chris.hamby + terrorism   9

Triple Frontera
Just downstream from the world's largest hydroelectric facility, at the confluence of theIguazu and Parana Rivers, is a zone known as the Triple Frontera.  Located on the mighty Parana and IguazuRivers, the area is one of the fastest growing, most important, and mostdangerous areas in the Southern Cone of South America.  Located where the territories of Argentina,Brazil and Paraguay meet, the Triple Frontera is made up of the cities ofCiudad del Este (Paraguay), Foz de Iguazu (Brazil), and Puerto Iguazu(Argentina).  Since negotiation andconstruction for the bi-national Itaipu Dam began with the Iguazu Act in 1966,the population of the Triple Frontera has grown from 60,000 to over 750,000.  The zone is centered over top of one ofthe largest freshwater reserves in the world- the Guarani Aquifer. Because of differences in border controls and patent laws in the threecountries, the Triple Frontera is a center for the manufacture and popular saleof manufactured goods and contraband.  Stolenautos from nearby city centers such as Buenos Aires are processed here andresold in secondary markets.  The contrabandand narcotics trade is supposedly run by bands of organized criminals ofvarious degrees of sophistication.  Thereis evidence that the FARC runs significant narco-traffic through here, usingthe area as the southern hub for the cocaine trade, supplying the capitalcities of the Rio de la Plata region (Asuncion, Montevideo, Buenos Aires,Brasilia, as well as Rio and Sao Paulo are all in the watershed).  International terrorist groups such asHezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Al Queda maintain cells and logistics assistancewithin the Triple Frontera and terrorist attacks that occurred in Buenos Aires in1992 and 1994 may have been perpetrated by terrorist cells based in the TripleFrontera zone.The area is considered the most destabilized and dangerous in all ofSouth America outside of the FARC-controlled regions of Colombia (including theDarien Gap).  The terrorist attacks inBuenos Aires prompted the formation of the “Comando Tripartito de la TripleFrontera”, a loose organization consisting primarily of Argentina borderpatrol, and Brazilian Air Force and intended to coordinate methods ofterritorial control and contain organized crime and terrorist activity in theregion, especially the small narcotics planes coming from Bolivia and Colombia.  The Argentine border, considered easier to controlbecause of the much smaller population in Puerto Iguazu, is seen as a key inthe policing efforts.  Post-September 11thhas seen an intensification of the efforts with theadvent of the “3+1” effort (including the United States). [just downstream from the Itaipu Dam, the Puente de la Amistad (Friendship Bridge) inextricably links Paraguay and Brazil; completed in 1965, the year before the Itaipu Dam negotiations began, most of Paraguay's imports and exports pass over the bridge; it is the main artery for smugglers in the area and a gorgeous piece of Brazilian modernism][the Itaipu Dam on the Rio Parana, inextricably links Paraguay and Brazil; beginning in 1966, the dam is a result of 30 years of negotiation and construction by the two nations; in 2000 the dam generated over 93,000 gigawatt hours of electricity, supplying Brazil with 20% of its needs and Paraguay with 94% of its electric power][the Triple Frontera zone; Paraguay is the left 1/3 of the image, Argentina is to the south and Brazil is to the north; huge swaths of the rain forest in Brazil and Paraguay have been put into agricultural production, much of the Argentine side is protected as a national forest (modeled on the North American system); the Itaipu Dam is just north of the image] [agricultural production dominates the shores of Lake Itaipu in Brazil and Paraguay, just north of the Itaipu Dam]All of this geopolitical intrigue is fascinating and horrifying (and treating it is beyond the scope of a FASLANYC post).  The combination of the hydro-geological and technological sublime with the Falls of Iguazu and the Itaipu dam just a few kilometers from one another is absolutely unmatched.  On top of that add an exploding population, large-scale resource exploitation, violence and ambiguity in jurisdictional authority and a large percentage of the world’s freshwater and you quickly realize that we are dealing with a massive and severe situation, one brimming with potentiality and generative capacity.  Leaving aside judgements regarding the legality and justice of certain actions, it is the fact that here they find space to operate and to generate new forms that is so intriguing.  Were the area under the control of a single national regime, or the geography not as varied, this would not be the case, for better or worse.This situation can be best understood and studied as a frontier landscape, a condition fundamental to and common throughout the Americas.  We would suggest that an ontological understanding of borders and frontiers, and the differences between them, are key to developing a uniquely American landscape praxis.  In the case of the Triple Frontera, the ambiguity and opportunity afforded to alternative activities is created by a large heterogeneous population divided by different regimes of control , all settled in a vicious and potent geography that is difficult to police.  At the Triple Frontera, the frontier is in the city.[inside the Itaipu Dam- a gratuitous nab from wikipedia]
south_america  argentina  terrorism  frontier  brazil  infrastructure  american_landscape  from google
october 2011 by Chris.Hamby
Schneier on Security: Close the Washington Monument
Securing the Washington Monument from terrorism has turned out to be a surprisingly difficult job. The concrete fence around the building protects it from attacking vehicles, but there's no visually appealing way to house the airport-level security mechanisms the National Park Service has decided are a must for visitors. It is considering several options, but I think we should close the monument entirely. Let it stand, empty and inaccessible, as a monument to our fears.
government  politics  terrorism  security  washington  article 
december 2010 by Chris.Hamby
Top Secret America |
"Top Secret America" is a project nearly two years in the making that describes the huge national security buildup in the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
america  politics  terrorism  government  report 
july 2010 by Chris.Hamby
Stop calling us terrorists or we'll blow you up!
The indisputable logic of the Pakistani Taliban:
Meanwhile, a Taliban group also sent two letters to the Lahore Press
Club – one on October 12 and the other on October 14 – warning that if
the media “does not stop portraying us as terrorists ... we will blow
up offices of journalists and media organisations”.
Media  Pakistan  Terrorism  from google
october 2009 by Chris.Hamby
The Bush Legacy
Ed Gillespie’s RealClearPolitics article on “Myths and Facts About the Real Bush Record” is about as stupid and dishonest as you’d expect. But after “debunking” five perfectly accurate alleged myths, Gillespie gets into the whopper that really gets my goat:

And one last fact: Our homeland has not suffered another terrorist attack since September 11, 2001. That, too, is part of the real Bush record.

This is like saying that except for the Great Depression, Herbert Hoover had a good economic record. The vast majority of Americans to have ever been killed by foreign terrorists were killed under George W. Bush’s watch. As Gillespie says, whether or not a president succeeds in preventing foreign terrorists from murdering thousands of American citizens is an important part of that president’s record. And Bush took office on January 20, 2001. Nine or so months later by far the largest terrorist attack on American soil was perpetrated. That’s a fantastically enormous failing. If you only look at Bush’s final seven years, you’ll see that he was as good as every other president at preventing terrorist attacks. And if you include his entire presidency, you’ll see that he was by far the worst.
Bush_Legacy  terrorism  from google
december 2008 by Chris.Hamby
The Paradox of the False Positive
An excerpt from Cory Doctorow's latest book, Little Brother:If you ever decide to do something as stupid as build an automatic terrorism detector, here's a math lesson you need to learn first. It's called "the paradox of the false positive," and it's a doozy.Say you have a new disease, called Super-AIDS. Only one in a million people gets Super-AIDS. You develop a test for Super-AIDS that's 99 percent accurate. I mean, 99 percent of the time, it gives the correct result -- true if the subject is infected, and false if the subject is healthy. You give the test to a million people.One in a million people have Super-AIDS. One in a hundred people that you test will generate a "false positive" -- the test will say he has Super-AIDS even though he doesn't. That's what "99 percent accurate" means: one percent wrong.What's one percent of one million?1,000,000/100 = 10,000One in a million people has Super-AIDS. If you test a million random people, you'll probably only find one case of real Super-AIDS. But your test won't identify *one* person as having Super-AIDS. It will identify *10,000* people as having it.Your 99 percent accurate test will perform with 99.99 percent *inaccuracy*. That's the paradox of the false positive. When you try to find something really rare, your test's accuracy has to match the rarity of the thing you're looking for. If you're trying to point at a single pixel on your screen, a sharp pencil is a good pointer: the pencil-tip is a lot smaller (more accurate) than the pixels. But a pencil-tip is no good at pointing at a single *atom* in your screen. For that, you need a pointer -- a test -- that's one atom wide or less at the tip.This is the paradox of the false positive, and here's how it applies to terrorism:Terrorists are really rare. In a city of twenty million like New York, there might be one or two terrorists. Maybe ten of them at the outside. 10/20,000,000 = 0.00005 percent. One twenty-thousandth of a percent.That's pretty rare all right. Now, say you've got some software that can sift through all the bank-records, or toll-pass records, or public transit records, or phone-call records in the city and catch terrorists 99 percent of the time.In a pool of twenty million people, a 99 percent accurate test will identify two hundred thousand people as being terrorists. But only ten of them are terrorists. To catch ten bad guys, you have to haul in and investigate two hundred thousand innocent people. Guess what? Terrorism tests aren't anywhere *close* to 99 percent accurate. More like 60 percent accurate. Even 40 percent accurate, sometimes.What this all meant was that the Department of Homeland Security had set itself up to fail badly. They were trying to spot incredibly rare events -- a person is a terrorist -- with inaccurate systems.DHS, in Doctorow's skillfully-written book (full disclosre: I'm a long-time fan) has taken over San Francisco after a pretty horrific terrorist attack, and implemented a security net so obnoxious that everyone is a suspect, turning the "innocent until proven guilty" maxim fundamental to the US justice system on its ear in the name of "protecting" the very citizens it interrogates on every corner.As if we needed a reminder, the recent Mumbai attacks have thrust the extraordinarily rare specter of the large-scale, well-coordinated urban terror strike back into the public spotlight. Doctorow's greatest strength has always been his ability to make the future feel incredibly near; it is not even remotely difficult to imagine a scenario like the one described in LIttle Brother playing out were another major attack to strike a US city. Almost as frightening than the idea of an actual attack (or more frightening, depending on who you talk to) is the idea of what might come after. Imagine a massive citizen-tracking web, to put London's CCTV to shame, layered on top of the already overanxious contemporary cityscape, and consider the paradox of the false positive. Not pretty. Little Brother is available for free download under Creative Commons licence right here.
surveillance  terrorism  cory_doctorow  san_francisco  anxiety  futurism  review  from google
december 2008 by Chris.Hamby
My Mumbai
I was lucky enough to be out of Mumbai, where I live and work, during the terrifying days of November 26-29. When I flew back last Saturday, I returned to a different city. On the face of it, not much had changed up North (the attacks were in the South), except that things were eerily calm and an intangible gloom hung in windows and faces. But as my taxi sailed familiar routes, places where I had met friends for coffee, bought my first salwar kameez, picked up vegetables on the way home or got of the train every day – the backdrops against which I had carved out a home here – seemed physically hostile and foreign.Terrorists focus their attacks on large cities not only because they have dense concentrations of people, but because they can use the fabric of the city itself to dishearten and terrorize. They prey on the physical landscape of the city, and even more devastatingly, on inhabitants' imagined cities. Their aim is to transform individual and collective memories of, myths about, and relationships to specific places in the city by converting them into loci of fear and insecurity.It makes sense that those wishing to destabilize and cause fear would attack urban icons. Civilizations find their most visible expression in cities, and iconic sites come to serve as symbols that define collective identity. Desecrating iconic sites like Mumbai's Taj Hotel is a way to destroy much more than lives or historic structures — it is a way to attack the heart of the city and nation. Damaging collective reference points creates is a deep sense of instability and insecurity. Although the Taj will be rebuilt, it will not be the same Taj; terror will be written into the physical structure and its depictions in postcards, pamphlets and photographs for some time to come.Besides iconic sites, perpetrators of the attacks in Mumbai and other parts of India have targeted other symbolic places in the city to distort their meaning in the minds of users. Sites of leisure, like amusement parks, nightclubs and cafes; sites of healing and protection, like hospitals and police vehicles; and sites of exchange, like street markets and stock exchanges, become places of insecurity and potential violence. Threatened or actual attacks on every mode of transportation – airplanes and airports, trains and railway stations, buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws – seek to paralyze us. Terror works by causing people to enslave themselves by confining their movements, barring themselves from certain places in the city, and shrinking their spheres of security.Insecurity and public calls for action lead to increased militarization of the city, as your bags are triple-checked in malls and movie theaters, billboards remind you to keep an eye out for unattended baggage and armed policemen peer into your taxi at checkpoints. Heightened policing and militarization, in turn, reinforces the identification of certain sites with violence and fear.As terror tries to colonize our imagined cities, it is through reclamation of city space that people affirms their resilience in the face of terror. Mumbaikers have been incredibly insistent on maintaining their daily routines and the life of the city. On the day that I got back to Mumbai, wedding processions took place on the streets, construction work proceeded apace, and people were out eating, shopping and watching movies. I already managed to get stuck in a traffic jam. Leopold Cafe, a well-known tourist hangout that was the first hit in the attacks, re-opened on Sunday, and Not Just Jazz by the Bay, a popular bar and restaurant near the Oberoi Hotel at Nariman Point that was taken over by terrorists, was full of revelers by Saturday. Of course, the majority of Mumbai's population – hawkers, slum and pavement dwellers, day laborers – cannot afford to stay home or avoid the train. They've never been to the Taj and face many more immediate threats to their lives and sustenance than the specter of terrorism.The day I got back to Mumbai, it was the familiar whirl of the drill in the adjoining building, the cries of the vegetable-wallah on the street and the sound of the bell ringing in the morning puja that represented a city insistent on staying alive. In time, I hope I can reclaim my Mumbai, as well. (Photo of Taj by Indranil Mukherjee, Photo of Leopold's by Amar Singh, )
terrorism  mumbai  from google
december 2008 by Chris.Hamby

Copy this bookmark: