Thursday, November 24, 2005

GS(3) Intelligence Briefing (11-24-05)

NOTE: GS(3) Intelligence Briefing is posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. The Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue provides insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. “Words of Power" commentary is also posted on a bi-weekly basis. This commentary explores a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net

Europe, Middle East & Africa

Kuwaiti oil production from the world's second-largest field is "exhausted" and falling after almost six decades of pumping, forcing the government to increase spending on new deposits, the chairman of the state oil company said…The plateau in output from the Burgan field will be about 1.7 million barrels a day, rather than as much as the 2 million a day that engineers had forecast could be maintained for the rest of the field's 30 to 40 years of life…Persian Gulf oil producers, which supply about a fifth of world demand, are rushing to find new reserves and build more pipelines and export terminals to compensate for declining output from older reservoirs. Any delay in replacing supplies may push oil prices higher and slow economic growth, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report…Oil consumers will be more reliant on Middle Eastern supplies in coming years and vulnerable to higher prices and slower economic growth should investments be delayed, the IEA, an adviser to 26 consuming nations, said in an annual outlook released on Nov. 7…(Kuwait Oil Field, World's Second-Largest, “Exhausted,” Bloomberg, 11-10-05)

“Oil will be depleted sooner than the IEA expects. These are the most important conclusions from [World Oil Production & Peaking Outlook] a new report of the Peak Oil Netherlands Foundation (PONL). The report is supported by the well-established Dutch energy research institute ECN…The Paris based IEA, that is considered by western governments as the most authoritive source of information on the oil market, is receiving criticism from a group of scientists, engineers and investors. This so called 'peak oil movement', founded by Collin Campbell, a pensioned geologist that worked for oil companies like Texaco and BP, beliefs that the global oil production will reach its highest point in the near future. The IEA does not want to consider this. But, according to Bruggink, the 'doomsayers' might very well be right…Based on his data, [Rembrandt] Koppelaar draws the conclusion that world oil production will reach its peak between 2012 and 2017. 'Only a clear discontinuity from previous trends in production could shift the peak further into the future.' The researcher finds it more likely that the opposite would happen: a peak before 2012. 'In 2003, some 90% of all discovered oilfields were in production. Within soon, this number will be practically 100%. The number of newly discovered fields is gradually decreasing. There are now already 30 oil producing countries, like the United States, that are past their peak, and more are joining.' Koppelaar thinks the government should take action to facilitate the transition towards an economy that relies less on oil. 'Research for the American Department of Energy indicates that some twenty years are needed for a smooth transition.'(Oil Will Be Depleted Sooner than the IEA Expects, Financieele Dagblad, Netherlands, 11-15-05)

  •   The sand in the hourglass is running out. Does the leadership of your organization understand what the end of peak oil production means, i.e., its economic and geopolitical implications, and how this profound change will impact your organization’s business interests, operations and security needs?


Asia Pacific

A critical phase in the evolution of a bird flu pandemic could play out in China in the coming weeks, world bird flu expert Robert Webster said…He said a campaign in China to vaccinate its 14 billion poultry flock could precipitate a worst case scenario. The doomsday scenario was that the Chinese would use a poor-quality vaccine that did nothing more than force the virus to mutate into something more lethal. "The international community has no way of knowing whether China will use a good one," Professor Webster said. "There is a big argument that they will simply help the virus to evolve to become a human pathogen." China has provided few details about the vaccination campaign it has begun. It is even unclear if the birds are to be vaccinated against the bird flu strain - H5N1 - that has ravaged poultry stocks across Asia and killed at least 64 people since 2003…Even if the Chinese efforts did not precipitate the worst case scenario, that could still play out somewhere else in the world, Prof Webster said. The recent discovery of the virus in flamingoes in Kuwait indicated it was moving down toward Africa, which could provide the perfect environment for the critical mutation to human-to-human transfer. "If it gets into the backyard flocks in Africa...that's a real worry," he said. People whose immune systems were already compromised by HIV, which is widespread in Africa, either died quickly or went on shedding a virus for weeks.”
(Bird Flu Expert Says Virus Entering Critical Phase, www.stuff.co.nz,11-24-05)

“Bird flu outbreaks have spread to more than a quarter of Vietnam's 64 provinces and cities since early October, officials said, noting the situation was more worrying in the cooler north. Outbreaks were reported in three more northern provinces, taking the total number affected to 17 provinces. Thirteen of them, including the capital Hanoi, are in northern Vietnam, a senior agriculture ministry official said. 'The bird flu situation is more worrying in the north, where the current winter weather favours the growth of the H5N1 virus', the ministry's animal health department deputy director Hoang Van Nam told Agence France-Presse…Vietnam, which has suffered the highest number of human deaths from bird flu, is experiencing its third avian influenza season since late 2003. (Bird flu spreads to a quarter of Vietnam's provinces, AFX News Limited, 11-18-05)

“United States and European regulators have launched an investigation into the safety of Tamiflu after the deaths of 12 Japanese children who took the anti-flu drug…But both US and European officials warned that it was difficult to tell whether the drug manufactured by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche had played a role in the fatalities. Tamiflu, invented by the US company Gilead and licensed to Roche in 1996, has proven effective against influenza A and B and H5N1 bird flu virus, which is threatening the world. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the 12 deaths under investigation included one suicide, four cases of sudden death and four cases of cardiac arrest. There were also cases of pneumonia, asphyxiation and acute pancreatitis. (Side effects of flu drug Tamiflu under probe, Xinhuanet, 11-18-05)

“Indonesia said…a 20-year-old woman has died of bird flu and several other countries also reported more suspected cases in people. Adding to the sense of alarm, researchers in Vietnam say the H5N1 avian flu virus has mutated allowing it to replicate more easily inside humans and other mammals. Taiwan said it had detected another bird flu strain that can infect people. Avian influenza is known to have infected 125 people in Asia, killing 64, and is endemic in most poultry flocks in the region. There are at least a dozen other suspected cases as governments in Asia struggle to control outbreaks in poultry to prevent more people from catching the virus, which experts fear could trigger a pandemic. Vietnam and China said on Monday they had had more suspicious cases in people, while Thailand said a toddler confirmed infected with bird flu was recovering. In the Indonesian capital, tests confirmed the woman died from H5N1, a Health Ministry official said and that tests were also being conducted on samples from a 13 year-old girl. Both died over the weekend in the Sulianti Saroso Hospital, Jakarta's hospital for treating bird flu patients. Initial tests on the girl were negative…In Vietnam, scientists at the Ho Chi Minh Pasteur Institute who have been studying the genetic make up of H5N1 samples taken from people and poultry said it had undergone several mutations. "There has been a mutation allowing the virus to (replicate) effectively in mammal tissue and become highly virulent," the institute said on its Web site at www.pasteur-hcm.org.vn. (Jump in suspected bird flu cases in people, Ade Rina, Reuters, 11-14-05)

  •    Is your organization ready for a pandemic? Have you thought through your response should a pandemic break out? How will business travel be impacted? Is someone monitoring the situation for your organization? Have you told your workforce anything at all about the threat, e.g., what it might mean to your business and what preparations you have undertaken, or even what they need to know for the health and safety of their own families? There are many questions, and most organizations have still not begun to answer them.


Americas

”In Telesur's first month of live broadcasting, the fledgling pan-Latin American television network - founded by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and majority owned by Venezuela - is seeking to demonstrate its professionalism and impartiality. But last week the channel aired short video clips from closed-door meetings of regional leaders at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina this month. The video was recorded under an agreement that it was meant for private use only. But the clips were aired on Telesur just days after Mr. Chávez said they would be. These clips bolster critics who claim the network is and will be a propaganda tool for Chávez. Aram Aharonian, Telesur's General Manager, insists that the decision to air such footage was based on the value of the information, "made solely by Telesur, independent of the government." Some observers argue that any network given this secret video would have made the same choice…Despite such fears, based on analysis of the first two weeks of live news programming and a week spent in its studios, Telesur is clearly run by professional journalists striving to provide balanced and independent coverage of Latin America to people who often learn about themselves from US or European-based media. Indeed, there are fewer questions about Telesur's ulterior motives than its ability to attract viewers in a region traditionally distrustful of state-run institutions…In Telesur's debut nightly newscast, it could have taken a pro-Chávez line on several events - but didn't. While the official Venezuelan state channel VTV led with a story on the dubious claim that in less than two years Venezuela's literacy rate has reached nearly 100 percent thanks to programs Chávez has implemented, Telesur did not air a single story about Chávez's social programs…But the biggest question facing Telesur now is not about pro-Chávez propaganda, but whether it can attract viewers in the region. Telesur says that cable networks in Argentina have now picked it up, though Osvaldo Bazan, a leading Argentine journalist who writes about television for the newsweekly Veintitres, says that Argentines still perceive it as state television, and that they remain skeptical of state-run institutions due to their experience with military dictatorships and rampant government corruption. Mr. Bazan adds that, "Chávez is certainly loved here and Bush hated, but nobody is interested in Telesur." In Brazil, Alberto Dines, with the Observatoria da Imprensa, a Brazilian media watchdog, says that Brazilians "don't believe" state media, and adds that, "I don't see any chance for Telesur.” (Telesur tested by Chávez video, Vinod Sreeharsha, Christian Science Monitor, 11-22-05)

  •    The impact of Al-Jazeera, not only on the political consensus in the Middle East, but on the political consensus of Moslems throughout the world, provides powerful evidence of the potential significance of Telesur. As mentioned in previous GS(3) Intelligence Briefings, geopolitical tensions and economic conflicts between Latin America and the U.S. have been aggravated over the past few years. We will continue to follow the Telesur story. If your organization has business interests or operations in Latin America, it is important that you understand emerging realities and potential threats in the region.

  •    Those media pundits in the region who think Telesur will not catch on because it is “state-run” may be surprised, if, as this Christian Science Monitor piece indicates, Telesur sticks to real journalism. Remember that despite recent governmental pressure and political tampering, both PBS in the US and the BBC in UK are still viewed as more reliable and objective news sources then their commercial competitors. (We’ll keep our fingers crossed for all of them.)

Global
“Earth's warming climate is estimated to contribute to more than 150,000 deaths and 5 million illnesses each year, according to the World Health Organization, a toll that could double by 2030…climate change is driving up rates of malaria, malnutrition and diarrhea throughout the world. Health and climate scientists at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who conducted one of the most comprehensive efforts yet to measure the impact of global warming on health, said the WHO data also show that rising temperatures disproportionately affect poor countries that have done little to create the problem…The regions most at risk from climate change include the Asian and South American Pacific coasts, as well as the Indian Ocean coast and sub-Saharan Africa. Patz said that was because climate-sensitive diseases are more prevalent there and because those regions are most vulnerable to abrupt shifts in climate. Large cities are also likely to experience more severe health problems because they produce what scientists refer to as the urban "heat island" effect…WHO officials reported that warmer temperatures and heavy rain in South Asia have led to the worst outbreak of dengue fever there in years. The mosquito-borne illness, which is now beginning to subside, has infected 120,000 South Asians this year and killed at least 1,000, WHO said. Senior U.S. and international officials said they now regard climate change as a major public health threat…Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum, a scientist at WHO's Department of Protection of the Human Environment, said its initial estimates of global warming-related deaths are conservative in light of Europe's massive 2003 heat wave and new research linking climate change to more intensive hurricane activity…Patrick L. Kinney, a professor at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, was the co-author of a study last year in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that predicted global warming alone could prompt the rise of smog-related deaths in the New York City region by 4.5 percent by the middle of this century, compared with the 1990s. (Climate Shift Tied To 150,000 Fatalities, Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, 11-17-05)

”Research to be published in a few days' time shows how glaciers that have been stable for centuries have started to shrink dramatically as temperatures in the Arctic have soared with global warming. On top of this, record amounts of the ice cap's surface turned to water this summer. The two developments - the most alarming manifestations of climate change to date - suggest that the ice cap is melting far more rapidly than scientists had thought, with immense consequences for civilisation and the planet. Its complete disappearance would raise the levels of the world's seas by 20 feet, spelling inundation for London and other coastal cities around the globe, along with much of low-lying countries such as Bangladesh. More immediately, the vast amount of fresh water discharged into the ocean as the ice melts threatens to shut down the Gulf Stream, which protects Britain and the rest of northern Europe from a freezing climate like that of Labrador…Until now, scientists believed the ice cap would take 1,000 years to melt entirely, but Ian Howat, who is working with Professor Tulaczyk, says the new developments could "easily" cut this time "in half". There is also a more immediate danger as the melting ice threatens to disrupt the Gulf Stream, responsible for Britain's mild climate. The current, which brings us as much heat in winter as we get from the sun, is driven by very salty water sinking off Greenland. This drives a deep current of cold ocean southwards, in turn forcing the warm water north. (The Big Thaw: Global Disaster Will Follow If the Ice Cap on Greenland Melts, Geoffrey Lean, lndependent/UK, 11-20-05)

“…the village of Ghat, in Nepal…was destroyed when a lake, high in the Himalayas, burst its banks. Swollen with glacier meltwaters, its walls of rock and ice had suddenly disintegrated. Several million cubic metres of water crashed down the mountain. When Ghat was destroyed, in 1985, such incidents were rare - but not any more. Last week, scientists revealed that there has been a tenfold jump in such catastrophes in the past two decades, the result of global warming. Himalayan glacier lakes are filling up with more and more melted ice and 24 of them are now poised to burst their banks in Bhutan, with a similar number at risk in Nepal. But that is just the beginning, a report in Nature said last week. Future disasters around the Himalayas will include 'floods, droughts, land erosion, biodiversity loss and changes in rainfall and the monsoon'. The roof of the world is changing, as can be seen by Nepal's Khumbu glacier, where Hillary and Tenzing began their 1953 Everest expedition. It has retreated three miles since their ascent. Almost 95 per cent of Himalayan glaciers are also shrinking - and that kind of ice loss has profound implications, not just for Nepal and Bhutan, but for surrounding nations, including China, India and Pakistan. Eventually, the Himalayan glaciers will shrink so much their meltwaters will dry up, say scientists. Catastrophes like Ghat will die out. At the same time, rivers fed by these melted glaciers - such as the Indus, Yellow River and Mekong - will turn to trickles. Drinking and irrigation water will disappear. Hundreds of millions of people will be affected. 'There is a short-term danger of too much water coming out the Himalayas and a greater long-term danger of there not being enough,' said Dr Phil Porter, of the University of Hertfordshire. 'Either way, it is easy to pinpoint the cause: global warming.''(Millions Face Glacier Catastrophe, Global Warming Hits Himalayas, Robin McKie, Observer/UK, 11-20-05)

  •    Global warming, a.k.a. “climate change,” is a global threat so sweeping, and so significant, that you cannot allow yourself the luxury of relying on your government to tell you what you need to know about how it will impact your business and your family. The leadership of your organization must endeavor to understand how global warming will impact your business interests, operations and security concerns in both the near-term and the long-term.


Cyberspace

”Must the United States keep hold of the Internet's reins? Many countries, from those of the European Union to Argentina, but also countries with undemocratic regimes, from China to Iran, plead for the "internationalization" of the Internet's management…The Internet is already used by a billion people. In number of those "connected," Asia leads, followed by Europe; North America is now behind. In two decades, the Internet has escaped sole exercise by the United States. The greater part of its development today is commercial, cultural, or scientific. Its political role has become unavoidable and its strategic importance, vital. Washington refuses to give way to the international community, by invoking the necessity of excluding any hold over the Net by non-democratic states. A weighty argument, when one knows that the UN agreed to have the Global Summit in a country that imprisons its own Internet users. Certainly, if authoritarian states were to have control over their principal domain name, they would see their power strengthened. But the Internet conveys as much propaganda as it does dissent. Democracy can only gain when such a means of communication and expression develops. Supposing that the desire for democracy to prevail is not a mere pious wish, to confide the keys of the Internet to an international organization commonly accepted by all then seems to be plain common sense. Unless one assumes that today only Washington is capable of assuring the security of the virtual network, as it does that of the real world. (The Internet Under Control, Le Monde, 11-16-05)

“The "digital fracture" between developed countries and others is, of course, a real problem. Just as the question of governance of the network of networks is legitimate. In its essence as well as by multinational vocation, the Internet cannot remain eternally under the control of a single country, the United States, through the guardianship it exercises over Icann, the private company that manages "domain names" - the addresses that allow traffic to flow over the information highways. Icann must cut the umbilical cord that links it to Washington. But it's a good thing, a lesser evil, that the offensive that authoritarian regimes - which would like Net governance to be consigned to the UN under cover of the struggle against "American dominance" - should have failed. The compromise, a European inspiration adopted in Tunis, leaves management of the network to Icann. At the same time, it also opens an international forum for discussions in which questions of regulation (anti-spam and anti-virus fights, cyber-criminality) could be addressed. Furthermore, this forum must place at the head of its agenda the issue of freedom on the Internet, from censorship and repression, especially in the fifteen countries - with Tunisia at their head - that imprison their internet users as the report from Reporters Without Borders, the conclusions of which we are publishing, establishes. >(Patrick Sabatier, Libération, 11-17-05)


The web’s vital role as a global communications tool has evolved mainly without either the help or hindrance of governments. But although its decentralised nature keeps it beyond the control of politicians for the most part, its infrastructure requires some management. And the system in place is predominantly American-run, to the irritation of many other countries…In September, the European Union surprisingly withdrew its support for the current arrangements and proposed a governmental approach intended as a compromise between those favouring UN oversight and the Americans. But those countries hoping to reduce America’s role in running the web will doubtless be disappointed by the compromise that has been adopted. From next year an international forum will convene to discuss internet issues, but it will have no binding powers. This is something of a relief. Many of the countries that have called loudest for America to give up its role in the running of the internet are those that are most keen to stop their citizens accessing “undesirable” material. China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and a host of other nations are guilty of censoring the content available to web users, their aim being less to protect the population from depraved content than to deter nascent democratic movements. The involvement of such repressive regimes in overseeing the internet would have been at best distasteful to more assiduous guardians of human rights, and at worst seriously damaging to its workings. '
(Internet hegemony and the digital divide, The Economist, 11-16-05)

  •   The flow of information is as vital as the flow of energy. GS(3) will continue to follow this story. Ironically, while the current circumstances, in which the U.S. has hegemony over technological development and limited administration of the Internet, is perceived the lesser of two bad options, many people in the U.S. itself, distrusting of the U.S. mainstream news media, look to the Internet as their most reliable means to access credible news sources from outside the country, and as their primary mode of free speech expression (i.e., blogosphere, etc.).


Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and http://www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: richardpower@wordsofpower.net. For more information, go to http://www.wordsofpower.net.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Words of Power #6: The White Tree

NOTE: Words of Power is published on a bi-weekly basis, and alternates with the GS(3) Intelligence Briefing, also posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. "Words of Power" commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. The GS(3) Intel Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net.

Words of Power #6: The White Tree


“And as they watched, upon the mound there came forth two slender shoots; and silence was all over the world in that hour, nor was there anything other sound other than the chanting of Yvanna. Under her songs the saplings grew and become fair and tall, and came to flower; and thus, there awoke in the world the Two Trees of Valinor. Of all the things that Yvanna made, they have most renown, and about their fate all the tales of the Eldar Days are woven…In seven hours the glory of each tree waxed to its full and waned again to naught; and each awoke once more to life an hour before the other ceased to shine. Thus in Valinor twice every day there came a gentle hour of softer light when both trees were faint and their gold and silver beams were mingled…”(J.R.R. Tolkien, The Silmarillion)



Recently, I visited Seoul to brief some Korean business leaders on a range of global security threats and their potential impact on Korean life and economy. My gracious host took me to lunch at a Chinese restaurant on the top floor of a tall office building. The restaurant’s expansive view highlighted the river that flows through the city. My host pointed to one of the bridges that crosses the river, and reminisced about fleeing over it, as a little boy--before it was blown up, at the outbreak of the Korean War.
We spoke of hope for peace on the Korean peninsula, and on that day the news was good: South Korea had agreed to trade rice and energy for North Korean minerals. I learned that the Koreans do not think that a war is inevitable or that Kim Jong will attack militarily unless he has no other options. I expressed concern that there would be a fatal miscalculation or provocation from either Pyongyang or Washington, D.C. I also expressed concern about the potential for black market WMD sales for cash. We agreed that the peace process could have been much farther along by now if the progress that Clinton-Gore had made had not been scuttled by Bush-Cheney, despite Colin Powell's sworn (and probably well-meaning) testimony to the contrary.
In the course of our dialogue, I mentioned my practice of Buddha Dharma.
My host suggested I go to Chogyesa Temple, which he had also known as a boy, and he dispatched his own driver to take me there after my afternoon sessions.
I walked up the steps to the main building, which opened on all four sides, and circumambulated it. As I walked, I delighted in the vivid tapestries that hung on every panel of the outer walls. I paused for a few extra moments at two in particular: one of Buddha under the Bodhi Tree, besieged by Mara’s Army, and the other of Bodhidharma walking on waters of a turbulent sea.
There was an atmosphere of intense devotion inside the Main Hall. Many people, mostly women and the elderly, were performing prostrations and uttering prayers. Pigeons flew in and out of the rafters. Candles burned low. Incense wafted on the summer breeze.
Even now as I type these words my heart fills with intense feeling.
Unexpectedly, unpretentiously, Chogyesa turned out to be a very powerful place.
Later, researching the history of the temple, I learned that it was named after the mountain on which Hui-Neng (638-713) had lived. Of course, coincidentally, Hui-Neng’s life and teachings have been a deep and abiding influence on my spiritual life. Hui-Neng was a poor, illiterate wood-gatherer in southern China, but he arrived at liberation by simply hearing the Diamond Sutra read aloud. The Fifth Patriarch recognized Hui-Neng as a great being, and appointed him as his successor, i.e., the Sixth Patriarch of Ch’an Buddhism. His remarkable life and profound teachings are chronicled in The Sutra of Hui-Neng.
Another poignant factoid my inquiry revealed was that although the temple was established in 1910, the Main Hall was built in 1937. Yes, it was constructed during the Japanese occupation, and on the eve of WWII. It stands there now seemingly so fragile, and so vulnerable, open on all sides--yet it remains unbroken, undefeated, and vibrant, despite two savage hot wars and one long bitter cold war…
There is a 500-year-old White Pine that dominates the courtyard. I was stunned by the magnetism and the mute eloquence of this tree. I circumambulated it, and stroked its smooth trunk with my hands, and prayed for it and to it.
Just as I draw on the Buddha Dharma in my life and work, I draw on the way of the Shaman. Indeed, although different in expression and emphasis, these two great traditions flow from the same primordial sources and resonate in oneness at their depths. And, from Central Asia to the Amazon, the world’s Shamanic tradition exhorts us to listen and learn from the trees. Well, in my life many trees have spoken to me—not in words, but through feelings and portents. And, in the course of these writings, I will share several of these episodes with you. But for now just focus on this 500-year-old tree. How much it has seen? How much it has endured? How much joy and sorrow it has witnessed? Imagine. Five centuries of stillness? Except for being singed in fire, and frozen in winter. Five centuries of stillness. Except for shivering in the summer breeze and in the aftershock of exploding ordinance. Five centuries of root, trunk, limb, branch. Five centuries of sages, children, soldiers and lovers kissing, breathing, weeping, pissing, sleeping, hoping, cursing…Five centuries…
As I lingered there, communing with that extraordinary tree, I realized I had stumbled upon an emanation of the White Tree itself. Yes, that powerful totem which the great British storyteller, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote about in The Lord of the Rings, and in The Silmarillion upon which the trilogy rests. The gift of promise that Isildur of the Numenoreans had purchased with great personal sacrifice, and brought back from the Higher World to light the way for all the races of Middle Earth. It stood for long ages in the courtyard at Minas Tirith.
Overshadowed by the two agonizing World Wars, which dominated the 20th Century, Tolkien salvaged the White Tree from the dark, salty seas of the Collective Unconscious. Overshadowed by the agonizing potential for a third World War at the dawn of the 21st Century, Peter Jackson brought The Lord of The Rings to the cinema. Together, in an impersonal collaboration spanning generations and epochs, Tolkien and Jackson restored the great mythic imagery for which humanity has thirsted throughout the grim, dim-witted but necessary turmoil of the Industrial Age, languishing as it still does in spiritually impoverished and environmentally ravaged societies.
I departed Seoul knowing that there was hope for the planet, and much toil and travail to come for all who live in tune with that hope. And yes, that hope is as fragile and vulnerable as a naked 500-year-old White Pine standing unguarded, and only quietly and partially acknowledged, in the open courtyard of a Buddhist temple in a bustling neighborhood of Seoul. I knew that for me the challenges of security are forever intertwined with challenges of sustainability and spirit.
There are no coincidences.


Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc.
You can reach Richard Power via e-mail: richardpower@wordsofpower.net.
For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

GS(3) Intelligence Briefing 11-10-05

NOTE: GS(3) Intelligence Briefing is posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. The Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue provides insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. “Words of Power" commentary is also be posted on a bi-weekly basis. This commentary explores a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net

Europe, Middle East & Africa

Here are five items on the eruption of civil unrest among migrant population of France. The first three are news items that provide some sense of the scope of the problem. The last two are opinion pieces that provide some important background on its socio-economic and political dimensions. Some say it was a purely spontaneous outburst that then took on a life of its own, others say that it has been directed by criminal organizations or religious extremists. Do not fall into the trap of thinking these two possibilities are mutually exclusive. My guess is that there is both spontaneous uprising among frustrated youth and experimentation on the part of sinister forces. And even if there is no manipulation, from terrorists, drug traffickers or even geopolitical rivals simply seeking to embarrass France or change its direction, I assure you that the tactical advantage will be exploited in the future, unless the underlying socio-economic and cultural issues are addressed aggressively and creatively. And that is true in all industrialized societies.

“France will impose curfews under a state-of-emergency law and call up police reservists to stop rioting that has spread out of Paris' suburbs and into nearly 300 cities and towns across the country...The tough new measures came as France's worst civil unrest in decades entered a 12th night, with rioters in the southern city of Toulouse setting fire to a bus after sundown after ordering passengers off, and elsewhere pelting police with gasoline bombs and rocks and torching a nursery school. Outside the capital in Sevran, a junior high school was set ablaze, while in another Paris suburb, Vitry-sur-Seine, youths threw gasoline bombs at a hospital, police said. No one was injured. Earlier, a 61-year-old retired auto worker died of wounds from an attack last week, the first death in the violence.” (Associated Press, 11-8-05)

“Gangs of youths torched more than 1,000 vehicles overnight in the tenth straight night of violence in Paris’s poor suburbs, despite the deployment of thousands of extra police. In the past few days the rioting has been spreading to other French towns. On Saturday night, cars were burned out for the first time in central Paris, in the historic third district. And in the normally quiet Normandy town of Evreux, a shopping mall, 50 vehicles, a post office and two schools were gutted. The violence began after the deaths of two men apparently fleeing police, and as the expression of pent up anger by young men, many Muslims of North and black African origin, at police treatment, racism, unemployment and their marginal place in French society.” (Reuters, 11-9-05)

“Police also found a gasoline bomb-making factory in a rundown building in Evry, a southern Paris suburb that contained 150 explosives, more than 100 bottles, gallons of fuel and hoods for hiding rioters' faces, Jean-Marie Huet, a senior Justice Ministry official, said...” (Associated Press, 11-6-05)

“First limited to the Paris region's cités [French housing projects], the conflagration of violence has now reached several provincial cities. Up to now, over 1000 vehicles have been burned and close to 400 people wounded…Prior to North African immigration, the Republican model was based largely, it was understood, on three fundaments: school, for the reasons one can imagine; trade unionism, because it promoted the political socialization of individuals; and military service, which, thank goodness, has been abolished, but which has never been replaced by the civic service envisaged when Lionel Jospin was in the Matignon [French prime Minister's residence]. In short, these vectors of integration are a shadow of what they once were.  When you combine that with the high level of unemployment, and especially with the social ravages unemployment provokes, you get a cocktail of anger, violence, and revolt that - as we observe today - expresses itself with all the more force because there is practically no communication between these youths and the government. More precisely, there is an absence of political representation. In a study devoted to that subject, Olivier Masclet from the University of Metz notes that ‘today, immigrants' children are largely absent from the factories, the unions, and the workers' parties that have been at the heart of the political socialization of the working class for a century.’ The consequence, in part, is a political deficit which the present riots translate.” (Serge Truffaut, Le Devoir, 11-8-05)

“Now 30, 40, and 50 years old, these high-rise human warehouses in the isolated suburbs are today run-down, dilapidated, sinister places, with broken elevators that remain unrepaired, heating systems left dysfunctional in winter, dirt and dog-shit in the hallways, broken windows, and few commercial amenities - shopping for basic necessities is often quite limited and difficult, while entertainment and recreational facilities for youth are truncated and totally inadequate when they're not non-existent. Both apartments and schools are over-crowded (birth control is a cultural taboo in the Muslim culture the immigrants brought with them and transmitted to their children, and even for their male grandchildren of today - who've adopted hip-hop culture and created their own French-language rap music of extraordinary vitality (which often embodies stinging social and political content) - condoms are a no-no because of Arab machismo, contributing to rising AIDS rates in the ghettos …The response to the last ten days of violent youth rebellion by the conservative government has been inept and tone-deaf. For the first four days of the rebellion, Chirac and his Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin decided to let the hyper-ambitious, megalomaniacal Interior Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, lead the government's response to the youth's violence and arson. Chirac and Villepin detest Sarkozy…But Sarkozy only poured verbal kerosene on the flames, dismissing the ghetto youth in the most insulting and racist terms and calling for a policy of repression…Under the headline ‘Budget Cuts Exasperate Suburban Mayors,’ Le Monde reports today on how Chirac and his conservatives have compounded 30 years of neglect of the ghettos by slashing even deeper into social programs: 20% annual cuts in subsidies for neighborhood groups that work with youths since 2003, cuts in youth job-training programs and tax credits for hiring ghetto youth, cuts in education and programs to teach kids how to read and write, cuts in neighborhood police who get to know ghetto kids and work with them…With fewer and fewer neighborhood cops to do preventive work that defuses youth alienation and violence, the alternative is to wait for more explosions and then send in the CRS (Compagnies Republicaines de Securite, hard-line paramilitary SWAT teams). Budget cuts for social programs plus more repression, is a prescription for more violence. That's why Le Monde's editorial today warned that a continuation of this blind policy creates a big risk of provoking a repeat of 2002, when the neo-fascist Jean-Marie Le Pen made it into the runoff.” (Doug Ireland, DIRELAND, 11-6-05)

  •   Organizations should have business continuity and crisis management plans, which include contingencies on how to deal with civil unrest, whether sudden and short-termed or prolonged.



  •   Organizations should understand the socio-economic stresses of those cities in which they have operations or interests, and monitor those stresses accordingly.



  •    Governments should re-affirm the creation of economic opportunity and the overcoming of alienation among migrant populations as high domestic priorities and participation in global efforts to achieve the U.N.’s “Millennium Goals” as a high international priority.


Asia Pacific

The synchronized triple bombings at international hotels in Amman, synchronized triple bombings at crowded markets in New Delhi, as well as a disturbing incident on the high seas off the coast of Somalia, underscore one of the principles tenets of GS(3) Intelligence: disaster, in general, and terrorism, in particular, can strike anyone anywhere at anytime. Several other stories that appeared during this Briefing cycle, highlighting the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan, a shift in Al Qaeda’s political strategy, significant (and timely) busts in Australia and Indonesia, illustrate how profoundly wrong-headed and counter-productive the Bush administration’s botched, bungled and mislabeled “war on terrorism” has been, and how badly its disastrous detour into Iraq and its policies on the torture and abuse of captives have undermined the global effort to thwart Islamic extremists.

“Suicide bombers carried out nearly simultaneous attacks on three Western chain hotels here Wednesday night, killing at least 57 people, wounding more than 100 and emphatically ending Jordan's status as an oasis of relative calm in the Middle East. The blasts struck the Grand Hyatt, Radisson SAS and Days Inn in the Jordanian capital just before 9 p.m., sending clouds of black smoke billowing into the sky and leaving some of the bloodied victims lying on plush-carpeted floors. At the Radisson, an assailant detonated an explosives belt in the midst of a wedding party in a crowded banquet hall, resulting in extensive casualties, officials said. At the Days Inn, a car bomber was unable to breach the security perimeter outside the hotel before detonating his explosives, Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher told reporters. Emergency workers rushing to the scenes used bellman's carts to carry the wounded out of the hotels. The flood of victims overwhelmed local hospitals.” (Los Angeles Times, 11-10-05)

“Near-simultaneous explosions rocked the Indian capital…tearing through a bus and two markets crowded with people shopping for gifts for a Hindu festival. At least 58 people were killed and dozens wounded in the blasts, which the government blamed on terrorists.

Police declared a state of emergency and closed all city markets…The first explosion hit at 5:45 p.m. in New Delhi's main Paharganj market, leaving behind bloodstained streets and mangled stalls of wood and twisted metal. Within minutes came an explosion at the popular Sarojini Nagar market and the bus blast in the Govindpuri neighborhood. Police said at least 60 people were wounded in the first blast and dozens in the other two. The attacks targeted the many people shopping just days before the festival of Diwali, a major Hindu holiday during which families exchange gifts, light candles and celebrate with fireworks. The markets where the blasts occurred often sell fireworks that are elaborate and potentially dangerous…The explosions erupted just hours after India and Pakistan began talks on opening their heavily militarized border in disputed Kashmir to bring food, shelter and medical aid to victims of the Himalayan region's massive quake, which killed about 80,000 people, most in Pakistan.” (Associated Press, 10-29-05)

“One of Asia's most wanted terrorists was staying in a safe house packed with London-style backpack bombs when he was killed, police said Thursday, triggering speculation he was planning more terror strikes. Azahari bin Husin's death is another major blow to the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah, but at least four other senior members of the group remain on the run, security analysts said. The Afghan-trained explosives expert was accused of making the bombs used in the 2002 Bali nightclub attacks and at least three other deadly blasts in Indonesia, and handing down his skills to young recruits, police say. Police initially said Azahari blew himself up Wednesday to avoid capture when members of an elite anti-terror unit raided his hide-out, but police chief Gen. Sutanto said Thursday he was shot as he reached to detonate his suicide belt.” (Associated Press, 11-10-05)

“Australian authorities arrested 17 terror suspects on Tuesday — including a prominent radical Muslim cleric sympathetic to Osama bin Laden — and said they had foiled a major terror attack on the country by men committed to ‘violent jihad.’ The Australian Federal Police said the men were arrested in Sydney and Melbourne in coordinated raids that also netted evidence including weapons and apparent bomb-making materials. A prosecutor said the cleric, Abdul Nacer Benbrika — also known as Abu Bakr — was the ringleader. (Associated Press, 11-08-05)

“…in the south, opponents of the Kabul regime have gone back into business. And the repentant Taliban who answered President Hamid Karzai's call and try to integrate themselves into the new political landscape can't go back to their villages under pain of being murdered. When you take the brand new highway that goes from Kabul to Kandahar, the one the Afghans call ‘the Bush highway,’ starting just south of Ghazni, it becomes more and more dangerous to stop…Forty-year-old Rahman Akhondzada is one of the commanders of the Taliban insurgency in Zabol province. He is very difficult to meet, but we were able to interview him thanks to a satellite telephone. He asserted to us that he launches at least one attack a week on the American base of Daya Choopan with his 150 men. According to him, 15 districts of the country are under "the Taliban Islamic law," while American soldiers can't move in those regions except in convoys supported by aircraft. According to Akhondzada, it's Mullah Omar who is still leading the guerrilla movement and who distributes his orders and fatwas in person or in writing…’The last time I saw Mullah Omar,’ the Commandant relates, ‘it was the beginning of the summer of 2005. My superior, Mullah Barader, led me into a house at nightfall. Mullah Omar w as there, surrounded by eight bodyguards armed with grenade launchers, grenades and AK-47 assault rifles. He was in good health, as in the Kandahar times. We talked about the Cuba and Bagram prisons. He was, as usual, not very talkative, listening attentively, then making decisions with an un-appealable yes or no. He assured us that the jihad had only just begun.’ Under the Taliban regime, the mullah Abdul Salam, nicknamed ‘General Rocket,’ was one of the five highest ranking officers in the army. Today he's the first ex-Taliban to have been elected to the Afghan Parliament…’The whole General Staff of the Taliban resistance is in Quetta,’ ‘General Rocket’ calmly explains. ‘Abdul Razak, Obeidullah, Kahar and the others, like a real shadow government. Behind them, there's the Evil Council: the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani Secret Services) colonels, who organize and finance them right under the nose of President Musharraf and the Americans ...’” (Sara Daniel and Sami Yousafzay, Terrorism: The Return of the Taliban,  Le Nouvel Observateur, 11-3-05)

“The political image of al-Qaeda has come across more strongly in recent months, as Ayman al-Zawahiri, second-in-command to Osama bin Laden, has raised his profile, leading a propaganda campaign to win support from the Muslim masses. His latest move came two weeks ago when he made a televised appeal for aid for victims of the Pakistan earthquake. The videotape broadcast on the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television station was the softest intervention yet from the Egyptian doctor, who is thought to be hiding somewhere near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. But it was only the latest in a series of television addresses that have highlighted a more sophisticated political message…Mr Zawahiri's media campaign appears to be a tactical shift that recognises two key developments. The first is that the old al-Qaeda created in Afghanistan has become more diffuse, with the traditional leadership possibly out of touch with changes on the ground. The second is that it is being upstaged by a new al-Qaeda, based in Iraq and led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. ‘Qaeda is like a college: it graduated people and each has an ideology and works on his own, according to his own circumstances,’ says Yassir al-Sirri, an Egyptian Islamist dissident. ‘Zarqawi doesn't need al-Qaeda anymore; he took what he needed from it.’The Pakistan earthquake broadcast followed a September videotape in which Mr Zawahiri commented on Afghanistan parliamentary elections, dismissing them as illegitimate. The message highlighted a new pattern in which Mr Zawahiri resorts to political arguments to counter US-driven democratic progress. (Roula Khalaf , Bin Laden's deputy leads al-Qaeda into battle for Muslim hearts and minds.” Financial Times, 11-5-05)

“NINETEEN Australians were on board a $1000-a-night cruise liner attacked by pirates who peppered the ship with machinegun fire and blasted it with at least two rocket-propelled grenades off the Somali coast. Passengers told last night how the captain "rocked the ship from side to side" in an effort to swamp the two 7.5m inflatable boats that mounted the dawn raid. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer raised the possibility terrorism may have been the motivation behind the raid. The boats, packed with up to a dozen bandits between them, approached the ship Seabourn Spirit on Saturday at 5.30am local time (2.30pm AEST) about 160km off the Somali coast, the Seabourn Cruise Line said. Cruise line spokesman Bruce Good said the ship managed to escape the pirates…Along with the 19 Australians, there were 48 Americans on board, 22 Britons, 21 Canadians, 19 Germans and six South Africans. The other passengers were mostly from other European nations, Mr Good said. The Indian Ocean waters off the Somali coast are among the world's most dangerous. Typically pirates target freighters that carry only a handful of crew. The Bahamian-registered Seabourn ship was on a 16-day cruise from Egypt to Mombasa, Kenya. The 10,000-tonne vessel sailed on to the Seychelles Islands, where passengers were to disembark and fly to Mombasa, Mr Good said.” (The Australian, 11-7-05)

  •    Organizations should have a comprehensive travel security program, which encompasses the monitoring of threats, the tracking of the work force’s travel, awareness and education for the travelers, guidance on hotel selection and other vital aspects of travel to high risk or extreme risk destinations, input on venue selection for conferences and exhibitions, as well as special attention to the details of executive travel and the situations of ex-pats. GS(3) Intelligence can help you develop such a program.


Americas

Globalization is a difficult issue. It is far more hurtful and disruptive than its corporatist boosters care to acknowledge, and it is far more necessary and inexorable than its opponents to the right and left of center are willing to admit. I remember Bill Clinton’s speech on the Free Trade Area of the America (FTAA) toward the end of his second term in office. Of course, I also remember where we were in regard to peace and security on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East as well. There has been considerably more attention focused on the failures of the Bush administration’s foreign policy team regarding peace and security on those two regions than on its destructive influence on U.S. relationships in Latin America, but its failure in this vital area is no less dangerous or sweeping in its long-term implications. Here are three news items highlighting the deepening distance, distrust and hostility that the Bush administration has generated in the south. Clinton-Gore lead by engaging world leaders and achieving pragmatic consensus based on international principles, Bush-Cheney have mislead by beating their unilateralist chests and exhorting world leaders to get in line and follow them – or else. Increasingly, world leaders are exploring what “or else” would cost them; consequently, the U.S. is isolated and weakened. A U.S. President Gore would have spent some quality time over the last five years finding common ground with the more moderate leaders within the Mercosur bloc, and there would be much less room for hatred to fester and violence to erupt.

“A two-day summit meeting of leaders of 34 Western Hemisphere nations attended by President Bush was drawing to a close here on Saturday without a clear agreement on when and how to resume stalled negotiations aimed at achieving a hemisphere wide free trade agreement. American presidents of each party have long pushed for a hemispheric free trade zone. Ronald Reagan talked of a single market extending from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego; Bill Clinton formally broached the idea at the First Summit of the Americas in Miami in 1994. A Free Trade Area of the Americas would be a bloc even larger than the European Union, though without its free flow of labor and political integration.…On the left are those, led by Venezuela's fiery, populist president, Hugo Chávez, who oppose free trade in any form. Mr. Chávez calls the Free Trade Area of the Americas ‘an annexationist plan’ that would stifle or destroy local industry, roll back social safety nets and labor protections, and permanently extend American political domination of the region to the economic realm…In contrast, Brazil and Argentina, the leaders of the Mercosur bloc, the third-largest trading group in the world, do not oppose the concept of free trade, only Washington's version. The Mercosur group, which includes Paraguay and Uruguay, was founded in 1991 to eliminate trade barriers among its members, but also aims to achieve political integration. It covers an area with a population of nearly 250 million and produces more than $1 trillion annually in goods and services…’We are here neither to bury F.T.A.A. nor to resuscitate it,’ but to see ‘what are the advantages,’ Brazil's foreign minister, Celso Amorim, said. ‘We have no prejudice against trade integration, but we don't want to put something on paper just because it looks nice.’ Some other countries with dynamic economies that already have free trade pacts with the United States, like Mexico and Chile, have been trying to ease their neighbors' worries, by emphasizing the favorable effects of liberalized trade on exports, investment and employment…Argentina's position is complicated by the resentment and mistrust left from the collapse of the economy four years ago next month. Argentina contends that after being the International Monetary Fund's star pupil in the 1990's, it was abandoned by the United States in its time of crisis, and that sentiment has colored Mr. Kirchner's dealings with the fund and the Bush administration. (New York Times, 11-6-05)

“…the opposition to Bush and his proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), as well as neoconservative economic policies and capitalism in general, took on a creative twist this time, with a massive march that ended in a rally at a sports stadium involving a heterogeneous group of Latin American leaders: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, Bolivian socialist leader Evo Morales, Argentine leaders of the unemployed, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, singers from all over the continent, and, of course, Diego Maradona, legendary soccer hero. [NOTE: Madrone called Bush ‘human trash.’] A counter-meeting, the Summit of the People, began in the city on Monday, and concluded on Thursday with recommendations to summarily suspend FTAA talks, combat inequality in the region, and ‘energetically reject the militarization of the continent promoted by the empire of the north.’ At the culminating event of the march against Bush, Chávez called the stadium in which over 25,000 demonstrators had gathered the ‘gravesite of the FTAA.’ He also proposed a Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean (ALBA, a Spanish acronym meaning ‘dawn’) to replace the controversial FTAA. Regional opponents of Bush's free trade agreement accuse it of fomenting inequality and placing poorer countries at the mercy of wealthier ones. The Bolivarian alternative proposes regional integration with the goal of fighting poverty and social exclusion. (Jordana Timerman, The Nation, 11-5-05)

“The test broadcast phase for the new Latin America-wide satellite television channel Telesur ended on October 31 with the launch of a continuous live signal from its studios in Caracas. The Telesur website states that the aim of the channel is to “concretise the Bolivarian ideal” of Latin American integration. Telesur now has news bureaus and correspondents based in Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico and Peru. Some 125 television operators are involved in broadcasting and 13 countries in Latin America are relaying the signal to well over 3 million subscribers across Latin America, as well as free-to-air broadcasts in seven countries to approximately 30 million viewers. Telesur plans to expand its production facilities and provide signals via subscription to viewers in the US and other countries by the end of 2006.” (Green Left Weekly, 11-9-05)

  •    Organizations with operations or interests in Latin America should monitor geopolitical tensions and economic conditions in the region, and prepare for trouble ahead (e.g., civil unrest, labor actions aimed at icons of U.S. business, government crack downs on U.S. interests, scandals involving U.S. businesses, kidnappings of U.S. business people, assassinations of Latin American political leaders, coups and counter-coups, etc.)


Global

Vietnam reported its first human death, a 35-year-old man in Hanoi, in more than three months and Indonesia reported another possible human death, a 16-year old girl in Jakarta. In Vietnam,. forty-two deaths have been confirmed officially. In Indonesia, only five have been officially confirmed but at least a dozen deaths are suspected. In China, officials have acknowledged three more outbreaks of bird flu in Jinzhou, Fuxin and Liaoning. Here are three stories that highlight the potential global impact should a pandemic arise.  

A deadly new global pandemic of human influenza is inevitable and suffering will be "incalculable" unless the world is ready, the chief of the United Nations health agency said on Monday. The World Bank estimated the economic cost to be $800-billion (about R5,4-trillion)…About 60 percent of countries have a pandemic preparedness plan, but in most cases it is only a piece of paper, and those plans "need to move to exercise and rehearsal", said Mike Ryan, WHO's outbreak response director.  (Cape Times, 11-08-05)

International air travel would virtually stop if bird flu triggered a lethal human pandemic in the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s health minister said today, as Chinese media reported plummeting poultry sales in Beijing and Shanghai…Australia’s Health Minister Tony Abbott did not directly respond to questions on whether Australia would expel foreigners, close its ports or accept “flu refugees” in the event of a pandemic breaking out in neighbouring Indonesia. ‘If there is a pandemic, international travel will almost cease I suspect for a significant period of time,’ Abbott told Ten Network television. ‘Regardless of what border controls countries might put on, there will be very few people who’ll be wanting to travel.’   (Times of India, 10-30-05)

Alarmed by the spread of bird flu from East Asian countries to Europe and considering the vulnerability of the region, authorities in [India’s] North Eastern states have stregthened preventive measures to check possible spread of the avian influenza. As the vast network of wetlands and rivers of the entire region is a suitable home for winter winged guests and the major flyways for migratory birds, the North-East is comparatively more vulnerable for possible spread of the flu. Moreover, its proximity to South-East Asian countries is a major concern because poultry birds are imported from Myanmar through Manipur and Mizoram, said a veterinary expert. Alarmed over the spread of H5n1 virus causing avian influenza to both wild water fowls and domesticated birds in 11 Asian countries and Europe, wildlife wardens and veterinary departments in NE states have already issued certain guidelines to the villagers as preventive measures.  (Outlook India, 11-8-05)

  •    Organizations should already have a Bird Flu specific crisis response plan in place. This plan should establish protocols and processes for overcoming disruption in business travel to infected areas, and interruption of business operations in infected areas. It should also provide awareness and education resources for the work force. GS(3) Intelligence can help you develop such a plan.


Cyberspace

The following brief story is startling. Not because it reveals some sophisticated new hacking technique or rips away the veil on information age espionage, but because it illustrates how commonplace criminality has become in regard to your privacy—at least in the U.S. But don't expect any strong, EU-style privacy-related legislation from Senators and Representatives who serve the narrow interests of the lobbies that finance their campaigns and under-write their life-styles. Do not look for regulatory protection from them. Nothing they deliver will have any teeth for the consumer until there is a change in control of the legislative branch of the federal government. Meanwhile, it is a serious reputational issue for businesses.

“Verizon Wireless said…that it had received a court injunction to stop a Florida investigative agency from fraudulently obtaining confidential information about its wireless subscribers. The No. 2 U.S. mobile service said it filed a lawsuit accusing Global Information Group of making thousands of attempts to gather confidential information without authorization and using fraudulent schemes to do so, including impersonating Verizon employees and posing as customers…Verizon Wireless said it had already asked courts for help three times this year on customer privacy concerns. It also received a court order in the summer to stop a Tennessee-based company from illegally obtaining and selling confidential customer telephone records. Also during the summer it received injunctions against telemarketing companies in Florida and California to stop them from making illegal sales calls to its customers.” (Reuters, 11-9-05)

  • Organizations should establish monitoring and investigative processes, as well as awareness and education training for the work force, in order to protect the confidentiality of clients, customers, partners and employees.


Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and http://www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: richardpower@wordsofpower.net. For more information, go to http://www.wordsofpower.net.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Words of Power #5: Failed Leadership Invites Disaster

NOTE: Words of Power is published on a bi-weekly basis, and alternates with the GS(3) Intelligence Briefing, also posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. "Words of Power" commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. The GS(3) Intel Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net.

Words of Power #5: Failed Leadership Invites Disaster

“The Bush administration has missed dozens of deadlines set by Congress after the Sept. 11 attacks for developing ways to protect airplanes, ships, and railways from terrorists. A plan to defend ships and ports from attack is six months overdue. Rules to protect air cargo from infiltration by terrorists are two months late. A study on the cost of antiterrorism training for federal law enforcement officers who fly commercially was supposed to be done more than three years ago…” (Leslie Miller, Associated Press, 10-31-05)

“When the hurricane struck the Gulf and the floodwaters rose and tore through New Orleans, plunging its remaining population into a carnival of misery, it did not turn the region into a Third World country - as it has been disparagingly implied in the media - it revealed one…But the storm not only revealed the poverty of those most vulnerable, those left behind. It revealed the poverty of skewed priorities that put the shoulder of technology to the wheel of death rather than life, creating killing machines that are now called ‘smart’ and surveillance systems that, in the words of the great Guyanese poet Martin Carter, ‘are watching you sleep and aiming at your dreams.’ Mother Nature revealed the poverty of a mindset that narrowly views security as a military issue. That is blind to the role of culture in sustaining the mental health and social wellness of people, which is also the basis for economic productivity. Blind to the role of culture in education, through which we are prepared for our responsibilities in a democracy, and hostile to the role of culture in the search for truth. Hurricane Katrina revealed, more than anything else, a poverty of imagination.” (Danny Glover, Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit 9-17-05)

Political philosophy can have a direct impact on how governments and corporations approach the security of their operations and the safety of their people. It shouldn’t, but it sometimes does. Of course, most of us try to pretend otherwise.
When someone brings up the failures of current U.S. political leadership during a business meeting or a working lunch, the others present will usually cast their eyes downward, hold their breath and say nothing. They are afraid of missing out on big contracts, or facing unpleasant facts about their clients, or being marginalized within their organization, or even losing their job.
That’s the influence of a pervasive and dysfunctional corporate culture, which now dominates the atmosphere, stifling dissent and discouraging critical thinking, in both government agencies and the private sector. As Noam Chomsky once remarked, if you want to study totalitarianism, you shouldn’t waste your time reading the history of the Soviet Union, you should study the modern corporation, it is there that the totalitarian system has been perfected.
Recently, I dusted off the two cover stories I wrote immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, The Road to Kabul Has Been Under Construction For A Long Time (Computer Security Alert, October 2001) and The Road Beyond Kabul (Computer Security Alert, November 2001). As I re-read them, I was struck by their poignancy and relevancy to my life, even now, four years later. Although “conventional wisdom” was wrong (as usual) in suggesting that “the world changed on 9/11,” those savage attacks did accelerate a change already underway—at least, in my thinking. In the late 1990s, it became apparent to me that it was no longer possible to look at cyber security in isolation from physical and personnel security or vice versa. I had begun to see that only a holistic approach to security could be effective. The problems related to terrorism, cyber attacks, geopolitical tensions, economic espionage, organized crime, globalization, etc. had to be analyzed in relationship to one another, and real-world security programs would have to integrate proactive responses to a broad spectrum of evolving threats in both the physical and digital worlds, i.e., we needed “Global Security Intelligence.”
Less than a year later, I moved from a highly public role grounded in journalism and research to an operational role developing just such a security program for a global enterprise, continuing to speak and write but only for internal consumption.
As I developed the concept of “Global Security Intelligence,” I began to spend as much time on Al Qaeda style terrorism as on cyber crime, and soon realized that I should be spending as much time on global warming and climate change as on terrorism or cyber crime. Over the course of three years, I traveled in twenty-five countries, spoke to thousands of people, shaped a comprehensive global security strategy and delivered a global crisis management capability, a global travel security program and a global awareness and education program. But the most vital element, whether in government or business, is organizational will—without it the security and intelligence professional is wasting time and energy.
Now I have returned to the public arena because there is so much to do and so little time left. There is certainly too much to do to pretend that politics does not play a central role in security. There is certainly too little time to pretend that security can be addressed in isolation from the issues of sustainability and spirit. Thus, I have expanded GSI into GS(3) Intelligence.

The Bitterest Lessons of 9/11 and Katrina
It is important to remember the bitter lessons of 9/11 and Katrina. And the bitterest of these lessons are not what “conventional wisdom” suggests.
The bitterest lesson of 9/11 is not about intelligence failures, it is about the political leadership’s failure to act upon the intelligence it was given. There was plenty of pre-9/11 intelligence, but what happened to it? The nation’s political leadership was uninterested. Unlike the outgoing Clinton-Gore national security team, the incoming Bush national security team did not consider crushing Osama Bin Laden their most immediate priority. They were preoccupied with rationales for missile defense systems and opportunities for oil pipelines.
The bitterest lesson of Katrina is not that the U.S. government failed the people of New Orleans, but that a warped philosophy of government led directly to that failure. In the 1990s, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) excelled under the stewardship of James Lee Witt (a recognized expert in the field of emergency services). But then the Bush administration placed FEMA first into the hands of Joe Allbaugh, a Bush campaign financier, and then into the hands of Michael Brown, a former official of the International Arabian Horse Association. These two individuals, utterly lacking in emergency services experience, applied the Bush political philosophy to the agency; one best described by right-wing operative Grover Norquist, who boasts of wanting to “starve government” to the point where it was small enough to “drown in the bathtub.”
Recently, former vice president Al Gore delivered a remarkable speech accepting the Global Environmental Citizen Award from the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School. Gore drew a powerful analogy between the warnings that went unheeded prior to both 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina:
“As we meet this evening another category 5 hurricane is making its way, perhaps, from the Caribbean to the Gulf of Mexico. It's not a mystery any longer why there has been a significant increase in category 4 and 5 hurricanes. They're fed by warmer water. The oceans are warming because the gaseous pollution of industrial civilization has changed the relationship between the earth and the sun. We're trapping more of the outgoing infrared radiation that would otherwise naturally escape from the earth and keep our relationship to the rest of the universe in balance…When we exceed the boundaries that creation has placed around our place in creation we run the risk of consequences…Hurricane Katrina convinced many Americans that we have now entered a period of consequences. The images of Americans starving, in extremis, abandoned, helpless, fearful, nowhere to go, no salvation in sight, labeled as refugees in one of our great cities was a startling realization that we have entered a period of consequences. More than 200 American cities set all time records for high temperatures this year. One of them was New Orleans. And the waters around New Orleans also set an all time record. When Katrina hit the southern tip of Florida it was a category 1 hurricane, but then it crossed over the Gulf, and the extraordinarily warm waters of the Gulf, warmed beyond the boundaries of previous human experience, fed the energy of that hurricane and it grew to a category 5. And it collected much more water than hurricanes have in the past and it drowned one of our greatest and most elegant cities. There were warnings, but they went unheeded. The chief meteorologist in Louisiana working for the Federal government was beside himself trying to get attention for the clear scientific consequences of what he saw developing. We will see conditions, he said, that are unprecedented in modern times. They predicted exactly which sections of this great city would be drowned when the levees broke. But the warnings, as I said, went unheeded and a lot of people died unnecessarily and America was shamed before the world…Four years ago, in August, during another time that is often described as the dog days, there was a warning that, and I quote, that ‘Osama Bin Laden is determined to strike in the United States of America.’ And that warning was not heeded either. If it had been, if a meeting had been called, and if the head of the FBI and the CIA had been asked to collect the available intelligence from their field offices they would have found the full names of 80 percent of the hijackers who later flew the planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania. They would have found the plot, they would have found the training on how to fly planes received by people who were not curious about how to land the planes, they would have found enough evidence to prevent that tragedy. But my purpose in drawing a comparison between the warnings unheeded in New Orleans and the warnings unheeded prior to 9/11 is to point toward other warnings that are right now being given to us and that are also being unheeded. The scientists who follow the rule of reason and respect the principle of the best evidence, now tell us that we are creating an imbalance in the relationship between civilization and the earth and that the most prominent manifestation of this dysfunction is global warming…” (Al Gore, Harvard Medical School, 10-21-05, http://yubanet.com/artman/publish/article_26982.shtml)

It Is A Strange Bird That Fouls Its Own Nest
Despite the Bush administration’s botched, bungled and mislabeled “war on terrorism,” with its tragic, unnecessary and ill-conceived detour into Iraq, which has seriously damaged U.S. prestige throughout the world, stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin and swelled the ranks of recruits to Al Qaeda style terrorism, global warming will still, barring the use of WMDs, result in more deaths (probably hundreds of thousands) in the decades ahead. And yet, there is no national will to confront or even acknowledge this unprecedented planetary challenge.
In a recent speech to the Society of Environmental Journalists, Bill Moyers, preeminent journalist and public commentator explained:
“Rather than leading the world in finding solutions to the global environmental crises, the United States is a recalcitrant naysayer and backslider…President Bush has turned the agencies charged with environmental protection over to people who don't believe in it. To run the Interior Department he chose a long-time defender of polluters who has opposed laws to safeguard wildlife, habitat, and public lands. To run the Forest Service he chose a timber industry lobbyist. To oversee our public lands he named a mining industry lobbyist who believes public lands are unconstitutional. To run the Superfund he chose a woman who made a living advising corporate polluters how to evade the Superfund. And in the White House office of environmental policy the President placed a lobbyist from the American Petroleum Institute whose mission was to make sure the government's scientific reports on global warming didn't contradict the party line and the interest of oil companies. Everywhere you look, the foxes own the chicken coop…Once the leader in cutting edge environmental policies and technologies and awareness, America is now eclipsed. As the scientific evidence grows, pointing to a crisis, our country has become an impediment to action, not a leader. Earlier this year the White House even conducted an extraordinary secret campaign to scupper the British government's attempt to tackle global warming - and then to undermine the UN's effort to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. George W. Bush is the Herbert Hoover of the environment. His failure to lead on global warming means that even if we were dramatically to decrease greenhouse gases overnight we have already condemned ourselves and generations to come to a warming planet…In July of this year, ABC News reported that 66% of the people in a new survey said they don't think global warming will affect their lives…They say denial is not a river in Egypt. It is, however, the governing philosophy in Washington. The President's contempt for science - for evidence that mounts everyday - is mind boggling. Here is a man who was quick to launch a 'preventative war' against Iraq on faulty intelligence and premature judgment but who refuses to take preventive action against a truly global menace about which the scientific evidence is overwhelming…Here's an important statistic to ponder: 45 percent of Americans hold a creational view of the world, discounting Darwin's theory of evolution. I don't think it is a coincidence then that in a nation where nearly half our people believe in creationism, much of the populace also doubts the certainty of climate change science. Contrast that to other industrial nations where climate change science is overwhelmingly accepted as truth; in Britain, for example, where 8l% of the populace wants the government to implement the Kyoto Treat. What's going on here? Simply that millions of American Christians accept the literal story of Genesis, and they either dismiss or distrust a lot of science - not only evolution, but paleontology, archeology, geology, genetics, even biology and botany…The Gilded Age has returned with a vengeance. Washington again is a spectacle of corruption. The promise of America has been subverted to crony capitalism, sleazy lobbyists, and an arrogance of power matched only by an arrogance of the present that acts as if there is no tomorrow…The powers-that-be would have us merely cover the news; our challenge is to uncover the news that they would keep hidden. A lot is riding on what we do. You may be the last group of journalists who make the effort to try to inform the rest of us about the most complex of issues involving the survival of life on earth.” (Bill Moyers Keynote Speech to the Society of Environmental Journalists Convention, 10-1-05, http://www.commondreams.org/views05/1007-21.htm)

Next Steps
Organizations that want to protect their reputations, operations, and assets, take the lives of their people seriously and value the environment that sustains us all must come to grips with a the full spectrum of threats, including global warming, terrorism, cyber crime, natural disasters, health emergencies, organized crime, etc.  Your organization does not have to be the target of a terrorist attack to suffer the loss of your corporate headquarters and sustain massive casualties; you just have to be in the same building as the target. Do you know where your offices are in relationship to likely terrorist targets? Have you made appropriate business continuity and crisis management plans?
The security implications of Global Warming  (i.e. radical climate change) will be sweeping, and they will fall upon your societies in surprising ways sooner than later. Have you done any study at all of how these radical climate changes will impact your organization or your personal life? They are already underway, and they are happening at a faster pace than had hitherto been projected.
All organizations, and all individuals, must take responsibility, e.g., perform their own risk analysis, implement their own security precautions and develop their own preparedness plans. Organizations can be of great help, not only by fulfilling their obligations to stockholders, customers, tax-payers, citizens, partners, allies, etc., but by enlightening and empowering their own people about how to cope with such threats, particularly global warming, in their personal lives.

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc.
You can reach Richard Power via e-mail: richardpower@wordsofpower.net.
For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net.