Justin's blog

The Internet turns 40


40 years ago the first remote connection between computers ushered in the age of the internet. On October 29, 1969, a computer lab at UCLA connected to the Stanford Research Institute, and then continued to spread out and connect with computers across the planet. The internet and its ability to connect the entire world and share understanding and knowledge is the most profound technology ever invented for creating world peace.

The internet is a technology whose benevolent uses far outweighed any military application alone. It was originally called ARPANET, and was a project of the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense established in response to the Soviet launching of Sputnik. Its mission was to keep U.S. military technology more sophisticated than that of any other nation. They were sourced with creating the technology, then allowing military and civilian use of these "most sophisticated" tools. One of the early projects was the study of space. In 1960, all of its civilian space programs were transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the military space programs to the Air Force. Shortly after that, ARPA's investment in information technologies and networking computers would lead to the creation of the internet.

ARPA, now called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is no longer directly involved with the running of the internet. As the internet grew into a worldwide project, its management was handed over to the U.S. government-run Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann). After years of criticism from the rest of the world, the U.S. government eased its control over Icann, signing an agreement which came into effect on October 1, 2009 and putting the control of Icann under the scrutiny of the global "internet community". Less than a month later, the internet regulator voted to end the exclusive use of English scripts, a policy that is about to transform the online world make the internet far more global.

The board of Icann's annual meeting in Seoul this week formally approved plans to allow non-Latin-script web addresses for the first time, allowing domain names in Arabic, Chinese, Russian, and other scripts. More than half of the 1.6 billion people who use the internet speak languages with non-Latin scripts. The move is being described as the biggest change to the way the internet works since it was created 40 years ago. The first Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) could be in use next year.

The world's first computer router, or connecting device.


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Inventing a Love Virus


If you could invent anything, what would it be? That was the question posed by Good Magazine to its readers. Majora Carter, the environmental justice advocate and founder of Sustainable South Bronx, responded with a unique and interesting idea... a love virus.

"By fixing the 'empathy-deficit' of business leaders, community organizers, and government bureaucrats, the Love Virus could provide the much-needed impetus for the profound mental transformation needed for essential environmental change."

Perhaps the act of loving itself is contagious, and doesn't need a virus to transmit. Maybe we just need a lot more love to help it spread. Regardless, it's become imperative that our world leaders and captains of industry show more love.


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Imams and Rabbis for Peace


The Third World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace took place December 16-17, 2008 in Paris, France. Imams and Rabbis came from all over the world to bring the voice of Judaism and Islam to build bridges of dialogue and help solve conflicts motivated by religion in the Middle East, Europe, and the world. This year was expanded to include Christians. There were meetings and talks, and in the evenings the music of the band Andalucia, who have mutual Jewish and Islamic heritages, brought people closer together.

Religious dignitaries, Imams and Rabbis, together with Christians and other religious experts from around the world met to defend the sacred character of peace. Their aim is to voice the common view of Islam and Judaism, and create a joint monitoring group to support, develop, and propagate initiatives that encourage peaceful coexistence and dialogue.

An Israeli Rabbi and an Iranian Iman.

The Congress brought together 85 religious leaders and experts from over 22 countries. Participants included the President of the Republic of Senegal, who was also the Chairman of the 11th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference. After being elected President of Senegal in 2000, His Excellency Abdoulaye Wade implemented noble ideas for unity and peace in West Africa and for sustainable development.

A Rabbi chanting in Arabic to Islamic music.

The Congress was organized by the UNESCO Division for Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue in cooperation with the Hommes de Parole Foundation.


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Peace Without Borders - historic peace concert held today


Tens of thousands of people converged today on the border between Colombia and Venezuela for a free concert called Peace Without Borders, held as a call for peace after the region’s worst diplomatic crisis in decades. The concert featured some of the biggest names in Latin American music, and was organized by Colombian rock star Juanes, who said he wanted the event to ease tensions and promote good relations. It was intended to send a message to the leaders of the two countries to give peace a chance.

"The place we chose is something symbolic. It does not mean that this is intended to promote peace between Colombia and Venezuela only. The border means the border of all countries," explained Juanes. "It would have been much more practical and simple to do it in a city, but the border is a symbol of peace between all countries. And this message is for everyone, all the countries in Latin America and the U.S. as well."

The artists and many of the attendees dressed in white in a show of cross-national solidarity. The concert took place on the Simon Bolivar bridge linking Cucuta, Colombia, and San Antonio del Tachira, Venezuela, surrounded by white flags. Children’s choruses from both countries started the concert, with each artist performing three songs and then joining together for several songs in the finale.

"It’s not that a song is going to change people. But music becomes an excuse to send a message, that we’re all here together building peace, that we are here as citizens and this is what we want, and we have to be heard. I think the governments have to understand and listen. We don’t want to get involved in conflicts between people," said Juanes.

"Peace is the most important thing we have and we have to fight for it."


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The peace sign turns 50 years old


It is inspiring how quickly the symbol created for nuclear disarmament has spread around the world as the "peace symbol", becoming one of the most recognized symbols on earth. It seems to show a huge demand for expressions of peace, especially after the World Wars. People everywhere identify with the concept of peace, and feel a need to express that concept universally. There has never been that desire to have a symbol for war, which seems to reflect people's basic preference for peace.

The "peace symbol" was designed on February 21, 1958 by Gerald Holtom in England. The symbol is the composite semaphore signal of flags for the letters "N" and "D" standing for Nuclear Disarmament ("N" is two flags held down at a 45 degree angle, and "D" is one flag up and one flag down). The symbol was introduced at the Aldermaston March, the first action of the newly formed Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). The "Disarmament Symbol" made its public debut on April 4, 1958, in front of 5,000 people gathered in London to show support for the Ban the Bomb movement.

They came to demonstrate against Britain's first hydrogen bomb tests. The Cold War was in full swing and Britain had just carried out its first hydrogen bomb test at Christmas Island in the Pacific. They assembled at Trafalgar Square, and then thousands walked to the town of Aldermaston, site of an atomic weapons research plant being built.

It was a very socially mixed, musical affair. Musicians kept up the marchers' spirits by playing their instruments, a key role in this historic event. Over the next four days, the marchers braved rain and snow to march over 50 miles. By the time they reached Aldermaston, they had grown to a procession of marchers a mile long.


Gerald Holtom was a professional artist and graduate of the Royal College of Arts in London. He was one of many intellectuals in Britain during the 1950's who were deeply disturbed by witnessing the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and then watching in disbelief as their own government, despite being in a time of post-war material hardship, raced to join the nuclear club.

The peace symbol was first drawn on home-made banners and ceramic badges. Although the symbol was originally designed only as a sign for nuclear disarmament, it quickly spread around the world and within ten years had become the international symbol of peace. It has deliberately never been copyrighted. Throughout the years it has taken on many different meanings, including freedom and unity.

Millions of people around the world, regardless of race or religious beliefs, have looked to the peace sign to unite them. It has become an enduring cultural icon. It is probably the most commonly used non-religious symbol of hope in the world, instantly recognized anywhere as the universal sign for peace. Quite an accomplishment for an image which, instead of being based on some famous existing object, was created from scratch to represent a common idea.

Unfortunately, after 50 years we live in a world no closer to nuclear disarmament than it was in 1958. In fact, it seems we are farther away than ever before. Although the world is currently filled with wars, the peace symbol is a reminder of how much people long for peace.




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Music and Peace



Marking the International Day of Peace, September 21, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named Daniel Barenboim as a Messenger of Peace to help raise global awareness of the world body's work and ideals.

Others named as Messengers of Peace were the Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, the Japanese-American violinist Midori Goto and Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan, First Lady of Dubai, who is the first Arab woman to compete in equestrian events at the continental, world and Olympic levels. They join existing Messengers of Peace primatologist Jane Goodall, actor Michael Douglas, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Eli Wiesel, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

On his appointment, Barenboim said, "Music teaches us to express ourselves to the fullest whilst simultaneously listening to the other."

Daniel Barenboim has long used music to create peace. He was born in Argentina and raised in Israel and lived in Europe and America. In 1999, he and Palestinian-born writer and Columbia University professor Edward Said founded the West-Eastern Divan Workshop in the German city of Weimar. It involved talented young musicians between the ages of 14 and 25 from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Tunisia and Israel. The idea was that they would come together to make music on neutral ground with the guidance of some of the world's best musicians. Mr. Barenboim chose two concertmasters for the orchestra, an Israeli and a Lebanese. There were some tense moments among the young players at first, but the young musicians worked and played in increasing harmony. It has since found a permanent home in Seville, Spain, where it has been based since 2002.

Edward Said passed away in 2003 but his partnership with Daniel Barenboim lives on through the West-Eastern Divan Workshop and Orchestra and through the Barenboim-Said Foundation, which promotes music and cooperation through projects targeted at young Arabs and Israelis.

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The Peace Train returns


Yusuf Islam, the musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, has quietly returned to music with a new album and concerts. Thirty years after the folk singer converted to Islam, changed his name and dropped out of music, calling it un-Islamic, he has picked up the guitar once more. He has reconciled pop music with his faith and wants to use it to spread a message of peace.

"When I come out now, I sound quite similar. For some people, it's a welcome return to the sound of my voice and my music," says Islam, who as Cat Stevens sold 60 million albums with songs like "Wild World" and "Peace Train".

He said there is interest in his music now because the "tremendous conflicts that have been created by extremists" have created a longing for the peaceful sounds and positive messages of his songs, old and new.

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Turning guns into guitars


The Battalion of Immediate Artistic Reaction is a group of Columbian musicians and political activists who are tired of Colombia's four-decade old civil war. They are committed not only to making music, but also making peace; by making positive changes for Colombia, reducing the violence, and teaching people to live together.

Cesar Lopez founded the organization in 2003, after the bombing of the El Nogal nightclub which killed 36 people in the capital's trendy Zona Rosa district. The unnecessary violence gave Lopez an idea. "We were playing our music on the streets near the club," says Lopez, "when I noticed that a soldier was holding his rifle the same way I was holding my guitar."

He then set out to convert used guns into musical instruments. "In the first one," explains Lopez, "the guitar isn't well integrated with the gun. But it's better now. The gun is in service to the guitar, which is the idea." Lopez gets the guns through an anti-land mine group connected to Colombia's peace commissioner's office. Most of the firing components are removed so it can no longer be fired. Then a guitar maker adds the fretboard, strings, and neck as well as an input for an electric amp.

Cesar Lopez is a classically-trained musician and composer who studied at Colombia's best conservatory, but instead of concert hall performances he chooses to play his music on the streets of Bogota. Using the Internet, the Battalion of Immediate Artistic Reaction mobilizes every time there is some kind of guerrilla attack in Bogota, heading out into the streets to serenade the victims with soothing music.

"Violence fears love because it is stronger," Lopez says.
"Violence fears my voice because it goes beyond death."

"What we want to create is an invitation to an attitude of change," he says. "The main idea is that weapons can be changed from an object of destructiveness to an object of constructiveness."

As the inventor of the escopetarra — his term for a rifle transformed into a guitar — Cesar Lopez breathes life into instruments of death. In response to the violence that has plagued his home in Bogota, Colombia, Lopez has discovered a way to channel this violence into "art, where creation triumphs over destruction."

Lopez’s home country, Colombia, has been plagued by civil war for the past five decades. Conflicts between the state, left-wing guerrillas, and shadowy ranks of for-hire paramilitaries have resulted in entrenched violence. Inspired to make his art part of the solution, Lopez created the escopetarra, a guitar that is made from an AK-47, the most used rifle in the world. As he says, “If the weapon, which was designed to kill, if its use can be changed, then why can’t humans change too?”

Cultures of Resistance made a short film about Cesar Lopez's work...

To learn more about Cesar Lopez and the Battalion of Immediate Artistic Reaction, and to hear some of their music, visit www.cesarlopez.org


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Music as a bridge to peace


In October 2005, a "DJ Summit" was held in Jerusalem to show the world that music can overcome differences and bridge cultural gaps. Entitled "Bridge for Peace", the party brought together three DJ's who came from cultures currently at war with one another.

The evening featured the house rhythms of Khalil Kamal from Ramallah in the West Bank, followed by the Arabic groove of Srulik Einhorn from Tel Aviv in Israel, and ended with the progressive house of Morad Kalice from Amman, Jordan. At a time when war has torn apart any political or social cooperation between their home countries, music served to connect them and enable them to see their similarities rather than their differences.

The summit was the idea of Srulik Einhorn, who is credited with helping to introduce Arabic electronic music to Tel Aviv's bars and clubs. After years of playing the music, he began making contact with DJ's in neighboring Arab countries. Einhorn visited Jordan where he met DJ Kalice, and attempted to bring him to a party in Tel Aviv. Kalice was initially refused entry, but eventually, the Interior Ministry issued a visa for Kalice to come to Israel. For the event, they chose the holy city of Jerusalem, and its largest club Haoman 17.

"It's a nice event of cooperation, and it's never been done in the region," said Einhorn. "Also, being in Jerusalem means doing it in the holy city to three religions."

During his performance, DJ Kalice displayed cellular text messages of encouragement from friends back in Jordan. "The message that I want to bring to the people is that music should bring people together," he said.

Khalil Kamal is Ramallah's leading DJ, but was born in Jerusalem. Being a DJ in the West Bank is not easy, and yet the 37 year old father of three has been performing for 11 years.

"It was the first time I was in such an atmosphere with a Jewish crowd. I was afraid that they wouldn't accept me because I'm an Arab. But they accepted everything I played," said DJ Khalil. "It wasn't only music. It was the only night that we felt there was no difference between Israeli, Palestinian, and Jordanian. We hope that they will feel that way on the street."

Because of travel restrictions and little publicity in East Jerusalem, there were mostly Israelis in the audience, many were soldiers on holiday. "It's putting the enemy in the DJ spot, and... he's not the enemy, he's just the guy spinning the records," said one attendee after leaving the club.

"We really enjoy performing together, and this allows the crowd to see that cooperation and coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians is possible." said Srulik Einhorn.

DJ Srulik Einhorn and DJ Khalil will perform together again in London on the winter solstice in December 2006, at a party called "Bridge of Peace".

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Ecological Debt Day


Today is the day of the year when mankind over-exploits the world's resources - the day when we start living beyond our ecological means for the rest of the year.

The New Economics Foundation has calculated from research by the Global Footprint Network that the day when our global resource consumption surpasses a sustainable level falls on October 9th this year. The world has a certain quantity of natural resources that can sustainably be used up each year, today is the date at which this annual capacity is reached.

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Religions unite for peace


The First World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace, held in Brussels in January 2005, was an historic milestone in Jewish-Muslim dialogue. The Second World Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace took place on March 19-22, 2006 in Seville, Spain. Over 150 Imams and Rabbis, among the most influential Jewish and Moslem leaders in the world, gathered to focus upon: promoting dialogue between Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, creating an opportunity for religious leaders to use their influence in conflict resolution in various regions of the world, helping religious leaders to challenge fanatics who are misusing religion, and creating structures and initiatives to continue practical day-to-day work.

At the Second Congress, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, called for the creation of a world body with representatives from the major religious groups, a "United Nations of religious groups". The Imam of Gaza, Imad al-Faluji, said politicians lied but religious leaders had a different objective - to work towards a higher good. The imams and rabbis at the conference said the world is in crisis and it is time they acted to restore justice, respect, and peace. The delegates have made it very clear that now is the time for concrete initiatives.

Religious leaders of different communities across the world joined their voices to condemn all instrumentalisation of the name of God or his principals for the use of violence. In doing so, they have won back Godís word taken hostage by extremists, and brought the voice of unity capable of opening the path to more concrete solutions: the promotion of education and knowledge, including the teaching of peace. Yesterday, the Dalai Lama was in San Francisco at the invitation of Muslim leaders for a historic peace gathering, continuing the path towards a "United Nations of Religions" set at the recent Congress of Imams and Rabbis for Peace. The gathering is the first assembly of a "religious parliament" that will meet once or twice annually in countries throughout the world. The intent is for religious leaders to unite in dispelling misunderstanding and injustice that breed extremism. San Francisco was picked for the gathering because it was where the United Nations was founded. Imam Seyed Mehdi Khorasani invited the Dalai Lama, urging him to meet with religious leaders and scholars to "construct a strategy that will unite our voices and express our common goal to live in a world without violence." The Dalai Lama was joined by approximately 100 world-renowned scholars, teachers, and leaders of Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and other faiths who met with their Muslim and Buddhist counterparts and took part in the landmark discussion. The Organising Committee for the gathering said in a statement:

"Religious intolerance, and the violence that tragically attends it, have masqueraded as a legitimate expression of religious conviction and have grabbed the world stage from the majority voices of reason. Those attending this gathering want to rectify this imbalance as they are acutely aware that political and economic agendas, however disguised, have no place in religious practice; and they are committed to acting in their communities to promote compassion and counter divisiveness. Never before have so many of the world's prominent and influential religious leaders come together at one time for such an imperative and specific purpose. The message of peace and understanding that will emanate from this conference and the solidarity powerfully represented by these great and compassionate thinkers speaking in unison will help heal the world."

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Why peace?


Why peace? The simple answer is so we can divert our resources, energy, and attention away from war and to other issues... things like the environment, climate change, poverty, hunger, disease, the lack of education and access to information and information technology.

And what could we get if we decided to spend our money on something other than war?

Well, according to the highly respected Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stieglitz of Columbia University and Linda Biomes, who teaches management at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the ultimate cost of the current Iraq war could go as high as $2 trillion. That figure appears in a paper released earlier this year, and it includes the cost of fighting the war now, caring for the wounded veterans of the war in future years, rebuilding a worn-out military, and other economic costs. Stieglitz and Biomes' estimate is based upon a U.S. deployment in Iraq that lasts until 2010. Under this scenerio, the United States military is spending $783 million a day, for seven years. This is more than the arms expenditures of all other nations combined.

A few months ago, Senator Edward Kennedy gave a moving statement on the Senate floor titled "The real cost of the Iraq war." It was an interesting look at what we could be spending our money on if we weren't at war. But Senator Kennedy used the then accepted figure of $195 million per day. Using the recent estimate of costs, the true cost of the Iraq war is over four times as much as the original figure. So to update the comparisons with a few examples...

One day in Iraq could provide health insurance coverage for one year to 1,523,600 uninsured children in America. One day in Iraq could employ 14,388 additional registered nurses for one year. One day in Iraq could pay for an increase of $13.36 per hour in the wages of every minimum wage worker in the country for a year. One day in Iraq could feed all of the starving children in the world today almost 18 times over!

Those are some really good reasons not to go to war.

As President Dwight Eisenhower observed in 1953... "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of its scientists, and the hopes of its children."

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Liberty goes Green


The Statue of Liberty in New York City's harbor has adopted renewable energy to help keep its torch lit. Starting this month, 100 percent of the electricity used by the Statue of Liberty will be offset by "green power".

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Vote for peace


The Peace Movement is becoming a political force that may effect the outcome of the next elections. A recent national poll shows that almost half of American voters agree with a pledge to vote for peace candidates. The pledge states: "I will not vote for or support any candidate for Congress or President who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq, and preventing any future war of aggression a public position in his or her campaign."

The national poll found that 45.9% of US voters agree - 20.1% strongly agree, and 25.8% somewhat agree - with the pledge. The poll was conducted by ICR Survey Research of Media, Pa., which also polls for ABC News, The Washington Post, and many corporations and research organizations.

The pledge is an educational project of the nonprofit Voters for Peace, to empower voters with the option of peace.

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Global opportunities

What difference can one website make? The World Peace Through Technology Organization has received visitors from around the world, including several at war with one another. If we could get these people talking to each other, maybe we could build a dialog between enemies. Here are some of the countries that have visited this website in the last month... United States, Australia, China, Great Britain, Vietnam, India, Canada, Taiwan, South Korea, Mexico, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Malaysia, Switzerland, Afghanistan, Turkey, Hungary, Trinidad and Tobago, Israel, Egypt, Norway, South Africa, Philippines, Peru, Jamaica, Pakistan, France, Italy, Poland, Mozambique, Lithuania, Kuwait, Lebanon, Thailand, Nepal, Singapore, Sweden, and the Russian Federation. Just imagine the possibilities.
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