Dark Age Watch

What is a dark age?

Friday, December 01, 2006
Fears grow of Chinese entering Russian east "The real problem is declining population. According to the Institute of Economic Research in the Far East, the region has lost 16.5 per cent of its population since 1989. It occupies 36 per cent of Russia's land mass, but is home to only 4.6 per cent of its population, the fastest-ageing in Russia with one of the highest mortality rates." Internal disorganisation

Fake EU passports delivered within 24 hours "Fake European Union passports are now so easy to obtain in Europe that an investigator was able to buy false passports for 20 EU countries and twice enter Britain with a bogus document, the BBC's Panorama programme will claim next week." International disintegration

Finding holes in West Bank barrier "Israel says the defensive system of concrete walls and wire fence is needed to stop suicide bombers. Palestinians say it is part of an Israeli land grab of West Bank territory. Although many Palestinian workers get caught in the process of crossing illegally into Israel or East Jerusalem, a huge number of them manage to get through." Internal disintegration It's delusory to believe that technical obstacles such as barriers will prevent long-term societal shifts from unfolding.

Colombian rebels kill 17 soldiers "Earlier this month, some 200 suspected Farc rebels launched an attack on a police station, killing 16 policemen and a civilian." Internal disintegration low intensity conflict

Thursday, November 30, 2006
Green light for EU science plan "The European Parliament has approved a 54bn euro (£36bn) plan to boost science research in Europe. " Pro-innovation, or just pork-barrel spending.

China's growing stake in Pakistan "China has rapidly increased its stake in Pakistan in recent years, and the country's Indian Ocean port of Gwadar provides Beijing with a strategic base, allowing it to extend its sphere of influence to the Middle East and Central Asia."

Iraq - Business Becomes A Big Casualty "Unemployment now stands at more than 50 percent but most people believe the real situation is far worse...A businessman who once owned a small textile factory that has gone bankrupt said he had not expected the coming in of a U.S. administration to be bad for business. "The picture of Japan after World War II dominated the minds of businessmen in Iraq after occupation," he said." Intern(ation)al disorganisation, closely connected with the failure of US hegemony

Leaking pipes cost water firm "The company, which argues much of the leakage problem is a consequence of the age of much of its network of pipes in London, large parts of which was installed in the nineteenth century. Last year leaks totalled 894m litres a day - the equivalent of 344 Olympic-sized swimming pools." Innovation failure The west's ailing infrastructure

Inmates wreck migrant detention centre "Riot police were struggling for control of Britain's largest immigration detention centre last night after 18 hours of disturbances. The Home Office also faced an accommodation crisis after inmates wrecked cells and lit fires at Harmondsworth, near Heathrow Airport. Centres elsewhere in the South East were on stand-by to receive detainees and were having to let inmates out on bail to free up places." Internal disintegration The divergence between "ambitions" and capabilities in the social microcosm of the British prison system continues to increase. Meanwhile, in Brazil inmates stage mass escape

7M in U.S. jails, on probation or parole "A record 7 million people — or one in every 32 American adults — were behind bars, on probation or on parole by the end of last year, according to the Justice Department. Of those, 2.2 million were in prison or jail, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday." Internal integration or disintegration? One might agree that there is a substantial level of discohesion if one in every 32 American adults is at odds with the law. Some observers have remarked that the phenomenon of high incarceration rates was also a feature of the late Soviet Union.

Marines furious at front-line 'pay cut' "Politicians and Navy chiefs were so concerned over the impact of the wage cut that they sent extra human resources staff to Afghanistan to inform more than 1,000 commandos affected by the error." Internal discohesion Political crises and revolutions have often been triggered by people's anger at financial demands announced by the state against the background of an already tense atmosphere. The calling of the French Estates-General in 1789 and the Boston Tea Party are two prominent examples which come to mind.

Hawking: Man must leave planet Earth Humans are not destined to remain forever on this tiny planet we now inhabit.

German plan to raise pension age "Germany's cabinet has approved plans to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 as Europe's largest economy tries to cut state spending and pension costs...According to Labour Minister Franz Muentefering, only 45% of Germans over the age of 55 are currently employed." Internal disorganisation? An indication that life is becoming harder?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Former Russian PM hit by mystery illness "He was unable to explain why he fell ill, noting that it occurred after he ate a simple breakfast where he had been staying near Dublin, the newspaper reported. Gaidar said he had been barely able to move any of his limbs and had spent most of the afternoon lying down." Internal disintegration Seems to be an emerging theme. Poisoning as a political weapon, of course, takes us back to medieval and ancient times.

Singh looking forward to meet Musharraf, says Kasuri "Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has sent his best wishes for President Gen Pervez Musharraf through Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri with the message that he was looking forward to his meeting with the president." International cohesion

BBC NEWS | England | Essex | Stansted expansion plan refused "Expansion plans for Stansted Airport which could boost passenger numbers have been rejected, amid objections including the effect on climate change." Innovation failure Our civilisation continues to veto its own economic progress.

Ancient Moon 'computer' revisited "The Antikythera Mechanism, discovered more than 100 years ago in a Roman shipwreck, was used by ancient Greeks to display astronomical cycles...The major structure they describe, like earlier studies, had a single, centrally placed dial on the front plate that showed the Greek zodiac and an Egyptian calendar on concentric scales...On the back, two further dials displayed information about the timing of lunar cycles and eclipse patterns." Ancient knowldge I introduce a new category. One retains a certain healthy scepticism about the reconstrcutions of these latest researchers. Nevertheless, the underlying point is sound: one should not underestimate the ancients. Their civilisations did not disappear because they were simply ignorant or unable to make technological advances. Similarly, the fact that we have invented the internet etc. does not mean our own civilisation has a bright future.

Fiji military stokes coup fears "Fiji's military has staged night-time exercises to secure strategic areas of the capital, Suva, citing fears of "foreign intervention". " Internal disintegration and expanding world, in so far as British citizens have been advised not to travel to there. There is much tension in Fiji between the original Polynesians and Asian immigrants.

Pope Backs Turkey’s Bid to Join European Union: "Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Turkey on Tuesday armed with a surprise gesture of good will aimed at blunting Muslim anger toward him: he backed Turkey’s long-stalled desire to join the European Union, reversing a statement he made two years ago."** International re-cohesion A shrewd move. Cynically, one could say: long on rhetorical effect, short on practical implications. Nevertheless, it will do no harm. It has been said that even when someone knows he is being flattered, he is nonetheless pleased that the other party thinks him worth flattering.

1 in 5 men classed as excessive drinkers "The figures come as deaths due to alcohol, particularly among those in middle age who took to binge drinking as young adults, have rocketed to nearly 8,400 a year." The results of internal discohesion/disorganisation? Europe following in Russia's footsteps?

Radiation detected on two BA planes "The third is at a Russian airport, awaiting further testing. Up to 33,000 passengers and 3,000 staff may have been exposed to the radiation but the risk of infection is very small, according to the airline." International disintegration-disorganisation coupling? Expanding world? Vast stockpiles of chemical and nuclear weapons, a disillusioned and often underpaid officer corps and powerful crime syndicates form a dangerous mixture.

Kosovo protesters attack UN site "UN police and local security forces have used teargas to disperse thousands of ethnic Albanian protesters in the Kosovan capital, Pristina...The pro-independence Vetvendosja (Self-Determination) movement held the rally to show opposition to further negotiations on Kosovo's future status. Kosovo is still legally part of Serbia, but is run by a UN administration." International discohesion

Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Pope calls for Christian-Muslim dialogue "Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday began his visit to Turkey -- his first to a Muslim country -- with a message urging "dialogue" between Christians and Muslims as he moved to ease anger over his perceived criticism of Islam...Introducing the pope, Turkey's chief Islamic cleric, Ali Bardakoglu, leader of the directorate, made an apparent reference to the pope's September remarks that linked violence and the Prophet Muhammed. "The so-called conviction that the sword is used to expand Islam in the world and growing Islamophobia hurts all Muslims," Bardakoglu said." Shaky steps towards international cohesion?

Housing 'key to far right rise' "Competition for housing is the "frontline" of a battle to prevent the far right's rise, MPs have warned...Mr Cruddas, MP for Dagenham, said the British National Party was on the rise because people believed immigrants got preferential treatment over housing, a perception made worse by the arrival of cheap Eastern European workers." Internal discohesion

Gunmen kill 10 in Brazil's largest city "Masked attackers armed with pistols and revolvers killed 10 men before dawn Tuesday in two neighborhoods of South America's biggest city, law enforcement officials said." Internal disintegration

India tests missile interceptor "India has used a medium-range nuclear -capable missile to intercept another in an air defence test, say officials. The tests saw a Prithvi-II missile shot down over the Bay of Bengal by a similar missile fired a minute later." International disintegration The west's technological advantage shrinking. See also: Indian Army goes hi-tech to build modern warfare

Hungary sets limits for GM crops "Hungary's parliament has overwhelmingly backed legislation which severely restricts the planting of genetically modified crops (GMOs)." Innovation failure? or a reasonable safety precaution?

China defies Vatican over bishop "China has named a new Catholic bishop in a move likely to increase tension with the Vatican...There are 10 million Catholics in China, divided between the officially tolerated Patriotic Church, and an underground Church loyal to Rome." International discohesion

Rwanda takes French radio off air "Rwanda has ordered Radio France International to halt local broadcasts, in an escalating row over events leading to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.The move follows a cabinet decision to stop all activities of French state institutions, officials said." International discohesion France continues to modernise its "force the frappe" (nuclear forces) in order to remain among the world's foremost military powers. Yet, as in the case of Germany, Russia and Britain, there is little doubt that its overall capacity to shape and influence international events is in decline.

The end of one law for all? "Ethnic and religious courts are gaining ground in the UK...Some academic lawyers see these alternative legal systems as an inevitable - and welcome - consequence of multiculturalism." Internal discohesion The "personality of the law" was a feature of the last European dark ages. Romans were judged by Roman law, Franks by Frankish law, Goths by Gothic law etc. (At least that is the traditional interpretation. Some scholars question the meaning of the evidence.)

Monday, November 27, 2006
IOL: 'Kenyans are optimistic about their country' ""A majority of Kenyans are now optimistic about the direction of their country, with nearly 60 percent saying Kenya is headed in the right direction," US advocacy group IRI said in a statement, adding that this was a 13 percent increase on a poll in June." African dark age that will one day turn into a golden age.

Baghdad descends into civil war "Sectarian violence has turned Baghdad into a deadly jigsaw puzzle of contested neighborhoods where armed bands of Shiite and Sunni Muslims battle daily for control in fighting that is far more similar to an organized military campaign than is generally acknowledged." Intern(ation)al disintegration

Muslims oppose vast mosque plan: "But the plan to build Europe’s biggest mosque beside the London 2012 Olympic Park is attracting opposition from the Muslim community. The concern is not the building, but the activities of Tablighi Jamaat, the ultra-orthodox sect that is behind the huge mosque. " Anti-discohesion This site reported the plan to build this mosque back in November 2005. The back-tracking that is now going on is part of the phenomenon whereby history does not proceed in one direction for too long, but reverses and then reverses again. There is usually a momentary check before the final bursting of the dam.

Turkey's EU bid risks paralysis "Turkey's EU accession talks are set to slow down following Ankara's failure to open up Turkish ports to traffic from Cyprus, the EU has signalled." International discohesion-disintegration coupling The EU is afraid to come right out and say that, as a Muslim country, Turkey has no prospect of joining the EU. It seeks every excuse to stall and delay.

West must prepare for Chinese, Indian dominance: Wolfensohn: "Western nations must prepare for a future dominated by China and India, whose rapid economic rise will soon fundamentally alter the balance of power, former World Bank chief James Wolfensohn has warned." International disintegration ahead The ongoing US actions in Afghanistan and Iraq can be understood as a response to this emerging situation. The point is to prevent the spread of Chinese and Indian influence into central and southwest Asia. Things have not exactly been going to plan (or Iran would have been invaded by now) but it is still too early to judge the success of the strategy. If the US can cut off the energy supplies China will need in future this might ensure that the Chinese hegemony will be strangled at birth. Meanwhile, Wolfensohn observed: "The phenomenal rally by the two countries was a return to form rather than a novelty...as they together had accounted for 50 percent of global GDP from the 1500s until the industrial revolution...."**

Revealed: rise of creationism in UK schools: "Dozens of schools are using creationist teaching materials condemned by the government as 'not appropriate to support the science curriculum', the Guardian has learned. The packs promote the creationist alternative to Darwinian evolution called intelligent design and the group behind them said 59 schools are using the information as 'a useful classroom resource'." Internal discohesion-disorganisation coupling In the last few weeks, Britain has seen a wave of militant atheism, with prominent intellectuals arguing forcefully that anyone who believes in God, and therefore does not recognise so-called science as the sole legitimate form of human knowledge, must be mentally deficient, or at least extremely gullible. It is therefore strange that creationism is spreading in the nation's schools. It is all part of the fragmentation of belief systems that constitutes "discohesion" and, in so far as it is threatening our society's ability to preserve and transmit some of its most characteristic discoveries, contributes to disorganisation (education belongs to the organisation nexus). Contemporary fundamentalist Christian movements are not mere leftovers from a traditional culture, but are newly arising in the modern world in opposition to it, and thus are products of modernism and part of modernism itself. So they may be viewed as discohesive as they are essentially part and parcel of the ever growing cacophony of contemporary society. To the extent that they are aggressive and not quietistic, they provoke reaction, which in turn is further discohesive to society. Because there is no longer a vital spiritual core to the Western social-cultural experience, people seeking the very human and legitimate need for a fulfilling spiritual existence more and more are having to look elsewhere: Islam, Buddhism, Native American religion (or at least the "white man's" New Age version of the same), or Fundamentalist Christianity, a post-modern construct of a simulacrum of an imagined past that perhaps never was.**