DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: Rivers of Dust: Water & the Middle East

Conn Hallinan
Friday August 02, 2019 - 02:48:00 PM

It is written that “Enannatum, ruler of Lagash,” slew “60 soldiers” from Umma. The battle between the two ancient city states took place 4,500 years ago near where the great Tigris and Euphrates rivers come together in what is today Iraq. The matter in dispute? Water.

More than four millennia have passed since the two armies clashed over one city state’s attempt to steal water from another, but while the instruments of war have changed, the issue is much the same: whoever controls the rivers controls the land.

And those rivers are drying up, partly because of overuse and wastage, and partly because climate change has pounded the region with punishing multi-year droughts.

Syria and Iraq are at odds with Turkey over the Tigris-Euphrates. Egypt’s relations with Sudan and Ethiopia over the Nile are tense. Jordan and the Palestinians accuse Israel of plundering river water to irrigate the Negev Desert and hogging most of the three aquifers that underlie the occupied West Bank.

According to satellites that monitor climate, the Tigris-Euphrates Basin, embracing Turkey, Syria, Iraq and western Iran, is losing water faster than any other area in the world, with the exception of Northern India. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming

Bob Burnett
Friday August 02, 2019 - 02:21:00 PM

No sooner did Special Counsel Robert Mueller testify that the Russians continue to interfere in U.S. politics, than the Senate Intelligence Committee released a sobering report about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Before the public could digest this, the news was swept off the front pages by Donald Trump's racist tweets. Nonetheless, the truth is hiding in plain sight: Russians are interfering in U.S. politics and Trump doesn't want to do anything about it.

Robert Mueller's July 24th appearance before the House Intelligence Committee was highlighted by his strong statements about Russia: "The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion." He indicated the Russian interference continues, “They’re doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign."

After 30 months of investigation, we know the Russian interference took five forms: -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Treat Condition "Aggressively" but Don't Medicate Normal Problems

Jack Bragen
Friday August 02, 2019 - 03:09:00 PM

The following should not be taken as medical or psychiatric advice. It is derived from my personal experience only, and I am not a doctor. If you need medical, psychiatric, or any other advice, you must consult a licensed professional.


Recent medical philosophy pertaining to type 2 Diabetes entails "aggressive treatment," which means being rigorous with treatment to keep blood sugar at controlled levels. Doing this is said to minimize organ damage. This also may increase the diabetes patients' chances of progress toward needing less treatment and/or of the disease going into remission.

The above is analogous to schizophrenia treatment, in which many psychiatrists are in favor of high meds, so that the patient gets relief from her or his symptoms and has a better outcome.

Prescribing medication to treat the normal suffering that is intrinsic to "the human condition" should not usually be done. -more-

ECLECTIC RANT: Gilroy Garlic Festival Mass Shooting

Ralph E. Stone
Friday August 02, 2019 - 02:51:00 PM

I am saddened at the killing on July 28, 2019, of 6-year-old Stephen Romero, 13-year-old Kayla Salazar, and 25-year-old Trevor Irby, and the wounding 12 others, at the annual Gilroy Garlic Festival by a 19-year old Gilroy, California native using an AK-47 type semiautomatic assault weapon; the killer was killed by police. -more-

SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Saturday August 03, 2019 - 07:06:00 PM

That's the Spirit

Street Spirit, the feisty 21-year-old monthly tabloid ("Justice News and Homeless Blues in the Bay Area") just finished up the month of July with an "International Issue" that featured a report on the International Network of Street Papers. The INSP, which encompasses more than 100 publications in 35 countries in 25 languages, held is annual conference in Hanover, Germany and Spirit editor-in-chief Alastair Boone was on hand to bring back a report.

As the pressures of social inequality continue to rise around the world, Street Journalism has provided a "communications life-raft" that dispossessed urban dwellers can cling to. According to Boone, "The are around 25,000 vendors who sell INSP-member papers globally each year and 4.6 million people read the papers worldwide." As a result, sidewalk sales of these publications "has put over $30 million in the pockets of the vendors each year."

Today, the Street Spirit has come up with a brand-new fund-raising angle. What is this novel idea? A novel.

In addition to the monthly collection of news, essays, artwork and poems, Spirit vendors are now offering copies of Eastern Span, an illustrated "noir novel" by local writer Rick Paulas about life and debt in a gentrifying Oakland—where dive-bars and homeless encampments strive to survive in an economy dominated by powerful developers. It's being offered on a sliding scale of $5-10.and you can pick up a copy from your local Street Spirit vendor. -more-