The Bigger They Are, The More They Bleed – China’s Economic Meltdown

According to various reports by alternative, non-corporate owned media and leading senior economists across the globe, it is very possible that soon China’s economy “could be heading towards the biggest financial disaster since the 1929 Wall Street crash”. Shares on China’s stock markets plummeted by 30% in less than a month, and more than $3.2 trillion has been lost in around 3 weeks. If one were to illustrate just how bad this is, the amount of money lost in China’s stock markets is 10 times the size of the entire Greek economy.

According to Andrew Kenningham, a Senior Global Economist at Capital Economics (one of the leading, independent economy research companies in the world – based in London), this sudden financial meltdown was mostly caused by a huge bubble in the market in the middle of last year – in layman’s terms, the Chinese government was encouraging people to buy up (in this case, one too many) stocks in order to flex its economical and political muscle against competitor economies. To elaborate on this analogy, China ‘flexed its muscle’ too much and basically tore it and caused it to bleed internally.

Mr Kenningham also went further, stating that “every individual investor has to take responsibility for their own actions and a lot of people perhaps got their fingers burnt who would have otherwise been wiser to not get involved”. In the interest of credibility in this article, let us also mention that Al-Jazeera English (the station on which Mr Kenningham was speaking about China’s economy  – link here) is not the only news station to mention China’s weakening economy. According to Times of Malta, “China grew at its slowest pace in six years at the start of 2015 and weakness in key sectors suggested the world’s second-largest economy was still losing momentum, intensifying Beijing’s struggle to find the right policy mix to shore up activity.”

To the Maltese people reading this article and wondering why they should care about this, please – allow me to explain. Right now, our country is cutting all sorts of deals with the Chinese; MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding) on intellectual property, a possible partnership between Air Malta and the Chinese government and not to mention the situation concerning Shanghai Electric and our terribly mismanaged energy sector. Most of us believe that the hundreds of millions of Euros that China is pumping into our country are all unquestionably brilliant investments brought to us by our infallible government, but in reality it’s closer to a naïve bunch of amateurs selling off bits and pieces of the country to the professionals in the hopes of joining “the big leagues” of the global economy.

By no means do I consider myself an expert on economics (at most I went to a couple of lectures at University when I felt like it but that’s about it), but it is quite clear that our government’s taking a very big risk by doing business with an unstable, emerging superpower with a household debt of $28 trillion (282% of China’s GDP). After all, China’s history of being against political freedom, censorship of information, harsh taxes on the poor as well as their atrocious human rights record (violations include detentions without trials, forced abortions and confessions and torture) do not bode well. If all that has been said in this article has not somehow set off a few alarm bells in your brain, I don’t know what will.

How The Industrial Military Complex Runs The World

Ever since the concept of human society was established thousands of years ago, we have conquered, subdued and murdered each other to the point that we’ve lost count of how many conflicts have gone down and how many lives have been lost. One would think that, after all the millennia of strife and atrocities, we would have eventually reached a compromise with each other which suits everyone; after all, isn’t the settlement of the issue at hand the main justification for war?

However, one of humanity’s greatest downfalls is our insatiable craving for power, authority and validation. It is because of this hunger that the people in power want it to stay that way, and it is for the same reason that men lose their minds when they are left in a position of influence for too long. It is because of these men that wars will never really stop; wars are very profitable, and money is the sceptre that entrances the rest of society into blindly chasing after it until the last crumble.

For example, both the US and the UK currently have military presence in Syria and Iraq (warzones which have been destabilised mostly by the United States’ constant interference with the Middle East) in order to ‘attack’ the terrorist threat which is ISIS (which of course was originally funded by a coalition between wealthy investors with the goal of destabilising Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime). Yet, at the same time, both the US and the UK are very strong players in the gun business (references here and here) – so, really, how can we believe that politicians have our interests at heart when their campaigns and political parties are funded by the very same people who make billions in arms sales?

Slowly but surely, corrupt policymakers have shaped society into being a paranoid, frightened and disillusioned mass of people who call for war and retribution as soon as the media feed them enough disturbing images of home-grown terrorism. Every day the list of our rights grows shorter and shorter in the name of security, and we ignore secrecy and austerity because we are so convinced that our political leaders know best. John F. Kennedy, who was commonly referred to as ‘the last, true American President’, put it perfectly in a speech to the American Newspapers Publishers Association on the 27th of April, 1961:

“The very word secrecy is repugnant in a free and open society. And we are, as a people, inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.

 Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

That I do not intend to permit to the extent that is in my control. We are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding the sphere of influence – infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day.

It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly-knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations. Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumour is printed, no secret is revealed.”

Over half a century later, the world around us has morphed into a decadent paradise for the wealthy and the influential whilst the rest of us fight and murder each other over the scraps which are left. It is for this very reason that the biggest revolution in our history needs to happen now, and it needs to be a revolution of peace. If we all simply stopped for a few minutes and thought about it, we would realise that deep down we are all human – we all form part of different societal groups which we want to defend from everyone else, whether on an individual basis, as a faction fighting in a conflict, as a minority protesting for its rights and anything else in between.

Is it really worth it to fight each other over petty issues and insignificant differences between ourselves when something far more sinister is being planned for us all? Ask yourself this question and think about it thoroughly, and the next time you see someone attacking someone else, arm them with this knowledge so that they may point their anger at the ones making money off humanity’s greatest guilty pleasure; hatred. Humanity is all of us, not just a select few; we all deserve to be equal and free.

Why MORE than 3,000 people need to attend the next protest

To those that are not familiar with the current situation in the Maltese Islands, allow me to briefly explain what’s going on; a national protest was held yesterday in front of the Parliament Building in Valletta, where over 3,000 people attended what was considered the biggest environmental rally in the country’s history. People from all walks of life gathered together to protest the rampant over-development of what are known as ODZ (Outside Development Zone) lands and the general countryside. The demonstration was triggered specifically by the government’s proposal to use Żonqor point in Marsascala (over 90,000 sq. M. of ODZ and agricultural land) as the site for the development of a University and the establishment of Front Ħarsien ODZ, the organisation which masterminded the protest.

What’s absolutely unacceptable and unabashedly shady about the development is that, at the time of the writing of this article, the Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat has not yet published the agreement made with Sadeen Investments Ltd, the company behind the proposal. Several Labour MPs have declined to answer questions in relation to the development; in fact, the government in general has maintained a stoic approach of giving the issue as little coverage as possible as well as doing its utmost to smear the image of the countryside in question and labelling it as a wasteland rather than the beautiful stretch of fields and greenery it actually is.

The protest was, therefore, a success – a small step in the right direction. However, we must not stop now and think we have thwarted the government’s efforts to turn our country into the next Dubai or Singapore (these were the Prime Minister’s words, not mine). Our country is not characterised by slabs of concrete and man-made structures, nor is it a haven for the affluent; Malta’s best parts are the ones we are ruthlessly bulldozing to build accommodations for the wealthy. The serene countryside, the richness of our history, the beauty of the unpolluted beaches and the clean, fresh air of the natural environment are the country’s biggest attractions. Most of the tourists that come to Malta come here to relax and unwind from the fast-paced lifestyles of bigger, built-up cities, thus making the systemic destruction of the environment at the hands of relentless developers and money-hungry politicians both irresponsible and short-sighted.

It is for these reasons that we must do anything we need to do in order to stop our countryside from being pillaged any further. 3,000 people is not a number that should be ignored, yet Dr Joseph Muscat, in his typical irritating and passive style, still had the stones to say that “we are not an arrogant government but we have to ensure that the economy continues to grow so we will take the necessary decisions… I believe there are common sense compromise solutions which this government is working upon.” It does not take a genius to construe that what he meant by that is that the protest has been acknowledged, but we will still make sure that money keeps flowing into the country’s coffers, even if it means screwing the environment anyway. More people need to snap out of the red vs. blue mentality that has made the country a free gravy train for those in bed with the ruling party and one, giant slab of concrete for the rest. More people need to add their voice to the resistance, or what makes our country beautiful and unique will keep on being chipped away until there’s nothing else left.

Why We All Should Stop Using Money

In an increasingly materialistic society wherein your worth as a human being is determined by the size of your bank account, the concept of money being the one and only crux of life is drummed into our minds the moment we are old enough to understand it. The first things they tell you when you start your education is that the purpose of all you’re going to be forced to learn is so that you can build your knowledge as you grow up in order to ultimately graduate and get a job. On paper, this seems fair and rational; educate our children, shape them into grown men and women who will go on to be productive members of society.

However, if education is really that important to the people in charge of safeguarding our national interests as citizens, why does it never really improve? Why are governments across the world spending millions upon millions on military technology, land development and media outlets for propaganda and campaigns instead of the things that actually do matter such as education, science and the safeguarding of the environment? The answer to that question is very simple; we have sold out our humanity and we have severed our connections to the natural world. We have surrounded ourselves with corporate comfort and countless shiny, overpriced gadgets instead of enjoying each other as human beings. We have become mindless drones whose only purpose is to be obedient, conformist workers and we are rewarded with meaningless bits of paper we call money in order to feel accomplished.

This is why money will never go to education, for example, because the people in power need us to be mindless drones. What they do not need are critical thinkers who can understand that the increasing gap between the rich and the poor is systemic, and that the system is designed to make it work that way. Politicians are not there to represent your interests, they are there to give you the illusion that your vote makes a difference and that you have a choice. The owners of the world, the same world whose mantra has become that money makes it go round, are those that run the big, wealthy businesses. Media outlets spit out whatever tune pleases the government and the wealthy and the powerful whilst true, unbridled journalism dies a slow, agonising death. Music, sports and any form of entertainment are all contrived to divert your attention away from what really matters, and people who dissent or criticise the system are labelled as conspiracy theorists and lunatics. If all of that does not feel intensely wrong, then you’re welcome for the reality check.

At this point you might be asking yourself what could be done in order for the world to change for the better, and why it has become like this. From my perspective, I truly believe that money is root of all evil, and that we have been blinded by its commodity so much that we fail to realise that money cannot replace the rivers when they’ve been parched dry, nor can it grow back the trees and claim back the land which we use to put food on our table. Similarly, money cannot buy your freedom as a human being back, not when it is the thing that is enslaving you. Imagine, however, if we all just stopped for a second and merely looked at each other and appreciated each other as human beings instead of trying to screw over everybody in the name of personal profit. If we all realised how much money has destroyed our identity, we would know better. What can you do as an ordinary citizen, you may ask? On your own, make sure you never compromise who you are as a person in the name of financial gain; as for humanity as a whole? Well, I believe we should stop fighting each other and aim our crosshairs at the greedy scum responsible for all of this. That would, I believe, be a brilliant start to the 21st Century-version of the Renaissance humanity desperately needs.

Politics 101: The Concept of Divide and Conquer

We’ve all heard the incessant arguments that make the majority of people avoid the topic of politics with a desperate sigh and an attempt to change the subject to something completely different; it’s always one party against the other, or one party ruling in favour of a particular policy (e.g.: Obamacare) and the other one ruling against it, or perhaps a referendum that divides a nation into two different camps whilst drawing the public’s attention away from other issues – it’s always the same concept.

Through state-owned media and national broadcasting services, it is presented to us as democracy at work, the ‘system’ presenting us with choices. Hope and a false feeling of power being given freely to the people is instilled, and a contained illusion of freedom is sparked in our minds. Yet, it is truly through this that we are most vulnerable; the easiest way to manipulate a human being is when they feel secure and in power and in complete control. But, if you think about it seriously and thoroughly, you will eventually at some point realise something’s really wrong with this situation, and it will be stuck in your head like a splinter in your finger.

If you haven’t drawn your own conclusion yet, allow me to nudge you in the right direction – it is the concept of ‘Divide and Conquer’ at work. The definition for the concept according to Wikipedia goes as follows: “In politics and sociology, divide and rule (or divide and conquer) is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into pieces that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy. The concept refers to a strategy that breaks up existing power structures and prevents smaller power groups from linking up.” What you might be asking yourself now is this: “What does this have to do with democracy and the examples mentioned earlier?”

The answer to that question lies in whether one manages to assimilate the concept’s definition into how modern society’s power mechanisms work. Whenever there is a big issue, the public is immediately divided; ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ camps, ‘Conservative’ or ‘Liberal’, ‘Labour’ or ‘Nationalist’ (the two main political parties in Malta, the country I was born in) etc… The reason for this is because it establishes a defined, easy-to-target enemy that always manages to be the clear, definite ‘bad guy’. This divides us into factions, and conveniently satisfies our need to blame other people for what’s wrong in the world whilst being thoroughly convinced we are ‘on the right side of history’.

More importantly, what this whole notion does best is make us forget who the real antagonist is. It makes us forget that the real enemy isn’t the group of people on the other side of an issue, but it’s the people in power who do everything they can to abuse it, further the expanse of the gap between the rich and the poor and then get away with doing all that and getting filthily rich in the process. The real criminals and extremists aren’t the ones they tell you are; it’s the ones doing the telling that need to pay for their crimes.

8 Reasons Why Religion is Detrimental to Humanity

Religion, as the late George Carlin would have put it in his blunt, unapologetic style, is ‘just a form of mind-control’. Indeed, it is a form of mind-control that has plagued humanity since the beginning of our history as a species, owing its origins to the very first human minds who tried to explain the phenomena they observed around them. From that point onwards, religion has managed to evolve into a disease that has set back humanity’s progress and permanently damaged and scarred our society for as long as we’ve been around. It is for these reasons that I have chosen to write this article, to point out religion’s biggest flaws and why it has had such an adverse effect on our society:

#8: It gives you a false sense of hope.

Go to a hospital, clinic or any other place where people can be found waiting for a result and you’ll find people praying to one God or the other (that alone already discredits different religions claiming that their faith is the right one to the exclusion of everyone else’s). Is it a bad thing that someone chooses to pray whilst waiting for something which could potentially be life-changing? Not at all; prayer or meditation are spiritual means which people use to calm down and maintain a steady grip on life in dire situations, and I respect that. The actual problem is the feeling of hope which is instilled by prayer, the belief that some divine being will intervene in your life in order to help you. Why would a divine being who, in his omniscience, has already laid out your life plan, listen to your prayer? The worst part of all, however, is when results are favourable to the faithful in question and they choose to thank God for “saving them”; don’t thank your God, because he hasn’t done anything to save you. Your doctors did.

#7: The ridiculous misdistribution of wealth.

This particular entry is very self-explanatory, and the Catholic Church is perhaps the guiltiest of them all on this one. Many religions share this central belief that we should always help the less fortunate and always donate to charities; this is all well and good. However, do you seriously expect me to have faith in your religion when every single church I’ve ever seen in my life had enough gold, silver, ivory and other assorted precious metals to make a pirate’s mouth water? Do you, of all the people in the world, seriously believe that I will give my money to you in order for you to “help” the needy? No thank you, I’ll do it myself if I want to.

#6: Censorship.

Nobody truly knows how bad this particular aspect of religious influence was on our society, but my guess is very bad. Think of all the great works of art that have been thrown out of humanity’s grasp because of religious censorship, of all the brilliant inventors, artists, authors and philosophers whose reputations were ruined because they did not conform to the Church’s beliefs? Think of all the progress humanity could have made if the best minds of all time were not held back by some form of religious authority or the other, and then you’ll begin to truly comprehend the repercussions of censorship.

#5: Discrimination against minorities which fuels division via the false promise of unity.

Religious persecution is perhaps one of humanity’s greatest tragicomedies. It is the hunting of human beings just like you and me on the basis that their faith/lack of it is different from what the prosecuting “authority” believes in, and that’s just wrong. The worst part of it all is that religion is presented as something that unites the faithful into one, large, extended family of sorts, when in reality it only fuels division by promising unity. Not only that, but religious persecution still happens today, and in the eyes of the rational and the logical, it is utterly and completely irrelevant. Even worse is the moral hypocrisy that occurs in front of everyone’s eyes when, for example, the Catholic Church condemns homosexuality when homosexuality and paedophilia are rampant amongst the priests who preach the message of their own church.

#4: Religion is a crutch for the weak-minded and the scared.

It is very common for people to be born into a particular faith without them choosing to do so (in most cases, the faith of the parents is passed on to the children, and so on). The brightest among us normally evaluate the moral implications of this, and either choose to move on from their faith or to accept it for what it is with their own versions and their own interpretations. Unfortunately, most people choose to accept the faith they are born into as the one, ultimate faith to the exclusion of everyone else’s, and that’s where some of humanity’s greatest conflicts have arisen from. It is because of this that we always forget that no matter who we are or where we’re from, we’re all human beings and we’re all equal. We just choose to forget it because religion provides an easier explanation and, more importantly, an excuse to hate. This, in turn, leads to…

#3: Ignorance and the discouragement of rational and critical thought.

To this day, there are people who fully and completely believe that the world was actually created in 7 days and that evolution is a ‘blasphemous’ theory, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence that proves otherwise. Because of this lack of rational and critical thought and the constant pressure made by religion to maintain the faithful flock of sheep ignorant, science, technology and research have always been religion’s biggest victims. This is mostly why I believe religion has held back humanity’s progress; religion provides a convenient, simple explanation of the world and hammers it to the point of indoctrination to the exclusion of that which is actually scientifically proven, and that is completely unacceptable.

#2: Fear-mongering.

“Accept the word of God, or burn in Hell!” Is that a phrase which is all too familiar? Of course it is. What I’ve always questioned about faith is how opportunistic it is; it forces you to be afraid of the repercussions of not accepting it and then, if you still don’t accept it, you’re intimidated by the sheer numbers of people who have already accepted it and thus coaxed into doing so (‘what if Hell actually exists and I’ll be forced to spend the afterlife there instead of Heaven? All those people can’t be wrong!’). This is why religion should be permanently banned and separated from scholastic curriculums unless the student chooses to study the subject, as this serves as a form of indoctrination from a very young age.

#1: War.

The ultimate form of persecution, and the gravest theological failure of religion; war when waged in the name of God. From the 200-year war spanning from the 11th to the 13th Century known as the Crusades, to the genocide which occurs to this day on the same lands but merely under a different banner, billions of innocent human lives have been wasted and destroyed in the name of religion. Imagine how different humanity would have been without religion; imagine the lives that would have been spared and imagine how much better the world could have been. That is why I believe religion is humanity’s biggest plague; that is why, unless we teach ourselves better, our biggest threat is our own ignorance.

Police Brutality

Whether you like them or not, the truth is undeniable – law enforcement agencies across the world have a tendency to overextend their reach and use excessive force when said force is not an acceptable response to the offender’s actions. Now, before anyone lambasts this article as a slur against the police, I would like to make it clear that this does not apply to everyone and that I do truly believe that there are some exceptional policemen who risk everything in the pursuit of justice, and it is those men and women who I salute. The real question about this subject is, however, why? Why do police officers from all corners of the world use excessive brutality and why do they feel the need to physically injure suspects even when they pose no threat and in some cases, after they have submitted to the arrest?

I do not consider myself an expert on psychoanalysis, but nonetheless I do feel like some conclusions can be drawn after a bit of research into these cases. Mostly, excessive use of force is about the feeling of dominance wearing the uniform brings – abusive or rogue police officers have a tendency to emphasise this superiority complex by using physical abuse to prove the point.

There is also the issue with the legal framework that protects an abusive police officer; the burden of proof. The burden of proof (Latin: onus probandi) is the imperative on a party in a trial to produce the evidence that will shift the conclusion away from the default position [the offending officer’s statement] to one’s own position [the version of the accused]. Therefore, it is much more likely that an abusive officer can get away with it when the case has to be investigated by the police themselves, especially when evidence must be presented by the accused.

Even when evidence presented by the accused turns out to be overwhelming and the case actually goes to court, usually it ends with the officer being kicked out of the force at most and in rare cases, maybe some probation or minimal jail time. In most cases, however, other police officers tend to intervene and cover-up the evidence so the case doesn’t even go public. Upon perusing about this topic, another question springs to mind; how and why do they get away with it? This is mostly achieved via the exploitation of the psychological repercussions of a racist, ignorant political culture. The fear of crime is instilled inside our minds from the beginning of our education (“don’t talk to foreigners”, “don’t talk to the man with the tattoos”, “be careful around that neighbourhood”), and this leads to a society made up of people who are practically programmed to value tough policing (in order to quench the fear of crime) instead of due procedure and justified persecution.

The only way to fight something like this is to educate people about their rights and make sure that evidence of brutality is crushingly overwhelming to the point where not even the Commissioner would be able to get away with it. ‘How would that be possible?’ is what you might be asking yourself right now; well, experiments with body-camera technology in Rialto, California yielded the following results: “The findings suggest more than a 50% reduction in the total number of incidents of use-of-force compared to control-conditions, and nearly ten times more citizens’ complaints in the 12-months prior to the experiment.”

In truth, no sophisticated body technology or strict internal conduct policy could manage to eradicate a problem which is inside our minds. What the world could definitely use is a stark reminder that ultimately, we are all human and we are all the same.