Category Archives: ethics

Death in a mobile box

From :

U.S. forces in Iraq soon will be equipped with high-tech equipment that will let them process an Iraqi’s biometric data in minutes and help American soldiers decide whether they should execute the person or not, according to its inventor.

“A war fighter needs to know one of three things: Do I let him go? Keep him? Or shoot him on the spot?” Pentagon weapons designer Anh Duong told the Washington Post for a feature on how this 47-year-old former Vietnamese refugee and mother of four rose to become a top U.S. bomb-maker.

Though Duong is best known for designing high-explosives used to destroy hardened targets, she also supervised the Joint Expeditionary Forensics Facilities project, known as a “lab in a box” for analyzing biometric data, such as iris scans and fingerprints, that have been collected on more than one million Iraqis.

The labs – collapsible, 20-by-20-foot units each with a generator and a satellite link to a biometric data base in West Virginia – will let U.S. forces cross-check data in the field against information collected previously that can be used to identify insurgents. These labs are expected to be deployed across Iraq in early 2008.

I find this interesting because the inventor of this unit,  Anh Duong, is a Vietnamese refugee who believes she’s actually doing a good deed here. She might even feel the need to prove loyalty to her adopted nation. As she states in the article, “I don’t want My Lai in Iraq,” Duong said. “The biggest difficulty in the global war on terror – just like in Vietnam – is to know who the bad guys are. How do we make sure we don’t kill innocents?”, she intimates that this is a necessary technology to make sure the wrong people aren’t targeted. Is she being altruistic? Quite possibly since she’s from a country that had the taste of the American Federal Empire’s Wars For Democracy(TM).

I can easily see this technology used against the citizens here at home. What better way to keep track of dissidents and domestic “terrorists”? And it’s complementary to the coming Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.

Mobile death labs to accommodate mobile death trials. Lovely.

Torquemada would’ve been impressed.

Original Article

Class Warfare and Natural Disasters

From Greg Palast :

What color is your disaster? It makes a difference. A life and death difference.


Population of San Diego fire evacuation zone: 500,000
Population of the New Orleans flood evacuation zone: 500,000

White folk as a % of evacuees, San Diego: 66%
Black folk as % of evacuees, New Orleans: 67%Malibu Dancers

Size counts, too. Size of your wallet, that is:

Evacuees in San Diego, in poverty: 9%
Evacuees in New Orleans, in poverty: 27%

The numbers would be even uglier, though more revealing, if I included evacuees of the celebrity fire in Malibu.

The President didn’t do a photo-strafing of the scene from 1700 feet this time. Instead, we have the photo op of George, feet on the ground, hanging with Arnold the Action Man. (However, I’m informed that the President was a bit disappointed that he didn’t get to wear one of those neat fireman hats likePatricial Thomas, fmr NOLA Resident Rudi G got at Ground Zero.)

In 2005, while the bodies were still being fished out of flooded homes in New Orleans, Republican Congressman Richard Baker praised The Lord for his mercy. “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did,” he said about the removal of the poor from the project near the French Quarter much coveted by speculators.

But as this week’s flames spread, no Republican Congressman cried, “Burn baby burn!” to praise the Lord for cleaning up them ‘Boo, the sin-and-surf playground of Hollywood luvvies.

I would like to say “My God, what has happened to us as a nation?”, but that that would be rehashing old arguments that have been tossed around non-stop for the past seven years. America has always had a class and race problem, it is part and parcel of who we are. The issue now is that since the neocons have taken total control, the class lines have become more stark and pronounced. Straussian philosophy is working in full force now.

Rest of article…

Individualism, Morality and the Settlement of Space

From The Atlas Society :

Today, we live “in the future”—the future that for decades had been depicted in science fiction, pursued by scientists and engineers, and hoped for by optimistic individuals everywhere. This future, as imagined in the past, had three outstanding features. Human beings would be flourishing in a peaceful, prosperous world based on advances in science and technology; they would be engaging in heroic pursuits; and they would be creating a space-faring civilization.

On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon, it took an act of imagination not to envision such a future. Yet, sadly, the real future—the world we live in today—is different from that positive vision.

To be sure, science and technology have advanced, making us more prosperous and bettering our lives. Advances in medical technology keep us alive and improve our quality of life. A single personal computer, available to anyone today for a few hundred dollars, is more powerful than the roomful of multi-million-dollar mainframes that guided humans to the moon. Endless information flows freely on the Internet. Cell phones, like Star Trek communicators, keep us in touch anytime, anywhere. And we have every sort of consumer electronic and entertainment device.

Furthermore, the Western, industrialized countries, and especially the United States, continue to prosper, and many emerging, formerly impoverished countries are joining the ranks of the enriched.

But in the industrialized West, we also see signs of cultural breakdown. Many cities in America and Europe are corrupt havens of crime, more Blade Runner dystopian than Star Trek progressive. Schools with far more money than they ever had in the past are graduating the illiterates of the future. Many adults don’t know the difference between science and scientology, astronomy and astrology. The threat of Islamofascism shows that hundreds of millions of individuals remain mired in primitive superstition, tribalism, and a lust for repression, violence, and murder.

I agree with the aforementioned statement except for the Islamofascist statement. Christofascism is just as bad, if not worse. At least when Saladin retook Jerusalem for the Muslims, he let the Westerners go. When the Crusaders first took the city, they slaughtered everyone!

Even with Hudgin’s definite bias against Islam (he should be including Christian extremists also!), he makes a great case for individualism and entrenpenuerialism in the exploration and settlement of space:

Strictly on the basis of sound economics, space exploration must be privatized. Only entrepreneurs acting freely and under the discipline of profit-and-loss incentives can properly exploit opportunities in ways that will create dynamic, off-Earth civilizations.

How might they do it?

Private parties would probably form consortia to establish space settlements. There are many historic precedents. For example, take the Mayflower Compact, in which the Pilgrims agreed to a form of self-government even before leaving for America. Similarly, settlers crossing the continent usually made contracts concerning who owed what services to whom and how the members of the group would govern themselves.

There also was a kind of market competition among the various groups of pioneers and settlers, each attracting people and capital by offering different values to individuals. For example, religious dissident Roger Williams arrived in Plymouth ten years after its 1620 founding, but within three years found himself at odds with its leaders and went off on his own to found Rhode Island.

The seeds of a competitive system of space-development consortia have already been planted. In recent decades, the government has relaxed many of its more onerous regulatory restrictions and unfair practices vis-à-vis private-sector space exploration. As a result, we are now beginning to see how our future in space might look and how that future will be established—not by governments, but by the efforts of individual entrepreneurs.

I couldn’t agree more. More money is spent on bureaucratic waste, incompetence and accidents than anything else! Also feeding pork to politicians with military-industrial-complex corporations in their home districts don’t help with funding space exploration either.

Hudgin’s then goes on to explain about humanity needing a new morality when it comes to the settlement of space:

The sci-fi novel Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson opens with a murder among the colonists on that recently settled world. The killers are Muslim extremists. That hints at a troubling prospect. As we consider bringing earthly values to other worlds, we must ask ourselves: What values?

Individualist values are required to tame any new frontier and to create a harmonious society in a new world. Initiative, independent thought, personal integrity, self-responsibility—these are the virtues lie at the heart of the individualist code.

Again with the Islamic extremism without including the Christian Fundamentalist variety, but Hudgins makes a valid statement about individualism being the proper catalyst for space settlement. To Hudgins and I agree with him on this; individualism means that; “Initiative, independent thought, personal integrity, self-responsibility—these are the virtues lie at the heart of the individualist code…” and…”individuals must think—and be allowed to think—with his own brain and call on the best within himself. He must take pride in himself and his work and hold himself as his highest value. And, if social harmony is to be secured, he must treat others as ends in themselves…”

I know this sounds libertarian, but I have always tried to live by the code of the last statement. I believe that a person should be truthful and honest in their dealings with others and I expect the same in return. Idealistic and unrealistic in this day and age to be sure, but in this I give no compromise, with myself or others.

This is the very reason I have been speaking out against the NWO, my code and their decrees are mutually destructive to each other. And Hudgins maybe an unwitting tool for the NWO with all his talk of “Islamofascism”.

But he’s on the mark about individualism and the settlement of other Worlds.

Original Article

Researcher develops artificial life

From Guardian Unlimited :

Craig Venter, the controversial DNA researcher involved in the race to decipher the human genetic code, has built a synthetic chromosome out of laboratory chemicals and is poised to announce the creation of the first new artificial life form on Earth.

The announcement, which is expected within weeks and could come as early as Monday at the annual meeting of his scientific institute in San Diego, California, will herald a giant leap forward in the development of designer genomes. It is certain to provoke heated debate about the ethics of creating new species and could unlock the door to new energy sources and techniques to combat global warming.

Mr Venter told the Guardian he thought this landmark would be “a very important philosophical step in the history of our species. We are going from reading our genetic code to the ability to write it. That gives us the hypothetical ability to do things never contemplated before”.

The Guardian can reveal that a team of 20 top scientists assembled by Mr Venter, led by the Nobel laureate Hamilton Smith, has already constructed a synthetic chromosome, a feat of virtuoso bio-engineering never previously achieved. Using lab-made chemicals, they have painstakingly stitched together a chromosome that is 381 genes long and contains 580,000 base pairs of genetic code.

The DNA sequence is based on the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium which the team pared down to the bare essentials needed to support life, removing a fifth of its genetic make-up. The wholly synthetically reconstructed chromosome, which the team have christened Mycoplasma laboratorium, has been watermarked with inks for easy recognition.

It is then transplanted into a living bacterial cell and in the final stage of the process it is expected to take control of the cell and in effect become a new life form. The team of scientists has already successfully transplanted the genome of one type of bacterium into the cell of another, effectively changing the cell’s species. Mr Venter said he was “100% confident” the same technique would work for the artificially created chromosome.

Well well, the spector of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is indeed escaping from science-fiction to science fact finally. It was only going to be a matter of time before somebody finally accomplished this. And if Venter manages to implant his artificial chromosome into a cleaned out bacterium and it reproduces, it’ll prove that artificial organisms can be manufactured.

My Christian friends will certainly not like this development and actually deny that the creatures are life at all, just some kind of simulcrum, or “golem” at best. They will certainly say that without divine blessing of spirit, there can be no life.

There is sure to be ethical questions to be answered here, one of which is “where will be the line drawn?” Meaning if certain governments aquire the means to create artificial DNA, will they make super-soldiers, super-viruses or any other super weapon of mass destruction that makes hydrogen bombs and sarin nerve gas look like firecrackers and stinkbombs in comparison?

We are walking a fine line here. Mankind is once again, as it has done in previous cycles dared knock on the door of godhood. As a blog-friend once stated when he was describing G.W. Bush, I’m going to describe the maturity level of mankind in handling these awesome technologies; “…like a drunken chimpanzee with a loaded shotgun inside a warehouse packed to the rafters with fireworks .”

Original Article 

Hat tip to Christopher of From the Left