Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

One World Government or We the People

Let's call one world government what it is: Corporate World Government - primarily American Corporate World Government. Now most of us in the world do not have a problem with business, or labour, or profit, etc. We understand that the world only has so many resources, and those resources have to be rationed in a responsible way amongst those of us existing on the planet at any given time. Without those controls, which are supposed to be in the form of national currencies, we would quickly consume what the world could offer and be left without resources for the basics of life. So all that is a given.

However, the key question is what form should the controls placed against us take, and who should be responsible for that control. Whether it be trade, barter, or purchases, we have come to accept that we must contribute in order to receive. The exception to that is welfare policy that is meant to give those unable to contribute a subsistence living, but no more than that. It doesn't seem that the give to get policy in human affairs is in danger. What is in the process of attempting to unfold itself is the "who controls it" part.

You can call them the Rockefellers, the Bilderberg's, the Bankers - they're all the same lot. Through various bodies and mechanisms over decades they have not just influenced governments, but also decided who will participate in governing, what they will implement, and so on. In fact, one only needs to watch the news every night and see the decisions made by our political parties, to realize that those parties are making decisions that clearly benefit other people at the expense of those they are meant to represent. Today that realization, and the revolt against it, can be seen from Greece to the United States, and everywhere in between.

The problem this "group" faces is the innate desire of human beings to be free. Freedom is simply an impediment that needs overcoming to them. Give them credit though, they've been hard at work changing all that. There's the "war on terror" for example. One of the most tried and true ways of getting people to surrender their freedom is to scare the hell out of them. How many times do you think you've seen the World Trade Centre crashed into by planes, and fall into a great heap? Probably thousands of times. It's meant to bend your perspective, to sacrifice your freedom for the "greater good" of security. The simple truth is far more people are killed by drunk drivers on   North American freeways than by any crazed terrorists running around creating mayhem, and interrupting your daily visit to Walmart.

Climate change is another big one. Yes the earth is heating up, but let's face it, the earth was heating up well before the advent of the automobile. In fact the earth would have to have been much hotter than it is today at one point, because if it wasn't we would still have three mile thick ice surrounding the entire planet. That's just common sense. Man made activity is adding to global heating, but it's a trend that cannot be stopped by man. The earth is it's own organism. It expands an it contracts due to forces well above the paid grade of man. The expansion, the resulting earthquakes and volcanoes, and the subsequent clouding of the atmosphere will put earth into another ice age regardless of what we do or don't do. That's the real "inconvenient truth". It's been going on for hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of years. However, it's great licence for the above mentioned groups to require national governments to lose further control of governing for the sake of humanity - or earth.

These are what I like to call "motherhood strategies". The first characteristic of a motherhood strategy is that it cannot be defined. In other words, it is without end. The war on terror cannot end, because the definition of terrorism continues to grow to the point that any country who stands against the desired outcome of the groups previously mentioned is classified as a "regime". Now that "regime" has more than likely been elected by its citizens, and that "regime's" leader was likely elected with a greater voter turnout and a higher percentage of vote than your local Western government, but don't bog me down with details - it's a regime cause we say it is. But it doesn't end there. The "regime" has little other regimes as friends and they also sponsor, you guessed it, "terrorism". And so it goes, and so it goes. The wheel never stops, and neither do the wars, and therefore the necessity to sacrifice "freedom for security". Ditto for climate change. It never stops till the place is iced over again.

The second characteristic of "motherhood strategies" is their unassailable truth. You can't argue against a "war on terror", because then you would be arguing to let the terrorists take over the whole place. In effect, you'd be aiding them in their quest, and so it goes. Nobody can argue terrorism is a good thing, so nobody can argue that a war on it isn't a good thing. An unassailable truth. Ditto for climate change. It doesn't seem to matter that climate change is part of the natural evolution of the earth, coming and going as the earth regulates itself. No, the human species must not add to that which is already occurring, otherwise it will be disaster. Well, strangely enough, that "disaster" is coming whether we all ride bikes and hug trees. Sure we can take steps to make ourselves feel, as my wife would say, "warm and fuzzy" about ourselves, but is that justification for global treaties that tie the hands of national governments? Again, you can't ague that either another ice age or a melt down is a good thing, so it's an "unassailable truth".

The third characteristic of "motherhood strategies" is they require sacrifice of sovereignty and therefore freedom. If you consider that a nation is but a summation of its people, and if you consider that those people granted their government the right to govern them within certain parameters (ie: a Constitution), then you must agree that those people's freedom can only be taken away to the extent, and in the fashion, prescribed by their national Constitution. The one world folks portray these constitutional restraints as archaic. Boulders in the way of progress. Small mindedness in the greater scheme of things. If a measure, like a war on terror or a war on climate change, contains the necessity to sacrifice your constitutional rights for world "necessities" then it is a motherhood strategy. After all, you must be a very selfish person if you don't want to surrender your right to privacy, etc for the betterment of all right?

As international trade agreements, climate agreements, and even military alliance agreements continuously expand their ever encroaching shadows over our world, we must really take a moment and ask ourselves: "Who does this benefit?" The answer to that is very, very clear - multi-national corporations. It's gone beyond the point of obvious to the realm of certain. Ask yourself this question: Does my government make decisions that make me believe they're dancing to another's tune? Then ask yourself this very important question: Why? As our earth divides daily between the forces of Eurasia and the Western world, and the separate visions they reflect, we need to decide as people whether or not corporations are worth losing our world for. Do they reflect our values as our Constitutions are meant to? Do they guard our rights and freedoms as our Constitutions are meant to? Do they mean anything at all to us?       

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Omar Khadr is not a Terrorist

Omar Khadr was not a terrorist then, and isn't one now. He was never a terrorist. Yes, I get that might leave some frothing, but the truth needs to be spoken.

At the age of ten Khadr was taken, along with other male family members, by his father to live in a Taliban ruled Afghanistan. Then 911 happened. At the time the Taliban ruled most of Afghanistan, with a small faction known as the "Northern Alliance" fighting a losing battle with them for that control. Post 911 the US government demanded the Taliban government of Afghanistan, yes I said "government of Afghanistan" because that is what they were in 2001, hand over 911 mastermind Osama Bin Laden to them. The Afghan government refused on the traditional Islamic grounds that he was an "invited guest" in their country, and they were therefor obligated not to hand him over. At least that's what they said.

Bottom line is that didn't wash with the US and a small coalition of countries, and under a UN mandate they went to war with Afghanistan. It was a war. Not a policing action. Not an anti-terrorist operation. So let's agree on that point, because it is important. The United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and others went to war with the ruling power in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, US President George Bush, and many US politicians, claimed that if you supported the terrorists you were in fact a terrorist yourself. That was pretty convenient for the US government as they then treated Taliban (then the Afghan Armed Forces) as enemy combatants, or more accurately "unlawful combatants".

In reality, the captured Taliban forces in Afghanistan were really prisoners of war. By skirting the use of the proper term "prisoner of war", and by housing these people in Cuba, the US was able to skirt international and for that matter their domestic law. That allowed the US to, as former US President Obama said: "we tortured a few folks." Bush and company referred to it as "enhanced interrogation".

On July 27, 2002, Omar Khadr was involved in a battle against US Delta force soldiers. A battle for his life. One small battle, or more accurately "fire fight" in the midst of a far larger war. He was severely injured with two massive bullet exit wounds to his chest, and a lost eye - among other injuries. In the midst of the chaos he is alleged to have thrown a grenade that killed a US medic, and cost another US serviceman an eye. For this act he was charged with a war crime. But was it a war crime? Battle is chaos no matter what you might think. The old saying that the plan only lasts as long as the first contact with the enemy holds true. In order for this act to be considered a war crime he would have to be deliberately attempting to kill a marked medic. In any case, whether he did or didn't commit a war crime is not the issue here.

The issue here is whether he is a "terrorist" or a "prisoner of war". Certainly the US medic who saved his life on that day did not consider him as a terrorist:

"This is a human life. This is war. This is something that most people can't fathom, and they want to be real quick to give an opinion just because it makes them feel good about themselves ... but there's more to this story than just talking points."

The Canadian Press story then goes on to summarize Donnie Bumanglag's take on the circumstances:

"At the time, he is clear that Speer and Morris were grown men who had signed on the line to become elite professional soldiers, knowing the risks of their jobs. On the other hand, Bumanglag also makes it clear he empathizes with the young Canadian who was taken by his father to another country and thrown into an ideologically motivated war over which he had no control."

You can't put it any more truthfully, or correctly then that. You can read Donnie Bumanglag, the medic who saved Khadr's life, here . I highly recommend it. As a retired infantry soldier/officer, I admire Bumanlang's professionalism for calling it as it was. Strip away the whole political spin job of if you're not with us you are a terrorist - as Bush put it. Understand that professional soldiers are volunteers. I was one myself. You sign up. You know your health and life are at risk. You know when you go into combat that it is war. You know that an enemy that surrenders is a prisoner of war, and entitled to Geneva Convention protection - just as we would expect for our own. It is only the opportunistic, and morally bankrupt political class, that have in turn influenced some of the same in the military class, to see a bogey man when in fact you ought to see a prisoner of war.

Bottom line is this, Khadr did not, to the best of my knowledge: massacre civilians; hijack an aircraft; kill athletes at an Olympics; or any other normally terrorist associated acts. How pathetic, and insecure in ourselves do we have to be to label other people as terrorist because they fight on the battlefield for what they believe? Is that what we have become in Canada? Simple minded, unquestioning, and brain washed by US propaganda used to justify breaking international law in the treatment of prisoners? Has our collective soul become that poisoned? It sure seems that way.

The polls show a majority were against the actions of our Prime Minister when he did the right thing by upholding values we as Canadians have always upheld - until we became brain washed that is. Now the Conservatives are going to the US to try and humiliate our government to score political points. That is just too morally corrupt to even speak about. It's as if we can't enforce our own Constitution, because it might upset the US government's sense of moral superiority. That's what it boils down to. You're either with us or against us. Your national values are of no consideration. All options are on the table. There is no right or wrong way. Just our way. This is a war on terror, and we define terrorists as those that oppose us. In case you haven't noticed, every other tin pot country in the world began labelling opponents to them as "terrorists". It's the new catch all phrase. Every time it is used it loses its original meaning - those that terrorize. Was a 15 year old kid, facing a US Delta Force unit in a fire fight, being a terrorist? Or was he more likely a child soldier scared shitless? Common sense should tell you that he wasn't "terrorizing" anyone at all, and in fact he was likely the only one "terrorized" in that firefight.

Whether you like it or not, whether you agree or not, there is no question that Omar Khadr was never a terrorist. He was a child soldier at best. He fought in self-defence against one of the most elite special forces units (Delta Force). A mismatch if there ever was one. You could say he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. You could say he was brain washed by his father, and 5 years in Taliban Afghanistan. You could say he fought in self-defence for his life. One thing you cannot say with any credibility at all is this 15 year old kid, as he was then, was a terrorist. To say otherwise is to make comment on your own conditioned reasoning.

Omar Khadr as a 15 year old "terrorist"

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Are we being de-humanized?

Take a moment and have a good long look at our world today - specifically our scientific world. I've found myself doing that quite frequently as of late. We appear to be on the verge of a new technological revolution that is the modern day equivalent of the personal computer revolution of prior decades. Almost suddenly, artificial intelligence has sprung upon us in a great wave of media hype. Self-driving cars, robots (yes even sex robots), robotic weapons of war are all on the verge of joining such miracles of modern know how as the drones that now dot the earth doing the nasty business of killing people from a video terminal. Brave new world indeed.

These technologies all have intended consequences, but they also have many unintended consequences - at least to the normal mind. Take for instance cellular phones. Two decades ago the mobile phone, as it was known, was strictly a tool for well off business people to remain in contact while literally mobile. It's use then exploded when much cheaper versions were marketed to the public. They became popular, but it wasn't until those cellular phones became mini-computers that owning one became a must. Now every child, and every adult has one. Even the poorest populations,  the least able to afford such luxuries (like India for example) find a way to get them and become "connected". All these years later humans have gone from being "erectus" to becoming "hunched". Hunched meaning that whether walking, sitting, or even communicating people have their heads and necks bent down toward the source of their interest - the "smart" phone screen.

There is an ominous warning for all of us from the cellular revolution - we are changing. Not the sort of change that elevates the human spirit, but rather the sort of change that isolates humans one from another. That's perhaps the best way to characterize the effects of our current technological dependency - "human isolation". Take that a step further. Consider what the technological community has in store for us. Self-driving cars for instance. Why do we need self driving cars? We have all the necessary skills to drive our own cars - at least most of us. Perhaps the reasoning is us humans will have more time then to focus our attention on other tasks - like starring endlessly into our smart phones...

The real kicker though has to be the personal robotic evolution. You may have noticed that the biggest media splash on robotics has been reserved for sex robots. Last I checked there were roughly the same number of each sex in most populations, so why the need for robots to do the job? Would it free us from having to have a relationship with our significant other so that we could maintain a normal sexual relationship? Perhaps it will free us from having a relationship with another human at all. A robot for cleaning and housework. A sex robot for that need. And of course cyber space will satisfy the need to communicate and socialize. However, is it really sex to have a one way gratification with a piece of machinery? Is it really independent living when a robot feeds you and cleans up after you? Is it really freedom to travel in a vehicle that drives without you?

Some people will say yes. The more technology the more freedom. The one question these people normally have a hard time answering is: The freedom to do what? Also, freedom at what cost? We don't have to travel to see the world anymore - simply watch tv, or if that's too old fashion, get an app and watch other people do it. There's also things like Google Earth. We don't have to count money anymore, simply press a button on your smart phone and it can count and send it for you. With "artificial intelligence" you won't have to think anymore, so more time to think doesn't seem to be in the equation.

It would seem that technology, present and in the near future, really just has one definite effect on us all: we are becoming much less human. We are in fact becoming more like the machines that are sold to us as making our lives that much easier. That much less stressful. Strange then that modern life is wholly characterized by massive stress throughout the world, and whole masses of people who "just can't find the time" or are "too busy". That's an odd by product of a technological revolution meant to make our lives better isn't it? The rat race, the road rage, the violent crime, the break down of the family and marriages all signal something quite different.

The real and true effect of all this technology, soon to be compounded with much more dangerous evolutions, is the isolation of the individual person from those around him/her. That isolation takes us back to a time before humans gathered into communities from their individual caves. It takes us back to a time when we could not communicate with each other, except perhaps with grunts and groans. It turns us away from human values like compassion, empathy, love, understanding, and the like. In its place it leaves us with rationalization, efficiency, etc. We have become emotionless observers of others framing our existence as a species into the cold calculations of technological dependence. We cannot think for ourselves. We cannot act for ourselves. Unless we have a machine to assist us with it. After all, we now live in a world where we are seriously discussing the "ethical ramifications" of having sex with a machine. Need I say more.

Just as any species can eventually become extinct, mankind is no different. Perhaps it is even becoming arguable that mankind is already extinct, and a "machine-kind" has replaced him in the name of "progress". Perhaps we are now incapable of independent thought, or emotion unless we are prompted  to it by some artificial means - and by those that control those means. In that way it seems we have in a sense become the "androids" of science fiction lore. Half human. Half machine. Unable to feel real emotion, or express it, and simply created for efficiency. If we aren't there yet, then we better be very aware of the dangers these new "artificial intelligence miracles" hold for us. We can't afford, as a world, to become any less human than we already are. We can't afford to inherit the earth, but lose our souls. Our souls are what makes us different than any other species. Without that soul we can easily face the same extinction that many species before us have.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Omar Khadr's Settlement

The case of Omar Khadr has created a lot of upset in certain circles in Canada. As a teenager, Khadr was spirited off to Afghanistan, by his father, to take up the fight against the US military in that country. Clearly brain washed, Khadr was a 15 year old left by his father to fight a grown man's war. During a fire fight with American troops he stands accused (and convicted in the US) of throwing a grenade that killed a US combat medic. He was captured barely alive and, after having sustained severe wounds, including the loss of an eye, was spirited off to an the Bagram Air base. Here he was treated for his wounds, extensively interrogated, and then extradited to the infamous Gitmo prison in Cuba. That's the gist of the story that most Canadians associate with him.

That back story is not the reason Khadr just received $10.5 million dollars from the Canadian government, along with an official apology. It has absolutely nothing to do with it at all. The reason Khadr was compensated so lavishly in an arbitration settlement by the Canadian government was not to "reward a terrorist", as some politicians and self-interested groups are putting it. Far from it. The reason he received what he got was a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada that the Canadian government had violated his Charter rights by using agents of CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Agency) to interrogate him in Cuba, who then passed that information to their US counterparts, which resulted in him remaining in a situation that not only violated the Geneva Convention, but also the Charter. The reason it violated the Charter was the participation of the Canadian government, against its own citizen, in a process that involved torture and suspension of any and all human rights.

This is from the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2010:

 "Canada actively participated in a process contrary to its international obligations and
contributed to K's ongoing detention as to deprive him of his right to liberty and security of the
person, guaranteed by section 7 of the Charter, not in accordance with the principles of     fundamental justice.... The Charter applies to the participation of the Canadian officials in a regime later found to be in violation of fundamental rights protected by international law....There is a sufficient connection between the government's participation in the illegal process and the deprivation of K's liberties and security of the person.

The interrogation of a youth without access to counsel, to elicit statements about serious criminal charges while knowing that the youth had been subjected to sleep deprivation and while knowing that the fruits of the interrogation would be shared with the prosecutors, offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth."

 I found it insightful, given the Supreme Court of Canada's finding in favour of Khadr, to view Khadr's submissions to the Court, which included a very disturbing excerpt from an interview conducted with him by CSIS agents. I place this in here to give the story some balance, and because it sheds a light on why the Supreme Court made the decision it did.

CSIS:  You look tired. Okay, so I brought you a burger. It’s very hot though. What’s
OMAR:  [indiscernible]
CSIS:  Pardon me?
OMAR:  … something that’s very important, but I’m afraid to say it.
CSIS:  Okay, take your time and could you do me a favour today while we’re talking? Just
 make sure you talk nice and loud, so I can keep that air conditioning on so we’re cool.
OMAR:  There’s something that I’m scared to say.
DFAIT:  You don’t have to be scared of anything from us.
CSIS:  What are you scared to say?
OMAR:  Promise me you’re going to protect me.
CSIS:   Why don’t you just tell us what it is you have to say?
OMAR:  Promise me you are going to protect me from the Americans.
CSIS:  From the Americans?
OMAR:  Yes.
CSIS:  Okay, what’s going on with the Americans?
OMAR:  Promise me that you are going to protect me if I tell you.
CSIS:  Well we can’t protect you if we don’t know what it is that you have to say directly.
OMAR:  Promise me you’re going to protect me if I tell you.
CSIS:  Well, the only thing I’ll promise is that I’ll listen to you, and I’ll talk to the
 Americans for you here.
OMAR:  And after you go?
CSIS:  Pardon me?
OMAR:  And after you go?
CSIS:  And after I go, then I’ll listen to what you know, then I’ll come back and talk to you
 again. Make sure everything’s alright. Tell me what’s changed from yesterday.
OMAR:   I’m scared to tell you.
CSIS:   Well, I’ll tell you, there’s not much we can do, unless I know what you’re talking
OMAR:  Everything that I said to the Americans was not right, I just said that because they
 tortured me very badly in Bagram. So I had to say what I said.

The conversation shows, quite clearly, a terrified youth. It is important to remember that.

Now the Conservative Party, and some veterans among others, have spoken out publicly against any financial settlement with Khadr - this group also includes former Prime Minister Harper. Ironically, the Supreme Court found that it was the deliberate actions of the Harper government that led directly, and profoundly to the violation of Khadr's Charter rights. It was the political decision of the then Prime Minister to align himself completely and without hesitation to the American invasion of Afghanistan and other US military foreign interventions. The attitude that prevailed was that when it came to "terrorism" there were no boundaries restraining the western powers and how they responded. The Khadr story is simply a footnote of that policy. Essentially, the Harper government's policy was the end justified the means. That was the US policy as well, which resulted in torture being used against prisoners.

Bottom line is this, the ends do not justify the means. The Charter of Rights enshrines that very view. Our governments in Canada, federal and provincial, have their hands tied by the Charter so as not to violate the freedoms and rights we as Canadians take for granted. Those rights and freedoms are so much a part of who we are as a people that any violation of them is really a violation of us - or that is how it should be treated. Unfortunately, during the ongoing wars in the Middle East, Canadians have become numb in many cases, and fail to respect that people from the areas of war are just that - people. A really good example of this was the recent "celebration" of a Canadian soldier's sniper shot that killed an insurgent in Afghanistan. I was left with the very disturbing impression that Canadians viewed this "achievement" in the same way one might view the killing of an animal in a hunt. It is a reoccurring theme that has somehow permeated our core beliefs since the start of all these Middle Eastern wars - that people from this area are somehow "inhuman" and not viewed with the same humanness as say the soccer mom down the street. The Harper government's treatment fit that billing, and the Supreme Court of Canada saw it in that light.

As Canadians we've been here before. It wasn't that long ago that all people of Japanese ancestry were herded into concentration camps for the duration of the Second world War - in Canada. It wasn't that long ago that Aboriginal people were herded into residential schools - in Canada. We are not as Lilly white and pure as we like to see ourselves. We have a history of sacrificing other peoples rights to suit our own agendas - as ugly and disturbing as that is to admit. Omar Khadr is just the latest case of the ends justify the means. The latest victim. Luckily for Khadr we now have the Charter, which we did not back in the aforementioned cases, and he had recourse. He used that recourse. The Supreme Court of Canada agreed with him, and wholly condemned the federal government's actions.

Mr. Harper, and the rest of the people who believe the end justifies the means, and justice is allocated based on the colour of your skin, have been served a message by the highest court - the days of the ends justify the means are over. Nothing can be more serious for a citizen, other than death, than to have their dignity stripped from them by a government that violates the very code meant to protect them from such actions. It is the social contact of all humans across the planet - we agree to be governed by you within these limits. It's often referred to as a constitution. The federal government violated Khadr's and it paid the price for it. Not enough Canadians stood up against their government to stop it from happening, and so we will all pay that bill. No matter who you think you are, or what you think of another, you are only ever their equal, and the Charter ensures it stays that way. Thank God.