Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Negotiable Or Not,

The American Way of Life Must Be Extinguished…

By Jason Miller

Is the Western consumerist culture that we inflict upon the rest of the world truly the pinnacle of our evolution? If it is, I resign my membership in the human race. Though I don’t fear that I’ll be compelled to tender my resignation any time soon because our so-called "non-negotiable American Way of Life" is a piece of shit, for myriad reasons.

We in the Western "developed" nations, particularly in the United States, are an utter disgrace to our species. Our myopic, self-centered, jejune, hubristic, and benighted ways of examining and interacting with the rest of the world, including other human animals, non-human animals, and Mother Earth herself, are reprehensible to the point of nausea and beyond.

And why wouldn’t they be? We carry perceived entitlement to such pathological lengths that we actually believe that the world and all of its inhabitants are resources we can objectify and use to enhance and ensure our "prosperity," "security," and "the growth of our economy." We are conditioned to believe ahistorical, manipulative and grossly distorted sound-bites streamed into our shriveled, atrophied cerebrums by well-coiffed, polished talking head sycophants who owe their careerist souls to a system that is destroying the world.

And why wouldn’t we US Americans believe that our "shining city upon the hill" is entitled to whatever our little hearts desire (and our $1 trillion per year military can plunder)? We are all living large thanks to the genocide our forefathers committed against the natives of Turtle Island. After all, who’s going to worry about a little thing like 10-100 million dead "red men?" Or the 100 million black slaves who contributed mightily (and involuntarily I might add) to the development of our economic juggernaut of a nation? I can already see the shoulders shrugging and people assuaging potential guilt with the shop-worn arguments that "we’ve more than made it up to them," "you can’t change the past," or "I wasn’t there when it happened." Well, guess what. I’m not suggesting reparations or apologies. Fuck applying band-aids to gaping wounds. We are barbarians masquerading as enlightened Christian folk—we’ve even deluded ourselves into believing our shit smells like roses. How far do we go before we call a halt to our insanity?

Stocks of large marine animals have fallen 90% since 1950. The polar bears and penguins are drowning and disappearing in droves. Cattle, pigs, and chickens suffer unspeakable horrors in torture facilities euphemistically labeled factory farms mostly so we can get our "fast food fix" and destroy the world one burger at a time by eating at McDonald’s. 50% of the world’s tropical forests are gone and if present trends continue they will all be gone by 2090. A unique species of life goes extinct every 20 minutes.

Conscienceless sociopaths like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney routinely rise to the ultimate positions of power, visibility and responsibility in our nightmare society. We have already slaughtered over a million Iraqis in retaliation for the 3,000 people they DIDN’T kill on 9/11. Disproportionate scapegoating at its finest. Job well done, USA! (One shudders to think how many we would’ve killed had Iraqis been the actual perpetrators of the WTC bombings).

I wonder, dear reader, if you are wondering the same thing I’m wondering as I’m writing: Just what the fuck is wrong with us? We US Americans excel at paying lip service to worshipping Christ and/or the God of the Old Testament, but the truth is that our real god is Mammon. Even those who reject mainstream culture and its obsession with wealth and material possessions are forced to subjugate themselves to the almighty dollar in our filthy capitalist dog-eat-dog, winner-take-all system.

We fancy ourselves to have a monopoly on "freedom" and "decency." In fact, we’ve mind-fucked ourselves into believing it is our "duty" to "civilize" the rest of the world. In reality we are wage and debt slaves who each play a role in perpetuating a system that is grossly immoral, exploitative, and malevolent. We export our evil via our blood-drenched foreign policy. "Get them before they get us" is our motto—even if we happen to be the equivalent of Mike Tyson pulverizing an infant. Hey, he might’ve attacked us when he grew up, right?

For those of us who haven’t had every shred of moral decency indoctrinated out of us, there is cause for some optimism. Like a pyramid balancing on its apex, capitalism is destined to topple. Linear, short-sighted, chaotic, grossly immoral, and dependent upon infinite growth in a finite world, it has already reached obsolescence in the minds of most intellectually honest critical thinkers. Its myriad victims have discovered perhaps its ultimate vulnerability: asymmetric warfare. In its insatiable thirst to commodify everything, capitalism is at odds with Mother Nature herself. If the victims of imperialism and monopoly capitalism don’t bring this son of a bitch down, the Earth will. And I feel confident that I speak for many when I state that the world will be truly blessed when our violent, hierarchal, and malignant culture of murder and mayhem is throttled to death like a perpetrator who finally encounters a victim with the means to eradicate him.

Meanwhile, we can accelerate the demise of the dominant culture, as Derrick Jensen has labeled our rotten-to-the-core Westernized, capitalistic way of being. As Jensen suggests, we need to build upon the culture of resistance that is rapidly expanding in the pre-revolutionary environment in which we find ourselves.

As the inevitable revolution or crash approaches (the power elite can only fuck the people or the environment so hard before the backlash takes them out), there are many things we can do (each according to our abilities and resources) to monkey wrench this merciless, murderous machine.

Students of history will note that all manner of people and activities are necessary to bring down a deeply entrenched rotten and oppressive establishment. Strikers, boycotters, organizers, thinkers, writers, spiritual leaders, protestors, civil disobedients, conscientious objectors, providers of resources, and groups engaged in direct action like the ALF are all essential to the success of resisting the considerable might and tenacity of those who hold a majority of the world’s wealth and power.

So, as Jensen suggests, find what you love and do it in such a way that it puts a little more wobble on that inverted pyramid.

And when the time comes, those of us who are clinging to our guns so bitterly will know what to do with them.

Jason Miller is Cyrano’s Journal Online’s associate editor and publishes Thomas Paine’s Corner

Morales & Capitalism

Bolivia's leader Morales denounces
global business, rich opponents

Monday, April 21

New York - Bolivia's President Evo Morales carried his national reform plans to the United Nations on Monday, telling a meeting of world indigenous peoples to be wary of transnational corporations and industrialists. Bolivia's first elected indigenous leader denounced such companies as "exploiters" of his country's natural resources, which he said belong to Bolivians.

Since his election in 2006 as the country's first indigenous leader, Morales has been battling opponents of his plan to take state control over Bolivia's oil and gas industry.

He said there were only 300 million dollars in oil and gas revenues in 2006 when he took office, and he has been able to raise the amount to nearly 2 billion dollars this year to distribute them to Bolivians.

"The country's resources belong to the people," Morales said.

He denounced the rich in his country for trying to stop his social programmes, and foreign companies which put their products like cars before people's life.

"Some transnationals think cars are more important than people," Morales said.

Turning to the UN meeting on the indigenous people, Morales called on the world body to recognize their diverse cultures and needs, an appeal that he had made on several occasions in the past two years, using his high profile as an indigenous head of state.

The Bolivian leader said he encountered numerous obstacles to his reform plan, saying that he cannot change 500 years of culture in two years as president.

The UN has provided an official forum for the estimated 300 million indigenous people around the world. The meeting at UN headquarters was expected to attract about 2,500 participants from all regions in the next two weeks to discuss climate change, cultural diversity and living conditions of indigenous people.

The meeting was to continue discussion on the convention on the rights of indigenous peoples, with an emphasis this year on climate change.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

No Utube Left Behind

The following is from William Fisher's May 19 2008 Huffington Post article.

The most discredited bromide in American civic life is: "Give the American people the facts, and they will make the right decisions."

But who is giving them the facts?

Fox News? Rush Limbaugh? Bill O'Reilly? Lou Dobbs? The hysterical Chris Matthews?

I don't think so. These people are entertainers pitching themselves as journalists.

Or maybe the fact-gatherers are ABC's Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, who spent the first 50 minutes of the last Obama-Clinton debate asking non-questions for which they surely deserve the year's top Inanity Awards.

Charley and George are not journalists; they're "gotcha" peddlers. Their interest is in ratings and money, not facts.

The short answer is nobody. And the result is a tragically uninformed electorate.

But this state of affairs didn't start with TV talking heads. It started in our middle and high schools, with the parents of the young people who attend these schools and with those who teach those students.

The intellectual poverty of our educational system was recently highlighted in an article in the Journal of Higher Education by Ted Gup, a professor of journalism at Case Western Reserve University and author of "Nation of Secrets: The Threat to Democracy and the American Way of Life" (Doubleday, 2007).

Gup recounted the following experience:

"I teach a seminar called 'Secrecy: Forbidden Knowledge'. I recently asked my class of 16 freshmen and sophomores, many of whom had graduated in the top 10 percent of their high-school classes and had dazzling SAT scores, how many had heard the word "rendition." Not one hand went up. This is after four years of the word appearing on the front pages of the nation's newspapers, on network and cable news, and online. This is after years of highly publicized lawsuits, Congressional inquiries, and international controversy and condemnation. This is after the release of a Hollywood film of that title, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Meryl Streep, and Reese Witherspoon."

Gup wrote that this information deficit was no aberration. He said, "Nearly half of a recent class could not name a single country that bordered Israel. In an introductory journalism class, 11 of 18 students could not name what country Kabul was in, although we have been at war there for half a decade. Last fall only one in 21 students could name the U.S. secretary of defense. Given a list of four countries -- China, Cuba, India, and Japan -- not one of those same 21 students could identify India and Japan as democracies. Their grasp of history was little better. Some students thought that Islam was the principal religion of South America, that Roe v. Wade was about slavery, that 50 justices sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, that the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1975."

Should we be surprised? I don't think so.

The study of civics has virtually disappeared from our middle and high school curricula. And many of the few schools that still teach this subject are using a textbook - now in its 11th edition -- that the widely respected Center for Inquiry says contains "inaccurate and misleading statements, in particular in its analysis of certain constitutional law issues, including school prayer and global warming."

And despite the ubiquity of blackberries, laptops, and access to television and the Internet by our youth, survey after survey has validated the sorry state of their knowledge, particularly about American history and America's civic life.

For example, one survey found that 52% of Americans could name two or more of the characters from "The Simpsons," but only 28% could identify two of the freedoms protected under the First Amendment. Another poll found that 77% of Americans could name at least two of the Seven Dwarfs from "Snow White," but only 24% could name two or more Supreme Court justices. Yet another survey showed that only two-thirds of Americans could identify all three branches of government; only 55% of Americans were aware that the Supreme Court can declare an act of Congress unconstitutional; and 35% thought that it was the intention of the founding fathers to give the president "the final say" over Congress and the judiciary.

And according to a new statewide study, thousands of Massachusetts public high school graduates arrive at college unprepared for even the most basic math and English classes, forcing them to take remedial courses that discourage many from staying in school. At three high schools in Boston and two in Worcester, at least 70 percent of students were forced to take at least one remedial class because they scored poorly on a college placement test.

Other studies sadly point in the same direction. One showed that a majority of college students thinks the press has too much freedom. Another found that they believe the freedoms of American Muslims should be restricted. Still another found that a majority of high school graduates couldn't find China on a map. And year after year, America's knowledge scores vis a vis other industrialized democracies keeps going south.

The totally predictable result is, as David Brooks pointed out in a recent New York Times column, "For the first time in the nation's history, workers retiring from the labor force are better educated than the ones coming in."

Lately, amidst our xenophobic immigration debate, there's been lots of chatter about the new test the government is proposing to determine which immigrants qualify for naturalized U.S. citizenship. The Los Angeles Times' Rosa Brooks writes, tongue in cheek, that it "will rigorously assess immigrants' knowledge of 'the fundamental concepts of American democracy'," asking tough questions such as 'Why do we have three branches of government? , 'What is the rule of law?' and 'What are inalienable rights'? "

Ms. Brooks says that requiring those who want the privileges of U.S. citizenship to have some minimal knowledge of American civics "is a great idea." Why, she asks, "should this country mint new so-called citizens who don't know the first thing about American history or law?"

Her zinger, however, is that she wants to make native-born Americans take the test too -- and deport them to their last known countries of ancestry if they flunk. Why, she asks, "should we ask first-generation immigrants to know more about the United States than the rest of us?"

Why indeed!

Do we have reason to hope that the millions of young people who have flocked to support Barack Obama's candidacy represent some kind of a sea change among our youth?

No, we don't. These young people are "the best and the brightest" - far above the norm. A vastly greater number of American young people are high school dropouts, or kids who graduate from high school despite being functionally illiterate, or even those who go on to college clueless about their country's history and government.

These are the young people who click on YouTube to amass an encyclopedic knowledge of Paris Hilton's latest antics.

And despite the Bush Administration's overblown claims of success for its "No Child Left Behind" program, these are the millions of kids who continue to be left behind.

And who leave our country behind in the process.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Believe It Or Not...

Americans Want Iraq To Start Paying The Bills For The Occupation

By Richard Cowan Thu Apr 17, 4:23 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq should start paying the costs of its own rebuilding, fuel costs for U.S. military vehicles conducting security operations there and other expenses now being borne by American taxpayers, a group of Democratic and Republican senators said on Thursday.

Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat from Nebraska, said he and other lawmakers will try to attach legislation requiring Baghdad to begin shouldering these costs to a war-funding bill that will move through Congress in coming weeks.

Noting that Iraq is running a higher-than-expected budget surplus because of the rising price of its oil exports, Nelson said, "It's time now for Iraq to assume responsibility for its future with its own investment."

Nelson, who serves on a committee that oversees the U.S. military and another that dispenses money for the Iraq war, added, "The American public is growing weary of financing every aspect of Iraq's future."

At the outset of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March, 2003, some Bush administration officials said Iraq might be able to finance its own reconstruction using oil revenues. But the administration it later opposed legislation requiring that.


Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine complained that the Pentagon is paying about $153 million a month to fuel its vehicles Iraq, while Iraqis "heavily subsidize oil for their own citizens but do not so for our troops in defending Iraq."

As a result, said Sen. Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat, the U.S. military is paying about $3.23 per gallon for gasoline, while Iraqis pay about $1.30.

The senators said they might include other costs, which Iraq would pay directly or through loans. These might include the cost of some weapons as well as the cost of training Iraqi forces and salaries of security forces known as Sons of Iraq.

The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, already is looking at Iraqi oil revenues to determine how much money Baghdad is contributing to its own security and reconstruction efforts. The probe was requested by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin of Michigan and Sen. John Warner of Virginia.

Levin has complained that Iraq is earning interest on funds from its budget surplus that are deposited in foreign banks while U.S. spending in Iraq contributes to mounting budget deficits and debt at home.

Nelson said the United States has spent about $45 billion on Iraqi reconstruction projects and Collins noted that Iraq might enjoy a $60 billion budget surplus this year.

The Bush administration's budget director, Jim Nussle, said the White House might be open to considering ways for Iraq to take more responsibility for its own expenses.

But the senators told reporters the administration would probably embrace fewer shifts in costs than they wanted.

Legislation providing more than $100 billion in new war funds for Iraq and Afghanistan is likely to be debated in Congress later this month and in May.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Free Market

A Man-Made Famine

By Raj Patel
The Guardian

For anyone who understands the current food crisis, it is hard to listen to the head of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, without gagging.

Earlier this week, Zoellick waxed apocalyptic about the consequences of the global surge in prices, arguing that free trade had become a humanitarian necessity, to ensure that poor people had enough to eat. The current wave of food riots has already claimed the prime minister of Haiti, and there have been protests around the world, from Mexico, to Egypt, to India.

The reason for the price rise is perfect storm of high oil prices, an increasing demand for meat in developing countries, poor harvests, population growth, financial speculation and biofuels. But prices have fluctuated before. The reason we're seeing such misery as a result of this particular spike has everything to do with Zoellick and his friends.

Before he replaced Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank, Zoellick was the US trade representative, their man at the World Trade Organisation. While there, he won a reputation as a tough and guileful negotiator, savvy with details and pushy with the neoconservative economic agenda: a technocrat with a knuckleduster.

His mission was to accelerate two decades of trade liberalisation in key strategic commodities for the United States, among them agriculture. Practically, this meant the removal of developing countries' ability to stockpile grain (food mountains interfere with the market), to create tariff barriers (ditto), and to support farmers (they ought to be able to compete on their own). This Zoellick did often, and enthusiastically.

Without agricultural support policies, though, there's no buffer between the price shocks and the bellies of the poorest people on earth. No option to support sustainable smaller-scale farmers, because they've been driven off their land by cheap EU and US imports. No option to dip into grain reserves because they've been sold off to service debt. No way of increasing the income of the poorest, because social programmes have been cut to the bone.

The reason that today's price increases hurt the poor so much is that all protection from price shocks has been flayed away, by organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organisation and the World Bank.

Even the World Bank's own Independent Evaluation Groupadmits (pdf) that the bank has been doing a poor job in agriculture. Part of the bank's vision was to clear away the government agricultural clutter so that the private sector could come in to make agriculture efficient. But, as the Independent Evaluation Group delicately puts it, "in most reforming countries, the private sector did not step in to fill the vacuum when the public sector withdrew." After the liberalisation of agriculture, the invisible hand was nowhere to be seen.

But governments weren't allowed to return to the business of supporting agriculture. Trade liberalisation agreements and World Bank loan conditions, such as those promoted by Zoellick, have made food sovereignty impossible.

This is why, when we see Dominique Strauss-Kahn of the IMF wailing about food prices, or Zoellick using the crisis to argue with breathless urgency for more liberalisation, the only reasonable response is nausea.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tourism in Mexico

As most days, I have read another horror story American article about Mexico and why not to go there anymore and to look at the country as a threat and undesirable . I have made answer here to the typical comments . These articles flood the news and create a vision that is a lie.

The U.S. State Department in Mexico issued a travel alert
yesterday, prompted by drug violence in the north of Mexico.

[The war on drugs is an American invention and then they complain about the results as though what they have caused is somehow Mexico’s fault.]

"Violent criminal activity fueled by a war between criminal
organizations struggling for control of the lucrative narcotics
trade continues along the U.S.-Mexico border. Attacks are aimed
primarily at members of drug-trafficking organizations, Mexican
police forces, criminal justice officials, and journalists.

[The main criminal organization being American government and its various public and private militaries and law enforcement agencies. And as the article says, Lucrative, meaning fortunes can be made, so of course America is in control of the situation and making the most profit from it, from all directions. It says attacks are aimed, but does not say who is doing the aiming. The article appears to have the legal and illegal organizations here in one category.]

However, foreign visitors and residents, including Americans, have been among the victims of homicides and kidnappings in the border region.

[A distorted truth. If one bothers with the details, they will see these kidnappings are Mexicans who have family and business on both sides of the border, with easy resources to check on before the kidnappers move. It is not random.]

In its effort to combat violence, the government of Mexico has deployed
military troops in various parts of the country

[Mexico has always had its troops all over its country, assuring its safety. A few extra have been sent to the border, at Americas insistence so they can add fuel to the fight to make the situation worse.]

U.S. citizens are urged to cooperate with official checkpoints when traveling on Mexican highways."

[Urged? Yes it would be a good idea to cooperate with officials in other countries, even if you are American.]

American ambassador Antonio Garza said in a statement that the alert
warning reflects the current reality in Mexico: "These conditions
are widely known here in Mexico from watching the news every day,
but many tourists are simply not as aware of what goes on in other
countries as they are in their own."

[Correct, Americans are not aware of others countries, but I am sure they don't know much about their own either. Both situations are buried in lies and illusions for them. Mexicans are very aware that any of their country that touches America is dangerous]

American visitors are advised to stay out of the border region, and
to avoid areas where there are high levels of prostitution and drug

[Since that is how visitors get to the border areas is by crossing the border, this is to say, no one go there any more, stop tourism and business . And the advice of staying out of undesirable areas should apply anywhere, since it happens everywhere. If you have to be told that, perhaps you should stay home. ]

Garza's alerts, which in the past have infuriated politicians and
the press in Mexico, appear to be justified. Calderon's military
campaign against the drug lords was launched 15 months ago, and the
violence on the border has increased, especially in recent months.

[Americas War on Drugs has escalated, as planned. Make substances that are in high demand illegal, use another country to get them from, arm the declared enemy to fight those in authority, fund both sides and run your own interference and media propaganda scheme, you will be sure to have the situation get much worse. Especially while nothing is done to stop the American cravingsfor illegal drugs .]

At the time of writing this article, more than 50 people had been
killed in Tijuana since the beginning of the year, and the bodies of
victims of the narcos turn up regularly. Reports such as this,
telling how five youths were tortured, sprayed with bullets and
dumped in an empty lot in Tijuana in March, are unfortunately common.

[There are many reasons why 50 people could be killed in Tijuana, other than drug related. The constant flow of workers from south to north, to seek the promised jobs and high wages and the near impossibility of American laws to come legal causes a back up and a bad situation for one. Of course some of the often told reports are true, but if one checks on the American side of the border, one can find the same kind of gang related violence.]

'The overall death toll associated with drug gangs in Mexico has
rise to more than 720 so far this year, well above the count this
time last year,' reads the report, published at the end of March. Mexico's drug wars killed more than 2,500 people in 2007.

[Any country that America invades, puts down its own laws on, and makes any type of war on will become a dangerous place to be. Feeding the public this image of Mexico is all part of the plan to destabilize the country enough to make it vulnerable for take over and optimum use for Americas own cause. America plays all angles in this game of oppression and destruction. Commerce, Agriculture, Tourism, the right for a country to make their own decisions, all greatly harmed and in danger of totally failing because of America. How evil to cause havoc in another country, and then point the blame at that country, as though America did not cause this step by planned step.]

And here copied below is another article, by American people for their own.

The True Price of Adventure in Paradise

Would-be expatriates look for home destinations that appeal to their
individual definition of adventure and paradise. For the first time,
International Living reported Mexico as the worlds top retirement
haven because of its economy, real estate, and quality of life.

[Mexico has always represented freedom and the simple good life to Americans. For many it is their dream or goal to vacation or retire here. How totally hypocritical to warn away tourism while at the same time promote moving here as the ultimate retirement place. Americans think they can build realty any way that suits them, but only the willingly decieved will buy it. The truth still exists and those who see it must fight on to not let it be buried in lies that benefit America and destroy others.]

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Times

They Are A-Changin'

By Robert Weissman

Have things changed at the International Monetary Fund? Or is the world just witnessing yet another in a long series of global economic double standards?

IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn says that the "need for public intervention" to address the global financial crisis "is becoming more evident." Strauss-Kahn has urged for a global fiscal stimulus, writing that, "Timely and targeted fiscal stimulus can add to aggregate demand in a way that supports private consumption during a critical phase." The IMF has announced its support for the fiscal stimulus plan in the United States -- a country with significant budget deficits and massive foreign debt.

The support for government intervention runs directly counter to the IMF's longstanding support for strait-jacketing governments in poor countries, by demanding "structural adjustment" -- a series of market fundamentalist, corporate-friendly policies, including hyper-restrictive macro-economic policies.

So far, there is little evidence that the IMF is changing the way it operates in developing countries. But maybe the times are changing, whether the IMF likes it or not.

The IMF gets its power from a gatekeeper role in international finance and donor circles. International lenders and government aid donors commonly limit their lending and aid donations to countries in the IMF's good graces. The logic is that the IMF is competent to determine that the recipient countries are pursuing sensible economic policies, and therefore equipped to manage loans or aid.

The IMF has capitalized on its gatekeeper role to demand countries pursue a cookie cutter, market fundamentalist agenda of blind deregulation, sell-offs of public assets to corporations (privatization), opening up economies to foreign investors, tariff cuts, and government spending cuts.

There is overwhelming evidence of the failure of the IMF's policy agenda. Mass privatization has led to enormous concentrations of wealth and encouraged corruption. Deregulation has contributed to financial crises, including those that foreshadowed the current global crisis centered in the United States. The overall economic model had impoverished tens of millions and left developing countries poorer. And government budget ceilings and inflation targets have prevented countries from expanded desperately needed investments in healthcare and education. Indeed, the IMF's own Independent Evaluation Office has found that the Fund requires poor countries not meeting Fund inflation targets to divert most new donor aid. Instead of spending additional donor money on healthcare, for example, countries must use it to build up foreign reserves or pay down domestic debt.

Although the Fund has promised that it would reform the way it imposes conditions on poor countries, a new report from Eurodad, the European Network on Debt and Development, finds that, over the last six years, IMF conditions have not changed in number or kind.

One thing has changed, however. Impressed by the IMF's repeated failures, middle-income countries have paid back their loans to the Fund, and are not taking out any news ones.

This in turn has two consequences. For now, at least, the IMF has lost its hold over most middle-income countries -- but it maintains its iron grip on the world's poorest countries. And, the Fund is experiencing a financial crunch of its own. It had depended on the interest payments from middle-income countries to support its budget.

Developing countries are not shedding tears over the IMF's financial distress. "At long last, the IMF is experiencing first hand serious budget cuts," says Cheikh Tidiane Dieye of Environment and Development in Africa (ENDA), based in Senegal. "The poetic justice of this is palpable. In Senegal, the IMF has mandated budget cuts for years. As a result, we have been unable to invest in health care, education and other essential services. If the IMF's loss of financial power is accompanied by a loss in political power, this could be good news for all Africans."

The IMF's governing body has just approved a proposal that would involve cutting its staff by about 20 percent and selling some of its gold stock to create a trust fund that would fund administrative operations in the future.

The gold cannot be sold without U.S. approval, however, and the U.S. representative to the Fund cannot support gold sales without Congressional authorization.

Health, development and labor organizations in the United States are mobilizing so that Congress approves gold sales only after achieving fundamental changes in IMF policy. Last week, 80 U.S. organizations -- including Action Aid International USA, the AFL-CIO, Africa Action, the Bank Information Center, Essential Action (which I direct), 50 Years is Enough, Global AIDS Alliance, Health GAP, Jubilee USA Network, the ONE Campaign, Oxfam America, RESULTS USA, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the Student Global AIDS Campaign -- urged Congress not to approve gold sales until first achieving real change at the Fund.

The letter says the Congress should require the IMF to: rescind the use of overly restrictive deficit-reduction and inflation-reduction targets; exempt expanded health and education spending in developing countries from IMF-imposed budget ceilings; permit developing countries to spend foreign aid for its intended purposes; delink debt cancellation from harmful economic policy conditions; and disclose crucial documents currently kept secret.

If the gold sales deal is approved, the IMF will become self-financing, and the U.S. Congress will lose much of its power to demand changes in how the IMF operates. So the present opportunity will not soon present itself again. There is no certainty about when the gold sales authorization will come before Congress, but it now seems as though it may be delayed until 2009.

Perhaps the IMF under the leadership of Strauss-Kahn, who took the helm of the institution only last September, is ready to re-evaluate its market fundamentalist, corporate-friendly policy prescriptions for poor countries. A statement issued by the Fund last week said that African countries did not need to raise interest rates in response to inflation driven by higher prices of food and fuel, and that some subsidies might be permissible in some circumstances. This is perhaps a baby step forward.

But if the IMF is not ready on its own to jettison its long-standing policy demands for poor countries, it may soon find that it has no choice. Representative Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, chairs the House Financial Services Committee, which must approve the gold sales proposal prior to the full House of Representatives considering the issue. At the 20th anniversary celebration of the Bank Information Center last week, he strongly denounced structural adjustment, stated as a matter of fact that gold sales will only be authorized if additional IMF gold is sold to cancel poor country debt, and made clear that he intends to obtain policy changes from the IMF as a condition of permitting gold sales.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Truth and China

Click Here for the website

This website is established to expose the lies and distortions in the western media. The site is maintained by volunteers, who are not associated with any government officials.

We are not against the western media, but against the lies and fabricated stories in the media.

We are not against the western people, but against the prejudice from the western society.

Respect Bolivia

US hands off Bolivia! Respect Bolivian sovereignty

Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice
U.S. State Department

Dear Secretary Rice,

We, the undersigned, write with concern about U.S. foreign policy towards Bolivia. It is important that the United States appreciate the historical context of changes currently underway in that country and the tensions created. At such a sensitive time, the U.S. must be careful not to appear biased, and should support a peaceful and constitutional resolution in Bolivia.

We ask that USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy stop funding regional government initiatives and opposition groups in Bolivia.

While it may appear good in Washington DC to help regional initiatives, in Bolivia this appears to be partisan at a time when six of these departmental governments are the principal opposition to the national government. During these tense times, the U.S. should re-evaluate its misguided “democracy” initiatives. Recent reports and unclassified documents indicate that the United States appears to support organizations working to undermine national dialogue, the Constitutional reform and other changes. While the Office for Transitional Initiatives functioned in Bolivia, it provided “support to fledgling regional governments” with the bulk of its financial support going to departmental governments opposed to the national government. USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) have supported key opposition organizations and leaders in the eastern states of the “Media Luna”. During the year starting March 2006, USAID provided 116 grants worth $4,451,249 to “strengthen the institutional capacity of departmental governments.[see] In 2008 the Department of State budgeted $10,092,000 to Bolivia under the “Govern Justly and Democratically,” category and the budget request for 2009 is $28,492,000 for the same program area. We are concerned that this near tripling of spending will be used to support opposition groups or departmental governments, erode democracy and increase destabilization of the country.

This targeted support for opposition groups and departmental governments combined with the recent scandal of a U.S. Embassy official asking Peace Corps and Fulbright members to spy on Venezuelans and Cubans in Bolivia, have negatively impacted the image of our country and our citizens currently residing there. This policy makes the valuable work of researchers, human rights, church and development organizations more difficult. We ask you to see that the United States stop supporting opposition forces so that a peaceful and constitutional resolution to proposed national reforms and policies can be achieved.

Historical Background

In 2005, Evo Morales won a landslide election victory to become Bolivia’s first indigenous President. His election was a direct result of a growing movement among Bolivia’s indigenous majority that called for a redistribution of a natural resources and the recognition of indigenous self-determination and autonomy through a new constitution.

The Morales government renegotiated contracts with energy companies leading to a large increase in income for the Bolivian people, resumed a stalled agrarian reform process begun in 1953, and instituted an assembly to draft a new constitution to be voted on in a national referendum.

These reforms are bitterly opposed by the business and media elite, particularly the large landholders of Bolivia’s lowlands where natural gas reserves and millions of acres in under-productive cattle ranches are concentrated. Meanwhile, the majority of Bolivia’s indigenous poor lives in the Andean region.

The lowland elite are fanning the flames of racism and regionalism, determined to split Bolivia rather than allow a just redistribution of resources. While the proposed constitution recommends a decentralized government that recognizes both indigenous and regional autonomies, the lowland elite fight for control over gas revenues which could result in further impoverishing Bolivia’s Andean indigenous regions.

Bolivia is trying to settle very difficult internal problems. In light of a long history of intervention, it is important that the United States do everything possible to be neutral and so that a peaceful resolution can be attained. Now is the time to stop funding regional government initiatives.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Secret Trials

Afghans Hold Secret Trials
for Men That U.S. Detained

KABUL, Afghanistan — Dozens of Afghan men who were previously held by the United States at Bagram Air Base and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, are now being tried here in secretive Afghan criminal proceedings based mainly on allegations forwarded by the American military.

The prisoners are being convicted and sentenced to as much as 20 years’ confinement in trials that typically run between half an hour and an hour, said human rights investigators who have observed them. One early trial was reported to have lasted barely 10 minutes, an investigator said.

The prosecutions are based in part on a security law promulgated in 1987, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Witnesses do not appear in court and cannot be cross-examined. There are no sworn statements of their testimony.

Instead, the trials appear to be based almost entirely on terse summaries of allegations that are forwarded to the Afghan authorities by the United States military. Afghan security agents add what evidence they can, but the cases generally center on events that sometimes occurred years ago in war zones that the authorities may now be unable to reach.

“These are no-witness paper trials that deny the defendants a fundamental fair-trial right to challenge the evidence and mount a defense,” said Sahr MuhammedAlly, a lawyer for the advocacy group Human Rights First who has studied the proceedings. “So any convictions you get are fundamentally flawed.”

The head of Afghanistan’s national intelligence agency, Amrullah Saleh, said his investigators did their best to develop their own evidence. But he added that the Afghan judicial system remained crippled by problems more than six years after the fall of the Taliban.

“This is Afghanistan,” he said. Referring to the Afghan trials, he added, “I am equally critical of that procedure, but who is supposed to fix it?”

Since 2002 the Bush administration has pressed foreign governments to prosecute the Guantánamo prisoners from their countries as a condition of the men’s repatriation. But many of those governments — including such close American allies as Britain — have objected, saying the American evidence would not hold up in their courts.

Afghanistan represents perhaps the most notable exception.

Although President Hamid Karzai refused to sign a decree law drafted with American help that would have allowed Afghanistan to hold the former detainees indefinitely as “enemy combatants,” the Afghan authorities have now tried 82 of the former prisoners since last October and referred more than 120 other cases for prosecution.

Of the prisoners who have been through the makeshift Afghan court, 65 have been convicted and 17 acquitted, according to a report on the prosecutions by Human Rights First that is to be made public on Thursday. A draft copy of the report was provided to The New York Times.

United States officials defended their role in providing information for the Afghan trials as a legitimate way to try to contain the threats that some of the more dangerous detainees would pose if they were released outright.

“These are not prosecutions that are being done at the request or behest of the United States government,” said Sandra L. Hodgkinson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detention policy. “These are prosecutions that are being done by Afghans for crimes committed on their territory by their nationals.”

Ms. Hodgkinson said the United States had pressed the Afghan authorities “to conduct the trials in a fair manner,” and had insisted that lawyers be provided for the prisoners after the first 10 of them were convicted without legal representation. But she did not directly reject the criticisms raised in the Human Rights First report, adding, “These trials are much more consistent with the traditional Afghan justice process than they are with ours.”

The new court is located on the ground floor of a new high-security Afghan prison that was built by the United States at Pul-i-Charki, on the outskirts of Kabul.

Although Afghan officials say the trials there are not officially secret, they have allowed only three outside observers — two human rights investigators and a representative of a local United Nations office. The human rights investigators were permitted to see two trials in February, review some trial documents and interview judges, prosecutors and defense lawyers for the court.

Gen. Safiullah Safi, the Afghan Army officer who runs the prison where the trials are being held, told a reporter that permission to view the trials could be granted only by Mr. Karzai’s office. But that office referred the request to Abdul Jabar Sabit, the Afghan attorney general. Mr. Sabit’s office finally said he was too busy to meet with a journalist.

The human rights investigators who observed the operations of the new court described them as a perversion of the efforts by Afghanistan and the United States to rebuild and reform the Afghan judicial system after years of war, corruption and neglect.

They said that the defense lawyers, who work for a legal aid organization based in New York, typically meet their clients five days before their trials begin and have few resources to investigate the distant events on which they turn. At least some of the Afghan judges also appear to accept the American allegations at face value, they said, and routinely admit allegations that would not pass the evidentiary standards of special military tribunals at Guantánamo, much less the federal courts of the United States.

“The files provided by U.S. authorities and the information in them would never have been admissible in a U.S. court or even a military commission in Guantánamo,” said Jonathan Horowitz, an investigator for One World Research, a public-interest investigations firm in New York that also monitored the Afghan trials.

In an interview, one of the justices of the Afghan Supreme Court argued that while the trials might have some flaws, they represented a fair process.

“All of these trials have been prepared by our friends from the United States,” said the justice, who uses the single name Rashid. “They have seen it themselves. We don’t have any doubts about the trial not being fair.”

Justice Rashid added that he had complete confidence in the accuracy of the information that was being provided to Afghan investigators by the American military.

“I’m 100 percent sure that what was done by the United States was done according to the legal system of the United States,” he said. “And I am familiar with the legal system of the United States.”

But one case file that was partly reproduced in the Human Rights First report underscores questions that have been raised about the procedures of the Afghan trials and the American evidence with which they begin.

In a single paragraph, the United States “Report of Investigation” recounts that the Afghan prisoner Rais Mohammed Khan was detained by the police as he and a friend tried to cross the Afghan border in the eastern department of Khost on May 1, 2006. The report, which misidentifies Mr. Khan by a name his father used, Matelky, notes that he and his injured friend were suspected of having planned a suicide bombing that went awry.

“Their stories are conflicting, and the Khost Police Force believe they are directly tied to suicide attacks that were taking place during the Independence Day Parade in Khost,” the report reads. It notes that Mr. Khan appeared to lie on a polygraph examination when he denied involvement in suicide bombing. But it adds:

“Confessions/Admissions/Incriminating Statements: None”

“Witnesses: None”

“Physical Evidence: None”

“Photographs: None”

Also in his Afghan court file was a one-page summary of the recommendation from the United States military panel that reviewed his case at Bagram. It describes him as a low threat to American and coalition forces and him as “low prosecution value.”

He was convicted under the 1987 Afghan security law and sentenced to eight years in prison.

Genocide Announced

Bombs would fall under other circumstances, but when influential rabbis call for the total annihilation of the Palestinians the world watches without blinking

By Saleh Al-Naami
Source Al-Ahram Weekly

"All of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and even their beasts." This was the religious opinion issued one week ago by Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, director of the Tsomet Institute, a long-established religious institute attended by students and soldiers in the Israeli settlements of the West Bank. In an article published by numerous religious Israeli newspapers two weeks ago and run by the liberal Haaretz on 26 March, Rosen asserted that there is evidence in the Torah to justify this stand. Rosen, an authority able to issue religious opinions for Jews, wrote that Palestinians are like the nation of Amalekites that attacked the Israelite tribes on their way to Jerusalem after they had fled from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. He wrote that the Lord sent down in the Torah a ruling that allowed the Jews to kill the Amalekites, and that this ruling is known in Jewish jurisprudence.

Rosen's article, which created a lot of noise in Israel, included the text of the ruling in the Torah: "Annihilate the Amalekites from the beginning to the end. Kill them and wrest them from their possessions. Show them no mercy. Kill continuously, one after the other. Leave no child, plant, or tree. Kill their beasts, from camels to donkeys." Rosen adds that the Amalekites are not a particular race or religion, but rather all those who hate the Jews for religious or national motives. Rosen goes as far as saying that the "Amalekites will remain as long as there are Jews. In every age Amalekites will surface from other races to attack the Jews, and thus the war against them must be global." He urges application of the "Amalekites ruling" and says that the Jews must undertake to implement it in all eras because it is a "divine commandment".

Rosen does not hesitate to define the "Amalekites of this age" as the Palestinians. He writes, "those who kill students as they recite the Torah, and fire missiles on the city of Siderot, spread terror in the hearts of men and women. Those who dance over blood are the Amalekites, and we must respond with counter-hatred. We must uproot any trace of humanitarianism in dealing with them so that we emerge victorious."

The true outrage is that most of those authorised to issue Jewish religious opinions support the view of Rabbi Rosen, as confirmed by Haaretz newspaper. At the head of those supporting his opinion is Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the leading religious authority in Israel's religious national current, and former chief Eastern rabbi for Israel. Rosen's opinion also has the support of Rabbi Dov Lior, president of the Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), and Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed and a candidate for the post of chief rabbi of Israel. A number of political leaders in Israel have also shown enthusiasm for the opinion, including Ori Lubiansky, head of the Jerusalem municipality.

There is no dispute among observers in Israel that the shooting in Jerusalem three weeks ago that killed eight Jewish students in a religious school was pivotal for Jewish authorities issuing religious opinions of a racist, hateful nature. The day following the Jerusalem incident, a number of rabbis led by Daniel Satobsky issued a religious opinion calling on Jewish youth and "all those who believe in the Torah" to take revenge on the Palestinians as hastily as possible. A week following the operation, a group of leading rabbis issued an unprecedented religious opinion permitting the Israeli army to bomb Palestinian civilian areas. The opinion is issued by the "Association of Rabbis of the Land of Israel" and states that Jewish religious law permits the bombing of Palestinian civilian residential areas if they are a source of attacks on Jewish residential areas. It reads, "when the residents of cities bordering settlements and Jewish centres fire shells at Jewish settlements with the aim of death and destruction, the Torah permits for shells to be fired on the sources of firing even if civilian residents are present there."

The opinion adds that sometimes it is necessary to respond with shelling to sources of fire immediately, without granting the Palestinian public prior warning. A week ago, Rabbi Eliyahu Kinvinsky, the second most senior authority in the Orthodox religious current, issued a religious opinion prohibiting the employment of Arabs, particularly in religious schools. This religious opinion followed another that had been issued by Rabbi Lior prohibiting the employment of Arabs and the renting of residential apartments to them in Jewish neighbourhoods. In order to provide a climate that allows Jewish extremist organisations to continue attacking Palestinian citizens, Rabbi Israel Ariel, one of the most prominent rabbis in the West Bank settlement complex, recently issued a religious opinion prohibiting religious Jews involved in attacks against Palestinians to appear before Israeli civil courts. According to this opinion, they must instead demand to appear before Torah courts that rule by Jewish religious law.

Haaretz newspaper noted that what Rabbi Ariel was trying to achieve through this religious opinion has in fact already taken place. The first instance of such a court in Kfar Saba ordered the release of a young Jewish woman called Tsevia Teshrael who attacked a Palestinian farmer in the middle of the West Bank. And there are Jewish religious authorities that glorify killing and praise terrorists, such as Rabbi Yitzhaq Ginsburg, a top rabbi in Israel who published a book entitled Baruch the Hero in memoriam of Baruch Goldstein, who committed the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994 when he opened fire and killed 29 Palestinians as they were performing the dawn prayer in Hebron in the southern West Bank. Ginsburg considers his act "honourable and glorious".

The danger of these religious opinions lies in the fact that the religious authorities issuing them have wide respect among religious Jewish youth. And while only 28 per cent of Israel's population is religious, more than 50 per cent of Israelis define themselves as conservative and grant major significance to opinions issued by Jewish religious authorities. According to a study conducted by the Social Sciences Department of Bar Elon University, more than 90 per cent of those who identify as religious believe that if state laws and government orders are incongruous with the content of religious opinions issued by rabbis, they must overlook the former and act in accordance with the latter.

What grants the racist religious opinions a deeper and far-reaching impact is the fact that for the last decade followers of the Zionist religious current, who form nearly 10 per cent of the population, have been seeking to take control of the army and security institutions. They are doing so through volunteering for service in special combat units. The spokesperson's office in the Israeli army says that although the percentage of followers of this current is low in the state's demographic makeup, they form more than 50 per cent of the officers in the Israeli army and more than 60 per cent of its special unit commanders. According to an opinion poll of religious officers and soldiers supervised by the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya and published last year, more than 95 per cent of religious soldiers and officers say that they will execute orders from the elected government and their leaders in the army only if they are in harmony with the religious opinions issued by leading rabbis and religious authorities.

Wasil Taha, Arab Knesset member from the Tajammu Party led by Azmi Bishara, says that these religious opinions lead to the committal of crimes. He mentions religious opinions issued by a number of rabbis in mid-1995 that led to the assassination of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at that time. "If that's what happens when religious opinions urge attacks against Jewish leaders such as Rabin, what will the situation be like when they urge attacks against Palestinian leaders and the Palestinian public?" he asks. "We, as Arab leaders, have begun to feel a lack of security following this flood of religious opinions, and we realise that the matter requires a great deal of caution in our movements as we are certain that there are those who seek to implement these opinions," he told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Taha dismisses those who ask about the role of the government and Israeli political cadre in confronting these extremist religious opinions. "The ministers in the Israeli government and the Knesset members compete to incite against the Palestinian public and don't hesitate to threaten expulsion of the Palestinians who live on their land in Israel and carry Israeli citizenship outside of Israel's borders, just as former deputy premier Avigdor Lieberman and representative Evi Etam did," Taha said. He notes that Palestinian citizens within Israel have begun to take extreme precautionary measures since the issue of these religious opinions, including security measures around mosques and public institutions and informing officials of public demonstrations so that members of Jewish terrorist organisations can be prevented from attacking participants. Taha holds that the sectors of the Palestinian population most likely to be harmed by these religious opinions are those living in the various cities populated by both Jews and Palestinians, such as Haifa, Jaffa, Lod, Ramleh and Jerusalem.

Palestinian writer and researcher Abdul-Hakim Mufid, from the city Um Fahem, holds that the religious opinions of rabbis have gained major significance due to the harmony between official rhetoric and that of the rabbis. Mufid notes that official Israeli establishments have not tried to confront the "fascist" rhetoric expressed in these religious opinions even though they are capable of doing so. "Most of the rabbis who issue tyrannical religious opinions are official employees in state institutions and receive salaries from them. And the state has not held these rabbis accountable or sought to prohibit the issue of such opinions," he told the Weekly.

Mufid points out that when the official political institution is in a crisis, the Zionist consensus behind these religious opinions grows more intense, and offers as an example the religious opinions relied upon by Rabbi Meir Kahane in the early 1980s to justify his call to forcefully expel the Palestinians. Mufid adds that Israel in practice encourages all those who kill Palestinians, and points to the way that the Israeli government dealt with the recommendations of the Orr Commission that investigated the Israeli police's killing of 13 Palestinians with Israeli citizenship in October of 2000. The government closed the file even though the commission confirmed that the police had acted aggressively towards the Palestinian citizens. Mufid suggests that what makes the racist rhetoric the rabbis insist upon influential is the silence of leftist and liberal voices, and the lack of any direct mobilisation against it.

Bremer’s 100 orders

The true scale of Iraq’s rape and destruction

If you’re a US Citizen, ask yourself one important question with reference to Iraq:
Have you ever heard of Bremer’s 100 orders?

If the answer is "no" then you don’t understand the true destruction of Iraq.

But Bremer’s 100 orders destroyed Iraq’s economy not just for years but for decades to come. It undid some historical things dating back ten thousand years. I wish that was an exaggeration, but it’s not.

Iraq is home to the oldest agricultural traditions in the world. Historical, genetic and archaeological evidence, including radiocarbon dating of carbon-containing materials at the site, show that the Fertile Crescent, including modern Iraq, was the center of domestication for a remarkable array of today’s primary agricultural crops and livestock animals. Wheat, barley, rye, lentils, sheep, goats, and pigs were all originally brought under human control around 8000 BCE. Iraq is where wild wheat was once originated and many of its cereal varieties have been exported and adapted worldwide. The beginning of agriculture led inexorably to the development of human civilization.

Since then, the inhabitants of Mesopotamia have used informal seed supply systems to plant crops, suited to their particular environment. The saving and sharing of seeds in Iraq has always been a largely informal matter. Local varieties of grain and legumes have been adapted to local conditions over the millennia. While much has changed in the ensuing millennia, agriculture remains an essential part of Iraq’s heritage. Despite extreme aridity, characterized by low rainfalls and soil salinity, Iraq had a world standard agricultural sector producing good quality food for generations.

According to the Rome-based UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 97 percent of Iraqi farmers in 2002 still used saved seed from their own stocks from last year’s harvest, or purchased from local markets.

(Source - Global Research)

So the scene is set. In 2002 things have been unchanged for centuries. Why break a system that worked? Then Bremer came along with the answer: We’ll break a system that works for Iraq, because doing so will generate profit for America.

Bremer wasn’t the first choice for the job. In the aftermath of invasion, the Coalition Provisional Authority was originally led by Lt General Jay Garner, who had plans to actually help Iraq by trying to direct the CPA to give control back to Iraqis as soon as possible and hold elections as soon as was practically possible. Alas for Lt General Garner, the Bush administration didn’t want this. Lt General Garner was summarily sacked from the role within a month, and Paul Bremer appointed to the job.

Bremer, under orders from the administration and it’s corporate masters, began systematically destroying any chance the Iraqis had of putting their country back together, in what has since become known as Bremer’s 100 orders. In one hundred orders, Bremer set about the destruction of ten thousand years of working economy in Iraq.

Even now it’s extremely difficult for an interested party reading an article like this to get a straightforward list of all 100 orders and what they do, so for the sake of clarity we will focus on a few of the most destructive orders.

Order No. 39 allows for: (1) privatization of Iraq’s 200 state-owned enterprises; (2) 100% foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses; (3) 'national treatment’ - which means no preferences for local over foreign businesses; (4) unrestricted, tax-free remittance of all profits and other funds; and (5) 40-year ownership licenses", wrote Antonia Juhasz, a project director at the International Forum on Globalization in San Francisco (LATimes, August 05, 2004).

Now one might argue that quite a number of Western states already do things this way, and that wouldn’t be inaccurate. However, Iraq has never done things that way, and neither have any of it’s neighbors. The state ran everything prior to 2002. In combination with the crippling sanctions that had been imposed on the Iraqi people by the United Nations when it was accepting as fact the lies the Bush administration was telling about WMD, this meant that suddenly anyone could buy anything in Iraq, but the Iraqi people who SHOULD have been first on the list were broke, and couldn’t afford to buy anything. So it was all sold to other countries, on 40 year ownership licenses that prevent this damage from being undone until 2042 at the very soonest. With NO requirement to re-invest in Iraq, no tax to pay and very few limits, this opened up the Iraqi economy to completely unfettered competition from foreign investment. The only block to this Republican Utopia was that the Coalition Provisional Authority granted the licenses, which of course they made sure that they punished the countries unwilling to back them in war, and rewarded those that did back them. Since the "Coalition of the Willing" to all intents and purposes only consisted at that time of the US and the UK this meant that the bulk of these 40 year licenses were granted to US companies. In other words, not only could the Iraqi people see a military occupation, but they could also see their commerce being taken over for the next 40 years by a corporate occupation.

From the same article quoted above:

"Order No. 17 grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, full immunity from Iraq’s laws. Even if they, say, kill someone or cause an environmental disaster, the injured party cannot turn to the Iraqi legal system. Rather, the charges must be brought to U.S. courts".

So we not only have foreign companies able to buy all the commerce and 50% of the banks in Iraq, and not being obliged to employ Iraqis to run it, but anyone they DO employ to run it becomes immune from Iraq’s laws, owing to being a foreign contractor. And even worse, they can employ their own armed "private security" - which Blackwater USA were immediately offering as a ’service’ - which is also immune from any kind of prosecution. This led to the situation we’ve seen on YouTube where armored vehicles escorting foreign contractors are driving along Iraq’s streets smashing any Iraqi car that gets in their way to one side. They don’t have to obey the law. It’s a two tier society, and they’re the upper tier. (and yes, I know that video clip starts with an excerpt from the film "Aliens" but that excerpt just shows the mindset of the drivers). In ANY OTHER COUNTRY, America included, NOBODY would be allowed to just ram vehicles out of the way - yet Bremer has allowed that in Iraq, for the next 40 years, and there’s no shortage of Blackwater USA macho Rambo’s prepared to do it.

"Orders No. 57 and No. 77
ensure the implementation of the orders by placing U.S.-appointed auditors and inspector generals in every government ministry, with five-year terms and with sweeping authority over contracts, programs, employees and regulations".

There is to be NO change, and these orders reinforce that. There is to be NO going back to having things run by the Iraqis, for the Iraqis. That’s not the way corporations want things done. Iraq is to be a safe haven for corporations to do whatever the hell they like, when they like, to who they like. And anyone who gets in their way is a terrorist.

Now we come to the worst order of all. Order 81. Again from Global Research:

Order 81 deals specifically with Plant Variety Protection (PVP) because it is designed to protect the commercial interests of corporate seed companies. Its aim is to force Iraqi farmers to plant so-called "protected" crop varieties 'defined as new, distinct uniform and stable’, and most likely genetically modified. This means Iraqi farmers will have one choice; to buy PVP registered seeds. Order 81 opens the way for patenting (ownership) of plant forms, and facilitates the introduction of genetically modified crops or organisms (GMOs) to Iraq. U.S. agricultural biotechnology corporations, such as Monsanto and Syngenta will be the beneficiaries. Iraqi farmers will be forced to buy their seeds from these corporations. GMOs will replace the old tradition of breeding closely related plants, and replace them with organisms composed of DNA from an altogether different species, e.g., bacterium genes into corn. In the long run, there won’t be a big enough gene pool for genetic viability.

It should be noted here that Monsanto have deep connections to the Bush administration. They also create a special genetically modified grain seed that works well with their own brand of pesticide, because part of its genetic modification is an immunity to the toxins in that particular pesticide. Unfortunately, nothing else is immune, and the pesticide ruthlessly poisons ANY other plant life except the genetically modified grain. Also when the pesticide is absorbed into the soil, the fields it was deployed in won’t grow any other crop but the Monsanto GM grain until the pesticide’s effects diminish - by which time anyone trying to reverse the usage of Monsanto products would long since have gone bankrupt.

If a large international corporation developed a seed variety resistant to a particular Iraqi pest, and an Iraqi farmer was growing another variety that did the same, it was illegal for the farmer to save his own seed. Instead, he is obliged to pay a royalty fee for using Monsanto’s GMO seed.

Upon purchasing the patented seeds, farmers must sign the company’s technology agreement (Technology User Agreements). This agreement allows the company to control farmers’ practices and conduct property investigation. The farmer becomes the slave of the company.

Order 81 ignores Iraqi farmers’ old traditions of saving seeds, and using their knowledge to breed and plant their crops. It also brutally disregards the contributions which Iraqi farmers have made over hundreds of generations to the development of important crops like wheat, barley, dates and pulses. If anybody owns those varieties and their unique virtues, it is the families who bred them, even though nobody has described or characterized them in terms of their genetic makeup. If anything, the new law — in allowing old varieties to be genetically manipulated or otherwise modified and then "registered" — involves the theft of inherited intellectual property, the loss of farmers’ freedoms, and the destruction of food sovereignty in Iraq.

Like U.S. farmers, Iraqi farmers will be "harassed for doing what they have always done." For example, Iraqi farmers can be sued by Monsanto, if their non-GMO crops are polluted by GMO crops planted in their vicinity. The health and environmental consequences of GMO crops are still unknown. GMO-based agriculture definitely encourages monoculture and genetic pollution. Moreover, this will further increase the already polluted Iraqi environment as a result of tens of thousands of tons of 'depleted’ uranium dust, napalm, chemical weapons, and phosphorous bombs.

Farmers will also be required to buy fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides, against plants disease. Iraqi farmers will be required to pay royalties for the new seeds and they will be forbidden from saving seeds. In other words, Iraqi farmers will become agricultural producers for export, a recipe for the introduction of hunger in Iraq, not unknown in many developing countries.

Evidence shows that Western "bio-prospectors" have been using indigenous genetic material taken from their traditional owners. It is this kind of looting or "biopiracy" that is contributing to the destruction of farmers in the developing world, because they have lost control of what they sow, grow, reap and eat.

(Source: Seeds of Destruction)

When you consider the destruction done to Iraq by Bremer’s 100 orders you start to see why the unemployed, angry, penniless Iraqi people are so upset at the occupation. You start to see why when someone like Sadr comes along and promises a return to old values, that’s so tempting. You can see why Maliki absolutely HAS to stop other parties that might run on a "get the occupier out" ticket from competing against him in elections. In researching this article I alternated between tears and anger at what I was finding.

Before I close - this shameful state of affairs, although instituted by the Bush administration, was tacitly condoned by the ENTIRE REST OF THE WORLD who have just stood by and let this happen without objection. They share the blame. They share the responsibillity. What has happened to Iraq is not the fault of one nation, but the fault of a failing of nations and nobody should point fingers at other people without accepting some of the blame themselves. How this blatant illegal occupation has been allowed to rape and destroy a nation is a thing that everyone, everywhere should be disgusted about.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Alternative Destruction

In Lebanon, the majority of the civilians do not want a civil war; however, that was the case back in 1975 and they were dragged to a civil war.

The current politicians are practicing a process what is called: demobilization. This means all non-party affiliates are de-activated due to the lack of availability of alternatives or options to impose the over-all populations' voice on the politicians. Henceforth, the destruction of alternative aka space to function in opposition to the political parties' duet singing of 14th of March and the Opposition.

More to the point, activists who oppose the war are suffocated by the demolition forces of 14th of March and the opposition. They can't do nothing, and personally someone may wonder if they agreed with each other to cripple the activists from expressing their opinions. This becomes very much apparent when riots break out between party affiliates and the shooting takes place. In fact, the immigrants who left Lebanon in the quest of seeking a better life are the same victims of these politicians (partly because of those, and partly due to the Israeli aggression and foreign interventions). Those who are left immobile are given with the choice to choose: 14th of March or Opposition? Usually the question, my dear readers comes as follows: choose the worse of the two. In fact, they are both worse than each other. There is no country in the world currently that celebrates: "Our martyrs and their martyrs" more bluntly than our melancholic parties who promise us doom and destruction by the hands of the "Other Coalition".

With the progressive forces crippled, there is no space to be active at all. In fact, a person would simply watch TV rather attempt to change the reality. Political apathy has reached it's maximum when in 2005 the voting turnabout throughout Lebanon was barely 50%.

As a matter of fact, if a new player or a third force would rise to oppose both coalitions, they will surely agree against them. This we witnessed when Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces allied with each other against Aoun and his ex-Syrian buddies back in 2005. Then the lunatic general marginalized to a second force as an extension of 8th of March to become the new second line = the Opposition. Probably the majority of those who would vote for ex-war criminals and current business corrupted elites would do so because they would fear that the other would for their "scary alliance from foreign lands" (be that the USA or Iran). This means due to lack of activism and progressive (and real democratic) movements, a lot of the voters would simply vote as what they against what they view as the "invaders" to the "lesser evil".

The stalemate is on-going, while few civil society activists are attempting to maximize the odds. The majority of the Proletariat are de-activated in Lebanon. As the deadlock between the two corrupted forces of Lebanon continues, more people flee the country (due to security, possible a second war with Israel, lack of good economy, or a higher degree).

The arena remains for the Elites (the self-proclaimed Sect-Defenders) and their followers who refuse to wake up to the reality that they are all corrupt.


9th of April

The Fall Of America

Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
Thursday, April 10, 2008

Everyone says that the 9th of April was the fall of Baghdad...And this Arab Woman says the 9th of April was the Fall of America.

At the gates of Babylon the Great, you are still struggling, fighting away, chasing this or the other, detaining, bombing from above, filling up morgues, hospitals, graveyards and embassies and borders with queues for exit visas.

Not ONE IRAQI wishes your presence. Not ONE IRAQI accepts your occupation.

And don't give me that shit about your democratic process and elections. You brought the whores from Iran to rule on your behalf and pimp for their Persian motherland.

You are small players in a game that still eludes you...the Iraqi Game is far greater and bigger than all of your strategies. You have lost in Iraq, you have been totally defeated - Politically, psychologically and economically...

Your tanks, your weapons, your artillery, your jets are nothing for us, for we are RESILIENCE and we are RESISTANCE.

You keep hiding in your camps and your Green Zone with the few Iraqi prostitutes who are willing to work for you. They don't represent us. They represent your brothel. And their days are numbered...just like yours.

Over 600'000 armed men; soldiers, mercenaries, contractors, intelligence, security, spies add to them the sectarian death militias that you have armed, add the Mossad, the Peshermgas of the Zionist Kurds, add the ghettoes you built and where you segregated us, add the millions dead and exiled and maimed...And you still CAN'T CONTROL IRAQ.

Got news for you motherfuckers, you will NEVER CONTROL IRAQ, not in 6 years, not in 10 years, not in 20 years...

You can strategize and manoeuver all you want. Your DEFEAT is obvious, evident, glaring...

You have signed your own death warrant at the gates of Babylon, now face your own agony.

Five years on and not one heart and not one mind bears to see any of your stinking boys.

You have brought upon yourself the hate and the curse of all Iraqis, Arabs and the rest of the world...

At the gates of Babylon will be your total demise, and our total VICTORY. This, I promise you, America.

Long Live the Glorious, Valiant Iraqi Resistance. Long Live Iraq.

and ...


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Global Gridlock

Global Gridlock:
How the US Military-Industrial Complex Seeks to Contain and Control the Earth and it's Eco-System

By Dr. Kingsley Dennis


The Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges once famously wrote of a great Empire that created a map that was so detailed it was as large as the Empire itself. The actual map itself grew and decayed as the Empire itself conquered or lost territory. When the Empire finally crumbled, all that remained was the map. In some sense we can say that it is the map in which we live; we occupy a location within a simulation of reality. Although semanticists say that 'the map is not the territory', within this digitised age the territory is increasingly becoming the map and the separation between the physical and the digitised rendition is blurring. In this context, to 'know the map' gives priority to intervene upon the physical. In recent years many of us have been scrambling to get 'on the Net' and thus be 'mapped'; within a few years we may find that living 'off the Net' will no longer be an option.

It is my argument that the future direction of present technological emergence is one that seeks to go beyond networks; rather it is towards ubiquitous technologies that offer a complete immersive (or rather 'sub-mersive') experience of a digitised environment. With networks there is always the possibility of moving into the grey and illusive areas in-between. These are the areas where the networks do not, or cannot, cover; neglected zones of poverty and risk, and insecure zones of warlord regions, and smuggling zones. With immersive technological mapping there may one day be no 'spaces in-between'; the distinction between 'in' and 'out' dissolved; boundaries melted away under the digital gaze. In this article I argue that the US military-industrial complex is attempting to gain full dominance over the complete information spectrum, including dominating the electro-magnetic spectrum and the Internet, in order to gain full total coverage for purposes of containment and control.

Moving Towards Full Spectrum Dominance

As is now well-known, in 2002 the US Pentagon's DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) responded to the alleged lack of intelligence data after the September 11th attacks by establishing the 'Total Information Awareness' office, commandeered by John Poindexter1. According to Poindexter's own words,
"We must be able to detect, classify, identify, and track…This is a high level, visionary, functional view of the world-wide system…The mission here is to take the competing hypotheses from the analytical environment and estimate a range of plausible futures. The objective is to identify common nodes, representing situations that could occur, and to explore the probable impact of various actions or interventions that authorities might make in response to these situations." (Poindexter, 2002)
The latest program in this surveillance project is the Space Based Infrared System (called SBIRS High) that aims to track all global infra-red signatures as well as, what is termed, 'counterspace situational awareness' (Dinerman, 2004). The 80s 'Star Wars' missile defence project of Reaganite US security policy has been craftily converted into intercepting today's 'enemy': not necessarily rogue missiles, but information and domestic 'earth-bound' security. The US military also has in operation the IKONOS remote sensing satellite, which travels at 17, 000 mph 423 miles into space, circumnavigating the globe every 98 minutes, with a 3-foot resolution capacity. Such satellites belong to the private company Space Imaging Inc, who work for the military due to US law that restricts the US government operating upon their own soil (Brzezinski, 2004). Also, the US military RADARSAT satellite uses radar to see through clouds, smoke and dust. The US National Security Agency (NSA) utilizes top of the range KEYHOLE-11 satellites that have a 10-inch resolution, which means headlines can be read from someone sitting on a bench in Iran, although this resolution remains officially unacknowledged (Brzezinski, 2004).

As an example of more distributed and networked 'industrial/civil surveillance', many bridges within North America have acoustic sensors and underwater sonar devices anchored to the base of the bridges to check for the presence of divers, to prevent anyone from placing explosives on the riverbed. These devices are then linked to a central hub for monitoring information feedback. Such post 9-11 fears have led to the setting up of USHomeGuard, a private company established by Jay Walker (founder of, which utilises over a million webcams to watch over 47,000 pieces of critical infrastructure across the US, eg; pipelines, chemical plants, bridges, dams. These webcams are monitored continuously by observers working from home (Brzezinski, 2004). Crandall sees this as a part of the emerging 'contemporary regime of spectacle…machine-aided process of disciplinary attentiveness, embodied in practice, that is bound up within the demands of a new production and security regime' (Crandall, 2005). This operational practice, as Crandall sees it, confirms a 'codification of movement' and 'manoeuvres of strategic possibility', and leading to a 'resurgence in temporal and locational specificity' (Crandall, 2005). This is directly related with the US military construction towards an agenda of complete coverage: in their terms, 'full spectrum dominance'2. In 1997 the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force predicted that within three years 'we shall be capable of finding, tracking, and targeting virtually in real time any significant element moving on the face of the earth' (cited in Crandall, 2005).

Perhaps a little premature yet it appears that the US military-industrial machine is attempting to enclose the global open system; to transform it and enmesh it within a closed system of total information awareness; to cover, track, and gaze omnisciently over all flows, mobilities, and transactions. It is a move towards a total system, an attempt to gain some degree of mastery over the unpredictability of global flows through the core component of dominating informational flows. As part of this project the US military are currently establishing a linkage of satellites into what has been dubbed the military 'Internet in the sky', which will form part of their secure informational network named as the Global Information Grid, or GIG (Weiner, 2004). First conceived in 1998, and now in construction, $200 billion has already been estimated as a cost for both the hardware and software (Weiner, 2004). This war-net, as the military also term it, forms the core of the US military's move towards appropriating network-centric warfare (Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 2001a; Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 2001b; Dickey, 2004; Weiner, 2004). The chief information officer at the US Defense Department was noted for saying that 'net-centric principles were becoming “the centre of gravity” for war planners' (Weiner, 2004). Some of the names of the military contractors involved in this project include Boeing; Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard; IBM; Lockheed Martin; Microsoft; Raytheon; and Sun Microsystems (Weiner, 2004). As part of this complete coverage – or 'full spectrum dominance' – the US military hopes to be able to communicate and control an increasing arsenal of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), integrated into what they are calling the 'Multimedia Intelligent Network of Unattended Mobile Agents' (Minuteman). This in turn is part of a larger military project on Intelligent Autonomous Agent Systems (Science-Daily, 2002).

Recently, a document entitled Information Operation Roadmap was declassified by the Pentagon and made public by the National Security Archive on January 26, 2006. According to this document the term 'information operations' includes

The integrated employment of the core capabilities of Electronic Warfare, Computer Network Operations, Psychological Operations, Military Deception and Operations Security, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decisions-making while protecting our own. (DoD, 2003: 22)

The document continues by outlining how the US military needs to secure a future electromagnetic capability 'sufficient to provide maximum control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum, denying, degrading, disrupting, or destroying the full spectrum of globally emerging communication systems, sensors, and weapons systems dependant on the electromagnetic spectrum' (DoD, 2003: 61). Clearly, the recommendation here is for developing, and extending, current capabilities in order to have full and complete dominance over all globally emerging telecommunications and their hardware.

This shift in military affairs involves re-strategizing informational systems toward what the military see as a 'transformational communications architecture' to 'help create a nimbler, more lethal military force to which information is as vital as water and ammunition' (Dickey, 2004). Brig. Gen. Robert Lennox, deputy chief of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command, describes the military vision as 'one seamless battlefield, which is linked without the bounds of time or space, to knowledge centres, and deployment bases throughout the world' (Dickey, 2004). Beginning in 2008 the US Navy plans to replace its Ultra High Frequency Follow-On satellite network with a Mobile User Objective System which will provide voice and data communications through wireless hand-held receivers as part of the Global Information Grid (GIG). The 'Internet in the Sky' that will form part of the GIG will consist of both AEHF and TSAT satellite programs (Dickey, 2004). Each AEHF satellite has the capacity to serve as many as 4,000 networks and 6,000 users at once; and the proposed TSAT satellites are claimed to be ten times more powerful than the AEHF. These proposals are currently underway as part of the US's 'revolution in military affairs' to develop not only a superior battlefield information network but also to 'extend the information grid to deploy mobile users around the globe, creating a new capability for combat communications on the move' (Dickey, 2004). As for the new generation of surveillance satellites launched since 2005, when these systems are fully operational the elite military complex will be able to gain precise information not only upon alleged 'enemies' but also upon the movements of almost any individual upon the planet, at almost any time, anywhere. The complexity of security communications and sensitive information is being targeted within military strategy in an effort to enclose all; to survey the full spectrum of an open system in a bid to collect and contain. In short, to transform the unknown into a known closed system: the containment of the complex global system. This also can be seen within the security of complexity, circulation, and contingency.

Dillon considers that this 'global security problematic' is concerned with the circulation of everything as in 'a systemically interdependent world everything is connected or, in principle, is able to be connected, to everything else' (Dillon, 2005). For Dillon, circulation shifts the new global security problematic 'from a “geo-strategic” into an “ecological” problem characterised by the escalatory dynamics of complex interdependencies' (Dillon, 2005). The challenge of global security in this context lies in the contingency between calculability and doubt. Dillon further sees this as being behind the trend in US military affairs towards the complexity sciences: 'the fascination of military-strategic science in the United States especially with complexity, chaos, nonlinearity and the new science of life introduced by the digital and molecular revolutions has proclaimed as much since the early 1990s' (Dillon, 2003).

Security and power relations now clearly transcend traditional geo-political boundaries. Security is both socio-technical and biometric, with the security problematic becoming increasingly virtual and codified, ordered with attempted control of disorder (Dillon, 2003). The militarization of complex global open systems has serious implications for issues of civil liberty, and notions of the surveillance state.

Such domains of complex interdependencies are radicalising, in a militaristic sense, information, communication, command, control, and surveillance. The internal/external circulation and flows characteristic of open systems (whether informational or physical) are under interrogation from Western hegemonic, specifically US, military strategies in an attempt to close them down, plug-up the pores of flows and to blanket-coverage all potential contingencies. These are the operations of clandestine strategies that seek to contain the unpredictable and to map all physical-digital movements and traces.

Emerging technologies that 'locate' and 'trace' present a world where 'every object and human is tagged with information specifications including history and position – a world of information overlays that is no longer virtual but wedded to objects, places, and positions' (Crandall, 2005). Such meshing of the physical and the digital through the medium of sentient communicators is what is foreseen here as steering towards a digitally-rendered global system vulnerable to control via a technical-military elite. This scenario is exactly that as envisioned by ex-US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski, in his 'Between Two Ages : America's Role in the Technetronic Era' (1970), put forward the concept of a future 'technotronic era' whereby a more controlled society would gradually emerge, dominated by an elite unrestrained by traditional values. Brzezinski wrote that 'Power will gravitate into the hands of those who control information' (Brzezinski, 1970: 1), adding that surveillance and data mining will encourage 'tendencies through the next several decades toward a technocratic era, a dictatorship leaving even less room for political procedures as we know them' (Brzezinski, 1970: 12). By gaining control over informational technological communications Brzezinski outlined how this could help achieve control and order over the public:
"Unhindered by the restraints of traditional liberal values, this elite would not hesitate to achieve its political ends by the latest modern techniques for influencing public behavior and keeping society under close surveillance and control." (Brzezinski, 1970: 252)
Also important to consider is that many military technologies become appropriated and absorbed into civil technologies. For example, by 2003 a quarter of all rental vehicles at US agencies used some form of GPS tracking: not only for driver-location but also for the rental agency to know where the car has travelled, and its speed. Also, cars with speakerphones can be enabled from remote devices in order to listen in and eavesdrop on occupants in a car under surveillance, as has been utilized by police forces in the US (Brzezinski, 2004). This type of digitalised surveillance at-a-distance can have serious implications upon increasingly surveyed, tracked, and mapped social practices. It also suggests that technically-based northern 'societies' are being manoeuvred towards a surveyed and sensored, or synchronic society

Sensoring the Ecosphere: The Coming of a Synchronic Society?

The development of increasingly sentient 'smart' environments will go some way towards creating a more systemic relationship of interconnections and interdependencies between humans, objects/machines, and locality. This possibility has led some commentators to speak of an emerging cybernomadic landscape (Saveri, 2004). Here, the emphasis is on an embedded sensory world that will influence and fundamentally alter social practices. Such a cybernomadic landscape has been defined, in a recent IFTF report, by three primary forces of physical-digital fusion; the augmented self; and digitally catalysed masses (Saveri, 2004: 2). Similarly, De Rosnay sees this future as a form of symbiotic humanity: 'each person functions as a node in this hypernetwork. Symbiotic humanity is both the totality of the network and one of its elements; it exists through the network and the network exists only through it' (de Rosnay, 2000: 143). In all cases it involves networking with, utilizing, and interacting with objects, something which futurist and author Bruce Sterling refers to as a 'synchronic society':

A synchronic society generates trillions of catalogable, searchable, trackable trajectories…Embedded in a monitored space and time and wrapped in a haze of process, no object stands alone; it is not a static thing, but a shaping-thing. (Sterling, 2005: 50)

And a 'shaped-thing' may in the future rely upon more efficient and ubiquitous radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, now often euphemistically termed as arphids. These RFID tags can be networked into a global system of positioning and identification:

Your arphid monitors are hooked into the satellite based Global Positioning System. Then your network becomes a mobile system of interlinked objects that are traceable across the planet's surface, from outer space, with one-meter accuracy, around the clock, from pole to pole. (Sterling, 2005: 92)

A physical-digital augmented environment interlinked with objects is, as Sterling states, based upon identification. Objects, as well as individuals, need to be identified, both in their object-self identity as well as in their positions. And yet this shift is not limited towards individuals or objects; it also extends into Nature and the ecosystem.

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently announced that it considered today's computer maps of the Earth to be inaccurate. Investment has been put into producing better computer generated terrain maps of the Earth using both radar and laser scanning (Piquepaille, 2005), with a future view for placing radio-towers on the moon or Mars3. These updated moves towards securing a military full spectrum dominance incorporate the latest known developments in smart sensors whereby complex computerised devices at the miniature, or even nano level, will be able to 24/7 monitor ecological, social, and/or biological environments and people:

These new computers would take the form of networks of sensors with data-processing and transmission facilities built in. Millions or billions of tiny computers — called 'motes', 'nodes' or 'pods' — would be embedded into the fabric of the real world. They would act in concert, sharing the data that each of them gathers so as to process them into meaningful digital representations of the world. Researchers could tap into these 'sensor webs' to ask new questions or test hypotheses. Even when the scientists were busy elsewhere, the webs would go on analysing events autonomously, modifying their behaviour to suit their changing experience of the world. (Butler, 2006a)

Such a scenario, if realised, would drastically alter the material and social fabric of the living world.

Deborah Estrin, director of the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing in Los Angeles, California, sees 'the sensor-web revolution as an important thread in a grander tapestry of global monitoring, which involves billions of dollars being poured into projects to monitor the continents and oceans' (Butler, 2006a). For example, upcoming projects include:
The $200 million EarthScope project from the NSF: 3,000 stations are to be erected that will 'track faint tremors, measure crustal deformation and make three-dimensional maps of the earth's interior from crust to core. Some 2,000 more instruments are to be mobile - wireless and sun- or wind-powered - and 400 devices are to move east in a wave from California across the nation over the course of a decade' (Broad, 2005)
The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is to be established at an estimated cost of $500 million. The plan is for a coast-to-coast NEON to 'involve perhaps 15 circular areas 250 miles in diameter, each including urban, suburban, agricultural, managed and wild lands. Each observatory would have radar for tracking birds and weather as well as many layers of motes and robots and sensors, including some on cranes in forest canopies' (Broad, 2005)
The 'Interagency Working Group on Earth Observations', backed by the National Science & Technology Council within the Executive Office of the President, US, has recently published their Strategic Plan for the U.S. Integrated Earth Observation System (IWGEO, 2005). Their vision is to discover, access, collect, manage, archive, process, and model earth geological data in order to better forecast such flows as weather, energy resources, natural resources, pre and post-disasters, as well as a host of other integrated processes. In their words: 'The Earth is an integrated system. Therefore, all the processes that influence conditions on the Earth are linked and impact one another. A subtle change in one process can produce an important effect in another. A full understanding of these processes and the linkages between them require an integrated approach, including observation systems and their data streams' (IWGEO, 2005: 47)
The report Strategic Plan for the U.S. Integrated Earth Observation System (IWGEO, 2005) discusses a vast range of geological integrated monitoring systems. However, a caveat here is necessary, for the above projects towards environmental mapping contain shades of a western geographical imagination.

Cartography, as a pioneering navigational science and art, has long been used for validating colonial expansion, Imperial incursions, and for designating western territorial trophies. The geographical imagination is continually formed as residues of knowledge build one upon the other as images become re-appropriated for geo-political agendas. The western global imagination has participated in the de-centring of global geographies in past centuries, and may again be party to later digital formations of knowledge gathering and geo-strategies of dominance and power. As with the Plan for the U.S. Integrated Earth Observation System which aims to monitor, track, catalogue, and forecast global processes and movements, geographical spaces will be subjected to a US-centric digital gaze. Denis Cosgrove views such a gaze as 'implicitly imperial, encompassing a geometric surface to be explored and mapped, inscribed with content, knowledge and authority' (2001: 15).

Emerging technologies in information-sensoring indicate an authoritarian, predominantly military, strategy for Earth monitoring. Increasingly, relationships between humans/devices/environments are being merged, or steered, towards a new construction of social life - one that embeds the individual, as a digitally-rendered identity, within a global informational 'grid-lock'.

If such an irreversible shift is made towards digitally-rendered societies this would arguably 'lock-in' a form of monitored control society. With such predictions of an increasingly sensored and enmeshed global system it is difficult to see how living 'off the Net' will be a choice in the near future.


As this article has argued there are both overt and covert strategies within the US military-industrial complex towards securing full spectrum dominance over global information flows, which include dominating the electro-magnetic spectrum and the Internet. Increasingly western technological societies are moving towards developing sensored environments whereby information is processed on individuals as well as securing geographical data. This suggests a future whereby in order to move legitimately an individual will be subjected to a complex network of informational tracking and verification. This will undoubtedly see an increased militarisation of the civil sphere. Such a re-configuration of the social, through increased dependency upon physical-digital systems, will inevitably involve various structural relations of power. For example, individuals not deemed 'worthy' will be denied the right of movement through digitally-controlled spaces. This is not to imply that all acts of social passage will necessarily be uncomfortably noticed by the general legitimised user. It is likely that in-built strategies of marginalisation will be increasingly 'normalised' as part of shifting social practices: a regular state of affairs within a twenty-first century beset by manipulated terror in-securities.

Further, there are indications that these entwined and embedded information flows will seek to incorporate not only the physical and digital, but also the biological. In other words, each unit of information will be sought to be coded and therefore 'secured' under a full spectrum dominance agenda. Goonatilake (1999) sees this as moving towards a meta-communications environment that will merge human/genetic, cultural, machine as information codes and which will serve as information carriers:

The future will thus result in intense communications not only between machines and humans, but also with genetic systems so that information in the three realms of genes, culture and machines will result in one interacting whole. The three for all purposes would be interacting as one communicating system. (Goonatilake, 1999: 197)

We may soon be moving towards a momentous shift, perhaps the most important paradigmatic shift our current civilization has ever witnessed: a transformation into a digitally contained and controlled global environment.

This leaves the future vulnerable to extreme possibilities. Already there has been much Internet 'chatter' about the potential this offers for 'exotic' containment and control practices, including the possibility that a space-based, armed communications network is capable of beaming electromagnetic pulse technology upon virtually any chosen spot on the Earth. The potential here for mass mind control strategies is severely worrying and unnerving.

As we move towards the second decade of the twenty-first century we come increasingly close to a crossroads. One path indicates a move towards a deep and entrenched militarisation of the civil sphere where control and containment are the order of the day; the other path leads towards increased civil participation, engagement, and empowerment. It is perhaps a choice between global emancipation or complete global grid-lock

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