Category Archives: Conflict

Post-Freedom

Sometimes by working too much, we forget the things that matter the most

  1. Family & Friends
  2. Mother Nature
  3. The Community

This is my first official “short-film” that I did, with the help of my famiy, for the Possible Future’s Film Contest. Hope you enjoy it!! And if you do, don’t forget to vote for it by clicking the link below.

www.possiblefuturesfilmcontest.com

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A Spark in the Middle East

A wildfire has spread across the Middle East and Northern Africa. The flames of protest have raged on and now engulf over 15 countries. The smoke rising from the cities of Benghazi and Tripoli saturate the diplomatic airwaves. Two governments have been overthrown. And a third one is tittering on the brink of collapse.

But we all know this. We have seen the news reporters babbling non-stop in their usual fashion. What few of us know though is… how did the massive protests start? Literally, what spark ignited this whole conflict?

The spark of a Bic Lighter.

That´s right. All it took for these protests to erupt was a lighter, two cans of paint thinner and a man with nothing to lose. A single man, Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire and inspired millions to rebel.


Through out history, man has often fought for freedom.
But are we, modern Westerners, willing to die for it?

—- Here is a scenario —-

Imagine you were Mohamed Bouazizi. Now suppose an angel came forth to you Bible-style and told you ¨Set yourself on fire, and your whole country shall be free¨. Would you be willing set yourself on fire, and like Mohamed Bouazizi, suffer the most painful death imaginable?

We, Westerners often label muslims as ¨radicals¨.
While we, on the other hand, are ¨rational¨.

Well. Here is what a rational Mohamed Bouazizi would have done: He would have appealed the confiscation of his property to a corrupt government, only to be ignored. Facing amounting debts, he would have fallen into a depression. Tired of living, and thinking life is pointless, Mohamed would have OD´ed himself on Aspirins. No massive protests in Tunisia and elsewhere. End of story.

Morale of the story: one can´t always be rational when facing injustice, corruption or tyranny. When something isn´t right, it´s the citizens job to change it. To take action. The Founding Fathers were viewed as radicals by the British Empire. The First French Republic was viewed as radical by the rest of the European countries.

Black - Revolution ------ Green/Tan - Major Protests

It is this radical ¨muslim¨ spirit, steaming from necessity and lack of freedom, which has overthrown both the Egyptian and Tunisian governments.

We in first-world countries on the other hand:

  • have food on our tables
  • have a decent amount of freedom
  • and thus, no need for radical spirit

The radical spirit in US and European citizens has been dormant since the end of WWII. Instead of radical, we act more “rationally”. This rational spirit is good for government stability, but taken to the extreme can lead to a conformist society.
And a conformist society is bad. Conformity stalls economic development, limits professional creativity and helps incompetent politicians (GWB) rise to power.

We, as free people, have to make sure we never lose our radical spirit. We must retain our ability to stand up and march radically against any threat to our basic human rights. We must defend our freedom of speech. And to those who say “one man can’t make a difference”.

Tell that to Ghandi.
Tell that to Martin Luther King.
Tell that to Mohamed Bouazizi.

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Mexico, a Superpower?

This post is a continuation of last’s week’s ¨Review – The Next 100 Years¨, a book written by George Friedman, CEO of the largest private intelligence company in the world. In this post we will discuss how Mexico will one day challenge US power in North America.

2080 – Mexico´s rise to Power

Two eagles collide

 

Factors to take into consideration:

  1. Mexican inmigrants don´t usually lose their closeness with Mexico.
  2. Being neighbors with the USA is an economic advantage.
  3. Mexicans still feel like the USA stole their northern territory.

By 2070 Mexico´s economy will be in the top 10.

  • It´s currently #14 in GDP (production)
  • The second largest flow of money into Mexico, is the money Hispanic citizens in the US send to their families in Mexico.
  • Much like the millions of dollars produced by illegal alcohol sales in the USA during 1930´s, the billions of $$$ made by the drug cartels in Mexico will one day be ¨cleansed¨ through reinvesment in the country.

By 2070, the Hispanic citizens and inmigrants will constitute over 70% of the total population in former Mexican territories.

 

Source - US Census Bureau (2006)

 

Around 2080, tensions between USA and Mexico will escalate:

  1. Hispanic commnity will have a large representation in Congress.
  2. The rest of the US citizens will start feeling threatened by the growth of the Hispanic community.
  3. A Mexican secessionist movement will be born calling for the reintegration of these ¨Latino¨ states back to Mexico.

This minoritary Mexican secessionist movement (within the USA) will fuel the fire of the US conservative base. The American right-wing will label this movement an ¨insurrection¨ and will start calling for the inmediate deportation of all ¨Hispanics¨ back to Mexico.

The American goverment will respond by deporting all Mexicans who are not citizens back across the border. The Mexican seccesionis will then turn to vandalism and start revolting. The US will try to contain the revolt by mobilizing the National Guard and the US army.

The Mexican goverment will also mobilize its army to the border. The American actions will be viewed as racist ¨ethnic cleansing¨ by the Mexican goverment, whose right-wing party will start gaining massive support. While militarily superior, the US will not be facing the Mexican army. Instead it will be inmersed in an inner struggle to keep it´s southern states under control.

Territorial shifts aside, Given that the Hispanic community will be the biggest one in the US by 209o, the question will be:

Washington D.C or Mexico City?

Which city will be the capital of North America by 2100?

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Review ¨The Next 100 Years¨

A lot has changed in the last century. And, these changes don´t show any signs of slowing down.

Goverments paying inmigrants to come in? World War III? Mexico as a superpower? These are just a handful of predictions from George Friedman´s bestselling book ¨The Next 100 Years¨. Friedman is the Texan founder and CEO of STRATFOR, the world´s leading private intelligence company. So with a clear mind and open eyes, let´s take a glimpse at what the future might have in store.

Highlights of the Next Century

There is one basic principle in which Friedman bases his book on… The United States of America ¨superpower¨ status isn´t fading anytime soon. The Americans have merely hit a rough patch, but will continue being a superpower for decades to come. Trying to maintan it´s status as the #1 country in the world will be a task the US goverment will take very seriously.

2010s – USA / Islamic War

Whether United States is defeated or Iraq/Afghanistan remains a stalemate, that really won´t matter. As long as the Muslim world remains ethnically divided and fighting between themselves, it won´t pose a real threat to the US.

2020 – China´s expiration date

China´s current economical growth is the result of the country opening it´s market to capitalism. Such tremendous economical growth is causing stark differences between the rich coastal cities and poor central goverment. The coastal cities will eventually want more liberty. This in turn will leave the central chinese goverment two options: let the coastal cities drift away weakening the union or impose a more control over them. Both outcomes will cripple China´s economic power as a country.

2025 – Labor Force Crisis

Are you 18 and worried about finding a job? Don´t worry. By 2025, the ¨job crisis¨ will turn into a ¨labor force crisis¨.

With birth rate´s falling through out developed countries: a new laborforce will be needed to sustain the big, retiring ¨baby-boomer¨ generation. Currently, the birth rate of Europe and Japan is below the 2.1 child/woman ¨replacement level¨. This means that in a couple decades, developed countries are going to be filled with old people and lacking young ones.

European and japanese goverment´s will have to compete over inmigrants by offering them money and medical care packages. For the USA, whose birth rate level is higher, more lenient and open inmigration laws will solve the crisis. This increased flow of  inmigration and future innovations on robotics will help solve the 2025´s labor shortage.

2030 – Third Fall of Russia

Oh, yes! The Russians are back for a rematch. This next decade we will see Russia get economically stronger. This economic strength will in turn lead them to expand their military branches. With a strong military, the Russian goverment will then be interested in re-establishing the Soviet Union´s former sphere of influence in the Balkans and Eastern Europe.

Western Europe won´t help Eastern Europe, because Germany (EUs key player) depends too much on Russian gas. Thus Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe will turn to the USA for support. The United States will gladly ¨contain¨ Russia through its support of Eastern Europe (west), Turkey (south) and Japan (east).

The resulting ¨Cold War¨ will be very much like the last one, but shorter. This time a non-direct confrontation, alternative energy sources, a declining population: will all play agains´t Russia. Their economy will collapse, followed by their military. And once again Russia will disintegrate into an even weaker nation.

2050 – World War III

With Russia and China out of the picture, by 2050 the most powerful nations in order of strength will be

  1. USA
  2. Turkey: with a sphere of influence over the Middle East and lower Russia.
  3. Japan: with a sphere of influence over the Pacific and western China.
  4. European Union
  5. Poland: with a sphere of influence over Eastern Europe and Russia.

The Americans will see that its spot as the #1 country is being challenged by its former allies Turkey and Japan. The USA will do all it can to ¨contain¨ the expansion of these two countries. Turkey and Japan won´t enjoy feeling ¨contained¨ and will become secret war-allies. Japan will then stage a ¨Pearl Harbor¨ in space, taking down as many U.S satellites as it can. Then in less than 15 minutes, most of the US Airforce will be destroyed.

With Poland, China, and Britain as allies, the USA will strike back with it´s reserve forces. The result of the war will be determined by whoever controls the air and space. No nuclear devices will be employed (as they would be seen undesired by all). The European Union will remain mostly neutral.

After almost 2 years of war, by 2052 the USA will be able to take full control of space (high ground) and win. The war won´t  be a ¨total war¨ of societies destroying societies. Instead a peace treaty will be drafted in which the defeated nations won´t lose much and the USA (and allies) are allowed military control of space.

2060/2070 – Golden Decades for the US

Years of economic, technological and social prosperity.

2080 – Mexico´s Rise to Power

To be continued on next week´s post – ¨Mexico, a Superpower?¨


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Wikileaks Scandal – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The publication of 250,000 US diplomatic cables last week by Wikileaks.com has caused quite a scandal in both the US and International community. While the legality/morality/goal of such action is dubious, the fact of the matter is that the information is out there and can’t be taken back. That being said, before taking sides on the issue (freedom of speech vs. Assange terrorist), lets analize the effects of such publication:

The Good

  • Like the Pentagon Papers (Vietnam) and the Watergate Scandal, some of the cables published reveal corrupt and inmoral US goverment operations. Operations that our democratic  govermentof should never have to endorse.

1. Hillary Clinton ordered a spy operation on UN leadership. The US diplomats were asked to obtain DNA samples, adresses, credit card numbers, phone numbers, tax and pager numbers and EVEN computer passwords from top UN members. Such operation is a blatant infringement of UN laws and individual privacy.

2. The oil company Shell admits to have infiltrated the Nigerian goverment at all levels. To such an extent that a Shell executive boasted that they know exactly everything that goes on within the Nigerian ministries. Such capitalistic, corrupt infiltration of a goverment is clearly anything but “democratic” or ethical.

  • The publication of the cables also brought to light the high level of corruption, bribery, criminal dealings of the current Russian goverment. Now its up to the russian population to take action (if they can) and try to reform such a obscure goverment procedures.

The Bad

  • Some of the cables published couldn’t have come at a worse time. A time where the economy is bad, the Middle East is unstable and North Korea is highely agressive.
  1. By revealing that China is progessively withdrawing its support to North Korea, the north koreans will feel threatened to lose its biggest patron and thus seek to further distabilize the Korean region.
  2. By revealing that US is backed by many Arab countries in its attempt to contain Iran’s influence/nuclear proliferation; expect the already-radical Iranian president to turn even more radical.
  3. By revealing the weakness or corruption of many African presidents, the publication has put the continent’s stability at test.
  • Also, USA’s political credibility has been weakened worldwide.

The Ugly

  • Several cables revealed that behind the deities of the Saudi Arabian royalty, there are parties that include alcohol, strippers and drugs. Have only two words to say on the matter – PARTY POOPER.
  • The US goverment’s response of prosecuting and shutting down Internet sites goes agaisnt the ideal of freedom of speech. Such action has only made the USA look undemocratic, like China.
  • If people of the likes of Julian Assange can hack into Pentagon archives and shutdown Visa.com; imagine how easily they could steal our passwords and other personal digital information.

Conclusion

While unmasking corruption and inmoral actions is always justified (Vietnam, Watergate, in this case the corruption of Nigeria and American espionage in the United Nations) I believe the problem lies not in the action, but in the indiscriminate manner such information was made public. A responsible person would have taken the time to actually skim through the cables and publish that which is useful for society. The data which helps foment human relations.

What is Julian Assange seeking to gain by publishing “provoking” personal correspondence of US diplomats? (such as the one Hillay Clinton states that the Argetinian president seems “mentally unstable” or another that describes Nicolas Sarkozy as “impatient and undiplomatic”) Does this type of personal correspondence help the international community in any way? Or does it merely seek to obtain notoriety and spark bitterness between world leaders?

Just like you wouldn’t inform a patient in intensive care that his parents have just suffered a horrible death; when revealing secrets one has to take the timing and possible consequences into account. In this case, some of the cables published about Iran and North Korea seem more likely to trigger violence than “enlightment” or “transparency”. So while I wouldn´t call Julian Assange a criminal, I would definitely label some of his actions as unthoughtful.

And as for the US goverment, instead of trying to control the release of information (which is impossible), your efforts would be better spent in figuring out ways to better protect secrets so they doesn’t get “stolen” in the first place.

———————————————-

For more information, The Guardian has developed a detailed interface/map of the 250,000 cables

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Bush and Obama: Dumb & Dumber?

With the recent Republican victory at the House of Representatives, will the economy finally rise from the depths?

But more importantly: Is Barack Obama running our economy to the ground?

Well lets start by taking a look at the Dow Jones, the most recognized economic indicator in the United States.

Humph… thats odd. The current economic market doesn´t look so bad. Then again, maybe the Dow Jones is influenced by the government in order to cover-up the economic blunders.

So let´s take a look at the second most prestigious economic indicator, the NASDAQ,  who follows the 5000 most powerful companies in the country.

It actually seems like the economy has been rising since Obama swore office in January 2009. Naaa.. the NASDAQ has to be wrong. We all know that the  NASDAQ doesn´t incorporate the investment market and can be dangerously speculative at times.

It´s decided, lets take a glimpse at the  S&P 500: the most represantive (realistic) index of the US market, that also incorporates the investment sector.

Well, the numbers speak for themselves: it looks like Obama isn´t so dumb after all. In two years as president, he has actually steadily increased the market value of all indicators, surpassed two indicators compared to pre-crisis US economy (2006), and gotten fairly close on the third one.

  • Dow Jones (2006/2010): 11,000/11,178
  • NASDAQ (2006/2010): 2,010/2,532
  • S&P 500 (2006/2010): 1,280/1,197

We don´t care about the markets. We want jobs and the unemployment rate is amonsgt the highest in US history. Surely President Obama is the one to blame. Well, before jumping to conclusions, lets take a closer look at the unemployment rate.

Clearly, one can observe that the rise of unemployment precedes Obama´s presidency. If anything, such unenployment crisis started in George W. Bush´s last year as president. (+ 2.7% in only ONE year) Since Obama swore office, the rate has only increased by 1.9% and appears to have been stabilized over the last year. Simply put: Bush tossed a HOT potato at Obama. Obama suffered some burns, BUT has been able to hold on to it.

So for all the politicians out there who claim that ¨the economy is worse than ever¨, that ¨unemployment is Obama´s fault¨ and that ¨change hasn´t come¨, you my political friends are either:

  • Blind
  • Dumb
  • Liars
  • Or all of the above

And finally, Why giving a majority of Congress to the Republicans is a dangerous solution, or at least, very unproductive:

Reason # 1

In the Puerto Rican elections of 2004: the red party won the executive branch and the blue party won the legislative branch. What followed were the 4 most unproductive years in the history of the Puertorican government. Why? Because anything that the ¨President¨ proposed would not be approved by Congress, and anything that Congress proposed would be vetoed by the ¨President¨…

When the legislative and executive branches of a government aren´t willing to cooperate (For instance….The Republicans, who have been agaisnt´t 99% of Obama´s policies) the result is government paralysis. And God knows, a paralized US government in the speedy socio-economical world of today… would be like signing up a turtle for the Kentucky Derby.

Reason #2

The leap has been made...

Whether we like or not… the stimulus package of billions of dollars has already been launched. We can´t take it back now. So the question is not whether we should have been launched or not, but rather ¨How can we make the best of it?

While I, and nobody for that matter, can know if Obama ´s plan will work (as its results are designed to be long-term), one thing I do know for certain: undermining the plan will only make the situation worse. Obama made a bet to obtain a better future in America, and cutting holes into the parachute carrying all our money doesn´t seem like a bright idea.

January 20, 2009 – the day CHANGE man took office. Only six months passed before the vultures started circuling him like a carcass. A year later, and the media couldn´t stop rambling on how he hadn´t ¨delivered¨ his promises.  Two years later, and already the public is withdrawing their support. We all seem to forget the joy we felt when the election results rolled in. Those brief hours were hope returned to the American spirit. But those days are long gone now.

I guess that if these last two years have taught me anything it´s this:

Negativity, Cynicism, Haste – weight more in our hearts than – Hope, Faith, Patience… to our presidents.

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They should have known better…

Instinct, Adrenaline, Boxing. In order of appearance these all befell upon him… befell upon him as he found himself facing a group of 8 goons…. eight goons who messed with the wrong ¨he¨

If the red layer isn´t there, you ain´t a real man I swear

How did he get in this situation? That´s interesting… well for one it all started around 10:30 pm, when a group of buddies convinced him to go out partying.

While hesitant at first, after drinking one beer he cheered up and decided to make the most out of the night. They went disco. He drank a couple beers. He was having a good time talking to two women at the bar. He starts dancing. Until suddenly there came a Little man.  A Little man with a tiny hand. The Little man decided to walk while sticking an elbow to HIS throat. HE didn´t think that was right so he smacked a punch into the Little Man´s face… naaa, he didn´t smack the Little Man… well not till later.

Back with him. He decides that elbow in throat is not cool, that stuff won´t fly… So he turns around and tells the Little Man to lower his shoulder. The Little man gets upset and decides to make a ¨show¨ of it. From now on, the Small fellow wouldn´t speak a word to him. Even then, he decides to try to settle a deal. All he wants to do is party, he ain’t looking for a bad time. But the Little man doesn´t listen. After thirty seconds of talking, the Little Man gets backed up by Tall guy, guy #3, and guy #4 . He looks around an can at least count 8 goons surrounding him… Then out of nowhere Tall guy slaps he in the face pretty strong. He is taking bullshit no more.

Instinct kicks in. His mental state lowers itself to almost primitive levels: he have just been physically aggressed. He does not believe in violence, but there are certain boundaries and this Tall guy had just crossed the top one.

Turn. His right punch is already ripping through the air… its desired destination coming dead on close. The Tall guy hasn´t stopped smiling by the time the knuckles make contact with the nose. Tall guy recoils backwards in pain. He then turns and jabs the Little Man in the face, and follows up with a straight punch at guy #3´s chin.

The adreline spikes up. He steps back and is punched in the elbow and the cheek by guy #4. He doesn´t feel any… any pain that is. The fourth guy then slumbers forward and tries to wrestle with him. But he is already twisting his torso. That twist allows him to break away quickly and punch the fourth guy straight in the brow. The adrenaline rush still active, he looks around to see there are still four more college kids around him…

Then finally there comes the boxing, he zig zags his way across the dance floor and then manages to land a punch in guy # 5 face. He then pivots to quickly power punch guy # 6 in the nose. All of this is just a dance, a reaction, a trained instinct. For by the time guy # 7 has stepped in front of him, a left fist is already striking cheekbone. He has no time to lose. By the time he gets down from the scaffolding, he has already smacked seven different faces while only taking two hits in return. He makes his way to the bouncers as seven humiliated faces give chase, two of them recently iniated members of the Black-eyed Peas.

Who is he?

¨He¨ could be you, he could be me, he could be a friend, he could be anybody….
Only one thing is for certain: he wasn´t a coward. He knew his own limits, how far he was willing to allow other people to disrespect him. Words are just words…. and physical aggression, physical aggression. The second he felt the palm make contact with his ear and forehead, he stung back.

You see, he does not believe in violence. he is civilized man, but he also knows that deep down we are all still in touch with our instinct. And when our instinct cries with outrage due to injustice: he doesn´t think too much, he reacts. He reacts to protect his honor, he reacts to protect his family name, but more importantly he reacts because he is ¨right¨.

I guess the moral of the story is that one should avoid fighting as much as possible, but when fighting comes banging at your doorstep: don´t be afraid to knock back. Cause if you don´t, prepare to have your doorstep trashed everyday for the rest of your life.

Shakespeare: Brave men only die once…
Cowards die many times before their death…

By the way… what ever happened to guy #8? Guess he will never know.

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