Society's ChildS


Best of the Web: Egypt Shows How Easily Internet Can Be Silenced

Egypt protestors
© AFP/GettyEgyptian demonstrators hold up placards during a protest in central Cairo to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak and calling for reforms.
The move by Egyptian authorities to seal off the country almost entirely from the Internet shows how easily a state can isolate its people when telecoms providers are few and compliant.

In an attempt to stop the frenzied online spread of dissent against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, not only Facebook and Twitter but the entire Internet was shut down overnight, leaving some 20 million users stranded.

Hundreds of service providers offer connections in Egypt, but just four own the infrastructure - Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya [VOD-LN 178.15 -0.90 (-0.5%)], Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr.

Daniel Karrenberg, chief scientist at RIPE NCC, a European not-for-profit Internet infrastructure forum, says immature markets with few providers can achieve such shutdowns relatively easily.

"The more simple the topology is and the fewer Internet services providers there are, the easier it is for any government or the telco themselves to control access into any geographical area," he said.

"If you have a relatively diverse telecoms market and a very much meshed Internet topology then it's much more difficult to do than if you have the traditional telecoms structure of two decades ago and they control all the international connections. Obviously that creates a choke point," he said.

Cow Skull

Wisconsin cows succumbed to moldy sweet potatoes

There was no apocalyptic cause for the recent deaths of 200 cattle in Central Wisconsin. The steers succumbed in a Portage County feed lot earlier this month, and Doctor Peter Vanderloo at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab said tests have shown that it was moldy sweet potatoes used in the animals' feed that did them in. "The mold product that grows on sweet potatoes was present in the sweet potatoes," said Vanderloo. "All the clinical science, the death loss, the changes in the steers, are all compatible with this mold.

Sweet potato waste was a major component of the animals' diet at the time of the January 14th incident. Vanderloo said regionally available agricultural byproducts are commonly used to supplement animal rations, and in Central Wisconsin, that's often sweet potatoes, potatoes and other vegetables. There's no danger to humans. "This is a byproduct and it has a lesser value and therefore it can be fed to livestock at a lower cost, so this is not a product that goes in the food chain," Vanderloo explained.

The deaths of the Wisconsin cattle, reported shortly after other mass animal die-offs, fueled wild speculation as to the cause, everything from the end of the Mayan calendar to the second coming and the apocalypse.


Salmon farm managers charged with animal cruelty over salmon deaths

© FISThe two managers are said to have poisoned over 6,000 farmed salmon.

Two managers of a Shetland salmon farm have been charged with animal cruelty after poisoning more than 6,000 farmed salmon that then died on 15 August 2010.

The men - regional manager Graham McNally and site manager Ross Morrison - were reported to the procurator fiscal following a five-month inquiry into the chemical poisoning of fish at Burrastow in western Shetland. Both culprits are employed by Hoganess Salmon.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) has been investigating the possible animal welfare crimes itself, and four government agencies have been trying to determine whether illegal chemicals were used to kill the fish, reports Shetland Marine News.


Britons Going Cold on Global Warming: Number of Climate Change Sceptics Doubles in Four Years

snowy Britain
© PAChilly outlook: The ice cold winters of recent years has seen the number of climate change sceptics more than double
The number of climate change sceptics has almost doubled in four years, official research showed yesterday.

A quarter of Britons are unconvinced that the world is warming following successive freezing winters and a series of scandals over the credibility of climate science.

The figures suggest that a growing proportion of the public do not share the belief of all three major political parties and Whitehall - that climate change is a major and urgent challenge requiring radical and expensive policies.

The survey, carried out by the Office for National Statistics, has plotted levels of acceptance of the theory of man-made global warming since 2006.

In that year it found that 87 per cent of people were at least 'fairly convinced' that climate change was happening.


Thousands of protesters battle police in Cairo

Cairo - Egyptian military units deployed in the streets of Cairo on Friday, and protesters targeted offices of the ruling party, as massive crowds of anti-government demonstrators defied an overnight curfew and appeared to grow more violent.

The deployment of troops and armored fighting vehicles came after heavily armed riot police battled thousands of protesters across Egypt on Friday in an effort to squelch a burgeoning pro-democracy movement that appeared to be gaining strength.

Crowds surged onto the streets of Cairo and other cities immediately after noon prayers, responding to a call for protests dubbed "Angry Friday." Toward sunset, the demonstrations seemed to grow larger, even as police fired guns, tear gas and water cannons.


Guardian Journalist Arrested and Beaten Alongside Protesters in Egypt Secretly Records Ordeal

In Egypt, running battles between police and anti-government protesters continued into the early hours of Thursday morning. Police have arrested up to 1,200 people, including a number of journalists. Among them was Guardian reporter, Jack Shenker. He was arrested and beaten by plainclothes police on Tuesday night and shoved into a truck with dozens of other people. He managed to keep his dictaphone with him and recorded what was happening as the truck carried them outside of Cairo. We play some of the dramatic audio and speak to him live by telephone.

Che Guevara

Best of the Web: Are We Witnessing the Start of a Global Revolution?

Revolution 1
© Global Research

North Africa and the Global Political Awakening, Part 1
For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive... The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination... The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening... That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing... The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches...

The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well... Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious "tertiary level" educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million "college" students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred...

[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.[1]

- Zbigniew Brzezinski
Former U.S. National Security Advisor
Co-Founder of the Trilateral Commission
Member, Board of Trustees, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Comment: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

- John F. Kennedy


More U.S. Soldiers Killed Themselves Than Died in Combat in 2010

© unkUS Soldeir deaths, Military, Veterans, Afghanistan, Iraq
For the second year in a row, more American soldiers - both enlisted men and women and veterans - committed suicide than were killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Excluding accidents and illness, 462 soldiers died in combat, while 468 committed suicide. A difference of six isn't vast by any means, but the symbolism is significant and troubling. In 2009, there were 381 suicides by military personnel, a number that also exceeded the number of combat deaths.

Earlier this month, military authorities announced that suicides amongst active-duty soldiers had slowed in 2010, while suicides amongst reservists and people in the National Guard had increased. It was proof, they said, that the frequent psychological screenings active-duty personnel receive were working, and that reservists and guardsmen, who are more removed from the military's medical bureaucracy, simply need to begin undergoing more health checks. This new data, that American soldiers are now more dangerous to themselves than the insurgents, flies right in the face of any suggestion that things are "working." Even if something's working, the system is still very, very broken.


Thousands of Yemenis Urge President to Quit

Yemen protests
© Reuters/Khaled AbdullahOpposition supporters shout slogans during an anti-government rally in Sanaa January 27, 2011.
Sanaa - Thousands of Yemenis, apparently inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, staged a mass demonstration on Thursday calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to quit after being in power since 1978.

"Enough being in power for (over) 30 years," chanted protesters in demonstrations staged by the Common Forum opposition in four different parts of the capital Sanaa.

In reference to the ouster of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the demonstrators said he was "gone in just (over) 20 years."

But Yemeni Interior Minister Motahar Rashad al-Masri ruled out any resemblance between the protests in Yemen and the public outcry in the North African country that led to Ben Ali's departure.

"Yemen is not like Tunisia," he told AFP, adding that Yemen was a "democratic country" and that the demonstrations were peaceful.

But the slogans chanted in Thursday's Sanaa demonstration which lasted for two hours were firm in demanding the departure of Saleh.

Che Guevara

Irish politicians set to sail for Gaza in another Freedom Flotilla this March

Photograph released by the Israeli Defense Force showing Israeli army and navy soldiers boarding the Gaza-bound 1,200-ton Rachel Corrie aid ship last June
Irish activists planning to take part in a Gaza-bound aid flotilla due to set sail at the end of March have acquired a vessel that will carry 25 passengers, including several Irish politicians who have pledged their participation.

The boat, which is docked at a Mediterranean port, is wholly Irish owned, according to Dr Fintan Lane of the Free Gaza Movement and the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Dr Lane sits on an international committee tasked with organising the flotilla, which is expected to begin its voyage on March 30th. Its members include US, Turkish, French, Spanish, Canadian, Swedish, Swiss and Malaysian nationals. The committee is due to meet in Madrid next month to finalise its plans.

Shane Dillon, who, along with Dr Lane was on board one of the vessels raided by Israeli commandos when a similar flotilla attempted to breach the Gaza blockade last May, will captain the Irish boat in the March flotilla.