Probing UK War Crimes in Iraq. Bravo, ICC. Thank You, WikiLeaks

UK war crimes in occupied Iraq
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Preliminary investigation into UK activity in occupied Iraq

UK war crimes in occupied Iraq

UK war crimes in occupied Iraq

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stated today that she will resume an investigation into conduct of forces of the United Kingdom during the Iraq occupation. In 2006, the previous Prosecutor issued a statement saying that he had decided not to proceed with investigations. Earlier, as we now know from Wikileaks, he had reassured diplomats that he had no intention of investigating conduct of the occupying forces in Iraq. Today’s statement by the Prosecutor notes that new information has been received in a submission by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and Public Interest Lawyers. The full communication, delivered to the Prosecutor in January of this year, can be found here. The Prosecutor should be congratulated for her courage in taking this step. It will no doubt incur the wrath of the right wing press and conservative politicians who think that there are two standards of justice, one for the global south and another for those who wrote the Magna Carta. Last week, the Prosecutor indicated that she would begin an investigation into the Ukraine as a result of that country’s declaration accepting jurisdiction of the Court. And presently, France is promoting a resolution in the Security Council aimed at referring the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court. For the Court, this activity in States outside Africa where very strategic interests of major powers are involved is a welcome development. It will help to transmit a message that this is an independent and impartial institution capable of judging the strong and not only the weak. 

Up to 1,000 British soldiers face an investigation into war crimes allegedly committed during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the following occupation of the country. The charges are mostly based on testimony given by detainees in Iraq and are related to the abuse and torture of detainees.

Who are the real terrorists in Mali?

Terrorists in Mali
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الدوريات مالي تذهب الى القرى وتقوم با اعتقال المدنين الشيوخ بلغو أرذل العمر وشباب بتهمة الارهاب والكثير من هولاء تقوم مليشيات مالي بنهب ما في جيوبهم من أموال ونهب مواشيهم قبل الصاق تهمة الارهاب بيهم

الدوريات مالي تذهب الى القرى وتقوم با اعتقال المدنين الشيوخ بلغو أرذل العمر وشباب بتهمة الارهاب والكثير من هولاء تقوم مليشيات مالي بنهب ما في جيوبهم من أموال ونهب مواشيهم قبل الصاق تهمة الارهاب بيهم

When the international community pays more in ransom to terrorists than it devotes to “military training” or “development” the inevitable result is a corrupt and empowered Mali army exacting revenge on poor farmers in the North, stealing their livestock and throwing them in jail on spurious “terrorism” charges. These people will rot under torture in filthy, overcrowded prisons without food, sanitation, or health care until they die, like Mohamed Ag Hassan, forgotten and ignored by all, even the “aid” agencies.

وفاة السجين محمد اغ الحسن في السجن المركزي الكبير في العاصمة المالية بماكو , اليوم بسبب الاوضاع السيئة في السجن .. من امراض و سوء التغذية

وفاة السجين
محمد اغ الحسن في السجن المركزي الكبير في العاصمة المالية بماكو , اليوم بسبب الاوضاع السيئة في السجن .. من امراض و سوء التغذية

What becomes of their wives, children, and the rest of their families, robbed of their menfolk and livelihood, dispossessed of their homes? They become refugees..

الامم المتحدة والفرنسيه والاكواس منحازيين للسفاح المالي ويغضون النظر عن ممارساتها البشعه ضد الشعب الاعزل ويتحدثون عن تنزلات جديدة  والامم المتحده تهدد من اجل مباني ولا ترى قتل المدنيين  اخروجوهم من كيدال ولا تنحنوا لهم ولا تناقشوهم فيما لا يعنيهم اخرجوهم والله معكم

الامم المتحدة والفرنسيه والاكواس منحازيين للسفاح المالي ويغضون النظر عن ممارساتها البشعه ضد الشعب الاعزل ويتحدثون عن تنزلات جديدة
والامم المتحده تهدد من اجل مباني ولا ترى قتل المدنيين
اخروجوهم من كيدال ولا تنحنوا لهم ولا تناقشوهم فيما لا يعنيهم
اخرجوهم والله معكم

#Stuxnet precursor still in the wild. Are you a carrier?

Middle East Cyber War
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Did Iran figure out the exploit, has the magic turned on the magician, forcing Microsoft to issue an alert, or is this just (MS) window-dressing for the nuke talks?

Given the close date of the next Patch Tuesday for November, we [...] will probably have to wait until December –  Wolfgang Kandek, CTO, Qualys, Inc

Since we knew about this attack vector for a couple of years (at least) why did they wait so long? Whatever, if you didn’t already think about how this might affect you, or those you are directly or indirectly connected to, best to take some precautions.

What to do if, like the embargoed Iranians, you OR your contacts use older versions of MS Office, MS Word, and Windows:

  1. Set your email reader to NOT display images by default, since apparently this code tries to run even when only previewing email messages
  2. Do NOT send MS Word files as email attachments. Convert to plain text, RTF, WordPad, etc (NOT PDF) or share using an online application. Better yet, paste the plain text into your email.
  3. Do NOT preview, open, or forward MS Word file attachments.
  4. Microsoft is encouraging customers concerned with the risk associated with this vulnerability to deploy two fixes

More details:

Microsoft is investigating private reports of a vulnerability in the Microsoft Graphics component that affects Microsoft Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Office 2003 through 2010 – in other words, the older versions of software organizations in Iran are  likely to be stuck with because of the sanctions against supplying technology to the regime – and all supported versions of Microsoft Lync. Microsoft is aware of targeted attacks, largely in the Middle East and South Asia, that attempt to exploit this vulnerability in Microsoft Office products that affects customers using them.

The vulnerability is a remote code execution vulnerability that exists in the way affected components handle specially crafted TIFF images. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by convincing a user to preview or open a specially crafted email message, open a specially crafted file, or browse specially crafted web content. An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.

An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.

In a web-based attack scenario, an attacker could host a specially crafted website that is designed to exploit this vulnerability and then convince a user to view the website. An attacker would have no way to force users to view the attacker-controlled content. Instead, an attacker would have to convince users to take action, typically by getting them to click a link in an email message or in an Instant Messenger message that takes users to the attacker’s website, or by opening an attachment sent through email.

Monsanto Brings Agro-Slavery to Africa

Activists of the online network 'Campact' protest outside the administrative court in Braunschweig, Germany, April 28, 2009, against a request by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto.(NIGEL TREBLIN/AFP/Getty Images)
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Activists of the online network 'Campact' protest outside the administrative court in Braunschweig, Germany, April 28, 2009, against a request by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto.(NIGEL TREBLIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Activists of the online network ‘Campact’ protest outside the administrative court in Braunschweig, Germany, April 28, 2009, against a request by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto.(NIGEL TREBLIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Millions of people worldwide are against food products grown with genetically modified organisms (GMO). In May, two million people voiced their distaste of GMO products during demonstrations in 50 countries, according to a Natural News article in August, which states:

Monsanto, the most hated corporation in the world, has a deceptive message for you

Generally speaking, many of the biggest bio-tech companies in the world would have us believe that GMOs are ‘perfectly safe’ and designed to ‘more efficiently’ feed the world. But, GMOs do not generate greater yields; effectively resist drought conditions; have greater nutritional value or any other consumer benefit.

In fact, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights. The unforeseen consequences of altering the natural growth cycle of our food may be staggering. The following is just a sample of what the experts say:

“The process of genetic engineering always involves the risk of altering the genetics and cellular functioning of a food organism in unanticipated ways. These unanticipated alterations can result in GE foods being allergenic, toxic, or reduced in nutritional value”. – Professor John Fagan, award-winning Geneticist, Maharishi University of Management, Iowa, USA.

Back in 1998, Bob Shapiro (the eventual CEO of Monsanto) even admitted that the effects of GMOs are unknown when he said:

“But we realize that with any new and powerful technology with unknown, and to some degree unknowable – by definition – effects, then there necessarily will be an appropriate level at least, and maybe even more than that, of public debate and public interest.”

Since its inception, Professor Richard Lacey, a microbiologist, medical doctor, and Professor of Food Safety at Leeds University has been strongly against the introduction of genetically engineered foods because of the health risks. Professor Lacey make an important point:

“The fact is, it is virtually impossible to even conceive of a testing procedure to assess the health effects of genetically engineered foods when introduced into the food chain, nor is there any valid nutritional or public interest reason for their introduction.”

Facing demonstrations, especially in Western countries, where many people don’t believe that GMO products are safe for human consumption, Monsanto Co. is searching for new markets.

According to the Natural News, Monsanto sent out “‘Biotech ambassadors’ [who are] engaging in massive Monsanto-backed PR operations to push GMOs into Africa.”

Monsanto does not deny its interest in Africa and states on its website that it provides maize germplasm, which is genetic resources for an organism, to develop maize hybrids in Africa. It also donates to the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project, which provides valuable research for growing drought-tolerant and insect-protected products.

The Kenyan-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation is the leader of the WEMA project, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and USAID provide funds.

According to Monsanto, “The project is in its sixth year and is approaching a significant milestone as the first WEMA conventional maize hybrid will be available for commercial planting in Kenya by the end of 2013.”

Expenditures and Profits Mushrooming

Nevertheless, “the genetic modification of crops is a lengthy and obscenely expensive business,” states a report from the African Center for Biosafety, released this month.

Monsanto's failed M810 maize in South Africa. acbio.org.za

Monsanto’s failed M810 maize in South Africa. acbio.org.za

Research and development plus getting regulatory approval is rather costly, and the companies need to recoup the funds they expended before their move into Africa.

In 2012, Monsanto claimed that it “invests more than $500 million annually to identify and develop new solutions for growers.”

As far back as 2002, the GMO producing companies built into their sales prices the costs to develop, produce, and market their products, according to another report by the African Center for Biosafety, released this month.

Before genetically modified food hit the market, seed expenditures for farmers growing corn increased $0.30 per acre annually. Costs increased to $1.34 per acre annually for the GMO seeds.

“The impact of the Bt [bacillus thuringienis] corn premium on seed industry profits has been remarkable,” the African Center report states.

Earnings for Syngenta AG, a global Swiss chemical company that markets seeds and pesticides and produces GMO products, increased by more than 18 percent between 1998 and 2000. During the same period, Monsanto’s earnings increased by 9 percent, and DuPont Pioneer’s (formerly Pioneer Hi-Bred) increased by 7.3 percent.

Greed and Agricultural Dominance

The Future of farming is safer in farmers' hands

The Future of Farming is safer in farmers’ hands

With profits earned in the developed nations, Monsanto is going into Africa, providing its services for free, according to the African Center report.

However, the cost of going into Africa needs to be recouped within time. At this time, the push toward producing GMO products, mainly maize, is done free of charge to the African farmers. This looks very charitable, especially with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, and USAID involved.

It gets problematic in the future, because the farmer has to continue to buy seeds from Monsanto instead of returning to the age-old way of growing maize, which is saving and reusing seeds.

The problem lies in the fact that the chemicals that entered the ground when using the GMO products take years before they are completely gone, while the land lies fallow and can’t be used.

“It is about power, control and greed,” according to a September Natural News article. Quoting the Motley Fool, the article concludes, “A new era of agricultural colonialism will be born where the local farmer ends up becoming enslaved to the global profit demands of corporate agriculture.”

 

What if change never comes?

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Are you waiting for change? Change that was promised to you in the last election campaign, or the one before that, or even earlier? What if that change never comes? The clips in this video highlight something we all know but either ignore, or feel powerless to change. Politics is losing its appeal, the lines are blurring, and political leaders, regardless of their party affiliation, seem to be singing the same tired old tune.

Having allowed ourselves to be seduced by bold political promises ay election time, when we look back we often see that, in reality, very little has changed. Certainly it feels like there have been very few significant changes for the better in recent years. It’s common to see articles complaining about how “they” – usually meaning one or other political leader – have failed to introduce beneficial changes, while at the same time introducing unexpected changes that have a negative impact, or are imposed on us without consultation. However, what should ultimately determine genuine change at the political level, is the extent to which we, as individuals, want that change. It should depend on whether we are willing to accept change, and the costs or benefits it brings.

But we also know that people do not always welcome or enjoy change. Much of the time, it scares them and makes them feel anxious and insecure. Even beneficial changes, like getting married, having a baby, or starting a new job, are among the most stressful events in our lives. The politicians making those bold speeches about “change” know this too. In fact, they rely on it to prevent people complaining about broken promises, or banding together to demand consultation on important changes, or campaigning to repeal new laws that represent abuse of power.

If you really want ‘change you can believe in’, start by believing in your power to think and reason for yourself. Learn how to step back and resist the impulsive urge, or urgent authoritative command, to jump to conclusions or follow the herd. Give yourself permission to not have an opinion, at least until you have had time to consider all the evidence and to think critically, outside of the margins of the information being presented to you. Be OK with “I don’t know yet” or “I’m not sure yet” and even with “I might never know.” You don’t have to believe everything you hear or read. You don’t have to be a “follower” just because someone else is a “leader.”

The strange part is, we all accept that we don’t and can’t have the answer to absolutely everything, but we can easily be swayed to react in a certain way whenever we are reminded of just how much we don’t know, or if we are made to feel threatened. These are cheap vaudeville tricks, which have earned their place in the entertainment industry, but they can take on a darker aspect when used by statesmen, media, or corporations, to manipulate public opinion. Uncertainty is not the enemy, it’s one of the most fundamental principles of life. Don’t give it up without stopping to think or question.

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