America’s Thucydides Trap | Mother Nature’s Revenge Against Humanity | The Source of Evil

APRIL 12, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE



Two topics we cover relentlessly in Daily Pnut is the United States and China. How these two countries interact with one another will shape the 21st century. It seems it’s impossible to talk about Sino-US relations without bringing up the Thucydides Trap: “When one great power threatens to displace another, war is almost always the result — but it doesn’t have to be.” I have begun seeing the Thucydides trap as less one between China and the United States and more within the United States itself.

I believe President Obama’s presidency shocked many of the traditional power centers of American politics. President Obama is a manifestation of this change, and his tenure in office also coincided and catalyzed significant technology, social, and culture changes. President Trump’s election and rhetoric (Make America Great Again) in many ways galvanized some of the traditional power centers of American politics that felt increasingly marginalized and shocked at how quickly they were losing power to different American constituents.

America in the next twenty years will be defined by whether traditional power structures can adapt to the rise of different groups of Americans who want more political influence. In summary, America’s greatest threat is not externally but domestically. And whether America can manage the redistribution of power. Additional read: They Had It Coming: The parents indicted in the college-admissions scandal were responding to a changing America, with rage at being robbed of what they believed was rightfully theirs. (Atlantic)




“We Greeks believe that a man who takes no part in public affairs is not merely lazy, but good for nothing”

“Peace is an armistice in a war that is continuously going on.”

“War is a matter not so much of arms as of money.”

– Thucydides




Man vs Weeds, Whoever Wins, We Lose: Most scientists try make our lives either better or easier. They’ve cured diseases with antibiotics and killed weeds with herbicides. This was great, until years of overuse made disease-causing bacteria and viruses resistant to antibiotics, and herbicides like Roundup not only caused cancer in humans, but began failing as some weeds became resistant. Stanley Culpepper left his family’s North Carolina farm over 25 years ago to study agronomy in college. “I was trained by some really, really amazing people,” he says, “and I was even trained that there would never be a weed that was resistant to Roundup.” Back then scientists believed that plants couldn’t become immune to Roundup because it required too big of a change in a plant’s biology.

Never say never. In 2005 Culpepper, now with a Ph.D in weed science, reported that he’d found some weeds that Roundup could not kill. They were growing in a field in Georgia — a monster weed called Palmer amaranth, or pigweed. It had become resistant to the main ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate. Since then, it’s spread like a plague across America’s farmland, virtually everywhere in the South and increasingly common in the Midwest. “The impact is just unbelievable,” Culpepper says. “We’ve invested over $1.2 billion, just in the cotton industry, for control of glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth since we first discovered it.”

So biotech companies began genetically engineering varieties of soybeans and cotton that can tolerate two other herbicides called dicamba and 2,4-D. Companies had already genetically engineered plants to resist glyphosate. Now farmers could plant these crops and spray the new chemicals right alongside glyphosate to kill their weeds. Problem solved, right? Wrong. Graduate students at Kansas State are spraying the heck out of pigweed with dicamba and 2,4-D and the weeds are loving it. They’re surviving every toxic chemical thrown at them. Can we say the same for the humans doing the spraying?




Monsanto, Mon-Oh-No: A federal jury in San Francisco has returned a verdict for the plaintiff in what could be a bellweather trial for hundreds of others who blame the herbicide Roundup for causing their cancer. 70-year-old Edwin Hardeman testified that, starting in 1986, he sprayed the chemical to eliminate weeds and poison oak on his properties, and at times had gotten it on his skin. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer that affects the immune system. The jury will next weigh damages. Hardeman’s lawyers were prevented from discussing Monsanto’s alleged influence on research and regulations during the trial, but in this phase the lawyers will present arguments about the company’s influence on government regulators and cancer research. The unanimous decision followed last August’s historic verdict in a California state court that found Roundup had caused a man’s terminal cancer, and that Monsanto had “acted with malice or oppression” in failing to warn of the health hazards of their product. Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical company Bayer, is facing more than 9,000 similar lawsuits across the US. (Guardian)

India Furthers The Divide: National elections are underway in India, and it is believed current Prime Minister Narendra Modi will return to power. Modi was first elected in 2014, the head of a conservative Hindu political movement that has striven to make India a Hindu state. Over the past five years, Modi’s bloc, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has spread an us-versus-them philosophy in a country already splintered by dangerous divisions. Soon after his election lynch mobs began killing Muslims and lower-caste people suspected of slaughtering cows, a sacred animal under Hinduism. Hate speech began to proliferate, as did the use of internet trolls to shut down critics. Government bodies began rewriting history books, lopping out sections on Muslim rulers, changing official place names to Hindu from Muslim, and aggressively contesting holy sites.

Today the Hindu right has never been more enfranchised at every level of government, and many worry that a divisive Hindu-first agenda will only accelerate. Retired historian Aditya Mukherjee said: “In plain language, they are what we now call communal fascists. This is something that Jawaharlal Nehru had predicted,” referring to India’s first prime minister. “[Nehru] said if fascism ever came to India it would come in the form of majoritarian Hindu communalism. That is exactly what is happening.” (NYT)




WikiLocked Up: Julian Assange was arrested by Scotland Yard Thursday inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The controversial founder of WikiLeaks had been living in the embassy since 2012, after Ecuador granted him asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden in connection with sexual misconduct allegations. Justice Department officials had sought to extradite him to stand trial in America on various criminal charges involving stolen US government secrets, but he was untouchable as long as he remained inside the embassy. However, the Ecuadorian government revoked Assange’s asylum, and London police were able to apprehend him and carry him to a police vehicle. Assange’s appearance was shocking — he had grown long hair and a beard and looked much older. Assange and his supporters have long maintained he is a journalist and that WikiLeaks is a news organization like those protected by the First Amendment and other free-press laws around the world. A hearing is set for May 2. (NPR)






The Thin Red Line (Journey to the line) – Hans Zimmer




“This great evil. Where does it come from? How’d it steal into the world? What seed, what root did it grow from? Who’s doin’ this? Who’s killin’ us? Robbing us of life and light. Mockin’ us with the sight of what we might’ve known. Does our ruin benefit the earth? Does it help the grass to grow, the sun to shine?” – The Thin Red Line

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