more legal rights "Teachers in England are to be given stronger legal rights to restrain pupils and to punish badly behaved children, the government has confirmed." Internal integration But one has to ask why these measures are considered necessary.

Drinking blamed for big rise in violence Internal disintegration

Thursday, October 20, 2005
UN attacks stingy aid for quake "The United Nations attacked international donors today for a shortfall in funding for victims of the South Asian earthquake that has left relief agencies struggling with a logistical nightmare." International discohesion After the tsunami, New Orleans, compassion fatigue may be setting in.

'Confidence lacking' in IRA move "IRA decommissioning has not produced the level of confidence within the unionist community it could have, a senior Protestant clergyman has said." Continuing internal discohesion, though of course one does not expect a copmplete change of opinion overnight after decades of mistrust.

Iraq is 'terror recruiting tool' "Mr Taylor told the foreign affairs committee that...Islamist terrorists were using the situation in Iraq to "recruit, to propagandise, to fund raise, to train and also to plan and operate". And it was his "understanding" that violent jihadist propaganda filmed in Iraq had been discovered by security services on lap top computers belonging to the 7 July London bombers." International disintegration-internal discohesion coupling

China-US to promote military ties International cohesion Though meanwhile, and paradoxically, Rumsfeld warns China over military expansion

Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Kalam objects to Google’s images of sensitive sites: "Indian President Abdul Kalam has raised the alarm over the US-based search engine’s website http://earth.google.com, launched in June, which allows users to access sophisticated images of sensitive military and political sites." Attempting to resist disintegration. Google's service is highly disintegrative, empower the individual at the expense of the state and establishment. It is the latest in a long line of such developments, since the invention of the printing press. Also see: China angry at Google map change

Four Afghan police killed in fight with US troops "US troops and Afghan police opened fire on each other after a quarrel in troubled southern Afghanistan, leaving four of the policemen dead, a provincial governor said Tuesday." Internal disintegration An integrative act, but the fact that it was necessary is suggestive of continuing disintegration.

Tensions heat up in Asia over controversial Japanese war shrine visit International discohesion Japan is getting fed up with apologising for WW2. See also, Japan extends Afghanistan operations

Official linked to blowing up buddhas is elected "A former regional governor who oversaw the destruction of two giant 1,500-year-old Buddha statues during the Taliban's reign has been elected to parliament, election organisers said yesterday as results from two provinces were finalised." International discohesion? Not the sign of a determined hegemon.

Cartoons herald return of cinema to Saudi Arabia "The organisers, who secured an agreement with the municipal authorities, are hoping 50,000 people will attend. Showing films aimed exclusively at women and children sidesteps religious demands for gender segregation. Although the kingdom apparently has no law against cinemas, screening of films died out during the 1970s and 1980s as ultra-conservative clerics gained influence." Internal discohesion? The monarchy continues to persue minor reforms in a delicate attempt at balancing between the proponents of societal modernisation and conservatives. At some point, such policies are likely to fail as the reality drifts ever further away from the circumstances under which the present polical arrangement was established. "Perestroika" and other examples may come to mind.

Cisco pours investment into India "Cisco Systems, the world's biggest maker of internet equipment, plans to inject $1.1bn (£626m) of investment into India over the next three years." Internal organisation

Kashmir minister killed in attack "The education minister in Indian-administered Kashmir has been killed by suspected Islamist militants." Internal disintegration

Turkish backing for honour crimes "[The survey] questioned 430 people, most of them men. When asked the appropriate punishment for a woman who has committed adultery, 37% replied she should be killed. Twenty-five percent said that she deserved divorce, and 21% that her nose or ears should be cut off." Intern(ation)al discohesion These figures should be read with caution. However, there is little doubt that there is a growing rift within modern Turkish society, which was once outlined as a secular state by Attaturk.

US school cancels 'decadent' prom "The head of a US Catholic school has cancelled prom night because of objections to a "bacchanalian" culture of "financial decadence". It is not primarily the sex, booze, drugs that surround this event, as problematic as they might be," Brother Hoagland wrote. "It is rather the flaunting of affluence, assuming exaggerated expenses, a pursuit of vanity for vanity's sake. In a word, financial decadence...Each year it gets worse, becomes more exaggerated, more expensive, more emotionally traumatic." Internal discohesion Anything goes (or not, as in this case)

UAE: Israel's nuclear Arsenal threats stability International discohesion Though the level of cohesion between Israel and the Arab states was never that good.

France To Help Iran With Nuclear Technology International discohesion The Western bloc again at odds.

Many Iraq projects may be dropped - US official "Many rebuilding projects for Iraq will be dropped as security costs drain resources and with the growing awareness that more money must be spent to sustain Iraq's existing infrastructure, the top U.S. auditor for Iraq's reconstruction said on Tuesday." International disintegration-disorganisation coupling When the youthful Roman Empire conquered some barbaric backwater, such as Britain for example, it laid down infrastructure and stimulated a remarkable economic and cultural growth. The Western Empire is a long way past that stage.

Spain orders arrest of US troops "Judge Santiago Pedraz issued the warrant for Sgt Shawn Gibson, Capt Philip Wolford and Lt Col Philip de Camp, of the US 3rd Infantry Division." International discohesion

Crime down nationwide, FBI reports: "The national total of seven serious violent and property crimes reported to 17,000 police agencies around the nation was 12,475,634 in 1998, down 5.4 percent from the previous year and 12 percent since 1989, the FBI said." Internal integration Having two million people in jail appears to work.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Global Violence Has Decreased, U.N. Says "Armed conflicts have declined by 40 percent since the end of the Cold War primarily because the United Nations was finally able to launch peacekeeping and conflict-prevention operations around the world, according to a new study. The first Human Security Report paints a surprising picture of war and peace in the 21st century: a dramatic decline in battlefield deaths, plummeting instances of genocide, and a drop in human rights abuses." International integration Dark age on hold. One can do marvellous things with statistics. Especially when one is justifying the existence of one's own institution. One does not wish to be too cynical, but subjective experience suggests something different. 1968 was the last year that the British Army was not in action anywhere around the globe. There seems little prospect of another such year in the foreseeable future.

Indonesia pulls more troops from Aceh. "Indonesia's military has begun pulling more soldiers from Aceh province in the second stage of implementing a landmark peace pact ending a civil war that killed 15,000 people. " Internal re-cohesion

China calls off Japanese visit "China has called off a visit by Japan's foreign minister in apparent protest at Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's attending a controversial war shrine. " International discohesion

Buddhist calls income tax policies discriminatory: "A Buddhist says the Income Tax Act is discriminatory because he can't deduct the cost of alternative medical treatments for his allergies and environmental sensitivities."* Internal discohesion Canada is changing, to...OK — yes, it's a bit marginal! :-) only one case...but all it takes is a court to rule in this gentleman's favour to spark a shift.* See also, Wands and wine for imprisoned pagans "Inmates practising paganism will be allowed a hoodless robe, incense and a piece of religious jewellery among their personal possessions. They will also be allowed to have Tarot cards but are forbidden from using them to tell the fortunes of other prisoners."

Big spender Bush runs out of credit with conservative allies "This week, some Republicans in the House of Representatives will draw up a list of up to $50 billion (£28 million) of cuts in next year’s budget. Their target is programmes that have until now been sacrosanct — healthcare for the poor, food stamps and farm support." Internal disorganisation/imperial overstretch The cuts that are being proposed are, of course, to the US social programme, so there is discohesion in there as well.

BBC's epic proves too raunchy for the Romans "Rome, a £60 million co-production with HBO, features male and female full-frontal nudity, violent sex, crucifixion and throat-slashing within minutes of its 9pm start time." Internal discohesion Most viewers have long ago lost their ability to imagine and require increasingly strong fodder for their jaded appetites. [Of course, this kind of scandal is really nothing new.]

Are we going to war with Iran?: "It appears that the UK and US have decided to raise the stakes in the confrontation with Iran. The two countries persuaded the IAEA board - including India - to overrule its inspectors, declare Iran in breach of the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and say that Iran's activities could be examined by the UN security council." Wars coming soon

Full steam ahead "After a series of debacles, UK railways are turning into a quiet success story." Internal organisation

UK should 'reverse astronaut ban' "Recent developments across the world strongly suggest that, after a 30-year lull, space-faring nations are gearing up for a return to the Moon and then to Mars," said panel member, Professor Ken Pounds, of the University of Leicester. Organisation - pro-innovation More likely the typical swansong that precedes the final retreat from civilisation's high tide mark. But one may live in hope.

Monday, October 17, 2005
Mars rover lab in Calif. to cut jobs, missions Internal disorganisation Innovation failure. Meanwhile, China outlines next space goals.

US global influence is waning "The place where America once reached highest [WTC] is now its most controversial construction site. Design disputes, security concerns and political squabbles have delayed building and watered down the boldest blueprints." International disintegration/internal disorganisation Significantly enough, the article was published by "China Daily".

Japan PM Koizumi to visit Yasukuni war shrine-aide International discohesion He seems to do this every month. Let's face it, Koizumi is being deliberately provocative.

Russians accused of helping Iran develop missiles to hit Europe International discohesion/disintegration Taking sides for the "big one" to come, while also levelling the playing field.

U.S. says kills 70 militants in west Iraq clashes. Meanwhile, Iraq constitution seems assured of passage after Sunni opposition falls short. International integration The hegemon gaining the upper hand? Or spreading mistrust and sowing the seeds of disasters to come?

Blair's nuclear bombshell "Tony Blair is facing a political backlash over his decision to order a new generation of nuclear weapons to replace the ageing Trident fleet at a cost of billions of pounds." Wars coming soon Nuclear war by 2020 at the latest.

UN delegates cheer Mugabe tirade "Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has drawn applause for a speech denouncing Britain's Tony Blair and US President George Bush at a UN event in Rome." International discohesion The article doesn't specify who and how many people applauded. Nevertheless, the story casts a light on the fact that the world is changing and so, too, are worldviews. Future historians will point out at the West's failures and cruelty. In fact, western self-criticism has already been around for quite some while and is on the increase.

General Motors to cut 25,000 jobs "GM has already reduced its US workforce by 30% over the past five years and said it would now work with unions over the details of its latest job-cutting plans." Internal disorganisation The unravelling of the American economy continues.

US strikes kill '70 Iraq rebels' "Helicopters and warplanes bombed two villages near Ramadi in western Iraq on Sunday, killing about 70 people, the US military says." Internal (dis)integration