Tuesday, April 1, 2008

US Military Option on Iran Is Back on the Table

From a DEBKAfile exclusive report :

Cheney stopped over in Oman Wednesday, Wed. March 19, after two days in Iraq. He will travel next to Saudi Arabia, is due in Jerusalem next Saturday and will also visit Ramallah and Turkey.

Our sources report exclusively that his talks are focusing on two aspects of the Iranian nuclear threat:
1. The Bush administration's decision to distance itself from the National Intelligence Estimate released last December. Its conclusion that Iran's nuclear arms program was shelved in 2003, which rendered America's military option superfluous, is now deemed a mistake.
2. The administration now buys British, German, French and Israeli intelligence estimates that Iran is indeed pressing forward with programs for building nuclear weapons, warheads and ballistic missiles for their delivery.
The vice president will listen closely to his hosts' ideas about joint efforts for containing Iran's aggressive expansionist thrusts across the Persian Gulf and Middle East and halting its progress towards nuclear armaments.
The vice president's choice of capitals for his tour is a pointer to the fact that the military option, off since December, may be on again. American will need the cooperation of all four - Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey - to mount a military attack on Iran.
 

A Different Perspective on Kosovo

 
For Mr. Prlinčević, granting this interview was an act of bravery. In March 1999, before NATO began bombing Serbia, Mr. Prlinčević, then 61, was chief archivist of Kosovo. Three months later he and his family were refugees in Belgrade. As he says, they didn't have time to pack a suitcase before they had to run for their lives.

The interview was conducted two months after Mr. Prlinčević arrived in Belgrade, when the shock was still fresh. He wanted the world to know what had happened, although this involved serious risk. For one thing, he had been president of the Jewish Community in Priština; it was his responsibility to avoid any act that would prevent Jews from returning to that city or endanger Jews elsewhere in Kosovo.

It was my impression that, torn between honesty and hope, Mr. Prlinčević held back, not saying all he knew lest he infuriate the new rulers of Kosovo. Even as he told a misinformed world about NATO's actions, which made it clear that the KLA terrorists were NATO proxies, he held onto the hope that the KLA and its NATO/UN supervisors might begin to act reasonable, that things might somehow normalize. Speaking of the residents of Milana, the neighborhood where he had lived, he told me, "Many of the people who lived there are of prominent status and social position in the city." Notice that he used the present tense: "are of prominent status." In fact, at the time, they were no longer.

In November 1999, two months after the interview, I saw Mr. Prlinčević in Amsterdam, where we both had been invited to address a meeting about the reign of terror in NATO/UN occupied Kosovo. He was still devastated and he was still hoping. At the meeting, when he tried to speak about his experiences, he broke down in tears. Talking to me the next day, he commented that the new 'authorities' would of course carefully maintain the archives in Priština. I said that, regrettably, I didn't think so. I believed the KLA would destroy those archives. He was shocked. How could they do that? Surely they would need records – everyone needed records of births and deaths and marriages and ownership, and so on. Didn't they?

I said: "Cedda, the KLA just drove perhaps 300,000 people into homelessness and stole all their property including homes, farms, businesses. The last thing they want is to preserve records of ownership."

In this first interview, I think it required an intense internal struggle between emotion (his hesitation about antagonizing the KLA and NATO) and principle (his desire to tell the truth) for Mr. Prlinčević to be able to say, in Part I, that the stories of Yugoslav army atrocities were lies and, in Part II, that the terrorists marched into Priština side by side with NATO. Because of his courage we have direct testimony from the Director of Archives of Kosovo. The legal records he worked on all his adult life are, I am afraid, no more. But this record remains.

In the second interview, a year later, Čedomir Prlinčević was like a different man, in part because his state of shock had receded and in part because of something he saw in Amsterdam.

Being Jewish, Mr. Prlinčević wanted to visit the Anne Frank Museum. He came out of the museum in a rage. Someone had set up an exhibit 'updating' the Holocaust, so to speak, depicting the Serbs as today's Nazis.

This outrageous act – at once trivializing the murder of the European Jews and smearing the Serbs – convinced Mr. Prlinčević that, for the forces that had attacked Yugoslavia, nothing was off limits, and that things were not going to return to normal in Kosovo. In the second interview [2] he opened up and told me much more about what had happened in Kosovo, answering the important question: Why did many Kosovo Albanians flee to Macedonia and Albania during the 1999 NATO bombing? Were they fleeing bombs, or were they fleeing Serbs? He told me they were fleeing neither.

Deep Politics and the Death of JFK by Peter Dale Scott

 
" ... Deep political analysis focuses on the usually ignored mechanics of accommodation. From the viewpoint of conventional political science, law enforcement and the underworld are opposed to each other, the former struggling to gain control of the latter. A deep political analysis notes that in practice these efforts at control lead to the use of criminal informants; and this practice, continued over a long period of time, turns informants into double agents with status within the police as well as the mob. The protection of informants and their crimes encourages favors, payoffs, and eventually systemic corruption. The phenomenon of "organized crime" arises: entire criminal structures that come to be tolerated by the police because of their usefulness in informing on lesser criminals. In time one may arrive at the kind of police-crime symbiosis familiar from Chicago, where the controlling hand may be more with the mob than with the police it has now corrupted.

It is of course no accident that such dirty realities are not usually talked about in classrooms. But the mechanics of accommodation are important, perhaps even more so in the area of political security, where security informants are first recruited, and eventually promoted to be double agents. The experience of the FBI and the Communist Party teaches us that such double agents tend to become increasingly important in the hierarchies of both the investigative agency and the party investigated. In the Vietnam anti-war movement, double agents were likely to become provocateurs, whether or not this was part of their official assignment. The greater the successful provocation, the more important the double agent to the agency to whom he reports. Truly successful double agents acquire their own agendas, distinguishable from those of their agency and possibly their party as well.

(This is a far from theoretical matter in this decade of high-tech terrorism. Time after time, from the fiascos of Oliver North's Middle Eastern ventures to the bombings of Pan Am 103 and the World Trade Center, we have seen how the tolerated crimes of double agents have proved disastrous to those who think they control them. I offer this as a timely argument against the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill. By radically increasing the number of political informants and double agents in resentful and potentially violent groups, passage of this Bill would almost certainly aggravate the problem of double-agent terrorism.)

Speaking metaphorically, and a little over my head, I would suggest that deep political analysis enlarges traditional structuralist analysis to include indeterminacies analagous to those which are studied in chaos theory. A deep political system is one where the processes openly acknowledged are not always securely in control, precisely because of their accommodation to unsanctioned sources of violence, through arrangements not openly acknowledged and reviewed.

One cannot write of deep politics without discussing the resistance to it: resistance both to the general notion and to the topics where it is relevant, such as the Kennedy assassination. Just as in an earlier era people derived psychological comfort from the idea that the forces of our environment were controlled by benign or appeasible deities, so today we would like to think that the violence of the world we live in is subject to sovereign powers and laws.

In deep political analysis the nineteenth-century concept of centralized sovereignty is deconstructed to the point where in places it seems like little more than a comforting myth. A relevant example would be the city of Chicago. Years ago the late A.J. Liebling observed in the New Yorker how difficult it was to separate the power of the mob from the power of City Hall, and asked whether the powers of both were not a front for those private corporations who preferred endemic corruption to the enforcement of laws against themselves.2 Today, in an age of secret public powers dating back to World War II, the critical gaze of the New Yorker has been deflected from our society and its institutions, to heap scorn instead on the "fusion paranoia" of society's critics.

Deep Politics in the USA: the Kennedy Assassination and Watergate

And yet in this country there is now a JFK/ Deep Politics Quarterly , and even a Deep Politics Bookstore on the Internet. More than a million pages of new documents have been declassfied and released since Congress passed the JFK Records Act. We now have both the Lopez Report (see pp. 43-44 of my book) and even the document President Nixon was once denied, the CIA's IG Report of 1967 (see pp. 114, 116) on CIA-Mafia plots.3 Though I had some of the details wrong, the two reports confirm, and indeed enlarge, the picture I presented of CIA duplicities about Oswald in Mexico, and how CIA plots, if successful, would have guaranteed the mob a role in post-Castro Cuba. ... "

Brain Imaging Technology Adds to Interrogators' Arsenal

" ... There is evidence that brain imaging technology is being used to interrogate suspected terrorists despite concerns that it may not be reliable, and that it might inadvertently promote abuse of detainees, according to a Penn State researcher. He says the risk that such technology could license further abuse of detainees remains ever present, given President Bush's March 8 veto of legislation that would have prohibited the CIA from conducting aggressive interrogations.
 
[ ... ]
 
The adoption of fMRI is not surprising given the limitations of other lie detection techniques such as a polygraph test, said Marks, whose analysis is published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Law and Medicine.

A polygraph relies on detecting accentuated signs of anxiety such as changes in skin conductance, heart rate, and respiration. But it is useless against sociopaths, and those trained to beat it. Counterintelligence experts also say the device is especially unreliable when questions and answers are translated with the help of an interpreter, as has been the case in Iraq.

Intelligence personnel believe fMRI could circumvent such limitations, and some commentators have argued that fMRI could render torture and interrogation obsolete. But Marks, who has critiqued the use of aggressive interrogation techniques in the war on terror, makes a case that "such claims are unfounded, and that the uncritical acceptance of fMRI as an interrogation tool could be potentially hazardous both to the health of the detainee and to the counterterrorism mission."


Unlike a polygraph, an fMRI uses powerful magnetic fields to detect tiny changes in blood oxygen levels in the brain. Since active neurons take up more oxygen than inactive ones, these tiny changes are believed to be signatures of cognitive processes.

Some intelligence experts believe that fMRI can be used to detect deception, or to flag when a suspect recognizes (but may not wish to admit that he recognizes) the photograph or name of a suspected terrorist. ... "
 

'12-Step Scenario' Forecasts Meltdown of U.S. Economy

Ultra-pessimist Roubini outlined his 12-step scenario for U.S. economic and financial meltdown in July 2006. In the first step to financial disaster, he cites the housing recession -- the worst in U.S. history.

According to his scenario, the U.S. economy will go from bad to worse following these steps: the spread of the subprime mortgage crisis to near prime and prime mortgages (step two), credit problems lead to a sharp increase in defaults on consumer debt such as credit-cards (step three), monoline insurers start to fail, casting doubt on their bond ratings (step four), and the commercial real estate loan market begins to meltdown (step five).

In the sixth step, a large regional or even a national bank fails, prompting the specter of bank runs and forcing the Federal Reserve to commit to bailouts. In the seventh step, banks take a hit from reckless leveraged buyouts during the credit bubble era.

In the eighth step, a huge wave of corporate defaults takes place and fear of counterparty risk looms large, deepening the credit freeze. In the ninth step, the "shadow banking system" collapses.

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Greece: Cyclist advocacy protests planned for 6 April

Athens meeting place: Pedio tou Areos - Athena statue
Time: 12:00
 
Other events:
Critical Mass rides
Piraeus: 6 April, 19:00 Korai Square
Athens: 7 April, 19:00 Syntagama Square
 
Info (in Greek)
 
 
 
Past events :
 
 
Hundreds of cyclists braved heavy rainfall on Saturday to join a protest through central Athens calling on local authorities to create special bicycle lanes on congested roads in the city center. Blowing whistles and shouting anti-car slogans, cyclists of all ages rode through the streets despite the heavy downpour. Cyclists said they would mark out a cycling lane on a central Athens street themselves if authorities do not help. The protesters, who organized their rally over the Internet and by text message, are also calling for new laws allowing them to take their bicycles onto the metro and the urban railway network.
 

Review of Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions

 
" ... Johnstone provides that close inspection, with impressive results. It is a pleasure to watch her dismantle the claims and expose the methods of David Rieff, a literary and media favorite, as well as Roy Gutman, John Burns, and David Rohde, three reporters whose close adherence to the party line in Bosnia was rewarded with the Pulitzer prize -- all fueling the "humanitarian bombing" bandwagon. While critics of the party line risk being tagged and dismissed as apologists for the Serbs, even the most fervent partisan of an idealized "Bosnia" and campaigner for NATO military intervention such as Rieff, or the novice journalist Rohde, who wrote on Srebrenica in a semi-fictional mode, with U.S. intelligence guidance, has never had to fear being criticized as an apologist for the Muslims or NATO. Michael Ignatieff, another media favorite, acknowledges the help he has received from U.S. officials like Richard Holbrooke, General Wesley Clark and former Tribunal prosecutor Louise Arbour, and Rieff lauded him for his "close relations" with these "important figures in the West's political and military leadership."

The widespread acceptance of the official connections, open advocacy, and spectacular bias displayed by these authors has rested in part on the usual media and intellectual community subservience to official policy positions, but it was also a result of the rapid and thoroughgoing demonization of the Serbs as the "new Nazis" or "last of the Communists." Given that NATO was good, combatting evil, the close relationship with officials was not seen as involving any conflict of interest or compromise with objectivity; they were all on the same "team" -- a phalanx seeking justice. Thus even the uncritical conduiting of anti-Serb propaganda -- including unverified rumors and outright disinformation -- was not only acceptable, it was capable of yielding journalistic honors.

On the other hand, any attempt to counter the official/media team's claims and supposed evidence was quickly interpreted as apologetics. This is hardly new. In each U.S. war critics of U.S. policy are charged with being apologists for the demonized enemy -- Ho Chi Minh and communism; Pol Pot; Saddam Hussein; Arafat; Daniel Ortega; Bin Laden, etc. The demonization of Milosevic was in accord with longstanding practice, and the charge of apologist for challenging the official line on the demon was inevitable for a forceful challenger. What is perhaps exceptional has been the extensive acceptance of the party line among people on the left, with, among others, Christopher Hitchens, Ian Williams and the editors of The Nation in its grip. In These Times rejected first hand reporting from Kosovo by Johnstone, their longtime European Editor, when it diverged from the line of their more recent correspondent, Paul Hockenos, whose connections with the establishment included a stint as the spokesperson and media officer for the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe Mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina, acting as an occupying power in northern Bosnia-Herzegovina, and an affiliation with the American Academy in Berlin, whose chairman and co-chairman are Richard Holbrooke and Henry Kissinger.

What makes the double standard in treatment of Johnstone and the "journalists of attachment" especially laughable is that Johnstone is a serious investigative journalist, very knowledgeable about Balkan history and politics, whose work in Fools' Crusade sets a standard in cool examination of issues that is several grades higher than that in Rieff, Gutman, Rohde, Burns (and for that matter, Ignatieff, Timothy Garton Ash, Noel Malcolm, Hitchens, Williams, and Hockenos). On issue after issue she discusses both the evidence and counter-evidence, weighs them, gives them a historical and political context, and comes to an assessment, which is sometimes that the verifiable evidence doesn't support a clear conclusion. She does this convincingly, and in the process lays waste to the established version.
 
[ ... ]
 
Johnstone contends that the United States was a participant in the Balkan wars for a number of reasons, including the desire to maintain its role as leader of NATO and to help provide it with a function on its 50th anniversary year (celebrated in the midst of the 78-day bombing war in April 1999); if Germany and others were going to intervene in Yugoslavia, the United States would have to enter and play its role, and incidentally show that in the use of force it was still champion. The United States was also helping itself in its Bosnian intervention by demonstrating its willingness to aid Muslims, contradicting its image as anti-Muslim, and solidifying its relationship with Turkey and other Muslim countries helping in the Bosnian war. It was also positioning itself for further advances in the region with a major military base in Kosovo and new clients in an area of increasing interest with links to the Caspian basin. The humanitarian motive was contradicted by inherent implausibility and by the nature and inhumanitarian results of the U.S. and NATO intervention. ... "
 

Saudi Kingdom Braces for Nuclear War

Saudi Arabia is reportedly preparing to counter any 'radioactive hazards' which may result from a US strike on Iran's nuclear plants.

Popular government-guided Saudi newspaper Okaz recently reported that the Saudi Shura Council approved of nuclear fallout preparation plans only a day after US Vice President Dick Cheney met with the Kingdom's high ranking officials, including King Abdullah.

As a result of the Shura ruling, the Saudi government will start the implementation of 'national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the Kingdom following expert warnings of possible attacks on Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactors'.

As the details of Cheney's recent discussions with his Arab allies remain unclear, pundits have begun to question the timing of the drastic measure by the Shura.

Analysts claim the Bush administration had long rattled sabers with Iran over its nuclear program and is now informing its Arab allies of a potential war, in turn, allowing them to take precautionary measures.

With the sudden resignation of Admiral William Fallon, a high-ranking US military official who was a fierce critic of White House war rhetoric against Iran, and reports of the recent deployment of a US nuclear submarine in the Persian Gulf; there is speculation that Washington is moving forward with yet another war plan in the oil-rich Middle East.
 
~ link ~
 

Military study suggested "clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers"

From Military Report: Secretly 'Recruit or Hire Bloggers' :

A study, written for U.S. Special Operations Command, suggested "clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers." 

Since the start of the Iraq war, there's been a raucous debate in military circles over how to handle blogs -- and the servicemembers who want to keep them. One faction sees blogs as security risks, and a collective waste of troops' time. The other (which includes top officers, like Gen. David Petraeus and Lt. Gen. William Caldwell) considers blogs to be a valuable source of information, and a way for ordinary troops to shape opinions, both at home and abroad. 

This 2006 report for the Joint Special Operations University, "Blogs and Military Information Strategy," offers a third approach -- co-opting bloggers, or even putting them on the payroll. "Hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message may be worth considering," write the report's co-authors, James Kinniburgh and Dororthy Denning. 

Lt. Commander Marc Boyd, a U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman, says the report was merely an academic exercise. "The comments are not 'actionable', merely thought provoking," he tells Danger Room. "The views expressed in the article publication are entirely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, policy or position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, USSOCOM [Special Operations Command], or the Joint Special Operations University."

Denning, a professor at Naval Postgraduate School, adds in an e-mail, "I got some positive feedback from people who read the article, but I don't know if it led to anything."

The report introduces the military audience to the "blogging phenomenon," and lays out a number of ways in which the armed forces -- specifically, the military's public affairs, information operations, and psychological operations units -- might use the sites to their advantage. 

~ read on... ~

 

Law of War Training: Resources for Military and Civilian Leaders

We continue to see an urgent need for ways to prevent abuses by military personnel during armed conflict. The Geneva Conventions obligate every country to provide training to military personnel in the laws of war—laws designed to protect combatants, prisoners and civilians alike. But many countries lack the knowledge or the resources to provide law of war training. This manual seeks to address this need and help countries understand and meet their law of war training obligations.

Law of War Training (PDF 438KB) is a resource for military and civilian leaders to find information and assistance in providing law of war training for their military personnel. The manual analyzes different options for law of war training and helps leaders assess how to implement training within specific financial and operational constraints. It also includes a directory of training programs at both national and international levels and provides web links to useful resources and institutions. As programs and contacts change, updates to this manual will be available online. Please continue to check back.

About the Authors

Laurie R. Blank, J.D., is the founder and program director of the International Humanitarian Law Clinic at Emory Law School and a former program officer in the Rule of Law program at the United States Institute of Peace.

Gregory P. Noone, Ph.D., J.D., is the director of the National Security and Intelligence Program at Fairmont State University, a member of the Public International Law and Policy Group and a former program officer in the Professional Training Program at the United States Institute of Peace.

 

Banned Book Club Selection: 'Ecodefense'

If a stranger batters your door down with an axe, threatens your family and yourself with deadly weapons, and proceeds to loot your home of whatever he wants, he is committing what is universally recognized-by law and morality ­as a crime. In such a situation the householder has both the right and the obli­gation to defend himself, his family, and his property by whatever means are necessary. This right and this obligation is universally recognized, justified and even praised by all civilized human communities. Self-defense against at­tack is one of the basic laws not only of human society but of life itself, not only of human life but of all life.
The American wilderness, what little remains, is now undergoing exactly such an assault. Dave Foreman has summarized the character and scale of the assault in the first chapter of this excellent and essential book. With bull­dozer, earth mover, chainsaw and dynamite the international timber, mining and beef industries are invading our public lands-property of all Americans ­bashing their way into our forests, mountains and rangelands and looting them for everything they can get away with. This for the sake of short-term profits in the corporate sector and multi-million dollar annual salaries for the three-piece ­suited gangsters (M.B.A., Harvard, Yale, University of Tokyo, et alia) who control and manage these bandit enterprises. Cheered on, naturally, by Time, Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal, actively encouraged by those jellyfish Government agencies which are supposed to protect the public lands, and as always aided and abetted in every way possible by the quisling politicians of our Western states (such as Babbitt, DeConcini, Goldwater, Hatch, Garn, Symms, Hansen, Wallop, Domenici-to name but a few) who would sell the graves of their own mothers if there's a quick buck in the deal, over or under the table, what do they care.
Representative democracy in the United States has broken down. Our legis­lators do not represent those who elected them but rather the minority who fi­nance their political campaigns and who control the organs of communica­tion-the Tee Vee, the newspapers, the billboards, the radio-that have made politics a game for the rich only. Representative government in the USA rep­resents money not people and therefore has forfeited our allegiance and moral support. We owe it nothing but the taxation it extorts from us under threats of seizure of property, or prison, or in some cases already, when resisted, a sud­den and violent death by gunfire.
Such is the nature and structure of the industrial megamachine (in Lewis Mumford's term) which is now attacking the American wilderness. That wilder­ness is our ancestral home, the primordial homeland of all living creatures in­cluding the human, and the present final dwelling place of such noble beings as the grizzly bear, the mountain lion, the eagle and the condor, the moose and the elk and the pronghorn antelope, the redwood tree, the yellowpine, the bristlecone pine, even the aspen, and yes, why not say it?, the streams, wa­terfalls, rivers, the very bedrock itself of our hills, canyons, deserts, moun­tains.
 

Culture and Mythos: A Radical Exploration of Systemic Change

"Hope remains only in the most difficult task of all: to reconsider everything from the ground up, so as to shape a living society inside a dying society." - Albert Camus

In a scene from the film, Ulysses' Gaze, Harvey Keitel is drinking with a friend in a Belgrade bar. The Yugoslav war is raging. In a mood of escalating intoxication, the duo toasts a string of people they knew years earlier. In the end, Keitel stands, lifts his glass and proposes a toast: "To the world that has not changed though we have dreamed so much!"

As the senselessness of war meets with cynicism and resignation, we seem trapped in a mythos that limits human nature and human possibility. Why has the world not changed? Why do the same wars recycle generation after generation? What are we not seeing? And, how is our cultural mythos blinding us to real alternatives?

[ ... ]

The technology, religions, economic systems, and political philosophies that developed in the past millennium have all converged to maintain what Riane Eisler calls the "dominator system" of social organization. There appears to be a pattern of unconscious social agreements that acts to preserve the dominator system by making adjustments to new input while systematically avoiding transformational change.

[ ... ]

Metaphor from a Trickster
To date, our cultural mythos and mythic figures have kept the dominator stories alive and thriving. In order to move beyond their power, we might borrow an analogy from Carlos Casteneda who suggested that we "look for our hands in our dreams." Such an exercise in self-consciousness, a way of becoming awake while captive within the dream, gives the dreamer a way to influence its outcome. Like the appearance of the monolith that marked an evolutionary mutation in the film 2001, finding our hands in our dreams is also a mutation. We move from passive observer to active observer to one who influences outcome.

Finding the equivalent of our "hands" in our social dream, or mythos, might also give us the power to become, possibly for the first time in recorded history, conscious co-creators of our story, co-creators of our mythos ---- co-creators who can consciously influence the outcome of inventions, technology, politics, economics, and science. It means understanding where we have come from (our history), where we are (the prevailing mythos), and where we want to go from here (the vision). What sort of world do we want to live in? We need to imagine and create that story. Technology cannot supply the story, although ascribing transformative qualities to technology seems to be part of our mythos.

Do Alternatives to the Dominator Model Exist?
Yes. The city-state of Dubrovnik was an intentional alternative creation. In the early 1200s, the founding members of Dubrovnik conspired to create a state that would not engage in war. Deciding that a monarchy or long-term ruler would threaten the peace, the council elected a city Rector for a one-month term. After thirty days, the Rector returned to his seat on the city council. Proficient in the ways of diplomacy and intent on long-term stability, Dubrovnik's City Council maintained peace and prosperity in their city-state for nearly 600 years. It is important to note that states on all sides of Dubrovnik were often at war, but never with Dubrovnik. Nor did Dubrovnik ever seek to conquer territory.

It is unlikely that you have ever heard of Dubrovnik's history. Because of our cultural bias, we learn very little about cultures that don't engage in warfare or amass territory. We have been raised with heroes; Dubrovnik didn't have heroes. We have been raised in a highly competitive culture; Dubrovnik citizens were raised in a cooperative and peacemaking culture. Stories about peacemaking cultures are omitted from our history books.

~ full article ~

 

SIPRI Arms Transfers Database updated with 2007 data

See Release of 2007 data from the Stockholm International Peace Institute.
 

Arun Gandhi's Pursuit of Peace

The fact that the fifth grandson of legendary peace activist Mahatma Gandhi, should be forced to resign as head of his own peace institute in the United States, after critical remarks he had made about Israeli policy, should set alarm bells ringing -- not one, but two sets of bells. On the one hand, his forced resignation seemed to confirm the fear that anyone in the United States who dared criticize Israeli policy as aggressive, would be dubbed a "bigot" or "anti-semite," and forced to withdraw from public life. On the other hand, however, a different alarm has been sounded, one that warns that such blanket condemnation of any criticism of Israeli policy, will boomerang, and force an open, honest, no-holds-barred debate on a crucial political and moral issue. So, from this standpoint, I say, let the alarm bells ring.

The ostensible issue, noted en passant by the establishment press at the end of January, was the following: Dr. Arun Gandhi, president and co-founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence, had participated in a January 7 online essay published on the washingtonpost.com's On Faith site, on the theme of "Jewish identity." Gandhi's remarks, as quoted in wire services internationally, included the following: "Jewish identity in the past has been locked into the Holocaust experience.... It is a very good example of [how] a community can overplay a historic experience to the point that it begins to repulse friends.... The world did feel sorry for the episode but when an individual or a nation refuses to forgive and move on the regret turns into anger .... The Jewish identity in the future appears bleak.... We have created a culture of violence (Israeli and the Jews are the biggest players) and that Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity"

No sooner had the discussion appeared on the washingtonpost.com home page, than all hell broke loose. The national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Abraham H. Foxman stated, "It's shameful that a peace institute would be headed up by a bigot" adding that "One would hope that the grandson of such an illustrious human being would be more sensitive to Jewish hitory." Gandhi issued an apology, clarifying that, although he stood behind his criticisms of violence exercised by the Israeli government, --as well as by the U.S., Indian and Chinese governments--, he did "not believe and should not have implied that the policies of the Israeli government are reflective of the views of all Jewish people." He went on to acknowledge the "suffering of the Jewish people, particularly in the Holocaust" as "historic in its proportions," called for "a future of peace that rejects violence," and added the important thought: "Having learned from the [past], we can then find the path to peace and rejection of violence through forgiveness."

~ read on... ~

 

Origami paper airplane set for space flight

Japanese scientists and origami masters hope to launch a paper airplane from space and learn from its trip back to Earth.

It's no joke. A prototype passed a durability test in a wind tunnel this month, Japan's space agency adopted it Wednesday for feasibility studies, and a well-known astronaut is interested in participating.

A successful flight from space by an origami plane could have far-reaching implications for the design of re-entry vehicles or space probes for upper atmospheric exploration, said project leader Shinji Suzuki, a professor at Tokyo University's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Suzuki said he was skeptical a decade ago when he first discussed with experts the idea of sending into space a craft made in the tradition of Japan's ancient art of paper folding.

"It sounded like a simply impossible, crazy idea," Suzuki said. "I gave it some more thought, and came to think it may not be ridiculous after all, and could very well survive if it comes down extremely slowly."

In a test outside Tokyo in early February, a prototype about 2.8 inches long and 2 inches wide survived Mach 7 speeds and broiling temperatures up to 446 degrees Fahrenheit in a hypersonic wind tunnel — conditions meant to approximate what the plane would face entering Earth's atmosphere.

read on... ~

 

'Have you ever sat in silence and observed the movement of your own thoughts?'

 
Words, in and of themselves, do not exist; at least not as anything more than ink on paper, characters on a computer screen, or auditory vibrations. Words do not contain ideas, but merely express them. To say that words "have meaning" is to say simply that they express the ideas that are swarming around in my head. What, then, is this thing that we call thinking? Nothing more than the internal movement of the mind – your mind – within the range of possible meaning that it has created for itself.

Are you feeling frustrated or confused by what I have said so far? If so, I am not surprised. If not, don't be so quick to tell yourself that none of this matters. Our entire Civilization is built on the assumption that 'ideas' exist as 'things': as 'objects' that float through the air like dandelion spores. His fascist sympathies notwithstanding, Martin Heidegger was right about one thing: human beings have forgotten what it really means to think. (Heidegger, 3) As anarchists and radicals, we are no exception.

"Winston sank his arms to his sides and slowly refilled his lungs with air. His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word 'doublethink' involved the use of doublethink." (Orwell 47)

Have you ever sat in silence and observed the movement of your own thoughts? How one thought progresses into the next which progresses into the next, forming a sort of chain? How sometimes you cut a particular thought-chain short and abruptly turn your attention to another one? How you can never totally identify where one thought ends and another begins? If so, then you already realize two very important things: first, that ideas are not 'objects,' but sudden fluctuations in mental energy; and, second, that thinking about Thinking is altogether different from all other types of thinking...

Drug war leaves Mexico 2nd in journalist slayings

The murder ... came as a shock even in this city inured to drug-related violence.  Ramirez, 50, who also worked as a correspondent for the Televisa TV network, was the most prominent of the more than two dozen reporters and editors slain nationwide since 2000.  To his frightened colleagues, his murder confirmed a chilling fact: Mexico, in the grips of an escalating drug war, has become the world's second-deadliest country for journalists after Iraq. 

"Of course we're scared," said Ricardo Castillo, news director for Acapulco's leading daily, El Sur.  "He was the most visible of all of us, and his murder was meant to send a message."

The killing was intended as a show of force by traffickers waging a turf war for control of both the local market and the lucrative smuggling routes to the United States, said Castillo. 

"More than an effort to silence the media, it's part of a strategy to instill terror," he said.  "The assassination of a journalist isn't just any killing.  It touches the basic fibers of society."

The danger appears to be rising. 

Statistics vary among watchdog groups, but they agree that Mexico has surpassed Colombia, a country plagued by decades of guerrilla and drug violence, in the number of journalists killed each year. 

Seven Mexican journalists were slain last year, according to a count by the Miami-based Inter American Press Association.  The Paris-based Reporters without Borders tallied nine killings, and the Federation of Mexican Journalist Associations reported 11. 

Three journalists were killed in Colombia last year, according to Reporters without Borders.  The group counted 65 journalists and media assistants slain in Iraq over the past year. 
 
 

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