Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Top News Article | Reuters.com: "TASHKENT (Reuters) - Several explosions and a gun battle rattled the northeast of the Uzbek capital Tashkent on Tuesday, the day after bomb blasts the government blamed on Islamic militants killed 19 people on the U.S. ally's territory.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ilhom Zakirov said Uzbek Interior Ministry special forces were conducting a mopping-up operation in a mainly residential district with a large tractor factory.
'Special police forces are eliminating the remains of a terrorist group which had been detected in this area earlier,' Zakirov added. He said the situation was fully under control.
Uzbek officials declined to say how many people they thought were involved in the fighting or discuss casualty numbers.
The former Soviet Central Asian state, which has drawn harsh criticism for its tough tactics against Islamic groups, provided an airbase for U.S. operations in neighboring Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001, attacks on U.S. cities."

Sunday, March 28, 2004

The Australian: Syria seeks our help to woo US [March 27, 2004] : "SYRIA has appealed to Australia to use its close ties with Washington to help the Arab nation shake off its reputation as a terrorist haven and repair its relations with the US."
Motion Induced Blindness: "On the right you see a rotating array of blue crosses and 3 yellow dots. Now fixate the centre (watch the flashing green spot). Note that the yellow spots disappear once in a while: singly, in pairs or all three simultaneously. In reality, the 3 yellow spots are continuously present, honest!"
heraldtribune.com: Southwest Florida's Information Leader: "WASHINGTON --
The Islamic militant suspected of involvement in deadly bombings in Iraq and now Spain has been called an al-Qaida associate, a collaborator of Osama bin Laden who shares his ideology but operates outside his control.
Although his name is not yet widely recognized, intelligence officials say Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is at the forefront of a new, complicated and deadly trend of like-minded terror groups that have become more diffuse. Lines between organizations are blurring, with old groups disbanding and re-emerging under new names, harder to define and predict."

Saturday, March 27, 2004

TheNewOrleansChannel.com - News - Court Opens Door To Searches Without Warrants: "NEW ORLEANS -- It's a groundbreaking court decision that legal experts say will affect everyone: Police officers in Louisiana no longer need a search or arrest warrant to conduct a brief search of your home or business."
BBC NEWS | Programmes | Panorama | Saddam betrayed by bodyguard: "Saddam betrayed by bodyguard
Mohammed al Musslit led the Americans to Saddam
Saddam Hussein was finally betrayed by a relative who was one of his closest bodyguards, a BBC programme reveals.
Panorama reports that after eight months on the run, the hiding place of the ousted Iraqi leader was given away by an aide known as 'the fat man'.
The programme, to be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, says Mohammed Ibrahim Omar al-Musslit gave away the secret after being arrested and interrogated."

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Jaw-dropping theory of human evolution: Did mankind trade chewing power for a bigger brain?: "Jaw-dropping theory of human evolution
Did mankind trade chewing power for a bigger brain?
25 March 2004
A big jaw in chimps (top) could preclude the evolution of a large brain, as in humans (bottom).
Researchers have proposed an answer to the vexing question of how the human brain grew so big. We may owe our superior intelligence to weak jaw muscles, they suggest.
A mutation 2.4 million years ago could have left us unable to produce one of the main proteins in primate jaw muscles, the team reports in this week's Nature1. Lacking the constraints of a bulky chewing apparatus, the ee to grow, the researchers say.
The timing of the mutation is consistent with rampant brain growth seen in human fossils from around 2 million years ago, says Nancy Minugh-Purvis of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who helped with the study. 'Right at the point you lose power in these muscles, brain size evolution accelerates,' she says."human skull may have been fr

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

FOXNews.com - Top Stories - Peacekeepers Launch Raids in Kosovo : "The incident underlined the tremendous pressure being placed on the remaining 100,000 or so Orthodox Christian Serbs in Kosovo. Many wish to leave, fearing further attacks in the mostly Muslim ethnic Albanian-dominated province. But Serb leaders want them to stay so they can retain their territorial claims on the province, which is run by the United Nations but remains part of Serbia-Montenegro."
Boston.com / News / World / Postwar rebuilding falters over contracts: "
BAGHDAD -- Colonel David Teeples, commander of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq, can't figure it out. If he can recruit and train members of Iraq's new security force, why can't the Coalition Provisional Authority -- the US-led administration that is running postwar Iraq -- provide them with the uniforms, radios, weapons, and vehicles they need to do their job?
His frustration is common in postwar Iraq -- among Iraqis as much as US forces. More than a year after the US government secretly divvied up the first contracts for postwar reconstruction, much of the subcontracting process remains confusing, overcentralized, and fertile ground for corruption, say watchdog agencies and Iraqi contractors. The equipment so important to Teeples and his recruits, for example, was supposed to be provided under a $327 million contract that was issued in January but was canceled two weeks ago over what the Army said was errors made by contracting officers.
The list of reconstruction contracts and licenses either delayed or under investigation is growing due to what watchdog agencies say is an ad hoc and underregulated selection process. And analysts say it is likely to become more prone to abuse if the United States transfers control over Iraq to an interim government without a strong oversight agency."

Friday, March 19, 2004

The Herald : "BRITAIN'S overstretched special forces could be facing an exodus because of a new American 'mercenary' deal in Iraq offering up to three times the military's rate of pay for SAS or SBS veterans with combat experience.
The 58m contract, for a civilianised force of former soldiers 'trained to Nato standards', is for guarding the four-square-mile Green Zone in central Baghdad which houses coalition headquarters and the Iraqi governing council offices.
The Pentagon plans to withdraw its own regular troops to six bases on the outskirts of the Iraqi capital to minimise casualties inside the city in a US presidential election year, leaving protection of the vulneralbe administrative nerve-centre in the hands of a private security company"
The Australian: Bin Laden's right-hand man slips net [March 20, 2004] .....: "A BULLETPROOF LandCruiser at high speed bursting out of a tribal compound in Pakistan's South Waziristan region was just the latest infuriating setback in the US's quest to bring down the top of the al-Qa'ida tree.
The car, followed by two armoured vehicles and a phalanx of heavily armed militants able to wipe out dozens of crack troops sent to blast the terrorists from their nest, is believed to have contained Ayman al-Zawahiri, right-hand man to Osama bin Laden.
After mounting speculation that US and Pakistani forces ranged on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border were about to pounce on al-Qa'ida's key planner, a senior Taliban spokesman yesterday made the claim Washington least wanted to hear - that both Zawahiri and bin Laden were safe in Afghanistan.
'He may have slipped the net,' the official said."
FOXNews.com - Top Stories - Pakistani Forces Ramp Up Siege ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Thousands of Pakistani army reinforcements joined in an ongoing offensive Friday to home in on a "high value target" that may be Usama bin Laden's No. 2 man, as fighting intensified to root out Al Qaeda (search) and Taliban fugitives from their hiding places.
Ayman al-Zawahri — bin Laden's deputy and the man considered the brains behind the Al Qaeda terror network — is believed to be cornered and perhaps wounded somewhere within a 3-square mile area of Pakistan near the rugged Afghan border.
There was no indication that bin Laden was with the Egyptian-born al-Zawahri, but the Pakistani military estimates that about 400 militants — a mix of foreigners and Pakistani tribesmen — are cornered in the border battle.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Asia Times - Asia's most trusted news source for the Middle East: "If the rulers of Saudi Arabia held out any hope that the post-September 11, 2001, demonization of their kingdom was finally waning, then someone in Riyadh should pick up a copy of An End to Evil, a recently published neo-conservative roadmap for 'winning' the 'war on terror'. In it, David Frum, an ex-speechwriter for President George W Bush (and inventor of the term 'axis of evil'), and Richard Perle, the eminence grise of the neo-con fraternity, suggest that the United States should bring Saudi Arabia to heel by threatening to support independence for the country's Eastern Province or Al Hasa (also known as Ash Sharqiyah), where much of Saudi Arabia's minority Shi'ite population and, coincidentally, most of its oil is situated.
While the continuing turmoil in Iraq might inhibit lesser souls even to consider tinkering with the map of the world's most important oil producer, Frum and Perle are made of sterner stuff. Lamenting the discrimination suffered by Saudi Arabia's Shi'ites at the hands of the Sunni elite, whose power base lies in Najd and Hijaz in the center and west of the Arabian Peninsula, they deduce that 'it is not bigotry alone that explains these Saudi actions, but also their fear that the Shi'ites might someday seek independence for the Eastern Province - and its oil'. If this fear were somehow brought to fruition it 'would obviously be a catastrophic outcome for the Saudi state. But it might be a very good outcome for the US.' "
Asia Times Online - The best news coverage from South Asia : "
Tuesday's deadly clash between Pakistani forces and local tribespeople marks the first time in the last several operations, when Pakistani troops came down forcefully in South Waziristan, that they have been humiliated by the tribals - along with the Islamic militants who have already converged in the area and view the situation as a holy war. South Waziristan is one of seven federally administered tribal areas where fiercely independent tribes have been allowed to govern their own affairs. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban enjoy widespread popular support in the mountainous and isolated border areas, the poorest and most religiously conservative parts of Pakistan.
Well-informed sources tell Asia Times Online that about 250 people, including a member of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) constabulary, the staff of a local political agent and members of the Khasa Dar force have been taken hostage by the tribespeople. Aside from the 10 soldiers killed in Tuesday's encounter, the bodies of 10 more people, including a confirmed soldier of the Pakistan Army, have been sent to a camp in Wana by the tribals. These were said to have been hostages who were killed in captivity.
>>>Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf a few days ago visited NWFP where he addressed tribal elders and warned them that if any operation is prevented in tribal areas against al-Qaeda, Pakistan would face dire consequences from the wrath of the United States. But the dire consequences of Tuesday's operation left the Pakistani forces with no face-saving option - except denial. Despite the obvious fact that the Pakistani Army is stationed in tribal areas and has launched an operation, the Pakistan Army as an institution is still denying its involvement.
>>>The manner in which Pakistan's armed forces disowned both the operation and the level of the insurgency shows the military is fully aware that the situation is out of control. But at the same time , these denials also reflect that the armed forces do not want to take the blame for a clash between Pakistani forces and Pakistani citizens in which both sustained casualties - especially when they are fighting a war for somebody else on Pakistani soil. The situation clearly hints the future course of action - and who is now really dominating the Pakistani Army: the US. "
WorldNetDaily: Al-Qaida No. 2 man cornered in Pakistan?: "Three senior Pakistani officials claim local troops have surrounded al-Qaida No. 2 man Ayman al-Zawahiri in an operation near the Afghan border.
The operation began Tuesday and reportedly involves hundreds of troops and paramilitary rangers.
'We have been receiving intelligence and information from our agents who are working in the tribal areas that al-Zawahiri could be among the people hiding there,' a military official told the Associated Press. 'All of our efforts are to capture him.'
In an interview with CNN, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf said he had spoken with the commander of Pakistani troops in the region. The commander reported 'fierce resistance' from a group of al-Qaida fighters.
'We feel that there may be a high-value target,' Musharraf told CNN. 'I can't say who.'
He told the network the military asked locals to leave and is flying helicopters overhead, 'pounding' the area with artillery.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a U.S. counterterrorism official told AP: 'It would appear that the Pakistanis have surrounded a very senior al-Qaida figure, but at this point we are not certain who it is.'
Mansoor Ijaz of the Fox News Channel reported that Pakistani intelligence sources said it is 'highly probable that the high value target' that has been surrounded is either bin Laden or al-Zawahiri.
Ijaz said capturing al-Zawahiri would be 'bigger than Osama bin Laden' because of his mastery in planning and coordinating deadly terrorist attacks and ability to link al-Qaida cells around the world."

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

WorldTribune.com Regime blames U.S. after American flags spotted in protests
SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Syrian military troops and police have arrested hundreds of Kurds suspected of being involved in the anti-regime riots in cities throughout Syria over the weekend.
Kurdish sources said Syrian intelligence arrested hundreds of suspected Kurdish separatists in Aleppo and surrounding communities. The unrest was sparked by a soccer riot on Friday in the town of Qamishli near the Turkish border.
Syrian officials have accused the United States of fomenting the Kurdish riots. They said the Kurds, who raised U.S. flags during anti-regime demonstrations, were connected to the U.S.-aligned Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in northern Iraq.
The unrest was termed as the worst in Syria since the Islamic insurgency against Damascus in the early 1980s.
The sources said Syrian troops, backed by main battle tanks and armored personnel carriers, patrolled towns and cities, including Damascus.
STUFF : WORLD NEWS - STORY : New Zealand's leading news and information website : "France gets Islamist threat
PARIS: France has received threats of a possible attack against French interests from an Islamist group apparently named after a Chechen guerrilla killed in a Moscow hostage-taking in 2002, the Interior Ministry says.
The letter, sent to several newspapers today, threatened 'to plunge France into terror and remorse and spill blood outside its frontiers', Jacques Esperandieu, deputy editor of the daily Le Parisien which received a copy, quoted it as saying.
The ministry confirmed earlier Justice Ministry reports that the threat, which it said was sent 'on behalf of the servants of Allah, the powerful and wise', mentioned possible attacks in France and against French interests abroad.
'These are threats articulated in such a way that they are being taken very seriously,' a judicial source said.
France, which in contrast to Spain opposed the Iraq war, has interpreted the bloody attacks on Madrid trains as an attack on all European countries regardless of their positions on Iraq.
RTL radio said the letter was written in Arabic and posted from the main Paris post office.
France's firm stand against the Iraq war was originally thought to have won it support in the Muslim world, but this evaporated when Paris banned Muslims from wearing headscarves in schools.
Summarising the letter, Esperandieu said: "They're basically saying 'you thought you were safe because of your stand on Iraq, but France is no longer safe at all since February 10." "
KurdishMedia News - Daily Kurdish news updates : "'During this period I became convinced that I should blow myself up and that suicide was the highest rank of jihad,' he said. Qader signed up for a suicide mission and Ali sent his name to the leadership in Biyara, a stronghold of Ansar in the mountains close to Iran.
Another prisoner who lived with Ansar, Haidar al-Shemari, said would-be suicide bombers were often single young men with religious zeal: they grew their beards, shunned worldly pleasures and enforced strict interpretations of Islam on their families.
'They would sit them through lectures and tell them that 72 women await the martyr in the other world,' al-Shemari said laughingly.
He said Ansar had so-called 'TNT' camps, where would-be suicide bombers wore suicide vests and trained on how to explode themselves in exactly the right spot.
Omar Fattah, a senior PUK official, said Ansar prefers to use C4 explosive, which he said was stronger than TNT, as well as put in nails and pieces of metal to create more casualties.
He said Ansar leaders form groups of 3-5 members and put them through a one-month course of harsh military training and religious lectures, during which they extol the virtues of martyrdom. "
Las Vegas SUN: Many Think U.S. Wants World Domination
: "In other key findings:
- While support for the war on terrorism has dropped in many of those countries, it has increased in Russia - 73 percent approve - and is almost as strong there as in the United States.
- About half in Pakistan said suicide bombings carried out by Palestinians against Israelis and against U.S. troops in Iraq can be justified. Two-thirds or more in Jordan and Morocco say it can be justified in both situations.
- A majority of the people in Pakistan and Jordan say Iraq will be worse off now that Saddam Hussein has been removed from power.
- A solid majority of those in France, Germany, Russia, Pakistan and Jordan believe United States President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair lied about the weapons of mass destruction they claimed were in Iraq.
- Ratings for the United Nations are relatively high in European countries, and low in the Muslim countries. Just over half in the United States, 55 percent, gave a favorable rating to the U.N.
'In America, the ratings of the U.N. are much lower than elsewhere,' said Kohut, referring to the European countries. 'Historically we're at a low point.'
The polls were conducted between Feb. 19 and March 3. They have margins of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points in Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia, Turkey and the United States. Polls in Britain, France and Germany have a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points."
BBC NEWS | South Asia | Bin Laden not here, say tribesmen: "In the Pakistani tribal area of South Waziristan, local people are emphatic.
'Osama Bin Laden is not in this region,' said local administrator Mohammad Azam Khan."But this area is the place many outsiders believe is the hideaway of the world's most wanted man.
The reason for this suspicion is the sympathy of local tribes for the Taleban and al-Qaeda.
In recent manoeuvres last month, the Pakistan army said it arrested 21 al-Qaeda suspects in Zari Lita area of South Waziristan.
Officials say more operations are on the cards if local tribes do not co-operate by handing over suspects.
Every day, more troops are arriving in the area.
The territory of Waziristan shares an 80km-long border with Afghanistan's Paktika province, a trouble spot for US and Afghan forces in their battle against al-Qaeda and Taleban renegade elements.
Telegraph | News | France accused of genocide by Rwanda's leader: "M Kagame claimed that the French government supplied weapons, logistical support and even senior military planners to the regime of militant ethnic Hutus responsible for the slaughter of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
Diplomats and witnesses to the genocide have often accused France of tacit involvement, but Mr Kagame's comments are the most explicit statement of the allegations.
He made them after a French police report, which took six years to prepare, blamed him for the shooting down of a plane carrying Juvenal Habyarimana, Rwanda's then president and an ethnic Hutu, on April 6, 1994.
Mr Habyarimaa's death sparked 100 days of mass killing in Rwanda. Most historians, diplomats and journalists believe that militant Hutus shot down the plane as a deliberate pretext for their premeditated slaughter.
Mr Kagame, an ethnic Tutsi, flatly denied any involvement in Mr Habyarimana's death and launched a blistering counter-attack against France in an interview given to RFI, the French state-run radio station.
'The French supplied weapons; they gave orders and instructions to the perpetrators of genocide,' he said.
'The French were there when the genocide took place. They trained those who carried it out.
'They had positions of command in the armed forces who committed the genocide.
'They also directly participated in operations by putting up roadblocks to identify people by ethnic origin, punishing the Tutsis and supporting the Hutus.'
Journalists who covered Rwanda in the early 1990s reported that French peacekeepers appeared to side with the Hutu government and against the Tutsi-based Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by Mr Kagame, which had been responsible for an armed incursion into Rwanda in 1990 from exile.
In at least one case, French troops moved United Nations peacekeepers away from a college where they were protecting 2,000 Tutsis. After the peacekeepers were moved, the Tutsis were slaughtered. Mr Kagame said the police report blaming him for Mr Habyarimana's death was a politically motivated attempt to deflect blame from France."
MSNBC - Osama bin Laden: missed opportunities As the 9/11 commission investigates what Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush might have done to prevent the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, one piece of evidence the commission will examine is a videotape secretly recorded by a CIA plane high above Afghanistan. The tape shows a man believed to Osama bin Laden walking at a known al-Qaida camp.
The question for the 9/11 commission: If the CIA was able to get that close to bin Laden before 9/11, why wasn’t he captured or killed? The videotape has remained secret until now.
Over the next three nights, NBC News will present this incredible spy footage and reveal some of the difficult questions it has raised for the 9/11 commission.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

The New Yorker: The Critics: BooksOne function of certain New Economy innovations is to make choosing easier by automating it. TiVo, in theory, allows television addicts to lose themselves in ever more programming choices, but it can also be used as a filter, a means of allowing viewers to dispense with choosing altogether. Internet grocery services, such as Peapod, allow shoppers to fill out a template that protects them from having to rechoose every week. In practical terms, the Peapod shopper is confronted with far fewer new brands and choices than was a suburban housewife pushing her cart down a grocery aisle during the Kennedy Administration.
It’s also true that in a consumer society the most widespread of the misjudgments that humans bring to choice may also be a productive one. Researchers can tell us why someone can quickly become bored with a new Jaguar, or revert to thinking that life is meaningless two weeks after receiving a promotion he’s sought for a decade. But the phenomenon—sometimes called the “hedonic treadmill”—can also explain why disaster, whether bankruptcy or incapacitation, seldom burdens our spirits for very long.
Strangely, we lose sight of our human resilience when we make big choices. People are consistently puzzled that so many things they had dreaded—from getting fired to being ditched by a spouse—“turned out for the best.” Gilbert and Wilson even speculate (in a diplomatic way) that our inability to forecast this adaptive capacity spurs some people to a belief in God. “Because people are largely unaware that their internal dynamics promote such positive change,” they write, “they look outward for an explanation.” A tendency to overestimate the joy we’ll get from buying baubles and winning honors is only half of a complex predisposition. The other half is our enormous capacity for happiness, even in the absence of such things. The surprise isn’t how often we make bad choices; the surprise is how seldom they defeat us.
CNN.com - Experts: War on terrorism could spawn new enemies - Mar 15, 2004: "WASHINGTON (CNN) -- It is possible the U.S.-led war on terror has created new enemies of Western governments and societies by splintering al Qaeda, according to counterterrorism experts.
Some U.S. government officials go so far as to say that even if Islamic fundamentalists are eventually found responsible for the train bombings in Spain last week, the effort to identify one particular group may be futile.
'This is not like the Gambino crime family, a Mafia family, where if you just arrest the leaders it goes out of business,' said Peter Bergen, a CNN terrorism expert and author of 'Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden.'

'This is more like a mass movement, and you can arrest as many people as you want. But it's very hard to arrest the movement of ideas.'"

Monday, March 15, 2004

sacbee.com -- AP State Wire News -- City falls victim to Internet hoax, considers banning items made with water: "City falls victim to Internet hoax, considers banning items made with water
The Associated Press
Last Updated 11:41 a.m. PST Monday, March 15, 2004
ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (AP) - City officials were so concerned about the potentially dangerous properties of dihydrogen monoxide that they considered banning foam cups after they learned the chemical was used in their production.
Then they learned that dihydrogen monoxide - H2O for short - is the scientific term for water.
'It's embarrassing,' said City Manager David J. Norman. 'We had a paralegal who did bad research.'
The paralegal apparently fell victim to one of the many official looking Web sites that have been put up by pranksters to describe dihydrogen monoxide as 'an odorless, tasteless chemical' that can be deadly if accidentally inhaled."
FOXNews.com - Top Stories - New Spanish Leader Vows Iraq PulloutMADRID, Spain — Spain's new Socialist leader vowed Monday to bring home the 1,300 Spanish troops now in Iraq, a move that follows the worst terrorist attack ever to hit the U.S. ally.
"The military intervention was a political error for the international order, for the search for cooperation, for the defense of the United States," Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (search) told reporters, adding that Spain would maintain "cordial" relations with Washington.
"It divided more than it united, there were no reasons for it, time has shown that the arguments for it lacked credibility and the occupation has been managed badly."
Although Zapatero did not say exactly when the troops would come home, he did reaffirm his pledge that they would be recalled by June 30 unless the United Nations (search) assumes control of multinational military operations in Iraq.
Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | US sends special forces into north Africa: "US special forces troops have arrived in several north African countries over recent months amid Pentagon warnings that the region runs the risk of becoming an al-Qaida recruiting ground and a possible back door into Europe.
Three days before the Madrid bombing, where the first arrests included three Moroccans detained on Saturday, the deputy commander of the Stuttgart-based US European command - which covers all of Africa except the Horn - warned that al-Qaida had an interest in north Africa.
'We have to get ahead of it,' General Charles Wald told a group of African reporters in Washington.
Units of around 200 from the US army's 10th Special Forces Group are already installed, or are due to arrive, in Mauritania, Mali, Chad and Niger to train their armies in anti-terrorism tactics and to improve coordination with the US military."
The Australian: Mark Steyn: These guys want to kill us anyway [March 15, 2004] Even if you'd avoided Iraq or Andalusia or British banks or Pilger or any other affront to Islamist sensibilities, you'd still be a target. As the PR guy for the Islamic Army of Aden said after blowing up that French tanker: "We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels." Commissioner Keelty is confusing old-school terrorism – blowing the legs off grannies as a means to an end – with the new: blowing the legs off grannies is the end. Old-school terrorists have relatively viable goals: They want a Basque state or Northern Ireland removed from the UK. You might not agree with these goals, you might not think them negotiable, but at least they're not stark staring insane.
That kind of finely calibrated terrorism – just enough slaughter to inconvenience the state into concessions – is all but over. Suppose you're an ETA cell. Suppose you were planning a car-bomb for next month – nothing fancy, just a dead Spanish official plus a couple of unlucky passers-by. Still want to go ahead with it? I doubt it. Despite Gerry Adams's attempts to distinguish between "unacceptable" terrorism and the supposedly more beneficial kind, these days it's a club with only one level of membership. That's why so many formerly active terrorist groups have been so quiet the past couple of years. In that sense, Bush is right: It is a "war on terror", and on many fronts it's being won.
If Islamic terrorism were as rational as Irish or Basque terrorism, it would be easier. But Hussein Massawi, former leader of Hezbollah, summed it up very pithily: "We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you." You can be pro-America (Spain, Australia) or anti-America (France, Canada), but if you broke into the head cave in the Hindu Kush and checked out the hit list you'd be on it either way.
So the choice for pluralist democracies is simple: You can join Bush in taking the war to the terrorists, to their redoubts and sponsoring regimes. Despite the sneers that terrorism is a phenomenon and you can't wage war against a phenomenon, in fact you can – as the Royal Navy did very successfully against the malign phenomena of an earlier age, piracy and slavery.
Or you can stick your head in the sand and paint a burqa on your butt. But they'll blow it up anyway.
Mark Steyn is a columnist for Britain's Telegraph Group and the Chicago Sun-Times.
Mercury News | 03/12/2004 | As stem cell research faces attacks, regenerative medicine grows: "Ultimately, these discoveries could usher in regenerative medicine. The idea is to turn a patients' skin cells into embryo-like cells that could be coaxed into growing into replacement tissue for failing organs.
The biggest game being stalked in this hunt is finding the still theoretical genes that launch creation of the human body from a single cell.
Scottish and Japanese researchers last year isolated an ``immortality gene'' in mice that allowed stem cells to grow indefinitely in the laboratory. They dubbed it Nanog, from the Celtic mythical land called Tir nan Og, where everyone stays young. The discovery hastened the race to find a similar human gene and prompted serious scientists to publicly discuss for the first time what they've been quietly pursuing for years.
``We are dreaming of finding that master gene in the egg,'' said Michigan State University researcher Jose Cibelli, a pioneer in cloning and stem cell science. ``The fountain of youth is in the egg.''
The goal of Cibelli and others is to reprogram cells to reverse the aging process -- until stem cells appear.
Embryonic stem cells are the most sought after stem cells. Created in the first days after conception, they give rise to the human body.
Scientists hope to harness this powerful ability of so-called undifferentiated cells to grow into replacements for lost or damaged cells in treating a wide range of ailments, from Alzheimer's disease to spinal cord injuries."
UC Berkeley Human Engineering Laboratory: "Welcome to the BLEEX Project
Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton
Description Click Here
Videos
Video 1 (MPG, 28 MBytes)
Video 2 (MPG, 21 MBytes)
Video 3 (MPG, 18 MBytes)"
Here are videos of the robotic legs US soldiers will eventually be sporting.
Telegraph | News | Hunt for bin Laden intensifies after top aide is captured: "A son of Osama bin Laden's deputy has given crucial information on the whereabouts of al-Qa'eda leaders after being captured by Pakistani forces in a lawless frontier area close to Afghanistan, intelligence officials in Islamabad have revealed.
Ayman al-Zawahiri's son, Khalid, was seized along with 20 other suspected foreign militants in a raid by Pakistan's security forces in the remote South Waziristan area 10 days ago, officials have told the Telegraph.
Information gleaned from him by interrogators has helped direct Pakistani and American forces in their drive to capture bin Laden and other senior al-Qa'eda figures, being conducted in the mountainous areas on both sides of the border."
FOXNews.com - Top Stories - U.S. Soldiers Nab Suspected Iraqi TerroristBAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S. soldiers and Iraqi police arrested 14 Iraqis, including a militant suspected of leading a terrorist cell made up of followers of the extremist Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam, the military said Thursday.
Sami Ahmed , a former Iraqi intelligence service officer under Saddam Hussein, was captured late Wednesday, said Maj. Josslyn Aberle of the Tikrit-based 4th Infantry Division.
She said Ahmed, along with 13 other Iraqis, were arrested near Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, in a hotbed of anti-coalition activity within the Sunni Triangle. Wahhabism is the strict, fundamentalist branch of Sunni Islam from which Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden draws spiritual direction.
FOXNews.com - Top Stories - Militants: Al-Zarqawi Is DeadBAGHDAD, Iraq — A Jordanian extremist suspected of bloody homicide attacks in Iraq was killed some time ago in U.S. bombing and a letter outlining plans for fomenting sectarian war is a forgery, a statement allegedly from an insurgent group west of the capital said.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) was killed in the Sulaimaniyah mountains of northern Iraq "during the American bombing there," according to a statement circulated in Fallujah (search) this week and signed by the "Leadership of the Allahu Akbar Mujahedeen."
There was no way to verify the authenticity of the statement, one of many leaflets put out by a variety of groups taking part in the anti-U.S. resistance.
FOXNews.com - Views - Kashmir Peace Key to Fighting Terror Some experts believe that Kashmir is the second most dangerous flashpoint on earth. (The first is the demilitarized zone in the Korean Peninsula). Last year, the State Department in Washington leaked a study that estimated that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan could kill almost 14 million people. In the wake of the liberation of Iraq last March, critics of the U.S.-led coalition claimed that the "pre-emptive" change of regime in Baghdad could give India a pretext for trying a similar move against Islamabad.
Last December, however, Vajpayee and Musharraf, in a surprise meeting, agreed to negotiations designed not only to terminate the state of belligerence but also to bring the two nations together in a south-Asian "common market." The first round of talks, at foreign ministers’ level, will open later this month. And the world will be watching.
To be sure, this was not the first time that Indian and Pakistani leaders were coming together in a bid to ease tension. This time, however, a number of new factors have to be taken into account.
The first of these is the active, though behind-the-scenes, involvement of the United States. In the past two years, Islamabad and New Delhi have hosted countless visits by senior American officials who came to press for an end to the Kashmir dispute.
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In Pakistan, U.S. influence takes the shape of a $3 billion aid package, plus goodies for the armed forces, and the prospect of easier access to American markets for Pakistani exports. The second factor that lends more credibility to the current peace efforts is that, for the first time, the Pakistani leadership realizes that the armed groups it has created could, in the fashion of Frankenstein’s monster, turn against their creator.
Solar System: "The planets of our solar system and their planetary data."
Phases of the Moon: "Phases of the Moon
As the moon orbits the earth, we see the light side of the moon in various phases. A full lunar cycle occurs when the moon completely orbits the earth in about 27 days 7 hours 43 minutes 11.5 seconds. "
Planetary Orbits: "Planetary Orbits
Place your mouse over the orbital paths for each planet."
Google Guide: Interactive Tutorial Making Search Even Easier: "The absolutely best tutorial on how to use all of Google's potential. Easy to use, simple to navigate, this is a little jewel for both the novice and advanced search user. The definitive up-to-date guide on how to best leverage the Google search engine and all of its features in a simple and easy to access format. Recommended.
-- Robin Good, Master New Media: What Communication Experts Need to Know, February 21, 2004
What You'll Learn - Start Immediately - Why Take Google Guide? - Who Will Benefit? - How Much Time Will it Take? - Navigation Bar - Radio Buttons - Why Google ~Guide? - Google Guide vs. How to Do Everything with Google - Radio Interview
What Google Guide Teaches You
In this tutorial, you'll learn
* How to select terms and search (more) effectively
* How Google interprets your query
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* How to search using Google's special tools and shortcuts
* What to do when you can't find the answer you want
* What's new in Google
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Want to Get Started Immediately? "
Basecamp: Example Uses for Basecamp Project Management SystemSimple organization for any project — or idea
Basecamp's flexibility makes it a great match for all kinds of groups and businesses. It's simple to customize the posting categories so they match your specific needs. And, while the categories may change, the goal remains the same: To allow you and your colleagues to easily track and organize all aspects of a project — or team effort — in one place.
Web Designers
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* Post site maps, flow charts and wireframes for approval
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* Create to-do lists for browser bugs and outstanding technical issues
Internal Projects & Communications
* Coordinate schedules with team members
* Keep up to date while out of the office
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* Communicate with contractors and consultants
* Share knowledge from workshops and seminars
10 Year Journal: "A Decade of Your Life all in One Place!
Plan, record, and review your daily activities for 10 years all in one place... a real time machine! Remember the past, record the present and plan the Future. Glance at 10 years in one page with its 365 day pages... four lines per date per year from 2004 through 2014 making it easy for the busiest person to keep a journal. Just imagine that on May 15, 200X, you're wondering what you did or were thinking on that same day 6 years ago. It will be written right there on the same page! A glimpse at the past! It also includes short- and long-term planners, goals and review sections, monthly overviews, address and telephone log, a 12 year calendar and much more. Elegant Forest Green leatherette cover with Gold embossed lettering. Size 7-1/2' x 10-1/4' x 1'. Also makes the perfect gift for anybody."
My Way - News: "PARIS (Reuters) - Osama bin Laden has escaped capture in Afghanistan several times and may be linked in some way to the Madrid train attacks that killed 200 people, France's chief of defense staff said Monday.
Gen. Henri Bentegeat said about 200 French troops were operating with U.S. forces in southeastern Afghanistan against the Taliban and bin Laden's al Qaeda. The Saudi-born militant is thought to be there or just across the border in Pakistan.
'Our men were not very far. On several occasions, I even think he slipped out of a net that was quite well closed,' he told Europe 1 radio. He did not specify a time frame.
Bentegeat, who spoke as if he were sure bin Laden was in Afghanistan, said the country's difficult terrain explained why it was so hard to catch the world's most wanted man."

Saturday, March 13, 2004

New Scientist: "Nutrient during pregnancy 'super-charges' brain
Taking a nutrient called choline during pregnancy could 'super-charge' children's brains for life, suggests a study in rats.
Offspring born to pregnant rats given the supplement were known to be faster learners with better memories. But the new work, by Scott Swartzwelder and colleagues at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina, US, shows this is due to having bigger brain cells in vital areas.
Choline, a member of the vitamin B family, is found in egg yolks, liver and other meats - 'exactly the kind of things people were told not to eat' due to their high cholesterol content, says Swartzwelder.
He believes their results in the rats could translate to humans, and indeed the US Institute of Medicine added choline to the list of essential nutrients, particularly for pregnant women, in its 2003 recommendations."

Monday, March 08, 2004

Robot Race!The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the technological godfather of things stealth, smart bullets and the Internet, is sponsoring a road race this week – with one overriding entry requirement.
Only robots need apply.
The race, called the DARPA Grand Challenge, begins Saturday at dawn at the Slash X Ranch near Barstow. The still-secret course is guaranteed to be a grueling grind over 200 miles of highways, back roads, trails and open desert from Barstow to the Nevada state line.
Twenty-five robots with assorted pedigrees – modified Humvees, souped-up sport utility vehicles, dune buggies, all-terrain vehicles, a six-wheeled military truck and a motorcycle – will vie for a Congress-authorized prize of $1 million.
The winner also gets bragging rights to one of the most daunting challenges robots have ever faced: that distinctly human, infinitely complex activity we call driving.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Welcome to GIANTmicrobes! Welcome to GIANTmicrobes!
We make stuffed animals that look like tiny microbes—only a million times actual size! Now available: The Common Cold, The Flu, Sore Throat, Stomach Ache, Bad Breath, Kissing Disease, Athlete's Foot, Ulcer, Martian Life, Beer & Bread, Black Death, Ebola, Dust Mite, Bed Bug, and Bookworm.
Each 5-to-7 inch doll is accompanied by an image of the real microbe it represents, as well as information about the microbe.
They make great learning tools for parents and educators, as well as amusing gifts for anyone with a sense of humor!

Friday, March 05, 2004

BBC NEWS | Africa | Libya declares chemical weapons: "Libya declares chemical weapons
Gaddafi has already ordered the dismantling its weapons programme
Libya has declared a 20-ton stockpile of deadly mustard gas in a full report on its chemical weapons programmes submitted to the UN on Friday.
The Libyans also detailed large amounts of chemicals used to make nerve gas.
The UN says the declaration is a major step towards eliminating Libya's weapons of mass destruction.
It follows Libya's surprise announcement in December that it was scrapping its weapons programmes, in a bid to end its international isolation."

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Scores killed in Iraq Shia blasts: "Scores killed in Iraq Shia blasts
The wounded were carried on makeshift stretchers
As many as 100 people have been killed in blasts targeting Iraqi Shias as they celebrated one of their holiest days in the cities of Karbala and Baghdad.
At least 30 people were killed and hundreds wounded in Karbala, and as many as 75 died in Baghdad in attacks that appeared to be coordinated.
US officials said mortars had been fired at the mosque in Baghdad. They may also have been used in Karbala.
Correspondents said the atmosphere in Karbala turned from shock to anger.It had long been feared that somebody would try to target the Ashura festival - perhaps to try and provoke Sunni-Shia tensions across the country.
The festival was banned under Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime for fear it would foment rebellion by Shias.
Correspondents say this year's event coincides with the growing dominance of Shia in post-Saddam Iraq - which has prompted fears that disgruntled Sunni militants might target the celebrations. "

Monday, March 01, 2004

My Way News: "BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi politicians agreed early Monday on an interim constitution with a wide ranging bill of rights and a single chief executive, bridging a gulf between members over the role of Islam in the future government, coalition and Iraqi officials said.
The document set national elections to be held by Jan. 31, 2005, to create a legislature, with a goal of having women in at least a quarter of the seats. But negotiators were unable to agree on many aspects of Kurdish autonomy, leaving them to be determined later.
The new constitution, a key step in the U.S. plan to turn over power on June 30, will be signed by top American administrator L. Paul Bremer on Wednesday, after the Shiite Muslim religious holiday of Ashoura ends, a coalition official said on condition of anonymity. The charter will remain in effect until a permanent constitution is drafted and ratified next year."