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Monday, March 23, 2015

Water and Justice

Water is necessary for survival for us human beings. Therefore, us getting water is a human right. The authorities of Detroit want to resume water shutoffs, which has been condemned by international human rights organizations.  In June of 2014, three representatives of the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights signed a statement declaring that “Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.” The city of Detroit plans on positing 800 shutoff tags a day on the doors of residents. Many people have fallen behind on their water bills and are given ten days to pay up or lose access to the water in their homes. As many as 8,000 households could have their water cut off beginning in mid- to late April. The city has already begun disconnecting water service for hundreds of people who were “illegally” receiving water. The policy could potentially affect close to 100,000 people, or 14 percent of the city’s residents. To deny the basic necessity of life is part of a real social crisis in America. The American financial oligarchy and the political puppets in both parties are waging class war against working people in every part of the country. These oligarchies are ruthless, brutal, and barbaric. Last year, the city of Detroit shut off water to more than 30,000 households. They temporarily halted more shutoffs, because of the winter temperatures made the actions more difficult. These actions were part of the city’s bankruptcy policy. There has been the slashing of city retirees’ pensions, health benefits, etc. City services have been privatized. In October of last year, US bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes ruled against a challenge to the city’s water shutoff policy, declaring that there is no “fundamental enforceable right to free or affordable water...Just as there is no such affordable right to other necessities of life such as shelter, food and medical care.” Water rates have increased in Detroit. There has seen the increase of 3.4 percent in Detroit. The sewerage portion of residents’ bills will go up by 16.7 percent. The broader metro Detroit area, including Wayne County, which has a poverty rate twice the national average, will see water rate increases of up to 12 percent. The state constitution has been violated by the political elites to support the austerity measures, but people are restricted of water supplies. Little Caesar’s Pizza billionaire Mike Ilitch is receiving $286 million in public subsidies to pay for the construction of a new hockey stadium. Gilbert, who has bought up prime downtown real estate at bargain basement prices, has been put in charge in demolishing abandoned homes, the better to cash in on his investments. Undemocratic emergency managers have run Detroit too. The big banks and the big investors want to get as much money from the city as possible so its resources can be privatized. The current Chairman and former CEO of Nestle (the largest producer of food products in the world. He invested money to stop labeling of GMO filled products and he has a bad health and ethics record for its infant formula) want water to be privatized. I disagree. Water is a resource that should be publicly protected.

There are many technologies arising in 2015. One type of device is the Voxel8 3D printer. There are many 3D printers now. 3D printers can print 3 dimensional solid objects. They are expensive, but the Voxel8 is different. The Voxel8 can print electronic circuits rather than just plastic objects and it uses conductive ink that dries quickly (and can be embedded in other objects). In the future, it could be used from devices including hearing aids, wearable gadgets, and even quadcopter drones. The image of the printers looks very futuristic. It’s a multi-material electronic printer. Dr. Jennifer Lewis is the director of the Voxel8 Company. She is a Harvard professor. Her previous lab at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana 3D printed a microscopic lithium ion battery. This new technology is developing very rapidly. The Voxel8 Developer’s Kit is a low cost 3D printer (which can print circuits and plastic objects). As Voxel8 Business Director, Daniel Oliver, explains, “Effectively, you could build a quadcopter with any geometry you want, stuff it with the components – on the motor- and the board-side – and, basically, have a fully functioning quadcopter without any wiring harnesses.” He continues, “People will also be able to start creating circuits on their desks. So, if you wanted to test out a circuit design, you could print out a circuit board directly on your desk. You’d have to stuff the components in, as you were doing it, but we’ve shown that you can print out what is basically an Arduino board on our printer.” The possibilities for this technology are endless. In the future, this can revolutionize technology develop and break down monopoly control of 3D printers (if we do what is right and make this technology more accessible and more affordable for people). Oliver also mentions that designs can now dictate the placement of electronic parts. Circuits can be formed to traverse curves and climb walls.  The “Spark Powered” software, dubbed “Project Wire”, allows users to upload a CAD model and start filling it virtually with electronics and conductive ink. Objects can be printed, so that they can be plugged directly into existing electronics like an USB drive. Autodesk CTO, Jeff Kowalski, seems to agree, saying, “We’re excited to work with companies like Voxel8 because they are really pushing the boundaries of where 3D printing is capable. They’re pushing that front edge, so we can actually start to develop new functionalities using 3D printers – create things that have never been created before – and by incorporating conductive inks directly in the 3D printing process we can start to create things that have functions after they’re created.” This technology is exciting. So, these printers can create objects to be placed into electronic objects. These printing results will have great functionality. This is cutting edge technology, which has not been seen even five years ago. There is the Nvidia Tegra Xi chip. This chip is a superchip with 256 professor cores and eight CPU cores. It will come into cars as well. There is the new Sharp Aquos Beyond 4K Ultra HDTV. This television has pixel-splitting technology to have an effective resolution of 7,680 x 4,320.  This can been called the “virtual 8K.” It will be the flagship models for Google’s new Android TV platform. Samsung is promoting its SUHD sets. It will be different than existing UHD (or ultra-high definition) TV. Cue boasts of “eco-friendly nano-crystal technology and intelligent SUHD re-mastering picture quality engine” from Samsung. The SUHD TV is innovative with advanced contrast, brightness, and spectacular color. 4K TVs have been around and SUHD is here. There is the HP Zvr 3D display, which can allow people to use glasses and connected styles to see and manipulate objects in 3D. There are new 2015 computes (like an I7 processor) with a flat keyboard, cameras, and advanced devices too. Such a computer is called the HP Sprout, which is a new generation of computers. It came out in 2014.

The events in Greece are a microcosm of the economic fragility of the world economy. The residents of Greece were tired of the austerity agenda from the EU. Therefore, there was an election that recently ended. The historic election allowed the Syriza party to win the elections on January 25, 2015. The current Prime Minister of the Syriza Party is Alexix Tsipras. The current Finance Minister currently is Yanis Varoufakis (a former economic adviser to the corrupt neo-liberal PASOK leader George Papandreou). People had high hopes that this new Greek government would be imaginative, creative, and progressive, so the needs of the Greek people would be met. So far, unfortunately, that has not been the case. The reason is that both men so far have reneged on every major and minor electoral program that they ran on. They have embraced more retrograde actions and relations with the “troika” They are allying with the IMF, etc. Tsipras and Varoufakis have repudiated their promise to reject the dictates of the “troika.” Syriza, during the campaign, had promised to write off all or most of the Greek debt. In government, Tsipras and Varoufakis immediately assured the Troika that they recognized and promised to meet all of their debt obligations. Syriza had promised to prioritize humanitarian spending over austerity – raising the minimum wage, rehiring public employees in health and education and raising pension payments.  After two weeks of servile groveling, the ‘re-formed’ Tsipras and Varoufakis prioritized austerity – making debt payments and ‘postponing’ even the most meagre anti-poverty spending.  When the Troika lent the Syriza regime $2 billion to feed hungry Greeks, Tsipras lauded his overseers and promised to submit a multi-billion euro list of regressive ‘reforms’. Both men have promised to tackle depression level unemployment (which is 26 percent nationally and 55 percent for the youth). Yet, both men are meeting debt payments and didn’t so far allocate any funds for creating jobs. Syriza promised to re-examine the previous rightwing regime’s dubious privatization of lucrative public enterprises and to stop on going future privatizations. Tsipras and Varoufakis has disavowed that promise. They have approved many privatizations and made overtures to procure new privatization “partners” in lucrative tax concessions (which is selling out more public firms). Syriza came to power under their promises to renounce the country’s 327 billion euro debt, kick out the Troika bailiffs, On February 20, Syriza signed an agreement with the EU which repudiated its pledges to end austerity and abolish the EU austerity Memorandum. Four days after this capitulation, Syriza announced plans for new budget cuts, privatizations, health care cuts and increases in the effective retirement age. Yet, Varoufakis doesn’t want the disintegration of the Eurozone. He even said that he wants alliances “even with right-wingers.” When Günther Jauch insinuated his guest had insulted Schäuble, Varoufakis sang a veritable hymn of praise to the German finance minister—one of the main architects of the austerity diktat in Greece, and therefore one of the most hated politicians in Germany and Europe. These actions represent a total capitulation to the banks. Still, Greek workers are still courageous in battling the Euro banks.

Iran is in the center of debates and discussions on Middle Eastern policies. Some extremists want to attack Iran while others want real justice to transpire in the Middle East. First, it is important to understand its very long history. Iran is a nation in Western Asia. Iran has been called Persia too. It is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkmenistan Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan. Iran now has 78.4 million human beings making it the 17th most populous nation in the world. Many languages are spoken there from Persian, Kurdish, and to Turkmen. Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Zoroastrians, Christians, followers of Judaism, and followers of other creeds exist in Iran. During the Middle Paleolithic era, there have been artifacts found in Kashafrud and Ganj Par sites.  There were Neanderthal people (who are not modern human beings) found in Iran as well. The Neolithic age found more human beings creating settlements like Chogha Bonut (which was the earliest village in Susian) in 8,000 B.C. Settlements grew in and around the Zagros Mountains region of Western Iran. During this time, we see clay vessels and modeled human and animal terracotta figurines produced in Ganj Dareh (or in western Iran). The southwestern part of Iran was part of the Fertile Crescent civilizations. Susa was a settlement created in ca. 4,400 B.C. Settlements like Chogha Mish date back to 6,800 B.C. There have been the ruins of 7,000 year old settlements like Sialk. Susa was the extension of the Sumerian city state of Uruk. Later, Susa was the capital of Elam, which came as a state in 4,000 B.C. Elam was an ancient pre-Iranic civilization. Elam had ziggurats or large Temple and other parts of civilization. At times, Elam has a matriarchal society. Mesopotamia and Iran traded with each other in early urbanization during the Chalcolithic period or the Cooper Age. Elamites called themselves Haltimti. Their language was not Indo-European, not Sumerian, and not Semitic. Later, there were the rise of the Medes, the Persians, and the Parthians. The Elamite supremacy in Iran ended with the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal sacking Susa in 646 B.C. There were a lot of Median people in Iran during this time. For over 150 years Assyrian kings of nearby Northern Mesopotamia were seeking to conquer Median tribes of Western Iran. Under pressure from the Assyrian empire, the small kingdoms of the western Iranian plateau coalesced into increasingly larger and more centralized states. The Median tribes united and fought for their independence. They were united by Deioces.  In 612 BC Cyaxares the Great, Deioces' grandson, and the Babylonian king Nabopolassar invaded Assyria and laid siege to and eventually destroyed Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, which led to the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The Medes established a foundation of Iran as a nation and as an Empire. They formed the first ancient Iranian Empire. Later, Cyrus the Great established an unified Empire of the Medes and the Persians. This caused the establishment of the Achaemenian Empire, which existed form 550 B.C. to 330 B.C.

So, Cyrus the Great overthrew the Median Empire, the Lydian Empire, and the Neo-Babylonian Empire. This new Empire stretched from Turkey to near India. It was much larger than the Assyrian Empire. Cyrus allowed long roads and a strong governmental infrastructure. He reconciles his subjects to Persian rule and issues more progressive policies. Cyrus's son, Cambyses II, conquered the last major power of the region, Ancient Egypt, causing the collapse of the Dynasty XXVI. Since he became ill and died before, or while, leaving Egypt, stories developed, as related by Herodotus, that he was struck down for impiety against the Egyptian pantheon. Be that as it may, it led to a succession crisis. The winner, Darius I of Persia, based his claim on membership in a collateral line of the Achaemenid Dynasty. Darius at first allowed Susa to be his capital. Then, he started to a building program at Persepolis (that city would be the new capital of the Achaemenid Empire). Darius also rebuilt a canal between the Nile and the Red Sea, which was a forerunner of the modern Suez Canal. His road system from Sardis (in Turkey) to Susa had stations at intervals too. He organized coinage with the daric (or gold coin) and the shekel (or silver coin). The Persian Empire was the largest empire in the world during that time. It tried to promote tolerance and respect for other cultures and religion. This changed with the advent of the Greco-Persian Wars. In 499 BC, Athens lent support to a revolt in Miletus which resulted in the sacking of Sardis. This led to an Achaemenid campaign against Greece known as the Greco-Persian Wars which lasted the first half of the 5th century BC. During the Greco-Persian wars Persia made some major advantages and razed Athens in 480 BC, but after a string of Greek victories the Persians were forced to withdraw while losing control of Macedonia, Thrace and Ionia. The peace of Callias temporarily ended fighting by 449 B.C. Darius II died in 404 B.C. Later, Egypt rebelled under Amyrtaeus.  Later Egyptian Pharaohs successfully resisted Persian attempts to reconquer Egypt until 343 BC when Egypt was reconquered by Artaxerxes III. Alexander the Great rose up to not only unified Macedonia and Greece. He traveled to establish a huge empire and he defeated the Persians. He defeated Darius II in the battles of Granicus, Issus and Gaugamela, swiftly conquering the Persian Empire by 331 BC. The Zoroastrians call him Arda Wiraz Namag or the accursed Alexander.

By Timothy

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