Dark Age Watch

What is a dark age?

Sunday, December 17, 2006
More Americans hungry, homeless in 2006- mayors "As the numbers who could not buy their own food grew, more than half the cities, including Los Angeles and Boston, said groups spread resources farther by giving less food to individuals or cutting the number of times people could receive help. The group estimated 23 percent of requests for emergency food assistance simply went unmet. Franklin Cownie, the mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, who worked on the study, said he was troubled that more than a third of the adults asking for food aid were employed. "If you look at the data, you'll find folks that have jobs that don't have enough money to feed themselves," he told reporters."" Internal disorganisation

US church splits over sexuality "The Truro Church and the Falls Church voted to place themselves instead under the authority of the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola...The parishes of Truro and Falls in Virginia - founded in British colonial times - are two of the oldest and largest church congregations in the US." Internal discohesion-international cohesion Most interesting here, is the link to the African Dark Age - the long-term recovery of Africa, which DAT suggests may one day lead the world out of its present dark age. How long before the Church of England is itself governed from Africa?

Poll call escalates Gaza violence "Mortars were fired at Mr Abbas's office in Gaza City, and a 19-year-old woman was killed as rival Fatah and Hamas supporters clashed in the streets." Intern(ation)al disintegration The local hegemon is Israel, the wider hegemon is the US. Neither guarantees the peace here. While this may be a deliberate strategy, theoretically speaking it does not indicate an effective political integrator.

Iran offers to transfer nuke technology: "President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday his country was ready to transfer nuclear technology to neighboring countries, nearly a week after Arab states on the Persian Gulf announced plans to consider a joint nuclear program." International disintegration Proliferation, levelling the playing field.

Hardcore jobless face benefit cut "More long-term unemployed people could have their benefits cut - or stopped altogether - under new proposals. Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton will say in a speech on Monday that a "hardcore" of benefit claimants are not taking the opportunities open to them. If workers from Poland could take low-skilled jobs, "why can't our own people?"" Anti-disorganisation (if implemented - notice the world 'could'). Six or seven years ago, Germany forced its unemployed to take up jobs picking asparagus, which in previous years had been filled by Polish immigrants. By the second day, many were turning up with sick notes from the doctor, while most of the rest were late for work and showed little application. It was a disaster. Much of the asparagus crop had to be ploughed back into the soil. Meanwhile, on a disorganisatory note, see Adults abandon further education although "this is the direct (if not intended) outcome of a deliberate strategy to focus the adult learning budget on two priorities: 16 to 19 year-olds and economically useful qualifications at either "basic skills" level or Level 2 (the equivalent of GCSE)."

Tents for the homeless in Paris (French) One year after the organisation "Médecins du Monde" provided tents for those without shelter the "enfants de Don Quichote" have provided more tents and asked the better off people to sleep in the tents in a declaration of solidarity, according to the French newspaper "le monde". The problem of how to protect the homeless in winter is an issue in Moscow, too, where there are said to be some 100'000 people without shelter (out of a population of roughly 10 million). It is impossible for us to say whether the problem has worsened in recent years. However, we would expect squatting and homeless people to gradually become a more prominent feature in the streetscape of western cities on the road towards the dark age.

Britain's booziest Christmas ever "Excessive price-cutting by supermarkets, sales to underage drinkers and cheap drinks promotions are all blamed for the fact this country is near the top of the binge-drinking league, despite sensible drinking messages. Britons will have drunk more than 8bn litres of alcohol by the end of 2006 - more than 200 litres per adult." Internal discohesion? Perhaps it is no coincidence that alcohol is consumed excessively around this time of year, as more and more (young) people feel alienated from their families and from the cultural traditions which used to provide a larger framework for private festivities. Be that as it may, in Russia excessive drinking is one reason why life expectancy for men has plummeted to 60. In Finland, consumption of alcohol has become "the leading cause of death for men, and is a close second for women."

China's real nuclear capabilities "Even the Pentagon's last annual "Military Power of the People's Republic of China" report...also noted that China currently deploys about 20 silo-based, liquid-fueled ICBMs, which constitute its primary means of holding continental US targets at risk. But according to the FAS-NRDC report, the United States has more than 830 missiles - most with multiple warheads - that can reach China." Nuclear war? The international standing of the United States is increasingly resembling that of Russia. Both countries have been experiencing an economic decline and a growing reliance on the manufacture and sale of arms. The fact that their base to generate and project conventional military power is shrinking in relation to that of other countries while they both maitain a considerable advantage in the field of nuclear armaments might lead them to consider this option more seriously in future international disputes.

Risk to British lives ended Saudi jet probe "Saudi Arabia threatened to stop sharing vital intelligence - particularly intercepted communications between al-Qaeda members active there - unless Britain suspended its investigation into a controversial arms deal, The Observer can reveal." International disintegration Blackmailing the UK in order to buy one of its latest weapons systems.

Drugs boom fuels Dublin gang killings " 'When I went to the toilet I saw three men at the same party snorting cocaine. They were all perfectly respectable young professionals who thought nothing of taking coke for social and recreational use,' he said...There are only a couple of thousand registered heroin addicts in Dublin; there are hundreds of thousands of social users of drugs, particularly cocaine.'" Internal discohesion

No jumps for Paras as MoD cuts £1bn "Parachute training in the Army is set to be halted for four years as part of a £1 billion cost-cutting programme by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The proposals mean that Britain will be without a parachute-trained force for the first time since the Second World War when the Parachute Regiment was created on the orders of Winston Churchill." International disintegration? Imperial overstretch?

China awards massive nuclear deal "Westinghouse, the nuclear-plant builder sold by British Nuclear Fuels earlier this year, has won a billion-dollar contract to build reactors in China. The deal, worth about $8bn (£4.1bn), is for four nuclear plants (...)" International organisation (pro innovation). In the long run, the deal implies a further levelling of the playing field between the west and China.

Unrelenting wind, cold whip Pacific Northwest "Nearly 700,000 customers in Washington and Oregon still had no power Saturday, and utilities said some might have to wait into next week for their lights to go back on...Wind gusted to a record 69 mph early Friday at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, breaking the old mark of 65 mph set in 1993. Wind was clocked at 113 mph near Mount Rainier." Innovation failure? "Bad luck" or evidence that the infrastracture in the United States is in a bad state?

Russia defies West and goes ahead with nuclear fuel sale to Iran "RUSSIA is to begin supplying Iran with nuclear fuel early next year despite mounting concern in the West that this could accelerate Tehran’s plans to build a nuclear bomb." International discohesion

Saturday, December 16, 2006
Violence reaches West Bank as rivals ratchet up tension "Hamas yesterday accused Fatah of trying to assassinate Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian Prime Minister, as the two warring factions exchanged gunfire on the streets." Intern(ation)al disintegration

Spain restores Gibraltar air link "Spain, which ceded Gibraltar to Britain in 1713 but still claims it, had blocked flights for nearly 30 years. Spain, the UK and Gibraltar signed a deal in September to restore air links." International re-cohesion

Patrols to stem illegal migrants on southern borders "An EU official said the patrols would ensure greater seaboard coverage, could save lives and detect people-traffickers. The convoys would use national coastal guards but be co-ordinated by Frontex, the EU's fledgling border management agency." A sign of international (European) integration or an indication that barbarian invasion has overstrained the resources of an individual state?

Eastern Bolivia pushes for autonomy "Crowds on Friday afternoon stretched for blocks in a rally hosted by the opposition-controlled state government in Santa Cruz -- Bolivia's largest and most prosperous city -- which has long sought greater leeway from the capital of La Paz, 645 kilometers (400 miles) west." Internal discohesion

Kidnapping halts oil production at Shell facility in Nigeria "Armed men who attacked a Royal Dutch Shell PLC oil complex overnight fled Friday, taking three Nigerian hostages, shooting a man and forcing the oil giant to halt 12,000 barrels of production per day." Internal disintegration-disorganisation coupling

Japan upgrades defence's status "The move is part of new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's drive to lift Japan's diplomatic presence and rethink its post-World War II role. The upper house also passed a bill that requires schools to teach patriotism in the classroom." International discohesion ahead There has always been international discohesion. The point is that, as the west's societal and economic base becomes ever more fragile, events in distant locations will spiral out of control and act as a trigger which could bring about a severe crisis. Japan's gradual self-assertion is certain to cause suspicion among other powers in the region and may result in a war with China at a time, when the US might be caught off guard.

Friday, December 15, 2006
Saudi defence deal probe ditched: "Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said the SFO was 'discontinuing' its investigation into Britain's biggest defence company, BAE Systems. The reversal follows reports that Saudi Arabia was considering pulling out of a deal to buy Eurofighter jets from BAE." International disintegration Saudi threats achieve the desired result.

EU leaders end summit divided on bloc's future "European Union leaders seeking to reassure voters about the bloc's expansion ended a summit on Friday far from united about the future shape of the union, set to grow to 27 members when Bulgaria and Romania join on January 1. After two days of talks, divisions remained about further expansion beyond that date and on whether and how to revive a stalled EU constitution rejected by French and Dutch voters." International discohesion Some amount of division is inevitable, of course. One should not be too alarmist.

Top American general says more troops needed: "The US Army’s top general warned Thurs-day that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan “will break” the active-duty Army unless the National Guard and Reserves are used more often and thousands of active-duty troops are added to the ranks." Imperial overstretch

N.J. Legislature Votes to Allow Same-Sex Unions - washingtonpost.com: "With a mandate from New Jersey's highest court to offer gay couples the same rights as heterosexuals, the state legislature voted Thursday to create civil unions but stopped short of using the word 'marriage.'" Internal discohesion In a discohesive society, marriage is seen as a private matter for the two individuals concerned, and there seems little reason why same-sex couples should not participate in the institution. In a cohesive society, marriage is seen as bringing whole kin-groups together and providing a social glue for the benefit of society, not for the benefit of the individuals involved. We have the discohesive mentality.

It's the end of Belgium as we know it... only joking: "Thousands of Belgians were thrown into a panic by news that the Flemish half of the country had declared independence...The panic turned to anger after RTBF, the French public broadcaster, admitted 40 minutes into the show that it was a hoax designed to dramatise tensions between Flanders, in the north, and French-speaking Wallonia, in the south...About 6 million of Belgium’s 10.5 million people live in Flanders, 3.5 million in Wallonia, and a million in Brussels. All the main political parties are based on linguistic groups and both regions have their own parliaments." Not internal discohesion though perhaps it shows the reality of the possibility that Belgium might split up.

Thursday, December 14, 2006
Teach 'useful Mandarin', schools told: "State schools should be encouraged to teach economically useful languages such as Mandarin, a government report will recommend today. " A sign of international disintegration and things to come in the 21st century.

Looming Somalian war menaces whole region "Racked by clan rivalry, disorder and violence, the failed state of Somalia is now lurching towards a war that could suck in several of its neighbours, the UN warned today." African dark age Whaddya know? The hopeful signs of a couple of years ago, when it seemed dark age theorists were way off beam, have apparently disappeared.

Bakker, Brown: What the hell happened to Christianity?: "What the hell happened? Where did we go wrong? How was Christianity co-opted by a political party? Why are Christians supporting laws that force others to live by their standards? The answers to these questions are integral to the survival of Christianity...So when did the focus of Christianity shift from the unconditional love and acceptance preached by Christ to the hate and condemnation spewed forth by certain groups today?" Internal re-cohesion? Christianity beginning the fight back against Islam and secularism?

DR Congo poll 'will spread peace' African dark age - recohesion

Wednesday, December 13, 2006
5-year plan for troubled central Africa to cost about US$2 billion "Eleven African countries propose spending US$2 billion over five years to try to end the cycle of war and dictatorship in central Africa by building roads and restoring basic services, according to a report obtained by The Associated Press. The plan, which has been in the works for two years, was expected to be signed Friday by leaders from Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Details on exactly where the money will come from have not been completed." African dark age While a dark age implies the destruction of a failed world order, it also implies the birth of a new one. (There is though a not of equivocation at the end, there, and Africa is not going to turn around quickly. It may take 200 to 400 years before Africa can really be said to be on an upward path again.)

Bushman anxious to hunt again like his ancestors: "Gkiiwe is a Basarwa or a bushman of the Kalahari, an ethnic group that for centuries was spread across the Central Kalahari Game Reserve in southern Africa. Gkiiwe is a hunter and a gatherer, still doing things in the old way, like his ancestors. Several years ago, the government of Botswana decided to relocate Gkiiwe and his fellow bushmen from the reserve...His dismay turned to happiness Wednesday when a court in Botswana ruled 2-1 that the bushmen should be allowed to return to their homes." Internal disintegration-disorganisation? This actually seems like good news. Hunter-gathering is one of the three basic eigenmodes of the human dynamic, but has now all but disappeared from the planet. It is great to see it continue, if only for social scientific reasons. At the same time, we are all Bushmen to some extent. Where we interact with our family and closest friends, we follow the rules of the Bushman eigenmode.

Karzai: Pakistan Trying to Make 'Slaves': "Karzai's rhetorical barrage against Pakistan started in a tearful speech Sunday, when he said terrorists from Pakistan are killing Afghan children. He ratcheted up his criticism Tuesday, directly charging the Pakistan government with supporting the Taliban. On Wednesday, he again took direct aim at Afghanistan's eastern neighbor." International discohesion

Nigerian violence threatens polls "I went for a look round town. Thugs were in charge everywhere. Shops were randomly broken into, with looting widespread. Some innocent residents were beaten up and dispossessed of valuables." African dark age

Libyan women consider the veil: "The veil has experienced a popular comeback in recent years among North African women. Najat wore the veil a few years ago because her teenage daughter suddenly decided to cover up. She has since been caught in a moral and religious battle with herself." Internal recohesion-international discohesion The issue here seems to be that of a renewed self-belief of the Muslim world, reflecting the declining attractiveness and moral authority of the western way of life (increasingly associated with sexual decadence, drug abuse, family breakdown, and abusive but ineffective military interventionism).

Hamas judge killed in Gaza Strip "Inter-faction tensions have increased since the killing of three sons of a pro-Fatah security chief on Monday." Internal discohesion

Palestinians kill Hamas-linked judge "Palestinian gunmen forced a Hamas commander to his knees and fatally shot him early Wednesday outside of the courthouse where he worked as an Islamic judge, escalating factional tensions in the Gaza Strip." Internal disintegration

Complaints about police up by 15% "...But 88% of allegations investigated were found to be unsubstantiated." Internal discohesion, also implying a decline in efficiency as additional resources have to be alloted to the task of dealing with such complaints.

Fighting rages in east Sri Lanka "The Sri Lankan army says that it is continuing military operations against Tamil Tigers rebels in the east. The offensive follows fighting at the weekend in which thousands of civilians were displaced." Internal disintegration There are no signs whatsoever that the category of the "failed state" is about to disappear.

Landmark EU chemical law passed "The law is designed to make firms prove the thousands of chemicals they use in products from cars to clothes are safe." Innovation failure? The measure may appear as reasonable precautions to many consumers. At the same time, however, it has to be said that the industrial revolution might not have taken off under today's bureaucratic restrictions.

China ends school fees for 150m "China is to abolish tuition and other fees for 150 million rural students, in a bid to narrow the gap between wealthy coastal provinces and poorer regions." pro-organisation

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
$20bn gas project seized by Russia "Shell is being forced by the Russian government to hand over its controlling stake in the world's biggest liquefied gas project, provoking fresh fears about the Kremlin's willingness to use the country's growing strength in natural resources as a political weapon." Internal integration-international disintegration It seems that Shell, a Western oil company, has finally been forced by the Russians to give up its controlling interest in the US $20 billion Sakhalin-2 gas project to Russia's Gazprom, ostensibly because of Shell's environmental transgressions. The original financial arrangements for this project, formulated during the Yeltsin years, gave a controlling interest to Western firms under a profit sharing plan that is similar to those traditionally imposed upon third world oil producing countries by oil firms backed by Western governments. It's truly amazing to see how much things have changed with the passing of a decade. And it will be interesting to see what if anything those Western governments which originally back Shell will be able to do about, what amounts to, an expropriation - with their own economies now so dependent upon Russian gas and with Russia now holding the world's third largest foreign currency reserves. Russia's currency reserves, as well as its new found geopolitical power, have mostly been built up by exporting oil and gas to the West as well as selling advanced military systems to those countries currently aligned against the West. It wouldn't be easy, but Western societies could break out of this conundrum through massive investments in alternative energy technologies, including advanced nuclear technologies, with the goal of drastically reducing the use of oil and eventually natural gas. That they haven't done so yet, for whatever the reasons, characterizes them as declining societies which lack the will as well as the flexibility to make changes-investments that are necessary for the maintenance of their economic, as well as ultimately, their cultural and military supremacy.**

Discovery crew to build extension in space: "Astronauts on board the space shuttle Discovery will attach an extension to the orbiting International Space Station during a spacewalk today, in what is said to be one of the most difficult tasks ever carried out in space." Pro-innovation One day, all human industry will be in space. Then concerns about global warming will seem quite ridiculous.

Outrage over Holocaust conference "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has met delegates at a conference in Iran questioning the Holocaust, drawing widespread international criticism."...Iran: Israel 'will end like USSR'...Iran a 'major threat', says Blair Looks like a severe case of international discohesion and possibly points towards "wars coming soon". There is also a large element of hypocrisy, as the holocaust was perpetrated by Europeans not Iranians, yet all this outrage is reserved for what the Iranians would say is merely an attempt to get to the botom of what has been used to legitimise the establishment of the state of Israel 60 years ago - an event that continues to destabilise the region in which they live. Meanwhile, the western nations that find this conference so shocking continue to occupy Iran's next door neighbour after an invasion whose justification, it is now openly admitted, was actually false. It should be emphasised that this website does not have a political viewpoint on these matters. It is nevertheless suspected that historians a thousand years from now will not judge the west's actions so favourably as we do ourselves.

Could the US experience deflation? "U.S. banks currently hold record amounts of mortgage-related assets on their books. If the housing market were to go into a deep recession resulting in massive mortgage defaults, the U.S. banking system could sustain huge losses similar to what the Japanese banks experienced in the 1990s. If this were to occur, the Fed could cut interest rates to zero but it would have little positive effect on economic activity or inflation. Short of the Fed depositing newly-created money directly into private sector accounts, I suspect that a deflation would occur under these circumstances. Again, crippled banking systems tend to bring on deflations. And crippled banking systems seem to result from the bursting of asset bubbles because of the sharp decline in the value of the collateral backing bank loans." Internal disorganisation ahead?

China issues white paper on undertakings for the aged "According to the white paper, by the end of 2005, China had nearly 144 million people aged over 60, accounting for 11 percent of its entire population. "At present, the population of senior citizens in China is growing by three percent every year," says the white paper." Evidence of accelerated decline? China is in a peculiar situation: On the one hand it has to overcome the typical problems of all developping countries such as migration into cities, urbanisation as well as environmental problems due to rapid industrialisation. On the other hand, the Chinese authorities are already looking at issues which have been occupying the minds of western policy planners for some time. That said, it is conceivable that the one-child-policy might be abandonned at some stage which may be easier than encouraging women to have more children.

Students try to disrupt Iran president’s speech "Dozens of Iranian students burned pictures of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and threw firecrackers in an effort to disrupt his speech at a university on Monday, a presidential office spokesman said." A bit of internal discohesion

Mexico sends forces to drug-plagued region "Mexico's new government ordered thousands of troops to the western state of Michoacan...The cartels' battle in the once-tranquil state has killed hundreds of people this year, leaving a trail of severed heads and corpses as they fight for control of lucrative production and coastal trafficking routes." Internal disintegration Mexico remains locked in a vicious circle of under-development, poverty and crime. The United States has not managed to exert a stabilising influence on its Southern neighbour, not least because it is itself facing a worsening economic and societal crisis.

Taliban mini-state on Pakistan border "PAKISTAN'S appeasement of Islamic tribal militants in remote areas bordering Afghanistan has created a virtual Taliban mini-state where insurgents operating against the NATO-led forces are free to recruit, train and equip themselves, an international think tank reported yesterday." International disintegration

Deutsche Bank Launches Shariah Compatible Funds "Even as Deutsche Bank throws its hat into the ever growing ring, Islamic banking products are quickly expanding. The Islamic Bank of Britain was founded in 2004 to serve the UK's Muslim population and a growing number of pious consumer loan, mortgage, insurance products are on offer." Internal discohesion Europe is changing and it won't change back.

Australia turns back tide of racial tension "The programme is also touching some sensitive Islamic issues, including female nudity. Ms Laalaa’s stretchable “burqini” was designed by a Sydney-based Muslim tailor, approved by local Islamic authorities and is proving a hit, apparently not only among Muslim girls. “It’s extremely comfortable and some of the non-Muslim girls are now using it, without the hood, against skin cancer,” says Ms Laalaa." Internal re-cohesion?

900 police stations shut up shop "Nearly 900 police stations have closed in England and Wales in the past 14 years, according to government figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph, while the vast majority of those still operating are only open to the public for limited hours." Internal integration or disintegration? The number of police stations may say little about the efficiency of the police. One might argue that the local police station has become obsolete in face of various technological innovations, that fewer of them are needed and that, therefore, Britain must have become a more secure country. In view of the rising number of people locked up every year, this conclusion may appear unduly optimistic. A deeper problem might be that while the presence of a local police station reassures law-abiding people, it increasingly fails to deter those who are up to no good.

Russia Deploys New, Mobile Topol-M ICBMs "The Topol-M missiles, capable of hitting targets more than 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) away, have so far been deployed only in silos. Its new version, which will be mounted on a heavy off-road vehicle, makes it harder for an enemy to track it down." International disintegration levelling the playing field (from the hegemon's viewpoint)

Police to get ‘dirty bomb hoods’ in terror alert "The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has told all forces they should look to purchase specially designed chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) hoods as soon as possible." The state trying to prepare itself against the background of an expanding world

Monday, December 11, 2006
Afghanistan's opium poppies will be sprayed, says US drugs tsar "Afghanistan has agreed to poppy-spraying measures in a desperate bid to deflate the soaring drugs trade, America's anti-narcotics tsar announced at the weekend." International integration-internal discohesion coupling (probably).

Indonesia's Aceh votes to decide life after war "More than 2 million people are expected to vote in Indonesia's once-rebellious Aceh on Monday in landmark elections aimed at bolstering a peace deal between the government and separatists." Internal re-cohesion

No school, no job for record numbers "The number of young people doing nothing with their lives has risen sharply since Labour came to power, government figures reveal. " Internal disorganisation

No school, no work and little hope for 1.24m young Britons "There are now 1.24 million people aged between 15 and 24 who are neither in education, work or in a training scheme — a 15 per cent increase on 1997. The rise has been particuarly rapid for 16 to 17-year-olds and men, both up by almost a third." Internal disorganisation

Children of Islamic Hamas opponent killed "The children's deaths follow a series of internal feuds, the most recent an attack on Hamas Interior Minister Said Siyam's convoy over the weekend." Internal disintegration

The rotten heart of Russia "Last month, the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation, the Paris-based think-tank, said in its economic survey of Russia that, while measuring corruption in the country may be difficult, it was clearly a major impediment to foreign investment...Murder, too, is a fact of Russian business life. Last month, a senior BP engineer was shot in a sauna and Zelimkhan Magomedov, the president of the National Oil Institute Fund, was gunned down in the street. Such has been the volume of contract killings among the business community that several multinationals have begun hiring security firms to protect their senior staff." Internal discohesion-disintegration coupling

Algeria bomb targets oil workers "Militant Algerian groups have killed some 150,000 people since 1992, when elections in which an Islamic party was poised to win were cancelled." Internal disintegration