Wednesday, September 30, 2015
THE WORLD IS GETTING SMALLER BY THE DAY - 7.5 billion People must survive on 8% of the Earth’s surface
THE WORLD IS GETTING SMALLER BY THE DAY
7.5 billion People must survive on 8% of the Earth’s surface
Stes de Necker
Seen from space, the majority of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans – that makes up 71% of the surface of the Earth, with the remaining 29% for land.
But what percentage of the Earth’s land surface is desert?
Deserts actually make up 33%, or 1/3rd of the land’s surface area.
A desert is normally defined as a region that has a moisture deficit over the course of a year. In other words, they receive less rainfall in a year than they give up through evaporation.
This means that only 10% of the earth’s surface is not covered in either sand or water.
Take away all uninhabitable land like mountain ranges, marches, rivers etc. and we left with only about 8% of the earth’s surface as acceptably habitable.
Currently the earth must accommodate 7,500 billion people on 8% of its surface.
Surface Area of the Earth
Total surface area of earth: 510,072,000 sq km
Total water surface area: 70.8% (361,132,000 sq km)
Total land surface area: 29.2% (148,940,000 sq km)
There are a total of 5 oceans, and they are the Arctic, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and the Antarctic Ocean. Out of these five, there are three major oceans, the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Indian Ocean. They account for 90 percent of the area covered by oceans.
Water covers approximately 70 percent of our world's surface. Yet only 2.5 percent of the Earth's water is fresh and thus suitable for consumption. Not only that, but of that 2.5 percent, more than two-thirds is locked away in glaciers and not particularly able to help meet the growing demands of society. By far, the most abundant and available source of fresh water is underground water supplies or wellsprings known as aquifers.
The percentages of earth's land surface can be divided into different types: 20% covered by snow land, 20% mountains, 20% dry land, 30% good land that can be farmed, 10% land doesn't have topsoil.
World Earth Surface
Details Surface area Surface area %
Saltwater 352,103,700 km 69.03
Freshwater 9,028,300 km² 1.77
Good land that can be farmed 44,682,307 km² 8.76
Mountains 29,788,205 km² 5.84
Covered by snow land 29,788,205 km² 5.84
Dry land 29,788,205 km² 5.84
Land doesn't have topsoil 14,894,102 km² 2.92
The total surface area of earth is 510,072,000 sq km and that must accommodate 7.5 billion people.
That means that there are on average only 680 square meters of habitable land available for every person on earth.
The highest point on land is Mount Everest (8,848 metres or 29,029 ft) and the deepest known part on ocean is The Mariana Trench (11,034 metres or 36,200 ft).
Sunday, September 13, 2015
History of Freemasonry
Stes de Necker
In the ceremonies, Freemasons are told that Freemasonry was in existence when King Solomon built the Temple at Jerusalem and that the masons who built the Temple were organized into Lodges.
Freemasons are also told that King Solomon, King Hiram of Tyre and Hiram Abif ruled over those lodges as equal Grand Masters. The ceremonies, however, are built up of allegory and symbolism and the stories they weave around the building of the Temple are obviously not literal or historical facts but a dramatic means of explaining the principles of Freemasonry.
Freemasonry neither originated nor existed in Solomon' s time.
Many well-meaning but misguided historians, both Masons and non-Masons, have tried to prove that Freemasonry was a lineal descendant or a modern version of the mysteries of classical Greece and Rome or derived from the religion of the Egyptian pyramid builders. Other theories reckon that Freemasonry sprang from bands of travelling stonemasons acting by Papal authority. Others still are convinced that Freemasonry evolved from a band of Knights Templar who escaped to Scotland after the order was persecuted in Europe.
Some historians have even claimed that Freemasonry derives in some way from the shadowy and mysterious Rosicrucian Brotherhood, which may or may not have existed in Europe in the early 1600s. All of these theories have been looked at repeatedly but no hard evidence has yet been found to give any of them credibility.
The honest answers to the questions when, where and why Freemasonry originated are that we simply do not know. Early evidence for Freemasonry is very meager and not enough has yet been discovered - if indeed it even exists - to prove any theory. The general agreement amongst serious masonic historians and researchers is that Freemasonry has arisen, either directly or indirectly, from the medieval stonemasons (or operative masons) who built great cathedrals and castles.
Those who favor the direct descent from operative masonry say there were three stages to the evolution of Freemasonry. The stonemasons gathered in huts (lodges) to rest and eat. These lodges gradually became not the hut but the grouping together of stonemasons to regulate their craft. In time, and in common with other trades, they developed primitive initiation ceremonies for new apprentices.
As stonemasons could easily travel all over the country from one building site to another, and as there were also no trade union cards or certificates of apprenticeship they began to adopt a private word which a travelling stonemason could use when he arrived at a new site, to prove that he was properly trained and had been a member of a lodge. It was, after all, easier to communicate a special word to prove that you knew what you were doing and were entitled to the wages it deserved that to spend hours carving a block of stone to demonstrate your skills.
We know that in the early 1600s these operative lodges began to admit men who had no connection with the trade - accepted or gentlemen masons. Why this was done and what form of ceremony was used is not known. As the 1600s drew to a close more and more gentlemen began to join the lodges, gradually taking them over and turning them into lodges of free and accepted or speculative masons, no longer having any connection with the stonemasons' craft.
The only problem with this theory is that it is based solely on evidence from Scotland. There is ample evidence of Scottish operative lodges, geographically defined units with the backing of statute law to control what was termed the mason trade. There is also plenty of evidence that these lodges began to admit gentlemen as accepted masons, but no evidence so far that these accepted members were other than honorary masons, or that they in any way altered the nature of the operative lodges. No evidence has become known, after more than a hundred years of searching building archives, for a similar development in England. Medieval building records have references to mason' s lodges but after 1400, apart from masons' guilds in some towns, there is no evidence for operative lodges.
Yet it is in England that the first evidence of a lodge completely made up of non-operative masons is found. Elias Ashmole, the Antiquary and Founder of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, records in his diary for 1646 that he was made a freemason in a lodge held for that purpose at his father-in-laws house in Warrington. He records who was present, all of whom have been researched and have been found to have no connection with operative masonry. English evidence through the 1600s points to Freemasonry existing apart from any actual or supposed organization of operative stonemasons.
This total lack of evidence for the existence of operative Lodges but evidence of accepted masons has led to the theory of an indirect link between operative stonemasonry and Freemasonry. Those who support the indirect link argue that Freemasonry was brought into being by a group of men in the late 1500s or early 1600s. This was a period of great religious and political turmoil and intolerance. Men were unable to meet together without differences of political and religious opinion leading to arguments. Opposing views split families and the English civil war of 1642-6 was the ultimate outcome.
Those who support the indirect link believe that the originators of Freemasonry were men who wished to promote tolerance and build a better world in which men of differing opinions could peacefully co-exist and work together for the betterment of mankind. In the custom of their times they used allegory and symbolism to pass on their ideas.
As their central idea was one of building a better society they borrowed their forms and symbols from the operative builders craft and took their central allegory from the Bible, the common source book known to all, in which the only building described in any detail is King Solomon' s Temple. Stonemasons tools also provided them with a multiplicity of emblems to illustrate the principles they were putting forward.
A newer theory places the origin of Freemasonry within a charitable framework. In the 1600s, there was no welfare state; anyone falling ill or becoming disabled had to rely on friends and the Poor Law for support. In the 1600s, many trades had what have become known as box clubs. These grew out of the convivial gatherings of members of a particular trade during meetings of which all present would put money into a communal box, knowing that if they fell on hard times they could apply for relief from the box. From surviving evidence these box clubs are known to have begun to admit members not of their trade and to have had many of the characteristics of early masonic lodges. They met in taverns, had simple initiation ceremonies and passwords and practiced charity on a local scale. Perhaps Freemasonry had its origins in just such a box club for operative masons.
Although it is not yet possible to say when, why or where Freemasonry originated it is known where and when "organized" Freemasonry began. On 24 June 1717 four London lodges came together at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Pauls Churchyard, formed themselves into a Grand Lodge and elected a Grand Master (Anthony Sayer) and Grand Wardens.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015
THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR
THE MANIPULATION OF GRIEF TO INCITE WAR
Stes de Necker
A baby boy turned to flotsam. Washed up on the shore, face down in the mud.
His family, refugees from Syria’s civil war, had tried to reach Greece, but their over-crowded raft overturned in the Mediterranean Sea and he drowned along with his brother and mother.
The viral image of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s lifeless little body on a Turkish beach has shaken the conscience of the West and wrenched America’s attention to the refugee crisis now rocking Europe.
This is what war looks like, just million times worse. That which is mere “foreign policy” to you and your government is desperation and death to those on the receiving end of it.
Children just as innocent and precious as Aylan are being driven into the sea in Libya, incinerated by drones in Pakistan, or starved to death in Yemen all the time.
And every single instance creates a sight just as achingly forlorn and horrifically tragic as the one above, even if it isn’t photographed and seen by millions. Especially for anyone with young children, the picture is a punch in the gut.
It only takes a shred of empathy to instantly imagine how people seeing this must feel, but this is what war displacement looks like, both in the sea and on dry land.
Right at this very moment many millions of families are driven from their homes and sources of livelihood throughout the countries shattered by weapons from the West: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Palestine, Ukraine, and more.
It is a shame that the curiosity, empathy, and imagination of most are so stunted that they require such vivid imagery as this showing up in their news feeds to feel concern for the havoc wreaked by their governments’ policies.
And then they are stirred, not enough to actually learn a damn thing about it, but only enough to be manipulated into demanding— or at least countenancing — more of the very same kind of intervention that caused the tragedies in the first place.
Warmongers in government and the media are perversely but predictably trying to conscript Aylan’s corpse into their march to escalation. They are contending that Aylan died because the West has not intervened against Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad, and that it must do so now to spare other children the same fate.
Aylan’s family were Kurdish refugees from Kobani who had to flee that city when it was besieged, not by Assad, but by Assad’s enemy: ISIS!
And ISIS is running rampant in that part of Syria only because the US-led West and its regional allies have given them cover by supporting and arming the jihadist-dominated uprising against Assad.
The West has been intervening in Syria heavily since at least 2012.
Indeed, it is Western intervention that has exacerbated and prolonged the conflict, which has now claimed a quarter of a million lives.
But because much of the intervention has been covert and by proxy, it has received little media coverage and public attention.
So the “blowback” that results from it, including Aylan’s death, can be conveniently blamed on alleged “non-intervention” and used to justify more overt and direct intervention.
In this way, governments have long exploited public obliviousness and gullibility to get their wars.
Government's and the news media are masters in the art of manipulating our emotions. This is not the first time this has happened. The manipulation of grief for political purposes has a long history.
Consider the Vietnam War and the rhetoric around the violent brutality that transpired there. During the War, 60,000 American soldiers died in combat, while nearly two million Vietnamese civilians were killed. Westmoreland, Chief of Staff of the United States Army at the time proclaimed, "The Oriental doesn't put the same high price on life as does the Westerner. Life is plentiful, life is cheap in the Orient." We must consider this context and this leadership when reflecting on America's responsibility for unjust war tactics including the military command at the time to 'shoot anything that moves.'
Forty-two years later, at the funeral of the three slain Jewish teenagers, Netanyahu echoed Westmoreland, when he said, "A broad moral gulf separates us from our enemies. They sanctify death; we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty, and we mercy and compassion."
The parallels are striking. The "us" versus "them" mentality -- the claim that our side glorifies life while their side glorifies death -- are used in both instances to justify military action.
The parallels do not end there.
In 1968, the American presidential candidate, Nixon pledged to bring an end to the war that was seeing increasing protests and expression of public disgust among the American electorate. Instead, when he came to power, Nixon, shifted the focus of attention from the mistreatment of the Vietnamese and tremendous loss of lives on both sides of the divide to the missing and imprisoned American soldiers who he promised to 'bring home' in spite of having no information or evidence that these missing soldiers could be found.
The literature professor Gail Holst-Warhaft from Cornell argued that the exploitation and perpetuation of the families' grief under the public's gaze, and the encouragement of false hope for their missing family members to come home was a conscious and precise manipulation of national loss in the service of continuing the war for several more years.
Moreover, if the hawks were to get their wish of seeing Assad finally overthrown and his forces dismantled, there would then be zero local resistance to ISIS, Syrian Al Qaeda, and the other jihadist groups completely overrunning Syria.
As bad as the refugee crisis is now, just imagine what it will be like as all of Syria’s many religious minorities desperately flee from these hyper-violent and hyper-sectarian Sunnis, armed to the teeth with Western weapons.
Until we recognize how our grief is being used to further agendas that our not our own, we will continue to see the despair, hopelessness, violence, and suffering of Syrians, Iraqis, Libyans, Afghanistanis, Yemenis, Somalis, Palestinians, Ukrainians and more. Many of these people are yearning for peace and quiet at a time we must still realise that enough lives have been lost.
Far from preventing such tragedies as Aylan’s drowning, further intervention would only produce many more.
We should all learn more about the role of foreign intervention in the Syrian Civil War that is creating so many of these refugees, and in the wars roiling the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia in general.
The first step to setting things right is understanding and once you’ve acquired understanding for yourself, then work to inform others.
Friday, September 4, 2015
ANC - CLUELESS AND IMMORAL
THE ANC IS TURNING ITS BACK ON THE WEST
Stes de Necker
The party is turning its back on human rights and freedom by allying itself with the world’s most corrupt regimes.
In the discussion documents set to be tabled at this year’s National General Council (NGC), the ANC makes a few very bold and potentially disastrous statements like:
1. The fall of the Berlin Wall “marked not the freeing of captive nations in Europe, but a regrettable triumph of Western imperialism.”
The ANC seems to believe that communist Russia and the oppression of the German by means of the Berlin Wall, was justified and acceptable.
2. Secondly, the ANC called the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square — where the Chinese government executed students for protesting the oppression of the communist regime – “an American-backed counter-revolution.”
3. As if that’s not enough, the ANC also claims that Russia’s illegal and aggressive invasion of sovereign Ukraine was “a conflict directed from Washington”
Is the ANC really thinking that Russia had nothing to do with Russian soldiers invading Ukraine? … or was it actually American soldiers dressed in Russian uniforms!?
4. And finally, and here’s the humdinger, the ANC document suggested that South Africa ‘seek to have American military bases thrown out of Africa’.
If this was not so ridiculous it might have been amusing.
Yet the document is entirely serious. Its contents are to be debated at the ANC’s policy conference in October. Its authors include several serving and retired cabinet ministers, including a former foreign minister.
South Africa risks becoming a laughing-stock, not least in Africa itself. South Africa’s human rights-guided policies have fallen by the wayside.
The ANC Government’s refusal to allow the Dalai Llama entry to South Africa while rolling out the red carpet for a criminal like Omar al-Bashir and defying the International Criminal Courts orders, clearly shows that the ANC would rather side with a man wanted for mass-murder and rape than a religious human rights activist.
All countries struggle to balance their principles and national interests. Yet South Africa’s revolutionary foreign policy serves neither. Its claim that Vladimir Putin’s Russia is a victim and Barack Obama is the oppressor is sheer opportunism and courting the communist regimes.
The United States has saved millions of African lives through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, yet the ANC Government is involved in BRICS as part of forming an alternate world economic force, with Brazil, Russia, India and China.
The ANC is doing South Africa a grave disservice by rejecting its loyal friends and brown nosing with some of the world’s most corrupt regimes.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
The Unspoken pain of White Youths who Fought for Apartheid
“The legacies of apartheid in South Africa can only be understood by making sense of the complexities of the past”
Stes de Necker
Author: Theresa Edlmann
Article published in The Rand Daily Mail, 2 September 2015
The impact that conscription had on the white men who became both pawns and agents of the apartheid state has seldom been publicly acknowledged
The legacies of apartheid in South Africa can only be understood by making sense of the complexities of the past. This includes recognising what those who were young during the apartheid era — and who are now the elders and leaders of our society — experienced during that time.
In the roughly 30 years between the Sharpeville massacre and the 1994 democratic elections that ended apartheid, a generation of Southern Africans faced challenging and often conflicting choices about ideological allegiances.
For young white boys, the end of their school careers came with a choice about responding to the “call-up” to the South African Defence Force (SADF). This system of military conscription was instituted in 1957 by the apartheid government and became compulsory from 1968 onwards.
Military conscription was key in the apartheid state’s “total response” to what was construed as a “total onslaught” by the perceived threats of communism and African nationalism.
The state tried to draw white society into supporting this campaign by invoking a generations-long tradition of men doing military service to protect their country, values and families.
The end of apartheid meant this was the last generation of white South African and South West African (now Namibian) families to send their young men off to war in such large numbers.
The very different dynamics of contemporary South Africa make it hard to understand the scale of pressure these young men experienced at home, in many churches and in most social and political domains. White South African society was politically conservative and deeply invested in protecting its interests.
Democratic notions such as freedom of choice were almost unheard of. Calls of duty and service were paramount.
The impact that the system of conscription had on the roughly 600 000 white men, or 7.1% of the roughly 4.2 million white people in South Africa in 1992, who became both pawns and agents of the apartheid state, has seldom been publicly acknowledged in post-apartheid South Africa.
Duty and conscience
Those who accepted the call-up received rigorous military training, followed by deployment in South Africa, Namibia or Angola for the rest of their period of service. After that came several years of annual short-term “camps”.
Over the 25 years that conscription was in place, service increased from nine months to a total of 720 days including camps.
Military combat was rare until 1975, when the SADF invaded Angola after its Portuguese colonial government collapsed. This initiated 14 years of what became known as the “Border War”, consisting of intense military and guerrilla warfare in northern Namibia and southern Angola.
There were harsh consequences for those who disobeyed the call-up. Their choices? A court martial and up to six years in prison, exile in another country or going into hiding in South Africa.
University studies could delay military service, and some men exploited this for as long as possible.
Conscientious objection (on religious rather than moral ethical or political grounds) became a legal option in the mid-1980s — around the time the End Conscription Campaign was established and began public campaigns in support of conscientious objectors as well as calling for an end to conscription.
The war comes home
White South African society lived in almost complete ignorance about the scale of the war and the SADF’s strategies. Most conscripts said little about what they experienced. This was partly because they had to sign the Official Secrets Act upon joining.
It was also the result of the “willed ignorance” of most white South Africans and the draconian censorship laws of the time.
In the mid-1980s, anti-apartheid resistance within South Africa intensified and SADF soldiers were deployed domestically. Suddenly, young white men were being called on to police fellow citizens by patrolling the racially defined borders between segregated communities.
The “Border War” had come home.
The unsustainable nature of the morally and economically bankrupt apartheid system became increasingly evident, even to apartheid’s leaders who initiated discussions with the then banned ANC during this time.
The ramifications were widespread. The war in Namibia and Angola ended with the 1989 withdrawal of the SADF from Namibia. Namibia gained independence a year later.
The ANC and other organisations were unbanned, political prisoners released and the negotiations that led to the 1994 elections got under way.
1994: A new era
Conscription was officially disbanded in 1995, as was the SADF.
A new integrated army was established — and conscription slipped into the realms of silence and memory for most people. For conscripts themselves, the memories of their time in the military haven’t faded. Some have embraced the possibilities of new freedoms while others have fought to maintain and celebrate historical identities in a changed context.
There have been some efforts by the public and civil society to recognise the complexities of conscripts' experiences, being both victims of a system and perpetrators in its name.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission held a special hearing on conscription. Increasing numbers of books about and by conscripts have been published. And several groups such as veterans, some NGOs and the Legacy of Apartheid Wars Project at Rhodes University have done some work around the issue, mostly in the form of research, public dialogues and workshops to address issues of woundedness and trauma — for conscripts and those who fought against apartheid.
However, for the majority of conscripts, the discursive laagers that have shaped their social positioning remain intact.
Most of the trauma they might have experienced remains unspoken or manifests in aggression, particularly when dealing with people, groups and situations they perceive to be a threat in some way.
As the more complex dimensions of our apartheid history begin to emerge, the healing and transformative possibilities of stories about conscription surfacing in the public domain should not be underestimated — especially as a way of making sense of our deeply racially divided society.
Unselfishly, you left your fathers and your mothers,
You left behind your sisters and your brothers.
Leaving your beloved children and wives,
You put on hold, your dreams-your lives.
On foreign soil, you found yourself planted
To fight for those whose freedom you granted.
Without your sacrifice, our cause would be lost
But you carried onward, no matter the cost.
We thank God for every soldier who fought in the Border War.
We thank God for what you sacrificed.