U.S. Military Unveils Heat Ray

•March 14, 2012 • 1 Comment

Yeah, you read that correctly.  The Pentagon revealed a new crowd dispersal weapon this week: a heat ray that “delivers sudden, unbearable heat, like the invisible wave when a hot oven door is opened but far more powerful – an intense, enveloping but non-lethal blast.”

"Active denial" technology gives warfighters something more persuasive than shouting but less harmful than shooting when dealing with potentially hostile crowds. - "Active denial" technology gives warfighters something more persuasive than shouting but less harmful than shooting when dealing with potentially hostile crowds. | Handout/U.S. Department of Defense


Check out the whole article and video from The Globe and Mail here.


Girl Power!

•March 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Women protesting: Russian police detain a participant

A really quick update today.  I found this slideshow called “Women Protesting Around the World” on The Guardian today and, being an ardent feminist, I had to share it.

Hmm.  Funny, they don’t seem to have any pictures of Camila Vallejo (below), the poster child and leading activist of Chile’s student movements last year.  You should definitely check out this feature on her, which is also from The Guardian.

From the BBC: Anatomy of an Israeli strike on Iran

•March 5, 2012 • Leave a Comment

BBC’s Jonathon Marcus has put together an analysis of how an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities could (will) play out.  Typical of the BBC, it includes enough pertinent information to hold the interest of a foreign policy nerd like myself while still being accessible to people who may be interested in the subject but don’t necessarily have a lot of background knowledge.

Map showing possible routes Israeli aircraft might take to bomb Iranian nuclear sites

Looking at today’s headlines, it seems inevitable that Israel will kick off the war this year.  Depending on who is guessing, it’ll probably occur between April-June or September-October.  Netanyahu wants to drop the bombs prior to the US Presidential elections in November, after which Obama’s tone towards the Israel’s policies is bound to be less conciliatory.  Regardless, I don’t see how the US would stand by if/when Israel finds that it’s gotten in over its head.

Again, the BBC analysis is here.

Five hip-hop songs that are somewhat related to war

•March 4, 2012 • 1 Comment

When I’m not reading about war and conflict, I’m usually listening to hip-hop.  Come to think of it, I’m often doing both of those things simultaneously (like right now). Anyway, I’ve been noticing how many hip-hop artists incorporate military or war themes into their songs.

Here are five of my favourites.  This is far from being an exhaustive list, so stay tuned for more.  If you have one you’d like me to post please leave it in the comments section or send me an e-mail.

*Note: I just figured out how to embed YouTube videos onto here, so hopefully you won’t have to put up with those annoying links that open into new windows anymore.  

Enjoy – but don’t watch any of these if you’re offended by explicit lyrics.

Killarmy – Red Dawn

Probably the most militaristic (or militant?) hip-hop group from the 1990s.  This gem from 1998’s “Dirty Weaponry” has been a playlist feature of mine for years.

“We go to war like Arabians, Pakistinians, Richmond and Indians
Germans, Muslims, Vikings, Patriots
Trojans, Conquistodors, Romans
Projects, Aztecs, Confederates, Yankees, Nazis”

Non Phixion – Black Helicopters

Late 90s shock rap at its best. A good illustration of the conspiracy theory subcurrent typical of the genre and period.

“Trained by an insane ex Marine
CIA trained a renegade assassin android
Passport pilot to black helicopter choppers over Bosnia
Sniffing so much coke nose is fucked up and bled a lot” 

Jedi Mind Tricks ft. R.A. the Rugged Man – Uncommon Valor

Probably the most historically oriented hip-hop song about war – the Vietnam War specifically – that I’ve ever heard.

“It frightens me and I just want to see my son and moms
But over here they dropping seven million tons of bombs
I spend my days dodging all these booby traps and mines
And at night, praying to God that I get back alive”

O.C. ft. Organized Konfusion – War Games 

DJ Premier, you’ve done it again.

“My main frame, discipline like a soldier
Ready for war, pushups get my chest swoll up
What’s the deal Preme? I mean the scheme
I think I got it locked in ni**a, War Games is the theme”

Zach de la Rocha ft. Krs One and Last Emperor – CIA

I love the Big L sample, “So get that flashlight outta my face”.  Definitely not a pro-government song.


“I bring the sun at Red Dawn to pull the thoughts of Franz Fanon
So stand at attention, devil dirge
You’ll never survive choosing sides against the Wretched of the Earth
The infiltrator, tribe intoxicator, people incarcerator
Liberation movement annihilator

I Watched “Act of Valor”

•March 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Have you ever been playing a first person shooter like Modern Warfare, or Medal of Honour and thought to yourself, “Shit, this would make a really great movie.”  Yeah, me too.

Well, bucko, your moment has arrived in “Act of Valor”.

For those of you who aren’t familiar, “Act of Valor” is a movie Navy Seals doing all of the awesome things they do.  What sets this film apart from the multitude of similar “Americans-save-the-world” straight-to-DVD flicks out there (*cough* Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia *cough*) is that it stars real-life Navy Seals(!).

It was exactly what I expected: weak plot, wooden acting, flat dialogue, and lots of shooting and explosions.  It was awesome.  I mean, nobody’s walking into this movie expecting anything but an over-patriotic semi-recruitment video for the US military, but who cares?  I like seeing mini-guns on swift boats blowing shit up.  I like archetypal villains bent on the destruction of the free world.  I like seeing special forces cap terrorists and then say, “clear”.

Check out the trailer below (opens in new window):


Ha ha ha, I was singing “America: FUCK YEAH!” to myself on the way out of the theatre, and it made me think of this:


By the way, “Act of Valor”?  Could they try harder to appeal to fans of “Call of Duty” and “Medal of Honor”?

Interesting Imagined Map – Palestinian Archipelago

•March 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

While diddling around on the internet recently, I stumbled across this beautiful and strangely compelling imagined map by Frenchman Julien Bousac.  Here’s a description by Mr Bousac courtesy of bigthink.com, where I found the image:

“[The map is an] illustration of the West Bank’s ongoing fragmentation based on the (originally temporary) A/B/C zoning which came out of the Oslo process, still valid until now. To make things clear, areas ‘under water’ strictly reflect C zones, plus the East Jerusalem area, i.e. areas that have officially remained under full Israeli control and occupation following the Agreements. These include all Israeli settlements and outposts as well as Palestinian populated areas.”

Click here to view the original on bigthink.com, with Mr Bousac’s full comments.


The best documentary about the Libyan Revolution

•March 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

I’m in the process of putting together a PhD proposal on the Libyan revolutionaries (more to come on that).  In the course of my studies, I came across this excellent piece of reporting from France 24’s Matthieu Mabin.  It provides an intimate view of the Tripoli Brigade as it entered and took Tripoli from Gaddafi’s forces last summer.

Whatever you’re doing now, stop and watch this.  It’s very rare for a reporter to get as close to the action as Mabin did during the making of this documentary.

Incidentally, if anybody knows how to get in touch with Sam, Adam or any of the other gentlemen featured in the film PLEASE let me know or have them contact me.  I’d be very interested in speaking with them further about their experiences during the war.

Part 1 (opens in new window)

Part 2 (opens in new window)