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Archive for September 2010

Man > Idea > Machine

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In this segment of  Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviews Matt Ritchel, a tech journalist for The New York Times. He talks about something that many people has been seem to be ignoring, at least on a mainstream level: is technology ALWAYS a good thing?  The answer he gives seem to be, maybe not. I like the food analogy he made with technology where some technology is like brussels sprouts and is good for us, but other technology is like a twinkie, and if you eat/use it too much it will probably effect you adversely. I find it more peculiar when he says, “some technology has great nutritional value.”

Richtel seems to posit that we need to be cautious and shouldn’t accept technology blindly, despite the convinces it gives us in everyday life.

Because the research pertaining to this particular field is in such an embryonic stage, we cannot draw sweeping conclusions about our iphones and the interwebs. It seems though that we need to balance our desire to be plugged in, and our NEED to  be  day dream, our NEED to think without constant distraction.

If we don’t we might just end up like the humans in Wall-E, floating around in a hover chair that caters to our every whim.

Link:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129384107

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Written by lollingvagabond

September 27, 2010 at 3:42 am

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US soldiers play the most dangerous game

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It seems that  a few bad apples have spoiled the already fragile reputation of American troops in Afghanistan.

Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret “kill team” that has been accused of blowing up  civilians, shooting them at random and collecting their fingers as trophies.  Five of the solders are charged with murdering three afghan men who were allegedly  killed for sport in separate attacks this year. The rest are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported abuses, which include smoking hash stolen from locals.

According to court documents, discussion of forming a kill team began upon the arrival of Staff Sergent Calvin Gibbs to the Stryker infantry brigade at a forward operating base called Ramrod in southern Afghanistan last November.

Investigators say Gibbs, 25, came up with the plan with Jeremy Morlock, 22, and other soldiers. In the following months they allegedly killed at least three civilians. One charge includes an episode where a man called Gul Mudin was killed by shooting him with a rifle  then throwing a grenade at him afterward.

According to court documents, Morlock told a soldier that the killings were for fun and threatened him if he told anyone.

Now every war has its horror stories where a group of disgruntled soldiers decides to take advantage of their situation as protectors to abuse those that are innocent. If found guilty these soldiers should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Events like these only act to exacerbate the already complex situation on the ground during the deadliest year for US forces in Afghanistan. Our soldiers are our representatives abroad, and the last thing The our armed forces needs is another reason for someone to become a terrorist.


link:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/09/us-soldiers-afghan-civilians-fingers

Written by lollingvagabond

September 24, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Snow White and the Seven Mercenaries?

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It recent years it has come to the attention of certain government watch dogs and distressed individuals that The United States government has increased its reliance on private military contractors( PMCs), or Mercenaries. The company that has supplied the majority of these PMCs to the Defense Department is the infamous private security firm called Xe (formerly known as Blackwater before the company had to change its name after some of their employees killed 17 unarmed civilians in Iraq, known as the Nisour Square massacre).

According to documents recently obtained by The Nation, Xe has not only provided security, training, and intelligence services to the US and foreign governments, but they have also assisted several multinational corporations, including but not limited to Monsanto, Chevron, The Walt Disney Company, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

Xe’s services were contracted by two shell companies owned by Blackwater’s former owner and founder, Erik Prince, called Total Intelligence and Terrorism Research Center (TRC).

One  startling detail that was revealed is that Xe sough to become the “intel arm” of Monsanto (the world’s largest supplier of genetically modified seeds) offering  to proviide operatives that would infiltrate activist groups organzing against their firm. Disney hired TI and TRC to do “threat assessment” for potential film shoot locations in morocco.

It is distressing to think that in the 21 century, corporations and national governments are increasing their reliance on private intelligence agencies with private armies. Their role in international events has become more ingrained and only have one real ally: money. These organizations provide services to the highest bidder, and instead of relying on our own intelligence agencies we empower private multinationals who can act beyond the realm of the Geneava convention, as long as they can get away with it.

link:

http://www.alternet.org/investigations/148202/disney,_chevron_and_monsanto_contracted_with_blackwater_for_intelligence,_training_and_security_services/

Written by lollingvagabond

September 24, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized