Daily Archives: 01/24/2004

Mars Rover Landing Site Imaged

Here’s a cool picture:
Spirit landing site imaged from orbit
The Mars Global Surveyor satellite successfully imaged the Mars rover Spirit and the landing site in Gusev Crater on January 19. The two white spots in the upper left are the discarded parachute and backshell of the rover while the large white splotch below center is the highly reflective lander. The crippled rover was not imaged in this photo, but it should be just below the lander, spewing garbage data and frustrating scientists at JPL.

When Pigs Fly

Annan calls for development push according to the BBC, and he wants to get business involved. “Business… has a powerful interest in helping to prevent the international security system from sliding back into brute competition based on the laws of the jungle,” he told the Davos forum.

But he also tossed in a jab at making trade fair for most of the developing world. Part of the problem, he said, was “dwindling investment in those parts of the world where it is most needed, and trade talks which have left in place “egregious biases against developing countries”.

Aljazeera echoes that sentiment, they also stress the anxiety the UN chief feels about the current global political climate:

Annan’s speech reflected continuing concern over fallout from the Iraq war and the aggressive posture adopted by the United States since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

He said the prevailing economic, security and diplomatic climate had “become far less favourable to the maintenance of a stable, equitable and rule-based global order.”

If global terrorism threatens peace and can heighten communal tensions, “the war against terrorism can sometimes aggravate those tensions, as well as raising concerns about the protection of human rights and civil liberties.”

The United Nations and the system of collective security are under “severe strain,” Annan said.

“In just a few short years, the prevailing atmosphere has shifted from belief in the near-inevitability of globalisation to deep uncertainty about the very survival of our tenuous global order.”

Perhaps some people realize that violence only begets more violence.

I read a fascinating article last night in a back issue of Utne Reader. Amory Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute gave a speech two years ago about fostering Genuine National Security. He states that a modern, open, free society cannot effectively guard itself against terrorism. There are too many vulnerable points; water supplies, wastewater treatment plants, telecommunications, power and financial infrastructures, and interdependent transportation systems. Crippling any of these widely dispersed grids could render large urban areas uninhabitable.

Instead of locking down the free society and changing it into a police state, Lovins suggests focusing instead on the ‘tripolar society’ that now dominates geopolitics.

The new world order consists of governments, global corporations, and civil society. Approaching national security issues based on the outmoded assumption that governments are the axis of power in the is he says, ‘dangerously incomplete and obsolete.’

Prevention is the only lasting and effective defense against the hatred that fuels anti-American terrorism, Lovins adds. It’s the only strategy that requires no threat of violence and; and it’s the only one that actually saves taxpayer dollars.

The crux of Lovins’ approach is the belief that a world without hunger and poverty is a safer world. The UN estimates that the cost providing clean water, sanitation, basic health care, nutrition and education to every person on earth is $40 billion a year. That’s less than a tenth of the United States’ defense budget and less than half of what has already been appropriated for Iraq reconstruction. “Such a modest investment – applied to nations equitably and without political strings attached – would go a long way toward calming social and political unrest throughout the world, and toward mending America’s battered reputation.”

But let’s face it, this is a pipe dream. It will happen when pigs fly. Creating true, lasting, positive change in the world is a difficult and thankless business. It is a lot easier to blow shit up with billions of dollars of high explosives and technology. Not only does it take care of recalcitrant dictators, but the global corporations that promoted the attack can reap the benefit of lucrative restoration contracts in the aftermath. Plus violence has the added benefit of cowing the more restive populations in the world with the threat of fire and bombs falling from the sky. Or at least that is what Bush and Cheney and their buddies at Bechtel and Halliburton would have us believe.

So why do I hear a voice in my head saying “Those who live by the sword, shall die by the sword.” Perhaps because the cycle of violence is so hard to break. One look at the horrible mess in Israel and Palestine should provide ample evidence of that. The creed that blood demands blood leaves everyone mortally wounded. Someone has to step back from the edge and say “No more violence.”

Of course those words about living and dying by the sword came from a noted radical that was executed by the authorities for promoting his simple idea: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”