By Rene Wadlow*
20 March 2017 – TRANSCEND Media Service – The ever-greater use by the United States – the military and the CIA – of drone air strikes in Yemen, Somalia, Syria-Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere has focused enough attention so that there will be a start of formal international attention given to the use of “killer robots” and the possibility of autonomous artificial intelligence weapons.
US drone strikes have become so routine and bureaucratic that they provoke only small protests within the USA, usually on the part of human rights groups protesting the killing of individuals without a trial. (1)
The possible wider use of drones or other robotic military material such as autonomous tanks and trucks are being worked on by governments, often with the cooperation of private industry.
The possibility of an “arms race” among technologically-advanced States such as the USA, Russia, China, South Korea and Israel is real, especially at a time when mutual trust is in short supply.
Contemporary armament dynamics tend to acquire a momentum of its own and to resist social control.
By Uri Avnery*
18 Mar 2017
A few days ago I happened upon an excellent British movie, “Testament of Youth”, based on the memoirs of Vera Brittain.
Vera tells her story, the story of a British girl who grew up in a bourgeois family without worries or sorrows, when World War I put an end to that paradise.
Her brother, her friends and her fiancée were killed one by one in the terrible mudscapes of France. She enlisted as a nurse near the front and dealt with hundreds of wounded and dead. The tender country girl turned into a hardened woman.
The scene which impressed me most occurs when she is posted to a hut full of wounded Germans.
A German officer, not so young, is dying. In his delirium he sees his beloved, catches the hands of Vera and whispers “Is that you, Clara?” and Vera answers in German “Ich bin hier”, I am here. With a happy smile on his lips, the German dies.
The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women on 24 March 2017 agreed on a roadmap to women’s full and equal participation in the economy as a vital step to achieving sustainable development as the body concluded its two-week session.
“This Commission has engaged strongly, comprehensively and constructively over the last two weeks in considering the most effective ways in which to bring about change for women in the world of work,” said Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, formally known as the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.*
By Binu Mathew | CounterCurrents*
15 Mar 2017 – I’m at the home of one of the greatest living intellectuals on earth. In the cold, windy Copenhagen weather as we ring the bell John Scales Avery opens the door and welcomes me and my friend John Graversgaard warmly into his home. He serves us coffee and we talk. I’m stunned by his humility and breadth of knowledge.
John Avery is someone who is an academician but not restrained by the rigidity of the academic community. He is a scientist but not constrained to his area of study. He is someone who connects the dots. With his deep knowledge and vast experience he surmises human destiny scientifically. No, he is someone who is worried about the fate of all life forms on earth.
Warning that as many as 600 million children – one in four worldwide – will be living in areas with extremely scare water by 2040, the United Nations children’s agency has called on governments to take immediate measures to curb the impact on the lives of children.
Shown here in this 2016 photo from Siyephi Village, Bullilima District in Matebeland South Province, Zimbabwe, a 17-year-old girl is seen at the drying up dam where she and her family fetch water. Photo: UNICEF/Mukwazhi
In its report, Thirsting for a Future: Water and children in a changing climate, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) explores the threats to children’s lives and wellbeing caused by depleted sources of safe water and the ways climate change will intensify these risks in coming years.
By Johan Galtung*
20 March 2017 – TRANSCEND Media Service – The Cold War ended by an agreement that the USSR leaves Eastern Europe and the USA does not enter the area. What the USA did is treason, like Sykes-Picot. NATO expanded from 16 to 28: Bill Clinton added Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary; George W. Bush the Baltics, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria; Obama attached Croatia and Albania. In 1999, 2004 and 2009, respectively.
However, did those countries want it? They could have made their own pacts with neither USSR nor USA. The Soviet empire, and the Soviet Union itself, had collapsed.
With NATO at the border, Russia took back its 1954 Crimea gift to Ukraine within the Soviet Union. Kiev with US help fought in Eastern Ukraine to make ethnic Russians escape to Russia. Maybe 60% did.
Enters world history: The Pope and the Patriarch declare their Christianities one and the same (Havana Airport, VIP Lounge, 14 Feb 2016). EU will no longer fight US wars (Bratislava, 6 Nov 2016). Protestant-Evangelical Christianity is marginalized. So is the USA.
– Last year Uber started testing driver-less cars, with humans inside to make corrections in case something goes wrong. If the tests go well, Uber will presumably replace their present army of drivers with fleets of the new cars.
Some personally owned cars can already do automatic parking.
Is it a matter of time before Uber, taxi and personal vehicles will all be smart enough to bring us from A to B without our having to do anything ourselves?
But in this application of “artificial intelligence”, in which machines can have human cognitive functions built into them, what will happen to jobs?
It is estimated that in the US alone, 4 to 5 million drivers of trucks and taxis could be rendered unemployed.
The driver-less vehicle is just one example of the technological revolution that is going to drastically transform the world of work and living.
There is concern that the march of automation tied with digital technology will cause dislocation in many factories and offices, and eventually lead to mass unemployment.