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March 2, 2021 was the five year anniversary of the murder of Berta Cáceres, who opposed the Agua Zarca dam in Honduras. That date was less than one month after the deaths of dozens of people from Tehri Dam disaster in Uttarakhand, India. The two stories together tell us far more about consequences of the insatiable greed of capitalism for more energy than either narrative does by itself.
In addition to being sacred to the indigenous Lenca people of Honduras, the Gualcarque River is a primary source of water for them to grow their food and harvest medicinal plants. Dams can flood fertile plains and deprive communities of water for livestock and crops. The Lenca knew what could happen if the company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) were to build the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque. As Nina Lakhani describes in Who Killed Berta Cáceres?, the La Aurora Dam, which started generating electricity in 2012 “left four miles of the El Zapotal River bone dry and the surrounding forest bare.”
In 2015, Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize for organizing opposition to the Agua Zarca. She had been a co-founder of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The following year, thousands of Lenca marched to the capital Tegucigalpa demanding schools, clinics, roads and protection of ancestral lands. Indigenous groups uniting with them included Maya, Chorti, Misquitu, Tolupan, Tawahka and Pech. Lakhani describes that “From the north coast came the colorfully dressed, drumming Garifunas: Afro-Hondurans who descend from West and Central African, Caribbean, European and Arawak people exiled to Central America by the British after a slave revolt in the late eighteenth century.”
A Garifuna leader, Miriam Miranda remembered that Berta stopped to sketch anti-imperialist murals on the US airbase in Palmerola. As Berta and Miranda became close during the more than two decades of joint work Berta began to identify with the Garifuna. She loved going with Miranda to the town of Vallecito to join Garifuna rituals with drums,
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Authored by Art Carden via The American Institute for Economic Research,
The Internet is having a bit of fun with Rand Paul’s claim during a Tuesday Senate committee hearing that “We shouldn’t presume that a group of experts somehow knows what’s best” (here’s Tommy Beer with more). After all, they’re the experts. Shouldn’t we get out of the way and do as the experts tell us?
No. Rand Paul is right.
Friedrich Hayek was famously skeptical of experts because they have a tendency to stretch beyond their expertise and make claims, recommendations, or policies that are beyond the narrow confines of their expertise. They also tend to collapse social problems into frameworks and models that seem easy to manipulate but that leave out a lot of important on-the-ground knowledge that, Hayek argued, is of a kind that is inaccessible to an outside observer. In short, it is easy to mistake a model for the actual underlying reality. It is just as easy to identify important considerations and act as if they are the only
In a 2014 book, William Easterly highlighted and criticized The Tyranny of Experts (I reviewed it for Regulation here). His subtitle is revealing and relevant to the present moment: “Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor.” Experts can identify facts and make recommendations, certainly, but they’re not well-positioned to know the specific trade-offs and decisions people should make in light of what they know.
Probably the best illustration of this that I’ve seen is not a dense academic treatise but the February 6, 2013 installment of the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. A gentleman in a coat and tie stands in front of a tank of fluid in which someone is floating like Luke Skywalker in the bacta tank in The Empire Strikes Back. He says “We’ve encased everyone in a vat of gelatin, with nutrition fed directly into their mouths. Once a day, the gelatin is electrically excited so as to stimulate their bodies to aerobic exercise! They all live to at least 150.”
The cartoon’s caption says “fortunately, public health advocates have no legislative power.”
That’s the important point relevant to Rand Paul’s statement on Tuesday.
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By Neenah Payne
Note: Register for the Free Coronavirus Virtual Series: March 30-April 1
Two radically different views of the threat COVID-19 poses to America and the world are increasingly playing out now. Which view the US government adopts will have major implications for health, the economy, and our freedoms under the US Constitution.
While the World Health Organization and Bill Gates present COVID-19 as a show stopper that requires drastic measures to control, a growing number of doctors and even the Wall Street Journal are now questioning the official narrative. In the last week of March, New York Governor Cuomo – at the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the US – began second guessing his decision to close most businesses and schools.
We each have a critical choice to make now. We can’t afford to be wrong. Which view do you support and why? The view the public accepts will play a critical role in our fate. Unfortunately, the corporate media is not providing people with enough information to make an informed choice. In this scenario, the alternative media is playing a vital role in helping to inform us so we can choose wisely now. (You can use Patreon to support Activist Post and Natural Blaze to help ensure continued access to the sites.)
The belief that COVID-19 represents a global pandemic which threatens the survival of humanity is leading to increasingly draconian and dystopian measures around the world and in the US. A growing number of observers warn that the “cure may be worse than the disease.” The following articles indicate some of the consequences of the belief that COVID-19 is a plague that could decimate humanity.
- Canada Has Abolished Civil Liberties in the Name of “Safety”
- Footage of Indian Police Beating Lockdown Violators Goes Viral
- How Governments Are Deploying Big Data To Enforce COVID-19 Quarantines
- Police, Military Begin Door to Door Searches To Hunt Down New Yorkers Seeking Refuge
Two Widely Different Views of COVID-19 Threat
The World Health Organization continues to present COVID-19 as a serious threat to world health.
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The President of the French Scientific Committee on Coronavirus, Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, acknowledged in an interview with the Catholic daily La Croix that “Isolation is not the right strategy; but it is the least bad of the solutions that were possible in France, in mid-March 2020. 
The Chinese central government has never imposed home isolation in infected areas (all of eastern China), except in Hubei province. This measure was not intended to fight the disease, but to politically retake control of an area where the local government had disregarded the epidemic causing further deaths, which had been interpreted by the population as the withdrawal of the “mandate of heaven”. 
Professor Delfraissy now recommends carrying out “massive tests at the end of the isolation”. As stated by him, “Today, we have the capacity to provide between 5,000 to 8,000 tests per day, but not more. Such tests require a certain number of products, some of which come from China and the United States. However, these products no longer arrive in sufficient quantities.”
These figures are disputed by laboratory technicians and do not explain why, as of 22 March, the French government has still not contacted other foreign manufacturers. Above all, he fails to explain why there should be “massive tests at the end of the isolation” (which Professor Delfraissy intends to prolong) and not as a means “to get out of the isolation”.
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The UN’s refugee agency said on Monday that Greece had no right to stop accepting asylum applications as Athens struggles with a sudden increase in arrivals of Middle East refugees and migrants from Turkey at its border.
Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Sunday his country would not be accepting any new asylum requests for a month after two days of clashes between border police and thousands of people seeking to enter the EU from Turkey, Reuters reported.
“It is important that the authorities refrain from any measures that might increase the suffering of vulnerable people,” the UNHCR said in a statement. “All states have a right to control their borders and manage irregular movements, but at the same time should refrain from the use of excessive or disproportionate force and maintain systems for handling asylum requests in an orderly manner.”
The UN agency said neither international nor EU law provided any legal basis for the suspension of the reception of asylum applications. The EU has scrambled to help Greece police the frontier and sought to put pressure on Turkey to go back to preventing refugees and migrants stranded on its territory from seeking to reach Europe.
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