Category Archives: New weapons, war methods

Is media just another word for control?

http://johnpilger.com/articles/is-media-just-another-word-for-control

Is media just another word for control?

by John Pilger, 2 January 2014
 
A recent poll asked people in Britain how many Iraqis had been killed as a result of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The answers they gave were shocking. A majority said that fewer than 10,000 had been killed. Scientific studies report that up to a million Iraqi men, women and children died in an inferno lit by the British government and its ally in Washington. That’s the equivalent of the genocide in Rwanda. And the carnage goes on. Relentlessly.
 
What this reveals is how we in Britain have been misled by those whose job is to keep the record straight. The American writer and academic Edward Herman calls this ‘normalising the unthinkable’. He describes two types of victims in the world of news: ‘worthy victims’ and ‘unworthy victims’. ‘Worthy victims’ are those who suffer at the hands of our enemies: the likes of Assad, Qadaffi, Saddam Hussein. ‘Worthy victims’ qualify for what we call ‘humanitarian intervention’. ‘Unworthy victims’ are those who get in the way of our punitive might and that of the ‘good dictators’ we employ. Saddam Hussein was once a ‘good dictator’ but he got uppity and disobedient and was relegated to ‘bad dictator’.
 
In Indonesia, General Suharto was a ‘good dictator’, regardless of his slaughter of perhaps a million people, aided by the governments of Britain and America. He also wiped out a third of the population of East Timor with the help of British fighter aircraft and British machine guns. Suharto was even welcomed to London by the Queen and when he died peacefully in his bed, he was lauded as enlightened, a moderniser, one of us. Unlike Saddam Hussein, he never got uppity.
 
When I travelled in Iraq in the 1990s, the two principal Moslem groups, the Shia and Sunni, had their differences but they lived side by side, even intermarried and regarded themselves with pride as Iraqis. There was no Al Qaida, there were no jihadists. We blew all that to bits in 2003 with ‘shock and awe’. And today Sunni and Shia are fighting each other right across the Middle East. This mass murder is being funded by the regime in Saudi Arabia which beheads people and discriminates against women. Most of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. In 2010, Wikileaks released a cable sent to US embassies by the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. She wrote this: “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support for Al Qaeda, the Taliban, al Nusra and other terrorist groups… worldwide”. And yet the Saudis are our valued allies. They’re good dictators. The British royals visit them often. We sell them all the weapons they want.
 
I use the first person ‘we’ and ‘our’ in line with newsreaders and commentators who often say ‘we’, preferring not to distinguish between the criminal power of our governments and us, the public. We are all assumed to be part of a consensus: Tory and Labour, Obama’s White House too. When Nelson Mandela died, the BBC went straight to David Cameron, then to Obama. Cameron who went to South Africa during Mandela’s 25th year of imprisonment on a trip that was tantamount to support for the apartheid regime, and Obama who recently shed a tear in Mandela’s cell on Robben Island – he who presides over the cages of Guantanamo.
 
What were they really mourning about Mandela? Clearly not his extraordinary will to resist an oppressive system whose depravity the US and British governments backed year after year. Rather they were grateful for the crucial role Mandela had played in quelling an uprising in black South Africa against the injustice of white political and economic power. This was surely the only reason he was released. Today the same ruthless economic power is apartheid in another form, making South Africa the most unequal society on earth. Some call this “reconciliation”.
 
We all live in an information age – or so we tell each other as we caress our smart phones like rosary beads, heads down, checking, monitoring, tweeting. We’re wired; we’re on message; and the dominant theme of the message is ourselves. Identity is the zeitgeist. A lifetime ago in ‘Brave New World’, Aldous Huxley predicted this as the ultimate means of social control because it was voluntary, addictive and shrouded in illusions of personal freedom. Perhaps the truth is that we live not in an information age but a media age. Like the memory of Mandela, the media’s wondrous technology has been hijacked. From the BBC to CNN, the echo chamber is vast.
 
In his acceptance of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, Harold Pinter spoke about a “manipulation of power worldwide, while masquerading as a force for universal good, a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.” But, said Pinter, “it never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.”
 
Pinter was referring to the systematic crimes of the United States and to an undeclared censorship by omission – that is, leaving out crucial information that might help us make sense of the world.
 
Today liberal democracy is being replaced by a system in which people are accountable to a corporate state – not the other way round as it should be. In Britain, the parliamentary parties are devoted to the same doctrine of care for the rich and struggle for the poor. This denial of real democracy is an historic shift. It’s why the courage of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange is such a threat to the powerful and unaccountable. And it’s an object lesson for those of us who are meant to keep the record straight. The great reporter Claud Cockburn put it well: “Never believe anything until it’s officially denied”.
 
Imagine if the lies of governments had been properly challenged and exposed as they secretly prepared to invade Iraq – perhaps a million people would be alive today.
 
This is a transcript of John Pilger’s contribution to a special edition of  BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme, on 2 January 2014, guest-edited by the artist and musician Polly Harvey. You can listen to the above transcript here
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18spvWk1qko

Financial Times applauds Chuck Hagel’s Pentagon plans

A US army that is leaner but stronger

Financial Times, February 26, 2014

Editorial

Hagel’s vision is right – but needs the backing of Congress

It is never easy to slim the Pentagon behemoth. In times of emergency, such as after the 9/11 attacks, US defence spending tends to balloon rapidly. In times of relative calm, previous gains are rarely clawed back. Chuck Hagel, the Pentagon chief, this week broke with the trend, outlining a vision for a leaner US defence posture. It is a vision to be applauded.

The defence secretary’s budget unveiled a reduction in US forces to just 440,000 – its lowest since before Pearl Harbor. From now on, the US would be equipped to fight just one conventional war rather than two simultaneously. Yet it would extend its technological edge and remain more powerful than the combined capability of the next few powers in the world rankings. Mr Hagel’s vision makes sense as far as it goes. However, sketching it out was the easy part. Now he must persuade Congress to put it into effect.

The case for a smaller US army is strong. After the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American public has little appetite for prolonged foreign occupations. Results on the ground offer little evidence that they have been worth the expense in lives and money. This week President Barack Obama told Hamid Karzai that the US would consider withdrawing altogether from Afghanistan by the end of this year unless Kabul agreed to a treaty putting the US presence on a legal footing. Such an agreement looks remote. After the deaths of 2,313 US personnel and more than $1tn in expenditure, this is a terrible return on investment.

The US army was never equipped to build civil societies in faraway lands. But it will continue to win wars. A slimmer army only reflects the exponential growth in military technology. In 2001, it cost $2,300 to equip a US marine. That has since risen tenfold. The age of the underequipped “grunt” is over. The US army can achieve more with fewer people.

It can also achieve more with a far leaner system of procurement. Mr Hagel offered some cuts to overextended weapons programmes – notably the Combat Littoral Ship, which is billions of dollars over budget and vulnerable to Chinese anti-ship missiles. He also promised to close down the antiquated A10 attack aircraft fleet. But he stopped short of more radical steps to curb the hugely expensive F35 joint strike fighter programme, or wind down the US aircraft carrier fleet from 11 battle groups to 10. Such decisions cannot be ducked. Mr Hagel rightly proposed more spending on US special operations forces and on cyber defence. Both are smart investments against the threats of the future. But he will need to convince Congress to close outdated – but job-generating – weapons systems in order to free up the resources. That political battle has yet to be joined.

In an election year, Pentagon budgets usually go up. Mr Hagel is going against the grain by proposing a virtual freeze on military pay and a reduction in benefits in advance of midterm polls. He has set himself an ambitious task. Leaders in Congress have already signalled they will ignore Mr Hagel’s budget and produce a more lavish one of their own. Critics of his proposal have quite wrongly said it would reduce America’s ability to defend itself and embolden its enemies.

Even in less fiscally austere times, the case for a less bloated Pentagon would be overwhelming. It is supported by US military chiefs and by successive defence secretaries, both Republican and Democratic. Those who fight America’s wars do not mistake waste and duplication for military readiness. Congress specialises in such myopia. It is now up to Mr Hagel and the White House to take the case to the US public. The future of the Pentagon is far too important to be left to business as usual on Capitol Hill.

[Comment by the Web Administrator:  This Editorial illustrates how terms and concepts are abused to convey an ideology]

As The Drone Flies: A World of Lawlessness and Chaos

As The Drone Flies: A World of Lawlessness and Chaos
By Ralph Nader
September 28, 2011 “Information Clearing House” —

The fast developing predator drone technology, officially called unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs, is becoming so dominant and so beyond any restraining framework of law or ethics, that its use by the U.S. government around the world may invite a horrific blowback.

First some background. The Pentagon has about 7,000 aerial drones. Ten years ago there were less than 50. According to the website longwarjournal.com, they have destroyed about 1900 insurgents in Pakistan’s tribal regions. How these fighters are so clearly distinguished from civilians in those mountain areas is not clear.

Nor is it clear how or from whom the government gets such “precise” information about the guerilla leaders’ whereabouts night and day. The drones are beyond any counterattack—flying often at 50,000 feet. But the Air Force has recognized that a third of the Predators have crashed by themselves.

Compared to mass transit, housing, energy technology, infection control, food and drug safety, the innovation in the world of drones is incredible. Coming soon are hummingbird sized drones, submersible drones and software driven autonomous UAVs. The Washington Post described these inventions as “aircraft [that] would hunt, identify and fire at [the] enemy—all on its own.” It is called “lethal autonomy” in the trade.

Military ethicists and legal experts inside and outside the government are debating how far UAVs can go and still stay within what one imaginative booster, Ronald C. Arkin, called international humanitarian law and the rules of engagement. Concerns over restraint can already be considered academic. Drones are going anywhere their governors want them to go already—Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and countries in North Africa to name a few known jurisdictions.

Last year a worried group of robotic specialists, philosophers and human rights activists formed the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) (http://www.icrac.co.uk/). They fear that such instruments may make wars more likely by the strong against the weak because there will be fewer human casualties by those waging robotic war.

But proliferation is now a fact. Forty countries are reported to be working on drone technology or acquiring it. Some experts at the founding conference of ICRAC forshadowed hostile states or terrorist organizations hacking into robotic systems to redirect them.

ICRAC wants an international treaty against machines of lethal autonomy along the lines of the ones banning land mines and cluster bombs. The trouble is that the United States, unlike over one hundred signatory nations, does not belong to either the land mines treaty or the more recent anti-cluster bomb treaty. Historically, the U.S. has been a major manufacturer and deployer of both. Don’t count on the Obama White House to take the lead anytime soon.

Columnist David Ignatius wrote that
“A world where drones are constantly buzzing overhead—waiting to zap those deemed threats under a cloaked and controversial process—risks being, even more, a world of lawlessness and chaos.”

Consider how terrifying it must be to the populations, especially the children, living under the threat of drones that can attack through clouds and dark skies. UAVs are hardly visible but sometimes audible through their frightful whining sound. Polls show Pakistanis overwhelmingly believe most of the drone-driven fatalities are civilians.

US Air Force Colonel Matt Martin has written a book titled Predator. He was a remote operator sitting in the control room in Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada watching “suspects” transversing a mountain ridge in Afghanistan eight thousand miles away. In a review of Martin’s book, Christian Cary writes “The eerie acuity of vision afforded by the Predator’s multiple high-powered video cameras enables him to watch as the objects of his interest light up cigarettes, go to the bathroom, or engage in amorous adventures with animals on the other side of the world, never suspecting that they are under observation as they do.”

For most of a decade the asymmetrical warfare between the most modern, military force in world history and Iraqi and Afghani fighters has left the latter with little conventional aerial or land-based weaponry other than rifles, rocket propelled grenades, roadside IEDs and suicide belted youths.

People who see invaders occupying their land with military domination that is beyond reach will resort to ever more desperate counterattacks, however primitive in nature. When the time comes that robotic weapons of physics cannot be counteracted at all with these simple handmade weapons because the occupier’s arsenals are remote, deadly and without the need for soldiers, what will be the blowback?

Already, people like retired Admiral Dennis Blair, former director of National Intelligence under President Obama is saying, according to POLITICO, that the Administration should curtail U.S.-led drone strikes on suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia because the missiles fired from unmanned aircraft are fueling anti-American sentiment and undercutting reform efforts in those countries.

While scores of physicists and engineers are working on refining further advances in UAVs, thousands of others are staying silent. In prior years, their counterparts spoke out against the nuclear arms race or exposed the unworkability of long-range missile defense. They need to re-engage. Because the next blowback may soon move into chemical and biological resistance against invaders. Suicide belts may contain pathogens—bacterial and viral—and chemical agents deposited in food and water supplies.

Professions are supposed to operate within an ethical code and exercise independent judgment. Doctors have a duty to prevent harm. Biologists and chemists should urge their colleagues in physics to take a greater role as to where their knowhow is leading this tormented world of ours before the blowback spills over into even more lethally indefensible chemical and biological attacks.

– Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author. Visit: www.nader.org.

Army Tracking Plan: Drones That Never Forget a Face
By Noah Shachtman
September 28, 2011 “Wired” – –

Perhaps the idea of spy drones already makes your nervous. Maybe you’re uncomfortable with the notion of an unblinking, robotic eye in the sky that can watch your every move. If so, you may want to click away now. Because if the Army has its way, drones won’t just be able to look at what you do. They’ll be able to recognize your face — and track you, based on how you look. If the military machines assemble enough information, they might just be able to peer into your heart.

The Pentagon has tried all sort of tricks to keep tabs on its foes as they move around: tiny transmitters, lingering scents, even “human thermal fingerprints.” The military calls the effort “Tagging, Tracking, and Locating,” or “TTL.” And, as the strategy in places like Afghanistan has shifted from rebuilding societies to taking out individual insurgents, TTL has become increasingly central to the American effort. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been devoted to it.

The current technologies have their limits, however. Transmitters can be discovered, and discarded. Scents eventually waft away. Even the tagged can get lost in a crowd.

But there are some things that can’t be so easily discarded. Like the shape of your face. Or the feelings you keep inside. That’s why the Army just handed out a half-dozen contracts to firms to find faces from above, track targets, and even spot “adversarial intent.”

“If this works out, we’ll have the ability to track people persistently across wide areas,” says Tim Faltemier, the lead biometrics researcher at Progeny Systems Corporation, which recently won one of the Army contracts. “A guy can go under a bridge or inside a house. But when he comes out, we’ll know it was the same guy that went in.”

Progeny just started work on their drone-mounted, “Long Range, Non-cooperative, Biometric Tagging, Tracking and Location” system.

The company is one several firms that has developed algorithms for the military that use two-dimensional images to construct a 3D model of a face. It’s not an easy trick to pull off — even with the proper lighting, and even with a willing subject. Building a model of someone on the run is harder. Constructing a model using the bobbing, weaving, flying, relatively low-resolution cameras on small unmanned aerial vehicles is tougher still.

But it could be of enormous military value. “This overcomes a basic limitation in current TTL operations where … objects of interest only appea[r] periodically from sheltered positions or crowds,” the Army noted in its announcement of the project.

That’s what Progeny claims it can do: take an existing drone, like the hand-held Raven, and turn it into a TTL machine. “Any pose, any expression, any lighting,” Faltemier says. Progeny needs an image with just 50 pixels between the target’s eyes to build a 3D model of his face. That’s about the same as what it takes to traditionally capture a 2D image. (Naturally, the model gets better and better the more pictures are taken during enrollment.) Once the target is “enrolled” in Progeny’s system, it might only take 15 or 20 pixels to identify him again. A glance or two at a Raven’s camera might conceivably be enough.

And if the system can’t get a good enough look at a target’s face, Progeny has other ways of IDing its prey. The key, developed under a previous Navy contract, is a kind of digital stereotyping. Using a series of so-called “soft biometrics” — everything from age to gender to “ethnicity” to “skin color” to height and weight — the system can keep track of targets “at ranges that are impossible to do with facial recognition,” Faltemier says. Like 750 feet away or more.

But if Progeny can get close enough, Faltemier says his technology can even tell identical twins apart. With backing by the Army, researchers from Notre Dame and Michigan State Universities collected images of faces at a “Twins Days” festival. Progeny then zeroed in on the twins’ scars, marks, and tattoos — and were able to spot one from the other. The company says the software can help the military “not only learn the identity of subjects but also their associations in social groups.”
The Pentagon isn’t content to simply watch the enemies it knows it has, however. The Army also wants to identify potentially hostile behavior and intent, in order to uncover clandestine foes.

Charles River Analytics is using its Army cash to build a so-called “Adversary Behavior Acquisition, Collection, Understanding, and Summarization (ABACUS)” tool. The system would integrate data from informants’ tips, drone footage, and captured phone calls. Then it would apply “a human behavior modeling and simulation engine” that would spit out “intent-based threat assessments of individuals and groups.” In other words: This software could potentially find out which people are most likely to harbor ill will toward the U.S. military or its objectives. Feeling nervous yet?

“The enemy goes to great lengths to hide his activities,” explains Modus Operandi, Inc., which won an Army contract to assemble “probabilistic algorithms th[at] determine the likelihood of adversarial intent.” The company calls its system “Clear Heart.” As in, the contents of your heart are now open for the Pentagon to see. It may be the most unnerving detail in this whole unnerving story.

Arrest of ex-CIA lawyer sought over drone use

Human rights lawyers in the UK and Pakistan are seeking the arrest of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) former legal director for approving drone strikes that killed hundreds of people.
John Rizzo, who served as the acting general counsel for the agency, has admitted approving drone attacks inside Pakistan, beginning in 2004. In February, Rizzo, who left the CIA more than a year ago, told Newsweek magazine he agreed to a list of people to be targeted by drone strikes, which started under the Bush administration.
“It’s basically a hit list,” Rizzo said. “The Predator is the weapon of choice, but it could also be someone putting a bullet in your head.” A study by the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said 42 drone attacks were approved in four years.
The report said that the amount of strikes has quadrupled under the administration of US President Barack Obama and estimates about 2,500 people were killed in attacks on targets in Pakistan since 2004.
Arrest warrant
“There has clearly been a crime committed here,” Clive Stafford Smith, a British human rights lawyer who is leading the effort to seek a warrant for Rizzo, told Al Jazeera.
“The issue here is whether the United States is willing to flaunt international law.
“One of the purposes of doing this is because there is no sense in the United States of how catastrophic this whole process is.”
US government lawyers argue that drone strikes are conducted on a “solid legal basis”, however, Stafford Smith said there has to be a war going on in order for any of these strikes to be legal.
“Outside a combat zone the US has no possible, plausible legal basis to conduct these drone strikes. They think they can get away with it. This process is meant to make sure that they can’t,” Stafford Smith said.
“I challenge anyone to go to the families of those innocent victims in the [Afghanistan-Pakistan] border regions and say: ‘It’s legal to bomb your homes and kill your children’. It is not, obviously.”
In May 2010, the CIA was granted approval by the US government to expand drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions in a move to step up military operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.
Federal lawyers backed the measures on grounds of self-defence to counter threats the fighters pose to US troops in neighbouring Afghanistan and the US as a whole.
The US announced that targets would include low-level combatants, even if their identities were not known.
Obama had previously said drone strikes were necessary to “take out high-level terrorist targets”

<http://english.aljazeera.net/Services/ArticleTools/SendFeedback.aspx”GUID=2 01171775436664633>

Al Jazeera, 17 July 2011

Arrest of ex-CIA lawyer sought over drone use 

 
Human rights lawyers in the UK and Pakistan are seeking the arrest of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) former legal director for approving drone strikes that killed hundreds of people.


John Rizzo, who served as the acting general counsel for the agency, has admitted approving drone attacks inside Pakistan, beginning in 2004. In February, Rizzo, who left the CIA more than a year ago, told Newsweek magazine he agreed to a list of people to be targeted by drone strikes, which started under the Bush administration.


“It’s basically a hit list,” Rizzo said. “The Predator is the weapon of choice, but it could also be someone putting a bullet in your head.” A study by the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said 42 drone attacks were approved in four years.


The report said that the amount of strikes has quadrupled under the administration of US President Barack Obama and estimates about 2,500 people were killed in attacks on targets in Pakistan since 2004.


Arrest warrant


“There has clearly been a crime committed here,” Clive Stafford Smith, a British human rights lawyer who is leading the effort to seek a warrant for Rizzo, told Al Jazeera.
“The issue here is whether the United States is willing to flaunt international law.


“One of the purposes of doing this is because there is no sense in the United States of how catastrophic this whole process is.”


US government lawyers argue that drone strikes are conducted on a “solid legal basis”, however, Stafford Smith said there has to be a war going on in order for any of these strikes to be legal.


“Outside a combat zone the US has no possible, plausible legal basis to conduct these drone strikes. They think they can get away with it. This process is meant to make sure that they can’t,” Stafford Smith said.


“I challenge anyone to go to the families of those innocent victims in the [Afghanistan-Pakistan] border regions and say: ‘It’s legal to bomb your homes and kill your children’. It is not, obviously.”


In May 2010, the CIA was granted approval by the US government to expand drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions in a move to step up military operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.

Federal lawyers backed the measures on grounds of self-defence to counter threats the fighters pose to US troops in neighbouring Afghanistan and the US as a whole.


The US announced that targets would include low-level combatants, even if their identities were not known.


Obama had previously said drone strikes were necessary to “take out high-level terrorist targets”

Were earthquake weapons used against Haiti?

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=116834&sectionid=351020104

Report: US weapon test aimed at Iran caused Haiti quake

Sat, 23 Jan 2010 10:34:46 GMT

A US High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) station, Gakon, Alaska

An unconfirmed report by the Russian Northern Fleets says the Haiti earthquake was caused by a flawed US Navy ‘earthquake weapons’ test before the weapons could be utilized against Iran.

United States Navy test of one of its ‘earthquake weapons’ which was to be used against Iran, went ‘horribly wrong’ and caused the catastrophic quake in the Caribbean, the website of Venezuela’s ViVe TV recently reported, citing the Russian report.

After the report was released, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also made a similar claim, saying that a US drill, carried out in preparation for a deliberate attempt to cause an earthquake in Iran, had led to the deadly incident in Haiti, claiming more than 110,000 lives.

Though Russian Northern Fleets’ report was not confirmed by official sources, the comments attracted special attention in some US and Russian media outlets including Fox news and Russia Today.

Russia Today’s report said that Moscow has also been accused of possessing and utilizing such weapons.

In 2002, a Georgian Green Party leader claimed that Moscow had instigated an earthquake on Georgian territory, the TV channel said.

According to ViVe, the unconfirmed Russian report says earlier this month the US carried out a similar test in the Pacific Ocean, which also caused another 6.5 magnitude earthquake in an area near the town of Eureka, California.

The California quake resulted in no deaths or serious injury, but left many buildings damaged.

The Venezuelan news website said that the report also introduced the possibility that the US Navy may have had “full knowledge” of the damage that the test could cause.

The report also speculated that knowledge of the possible outcome was why the US military had pre-positioned the deputy commander of US Southern Command, General P. K. Keen, on the island so that he could oversee relief efforts if the need arose.

Based on the alleged report, the ultimate goal of the US weapons tests was to initiate a series of deadly earthquakes in Iran to topple the current Islamic system in the country.

The tests are believed to be part of the United States’ High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), which has been associated with many conspiracy theories.

Other than being blamed for earthquakes, HAARP has also been associated with weather anomalies that cause floods, droughts and hurricanes.

Some sources have even linked the 7.8 magnitude quake that shook the Chinese city of Sichuan in May 12, 2008 with the program.

Allegations have been made that since the late 1970’s, the US has ‘greatly advanced’ the state of its earthquake weapons to the point where it is now utilizing devices that employ a Tesla Electromagnetic Pulse, Plasma and Sonic technology, along with ‘shockwave bombs.’

Russia has accused the US military of employing such devices in Afghanistan to trigger the devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the country back in March, 2002.

In the mid-1990s the Russian State Duma issued a press release on HAARP, which was signed by 90 deputies. The statement said the US was “creating new integral geophysical weapons that may influence the near-Earth medium with high-frequency radio waves.”

“The significance of this qualitative leap could be compared to the transition from cold steel to firearms, or from conventional weapons to nuclear weapons.”

“This new type of weapons differ from previous types in that the near-Earth medium becomes at once an object of direct influence and its component,” the statement explained.

In 1997, US Secretary of Defense William Cohen also expressed concern about activities that “can alter the climate, set off earthquakes, volcanoes remotely through the use of electromagnetic waves.”

The US government, however, has chosen to stick to its position that HAARP is merely a program aimed at analyzing the Earth’s ionosphere for the purpose of developing communications and surveillance technology.

MJ/DT

Robots Take Center Stage in U.S. War in Afghanistan

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,509684,00.html

Robots Take Center Stage in U.S. War in Afghanistan

Monday, March 23, 2009
By Matt Sanchez

A BigDog robot climbs a hill in a test of its versatility. The U.S. military is deploying the robots to Afghanistan to navigate the country’s treacherous terrain.

A BigDog robot climbs a hill in a test of its versatility. The U.S. military is deploying the robots to Afghanistan to navigate the country’s treacherous terrain.

The U.S. military is calling out the "BigDogs" in addition to its big guns as it deploys more troops to fight terrorists in Afghanistan.

The BigDogs — four-legged robots that can navigate the country’s treacherous terrain — and pilotless helicopters than can transport tons of supplies to very remote bases are just two of the new weapons being tested in Afghanistan.

The war zone is increasingly becoming a development laboratory for machines that don’t eat, sleep, polish their boots or suffer casualties. But can they succeed where man struggles?

It takes a moment for the senses even to comprehend BigDog, a four-legged robot that vaguely resembles a headless pack animal.

The machine’s creator, Boston Dynamics, has a motto — “dedicated to the way things move” — and that’s precisely what is both jarring and fascinating about its invention. Using a gasoline engine that emits an eerie lawnmower buzz, BigDog has animal-inspired articulated legs that absorb shock and recycle kinetic energy from one step to the next.

Its robot brain, a sophisticated computer, controls locomotion sensors that adapt rapidly to the environment. The entire control system regulates, steers and navigates ground contact. A laser gyroscope keeps BigDog on his metal paws — even when the robot slips, stumbles or is kicked over.

Boston Dynamics says BigDog can run as fast as 4 miles per hour, walk slowly, lie down and climb slopes up to 35 degrees. BigDog’s heightened sense can also survey the surrounding terrain and become alert to potential danger.

All told, the BigDog bears an uncanny resemblance to a living organic animal and not what it really is: A metal exo-skeleton moved by a hydraulic actuation system designed to carry over 300 pounds of equipment over ice, sand and rocky mountainsides.

So much for the ground war. With IED attacks in Afghanistan increasing on land, air transportation has become a major focus for the military.

Routine helicopter flights operating 24 hours a day, year round, are crucial for the American mission. The Marine Corps has recently called for unmanned cargo flights to carry essentials to isolated areas that can be reached only by air.

Enter the K-MAX, a remote-controlled helicopter designed to transport heavy loads — even in Afghanistan’s high altitudes.

The K-MAX’s unique rotor design — two intermeshed rotors turning in opposite directions and slightly angled to prevent the blades from colliding — give this unmanned aircraft a distinct advantage.

“All the energy goes into the lift and eliminates the need for the tail rotor,” said Frans Jurgens, spokesman for Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, which has partnered with Kaman Aerospace Corp. to manufacture the unmanned K-MAX aircraft.
.
The design enables the relatively small chopper to tow up to 6,000 pounds. “The K-MAX is basically an aerial truck,” Jurgens said.

A ground controller “pilots” the unmanned aircraft using a “digital tablet” — a portable device the size of a clipboard attached to a backpack. The controller has visual contact with the aircraft during takeoff and can see where the K-MAX is going through a camera attached to the unmanned helicopter.

Unlike other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the K-MAX currently requires some visual contact — ground controllers to launch and retrieve the aircraft.

During a flight, K-MAX’s “autonomous flight brain” calculates the best route to its destination and can automatically re-route itself should an area be designated a “no-fly” zone.

After launch, control transfers to a second ground controller waiting at the point of capture. Once the K-MAX has been sighted, the destination controller discharges the cargo by remote command.

But some in the military remain skeptical that a robot and a distant operator can replace a skilled pilot.

“When you’re dealing with a small area and a very small margin of error, mountains, temperatures, and other factors like heavy unpredictable winds, it’s hard to believe unmanned flights could account for all the variables,” Chief Warrant Officer Timothy Smail, a pilot from Eagle Lift, the 7th battallion 101st Aviation Regiment, told FOXNews.com in a phone interview from Afghanistan.

“Everything those troops have we’re responsible for bringing,” Smail said. “Not saying it can’t be done, I would just be skeptical.”

After two tours in Iraq, Smail is serving a second tour in Afghanistan, which he says is the “most difficult place to pilot in the world.”

But, Jurgens is not concerned.

“The K-MAX will fly repetitive flights that can be predictably programmed,” he said. “Given the fact that traveling by ground convoy is not the preferred transportation, unmanned cargo flights can save pilots from routine unnecessary exposure.”

KMAX has never been deployed to a war zone, but the unmanned aircraft has been a robotic workhorse in the logging industry, where it transfers heavy loads at high altitudes. It has also been used to transport water to fight forest fires.

They’ll never fully replace actual people, but robots and unmanned vehicles will spare soldiers from routine tasks and enable them to focus their experience and skills on missions that require the human touch.

Maximum pain is aim of new US weapon

Maximum pain is aim of new US weapon
05 March 2005
New Scientist
David Hambling


http://www.newscientist.com/channel/mech-tech/mg18524894.500

THE US military is funding development of a weapon that delivers a bout of
excruciating pain from up to 2 kilometres away. Intended for use against
rioters, it is meant to leave victims unharmed. But pain researchers are furious that
work aimed at controlling pain has been used to develop a weapon. And they
fear that the technology will be used for torture.

"I am deeply concerned about the ethical aspects of this research," says
Andrew Rice, a consultant in pain medicine at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in
London. "Even if the use of temporary severe pain can be justified as a
restraining measure, which I do not believe it can, the long-term physical and
psychological effects are unknown."

The research came to light in documents unearthed by the Sunshine Project, an
organisation based in Texas and in Hamburg, Germany, that exposes biological
weapons research. The papers were released under the US’s Freedom of
Information Act.

One document, a research contract between the Office of Naval Research and t
he University of Florida in Gainsville, is entitled "Sensory consequences of
electromagnetic pulses emitted by laser induced plasmas". It concerns so-called
Pulsed Energy Projectiles (PEPs), which fire a laser pulse that generates a
burst of expanding plasma when it hits something solid, like a person (New
Scientist, 12 October 2002, p 42). The weapon, destined for use in 2007, could
literally knock rioters off their feet.

According to a 2003 review of non-lethal weapons by the US Naval Studies
Board, which advises the navy and marine corps, PEPs produced "pain and temporary
paralysis" in tests on animals. This appears to be the result of an
electromagnetic pulse produced by the expanding plasma which triggers impulses in nerve
cells. The new study, which runs until July and will be carried out with
researchers at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, aims to optimise this
effect. The idea is to work out how to generate a pulse which triggers pain
neurons without damaging tissue.
The contract, heavily censored before release, asks researchers to look for
"optimal pulse parameters to evoke peak nociceptor activation" – in other
words, cause the maximum pain possible. Studies on cells grown in the lab will
identify how much pain can be inflicted on someone before causing injury or death.

New Scientist contacted two researchers working on the project. Martin
Richardson, a laser expert at the University of Central Florida, refused to comment.
Brian Cooper, an expert in dental pain at the University of Florida,
distanced himself from the work, saying "I don’t have anything interesting to convey.
I was just providing some background for the group." His name appears on a
public list of the university’s research projects next to the $500,000-plus grant.

John Wood of University College London, an expert in how the brain perceives
pain, says the researchers involved in the project should face censure. "It
could be used for torture," he says, "the [researchers] must be aware of this."

Amanda Williams, a clinical psychologist at University College London, fears
that victims risk long-term harm. "Persistent pain can result from a range of
supposedly non-destructive stimuli which nevertheless change the functioning
of the nervous system," she says. She is concerned that studies of cultured
cells will fall short of demonstrating a safe level for a plasma burst. "They
cannot tell us about the pain and psychological consequences of such a painful
experience."