Tuesday, September 30, 2003

CIA pursues video game - The Washington Times: Nation/Politics: "The CIA is set to spend several million dollars to develop a video game aimed at helping its analysts think like terrorists, The Washington Times has learned.
The agency's Counter Terrorist Center, or CTC, is working with the Los Angeles-based Institute for Creative Technologies on a project designed to help its analysts, 'think outside the box,' a CIA spokesman said. The project is close to approval, but officials wouldn't comment on the exact cost of the program.
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It gets better...
Other projects being worked on by the California institute reportedly include Roman shields with skateboards that come off the sides of tanks, and foam sprayed by troops that can stop tank rounds. "roman shield skateboards that come off the top of tanks! I've got to get a job with these people! Only they could appreciate the ideas I come up with!

Monday, September 29, 2003

RSVP
This is actually quite fun, for such a simple little game.
w w w . i s h k u r . c o m
Not only a great guide to electronic music, but a great website altogether. Great animation! Don't skip the intro!
Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall But cronyism, like charity, starts at home. So let's get to it.

A little more than a year ago, I told you about Edison schools, the brain child of entrepreneur Chris Whittle. The company's mission was to get contracts to run public schools on a for-profit basis and to do it better and more cheaply. The company was the toast of the Republican establishment and got tens of millions of dollars of start-up capital back in the go-go 90s.

The only hitch was that it ended up producing poor performance and for more money. Other than that it worked great.

When we last noted Edison in June 2002, Whittle was hollowing out the company to cover personal debts by having the company loan him about $9 million to buy stock in itself. That's not all that uncommon. The only problem was that Whittle had collateralized the loan with the stocks themselves. And by then Edison's stock, which had traded as high as $23 a share in the glory days of 2001, was chugging along at 85 cents a pop.

In other words, the $9 million was gone and so was the collateral. And this supposedly public company was making no effort to get its money back --- because it was controlled by Whittle. For more details on these innovative shenanigans, see TPM's June 27th, 2002 post on the matter.

In any case, in the last year Edison has bumbled along from failure to failure and the stock has spent most of the year trading a bit over a buck a share.

Things looked awfully bad until last week when Florida's state employee pension fund announced it was buying up all of Edison's stock and taking the company private --- for a cool $174 million. That's got to be the shrewdest investment the fund has made since it bought millions of shares of Enron just as the company entered its death spiral --- including 1.3 million shares just two weeks before the company declared bankruptcy.

As the St. Pete Times aptly noted yesterday, this gives "Florida the distinction of being essentially the sole owner of the nation's largest and perhaps most financially imperiled school management business."

The three member board of trustees of the fund is chaired by Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a big supporter of privatized schools and a big supporter of Edison.

So, you start a company to privatize education and take on the teachers unions. Your company fails miserably both in terms of the market and academic success. Then after you've hollowed the company out to cover your other bad debts friendly pols come along to bail you out with a couple hundred million from the teachers' (and other public employees') pension fund. I love symmetry.

-- Josh Marshall

The Edison schools corporation, although an interesting idea, is going about it the wrong way. They are trying to build a big corporation which will replace the current school system in a few big gulps, believing, with some reason, that governmental entities prefer to deal with big corporations. I think a better strategy would be to build small schools that work, and build them one by one. Each one built would improve upon the previous ones. Each one should be targeted towards a specific demographic.

I think the whole voucher thing is fundamentally misguided. When you accept money from the government, then you work for the government. First they will start with a few forms, just to make sure you are meeting the needs of the children. Next thing you know, you have a setup that's so similar to the current one, it really doesn't matter if the school is public or private. I think it's similar to the situation with colleges, which are all fundamentally government institutions since they rely so heavily on federal funds.

The government could shut down any college in the country tomorrow by withholding federal funds. As far as I am aware, there is only one college in the country that accepts no federal funds whatsoever, although the name escapes me at present.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

The Atlantic | March 2003 | Caring for Your Introvert | Rauch: "

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

If so, do you tell this person he is 'too serious,' or ask if he is okay? Regard him as aloof, arrogant, rude? Redouble your efforts to draw him out?

If you answered yes to these questions, chances are that you have an introvert on your hands�and that you aren't caring for him properly. Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It has even learned, by means of brain scans, that introverts process information differently from other people (I am not making this up). If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured that you are not alone. Introverts may be common, but they are also among the most misunderstood and aggrieved groups in America, possibly the world."
BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | China hotel 'orgy' sparks fury "China hotel 'orgy' sparks fury
Hotels catering for foreigners now often attract prostitutes
A three-day orgy allegedly held at a Chinese luxury hotel for hundreds of male Japanese tourists has provoked outrage after reports of the lurid goings-on were published in China's state media.

The 400 or so men, aged between 16 and 37, flew into Zhuhai city in southern Guangdong province expressly for sex at the five-star hotel, according to the media reports.

On one of the nights the men are said to have had nearly 500 girls brought to serve them.

The incident, at a time when Chinese resentment against Japan is already very high, has prompted thousands of angry messages to be posted on the internet by Chinese users.
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'Japanese people deep in their bones look down on Chinese people,' said one posting.

Hotel employees however told Chinese reporters that Japanese tourists regularly came to their hotel for prostitution services, suggesting the date was a coincidence.

The incident is just the latest to provoke Chinese anger against Japan.

A month ago, Chinese workers stumbled across chemical weapons left behind by Japanese forces after World War II. One person died and more than 40 were injured.

The BBC's Louisa Lim in Beijing says that sensational coverage in the official media of both incidents has served to stoke the flames of Chinese resentment. "
Reuters News Article: "ROME (Reuters) - Italy regained most of its power on Sunday after a nationwide blackout hit virtually the whole population in the dead of night, unleashing chaos, stalling lifts and stranding thousands of travelers.

Only Three deaths were unofficially attributed to the outage: a man killed in a traffic accident at an intersection where the lights had failed, and two elderly woman who fell down stairs in the dark in separate cases.

Almost all of the country's 57 million people were affected -- a similar scale to last month's collapse in the U.S. Northeast and Canada. But coming on a weekend night its initial impact was less dramatic and caused less economic damage.

'It's chaos, and until the electricity comes back on it will continue to be chaos,' said policeman Fabio Bragazzi, 21, at Rome's main Termini train station where passengers, among more than 30,000 stranded across the country, slept on the ground.

It was the fourth major Western blackout in two months, after cuts in North America, parts of London and Scandinavia."Is this a coincidence, or is there more to it? hmmm....
Yahoo! News - U.S. Uses Terror Law to Pursue Crimes From Drugs to Swindling
"WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 � The Bush administration, which calls the USA Patriot Act perhaps its most essential tool in fighting terrorists, has begun using the law with increasing frequency in many criminal investigations that have little or no connection to terrorism.

The government is using its expanded authority under the far-reaching law to investigate suspected drug traffickers, white-collar criminals, blackmailers, child pornographers, money launderers, spies and even corrupt foreign leaders, federal officials said.

Justice Department (news - web sites) officials say they are simply using all the tools now available to them to pursue criminals � terrorists or otherwise. But critics of the administration's antiterrorism tactics assert that such use of the law is evidence the administration has sold the American public a false bill of goods, using terrorism as a guise to pursue a broader law enforcement agenda.

Justice Department officials point out that they have employed their newfound powers in many instances against suspected terrorists. With the new law breaking down the wall between intelligence and criminal investigations, the Justice Department in February was able to bring terrorism-related charges against a Florida professor, for example, and it has used its expanded surveillance powers to move against several suspected terrorist cells.

But a new Justice Department report, given to members of Congress this month, also cites more than a dozen cases that are not directly related to terrorism in which federal authorities have used their expanded power to investigate individuals, initiate wiretaps and other surveillance, or seize millions in tainted assets. "
TIME.com: Chasing a Mirage -- Oct. 06, 2003: "Over the past three months, TIME has interviewed Iraqi weapons scientists, middlemen and former government officials. Saddam's henchmen all make essentially the same claim: that Iraq's once massive unconventional-weapons program was destroyed or dismantled in the 1990s and never rebuilt; that officials destroyed or never kept the documents that would prove it; that the shell games Saddam played with U.N. inspectors were designed to conceal his progress on conventional weapons systems missiles, air defenses, radar�not biological or chemical programs; and that even Saddam, a sucker for a new gadget or invention or toxin, may not have known what he actually had or, more to the point, didn't have. It would be an irony almost too much to bear to consider that he doomed his country to war because he was intent on protecting weapons systems that didn't exist in the first place.

These tales are tempting to dismiss as scripts recited by practiced liars who had been deceiving the world community for years. These sources may still be too frightened of the possibility of Saddam's return to power to tell his secrets. Or it could be that Saddam reconstituted an illicit weapons program with such secrecy that those who knew of past efforts were left out of the loop. But the unanimity of these sources' accounts can't be easily dismissed and at the very least underscores the difficulty the U.S. has in proving its case that Saddam was hoarding unconventional arms.

Iraqi engineering professor Nabil al-Rawi remembers being at a conference in Beirut on Feb. 5 and watching on TV as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell made a presentation to the U.N. laying out the U.S. case that Iraq was pressing ahead with its weapons programs. Conference participants from other Arab countries grilled al-Rawi whether Powell's charges were true. An exasperated al-Rawi tried to reassure his counterparts that he and his teams had abandoned their illegal programs years earlier. Did they believe him? "I don't think so," he says. "
Reluctance to Share Control in Iraq Leaves U.S. on Its Own (washingtonpost.com): "NEW YORK -- To rebuild Iraq after the ouster of Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration wanted control and it wanted international help on U.S. terms. A difficult few days of personal diplomacy at the United Nations last week confirmed that President Bush cannot have both, so he has settled for control."
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Security fears, coupled with the uncertainty about what role the Bush administration will permit, mean that no significant U.N. presence is likely for weeks -- or longer -- said senior U.N. officials and Security Council diplomats.

On the positive side, a European diplomat in New York said Bush administration emissaries made progress in convincing their counterparts that the U.S. government does not want to remain an occupying power. What remains, however, is "a competition of ideas on how to reach the common object of a democratic, stable Iraq."
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Yet officials from among the 10 elected members of the U.N. Security Council took heart from a give-and-take with Powell, who said he had limited maneuvering room but wanted to explore all possibilities before the Bush administration returns with a new proposal.

Powell asked his counterparts to react, for example, to the idea of creating a provisional government backed by Iraq's 1958 constitution. The provisional government, an option favored by Ahmed Chalabi, a senior member of the Iraqi Governing Council, would presumably be stronger than the existing body appointed by U.S. civilian coordinator L. Paul Bremer.

Annan lobbied visiting dignitaries to support the provisional government idea, shifting the proposed U.S. sequence to grant a measure of sovereignty to Iraqis before elections are held. He said it would eliminate the U.S. occupation opposed by many Iraqis and prevent a rush to complete a constitution and vote before Iraqis are ready.

"It's highly questionable whether they can complete a plausible and credible constitutional process before next April," a U.N. official said. "Why rush it?"

Chalabi angered the administration by declaring the Governing Council ready to take significant responsibility in Iraq. Although he later tempered his comments, he continued to tell diplomats in private that the Iraqis deserve more authority.

One foreign official who spoke with him summed up Chalabi's pitch this way: "We are not in a mood to wait. We think we can do a lot of this ourselves better than the Americans can. We can do this better than Bremer."

The Bush administration strongly disagrees, and has said so.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Yahoo! News - U.S. Holding 19 al-Qaida Suspects in Iraq: "WASHINGTON - U.S. forces in Iraq (news - web sites) are holding 19 suspected members of the al-Qaida terrorist network, the American civilian administrator said Friday.


The suspected al-Qaida members are among 248 non-Iraqi fighters being held by the Americans in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer said in a Pentagon (news - web sites) news conference.

Bremer said authorities determined the suspects' al-Qaida links through interrogations and documents the suspects were carrying. He said he did not know what countries they came from.

The largest number of foreign fighters, 123 of the 248 � came from Syria, Bremer said. The next-highest numbers came from Iran and Yemen, he said, adding he did not have precise figures for those countries. "

Friday, September 26, 2003

Mongolians Return to Baghdad, This Time as Peacekeepers: "Mongolia's offer of troops surprised the American government because it had not asked Mongolia for help, said Steven R. Saunders, president of a private, Washington-based group promoting business ties with Mongolia.

Around this dusty city with its Cyrillic character signs left over from the Soviet era, Mongolians talk of supporting democracy in Iraq, of bolstering geopolitical ties with the United States and of returning their nation's long-eclipsed name to the world stage.

Mongolia is the only nation in Northeast Asia where there is widespread support for sending troops to Iraq: Russia glowers, China appears neutral and Japan has approved the sending of troops but begs for more time. South Korea has 650 military medics and engineers in Iraq, sent despite violent public protests. Now, in the face of American demands for combat-trained troops, South Korea is sending a study group.

Slightly more than a decade after the departure of the last Soviet troops here, democracy is not an abstraction for Mongolia. Last summer, Tibetan Buddhist priests working at a monastery here disinterred the remains of about 600 lamas, or high priests, each buried with his hands tied behind his back and a bullet hole in the skull. They were killed in 1937 by Mongolian Communists in an effort by Stalin to stamp out Mongolia's historic religion.

'Words are not enough to fight with terrorism,' Prime Minister Nambaryn Enkhbayar of Mongolia said in an interview last week, fresh from welcoming delegates from 118 countries classified as new or restored democracies.

Mongolia is rapidly embracing the United States in an effort to develop a balance to its historically dangerous neighbors, China and Russia. Twice the size of Texas, but with only 2.4 million people, this land of nomadic herders has a deep, if rarely voiced, fear of becoming another Tibet. After centuries of Chinese rule, Mongolia won independence only in 1921 with Soviet support."
Electronic paper reaches video speed: Colour movies might soon be playing on single sheets.:

"Paper capable of playing videos has been invented at the Philips Research laboratory in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.

A single sheet looks pretty much like ordinary paper. But the ink can be rearranged electronically fast enough to show video movies.

Its devisers, Robert Hayes and Johan Feenstra, have also figured out how to create full-colour displays. Their colour screens would be four times brighter than the flat devices currently made from liquid crystals, they reckon.

The invention is the latest version of 'electronic ink'. Researchers hope to combine the convenience, robustness and readability of printed material with the vast and flexible information content of laptop computers."Wow! This would be huge! People just like ink and paper better for sustained reading. And here it comes, electronically!
TCS: Tech Central Station - The Iraq -- Al Qaeda Connections: "That is why is important to remember why we fight in Iraq -- and who we fight. Indeed, many of those sniping at U.S. troops are al Qaeda terrorists operating inside Iraq. And many of bin Laden's men were in Iraq prior to the liberation. A wealth of evidence on the public record -- from government reports and congressional testimony to news accounts from major newspapers -- attests to longstanding ties between bin Laden and Saddam going back to 1994.

Those who try to whitewash Saddam's record don't dispute this evidence; they just ignore it. So let's review the evidence, all of it on the public record for months or years:"long list of alleged Iraq-Al Qaeda dealings

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US and Germany declare rift 'over': "US President George Bush says a long-standing rift with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is 'over' after the pair's first formal meeting in 16 months.

Both leaders said they had set aside past differences on Iraq and agreed to work together to stabilise the country.

'The first thing I told him, I said, 'Look, we had differences. And they're over.' We're going to work together,' Mr Bush told reporters after the leaders spoke privately at the UN General Assembly.

Mr Schroeder says he believes agreement on a US resolution on Iraq can be struck 'in the next few weeks'."
ajc.com | Opinion | Falsely bleak reports reduce our chances of success in Iraq: "On Sept. 14, I flew from Baghdad to Kuwait with Sgt. Trevor A. Blumberg from Dearborn, Mich. He was in a body bag. He'd been ambushed and killed that afternoon. Sitting in the cargo bay of a C 130E, I found myself wondering whether the news media were somehow complicit in his death.

News media reports about our progress in Iraq have been bleak since shortly after the president's premature declaration of victory. These reports contrast sharply with reports of hope and progress presented to Congress by Department of Defense representatives -- a real disconnect, Vietnam d�ja vu. So I went to Iraq with six other members of Congress to see for myself.

The Iraq war has predictably evolved into a guerrilla conflict similar to Vietnam. Our currently stated objectives are to establish reasonable security and foster the creation of a secular, representative government with a stable market economy that provides broad opportunity throughout Iraqi society. Attaining these objectives in Iraq would inevitably transform the Arab world and immeasurably increase our future national security.

These are goals worthy of a fight, of sacrifice, of more lives lost now to save thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands in the future. In Mosul last Monday, a colonel in the 101st Airborne put it to me quite simply: 'Sir, this is worth doing.' No one I spoke with said anything different. And I spoke with all ranks.

But there will be more Blumbergs killed in action, many more. So it is worth doing only if we have a reasonable chance of success. And we do, but I'm afraid the news media are hurting our chances. They are dwelling upon the mistakes, the ambushes, the soldiers killed, the wounded, the Blumbergs. Fair enough. But it is not balancing this bad news with 'the rest of the story,' the progress made daily, the good news. The falsely bleak picture weakens our national resolve, discourages Iraqi cooperation and emboldens our enemy."

Monday, September 22, 2003

Sunday Herald: "
ROBOT soldiers manufactured to kill enemy troops have been designed for the Pentagon by a tiny Glasgow computer company which is set to make millions from the deal.

Essential Viewing says the technology comes straight from the world of science fiction. Chief executive Simon Hardy said the technology had its nearest equivalent in the Star Wars movie Attack Of The Clones.

In the film, armies of robots are able to fight running battles, making human casualties, for the side possessing the technology, a thing of the past.

The equipment refined by Essential Viewing will see robot vehicles equipped with an array of video cameras and weaponry. The images picked up by the robots will be instantaneously relayed back to military commanders who can then move the robot or order it to shoot at targets.

With current technology, which attempts to relay live video images between one side of the globe and the other, there is a significant delay "
Sunday_Mirror.co.uk - DESPERATE SADDAM OFFERS AMERICANS DEAL:

"SADDAM Hussein has been in secret negotiations with US forces in Iraq for the past nine days, we can reveal.

The Iraqi dictator is demanding safe passage to the former Soviet republic of Belarus. In exchange, he has vowed to provide information on weapons of mass destruction and disclose bank accounts where he siphoned off tens of millions of dollars in plundered cash.

President Bush is being kept abreast of the extraordinary talks by his National Security advisor Condoleezza Rice. She is co-ordinating negotiations in Baghdad which are led by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of American forces in Iraq.

The United States has vowed never to negotiate with Saddam and want to take him dead or alive, but the White House hopes the clandestine talks will allow them to pinpoint the tyrant's exact location."

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Arlington tomb sentinels shun shelter

As Isabel rages, guards at �Unknowns�
monument
stay at posts
A U.S. guard on duty marches in front of the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. on Oct. 20, 1945. A sentry has been posted there continuously since 1930.


ASSOCIATED PRESS
ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 19 � As the winds from Hurricane Isabel swept over Arlington National Cemetery, the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns were given � for the first time in history � permission to abandon their posts and seek shelter. �They told us that. But that�s not what�s going to happen,� said Sgt. Christopher Holmes, standing vigil on overnight duty. �That�s never an option for us. It went in one ear and right out the other.�
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THE MONUMENT was established in 1921 with the interment of an unknown World War I soldier. A sentry has been posted there continuously since 1930.
With the fierce storm bearing down Thursday night, cemetery officials decided to let the guards move indoors if they felt they were in danger. Cemetery Superintendent John Metzler said he believed it was the first time they have been allowed to do so.
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The tomb consists of four graves. Three contain remains of soldiers who died in World War I, World War II and Korea. The fourth, representing unknown soldiers who died in Vietnam, now stands empty; the remains it used to hold were identified about five years ago using DNA technology.
Staff Sgt. Alfred Lanier, also on duty Thursday night, said guards might move inside if the storm became truly life-threatening. But he didn�t think it was likely.
�Once you become a badgeholder, it�s like you�ll do whatever you have to do to guard the unknowns,� Lanier said. �For one, it�s my job. And for two, that�s just how much respect I myself have for the unknowns. That�s just something we cherish.�
The sentries were not entirely unprotected in the storm; they wore rain gear and could warm up with coffee or hot chocolate when not standing guard.
Holmes said he was willing to risk his life keeping watch over the tomb.
�It�s just considered to be the greatest honor to go out there and guard,� Holmes said. �It�s not only the unknowns. It�s a symbol that represents everyone who�s fought and died for our country.�
The cemetery is the resting place of more than 260,000 people. Twenty-one funerals were held there Thursday, and 16 were scheduled Friday.
NBC 4 - Education - Girl Wants To Start Caucasian Club At High School

POSTED: 8:41 a.m. EDT September 18, 2003
OAKLEY, Calif. -- Lisa McClelland says she isn't a racist. She says her campaign for a Caucasian Club at her California high school is a move toward diversity, not bigotry.
SURVEY
Should a California high school student be allowed to start a Caucasian Club?
Yes, if there are other clubs like the Black Student Union and Asian Club she should be allowed to.
No. There should be no clubs targeting any ethnic group.
No. Only minorities should be able to have clubs targeting an ethnic group.

She says everyone is invited -- and nobody will be excluded.

McClelland's ethnic background includes American Indian, Hispanic, Dutch, German, Italian and Irish. She says she and her friends feel slighted by other clubs at Freedom High School in Oakley, such as the Black Student Union and the Asian Club.

McClelland says she's collected 245 signatures of support from students, adults and others since announcing her plans three weeks ago.

One person who won't be signing up is Darnell Turner, first vice president of the local chapter of the NAACP. Turner says he thinks the club will create racial tension. "
Hmmm...

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

thgohut tihs was inertsenitg...

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.

Amzanig!

Monday, September 15, 2003

World Tribune.com--Front Page
The report said Al Qaida's financial network has been hurt since October 2001. The CIA said 10 leading financiers of Al Qaida have been captured or killed over the last two years. Moreover, two-thirds of Al Qaida's leadership �composed of up to 25 people � has been killed or captured.

The result, the CIA said, is that Al Qaida has lost much of its ability to launch large-scale attacks. Two such Al Qaida financiers identified were Khalid Sheik Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah, both captured over the last 18 months.

"While the group has a large bench of middle managers and foot soldiers," the report said, "it is rapidly losing its cadre of senior planners who have access to and the trust of Bin Laden, the leadership and organizational skills needed to mount sophisticated attacks, and the savvy to operate in an increasingly hostile counterterrorism environment."

But the report warned that Al Qaida remains lethal and maintains a large core of supporters. They said this continues to present the threat of imminent attack on U.S. interests throughout the world.

"Even if the Al Qaida organization is defeated and its worldwide cells are left to fend for themselves, Bin Laden's call for attacks on the United States will continue to resonate among Muslim extremists," the report said.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | The cheap way to the stars - by escalator: "f climbing a stairway to heaven sounds like too much hard work, then a conference of 70 scientists and engineers opening in Santa Fe today may offer hope of a more leisurely way into space.

In two days of discussions, the scientists aim to turn into a reality an ambition that has been around for at least a century: the creation of a space elevator that would deliver satellites, spacecraft and even people thousands of kilometres into space along a vertical track.

Engineers say that recent advances in materials science - particularly in the development of carbon nanotubes - mean that such a system, which first gained widespread attention when the science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke described it in his 1979 novel Fountains of Paradise, is no longer pure science fiction.

Mr Clarke - who once said a space elevator would only be built 'about 50 years after everyone stops laughing' - was due to address the scientists at the Santa Fe conference today by satellite link from his home in Sri Lanka.

The American space agency Nasa is no longer laughing. It is putting several million dollars into the project under its advanced concepts programme.

At the heart of a space elevator would be a cable reaching up as far as 100,000km from the surface of the Earth. The earthbound end would be tethered to a base station, probably somewhere in the middle of the Pacific ocean. The other end would be attached to an orbiting object in space acting as a counterweight, the momentum of which would keep the cable taut and allow vehicles to climb up and down it.

A space elevator would make rockets redundant by granting cheaper access to space. At about a third of the way along the cable - 36,000km from Earth - objects take a year to complete a full orbit. If the cable's centre of gravity remained at this height, the cable would remain vertical, as satellites placed at this height are geostationary, effectively hovering over the same spot on the ground."
News: "Mobile phones and the new wireless technology could cause a 'whole generation' of today's teenagers to go senile in the prime of their lives, new research suggests

The study - which warns specifically against 'the intense use of mobile phones by youngsters' - comes as research on their health effects is being scaled down, due to industry pressure. It is likely to galvanise concern about the almost universal exposure to microwaves in Western countries, by revealing a new way in which they may seriously damage health.

Professor Leif Salford, who headed the research at Sweden's prestigious Lund University, says 'the voluntary exposure of the brain to microwaves from hand-held mobile phones' is 'the largest human biological experiment ever'. And he is concerned that, as new wireless technology spreads, people may 'drown in a sea of microwaves'."
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle: "Scientists say there's no evidence that Yellowstone is poised for a powerful eruption, such as the one roughly 600,000 years ago that spewed massive amounts of lava and ash.

If the park were ready to blow, there would be several signs that magma was moving toward the surface.

Earthquakes would be more frequent and stronger.

The ground, while often rising and falling in Yellowstone, would most likely gradually rise.

And the chemistry of many geysers would change.

All of those things are constantly monitored by scientists involved with the Yellowstone Volcanic Observatory, or YVO, a long-running study of the park's volcanology.

If the park was poised for a major eruption, the precursors wouldn't be subtle, Heasler said.

'I doubt you'd need seismographs to know that changes were happening in Yellowstone,' he said.

Early signs of an impending outburst would be similar to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. Scientists knew something big was brewing under that peak months ahead of time, although they couldn't predict exactly how big or when the eruption was coming.

The current geologic activity in Yellowstone appears to be much closer to the surface than would be exhibited by magma flows. At such shallow depths, water heated by the earth is driving the changes.

'We're not searching for magmatic fluids,' said Bob Smith, a geologist at the University of Utah who has studied the park for three decades. 'We think this is a very shallow system.'"Here's another perspective on Yellowstone. I know Ed is hoping for a supervolcano, but we'll just have to wait and see for now.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Headline news from Sky News - Witness the event: "SMILING FROM THE WOMB
Pioneering scanning techniques have produced astonishing images from inside the womb which show babies apparently smiling and crying.

Experts believe the breakthrough could lead to advances in baby health for a whole range of conditions, including Down's Syndrome.

The pictures offer a new insight into foetal behaviour.

The ultra-sound scanning techniques capture images which show the foetuses yawn, blink, suck their fingers and seem to cry and smile."amazing photo with story
A monster awakens?
September 11, 2003�Part of America's Yellowstone National Park was closed to visitors on July 23 this year and remains closed today due to high ground temperatures and increased thermal activity in the park. National Park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis said that "A portion of the Norris Geyser Basin on the west side of the park has been closed." [1]
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On August 10, the Denver Post reported that Liz Morgan, a U.S. Geological Survey research geologist had discovered a huge bulge underneath Yellowstone Lake that had risen 100 feet from the lake floor. The bulge is two thousand feet long and has the potential to explode at any time. Morgan was quoted as saying that "The inflated plain is a potential and serious hazard and possible precursor to a large hydrothermal explosion event." [3]

Then, on August 24th, the University of Utah Seismograph Station reported that a magnitude 4.4 earthquake occurred just 9 miles southeast of the southern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. USGS scientists agreed that the earthquake was "uncommon" in that it was a very shallow earthquake, occuring just 0.3 miles below the surface. [4]
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Initially this should be of little or no consequence to anyone apart from those planning to visit Yellowstone . . . except for one thing. Lurking beneath Yellowstone National Park is one of the most destructive natural phenomena in the world: a massive supervolcano.

Only a handful exist in the world but when one erupts the explosion will be heard around the globe. The sky will darken, black acid rain will fall, and the Earth will be plunged into the equivalent of a nuclear winter. It could push humanity to the brink of extinction.

Volcanoes have always been a threat to humanity. The Tambora eruption in Indonesia in 1815 killed more than 90,000 people, while the Krakatau eruption in 1883, also in Indonesia, killed 36,000. The last supervolcano to erupt was Toba in Sumatra 74,000 years ago. It created a global catastrophe that dramatically affected life on Earth. Toba blasted so much ash and sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere that it blocked out the sun, causing the Earth's temperature to plummet, and possibly reducing the population on Earth to just a few thousand people. For a long time scientists have known that volcanic ash can affect the global climate. The fine ash and sulphur dioxide blasted into the stratosphere reflects solar radiation back into space and stops sunlight reaching the planet. Temperatures drop dramatically and nothing grows, causing mass starvation.

Bill McGuire, professor of geohazards at the Benfield Greig Hazard Research Centre at University College London, says that America's Yellowstone Park is one of the largest and most dangerous supervolcanoes in the world. "The Yellowstone volcano can be likened to a sleeping dragon," says Professor McGuire, "whose slow breathing brings repeated swelling and sinking of the Earth's crust in northern Wyoming and southern Montana."
Who woulda thunk it?
New Scientist: "The World's No.1 Science & Technology News Service

Blood test tells how much it hurts
A simple blood test could be the first objective measure of how much pain someone is experiencing, the test's inventor claims.

As well as revolutionising pain research, the assay could prove invaluable for doctors treating young children, people who are not fully conscious, and anyone else unable to communicate properly.

Many pain researchers are sceptical about whether such a test is possible. But inventor Shaun Kilminster claims his test has already been shown to work in headache sufferers."
Wired 11.10: Extreme Makeover: "Extreme Makeover

PCs are a marvel of engineering on the inside.

By Cory Doctorow

The shell of a garden-variety desktop machine, on the other hand, is as dull as a command prompt. Users longing for a box whose beauty is more than CPU-deep have invented a new form of self-expression: casemodding - altering a PC's exterior to make it as distinctive as its owner. Think of it as nerd folk art, equal parts Linus Torvalds and Martha Stewart. Modders don't just dress up stock boxes. They stuff motherboards into gasoline cans, build containers that resemble gingerbread houses, and custom-fabricate phantasmagoric adornments; they combine expert craftsmanship with whimsy, nostalgia, and a Transformers-inspired sensawunda. It's a mod, mod, mod, mod world."

Thursday, September 11, 2003

FT.com Iraqis do not trust Americans, says poll
By Guy Dinmore in Washington

"Commissioned by the American Enterprise Institute, the pollsters sought to survey a representative cross-section of Iraqi society by going to four cities: Mosul and Kirkuk in the north, Ramadi in the mostly anti-US Sunni area of central Iraq, and Basra in the Shia south. A total of 600 people were interviewed in public places.

In Ramadi the pollsters were caught in crossfire in an ambush of US forces. One was arrested by Kurds in the north, while others were chased by car. In Basra some were detained for 24 hours.

Asked if the US and UK should help make sure a fair government is set up in Iraq, or should the Iraqis work this out themselves, 31.5 per cent wanted help while 58.5 per cent did not.

Some 38.2 per cent agreed that democracy could work well in Iraq, while 50.2 per cent agreed with the statement that 'democracy is a western way of doing things and it will not work here'.

Asked whether in the next five years the US would 'help' Iraq, 35.3 per cent said yes while 50 per cent said the US would 'hurt' Iraq. Asked the same of the UN, the figures were almost reversed, with 50.2 per cent saying it would help and 18.5 per cent the opposite.

Reguarding US and British troops, some 31 per cent wanted them to leave in six months and a total of 65.5 per cent in a year. Some 25 per cent said they should stay two years or more.

Interviewees were given a list of five countries they would like to model Iraq after.

A total of 36 per cent chose the four Middle Eastern countries listed (16 per cent for Saudi Arabia, 11 per cent for Syria, 6.5 per cent for Egypt and 2.8 per cent for Iran) while 21.5 per cent settled for the US, the only western country listed.

Seven out of 10 Iraqis think their country and their personal lives will be better five years from now."
Israel Wants to Expel Arafat - But Not Yet (washingtonpost.com): "Israel Wants to Expel Arafat - But Not Yet

Reuters
Thursday, September 11, 2003; 2:47 PM

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's security cabinet agreed in principle Thursday to exile Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, but not immediately, sources close to the government said.


One source said the security cabinet decided to ask the army to prepare a plan for Arafat's exile from the region but decided against swift expulsion because of U.S. opposition."
WorldNetDaily: Easy visas explain Saudi hijackers: "DAY OF INFAMY 2001
Easy visas explain Saudi hijackers
Al-Qaida mastermind describes subplot to 9-11 attack
Posted: September 11, 2003
6:38 p.m. Eastern


� 2003 WorldNetDaily.com

The self-described mastermind behind the Sept. 11 terror attacks says it was no accident 15 of the 19 suicide hijackers were Saudis and that they were used for practical and 'political' reasons.


Khalid Shaikh Mohammed told his CIA interrogators the Saudis were initially chosen because it was easier for them to get visas than for recruits from other Arab countries like Yemen, a Saudi official with direct knowledge of Mohammed's interrogations told reporters in Washington this week.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he learned about the conversation with Mohammed from U.S. officials. CIA officials declined to comment on the interrogation. United Press International said another unnamed diplomat confirmed the information.

Mohammed was arrested in Pakistan last March and remains in U.S. custody in an undisclosed location.

According to the Saudi official, Mohammed said al-Qaida leaders thought the nationality would not 'ring a bell' when it came to security screening.'

They were right. Prior to 9-11, the focus of screening was preventing Saudis from overstaying their visas and settling in the U.S. UPI reports Saudi Arabia was one of several countries where the 'Visa Express' program operated, in which travel agencies or other middlemen assisted applicants with filling out forms and delivered their documents to the embassy. Under this program, less than one in 10 applicants were interviewed and the vast majority were nodded through."
News

Blue Movies Proliferate in Post-Saddam Iraq

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Outside the cinemas on Saadoun Street, groups of men loiter round film posters of naked women, whose private parts are crudely super-imposed with underwear drawn in colored pen.

Behind doors in Baghdad's main movie strip, there is no such teasing.

Barely a seat is empty as hundreds of men, most puffing cigarettes, sit in total silence and darkness to enjoy scenes of nudity and sex for 1,000 Iraqi dinars ($0.50) a time.

'Under Saddam, forget it. You would go to jail for showing or watching this,' said movie-watcher Mohammed Jassim at the Atlas Cinema where one of the films on offer was disturbingly named 'Real Raping.'

The fall of Saddam Hussein liberalised Iraq's cinema industry overnight.

Pornographic movies which had circulated only secretly before suddenly came into the open. The smuggling of films from abroad became overt importing. And demand has proved high despite Iraq's strict Muslim morals. "

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Document links Saddam, bin Laden - Wednesday, 06/25/03:
By GILBERT S. MERRITT
For The Tennessean

"Federal appellate Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of Nashville is in Iraq as one of 13 experts selected by the U.S. Justice Department to help rebuild Iraq's judicial system.

Merritt, 67, has made trips to Russia and India to work with their judicial systems. He has been sending periodic reports to The Tennessean about his experiences in Iraq and filed this dispatch recently:

Through an unusual set of circumstances, I have been given documentary evidence of the names and positions of the 600 closest people in Iraq to Saddam Hussein, as well as his ongoing relationship with Osama bin Laden.

I am looking at the document as I write this story from my hotel room overlooking the Tigris River in Baghdad.

One of the lawyers with whom I have been working for the past five weeks had come to me and asked me whether a list of the 600 people closest to Saddam Hussein would be of any value now to the Americans.

I said, yes, of course. He said that the list contained not only the names of the 55 ''deck of cards'' players who have already been revealed, but also 550 others.

When I began questioning him about the list, how he obtained it and what else it showed, he asked would it be of interest to the Americans to know that Saddam had an ongoing relationship with Osama bin Laden.

I said yes, the Americans have, so far as I am aware, have never been able to prove that relationship, but the president and others have said that they believe it exists. He said, ''Well, judge, there is no doubt it exists, and I will bring you the proof tomorrow.''

So today he brought me the proof, and there is no doubt in my mind that he is right.

The document shows that an Iraqi intelligence officer, Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, assigned to the Iraq embassy in Pakistan, is ''responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group.''

The document shows that it was written over the signature of Uday Saddam Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein. The story of how the document came about is as follows.

Saddam gave Uday authority to control all press and media outlets in Iraq. Uday was the publisher of the Babylon Daily Political Newspaper.

On the front page of the paper's four-page edition for Nov. 14, 2002, there was a picture of Osama bin Laden speaking, next to which was a picture of Saddam and his ''Revolutionary Council,'' together with stories about Israeli tanks attacking a group of Palestinians.

On the back page was a story headlined ''List of Honor.'' In a box below the headline was ''A list of men we publish for the public.'' The lead sentence refers to a list of ''regime persons'' with their names and positions.

The list has 600 names and titles in three columns. It contains, for example, the names of the important officials who are members of Saddam's family, such as Uday, and then other high officials, including the 55 American ''deck of cards'' Iraqi officials, some of whom have been apprehended.

Halfway down the middle column is written: ''Abid Al-Karim Muhamed Aswod, intelligence officer responsible for the coordination of activities with the Osama bin Laden group at the Iraqi embassy in Pakistan.'' (For more about the list, see accompanying article on this page.)

The lawyer who brought the newspaper to me, Samir, and another lawyer with whom I have been working, Zuhair, translated the Arabic words and described what had happened in Baghdad the day it was published.

Samir bought his paper at a newsstand at around 8 a.m. Within two hours, the Iraqi intelligence officers were going by every newsstand in Baghdad and confiscating the papers. They also went to the home of every person who they were told received a paper that day and confiscated it.

The other lawyer, Zuhair, who was the counsel for the Arab League in Baghdad, did not receive delivery of his paper that day. He called his vendor, who told him that there would be no paper that day, a singular occurrence he could not explain.

For the next 10 days, the paper was not published at all. Samir's newspaper was not confiscated and he retained it because it contained this interesting ''Honor Roll of 600'' of the people closest to the regime.

I guess this could be true. It's really just one man's word I suppose.
Sci Tech News - from ABC News Online 10/07/2003 Marriage may tame genius: "Marriage may tame genius
Thursday, 10 July 2003
Creative genius and crime express themselves early in men but both are turned off almost like a tap if a man gets married and has children, a study says.

Satoshi Kanazawa, a psychologist at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, compiled a database of the biographies of 280 great scientists, noting their age at the time when they made their greatest work.

The data remarkably concur with the brutal observation made by Albert Einstein, who wrote in 1942: 'A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so.' "
Forces Strained in Iraq Mission, Congress Is Told: "The Army portrayed its announcement of the extension, which was reported today by The Washington Post, as a clarification of a troop-rotation policy that Gen. John M. Keane, then the acting Army chief of staff, outlined on July 23. That policy included yearlong tours of duty for Army troops.
Army officials said today that the tour length referred to both active and reserve troops, whose tours would be measured by time on the ground. In prior call-ups, the one-year mobilization of reservists included training time, as well as time on the ground. The policy affects only those reservists currently in Iraq or Kuwait, and will not affect troops sent in the future, including two National Guard brigades scheduled to go to Iraq for six months next year.
The announcement today deepened the concern of many lawmakers and military officials that over-reliance on reservists could hurt morale. 'They are now stretched to the breaking point,' Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, said of his state's National Guard.
And as the demands grow for both active-duty and reserve troops, Pentagon officials are nervously watching the long-term effects on recruiting and retention for both.
So far, however, the Army numbers are holding. Through the end of August, the Army had recruited 67,354 new soldiers, exceeding its year-to-date goal by 307, according to the Army Recruiting Command. In the same period, the Army Reserve had signed up 25,212 people, surpassing its goal for that period by 1,257."

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Procrastinators AnonymousNeed help getting started on all those things you've been putting off? Look no further!

Monday, September 08, 2003

Tech News - CNET.com: "newsmakers Sterling Ball, a jovial, plain-talking businessman, is CEO of Ernie Ball, the world's leading maker of premium guitar strings endorsed by generations of artists ranging from the likes of Eric Clapton to the dudes from Metallica.
But since jettisoning all of Microsoft products three years ago, Ernie Ball has also gained notoriety as a company that dumped most of its proprietary software--and still lived to tell the tale. "Tech News - CNET.com: "Rockin' on without Microsoft
By David Becker
CNET News.com

Sterling Ball, a jovial, plain-talking businessman, is CEO of Ernie Ball, the world's leading maker of premium guitar strings endorsed by generations of artists ranging from the likes of Eric Clapton to the dudes from Metallica.
But since jettisoning all of Microsoft products three years ago, Ernie Ball has also gained notoriety as a company that dumped most of its proprietary software--and still lived to tell the tale.
In 2000, the Business Software Alliance conducted a raid and subsequent audit at the San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based company that turned up a few dozen unlicensed copies of programs. Ball settled for $65,000, plus $35,000 in legal fees. But by then, the BSA, a trade group that helps enforce copyrights and licensing provisions for major business software makers, had put the company on the evening news and featured it in regional ads warning other businesses to monitor their software licenses.
Humiliated by the experience, Ball told his IT department he wanted Microsoft products out of his business within six months. 'I said, 'I don't care if we have to buy 10,000 abacuses,'' recalled Ball, who recently addressed the LinuxWorld trade show. 'We won't do business with someone who treats us poorly.'

Ball's IT crew settled on a potpourri of open-source software--Red Hat's version of Linux, the OpenOffice office suite, Mozilla's Web browser--plus a few proprietary applications that couldn't be duplicated by open source. Ball, whose father, Ernie, founded the company, says the transition was a breeze, and since then he's been happy to extol the virtues of open-source software to anyone who asks. He spoke with CNET News.com about his experience"
Very interesting interview

spamgourmet - disposable email addresses, spam blocking:spamgourmet - disposable email addresses, spam blocking: "Q. Will spamgourmet stop spam from coming straight to my email address?
A. No. Spamgourmet only gets involved when the sender uses a disposable address that you've given out. When this happens, the message first comes to spamgourmet, then (maybe) to you. If someone sends a message straight to your real email address, spamgourmet isn't involved at all.

Q. How do I create a disposable email address?
A. First, set up an account here, if you haven't already, and save your real email address in the space provided (don't skip this important step!). Remember your username. Later, when you need a disposable email address, just think of a word (any combination of letters and numbers (20 characters max), provided you haven't used it before), and decide how many messages you want to receive at the new address. Then, put the word, the number, and your spamgourmet username together with dots to form the disposable address. For instance, if your Username is "spamcowboy", then you could make a disposable address like so:
someword.2.spamcowboy@spamgourmet.com
Then, you can use the address to sign up for your favorite spam-prone website, get a confirmation message, get your password in the second (and final) message, then smile and consider for a moment that no one, no-how is going to send you email with that address again. "
Here's a great tool to fight spam!(junk mail) And it's free! Disposable email addresses! So let's say a website (or person) asks for an email address. Give them a disposable one, and then they can't send you more emails than you specify. After the number you specify, all the emails get gobbled up and destroyed by Spamgourmet. Make as many free disposable emails as you want, right on the spot!

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Saturday, September 06, 2003

New York Post Online Edition: postopinion: "AL QAEDA'S AGENDA FOR IRAQ

September 4, 2003 -- 'IT is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims. What threatens the future of Islam, in fact its very survival, is American democracy." This is the message of a new book, just published by al Qaeda in several Arab countries.
The author of "The Future of Iraq and The Arabian Peninsula After The Fall of Baghdad" is Yussuf al-Ayyeri, one of Osama bin Laden's closest associates since the early '90s. A Saudi citizen also known by the nom de guerre Abu Muhammad, he was killed in a gun battle with security forces in Riyadh last June.

The book is published by The Centre for Islamic Research and Studies, a company set up by bin Laden in 1995 with branches in New York and London (now closed). Over the past eight years, it has published more than 40 books by al Qaeda "thinkers and researchers" including militants such as Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's No. 2.
>>
"The end of Ba'ath rule in Iraq is good for Islam and Muslims," he writes. "Where the banner of Ba'ath has fallen, shall rise the banner of Islam."

The author notes as "a paradox" the fact that all the various forms of unbelief that threatened Islam were defeated with the help of the Western powers, and more specifically the United States.

The "modernizing" movement in the Muslim world was ultimately discredited when European imperial powers forced their domination on Muslim lands, turning the Westernized elite into their "hired lackeys." The nationalists were defeated and discredited in wars led against them by various Western powers or, in the case of Nasserism in Egypt, by Israel.

The West also gave a hand in defeating socialism and communism in the Muslim world. The most dramatic example of this came when America helped the Afghan mujaheeden destroy the Soviet-backed communist regime in Kabul. And now the United States and its British allies have destroyed Ba'athism in Iraq and may have fatally undermined it in Syria as well.

What Al-Ayyeri sees now is a "clean battlefield" in which Islam faces a new form of unbelief. This, he labels "secularist democracy." This threat is "far more dangerous to Islam" than all its predecessors combined. The reasons, he explains in a whole chapter, must be sought in democracy's "seductive capacities."

This form of "unbelief" persuades the people that they are in charge of their destiny and that, using their collective reasoning, they can shape policies and pass laws as they see fit. That leads them into ignoring the "unalterable laws" promulgated by God for the whole of mankind, and codified in the Islamic shariah (jurisprudence) until the end of time.

The goal of democracy, according to Al-Ayyeri, is to "make Muslims love this world, forget the next world and abandon jihad." If established in any Muslim country for a reasonably long time, democracy could lead to economic prosperity, which, in turn, would make Muslims "reluctant to die in martyrdom" in defense of their faith.

He says that it is vital to prevent any normalization and stabilization in Iraq. Muslim militants should make sure that the United States does not succeed in holding elections in Iraq and creating a democratic government. "If democracy comes to Iraq, the next target [for democratization] would be the whole of the Muslim world," Al-Ayyeri writes.

The al Qaeda ideologist claims that the only Muslim country already affected by "the beginning of democratization" and thus in "mortal danger" is Turkey.

"Do we want what happened in Turkey to happen to all Muslim countries?" he asks. "Do we want Muslims to refuse taking part in jihad and submit to secularism, which is a Zionist-Crusader concoction?"

Al-Ayyeri says Iraq would become the graveyard of secular democracy, just as Afghanistan became the graveyard of communism. The idea is that the Americans, faced with mounting casualties in Iraq, will "just run away," as did the Soviets in Afghanistan. This is because the Americans love this world and are concerned about nothing but their own comfort, while Muslims dream of the pleasures that martyrdom offers in paradise.

"In Iraq today, there are only two sides," Al-Ayyeri asserts. "Here we have a clash of two visions of the world and the future of mankind. The side prepared to accept more sacrifices will win."

Al-Ayyeri's analysis may sound naive; he also gets most of his facts wrong. But he is right in reminding the world that what happens in Iraq could affect other Arab countries - in fact, the whole of the Muslim world. "
Powell and Joint Chiefs Nudged Bush Toward U.N. (washingtonpost.com):
"The effort by Powell and the military began with a t�te-�-t�te in Qatar on July 27 between the top U.S. commander in Iraq and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was furthered in a discussion between the Joint Chiefs chairman and Bush at the president's ranch on Aug. 8. And it was cemented in the past 10 days after Powell's deputy, Richard L. Armitage, went public with the proposal.
For an administration that prides itself on centralized, top-down control, the decision to change course in Iraq was uncharacteristically loose and decentralized. As described by officials in the White House, State Department and Pentagon, the White House was the last to sign on to the new approach devised by the soldiers and the diplomats. 'The [Pentagon] civilians had been saying we didn't need any more troops, and the military brass had backed them,' a senior administration official said. 'Powell's a smart guy, and he knew that as soon as he had the brass behind him, that is very tough to ignore.'
For months, Rumsfeld and his civilian aides had successfully resisted wishes of the State Department and the British government for U.N. help, arguing that U.S. troops, and foreign troops assembled outside U.N. authority, could get the job done. But this time was different, because the situation in Iraq made Rumsfeld's view look increasingly doubtful to the White House. A wave of attacks -- at the Jordanian Embassy, U.N. headquarters and Najaf -- convinced many officials that there were not enough U.S. troops in Iraq to maintain order. Nor were there enough foreign troops or American reserves to replace 40,000 troops Rumsfeld planned to bring home.
While the administration's plan to go to the Security Council surfaced publicly only in recent days, the see"
Transblawg: Where IKEA gets the names: "Where IKEA gets the names
There has often been speculation about the names of IKEA furniture (especially about the desk Jerker and the bed Gutvik). An article in German in Stern reveals a surprising amount of planning.
Thus bathroom items are named after Scandinavian lakes, rivers and bays; sets of bookcases after occupations; dining tables and chairs after Finnish placenames; carpets after Danish placenames; and much more. There�s a long list on the second page.
ADDED LATER
See overleaf for a summary in English.
This is a rapid translation! It�s harder than I thought it would be:
Upholstered furniture, coffee tables, rattan furniture, bookshelves, media storage, doorknobs: Swedish placenames
Beds, wardrobes, hall furniture: Norwegian placenames
Dining tables and chairs: Finnish placenames"
From another blog. The list goes on and on!

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Marriage And The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: "St. Mary's University researchers, headed by psychologist Nancy S.Marioles, Ph.D asked 426 married and premarried couples to take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator which measures peoples preferences on how they relate to the world. The authors then compared each type with each spouses' marital satisfaction. A person can have four different types that determine how they deal with the world.
>
The authors found very little evidence that opposites marry. The only exceptions were ESTJ men married to INFP women and ESTP men married to INFJ women. These two types of men, said the authors, were also the two types who had been married the most often. Men who were INFPs, INFJs and INTPs most often married a female with the same psychological type. Women, on the other hand, who were ENFJs and INFJs married men with the same type.
The researchers also found that female feeling types (mostly ESFJs) were married the longest and that female thinking types (mostly INTP) were married the fewest number of years. Perceiving types were more likely to have divorced than judging types. Extraverts tended to be more satisfied with their relationships than Introverts which didn't take into account their length of marriage or how many times they had been married.
'Our research and the overall trend,' said Dr. Marioles,'supports the likelihood that people are more likely to be attracted to and marry someone of the same type then they are a person of the opposite type.'
Women were dissatisfied with the marriage most often (33 percent) when they were married to a man who was an INTP; 31 percent were dissatisfied when they were married to an INFS; and 22 percent were dissatisfied when they were married to an ISFP. Only 13 percent of the men were dissatisfied when the women were an ENFJ and 12 percent of the men were dissatisficed when the women were an ENFP."
Interesting

Monday, September 01, 2003

Thinkers of the deep - Science - www.theage.com.au: "Fish do not deserve their reputation as the dim-wits of the animal kingdom, according to a group of British scientists.
Far from being instinct-driven dunces, held back by a three-second memory, fish were cunning, manipulative, cultured and socially aware.
In some respects of their intelligence, they could even be favourably compared with non-human primates, it was claimed.
The three scientists from the universities of Edinburgh and St Andrew's in Scotland, and the University of Leeds, said conceptions of the psychological and mental abilities of fish had undergone a 'sea change' in the past few years.
Biologists Calum Brown, Keven Laland and Jens Krause wrote in the journal Fish and Fisheries: 'Gone (or at least obsolete) is the image of fish as drudging and dim-witted pea-brains, driven largely by 'instinct', with what little behavioural flexibility they possess being severely hampered by an infamous 'three-second memory'.
'Now, fish are regarded as steeped in social intelligence, pursuing Machiavellian strategies of manipulation, punishment and reconciliation, exhibiting stable cultural traditions, and cooperating to inspect predators and catch food.'
Recent research had shown that fish not only recognised individual 'shoal mates' but monitored the social prestige of others, and tracked relationships. "
OrlandoSentinel.com: Space: "Poll tells NASA to keep sending ships into space


WASHINGTON -- Sixty percent of Americans are willing to spend what it takes to build a new type of manned spaceship to replace the aging shuttle, according to an Orlando Sentinel poll.

Despite the Columbia disaster and a highly critical report released last week by the accident's investigators, public support for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration remains high. The survey found that 81 percent of Americans consider space exploration very important or somewhat important to the country's future.

That's a 7-point increase from a February 2002 survey -- and a 6-point increase from a poll taken immediately after Columbia broke up over Texason Feb. 1. Washington-based Ipsos-Public Affairs conducted all three national polls for the Sentinel.

More important, the new poll shows Americans are prepared to support NASA with their pocketbooks. Besides their willingness to foot the bill for a new manned spaceship, 73 percent of respondents want to increase the agency's funding or at least keep it at the current level of roughly $15 billion a year. Those saying NASA deserves more money jumped to 29 percent -- the highest level in a decade -- up from 9 percent in February 2002.

The poll, which surveyed 1,002 people nationwide Aug. 27-28, has a margin of error no more than 3.1 percentage points.

"The support for the program is unshaken," said Thomas Riehle, president of Ipsos, an international survey research firm. "It is as strong as ever, even in the aftermath of the event and the report. It's in our blood as Americans."

Public support for space exploration could prove crucial as Congress begins hearings this week to examine the future of the shuttle program. Besides helping determine the path for the shuttle fleet's return to flight -- which NASA has tentatively scheduled for next spring -- the hearings could influence the direction and funding of U.S. human spaceflight for years.
>

Replacing the shuttle

One of the poll's most-significant findings is the public's willingness to spend tax dollars on a shuttle replacement. According to some estimates, that effort could cost more than $10 billion before a new spaceship is on the launchpad.

The Columbia Accident Investigation Board's final report concluded the shuttle should be replaced as well.

"Because of the risks inherent in the original design of the space shuttle, because that design was based in many aspects on now-obsolete technologies, and because the shuttle is now an aging system but still developmental in character, it is in the nation's interest to replace the shuttle as soon as possible," the report said. "It is the view of the board that the previous attempts to develop a replacement vehicle for the aging shuttle represent a failure of national leadership."

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said he wasn't surprised by the poll's findings but added that any effort to build a new vehicle likely would require the backing of the White House.

"I think this is where NASA has to have leadership, and it has to come all the way from the top, at the president," Nelson said. "If that kind of leadership is demonstrated, I think Congress would go along."

Several attempts to build a new manned launcher all failed during the past decade. The most recent, NASA's troubled X-33 program, cost government and industry almost $1.3 billion before being abandoned in 2001. The goal was to develop a cheaper, safer ship that could reach orbit without jettisoning spent fuel tanks or boosters and land like an airplane after the flight.

NASA pulled the plug because the materials and technologies needed to make the vehicle work weren't ready.

NASA's latest effort is called the Orbital Space Plane, which would ferry astronauts to the international space station. But unlike the shuttle, it wouldn't be able to carry heavy cargo or large satellites into orbit. It also won't be ready to fly until at least 2008, if then.

"We need to decide as a nation what it is we want to do," said Harold Gehman, the retired admiral who chaired the Columbia investigation.

NASA priorities

Polling shows that what Americans want from their space program has changed little, if any, from February 2002 to today.

NASA's primary mission should be research and development for U.S. industry, according to 33 percent of those surveyed in the latest poll and 35 percent in February 2002. Close behind was research in low-Earth orbit aboard the shuttle and space station, cited by 26 percent in both polls. Unmanned exploration of the universe ranked third, with support increasing from 16 percent in February 2002 to 19 percent in the latest poll.

And Americans still think the shuttle program is worth the roughly $3.1 billion a year NASA has been spending on it. The percentage who think that way increased from 54 percent in February 2002 to 57 percent in the week following last February's shuttle accident to 63 percent today.

But more-ambitious human spaceflight plans don't have widespread support. Respondents continue to take a dim view of a much-discussed manned mission to Mars, although opposition has slightly decreased since February 2002. Those who somewhat or strongly oppose such a mission dropped from 62 percent to 55 percent.
Hmm.
USATODAY.com - Marijuana ban unconstitutional, Alaska appeals court says:
"JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) � A law banning Alaskans from possessing any amount of marijuana in their homes has been ruled unconstitutional by a state appeals court Friday.
Friday's decision by the Alaska Court of Appeals reversed the 2001 drug conviction of a North Pole man and ordered a new trial.
The ruling affirms a 1975 Alaska Supreme Court decision that found it legal to possess less than four ounces of marijuana in one's home. That ruling found that the state constitution's strong privacy law superseded legislative attempts to ban marijuana.
Alaska voters approved a law in 1990 that criminalized the possession of any amount of drug in any location. That law had gone unchallenged until David Noy appealed his conviction on a count of sixth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance. A search of Noy's home had turned up five live pot plants, growing equipment and other paraphernalia.
Attorney General Gregg Renkes has said he will petition the state Supreme Court for a review. Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski called the court's ruling 'regrettable.' "
Excite News Co-Worker of Pa. Bank Robber Found Dead
:
"ERIE, Pa. (AP) - A friend and co-worker of a pizza deliveryman who robbed a bank then died when a bomb strapped to his body exploded was found dead at his home Sunday.
Police said there was no obvious connection between the two deaths. Still, authorities sent a bomb squad to search the home in Lawrence Park Township as a precaution, Erie state police Cpl. Mark Zaleski said.
'There was nothing overtly obvious as to the cause of his death,' Zaleski said, 'but because there's a relationship between the two individuals, we are over there.'
Robert Pinetti, 43, worked with Brian Douglas Wells, 46, who died Thursday shortly after robbing a bank in Erie. Minutes before the bomb went off, Wells told officers who stopped him that he had been forced to rob the bank. No one else was injured in the explosion.
Wells had gone to deliver a pizza to a mysterious address in a remote area about an hour before he turned up at the bank with the bomb strapped to his body.
Police received a call early Sunday asking for medical assistance at the home where Pinetti lived with his parents, but the man refused medical assistance, Zaleski said.
A few hours later, authorities were called again after his parents found him unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the home and an autopsy was scheduled, Zaleski said.
FBI Special Agent Bob Rudge said there was no reason to connect Pinetti's death to Wells' case.
There was no answer at the pizza shop where both men worked. "
Strange
Reuters | Latest Financial News / Full News Coverage: "Saudi Crackdown Encourages Iraq Jihad, Clerics Say
Sun August 31, 2003 12:58 PM ET
By Andrew Hammond
RIYADH (Reuters) - Saudi militants, facing a clampdown at home long demanded by Washington, are heading to Iraq for a holy war against the American 'Satan,' clerics and analysts say.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said last week that some of those attacking U.S. forces in Iraq are coming into the country from neighboring Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria."
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"Some clerics in the kingdom said a security crackdown by Saudi authorities on Muslim militants after deadly suicide bombings in Riyadh in May -- leading to bloody clashes and arrests -- was pushing militants to head to Iraq.

"Most youth think the only safe road is to go to Iraq. They are trapped between the international campaign against terrorism and this campaign at home. The only safe haven for them is to go to Iraq," said leading cleric Mohsen al-Awajy.

"We are hearing stories of families who get mobile phone messages from their sons saying they're going to Iraq."

Awajy said thousands of Saudi veterans of the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, who at that time were supported by the government, were now being targeted.

Riyadh woke up to the problem of homegrown militancy after the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities, blamed on Saudi-born Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group and carried out by mostly Saudi hijackers.

The crackdown intensified after the May bombings, which killed 35 people, including nine Americans. Authorities have arrested more than 200 militants believed linked to al Qaeda.

"In the Saudi street, people are not happy with the mass operation against former mujahideen, who were encouraged by the Saudi government. Without U.S. pressure, our own government would not be as harsh against their own people," Awajy said.

A Western diplomat said unlike with Afghanistan the Saudi authorities would do everything to stop wide-eyed young radicals from heading to Iraq.

"One thing is for sure, they won't encourage or export problems that they wouldn't want at home. Never again," he said, noting that prominent clerics have either discouraged jihad (holy war) in Iraq or kept silent on the matter."

DRUDGE REPORT FLASH 2002�: "Schoolgirl, 17, kills herself over loss of pet squirrel
Sun Aug 31 2003 23:36:27 ET

Hong Kong (dpa) - A Hong Kong schoolgirl killed herself after her grandfather freed a pet squirrel she was given as a birthday present by her boyfriend, police said Monday.

The 17-year-old hung herself from her bunk bed at her home in Hong Kong's Kowloon district after her grandfather released the squirrel she had been given by her boyfriend just two days earlier, the spokesman said.

Suicide rates among young people are high by international standards in Hong Kong, and government officials have launched a series of programmes to try to encourage youths in despair to seek counselling."
This is just sad.