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The First American Treason in over 50 years? October 11, 2006

Posted by earthlingconcerned in Treason.
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Adam Gadahn, the 28 year old Californian man affiliated with Al-Quada, was officially accused of treason today. I don’t see a reason to doubt this accusation considering his involvement in the foiled plot to disturb the last US election, and keeping in mind that he’s become the Enadam-yehiye-gadahn.jpgglish speaking spokesperson for the terrorist group. He is believed to have said, “Yesterday, London and Madrid. Tomorrow, Los Angeles and Melbourne, God willing. At this time, don’t count on us demonstrating restraint or compassion in a video broadcast on the fourth anniversary of 9/11. Since then, he’s appeaed unmasked in several other videos condemning the American administration in support of Al-Quada. So does this fall into the category of treason as defined by the States?

Article 3, Section 3 of the US Constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

Adam Gadahn seems to fit these specifications. Levying war? He has most definitely threatened the country with further terrorist attacks, and that could be seen as an announcement of war. If North Korea can suggest that further sanctions would be considered as an act of war, his threats definitely fall into the category. Adhering to their enemies? Considering his most recent video came just over a month ago, and Al-Quada is sworn enemy, I would say he fits snugly into what the constitution sees as an act of treason. What about two witnesses? I saw it, click here and find a video and you can become a witness yourself. Check. What makes this a big deal is that this is the first time an American has been accused of treason since 1952!

That time, it was American born Tomoya Kawakita who was charged and eventually convicted of treason because of torture committed against American prisoners of war during World War II. Go through the treason check list yourself and I guarantee you that this would constitute treason. I don’t have as convenient proof regarding the two witnesses but I have little doubt that is in much dispute. Issues of dual nationality, renouncement of U.S. citizenship and such came into play but they mattered little. He was sentence to life in prison in 1953 (and eventually pardoned and deported to Japan during the closing of Alcatraz). The thing that surprises me the most is the scale of time in between one accusation of treason to the other.

Since 1952, a lot of American history has occurred. There was the Korean War, Vietnam, Cold War, smaller skirmishes in Grenada, twice in Iraq. The list goes on. Then there’s the question of why Adam Gadahn and not someone else like John Walker Lindh, who is currently serving a life sentence for supporting terrorist organizations, or Yaser Esam Hamdi who was accused for similar reasons. There have been similar cases of anti-American Americans out in the last 50 years.

Why now? Why him? Discuss.

The Passing of the Torch: Selection of the UN Secretary-General October 10, 2006

Posted by earthlingconcerned in United Nations.
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Mere hours after the first nuclear arms test in North Korea; the United Nations nominated their next secretary general in Ban Ki-moon of South Korea. banki-moon.PNGAfter reading up on his accomplishments and the respect he has garnered internationally, it appears to be a smart choice. The timing of his nomination could have been looked at as rather suspicious (considering his history as a south Korean diplomat and recent North Korean news) but it was indeed planned for quite some time. All other reasonable candidates for the position had dropped out and for all intents and purposes, he should be a worthy successor to Kofi Annan. Shortly after his nomination was made official, he had these words to say, “This should be a moment of joy. But instead, I stand here with a very heavy heart. Despite the concerted warning from the international community, North Korea has gone ahead with a nuclear test.” Those may quite possibly be words that define his legacy as he has vowed to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis once he becomes secretary-general. Hopefully, his influence and experience in the region will do just that. Kofi Annan, whose second term expires in January, had his own goals early on when he became secretary-general.

Kofi Annan made great efforts to trim down the UN expenditures and save face after some massive failures throughout the 90s. But his legacy was supposed to be one of a more humanitarian nature. It was abundantly clear that the world was facing a crisis in regards to the needs of survival and the resources available to guarantee it. Annan seemed to have a vision. Quoting from Paul Kennedy’s, “The Parliament of Man”:

Annan seemed to be increasingly successful in steering attention to Africa, the continent facing the greatest concatenation of challenges, and in getting public opinion to recognize that efforts to help African societies must involve not only substantial resources, but above all cleverly shared work by all parts of the UN as well as by the NGOs, the churches, and international business. In this large, holistic view of things, the Security Council is but one of the actors—a vital one, to be sure, for every community needs its nightwatchmen and policemen—but much else is also needed to make the world community content and prosperous.

In a post Cold-war world, he had hoped to be able to let cooler heads prevail, and worry about the oft forgotten humanitarian goals of the United Nation. But it was soon shown that Cold-war or not, the forgotten continent of Africa would always be overshadowed by those with the wealth. At the dawn of the 21st century there remained problems that never seemed to go away. From the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, India and Pakistan’s perpetual quarrel over Kashmir, to Saddam Hussein and all of the fresh eruptions of violence in Congo and Sierra Leone, he had a mountain to climb just to bring world-wide attention to his humanitarian goals. However, calling for action against the HIV/AIDS pandemic in 2001, and proposing the Global AIDS and Health Fund, he seemed to be making progress in his ambitions.

And then, September 11th arrived.

From that point on, the focus on the humanitarian goals of the United Nation were once again overshadowed when a new war on terrorism was waged by the only remaining super power. Africa continued to be an afterthought by those with the ability to help make a difference. Martin Meredith takes the words of a Nigerian academic in his epic book, The Fate of Africa, by saying “the problem is not so much that development has failed, as it was never really on the agenda in the first place.” He then closes with the following:

After decades of mismanagement and corruption, most African states have become hollowed out. They are no longer instruments capable of serving the public good. Indeed, far from being able to provide aid and protection to their citizens, African governments and the vampire-like politicians who run them are regarded by the populations they rule as yet another burden they have to bear in the struggle for survival.

And that is where we stand today. Kofi Annan’s legacy was displaced by the realities of the modern world. The North Korean tests may pave the way for a different legacy for the new secretary-general. However, this passing of the torch may extinguish whatever hope there was left for a dying continent.

Sitting alone, the fire.

North Korea carries out Nuclear Test (Nobody is That Stupid Pt. II) October 9, 2006

Posted by earthlingconcerned in north korea, Nuclear Weapons.
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I wasn’t planning on writing a follow-up to my last surprisingly popular post (The World Can Be Turned Off with the Flick of a Switch (But Nobody is that Stupid)) but considering the recent news coming out of North Korea, I felt it somewhat relevant to keep the discussion going. If you haven’t heard yet, North Korea has gone through with their first nuclear weapons test. The Korean Central News Agency reported the following:

The field of scientific research in the DPRK successfully conducted an underground nuclear test under secure conditions on October 9, 2006, at a stirring time when all the people of the country are making a great leap forward in the building of a great, prosperous, powerful socialist nation. It has been confirmed that there was no such danger as radioactive emission in the course of the nuclear test as it was carried out under scientific consideration and careful calculation. The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent. It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defense capability. It will contribute to defending the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the area around it.

It appears that the fears of much of world have finally been realized. Is the threat of nuclear Armageddon closer today than it was yesterday? kimjung.PNGStanding by what I wrote in my last post, I would say we’re just about as endangered today as we were yesterday. How can I say this? North Korea has been thought of as the bigger threat, when compared to Iraq/Iran, by most of the western world. But I remain firm in my stance nonetheless.

Not wanting to sound like I defend anything North Korea does, I’ll make it perfectly clear that I think the regime is being run in a fairly horrible way. There is nothing in there that suggests the country is being run for their population (like one would hope a ruling regime would do). Kim Jong-Il came into power by means of dynastic succession, a type of rule that doesn’t require keeping the population happy, as long as it’s controlled. It’s an extremely closed society, in an internationally isolated sense, as well as in the Karl Popper sense (re: The Open Society and Its Enemies). All of this this leads to big-headedness, delusions of grandeur, and in this case, a starving population. Let them eat cake (or grass). I see a potential for a new arms race in eastern Asia. I see some more sanctions, but nothing that would cripple the country. Cutting off the oil flow or the food aid would merely promote the destabilization of an already fragile country. Something will be done, but that something will probably end up hurting their economy ever so slightly, but they will still have nuclear weapons capabilities after the rest of the world begins to forget about what took place today. Think about what happened to India after their last tests in the late 90s (and if you can’t remember what happened, that would reaffirm my point in a way). But I’m barely an expert, browse the web for more detailed news, watch what’s happening live on the news, and ultimately wait for things to unfold and history will write itself. I still don’t believe that this news will endanger the world’s population in the long run.

I’ll refer back to my sketchy analogy about the room with the light bulb from my last post. Pandora’s box had been opened when Hiroshima was bombed in 1945. The information needed to produce the weapon is available, the materials required to put the information to use can be obtained with enough effort. North KoreaMore and more people in the room with the light will whisper or overhear the secret of flipping the switch. One element that remains unchanged with all of the North Korean news is that having the bomb is useless if ever used internationally today. Because the moment its used, the retaliation/response will most likely (no, I can’t predict the future) result in that country no longer having nuclear capabilities and simultaneously with that country not being around in any recognizable form. Then there’s the big argument that not everyone is a rational being and therefore ability to do some pretty horrible things regardless of consequence.

As mentioned before, and barring a polarized set of serious military alliances on a global level (like during the NATO/Warsaw Pact days), a nuclear attack against a north Korean neighbor would be horrible for that country and also North Korea, but barely anyone else. So irrationality is automatically thwarted in a way. There is the argument that modern terrorism is so scattered and decentralized that things would be drastically different if, let’s just use Al-Quaida as a popular example, got their hands on a nuke. In this hypothetical world of the future, this terrorist group bombed a major city somewhere in the world. It is true that there would be no specific country to retaliate against, but realistically, the middle east would just be bombed. Wrongfully so, maybe, but the stereotypes of the 9/11 world puts the entire region at risk if the initial attack were ever to happen. This horribly unacceptable clumping together of the entire region simply turns it into a possible target. This of course is all hypothetical, just as everything anyone may have to say about the topic. That’s the nature of the beast known as the future.

But these modern terrorist cells as the worst possible enemy is an idea based entirely on what certain governments force onto their populations. I really hate dabbling into that never ending debate but here I am. The war on terror, George Orwell, George Dubya, my cat, and a bowl of cheerios as the new world enemy. The word propaganda has been used to describe the actions by both sides of every conflict in recent memory. Freedom fighter or terrorist. Who decides? I’m slowly falling off my thought train but let’s just say that to this day there have only been two atomic bombs dropped against an enemy in a war. Nearly every day since that moment, the possibility of nuclear armageddon was something that could have happened. But nothing has happened. Maybe I’m just an optimist, but my original opinion remains unchanged. Humanity is stupid, just not that stupid.

The World Can Be Turned Off With the Flick of a Switch (But Nobody is That Stupid) October 6, 2006

Posted by earthlingconcerned in north korea, Nuclear Weapons.
148 comments

The nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea have been making headlines for years now. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists his nuclear ambitions are peaceful and that anyone who believes otherwise (most of the western world) are under the spell of the American Empire. Then there’s Kim Jong-il, who wants to make it perfectly clear that North Korea is a force to be reckoned with. Unlike Iran, North Korea claims to already have these weapons in place and nuke.PNGwill test these weapons in the not too distant future. How does the world respond? Sanction this, sanction that, and eventually the test will happen regardless. Just like when he tested, and failed, those long range rockets earlier this year, Kim Jong-il will most likely go through with the nuke tests. And if he succeeds? What then?

I would imagine the same thing that has happened when the other nuclear weapon states learned how to blow the world up. Nothing. As of today, there are nine countries with nuclear weapons capabilities. Depending where you are in the world, most of these countries are, or at least have been, looked upon with great suspicion since they’ve declared themselves ready to play with the big boys. Here they are:

  1. United States (5,735 active/9,960 total): The majority of the world has a lot of problems with how the States is being run today.
  2. Russia (5,830 active/16,000 total): Largest nuclear threat, other than the United States, throughout the cold war. Continues to have largest arsenal out there and their economy/government isn’t exactly the most stable (not that this has anything to do with nuclear intentions)
  3. United Kingdom (200 total): Frowned upon by much of the world because of its ongoing involvement with Iraq. Not exactly a major world power (sorry).
  4. France (350 total): French fries weren’t even invented in France.
  5. China (130 total): Quickly becoming the next super power in the world. Happens to be communist (sort of) and history shows communists and capitalists don’t typically get along.
  6. India (75-115): Worlds second fastest growing economy and population (China is number 1 in both). Just like most of the powers mentioned above, there’s no real danger here. Granted, they aren’t best friends with Pakistan.
  7. Pakistan (65-90): Run by military leader, president, and author Pervez Musharraf in a very undemocratic fashion. Yet, cooperates with the US and is therefore seen as being one of the good guys.
  8. North Korea (0-10): Isn’t clear if they have nukes. We’ll find out soon enough. Closed off country run by someone who considers himself chosen to rule over his people by God. Supposedly he has to prove himself whenever he can. Insecure? I can’t say for certain, I’ve never met the guy.
  9. Israel (75-200): Nothing officially declared yet, but read up on the Vela incident if you have a second. It’s likely they are nuclear ready. Loved by every country in the world, so they pose no threat whatsoever. That last line was something I call a joke (I chuckled to myself while writing it but failed to blow milk out of my nose because I realized the seriousness of not wanting to get destroyed because of an interpretation of God).

Of course there will be concern over another country gaining access to the most powerful weapon ever devised by humanity. Especially when it comes out of closed and paranoid nation like North Korea (I’m still not convinced Iran is any more of a threat then most of the “good guys” on the list of current nuclear powerhouses). But I’m not worried about anything happening because if anything did ever happen, nothing would matter anyways. Thus, the title of this entry.

Imagine the following if you will. The world is a simple room, nothing is in the room but all of humanity and a single light bulb to which there is no replacement for. The light bulb is, and has always been at the ON position. There is however a switch, the plight-bulb-275h.gifroverbial red button, that has an off position. Sadly, for those curious in the room, the switch is one way and cannot be turned back on once turned off. Over the history of this room, the people have played around with the circuitry of the switch and have consequently paid dearly for it. People tried hitting the switch with rocks, and spears, shot at it with arrows and bullets. They’ve tried throwing water and fire at it with mixed results. They’ve even tried gassing it, throwing planes at it, and so on. But the light merely flickered a bit before returning to its beautiful, irreplaceable state of existence. Then one day, someone found a method of moving the light in the direction they saw fit. One day, this person decided to turn off the light for a large portion of Japanese people in the room and they perished as a result. Sadly (or luckily?), the room wasn’t very big and other people saw what this person was doing and soon learned how to do as he did. As time went on, just like gossip in the hallways, everyone knew how to flip the switch, but the switch was never flipped again (except against some birds, fish and possibly desert animals that also supposedly lived in the room).

If you skipped that whole analogy the rest of this entry would still make sense, but I thought it was cute so I left it in. Basically, if anyone uses nuclear weapons in the polarized world we live in, nothing would matter. In 1959, US President Dwight Eisenhower once insisted that if war came, “you might as well go out and shoot everyone you see and then shoot yourself.” There is no rational use for nuclear warfare and both the Soviets and the Americans knew this throughout the Cold War. That’s why the strategy for the US through most of the cold war was one based on the idea of all or nothing. MAD, or “Mutual Assured Destruction” was a policy suggesting that if a nuke was ever launched (in this case, from any Warsaw Pact country onto any NATO member), it would be lights out for everyone. The cold has technically ended, but the cat is out of the bag. The gossip will continue, and the knowledge will spread. There’s no turning back.

But the world is still around and nobody is nuking anyone. There is the idea that things are different now. North Korea or the terrorists (watch out behind you!) don’t follow the same rules as did the Soviets and Americans during the second half of the 20th century. They don’t follow the same rules? Everyone and their grandmother knows that humanity has the capacity to destroy itself at the blink of an eye. We are all following the same rules. So whoever you are, go about your life like you always have (unless you’ve lived your life in fear from nuclear attack, then you should probably change your approach). It’s all rhetoric, fear mongering, propaganda and the like. Remember, sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me. Those are some wise words I heard some time ago. Live by them.