Dark Age Watch

What is a dark age?

Sunday, December 31, 2006
Somali Islamists battle advance "Somali Islamist militiamen are fighting Ethiopian and Somali government troops advancing towards their last major stronghold in the port of Kismayo." African dark age The Islamists may lose the battle, but it will hardly be the end of the war.

New EU members prepare to party "From 1 January the EU will have 27 members - up from to 15 three years ago - and a population of half a billion. The accession of the two new countries comes amid falling enthusiasm in Europe for the bloc's continuing expansion." International cohesion and should be pro-organisation. The EU continues to buck the dark age trend.

Volunteers Selected for Simulated Mars Mission in Russia "Five volunteers have been selected for a simulated Mars mission, expected to be launched in Russia late next year, the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti quoted a spokesman for the Russian Space Agency as saying Friday....The successful candidates will spend 520 days inside an experimental module set up on the institute’s premises, including 250 days “en route” to Mars, 30 days on the Red Planet’s surface and 240 days on a journey “back to Earth.”....The European Space Agency has expressed an interest in contributing to the project, including research and financial support." See also Russia Holds First Place in Spacecraft Launches "Russia has the first place in space launches with 45 percent of the world`s spacecraft launches conducted in 2006, RIA Novosti reported December 28." Pro-innovation (organisation) Russia is a land of stark contrasts. On the one hand, it has sophisticated space technology. On the other - at least from Western cultural perspectives - it's a place characterized by a kind of business and political gangsterism along with severe social problems which have resulted in a declining population. How Russia resolves these seemingly contrary directions will determine it's position in the 21st Century and the level of its potential challenge to the West.

Saturday, December 30, 2006
Tensions rise in Belarus gas row International discohesion

Saddam Hussein executed in Iraq International integration? Call no man happy till his end be known (Solon, Athenian lawgiver). This seems integrative in the sense that the hegemon has achieved the ultimate sanction against one who defied it. But, looking at the continuing disorder, perhaps it is only a specious substitute for real integration.

Friday, December 29, 2006
132 million people access Web in China "China's population of Internet users has risen by 30 percent over the past year to 132 million, a state news agency said Friday." Internal organisation Undoubtedly, an indication that standards of living continue to rise. In the long run, the trend of more people having acces to the internet will promote internal discohesion, despite attempts by the Chinese government to keep the use of the internet under tight control.

Euro notes cash in to overtake the dollar "The value of euro notes in circulation is this month likely to exceed the value of circulating dollar notes, according to calculations by the Financial Times. Converted at yesterday's exchange rates, the euro took the lead in October." International discohesion See also: U.A.E. Says Selling U.S. Currency, Buying Euros

Spain to stem illegal migration by recruiting abroad "Spain is to hire 180,000 immigrants in their countries of origin next year in an effort to stem illegal immigration while satisfying its demand for cheap labour." Barbarian invasion in disguise

Mogadishu crowds greet Somali PM "His arrival came a day after his Ethiopian-backed forces drove Islamist fighters out of the city...But some are opposed to Ethiopia's role in Somalia, with thousands protesting in Mogadishu as Ethiopian soldiers secured the city's port and airport. " African dark age In so far as this is ultimately backed by the US, it will not provide a lasting solution. The Africans need to fight it out among themselves in order to achieve political, economic and social equilibrium. The Byzantines interfered in Rome's former colonies for several hundred years after the dissolution of the western empire, but it was the new, self-created barbarian states that put Europe on an upward trajectory again.

Wave of gang attacks in Rio kills 18 people: "Gangs attacked buses and police posts in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday in a wave of violence that killed at least 18 people as the Brazilian city fills up with tourists for New Year celebrations." Internal disintegration **

China's Hu calls for powerful, combat-ready navy "Chinese president and commander-in-chief Hu Jintao urged the building of a powerful navy that is prepared "at any time" for military struggle, state media reported on Thursday." **

Thursday, December 28, 2006
Gangland Dublin: deadly spree of violence leaves a 'carefree' city looking into abyss: "The image of Dublin as a prosperous, carefree city has been dealt a series of blows by a surge of gangland violence that has led to a record number of murders and created a security crisis for Bertie Ahern’s Government. Ten years after the murder of Veronica Guerin, the investigative journalist, triggered a public outcry over the country’s power-thirsty drug dealers, an escalating new feud has illuminated the dark underbelly of the Irish capital. " Internal disintegration

Sectarian strife threatens Muslim world: Musharraf "As his own course of "moderate enlightenment" takes him deeper into conflict with conservative forces at home, Musharraf stressed that Islam was not in conflict with democracy and modernisation, but that modernisation was distinct from Westernisation. " Internal discohesion

Eyewitness in Mogadishu: 'Everything is unpredictable' African dark age The Islamists have suffered a tactical defeat, but the last has not been heard of them.

Deadly wave of violence hits Rio "At least 15 people have been killed in a string of gang attacks on buses and police stations in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, reports say." Internal disintegration

Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Extra funding for 'respect zones': "The National Audit Office...said the cost of responding to reports of anti-social behaviour in England and Wales was about £3.4bn per year. The Home Office said 47% of Asbo holders had breached their orders since 1999 - with the rate rising to 57% among juveniles. Its figures also show there were 4,060 Asbos issued in 2005 - a rise of 18% on 2004. " Internal discohesion The government is using political means to tackle a social problem, an approach that is doomed to failure.

Why did Russia and China vote to sanction Iran? "I argue that the evidence clearly indicates that any private assurances given by Bush to Russia and China that he will not resort to military action against Iran without Security Council approval were only given to induce them to support the UN action, and that he has no intention of honoring them." Wars coming soon

What killed Australia's giant animals? "Australia's giant prehistoric animals, including 10-foot-tall kangaroos and wombat-like creatures as big as a rhinoceros, were likely wiped out by aboriginal settlers, not climate change, a researcher said Tuesday." The Article stated: “Although populations fluctuated locally in concert with cyclical climatic changes — with larger species favoured in wetter times — most, if not all of them survived even the driest times. Then humans arrived,” Dr. Prideaux said in a statement. “Our evidence shows that the Naracoorte giants perished under climatic conditions similar to those under which they previously thrived, which strongly implicates humans in their extinction,” he added." This chimes with the reasoning of dark age theory. The challenges of changing conditions are always present, but the collective decisions-actions taken by human societies, even those of the earliest times, still seem to be the most important factors determining the fate of those societies.**

Labour contender warns on membership fall "Jon Cruddas, a backbench candidate for the deputy leadership, said that Labour had been shedding an average of one member every 20 minutes since 2000, to reach 198,026 by the end of 2005." Internal discohesion? In this particular instance, disaffection with Labour's policies may be the cause. However, the phenomenon of loosening bonds between the individual and societal actors is nothing new. While disenchantment with politics is growing, people's actual willingness to participate and actively contribute, according to their respective status and viewpoints, to larger society has been in steep decline. Voter turnouts have been falling for decades, most large parties as well as trade unions and students fraternities have been experiencing a decline in membership, not to mention the established churches in non-catholic Europe. Commitment has become more casual and, arguably, more selfish.

Hundreds killed in oil pipe explosion "A ruptured gasoline pipeline burst into flames Tuesday as scavengers collected the fuel in Nigeria's largest city, killing at least 200 people....Witnesses said thieves had broken into the pipeline after midnight and hundreds of men, women and children had been collecting leaking fuel in plastic buckets, cans and bags for hours before the explosion." The tragedy of poverty in a land of potential great riches. African Dark Age.**

Belarus warns Russia over gas transit "Belarus issued an implicit threat that it could stop Russian gas deliveries through its pipelines to western Europe unless Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom relented on demands Minsk pay steep price increases in 2007." International disintegration-international disorganisation coupling ahead? The more borders - i.e. the more fragmented political authority - the more complicated, hazardous and costly trade and the exchange of goods and services becomes.

Lessons in Indian history 'anti-British, inaccurate and sexually explicit' "New lessons in Indian history announced today are anti-British and expose 12- to 14-year-olds to the sexually explicit Kama Sutra, according to a curriculum association." Internal discohesion

Cocaine traces 'on Spanish euros' "Spain has one of the highest rates of cocaine use in the world, with about 475,000 regular users, El Mundo newspaper reports." Internal disintegration

Killings by strangers rise a third in 10 years "The incidence of homicide by strangers is regarded by experts as one of the most reliable measures of the true rate of violence in society because the figures are difficult to manipulate." Internal disintegration See also: Law and order spending fails to reduce crime

Vandalism causes rail disruption "The blaze, discovered at about 2000 GMT on Christmas Day, caused severe damage to the Kilmarnock Signalling Centre...While normal services will operate between Glasgow Central and Kilmarnock, the fire led to the cancellation of services between Kilmarnock and Dumfries." Internal disintegration-disorganisation coupling While air travel remains the "high-prestige" target for well-funded troublemakers, railway services are gradually getting into the sights of disgruntled people on the local level.

Pakistan plans border minefield "Pakistan plans to fence and plant landmines along sections of its border with Afghanistan to stop militants, a foreign office official has said." International disintegration The walls going up. The attempt may be compared to Saudi Arabia's project of a fence on its border to Iraq.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Military considers recruiting foreigners "The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks -- including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer -- according to Pentagon officials." Mercenarisation By the last days of the western Roman empire, the army was composed almost completely of Germans, and was run by them as well.

The Queen moves close to position of 'defender of faiths' "In a break with tradition, the Monarch's Christmas broadcast also featured footage of Muslims praying in a mosque for the first time." Internal discohesion

Pakistan plans border minefield "Pakistan plans to fence and plant landmines along sections of its border with Afghanistan to stop militants, a foreign office official has said." International disintegration During the heyday of the Roman empire, cities dismantled their walls and new cities were built without walls. As Roman authority failed, the walls started going up again. The proliferation of defended boundaries indicates the failure of the overarching political authority.

A Bad Year for Empire "For those who believed that the precise and overwhelming demonstration of U.S. military power in Afghanistan and Iran would "shock and awe" the rest of the world -- and particularly Washington's foes and aspiring rivals -- into accepting its benevolent hegemony, 2006 was not a good year. Not only has Washington become ever more bogged down -- at the current rate of nearly three billion dollars and 20 soldiers' lives a week -- in an increasingly fragmented and violent Iraq whose de facto civil war threatens to draw in its neighbours, but a resurgent Taliban has exposed the fragility of what gains have been made in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led military campaign ousted the group five years ago." Imperial overstretch

Gazprom-Belarus: Pay up or cut off "Gazprom, which has turned into one of the Kremlin's most potent tools for projecting Russian influence at home and abroad, has ordered Belarus to pay $200 per 1,000 cubic meters instead of the current $47." International disintegration-internal disorganisation coupling At a first glance, Russia may appear strong and domineering. The reality is that it no longer wields the global power and influence the former Soviet Union had, say, during the early 1960s. It is neither able nor willing to act as an efficient integrator and cannot succesfully promote prosperity beyond its borders. Rather, Russia has to sell advanced weapons technology and commit economic blackmail against its smaller neighbours in order to maintain its state functions. See also: Georgia 'agrees Russia gas bill', Azeris warn Russia on gas prices

S.Korea: See movie, not prostitute "The South Korean government is handing out gifts for office workers who promise not to visit brothels this holiday season. "If you promise yourself to make it a healthy night out at the end of the year, and if you recommend this to others, we are giving lots of prizes," the Ministry of Gender Equality said in an Internet posting." Indidications of accelerated decline? Prostitution has been a perennial fact of human societies and therefore one should not place too much emphasis on isolated newsstories. However, it is noteworthy that South Korea is moving in a similar direction as western nations, i.e. towards a more individualist and atomised model of society. Divorce rates have doubled over the last 10 years, apparently there is a "Ministry of Gender Equality" trying to sort things out while pornography and buyable sex are becoming mainstream.

Report: Migrants try to storm fence in Morocco "A group of illegal migrants tried in vain to scale a 20-foot (6-meter) fence between northern Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Monday and 40 of them were arrested, Moroccan state news agency MAP reported." Barbarian invasion

Is Mexico About To Fall Apart? Brenda Walker Says Yes "Cartels have taken a style cue from al Qaeda and are now using beheadings to terrorize the police and populace. In April, gangsters from one drug gang decapitated the commander of a special strike force and one of his agents in the resort city...The Calderon government recently announced it would pursue a tax on soft drinks to make up for falling oil revenues. The chief oil field at Cantarell is projected to decline by 14 percent a year between 2007 and 2015. Oil provides 40 percent of the federal budget, so a dry-up at the pumps is serious." Internal disintegration Many coutries whose revenues are heavily reliant on the export of oil or natural gas, seem to have developed one-sided and unhealthy socio-economic conditions. Russia comes to mind, as well as Nigeria, Angola, Iran and Iraq. While the situation appears to be a lot more stable in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the basic problem of under-developed loops of organisation remains. Ongoing rapid population growth and an excess of young males means that we are likely to hear more, not less stories of battles between "gunmen" and the police. In the case of Mexico, the proximity of a very large market for drugs in the USA is like adding fuel to a fire.

Monday, December 25, 2006
What binge drinking really does to people: "Welcoming in the controversial new era culture secretary Tessa Jowell said: 'The result will be more freedom for responsible adults and tougher treatment for the yobbish minority.' In reality, however, it has led to an alarming growth in the number of people being treated at hospital for alcohol-related illnesses including liver damage and kidney failure. Whilst the number of people has risen the age of those being treated has dropped. " Internal discohesion Abdication of personal responsibility and loss of self-control.

UK raid angers Basra politicians: "Basra City Council has withdrawn co-operation from UK forces in southern Iraq after the police's serious crimes unit was disbanded by troops." International discohesion

U.S. Is Holding Iranians Seized in Raids in Iraq "...the two raids, in central Baghdad, have deeply upset Iraqi government officials, who have been making strenuous efforts to engage Iran on matters of security...The action comes at a moment of extraordinary tension in the three-way relationship between the United States, Iran and Iraq." International discohesion Possibly, wars coming soon.

Germany suspends Sri Lankan aid "A German minister has said the country has frozen aid to Sri Lanka because of the continuing violence between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels." Internal disintegration-international discohesion coupling

Ethiopia attacks Somalia airports African dark age Africa's borders are an artificial legacy of European colonialism and one of the causes of ongoing conflict. One of the positive, long-term benefits of the African dark age will be new borders better reflecting conditions on the ground.

Heroin UK "An expanding alternative economy driven by the profits and crime generated by heroin is being documented by experts. The narcotic subculture is no longer largely confined to metropolitan Britain, but instead has spread to hundreds of towns." Internal disintegration Of course, the whole proces also implies internal discohesion and disorganisation. It's a disenchanting thought that even in smaller English towns there is now, as it says in the report, a market for heroin and street prostitution, but then, the notion of the English country town has been overtaken by the growth of scale. The old church towers, the marketplace and the plate with the town's name on it are as little a reflection of today's complex social and economic realities as the state border between Pakistan and Afghanistan presents an obstacle to the international drugs trade.

Warning on African refugee gangs "Young African leader Ahmed Dini said some Somali, Sudanese and Eritrean men, predominantly aged between 16 and 25, felt disconnected from mainstream society and were either forming or joining ethnic groups for protection and also for a sense of belonging. He said ... some had trained with heavy-duty military weapons while they were serving in militias overseas." Barbarian invasion

Caucasus gunmen 'put to flight' "Russian security forces have stormed an apartment in the North Caucasus town of Cherkessk, killing at least one gunman, Russian media report." Internal (dis)integration low intensity conflict

Ethiopian jets strike Somali airports International disintegration

Iran Has Right to Nuclear Energy: Delhi "India said yesterday that Iran has the right to pursue a nuclear energy program, and said the crisis over Tehran’s suspect ambitions should be resolved through dialogue." International discohesion India is a major player in the emerging power struggle in Asia. The US is aware of this and trying hard to influence things towards its own ends through diplomatic and economic means. However, as this example proves, India, with its prominent position within the non-aligned movement, promises to remain a potentially difficult partner. See also: China says talks 'only way' to end Iran nuke standoff