If you stayed at home, cowered behind your curtains and relied on the mass media for your only perspective on the state of the world you may be forgiven for believing there’s a serial killer next door, a paedo hiding in your flowerbed or a crack troop of terrorists lining up to commit Jihad at your local Co-op. Yes, there’s no getting away from the fact that these are harsh and often brutal times, but it can be all too easy to forget that this planet is also chock-a-block with compassionate human beings, women and men with impeccable morals and even those who would put their own lives in jeopardy to help out a stranger in need.
Through this site, I for one have been guilty of focusing on the negative while ignoring the positive and it’s something I wish to address. After a year’s hiatus I’m ready to pick up the pen, or at least thrash furiously at my keyboard, to point out the ominous direction that I fear we are being led as it’s something that I just cant ignore. But before venturing down this punishing path once again I wanted to kick-start things with a little precious positivity, some genuinely heart warming footage that brought a smile to my face as I hope it will to yours too.
This week I was lucky enough to be sent a compilation of clips depicting seemingly unremarkable human beings, and animals, carrying out some remarkable acts. I would like to believe that in these situations I would act as swiftly and selflessly as those in this fantastic short film, but that is far easier said than done and I’m probably giving myself way too much credit! Anyway, this clip requires no further introduction – unless your heart is colder than a snowman’s nether regions, or you are particularly allergic to hideously cheesy music, I think you may well enjoy it as much as I did.
Shocking videos that allegedly depict private US private security contractors firing their weapons indiscriminately, running over a female civilian and ramming cars off the road in their armoured vehicles during operations in Iraq have been picked up and spread far and wide by the alternative media.
The brutal footage, which was initially featured in the article “The Warrior Class” in the April edition of Harpers Magazine, was reportedly leaked by a source who had worked for the much maligned agency Blackwater, a company now called Academi. Prior to this the mercenary operation was formerly known as ‘Xe’ - a move that the more cynical among us could attribute to the organisation’s desire to escape negative press of the past.
The combination of clips can be viewed in full here at the host site and I would very much recommend that you do this to see the extent of this atrocious behaviour, but today I post an overview of the more shocking aspects which has been compiled by Youtube channel ‘The Daily Conversation.’
Yes war is bloody, gruesome and without rules and there are many out there who would claim that these clips are taken out of context, that so called ‘peace-keepers’ in war-torn countries have no option but to act in this aggressive manner in order to secure their own safety. While I would agree that a few clips do not represent the actions of all Academi contractors, for me this tragic footage proves the often unreported civilian claims from countries like Iraq and Afghanistan that these freelance goons/guns for hire often run amok in the countries they operate – because they can get away with it. And because they can act with a level of impunity this reckless minority, if it is a minority, move from one conflict to the next spreading hatred and creating more enemies intent on harming the West with each civilian life lost.
According to Wikipedia, Academi was founded in 1997 by Erik Prince and Al Clark in order to provide training support to military and law enforcement organisations and is currently the largest of the U.S. State Department’s three private security contractors. The company provided diplomatic security services in Iraq to the United States federal government on a contractual basis and more recently the Obama administration awarded it a $250 million contract to work for the U.S. State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan.
On the company’s own website www.academi .com the organisation claims to “demonstrate the highest degree of integrity in every aspect of what we do” and is “committed to instilling professional and ethical behaviour in all our employees, teammates and associates.” Perhaps the latest footage reflects the behaviour of a few rogue employees but according to the website Sourcewatch this is certainly not the first time that the Academi / Xe / Blackwater has faced damaging claims of malpractice.
Your thoughts and comments as always are very much welcomed and appreciated.
When George Orwell wrote the perturbingly prophetic novel 1984 he envisaged the rise of a totalitarian western society in which the citizen’s every move is tracked, perpetual wars and the threat of terror keep the populace in a constant state of fear and alleged enemies of the state can be vanished and tortured without trial.
Fast forward 60 years and today it would be fair to comment that many aspects of his nightmare vision have already come to pass. Consider if you will the rise of CCTV cameras on every street corner, the endless ‘humanitarian’ wars that the United Nations allies are waging without the backing of the electorate and President Obama’s recent signing of the terrifying NDAA legislation.
The wealth of correct predictions outlined in the infamous novel deserve a far larger article, but recently an additional news item was brought to my attention that immediately took me back to its pages. The news in question originated with statements made by CIA Director David Petraeus, who boasts that our television sets and seemingly innocuous household appliances can already, and will in future be increasingly used, to provide the intelligence services with information on where we are or what we are doing.
When people download a film from Netflix to a flatscreen, or turn on web radio, they could be alerting unwanted watchers to exactly what they are doing and where they are.
Spies will no longer have to plant bugs in your home – the rise of ‘connected’ gadgets controlled by apps will mean that people ‘bug’ their own homes, says CIA director David Petraeus.
The CIA claims it will be able to ‘read’ these devices via the internet – and perhaps even via radio waves from outside the home.
Everything from remote controls to clock radios can now be controlled via apps – and chip company ARM recently unveiled low-powered, cheaper chips which will be used in everything from fridges and ovens to doorbells.
The resultant chorus of ‘connected’ gadgets will be able to be read like a book – and even remote-controlled, according to CIA CIA Director David Petraeus, according to a recent report by Wired’s ‘Danger Room’ blog.
Petraeus says that web-connected gadgets will ‘transform’ the art of spying – allowing spies to monitor people automatically without planting bugs, breaking and entering or even donning a tuxedo to infiltrate a dinner party.
‘Transformational’ is an overused word, but I do believe it properly applies to these technologies,’ said Petraeus.
‘Particularly to their effect on clandestine tradecraft. Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters - all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.’
Petraeus was speaking to a venture capital firm about new technologies which aim to add processors and web connections to previously ‘dumb’ home appliances such as fridges, ovens and lighting systems.
This week, one of the world’s biggest chip companies, ARM, has unveiled a new processor built to work inside ‘connected’ white goods.
The ARM chips are smaller, lower-powered and far cheaper than previous processors – and designed to add the internet to almost every kind of electrical appliance.
It’s a concept described as the ‘internet of things’.
Futurists think that one day ‘connected’ devices will tell the internet where they are and what they are doing at all times – and will be mapped by computers as precisely as Google Maps charts the physical landscape now.
Privacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation have warned of how information such as geolocation data can be misused – but as more and more devices connect, it’s clear that opportunities for surveillance will multiply.
Thinking back to 1984 I found the following quote to be particularly ominous when you consider the rapid speed at which these technologies are developing. Yes, right now it may seem quite a leap to compare these ‘connected’ devices to the telescreens imposed on the citizen’s of Orwell’s ‘Oceania’ but thinking 30 years down the line are we not moving in this direction? I’ll leave you with the quote – as always, your thoughts and comments are very much welcomed.
“The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live — did live, from habit that became instinct — in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”
-George Orwell ’1984′.
Thanks go to Jorges for the links, much appreciated.
Blogicalcomment: David Cameron threw his hat into the ring yesterday with vague claims that Iran is trying to develop ‘intercontinental missiles’ which pose a direct threat to the UK
The latest sabre rattling from the Prime Minister is a stark reminder of the infamously false 45 minute claims which helped Blair to lead us into the quagmire of the Iraq War, a hugely destructive conflict that led to the loss of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives but helped to carve up the country’s bountiful resources for the international corporations.
Despite the admitted lack of evidence to support such a claim the western media repeatedly reminds us that Iran is probably developing its nuclear weapons programme and, if it isnt, then it’s only a matter of time before it does. In his latest address to a Commons committee the PM repeatedly stressed that ‘military action’ against Iran was not off the table, comments that echo previous statements made by the usual suspects in the USA and Israel.
With the current rhetoric building up against the Assad regime, sadly it looks as though 2012 could be a bumper year for war. I for one am sick of turning on the TV to see the bloodied bodies of civilians who have been slaughtered using artillery that my tax contributions have helped to fund. Surely this time the PM needs something more concrete to convince/ dupe the British public into supporting yet more bloody conflicts in far away lands? If we are to be dragged into further military campaigns that none of us ever get the opportunity to vote on then how about you hit us with some slightly more convincing propaganda guys? How about Tehran’s alleged plans to release a crack team of suicide squirrels on London or the latest polls that suggest that nine out of ten Iranians like to eat boiled babies for breakfast?
Silliness aside, when you compare the Libya/Syria and Iraq/Iran pre-war rhetoric it feels very much that we are witnessing history repeat itself. I hope that enough UK citizens have learnt the lessons of the past to speak out with a loud and unified voice in opposition of any more conflicts. Conflicts that do not directly concern us and cannot be afforded at a time when global economies are teetering on the edge and as the UK’s national debt levels surpass the massive £1 trillion mark.
If there is a real and credible threat that necessitates Cameron’s latest position then he should be completely open and honest and share this information with everyone. With the mistakes made in the past it is not acceptable for our elected representatives to fob us off with hearsay from the intelligence community without the detail or clarity that would enable us to visualise the real threat or reject it as mere pro-war propaganda.