Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Country At War Part 2

"Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America nor, for that matter, in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. ... [V]oice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
Hermann Göring

This quote from the Nazi propaganda king caught my eye today and seems still so relevant in our current age of permanent and endless wars. We are now into a decade of the 'War On Terror ' or 'War Of Terror' depending whether you are in the military of the western empire or a Pakistani herdsman or a Libyan civilian on the receiving end of a Predator drone attack.

It always struck me as remarkably similar the images of Hitler in front of a burning Reichstag denouncing the 'terrorists' which cemented his power and led directly to the start of the second world war, and those of George Bush in front of the ruins of the Twin Towers denouncing the 'terrorists' and making his famous 'your either with us or against us' speech that has launched us into 10 long years of war in countrys who had little or nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks... but do have lots of oil.

Funded by giant global corporations and surrounded by a cadre of close associates who came from those very corporations, he launched the 'homeland' into a war to seize the wealth and assets of other lands. I could be talking about Hitler or Bush here and the remarkable thing is that those corporations were linked in both eras. George W Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a partner in Brown Brothers Harriman and one of the proprietors of the Banking Corporation Union. Both companies played a key role in financing Hitler on his way to power in Germany. The major beneficiaries of the Iraq war are major corporations like Halliburton and Lockheed Martin.

And has Obama changed anything? 'Yes We Can' has seen a continuing massive increase in military spending, ongoing wars... and he hasn't even managed to close Gauntanamo. So, 'No He Can't'!

Lest we forget most of the 9/11 'terrorists' were Saudi Arabian citizens and yet Saudi Arabia remains a staunch ally of the west in its ongoing middle eastern wars. Could it be something to do with the fact that Saudi is the worlds largest producer and supplier of oil and America the worlds largest consumer and addict?

Map source : Eric Waddell, The Battle for Oil, Global Research, 2003 

Iraq, and Libya of course, do have oil and the blood of many a brave soldier of the Empire has been spilt gaining it, protecting it and exploiting it. Afghanistan is the strategic site of many trans-country oil pipelines that transport oil from the middle east and Russian fields, it also happens, as does Iraq, to share a border with Iran, another major oil producer.

I have always thought that Iranian containment was the main geopolitical goal of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ring of US and allied bases that now circle Iran, from Iraq and Turkey in the east, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the north to Afghanistan in the west and Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait in the south tend to back that view up.

Did you know that the US Empire now has around 800+ military bases around the world some as large as cities? The British Empire at its height had 36! But I digress and that particular 'sign of empire' is the subject for another post. In the meantime check out this excellent article at TomDispatch - Being In Base Denial

And what is the most amazing thing and what started this meandering post is that we seem to be able to start new wars, like that in Libya right now, without causing even a ripple among the general population, no heated debates in Parliament or any opposition to speak of. Are we so well led and so controlled by propaganda that we can't see that these are wars of aggression fought against much weaker opponents and that we, The West, are the aggressors.

I guess it really is "a simple matter to drag the people along..."

For a more in depth and authoritative view on most of the issues raised above see Noam Chomsky's excellent recent article - Is The World To Big To Fail? 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Any Consensus on the Census? (The Age of Surveillance - Part 2)

The level of surveillance and data gathering that we are all subject to has become so ubiquitous that is it almost invisible. We are watched, categorised and tracked on a daily basis in a much more pervasive and invasive way than any of us can really imagine or in fact really want to know about.

This in turn plays into the hands of the watchers and allows this 'Surveillance State' to become ever more controlling and pervasive in and of our daily lives.

Lets take as an example, my average working day. I wake up in the morning to the alarm on my smartphone - this has a GPS chip in that allows anyone who wants to to know the location of my phone. I get dressed and check my email and blog sites etc over breakfast - all of these internet visits can and are tracked and saved creating a detailed history of my browsing and activity. I hop into my car - which also has a GPS chip for geolocation and is registered to me through licensing and insure etc. I drive to work and am photographed by CCTV cameras, traffic light cameras and police cameras on my entire 30 minute journey to the office. I have my work Mobile Phone with me at all times, again geolocatable and hackable. I log onto the work IT systems which scan and track and keep logs of all my activity on corporate systems including storing and archiving all emails and keeping internet browser history. I nip out for lunch and use my credit card at an ATM and again at a food store - all tracked and recorded.

I could go on but you get the picture. Although mostly none of this surveillance data is ever looked at again, it can be if anyone really wants to. We live in a 'Surveillance State' where every moment of our lives is tracked and stored by the technologies we use and largely take for granted. Beyond this the 'Surveillance State' holds vast amounts of information about us - our Digital Identities - birth records, address, tax, driving licence, council tax etc etc. Information that can be matched to photographic and digital records of our movements and transactions on The Grid right down to the level of mobile phone conversations and text messages if required.

Which brings me to the title of this blog, the recent UK Census. Conducted by Lockheed Martin the giant global defence contractor, arms dealer and death monger that is as pervasive and ubiquitous as surveillance when it comes to western Governments and Defence organisations.

"Invasive. Intrusive. Unsuitable" Thats what David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, said of plans for the 2011 UK Census while in opposition, but on gaining power he changed nothing. Did you know that all your personal data collected by this invasive Census will be accessible by the CIA and other US Government agencies by virtue of the 'United States Patriot Act'?

Its going to be collected and processed by the insidious American corporation, Lockheed Martin. Why and to what end? And to top it all the UK government will fine you the princely sum of 1000 pounds for refusing to hand over masses of detailed and intrusive information about yourself to themselves, Lockheed Martin and by extension the US Government.

And yet the vast majority of us quietly accept this and hand over the data without a second thought? Surveillance (by what is called 'Five Eyes' in military and government security clearance circles) really has become so ubiquitous that is it almost invisible. Those 'Five Eyes' are Britain, The United States of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand - in other words the Anglosphere - and any data you hand over in the Census returns is going to be accessible to all five of those English speaking allies who essentially operate one 'shadow government' these days. - Largely controlled and operated by Lockheed Martin

So if you haven't complied already you might want to look at some of the great info and resources on the web around Boycotting the UK Census at No Census Taking Part and at who have a great tagline...

...because your eyes are open but you do not see

Say No To CCTV

Friday, April 15, 2011

Like Frogs In Boiling Water (The Age of Surveillance - Part 1)

I know a thing or two about surveillance and about technology. I have been a senior IT executive for over twenty years and spent the last three years working for the NZ Army, where I was Director of Knowledge & Information. I was also Project Manager for their future focused Land C4ISR Programme - technology in the 'operational theatre', whether that be at home or abroad..

C4ISR stands for Computers, Communications, Command & Control, Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance... quite a mouthful, eh? Well that's why the military is riddled with acronyms and everyone speaks in a sort of TLA code, but I digress.

Part of my role in Force Development and part of the role of the Battle Labs we ran was to look at an evaluate new technologies for the C4ISR capability so I was exposed to some of the latest military and civilian technology in this area. Believe me the capabilities of this stuff are scary especially when applied to the 'Homeland Security' arena and directed at the 'domestic' population, in other words the civilain populations of the very countries who are utilising this stuff. And, by the way, making big bucks selling it to other governments around the world.

Now I can't tell you all I know about the latest Surveillance tech or I would have to shoot you :-) but I just wanted to put into context some of the stuff I will be writing about in my blogs and let you know that I'm not just 'talking out of my backside' I have actually worked in this arena for the NZ Defence Force and with the allied powers of the 'Anglosphere' for the last three years.

So hopefully now that I've 'come out' this can provide some context as I delve deeper in forthcoming blogs into the issues of surveillance, electronic warfare and the brave new world of digital identities, transparency and the pervasive tracking of the online and offline activity of individuals and groups.

We are all just grist for the intelligence analysis mill and this throws up a whole lot of questions and issues, especially in regard to our concepts of privacy and freedom and some of the underlying principles our western civilisation is supposed to be built apon.

Do we live in a democracy? Do we live in a Panopticon prison with no visible walls? Do we really have any privacy or freedom in the brave new electronic age?

So in future blogs I will be examining some of these questions in an attempt to raise the profile of these issues and stimulate debate.

For to long now we have been like the proverbial Frog in the slowly warming water... if we are not careful we will boil to death because we just don't notice the change in temperature. Perhaps we need to get out before its to late.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Panopticon and Permanent War

I had to lift my camera high above the fence that cordons off Parliament Square to get this shot. Notice the ubiquitous surveillance camera on top of the buildings tower?
Britain is the most surveilled nation in the world with the average Londoner being photographed 400+ times a day. In this age of high resolution colour images, face recognition software and integrated tracking systems its a scary thought.
This remarkable invasion of privacy has become the norm in our post 9-11 society where you can never really escape from the cameras except way out in the countryside. "So if you have nothing to hide whats the problem" you may say. Or 'It makes us safer and protects us from terrorism". Really? - that all kind of depends on the watchers being fair and never making mistakes doesn't it? and just whose definition of terrorism are we quoting here? My big concern is Who watches the watchers? ... this whole big brother thing is just far to open to abuse and misuse.

Having been in local and central government for the last few years, albeit in New Zealand not the UK, my biggest concern are the careless bureaucrats and the state machine which just churns on regardless and can easily destroy peoples lives through mistakes and false profiling for example.

The potential for abuse in this 'Panopticon' Grid we live in is not the only fear, IMHO the potential for cock-up and incompetance far outweighs the potentail for conspiracy or deliberate acts of abuse.

So you don't have to be paranoid to live here, but it helps! because they really are watching you... everywhere and all the time.

Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon is now a reality and we already live in a Police State that is in a permanent state of war, where we are the controlled proles kept quiet by the opium of consumerism and celebrity culture. Does that sound familiar?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Country At War

Its sometimes easy to forget we live in a country at War... in fact a country fighting at least two wars; in Afghanistan and Libya, not to mention Iraq - but then no one ever talks about that anymore.

While walking around the centre of British power at Westminster and Whitehall yesterday I was struck by the barriers and Police and general feeling of a country at war, despite the usual throngs of tourists and Londoners going about their daily business.

Opposite the Houses of Parliament, Parliament Square is now closed and surrounded by high fences and security guards. Winston Churchill still walks there and his imposing statue stands just a few feet away from the signs, shacks and tents of the anti-war protestors who have been relegated to the pavement between the closed off park in the square and one of the busiest roads in London. It was hard to get across to them as all the traffic lights to get across to Parliament Square had been removed

The tourists walk past on the other side of the road like the proverbial Levite in the Bible story. I guess they have closed off the square and removed the ability to cross to it to discourage the protestors; make it so hard for them they will just want to go home.

But do we notice the protesters gathered in the square closest to our centre of power? Do we notice their suppression? No, but we do notice the Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square, the Bahrainis at the Pearl Roundabout, the Syrians, the Libyans.

So just why did we attack Libya but not Bahrain or Syria for surely there are innocent civilians dieing there at the hands of their government.

It was just such a interesting juxtaposition. Churchill striding high across the Square the ubiquitous surveillance camera high on the building behind him and right next door the shacks and tents of the anti-war protesters; cowed and quiet amidst all the noise of the city and the click of tourist cameras pointing the other way.

To Stop War The People Must Stop

But they didn't they just kept walking blindly by

The Answer To The Mog Question

Well I think I have the answer to the question I posed in the previous post 3 years ago...

If no one views it then it doesn't exist, or rather it does remain as an artifact in cyberspace but just one of those billions of dead bits of data that no one eve sees or reads unless you stumble upon them while surfing randomly through the blogosphere.

Will I actually start blogging on this blog now? after leaving it dormant for three years and not following my own intention? We'll see!

I'm certainly more active in cyberspace now than I was back in 2008. I have my much used and viewed Flickr pages at , my 'A Raven Image' blog at my Facebook and Twitter presence... and even a dalliance with Google Buzz although I might be the only person on there :-)

So Schrödinger... this blog does not exist unless people read it and they will only read it if they can find it and if they find it interesting. But as Bill English said yesterday at the SharePoint Best Practice Conference I was attending in London;

"Findability is all about Putability" ... its only the metadata you attach to it and where you put your stuff that makes that stuff findable at all...

And lets face it its all just 'stuff'... so I have to ask; does anyone find this rambling of any interest?