Dark Age Watch

What is a dark age?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ethiopia admits Somalia offensive "Ethiopia has confirmed that its troops are fighting Islamic militiamen that control much of Somalia.
Ethiopia's information minister said his country's forces had launched "self-defensive measures" against the Islamic Courts Union (UIC)." African dark age

Single and dangerous: "There will soon be more single people than married ones in Britain. The number of single households is set to rise by 53% over the next 20 years to 9.9m, according to a report by Alliance & Leicester Mortgages...When it comes to singletons, we have moved on from the Bridget Jones cliche of the microwaveable meal-for-one, the cat and the baby envy. We now hold up the likes of Britney Spears as examples of “empowered”, fun-loving singledom. " Internal discohesion Age of individualism.

: "The aircraft carrier Eisenhower and its strike group entered the Persian Gulf on Dec. 11. Another aircraft carrier, the Stennis, is expected to depart for the Gulf within the next month. The military said it is also taking steps to prevent Iran from blocking oil shipments from the Gulf." Wars coming soon An attempt by the hegemon to contain ongoing disitegration: see Ahmadinejad rejects UN sanctions

Saudi Royals Snub Bush, Fund Opposition to US Troops "The Saudis are clear about their bottom line: If the United States isn't careful about withdrawing from Iraq, the Sunni kingdom will have no other choice but to arm Iraqi's Sunnis, especially if the Saudi's arch-rival, Iran, which has already destabilized the regional power equilibrium by launching a nuclear program, rushes into a military vacuum left by the Americans...Last week in Riyadh, at the end of a two-day summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (a six-country organism including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates), the Saudis announced their interest in developing a joint nuclear energy program." International discohesion-disintegration coupling

Saturday, December 23, 2006
US tests call-up system but denies return to conscription "The Bush administration is planning a test run of America's emergency military call-up, stoking speculation about a return to a draft at a time when the White House is considering sending more troops to Iraq." Imperial overstretch? Wars coming soon?

Hospitals pay a rising price for Britain’s booze culture "The cost of Britain’s binge-drinking culture is revealed in figures which show that alcohol-related medical emergencies and hospital treatments have doubled since 1977." Internal discohesion-disorganisation coupling If the trend continues and coincideds with a severe economic crisis, life expectancy might drop sharply, similar to what happened in Russia in the early 90s.

English lessons scrapped as Moscow strangles British links in red tape "The Kremlin has opened a new front in its increasingly bitter diplomatic row with London by disrupting the activities of the British Council in Moscow. More than 1,500 students have been offered refunds after the British Council was forced to close a language centre this week. The 21 teachers have been offered posts at council offices in other countries." International discohesion

Friday, December 22, 2006
Crime has become career of choice for young men from the inner city "[Gavin Hales] said the report’s findings presented a big challenge for the Government in how to educate some young people about the choices they faced. “The criminal economy has very low entry costs and you need no qualifications,” he said." Internal disorganisation-disintegration coupling

More domestic violence courts "Fifteen specialist courts to tackle cases of domestic violence are to be set up by next April...Successful prosecutions for domestic violence have risen from 46% of all cases in 2003 to 59% last year in all courts, with the specialist domestic violence courts recording a 71% success rate." Internal discohesion

US cancels Philippine exercises "A Philippine court has refused to return Lance Corporal Daniel Smith to US custody while he appeals - defying an agreement between the two countries." International discohesion Public resentment against the presence of US troops has also been growing in South Korea and Japan.

Hamas, Fatah shoot it out "Ferocious gunbattles broke out between Hamas and Fatah militants in Gaza and the West Bank early Friday, underscoring the fragility of a new truce between the rival factions." Intern(ation)al disintegration Where is the hegemon?

Thousands flee as war escalates in Somalia African dark age As above, this is indicative of international disintegration. According to DAT, integration is a global property of a social system, just as an enclosed body of gas has one pressure and cannot be at different pressures in different parts. A failure of local political authority implies a failure of global political authority, for otherwise the global authority would step in and take over.

Half say they'll go to church this Christmas: very few will "According to the poll undertaken this month, 47 per cent of people said that they would probably go to church, a figure that is rising from year to year. Women (50 per cent) and professionals and managers (53 per cent) are most likely to say that they will attend church, while Scots (38 per cent) and skilled manual workers (40 per cent) are the least likely. Church attendance does appear to be increasing year by year, but people may exaggerate their likely attendance at churches." Internal cohesion The old culture is not dead yet.

Cabinet fears that overstretched Army cannot cope much longer "Des Browne, seven months into the job of Defence Secretary, is confident that the Army can still sustain the two major operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But for the first time he has voiced his fears about how much longer the Army can cope with the commitments without there being the risk of serious consequences." Imperial overstretch (Except there is nothing imperial about Britain any more...)

Thursday, December 21, 2006
North Korea Nuclear Talks Deadlocked "Talks on dismantling North Korea's nuclear arms program are deadlocked with no sign of progress, Japan's envoy said Thursday, citing the North's refusal to abandon its demand that the U.S. lift financial restrictions." International discohesion Disintegration as well - levelling the playing field, proliferation.

British soldier accused of spying: "A British soldier has been charged with passing on secret information 'to the enemy', believed to be Iran." Wars coming soon? Was this soldier (believed to be of Iranian descent) passing the Iranians information about possible operations against their country? See also US, Britain move ships to Gulf in signal to Iran

Somalis 'at war' with Ethiopia "Fresh heavy fighting is reported near the weak Somali government's Baidoa base, amid fears conflict could plunge the entire Horn of Africa into crisis. Local residents say Ethiopian troops are clashing with Islamist militias." African dark age

High Oil Prices fuel Scottish Seperatism Internal (dis)organisation-discohesion coupling [Innovation failure is placing a premium on oil stocks, making possession of this dwindling resource a political bargaining chip.] Contributing to Scotland's new found desire for independence is (drum roll, please) "...the rise in world oil prices. The SNP (the Scottish separatist party) has always argued that 90 per cent of North Sea oil in the UK sector belongs to Scotland. High energy prices have therefore given a mark of respectability to the party’s economic plans, although these are contested by Labour. If the SNP proved victorious next year, oil would be a main point of friction between London and Edinburgh." There's more than "a mark of respectability" to this argument. If by going their own way the Scots can get all or most of the oil, then why shouldn't they spend the money on themselves rather than on London's and, by extension, Washington's failing imperial ambitions around the world? Main theme: growing belief that future association with the hegemon is now both economically burdensome and a long term disadvantage. No wonder the article goes on to relate how the SNP, if victorious next year, would declare Scotland "non-nuclear", forcing London to move its Trident nuclear submarines south of the border.** Original article behind paid subscription wall: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/b0bfd7a6-8f8b-11db-9ba3-0000779e2340.html

Toyota said to overtake Ford in U.S. auto sales Internal disorganisation One more data point documenting the shift of industrial power away from America. The market has spoken, and for DAT the important point is this: the best built, most reliable, and most technologically advanced mass produced autos are no longer coming from American auto companies**...Which would be good and pro-international organisation, if America had moved into bigger and better industries, such as domestic nuclear power plants, orbital factories and private spaceships for zipping around the solar system - but it ain't happening (though, to be fair, software and computing are an American success story).

Embattled Bush wants bigger army "America's defence secretary, Robert Gates, was yesterday set the task of enlarging the 700,000-strong US military by 10 per cent after commanders warned that wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had pushed it to breaking point. It follows...reports that up to 50,000 extra troops could be sent to back the 150,000 already there for a military "surge" to crush rebels." Imperial overstretch or wars coming soon? The speculative question arises as to what strategic reasoning might be behind official declarations. 50'000 troops (3-4 divisions) represent a third of the number which is already in Iraq today. In terms of political popularity, there is little to gain from such a costly move which would expose more ground troops to ambushes but is unlikely to stop the murderous artrocities committed by Shia and Sunni militants. One could argue that as long as the key military bases, oil installations and major lines of communication are secured, it matters little to the outgoing US administration whether one or 10 bombs explode in Bagdad, provided American losses remain relatively low. So why these reinforcements?
1. The situation in Iraq is far worse than the public was led to believe and the US army has suffered severe casualties (e.g., Camp Falcon, October 10)?
2. The military is anticipating a large-scale, coordinated guerilla campaign which might threaten the local balance of power?
3. The reinforcements are used to protect critical areas against potential Iranian/Syrian operations?

Binge-drinking among women has doubled "The number of girls and young women drinking to excess has risen dramatically in a decade, NHS statistics released yesterday confirm. The figures chart the rise of the "ladette" culture, which emerged in the 1990s." A reflection of internal discohesion?

Mohammed overtakes George in list of most popular names "The Office for National Statistics said there were 2,833 baby boys called Mohammed in 2006. The name is 22nd in the list of most popular boys' names, moving up a place from last year." Internal discohesion Changing Britain

SYRIA MULLS S-300PMU2 SYSTEM "Industry sources said Syrian President Bashar Assad was briefed on the S-300PMU2 during his visit to Moscow. They said Bashar has agreed in principle to procuring the S-300 and focused on price and other details with his Russian interlocutors." International disintegration Un-levelling the playing field

Nigeria bomb sparks Shell pullout "The largest oil operator in Nigeria, Royal Dutch Shell, began evacuating hundreds of expatriate staff dependants from the Niger Delta on Thursday after militants planted a car bomb in a residential compound, the company said." Internal disintegration-disorganisation coupling The fact that Africa's share in the world economy remains negligible is not trivial. It implies missed opportunities - not only for the continent but, ultimately, for the entire world.

Power of thought moves robot "Rajesh Rao, associate professor of computer science and engineering, and his students have demonstrated that an individual can "order" a robot to move to specific locations and pick up specific objects by generating the proper brain waves that reflect the individual's instructions." Innovation The transformation of our post-industrial society into something radically differnt is gleaming on the distant horizon. However, it is hard to see this occur while the overall climate in the west is one of saturation, stagnation and decline ("One in 20 Hispanics 'goes hungry'") See also: UK report says robots will have rights

Dollar dropped in Iran asset move "Iran is to shift its foreign currency reserves from dollar to euro and use the euro for oil deals in response to US-led pressure on its economy." International disintegration Snubbing the hegemon (Saddam Hussein did the same in 2000). Who's next?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Iraqi TV station plays up U.S. losses International disintegration "This article describes a clandestine anti-occupation Sunni television station operating in Iraq. How much control over Iraq does America have when a banned Television station can reliably continue to broadcast its message?"**

Somalis clash on front lines, EU envoy jets in: "Somali Islamists and troops defending the government's only stronghold fought at two frontline areas on Wednesday as a European Union envoy flew in to urge talks to stop the brewing Horn of Africa war." African dark age

Congo's tentative steps towards power dream ""What did we do before we used candles?" "We had electricity." The joke has been told of various countries in Africa, perhaps none so fittingly as Democratic Republic of Congo...With a flow second only to the Amazon, the mighty Congo river spews forth 1.5 million cubic feet (42.5 million litres) into the Atlantic every second. Experts say it could generate over 40,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity -- more than twice the projected capacity of China's massive Three Gorges Dam, and a major step to keeping up with fast-growing demand for electricity in Africa and beyond." African dark age Africa is on the move.

US seeks 'better Venezuela ties' "The US ambassador to Venezuela has said bilateral relations could continue to improve despite the deep political differences between the two countries...Bilateral trade has continued to grow in recent years, despite worsening relations during the same period." International (organisation-)cohesion (coupling)

Come to Chechnya, it's really dangerous "Gun battles are common and kidnappings, though less frequent of late, still occur with alarming regularity. The Foreign Office warns against all travel to Chechnya, saying that Westerners are particularly vulnerable to abduction." Expanding world (internal disintegration)

Senior Pakistani policeman shot "Pakistan signed controversial peace accords with militants in the semi-autonomous tribal areas of South Waziristan in April 2004 and in North Waziristan in September 2006." Internal disintegration low intensity conflict Related: Blast kills former Baloch rebel

Bush: More troops needed for 'long struggle' "The White House is considering an expansion of the U.S. Army and Marines for "the long struggle against radicals and extremists," President Bush said during a Wednesday news conference." Wars coming soon? See also: German Tornado aircraft to be sent to Afghanistan (German)

Freedom Tower takes root with steel beams and iron will "Two 25-ton steel columns -- one bearing signatures of American steelworkers who helped make it -- rose at ground zero Tuesday, a milestone in the prolonged effort to build the skyscraper that will replace the twin towers of the World Trade Center." Internal organisation In ascendant societies, after buildings have been destroyed, whether by fire, barbarians or natural disaster, what replaces them is bigger and better than what went before. Does the Freedom Tower pass muster in this respect? We will have to see.

Furious Poland Threatens to Re-Open German Border Treaty "The Polish government, incensed at a compensation claim by an obscure German group representing people expelled from Poland after World War II, has threatened to reopen a 1990 Treaty fixing the Oder and Neisse rivers as the border between the two countries." International discohesion that is likely to further undermine unity within the EU.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Blair 'fails to influence White House' "Tony Blair has failed to influence the policies of George Bush's White House in any significant way, despite his unwavering support for the US president, a leading foreign affairs think tank said today. " International integration? The hegemon is going its own way, and does not need to listen to a minor country like Britain.

The Highwaymen: "The last of eight wire transfers had landed in the state's account, making it official: Indiana had received $3.8 billion from a foreign consortium made up of the Spanish construction firm Cintra and the Macquarie Infrastructure Group (mig) of Australia, and in exchange the state would hand over operation of the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road for the next 75 years. The arrangement would yield hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks for the consortium, which also received immunity from most local and state taxes in its contract with Indiana. And, of course, the consortium would collect all the tolls, which it was allowed to raise to levels far beyond what Hoosiers had been used to." Internal disorganisation Taxing movement is a growing theme in western countries. It contributes to an expanding world and diminishes scale, thus obstructing economic activity.

Hate crimes up, study says Internal discohesion The statistics may be illusory (and they have supposedly been falling for four years previously, anyway) but the publication of such stories sows mistrust and resentment.

Living off rats to survive in Zimbabwe: "This is a story about how Zimbabwe, once dubbed southern Africa's bread basket, has in six short years become a basket case. It is about a country that once exported surplus food now apparently falling apart, with many residents scrounging for rodents to survive." African dark age

All-time high for homegrown as pot becomes top cash crop in US: "Marijuana is now the biggest cash crop grown in the US, exceeding traditional harvests such as wheat, corn and soy beans, says a new report." Internal disintegration The "war on terror" is not the only war the hegemon is losing.

Bolivia to legalize more coca production "Morales told a gathering of coca growers late Monday that he had "no problem" with a proposal to decree an expansion of expand legally permitted coca production to 49,400 acres from the current 29,700. The issue has caused friction with U.S. officials who have campaigned to wipe out coca growing as part of their battle against international drug trafficking." International disintegration There also is an aspect of internal disorganisation to this story. A country with a modern, diversified economy does not have to legalise the cultivation of large coca fields.

Marital Import: The Cause of Europe’s Rapid Islamization "Today, eight out of every ten Turkish youths whose family emigrated to Flanders between their 7th and 17th year of age marry someone who lives in Turkey. And six out of every ten Turks who were born in Belgium or moved there before their 7th birthday do so, too." Barbarian invasion The term "barbarian" is not used to disqualify other cultures but in a "relational" fashion, i.e. to denote a society where living conditions are generally believed to be condsiderably harsher than in most western countries.

'Safe rooms' for domestic violence victims "Women with violent partners who no longer live with them should be able to have a "safe room" installed in their house, Ruth Kelly will say today...The high-security rooms, with alarms, CCTV cameras, mortise locks, smoke alarms, security lights and reinforced doors and windows have already proved successful in some areas. They are flagged on police computers to ensure a swift response." Internal discohesion It is doubtful whether such installations will become the norm. Nontheless, the story may highlight that personal relationships are increasingly characterised by a lack of mutual trust and the desire of the individual to persue her/his interests rather than work towards some larger common good.

New watchdog to monitor troubled immigration and asylum service "An independent inspectorate for immigration, similar to the chief inspector of prisons, is to be set up in an attempt to restore public confidence in the beleaguered immigration and asylum system." Internal disorganisation As a society's economic foundation becomes more complicated and powerful, this is reflected in a state's bureaucracy. The term "big government" implies that bureaucracies develop a life of their own and grow faster than the actual creation of new wealth. By and large, it has proven impossible to reverse this trend.

Homegrown pot becomes top cash crop in US "The boom in domestic production has in part been fuelled by tougher border controls after 9/11. As smuggling from Mexico has become more difficult the drug cartels have moved their operations into the US, often creating plantations in remote national park land." Internal disintegration

Iraq attacks at highest level in two years Internal disintegration

Tight security for Mozart opera "It had been feared that the revival could prompt violent demonstrations by Muslim groups...Audience members underwent stringent police security checks. The event passed off peacefully. Nearly 2,000 ticket-holders filed through metal detectors, delaying the start of the show by an hour." Expanding world The metal detector, which was once mainly operated at airports, is gradually encroaching upon ever larger sections of public life. It remains to be seen whether the attempts by authorities to maintain previously established levels of integration will succeed.

Monday, December 18, 2006
N. Korea reaffirms right to build nuclear weapons "North Korea test-detonated a nuclear weapon Oct. 9 and fired a series of test missiles over the Sea of Japan July 5, prompting widespread fears of an arms race in northeastern Asia. The country's decision to return to negotiations so soon after the tests may help ease those fears. But few analysts believe the talks will succeed in reducing tensions soon." International disintegration

N. Korea reaffirms right to build nuclear weapons "North Korea test-detonated a nuclear weapon Oct. 9 and fired a series of test missiles over the Sea of Japan July 5, prompting widespread fears of an arms race in northeastern Asia. The country's decision to return to negotiations so soon after the tests may help ease those fears. But few analysts believe the talks will succeed in reducing tensions soon." International disintegration

Illicit artefacts sold as eBay turns a blind eye: "The Treasure Act 1996 requires the reporting of all gold and silver objects more than 300 years old, and groups of coins that are more than 300 years old and found on the same site. Two years ago The Times reported that the number of potential treasure finds being offered for sale on eBay was so high that it was undermining the credibility of the Act. " Internal disintegration High-tech helps both the police and the criminal elements.

Fears of attack recede in Somalia: "Witnesses say forces of the interim government have been patrolling the outskirts of the city of Baidoa, their stronghold, alongside Ethiopian forces. But the Islamic Courts Union, which controls much of the south, backtracked on an ultimatum for Ethiopians troops to leave Somalia by the end of Monday." More scenes from the African dark age

Iraq's Economy is Booming "It may sound unreal, given the daily images of carnage and chaos. But for a certain plucky breed of businessmen, there's good money to be made in Iraq. Consider Iraqna, the leading mobile-phone company. For sure, its quarterly reports seldom make for dull reading. Despite employees kidnapped, cell-phone towers bombed, storefronts shot up and a huge security budget—up to four guards for each employee—the company posted revenues of $333 million in 2005. This year, it's on track to take in $520 million." Internal disintegration-organisation coupling Economic activity thrives in a regulation-free environment, up to a point. Perhaps this can be seen as in part a rebound from the economic moribundity of Iraq's ten-year siege by the US.

Migration in figures "There are now more than 191 million migrants, more than ever before, according to the United Nations." The period surrounding the fall of the Roman empire is known to historians as the Völkerwanderung (wandering of peoples = barbarian migrations). A similar movement is reaching a crescendo in our times, but it will not last as dark age scholars know that we live in an expanding world.

Muslim alienation risk in Europe "In the report, the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) says it has documented a wide range of anti-Muslim or Islamophobic abuse across the EU's 25 member states." Internal discohesion We should not forget that discohesion is not a bad thing a perennial feature of human history. Until not so long ago, Catholics and Protestants used to live in separate communities in many European countries, went to buy in their own shops etc. Today, apart from Northern Ireland, this is no longer a major issue. The muslim-non muslim cleavage which is being perceived so strongly in the west these days will not by itself bring about collapse and chaos. However, the long term result is likely to be further confusion promoting feelings of moral uncertainty.

Death threats fail to halt Bollywood's Kabul road movie "Shot over 45 days in and around Kabul, the Bombay film crew arrived in September last year during the resurgence of Taliban violence that saw three suicide bombings and the beheading of an Indian construction engineer." Internal integration?

Nagasaki bombing labelled a crime "One of Japan's most senior politicians has said the US atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945 was impermissible from a humanitarian point of view." International discohesion The international order established after 1945 was firmly based on the view that Japan and Germany had behaved as savage agressors and justly received a severe punishment for this. Today, essential aspects of such notions are being seen with scepticism by a growing number of people in both Germany and Japan.