Peace Blogs

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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A Still More Glorious Dawn Awaits


Just Brilliant!

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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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Code For A Cause


The World Peace Through Technology Organization recently affiliated with a technology user group, the Chicago Drupal Meet Up Group (CDMUG), to help inspire community-building and world peace through advanced technological tools. The Code for a Cause Hack-a-thon was a two day coding sprint where attendees had the opportunity to contribute to small development projects to create applications for local non-profit organizations and community groups.

The event was extremely successful with approximately two dozen active participants and another 50-60 observers who visited the Hack-a-thon to learn more about the use of open source software in the non-profit/volunteer sector. The participants developed an online homeless shelter search for Chicago, a prototype website for a non-profit organization called Green World Campaign, an online survey management and reporting tool, and a screen scraping tool for website migrations....

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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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Did you know?

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Baker Beach Tainted: An Eyewitness Account

It has been exactly one week since the horrible news of a gas and oil spill into the San Francisco Bay. The media tells us that 58 thousand gallons poured out of a fully loaded container ship bound for Korea when it clipped the middle tower of the western Bay Bridge span. We've all heard the finger pointing of blame in the news. We've all seen the impact on wildlife, especially seabirds. We all know that oil and water don't mix. It only took a day before the oil slick contaminated the shoreline around the middle of the bay, and then seeped out to the beaches on the Pacific coast.
Those who know me in San Francisco know how much I like to spend my afternoons down at the beach when itís a sunny "Baker Day". We get about 80 per year. Baker Beach is located only 20 short city blocks away from my home / office. I ride my bike down there 95% of the time. Being down on Baker can be a vibrant social scene; a gymnasium; a place to relax, be creative or read. Most days it resembles a fun vacation day, like at Club Med. It is also a wildlife refuge. Naturally, this catastrophe became an issue dear to my heart. Being so near the impact zone, I had to go down there myself and see the damage.
On Friday, I arrived solo and stepped under the yellow "CAUTION!" tape onto an empty beach. It was bizarre to walk completely alone to the north Baker hangout spot. As soon as I reached the surf I saw small globules of oil collected at the high tide mark. The oil balls were thick, chunky and shiny. Some seabirds were floating near the wave break or running around on the beach looking for food. I saw a few oil blemishes on their feathers. The scene - all alone in a toxic zone on a hot day - was very apocalyptical. It only took 10 minutes until I was spotted laying low at our duney site. Fellow beach pal Heinz met me at the steps to the bike rack just as I was being escorted out by a national park security guard. We sat above the beach closure sign on a beach dune overlook. From our perch we could see the full length of the beach both ways. We watched as the guard swooped out in his ATV to intercept other trespassers. With a heavy heart we spotted three bottlenose dolphins languishing about 20 meters offshore, as a slick of oil sludge drifted by on calm seas. They seemed to be resting, or perhaps recovering. The toxic shock must be a tremendous strain on all the wildlife of the Bay Area.
Today was another return day, except there was fog lingering on the coast, the kind you donít see until you are just about to drop the hill down to Baker. I decided to ride on because I told Meg and Heinz I'd meet them at our beach spot if we could get in, or at our Friday beach dune overlook. When I got there I saw the beach was still closed so I went to the overlook. Instead of a security guard patrolling the beach, two lines of a dozen white-suited toxic clean up crews slowly combed the beach. Meg and Heinz arrived with Tom, another fellow Baker aficionado. As we watched the clean up crew scour the beach a sea gull landed near us, hoping for a handout. The gull had oil splotches all over its body, with sizeable amounts on its head and webbed feet. We fed the hungry victim. The sight of the workers and the grimy bird set off an impassioned discussion between the four of us.

Heinz thought if a dolphin washed ashore dead, the authorities would try to get it out unseen without unwanted attention. Tom lamented on the breakdown of communications and the late containment response. He also pointed out that our spill was small compared to yesterdayís spill in the Black Sea, or the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska, 200 times bigger. Meg cried at the thought of all the suffering animals. For whatever it was worth, I apologized to the tainted gull below my breath.
If there can be any positive outcome to the 2007 oil spill, maybe the people of the Bay Area will become horrified enough to demand change. Perhaps as outraged and conscious people we can visualize phasing out oil and gas ASAP. In my opinion, the oil companies need to go. Battling them is David vs. Goliath. They are dangerous, unnecessary, and make profit-minded decisions without public oversight. They have been buying up alternative energy patents for decades. They quashed Tesla's free energy technology a century ago. They are also the largest corporations on the planet, some even rivaling the domestic economies of small countries (Exxon/Mobil passed Uruguay early in 2007). Then there is the damage done to the atmosphere by allowing these companies to direct our energy policies by prioritizing carbon-emitting fuels. I place my blame on the oil companies, more than the reckless sea captain or the late cleanup responders. Shame on you oil executives (and your lawyers) for polluting our world, for lobbying politicians to promote your agenda, all in the name of profit. You've not only taken away my favorite place, but much worse, you poisoned the bay.

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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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World Peace Through LAUGHTER!

At one of our How Weird Street Faire wrap-up meetings we discussed the idea of adding a comedy stage for the next How Weird. All humor. All the time. For the whole day. The SF-based comedy group "Killing My Lobster" has tentatively agreed to be a part of it.
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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


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