Saturday, February 27, 2010

Likelihood of being eaten by Shark decreased thanks to Depression

There are more positives to an economic Depression than most think! Despite wealth consolidation, a collapse in credit, a raging return of fascism, widespread unemployment, billions hungry, etc., shark attacks are at a 5-year low.

The logic checks out: Less money means fewer people traveling to the beach for vacation. Few people at the beach means less human blood spilled at the mercy of the shark.

Let the drinking games begin! (of beer, not human blood!)

University of Florida shark researcher George Burgess reports the number of reported shark attacks worldwide dropped to a five year low last year. In 2008, 59 attacks were reported compared to 71 the year prior.

Oddly, fatalities rose in 2008. Could it be that evolution works faster than we believe? The sharks have fewer opportunities to mistakenly take a good-chunk out of an land-based anthropoid flailing about at sea. Therefore, they adapted.

Huffington Post recently reported that great white sharks are now more endangered than tigers. The question has sparked intense debate in the boardrooms of top environmental non-profits, congresses and parliaments in the most powerful capitals, banks on Wall Street and coastal warm waters everywhere: How many humans must be sacrificed in order to save the inspiration of the blockbuster Jaws, the Great White?

This writer volunteers an entire class of people, referred to by Newsweek as the globe’s Superclass. None of these 6,000 individuals returned phone calls,typically answered by servants, butlers and young, female secretaries. Ironic as it is, many of these individuals were busy meeting in secret in Australia, a nation historically rocked by shark predators.

Not only is marine wildlife exacting its toll on its human counterparts. It’s domesticated partners are as well.

Just last week one Shamu of many dragged a trainer into the tank by her ponytail and thrashed her about.

This writer believes that a sagging economy has something to do with this mystery as well. An inquiry is needed: Has Shamu’s Sea World frozen fish rations been cut down to size in the face of economic downturn?

1.Who is the Superclass? Put nicely by Newsweek:

2. Secret Summit of Top Bankers Yahoo search:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pentagon’s "Full-Spectrum Dominance" Facing Headwinds

According to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has derided European contributions to NATO in the past, the public and political oppositions in Europe to military action represent an impediment to operations in Afghanistan and, as the New York Times referred to the policy of which Afghanistan is a small part, “the alliance’s broader security goals.” (1)

(From Wikipedia): Full spectrum dominance refers to an open Pentagon policy, whereby a joint military complex strives to control all elements of the battle space using land, air, maritime and space based assets. Full-spectrum dominance encompasses air, surface and sub-surface, as well as the electromagnetic spectrum and information space. Control implies the subordination of all opposition forces, rendering their ability to confront the Pentagon and its allies wholly inhibited.

Harold Pinter referred to the policy as he accepted the 2005 Nobel Prize award:
"I have said earlier that the United States is now totally frank about putting its cards on the table. That is the case. Its official declared policy is now defined as 'full spectrum dominance'. That is not my term, it is theirs. 'Full spectrum dominance' means control of land, sea, air and space and all attendant resources."

“The demilitarization of Europe—where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it—has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st century,” Gates told NATO officers and officials in a speech at the National Defense University,” a graduate school, financed by the Defense Department, for military officers and diplomats.

Gates argued that perceived European weakness could lead to aggression by hostile powers.

“Right now,” Mr. Gates said, “the alliances face very serious, long-term, systemic problems.”

Three days before Mr. Gates’s comments, the coalition government of the Netherlands collapsed over the keeping of Dutch troops in Afghanistan. It is now likely, that most of the 2,000 Dutch troops there will be withdrawn this year. Polls show that the Afghanistan war has become increasingly unpopular in nearly every European country.

In Germany, a recent poll suggested that 76 percent did not believe the NATO exercise would succeed, while 65 percent opposed sending any more troops. (2)
"We have a clear strategy," said Ulrich Wilhelm, the government spokesman. On Friday, Germany’s plan of reinforcing its 4,500 troops in Afghanistan by 500, with a further 350 available for temporary deployment, will be up for vote in the Bundestag.

To be sure, public opinion in Germany is more negative than in the Netherlands. The government strategy, nevertheless, is backed by the opposition Social Democrats, who were responsible for first sending German troops to Afghanistan.
Top figures in the SPD have stated that there will be no “blank cheque” for further reinforcements.

President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, still refuses to send more troops to Afghanistan and it seems the Dutch decision will not change that. France currently has 3,250 soldiers in Afghanistan and 150 gendarmes.

Mr. Sarkozy’s refusal to send troop reinforcements has been due to a combination of hostile public opinion, as polls continually show most French want their troops out, as well as impending local elections.

In Spain, a December poll showed 48 percent thought a government decision to send an extra 500 troops was either “bad” or “very bad,” while just 22 percent were in favor.

The U.S. Defense Secretary highlighted that NATO shortfalls, such as a lack of finances for needed helicopters and cargo aircraft, were “directly impacting operations.”

Alliance members, he warned, are far from reaching their spending commitments, as only 5 of 28 members have reached the established target of 2 percent of GDP towards defense. The United States spends more than 4 percent of GDP on military.

“Whether this is a conscious statement to sound a real sharp warning, there’s no question that the frustration among the American military establishment is palpable regarding coalition operations in Afghanistan,” Dana Allin, a senior fellow with the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London, said.

Mr. Gates noted, however, that NATO troops in Afghanistan were, in fact, scheduled to increase to 50,000 this year, up from 30,000 last year.

“By any measure,” he said, “that is an extraordinary feat.”
Only a mere two months into the year, nevertheless, NATO was short hundreds of millions of euros: “a natural consequence of having underinvested in collective defense for over a decade,” Gates pointed out.

NATO has been under increasing pressure since 9/11 to expand its mandate beyond European borders, and its current problems demand “serious, far-reaching and immediate reforms,” Mr. Gates said.

Just last month, the secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, turned unexpectedly to Russia to request helicopters for use in Afghanistan, citing the benefits of reduced terrorism threats and drug trade on a border of the former Soviet Union.

Mr. Rasmussen echoed Mr. Gates’s sentiments, saying that NATO’s members needed to better coordinate their weapons purchases. The European Union and NATO should coordinate on weapons purchases so as to avoid “spending double money.”
What Gates did fail to note, however, is the lack of support for the war, not only among Europeans, but also among those he supposedly represents:

An August 2009 poll in the Washington Post reported that a majority of Americans do not believe the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting, while just a quarter believe more U.S. troops should be sent to the country. This was before the troop escalation, approved by President Obama, which corresponded with his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance. (3)

U.S. citizens demonstrate an overall mistrust of government.
According to a recent CBS News-New York Times poll, only eight percent of U.S. citizens want the members of congress re-elected. 80 percent, moreover, said members of Congress are more interested in serving special interests than the people they “represent.” 75% disapprove of the job Congress is doing. President Obama, whose approval rating has dropped precipitously in recent months, has an approval rating of just 46 percent. (4)

Most astoundingly, perhaps, 75% of citizens are in favor of having the Federal Reserve, the nation’s privately-held—historically secretive—banking system, audited and investigated. (5)

Establishment policies, generally, have had a tough go at it recently. The Copenhagen meetings fell apart due, in part, to the Climategate scandal, whereby leaked documents by leading climate scientists revealed that much of the data regarding Global “Warming” was unscientific and contrived.

In a short excerpt in the Wall Street Journal called “Push to Oversimplify at Climate Panel,” the Wall Street Journal exposed the scandal on its front page:
The IPCC has faced withering criticism. Emails hacked from a U.K. climate lab and posted online late last year appear to show scientists trying to squelch researchers who disagreed with their conclusion that humans are largely responsible for climate change. And last month, the IPCC admitted its celebrated 2007 report contained an error: a false claim that Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035. The IPCC report got the date from a World Wildlife Fund report.

Even some who agree with the IPCC conclusion that humans are significantly contributing to climate change say the IPCC has morphed from a scientific analyst to a political actor. “It’s very much an advocacy organization that’s couched in the role of advice,” says Roger Pielke, a University of Colorado political scientist. He says many IPCC participants want “to compel action” instead of “just summarizing science.”

To restore its credibility, the IPCC will focus on enforcing rules already on the books, IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri and other officials said in interviews. Scientific claims must be checked with several experts before being published. IPCC reports must reflect disagreements when consensus can’t be reached. And people who write reports must refrain from advocating specific environmental actions—a political line the IPCC isn’t supposed to cross.
An accompanying poll showed that 82% of the readership awarded the IPCC an F for the work they had been doing. Despite this, climate change legislation, such as cap-and-trade and other forms of regulation, will continue to be implemented against popular
sentiment. (6)

A majority of citizens across Western nations refused H1N1 inoculation this past winter and spring. Well-documented are the health concerns, such as the ingredients mercury and squalene—to name but a few issues surrounding the vaccines—found in the shots. Some statistics can be found here:

These actions, concepts and policies, from military strategy to public health initiatives, do arguably fall under the America’s grand strategy of Full Spectrum Dominance, first revealed in the 1998 U.S. Space Command document Vision for 2020, and released once more in 2002 as the DoD Joint Vision 2020. Dominance over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems, including the ability to overwhelmingly win global wars against any adversary—including the use of nuclear weapons preemptively—is forged by way of propaganda, the wealth and unaccountability of NGOs, Color Revolutions for regime change, expanding NATO eastward, and “a vast array of psychological and economic warfare techniques.” (7)

1. Brian Knowlton. Gates Calls European Mood A Danger to Peace. 2/23/10, New York Times.

Available at:

2. Quentin Peel in Berlin. European nations unite over Dutch withdrawal. 2/23/2010, Financial Times.

Available at:

3. Jennifer Agiesta and Jon Cohen. Public Opinion in U.S. Turns Against Afghan War. 8/20/2009, Washington Post.

Available at:

4. Jonathon D. Salant. Few Want Members of Congress Re-elected, Poll finds. 2/12/2010

Available at:

5. Rasmussen Reports
Available at:

6. Jeffrey Ball and Keith Johnson. Push to Oversimplify at Climate Panel. 2/26/2010, Wall Street Journal.

Available at:

7. Stephen Lendman. “Reviewing F. William Engdahl's "Full Spectrum Dominance:" Part I. 6/22/2009, 2009.

Available at:

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stasi 2.0?: Evidence of Digital Fortress

“You know they are putting people in prison for nothing now.”
Comment of local Soviet Union official, 1938

The age-old information gathering techniques employed by States is alive-and-well in the U.S., as well as other western nations, today. Whereas in the Soviet Union, surveillance consisted of NKVD agents snooping in line outside a store, listening to workers’ complaints in the factory cafeteria, relaxing in a sauna or bathroom, talking to academics at the university or citizen’s mail to politicians, in the U.S. such methods have been multiplied by the technetronic era to encompass digital resources. (1)

One could argue for an ongoing process of sovietization in America.

Laptops issued to high-schools students in an affluent Philadelphia suburb were equipped with remote-controlled webcams. School administrators, it has recently come to light, activated the webcams in order to spy on students and families while they were at home.

The school was also spying on students’ clickstreams and emails.

Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) involves the Robbins’s child, whom the school attempted to discipline for “improper behavior in his home.” The Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The class action suit was brought on behalf of all students issued laptops. (2)

Students at the Philadelphia school are not the only ones illegally spied upon. Google, for example, has admitted for years that it has implemented similar surveillance technologies so as to improve their individual-specific advertising systems. By way of in-built microphones, which record background noise—such as television, music or radio—Google can advertise based on ones preferences. (3)

Many cell-phones, furthermore, record conversations, at random, had by their users; even while the cell-phones are turned off. The only way to disable this feature, is by taking the battery our of the device.

Earlier this month, Wired Magazine reported, that Google would be teaming up with the National Security Agency to investigate hack attacks against its network. The agreement enables Google to share critical information with the NSA about attacks and its network. (4)

Also reported this month by Wired, Police forces in the UK will soon utilize unmanned aircraft from a national fleet. According to Home Office plans, modified military aircraft drones will carry out surveillance on persons from protestors and antisocial motorists to fly-tippers. The system will be in place by the 2012 London Olympics.

In the battlefield, Military drones evolved from surveillance to attack. Should the British police develop their systems in a similar manner, their drones could be armed with the familiar litany of contemporary non-lethal weapons, instead of military missiles.

The unmanned aircraft can, also, be fitted with speakers. The Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) was used in the United States at the G20 in Pittsburg on peaceful protestors and children. It has also been used to in U.S. war theatres to force crowds into strict obedience.

LRAD is a pinpoint directional speaker composed of a flat array of piezoelectric transducers, “producing intense beam of sound in a 30-degree cone. It can be used as a loudhailer, or deafen the target with a jarring, discordant noise.” (5)

Further, Britain recently announced a plan to install 20,000 CCTV cameras inside private homes. The $669 million initiative will go towards installing and monitoring CCTV cameras in the homes of parents to ensure the kids are doing their homework, going to bed early and eating vegetables. (6)

But will the measure be forever used for such “positive” ends?

In Arizona, citizens are acting out against ubiquitous spying. Since the state began enforcing speed limits with roadside cameras, motorists have blocked out lenses with Post-it notes and Silly String. Over Christmas holidays, they covered cameras with boxes in wrapping paper.

So far, Arizona is the only state to implement “photo enforcement.” The cameras photograph vehicles driving 11 mph and more over the speed limit.

In California, speed cameras are illegal. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, nonetheless, proposed a program to add speed enforcement capabilities to 500 red-light cameras to generate $338 million for the 2010-11 budget. The proposal is, thus far, unlikely to be a part of the Legislature’s upcoming budget recommendations.

In Arizona, the mini-revolt runs deeper than Post-It Notes and Silly String. As of September, only 38% of issued violations were reportedly paid.

One such dissenter, John Keegan, is a judge for the Arrowhead Justice Court. He has called the cameras a constitutional violation and rejects every photo radar ticket with which he is confronted. Keegan says he has dismissed more than 7,000 violations; a value of approximately $1 million. (7)

Technology is not the crux of the problem, for technology is inherently inanimate without attitude: so, therefore, can be used to positive or negative ends. It is pertinent, then, that we pay attention to whom is using the technology and for what reasons.

It is reason for concern, that the Department of Homeland Security hired Former Stasi head, Marcus Wolf, in 2004. (8)

In Germany, globally coordinated the technetronic surveillance movement has been dubbed, “Stasi 2.0.” A portmanteau that originated in the blogosphere, the concept combines the name of the Stasi, known as one of the most brutal secret police apparatus’s of the Cold War, with a term from software versioning used in popular phrases, such as Web 2.0. The implication being, that the Stasi 2.0 is a modern version of the Stasi. It highlights the preemptive security strategies, appearing increasingly, and in a coordinated manner, in Germany, Britain, U.S. as well as in many other countries. (9)

1. Sheila Fitzpatrick. 1999. Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930’s. Oxford Press.

2. Cory Doctorow. “School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home.” BoingBoing, 2-17-2010.

Accessible at:

3. Faultine. “Google developing eavesdropping softwards.” The Reigster, 9-3-2009

Accessible at:

4. Kim Zetter. “Google Asks NSA to Help Secure its Network.” Wired, 2-4-2010.

Accessible at:

5. David Hambling. “Future police: Meet the UK’s Armed Robot Drones.” Wired, 2-10-2010

Accessible at:

6. Charlie Sorrel. “Britain To Put CCTV Cameras Inside Private Homes.” Wired, 8-3-2009

Accessible at:

7. Nicole Santa Cruz. “Arizona speed cameras incite a mini-revolt.” LATimes, 2-19-2010

Accessible at:,0,7499882.story?page=2&track=rss

8. Prison Planet. Ex-Stasi Chief Markus Wolf Hired By Homeland Security?” PrisonPlanet, 12-6-2004.

Accessible at:

8. Wikipedia: Stasi 2.0