Archive for February, 2011

The Whole World is Waking Up!

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Revolutionary tidings fill the air as protests have sprouted all over the world.

In Bahrain, the government’s hired goons have been adding to the death toll, with police and helicopters opening fire on public demonstrations. Al Jazeera hosts an excellent live blog following Bahrain’s bid for democracy.

A surge of activists have turned violent on Iraq’s streets, with some deaths reported. The Iraqi people are unhappy with the high levels of unemployment and corruption within the government.

Iran’s regime has their own dissenters to deal with, but the army has pledged not to fire on protesters while Iranian law-makers are working to potentially imprison the president.

Algerians are planning more pro-democracy events, which have already been met with heavy-handed riot police.

Demonstrators in Libya face deadly attacks from police forces, resulting in many casualties in the fight for freedom. Follow Al J’s live blog here.

The Yemeni people held their own ‘Friday of Fury’, with three reported deaths adding to the growing body count.

In England, activists from the UK Uncut movement have been staging growing demonstrations, with more actions planned for tomorrow. The group stands against their government’s decisions to cut social services while increasing tax breaks for corporations and the über-rich.

Finally, in what can be called corporate America’s worst nightmare, average US citizens are speaking out with their voices instead of their pocketbooks. Upwards of 40,000 Wisconsin residents have amassed to protest proposed ‘union-busting’ legislation, with similar demonstrations being held in Iowa and Ohio.

Do not be alarmed by all the uprisings… this is what democracy looks like! These protests are one way we can shift the balance of power back to the people, helping us foster a more just society.

IBM’s Watson Destroys Humans at Jeopardy

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY8NrMVvMDM

Jeopardy’s top performing players proved to be no match for an artificial intelligence machine created by an IBM research team. Watson – the name of IBM’s AI marvel – had a two day score of $77,147, more than tripling the score of the two human contestants, who earned just $24,000 and $21,600.

It seemed as if Watson’s biggest advantage was speed. Even though the humans knew the answer, they couldn’t buzz in faster than Watson, who dominated the two former Jeopardy champs.

This contest demonstrates where we are today with regards to artificial intelligence and computational power. Watson was developed by some of the world’s brightest minds and it runs on a supercomputer. Yet, within a decade, a program as powerful as Watson will run on the future equivalent of today’s smart phones.

Humankind has been progressing through leaps and bounds, and the breakthroughs are sure to keep arriving faster and faster. The powers we are unleashing will enable us to do tremendous things.

Within a decade or two, institutionalized war and extreme poverty will become obsolete. A world of peace where no one starves to death is just one of the amazing things we have to look forward to.

Hundreds Killed in Southern Sudan

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6Z6MUzf0mI

Over 200 people were killed and many more were injured during clashes that took place yesterday in Southern Sudan.

Last week, South Sudan officially voted to secede from the North, following a referendum last month which demonstrated the South’s overwhelming support for the split.

Now, in what some are calling a retaliation for the South’s bid for independence, strongmen from the North have been sending armed militants to wreak havoc on their neighbors to the south.

Still, even though a tragedy mars the birth of their new nation, the people of Southern Sudan remain determined and hopeful and are looking forward to embracing their newfound freedom.

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Sudan ranks 114th in the world for human development, meaning the bulk of the population must endure life in dire conditions. Sudan also owes $35 billion in foreign loans, with over half of that being accumulated interest.

Second Protester Killed in Bahrain

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

The bulk of the Bahraini people, like most people in the world, are underrepresented by their government. They don’t get an equal say in how decisions are made, and that leads to them not getting a fair share of their nation’s products.

Bahrain’s population is entirely justified to be unhappy with the status quo. Yet, should any of these oppressed persons have the audacity to hold a demonstration and say “We are not happy” , armed forced will crash down on them so hard that some of the dissenters will die.

This heavy-handed approach – using riot squads to injure and kill civilians – tends to backfire on the government. Instead of silencing the population, acts of police brutality tend to provoke more activism from the public.

Throughout the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, demonstrators were beaten and killed. This only intensified public outrage,  helping to mobilize a growing segment of the population. The more the state fought back, the stronger each movement grew, ultimately culminating in regime change.

Now, the Bahraini people are on this same path. If the pro-reform movement keeps growing, it will either end in revolution or a massive blood bath.

If you’re wondering which is more likely, probably revolution.

Leaders today face a new threat: cell phone cameras. As much as these dictators would like punish their disobedient ‘children’, with the rest of the world just a single click away, it’s usually better to appease the angry mob and not become a mass-murderer.

Protester Killed in Bahrain

Monday, February 14th, 2011

(clashes between an angry population and those paid to protect the powerful)

Bahraini citizens witnessed a protester being killed during today’s pro-reform demonstrations. Across Bahrain, large groups of dissenters clashed with riot police, leading to dozens of injuries and businesses being closed.

Inspired by the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, the Bahrani people held their own day of protest, demanding constitutional reform and  a government that listens to the population.

For too long, the Bahraini people have lived under the rule of an oppressive oligarchy. Bahrain’s royal family aren’t just figureheads, they’re the ultimate arbitrators of Bahrain’s government.

While such an arrangement might be good for those at the top, the further down the hierarchy one travels, the progressively worse the conditions. This leaves the bulk of the population feeling neglected by a system fundamentally lacking in democratic values.

Such injustice fuels the kind of uprisings we see today. As well, authoritarian governments, like those in Bahrain, almost always lead to egregious human rights violations.

For example, according to the US Gov’t, some foreign workers in Bahrain “face conditions of involuntary servitude after arriving… such as unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse.”

In a proactive attempt to squelch the uprisings, Bahrain’s monarchy mimicked a move done last month by neighboring Kuwait, gifting each family 1000 Dinars (approx. US$2650).

Clearly this pittance was not enough to silence all dissent, as thousands came out to show their dissatisfaction with the current regime. More protests are planned for tomorrow.

Hopefully Bahrain will be amongst the countries where a successful revolution brings more power to the people.

More Anti-Corruption Protests

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

The revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia have fueled more uprisings around the world.

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Yemen, demanding the resignation of their corrupt dictator. Similar demonstrations are being held in Algeria, whose people also want regime change. Even in Italy activists are out, calling for their lecherous leader to step down.

The road ahead is long, but the destination is a more just world. Keep fighting for freedom. Power to the people.

Tunisia and Egypt: Part of a Bigger Revolution

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Leaked classified cables helped expose a regime’s blatant corruption, fueling the civil uprising that ultimately toppled the Tunisian oligarchy. Tunisia’s revolutionary tidings spilled over into other oppressed countries, including Egypt, where weeks of demonstration by millions of dissenters resulted in a dictator being ousted.

Along with giving us a window into the future, these monumental events also highlight the forces we’ve been unlocking as a species. New technologies and tools have been empowering us, and these newfound powers will be used to systematically remove injustice from our world.

See, much like with Tunisia or Egypt, our world also has its own corrupt ruling ‘family’ that hogs too much for themselves whilst leaving a good chunk of the planet to suffer. This imbalance has persisted pretty much since the dawn of human civilization, but it will soon change forever. Humankind is taking the power back, and the Internet is helping make it happen.

Recently created tools, like Twitter and Facebook, have been enhancing the world’s interconnectedness to unprecedented levels. With each passing moment, our species gains an entirely new degree of self-awareness.

In Tunisia and Egypt, this new self-awareness helped individuals see how many others share similar sentiments. Knowing that thousands or millions of other people feel the same way as we do can be truly inspiring and empowering. Plus, these same tools that bolster solidarity can also be used to channel a population’s discontent, giving us a way to coordinate unrest into practical actions with real results.

Just like in the Middle East, so too have the world’s people been harnessing social media and instant tools. From this, we will see how most of the world’s people are not that different from ourselves. We’ll learn how the vast majority of us share similar dreams, and we can actually co-exist without killing each other.

As well, the more we come together, the more we’ll be able to expose the injustice and corruption that persists anywhere on earth. Plus, more social cohesion means our collective voice can effectively counterbalance the influence of our planet’s dominant institutions, paving the way to a more just global civilization.

These events unfolding in the Arab world offer us a glimpse into the world we are fast making a reality. Within a decade or two, we will finally realize the end of institutionalized armed conflict. We’ll have the means to eradicate extreme poverty, and life on earth will reach a new pinnacle of awesomeness.

Much like with Tunisia, our world has a corrupt ruling ‘family’ that hogs too much for themselves while a good chunk of the planet is left to suffer. This injustice has persisted pretty much since the dawn of human civilization, but it will soon change forever:

A social revolution is happening all around the world, and the Internet is helping bring it to fruition.

As the likes of Twitter and Facebook (and their successors) increase the world’s interconnectedness to unprecedented levels, our species will gain an entirely new degree of self-awareness.

From this, we will see how most of the world’s people are not that different from ourselves. We’ll learn how the vast majority of us can co-exist without killing each other.

On top of this, thanks to freedom fighters like Wikileaks, the hypocrisy and corruption that permeates our world’s system will be dragged into the light. Injustice will have no where left to hide. No more will today’s extremes of wealth distribution be tolerated if it means millions of preventable deaths every year.

And, just like in Tunisia, we too have been harnessing social media and instant tools to organize and channel our discontent. Humankind’s collective voice will effectively counterbalance the influence of our planet’s dominant institutions, allowing us to manifest a more just global civilization.

Eradicating extreme poverty. Ending institutionalized armed conflict. The world we are already in the process of creating is sure to be AWESOME!

Egyptians Celebrate Successful Revolution!

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Less than 24 hours after Mubarak disappointed Egyptians and the world,  it was announced that he will be stepping down as President of Egypt. 18 days of growing protests, and the people have finally ended 30 years of oppression.

WOOOOOOHOOOOOO!!!! This is incredible! So Awesome! I’m very happy for Egypt and everyone in the world.

This shows where the real power of the world is. Not with corporations. Not with banks. Not with governments or dictators. No, the real power in the world is in the hands of the people.

We – the human race – have the power to make our world everything we want it to be. We can end war. We can end extreme poverty. We can make ours a more just global civilization.

Mubarak Disappoints Millions of Egyptians, World

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

The millions of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square and around Egypt were expecting to hear their president deliver his resignation speech.

Instead, the people were delivered a patronizing speech reiterating Mubarak’s desire to pass power over to his Vice President.

This is not what the people wanted. Egyptians are demanding democracy and civil rights. Their regime has just offered to switch from one head puppet to another.

Massive protests were already planned for tomorrow. Given today’s unsatisfying events, a major uprising is likely. Here’s hoping democracy and a free human spirit prevail.

Israeli Warplanes Bomb Palestinian Medical Building

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Today the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) perpetuated yet another atrocity upon the Palestinian people. An air bombardment from Israel struck several targets in the Gaza Strip, including a warehouse used to store medicine.

The IDF claim today’s attack came as a response to the 40 or so projectiles launched from Gaza into Israel this year, but don’t be fooled. The conflict between Israel and Palestine is a one-sided battle, with Israel as the dominant aggressor and Palestine as the oppressed whipping boy.

Seriously, it’s not even close. Consider this:

  • Israel, as a nation, sits in the world’s top 20 for military spending. Palestine’s military spending doesn’t even register as a blip on the chart.
  • The projectiles launched by Palestinian militants are often simple, home-made rockets. Israel, on the other hand, uses the latest in military technology pulled from a vast arsenal.
  • For years, the Palestinian people have been kept on the brink of economic collapse while living in an open-air prison controlled by Israel. Meanwhile, the Israeli people are enjoying a significantly higher quality of life, ranked 23rd in the world.
  • Yes, it’s true that both sides are in the wrong for using violence. But on the Palestinian side, the aggressive acts are being perpetuated by small militant groups which Palestine’s government have condemned. On the Israeli side, however, the entire state of Israel is ultimately responsible for what many deem to be a grossly disproportionate response.

So why does this battle continue if it’s so lopsided? Because one side doesn’t want the conflict to end. As recently leaked documents show, Palestine’s leaders have been trying to end the violence for some time, offering tremendous concessions and compromises, but Israel will not accept peace.

Israel needs the war to continue as it serves several purposes. For one, it stimulates Israel’s tremendous Military Industrial Complex. Secondly, the fog of war has helped mask Israel’s consistent expansion into neighboring  territory. Without the distraction of violence and bloodshed, too many people might see the war for what it is: a blatant land-grab.

The Palestinian state has already said ‘Uncle’, but the bully Israel continues to punch the face of their fallen foe. It’s time for the world to intervene, saying ‘That’s enough, Israel’ and finally put an end to this grave injustice.