Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio, who spent over four years in prison for insider trading, now says his conviction was based on his company’s refusal to cooperate with NSA requests to spy on its customers.
Nacchio says he feels “vindicated” by ongoing revelations provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the NSA does, in fact, access massive amounts of metadata and communications information of both foreigners and Americans.
Nacchio told The Wall Street Journal that the NSA set up a meeting with him in February 2001 wherein he believed they would discuss potential government contracts. But he says the NSA instead asked him for permission to surveil Qwest customers.
He says he refused to cooperate based on advice from his lawyers that such an action would be illegal, as the NSA would not go through the normal process of asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for a subpoena. About this time, he says the company’s ability to win unrelated government contracts – something it did not have trouble with before the NSA meeting – slowed significantly.
It took until 2007 before Nacchio was convicted of insider trading. Prosecutors claim he was guilty of selling off Qwest stock in early 2001, not long before the company went through financial ills. Nevertheless, he claimed in court documents that he was still confident in the firm’s ability to win government contracts.
Nacchio believes his conviction was in retaliation for his refusal to play ball with legally dubious NSA spying requests.
“I never broke the law, and I never will,” Nacchio told the WSJ.
His version of events matches reporting by USA Today in 2006, in which the paper noted that Qwest was the lone holdout from the government’s warrantless surveillance operations and that defiance “might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government.”
Yet despite his efforts, Nacchio was barred from using any evidence of potential retaliation in his defense, given that the material was considered classified, and his judge refused requests to allow the evidence in trial. Reports from The Washington Post on evidence that has been made public on his case since that time seem consistent with the CEO’s claims.
As a result of his likely hobbled defense, Nacchio was indicted by federal prosecutors and served four-and-a half years in federal prisons before being released in late September.
The NSA has declined to comment on Nacchio, according to the WSJ and The Washington Post.
While spying operations disclosed by Snowden have had some level of legal backing, President George W. Bush’s wiretapping program did not. Thus, telecom companies that cooperated with the program were eventually given immunity for their compliance in 2008.
- Don’t Refuse the Nsa or You’ll Sleep With the Fishes (theburningplatform.com)
- Telco exec who resisted NSA Joe Nacchio released after four years in jail (blacklistednews.com)
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told the 68th session of the UN General Assembly that Iran must dismantle its entire nuclear program, repeating his baseless accusation that Tehran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
“Iran wants to be in a position to rush forward to build nuclear bombs before the international community can detect it and much less prevent it,” Netanyahu said in an address to the 68th annual session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.
“Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone,” he claimed.
Netanyahu added that a “nuclear-armed” Iran would be a threat to Israel’s future and called on the international community to keep up pressure on Tehran through sanctions.
Netanyahu’s salvo of threats and accusations against Iran comes as Tehran has categorically rejected allegations leveled by the US, Israel and some of their allies against its nuclear energy program, arguing that its nuclear energy program is only for peaceful purposes.
In a meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington on Monday, Netanyahu claimed credible military threat and sanctions have brought Iran to the negotiating table.
He called on Obama to tighten economic sanctions on Iran if it continues its nuclear advances during a coming round of talks with the West, saying, “Those pressures must be kept in place.”
Israel is widely believed to be the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, with estimated 200-400 nuclear warheads.
The Israeli regime rejects all regulatory international nuclear agreements, particularly the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and refuses to allow its nuclear facilities to come under international regulatory inspections.
Iran’s new foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared on ABC‘s “This Week” and addressed a number of the same questions every Iranian official is asked again and again in interviews by the American media.
George Stephanopoulos, who effectively conducted the same interview with former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad three years in a row, asked Zarif about possible concessions Iran is willing to make over its nuclear program. By doing so, however, he revealed that he knows very little about Iran’s domestic enrichment program and the consistent findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
In response to Zarif’s comment that, for negotiations to be successful, Iran’s inalienable right to enrich uranium be recognized and sanctions begin to be lifted, Stephanopoulos countered, “I understand that’s your demand. But in return, is Iran prepared to stop enriching uranium at the levels they are now enriching it?”
Iran, under strict IAEA safeguards, round-the-clock surveillance and regular intrusive inspection, is currently enriching UF6 (uranium hexafluoride feedstock) to between 3.5% and 5% U-235 for use as fuel in nuclear power plants and to just under 20% U-235 for use in medical research reactors. Both 5% and 20% enriched uranium are considered “low-enriched uranium” (LEU). Neither of these enrichment levels are close to the minimum of 90% U-235, or high-enriched uranium (HEU), needed to produce nuclear bombs.
Not only this, but Iran has been systematically converting its roughly 20% LEU into U3O8 (triuranium octoxide) metallic fuel plates for its research reactor, thus precluding the material’s further enrichment to weapons-grade and decreasing its accumulating stockpile, thus deliberately reducing the potential threat of proliferation. Nuclear physicist Yousaf Butt has explained, “This conversion essentially freezes the enrichment level and subtracts from the ‘enrichable’ gaseous stockpile used in centrifuges. It is not something that a nation hell-bent on weaponization would do.”
Yet, as Stephanopoulos’ interview with Zarif continued, it became increasingly clear the ABC host thinks it is.
When Zarif noted that, while “various aspects of Iranian’s enrichment program” are open to negotiation, Iran’s “right to enrich is nonnegotiable,” Stephanopoulos replied, “But you don’t need to enrich above 20 percent, which is only used for military purposes.”
Zarif explained, “We do not need military-grade uranium. That’s a certainty and we will not move in that direction.”
Stephanopoulos, after asking if Iran would ever allow “surprise inspections” of its nuclear facilities – something Iran already does – was told forthrightly by Zarif that Iran has absolutely no interest in producing nuclear weapons.
“We’re not seeking nuclear weapons… We don’t want nuclear weapons,” the Iranian Foreign Minister said, echoing decades of official Iranian policy. “We believe nuclear weapons are detrimental to our security. We believe those who have the illusion that nuclear weapons provide them with security are badly mistaken. We need to have a region and a world free from nuclear weapons.”
What was Stephanopoulos’ response? This:
“But if you don’t want nuclear weapons why enrich uranium to the levels you’re enriching uranium?,” he wondered.
Again, Iran is not enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels, so Stephanopoulos’ question makes no sense. Next time, perhaps, he’ll ask one of the hundreds of thousands of Iranians suffering from cancer why they think their government is enriching uranium to the levels it does.
With media personalities like Stephanopoulos, it is no wonder that the American public remains misinformed and mislead on basic facts about Iran’s nuclear program.
There is just one of two scenarios that can be deduced from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s obsessive stance on Iran: he either genuinely believes that Iran wants to build a nuclear weapon specifically to launch at Israel or he has some ulterior motive for wanting the US to attack Iran.
An examination of the two scenarios makes it clear that of the two, the second is far more plausible.
For decades Netanyahu, his political supporters in Israel and their neoconservative supporters in the US and elsewhere around the world have insisted that Iran has a nuclear weapons program and that it is only ‘months away’ from being able to build a bomb. Furthermore, not only do they insist that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, but also that once Iran has the bomb, they will use it against Israel.
Despite their insistence, however, various US National Intelligence Estimates failed to confirm their belief that Iran was on the way to building a bomb. Indeed, not one skerrick of hard evidence has ever been produced to categorically confirm that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. But that didn’t stop the Israelis and their neoconservative supporters from continuing their propaganda about Iran’s ‘nuclear program’.
Nowhere in their propaganda is their any attempt to provide a rationale for their paranoia other than to claim – quite erroneously – that ex-Iranian president Ahmadinejad wanted to somehow ‘wipe Israel off the map’. Nor is there any explanation as to how exactly Iran would launch a nuclear attack against Israel given Israel’s proximity to Arab land and the fact that 20% of Israel’s population are the very Arabs that Iran is supporting. Ignored entirely by the Israeli Zionists and their supporters is how they thought Iran might avoid a retaliatory nuclear strike launched by a nuclear armed Israel and/or by their allies, most of whom also bristle with nuclear arms. In short, none of their claims and arguments supporting their claims has any basis in reality or even logic.
One can only conclude then that there is some ulterior motive behind their vehement insistence that Iran be attacked. Regular readers know already what that motive is; others may find it here.
Later today Netanyahu will address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Undoubtedly, his main topic is going to be Iran and it’s supposed ‘nuclear weapons program’ with an emphasis on how the new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani is trying to pull the wool over the West’s eyes about Iran’s nuclear program.
Netanyahu has already had private talks with President Obama and Obama has already reassured Netanyahu that all options, including the military option, remain on the table. What Netanyahu says in his upcoming speech to the UNGA may provide some insight as to how he is likely to progress to his ultimate goal of a final confrontation with Iran.
- Netanyahu urges Obama to keep sanctions in place on Iran – Reuters (reuters.com)
- Israel’s Netanyahu warns White House about Iran (news.yahoo.com)
As the United States and Iran carefully embark on a renewed push for diplomacy, including direct contact between the presidents of each country for the first time in 34 years, the mainstream media continues to stymie any chance for an honest assessment of Iran’s nuclear program, engaging instead in the misinformation, misrepresentation and misleading reporting that has long characterized coverage of the issue.
In just the past month alone, numerous networks, newspapers and websites have referred, both implicitly and overtly, to an Iranian “nuclear weapons program,” despite the fact that, for years now, United States intelligence community and its allies have long assessed that Iran is not and never has been in possession of nuclear weapons, is not building nuclear weapons, and its leadership has not made any decision to build nuclear weapons. Iran’s uranium enrichment program is fully safeguarded by the IAEA and no nuclear material has ever been diverted to a military program. Iranian officials have consistently maintained they will never pursue such weapons on religious, strategic, political, moral and legal grounds.
The August 27, 2013 broadcast of NPR‘ “All Things Considered,” featured correspondent Mara Liasson claiming that the tragic civil war in Syria is “a proxy war” and that “Iran, who is developing its own weapons of mass destruction, is currently backing the Syrian regime, and it is watching very carefully to see what the U.S. does.”
The same day, an editorial in USA Today similarly advocated the U.S. bombing of Syria, stating that it “would demolish U.S. credibility” were Obama not to order a campaign of airstrikes, “not just in Syria but also in Iran, which continues to pursue nuclear weapons despite repeated U.S. warnings.”
Neither Liasson, who has a history of getting things wrong about Iran, nor the editors of USA Today were being honest with their audience, presenting what are hysterical allegations unsupported by any evidence as fact.
In a TIME magazine article published online at the end of August, Michael Crowley wrote, “If another round of negotiations with Tehran should fail, Obama may soon be obliged to make good on his vow to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”
New York Times staff writer Robert Worth assessed the Obama administration’s push for bombing Syria on September 3, explaining, “If the United States does not enforce its self-imposed “red line” on Syria’s use of chemical weapons… Iran will smell weakness and press ahead more boldly in its quest for nuclear weapons.”
On September 4, the website Foreign Policy posted a shrill piece of propaganda in which former AIPAC official and accused Israeli spy Steven Rosen claimed that not bombing Syria “would certainly undermine the campaign to prevent Iran from completing its nuclear weapons program.”
On September 5, Politico revealed that “some 250 Jewish leaders and AIPAC activists will storm the halls on Capitol Hill beginning next week to persuade lawmakers that Congress must adopt the resolution or risk emboldening Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon. They are expected to lobby virtually every member of Congress, arguing that “barbarism” by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated, and that failing to act would “send a message” to Tehran that the U.S. won’t stand up to hostile countries’ efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, according to a source with the group.”
On September 6, Peter Baker wrote in the New York Times that stepping back from a military assault on Syria would signal a lack of willingness on the part of Obama to counter the nonexistent “the development of a nuclear bomb by Iran.”
On September 10, the Washington Post reported uncritically on the same story, identifying AIPAC’s position that there exists “a direct connection between the Syria crisis and Iran’s effort to get nuclear weapons.” The Post quoted an unnamed AIPAC official as warning of grave consequences were the United States not to bomb Syria, noting that “it will send the wrong message to Tehran about their effort to obtain unconventional weapons.”
The Post was back at it on September 15, stating in an article that “Israel’s security establishment fears that a failure to punish Syria for its use of chemical weapons could encourage Tehran, Syria’s ally, to continue to enrich uranium for a bomb.”
When this erroneous conclusion was brought to the attention of Patrick Pexton, Washington Post‘s former ombudsman, he agreed that the “should be corrected,” as no government, agency or organization on the planet has ever claimed Iran is enriching uranium “for a bomb.”
Editors for the Times and Foreign Policy allowed those statements to be published. Neither Politico nor the Post challenged these absurd presumptions.
USA Today published another misleading article on September 22, which stated that President Obama is “trying to take advantage of a diplomatic opening–created by the installation of a new, more moderate president in Iran–to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear weapons program.”
Peter Hart of the media watchdog organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) caught this bit of misinformation and added that the USA Today editing staff are “not the only ones who should consider clarifying the record.” He quotes CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer smugly opining on September 22, “Rouhani says that Iran does not want and is not pursuing a nuclear weapon. Does anybody take that at face value?“
Actually, the burden of proof should be the other way around: Politicians who claim that Iran has such a program should have to prove it. Schieffer obviously doesn’t see the world that way. He’s interviewed people like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and failed to challenge their claims about Iran’s weapons. Indeed, Schieffer presented them as facts, telling viewers about Iran’s “continuing effort to build a nuclear weapon” (FAIR Blog, 7/15/13).
Even more alarming, though, was a claim from NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, which opened his Friday evening broadcast on September 27. Speaking of the surprising telephone conversation between Presidents Obama and Rouhani, Williams said, “This is all part of a new leadership effort by Iran - suddenly claiming they don’t want nuclear weapons! - what they want is talks and transparency and good will. And while that would be enough to define a whole new era, skepticism is high and there’s a good reason for it.”
Really, Brian? Suddenly? In truth, the Iranian government has constantly reiterated its wholesale condemnation of nuclear weapons and refusal to ever acquire them – for over twenty years. Apparently the host of what is often the most-watched evening newscast in the country believes pretending the statements by Rouhani represent a sea change in Iranian policy, rather than undeniable consistency, is good for ratings.
There is literally no way Brian Williams believes this is breaking news unless he has both short-term and long-term memory loss. Why not? He himself has reported on Iran’s repudiation of nuclear weapons for years now.
On September 19, 2006, Williams asked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to respond to what he deemed the U.S. government position that Iran “[s]top enriching uranium toward weapons,” which made now sense in the first place since no one on the planet – including the United States – had ever claimed Iran was enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels.
Ahmadinejad replied, “We have said on numerous occasions that our activities are for peaceful purposes… Did Iran build the atomic bomb and use it? You must know that, because of our beliefs and our religion, we’re against such acts. We are against the atomic bomb.”
Williams interviewed Ahmadinejad again in late July 2008 and asked the Iranian president, “Is Iran’s goal to have nuclear power or to be a nuclear power in the sense of possessing weapons?”
Ahmadinejad again was clear: “We are not working to manufacture a bomb. We don’t believe in a nuclear bomb… Nuclear energy must not be equaled to a nuclear bomb… A bomb, obviously, is a very bad thing. Nobody should have such a bomb.”
Nevertheless, as The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald puts it, “NBC News feels free to spout such plainly false propaganda – ‘suddenly claiming they don’t want nuclear weapons!’ – because they know they and fellow large media outlets have done such an effective job in keeping their viewers ignorant of these facts. They thus believe that they can sow doubts about Iran’s intentions with little danger that their deceit will be discovered.”
Despite the increasingly rapid pace of renewed Iranian and American communication and cooperation, the media’s misinformation campaign against Iran has yet to slow down. The journalists, editors, analysts and anchors who traffic in dishonest reporting should be held accountable.
Media researchers Jonas Siegel and Saranaz Barforoush recently wrote in the Cairo Review of Global Affairs:
If the goal of news media is to act in the public interest, to hold public officials accountable, and to permit an informed public to play a constructive role in the foreign policy decisions made by their governments—in their name—then journalists ought to consider more carefully how they go about framing the facts and assessments that animate complex policy issues such as Iran’s nuclear program and how the international community could and should respond. Without considering these fundamental characteristics more carefully and reflecting a broader spectrum of viewpoints and policy possibilities in their coverage, they are liable to repeat the mistakes that contributed to disastrous policy choices in the past.
- What is Kerry actually negotiating with Iran? (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The hypothesis for a single, simple, scientific explanation underlying the entire complex social phenomenon of CAGW.
Whatever is happening in the great outdoors regarding actual climate, inside the minds of men overwhelming evidence indicates that Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is a self-sustaining narrative that is living off our mental capacity, either in symbiosis or as an outright cultural parasite; a narrative that is very distanced from physical real-world events. The social phenomenon of CAGW possesses all the characteristics of a grand memetic alliance, like numerous similar structures before it stretching back beyond the reach of historic records, and no doubt many more cultural creatures that have yet to birth.
Having painted a picture CAGW from a memetic perspective in fiction last December [link], I realized that many people instinctively sense the memetic characteristics of CAGW, and typically express this in blogs or articles as relatively casual comments that cite memes or religion. Yet these folks appear to have no real knowledge of how truly meaningful and fundamental their observations are. Hence I have written a comprehensive essay which attempts to fill in this knowledge gap, and indeed proposes that the entire complex social phenomenon of CAGW is dominated by memetic action, i.e. CAGW is a memeplex.
Note: a ‘meme’ is a minimal cultural entity that is subject to selective pressures during replication between human minds, its main medium. A meme can be thought of as the cultural equivalent to a gene in biology; examples are a speech, a piece of writing (‘narratives’), a tune or a fashion. A memeplex is a co-adapted group of memes that replicate together and reinforce each other’s survival; cultural or political doctrines and systems, for instance a religion, are major alliances of self-replicating and co-evolving memes. Memetics101: memeplexes do not only find shelter in the mind of a new host, but they will change the perceptions and life of their new host.
Because the memetic explanation for CAGW rests upon social and evolutionary fundamentals (e.g. the differential selection of self-replicating narratives, narrative alliances, the penetration of memes into the psyche causing secondary phenomena like motivated reasoning, noble cause corruption and confirmation bias etc.) it is not dependent upon politics or philosophies of any stripe, which tend to strongly color most ‘explanations’ and typically rob them of objectivity. Critically, a memetic explanation also does not depend on anything happening in the climate (for better or for worse). CO2 worry acted as a catalyst only; sufficient real-world uncertainties at the outset (and indeed still) provided the degree of freedom that let a particular ‘ability’ of memeplexes take hold. That ability is to manipulate perceptions (e.g. of real-world uncertainty itself), values, and even morals, which means among other things that once birthed the CAGW memeplex rapidly insulated itself from actual climate events.
Homo Sapiens have likely co-evolved with memeplexes essentially forever (Blackmore), therefore they are a fundamental part of us, and indeed no characteristic of CAGW appears to be in the slightest bit new, quite the contrary. Underlining this ancient origin, one class of memeplexes folks are familiar with is: ‘all religions’. Yet these fuzzy structures are by no means limited to religion; science has triggered memetic themes before and extreme politics frequently does so, and there have even been historic memeplexes centered on climate. This does not mean CAGW is precisely like a religion, but being similarly powered by self-replicating narratives creates the comparable characteristics that many have commented upon.
Using a great deal of circumstantial evidence from the climate blogosphere and support from various knowledge domains: neuroscience, (economic) game theory, law, corporate behavior, philosophy, biological evolution and of course memetics etc., the essay maps the primary characteristics of CAGW onto the expected behavior for a major memeplex, finding conformance. Along the way, contemporary and historic memeplexes (mainly religious) are explored as comparisons. The essay is long, book-sized, because the subject matter is large. I guess an essay describing all of climate science would be very long, so one exploring the entire memetic characteristics of CAGW plus I hope enough context for readers to make sense of that, is similarly so.
The context is extremely broad, ranging from why pyramid building evolved in Egypt to a passionate cry against kings, priests, and tyranny in a radical women’s journal of the early nineteenth century. From the impact of memeplexes on the modern judicial system courtesy of Duke Law, to the ancient purpose of story-telling and contemporary attempts to subvert this, along with a plot analysis of the film Avatar. From the long and curious tale of an incarnation of ‘the past is always better’ meme currently rampant on the internet, to the evolutionary selection of fuzzy populations in biology and the frankenplex multi-element cultural creature that is CAGW. From the conflict related death-rates in primitive tribes versus modern states, to analysis of corporate social responsibilities after the Enron and banking sector crises. From memetic chain letters that stretch back to the hieroglyphs (Letters from Heaven), to the analysis of social cross-coalitions via game theory within the perspective of economics. From the concept of ‘the Social Mind’ courtesy of neuro-scientist Michael Gazzaniga, to pressure upon religions by aggressive atheism as promoted by Richard Dawkins. From modification of theistic memes in the Old to the New Testament, to notions of Gaia and telegraph wires and wing-nuts. Plus memetic sex, witchcraft, cults, Cathars, concepts of salvation, Communism, hi-jacking altruism, Lynsenkoism, lichen, psychologizers, National Socialism, de-darwinisation, that ugly term ‘denier’, and much more.
The reason for this huge breadth and depth is that memeplexes are deeply integrated into both our psyche and our societies; this level of vision and historical context is necessary to uncover the entities, to identify their actions with as much distancing from what remains of ‘ourselves’ as can be achieved.
In counter-weight to this very broad context, the essay is richly laced throughout with quotes from many of the main players and commenters in the climate blogosphere (plus from newspapers and other publications too), much of which will be pretty familiar to followers of the climate debate. These quotes cover luke-warmers, skeptics and Consensus folks, plus politicians, philosophers, psychologists and others as regards their views on CAGW, yet all are chosen and brought together for their focus on the memetic aspects of the phenomenon. There are also plenty of deeper topics specific to the sociological aspects of CAGW that most denizens of the climate blogosphere will recognize and can get their teeth into, some contentious. For instance, a look at Richard Dawkins’ immersion within a rampant memeplex (while this would seem to be both controversial and ironic, when one realizes that we’re all immersed to some extent in several memeplexes, irony tends to morph to introspection). A brief view of a different Stephan Lewandowski paper (i.e. NOT either of the ‘conspiracy ideation’ ones) in which he highlights the very type of inbuilt cultural bias that has then led him blindly to produce those very challenged and troubled works! An exposé of memetically induced cultural bias in a recent paper on ‘Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change’, that in my opinion undermines the objectivity of the work and robs the conclusions of any real meaning. A very interesting take on Mike Hulme’s stance as revealed by the memetic perspective. A glimpse of the ‘shall-we shan’t-we dance’ tentative cross-coalition between the Christian and CAGW memeplexes. The constant references to grandchildren within CAGW advocacy texts. Both the laudable and the lurking memetic content in philosopher Pascal Bruckner’s essay ‘Against Environmental Panic’. Numerous views of sociological comment by atmospheric scientist Judith Curry or at her blog Climate Etc from a memetic perspective. Plus a delve into one of pointman’s very interesting climate related essays, strong language and classic climate quotes explained via memetics, and more…
While CAGW skeptics might at first blush celebrate the possibility of a single, non-climate related, non-partisan, science-based theory that explains the whole complex range of CAGW’s social characteristics, acceptance of this theory also requires acceptance of a couple of pretty uncomfortable truths, and the ditching of at least one touchstone used by many (but by no means all) climate change skeptics. These issues are all expounded in the essay, but I summarize here:
- Acceptance of the memeplex explanation requires us to rethink what ‘self’ means, and how our opinions, perceptions, and even morals are formed and maintained, with an implication that our ‘self’ is much more about the societal groups we’re immersed in than about what’s intrinsically inside our heads. The fact that we don’t really ‘own’ ourselves, is challenging.
- Acceptance of the memeplex explanation requires a rejection of the ‘scam’ or ‘hoax’ theory as a root cause of the CAGW phenomenon, and as a primary motivator for the vast majority of CAGW ‘adherents’. (Note this does not rule out the fact that scams / hoaxes and other negative social phenomena may be attached to the memeplex as secondary structures – this is in fact common for major memeplexes). The essay spends quite some length saying why this is so.
- Whatever downsides are observed to stem from the social phenomenon of CAGW, memeplexes in general often contribute major net advantages to their host societies, sometimes very major. The balance between positive and negative aspects of a major memeplex are not easy to determine except long in retrospect and with access to the ‘big picture’ (all attributes and all impacts across all of society). Hence we cannot yet know the balance of this equation for CAGW. The positive aspects are not typically intuitive.
- As already mentioned, the memetic explanation is virtually independent of actual climate events. Hence dangerous climate scenarios are not ruled out. It simply means that no scenarios are ruled out, from the very dangerous to the utterly benign, and it is very much in the memeplex’s interests to keep the situation that way. Memeplexes wallow in uncertainty and confusion.
Many commenters in the climate blogosphere have written to the effect that: ‘it isn’t and never was about the science’. I happen to agree, very little of the CAGW phenomenon is about the science. The memetic perspective reveals why this is; not in terms of political or financial motivations but in the objective terms of the underlying social mechanisms, which are independent of (and enable) all such motivations.
Despite the essay’s length, I hope you will take the journey to acquiring a memetic perspective. Here [ memeplex summary ] is a very distilled summary of each section of the essay below this text, with a list of references, in which a few regular contributors might find their names. Please note that the work is not a ‘paper’, containing no proofs or supporting mathematics, excepting a couple of references to Game Theory and the Price Equation. And merely for convenience, I have written as though the memeplex hypothesis is true, i.e. that CAGW is a memeplex and that this characteristic dominates the social effects. It is just extremely cumbersome throughout hundreds of references to make them all conditional – so I haven’t. Yet by no means does that mean the hypothesis is true, or at least wholly true in the sense that the memetic effects are dominant. Readers must form their own opinions regarding that, no doubt which opinions will be colored by the memeplexes they’re already immersed in J. I think most folks will find it an interesting and enjoyable ride though. The complete essay is here [link]: (Note: this Post text doubles as the essay Foreword, so you can skip that).
P.S. while I intend to issue further Revs of the essay with some extensions plus feedback / corrections applied, in practice this may only happen on a very long timescale, or possibly not at all as my time is extremely pressured. Please keep an eye on www.wearenarrative.wordpress.com for any up-Revs or additional information. Note: the novella Truth from the WUWT post above is now available (free) at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/273983 or within the anthology ‘Engines of Life’ also at Smashwords here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/334834, or at Amazon here.
Photo credit – alarabiya.net
Suspected Jewish extremists slashed the tires of five Palestinian-owned cars in Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem overnight, a police spokeswoman and local media said on Tuesday.
Separately in the occupied West Bank village of Burin, near Nablus, Israeli settlers set fire to a car, Ma’an news agency cited a Palestinian Authority official as saying.
“Five vehicles were vandalized close to the Old City at the entrance to the Silwan neighborhood, and the slogan ‘price tag’ written on a wall nearby,” spokeswoman Luba Samri said.
Initially carried out against Palestinians in “retaliation” for their filing lawsuits against Israel to reclaim stolen land occupied by settlers, price tag attacks have become a much broader phenomenon with racist and xenophobic overtones.
And in the northern West Bank, Ma’an reported that settlers from the illegal Yizhar outpost torched a car belonging to a Palestinian man at the entrance of the northern West Bank village of Burin, according to official Ghassan Daghlas who documents settler crimes.
Tuesday’s attacks come two days after police caught four Israelis red-handed as they destroyed Christian tombstones in a Palestinian cemetery in Jerusalem cemetery.
I am an invisible man. My name is unknown. My loves are a mystery. But an unmanned aerial vehicle from a secret location has come for me. – Teju Cole, Nigerian-American writer, from his Seven Short Stories about Drones
Just before noon on October 30 2011, a CIA drone attacked a vehicle near Datta Khel in Pakistan’s tribal northwest. At least four people were reported to have been killed and two injured. Pakistani intelligence officials said the dead men were militants. But local villagers disagreed. They said the dead men were ‘peaceful tribesmen’. They even named one of them: Saeedur Rahman, described as a local chromite dealer.
Five months later, in March 2012, journalists from the New York Times spoke with a 64-year-old farmer called Noor Magul. He said three of the men killed in the strike were relatives of his. He named them as Khastar Gul, Mamrud Khan and Noorzal Khan, and all three, he claimed, were not militants but worked in a local chromite mine.
This is just one of more than 370 drone strikes to hit Pakistan’s Afghan border region in the past nine years. More than 2,500 people have reportedly died in these strikes, including at least 400 civilians.
What makes Saeedur Rahman and his fellow passengers unusual is that they have been identified by name.
Although the US government claims drones are highly precise and target ‘high-value’ terrorists, including members of al Qaeda and affiliated organisations, it is only in exceptional circumstances that the administration will acknowledge responsibility for a particular strike – let alone admit to killing a specific person.
At the same time, reporting from the tribal regions is challenging. These are remote lands, largely out of bounds to foreign reporters, and even local journalists can face threats from the militant groups that control swathes of the area. Because of this, news reports can be vague and often lack details.
Tracking the drones
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has been tracking drone strikes in Pakistan for more than two years. We have combed through thousands of credible press reports, as well as court documents and field studies. Our search has revealed that these reports identify fewer than 570 of the dead by name. This is little over one in five of those who have been clearly reported as killed. Of these, 295 are classed as civilians in the reports.
On the occasions when civilians are identified it is often only by a single name, as is common in this area. Just over 200 people, representing more than a third of those named, are identified in this way. Where full names have been reported, they have usually been supplied to journalists by local village elders or field researchers. But further details about the person killed are often in short supply.
With such limited information, it is impossible to definitively chronicle who is being killed.
‘In armed conflict, it is not necessary for an armed force to know the individual identities of those they are killing, but they must determine whether those persons are in fact combatants or fighters,’ says Professor Sarah Knuckey, who led Living Under Drones, a major study by New York University’s School of Law and Stanford Law School.
‘The troubling aspect of US strikes is that there have been numerous reports put forward of evidence of civilian casualties, which the US has failed to publicly address in any meaningful manner,’ she adds, ‘and that it is not sufficiently clear what criteria and standards the US is using for classifying someone as a lawful military target.’
A US official told the Bureau: ‘The notion that any US actions in Pakistan have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent Pakistanis is ludicrous. There is no credible information whatsoever to substantiate such claims and there are many who are interested in spreading this disinformation.’
The Bureau’s identification of high civilian casualties rests on hundreds of media reports and other sources, which are presented transparently.
From the Bureau’s research, one group that is almost never identified by name is women. Just two adult women are identified using their own names, while more than 20 others are identified as the wife, mother or other relative of a named person.
Many others – men, women and children – are referred to only in the vaguest terms, described as ‘foreigners’ or ‘women and children’. It is often impossible to even say how many people died, let alone who they may have been.
There are a rare few cases in which a more detailed picture of the deceased emerges, usually because a field researcher working for a newspaper, campaign group or academic organisation has tracked down relatives of victims to get a deeper understanding of a particular attack.
It is thanks to the Living Under Drones report, for example, that we know about Akram Shah, who died on June 15 2011. He was a government driver, in his mid-30s, had three children, and worked for the Pakistani Water and Power Development Authority, according to those who knew him.
But as time passes, those details become harder to ascertain. It is already nine years since two boys aged 10 and 16 were killed in the very first strike in Pakistan in June 2004 – the first civilian deaths to be reported from a drone attack. Missiles hit their home as their father Sher Zaman Ashrafkhel was playing host to militant leader Nek Mohammad. The two children’s names have never emerged.
For senior militant commanders, though, it is sometimes possible to develop a fuller picture. In the cases of Abu Yahya al Libi, the second-in-command of al Qaeda, or Baitullah Mehsud, head of the Pakistan Taliban (TTP), for example, there is a wealth of information.
The deaths of senior militants are often widely reported, both in the Pakistani press and in western news outlets. The US administration occasionally acknowledges that they have taken a major figure off the field, although in the few instances that this happens the information usually comes through anonymous officials.
In addition, there are often fairly extensive details available: most-wanted lists, terrorism databases and sanctions lists can all provide information. The deaths of leading figures are also often marked by militants through detailed obituaries and martyrdom videos posted in jihadist forums.
But it is only usually the top tier of militants whose lives are recorded so thoroughly. Major players rarely die alone – and the record is often almost silent on the details of those who died alongside them.
Followers of particular militant leaders are often identified only in the vaguest terms – press reporting will refer to ‘three Arabs’, ‘four militants’ or even just ‘non-locals’. More than 300 people are identified in similar terms – nearly all of them alleged militants.
‘Thus far, all we know and all we are told by the US government is that “we are killing militants”. We can’t start to get to the bottom of who’s being killed until we get the names of those people,’ says Jennifer Gibson, attorney at legal charity Reprieve.
On December 6 2012, for instance, drones attacked a house in Mubarak Shahi, North Waziristan, as its inhabitants were eating a pre-dawn meal. Parts of the building were completely destroyed. The attack killed Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdul Rehman al Hussainan, described as a leading member of al Qaeda’s religious committee, and his wife. Up to nine others were also killed, but little is known about them aside from the suggestion they were ‘Arab nationals’.
While the Bureau’s data suggests that more than 2,000 of those who have died in drone strikes may have been militants, we have the names of just 255, including the 74 senior figures.
Discovering the stories of alleged militants is made all the more difficult by the fact that many use noms de guerre, chosen precisely to obscure their true identities.
‘You don’t want your family members to get in trouble, which could happen if you come out and say, “Here’s my name, here’s where I’m from”,’ explains terrorism analyst Jacob Zenn. ‘Also, people in war for centuries have taken noms de guerre – it’s a war tradition, and it’s helpful to conceal your identity to make it tricky for other people to catch you and know who you are.’
It is likely that we will never know the full story of everyone killed in CIA drone strikes. This is a common problem with armed violence of all kinds – information gets lost, and the record of who was killed loses definition. Memories fade and evidence disappears.
Casualty recording efforts such as Naming the Dead are a key step towards avoiding future conflicts, says Hamit Dardagan, co-director of the Every Casualty campaign, which calls for every death in conflict to be recorded. ‘Casualty recording is a way of recognising the humanity of people who have been killed, and making not just their death but also the manner of their death part of the public record – which is important if one is to prevent these kinds of deaths happening again.’
He adds: ‘If things such as human loss and suffering are important, then it’s important to have the correct facts: it’s in the self-interest of militaries to show that they have made every effort to confirm who was killed by their actions.
‘The recognition of human losses is a necessary part of peace and reconciliation efforts.’
Related project: Covert Drone War