For the Global Thinker

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela Dies


"Conducting his own defence in the Rivonia Trial in 1964, he said: "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

"It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

He escaped the death penalty but was sentenced to life in prison, a huge blow to the ANC that had to regroup to continue the struggle. But unrest grew in townships and international pressure on the apartheid regime slowly tightened."


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Rare Phenomenon of Revolution

I don't completely agree and I don't completely disagree with this article.  Friends of mine from Thailand and the Ukraine are currently experiencing these protests...and so they know better than I do.  Nonetheless, the article is quite compelling.

Stratfor Global Intelligence

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the streets of Kiev on Sunday in what appeared to be a rebirth of the Orange Revolution, which brought regime change to Ukraine nearly a decade ago. But by Monday the demonstrations shrank to less than 10,000 people. The protests continue to apply pressure on the Ukrainian government, and though they could escalate or compel Kiev to offer some political concessions, an all-out revolution does not appear to be in the offing.

That is not to question the dedication of those protesting in the cold Ukrainian winter. Rather, it is a testament to the fact that true revolutions -- overturning the existing political order and the lasting policy changes that follow -- are extremely difficult to carry out.

The revolutions across Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 serve as a benchmark of contemporary revolution. These revolutions overturned the communist governments from East Germany to Poland to Bulgaria in a span of six months. But they were a product of pent-up political repression that had been building for decades. When the moment finally came, the revolutions were supported by the majority of the population of each state and brought out nearly all segments of society onto the streets. And except in Romania, the people's desire to overturn the system was met without resistance or violence -- an admission by each regime of the system's fundamental obsolescence.

These were revolutions in their purest sense. Societies rejected rigid political systems imposed on them by an illegitimate, external power. It is not often that the global system undergoes such a dramatic change. When it does, the effects are profound. 1989, for example, marked a historic turning point: the beginning of the end of the Cold War era.

But since then, the term "revolution" has been applied liberally in describing large demonstrations of general discontent. Certainly, many citizens have tried to revolt against their rulers, but successful revolutions were few and far between, even when proponents and the media have labeled them as such.

Iran's Green Revolution in 2009 exemplifies the "revolution" misnomer. More than 100,000 people flooded the streets of Tehran to dispute the re-election victory of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But these protests were dominated by younger, urban and generally more affluent citizens; they did not really appeal to the broader segments of Iranian society. They lasted for a few months and elicited public outcry when security forces dealt harshly with the demonstrators, but eventually they tapered off, having never fundamentally threatened the existence of the Iranian political system. This was no 1989 revolution, nor was it the 1979 Iranian revolution against the Shah that united and galvanized the overwhelming majority of Iranian citizens.

There are several other instances in which demonstrations did not foment a revolution. During the so-called Arab Spring, tens to hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in several countries, but few of them led to actual regime change. With the exception of Libya and to a lesser extent Syria, the broader structure of the regimes that ruled the Arab world remain in place -- only certain leaders and personalities have been replaced. Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak may be gone, but Egypt continues to be ruled by the military. Syria is in the throes of a civil war, but Syrian President Bashar al Assad is still the strongest of many warlords in what is an extreme imbalance of the existing political order.

Other countries such as Thailand are currently seeing large protests that show no signs of abating and occasionally lead to disruptive violence. But in Thailand, protest culture, constitutional changes and military coups are particularly tumultuous manifestations of partisan politics. The society is mostly stable. The combination of regional, socio-economic and ideological divisions could lead to revolution eventually, but that is by no means a foregone conclusion, given the flexibility of the existing constitutional monarchy.

And even those countries that have had "successful" revolutions, such as Ukraine in 2004, have shown that the new regimes may be short lived. Five years after Yanukovich was ousted in the Orange Revolution, he was democratically elected into power in a rejection of the policies pursued by the previous government. Unlike the definitive shift away from the Soviet Union and communism of Central European countries in 1989, Ukraine has instead vacillated uncomfortably between the West and Russia, a strategic but vulnerable position that is extremely difficult to overcome through demonstrations by a polarized society.

As Ukraine and Thailand have shown, democracies are inherently unstable, presenting major opportunities for social unrest that on the surface looks chaotic. In reality, they are either tightly controlled within existing political factions or are absorbed by them. Revolutions are successful when fundamental shifts to the underlying political structure are already in place. In 1989, the Soviet Union stopped being able to control and support its peripheral states. It is in those circumstances that social movements are able to topple already wobbly governments.
Revolutions are not things of the past, and they will occur in the future. Countless demonstrations will be held around the world with varying levels of conviction, but revolutions are rare geopolitical phenomena.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE (requires an email but you get updates via email all the time and some free articles)....http://www.stratfor.com/sample/geopolitical-diary/rare-phenomenon-revolution

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Last Great Escape

The best documentary I've seen on North Korea in a long time.  ANyway, this doc tells the story of two North Koreans who escaped from Prison camps in North Korea and uses animation to enhance the story...check it out...

(PS:  This doc plays in Canada...hopefully works everywhere...)
The Last Great Escape
Also this is another doc with a great INSIDE Look into CAMP 14...
Camp 14: Total Control Zone

More on North Korea here.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Craigslist Killers

Very good read, enjoy!

More than 100 men replied to an advert on Craigslist offering work on a farm. Some of them were shot dead. The killers thought no one would miss their victims but, as Hanna Rosin reports, their story reveals a surprising truth about the emotional lives of men in a time of recession and family breakdown



Friday, November 8, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hitler lived until 1962? That's my story, claims Argentinian writer

Did Hitler live and die in this Argentinian Hotel?


"Arguing that American intelligence officials turned a blind eye to Hitler's escape in return for access to Nazi war technology, Gerrard Williams and Simon Dunstan set out the case for a scenario almost too horrible to contemplate: that the Führer and Eva Braun made a home in the foothills of the Andes and had two daughters.
Hitler, they claim, escaped punishment and lived out his life in tranquillity in Patagonia until his death in 1962 at the age of 73.


ALSO Check out this fascinating documentary...

Hitler's Escape 

More interesting info...

Best Cities and Countries for Travelers and Expats 2014

Cuzco, Peru.

Best Cities to Visit 2014

Best Countries to Visit 2014

Best Countries to Visit on a Budget 2014

And this is really Cool...

Best Countries for Expats...According to HSBC...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?

Good read...

Is Japan providing a glimpse of all our futures? Many of the shifts there are occurring in other advanced nations, too. Across urban Asia, Europe and America, people are marrying later or not at all, birth rates are falling, single-occupant households are on the rise and, in countries where economic recession is worst, young people are living at home....

Japan's 20-somethings are the age group to watch. Most are still too young to have concrete future plans, but projections for them are already laid out. According to the government's population institute, women in their early 20s today have a one-in-four chance of never marrying. Their chances of remaining childless are even higher: almost 40%.


Friday, October 18, 2013

21 Roads of a Lifetime

Breathtaking photos of some amazing road trips...

 Ruta 40, Argentina
 The Atlantic Road, Norway
 Going-to-the-sun-Road, Glacier National Park, Montana
 White Rim Road, Canyonlands National Park, Utah



40 Maps That Will Help Make Sense of the World

Monday, October 14, 2013

US fears back-door routes into the net because it's building them too

 Hayden described the phenomenon of compromised computer hardware – namely, chips that have hidden "back doors" inserted into them at the design or manufacturing stage – as "the problem from hell". And, he went on, "frankly, it's not a problem that can be solved"

...a back door that would allow secret remote access over the internet. And – here's the really scary bit – the secret entrance couldn't even be closed by switching off the computer's hard disk or reinstalling its operating system.

The reason this is so scary is because virtually every bit of kit that runs the internet – the machine on which you compose your emails, the tablet or smartphone with which you browse the net, the routers that pass on the data packets that comprise your email or your web search, everything – is a computer. So the thought that all this stuff might covertly be compromised in ways that are impossible to detect is terrifying. It's this fear that underpins American (and British) reservations about network products made by the Chinese company Huawei – the suspicions (vehemently denied by Huawei, of course) that the kit has secret back doors installed in it to facilitate the Chinese's cyber-army's penetration of western networks."


Friday, October 4, 2013

The Chinese city living in fear of Giant Killer Hornets

The world's biggest hornet is wreaking havoc in northwestern China, where 42 people have died after being swarmed and stung in Shaanxi Province, according to the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Some 1,600 others have been injured since the outbreak of the Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) began in July, the regional health authority reported, and attacks continue even as local authorities take action, including destroying hundreds of hives and improving medical treatment for victims

Read more here...


and here...


Friday, September 20, 2013

US Nearly Detonated Atomic Bomb Over North Carolina

Journalist uses Freedom of Information Act to disclose 1961 accident in which one switch averted catastrophe.


The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage.

Read more:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

US and UK spy agencies defeat privacy and security on the internet

Another example of governments and corporations working hand in hand to subdue the common man.  We shouldn't be scared of them, they should be scared of us...Indeed, the system needs to change!


US and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails, according to top-secret documents revealed by former contractor Edward Snowden.

Those methods include covert measures to ensure NSA control over setting of international encryption standards, the use of supercomputers to break encryption with "brute force", and – the most closely guarded secret of all – collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers themselves.

Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook all hacked by US and UK spy agencies...

Monday, September 2, 2013

This is What Winning Looks Like

With more than a 1000 people dead in Iraq in July, and a looming war in Syria it seems that "nation-building" is immensely more difficult than we were led to believe.  Anyway, this is a very interesting doc, please share, adios!



Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Milgram experiment

The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychological experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience.

"Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. 

Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority."
Read More here...

 More in-depth article in Harper's Magazine...
 The Perils of Obedience by Stanley Milgram

A social psychologist's experiments show that most people will hurt their fellow man rather than disobey authority.

Read more here....

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Welcome to Post-Constitution America

What if your country begins to change and no one notices?

Consider, for instance, the rise of the warrior cop, of increasingly up-armored police departments across the country often filled with former military personnel encouraged to use the sort of rough tactics they once wielded in combat zones. Supporting them are the kinds of weaponry that once would have been inconceivable in police departments, including armored vehicles, typically bought with Department of Homeland Security grants

Recently, the director of the FBI informed a Senate committee that the Bureau was deploying its first drones over the United States. Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection, part of the Department of Homeland Security and already flying an expanding fleet of Predator drones, the very ones used in America’s war zones, is eager to arm them with “non-lethal” weaponry to “immobilize targets of interest.”


Monday, August 12, 2013

Argentina's Slum Priests Focus on Helping rather than Converting

Truly inspiring...


He has scuffed work boots and dirty nails and hears confession from dealers and hit men. When residents spot his trashed 4x4 bumping down dirt roads, they call out his nickname: "Charly!"
He spends most of his time addressing practical rather than spiritual problems. That means navigating governmental bureaucracy, helping immigrants obtain state identification cards and finding beds to get addicts off the street.

"If we don't get people a home, it's insane to think about other kinds of lives for them," Olivero said.
So far this day he had talked to the directors of two state hospitals, attended a brainstorming session with other slum priests and handed out fliers about a religious festival for the neighborhood's large community of Paraguayan immigrants.

As he left to prepare for that evening's wake for the addict, he suddenly remembered something.
"Oh," he said, bringing his hands to his head. "I have a wedding tonight!"


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Revealed: how Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages

• Secret files show scale of Silicon Valley co-operation on Prism
• Outlook.com encryption unlocked even before official launch
• Skype worked to enable Prism collection of video calls
• Company says it is legally compelled to comply


Statement from Edward Snowden

This guy's a hero in my books...

One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.

On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic "wheeling and dealing" over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.

This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.

For decades the United States of America has been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.

I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.
Edward Joseph Snowden

Monday 1st July 2013

Read full article here: Wikileaks

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Breakthroughs in Health

The future of health looks promising...especially with these breakthroughs.

Researchers in Japan have used human stem cells to create tiny human livers like those that arise early in fetal life - New York Times 

No sign of HIV return in bone marrow transplant patients, say scientists: Two men who had longstanding HIV infections have stopped taking Aids drugs and have no detectable HIV in their blood - Guardian

Researchers have created contact lenses which, when paired with special spectacles, bestow telescopic vision on their wearers - BBC News 

10 Medical advances in the last ten years....CNN

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Edward Snowden is a whistleblower, not a spy – but do our leaders care?

"...a member of the House intelligence committee, wrote that Snowden "has provided intelligence to America's adversaries".
Pompeo correctly notes in his op-ed that "facts are important". Yet when asked for the evidence justifying the claim that Snowden gave intelligence to American adversaries, his spokesman, JP Freire, cited Snowden's leak of NSA documents. Those documents, however, were provided to the Guardian and the Washington Post, not al-Qaeda or North Korea."

Read more here...

Monday, July 1, 2013

Language at risk of dying out – the last two speakers aren't talking

Trouble in Tabasco for centuries-old Ayapaneco tongue as anthropologists race to compile dictionary of Nuumte Oote...

Read more here...


The Devil's Backbone...an incredible stretch of road through No Man's Land...

Three Videos to Warm the Soul IX

Happy Birthday Canada...here's three incredible videos of Canada, if you have more...post them! Cheers and Enjoy!

Northern Lights Legends

Heart of Van City

Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies

See more cool vids here...

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Takin' It to the Streets

The world is getting angrier and with the prevalence of smartphones, Twitter and FB...Cities will continue to be the battleground between citizens and governments and corporations.  Interesting read.
"thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, Twitter, Facebook and blogging, angry individuals now have much more power to engage in, and require their leaders to engage in, two-way conversations — and they have much greater ability to link up with others who share their views to hold flash protests. 

As Leon Aron, the Russian historian at the American Enterprise Institute, put it, “the turnaround time” between sense of grievance and action in today’s world is lightning fast and getting faster. 

The net result is this: Autocracy is less sustainable than ever. Democracies are more prevalent than ever — but they will also be more volatile than ever. Look for more people in the streets more often over more issues with more independent means to tell their stories at ever-louder decibels."