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The First Crime by an Astronaut in Space?

It is presumed that the legal link between the personnel and the spacecraft they travel in under the circumstances are imputed to the State of registry of the said craft.

by Dr Ruwantissa Abeyratne
Writing from Montreal

It has been reported that The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is investigating an alleged crime – the first reported from the the International Space Station (ISS) - by one of the personnel on board who accessed the bank account of her estranged spouse while on mission in ISS. ISS is defined as “a co-operative programme between Europe, the United States, Russia, Canada, and Japan for the joint development, operation and utilisation of a permanently inhabited Space Station in low Earth orbit. The legal framework defines the rights and obligations of each of the countries and their jurisdiction and control with respect to their Space Station elements”.

Where are we heading? 


ISS is driven by a legal framework within the purview of what is called The International Space Station Intergovernmental Agreement, otherwise known as 'the IGA'. IGA was signed on 29 January 1998 by the fifteen governments involved in the Space Station project. Article 1 of this treaty provides that it is based on “a long term international co-operative frame-work on the basis of genuine partnership, for the detailed design, development, operation, and utilisation of a permanently inhabited civil Space Station for peaceful purposes, in accordance with international law”.

Article 5 of IGA allows the Space Station Partners States to extend their national jurisdiction in ISS, stating that “'each partner shall retain jurisdiction and control over the elements it registers and over personnel in or on the Space Station who are its nationals'”. This incontrovertibly vests jurisdiction on The United States of which the astronaut concerned is a citizen.

The IGA is implemented through four Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs) between NASA and each co-operating Space Agency: European Space Agency (ESA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Canada has promulgated its own legislation called Civil International Space Station Agreement Implementation Act of 1999. However, the author could not find evidence of any such legislation or instrument of ratification by the United States in addition to IGA and the four MoUs.

It is assumed that such instruments exist or that the aforementioned documents would suffice under United States law if the authorities pursue action against the astronaut. Clearly, the person suspected of the offence is not an astronaut by definition. Liability of an astronaut is based on the accepted legal premise that astronauts, by virtue of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 are designated as “envoys of mankind in outer space”, casting on them the responsibility of adhering to applicable treaty provisions on behalf of their States. The Treaty provision is a reproduction verbatim of Paragraph 9 of United Nations General Assembly Resolution XVIII of 1962. Although initially, the world’s “envoys of mankind” seemingly created some apprehension in the international community as to whether such phraseology connoted diplomatic immunity to astronauts, academics have cleared up this ambivalence by concluding that it was only a figure of speech which has not been repeated in any United Nation’s documentation yet. The perceived inadequacy of definitive identification at international law of an astronaut and her conduct in outer space leaves one with the realization that IGA and its legal regal regime has decidedly and effectively precluded any room for doubt by the use of “personnel” instead of “astronaut” in Article 5 of IGA

The above facts leave one with a dichotomy: If astronauts are defined as “envoys of mankind in outer space”, what is “outer space”? In an earlier article in this journal I grappled with the numerous theories that have been propounded in the absence of a definition of outer space. Confusion is worse confounded by the fact that the ISS is orbiting the earth at an altitude of about 400 kilometers which puts it right inside the thermosphere which is the layer of the Earth's atmosphere directly above the mesosphere and directly below the exosphere. Therefore, it may be argued that ISS is not in outer space, in which case the person faced with criminal charges in the context of this article could not be called an astronaut by definition.

Therefore, it is arguable that this is not a crime in space. The fact that a separate legal regime in the form of IGA exists to address legal issues concerning IGA is evidence enough. For outer space a separate regime under the Article VIII of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 exists which provides that a State party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body.

As a side note, it must be noted that the first “space tourist” Denis Tito was called a space tourist for purposes of public reference by the media. He was called a “guest cosmonaut” by the Russians and an amateur astronaut by the Americans. The interpretation of Article VIII could well result in ambivalence and confusion. The “object” and “personnel” referred to in the Treaty provision do not adequately cover persons who are not “personnel” such as passengers in a spacecraft. Of course, as some maintain, the quasi jurisdiction of the State of registry of the spacecraft can apply both in the instance of conduct in the spacecraft as well as outside the spacecraft on the basis that the astronaut concerned would be deemed to belong to the spacecraft at all times in outer space. Logically, therefore, such jurisdiction could be imputed to passengers, visitors and guests by linking them to the spacecraft in which they travelled. This far reaching generalization would then cover the conduct of an astronaut or other persons while walking on the moon, Mars or other celestial body, as well as such persons who go on space walks outside the spacecraft in which they travelled.

Another provision which sheds some light on past attempts by the international community to identify liability and jurisdictional issues relating to astronauts is Article 12 of the Moon Treaty of 1979 which provides that States Parties shall retain jurisdiction and control over their personnel, space vehicles, equipment facilities, stations and installations on the moon.

It is presumed that the legal link between the personnel and the spacecraft they travel in under the circumstances are imputed to the State of registry of the said craft. If this were not the case, and such a link cannot be established, the provision itself becomes meaningless and destitute of effect.

All this is obviated under IGA.

Burn the Amazon!

The slow death of the Amazon is an alarm call to us all of the importance of trees to mankind. I’ve been to many nations – such as India and Haiti – where most of their original trees were cut down – and the result has been an environmental disaster for mankind and animals.

by Eric S. Margolis

Cut down the trees. Kill the wild animals. Burn the bush. Pollute the rivers. Pave over the grass. Raise more beef, pigs and poultry in cages.

That’s the credo of the new right. Hatred of Nature is an integral part of its politics. President Donald Trump is the high priest of such environmental vandalism. In his narrow land-developer mind, Nature is a left-wing liberal conspiracy.

Trump’s Brazilian wannabe, President Jair Bolsonaro, is now doing his mentor one better: he encouraged Brazilian farmers, loggers and miners, all key Bolsonaro constituencies, to accelerate their destruction of the Amazon rain forest, which provides 20% of the Earth’s oxygen.

Burning humanity! who Care?

The farmers, miners and loggers responded to his call by burning the irreplaceable forest, the world’s largest, at a rate over 80% higher than last year. Rarely has the world seen a more horrifying example of humans destroying the small planet on which they live.

Bolsonaro and his fellow Brazilian vandals say they lack the means to stop this incendiary epidemic. Nonsense. The Brazilian president is a former army officer. He must deploy the entire Brazilian Army to protect his nation’s most important resource, the Amazon. Neighboring Bolivia, Columbia and Paraguay should join in. Here is a perfect example for the UN Security Council to take action by declaring the 75,000 man-made fires a threat to all humanity and threaten to sanction Brazil’s exports if its does not take decisive action.

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron put it right at the current G7 meeting at Biarritz, ‘our house is on fire.’ France, Spain and Portugal all have their very serious dry season fires, but they send small armies to combat them. Climate change is playing a major role in sparking the raging fires. Unlike Bolsonaro, the European nations don’t absurdly claim the fires were begun by NGO’s (non-governmental environmental organizations).

Brazil’s army numbers 222,700 men, backed by reserves of 1,980,000. Mobilize them. Bolsonaro has been eager to send special paramilitary militia groups into slums in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Send them to the Amazon, which has three million species of plants and animals, and one million indigenous people.

The Amazon’s forests are being burned primarily to create more grazing land for cattle, one of Brazil’s most important exports. Producing meat is not only cruel, it uses up inordinate amounts of land and water. All those who adopt ‘meatless Mondays’ or purchase new plant-based burgers are directly fighting the destruction of the Amazon.

The slow death of the Amazon is an alarm call to us all of the importance of trees to mankind. I’ve been to many nations – such as India and Haiti – where most of their original trees were cut down – and the result has been an environmental disaster for mankind and animals.

We are wanton and prodigal in our over-use of wood. Trees must be protected – as the city of Toronto has so wisely done by fencing off trees in construction zones. I hope that a way will be found to convert plastic waste into building materials.

WildFire at Amazon

The wide-scale destruction of the great North American boreal forest is a crime that must end now. Fly over the ‘clear-cut’ zones of tree destruction in Canada and the US to see the full horror of the industrialized massacre of our trees. Brazil is not the only killer of forests.

Recycling all wood is the first step. Banning open-air camp fires is another sensible step. Those who make a living by killing trees and animals must be advised to find other work at a time when labor is short.

Trump and Bolsonaro are modern-day vandals. The gutting of America’s wildlife and environmental laws by the Trump administration is a shameful act of ignorance. But one supposes that our president, who appears to live on burgers and diet Coke, has zero interest in wetlands, trees, birds, animals or rivers.

Even Adolf Hitler was an arch conservationist and vegetarian who hated smokers and loved birds and trees. The Mongols destroyed every city in their bloody path to free up more grazing for their ponies. Bolsonaro and Trump would feel right at home with Genghis Khan and his boys.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2019

What Lies in the Future of Global Jihadism?

The fallout from the split between the Islamic State and Al Qaeda has led to a competition viewed by both sides as zero sum in nature, where progress by one of these groups signaled a loss for the other.

The IS – Al-Qaeda Dispute (excerpt from Chapter 4 of After the Caliphate, Polity Press, 2019)

by Colin P. Clarke

The fall-out from the split between IS and al-Qaeda has led to a competition viewed by both sides as zero sum in nature, where progress by one of these groups signaled a loss for the other. One of the primary drivers of such a heated competition is that, in many ways, the ideology and objectives of the group are so similar. The Islamic State reverted to extreme levels of violence as one method of differentiating itself from its rivals, including al-Qaeda. Both groups are attempting to recruit from the same milieus and influence similar constituencies. The main differences are that IS sought to create a caliphate on a timeline considered premature by al-Qaeda, and IS pursued a far more sectarian agenda in attempting to achieve this objective. Whether and how these differences are ever resolved will have a major impact on the future of the movement writ large.

What next? 

The split itself occurred at the leadership levels of these groups, so one of the most interesting questions is: to what extent do foot soldiers and mid-level commanders really care, in actuality, about the previous infighting and strategic disputes? For some of the fighters at these levels, there is an obvious parallel to conflicts between street gangs, where members like the Bloods and Crips “fly their colors” – or represent their gangs by wearing their distinctive colors – and continuously disparage their adversaries by posting “dis videos” online, mocking and threatening rivals.63 The bitterness and divisiveness of the feud has played out on social media, with leaders on each side hurling vituperation and casting opprobrium on the other as “bad Muslims.” The initial castigation came from al-Qaeda’s leader Zawahiri himself, who fulminated against IS for being deviant from the al-Qaeda methodology.

The truth is, as outlined in chapter 1’s discussion of al-Qaeda in Iraq, that the relationship was doomed from the start. The group that would eventually become IS has always been something of a rogue element, formed and led by Zarqawi, who fought hard to preserve the independence of his affiliate. Even after pledging his loyalty to bin Laden and assuming the al-Qaeda moniker, Zarqawi still ignored directions from al-Qaeda’s core leadership and narrowly pursued his own sectarian agenda in hopes of igniting a Sunni–Shia civil war, first within Iraq, and then throughout the wider Islamic world. One of al-Qaeda’s first steps to present itself as more evenhanded was denouncing blatant sectarianism and working to convince AQI to jettison sectarianism as a guiding principle. When, in July 2005, Zawahiri penned a letter to the leader of AQI chastising him for his group’s wanton slaughter of Shiites, the former stressed the overall negative impact these actions were having on the al-Qaeda brand and urged him to eschew targeting other Muslims. When Zarqawi disregarded Zawahiri’s advice, he cemented AQI’s reputation as a ruthless organization where violence was almost an end in and of itself.

So while the initial rift began deepening in Iraq in the mid-2000s, it developed into an internecine struggle during the early years of the Syrian civil war. Following the fall-out, al-Qaeda has worked assiduously to reestablish itself as a major factor in the Levant; to accomplish this, it has been forced to overcome several significant setbacks related to its organizational unity and coherence. Al-Qaeda’s initial presence in Syria was through an affiliation with Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic State in Iraq’s erstwhile Syria branch. In mid-2016, Nusra rebranded itself as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and later merged with other terrorist splinter groups to form Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a jihadist umbrella organization, which put even more distance between itself and al-Qaeda. As of mid-2018, al-Qaeda had no formal affiliate in Syria but still commanded the loyalty of several high-profile militants. Some al-Qaeda loyalists announced the formation of yet another new group, Tanzim Hurras al-Din, or the Religious Guardians’ Organization, in 2018. While HTS remains focused on events in Syria, Tanzim Hurras al-Din is headed by al-Qaeda veterans who may seek to use Syria as a base to launch high-profile terrorist attacks against the West. This posture is a departure from al-Qaeda’s recent focus on grassroots appeal in Syria and, if it comes to fruition, it will probably have significant ramifications for the group’s return to its former glory. Another important angle is that there are several Jordanian jihadi veterans among Tanzim Hurras al-Din’s leadership cadre who were close to Zarqawi and, as such, there is both historical and ideological affinity with IS, which increases the probability that Hurras might successfully poach IS members and bring them into the al-Qaeda fold.

The rebranding process for al-Qaeda in Syria was undertaken partly out of necessity, but it was also strategic in nature. From a pragmatic standpoint, the rebrandings have served to put some distance between al-Qaeda and a host of imitators and rivals. This could be an effort by the group to learn from past mistakes, when the leadership’s reluctance to publicly disavow Zarqawi traded short-term gains for long-term losses and eventually contributed to the split, an event that seemed like an existential threat to al-Qaeda throughout 2014. The strategic part of the rebranding is no different from a company’s use of public relations and marketing to refashion its image – al-Qaeda now seeks to present itself as the “moderate alternative” to the Islamic State. The IS brand was represented by the caliphate and the group’s reliance on anomic violence, while al-Qaeda sought to position itself as an organization more adept at strategic planning and with more attractive prospects for enduing success in the future.

Although the rebranding is considered a feint by many counterterrorism scholars, it just might have worked to recast al-Qaeda’s image within Syria. And so, even while the emergence of IS at one point threatened the existence of al-Qaeda, it also presented the latter with an opportunity. Al-Qaeda’s calculated decision to distance itself from its former satellite organization was an effort to portray itself as a legitimate, capable, and independent force in the ongoing Syrian civil war. Another objective was to prove that the militants were dedicated to helping Syrians prevail in their struggle. Finally, it would give core al-Qaeda a modicum of plausible deniability as it paves the way for its erstwhile allies to gain eligibility for military aid from a collection of external nations.

Now that the Islamic State has lost its caliphate, al-Qaeda may be the only group viewed as militarily capable of challenging the Assad regime’s grip on power, although, as of mid-2018, that seems like a long shot. Al-Qaeda could certainly prove to be the longer-term threat to stability in Syria, primarily due to its grassroots support and local appeal. Unlike the Islamic State, al-Qaeda is perceived as an entity willing to work with the population and possessing the resources necessary to provide at least some of the trappings of governance. In the long term, al-Qaeda could resemble Lebanese Hezbollah – a violent non-state actor that has solidified political legitimacy while still retaining its ability to wage large-scale acts of terrorism and political violence.

Depending on where it operates, al-Qaeda has shifted between protector, predator, and parasite, labels which are not mutually exclusive. In both Yemen and Mali, its members demonstrate a remarkable knack for pragmatism when operating in the midst of brutal civil wars. After infiltrating local rebel groups, al-Qaeda fighters parrot their grievances and champion parochial objectives. After ingratiating its fighters, al-Qaeda then ramps up proselytization efforts and introduces a narrative defined by a mixture of local and global themes. Unlike the Islamic State, al-Qaeda is willing to work with other groups, as it has been doing in Syria, where it typically puts locals in charge of units, battalions, and other military formations, lending a sense of local legitimacy to its face in the country. Moreover, al-Qaeda has displayed a penchant for cooperation beyond immediate conflict zones, as evidenced by on-again, off-again tactical cooperation with Iran.

One of the most debated issues within the global jihadist movement is the so-called “near versus far debate” about which enemies the militants should concentrate the bulk of their efforts fighting – local apostate regimes or Western countries, especially the United States, but increasingly also the United Kingdom, France, and Australia. Al-Qaeda in Syria has managed to boost its brand through the provision of local services, including water and electricity, while also working to support local bakeries and control market prices of basic foodstuffs. Its leadership publicly announced that it will refrain from attacking the West, at least temporarily, in order to avoid Western counterterrorism reprisals, while simultaneously conserving its resources to concentrate on overthrowing the Assad regime, by far the top priority of Syrian Sunnis.

Al-Qaeda’s Syrian leadership also recognizes that it is infinitely more successful when it focuses on local issues instead of a more amorphous and contested struggle with the West. These tensions seem to be at least partly to blame for the continued fracturing and splintering of al-Qaeda in Syria and its multiple iterations and offshoots. The debate over whether to focus locally or to revert back to a relentless quest to conduct spectacular attacks in the West could lead to a long-term and enduring fissure within the global jihadist movement. With the movement already divided by the al-Qaeda – IS split, this issue, similar to the decision on when to attempt to establish the caliphate, is a core ideological debate that is unlikely to be settled anytime soon.

For all of al-Qaeda’s attempts at moderation, IS has behaved in an entirely opposite manner, as it pursued an uncompromising strategy of sectarianism, barbarity, and conquest. IS fully embraced sectarianism, seemingly making the killing of Shiites its raison d’être. And while al-Qaeda’s propaganda might still be peppered with derogatory references to Shiites, in general it favors a much more measured approach than IS. The groups are different in many ways, some subtle and others not. For example, rather than working with local groups, IS consistently acted as a conquering army, routing local militant leaders rather than working alongside them. In addition, locals were taxed, extorted, and closely policed by IS religious patrols to ensure strict adherence to sharia law.

IS’s approach to warfare was reflected in its fighting style, whereby the group relied on conventional means of warfare, including artillery and tanks, in combination with some asymmetric tactics. When IS assumed control of a certain swath of territory, it often installed foreigners (Chechens, Tunisians, and Uzbeks) in command of the area. But its success came with a price. The more territory IS took over and the more brazen its displays of military might, the more likely the Coalition could no longer ignore its actions. The result was that, compared to other Salafi-jihadist groups operating in Syria, IS bore the brunt of Wester counterterrorism operations, a development that suited al-Qaeda just fine. The relentless stream of IS propaganda directed at the West – particularly the gruesome videos of beheadings, burnings, and crucifixions – left the Coalition with little choice but to set its sights on the caliphate. The success IS experienced in building its proto-state elevated it to the top priority for the Coalition. Accordingly, al-Qaeda in Syria was given breathing room to patiently rebuild its credibility and political legitimacy among locals. Gartenstein-Ross has described this as a “strategy of deliberate yet low-key growth.”

The future of al-Qaeda and IS will be largely defined by the competition between the two. There is little debate that, beginning around 2014, IS could successfully lay claim to be the undisputed leader of the global jihadist movement. Once its caliphate collapsed, that began to change, and its current decline may be accompanied by al-Qaeda’s rise back to preeminence. There are clear signs that al-Qaeda has modified its tactics to take advantage of what it sees as a unique opportunity. In Syria’s Idlib province, al-Qaeda successfully cultivated grassroots support and by mid-2017 was beginning to accept former IS fighters into its ranks, a development most would have thought unthinkable just a year or two earlier. Al-Qaeda’s leadership realizes that its response to the Arab Spring was sclerotic and is now making amends, focusing its resources and energy on the concerns most salient to Sunnis, a strategy that has helped the group spread its roots throughout northwestern Syria. It has also used this strategy successfully throughout parts of Yemen, where it operates under various front organizations, branches of Ansar Sharia, and other Salafi groups.

Al-Qaeda’s more balanced and predictable approach to governing is geared toward winning the popular support of civilian populations. Life under the Islamic State, even for its own loyal subjects, was enforced by draconian religious interpretations and subsequent enforcement of punishments for those who were not fastidious and completely obedient. Al-Qaeda was far less stringent and could be indifferent to perceived offenses that would draw harsh rebuke from the Islamic State. The year 2018 marks the 30-year anniversary of al-Qaeda’s founding and it is clear that the group has evolved, adapted, and learned over time. Its ability to establish widespread political legitimacy through a refurbished image could propel the group through well into its fourth decade.

2012 A hot air balloon crashes near the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, killing six people and injuring 28 others. The United Kingdom captures Hong Kong as a base as it prepares for war with Qing China. The ensuing 3-year conflict will later be known as the First Opium War.
This shift over time by al-Qaeda to a more tolerant organization was in part a result of Zawahiri’s leadership. For all of the criticism he endures for lacking charisma, a critique most jihadist scholars find unassailable, Zawahiri does give al-Qaeda the benefit of continuity and a historical appreciation for what has traditionally worked and what has failed in the jihadists’ ongoing struggle against their adversaries. With his direction, the group has made course corrections based on trial and error and actively sought to amend previous errors in doctrine and strategy.

Al-Qaeda in Syria has gone to great lengths to protect its image by rebranding its affiliate several times already. Bilaad al-Shaam, or the Land of the Levantine People, is highly coveted by multiple groups within the global jihadist movement for religious and geographical reasons. Zawahiri sees Syria as an opportunity to demonstrate relevance, juxtapose al-Qaeda to the Islamic State, and position his group as the more capable and pragmatic entity and, thus, the group worth siding with as the competition continues.

Perhaps the most interesting change in al-Qaeda’s behavior since the death of bin Laden is that the group no longer seems obsessed with striking the West and, indeed, according to Bruce Hoffman, in 2015 Zawahiri issued strict orders to Mohammed al-Jolani not to use Syria as a launching pad to attack the West. There are several possible reasons for this decision, including that al-Qaeda’s infrastructure in Europe was not nearly as robust as that of the Islamic State, and thus any attack was probably going to pale in comparison to what IS had already achieved.

Another, more nefarious possibility is that Zawahiri is merely playing the “long game” while strategically concealing its Khorasan Group assets as IS is further attenuated. Again, this might be changing with the continued splintering of groups in Syria and the emergence of Tanzim Hurras al-Din. At least in terms of capability, if not intent, discerning a group’s organizational structure could provide clues to its reach and ability to conduct external attacks. Do groups adopt a more decentralized structure to conduct external attacks, or are attacks outside of the group’s main territory a byproduct of a flatter structure? Relatedly, it is possible that too much structure is assigned to jihadist groups by those attempting to analyze them. Al-Qaeda and IS, in addition to their respective affiliates, may in reality be far less monolithic than scholars and analysts believe.

Colin P. Clarke is a Senior Research Fellow at The Soufan Center and a senior adjunct political scientist at the RAND Corporation.

Our Vanishing World: Glaciers

Can we save what will be left of the remaining glaciers? Obviously, not without a monumental effort. 


by Robert J. Burrowes

Something is causing the worlds glaciers and mountain ice fields to melt. And, despite your first thought, it is not the ongoing climate catastrophe.

It does not matter where on Earth the glaciers and mountain ice fields are located, they are all melting. Moreover, the projected timeframe for some of them to disappear altogether is ‘imminently’; that is, within years. And for the rest: a few decades (although that projection is being routinely revised downwards, depending on the glacier).

Photographer Reuben Wu used a drone carrying blue LED lights to illuminate Peru's Pastoruri glacier.REUBEN WU / COURTESY COORS LIGHT
Why? Because the most recent research suggests that beneath the ocean surface glaciers may be melting ten to 100 times faster than previously believed. This is because, until now, scientists had a limited understanding of what happens underwater at the point where glaciers meet the sea. By using a combination of radar, sonar and time-lapse photography, a team of researchers has now provided the first detailed measurements of the underwater changes over time. Their findings suggest that the theories currently used to gauge glacier change are underestimating glacier ice loss. ‘The overall trend of glacier retreat around the world is due to both warming air and warming oceans’, observed Professor David Sutherland, an oceanographer at the University of Oregon and lead author of the new study. Glaciers are getting ‘eaten away on both ends’.

According to Professor Rebecca Jackson, an oceanographer at Rutgers University and co-author of the study: ‘The theory we’ve been relying on for these melt rates is wrong. We should be able to predict melt rates based on ocean conditions... [but] they’re not at all related in the way we expected.’ Beyond air and water temperatures, ‘ocean salinity, currents and the glacier’s shape can all play a role in influencing tidewater glacier melt’. See ‘Direct observations of submarine melt and subsurface geometry at a tidewater glacier’and ‘Oceans Are Melting Glaciers from Below Much Faster than Predicted, Study Finds’. These findings of rapid glacier melt confirm earlier research, touched on below, although the variables melting high mountain glaciers are different to those melting ones that terminate at sea level.

So how many glaciers are there and what is their status?

According to the Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI), the most reliable estimate of the number of glaciers in the world is 198,000. These glacierscover 726,000 square kilometres, that is, 0.5% of the Earth’s land surface. See the Randolph Glacier Inventoryand‘Mapping the World’s Glaciers’.

The Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) project is designed to monitor the world’s glaciers primarily using data from optical satellite instruments. Glacier inventories are a specific technique for mapping glacier attributes, such as area, length, slope, aspect, terminal environment (calving into the sea or a lake, or terminating on dry land), elevation, and glacier classification. See ‘Mapping the World’s Glaciers’. There are many types of glacier. For an extensive (and stunning) selection of photos of glaciers, illustrating many aspects of these majestic ice formations, see the ‘Glaciers online Photoglossary’.

So, from north to south, what is the status of the world’s glaciers?

Glaciers in the North

As you would expect, the vast ice masses in the Arctic – which consists of the Arctic Ocean, adjacent seas, and parts of Alaska (United States), Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Northern Canada, Norway, Russia and Sweden – include many glaciers.

While there are no glaciers in the Arctic Ocean itself (because it has no landmass), the glaciers in places like Greenland, North America, Russia and western Europe are melting rapidly.

A recent study, for example, confirmed the rapid melting of Greenland’s glaciers: ‘The recent deglaciation of Greenland is a response to both oceanic and atmospheric forcings. From 2000 to 2010, ice loss was concentrated in the southeast and northwest margins of the ice sheet, in large part due to the increasing discharge of marine-terminating outlet glaciers, emphasizing the importance of oceanic forcing.’ See ‘Accelerating changes in ice mass within Greenland, and the ice sheet’s sensitivity to atmospheric forcing’and ‘The Greenland Ice Sheet Is Melting at Astonishing Rate’.


Glaciers in the Himalaya

Substantial glacial melt in the Himalaya has been evident for a long time. By 2011, glacier melt in the Nepalese Himalaya, for example, had already created a ‘spattering’ of 1,600 high altitude glacier lakes that threatened communities living ‘downstream’. For example, if the Imja glacier lake ‘breaks through its walls of glacial debris, known as moraine, it could release a deluge of water, mud and rock up to 60 miles away. This would swamp homes and fields with a layer of rubble up to 15m thick, leading to the loss of the land for a generation. But the question is when, rather than if.’ See ‘Watching a glacier die at Imja Lake’ and ‘Glacier lakes: Growing danger zones in the Himalayas’.

A 2013 study by a University of Milan team led by a Nepali scientist found that ‘some glaciers on or around Mount Everest had shrunk by 13% in the last 50 years with the snow line 180 metres higher than it was 50 years ago. The glaciers are disappearing faster every year’, the report noted, ‘with some smaller glaciers now only half the size they were in the 1960s’. See ‘Glacier response to climate trend and climate variability in Mt. Everest region (Nepal)’ and ‘Most glaciers in Mount Everest area will disappear with climate change – study’.

And a study done in 2015 concluded that the estimated 5,500 glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan (HKH) region will likely experience ‘continued and possibly accelerated mass loss from glaciers... given the projected increase in temperatures,’ according to Joseph Shea, a glacier hydrologist at the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in Nepal, and leader of the study published in The Cryosphere, the journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU). See ‘Most glaciers in Mount Everest area will disappear with climate change – study’.

But the latest word comes from the comprehensive and authoritative 2019 report The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment: Mountains, Climate Change, Sustainability and People, requested by the eight nations – Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar – the mountains span, and involving more than 200 scientists working on the report over five years (with another 125 experts peer reviewing their work). The scientists examined the hyper-complex 3,500 kilometres-long Hindu Kush Himalayan system where glaciers feed the Ganges, the Indus, the Yellow River, the Mekong and the Irrawaddy, among ten major river systems. Directly and indirectly, these glaciers supply1.65 billion people with clean air, food, energy and work. See ‘Himalayan glaciers on the eve of destruction’.

Summarizing the report, Pepe Escobar explains: ‘The path towards environmental disaster is eerily straightforward. Melting glaciers flow into rivers and lakes. Bursting lakes inevitably translate into more floods. And that means extra glacier runoff into major rivers, more flooding and inevitable destruction of crops.’ See ‘Himalayan glaciers on the eve of destruction’.

The conclusion to be drawn from this report is simple: ‘Even radical climate change action won’t save glaciers, endangering 2 billion people.’ See ‘A third of Himalayan ice cap doomed, finds report’.

Glaciers at the Equator

At the Equator, glaciers are under siege. Glaciers at the Equator? you might ask.

Yes indeed. Mt. Kilimanjaro, which has three distinct volcanic cones – Kibo at 5,895 metres (19,340 ft), Mawenzi at 5,149 metres (16,893 ft) and Shira at 4,005 metres (13,140 ft) of which the latter two are extinct with Kibo dormant – is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world. It rises out of the Great Plains of East Africa almost on the Equator. At over 19,000 feet, this mountain was once covered in glaciers, proving an awe-inspiring sight to those who saw it.

However, glacial melt on Kilimanjaro is accelerating and a 2013 report noted that Kilimanjaro’s shrinking northern glaciers, thought to be 10,000 years old, could disappear by 2030. The entire northern ice field, which holds most of Kilimanjaro’s remaining glacial ice, lost more than 4 million cubic meters of ice between 2000 and 2013, representing a volume loss of approximately 29 percent during that period with a loss in total surface area of 32 percent. In 2012, the ice field split in two, revealing ancient lava that may not have seen the sun for millennia. See ‘Kilimanjaro’s Shrinking Glaciers Could Vanish by 2030’. The southside glaciers should last a little longer.

The latest report, based largely on an analysis of NASA Earth Observatory satellite data in 2019, conducted by scientists at the University of Massachusetts, simply confirms earlier documented if irregular trends: ‘The long rains (Masika) of 2019 are concluding with virtually no snow accumulation on Kilimanjaro glaciers.’

More ominously, ‘Absent a major event bringing sufficient snow (e.g. 30-50 cm) to reduce solar radiation penetration, the forthcoming extended dry season will probably begin with a snow-free crater. As a result, ablation of both horizontal and vertical glacier surfaces is likely to be dramatic in the months ahead.’ See ‘Kilimanjaro Climate & Glaciers’.

If you would like to see some spectacular photos of remaining glaciers and remnant glaciers on Mt Kilimanjaro as they were in 2016, you can see them in Ian van Coller’s limited edition art book ‘Kilimanjaro: The Last Glacier’ or see them in a ‘flip through’ video.

Glaciers in Southern Latitudes

Like glaciers elsewhere, those in southern latitudes are melting rapidly. Recent research confirms the rapid demise of glaciers in the icefields of Patagonia, located in the high Andes atop Chile and Argentina, where glacial retreat is occurring ‘at a non-glacial pace’. The North Patagonian Icefield feeds ice to 30 significant outlet glaciers, of which the San Rafael Glacier is ‘the fastest-moving glacier in Patagonia’  and ‘one of the most actively calving glaciers in the world’.

The South Patagonian Icefield, more than triple the size of its northern counterpart, includes the Jorge Montt Glacier which terminates in an ‘iceberg-choked fjord’ as a result of the glacier’s rapid disintegration and retreat. The Upsala Glacier has been retreating ever since documentation began in 1810. For photos and a video, see ‘Melting Beauty: The Icefields of Patagonia’.

One extensive study revealed that 90.2% of Patagonian glaciers shrank between 1870 and 2011 with all regions suffering extensive glacier loss. Notably, however, annual rates of shrinkage across the Patagonian Andes ‘increased in each time segment analysed (1870-1986, 1986-2001, 2001-2011), with annual rates of shrinkage twice as rapid from 2001-2011 as from 1870-1986’. See ‘Shrinking Patagonian Glaciers’.

Elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, glaciers in New Zealand, including the famous Fox, Franz Josef and Tasman glaciers, are also in retreat. See ‘New Zealand’s glaciers are shrinking’.

Glaciers in Antarctica

As with the Antarctic itself, glaciers are melting at an accelerating rate generating a near-endless sequence of dramatic news headlines, as one glacier after another attracts attention due to the extraordinary nature of the changes, with the latest research showing affected areas losing ice five times faster than in the 1990s, with more than 100m of thickness gone in some places. See ‘“Extraordinary thinning” of ice sheets revealed deep inside Antarctica’.

One recent analysis of satellite data has found ‘extreme’ changes are underway at eight of Antarctica’s major glaciers as ‘unusually warm ocean water slips in under their ice shelves’. The warmer water is ‘eating away at the glaciers’ icy grasp on the seafloor. As a result, the grounding line – where the ice last touches bedrock – has been receding by as much as 600 feet per year’. See ‘Net retreat of Antarctic glacier grounding lines’and ‘“Extreme” Changes Underway in Some of Antarctica’s Biggest Glaciers’.

For example, Pine Island Glacier is an immense glacier on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. It is one of the least stable ofglaciers – quickly retreating and losing massive amounts of ice – accounting for about 20 percent of the ice sheet’s total ice flow to the ocean. Every year Pine Island Glacier loses 45 billion tons (40.8 billion metric tons) of ice. See ‘Photo Gallery: Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier Cracks’.

Since 2001, Pine Island Glacier has calved six huge icebergs but, ominously, the rate of calving is increasing. Following major calvings in January 2001, November 2007, December 2011 and August 2015, in September 2017 it calved an iceberg 4.5 times the size of Manhattan and, just one year later, was poised for another – and even larger – calving as a 30 kilometre rift appeared in its centre ‘where the ice shelf touches warmer ocean waters that are melting it from underneath’. See ‘Huge Iceberg Poised to Break Off Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier’.

Meanwhile, the Thwaites Glacier, also in West Antarctica, is disintegrating. According to a recent NASA-led study ‘A gigantic cavity – two-thirds the area of Manhattan and almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall – growing at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is one of several disturbing discoveries.’ See ‘Huge Cavity in Antarctic Glacier Signals Rapid Decay’.

While the ongoing destruction of Antarctic glaciers already guarantees sea level rise of considerable magnitude, even if emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide were halted today, there will be other climate feedback effects. Oceanographers have detected a trend of decreasing salinity in Antarctic waters fed by ice sheet melt: This affects the density of the deep, very cold waters that drive key ocean currents that affect climate at the surface. Moreover, increasing freshwater at the edge of the ice sheet ‘could also disrupt the timing of biological cycles... starting with phytoplankton – the critical base of the Antarctic food web’. See ‘“Extreme” Changes Underway in Some of Antarctica’s Biggest Glaciers’.

Can We Save the Glaciers?

A joint research project conducted by scientists at the Universities of Bremen and Innsbruck concluded that ‘contemporary glacier mass is in disequilibrium with the current climate, and 36 ± 8% mass loss is already committed in response to past greenhouse gas emissions. Consequently, mitigating future emissions will have only very limited influence on glacier mass change in the twenty-first century. No significant differences between 1.5 and 2 K warming scenarios are detectable in the sea-level contribution of glaciers accumulated within the twenty-first century.’

In other words: ‘more than a third of the glacier ice that still exists today in mountain glaciers can no longer be saved, even with the most ambitious measures’. Calculated on the basis of a new, average car, one kilogram of glacier ice is lost every five hundred meters traveled by that single car. See ‘Limited influence of climate change mitigation on short-term glacier mass loss’ and ‘Glacier mass loss passes the point of no return, researchers report’.

So can we save what will be left of the remaining glaciers? Obviously, not without a monumental effort. But before inviting your involvement in an effort to do this, let me explain a point I made in the opening paragraph: it is not the ongoing climate catastrophe that is destroying Earth’s glaciers. It is human behaviour. The climate catastrophe, including the melting of the glaciers, is being generated by our behaviour.

And we have control of that behaviour. Or, more accurately, we can each control our own behaviour. And that means you have some choices to make that will make a huge difference, for good or bad, depending on what you decide.

If you wish to fight powerfully to save the remaining glaciers, consider joining those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ which outlines a simple program to systematically reduce your consumption and increase your self-reliance over a period of years.

Given the fear-driven violence in our world which also generates the addiction of most people in industrialized countries to the over-consumption that is destroying Earth’s biosphere – see ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’ – then consider addressing this directly starting with yourself – see ‘Putting Feelings First’ – and by reviewing your relationship with children. See ‘My Promise to Children’ and ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’. For fuller explanations, see ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

If you wish to campaign strategically to defend the glaciers then consider joining those working to halt the climate catastrophe and end military activities of all kinds, including war, as well. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy which includes a comprehensive list of the strategic goals necessary to achieve these outcomes in ‘Strategic Aims’.

In those cases where corrupt or even electorally unresponsive governments are leading the destruction of the biosphere – by supporting, sponsoring and/or engaging in environmentally destructive practices – it might be necessary to remove these governments as part of the effort. See Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

You might also consider joining the global network of people resisting violence in all contexts, including against the biosphere, by signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

Or, if none of the above options appeal or they seem too complicated, consider committing to:

The Earth Pledge

Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:

1. I will listen deeply to children(see explanation above)
2. I will not travel by plane
3. I will not travel by car
4. I will not eat meat and fish
5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, includingby minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
7. I will not buy rainforest timber
8. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
9. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
10. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
11. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
12. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
13. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.

Do all these options sound unpalatable?Prefer something requiring less commitment? You can, if you like, do as most sources suggest: nothing (or its many tokenistic equivalents). I admit that the options I offer are for those powerful enough to comprehend and act on the truth. Why? Because there is so little time left and I have no interest in deceiving people or treating them as unintelligent and powerless.See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’.

So, in a nutshell: Are you willing to fight to save the glaciers (and preserve the biosphere)? Then remember this: The only way to fight is for you to reduce your consumption and to help persuade others, one way or another, to do so as well. Nothing else can work.

Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Five Jokes by Slavoj Žižek

A sample of Žižek's jokes, on subjects ranging from the illusion of freedom to fantasmatic identification.

by Slavoj Žižek

For the inimitable Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic Slavoj Žižek, jokes are amusing stories that offer a shortcut to philosophical insight. Anyone who has read his books or heard him speak knows that they are central to Žižek’s discourse, impossible to separate from his serious philosophy. Žižek “gives us a refreshing sense of what we might call ‘the lightness of profundity,'” writes author and songwriter Momus in the afterword to a book-length collection of Žižek’s jokes. “We see the charming playfulness of the great masters of philosophy, and perhaps begin to recognize philosophy itself, at its highest, lightest level, as something akin to laughter and joking.”

For Slavoj Žižek, jokes are serious business. Source image: Wikimedia Commons

Culled from that volume, the sample of jokes below — accompanied by Žižek’s anti-introduction — covers a range of subjects, from the illusion of freedom to fantasmatic identification.

Instead of Introduction:

The Role of Jokes in the Becoming-Man of the Ape

One of the popular myths of the late Communist regimes in Eastern Europe was that there was a department of the secret police whose function was (not to collect, but) to invent and put in circulation political jokes against the regime and its representatives, as they were aware of jokes’ positive stabilizing function (political jokes offer to ordinary people an easy and tolerable way to blow off steam, easing their frustrations). Attractive as it is, this myth ignores a rarely mentioned but nonetheless crucial feature of jokes: they never seem to have an author, as if the question “who is the author of this joke?” were an impossible one. Jokes are originally “told,” they are always-already “heard” (recall the proverbial “Did you hear that joke about …?”). Therein resides their mystery: they are idiosyncratic, they stand for the unique creativity of language, but are nonetheless “collective,” anonymous, authorless, all of a sudden here out of nowhere. The idea that there has to be an author of a joke is properly paranoiac: it means that there has to be an “Other of the Other,” of the anonymous symbolic order, as if the very unfathomable contingent generative power of language has to be personalized, located into an agent who controls it and secretly pulls the strings. This is why, from the theological perspective, God is the ultimate jokester. This is the thesis of Isaac Asimov’s charming short story “Jokester,” about a group of historians of language who, in order to support the hypothesis that God created man out of apes by telling them a joke (he told apes who, up to that moment, were merely exchanging animal signs, the first joke that gave birth to spirit), try to reconstruct this joke, the “mother of all jokes.” (Incidentally, for a member of the Judeo-Christian tradition, this work is superfluous, since we all know what this joke was: “Do not eat from the tree of knowledge!” — the first prohibition that clearly is a joke, a perplexing temptation whose point is not clear.)

1)
In an old joke from the defunct German Democratic Republic, a German worker gets a job in Siberia; aware of how all mail will be read by censors, he tells his friends: “Let’s establish a code: if a letter you will get from me is written in ordinary blue ink, it is true; if it is written in red ink, it is false.” After a month, his friends get the first letter, written in blue ink: “Everything is wonderful here: stores are full, food is abundant, apartments are large and properly heated, movie theaters show films from the West, there are many beautiful girls ready for an affair — the only thing unavailable is red ink.”

And is this not our situation till now? We have all the freedoms one wants — the only thing missing is the “red ink”: We “feel free” because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom. What this lack of red ink means is that, today, all the main terms we use to designate the present conflict — “war on terror,” “democracy and freedom,” “human rights,” etc. — are false terms, mystifying our perception of the situation instead of allowing us to think it. The task today is to give the protesters red ink.

2)
There is an old Jewish joke, loved by Derrida, about a group of Jews in a synagogue publicly admitting their nullity in the eyes of God. First, a rabbi stands up and says: “O God, I know I am worthless. I am nothing!” After he has finished, a rich businessman stands up and says, beating himself on the chest: “O God, I am also worthless, obsessed with material wealth. I am nothing!” After this spectacle, a poor ordinary Jew also stands up and also proclaims: “O God, I am nothing.” The rich businessman kicks the rabbi and whispers in his ear with scorn: “What insolence! Who is that guy who dares to claim that he is nothing too!”

3)
There is a nice joke about Jesus Christ: in order to relax after the arduous work of preaching and performing miracles, Jesus decided to take a short break on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. During a game of golf with one of his apostles, there was a difficult shot to be performed; Jesus did it badly and the ball ended up in the water, so he did his usual trick: he walked on the water to the place where the ball was, reached down and picked it up. When Jesus tried the same shot again, the apostle told him that this is a very difficult one — only someone like Tiger Woods can do it; Jesus replied, “What the hell, I am the son of God, I can do what Tiger Woods can do!” and took another strike. The ball again landed in the water, so Jesus again took a walk on the surface of the water to retrieve it. At this point, a group of American tourists walked by and one of them, observing what was going on, turned to the apostle and said: “My god, who is this guy there? Does he think he is Jesus or what?” The apostle replies: “No, the jerk thinks he is Tiger Woods!”

This is how fantasmatic identification works: No one, not even God himself, is directly what he is; everybody needs an external, decentered point of identification.

4)
A joke from the early 1960s nicely renders the paradox of the presupposed belief. After Yuri Gagarin, the first cosmonaut, made his visit to space, he was received by Nikita Khruschev, the general secretary of the Communist Party, and told him confidentially: “You know, comrade, that up there in the sky, I saw heaven with God and angels — Christianity is right!” Khruschev whispers back to him: “I know, I know, but keep quiet, don’t tell this to anyone!” Next week, Gagarin visited the Vatican and was received by the pope, to whom he confides: “You know, holy father, I was up there in the sky and I saw there is no God or angels …” “I know, I know,” interrupts the pope, “but keep quiet, don’t tell this to anyone!”

5)
In the good old days of “actually existing Socialism,” every schoolchild was told again and again of how Lenin read voraciously, and of his advice to young people: “Learn, learn, and learn!” A classic joke from Socialism produces a nice subversive effect by using this motto in an unexpected context. Marx, Engels, and Lenin were each asked what they preferred, a wife or a mistress. Marx, whose attitude in intimate matters is well known to have been rather conservative, answered “A wife”; Engels, who knew how to enjoy life, answered, of course, “A mistress”; the surprise comes with Lenin, who answered “Both, wife and mistress!” Is he dedicated to a hidden pursuit of excessive sexual pleasures? No, since he quickly explains: “This way, you can tell your mistress that you’re with your wife, and your wife that you are about to visit your mistress …” “And what do you actually
do?” “I go to a solitary place and learn, learn, and learn!”

Slavoj Žižek is a philosopher and cultural critic, and the author of more than thirty books, including “Žižek’s Jokes” and several others published by the MIT Press.

Hong Kong phooey!

Would you like any hypocrisy with that?


by George Galloway

Where to start? For nearly 40 weeks hundreds of thousands of French people have been on the streets in anti-government demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron’s rule.

Some have lost eyes and hands in the police response. The public has begun to view the smell of tear gas as a normal part of a weekend in Paris. France is 29 miles from the coast of England. Siri just told me that “Hong Kong is about 5,992 miles from London as the crow flies.”


So complete has been the British media blackout on the Yellow Vests that many believe, wrongly, that there is some British government order banning on any mention of “les événements en France.” The truth is that there is no need for one.

Like a homing pigeon in reverse the entire UK media has flown like a bat out of hell away from France all the way to Hong Kong (as they had earlier flown to Caracas until the big protests turned into the wrong kind of protests).

There is nothing, except the shoe-sizes, of the demonstrators in Hong Kong that I don’t know thanks to the veritable blizzard of in-depth analysis of the protestors there and their each and every demand. Protesters in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain can be executed, but we will never be told their names.
And the hypocrisy of the media is just for starters.

If a group of British protesters broke into the British Parliament and hung, for argument’s sake, a Russian flag over the Speaker’s chair it is “highly likely” that a commando force would quickly and violently overwhelm and arrest them accompanied by volleys of accusations about Russian interference.

If a crowd of British protestors occupied Heathrow Airport in such numbers and so disruptively that British Airways had to stop flights in and out of the airport, causing massive financial loss, dislocation, and personal inconvenience, I promise you that their protest would have been cleared out by the above mentioned commandos on the very first day of their protests.

If protesters in London were hoisting Chinese flags and singing the Chinese national anthem then, well, I’m sure you get my point.

The struggle between the government of China and its citizens is no more the business of the British than it is of the Slovakians. It’s true that Hong Kong was a British colony for 150 years but the least said about the shame and disgrace of how that came to be, the better, I promise you.

Suffice to say that to acquire territory by force, followed by unequal treaty at gunboat-point to punish the actual owners of the land for resisting the British opium trade, is, even by British Imperial standards, extraordinary. So shameful is it you’d think the British would want to draw a veil over it. But not so.

The British tell us that Hong Kong want democracy but nobody ever says that across a century and a half of British rule in Hong Kong the people there were allowed no democracy of any kind.

They tell us about the justice system without ever mentioning that even today the ‘draconian’ courts of Hong Kong are still stuffed by white English judges.

They tell us about NGOs and “civil society” without telling us whose pounds and dollars the “NGOs” are stuffed with.

In fact, these foreign-funded and guided organisations are carefully stabled Trojan Horses chomping their British and American supplied hay until the time came for them to be told to gallop, and gallop they now are.

This is all Hong Kong phooey! No other country in the world would have shown such forbearance in the face of foreign-sponsored rioting destruction and sabotage of the national economy as China has. If in the days to come China’s patience runs out, it will not be before time so far as the great majority of Chinese citizens, including Hong Kong citizens, are concerned.

China signed up to the one country, two systems in the territory. It did not agree to two countries, two systems. Not one inch of Hong Kong belongs to anyone but China. The days when foreign countries could impose their will on China are long gone.

George Galloway was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator.