The Devil Devours His Own – Crisis Magazine

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The sordid life of Jeffrey Epstein serves to highlight the decadence of the deplorable epoch in which we find ourselves, as do the suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. The web of vice and viciousness that he had spun was widespread, serving to entrap not only underage girls but also the rich and famous who preyed upon them. Using the allure of underage sex to lure his wealthy associates into his web, Epstein secretly filmed them in the act of sexually abusing minors, thereby turning his “associates” into his blackmail victims.

Epstein seems to have believed that the powerful people whom he’d entrapped in his “insurance policy” would have a vested interest in keeping him safe from the law, a strategy which worked for a while. In 2008, Epstein was convicted in Florida of sexually abusing a fourteen-year-old girl, receiving a scandalously light sentence, but due to a plea deal he was not charged with sexually abusing thirty-five other girls whom federal officials identified as having been abused by him.

After a further ten years in which Epstein masterminded the trafficking of young girls to satisfy the pornographic and pedophilic appetites of his powerful network of friends, he was finally charged in July of last year with the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York. A month later, he was found dead in his jail cell. Although the medical examiner originally recorded the death as being a case of suicide, there are so many anomalies and mysteries surrounding the circumstances of Epstein’s death that many people agree with Epstein’s lawyers that the death could not have been suicide.

One thing that is certain is that Epstein’s death removed the possibility of pursuing criminal charges. There would be no trial, and therefore Epstein’s powerful associates would not be exposed by their victims in a court of law. Seen in this light, or in the shadow of this possible cover-up, it is tempting to see Epstein’s “insurance policy” as his death warrant. He was too dangerous to be allowed to live when the lives of so many others depended on his timely death. It is no wonder that “Epstein didn’t kill himself” has become a hugely popular meme, nor that HBO, Sony TV, and Lifetime are planning to produce dramatic portrayals of Epstein’s life and death.

One aspect of Epstein’s life which is unlikely to be the focus of any TV drama is his obsession with transhumanism. For those who know little about this relatively recent phenomenon, transhumanism is usually defined as the movement in philosophy which advocates the transformation of humanity through the development of technologies which will re-shape humans intellectually and physiologically so that they transcend or supersede what is now considered “human.” At the prideful heart of this movement is a disdain for all that is authentically human and a sordid desire to replace human frailty with superhuman or transhuman strength.

Transhumanism rides roughshod over the dignity of the human person in its quest for the technologically “created” superman. Its spirit was encapsulated by David Bowie in the lyrics of one of his songs: “Homo sapiens have outgrown their use…. Gotta make way for the Homo superior.”

Most of Epstein’s so-called “philanthropy” was directed to the financing and promotion of transhumanism. The Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation pledged $30 million to Harvard University to establish the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. It also bankrolled the OpenCog project, which develops software “designed to give rise to human-equivalent artificial general intelligence.” Apart from his support for the cybernetic approach to transhumanism, Epstein was also fascinated with the possibility of creating the “superman” via the path of eugenics. He hoped to help in a practical way with plans to “seed the human race with his DNA” by impregnating up to twenty women at a time at a proposed “baby ranch” at his compound in New Mexico. He also supported the pseudo-science of cryonics, whereby human corpses and severed heads are frozen in the hope that technological advances will eventually make it possible to resurrect the dead. He had planned to have his own head and genitalia preserved in this way.

In addition to his bizarre association with the wilder fringes of technological atheism, Epstein also co-organized a conference with his friend, the militant atheist Al Seckel, known (among other things) as the creator of the so-called “Darwin Fish”—seen on bumper stickers and elsewhere, it depicts Darwin’s “superior” evolutionary fish eating the ichthys symbol, or “Jesus fish” of Christians. Seckel fled California after his life of deception and fraud began to catch up with him. He was found at the foot of a cliff in France, having apparently fallen to his death. Nobody seems to know whether he slipped, jumped, or was pushed.

Apart from his unhealthy interest in atheistic scientism, Jeffrey Epstein was also a major figure amongst the globalist elite. According to his lawyer, Gerald B. Lefcourt, he was “part of the original group that conceived the Clinton Global Initiative,” which forces underdeveloped countries around the world to conform to the values of the culture of death. Even more ominously, Epstein was a member of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, two of the key institutions responsible for fostering and engineering the globalist grip on the world’s resources.

As we ponder the sordid and squalid world of Jeffrey Epstein and his “associates,” we can’t help but see his life as a cautionary tale, the moral of which is all too obvious. It shows that pride precedes a fall and that it preys on the weak and the innocent. It shows that those who think they are better than their neighbors become worse than their neighbors. It shows how Nietzsche’s Übermensch morphs into Hitler’s Master Race and thence to the transhuman monster. It shows that those who admire the Superman become subhuman. It also shows that the subhuman is not bestial but demonic. It shows that those who believe that they are beyond good and evil become the evilest monsters of all.

Those of us who have been nurtured on cautionary tales such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or C. S. Lewis’s That Hideous Strength will know that fiction often prefigures reality. We see that the real-life figure of Jeffrey Epstein is a latter-day Viktor Frankenstein, reaping destruction with his contempt for his fellow man and his faith in the power of scientism to deliver immortality to those who serve it. We can also see that the transhumanism which Epstein financed is a mirror image of the demonic scientism of the secretive National Institute of Coordinated Experiments in Lewis’s prophetic novel. We may even be grimly amused by the fact that the “leader” of the demonic scientistic forces in Lewis’s tale is a severed head which has apparently been brought back to life.

There is one final lesson that the pathetic life of Jeffrey Epstein teaches us. It shows us that the adage “the devil looks after his own” is not true. It’s a lie told by the devil himself. The devil hates his disciples as much as he hates the disciples of Christ. Once he has had his way with them, he disposes of them with callous and casual indifference, much as Jeffrey Epstein disposed of his victims.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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Coronavirus spreads to more than 800 in China: First death outside epicentre | Stuff.co.nz

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China’s National Health Commission said Friday afternoon (NZ time) the confirmed cases of the new coronavirus had risen to 830 with 25 deaths.

The first death was also confirmed outside the central province of Hubei, where the capital, Wuhan, has been the epicentre of the outbreak.

The health commission in Hebei, a northern province bordering Beijing, said an 80-year-old man died after returning from a two-month stay in Wuhan to see relatives.

The vast majority of cases have been in and around Wuhan or people with connections the city. Other cases have been confirmed in the United States, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand. Singapore and Vietnam reported their first cases Thursday, and cases have also been confirmed in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau.

Many countries are screening travellers from China for symptoms of the virus, which can cause fever, coughing, breathing difficulties and pneumonia.

The World Health Organisation has decided against declaring the outbreak a global emergency, a step that can bring more money and resources to fight a threat but that can also cause trade and travel restrictions and other economic damage, making the decision a politically fraught one.

The decision “should not be taken as a sign that WHO does not think the situation is serious or that we’re not taking it seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “WHO is following this outbreak every minute of every day.”

The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that originate in animals before making the jump to humans.

Chinese authorities moved to lock down at least three cities with a combined population of more than 18 million in an unprecedented effort to contain the deadly new virus that has sickened hundreds of people and spread to other parts of the world during the busy Lunar New Year travel period.

Chinese officials have not said how long the shutdowns of the cities will last. While sweeping measures are typical of China’s Communist Party-led government, large-scale quarantines are rare around the world, even in deadly epidemics, because of concerns about infringing on people’s liberties. And the effectiveness of such measures is unclear.

“To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science,” said Gauden Galea, the WHO”s representative in China. “It has not been tried before as a public health measure. We cannot at this stage say it will or it will not work.”

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People wear face masks as they wait at Hankou Railway Station in Wuhan

Jonathan Ball, a professor of virology at molecular virology at the University of Nottingham in Britain, said the lockdowns appear to be justified scientifically.

“Until there’s a better understanding of what the situation is, I think it’s not an unreasonable thing to do,” he said. “Anything that limits people’s travels during an outbreak would obviously work.”

But Ball cautioned that any such quarantine should be strictly time-limited. He added: “You have to make sure you communicate effectively about why this is being done. Otherwise you will lose the goodwill of the people.”

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A resident wears a mask to buy vegetables in the market in Wuhan.

During the devastating West Africa Ebola outbreak in 2014, Sierra Leone imposed a national three-day quarantine as health workers went door to door, searching for hidden cases. Burial teams collecting corpses and people taking the sick to Ebola centres were the only ones allowed to move freely. Frustrated residents complained of food shortages.

In China, the illnesses from the newly identified coronavirus first appeared last month in Wuhan, an industrial and transportation hub. Local authorities demanded all residents wear masks in public places and urged civil servants wear them at work.

After the city was closed off Thursday, images showed long lines and empty shelves at supermarkets, as people stocked up. Trucks carrying supplies into the city are not being restricted, although many Chinese recall shortages in the years before the country’s recent economic boom.

Analysts predicted cases will continue to multiply, although the jump in numbers is also attributable in part to increased monitoring.

KEVIN FRAYER/GETTY IMAGES
A Chinese passenger that just arrived on the last bullet train from Wuhan to Beijing is checked for a fever by a health worker at a Beijing railway station.

“Even if (cases) are in the thousands, this would not surprise us,” the WHO’s Galea said, adding, however, that the number of infected is not an indicator of the outbreak’s severity so long as the death rate remains low.

The coronavirus family includes the common cold as well as viruses that cause more serious illnesses, such as the SARS outbreak that spread from China to more than a dozen countries in 2002-03 and killed about 800 people, and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, or MERS, which is thought to have originated from camels.

China is keen to avoid repeating mistakes with its handling of SARS. For months, even after the illness had spread around the world, China parked patients in hotels and drove them around in ambulances to conceal the true number of cases and avoid WHO experts. This time, China has been credited with sharing information rapidly, and President Xi Jinping has emphasised that as a priority.

Health authorities are taking extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the virus, placing those believed infected in plastic tubes and wheeled boxes, with air passed through filters.

The first cases in the Wuhan outbreak were connected to people who worked at or visited a seafood market, now closed for an investigation. Experts suspect that the virus was first transmitted from wild animals but that it may also be mutating. Mutations can make it deadlier or more contagious.

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It Is Fake News – Spokesperson Reacts To Rumoured Death Of IBB

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Ibrahim Badamasi Babagida
Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida

Kassim Afegbua, spokesman of former Nigerian head of state, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB), has dismissed rumours that the former Nigerian ruler has passed away.

Social media had been agog earlier with rumour that IBB had died following a report of an online news platform.

However, in a statement on Sunday, the spokesperson said the former head of state is alive and bubbling.

“It has become consistent fake news for quite some time now wishing our own IBB, the one we easily refer to as “the last don” of Nigeria politics, dead,” Afegbua said.

“The “fake news bill” would be a suitable response to this category of fake news carrier. IBB is very much alive and bubbling. He just started attending to friends and associates who came to see him today, Sunday, 15th December, 2019 right here at his Minna Hilltop mansion. He is full of life and in his characteristic bubbling mood.

Read Also: Hate Speech: Nigerians Can’t Be Gagged: IBB

“May Allah forgive those who wish IBB dead. God is the giver and hilltop of life, not humans. Death, as the irrevocable end of all creation, will surely come to everyone some day and at the appointed time and hour, but to deliberately spread fake news and wish someone dead, is to take humanity to another bizarrsomeday May Allah forgive them.

“IBB, by the special grace of Allah, the omniscient and omnipotent One, shall live to fulfill his journey and destiny in life, to the consternation of those who are always wishing him dead. This is about the third time this year.

“We wish to thank those who took time to reach out to us, home and abroad, to find out the truth. We thank you all for your love, care and concern. May Allah grant us all good health, sound mind and long life. Amin.”

The post It Is Fake News – Spokesperson Reacts To Rumoured Death Of IBB appeared first on Information Nigeria.

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Lady Sent Away From Church Over Indecent Dressing ⋆ Gist

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A lady identified as Samantha has narrated how she was sent away from an Abuja church because of her outfit which church officials deemed indecent and therefore inappropriate for church service.

Samantha lamented how she was deprived of worshipping her God because of her indecent dressing. According to her, she was denied entry into the church premises because of her physical appearance.

Read her experience;

“Good morning and happy Sunday .this very fine Sunday morning , I was chased away from the house of God for dressing indecently. I am a sinner no doubt but my God didn’t tell me to look like a piece of shit because I’m going to church. and am marveled as to how me and my cousin look indecent am trying to understand and digest this . It’s pretty unfortunate because we are own problems imagine depriving myself of sleep to attend church to praise God and thank him for my life only to be chased back we were Blocked right from the gate and were treated in the most humiliating manner but thank God i could stay calm God gave me the mind to overlook I respected the fact I was in his presence it’s sad how even serving God is mad hard for us humans the content if the heart is what matters not the physical appearance reasons why alot of people are discouraged going to the house of God.

Growing up I was taught one thing God said come as you are . I believe that’s what God is truly like . After all is said and done to God be the glory I wasn’t allowed to attend Mass we were all sent back home .

It’s just sickening , the mentality of people the church as a whole we need to address this issues your going to the house of God to seek rest and peace? Well that’s where the real trouble is .and it shouldn’t be so I was born and brought up a Catholic i know what I should at least wear to church I am sensible enough to different bad from Good at least I should know what is presentable enough but oh well. Well I see nothing wrong with what me and my cousin are wearing but I guess the church has a problem with it.”

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Lady gets kicked out of church over her outfit in Abuja

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A young lady, Samantha, has taken to Instagram to pen down how she was kicked out of church in Abuja for ‘dressing indecently’.

Recounting how humiliating and depressing the experience was, she wrote:

“Good morning and happy Sunday .this very fine Sunday morning , I was chased away from the house of God for dressing indecently. I am a sinner no doubt but my God didn’t tell me to look like a piece of shit because I’m going to church. and am marveled as to how me and my cousin look indecent am trying to understand and digest this . It’s pretty unfortunate because we are own problems imagine depriving myself of sleep to attend church to praise God and thank him for my life only to be chased back we were Blocked right from the gate and were treated in the most humiliating manner but thank God i could stay calm God gave me the mind to overlook I respected the fact I was in his presence it’s sad how even serving God is mad hard for us humans the content if the heart is what matters not the physical appearance reasons why alot of people are discouraged going to the house of God.

Growing up I was taught one thing God said come as you are . I believe that’s what God is truly like . After all is said and done to God be the glory I wasn’t allowed to attend Mass we were all sent back home .

It’s just sickening , the mentality of people the church as a whole we need to address this issues your going to the house of God to seek rest and peace? Well that’s where the real trouble is .and it shouldn’t be so I was born and brought up a Catholic i know what I should at least wear to church I am sensible enough to different bad from Good at least I should know what is presentable enough but oh well. Well I see nothing wrong with what me and my cousin are wearing but I guess the church has a problem with it.”

See video below;

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Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History | Art Practical

Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History

The 2019 Venice Biennale feels like the end of everything: the end of art tourism, the end of vacations, the end of the beach and the climate of pleasure. With bad news about the climate crisis worsening every day, the nationalistic turn of governments from the U.S. to Britain to Italy to India and Brazil, it’s unclear whether the liberal ideology that produces world-scale cultural events like the Biennale can hold much longer, or whether the economic or ecological structures of global tourism can continue to support it. The liberal democratic order of free markets and free will is undermined around the globe by violent nationalism and economic protectionism. The Biennale exhibition, May You Live in Interesting Times, offers little but a hollow scream in opposition. The whole thing feels a bit like buyer’s remorse, a magnum opus from a lapsed believer in Francis Fukuyama’s promise that we’d reached the End of History.1

Arthur Jafa

Joint Italy-EU military vessel with helicopter, Piraeus Port, Greece, August 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Both the main exhibitions and the various national pavilions feature more women and artists of color this year than any previous. Diversity is manifest with respect to types of work, interests, materials, biographies, and ages of the artists on view. Curator Ralph Rugoff states that “[the artists’] work grows out of a practice of entertaining multiple perspectives: of holding in mind seemingly contradictory notions, and juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world.”2 Diversity and multiplicity appear here to be set up as counternarratives to universalism, the ideology that has historically governed the international contemporary art discourse. But is this in fact the case? Fukuyama says, “The spectacular abundance of advanced liberal economies and the infinitely diverse consumer culture made possible by them seem to both foster and preserve liberalism in the political sphere.” If, as Fukuyama suggests, there are  “fundamental ‘contradictions’ of human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure,”3 diversity is not one of those contradictions. Rather, pluralism reinforces the “common ideological heritage of mankind,”4 while fascism’s resurgence around the globe and the popular embrace of nationalist identity are more of a contradiction in light of the realities of international markets. This is the turn of events that market utopians like Fukuyama failed to anticipate.

Rugoff never comes off as a utopian, given his pervasive air of weary detachment. Rather, the exhibition transmits how it feels to watch the ascent of Donald Trump and the unfolding catastrophe of Brexit from the “all-knowing,” cool remove of the contemporary art insider—omniscient, yet impotent, and unable to divest from toxic habits. George Condo, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Christian Marclay, and Arthur Jafa channel an anxiety bordering on panic. Construction, shipping, air travel, commerce, monuments, the body, gender—all once fixed as concepts in the Western imagination, with clearly associated positive values, are now invoked by artists such as Yin Xiuzhen, Nicole Eisenman, Slavs and Tatars, and Martine Gutierrez as hazardous, unstable, and volatile. Nowhere is this instability more evident than in the work of Mari Katayama, a Japanese artist whose self-portraiture tableaus tease the boundary between agency and objectification. These artists, more than the comparably straightforward representation advanced by artists like Zanele Muholi, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, or Gauri Gill, capture the zeitgeist of not just the show but the present time. Our historical moment is monumentally catastrophic, and the usual serious response to extremism doesn’t seem to be working. Instead, the images range from abject to absurd.

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Indios antropófagos: A Butterfly Garden in the (Urban) Jungle. Peru Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Especially relevant are the artists who toy with the fetishization of Indigenous bodies and cultures for Western consumption. Within the main exhibition curated by Rugoff, Gutierrez situates her U.S.-born Latinx, trans body within a series of photographic landscapes, Body in Thrall, that challenge touristic notions of indigeneity, cultural authenticity, and romanticized poverty around non-white people. She occupies diverse personas, from a film noir femme fatale to the terrifying Aztec deity Tlazolteotl, “Eater of Filth,” always negotiating the high fashion aesthetics of desire with a subversive decolonial aggression. Similar themes and tactics appear in Indios antropófagos in the Peruvian Pavilion, curated by Gustavo Buntinx, in which historical artifacts from the Spanish colonial era and large mosaic tile works by Christian Bendayán depicting frolicking Indigenous youth come together in a scathing critique of cultural tourism. In the French Pavilion, curated by Martha Kirszenbaum, artist Laure Prouvost references the oceans and the sea life projected to die out by 2048, only 29 years into the future, with a number of glass animals seemingly cast into the sea floor, strewn across a landscape of refuse and discarded technologies.

Back in the real world, there’s no way to excise or sequester the beautiful parts into a future that can outlast the very real catastrophes happening now. The overwhelmingly urgent need for a complete lifestyle change played in my head over the week following my visit to the Biennale, as I recuperated from a difficult personal and professional year on a seven-day Greek Islands cruise with my young children, partner, and parents. Looking over the waters where thousands of migrants have drowned, from the top deck of a massive, yet outdated, luxury vessel, I considered how the looming climate crisis creates a condition of simultaneous enjoyment of the modern world that is all around us, and a mourning for its obvious and inevitable loss. Is this the end of curating? The traditional role of the curator as guardian of the world’s collected treasures seems as irrelevant as the contemporary job of mounting resource-heavy exhibitions for an international crowd of jet-setters. Conceptualism has begun to rot from the head, as when Rugoff controversially chose to include Christoph Büchel’s installation of a salvaged boat that, in 2015, sank in the Mediterranean with more than 800 people aboard. I reflected on this watery tomb, recommissioned as a tourist attraction, while looking out across Piraeus port. In the distance, a military troop (jointly operated by Italy and the European Union) performed exercises atop a warship in a city where anti-immigrant attacks are on the rise. In the seventeenth century, the Venetians gained and lost control of Athens in a rivalry with the Ottomans. Today, it seems the EU’s primary objective in the Mediterranean is to sever thousands of years of interconnection between these three regions. Two years ago, the regenerative promise of art as a universal cultural good was undermined when documenta 14 recreated the financial dynamics of German austerity policies in Athens, Greece afresh. Debts went unpaid, workers uncompensated, all in the name of “fiscal responsibility” that nearly shuttered the sixty-year-old event for good. What better outcome ought we to expect this year from an art event born out of universal nationalism?

Christine Wertheim

Halil Altindere, Space Refugee, 2016. May You Live in Interesting Times, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

An explicitly utopian impulse is fugitive in May You Live in Interesting Times, but it manifests in the intersection of art, science, and technology. Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s Crochet Coral Reef raises awareness about preservation of the oceans through a crowdsourcing practice that combines mathematical learning with environmentalism and craft. Tavares Strachan’s meditation on African American astronaut Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., locates metaphysical discourse about the afterlife within a scientific conversation about space travel—where elsewhere Halil Altindere complicates this view with the tale of Syrian cosmonaut Muhammed Ahmed Faris and his persecution by the state. Ryoji Ikeda bathes us in cleansing white light and describes a massive, thunderous universe of data that takes breathtaking shape before our eyes. Hito Steyerl’s This is the Future is a post-internet pastorale in which computer vision is applied to the Venetian landscape to depict a state of perpetual, dreamlike futurity in which the present persistently refuses to resolve into view. The protagonist of Steyerl’s installation seeks out a garden that she had previously hidden in the future in order to protect it from the ravages of the present.

The song of the Lithuanian Pavilion Sun & Sea (Marina) still rings in my ears:

“When my body dies, I will remain,
In an empty planet without birds, animals and corals.
Yet with the press of a single button,
I will remake this world again”

The finale of Sun & Sea (Marina) details the 3D printing of facsimiles of species in widespread collapse, taking comfort in their simulated resurrection as one would in the cold rays of a dying sun.

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Sun & Sea (Marina), Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

The gentle tenor of the apocalyptic visions in Sun & Sea (Marina) perfectly encapsulates the feeling of living at the outside edge of the story of the human species on planet Earth, with the knowledge that history as we know it may well be about to end because our species is one of millions undergoing collapse. The emptiness of our endeavors is invoked by Shilpa Gupta, whose wildly swinging metal gate hammers an effigy of national borders into a gallery wall. Otobong Nkanga’s drawings in acrylic on crayon reference the mechanical, industrialized nature of exploitation in the 21st century. Unlike the bees, whose society is organized around abundance, we humans have engineered systems to maximize our suffering. If humankind can truly lay claim to a common ideological heritage, as Fukuyama once argued, we have only ourselves to blame for our impending end.

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Against the Death Cult: We Must Not Let Ruthless Ideologues Destroy the Climate and Kill Us All

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Agriculture

The Niger delta is burning. The oil companies plumbing the river basin of its black gold have found an ingenious way of dealing with the natural gas they consider a waste by-product of the extraction process. Capturing the gas would be costly, inefficient – so instead, they flare it off. Across the delta, towers of flame burn day and night, some of them stretching ten storeys into the sky.

Gas flaring was officially banned in Nigeria in 1984 – but still, two million people live within four kilometres of a flare site, at risk of the cancers, neurological, reproductive and respiratory problems linked to the pollutants released into the air. The soil is hotter, and crop yields have dwindled; “You plant, and before you know it, everything is dead”. When the rains come, they are black. Oil spills spew from the pipelines of Shell and ENI, the biggest operators in the area. Shell has reported 17.5 million litres lost since 2011; Amnesty International say that’s likely a hefty underestimate. The spills have poisoned drinking water, and destroyed the livelihoods of the fishermen who once combed the delta. 

We are over the brink. People have already lost their lives to hurricanes and bush fires and flooding, to toxins and crop failures – all disasters rooted in fossil-fuel dependent extractive capitalism, bankrolled by a deregulated financial sector. People continue to lose their lives. Global temperatures soar, and a monstrous future slouches towards us from the ecocidal imaginations of the handful of humans directly invested in a doctrine of global annihilation. Now, the death drive built into the heart of our economy reveals itself in ever more undeniable terms; the skull is showing through the skin. 

Scientists at ExxonMobil confirmed the truth of climate change in the 1980s, at the very latest. Since then, Exxon and its fellow fossil fuel companies have spent decades sponsoring climate change denial and blocking efforts to legislate against apocalypse. Under their auspices, newspapers and broadcasters and politicians revelled in a vicious subterfuge disguised as pious gnosticism; asking how we can know for sure that climate change is caused by human activity. In recent years, this strategy has buckled under the weight of public outrage and scientific proof.

The science is clear: only an ambitious, rapid overhaul of the fundaments of our economy gives us hope of survival. And that hope is tantalisingly within our grasp. We have the technology, and we have the financial capacity; all that’s missing is the political will to give those solutions heft, muscle and cold hard cash.

Now, culprit companies are suddenly flouting their green credentials to shore up their position as custodians of the future. Shell Oil has made a big song and dance about its investments in green technology. Goldman Sachs has funded research into how to make cities “resilient to climate change”. These are little more than attempts to seduce and cajole worried publics and skittish investors. Still these companies hoard over-valued assets, continue ploughing resources into carbon-heavy industries, show no signs of leaving enough fossil fuels in the ground to avoid the breakdown of the climate, the potential collapse of civilisation and the extinction of life on earth. Negotiators were banned from mentioning climate change in recent UK-US trade talks. the UK government has subsidised the fossil fuel industry to the tune of 10bn in a decade, and its legislators continue to take its lobby money in return. They defend their right to starve out and flood and burn chunks of human existence – and make money doing it. 

We are being held hostage by a cabal of ruthless ideologues whose only loyalty is to a doctrine of global death. Their success thrives on silence, isolation, manipulation, denial. They are united in their opposition to reality, in their determination to hunt down or hound out real alternatives that threaten their mortal stranglehold on power. All other doctrines are heresy, and their preachers envoys of a sinister delusion. They are unique guardians of a dark and dazzling reality.

If this took place among a handful of hippies beckoning oblivion from the heat haze of a california desert we would call it is: a death cult. Instead, it is orchestrated from sumptuous glass towers, from the velvet inner chambers of parliament – so we call it business as usual. 

To these science-backed suggestions that economic alternatives are possible – even urgent, necessary, beautiful – they react with vitriol and incredulity. Saving the world may sound appealing, but it clashes intolerably with the cultish diktat: ‘There Is No Alternative”. Partisans of the Green New Deal like Alexandra Ocasio Cortez are dismissed at best as well-meaning dreamers or childish hysterics, and, at worst, nightmarish envoys of backdoor totalitarianism. Indeed, grassroots activists have been murdered for organising against big polluters. The political allegiances are clear: Defending life is foolish. Annihilation is inevitable. We have only to accept it graciously, to walk into its arms.

Rightwing politicians barter casually about the difference between a decarbonisation target of 2030, 2045, 2050, 2060 as a matter of messaging and electoral success. As though that difference were not cashed out in millions of deaths. Such differences slide off the sunny, addled mind of the cultist, for whom life and death are indistinguishable. 

A chosen few will be spared; the golden ones who walk in the light. As the asset-stripping and plundering continues apace, so the market for luxury disaster insurance packages has grown, with companies offering high-tech flood defences, private firefighters, private security to guard against mobs of looters. Theirs is a gilded world where disaster can never truly happen to them – because it never truly has. That no insurance policy in the world will provide them with breathable air or sustainable agriculture is a matter for the others, the ghosts, the un-living, those whose existence never really registered. Us.   

Broadcasters tried to haul Boris Johnson before the court of the living on Thursday night for the climate change debate, to account for Conservative policy proposals which present a 50% risk of tipping the world into irreversible, runaway climate breakdown, to account for his fossil fuel backers. He responded by threatening them with censure and legal action. Cult leaders can tolerate no scrutiny of their fragile world picture, no challenge to their power. 

We can break the stranglehold, and commit the death cultists to the bleak annals of history where they belong. It is time to choose only those who have chosen life.   

Eleanor Penny is a writer and a regular contributor to Novara Media. 

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Facebook Owner & Dad-of-Two, Mark Zuckerberg Shares Why He Regulates Screen Exposure For His Daughters – Motherhood In-Style Magazine

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Facebook’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg has shared his etiquette for screen time exposure for his daughters with wife Priscilla Chan — August, 2, and Maxima, 3. According to the billionaire dad, he generally dislikes that his children be sitting in front of a computer or television for a long period of time and so, he’s come up with a regulation that allows them to minimally use Facebook’s video chat product, Portal.

Zuckerberg says it is healthier because it is a video portal that allows the kids keep in touch with their grannies and aunts, and that they have to engage with the humans while using the screen, it is much healthier and comes with the benefits of feeling real connection.

“I don’t generally want my kids to be sitting in front of a TV or a computer for a long period of time,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on Fox News’

The Daily Briefing, posted Friday.

“I let my kids use that to communicate with my parents, so they can stay in touch with their grandparents easily, [and] their aunts who live across the country,”

Zuckerberg said.

According to Zuckerberg, that kind of screen time — using video to interact with other human beings — is actually good for you, with benefits such as feeling more connected and healthier.

“I think all the research would generally support that,”

Zuckerberg Told “The Daily Briefing.”

However, says Zuckerberg, passively consuming content, or “going from video to video” isn’t associated with the same positive effects.

While that may be the standard thinking (the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids ages 2 to 5 only use screens for one hour a day, and kids 18 to 24 months only use digital media to video chat) a new study from the Oxford Internet Institute at Oxford University found that moderate screen use is actually beneficial for kids’ development.

After analyzing data from 35,000 American children ages 6 months to 17 years (and their caregivers), researchers found that the sweet spot seems to be about one to two hours of screen time a day. “Screen time” includes using digital devices such as iPads and watching television.

The kids who were exposed to the optimal amount of screen time had better levels of social and emotional well-being than kids who weren’t allowed to use digital devices. (In this study, researchers controlled the data for variables that influence digital engagement, such as age and sex, race and ethnicity, stress, social support and health.)

So banning kids from using technology altogether, or implementing age restrictions, isn’t the best solution for parents who are concerned about their children’s screen use,

“particularly as screen usage in some cases has a net positive impact,”

Andrew Przybylski, Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute and study author said in a press release.

There is an upper limit for screen time, though: This study also found that kids could watch four hours of TV or use an electronic device for five hours before it started to affect their behavior. Compared to the average amount of time that kids use devices (about two hours of tablets and smartphones, and one hour and 45 minutes of TV), these numbers are very high.

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Death Stranding Review: Tomorrow is Here | Screen Rant

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America

Evaluating was always going to be difficult. It’s a game that has been built up for so many years, and by so many fans of a director with ambitious vision, freed from the shackles of a company that many believe restricted his creativity. It has celebrities scattered throughout its cast, an incredible ensemble soundtrack that’s being released as an album, and so much extraneous activity that it feels like a game that’s been out for a year and a half already. Superseding that, however, is the belief, partly stirred up by Hideo Kojima himself, that Death Stranding will change gaming.

Whether or not Death Stranding has effected the sort of change consumers expected it would is entirely subjective, but after playing through the game in its entirety, it feels impossible to come away with anything but the lingering sense that something in gaming’s paradigm is shifting. It is by no means a perfect game, but Death Stranding is an important one. In fact, Death Stranding is one of the most important video games released this decade. It’s a must-play that manages to leave a lasting impression, in spite of – or perhaps due to – its stumbles.

The story of Death Stranding is not ideally experienced while distracted. There’s a lot going on, and most of it doesn’t get unpacked for the player until the game is approaching its climax. Players take on the role of Sam Porter Bridges (Norman Reedus), a deliveryman who treks across a hellish, ghost-infested post-apocalyptic landscape to bring packages to the few remaining humans that have found shelter across the country. America has been shattered, the rest of the world presumably in a similar state of disarray, and humanity is barely clinging to its last vestiges of life.

BBs

That’s about as contained as the story ever gets. Things begin to unravel quickly, with the realization that the technology used by humans to combat supernatural forces – BTs, or Beached Things – involves half-dead, half-living babies called BBs that can detect their presence. From there, things get decidedly weirder, somehow: there are multiple dimensions, a new spin on the acid rain convention, and characters intimately connected to death.

Along the way, other characters make connections with Sam, from the sublimely-portrayed Deadman (Guillermo del Toro) to the mysterious Fragile (Léa Seydoux). It’s a superstar cast and it shows before other juggernauts like Mads Mikkelsen even turn up. Nearly every major character in Death Stranding resonates and settles the complex, sometimes ridiculous narrative into something that still evokes emotional responses at each turn. For a game that only gets more complicated the longer its tale gets, that’s an impressive feat.

Connection is at the heart of the story of Death Stranding, and it is the channel through which all other elements of the game travel as well. Much of the game is about bringing together a society that is divided, whether that’s on a grand scale – an entire country – or a smaller one, like families or lovers. To that end, players will often find themselves completing tasks that seem menial with the threat of extinction hanging over humanity’s head: transporting keepsakes or, in some cases, pizza, in order to bring a bit of happiness to the bleak grays of humankind’s death rattles.

This gameplay shakes out into two distinct patterns, the first of which is delivery and human connection. The travel to deliver items is never easy. Players will have to navigate rough terrain, not to mention enemies – supernatural and not – hellbent on killing Sam. Sam can’t die, though. He’s a repatriate, which means he can emerge from the world of the dead and back into the realm of the living by following “strands” that lead him back. Just because he can’t die doesn’t mean there aren’t tangible consequences, though, and the game does an excellent job of making every misstep feel important. Craters are left in the wake of failed attempts, and the world can begin to feel very grim indeed as the landscape gets torn apart with every major mistake.

director

During the journey, players will also be able to connect online to see what others have done to the landscape before them, making their journeys easier. Players can build structures across the map that help them and carry over to other players’ maps, too. For instance, building a bridge to cross a particularly strong river will let other players cross that same area when they get to it. Players can also “like” other structures or vehicles that have been left behind, building a sense of connection. It seems simple, but those likes feel good – something that the game even builds into its lore – and while playing, some usernames will make repeat appearances, making it seem as though a friendship has been forged.

And maybe it has. During our playthrough, it felt very much like was a multiplayer game despite the fact that players can’t team up in real-time. One of the early elements that can feel frustrating in Death Stranding is how often the game tasks Sam with backtracking from one hard to reach settlement to another. That serves a purpose, though. As the game’s plot unfurls and players begin to better understand the world, they can also grow to appreciate how the journey changes even though it ostensibly takes place in the same area. Sometimes, new structures are there that make travel easier, all thanks to the work of others. There’s a tangible sense of progress, as if humanity really is rebuilding in some way, and players are all connected in that effort. The community’s triumph is Sam’s triumph. It’s an intoxicating feeling.

Of course, the game is more challenging and involved than just that rebuilding effort. The world itself is trying to stop players from dragging America out of the depths of hell. The rain erodes player gear and is fatal to those who are exposed to it for too long. There are mountains, rivers, and steep terrain that must be traversed slowly, painfully, laboriously – and it’s all time-consuming. Nothing comes easy. Nor should it – Death Stranding imagines a world being built-up from something close to zero. It’s ingrained in every mechanic, too. Players will have to make sure their boots are constantly replaced, as they’ll slowly fall apart. Gear will have to be built and rebuilt with each successful delivery. Large packages will make Sam’s gait unsteady, his movements more difficult, and that will drain his stamina. These are all elements that will feel overwhelming, or unfair, or even just unfun. But with a little time, the game’s rhythm is established, and these previously frustrating elements combine into something memorable.

Guillermo del Toro

Then come the BTs. Several areas of the game are terrorized by these nearly-invisible otherworldly entities, made from the dead of our world. Early on, they will be almost infallible. Players will be able to detect them by proximity, and hold their breath to try to throw them off their location, and…that’s it. The BTs are horrors, here to remind Sam at regular intervals that no matter how optimistic things can get, no matter how high they’re riding off the “likes” of their scattershot community, the world is still doomed. The first several encounters with BTs are among some of the most tense, memorable moments in recent gaming history.

Eventually, Death Stranding begins to offer players other methods of dealing BTs as Bridges, the organization Sam works for, uncovers the mysteries of their existence. As that happens, BT segments evolve from pure horror-inspired events into a mixture of stealth, horror, and strategic action. In both instances, Death Stranding just works. It’s another journey, one that goes from ignorance and fear of the unknown to understanding – like humans discovering fire.

It’s difficult to convey how effective Death Stranding is at delivering its messages without diving too deeply into spoilers. However, the journey, for all its frustrations – the slow, plodding pace of the early game and the obtuse beginnings of its story – still serves as a worthy foundation for the excellent experience that follows. Death Stranding probably isn’t a game for everyone. There will be some who are turned off by to really get going and that’s fine. It’s not a game that’s trying to appeal to every key consumer demographic.

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What Death Stranding is, though, is a game that pushes the medium forward. So much of Death Stranding is memorable, from its characters to its gameplay sections to its stellar soundtrack. It genre-hops in the same way that did so successfully a few years ago. While navigating between stealth, adventure, survival, and gunfighting elements, Kojima’s latest title balances them all into something that feels new. The game is incredibly ambitious, and it is unapologetic about the design elements it feels are integral to telling its story.

Hideo Kojima promised the world that he’d be delivering a new genre, and his friends and those who had tried the game in its infancy dared to dream that Death Stranding could be revolutionary. It’s not the best game ever made, but it’s one of the best experiences in modern gaming. Death Stranding delivered on its impossible promise in a breathtaking way, and it’s a must-play for everyone who has ever held a game controller and wondered about what comes next.

Next: Death Stranding Coming To PC Summer 2020

Death Stranding will be available on November 8, 2019 for PlayStation 4 and in summer 2020 for PC. Screen Rant was provided a PS4 code for the purposes of this review.

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Rumours of a Third Term and a wedding

FOR much of July 2011, as I reported on this page back then, nothing filled me with so much foreboding as a telephone call from Nigeria, or from a fellow expatriate Nigerian in the United States.

Not that I dreaded being woken up at 3 o’clock in the morning by an insistent phone call informing me that the son of my grand-aunt’s younger nephew has secured admission to the Federal University of Kutuwengi’s coveted programme in cassava technology, and that unless I cabled the sum of N100, 000 immediately by way of a non-refundable deposit, the offer would go to another.

I had been given a tutorial by a fellow expatriate Nigerian on how to handle such matters.

“Tell the caller,” my tutor counseled, “tell the caller how genuinely delighted you are that the youngest son of your grand-aunt’s nephew had secured a place in the prohibitively competitive cassava technology programme at UniKutuwengi (UK).

Impress it upon the caller that the young man is even more fortunate in other ways because the vice chancellor of UK is your bosom friend and the professor of cassava propagation, who also happens to be the dean of the faculty of cassava technology, is none other than your favourite brother-in-law.”

Then, the clincher:  “Tell the caller to ask the young man to kindly send for ease of reference, a copy of his letter of admission so that you could cable the deposit directly to your good friend the vice chancellor at UK, or to the professor of cassava propagation.

“You would never hear from them again,” my tutor had assured me.

My discomfiture stemmed from the previously rumoured, speculated, suspected, widely-believed, and finally incipient “Third Term.”

Whenever the phone rang and I identified a Nigerian voice at the other end, I began to have that sinking feeling. I could feel it in my bones that the caller had nothing other than the so-called “Third Term” on his mind.  And I was right for the most part.

The calls usually began on a casual, even languid note, with “Bawo ni?” or “Hao nao?” But I had learned not to be fooled by such a gambit, nor by the preliminaries that followed, no matter how diverting or long-drawn.

Not a moment too soon, the callers got going.

“How is Baba these days?” they would ask casually, almost absent-mindedly.

“Which Baba?” I would reply, spoiling for an opening to play interrogator.

“Baba President,” they would rejoin.  OBJ.”

“How would I know from this distance?  Why don’t you ask Femi Fani-Kayode?”

“Ah!” the callers would exclaim in terror. “He will curse the daylight out of us for daring to ask.”

“No, he won’t,” I would assure them. “As a born-again Christian and an ordained deacon, Femi Fani-Kayode doesn’t curse.  And if you are only asking after Baba’s health and not dabbling into the great issues of state, he will thank you for your interest in Baba and praise you for your patriotism.  He might even pencil you down for a federal appointment.”

“From all that I have read and heard, Baba has not said he is interested in a Third Term,” I  would tell them with as much conviction as I could muster.

“If he is not interested, why can’t he come out straight to say so and thus put an end to all the speculation and all the nasty things people have been saying about him?”

“For reasons of state, no doubt. Raison d’état.  But I can’t speak for Baba. You really must

ask Chief Fani-Kayode.  I can give you his phone number.”

A second invocation of that name was usually enough to dissuade the caller from pursuing this pesky inquiry.

The conversations — such as they were — with callers who opened with a “Hao nao?” usually took a different tack.  No dancing around; they went straight into business.

“Nna, this Third-Term thing is now spreading like bush fire. What’s the latest?”

“My brother, this avian ’flu is a really terrible thing,” I would reply.  “Just imagine, our  people can’t even eat ordinary chicken again.   Our poultry farmers are finished. Hundreds of thousands of birds dead.  And now there is the fear that humans may be afflicted too.  It is really terrible.”

“Na so we see am o,” my brother. Very sad.  But this is about Obasanjo’s Third-Term plot.

“Alleged plot,” I would cut in.

“Alleged my foot,” one such caller shot back, aspirating with a force that almost blew out my eardrum. “Your Yoruba people have endorsed it.  Are you saying they have endorsed a mere allegation?”

“It’s the governors of the Yoruba-speaking states that endorsed it. The South-South, South-East governors have also endorsed it Even Ohanaeze has embraced it.  And it cannot be long before the Arewa people follow suit.  “Senator Ibrahim Mantu who coordinated consultations across the country has said that everywhere he went, he found a strong national consensus favouring a Third, and possibly a Fourth Term.

“The whole thing began like a crazy joke. And now, it looks as if they just might pull it off, like this is some banana republic.  How did they do it?”

“You must ask Andy Uba.  And Tony Anenih, the master fixer. I can give you Anenih’s GSM number.”

No response.

“Hello. . . . Hello. . .”

Still no response.  End of conversation

These were persons hoping to enter party politics one day.  It must have been drilled into them that the fear of The Fixer is the fundamental law of political practice in Nigeria.

Memories of these skirmishes came flooding back when it was bruited the other day that President Muhammadu Buhari might seek a Third Term.  Handbills and posters soon surfaced           in Abuja and elsewhere urging Buhari to bid for a Third Term, even as the Next Level Agenda  for his present and last term as consecrated in the Constitution is yet to gain traction.  A motley crowd of placard-carrying Third-Term protagonists put an exclamation mark on the matter.

The Presidency has disavowed any such intent.  Yet the rumours have persisted.

And I suspect that now, as in 2011, it would be a matter of time before I am inundated with requests for insight and analysis on the matter, even though I do not relate to Buhari the way I related to former President Obasanjo.

But that is the least of my worries.  I am concerned with the far more treacherous terrain ahead.

Lately, they have been linking His Excellency the President and the Honorable Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Intervention and Social Development Sadiya Umar Farouk, romantically.  They even went so far as to put it about that they were to be joined in matrimony last Friday.

This purported heads-up sent the Muslim faithful, all manner of supplicants and those seeking nothing but voyeuristic thrill flocking to the National Mosque in Abuja to witness the historic event.

They all went home disappointed.

In the wake of all this, Buhari’s wife Aisha, who had been away in the UK ended her extended vacation in the UK and returned to Nigeria.

Requests for my reactions to these developments as a veteran public affairs analyst cannot be  long in coming, I fear.

Here, upfront, is my response:  I am not aware of any link between the alleged presidential dalliance and Aisha Buhari’s precipitate return to base.  I have no thoughts, no comments, and  no insights whatsoever regarding these developments, nor what they portend for a Third Term or The Other Room.

I will not let anyone goad me into perdition.

The floods now devouring large swathes of the country are going to keep the Hon Minister for Disaster Relief fully engaged for a long time.

So, rest easy, all ye stakeholders.

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