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One of the live oaks that bless my home

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Bird of Dawn

Finally I am in Saudi Arabia.  So many new impressions and new thoughts. I customarily watch here Al Jazeera International and the French News 24 Channel, and I never watch American TV.  I am simply tired of American navel gazing and the low quality of U.S.-based programming available here.

Today, on Al Jazeera I saw a program about a group of Iranian and French women and men, who wanted to have a public concert in Iran.  After a long struggle, the authorities relented and the group sang.  And what a concert it was! This was the introduction by an Iranian female singer:

We are the free men, who are not scared
We are secrets that never die
We are voices of who resist
We are free and our world is free.

At the end, another Iranian woman sang in the most beautiful voice:

Of the just and the unjust
They only spoke and did nothing
Oh, God! Oh, God!
See the chasm between their words and their actions.

In-between they sang the "Bird of Dawn," a metaphor for human cruelty. You probably will not find time to watch this moving and important documentary about the best in human spirit. You simply have too many emails to write and Facebook pages to visit. I understand. (Please try to watch the last 8 minutes, although you will not know what these people went through and you will not see their quiet determination.)

The young (and not-so-young) people in the documentary reminded me so much of my wife and me during our Solidarity times. They are who we were back in Poland 35 years ago, and they act how we acted. I am so glad to see that human resilience is universal and timeless.

The Syrian children are freezing to death in Aleppo and refugee camps in Lebanon.

Some 2000 people were killed in a rampage by Boko Haram in a Nigerian town of Baga. Thousands fled abandoning everything.

Three suspected terrorists were killed when they opened fire on police in Belgium.

There were hair-raising news that the fraction of NIH (National Institutes of Health) funding to people below the age of 35 has been decreasing since Reagan's presidency when the new world order began. The good NIH researchers seem to forget that the sole purpose of the new world order is maximization of corporate profit now, and if it means relying on the 66-plus year old researchers in the U.S. or outsourcing research to India, so be it.

Too many people in the U.S. cannot properly change a bulb or read.

The price of oil dropped by 50% because the deteriorating world economy simply cannot function on expensive hydrocarbons.  The logic of modern capitalism forced U.S. companies to continue the conversion of cheap capital provided by the ever-growing financial sector into the expensive oil and gas.  So much so, that the global surplus of oil supply created by the U.S., and the refusal by OPEC to cut production, caused the oil price to crash.  Saudi Arabia simply refused to subsidize the expensive U.S. oil with their own cheap oil. U.S. will start exporting oil and gas, because it cannot give up its newly found power.  How dumb this oil and gas export idea is? Very.

After hearing a pro-export stump speech from Bill Richardson (an ex-Energy Secretary), I suddenly saw my own face, my house in Austin, Texas, and the oaks surrounding it.  It was a fragment of a 3-1/2 hour taped  interview I  gave to al Jazeera in August 2014, for a program that was aired in October.  I was positively stunned.

Over the last three years, the entire growth of global supply of oil was equal numerically to the increase of shale oil production in the U.S.  Think about it. The rest of the world could not increase oil production even at $110 per barrel.

In the Bakken shale, 40 oilfield workers have been killed and hundreds wounded in sloppy field operations, and from lack of elementary training and protective gear.  Since 2005, the Workers' Compensation Insurance has returned 170 million dollars of unused payments to the employers. In North Dakota, an oilfield hand whose left arm was blown off below the elbow in a rig explosion was denied a 70,000 dollar high-tech prosthesis that would allow him to tie his shoes and so on.  The denial was justified as follows: In the dirty, dusty conditions in which this guy might work, a simple hook would do a better job. Of course, he will never be employed again.

The Dow Jones index is still above 17000 points.

The only substantial growth in U.S. economy in the last five years has been delivered by the oil and gas sector bubbling away on borrowed money.

Schlumberger just laid off 9000 workers, and other service and production companies are laying off thousands more.

Most universities in the U.S. have doubled or tripled their enrollments in petroleum engineering programs.

Twenty two teachers in the Mexican State of Guerrero were killed by the drug gangs and 110 schools are closed.

 I went snorkeling in the aquamarine warm water of the Red Sea.
 
Snorkeling is good where I live.
In Haiti, the dysfunctional government installed by the U.S. and other powers is falling apart. In the meantime, billions of dollars in international aid were stolen and wasted by the U.N., NGOs, and international governments. Nothing is finished and promises have not been kept. The root cause is the same as everywhere. The damaged and depleted environment can no longer support people who depend on it, regardless of the number of dollars thrown at these people.

I live in a beautiful bubble.

My backyard at sunset.
Oh, Bird of Dawn
You prey on the captured bird
You throw stones on the wounded one
You kill the weary lovers with a cruel arrow
Until their hearts are drowning in their blood.

I going shopping now.  I try to walk everywhere in KAUST, covering 4.59 miles per day on average over the last 10 days, my iPhone GPS tells me.  Yesterday, I was seen walking with a grocery bag.  I got an email asking what was wrong with my car?  So today I will drive my 150 HP car to deliver five plastic bags with groceries.  Then I will make up for my sins by walking barefoot a few kilometers along a sandy beach next to where I live.  It feels great!


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