Archive for January 19th, 2009


The world in 2035

January 19, 2009

I wish I could say the following article is the Sci-fi plot of a new novel: it is not. The future as envisioned by the Ministry of Defence below is highly probable. Much supporting evidence is listed under ‘Related’ at the end of the article for those who like research.

The question which begs to be asked is this: What sort of earth could we have created if we hadn’t spent most of our money on War technology and Wealth accumulation?

Revolution, flashmobs, and brain chips.
A grim vision of the future

Richard Norton-Taylor
Monday 9 April 2007

Information chips implanted in the brain. Electromagnetic pulse weapons. The middle classes becoming revolutionary, taking on the role of Marx’s proletariat. The population of countries in the Middle East increasing by 132%, while Europe’s drops as fertility falls. “Flashmobs” – groups rapidly mobilised by criminal gangs or terrorists groups.

This is the world in 30 years’ time envisaged by a Ministry of Defence team responsible for painting a picture of the “future strategic context” likely to face Britain’s armed forces. It includes an “analysis of the key risks and shocks”. Rear Admiral Chris Parry, head of the MoD’s Development, Concepts & Doctrine Centre which drew up the report, describes the assessments as “probability-based, rather than predictive”.

The 90-page report comments on widely discussed issues such as the growing economic importance of India and China, the militarisation of space, and even what it calls “declining news quality” with the rise of “internet-enabled, citizen-journalists” and pressure to release stories “at the expense of facts”. It includes other, some frightening, some reassuring, potential developments that are not so often discussed.

New weapons
An electromagnetic pulse will probably become operational by 2035 able to destroy all communications systems in a selected area or be used against a “world city” such as an international business service hub. The development of neutron weapons which destroy living organisms but not buildings “might make a weapon of choice for extreme ethnic cleansing in an increasingly populated world”. The use of unmanned weapons platforms would enable the “application of lethal force without human intervention, raising consequential legal and ethical issues”. The “explicit use” of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons and devices delivered by unmanned vehicles or missiles.

By 2035, an implantable “information chip” could be wired directly to the brain. A growing pervasiveness of information communications technology will enable states, terrorists or criminals, to mobilise “flashmobs”, challenging security forces to match this potential agility coupled with an ability to concentrate forces quickly in a small area.

“The middle classes could become a revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by Marx,” says the report. The thesis is based on a growing gap between the middle classes and the super-rich on one hand and an urban under-class threatening social order: “The world’s middle classes might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape transnational processes in their own class interest”. Marxism could also be revived, it says, because of global inequality. An increased trend towards moral relativism and pragmatic values will encourage people to seek the “sanctuary provided by more rigid belief systems, including religious orthodoxy and doctrinaire political ideologies, such as popularism and Marxism”.

Pressures leading to social unrest
By 2010 more than 50% of the world’s population will be living in urban rather than rural environments, leading to social deprivation and “new instability risks”, and the growth of shanty towns. By 2035, that figure will rise to 60%. Migration will increase. Globalisation may lead to levels of international integration that effectively bring inter-state warfare to an end. But it may lead to “inter-communal conflict” – communities with shared interests transcending national boundaries and resorting to the use of violence.

Population and Resources
The global population is likely to grow to 8.5bn in 2035, with less developed countries accounting for 98% of that. Some 87% of people under the age of 25 live in the developing world. Demographic trends, which will exacerbate economic and social tensions, have serious implications for the environment – including the provision of clean water and other resources – and for international relations. The population of sub-Saharan Africa will increase over the period by 81%, and that of Middle Eastern countries by 132%.

The Middle East
The massive population growth will mean the Middle East, and to a lesser extent north Africa, will remain highly unstable, says the report. It singles out Saudi Arabia, the most lucrative market for British arms, with unemployment levels of 20% and a “youth bulge” in a state whose population has risen from 7 million to 27 million since 1980. “The expectations of growing numbers of young people [in the whole region] many of whom will be confronted by the prospect of endemic unemployment … are unlikely to be met,” says the report.

Islamic militancy
Resentment among young people in the face of unrepresentative regimes “will find outlets in political militancy, including radical political Islam whose concept of Umma, the global Islamic community, and resistance to capitalism may lie uneasily in an international system based on nation-states and global market forces”, the report warns. The effects of such resentment will be expressed through the migration of youth populations and global communications, encouraging contacts between diaspora communities and their countries of origin.

Tension between the Islamic world and the west will remain, and may increasingly be targeted at China “whose new-found materialism, economic vibrancy, and institutionalised atheism, will be an anathema to orthodox Islam”.

Iran will steadily grow in economic and demographic strength and its energy reserves and geographic location will give it substantial strategic leverage. However, its government could be transformed. “From the middle of the period,” says the report, “the country, especially its high proportion of younger people, will want to benefit from increased access to globalisation and diversity, and it may be that Iran progressively, but unevenly, transforms…into a vibrant democracy.”

Casualties and the amount of damage inflicted by terrorism will stay low compared to other forms of coercion and conflict. But acts of extreme violence, supported by elements within Islamist states, with media exploitation to maximise the impact of the “theatre of violence” will persist. A “terrorist coalition”, the report says, including a wide range of reactionary and revolutionary rejectionists such as ultra-nationalists, religious groupings and even extreme environmentalists, might conduct a global campaign of greater intensity”.

Climate change
There is “compelling evidence” to indicate that climate change is occurring and that the atmosphere will continue to warm at an unprecedented rate throughout the 21st century. It could lead to a reduction in north Atlantic salinity by increasing the freshwater runoff from the Arctic. This could affect the natural circulation of the north Atlantic by diminishing the warming effect of ocean currents on western Europe. “The drop in temperature might exceed that of the miniature ice age of the 17th and 18th centuries.”


Revolution in Military Affairs: From Computer Generated Insurgents to Bioelectric Implants

Big brother


Civil liberties


The Rockefeller roots of the United Nations

8 years in 8 minutes
Video. How we got here (ahem).


News you WANT to read – Shoe parties and libraries

January 19, 2009

It’s not easy to find ‘News you want to read’ on a wintery Monday in January.  Cheap thrills are the only options.

Iraqi guards throw party for shoe-Bush-basher

Zeidi celebrates 30th birthday in jail
with two-hour visit from brother,
but concerns on his welfare remain

By Kim Gamel

The Iraqi journalist jailed since throwing his shoes at President George W. Bush got a visit from his brother Friday and a birthday party from his guards as he turned 30.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi, who has gained cult status for his bizarre protest, is in good shape but has been denied access to his lawyer, relatives said after his brother Maitham visited him for two hours in his detention cell in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone.

Al-Zeidi has been in custody since the Dec. 14 outburst at Bush’s joint news conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Thousands demonstrated for al-Zeidi’s release and hailed his gesture.

But concern was raised about his welfare after allegations that he had been severely beaten and tortured in detention.

The case’s investigating judge has said the journalist was struck about the face and eyes, apparently by security agents who wrestled him to the floor after he hurled his shoes, forcing Bush to duck for cover.

Maitham al-Zeidi was not available to comment on the visit, but another brother, Dhargham, told The Associated Press that he was told the wounds had healed.

“Muntadhar was in a good shape … and his morale was high. Yesterday was his birthday and some patriotic officers there organized a party for him and brought birthday cake,” Dhargham al-Zeidi said.

The case became a focus for Iraqis and others in the Muslim world who resent the US invasion and occupation. But it also embarrassed al-Maliki, who was standing next to Bush at the time. Neither leader was injured.

Al-Zeidi had been due to face a trial in December on a charge of assaulting a foreign leader, which his defense team said carried a maximum sentence of 15 years. But an appellate court is considering a motion to reduce the charges to simply insulting Bush.

Defense lawyer Dhia al-Saadi said it was a matter of freedom of expression.

“Al-Zeidi’s act was symbolic and in no way was it a murder attempt,” he said, adding that he had been allowed to meet his client only once.

“I submitted many petitions to the judge of the case and I expect to meet Muntadhar next week,” he said.

Al-Zeidi’s act of defiance transformed the obscure reporter from an employee of a minor TV station into a national hero to many Iraqis fed up with the nearly six-year US presence here.

But his brother said information about the international wave of support had been kept from the journalist.

“Some officers told him that half of the Iraqis were against him. But he was very happy when he heard that all the Iraqis support him. He even cried when he heard that there were demonstrations on his behalf even in the United States,” Dhargham al-Zeidi said.

The brother who met with Muntadhar al-Zeidi was taken by bus to the detention center, and two army officers supervised the meeting.

The journalist is currently being held alone in a comfortable room with a bed and a TV set, his brother said. “He is being visited frequently by doctors. The food is very good,” the brother added.

Al-Zeidi stood by his attack on Bush. He stressed that he meant no offense to the Iraqi prime minister but didn’t want to miss his chance to send Bush a message, the brother said.

“He said he could not wait until al-Maliki left the room to throw his shoes because then Bush would also leave and that historic opportunity would be lost,” he said.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi actually feared he would be killed by guards after throwing his shoes and read his last prayers before going to the news conference, his brother said.

“So for him it does not matter for how long he would be imprisoned,” his brother said, “because the important thing is that he restored the honor of the Iraqi people.”

The Bush Library rooms finalised

by allan on December 29, 2008

The George W. Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages. The Library will include:

The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room which no one has yet been able to find.

The Hurricane Katrina Room which is still under construction.

The Alberto Gonzales Room where you won’t be able to remember anything.

The Texas Air National Guard Room where you don’t even have to show up.

The Walter Reed Hospital Room where they don’t let you in.

The Guantanamo Bay Room where they don’t let you out.

The National Debt Room which is huge and has no ceiling.

The Tax Cut Room with entry restricted to the wealthy.

The Economy Room which is in the toilet.

The Iraq War Room: After you complete your first tour, they make you go back for a second, third, fourth and sometimes fifth tour.

The Dick Cheney Room in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shotgun gallery.

The Environmental Conservation Room still empty, but very warm.

The Supreme Court Gift Shop where you can buy an election.

The Decider Room complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins and straws.

Additionally, the museum will have a 20-electron microscope to help you locate the president’s accomplishments.

Admission: Republicans – free; Democrats – $1000 or 3 Euros


Update – Aafia Siddiqi

January 19, 2009

I have followed the story of Aafia Siddiqi since I first read of her horrific ordeal last year. And her torture continues, in a more restrained way under the eye of media and the Pakistan government, as she remains in US custody. Keeping her case in the public eye is her only hope. Other stories on my blog can be found here.

I note here that a few of the more recent stories on her case are not accessible as the site in no longer accessible (must be link decay?). However the following three stories are up to date. Two of her children are still missing and a third is severely disturbed. I would appreciate any info anyone has on this.

One of interrogators was Indian at Bagram: Aafia

Pakistani scientist detained in US told Senate bodyshe was arrested from Pakistan and later shifted to Bagram

By Muhammad Bilal

ISLAMABAD: Dr Aafia Siddiqi — a Pakistani national on trial in the United States – has alleged that one of the interrogators at the Bagram airbase was an Indian, according to a report by the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Dr Aafia has narrated her entire story to a delegation of the committee that went to see her, telling them how she was arrested from Pakistan and later shifted to Bagram.

The delegation – headed by Mushahid Hussain Syed – visited the US in October last year and held a meeting with the detained Pakistani scientist.

The report presented to a joint meeting of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights and Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs here on Thursday says that Aafia told the senators that she was travelling in a taxi to her maternal uncle’s house when she was arrested, and she later found that she had been taken to Afghanistan.

She did not know where she was taken, as she had problem recollecting and reconciling dates and places.

The report says in Bagram, Aafia was ‘tortured’, but the Afghans did not ‘humiliate’ her. Her three children – two sons and a daughter – were taken away from her, and she was told her children would be returned only if she confessed to meeting certain people. She, however, did not disclose the names of the people in question. She feared that this forced confession could go against her in Pakistan. She also feared that her third child, named Suleman, may have been killed.

Dr Aafia alleged that one of the interrogators in Bagram was an Indian – who was her contemporary at MIT and was interested in her research work. She was repeatedly asked to do similar research for the ‘interrogator countries’. Her interrogators in Afghanistan spoke in American accent and Hindi. Dr Aafia also did not disclose the questions asked by the interrogators.

Referring to the incident which became a basis for the institution of a case against her in the US, she said that at the detention centre, she got up and heard a US soldier shouting ‘she is loose’ – and a US captain fired at her, injuring her abdomen.

She fell to the ground and when she regained consciousness, she heard one of the soldiers say ‘we could lose our jobs’. In the US court, she is charged with pulling a gun at a uniformed officer. Aafia denies that charge. The prosecutors deny that she was fired at, and to conceal the facts “a surgery was performed on me”.

Nisar urges charge sheet against US
for making objectionable video of Aafia

ISLAMABAD: Chairman Senate’s Standing Committee for Defence Nisar Memon has urged to summon US ambassador in the session and present a charge sheet against USA for an making objectionable video of Dr Aafia in New York jail. More here.

Senate bodies slam Aafia’s detention,
Gaza assault

Staff Report

ISLAMABAD: A joint meeting of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights and Foreign Relations Committee passed two unanimous resolutions condemning Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui’s detention in the US and Israeli aggression against Palestinian civilians.