Sunday, January 30, 2005

New German Welfare rules- 'If you don't take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits!'

Telegraph | News | 'If you don't take a job as a prostitute, we can stop your benefits'

A 25-year-old waitress who turned down a job providing "sexual services'' at a brothel in Berlin faces possible cuts to her unemployment benefit under laws introduced this year.

Prostitution was legalised in Germany just over two years ago and brothel owners – who must pay tax and employee health insurance – were granted access to official databases of jobseekers.

The waitress, an unemployed information technology professional, had said that she was willing to work in a bar at night and had worked in a cafe.

She received a letter from the job centre telling her that an employer was interested in her "profile'' and that she should ring them. Only on doing so did the woman, who has not been identified for legal reasons, realise that she was calling a brothel.

Under Germany's welfare reforms, any woman under 55 who has been out of work for more than a year can be forced to take an available job – including in the sex industry – or lose her unemployment benefit. Last month German unemployment rose for the 11th consecutive month to 4.5 million, taking the number out of work to its highest since reunification in 1990.

The government had considered making brothels an exception on moral grounds, but decided that it would be too difficult to distinguish them from bars. As a result, job centres must treat employers looking for a prostitute in the same way as those looking for a dental nurse.

When the waitress looked into suing the job centre, she found out that it had not broken the law. Job centres that refuse to penalise people who turn down a job by cutting their benefits face legal action from the potential employer.

"There is now nothing in the law to stop women from being sent into the sex industry," said Merchthild Garweg, a lawyer from Hamburg who specialises in such cases. "The new regulations say that working in the sex industry is not immoral any more, and so jobs cannot be turned down without a risk to benefits."

Iraqi voter dips his finger in ink after voting in today's historic election!

Iraqis Brave Attacks; Voter Turnout High

Iraqis Brave Attacks; Voter Turnout High My Way News

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqis defied violence and calls for a boycott to cast ballots in Iraq's first free election in a half-century Sunday. Insurgents seeking to wreck the vote struck polling stations with a string of suicide bombings and mortar volleys, killing at least 44 people, including nine attackers.

Women in black abayas whispered prayers at the sound of a nearby explosion as they waited to vote at one Baghdad polling station. But the mood for many was upbeat: Civilians and policemen danced with joy at one of the five polling stations where photographers were allowed, and some streets were packed with voters walking shoulder-to-shoulder to vote. The elderly made their way, hobbling on canes or riding wheelchairs; one elderly woman was pushed along on a wooden cart, another man carried a disabled 80-year-old on his back.

"This is democracy," said Karfia Abbasi, holding up a thumb stained with purple ink to prove she had voted.

Officials said turnout among the 14 million eligible voters appeared higher than the 57 percent that had been predicted, although it would be some time before any turnout figure was confirmed. No preliminary results were expected before Monday at the earliest, and final results will not be known for seven to 10 days, the election commission said.

Watch for the left to spin this election as not being representative of Iraqi public opinion, even though more people voted percentage wise than in the last U.S. election!

Friday, January 28, 2005

Zarqawi's organization is being dismembered limb by limb, just like Al-Sadr's group was

My Way News:

"With crucial national elections only two days away, Iraqi officials announced the arrests of three more purported lieutenants of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, including the Jordanian terror mastermind's military adviser and chief of operations in Baghdad.

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh told reporters that U.S. and Iraqi authorities were closing in on al-Zarqawi, head of al-Qaida's affiliate in Iraq who is believed responsible for many of the car-bombings, kidnappings and decapitations of foreigners in Iraq.

Despite Saleh's assurances, al-Zarqawi's group posted a new Web message Friday warning Iraqis that they could get hit by shelling or other attacks if they approach polling stations, which it called 'the centers of atheism and of vice.'

'We have warned you, so don't blame us. You have only yourselves to blame,' it said."

Blago learns vital lesson in free market economics- it beats government planning!

Illinois unable to sell flu vaccine bought from Europe:

Illinois has been unable to sell any of the 700,000 doses of flu vaccine that Gov. Rod Blagojevich and other state and city governments agreed to buy from Europe, raising the possibility that taxpayers could get stuck paying millions for the unused vaccine.

To make matters worse, officials in New York City and Cleveland, who signed onto the deal to import the vaccine, now say they don't need their share of the doses and don't want to pay for them.

Illinois put the doses on the market in December after New York City asked the state to resell the 200,000 flu vaccine doses it had agreed to buy for $10 each. Cleveland officials said they told Illinois earlier this month that they no longer wanted the 4,500 doses they had requested at a price of about $11 each.

Both cities got extra flu doses from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while Blagojevich waited for months to get permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to import the European doses to alleviate a U.S. flu vaccine shortage. Illinois agreed to pay $2.5 million for its share of 256,000 doses."

Remember the flu shot panic? How government needed to step in to avert a crisis? Turns out the free market was right all along. Well, as right as it can be, since the original bottleneck of flu vaccine was caused by Clinton's efforts to have the government step in to help regulate the flu vaccines, since it's so important. See what a great job the government has done? First a shortage, and then a surplus as well! How come none of the items for sale in millions of stores around the country don't have this devastating cycle? Could it be that the free market is the most efficient provider of goods and services after all?

satellite photo showing open green area

Really good diagram Posted by Hello

Thursday, January 27, 2005

New Sisyphus: The New Mein Kampf: Zarqawi Speaks

New Sisyphus: The New Mein Kampf: Zarqawi Speaks

On January 23, Jordanian terrorist leader Al-Zarqawi released an audiotape regarding the upcoming elections in Iraq. Zarqawi is, of course, a very important terrorist leader and the undeniable head of the jihadi insurgency against the Allawi Government and its American allies. Which is why the audiotape is of vital significance.

Here is a major Islamic terrorist leader, telling us in his own words, directly, what he believes, what motivates his fight, and why he wishes us dead. And what does he say?

"The speaker said democracy was based on un-Islamic beliefs and behaviors such as freedom of religion, rule of the people, freedom of expression, separation of religion and state, forming political parties and majority rule.

He said that freedom of expression is allowed "even cursing God. This means that there is nothing sacred in democracy." He said Islam requires the rule of God and not the rule of "the majority or the people."

Let's break that down:

1) Freedom of Religion: The most basic, most cherished of our freedoms is a gigantic affront to the jihadis since there is only one God and only one religion: that which they say exists. Because we are free to worship as we choose, they wish us dead.

2) Rule of the People/Majority Rule: The basic tenent of Democracy, that the will of the majority carries sovereignty, is inherently offensive to the jihadis. Only the "Rule of God" (meaning the rule of people like Khomeni, Zarqawi and Bin Ladin) will be allowed. All other states must perish.

3) Freedom of Expression: The very freedom of our minds arouses murderous hatred in the mind of the jihadi. Our ability to express ourselves, to debate, to argue, to agree, to disagree, is an affront to God in their eyes. Under their rule, no one will be allowed to express anything but Islamic thought.

4) Separation of Religion and State: There can be no secular state, since we are ordered by God to live under his laws. Thus, all secular states are inherently God-less and must be destroyed.

5) Formation of Political Parties: Our right to associate with like-minded individuals is nothing more than a sign of our decadence, our distance from God. Anyone who takes place in the democratic political process, even good liberals, are evil and deserve to be decapitated.

This is the word directly from an Al-Queda leader. Notice the complete lack of the usual grievances about Israel, about Western colonialism, about the inequity of our bargaining position in the oil market. No, instead we are told directly that we are to be killed because of who and what we are, because of who and what we believe.

What Is To Be Done?

Dear readers, the Zarqawi tape should (but won't) end the debate between the Muslim Rage School and the Clash of Civilization School. Like the Nazis before them, the Islamists are telling us without mincing words exactly what they think of us and what they have planned.

We hope we will not strike you as illiberal when we admit that we felt it was a grave, near-fatal error for the West not to declare war against Iran when it, as a state, threatened to kill a Western author. Because until they know that our most cherished values, like freedom of speech, are as important and meaningful to us as their Koran is to them, and that we are just as willing to kill and to die to protect them, we will be on the defensive.

In the long run, we have hope. Because, like the Nazis before them, the Islamic leaders keep ruining the efforts of Western appeasers and cowards by continuing to bluntly state the bloody obvious: that they want to kill us and destroy our way of life.

We can fight them now, or we can fight them later, but, eventually, fight them we will. And I wouldn't bet against us.

Animal-Human Hybrids Spark Controversy

Animal-Human Hybrids Spark Controversy

Scientists have begun blurring the line between human and animal by producing chimeras—a hybrid creature that's part human, part animal.

Chinese scientists at the Shanghai Second Medical University in 2003 successfully fused human cells with rabbit eggs. The embryos were reportedly the first human-animal chimeras successfully created. They were allowed to develop for several days in a laboratory dish before the scientists destroyed the embryos to harvest their stem cells.

In Minnesota last year researchers at the Mayo Clinic created pigs with human blood flowing through their bodies.

And at Stanford University in California an experiment might be done later this year to create mice with human brains.

Scientists feel that, the more humanlike the animal, the better research model it makes for testing drugs or possibly growing "spare parts," such as livers, to transplant into humans.

Watching how human cells mature and interact in a living creature may also lead to the discoveries of new medical treatments.

But creating human-animal chimeras—named after a monster in Greek mythology that had a lion's head, goat's body, and serpent's tail—has raised troubling questions: What new subhuman combination should be produced and for what purpose? At what point would it be considered human? And what rights, if any, should it have?

There are currently no U.S. federal laws that address these issues.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

C-SPAN Special: Thomas P.M. Barnett, Author, "The Pentagon's New Map"

C-SPAN.org
Barnett's famous 90 minute presentation on American global foreign strategy, fusing economic and military policies best suited for our changing world. Really good stuff!
:


Note: Most events will remain in the archive for 15 days or less.

Q&A on C-SPAN
PLAYC-SPAN Special: Thomas P.M. Barnett, Author, 'The Pentagon's New Map'
C-SPAN is hosting a special program with Thomas P.M. Barnett, author of the book 'The Pentagon's New Map.' This work is a study of how globalization affects U.S. national security. It outlines a strategy for the way the U.S. and its military should operate in the post-September 11th world. The book is inspired by a briefing that Mr. Barnett has delivered hundreds of times in the past few years to government officials, military officers, business leaders and opinion makers. This show will air a tape of Barnett giving that briefing, and from 9:30-10:30pm ET he will take viewer phone calls. Thomas P.M. Barnett is a Senior Strategic Researcher at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and a former strategist in the Pentagon's Office of Force Transformation.
12/20/2004: WASHINGTON, DC: 2 hr. 30 min. "

Barnett's famous 90 minute presentation on American global foreign strategy, fusing economic and military policies best suited for our changing world. Really good stuff! It really is nice of C-SPAN to put the entire presentation on their website in streaming video! Followed by a telephone question call in segment with C-SPAN listeners and Mr. Barnett. Mr. Barnett argues that the basic danger signal we need to look for around the globe is countries that are low on connectedness to other economies and societies, for they will spawn financial panic, pandemics, drugs and terrorism. He calls these places the "non-integrating gap", as opposed to the "functioning core", countries that are mainly democratic, free-market, and tied together in a global network of information and money. He teaches how we in the core need to repond to gap countries, chiefly in a military sense. He is an interventionist, and is optimistic about our miliary power in the U.S., but skeptical of our nation building power as the military is now organized, and proposes a realignment of military strategy to plan for winning the peace(occupation and nation building) as much as we plan to win the war(initial conquest). Mr. Barnett is at the Naval college, and has brought his presentation to many generals, polititians, and executives.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Jan. 24 called worst day of the year

MSNBC - Dr. Cliff Arnall's calculations show that misery will peak this Monday.:

"LONDON - Is the midwinter weather wearing you down? Are you sinking in debt after the holidays? Angry with yourself for already breaking your New Year's resolutions? Wish you could crawl back under the covers and not have to face another day of rain, sleet, snow and paperwork? Probably. After all, it's nearly Jan. 24, the 'most depressing day of the year,' according to a U.K. psychologist.

Dr. Cliff Arnall's calculations show that misery will peak this Monday.

Arnall, who specializes in seasonal disorders at the University of Cardiff, Wales, created a formula that takes into account numerous feelings to devise peoples' lowest point.

The model is: [W (D-d)] x TQ
M x NA

The equation is broken down into seven variables: (W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action."

Thursday, January 20, 2005

UAV flocks to be operated against terrorists

Globes [online] - UAV flocks to be operated against terrorists


Elad Kivelevitch, who is working towards his M.Sc. at Technion - Israel Institute of Technology under the guidance of Dr. Pini Gurfil of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, has developed an innovate and unique method of fighting terrorism, using a flock of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The new method will make it possible to distinguish between military targets and civilians, even in crowded built-up areas, and greatly increase the probability of hitting and destroying the target.

Kivelevitch and Gurfil have developed an algorithm for indentifying and destroying targets in hostile territory, based on natural movements of flocks, such as storks, wasps, and ants. They have created a flock of coordinated UAVs, which do not collide with each other, and which work as a team. “A flock of UAVs can perform a given mission better than one UAV,” Gurfil explains. “Communications between the members of the flock are sophisticated, not complicated, which enables even a flock of dozens of UAVs to function effectively.”

A heterogeneous flock of UAVs, each with its own capabilities, has one “leader.” The leader spots the target, conducts a “tender” among the flock members, decides which has the best chance of destroying the target, and assigns the mission to that member.

”The new method has several conspicuous advantages,” Gurfil adds. “It distinguishes between friend and foe, and its chances of striking the enemy are far better than the chances of an individual UAV. When a malfunction is detected in a flock member, or one simply runs out of fuel, that member is returned to the base for repair or refueling, while the mission continues. This is not the case with a single UAV forced to return to its base. All UAV flock systems are capable of learning and adapting to dangerous territory and a high degree of uncertainty.” The system, based on the theory of logic and behavioral science, took over a year to develop.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Terrorists to use Limos as car bombs?

TIME.com: Limousine Terror? : "Limousine Terror?
Fears of automotive mayhem as the Presidential inauguration nears

As Washington gears up for the first Inaugural of the post-9/11 era, one potential security threat has emerged as a particular focus of concern: vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, or VBIEDS, possibly disguised as limousines. The fears were prompted in part, say U.S. intelligence sources, by a 39-page document seized from al-Qaeda last year, titled 'Rough Presentation for Gas Limo Project.' It lays out a scenario for using limousines to deliver bombs equipped with cylinders of a flammable gas. Though the Inauguration is not specifically mentioned, parts of the document began circulating among senior U.S. intelligence authorities on Jan. 5. In response, barriers have been set up to block any vehicle bent on destruction.

The document is believed to have been written by Issa al-Hindi, an al-Qaeda operative captured in Britain last year. It recommends concealing bombs in limos because the vehicles 'blend in' and 'can transport larger payloads than sedans ... and do not require special driving skills.' The limos can 'access underground parking structures that do not accommodate trucks' and 'have tinted windows that can hide an improvised explosive device from outside.' The document calls for the deployment of three limos, each carrying 12 or more compressed-gas cylinders to create a 'full fuel-air explosion by venting flammable gas into a confined space and then igniting it.' It suggests painting the cylinders yellow to falsely 'signify toxic gases to spread terror and chaos when emergency and haz-mat teams arrive.'

Al-Qaeda used similar devices in the truck bomb that blew up the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam in 1998 and in a 2002 attack on a Tunisian synagogue. Shortly after the document surfaced last summer, the Department of Homeland Security began contacting limousine firms to warn of the danger. With hundreds of limos expected to jam the capital this week, authorities are on the alert."

Sunday, January 16, 2005

My Way News

My Way News: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday.

The article, by award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh, said the secret missions have been going on at least since last summer with the goal of identifying target information for three dozen or more suspected sites.

Hersh quotes one government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon as saying, 'The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible.'

One former high-level intelligence official told The New Yorker, 'This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush administration is looking at this as a huge war zone. Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign.'

The White House said Iran is a concern and a threat that needs to be taken seriously. But it disputed the report by Hersh, who last year exposed the extent of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq."
[...]
COMMANDO TASK FORCE

Bush has warned Iran in recent weeks against meddling in Iraqi elections.

The former intelligence official told Hersh that an American commando task force in South Asia is working closely with a group of Pakistani scientists who had dealt with their Iranian counterparts.

The New Yorker reports that this task force, aided by information from Pakistan, has been penetrating into eastern Iran in a hunt for underground nuclear-weapons installations.

In exchange for this cooperation, the official told Hersh, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has received assurances that his government will not have to turn over Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, to face questioning about his role in selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

Hersh reported that Bush has already "signed a series of top-secret findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as 10 nations in the Middle East and South Asia."

Defining these as military rather than intelligence operations, Hersh reported, will enable the Bush administration to evade legal restrictions imposed on the CIA's covert activities overseas.

The War Against World War IV

Commentary

February 2005

The War Against World War IV

Norman Podhoretz
------------------------------------
A Second-Term Retreat?
All things considered, then, I feel safe in predicting that Bush will not reverse course in his second term, and that he will continue striving to implement the doctrine bearing his name throughout the greater Middle East—that, in short, he will go on "sticking to his guns, literally and figuratively," as Time put it in naming him "Person of the Year." But I feel equally safe in predicting that the forces opposing him, both in the region and at home, will persist in their struggle to nip this immense enterprise in the bud.

In Iraq, the insurgents—a coalition of diehard Saddamists, domestic Islamofascists, and foreign jihadists—have a simple objective. They are trying to drive us out before the seeds of democratization that we are helping to sow have taken firm root and begun to flower. Only thus can the native insurgents hope to recapture the power they lost when we toppled Saddam; and only thus can the Iranians, the Syrians, and the Saudis, who have been dispatching and/or financing the foreign jihadists, escape becoming the next regimes to go the way of Saddam’s under the logic of the Bush Doctrine.

The despots tyrannizing these countries all know perfectly well that an American failure in Iraq would rule out the use of military force against them. They know that it would rob other, non-military measures of any real effectiveness. And they know that it would put a halt to the wave of reformist talk that has been sweeping through the region since the promulgation of the Bush Doctrine and that poses an unprecedented threat to their own hold on political power, just as it does to the religious and cultural power of the radical Islamists.

But the most important thing the insurgents and their backers in the neighboring despotisms know is that the battle for Iraq will not be won or lost in Iraq; it will be won or lost in the United States of America. On this they agree entirely with General John Abizaid, the commander of the U.S. Central Command, who recently told reporters touring Iraq: "It is all about staying the course. No military effort that anyone can make against us is going to be able to throw us out of this region." Is it any wonder, then, that the insurgents were praying for the victory of John F. Kerry—which they all assumed would mean an American withdrawal—or that the reelection of Bush—which they were not fooled by any exit polls into interpreting as anything other than a ratification of the Bush Doctrine—came as such a great blow to them?

But too much is at stake in Iraq for them to give up now, especially as they are confident that they still have an excellent shot at getting the American public to conclude that the game is not worth the candle. General Abizaid again: "We have nothing to fear from this enemy except its ability to create panic . . . and gain a media victory." To achieve this species of victory—and perhaps inspired by the strategy that worked so well for the North Vietnamese3—they are counting on the forces opposing the Bush Doctrine at home. These forces comprise just as motley a coalition as the one fighting in Iraq, and they are, after their own fashion, just as desperate. For they too understand how much they for their own part stand to lose if the Bush Doctrine is ever generally judged to have passed the great test to which it has been put in Iraq.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

This disaster exposes the myth of the UN's moral authority

Telegraph | Opinion | This disaster exposes the myth of the UN's moral authority

The UN's authority is instead one of those ineffable mystical mysteries. The authority's existence cannot be perceived by the senses and exerts no influence on the events of this world. Even the authority's most devout hierophants retain the right to disavow that authority at whim, as Ms Short herself disavowed its resolutions on Iraq. And yet at other times those same hierophants praise this same imperceptible, inconsequential, and intermittently binding authority as the best hope for a just and peaceful world. An early church father is supposed to have said of the story of the resurrection: "I believe it because it is absurd." The same could much more justly be said of the doctrine of the UN's moral authority.

Whence exactly does this moral authority emanate? How did the UN get it? Did it earn it by championing liberty, justice, and other high ideals? That seems a strange thing to say about a body that voted in 2003 to award the chair of its commission on human rights to Mummar Gaddafi's Libya.

Did it earn it by the efficacy of its aid work? On the contrary, the UN's efforts in Iraq have led to the largest financial scandal in the organisation's history: as much as $20 billion unaccounted for in oil-for-food funds. UN aid efforts in the Congo have been besmirched by allegations of sexual abuse of children; in the Balkans, by charges of sex trafficking.

Is the UN a defender of the weak against aggression by the powerful? Not exactly. Two of this planet's most intractable conflicts pit small democracies against vastly more populous neighbouring states. In both cases, the UN treats the democracies – Israel, Taiwan – like pariahs.

This record may explain why the UN is regarded by so many Americans as neither moral nor authoritative – and why American leaders of both political parties reject UN attempts to control American actions.

And indeed, when we talk about UN authority, it is UN authority over America that we always seem to have in mind. The UN is the stated topic, but it is American power that is the real subject of concern.

As Ms Short complained in The Independent on January 1: "At a time when the world faces terrible challenges, of poverty, disorder and environmental degradation, there is a real danger that the US government is consistently undermining the only legitimate system of international co-operation that we have." In a world that contains – among others – the EU, Nato, the World Trade Organisation, and literally hundreds of regional and global governmental and non-governmental associations, it seems bizarre to describe the UN as the sole legitimate international actor.

But of course the UN is the only one of these actors consistently to come into conflict with the United States. It is this bias of the UN system – and not any of the UN's meagre list of achievements – that causes so many on the global Left to regard it as legitimate in a way that they do not regard, say, international treaties for the protection of patents.

Europeans often interpret American skepticism about the UN as a sign of American indifference to world opinion. Yet Americans care passionately for the good opinion of the world. Nothing John Kerry said during the 2004 campaign inflicted as much damage to the President as his charges that George W Bush had ruptured alliances and lowered America's standing in the world.

Unlike many on the European Left, however, Americans seem able to remember that the UN is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

Americans see the UN not as an ineffable mystery, but as an institution invented six decades ago by human beings no wiser than their modern successors to respond to the problems of their time - which were not the same as the problems of ours.

If the UN keeps failing, the answer is not to ignore its faults, but to reform or replace it. There is growing interest in some American quarters in the idea of a new international association, open only to countries that elect their leaders democratically. At a minimum, Americans expect transparency, accountability, and some greater approach to even-handedness in the Middle East. But the real challenge to all of us, in all the democracies, is this: to be guided by realities, not fantasies - and especially not such uniquely unconvincing fantasies as the allegedly unique moral authority of the United Nations.

Information management - How to use Gmail as your second brain

Information management - How to use Gmail as your second brain: "Information Management: How to use Gmail as your second brain

By Adam Boettiger - adam@digitalocean.cc
Please feel free to Link to this article from your own web site.

I don't know about you, but I subscribe to quite a few email discussion lists and ezines/newsletters. I've been online since 1992 and through the years have found email discussion lists to be an invaluable source of topic-specific help, tips and information.

But information is useless unless it meets at least two criteria:

1. You can easily and quickly store it

2. You can easily and quickly retrieve it at the time when you need it

We are all overloaded with email and information, however there are many nuggets of gold that we see every day that we wish we could file away in our brain somewhere. You may subscribe to a discussion list and receive 10 posts a day from it, with maybe 2 being relevant to your problems, and of those two messages, maybe there is only one single paragraph and URL in each that you find useful or want to store for later retrieval.

There are plenty of desktop search applications. One particularly good one for PC users is called Copernic and can be downloaded free of charge from http://www.copernic.com/. Once it indexes your hard drive the first time it is an incredibly useful and fast application for locating information.

If, for example, you wanted to store a paragraph and URL for a resource you saw in a newsletter or discussion list, you might take a text editor like TextPad http://www.textpad.com/ or BBEdit http://www.barebones.com/ (Mac users) and highlight, copy and paste, saving the snippet into a .txt text file in a folder named 'My Brain' on your hard drive. Once Copernic indexes your brain, information retrieval becomes incredibly easy.

Another method you can use to store and retrieve snippets of information, knowledge, experience and resources can be done through a separate web email account. I tend to move around a lot from computer to computer so this is the preferred method that I use:"

Amir Taheri: Islamic headgear is not essential

Amir Taheri: Islamic headgear is not essential:


In the United States several Muslim women are suing airport security firms for having violated their first amendment rights by asking them to take off their hijab during routine searches of passengers.

All these and other cases are based on the claim that the controversial headgear is an essential part of the Muslim faith and that attempts at banning it constitute an attack on Islam.

That claim is totally false. The headgear in question has nothing to do with Islam as a religion. It is not sanctioned anywhere in the Koran, the fundamental text of Islam, or the hadith (traditions) attributed to the Prophet.

This headgear was invented in the early 1970s by Mussa Sadr, an Iranian mullah who had won the leadership of the Lebanese Shiite community.

In an interview in 1975 in Beirut, Sadr told this writer that the hijab he had invented was inspired by the headgear of Lebanese Catholic nuns, itself inspired by that of Christian women in classical Western paintings. (A casual visit to the National Gallery in London, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, or the Louvres in Paris, would reveal the original of the neo-Islamist hijab in numerous paintings depicting Virgin Mary and other female figures from the Old and New Testament.)

Sadr's idea was that, by wearing the headgear, Shiite women would be clearly marked out, and thus spared sexual harassment, and rape, by Yasser Arafat's Palestinian gunmen who at the time controlled southern Lebanon.

Sadr's neo-hijab made its first appearance in Iran in 1977 as a symbol of Islamist-Marxist opposition to the Shah's regime. When the mullahs seized power in Tehran in 1979, the number of women wearing the hijab exploded into tens of thousands.

In 1981, Abol-Hassan Bani-Sadr, the first president of the Islamic Republic, announced that "scientific research had shown that women's hair emitted rays that drove men insane" (sic). To protect the public, the new Islamist regime passed a law in 1982 making the hijab mandatory for females aged above six, regardless of religious faith. Violating the hijab code was made punishable by 100 lashes of the cane and six months imprisonment.

By the mid-1980s a form of hijab never seen in Islam before the 1970s had become standard gear for millions of women all over the world, including Europe and America.

Some younger Muslims women, especially Western converts, were duped into believing that the neo-hijab was an essential part of the faith. (Katherine Bullock, a Canadian, so loved the idea of covering her hair that she converted to Islam while studying the hijab.)

The garb is designed to promote gender Apartheid. It covers the woman's ears so that she does not hear things properly. Styled like a hood, it prevents the woman from having full vision of her surroundings. It also underlines the concept of woman as object, all wrapped up and marked out.

Muslim women, like women in all societies, had covered their head with a variety of gears over the centuries. These had such names as lachak, chador, rusari, rubandeh, chaqchur, maqne'a, and picheh among others.

All had tribal, ethnic and generally folkloric origins and were never associated with religion. (In Senegal, Muslim women wear a colourful headgear against the sun, while working in the fields, but go topless.)

Muslim women could easily check the fraudulent nature of the neo-Islamist hijab by leafing through their family albums. They will not find the picture of a single female ancestor of theirs who wore the cursed headgear now marketed as an absolute "must" of Islam.

This fake Islamic hijab is nothing but a political prop, a weapon of visual terrorism. It is the symbol of a totalitarian ideology inspired more by Nazism and Communism than by Islam. It is as symbolic of Islam as the Mao uniform was of Chinese civilisation. It is used as a means of exerting pressure on Muslim women who do not wear it because they do not share the sick ideology behind it. It is a sign of support for extremists who wish to impose their creed, first on Muslims, and then on the entire world through psychological pressure, violence, terror, and, ultimately, war. The tragedy is that many of those who wear it are not aware of its implications. They do so because they have been brainwashed into believing that a woman cannot be a "good Muslim" without covering her head with the Sadr-designed hijab.

Even today, less than one per cent of Muslim women wear the hijab that has bewitched some Western liberals as a symbol of multicultural diversity.

The hijab debate in Europe and the US comes at a time that the controversial headgear is seriously questioned in Iran, the only country to impose it by law.

Last year the Islamist regime authorised a number of girl colleges in Tehran to allow students to discard the hijab while inside school buildings. The experiment was launched after a government study identified the hijab as the cause of "widespread depression and falling academic standards" and even suicide among teen-age girls.

The Ministry of Education in Tehran has just announced that the experiment will be extended to other girls schools next month when the new academic year begins. Schools where the hijab was discarded have shown "real improvements" in academic standards reflected in a 30 per cent rise in the number of students obtaining the highest grades.

Meanwhile, several woman members of the Iranian Islamic Majlis (parliament) are preparing a draft to raise the legal age for wearing the hijab from six to 12, thus sparing millions of children the trauma of having their heads covered.

Another sign that the Islamic Republic may be softening its position on hijab is a recent decision to allow the employees of state-owned companies outside Iran to discard the hijab. (The new rule has enabled hundreds of women, working for Iran-owned companies in Paris, London, and other European capitals, for example, to go to work without the cursed hijab.)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Pentagon reveals rejected chemical weapons

Pentagon reveals rejected chemical weapons - News | Print | New Scientist:

THE Pentagon considered developing a host of non-lethal chemical weapons that would disrupt discipline and morale among enemy troops, newly declassified documents reveal.

Most bizarre among the plans was one for the development of an 'aphrodisiac' chemical weapon that would make enemy soldiers sexually irresistible to each other. Provoking widespread homosexual behaviour among troops would cause a 'distasteful but completely non-lethal' blow to morale, the proposal says.

Other ideas included chemical weapons that attract swarms of enraged wasps or angry rats to troop positions, making them uninhabitable. Another was to develop a chemical that caused 'severe and lasting halitosis', making it easy to identify guerrillas trying to blend in with civilians. There was also the idea of making troops' skin unbearably sensitive to sunlight.

The proposals, from the US Air Force Wright Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, date from 1994. The lab sought Pentagon funding for research into what it called 'harassing, annoying and 'bad guy'-identifying chemicals'. The plans have been posted online by the Sunshine Project, an organisation that exposes research into chemical and biological weapons.

Spokesman Edward Hammond says it was not known if the proposed $7.5 million, six-year research plan was ever pursued.
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No More Internet for Them

Fed up over problems stemming from viruses and spyware, some computer users are giving up or curbing their use of the Web.

Stephen Seemayer had the first Pong video game system on his block. A decade later, the Echo Park artist was the first in his neighborhood to get a personal computer. And in 1996, he was so inspired by the World Wide Web that he created a series of small paintings for viewing over the Internet.

Now the 50-year-old Seemayer is once again on the cutting edge: Sick of spam clogging his in-box and spyware and viruses crashing his system, Seemayer yanked out his high-speed connection.

"I'm not going to pay for something that I can't use," he said.

A small but growing number of frustrated computer owners are coming to the same conclusion. They're giving up or cutting back their use of the Internet, especially at home, where no corporate tech support team will ride to their rescue.
[...]

But 2004 "was a real turning point in a bad direction," said technology analyst Ted Schadler of Forrester Research. "People are getting really angry. They're angry at Dell and Microsoft and their cable providers, and that's appropriate. They should be."

In a recent survey, 31% of online shoppers said they were buying less than before because of security issues. And though more people are signing up for high-speed, commerce-friendly connections, the proportion of U.S. Internet users paying for things online barely budged in 2004 from a year earlier. It rose to 27% from 26% in 2003 after jumping from 20% the previous year, according to Harris Interactive.

For many, spyware was the last straw. During the last 18 months, the sneaky programs have soared to the top of the list of tech woes, triggering the most tech support calls to Dell Inc., the nation's top PC maker. Spyware lurks on as many as 80% of computers nationwide, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance, a trade group.

Spyware generally transmits information to third parties and sometimes takes control of a PC, usually to display ads. The most pernicious varieties have instructed millions of computers to make expensive toll calls or logged every keystroke on affected machines and sent account numbers and passwords to identity thieves.

No one is immune. Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates discovered spyware on his personal machine not long ago.

The aggravation level has reached the point that some in the computer industry believe it threatens to undermine advances of the last decade, during which the Internet has grown from a virtually empty domain to a global community of 800 million souls. They say they need to act before the same early adopters who led mainstream Americans online lead them off.

"If, as an industry, we're not able to provide a safe, reliable computing environment, we do think consumers will get increasingly frustrated," said Michael George, general manager of Dell's U.S. consumer business. "We're concerned, and we want to get to a position where we play an instrumental role in fixing the problem."

It may well be up to private enterprise. Congress and the Federal Trade Commission are exploring a crackdown on spyware, but government efforts to stop another online scourge, spam, have had limited results, as many with an e-mail account will attest.

The root cause of the problems is the open architecture of the Internet, initially inhabited and managed by a collaborative community from government and universities.

"The Internet … grew out of a shielded, nice-guy environment in academia," Web usability expert Jakob Nielsen said. Back then, "the worst abuse might have been sending a prank message. Nowadays, the Net reaches everyone in the industrialized world, including large amounts of people with no shame and large numbers of criminals."

Microsoft's dominant Windows operating system also makes it possible for malicious code to spread, in part because it was designed to allow so many functions. Once a weakness in Windows is discovered by hackers, a virus can wreak havoc on millions of computers before Microsoft can offer a patch — which typical users may not take the initiative to download.


I always recommend that people use a program such as Adaware 6 to remove spyware from their computers. Using Mozilla or firefox instead of internet explorer is also a big help

Thursday, January 06, 2005

U.S. Falls out of the Index of Economic Freedom's Top 10

U.S. Falls out of the Index of Economic Freedom's Top 10 - 06 Jan 2005

AccountingWEB.com - Jan-6-2005 - For the first time ever, the U.S. does not rank among the world's 10 freest economies in the Index of Economic Freedom, published annually by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S.' score in the 2005 Index did not change from 2004. But improvements in the economies of Chile, Australia and Iceland enabled all three to surpass the U. S., leaving it in a tie for 12th with Switzerland and out of the top 10 for the first time in the 11-year history of the Index.

"The United States is resting on its laurels while innovative countries around the world are changing their approaches and reducing their roadblocks," said Marc Miles, a co-editor of the book, along with Ed Feulner and Mary Anastasia O'Grady. "The U.S. is eating the dust of countries that have thrown off the 20th-century shackles of big government spending and massive federal programs."

As in previous years, the Index ratings reflect an analysis of 50 different economic variables, grouped into 10 categories: banking and finance; capital flows and foreign investment; monetary policy; fiscal burden of government; trade policy; wages and prices; government intervention in the economy; property rights; regulation; and informal (or black-) market activity. Countries are rated one to five in each category, one being the best and five the worst. These ratings are then averaged to produce the overall Index score.

World-wide, the scores of 86 countries improved, the scores of 57 declined and the scores of 12 are unchanged from last year's Index.

The U. S. recorded an overall score of 1.85 for the second consecutive year, making it one of 17 countries rated as having "free" economies. Another 56 countries finished between 2.0 and 3.0 and are considered "mostly free," 70 finished between 3.0 and 4.0 and received a "mostly unfree" rating, and 12 were considered "repressed."

With top scores in property rights, banking/finance and monetary policy, the U.S. is still a vibrant and dynamic economy, the editors note.

But a 4.0 rating in fiscal burden of government, which ranks worse than all but 30 countries in the survey, held it back. This reflects poor scores in the area of taxation. The U.S. corporate tax rate ranks 112th out of the 155 countries scored, and its top individual tax rate ranks an only somewhat better 82nd. The fiscal burden rating also reflects the fact that federal spending has reached levels not seen since World War II and now costs the average household more than $20,000 per year.

BostonHerald.com - Local/ Regional News: Eastie gang linked to al-Qaeda

BostonHerald.com - Local/ Regional News: Eastie gang linked to al-Qaeda:

A burgeoning East Boston-based street gang made up of alleged rapists and machete-wielding robbers has been linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist network, prompting Boston police to ``turn up the heat'' on its members, the Herald has learned.
MS-13, which stands for La Mara Salvatrucha, is an extremely violent organization with roots in El Salvador, and boasts more than 100 ``hardcore members'' in East Boston who are suspected of brutal machete attacks, rapes and home invasions. There are hundreds more MS-13 gangsters in towns along the North Shore, said Boston police Sgt. Detective Joseph Fiandaca, who has investigated the gang since it began tagging buildings in Maverick Square in 1995.
In recent months, intelligence officials in Washington have warned national law enforcement agencies that al-Qaeda terrorists have been spotted with members of MS-13 in El Salvador, prompting concerns the gang may be smuggling Islamic fundamentalist terrorists into the country. Law enforcement officials have long believed that MS-13 controls alien smuggling routes along Mexico.
The warning is being taken seriously in East Boston, where Raed Hijazi, an al-Qaeda operative charged with training the suicide bombers in the attack on the USS Cole, lived and worked, prosecutors have charged. "

Monday, January 03, 2005

The New York Times > International > Secret Meeting, Clear Mission: 'Rescue' U.N.

The New York Times > International > Secret Meeting, Clear Mission: 'Rescue' U.N.Secret Meeting, Clear Mission: 'Rescue' U.N.
By WARREN HOGE

Published: January 3, 2005



Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Secretary General Kofi Annan during a meeting in his office last week with Jan Egeland, the United Nations emergency relief coordinator.


UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 2 - The meeting of veteran foreign policy experts in a Manhattan apartment one recent Sunday was held in strict secrecy. The guest of honor arrived without his usual retinue of aides.

The mission, in the words of one participant, was clear: "to save Kofi and rescue the U.N."

At the gathering, Secretary General Kofi Annan listened quietly to three and a half hours of bluntly worded counsel from a group united in its personal regard for him and support for the United Nations. The group's concern was that lapses in his leadership during the past two years had eclipsed the accomplishments of his first four-year term in office and were threatening to undermine the two years remaining in his final term.

They began by arguing that Mr. Annan had to refresh his top management team, and on Monday he will announce that Mark Malloch Brown, 51, the widely respected administrator of the United Nations Development Program, will become Mr. Annan's chief of staff, replacing Iqbal Riza, who announced his retirement on Dec. 22.

Their larger argument, according to participants, addressed two broad needs. First, they said, Mr. Annan had to repair relations with Washington, where the Bush administration and many in Congress thought he and the United Nations had worked against President Bush's re-election. Second, he had to restore his relationship with his own bureaucracy, where many workers said privately that his office protected high-level officials accused of misconduct.

In the week after the session, Mr. Annan sought and obtained a meeting with Condoleezza Rice, the nominee for secretary of state. United Nations officials said afterward that it was an encouraging meeting.

The apartment gathering on Dec. 5 came at the end of a year that Mr. Annan has described as the organization's "annus horribilis." The United Nations faced charges of corruption in the oil-for-food program in Iraq, evidence that blue-helmeted peacekeepers in Congo had run prostitution rings and raped women and teenage girls, and formal motions of no confidence in the organization's senior management from staff unions.