Friday, December 08, 2006
GS(3) Intel Brief 12-9-06: Updates on Chirac TV, the Great Game, Cetacean Rights, Zhang Yu, the Green Cross and More!
GS(3) Intelligence Briefing 12-9-06: Updates on Chirac TV, the Great Game, Cetacean Rights, Zhang Yu, the Green Cross and More!
Edited By Richard Power
Life on this planet is a Oneness. And although this Oneness is rich in bio-diversity and a myriad of human cultures, the truth of it is increasingly difficult to escape.
Looking out for the 21st Century health and evolution of this Oneness demands a bold, holistic approach to security and risk.
GS(3) Intelligence explores the interdependence of security, sustainability, and spirit.
This particular GS(3) intel briefing provide insights on important global issues and trends, including biosecurity, the concentration of wealth, the world news media, geopolitics and security in Central Asia, the world's worst violators of housing rights, lack of disaster preparedness in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the struggle to protect the whales and dolphins, cyber war, and sexual exploitation.
It consists of highlights from a collection of nine news stories and op-ed pieces from eight diverse and international sources: Der Speigel, Reuters Alternet, Asia Times, Inter Press Service, Common Dreams, Financial Times, the Independent and Federal Computer Week.
The items are organized by region, excerpted with links to the full text, and introduced with analytic overviews.
Customized analysis is provided for clients.
NOTE: Some issues, e.g., global warming and the crisis in Darfur, are areas of focus for Words of Power and are covered on an ongoing daily and weekly basis in Hard Rain Journal entries, etc. So you won't typically see them reflected in the bi-weekly intel briefing.
EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
As the US mainstream news media twists and turns, trying its best to avoid the full, bitter import of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) report, and George W. Bush and the shell-of-a-man-formerly-known-as-Tony-Blair prop each other up in petulant denial of the agonizing truth, the debut of France 24 is a welcome development. Along with the launch of Telesur in 2005 and English Al Jazeera earlier this year, France 24 will provide a healthy infusion of alternative perspectives to the Anglo-American lock on the influence warfare that is global TV news.
After years of promises, France is set to launch its own global news network on Wednesday with the start of France 24, a government-subsidized effort to put France in the "global battle of images" that is controlled by BBC World and CNN International.
"Our mission is to cover worldwide news with French eyes," CEO Alain de Pouzilhac told the Associated Press.
France24 will launch a trilingual Web site in French, English and Arabic on Wednesday night, followed by 24-hour broadcasts on its new satellite network a day later. The news operation has a budget of $114 million a year with 180 journalists set to produce the French and English channels. France 24 executives predict the channel will reach 75 million households in 90 countries.
The idea for a French presence on the international airwaves originated during the run-up to the Iraq war. Instead of taking a close look at France's opposition to the war, the international media -- so it seemed to Paris -- preferred to caricature Chirac and smear the French....CHIRAC TV: France Launches Global News Network, Der Spiegel, 12-6-06
Only the rights to food and water are more basic than the right to housing, and it is compelling to learn that one of the original thirteen members of the EU and one of the world's top oil producers are two of three worse violators of housing rights.
Rights activists on Tuesday accused Nigeria, the Philippines and Greece of being the world's worst violators of housing rights in 2006, guilty of mass evictions and discrimination.
The Centre on Human Rights and Evictions (COHRE), a non-governmental group, estimated nearly 2 million people in Africa and 2.1 million in the Asia Pacific region had been forcibly evicted from their homes since 2003, mostly to make way for land development projects.
"Although many governments continue to violate the right to adequate housing, in 2006 Nigeria, the Philippines and Greece stand out for appalling disregard for this basic human right," COHRE said in a statement.
It accused Nigeria of forcibly evicting 800,000 people from Abuja over the past three years, destroying 49 informal settlements, in a drive to reallocate land use in the capital....
In European Union member Greece, COHRE said Roma communities faced segregation, discrimination in accessing housing services and forced evictions by local authorities.
"The conditions in which these communities live are dehumanising and constitute a grave human rights violation by the government of Greece," the group said. Nigeria, Philippines, Greece slammed over housing, Reuters, 12-5-06
The 21st Century "Great Game" is a vital story-line that GS(3) Intelligence follows closely. Here is a fascinating update on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
Great-power competition in Central Asia ebbs and flows in a timeless and tireless fashion. Unlike in Europe and East Asia during the Cold War and after, the fault line for the current jockeying for position in Central Asia between Washington and Beijing is not easily discernible. Instead, fluidity, uncertainty, and even outright reversal of fortunes among the major players have been the norm....
Specifically, the United States pursues its security goals with largely unilateralist and military means. In contrast, China carefully plays its diplomatic, economic and cultural cards in multilateral and bilateral ways. In other words, Beijing's soft power faces off against Washington's hard power in the heartland of Eurasia. In recent years, the locus of this asymmetrical competition has been the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a new institution that Washington fears is a vehicle for Chinese power projection in the region....
To date, the SCO remains the world's only regional security mechanism without direct US participation....
As such, member states concentrate their efforts in areas where they can all agree and benefit, particularly on non-security issues. Nowadays the bulk of SCO activities are in the areas of trade, investment, finance, education and culture. Of the 10 coordinating mechanisms of the SCO, four belong to the categories of "low" politics (meetings of ministers of economy, transportation, etc), four for law and order, and only two really function at the level of "high" politics (defense and foreign affairs). And it is in the economic area that the SCO is fast expanding its interlocking mechanism. In 2003, the SCO set the goal of becoming a free-trade zone in the not-too-distant future.
China's economic influence permeates the SCO. In recent years, Beijing earmarked US$900 million in long-term, low-interest loans and grants for member-state infrastructural development and the training of 1,500 technicians from other SCO states....Yu Bin, The 'not an anti-American' bloc, Asia Times,
Having directed a global corporate response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, I was discouraged but not surprised to hear the Red Cross warning of the world's failure to meet the challenges of disaster preparedness and risk reductions. More lessons unlearned.
The world could see a replay of the massive death and destruction caused by the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami if it fails to spend more on disaster risk reduction, the Red Cross/Red Crescent said....
It called for a rise in annual disaster preparedness global spending to $1 billion, 10 percent of the amount spent on humanitarian aid. The figure is now around four percent.
Too often "when the first assessment of damage is done and the costing of reconstruction after an earthquake or some other disaster is done, risk reduction is not immediately factored in," Johan Schaar, federation special representative for the tsunami, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"What's most often done is simply rebuilding what was there, (but) if what was there constituted risk for people it has to change" to reduce chances of similar death and destruction in the future.
Risk reduction can range from educating people in first aid and what to do if disasters occur, to protecting coastlines from tsunamis and implementing earthquake-safe construction codes.
Aside from the potential lives to be saved, the federation estimates a dollar spent on prevention can save as much as $10 in reconstruction and rebuilding costs. Jerry Norton, RPT-INTERVIEW-World neglects tsunami risk lessons - Red Cross, Reuters, 11-27-06
We humans, as a species, are only one strand in the web of life; the Cetaceans, another ancient and sentient species, are another strand. What happens to each strand happens to the whole. What we do to them we do to ourselves. The geopolitical revolution underway in Latin America may surprise the world in many ways.
Opposition to commercial hunting of and lethal scientific research on whales and dolphins has brought together 12 Latin American countries, which have begun to discuss a future regional agreement for preservation, in opposition to the Japanese-led bloc of countries that defend hunting.
Civil society organisations fighting to protect whale species have been working "hand in hand" with government representatives with the aim of "overcoming the defeat" suffered by the conservationist bloc at the last International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting, held in St Kitts and Nevis in June, activist Roxana Schteinbarg told IPS.
Although the moratorium on whale hunting for commercial purposes adopted in the mid-1980s was left in place at the meeting, Japan obtained 50 percent plus one vote in favour of a declaration aimed at expanding hunting....
"It was an unprecedented meeting that brought together Latin America as a bloc in favour of the non-lethal use of cetaceans," said Schteinbarg, coordinator of Argentina's Whale Conservation Institute (ICB)....
Never before had a regional conservationist bloc met to counteract the pressure of countries in favour of whale hunting, especially Japan, Iceland and Norway....
"The conservationist countries agreed to begin negotiations for a Latin American agreement on the non-lethal use of cetaceans, and to forge ahead with the idea of creating a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic," said Argentine IWC commissioner Eduardo Iglesias. Marcela Valente, Latin America Unites to Defend Whales, Inter Press Service, 12-4-06
In the planetary struggle for bio-security and bio-safety, Green Cross International cites several vital actions that should be taken by the international community.
Over fifty experts, diplomats and representatives of international organizations participated in a day-long roundtable discussion on global biosecurity and biosafety issues – sometimes called “bio-risk management” – at the Palais des Nations in Geneva....Organized by Green Cross International and three of its national affiliates in the United States (Global Green USA), Switzerland (Green Cross Switzerland), and Russia (Green Cross Russia), the conference was hosted by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament Tim Caughley...
Although over three-quarters of the world’s nations have now joined the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) banning the use of biological pathogens as weapons, participants agreed that bio-threats still exist in several potential and serious forms: naturally occurring diseases, illicit, secret state weapons programs (including possibly those described as “defensive” military research efforts), intentional use by non-state actors and terror organizations, and biotechnology laboratory accidents....experts and diplomats urged States Parties to the BTWC to utilize the 6th Review Conference as an “important opportunity for the international community” to take several important steps:
• To universalize the Convention, i.e. encourage non-signatories to join.
• To address recent scientific and technological developments in the biotech area in order to help implement a more comprehensive biosecurity regime.
• To confront the threat of bioterrorism by addressing the security of biological pathogen collections and research laboratories globally, including international trade.
• To develop a cooperative synergy amongst States Parties and non-governmental organizations in order to help establish a more effective global network.
• To make progress in holding States Parties accountable by passing national implementation criteria.
All participants recognized the need for the BTWC to take non-state actors fully into account, since this may be the most important threat, in addition to laboratory accidents and naturally occurring disease outbreaks, in the 21st century....Green Cross International and Affiliates Organize Roundtable on Developing a Comprehensive Global Biosecurity Regime, Experts Urge States Parties to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention to Utilize the 6th Review Conference to Take Several Important Steps to Reduce 21st Century Threats of Disease Outbreaks, Biological Accidents, and Bioterrorism, Common Dreams, 11-29-06
The gap between richest 2% of humanity, which owns 50% of the world's assets, and the poorest half, which owns only 1%, is not only unconscionable, it is short-sighted, reckless and unsustainable. The Millennium Goals should be on the lips of every planetary citizen, and yet most people in the USA do not even know of their existence, let alone what they constitute. It is a failure of leadership -- across the board -- government, media and business.
Personal wealth is distributed so unevenly across the world that the richest two per cent of adults own more than 50 per cent of the world’s assets while the poorest half hold only 1 per cent of wealth....
Almost 90 per cent of the world’s wealth is held in North America, Europe and high-income Asian and Pacific countries, such as Japan and Australia.
While North America has 6 per cent of the world’s adult population, it accounts for 34 per cent of household wealth.
The concentration of wealth in different countries varies considerably, with the top 10 per cent in the US holding 70 per cent of the country’s wealth, compared with 61 per cent in France, 56 per cent in the UK, 44 per cent in Germany and 39 per cent in Japan. Chris Giles, Richest 2% Hold Half the World’s Assets, Financial Times, 12-6-06
In the USA, cyber security continues to be under-valued, under-funded, misunderstood and misappropriated. Clearly, it is not so for the USA's greatest geopolitical and economic challenger.
Computer and e-mail systems are off-line at the Naval War College following a network intrusion Nov. 15. According to news reports, hackers in China attacked the Web site of the college, which trains senior Navy officers and develops cyberspace strategies....DOD has removed the college’s systems from the Global Information Grid so investigators can recover from the intrusion and upgrade firewalls, he said, adding that the Naval War College is not part of the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. One professor reportedly told his class that Chinese hackers took down the entire college network. There is no official confirmation that the attacks on the college’s networks came from China....
China may pose only a potential military threat, but the cyberwar is on, said Larry Wortzel, chairman of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Commission. Cyberattacks against U.S. targets from China are frequent and sometimes damaging.
It’s difficult to pinpoint which Chinese organization is responsible for an attack, and Chinese servers may be used to launch attacks from other countries, Wortzel said. But the Chinese government employs 39,000 full-time Internet police. “If the government wanted to find hackers, they could do it, and they haven’t,” he said.
In many cases, the attacks seem targeted at U.S. systems that have a particular bearing on China. Commerce officials have confirmed that the attacks on Commerce came from Chinese servers. And although the Navy is not yet confirming that the attack on the war college came from China, the college recently opened a China study center to look at the strategic implications of China’s military build-up, Wortzel said.
The Defense Department has determined that the Chinese government is responsible for some of the recent attacks on DOD networks, Wortzel said. The People’s Liberation Army operates its own engineering and electronic warfare schools, and each military region has electronic warfare regiments, he said.
According to a commission report, the PLA has gone from defending its own computer networks to attacking those of its adversaries, limiting their ability to obtain and process information. Josh Rogin, China is suspected of hacking into Navy site, Naval War College systems off-line following network intrusion, Federal Computer Week, 12-4-06
Zhang Yu says she is going to exploit her "open shamelessness" to expose "hidden shamelessness." This remarkable story raises several issues. It highlights the extraordinary power of the Internet, both for whistleblowers and character assassins. It also begs the question how long will it be before scions of Hollywood or Bollywood are hit by their own Zhang Yu? But perhaps the most important issue is that although one of the videos was viewed over 300,000 times in the first twelve hours after it was posted, you can't find it anywhere on the WWW anymore. Is there more to Google's deal with China than simply enabling the Chinese censors to block their own internal web surfers from external content deemed inappropriate or dangerous to the state?
When the aspiring actress Zhang Yu decided she wanted to blow the whistle on some of China's top TV and film-makers - those who have demanded sex in return for roles in their soap operas and movies - she chose the internet to make her case. Zhang says she won all her roles through sleeping with the directors, assistant directors or men in charge of casting. She also made films herself - of the casting couch sessions. Then she rocked the film and TV world by releasing 20 graphic sex videos of her and a host of big names.
The videos are an insight into how China's casting couch works and millions of Chinese have logged on to the websites, prompting a debate over what is justifiable content on the Web.
"Why should a woman suffer in silence and bear with all the unfair treatment?" Zhang asks in her blog. "If you have to mix with beasts and snakes and you are not venomous, how shall you survive?"
...Zhang, 30, comes from a poor farming community in Hubei province, and insists the reason she is exposing the Chinese casting couch is because she wants to uncover what is referred to as the industry's "hidden rule", and thus challenge the powers-that-be who exploit young women....
Zhang is now reportedly writing an autobiography called Days in Showbiz. There are a quite a few worried people around. Clifford Coonan, Chinese actress uses Web to expose the 'rule' of sex-for-roles, Independent (UK), 12-1-06
Five Most Recent GS(3) Intelligence Briefings:
GS(3) Intel Briefing 11-24-06: Updates on Open Society, Geopolitics, Energy Security, Human Rights, Alternative News Media and More!
GS(3) Intel Brief 10-13-06: Updates on Energy Security, Environmental Security, Gangster States, Geopolitics, Human Rights and Corporate Espionage
GS(3) Intel Brief 9-5-06: Resource-Rich Norway as Ethical Model, Over-Population in Uganda, Chinese Eco-Cities, Australian Water Woes, & More!
GS(3) Intel Brief 8-20-06: Climate Change, the Great Game, Cyber War & Corruption from China, Bosnia, Brazil, Ethiopia, Iberia, US & Pipelinistan
GS(3) Intelligence Briefing 8-6-06: Polish Econ Hit By Climate Change, Niger Plants Trees, France Prosecutes Le Pen, Cybercrime in Australia, & More!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net
COHRE, Red Cross, US Naval War College, SCO, World Institute for Development Economics Research, Housing, Nigeria, Greece, Central Asia, Bio-Security, Disaster Preparedness, Tsunami, Geopolitics, Green Cross, Energy Security, France 24, Chirac TV, Cyber War, Cybercrime, China, Whales, Zhang Yu, Google, Millennium Goals