It is my firm belief that the Average American Family is in for some big shocks and some hard times with regards to their savings, civil rights, and the future direction of their country. And if these Americans shrink from their duty to get involved they won’t have to worry about the country their children will inherit – because somebody else will own it.
I base these opinions on information available mostly on the internet. Yes – the internet – the last bastion of free speech where even a JackRabbit can express views for the consideration of others. Will it last?
The election of Obama demonstrated that the public knows what they want – but for some reason they can’t get what they want. How is it possible to have elected Obama yet the war plan accelerates? Once again we get a smooth-talker who, exactly like GWB did upon election, acts in opposition to campaign promises. If you remember the debates – it was obvious who the corporate owned media deemed worthy of debate time and who they didn’t. Is it a coincidence that corporations benefit from Obama’s actions and the public suffers? Hmmm – how many times the president’s salary was spent getting him elected? No profit-first corporation spends money unless they expect a return on investment.
Jack Rabbit’s opinion – your average Joe-6-pack is oblivious to the geopolitical situation because he and wifee are working working working- paying usurious and arbitrary interest to monopoly lenders – paying for private school, paying ever-rising-prices for food as inflation kicks in, getting robbed on gasoline, car repairs, phone bills, car rental bills – basically everything. They are also completely in the dark because their media has been usurped by corporations with no interest in the public good – but in siphoning money into the CEO that runs the slum-like corporation. We used to call them slumlords – but somehow they’ve become great American heroes these American corporate CEOs – yes the robber-barons – perhaps because they, the robber-barons are the owners of the very media that treats the American public like mushrooms – keep’em in the dark and feed them sh#t. There is no longer any regulation of anything in the United States to the benefit of the average worker. As far as contracts are concerned the party who entered into the contract who is more well-heeled makes the rules. Those rules are the golden rule. Those with the gold rule. Speaking of gold – 2009 should be a good one for gold (IMO)- the metal you can hold in your hand. Liquid for sure. But six-pack Joe has no cash – just credit – which is worthless if you wish to purchase American Eagles.
What’s the problem? It’s complicated! Risking sounding “crazy” I’ll come out and say that it appears to me that we are being sold out in such a way that will ultimately end in one-world-government unless YOU become active to prevent it. The monetary crisis will provide the perfect lens with which to focus the masses to submit to emergency measures required to “fix” the problem – these measures, naturally, will require the surrender of RIGHTS. Is this a conspiracy theory? So what if it is? If it walks like a duck… I don’t know if it is or not but it seems reasonable to me that if group A wants to steal everything group B owns - that conspiracy is a given. There is plenty of info on this blog and those linked under Enlightenment. We Americans have tortured. We Americans are imprisoning people without trial. We Americans are firing missies via drone aircraft into sovereign nations. We Americans are occupiers. It is time to wake up -wise up – and stand up. Forget the money wasted on these misadventures of mass murder for a minute – think instead about sending kids to wars based on lies so corporations can profit. Take the most patriotic true believers – put a uniform on them – hand them a machine gun – and make them kill somebody else’s kids who are doing exactly the same thing. I ask you reader – what are you getting out of all this militarism? Hmmm I guess if you are employed by the war industry a paycheck. I hope it’s worth it.
Somehow the North American Union is on the Way (NAU) with or without public approval. This merging of Canada, USA, and Mexico seems to build itself as anyone you ask about it will deny it. Yet highways are planned. Our borders are unprotected. With the NAU, like the European Union preceding it, is rumored a new currency called the Amero which will be “necessary” (unConstitutional as it is) to solve the financial crisis. Oh and about the financial crisis – mostly a crisis for anybody who has to continue payments on their mortgage at the bubble-market prices. No relief in sight for us – but the banks get bailed out. I’ve read that 9.3 Trillion Dollars would have payed off EVERY MORTGAGE IN THE UNITED STATES – but whaddaya know – that’s not what was done with the phony “bailout” money – it went, it seems, to the same crooks that caused this mess in the first place. If this sounds crazy to you perhaps you can explain what you got out of the bailout – that is unless you work for Goldman Sachs.
Iran - Who the hell wants to send their kid to die in Iran? Send me your name, I’ll put you on a list, so the rest of us know not to mourn for your contribution to the conquest of sovereign nations with OUR OIL UNDER THEIR SOIL! I’m sorry for the rage – but what are you going to get personally out of an invasion of another country except higher taxes and the status of a modern-day Nazi in the eyes of the rest of the world. If you consider this writer paranoid – then is it reasonable for me to ask what word can be used to describe the American war on terror – where essentially we have to preemptively strike others (with real missiles killing real people) because of what they might do? How sane is that?
Iraq – WTF? WMD, blah blah blah. Yeah – Powell holds up a test tube of corn starch in front of the world at the U.N. and presto we go to war. Come to find out it was all fabricated, false, fake, lies. That’s what we were told and parents all over the U.S. sent their kids into a meat grinder. Lies. We are supposedly concerned about Iraqi civilization. Then WTF happened to all the antiquities from the museums of the cradle of civilization when America’s armed forces wrecked the place? The loss of Iraqs artifacts couldn’t have done much to help them understand their history any better could it? But our prez did specifically instruct them not to burn the oil wells. Do you remember that? Meanwhile irreplaceable, priceless artifacts vanish thanks to an absolute disregard to their importance. We’re from the American government and we’re here to help. To the average person it may seem too sick to fathom that anyone would invade another country for natural resources – after all we are talking about human life here. Is it possible that our leaders don’t share our values?
Afghanistan – This is an easy one – Opium poppy. Pre-911 Taliban wiped this crop out. America moves in- banner crop every year. I’m also old enough to remember when the Soviets tried to take the place – what a bloodbath – but now Amerika moves in because we are so much braver etc… than the rest of mankind including antiquity. Pat Tillman died in Afghanistan and we were told numerous lies about the circumstances – now it seems the man in charge during that fiasco – is – no – not demoted – put in charge of the whole place. Yeah that makes a lot of sense to me – NOT. What can explain such actions of our leaders?
Federal Reserve – don’t talk about this topic or your head may end up back and to the left.
Council on Foreign Relations – I prefer to call this the Presidents club. Get their podcast – see if you can predict the future of every single American decision before it happens! Give it a try!
911 WAS AN INSIDE JOB – yes, I’m finally able to understand that the American masses don’t have either the education or the time or the energy to understand the scientific findings pointing to nano-thermate and where such a thing comes from. The masses have also ben conditioned for many many decades to see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil when someone is called a “Conspiracy Theorist.” That’s really a testimonial for our education system which is ……..bad word. There is much evidence gathered via the ever-growing grassroots 911Truth movement demonstrating that the official conspiracy theory the American government fed to its mushroom-masses was a myth. Much info on this blog and the sites linked. This is not a small issue. Ignore at the risk of basing all future decisions upon false premises.
Military-mercenary-industrial-educational-lawenforcement-corporateprison complex – 1 in ten Americans live behind bars so we and they can BE SAFE. But I wonder how a pot-smoker can be safe sharing a cell with a murderer, rapist etc…????? I suppose I’ll have a chance to find out since the bullsh*t hate speech laws aimed at bloggers like myself who dare to exercise their right to free speech may eventually shut my “microphone” off. Great! Now you can get all of your information from the same “news” shills who simply serve the propaganda bleat of the day from their corporate masters. Do you really think someone on NBC can say something that will negatively effect the GE stock price? If you do I’ve got a bridge for sale. Our rights are inalienable – yet the wise men in our feckless fascist government are paving the way to silence critics via “hate” crime. How pathetically childish. Somehow it suits the majority of the mushroom-like American public. I’m sorry for the sarcasm but how many times does one have to be robbed until they can identify they are dealing with a robber?
Yes the U.S. Media Monopoly – well not a monopoly – maybe a tri-opoly? It’s that bad. The FCC is a toothless facade. They are not worth the expensive office space they consume. The FCC has failed in their mission – period. They don’t even have the courtesy to quit, go home, and stop sucking off the government teat. No, not teat, they are bloodsuckers – because as they drain public funds their inaction undermines the public good by depriving the VOTERS of opportunities to hear dissenting voices – by allowing media consolidation. The result? Even those Americans who try to inform themselves are stuck with paid corporate liars posing as newspersons. Dig around on this blog – consider these seemingly radical ideas like free speech and independent thought. Glen Beck says 911 truthers wanna’ kill Jews – this is more than a lie – this is disinformation aimed at diverting and confusing the public. Some news eh? Jack Rabbit thinks there is almost ZERO on TV, RADIO worth watching or listening to. Why? Just look at your stocks – it’s the economy stupid! If they are worth anything why weren’t you warned about your ENRON stock etc…? AIG? Perhaps a coincidence – yes that’s it! Popular Mechanics is a great example – do they get any ad money from the war industry? Do they work hard to “debunk” 911 Truth? Hmmmmm. Wait….I’m in business too… lemme think about this – lots of military ad money – nano thermite/thermate (unreacted) found in WTC dust – nano thermite comes from military-industrial-educational-mercenary complex – a connection? Absolutely NOT since this would imply a conspiracy. Forget that. Sorry.
Torture – On this topic – I am stuck. I cannot reconcile OSHA regulations and Torture chambers. Maybe it’s just me but all I can say is that OSHA needs to be disbanded because Americans don’t care about torture – unless that is – their precious little one is held captive in one of our occupied countries – then – suddenly – this becomes a horrible, medieval practice. Pure witchcraft……but don’t we have to burn them with cigs to get fake info to embark on corporate resource wars? Yes – I want cheap gasoline to go the beach which I never get because they raise the price every tourist season – but my kid is being tortured. That’s wrong – but I don’t care if they torture “terrorists” who’ve been named terrorists without a trial because they are Muslims – where is my Happy Meal?
Americans – my fellow “citizens” (and I use that term loosely) – WAKE THE FLOCK UP! Your country, and most importantly, your Bill of Rights is being stolen from you for the interests of… Who? Israel is one for sure. The answer to this question you will have to figure out for yourself. The answers are on this blog, at the sites linked, and possibly apparent on your credit card statement.
Finally – a word of encouragement. The powers manipulating the American system are those who take the time, interest, and money to do so. The American system works perfectly – the most involved parties overcome. If you are not involved – you will be overcome by those who are. That is the absolute bottom line. Don’t forget it.
The mysterious death of one of Tajikistan’s best-known public figures is focusing attention on what many consider to be the deteriorating security situation in southeastern Central Asia.
The death of former Emergency Situations Minister Mirzo Ziyoev during a security operation on July 11 came at the end of a week in which armed groups in eastern Tajikistan clashed with police on two separate occasions, giving new life to rumors of armed militants arriving in the country from Afghanistan.
Ziyoev, one of the top military commanders of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) during Tajikistan’s 1992-97 civil war, came from the Islamic wing of the UTO. After the 1997 peace agreement, he was eventually given his ministerial post as part of the power-sharing deal that ended the civil war. The ministry was disbanded in 2006.
Ziyoev had reportedly traveled to Tajikistan’s remote eastern Tavil-Dara area several weeks ago, shortly after reports that another former UTO field commander, Mullo Abdullo, had returned to Tavil-Dara in May with some 100 armed fighters. Abdullo had gone to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban in 2000 but was believed to have been captured and jailed.
Tajik authorities conducted what they said was an antidrug operation in the area shortly after the news of Abdullo’s purported return. Few were fooled as to the operation’s real purpose, however, since the altitude of the region prohibits poppy or cannabis cultivation
Overthrow The Government
Adding to the puzzle was an announcement by Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry on July 11 that Ziyoev had been arrested as part of a security operation in the Tavil-Dara area. The ministry claimed Ziyoev was planning to overthrow the government, was helping to open up a new route for shipping illegal narcotics from Afghanistan through Tajikistan, and had been illegally storing weapons in the Tavil-Dara area.
Hours later, however, Tajik authorities said Ziyoev had been killed while trying to help government forces negotiate with an armed group there.
“During the operation in the Surkhob valley village of Aghba, an illegal group of gunmen suddenly attacked and killed Mirzo Ziyoev,” an Interior Ministry spokesman said.
Tajik authorities say the armed group was made up of fighters from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) who allegedly accompanied Abdullo back to Tajikistan. Tavil-Dara was both a base for Islamic fighters of the UTO during the civil war and later served as an IMU base when the militants staged incursions into Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in the summers of 1999 and 2000.
Central Asia has been relatively quiet since 2001, when U.S. forces delivered crushing attacks on the IMU and Taliban in Afghanistan. But there have been concerns for several years that elements of the IMU who fled to Pakistan’s tribal areas could someday return to Central Asia. And with the Pakistani military stepping up its campaign in its northwestern tribal areas, and U.S. and Afghan forces stepping up their military efforts in Afghanistan, some believe that time may have come.
In late May, unknown assailants set off explosives at an Uzbek border checkpoint, then attacked police in the border town of Khanabad. The armed group then vanished. Later that same day, a suicide bomber killed a policeman in the city of Andijon.
On July 11, Uzbek authorities announced that 10 people had been arrested in connection with the attacks. All those taken into custody were from the area around the town of Khanabad and some, according to Uzbek authorities, had connections in Kazakhstan.
Across the border in Kyrgyzstan, security forces in late June conducted operations against Islamic militants that left at least 11 people dead. Since June 23, Kyrgyz security forces have killed at least nine people they say were IMU fighters. One member of the Kyrgyz security forces and a border guard have also been killed.
July 24, 2009
The New York Times tells us that the ongoing political crackdown in America’s Terror War ally Kyrgyzstan is an example of the difficult “challenge” faced by the Obama administration as it seeks to “balance” its strategic needs with its “concerns” for human rights.
But of course this is not a “challenge” at all. It’s remarkably simple. When you are conducting wars of imperial domination in far-flung, hard-to-access lands, you must keep the local satraps sweet — unless or until you can replace them with your own hand-picked stooges. Everything else is just window dressing for the rubes back home.
In Kyrgyzstan, there is the added element of the local thug getting backing from another Great Gamester, the Kremlin. Theoretically, such a thing could complicate matters, but in this particular case, it does not, because Washington and Moscow are both backing the same side in Afghanistan’s protracted civil war. Obama has already wrung new levels of cooperation from Russia’s double-headed leadership in pushing his broad military escalation in Afghanistan. And in any case, the Kremlin is a hobbled gamester these days, concerned mostly with protecting its flanks against further encroachments on its historic hegemony – and protecting its own hand-picked stooges, such as the savage Chechen warlord, Ramzan Kadyrov, whose critics are being assassinated one by one. The Kremlin is also concerned with fending off the bristling missile bases the United States is installing around its frontiers, with the Obama Administration eagerly taking up and advancing the Bush Regime’s aggressive provocation.
But back to Kyrgyzstan, where the oh-so-progressive peaceniks of Brand Obama have tossed that milksoppy ‘human rights’ jazz overboard and are lavishing love and largess on the increasingly brutal strongman, Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Shall we be dull and mention “continuity” yet again? I’m afraid we must. For here, as elsewhere – everywhere – imperial concerns (known as “strategic issues” in our ever-obfuscating Beltway jargon) trump all others. As Scott Horton notes at Harper’s, referring to the Times’ account of brutal beatings doled out to Bakiyev’s opponents:
Which suggests that if Iran wants to get past its little spot of bother with Washington that keeps cropping up – you know, where America’s “chief diplomat” constantly declares her doubts that, er, diplomacy will resolve any of the Empire’s problems with Iran, and warns that the “nuclear clock is ticking” toward some promised if unspecified unpleasantness if Tehran doesn’t knuckle under – then the mullahs should consider hosting a couple of big ole American bases in the Persian hinterlands.
After that, the Iranians – like Iraq’s Nouri al-Maliki, who is currently “hosting” more than a quarter of a million American forces (public and private) and signalling his willingness to keep them on indefinitely – could arrest, repress and torture who they please, without a discouraging word from Washington. A win-win situation all around!
New Report out ~Today Israeli Zionists are tightening their grip even MORE on our freedom of speech.Israel will use this to take the cause to America next. Very serious stuff to report today, we are loosing our right to free speech against Israel. A Zionist “think tank” in England that has US ties is submitting a report to re-define the term “Anti-Semitism” and make those “new terms” illegal. Sit down, take a deep breath and get ready to be stunned. I came across this recent 38 page PDF publication which is being submitted to the British Government from the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism (EISCA) the Zionist think-tank which sets out to “monitor” Anti-Semitism in the “World.” This will be used against the Government, the Media, Universities and hundreds of Pro-Palestinian organisations, not to mention blogs and any protests the public decide to hold against the Zionist state Military actions in Palestine.
This group has influential power within the British Government, indeed, one Rt Hon Denis MacShane, MP, is the Chairman of the group.
They have just delivered a “new” report In which they are “re-defining” Anti-Semitism to include just about anything one may say to criticize Israel. Such as Anti-Zionism; Holocaust denial and Holocaust related abuse; conspiracy theories; dual loyalty and the blood libel. More importantly, they take this one step further and are now including “Zionism” in this definition.
The report calls for the adoption of this new definition into law, which would then make it a “crime” to discuss or use any of the phrases, terms, arguments, theories or cases covered this new “definition.” They want the UK to adopt the EUMC (now the European Agency for Fundamental Rights [FRA]) definition of “anti-Semitism” so as to outlaw the use of the word “Nazi” when referring to Israel, its government, and Zionists. But that is NOT all they are after, there are many more “demands” which are quite shocking indeed, such as any conspiracy theories about Israel and 9-11, Zionism, or the Israeli Lobby in American Politics control in Washington. Additionally they want your Children to be “re-educated when they attend University (Sounds like Nazi’s to me!) They are also calling for media controls as well. Almost all criticism of Israel AND/OR Zionism will be “branded” as Anti-Semitism and illegal, so keep reading. This definition will target all aspects of discussion on the Israel/Palestine conflict, including media, universities, demonstrations, freedom of speech and much more. Here are excerpts of the new “Zionist Big Brother” PDF report:
STRUCTURE OF THE REPORT
The report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism drew attention to five themes of antisemitic discourse: anti-Zionism; Holocaust denial and Holocaust related abuse; conspiracy theories; dual loyalty and the blood libel. This report combines them into one overarching theme- playing the Nazi card. (read here)
The military alters its policy as part of a new focus in the war.
By Julian E. Barnes July 24, 2009 Los Angeles Times
Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan — U.S. military officials in Afghanistan have halted the practice of releasing the number of militants killed in fighting with American-led forces as part of an overall strategy shift that emphasizes concern for the local civilian population’s well-being rather than hunting insurgent groups.
The decision has triggered a quiet but fierce debate among military officers comparing the current situation with the U.S. experience in Vietnam, when military officials exaggerated body counts and used them as a measure of success.
Under the order, issued last month by Navy Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, the military will not release specifics on how many insurgents are killed in fighting, and instead will give general estimates.
The change is part of the focus on making the Afghan population feel safer and comes as U.S. commanders are taking new steps to avoid civilian casualties.
“We send the wrong message if all we talk about is the number of insurgents killed. It doesn’t demonstrate anything about whether we have made progress,” said Smith, who arrived six weeks ago to overhaul U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization communications efforts. “We want to shift the mind-set.”
Smith has asked commanders to issue fewer news releases and to focus on improvements in security where international forces are operating.
“We have to show we are here to protect the people,” he said.
The changes come as the Obama administration is adjusting the U.S. role in Afghanistan. A troop buildup is expected to boost the number of U.S. military personnel in the country to 68,000 by year’s end.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said this month that U.S.-led forces must show progress by next summer to avoid the public perception that the conflict has become unwinnable.
Officers who have favored releasing insurgent death tolls said the disclosures were not intended to demonstrate military progress, but to counter and even preempt extremist propaganda alleging that international forces are killing innocent civilians.
“It is the first version that sticks,” said Col. Greg Julian, outgoing military spokesman. He favored releasing the information, but he agreed that the policy should be changed under the new strategy emphasizing protection of the population.
Afghan and U.S. officials have sometimes disagreed sharply on civilian casualties.
In May, Afghan officials said at least 140 civilians, many of them women and children, were killed in the village of Garani. They said it might be the worst case of civilian casualties since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001.
Although residents insisted that U.S. bombardment killed the civilians, the U.S. military disputed the death toll and said Taliban fighters were responsible for at least some of the deaths.
Throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military has periodically taken to reporting insurgent death tolls for specific clashes.
Last year, the 101st Airborne Division began releasing numbers of militants killed, and the practice soon spread among U.S. forces. Public affairs officials in the 101st Airborne began publicizing militant deaths to counter the perception among Americans that the U.S. military was losing in Afghanistan.
The division command never used casualty figures as a measure of its progress, believing they had little relevancy. But public affairs officers considered a high enemy death toll an easy way for the American public to understand that U.S. forces had won an engagement.
Army Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, the former spokeswoman for the 101st, said the reports were necessary to undercut insurgents’ propaganda.
“Without our reports, the absence of enemy fatalities could leave a false impression that the only ones that suffer losses are the Americans and NATO,” she said in an e-mail.
“When we know what we inflict upon the enemy and report the facts without embellishment or exaggeration or spin then I believe it is the right thing to do — not because the winner is the one with the least amount of dead, but because we can be counted upon to tell the truth and the enemy cannot,” she said.
In 2005, as U.S. fortunes in Iraq spiraled downward, body counts crept into military news releases. Similarly, public affairs officials said then that although casualty counts were not a measure of overall progress, they served the purpose of showing the success of individual missions.
Aides to Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, believe that, as in Vietnam, measuring or discussing the numbers of insurgents killed can undermine the war effort.
It is a tenet of counterinsurgency warfare that operations designed to kill militants end up creating more fighters than they eliminate.
“If you are focused on killing the enemy, you are going to kill millions of them, and there is always going to be more of them,” said Army Col. James Creighton, an advisor to McChrystal.
Julian, the outgoing spokesman, agreed that using casualty figures to show military success would be ill advised. He said he released the figures to offset extremist propaganda.
“I felt we were reporting each discrete incident like a police report: one robber was killed, one was captured, one got away,” Julian said. “We were clear and transparent about it.”
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force has at times kept careful track of the number of insurgents killed in confrontations with international forces, but it no longer does.
Nicholas Williams, a NATO official in Afghanistan, called the counts “a false metric.”
Afghanistan’s own security forces routinely report how many militants they have killed in their engagements. For the Afghan forces, it is a sign of their determination and bravery in the face of sometimes steep losses, alliance officials said.
“The Afghans have a different perspective,” said Brig. Gen. Eric G. Tremblay, ISAF spokesman.
The new book by Malcom Potts and Thomas Hayden will be widely available December 1, and is currently available on Amazon. Hear more about the book from the authors in a Q&A with Wired.com. TODAY’S MOST BRUTAL WARS are also the most primal. They are fought with machetes in West Africa, with fire and rape and fear in Darfur, and with suicide bombs and improvised explosive devices in Israel, Iraq, and elsewhere. But as horrifying as these conflicts are, they are not the greatest threat to our survival as a species. We humans are a frightening animal. Throughout our species’s existence, we have used each new technology we have developed to boost the destructive power of our ancient predisposition for killing members of our own species. From hands and teeth tearing at isolated individuals, to coordinated raids with clubs and bows and arrows, to pitched battles, prolonged sieges, and on into the age of firearms, the impulse has remained the same but as the efficiency of our weapons has increased, the consequences have grown ever more extreme.
The evidence of history is that no advance which can be applied to the killing of other human beings goes unused. As scientific knowledge continues to explode, it would be naïve, to expect any different. As if we needed any more reasons to confront the role of warfare in our lives, the present supply and future potential of WMDs should convince us that the time has come once and for all to bring our long, violent history of warring against each other to an end.
The nineteenth century was dominated by discoveries in chemistry, from dyes to dynamite. The twentieth century belonged to physics, from subatomic particles and black holes to nuclear weapons. The twenty-first century is set to see great advances in biological knowledge, from our growing understanding of the genome and stem cells to, it’s a shame to say, new and expanded forms of biological warfare. In the past, each iteration of the application of scientific discovery to warfare has produced more horrible and destructive weapons. Sometimes temporary restraint is exercised, as in the successful ban on poison gas in the Second World War, but such barriers burst easily, as the deliberate bombing of civilians in the same war attest. Human beings have always appropriated new ideas to build increasingly formidable weapons and there is no reason to think that competitive, creative impulse will disappear on its own. As weapons become ever more horrifying—and, with the rise of biological weapons, increasingly insidious—it is no longer enough just to limit the use of one killing technology or another. We need to limit the conditions that lead to war in the first place.
It has become almost a cliché to note that we live in an increasingly complex and interdependent society. But this point is crucially important as we consider the future of war. Our cities once were fortresses, the walled sanctums where our ancestors sought refuge from marauders. The firebombing of the Second World War revealed a new urban vulnerability, but even that insecurity is nothing by today’s standards. We live in giant cities, supplied with piped water and electricity, with trains in tunnels and cars on elevated roadways, with fiber optics under the pavement and air-conditioning plants for buildings with windows that cannot be opened. Our new urban centers have the vulnerability to terrorism and attack built right into them. Any modern city can be held hostage by a single Unabomber, brought to a halt by nineteen fanatical men, or devastated by any small raiding party drawing on modern scientific knowledge, from malicious computer programming to radioactive “dirty bombs” to infectious bacteriology. To understand the dangerous future of these WMDs, we’ll first take a quick look at their history.
On April 22, 1915, near the Belgian town of Ypres, the German army mounted the first poison gas attack in history. Fritz Haber, who would later receive the Nobel Prize for his work producing nitrogen fertilizer, labored day and night to develop chlorine gas into a weapon and supervised its first release in person. The 168 tons of gas deployed that day ripped a four-mile gap of gasping, suffocating men in the British lines. (The German commanders—as is so often the case when new weapons are used—had insufficient resources to exploit their opportunity.) In a revealing example of the difference between the attitudes of men and women toward war, Haber’s wife Clara, who was also a chemist, begged her husband to stop his work on poison gas. After a dinner held to celebrate her husband’s appointment as a general, Frau
Haber shot herself in the garden—and Haber left the funeral arrangements to others while he traveled to the Eastern front to supervise the first gas attack on the Russians. Unprepared, the
Russians suffered 25,000 casualties. In one of the grimmer ironies in the history of dehumanizing others, while Haber was dismissed from the directorship of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institut in Berlin in 1933 because he was a Jew (he later escaped Nazi Germany), his invention, Zyklon gas, was used in the gas chambers of Nazi concentration camps to kill other Jews.
Despite the obvious horrors of gas warfare, the British began their own chemical weapons research in 1916. They tested 150,000 compounds including dichlorethyl sulfide, which they rejected as insufficiently lethal. The Germans disagreed, and took up its development. On initial exposure, victims didn’t notice much except for an oily or “mustard”
smell, and so the first men exposed to this “mustard gas” did not even don their gasmasks. Only after a few hours did exposed skin began to blister, as the vocal cords became raw and the lungs filled with liquid. Affected soldiers died or were rendered medically unfit for months, and often succumbed years or decades later to lung disease. At first the British were outraged at its use, but later they sent supplies of poison gas to their own troops in British India, for use against
Afghan tribesmen in the North-West Frontier.
By 1918, one-third of all shells being used in World War I were filled with poison gas. In all, 125,000 British soldiers were gassed, along with 70,000 Americans. Three weeks before the end of the war, the
British shelled the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry with mustard gas. A young corporal named Adolf Hitler was blinded in the attack—and would later claim that the recovery of his sight was a supernatural sign he should become a politician and save “Germany.”
Nuclear WeaponsBetween the ages of eleven and seventeen, I was lucky to attend the
Perse School in Cambridge, only a mile from the Cavendish Laboratory where much of the early work on atomic physics was conducted. Today, I teach at the University of California, Berkeley, an important site for early work on nuclear physics, and still the managing institution for
Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where the atomic bomb was developed. The knowledge to create the most destructive weapons in history was developed by clever men in pleasant surroundings, pushing the analytical power of their Stone Age brains to the limit. In that task, deep-seated human emotions and brilliant science clashed in complex ways.
The main motivating factor behind America’s Manhattan Project was fear—fear that Nazi Germany would develop the atomic bomb first. In the
1930s, a Hungarian theoretical physicist living in London, Leo Szilárd, foresaw that a nuclear chain reaction might be possible, and in
December 1938, Otto Hahn in Germany conducted the crucial experiment confirming Szilárd’s hypothesis. As a young German officer, Hahn had helped release the first chlorine gas at Ypres in 1915, but when the possibility of a nuclear weapon arose he had serious reservations, saying, “if my work should lead to a nuclear weapon I would kill myself.” (Lise Meitner, another physicist, was the first to understand the potential of nuclear fission. She worked with Hahn in Berlin before being expelled from Germany because she was Jewish, and she refused any part in the development of the American bomb.) But while virtually every physicist who saw the potential for nuclear weapons recoiled in horror, scientific genies which can be weaponized are always difficult to keep in their bottles, and impossible during wartime. By the time
Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia in March of 1939, science had advanced to the point that the best physicists in both Europe and America could see how an atomic bomb was scientifically possible. Soon, many would come to consider it necessary as well.
A German effort to build the bomb was launched, and headed by Werner
Heisenberg, famous for his “uncertainty principle” of quantum physics.
Germany failed to make an atomic bomb by a wide margin, and there is some evidence, controversial to be sure, that Heisenberg and other
German physicists had intentionally dragged their heels. Whether true or not, it hardly mattered—Szilárd was convinced the Nazis were making progress and that only the Americans could beat them to the nuclear finish line. He drafted a warning letter, and together with
Albert Einstein sent it to President Roosevelt. The Manhattan Project soon followed.
The U.S. tested its first atomic weapon in the New Mexico desert at
2:41 A.M. on May 7, 1945—just as the Allies were accepting Nazi
Germany’s unconditional surrender. But the war with Japan raged on, and the new U.S. President, Harry Truman, struggled with the power he now controlled. “Even if the Japs are savages, ruthless, merciless and fanatic, we as the leader of the world…cannot drop this terrible bomb on the old capital [Kyoto],” he confided to his diary. “The target will be a purely military one and we will issue a warning statement asking the Japs to surrender.” In fact, Japan was on the verge of surrender and it might well have capitulated had they been told the Emperor could remain on his throne.* The Allies, however, insisted on unconditional surrender, and the Japanese refused. At 8:16 A.M. on August 6, a uranium-235 device called Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima; a plutonium bomb, “Fat Man,” was dropped on Nagasaki two days later. On
September 2, 1945, the Japanese formally surrendered. The genie was out of the bottle.
Within months of the end of the war, Edward Teller, a Hungarian who was part of the team that had developed the U.S. bomb, was working on the hydrogen bomb, an even more powerful weapon. In the Soviet Union,
Stalin had authorized work on an atomic bomb as early as 1942, and the
Russians were helped initially by lease-lend shipments of uranium and other material from the U.S., and by Manhattan Project secrets leaked by the left-wing physicist Klaus Fuchs. His betrayal is said to have advanced the Soviet work by perhaps eighteen months, and captured
German scientists added an extra boost after the war. Russia exploded her first atomic bomb just four years after the Americans. The British had their atomic bomb by 1953, the French by 1960, and the Chinese in
1964. Israel has never confirmed its membership, but is thought to have joined the nuclear club by the late 1970s.
The Shoshone Indians of Nevada, before battle, killed a sheep, drained its blood into a length of intestine, buried the draught in the ground to ferment, and then smeared their war arrows with the microbial brew. This would have guaranteed severe infection and probably death following even a superficial arrow wound. A 3,400-year-old clay tablet found in modern Turkey carries a cuneiform inscription with the intriguing phrase, “The country that finds them shall take over this evil pestilence.” Molecular biologist Siro Trevisanato from Ontario,
Canada, suggests that this may be a reference to a disease called tularemia which infects sheep, donkeys, rabbits, and human beings, and that it is the first instance of biological warfare in recorded history. Tularemia is a highly infectious disease leading to a painful death from fever, skin ulcers, and pneumonia. It was the cause of serious epidemics in early civilizations stretching from present-day Cyprus to Iraq, and the historical record suggests that infected sheep and donkeys were driven into enemy lines in order to spread infection.
During the French and Indian Wars (1754–1763), the British very likely gave hostile Indian tribes blankets infected with smallpox, and certainly considered the idea. Once you have dehumanized your enemy, the evidence is that it matters little which way you kill him. But biological weapons represent a particularly insidious and dangerous form of WMDs. They may lack the immediate gruesome effects of chemical weapons or the sheer destructive power of the atomic bomb. But they are inherently stealthy, potentially lethal on a global scale, and when living infectious organisms are involved, all but uncontrollable.
Both Japan and the U.S. worked on biological weapons during World
War II, and the Japanese used anthrax and plague bacteria against the chinese. U.S. research continued after the war until 1969, when
President Richard Nixon renounced “the use of lethal biological agents and weapons, and other methods of biological warfare.” The U.S.
unilaterally destroyed its stockpiled biological weapons, a bold step which led to the 1972 Biological Weapons convention. But although the convention was ratified by 140 nations, it lacked policing capacity and within one year of its passage, the Soviet Union began the largest biological weapons program in history. Vladimir Pasechnick, who would defect to the U.S. in 1994, reported overseeing 400 research scientists working on the program in Leningrad, with another 6,000 professionals throughout the country involved in the manufacture of huge quantities of anthrax and smallpox. Iraq also ignored the 1972 convention and in
1990, just before the First Gulf War, a factory south of Baghdad manufactured 5,400 liters of botulinum toxin. The coalition forces had insufficient vaccines to protect their soldiers, and U.S. Secretary of
State James Baker used diplomatic channels to let Saddam Hussein know that the U.S. would launch a nuclear response if attacked with biological weapons. By the time of the Second Gulf War, Hussein’s biological weapon program had disintegrated.
As a physician, I must say that I find germ warfare to be particularly loathsome. There are three possible levels on which it could be waged, each more distressing that the one before. First, a bacterium such as anthrax, which is very stable, could be sprayed or spread around a community. Anyone who inhaled it would come down with a non-specific fever and fatigue, which looks like the onset of flu but, left untreated, leads to fatal pneumonia. An anthrax victim, however, could not infect another person. Second, an infectious agent, such as smallpox, could be used to start an epidemic. Third, a new and terrible disease could be genetically engineered that not only infects, but also avoids detection and resists treatment with our current arsenal of vaccines and antibiotics. This final scenario is the most chilling of all.
If anything qualifies as a miracle of modern medicine, it is the
World Health Organization’s use of vaccination to eradicate smallpox in the 1960s and 1970s. The last case of this ancient killer of millions was identified in October 1977 in Somalia. Yet the very fact of our medical triumph over smallpox makes it a particularly devastating weapon. The virus is highly infectious; causes severe, painful disease with a high rate of mortality; and unlike HIV, for example, is quite robust, and can persist in the environment for months or years. Unlike most viral diseases, it is possible to halt smallpox infection by vaccination after exposure. However, the smallpox vaccination must be given within the first forty-eight hours after exposure, and large-scale smallpox vaccination was stopped thirty years ago. A smallpox-based attack now could devastate a large population. But even if an outbreak were quickly contained, it would bring a nation to a halt and be exceedingly frightening and painful.
All smallpox samples were supposed to be destroyed following eradication, with the exception of two batches. One is stored at the
U.S. Centers for Disease control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, and the other at the Russian State Research Institute of Virology and
Biotechnology outside Novosibirsk, Siberia. It is possible, however, that clandestine stocks were kept by Russia, Iraq, Israel, or some other countries, and shortly after 9/11, the World Health Organization decided to postpone the destruction of the final Russian and U.S.
samples in case they are needed to provide scientific information to counter a bioterrorism attack in the future.
Many other pox viruses and other infectious agents provided by nature could potentially be used as weapons. But the Frankenstein-like creation of novel germs is perhaps an even greater fear. A lethal virus might be assembled accidentally, as happened in Australia in 2000 when an experiment to sterilize rodent pests turned sour. The unintentionally lethal virus killed all the experimental animals, despite attempts at vaccination. And the deliberate quest to make germ warfare more effective by genetically modifying existing bacteria and viruses has already begun. Sergei Popov, a Russian molecular biologist who worked in the Soviet biological weapons program, developed a microbe with the potential to cause a slow death from multiple sclerosis. “We never doubted,” he said after defecting to Britain in
1992, “that we did the right thing. We tried to defend our country.”
His words echo those spoken by Werner Heisenberg and other German nuclear scientists after the Second World War almost exactly.
Biological agents need not kill to be effective terror weapons. In the case of rodent pest control, thought has been given to using a modified virus that would cause infected female animals to make antibodies against the coat surrounding their own eggs. As a pest control strategy, it would produce a generation of sterile rats. If a similar virus were developed against human beings, it might be years before a slowly emerging epidemic of infertility was even recognized as a deliberate attack. As one scientist has remarked, “the main thing that stands between the human species and the creation of a supervirus is a sense of responsibility among individual biologists.” With an ever-growing population of scientists with the skill to manipulate the genes of bacteria and viruses, “individual responsibility” may prove a gossamer defense indeed.
Manufacturing DestructionThe nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union in many ways defined the mid-twentieth century. But in some ways we can learn even more from the nuclear confrontation that has played out on the Indian subcontinent. In 1948, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal
Nehru, despite being an advocate of non-aggression and ending atomic tests, admitted that, if threatened, “no pious statements will stop the nation from using it that way.” Nehru was right and on May 11, 1974,
India detonated a plutonium bomb the size of the Hiroshima weapon. As the Indian threat increased, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, then Pakistan’s
Foreign Minister, declared that his country would sacrifice everything to make an atomic bomb, “even if we have to eat grass or leaves or to remain hungry.” Many people in that impoverished nation did in fact remain hungry as Pakistan poured its meager resources into a weapons program, which finally resulted in a series of nuclear tests in March
The disturbing lesson is that the technical and economic barriers to
WMD acquisition are steadily dropping. The Manhattan project cost two trillion dollars in the money of the time, and involved an industrial effort as large as the whole of the U.S. automobile industry. Pakistan managed the same feat as an unstable third-world country with a fraction of the resources. If Iran and North Korea soon join the nuclear club, it will be in part thanks to nuclear secrets purchased from A. Q. Khan, the “father” of the Pakistani bomb. Perhaps most disturbing of all, there are thousands of pounds of high-grade nuclear material still in the former Soviet Union, left over from the cold War.
Some is unaccounted for, and much of the rest is poorly secured, vulnerable to purchase or theft by terror groups.
In much the same way, Germany’s World War I chemical weapons were produced by the most advanced chemical industry in the world at the time. The sarin gas released into the Tokyo subway by the Aum religious sect in 1995, which killed seven people and made 2,000 ill, was made by a single, poorly qualified biochemist, Seichi Endo. Also in 1995, an
American survivalist purchased plague bacteria on the open market from the America Type culture collection for just $300. Whether used by nations against their enemies, or by small bands of terrorists bent on causing ever greater fear, there is simply too little we can do to stop
WMDs and their effects once they have been constructed. Our best hope of security is to encourage and enforce control, while also redoubling our efforts to understand and counteract the conditions that might lead to their use in the first place.
The Battle for ResourcesWe have already stated several times that all team aggression, all raiding, and all wars are ultimately about resources, even if the combatants aren’t consciously aware of it. All life, in fact, at its most fundamental level is about competition for resources. Evolution has been driven by this competition for billions of years, and today’s animals, plants, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi all exist because they competed successfully with their rivals in the past. If we are to have any chance of avoiding the wars of tomorrow, as the destructive power of today’s weapons tells us we must, then we have to address this most basic of biological problems: The fact that as the population of any species grows, the pressure on its natural resources increases and competition becomes more severe.
Biology has invented a million ways for plants and animals to compete with each other. A tree may compete for light by growing taller; early mammals competed with dinosaurs by only coming out at night; humans and chimpanzees—especially the males—compete for food, space, and reproductive opportunities by fighting with each other.
Human wars may come wrapped in a veneer of religion or political philosophy, but the battle for resources is usually just below the surface. When Pope Urban II exhorted the nobles of Europe to join the
First Crusade, he contrasted the lands where they lived, which had
“scarcely enough food for their cultivators,” with Palestine, where the crusaders would be able to appropriate land from the Infidels. In World
War II, the need for land and resources was expressed as Hitler’s concept of lebensraum, or “living space.” “The aim [of] the efforts and sacrifices of the German people in this war,” he wrote, “must be to win territory in the East for the German people.” The Japanese attacked
Pearl Harbor because they knew they had to destroy the American Pacific fleet if they were to access the Indonesian oil they needed to supply their industries. As we saw earlier, while rapid population growth and massive unemployment in some settings, such as the Gaza Strip, do not cause wars or terrorist attacks by themselves, they certainly make them more likely.
The predisposition for team aggression may be an inherent part of chimpanzee and human makeup, but the degree of competition for resources varies with the situation. For example, it seems that team aggression among chimpanzees is less common in the congo, where there are more forest resources, than in Tanzania, where human encroachment has driven the animals into a limited area of forest. The human migrants who crossed the Bering Strait into the Americas about 15,000
years ago found a continent filled with large, easy-to-hunt mammals, and among their limited human skeletal remains we find no evidence of violence. But by about 5000 B.C., as numbers and competition increased, some human skeletons from hunter-gatherer societies in North America show evidence of scalping, or have arrowheads embedded in them. A thousand years ago, in the American Southwest, the Anasazi and Fremont peoples were foragers who also grew maize. Some built elaborate cliff dwellings. The study of tree rings demonstrates that the area was subject to some decade-long droughts, and during these times the region seems to have been beset by raids and warfare. The population retreated to high pinnacles on the edges of deep canyons. They hid small caches of grain in hard to reach places and positioned boulders to roll down on enemy clans. Human skeletons show signs of malnutrition, decapitation, and cut marks on long-bones suggesting cannibalism.
Some Rousseauean anthropologists protest that reports of cannibalism represent a racist desire to denigrate other cultures, but the scientific evidence suggests otherwise. Excavating an Anasazi site in the American Southwest dating from 1150 a.d., Brian Billman of the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found cooking vessels and the butchered remains of four adults and an adolescent. Sensitive immunological tests revealed evidence of human muscle protein in the pots; even more convincing, the same tests found evidence of human meat in preserved human feces found at the site. When food is scarce, competition becomes increasingly intense and cannibalism, like team aggression, aids survival.
Critics have argued that the archaeological evidence for endemic violence in drought-ridden areas is too scattered and circumstantial to draw strong conclusions. A recent study of environment and warfare in contemporary Africa helps put that criticism to rest. Edward Miguel of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues Shanker
Satyanath and Ernest Sergenti of New York University compared rainfall levels and incidents of civil conflict across the African continent, and found that as one increased, the other declined, with a statistical certainty of 95 percent. Interestingly, the effect was found across many different cultures and irrespective of whether the country was well or poorly governed.
Competition for resources has led to violence everywhere we look.
When Polynesian seafarers reached Easter Island about 1,300 to 1,700
years ago, they landed on a forested island full of flightless birds.
By about 500 years ago, the trees had been cut down, the animals had all been eaten, and the clans, who identified themselves with the curious stone statues that still dot the island, fell to fighting each other. The population plummeted from an estimated 20,000 to just 2,000
by the time Europeans arrived in the eighteenth century. Here too we find archeological evidence of cannibalism, which lives on in the oral tradition of the islanders. A local insult used on Easter Island even today is, “The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth.”
The thought that rapid population growth could increase conflict is hardly new, and certainly Thomas Malthus accepted this relationship in his 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population. As with so many efforts to interpret human behavior, however, the link between resource depletion and conflict has been obscured by extreme arguments. As
Shridath Ramphal and Steven Sinding, then of the UN commission on
Global Governance and the Rockefeller Foundation, write, “there has been considerably more heat than light in the international dialogue”
and efforts have been made that “suit a political, as opposed to a scientific interest.” Those looking at the same landscape of facts but through different lenses end up sparring instead of seeking synthesis.
Nancy Peluso and Michael Watts, colleagues of ours at Berkeley, castigate writers such as Robert Kaplan, author of The Coming Anarchy:
How Scarcity, Crime, Overpopulation, and Disease Are Rapidly Destroying the Social Fabric of Our Planet, for making too direct a link between resource scarcity and conflict. They point out, citing Karl Marx (who did in fact get a few things right), that economic patterns also help determine who controls and who has access to resources. No doubt some conflicts could be avoided by a more equitable distribution of resources; there is nothing contradictory in arguing for greater social and economic equality while also recognizing that high birth rates can overwhelm the ability of a finite region to sustain its human population regardless of such equality.
John May, the World Bank’s demographer for Africa, has drawn attention to the demographic pressure that had built up in Rwanda by the time of the 1994 genocide. The population of Rwanda was two million people in 1950, and on average each woman had almost 8 children. By
1994, average family size had fallen slightly to 6.2, but the population had quadrupled to almost eight million, resulting in a population density of 292 people per square kilometer, the highest in all of Africa. James Fairhead, an anthropologist from the School of
Oriental and African Studies in London, adds an economic dimension to the analysis. Preceding the Rwanda genocide, Fairhead points out, agricultural land prices had reached an astronomical $4,000 per hectare in a country where many people lived on less than $500 a year. “Land,”
Fairhead concludes, “is worth fighting for and defending.” Tragically, the fighting which took place in 1994 left between 500,000 and one million dead. It was cast as an ethnic conflict, and senseless. Once its roots in resource competition are laid bare, however, the violent extermination of an identifiable outgroup takes on the all-too familiar logic of team aggression.
Can all conflict be reduced beyond even team aggression and resource competition, down to the single factor of population growth? It’s not quite that simple, but a deeper investigation of the role of population increase shows quite clearly that growth rate and population demographics function as significant triggers for raiding, wars, and even terrorism. If we hope to reduce the number and severity of these violent incidents in our world, this is a relationship we need to understand. Peter Turchin of the University of Connecticut and his
Russian colleague Andrey Korotayev provide important quantitative insight into the dynamic connections between population growth and conflict. In a careful study of English, Chinese, and Roman history, they showed a statistical correlation between an increase in population density and warfare, although not surprisingly the impact of population growth was not immediate but took some time to develop. It is not the infant playing at the hearth but the hungry landless peasant twenty years later who causes the conflict. Adjusting for this and other variables (such as the fact that wars themselves tend to reduce population), and using robust data on population growth from church records in England along with historical data on conflict, Turchin and
Korotayev found that intervals of relative peace and rapid population growth were followed by periods of conflict and slower population growth. Their study suggests that population growth accounts for a powerful 80–90 percent* of the variation between periods of war and peace. Even if the influence of population is substantially less than that, it remains outstandingly important. But here is the crucial point: Rapid population growth is not just an important cause of violent conflicts. In the contemporary world, population growth is a cause that can be contained by purely voluntary means.
In the past fifty years the world has accommodated rapid population growth tolerably well, although as rising oil and food prices suggest, this may not be true in the future. The combination of the industrial revolution and science-based technology increased global wealth at an astonishing rate. We have been a little like those first people to cross into North America, or the Polynesians who first landed at Easter
Island, in more ways than one, however. Presented with vast new supplies of food, energy, building materials, and luxury goods our forbears could never have imagined, we have gorged ourselves on consumption, and we have driven.
Our global population from just one billion people in 1800 to six billion in 2000. We live in a globalized world now, and worldwide population is expected to increase to over eight billion by 2030. The evidence of that increase is now all around us, in our polluted environment, our warming climate, our disappearing rainforests, and our increasingly degraded farmland: We are, as a species, in the process of proving Malthus’s proposition that population will always outstrip resources.
Has the age of rapid resource expansion really come to an end? Human ingenuity continues as unchecked as our population growth, and we will no doubt find ways to squeeze more food, water, and energy out of the existing supplies. But there are natural limits on how far efficiency and invention can take us. Thomas Homer-Dixon, Director of Peace and conflict Studies at the University of Toronto, and Ambassador Richard
Benedick, who was the chief U.S. negotiator for the 1987 Montreal
Protocol on atmospheric ozone levels, argue that resource wars will become increasingly common in many parts of the world in the twenty-first century.* Water, for example, is becoming a key constraint on development and quality of life in many places. Thanks to dwindling supplies and burgeoning populations, the Middle East and much of North
Africa now have one-third as much water per capita as in 1960. Israel has already exploited 95 percent of the available water supply in the country, and uses it efficiently; there is no new supply to tap. In the
Gaza Strip, seawater is contaminating groundwater supplies as fresh water is pumped out to supply the growing population.
Egypt has depended on the Nile for irrigation, drinking water, and flushing its waste for thousands of years. But even that vast stream of water is now reaching its limits. Martha and I have watched millions of gallons of clear water pour over the Blue Nile falls near Bahir Dar in
Ethiopia, and we have sat beside the origin of the White Nile at Jinja on Lake Victoria in Uganda. The two branches join at Khartoum in the middle of the Sudanese desert to make a vast, life-giving flow that has sustained forests, wildlife, and human populations since time immemorial. But by the time the Nile reaches the Mediterranean Sea, it is a sadly depleted shadow of its former self. In the year 2000, there were 170 million people in Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt, all dependent on the waters of the Nile. There is significant demand for family planning in these countries, but for cultural and political reasons, that demand remains largely unmet. The populations of these three countries will continue to expand rapidly from 190 million today to a UN-estimated 337
million people by 2050. Population will more than double, but there will be no new water supply—all 337 million will be dependent on a source that is already under strain. In a region with a volatile mix of cultures, religions, and ethnicities, the added stress of severe water shortages may well be the spark that sets the team aggression impulse ablaze on a vast and horrifying scale.
And yet our consumption continues to increase. In recent decades, a billion new consumers have arisen in China, India, South East Asia,
India, Brazil, Mexico, and parts of the former Soviet bloc. When the incomes of these newly affluent people are adjusted to take into account local purchasing power, their potential to buy better quality food, more consumer goods, and more automobiles will equal that of the
U.S. While we should welcome the improved living standards and decreased poverty in many parts of the world, finite resources also make it essential that everything possible is done in the West and among the newly affluent to prevent runaway population growth. Norman
Myers of Oxford University has shown that if the newly wealthy Chinese were to eat fish at the Japanese per capita rate, they would empty the seas, and if they used cars at the U.S. rate, they alone would consume today’s total global output of oil. In fifteen years, Martha and I have seen Beijing’s and Shanghai’s roads go from two-lane streets filled with bicycles to six-lane super-highways bursting with cars. The price of oil around the world continues to rise with the increased demand, and it is not going to fall to the low levels that Americans expected almost as a natural right just a decade or two ago. As competition for oil and other resources increases, will nations solve their differences through diplomacy, or through war?
Optimists point out that some countries, such as the Netherlands, are densely populated but still maintain a high standard of living. The implication is that good government and modern technology can help prevent the worst problems of expanding populations. But such arguments overlook the fact that we all need space to grow the food we need, to collect the water we use, and to absorb the pollution we create.
calculated realistically, the Netherlands has an ecological footprint fourteen times its area on the map, because it imports food for people and fodder for cattle, consumes drinking water that fell as rain in
Switzerland, and pumps carbon dioxide from its power stations into the global atmosphere.
For billions of years, evolution has been driven by competition caused by the simple fact that, left unchecked, all living things can reproduce faster than their environment can sustain. Our population growth today is largely unchecked by hunger, disease, or predators, and it is highly likely that our numbers and industrial demands have already exceeded the environment’s capacity to support them. Mathias
Wackernagel in California, Norman Myers in England, and others calculate that we may have exceeded Earth’s carrying capacity as long ago as 1975. According to these calculations, we already need a planet
20 percent larger than the one we have. Such estimates are difficult to make and open to criticism. But it doesn’t take much more than an open set of eyes to realize that current human population growth and economic expansion are going to be impossible to sustain in the long term. competition for resources is about to increase markedly.
LessonsHuman beings are animated by curiosity. This same impulse to investigate our surroundings which today drives the scientific enterprise originally adapted our ancestors to a harsh, competitive environment. But unfortunately, the mixture of curiosity, the tendency to overreact when threatened, and unquestioning loyalty to our ingroup has become a lethal combination in today’s world. We can expand the envelope of empathy to include greater numbers of people, but in times of war, or perceived threats to our safety, it too often collapses again.
Power, patriotism, and curiosity can drive even the most intelligent and informed men—and it is virtually always men—to turn new scientific discoveries into weapons of mass destruction. The witness of history seems to be that the predisposition to fight and to defend ourselves against attack is so powerful that human beings, once they perceive themselves to be in a life or death struggle of any kind, will always justify research and development of new weapons, however horrendous their effects. It is sobering to note how many winners of Nobel Prizes for science contributed directly or indirectly to the development of weapons of mass destruction—and how many achievements honored with a
Nobel Peace Prize fell apart soon after they were awarded. If the Nobel
Prize for physics is awarded for accomplishment, the Peace Prize seems very often to reward only effort. But this does not mean that true peace is impossible— so long as we understand the biology of war.
We live in very different evolutionary times than any of our ancestors. After 3.5 billion years of competition, life on Earth has reached its carrying capacity. More competition at this point means fighting harder over a constantly dwindling pool of available resources. As we seek ways to solve our environmental crises, address the warming climate, and combat emerging diseases and global poverty, our very survival as a species requires finding more ways to cooperate rather than compete. And thanks especially to WMDs, the survival of our species now also means bringing an end to war as we know it. It is time to leave our history of team aggression behind.
These are daunting challenges, to say the least. Each will require the commitment and individual efforts of literally billions of our fellow humans, as well as many careful, specific programs put into effect by entire populations. But there is one action that we must take, individually and as a world, if any of the others are to be successful. It directly contradicts some of our deepest evolutionary programming, but if we are to survive as a species, we must stabilize or even reduce population size. As we’ll see in the coming chapter, to a very large extent that means recognizing that the natural tendencies of men are not consistent with the survival and well-being of their sexual partners, their children, and future generations to come. The most aggressive and violent aspects of men’s inherited behaviors—summarized in the predisposition to team aggression—too often overshadow the more benign aims of women, especially that to have surviving and healthy children. Fortunately, women’s impulses and aims are also based on deep evolutionary programming. All we have to do is create the conditions that allow them to be expressed.
Image credit: 1. UNICEF photo/Pierre Holtz 2. Library of Congress: American soldiers in WWI protecting themselves from poison gas. 3. A nuclear test from archive.org. flickr/sandcastlematt 4. A chimpanzee at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. flickr/wordman1
ISLAMABAD – While India has vehemently denied receiving any dossier from Pakistan in Egypt during the Indo-Pak talks on the sidelines of the NAM summit, Pakistan has maintained that it certainly has handed over documents to New Delhi regarding its involvement in Baloch unrest which has the diplomacy of both countries volleying against each other.
Pakistani diplomats have termed the documents as “a balanced statement addressing the real issues”, while a top Indian diplomat allayed claims of receiving any such document saying no dossier was given by Pakistan on Balochistan.
“Only one document, one and a half page long, was handed over by the Pakistani foreign secretary on July 14 and it listed actions taken by Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks with reference to five persons declared proclaimed offenders. Its title also mentioned only Mumbai,” a top Indian diplomat said.
He stressed that Pakistan has neither denied nor accepted a news report on a dossier which makes it clear that no such dossier was handed over to New Delhi in Sharm-el-Sheikh.
A Pakistani diplomat said he did not understand the ‘hullabaloo’ in India over sidelining of terrorism.
“The joint statement is positive and talks about forward movement. It also recognizes terrorism as the single most threat and refers to ways to tackle it jointly,” The Daily Times quoted him, as saying.
Reacting to the media reports, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said: “I have not yet seen any dossier. If such dossier exists, we will examine it and comment.”
Tharoor said it is an attempt by Islamabad to divert attention from the core issue.Pakistan wants to escape its responsibility. We don’t want a destabilised Pakistan. We want a prosperous and stable Pakistan. This has never been Indian policy to destabilise neighbours,” said Tharoor adding ” We cannot believe Pak media reports on a dossier.”
Both Islamabad and New Delhi have also rejected media reports that ISI wants to hold talks with India on the Mumbai terror attacks.
“I don’t know from where this news of ISI wanting to be part of political dialogue has come,” a Pakistani diplomat remarked. (ANI)
By Ershad Abubacker
24 July, 2009
The very idea of Middle East conflict gives a bizarre picture not just to the common middle class, but even to the knowledgeable public. This is based on the well known perception that anything that comes out of the Middle East must naturally be of the interest to the Muslims or in the least sense to Jews. Many tent to stumble over the fact that Arabs are not just Muslims. Arab population mainly consists of Muslims living peacefully with large groups of Christians, Jews and other religious minorities like Kurds, Druze and Sabians. Hence a generalization of Middle East issue as just a Muslim only issue tends to take out the universal acceptability and attention that is due to the people of this region. Palestinian Christians are equal sufferers as its Muslim population in terms of oppression at the hands of Israeli military regime. In this context it is highly important to look into the premises of world public opinion about the conflict and the factors that shape up the so called public opinion.
A careful observation would bring forth the fact that mainstream media, especially the American media plays a vital role in shaping the world public opinion. And it needs a detailed analysis into the complex relationship that defines the content of mainstream media today with respect to the factors that affect the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that dominates our news coverage of international issues. Given that this news coverage is world’s main source of information, it becomes important to examine the story the news media are telling us and to ask the question; does this news coverage reflect the reality on the ground?
NEW ERA WARFARE: A PUBLIC RELATIONS STUNT
World relies on the mainstream media for information of events occurring around the world. News, especially television news exerts powerful influence on people’s perceptions, telling them which events are important and shaping their understanding of the issues. Given the central role played by the US in the Middle East conflict, in fact the wider role played by American voter, in influencing the US media coverage of the conflict is crucial. Controlling the images and words used to explain the conflict has become an important extension of the struggle.
Israel is really fighting the war on two fronts, the first is the military campaign being waged in the occupied territories against the Palestinian people and the second is the Public Relations (PR) Campaign being waged in the US through the American media to ensure continuous support for Israel’s military occupation. In addition to the military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel is also involved in an attempt to ideologically occupy the world media. This is evident from what Alon Pinks, former Consul General for Israel in NY said a few years earlier, “We are currently in a conflict with the Palestinians and engaging in a successful PR campaign is a part of winning the conflict.”
After the PR disaster of Lebanon in 1982 with respect to Sabra and Shatila massacre, Israel decided to set up a permanent institutional structure to control how the world would think about the Middle East and devised Hasbara Project in 1983 that involved training information officers to present Israel’s case to Press and TV anchormen around the world. They trained press officers in Israeli consulates in US to ensure that the journalist would write in favour of Israel, it was a kind of ‘joint formulation of ideas’. This practice goes on to the present day. The Israeli press office is spitting out press releases, statements, information and reports all the time. So you could sit in your bureau in Jerusalem or Dubai and file stories all the time without having to have spent time or energy to dive in to the ground reality.
The propaganda machine is even more effective in US than in Israel. Mainstream news coverage is influenced by a complex set of institutional relationships; these influences can be said as the part of a complex series of filters through which the news must travel before it merges with the voices of news anchors. To understand how mainstream news media report on Middle East conflict, we need to understand how to these institutional filters operate. Among the most important of these filters are the business interests of the cooperation’s that own the mass media, interests that extend beyond the US and across the globe to the middle east.
The economic interests of the media owners are shared by political elites, politicians and policy makers who form the second filter. These political elites have the power to access and influence the mainstream media and are themselves a part of system dominated by corporate money and interests. The strategic importance of the Middle East to these two groups is reflected in the media coverage of the region and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The third filter, Israel’s own PR efforts further affects the coverage. The government of Israel employs some of the largest American PR firms as image consultants to coordinate its political and media campaigns. Nine Israeli consulates in US help implement this PR campaigns by developing relationships with journalist and monitoring media outlets. Scores of private American organisation, both Christian and Jewish, reiterate the official line and organize grass root opposition to any coverage deemed unfavourable to Israel. The most important of these is AIPAC, the most powerful highly influential foreign lobby in Washington.
These institutional frame works of American business and political interest in combination with Israeli PR shape media coverage of the Middle East. At the same time progressive organisations opposing Israeli government policies such as Jews Against the Occupation and Americans for Peace Now, let alone scores of Muslim organisations, that strive to bring out the ground reality rarely make it through these filters.
Finally if any news stories critical of Israeli policy do surface, there are hosts of media watch dog groups that monitor and pressure journalists and media outlets and most important of which is CAMERA. There are active pro Israeli organisations that very effectively monitor (read harass) journalist and their editors and try to make sure that the coverage is objective, by which they mean is pro-Israel. There are even pressure groups to write campaigns and letters to editors and news outlets asking to boycott certain news agencies, demanding the stories to be changed or the reporter to be fired. This becomes so twisted, that the dearth of reporting, the absence of images, lack of analysis, the void of voices of describing the experience of Palestinians under occupation is so vast that the people has no idea that the occupation is going on.
Thus the media don’t show the suffering that the Palestinians are undergoing through occupation, or really understand how bad the occupation is for them, no empathy, no sympathy, no sight of a women unable to reach hospital to give birth, children dying at the check point because they are aren’t let through or denied medical attention. If you don’t see that, your heart cant skip a bee and say something is wrong with the occupation.
THE INVISIBLE TRUTH IN NEWS BROADCAST
One thing to bear in mind regarding media reports on Israeli Palestinian conflict is not only understanding what is there in the story, but more importantly, what is not there. In that sense absence is as vital as presence in terms of how people make sense of the story. Context is everything. The context that is often missing from the current reporting is that the Palestinian uprising is the result of 42 years of brutal occupation. When the occupation is not there in the story, then the story really does not make any sense and the occupation is frequently missing. Even a bird eyed view on the mainstream news broadcast will prove this and that’s why most westerners don’t understand the history of the conflict. The violence and stone throwing that you see on daily basis on TV comfortably ignores the fact that the Palestinians are fighting in their homeland against an Israeli occupation that has been proved illegitimate by the UN and majority of its member nations.
The lack of context is so dramatic as only 4% of the news coverage on the occupied West Bank and Gaza strip mentions the fact that they are occupied territories. Israel sent its military troops to the occupied territories to defend them and when the Palestinian population there resists this, Israel is being presented as being under attack. Israel’s pasture is anything about self defence. Israel is the only country in the world right now that in contravention to UN security council resolutions maintains tens of thousands of heavily armed troops outside its borders, in some body else’s country for the sole purpose of taking their land away from them and in the process forcing them to live under the worst form tyranny like any foreign dictatorship. This context is always missing. Even if Israel is busy killing civilians in cold blood, the whole issue is depicted as self defence. Its always the monotony of Palestinian attack and Israeli retaliation.
LINGUISTIC MEDDLING: PLAYING WITH WORDS
Israel’s goal is eventual annexation of the occupied territories and the settlements being the means to attaining that goal. But they would appear to be threatening colonies if they were presented in their true light and hence all efforts are made to hide their identity by sanitizing the language that describes them.
CNN sent out a memorandum to their staff in the middle east few years ago citing that in future Gilo is to be called a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem and not to refer it any more as a settlement. This seem to be subtle, but there is a great deal of difference between a colony and a neighbourhood. By pressuring journalist into change in the use of words and making them alter their lexicon by linguistically changing the analysis story, not only are the journalist kept in line but it also successfully takes away them from one side of the dispute-the Palestinian side.
The insertion of a large Israeli population in certain areas gives the Israeli govt a rationalisation for refusing to relinquish control and to give Israel an argument that this part of the occupied territory has become so Israeli and having so many Jews living in it that it simply has to annexed to the state of Israel.
If you watch mainstream media coverage, Israel’s home demolition of Palestinian homes is simply presented as enforcement of laws, but we could see this law unequally applied to steal Palestinian land. Israel carry out its home demolitions in the pretext that it is illegal and don’t have permits, when in reality this the way of clearing the Palestinians off their land making it impossible for them to live there pushing more and more of them off in order to claim the land for Israel.
But there is absolutely no understanding on the part of mainstream media and hence on the part of the population educated by that media about what created that circumstance. In contrast to the reality, in the mainstream media there is a reversal in the cause and effect and by that the occupation is pictured as a response to suicide bombings. In reality Israelis do feel insecure and they have good legitimate reason to be threatened about their security. But overwhelmingly reporters will see the source of the insecurity they feel as the Palestinian hatred over Israelis all the time and label this conflict as not motivated by struggle over power, land and territory, but simply by Palestinian hatred.
THE ART OF SELF DEFENCE
Defence in Israel means murder, and people stop thinking the moment they hear the word from the media and Israel takes advantage of this void in thinking and all too often anything can be called defence and then justified. Israel always casts itself and always cast by the media as “Reactive”–as simply responding to Palestinian aggression. Since Sept 11, Israel’s PR strategy has reframed all Palestinian actions, violent or not as terrorism, and to do that they have repackaged the illegal military occupation as a part of America’s war on terror.
Israel has made American empathize with its position by linking itself emotionally to Americans 9/11 experience making a connection when there really isn’t one. It’s been breath taking how American journalists had allowed themselves to be manipulated to this extend.
DEFINING WHO IS NEWS WORTHY
Yet when many civilians are killed on both sides, not all are considered news worthy in the mainstream media. There have been periods when almost no Israelis have been killed and large number of Palestinians has been killed. Those periods have been referred to routinely by the mainstream media (press and TV) as ‘periods of relative calm’. What that means is it’s relatively calm only if the Arabs are dying.
You get the fullness of his humanity for each Israeli soldier killed in the Palestinian land and yet you have hundreds and thousands of Palestinian civilians or children killed and you never get to know their name, you never get to see their funeral, you never get to see the grief of the relatives, as is the case with the Israeli soldier. The Palestinian child might have been killed in their home or their backyards or on their way to school, it doesn’t matter, they all become the pat of the abstraction, 400 Palestinians killed, it’s just a number. This normalisation of horror and exclusion of human dimension has become the part of the policy. This cleaned up antiseptic language does not show the human reality of the substance and the inherent injustice in the situation.
Israeli PR works not only by controlling the content of the media reports but also makes sure that some voices are never meant to be heard. The marginalisation of Israel peace movement in the American media is an example of how this works. Israeli PR machine knows that if the views and voices of Jews who disagree with its policies become public, it would be impossible to maintain the lie that any criticism against Israel is by definition Ant-Semitic. In fact the accusation of Anti-Semitism has been Israel’s most effective strategy in silencing the dissent and journalists in particular has been the target of this tactics. This remains the constant weapon that is used to make deafening chorus of accusations and slanders against such journalists.
Trying to scare people into silence by conflating any criticism of Israeli policies as Anti-Semitism in fact detracts from the very real threats that Anti-Semitism does pose and if this trend continues, the word Anti-Semitism will begin to become unrespectable.
MYTHS OF AMERICAN NEUTRALITY
It is indeed a cruel joke to call America as a neutral broker between Israel and Palestinians, yet this is followed through out the world. The US has exercised its veto power many times in the UN Security Council, but more devastating than that is, it provides billions of US tax dollars of aid to Israel, a lot of it as military aid and a major chunk of it in the most lethal possible form. The total aid by US to Israel for the period of 1949-2000 comes to over $100 billion making Israel, a country the size of New Jersey, the fourth most powerful military in the world in possession of largest fleet of F-16 fighter planes outside the US.
US journalists are being meshed in symbiotic relationship with the powerful instead of being independent and critical. They are typically being dependent on policy makers and are unwilling to raise the crucial critical questions. Rather than monitoring the game of power the journalists are simply part of the game.
A sense of historical amnesia has crippled the whole world from remembering the truth that there existed a country named Palestine and a population of 6 million almost 62 years ago that has been systematically wiped out and the land being annexed to what is called Israel in the present day. This is not an issue that should be seen through the narrow mind and fixed views of ones religion. Palestine is a cry of humanity. Those who claim neutrality amidst this catastrophe must realise that neutrality does not exist at the phase of bulldozed houses, bullet ridden infants and white phosphorus bombs. Doing nothing to prevent it is, in fact, choosing.
The author would like to acknowledge Bathsheba Ratzkoff and Sut Jhally of Media Education Foundation from which strategic information for this article has been taken under the Fair Use Clause of the US Copyright Act of 1976.
Ershad Abubacker is a Research Analyst based in Chennai. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I am what you call a matchmaker,” Rosenbaum is quoted as saying at a July 13 meeting with the two undercover agents.
“I’m doing this a long time,” the complaint says Rosenbaum told the two agents. He then added: “Let me explain to you one thing. It’s illegal to buy or sell organs. … So you cannot buy it. What you do is, you’re giving a compensation for the time.”
As we learn from Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary Chris Huhne that “Britain is setting a shameful new record in anti-Semitic incidents this year,” we also happen to be informed by every press outlet about the massive New Jersey Corruption Sweep: A shocking tale of money-laundering and human organ trading led by a bunch of Rabbis.
The NY Times reports “It was replete with tales of the illegal sales of body parts; of furtive negotiations in diners, parking lots and boiler rooms”. In an article titled the “Jewish Launderette” the Israeli Ynet takes it further providing the juicy details. “The FBI raided synagogues and arrested a few Rabbis. One of those who are held in custody is Rabbi Yitzchak Levi Rosenbaum of Brooklyn who is suspected of trading in body parts. He is charged with a decade-long activity selling kidneys, exploiting both ill and poor donators. He would convince a donator to sell his kidney for $10.000. Rabbi Levi Rosenbaum would then sell the kidney to the needy for $160.000.”
I may raise the inevitable question here, can you imagine your local priest or Imam trading in ‘body parts’? Can you think of a Muslim cleric or a pastor trying to buy your kidney or sell you one in a ‘parking lot’ or in a ‘diner’?
I do not think so.
Here is my suggestion to Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary and everyone else who happens to be ‘concerned’ with the ‘rise of anti-Semitism’.
In the light of Israeli brutality, the conviction of gross swindler Madoff and the latest images of Rabbis being taken away by FBI agents, it is about time we stop discussing the rise of anti-Semitism and start to elaborate on the rise of Jewish Crime.
Police have arrested an Indian national near the District Coordination Office in Bannu, while a bid to blow up the Maryan Police Station has been averted as huge quantity of explosives have been defused, DawnNews reported.
Police sources say the suspect, believed to be an Indian national, has been picked up under section 14 of the Foreign Act for travelling without valid documents.
Some sources, however, say that the man was arrested a few days back by the intelligence agencies and has now been handed over to the Cantt Police Station after investigation.
The man has identified himself as Binoraf Saleem Borhan Kirjee, claiming that he is a resident of Kanyanya Madhya Pradesh in India.
Sources added that the suspect has been shifted to an unknown location, but the local police are reluctant to confirm the arrest.
By REBECCA SANTANA, Associated Press Writer
The tweets still fly and the videos hit YouTube whenever protesters take to the streets in Iran — even as the Internet battle there turns more grueling.
Authorities appear to be intensifying their campaign to block Web sites and chase down the opposition online, and the activists search for new ways to elude them.
Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube remain blocked, as they have been since Iran’s political turmoil began following the disputed June 12 presidential election. Internet experts believe the government is going further — including tracking down computers from which images and videos of Iran’s protests are sent out to the rest of the world. Activists fear their every move online is watched.
“We are really worried about this. To protect myself, I just limit my posts on social networks, my tweets and also I deleted some parts of my personal blogs and my other notes on the Web,” one Iranian who regularly sends tweets about the election turmoil said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
Another said, “Every site where people can gather and stay connected and share news and pics … is blocked.” Both agreed to e-mail interviews on condition of anonymity, fearing government retaliation.
The government is believed to have been aggressively developing software and technology in recent years to strengthen its filtering and monitoring of Web sites. Since the election, a number of Internet experts are countering by providing Iranians with improved proxy systems and other programs to get around government blocks and escape detection.
“I think the Iranian government is learning quickly how to control and contain these things,” said Andrew Lewman, executive director of The Tor Project Inc., based in Boston.
His group’s free downloadable Tor program allows Internet users to work through a network of relays run by volunteers around the world to access blocked sites and hide what they are doing on the Internet. Active sessions using Tor in Iran have jumped from a few hundred before the election to thousands after, the nonprofit group said.
The Internet has been a key tool for Iran’s opposition on two fronts. One is internal — to organize protests and exchange information. The other is external — to let the world know what is going on amid severe government restrictions that bar foreign media from reporting and taking pictures and video on the streets. The government has been actively trying to block online activists on both fronts.
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians held protests denouncing the election as fraudulent until security forces launched a heavy crackdown, arresting hundreds and killing at least 20 protesters. Throughout, activists took to the online messaging site Twitter to relay 140-character posts about what they were seeing and hearing. They furtively recorded video of police and members of the feared Basij militia riding on motorcycles through throngs of protesters, or photos of demonstrators bleeding from battles with government authorities.
One video in particular gripped Iran and the world: Images of 27-year-old Neda Agha Soltan bleeding to death after being shot on a Tehran street were viewed millions of times on YouTube, and her death became a rallying cry for opponents of the regime.
Even after the crackdown crushed the large protests, the Internet has remained key. In two smaller protests organized in recent weeks, constant tweets reported on where the demonstrators were gathering. Despite the restrictions, videos quickly emerged on YouTube showing thousands of protesters clashing with police and Basij. At the same time, Internet news sites have become vital for tracking arrests of opposition politicians and activists, who are often picked up from their homes far from scenes of protests.
During the height of the protests, authorities cut off cell phone service and text messaging — which are all run by state-run firms and through government-owned towers — to break up communications for organizing rallies. Phone service has returned, though it cuts off in parts of Tehran when authorities believe a protest will be held. Texting has been slower to come back and is sporadic at best.
The government has also tried a more traditional route to subdue dissent: arrests. At least 34 journalists and bloggers were detained after the election, joining seven others already in prison, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Around a quarter of Iran’s 65 million people are believed to have Internet access. Iran has long used filtering to restrict certain news and political or pornographic Web sites. But since the election, the number of blocked sites has increased.
Besides Twitter and YouTube, the BBC’s Farsi-language news site is still blocked, and Web sites associated with opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi — who says he won the election — are constantly shut down. In the last week, two new Mousavi sites have been created after others were targeted.
The day after the election, Internet traffic in and out of Iran came to a near total stop, according to research done by Arbor Networks, a Chelmsford, Mass.-based Internet security company.
The cause is not known, but the group says one explanation could be that the state-run Internet company all but shut down the network so all traffic could be run through filtering programs, which can only handle limited volume. In the week after the election — the latest figures available — traffic picked up again to about 70 percent of normal. In Iran, the Internet remains slow because of the brakes on traffic.
Given the secrecy with which the Iranian government operates, it’s difficult to assess exactly what it is doing to monitor the Internet. A number of groups have sprung up to offer Iranians their online expertise, including on called NedaNet, in honor of the woman who died.
Morgan Sennhauser, a project coordinator for NedaNet, published a 31-page paper detailing the strategies and tactics the government is believed to be using.
The methods include blocking data from going to or from certain Internet Protocol addresses — the numeric identifiers for every computer connected to the Web. Another technique used, called packet fingerprinting, allows the government to judge certain characteristics of a packet of data to decide whether to block it or not, so that, for example, a firm’s international transactions can go through but pictures of a protest cannot.
NedaNet, which describes itself as a group of independent “computer hackers and computer users,” aims to set up proxy servers and other technology to enable Iranian users to make themselves anonymous and escape detection. Another proxy system that Iranians often use is Freegate, which was first developed by Chinese dissidents to get around Beijing’s heavy Internet censorship.
“I do think that we’re going to continue to counteract just about everything they can come up with, it’s just a matter of time,” Sennhauser said in e-mailed comments to the AP.
Gaurav Mishra, CEO of the social media research and strategy company 20:20 WebTech, said Twitter and Facebook do help get news out of Iran, but he warned against exaggerating their power to enact change.
“At best, these tools are catalysts, which are very important roles, but should not be overrated,” he said. “To expect Twitter and Facebook on their own to make a fundamental change in that situation is expecting too much.”
There is one method of communication that the government has been unable to stop. Every evening since the election, Iranians climb to their rooftops and scream “Allahu akbar,” — “God is great” — a protest tactic used during the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
By ADAM SCHRECK, AP Business Writer
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -
BlackBerry users in the Mideast business centers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi who were directed by their service provider to upgrade their phones were actually installing spy software that could allow outsiders to peer inside, according to the device’s maker.
While many questions about the breach remain unanswered, including who ordered it sent and why, analysts say the disclosure highlights the security risks posed by increasingly popular smart phones like the BlackBerry.
Richard M. Smith, an Internet security and privacy consultant at Boston Software Forensics, said smart phones are “the perfect personal spying devices” because as tiny computers they can be programmed to send back a broad range of information.
“This is an evolving threat. As the technology advances, the security problems follow behind,” he said.
Research in Motion Ltd., the Canadian company that makes the mobile gadgets, said in a statement emailed Wednesday that it did not authorize the software installation and “was not involved in any way in the testing, promotion or distribution of this software application.” It is directing customers on how to remove the software.
“Independent sources have concluded that it is possible that the installed software could … enable unauthorized access to private or confidential information stored on the user’s smart phone,” the company said in an eight-page statement strongly distancing itself from the decision to install the software.
The Abu Dhabi-based mobile service provider Etisalat, which is majority owned by the United Arab Emirates government, earlier sent text messages to BlackBerry customers in the country instructing them to follow a link to update their phones. Etisalat says it has more than 145,000 BlackBerry users in the UAE.
Some customers who installed the new software said it quickly drained the device’s batteries, prompting hundreds of complaints to Etisalat and sending users to Internet message boards looking for ways to fix the problem.
In a statement issued following complaints last week, Etisalat described the software change as an “upgrade … required for service enhancements.” It said the upgrades were required and linked to a handover to the 3G wireless technology standard.
The BlackBerry maker dismissed that explanation.
“RIM is not aware of any technical network concerns with the performance of BlackBerry smart phones on Etisalat’s network in the UAE,” the company said, adding that it “does not endorse this software application.”
Etisalat did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
RIM said the application users unwittingly installed was a surveillance program developed by a privately held Silicon Valley company called SS8 Networks Inc.
SS8 describes itself in a company brochure as “the leader in communications interception and a worldwide provider of regulatory compliant, electronic intercept and surveillance solutions.” It markets its services to intelligence agencies, law enforcement and communication service providers.
A person who answered the phone at SS8′s Middle East office in Dubai declined to comment and refused to provide a name. He said the company’s regional head, Derek Roga, was out of the country. A spokesman at the company’s headquarters in Milpitas, California, could not be reached.
It is not clear why Etisalat encouraged users to install the application or if any private information was compromised. The
company, one of two major telecommunications providers in the UAE, regularly blocks hundreds of Web addresses — ranging from pornographic sites to the photo-sharing portal Flikr.com — in line with state censorship guidelines.
Etisalat operates phone networks in countries throughout the Middle East and Africa, but a Blackberry spokeswoman said the device maker believes the snooping software was sent only to the operator’s UAE customers.
Smith, the security and privacy consultant, said a data thief tapping into a smart phone in theory could turn on the microphone to listen in on a private conversation, provide a list of previous calls or send back the user’s location.
Bruce Schneier, an author and chief security technology officer at BT, the British telecommunications operator, said smart phones are “not inherently more secure.”
“We’ve mostly been protected because it’s annoying and inconvenient to write software for these devices,” he said.
The Persian Gulf country is the Arab world‘s largest economy after Saudi Arabia. Its most populous city Dubai is trying to position itself as a leading commercial hub, making BlackBerry devices popular among its professional elite.
Human Rights Organization Slaps Israel
Report says massacre of children in Gaza no accident;
By Richard Walker
Israel has enough clout in Washington to silence criticism. It is also adept at making its critics think twice about speaking out because they risk a withering condemnation from sections of the media and are likely to be branded as an anti-Semites. As a consequence, critics of Israel, even within universities, are increasingly reluctant to voice their opinions when Israel’s foreign policies threaten peace in the Middle East or promote military strategies that display a total disregard for civilian life.
But now an Amnesty International report has emerged accusing the Israeli government and its military chain of command of lacking a moral compass by showing a total disregard for international law and human life in Gaza.
Amnesty, like other groups that have looked at the Gaza death toll, reached the conclusion that you cannot, as Israel has tried to do, explain away the deaths of so many children by claiming they died in crossfire or were used as human shields. Amnesty said if civilians were used as human shields it was by the Israeli army, who put them in harm’s way and, in some cases, made them go into buildings they suspected were booby-trapped.
During the Gaza invasion—codenamed “Cast Lead”—Israel deployed weapons that Amnesty says should never have been used in civilian areas, including Hellfire missiles, phosphorus bombs, 120 mm mortar rounds and tank shells filled with thousands of metal darts that acted like shrapnel. Hospitals were attacked and ambulance staff were killed and prevented from tending civilian wounded for days. Families were directed to homes that were then shelled and over 200 policemen were killed in a sustained bombardment of their facilities. Some civilian victims, including women and children, were clearly shot at close range. Others were terribly maimed when phosphorus bombs were used indiscriminately.
Amnesty drew attention to two families. The first was the Sammouni extended family that lost 31 of its members in southeast Gaza City on Jan. 5, 2009. The day before, Israeli soldiers moved dozens of the family’s members from one of their homes to another and then shelled the second home. Not everyone died immediately. Some took days to die from their injuries. Ambulance personnel were not allowed to get to them. A few children who survived were found clinging to their dead mothers. In other instances, Amnesty confirmed that bodies were left decomposing for days in parts of Gaza.
A second example of a family tragedy occurred on Jan. 12, 2009 when a grandmother, mother and three children were sitting outside their home at 9 a.m.. They were killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a drone. The missile and drone were supplied to the Israeli military by the U.S.
Amnesty concluded that the largest numbers of civilian fatalities and injuries resulted from long-range, high-precision weapons fired from helicopters, drones, tanks and mortars. The victims were not caught in crossfire, as Israel alleged, and were not used as human shields by Hamas militants.
“Many were killed when their homes were bombed or as they slept. Others were going about their daily activities, sitting in their yard, handling the laundry on the roof when they were targeted in airstrikes or tank shelling. Children were studying or playing in their bedrooms, or on the roof, or outside their homes when they were struck by missiles or tank shells. Paramedics and ambulances were repeatedly attacked while rescuing the wounded or recovering the dead,” said the report, adding it believed Israel failed to take steps required under international law to protect civilians. Amnesty also unequivocally dismissed Israel’s argument that the deaths of 300 children reflected “collateral damage” and the “panicked reactions of lone soldiers.”
Amnesty quoted an Israeli commander, who gave his men the following advice during a security briefing: “I want aggressiveness. If there is someone suspicious on the upper floor of a house, we’ll shell it. If we have suspicions about a house, we’ll take it down. There will be no hesitation. Nobody will deliberate. Let mistakes be over their lives, not ours.”
That strategy has led to tanks firing shells from a distance of five miles, with the result that they often collapsed more than one house. In the targeting of a mosque, the house next to it was hit and five girls ranging in age from 4 to 17 years were killed. When shells filled with 5,000 tiny metal darts were fired into Gaza, people in a 300 x 100 yard radius of an exploding shell were at risk of death or serious injury. Since the end of the Gaza operation Israel has refused to explain how high-precision weapons, whose operators could see the smallest details of a target, could kill so many women and children.
The indiscriminate use of phosphorus rated special condemnation by Amnesty, yet Gaza was not the first time Israel used the weapon against civilian targets. It fired phosphorus shells into Lebanon and, just as it had done during the Lebanon conflict, it reacted with public outrage when reporters accused it of using the weapon in Gaza. We now know the outrage was feigned as the evidence from Gaza is clear. The Israeli military repeatedly fired phosphorus shells over densely populated areas.
“Phosphorus was often launched from artillery shells in air-burst mode, which aggravated the already devastating consequences of the attacks. Each shell ejected over 100 felt wedges with highly incendiary white phosphorus, which rained down over houses and streets, igniting on exposure to oxygen and setting fire to people and property,” said Amnesty, which further accused the Israel military of preventing people from being properly treated for horrific phosphorous burns. The very fact the Israeli Defense Forces did not come clean about using phosphorus meant many lives were not saved because surgeons did not know what had caused, and how to treat certain types of wounds. The Amnesty report added that white phosphorus and artillery shells were used in attacks that were indiscriminate and violated international law.
“The Israeli military could not have been unaware of the presence of civilians in locations, which were repeatedly attacked. . . . Israeli forces continued to employ the same tactics for the entire duration of the 22-day offensive. . . . Much of the destruction was wanton and deliberate. It was often the result of reckless and indiscriminate attacks which were seemingly tolerated or even directly sanctioned up the chain of command, and which at times appeared intended to collectively punish local residents for the actions of armed groups. . . . Children, women and elderly people were among those trapped and denied access to medical care,” were just some of the report’s conclusions.
Throughout operation “Cast Lead,” the Israeli military denied the international media and independent observers access to Gaza, and, since then, it has refused to speak to investigators. It has made no effort to launch an internal inquiry, and that testifies to a mindset that places scant value on the lives of Palestinians. At the very least, Congress should ask Israel to explain why it killed, injured and maimed so many civilians and particularly why it slaughtered 300 children. On the other hand, if Congress and the America mainstream media are not prepared to address the issue, why should Israel? It is made to feel confident that its closest ally will stand by it no matter what crimes it commits.
In a very real sense, the American people, who constantly are told how great, humane and generous they are, and who finance Israel’s murder machine with their tax dollars, are guilty of these appalling atrocities.
Unlike the U.S., Britain has taken punitive action against Israel for its Gaza operation. The Israeli embassy in London was informed that Israel had violated current British and European laws that forbade the use of weapons for “internal repression.”
An all-party group of British parliamentarians welcomed the move and also a government promise to review all military export licenses to Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli promoters, such as the “Rev.” John Hagee, make millions of dollars with the support of the Israeli-controlled American media, holding rallies to support Israel and its murderous policies. (see pages 16-17 of this issue.)
is the pen name of a former news producer.
1. Gazan Palestinian boy blinded by white phosphorus. 2. Palestinian civilians and medics run to safety during an Israeli strike with phosphorus shells at a UN school 3. Israeli white phosphorus rains down from the sky over a civilian area. 4. A badly injured Palestinian baby is rushed through an aid station. 5. Victim of white phosphorus in Gaza. The banned substance burns the flesh right off the bones of its victims.
This is why most Indians, and other international watchers, are unaware that the Indian government, one of the staunchest allies of the Bush-Cheney administration, has been caught red handed training and supporting terrorists inside Afghanistan to be used primarily against innocent civilians in Pakistan under the guise of Islamic terrorists.
By AHMED QURAISHI
Saturday, 25 July 2009.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—More than a month after the visit of US Under Secretary of State William Burns to New Delhi, I described in my column this week in Pakistan’s The News International [‘Forget AfPak, Resolve AfKash To Win In Afghanistan’] how no Indian official publicly contradicted Mr. Burns when he asked New Delhi to trim down or close some of its consulates in Afghanistan after they have been found involved in terrorism inside Pakistan.
I had no idea I was breaking news to a large segment of the Indian public opinion. It turns out very few people in India know this.
What Mr. Burns said is important because it paved the way four weeks later for Pakistan’s Prime Minister Gilani to have a frank talk with his Indian counterpart in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt, where Mr. Gilani leveled with Mr. Manmohan Singh about India’s role in spreading terror in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The Indians agreed to quietly look into the matter and consented to let Pakistan mention that the two sides discussed ‘threats in Balochistan’, which was a face saver for the Indians. The alternative would have been embarrassing. Islamabad planned to go public with the evidence on Indian terror links.
The Indian government did get into trouble over this with its critics back home. But it successfully kept the lid on an equally embarrassing situation when Mr. Burns visited New Delhi in the second week of June.
It turns out India’s free media practiced a near complete blackout on Mr. Burns’ demand for India to trim or shut down some of its ‘consulates’ in Afghanistan that have been found breeding terrorism on Afghan soil. A couple of Indian news outlets [TV, online] covered Mr. Burns surprising request but the next day almost none of the major Indian newspapers and television news channels mentioned it.
Mr. Burns was effectively censored and selectively presented by the Indian media. This highly unusual occurrence in the world’s largest democracy went unnoticed. A careful search on the Internet of how the Indian print and televised media reported Mr. Burns’ visit between 10-13 June will confirm this fact.
The result is that most Indian analysts and commentators are unaware of what their government and some of its spy outfits have been accused of. When The News published my column this week, I was inundated with emails from India questioning the veracity of the information on Mr. Burns’ trip. The commonest charge was that this is a Pakistani propaganda.
To set the record straight, it appears that while the Indian government could not do much about the embarrassing joint statement, it did a good job of hiding the embarrassing request Mr. Burns made during his stay in the Indian capital.
For the benefit of our angry and suspicious Indian friends, these are quick references that corroborate the story that the Indian media chose to unanimously ignore during Mr. Burns’ visit:
Bharat Prakashan (Delhi) Ltd., which owns and runs the Indian Web news magazine Organiser.com, reported the following in its edition for the week ending on July 26, written by Mr. M. V. Kamath:
“Shri [William] Burns was even more brash. He asked India to close down the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad in Afghanistan because of Pakistani complaint that India is “fomenting trouble” through that Consulate in the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan? Can India ask the US to tell Pakistan to shift its capital from Islamabad to Karachi because Islamabad is causing trouble in Jammu & Kashmir? Who is Shri Burns to advise us where we should set up our Consulates?”
Similarly, under the colorful title, US to Delhi: Shut down Indian “Consulates” in Afghanistan– aftermath of RAW bombing of Peshawar hotel, the interactive Web news magazine Zimbio.com wrote this:
“Senior US diplomat William Burns gave Indian officials a terse and cryptic directive on Thursday. ”Shut down Indian Consulates in Afghanistan, reduce presence in Kabul and stop sending mercenaries across the Durand Line.” This message was supplemented with a letter from President Barack Obama to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.”
The Indian Embassy in Washington confirmed on its website that Mr. Burns “also handed over a letter from President Barack Obama to Prime Minister Singh” but did not elaborate on the contents beyond the diplomatic line that “The letter underscored President Obama’s “commitment to broadening and deepening relations with India.”
In another rare instance, a South Indian news website NewKerala.com reported on June 11 under the headline, ‘India being asked to close down or prune its Consulate in Jalalabad’:
“New Delhi, Jun 11 : The United States is asking India to ‘close or prune down’ its Consulate in Jalalabad in Afghanistan following allegations by Pakistan that it (Indian consulate) is ‘creating trouble’ in the border areas of NWFP and Balochistan, sources said here today.”
Most importantly, Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, which is known as a strong advocate of closer ties with India even at the expense of putting Kashmir on the backburner, had this to say in an editorial on India’s now proven terror links:
“New Delhi for its part has insisted … that it be provided with concrete evidence of Indian involvement. This has now been done, with the reported handing over of a dossier detailing instances of Indian interference in Pakistan. The evidence apparently includes pictures of some senior Baloch separatist leaders conferring with Indian operatives as well as details of safe houses run by RAW in Afghanistan. Proof of India’s involvement in terror financing in Pakistan has also been provided, it is said, as have the names of Indian agents who crossed the border to link up with militants on this side of Wagah.”
Mr. Jawed Naqvi, a respected Indian journalist and a long time correspondent for Pakistan’s Dawn, reported on June 11 that the “United News of India quoted unnamed sources as saying that the US had asked India to “close or prune down” its consulate in Jalalabad in Afghanistan.”
And the list goes on. You will not, however, find any mainstream Indian news outlet covering this important aspect of Mr. Burns’ visit. And it is fair to say there was an undeclared moratorium on this issue that the Indian media faithfully enforced. The American and the British media were equally selective in covering this aspect that appeared to tarnish India’s carefully crafted image. In Pakistan’s case, the Am-Brit media has shown willingness to publish alarmist stories that lack credibility.
Why the free media in the world’s largest democracy practiced what appears to be government-inspired censorship?
For Pakistanis there is nothing new in this. The Indian mainstream media dares not veer off the official line on Kashmir when the Pakistani media in comparison has and continues to give space to views on Kashmir that sharply diverge from the official line.
Even the Track II diplomacy delegations coming from India over the past five years consisting of independent activists and professionals showed a strange synchronization in what they said when asked about key issues. The Pakistani delegations visiting India have always shown diversity in views and hardly any unanimity on vital matters.
The case of Mr. William Burns confirms the existence of a mechanism in India where the mainstream media does follow a uniform official code on some issues. When a senior Indian nuclear scientist was kidnapped and murdered in May, the Indian media slapped a blackout. Interestingly, despite the event’s nuclear security implications, even the Am-Brit media completely ignored it.
It is unusual that privately-held media in such established and self professed democracies such as the United States, Britain and India so faithfully mimics the national security priorities of their political-military establishments.
Even more stunning is how each one of them respects the security considerations of the other two. This the only logical explanation for how the Indian and the Am-Brit media, for example, covered the story of the Indian nuclear security breach.