Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Telegraph | News | Iran's war on weblogs - the new voice of dissidents

Telegraph | News | Iran's war on weblogs - the new voice of dissidents: "

Iran's war on weblogs - the new voice of dissidents
By Lillian Swift

Iran is fighting a constant battle against dissenters who are using the internet to voice criticism of the Islamic Republic and to push for freedom and democracy.

With the closure of most independent newspapers and magazines in Iran, blogging - publishing an online diary - has become a powerful tool in the dissidents' arsenal by providing individuals with a public voice.

An Iranian blogger known as Saena, wrote recently: 'Weblogs are one weapon that even the Islamic Republic cannot beat.'

There are an estimated 100,000 active blogs written by Iranians both within the country and across the diaspora. Persian ties with French as the second most common blogging language after English.

Over the last year, however, Iranian authorities have arrested and beaten dozens of bloggers, charged with crimes such as espionage and insulting leaders of the Islamic Republic. Among them is Omid Sheikhan, who last month was sentenced to one year in prison and 124 lashes of the whip for writing a blog that featured satirical cartoons of Iranian politicians.

The press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders last week named Iran as one of 15 countries who were 'enemies of the internet'.

'These new measures point to an ideological hardening in the Iranian government and a desire by the new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to centralise authority,' its report said.

There is no legislation against blogging itself but the writers can be charged by authorities in the hardline theocracy with 'morality violations' for the content of their websites.

Nevertheless, Iranians are increasingly turning to blogs and those who can publish their words in English hope they will reach a wider international audience and alert them to the problems facing free-thinkers within Iran.

The blogs offer everything from reprinting articles published in the international press about Iranian issues to views on the president's recent call for the destruction of the state of Israel and Iran's attempts to become a nuclear power. Some writers use the platform as an opportunity to voice opinions that would not be tolerated in the national press."

This is the country that was just pushing for control of the internet, remember? What a disaster that would have been! I hope Iran finds freedom soon!

Heavy marijuana use damages adolescent brains-study | Reuters.com

Heavy marijuana use damages adolescent brains-study


CHICAGO (Reuters) - Adolescents who regularly smoke marijuana risk damaging a key brain pathway associated with language development and some predisposed to schizophrenia may contract the illness early, researchers said on Wednesday.

Brain scans revealed microscopic abnormalities in a region of the brain that governs higher aspects of language and listening functions in adolescents who are heavy marijuana smokers.

Similar damage to the bundle of fibers, called the arcuate fasciculus, that connect the Broca's area in the left frontal lobe and the Wernicke's area in the left temporal lobe was found in the brains of marijuana smokers and schizophrenics studied.

"These findings suggest that in addition to interfering with normal brain development, heavy marijuana use in adolescents may also lead to an earlier onset of schizophrenia in individuals who are genetically predisposed to the disorder," said psychiatry professor Sanjiv Kumra of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

The researchers scanned the brains of 114 subjects, 26 of whom were selected because they were diagnosed schizophrenics. Of the schizophrenic group, 15 smoked marijuana.

Another 15 subjects were nonschizophrenic adolescent male marijuana smokers who were matched against nonsmokers. It was those smokers whose scans showed abnormalities in the language and listening pathway.

The brain's language pathway continues to develop during adolescence and is susceptible to neurotoxins introduced through marijuana use, the researchers said.

A scanning technique called diffusion tensor imaging that detects and measures the motion of water molecules in the brain was used in the study, which was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America. The technique is not used to diagnose schizophrenia.

Roughly 3 million Americans aged 12 and older use marijuana on a daily or almost daily basis, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The researchers said longer-term studies were needed to determine if the brain abnormalities observed in adolescents were permanent or not.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Iran: President Says Light Surrounded Him During UN Speech - RADIO FREE EUROPE / RADIO LIBERTY

Iran: President Says Light Surrounded Him During UN Speech
By Golnaz Esfandiari


Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad says that when he delivered his speech at the UN General Assembly in September, he felt there was a light around him and that the attention of the world leaders in the audience was unblinkingly focused upon him. The claim has caused a stir in Iran, as a transcript and video recording of Ahmadinejad's comments have been published on an Iranian website, baztab.com. There are also reports that a CD showing Ahmadinejad making the comments also has been widely distributed in Iran. Is the Iranian president claiming to be divinely inspired?

Prague, 29 November 2005 (RFE/RL) -- According the report by baztab.com, President Ahmadinejad made the comments in a meeting with one of Iran's leading clerics, Ayatollah Javadi Amoli.

Ahmadinejad said that someone present at the UN told him that a light surrounded him while he was delivering his speech to the General Assembly. The Iranian president added that he also sensed it.

"He said when you began with the words 'in the name of God,' I saw that you became surrounded by a light until the end [of the speech]," Ahmadinejad appears to say in the video. "I felt it myself, too. I felt that all of a sudden the atmosphere changed there, and for 27-28 minutes all the leaders did not blink."

Ahmadinejad adds that he is not exaggerating.

"I am not exaggerating when I say they did not blink; it's not an exaggeration, because I was looking," he says. "They were astonished as if a hand held them there and made them sit. It had opened their eyes and ears for the message of the Islamic Republic."

Baztab.com reported that during the meeting, Ayatollah Amoli said that "carrying out promises and restraining from fooling people" is the most important duty, presumably of officials . However, it is unclear whether that comment is made in reaction to the claim made by Ahmadinejad.

Critics And Skeptics

Iranian legislator Akbar Alami has questioned Ahmadinejad's apparent claims, saying that even Islam's holiest figures have never made such claims.

Alami told ILNA news agency that it is hard to imagine that someone who is delivering a speech can at the same time focus his attention on the eyelashes of all the people sitting at a distance from him and categorically tell a leading Qom cleric that they did not blink.
[...]

Hossein Bastani, an Iranian journalist based in France, told RFE/RL that Ahmadinejad's comments can be interpreted in two ways.

"One analysis is that this government believes that it came to power with the votes of the so-called lowest class of the Iranian society and these are classes that believe more in such supernatural tales," Bastani said. "Therefore, this government tries, by propagating such rumors, to gain a dogmatic, charismatic, and holy status among those whom they think support them. The second view is that despite the fact that they are trying to fool people, maybe they also believe in these things that are being repeatedly published about them and said by them. This is more dangerous.”

Growing Trend

Since the presidential elections in Iran, many bizarre stories and rumors have circulated about Ahmadinejad. Many of them are related to his devotion to the 12th Imam, also known as Imam Mahdi, who according to Muslims has disappeared and will return at the end of time to lead an era of Islamic justice.

During his September speech at the UN, Ahmadinejad called for the reappearance of the 12th Imam.

In mid-November, during a speech to Friday prayers leaders from across Iran, Ahmadinejad said that the main mission of the revolution is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam.

In recent weeks, the president's aides have denied a rumor that he ordered his cabinet to write a pact of loyalty with the 12th Imam and throw it down a well near the holy city of Qom, where some believe the Imam is hiding.

Ahmadinejad's supporters said such rumors are being circulated about the president by opponents in efforts to defame him.

Tacit Approval?

But journalist Bastani said that many of the reported stories are based on comments made by Ahmadinejad and his cabinet members.

"Inside Iran, no one in a news [organization] takes the risk of publishing incorrect information about the president, who also controls the Information Ministry, [so] spreading lies about him has serious consequences," Bastani said. "In recent weeks and months, there has been much news similar to the meeting between Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Amoli. These [reports] include the allocation in at least two cases of heavy budgets for the Jamkaran mosque [at the well where some believe that Imam Mahdi is hiding] or comments by the president that have been quoted by the Iranian media in which he had said in an official meeting that the Hidden Imam will appear in two years."

There has been no reaction from President Ahmadinejad to the distribution and publication of his claim that a light surrounded him while he was addressing world leaders at the UN.

Mohammad Ali Abtahi, an adviser to former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, has warned against the misuse of religious sanctities and written on his website that it is natural that, at a time when the world is expecting a plan to end the deadlock over Iran's nuclear issue, attention is paid to the comments by the country's president.

Ahmadinejad has been criticized inside the country for his seeming lack of tact and his confrontational style on the international stage. His comments about his mystical experience at the UN could well lead to further criticism.

courant.com | `We Do Have A Plan'

courant.com | `We Do Have A Plan'

`We Do Have A Plan'
Returning From Iraq, Lieberman Praises U.S. Strategy, Urges Bush To Tout Successes
November 29, 2005
By DAVID LIGHTMAN, Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, just back from Iraq, wants President Bush to give the American people details about the progress being made in that country - from military triumphs to the proliferation of cellphones and satellite dishes.

Bush is scheduled to give the nation a progress report on Iraq Wednesday, his first such address since Congress erupted two weeks ago in bitter debate over the war.

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Supporters and critics alike have been urging the president to outline his strategy for some time.

Critics sense a mission adrift. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., visited Iraq last month, and came away saying "we need a major course correction" in American policy - notably "we need to let Iraqis know we're not there forever."

But Lieberman, D-Conn., who spent Wednesday and Thursday in Iraq, saw strong evidence that a workable American plan is in place.

"We do have a strategy," he said. "We do have a plan. I saw a strategy that's being implemented."

Lieberman, who is one of Bush's strongest war supporters in the Senate, cited the remarks of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who last month told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the strategy in Iraq was to "clear, hold and build: to clear areas from insurgent control, to hold them securely and to build durable, national Iraqi institutions."

Lieberman spent his time in Iraq, his fourth trip there in 17 months, conferring with American officials and Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, the country's interior and defense ministers, and senior members of the Supreme Council. He also talked with about 50 Connecticut troops.

Other war backers shared the belief that the strategy would work. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4th District, said he was "pretty optimistic" after his 10th trip to Iraq last month.

"The [Iraqi] troops are moving forward in a very positive way," Shays reported.

Lieberman and others acknowledge that the White House has a huge public relations task convincing the American people that the United States has a clear, winnable mission.

The White House has not released details of the speech Bush is scheduled to deliver at the U.S. Naval Academy Wednesday, but the president's supporters have been urging him to provide specifics about his plans.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The American Spectator :: As Thanksgiving Approaches

The American Spectator :: As Thanksgiving Approaches

As Thanksgiving Approaches
By Ben Stein
Published 11/21/2005 12:10:11 AM

Herewith, admittedly from the safety of the glorious nation called The United States of America, far from Ar-Ramadi, a few respectful thoughts about the war in Iraq:

1.) Conducting the war against al-Qaeda and the terrorists is a major drain on the energies of this administration. It would be a major drain on the energies of any administration. For Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald to be further draining the energies of the administration with his perjury indictment of Scooter Libby would be a matter for the most urgent concern if the charges against Libby were serious. But since by common consent of every serious criminal lawyer I have talked to, they are simply matters of routine politics being made criminal so that Fitzgerald can get on the cover of magazines -- this is scandalous. That is, to bring perjury charges over a matter where there is no underlying crime is always considered highly questionable behavior by a prosecutor. But to do so against an official helping to wage a war is almost unbelievable. The comparison that comes to mind is a DA indicting a soldier fighting in Iraq on an old speeding ticket. Prosecutors have wide latitude to bring or not bring charges. For Mr. Fitzgerald to have such poor judgment as to weaken and enervate the only government we have over a total triviality that will almost certainly turn out not to be a crime is an abuse of prosecutorial discretion on a dismaying scale. It would be different (but not much) in peacetime. But in wartime, it is so bad that it unnerves the mind.

I am sure that Mr. Fitzgerald, like all of us, wants to be a good citizen and wants to do his job. I am also certain that he likes being famous. That's human nature. But what he is doing (I am sure not in intent, but in effect) is a great service to Abu-Musad al-Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden, and a great disservice to his country and to the law. It is not too late for him to drop the charges, dignify himself and his office, and go back to prosecuting criminals. I cannot believe this man would, if he thought about it, want to spend one iota of his energy helping the enemies of this country, but in my humble opinion, that's just what he's doing. I may be wrong.

2.) It is not just a guess, but a certainty that if the U.S. were to abruptly withdraw from Iraq, as the Democrats are urging us to do, there would be a bloodbath in Iraq far worse than what we have seen so far. There would be outright civil war, large scale massacres of civilian populations beyond what we have seen by an order of magnitude, and a Middle East in chaos as Iran, the Kurds, and the Sunnis fought it out for land and oil and power. The word of the United States would be mud. Is this really what the Democrats want? Can they really contemplate with calm equanimity the mass murders that will follow a sudden U.S. withdrawal?

I see a frightening pattern here: the Democrats wanted us out of Vietnam, and never mind the genocide that followed. The Democrats want us out of Iraq and never mind that the Baathists will fill the vacuum and all Iraq will be screaming in pain except the murderers, who will exult -- especially Osama bin Laden. Can it be that the Democrats really want to surrender to the same man who killed 3,000 civilians on 9/11 and laughed about it? Are we so weak that in only four years, after a war smaller in casualties than many unknown battles of the Civil War, we are already eager to surrender to the man who murdered women and children and made terrified couples hold hands and leap to their deaths from the World Trade Center? If so, there really is little hope for us as a people. My prayer is that careful reflection will convince the Democrats that while we are all unhappy about the war, war is hell, and surrender is far worse. Maybe the Copperheads in the Democrat party, like those who wanted appeasement of the slave owners one hundred and forty years ago, will be a minority, and those who want to keep up the fight for human decency will prevail even as the Neville Chamberlains speak of peace at any price.

3.) I have a voluminous correspondence with soldiers and Marines in Iraq. To a man and woman, they do not want to walk away and make their comrades' deaths meaningless. They hate the war. They hate the dying. They grieve. So do their families. But they believe in their mission and they do not want their brothers' losses to be in vain. Their voices should be listened to.

4.) Insurgencies by highly motivated people are extremely hard to stamp out. This is especially true in Arab countries, where bravery is fanatically motivated by religion and personal unhappiness. But suppressing rebellions has been done in Egypt, Algeria, and Israel. It takes a lot of ugliness to do it. This is war, especially guerrilla war. It is horrible that we are in this kind of war, but we are in it, and it will never be won except by the most severe means. Whatever we do, however, it will be nothing compared with the firebombing of Tokyo, the carpet bombing of every German city, the atom bomb on Hiroshima. That is the awful truth: wars are won by horrific measures. It is deeply tragic, but it's true. If we are not willing to adopt strict measures, we will not and cannot win.

It is all very sad. But Saddam Hussein was even sadder and more atrocious, the Stalin of the Middle East, and for all of the pain of Iraq -- and it is terrifying -- progress is being made.

5.) There is no end to the gratitude we must feel towards the men and women fighting this war, and their families. As Thanksgiving approaches, our number one task is to be thankful we still have brave men and women ready to sacrifice all for our lazy fat selves and our freedoms. Let us not use that freedom to betray their sacrifice.

matthewgood/mblog :: The Civilian Casualty Fable in Iraq

matthewgood/mblog Out Into The Light The Civilian Casualty Fable in Iraq

Commentary by Aslan, 11/26/05, 10:46am. Comments (6)

One of the foundation blocks of anti-war protest against the United States in Iraq is civilian casualties, which viscerally represents a country in ruin, a tragic human face on Bush’s warmongering. This perspective, of course, ignores the civilian carnage during the reign of Saddam Hussein (see Fuzzy Moral Math) and instead focuses on the perceived chaos in Iraq today. And this newfound concern for Iraqi civilian life is not only a staple of the anti-war Left, it is a convenient club wielded by mainstream Democrats in Washington, who argue that chaos in Iraq represents failed policy.

With so much emphasis on Iraqi civilian death, one would expect the casualty statistics to be very well understood. An uncritical audience, for example, might be inclined to accept at face value the Lancet (a British medical journal) analysis estimating 100,000 civilian casualties, a "study" that has been widely discredited by credible groups on both sides of the debate. Yet the public is still inundated with high casualty numbers, and anti-war protesters continue to carry signs tallying up the massive numbers of civilian dead.

There is indeed a mind-blowing story about collateral damage that needs to be told, but that story is one in which we honor the extraordinary achievement of the United States military: two years of combat since the fall of Baghdad, much of it urban warfare, with less than 1,000 civilians killed as a result of U.S. action:

What is the source for these numbers? The most comprehensive study of civilian casualties is available from a group opposed to the Coalition intervention in Iraq called Iraq Body Count. This summer, the Iraq Body Count project published an analysis of casualties in the Iraq War that must be admired for its meticulous documentation.

This study reports 24,865 civilian deaths in the first two years of the Iraq War, an apparent ringing endorsement of the "Iraq in chaos" position. But a curious statistical anomaly jumps right off page one: over 81% of the civilian casualties are men. Even stranger, over 90% of civilian casualties are adults in a country with a disproportionate percentage of the population under 18 (44.5%). This contradicts a basic tenet of the civilian casualty argument, namely that we are describing collateral damage during a time of war. Collateral damage does not differentiate between male and female, between child and adult. A defective smart bomb falling in a marketplace, stray bullets ripping through bedroom walls, city warfare in Fallujah – all these activities should produce casualties that reflect the ratio of men to women or adults to children that prevail in Iraq as a whole.

This question is particularly relevant when one side in the conflict does not wear uniforms, is predominantly adult and of one gender, and engages in a practice of concealing its combatants within the civilian population. The statistics are further distorted if the Iraqi security forces – essentially the free Iraqi military on the side of the U.S. coalition – are classified as civilians, as they are in this study.

Consider the reported vs. expected gender and age distribution in the Iraq Body Count analysis:

Note: Statistical analysis of confirmed demographic data is projected over the total reported civilians killed. National gender and age data comes from here, here, here and here.

If the death of innocent civilians is at issue, then the gender/age data can be used to estimate the percentage of actual civilians killed. Below, the data for female and underage casualties provides the basis for determining a true, pure civilian "body count" figure of 7,976.

Before any additional analysis, it must be noted that this figure is breathtaking in its limited scope; a nation of 26 million people enduring two years of warfare, much of it urban, has a civilian survival rate of 99.97%. Consider that in one day, September 11, 2001, the United States incurred almost 40% of this number. Also consider that, in the United States of America, you have the exact same risk of dying if you drive a car (survival rate = [1 - two-year car fatality totals/population] or [1 - ((42,815+42,643)/291,000,000)] = 99.97%).

There is further risk of distortion in the Iraq Body Count report related to the timing of casualties. Casualties that arise from the initial invasion of Iraq, for example when the 3rd Army swept into Baghdad in April of 2003, are an expected and tragic consequence of major military action, which had near universal American support at the time. The subsequent focus on civilian casualty counts over the ensuing months is an exercise of a different nature, one designed to portray a ruthless or disorganized army of occupation that is inflicting devastating collateral damage on the civilian population in its hunt for terrorists and non-uniformed combatants. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the fatality distribution over time reveals:

The only way to describe the actions of the U.S. Military in its role of "occupier" is a compassionate and careful army that avoids collateral damage despite its dangerous mandate to hunt for terrorists and non-uniformed combatants hidden within the civilian population. It is nothing short of miraculous that our Armed Forces have been able to eliminate as many terrorists and enemy combatants as they have with so little actual collateral damage. Many seasoned military men, in fact, bemoan the increased danger such modern warfare represents. A cogent argument can be made that mixing warfare and compassion is not wise, but under no circumstances can American warriors be faulted for lacking compassion.



The low level of actual casualties, developed and explained in the Appendix below, is stunning. Over the course of the Iraq invasion and "occupation," only 14.8% of reported fatalities represent actual civilian fatalities caused by U.S. action. Even more remarkable, since the fall of Baghdad the U.S. has been directly responsible for only 3.8% of fatalities reported, as many deaths over almost two years as Saddam averaged in 10 days.

Note: The calculations in this chart are described in the Appendix below.

For those who claim the United States is indirectly responsible for the several hundred deaths a month caused by insurgents and criminals, they would do well to note two facts: 1) just over 32% of the fatalities in the chronological table represent civilians, and 2) that this figure is a 93% decline from the monthly average piled up by Saddam Hussein over 24 years (see Fuzzy Moral Math).

Public believes Democrats hurt the troops' morale, for political gain :: Sympathetic Vibrations

Sympathetic Vibrations

Democrats fumed last week at Vice President Cheney’s suggestion that criticism of the administration’s war policies was itself becoming a hindrance to the war effort. But a new poll indicates most Americans are sympathetic to Cheney’s point.

Seventy percent of people surveyed said that criticism of the war by Democratic senators hurts troop morale — with 44 percent saying morale is hurt “a lot,” according to a poll taken by RT Strategies. Even self-identified Democrats agree: 55 percent believe criticism hurts morale, while 21 percent say it helps morale.

The results surely will rankle many Democrats, who argue that it is patriotic and supportive of the troops to call attention to what they believe are deep flaws in President Bush’s Iraq strategy. But the survey itself cannot be dismissed as a partisan attack. The RTs in RT Strategies are Thomas Riehle, a Democrat, and Lance Tarrance, a veteran GOP pollster.

Their poll also indicates many Americans are skeptical of Democratic complaints about the war. Just three of 10 adults accept that Democrats are leveling criticism because they believe this will help U.S. efforts in Iraq. A majority believes the motive is really to “gain a partisan political advantage.”

Independent Online Edition > Charity cash for Palestinian poor was siphoned to suicide bombers

Independent Online Edition > Charity cash for Palestinian poor was siphoned to suicide bombers

Millions of pounds donated by British and other European charities to help the Palestinian poor were unwittingly diverted to fund terror and support the families of suicide bombers, Israeli prosecutors claimed yesterday.

Ahmed Salatna, 43, a Hamas activist from the West Bank town of Jenin, was remanded in custody by a military court charged with distributing €9m (£6.2m) for such purposes over the past nine years. The recipients are alleged to have included the family of a young man who blew himself up at the Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001, killing 15 people and wounding 107. Hamas and Islamic Jihad acknowledged responsibility.

The charge sheet names two British charities, Human Appeal International and Interpal. Human Appeal is a broadly based fundraising organisation, currently helping victims of the Pakistani earthquake. Interpal describes itself as “a non-political, non-profit-making charity that focuses solely on the provision of relief and development aid to the poor and needy of Palestine”. No one was available for comment at its London office yesterday. Other charities mentioned were the French CBST, the Italian ABSPT and the Al-Aqsa Foundation, which operates in Austria, Belgium, Denmark and Sweden.

Bruce Willis comes out fighting for Iraq’s forgotten GI heroes

Bruce Willis comes out fighting for Iraq’s forgotten GI heroes
Sarah Baxter, Washington


ANGERED by negative portrayals of the conflict in Iraq, Bruce Willis, the Hollywood star, is to make a pro-war film in which American soldiers will be depicted as brave fighters for freedom and democracy.

It will be based on the exploits of the heavily decorated members of Deuce Four, the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry, which has spent the past year battling insurgents in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul.

Willis attended Deuce Four’s homecoming ball this month in Seattle, Washington, where the soldiers are on leave, along with Stephen Eads, the producer of Armageddon and The Sixth Sense.

The 50-year-old actor said that he was in talks about a film of “these guys who do what they are asked to for very little money to defend and fight for what they consider to be freedom”.

Unlike many Hollywood stars Willis supports the war and recently offered a $1m (about £583,000) bounty for the capture of any of Al-Qaeda’s most wanted leaders such as Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Al-Zawahiri or Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, its commander in Iraq. Willis visited the war zone with his rock and blues band, the Accelerators, in 2003.

“I am baffled to understand why the things I saw happening in Iraq are not being reported,” he told MSNBC, the American news channel.

He is expected to base the film on the writings of the independent blogger Michael Yon, a former special forces green beret who was embedded with Deuce Four and sent regular dispatches about their heroics.

Yon was at the soldiers’ ball with Willis, who got to know him through his internet war reports on www.michaelyon.blogspot.com. “What he is doing is something the American media and maybe the world media isn’t doing,” the actor said, “and that’s telling the truth about what’s happening in the war in Iraq.”

Willis is likely to take on the role of the unit’s commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Erik Kurilla, 39, a Bruce Willis lookalike with a chest full of medals, more hair than Willis and a glamorous blonde wife.

He was injured in August after being shot three times by insurgents “in front of my eyes”, Yon recorded in his blog: “He continued to direct his men until a medic gave him morphine and the men took him away.”

Kurilla now has a titanium plate in his leg. He met Willis at the ball and said that his men were “very excited and appreciative that he was there”. ”

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Silenced gene in worm shows role in regeneration

Silenced gene in worm shows role in regeneration: "Silenced gene in worm shows role in regeneration
When smedwi-2 gene is silenced, regeneration stopped in planarians
SALT LAKE CITY -- Researchers at the University of Utah have discovered that when a gene called smedwi-2 is silenced in the adult stem cells of planarians, the quarter-inch long worm is unable to carry out a biological process that has mystified scientists for centuries: regeneration.

[...]

The study follows a landmark work that he and Reddien published last spring in Developmental Cell, in which, using a method of gene silencing called RNA interference (RNAi), the researchers silenced more than 1,000 planarian genes, some of which they identified as essential for regeneration. The Science study focus on one such gene, smedwi-2, and brings a new level of genetic detail to understanding planarian regeneration.

Planarians long have fascinated biologists with their ability to regenerate. A worm sliced in two forms two new worm s; even a fractional part of a planarian will grow into a new worm. Scientists know that planarian stem cells, called neoblasts, are central to regeneration, but their exact role is only now being learned.

When an animal stem cell divides, two daughter cells are formed: one that is another stem cell and a second one that can differentiate into the cells that form bone, tissue, and other parts of an organism. These second types of cells are essential for regeneration or maintaining the form and function of tissues by replacing cells that die, a process called homeostasis.

By eliminating smedwi-2, the researchers uncovered a role of this protein in regulating the normal differentiation and function of daughter cells. "

Islamic Fundamentalism in French Workplace - Los Angeles Times

Fundamentalism in French Workplace - Los Angeles Times

PARIS — Employees set up clandestine prayer areas on the grounds of the Euro Disney resort.

Workers for a cargo firm at Charles de Gaulle airport praise the Sept. 11 attacks.

A Brinks technician is charged with pulling off a million-dollar heist for a Moroccan terrorist group allegedly led by his brother. Female converts to Islam operate a day-care center that authorities eventually shut down because of its religious radicalism.

As France grapples with the rise of Islamic extremism abroad and at home, the line between legitimate religious expression and extremist subversion can be blurry. But a recent study by a think tank here paints a picture of rising fundamentalism in the workplace, ranging from proselytizing to pressure tactics to criminal activities.

In companies such as supermarket chains in immigrant-heavy areas, for instance, militant recruiters cause workplace tensions by imposing fundamentalist ideas on co-workers and pressuring managers to boycott certain products, the study says.

On a more sinister level, the study asserts that Islamic networks are trying to establish a presence in firms involved in sectors such as security, cargo, armored cars, courier services and transportation. Once they gain a foothold, operatives raise funds for militants via theft, embezzlement and robbery, the study alleges.

“Parallel to these sect-like risks, the spread of criminal practices has been detected in the heart of companies [with] two goals: crime using Islam as a pretext; and in addition, local financing of terrorism,” concludes the study by the Center for Intelligence Research in Paris.

Britain, Marlowe's Koran-burning hero is censored to avoid Muslim anger - Times Online

Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Marlowe's Koran-burning hero is censored to avoid Muslim anger:

"Marlowe's Koran-burning hero is censored to avoid Muslim anger
By Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent

IT WAS the surprise hit of the autumn season, selling out for its entire run and inspiring rave reviews. But now the producers of Tamburlaine the Great have come under fire for censoring Christopher Marlowe’s 1580s masterpiece to avoid upsetting Muslims.

Audiences at the Barbican in London did not see the Koran being burnt, as Marlowe intended, because David Farr, who directed and adapted the classic play, feared that it would inflame passions in the light of the London bombings.

Simon Reade, artistic director of the Bristol Old Vic, said that if they had not altered the original it “would have unnecessarily raised the hackles of a significant proportion of one of the world’s great religions”.

The burning of the Koran was “smoothed over”, he said, so that it became just the destruction of “a load of books” relating to any culture or religion. That made it more powerful, they claimed.

Members of the audience also reported that key references to Muhammad had been dropped, particularly in the passage where Tamburlaine says that he is “not worthy to be worshipped”. In the original Marlowe writes that Muhammad “remains in hell”.

The censorship aroused condemnation yesterday from senior figures in the theatre and scholars, as well as religious leaders. Terry Hands, who directed Tamburlaine for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1992, said: “I don’t believe you should interfere with any classic for reasons of religious or political correctness.”

Charles Nicholl, the author of The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe, said it was wrong to tamper with Marlowe because he asked “uncomfortable and confrontational questions — particularly aimed at those that held dogmatic, religious views”. He added: “Why should Islam be protected from the questioning gaze of Marlowe? Marlowe stands for provocative questions. This is a bit of an insult to him.”"

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Former Canadian Minister Of Defence Asks Canadian Parliament Asked To Hold Hearings On Relations With Alien "Et" Civilizations - Yahoo! News

Former Canadian Minister Of Defence Asks Canadian Parliament Asked To Hold Hearings On Relations With Alien "Et" Civilizations - Yahoo! News:

(PRWEB) - OTTAWA, CANADA (PRWEB) November 24, 2005 -- A former Canadian Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister under Pierre Trudeau has joined forces with three Non-governmental organizations to ask the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on Exopolitics -- relations with “ETs.”

By “ETs,” Mr. Hellyer and these organizations mean ethical, advanced extraterrestrial civilizations that may now be visiting Earth.

On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: 'UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head.'

Mr. Hellyer went on to say, 'I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something.'

Hellyer revealed, 'The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop.'

Hellyer warned, 'The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, 'The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide.'

Hellyer’s speech ended with a standing ovation. He said, 'The time has come to lift the veil of secrecy, and let the truth emerge, so there can be a real and informed debate, about one of the most important problems facing our planet today.'

Three Non-governmental organizations took Hellyer’s words to heart, and approached Canada’s Parliament in Ottawa, Canada’s capital, to hold public hearings on a possible ET presence, and what Canada should do. The Canadian Senate, which is an appointed body, has held objective, well-regarded hearings and issued reports on controversial issues such as same-sex marriage and medical marijuana,

On October 20, 2005, the Institute for Cooperation in Space requested Canadian Senator Colin Kenny, Senator, Chair of The Senate Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, “schedule public hearings on the Canadian Exopolitics Initiative, so that witnesses such as the Hon. Paul Hellyer, and Canadian-connected high level military-intelligence, NORAD-connected, scientific, and governmental witnesses facilitated by the Disclosure Project and by the Toronto Exopolitics Symposium can present compelling evidence, testimony, and Public Policy recommendations.”

The Non-governmental organizations seeking Parliament hearings include Canada-based Toronto Exopolitics Symposium, which organized the University of Toronto Symposium at which Mr. Hellyer spoke.

The Disclosure Project, a U.S.– based organization that has assembled high level military-intelligence witnesses of a possible ET presence, is also one of the organizations seeking Canadian Parliament hearings."

It's all Bush's fault! Bush will make war on the aliens! The lefties (some of them) really believe this! I'll bet more and more pick up on this. Look at the extreme lefty sites- you'll run across people quoting crazy sites like rense.com, stating thinkgs like 9-11 was fake, the government has a weather machine and caused the tsunami, and any number of crazy things. It doesn't matter if you have evidence, only if you can argue that it seems like it would be in Bush's best interest, then he's probably behind it.

America, United States, Times Online, The Times, Sunday Times

Why the middle classes go scavenging in dustbins
From James Bone in New York



THE Thanksgiving holiday is over and the frenzied Christmas shopping season has begun. This is bonanza time for the tribe of rummaging Americans known as “freegans”.

The anti-capitalist freegans — the name combines “free” and “vegan” — are so appalled by the waste of the consumer society that they try to live on the leftovers, scavenging for food in supermarket dustbins.

“It’s fun. It’s a thrill. It’s more fun and more satisfying than just going to the store and saying, ‘I wanted some bread and I got it’. It’s the surprise — and the prize,” said Janet Kalish, a New York high school teacher who describes herself as “60 per cent freegan”.

A 1997 study by the US Department of Agriculture estimated that the US wastes about 43 billion kilograms of food a year. That is about 27 per cent of US production, but the true figure is as much as 50 per cent, according to ten years of research by Timothy Jones at the University of Arizona.

“The No 1 problem is that Americans have lost touch with what food is for,” Professor Jones said. “We have lost touch with the processes that bring it to the table and we don’t notice the inefficiency.”

The freegan philosophy of “ethical eating” argues that capitalism and mass production exploit workers, animals and the environment.

Adam Weissman, a freegan activist and sometime security guard in New Jersey, says freeganism grew out of the radical 1960s “yippie” movement but also has affinities with the hobos of the Great Depression who travelled around the country by stealing rides on the railways.

“I have pity for people who have not figured out this lifestyle,” he said. “I am able to take long vacations from work, I have all kinds of consumer goods, and I eat a really healthy diet of really wonderful food: white asparagus and cactus fruit, three different kinds of mushrooms and four different kinds of pre-cut salad. And I’m just thinking of what is in my refrigerator right now.

“Essentially, the sky’s the limit. We found flat-screen TVs, working boom-boxes and stereos. I have put together most of my wardrobe. Last year’s designer clothing in perfect shape is discarded because it’s no longer fashionable, so I wear a lot of designer labels.”

Friday, November 25, 2005

Arutz Sheva - Israel National News

Arab leaders in Hevron have contacted the city’s Jewish leaders for help in getting rid of self-proclaimed anarchist volunteers who, they complain, are destroying their traditional way of life.

Arab leaders in Hevron have contacted the city’s Jewish leaders for help in getting rid of self-proclaimed anarchist volunteers who, they complain, are destroying their traditional way of life.

The anarchists, many of whom are members of the International Solidarity Movement, flock to flashpoints throughout Judea and Samaria, ostensibly to help PA Arabs contend with IDF closures and protect them from harassment. In actuality, many of the volunteers seek confrontations with IDF soldiers and local Jewish residents, taking advantage of their Western passports to cause havoc – knowing that, at worst, they will be deported, not jailed.

The local Arabs in the Hevron region whom the activists claim to be helping are now complaining that the American and European students behave in a provocative and offensive manner in Hevron’s public areas. The Arabs say the activists disrespect the moral norms and standards of the local population.

Several local Arab residents told the Kol Ha’Ir newspaper that the activists have been exposing the local youths to drug use and sexual promiscuity.

One interviewee told Kol Ha’Ir that the volunteers show a disregard for the religious norms of the local villages and teach the local youth to reject and disrespect the traditions of their forefathers. “These anarchists come here and undermine the education we give our children. At first we took them in with hospitality - after all, they claimed they wanted to help us, so why kick them out? But very quickly they infuriated me with their lewd behavior.”

New America Foundation : "A New Day in Iran"

New America Foundation : article -2252- "A New Day in Iran" "A New Day in Iran" -2252-


A New Day in Iran
The regime may inflame Washington, but young Iranians say they admire, of all places, America

By Afshin Molavi
Fellow

Smithsonian Magazine
March 1, 2005

The police officer stepped into the traffic, blocking our car. Tapping the hood twice, he waved us to the side of the road. My driver, Amir, who had been grinning broadly to the Persian pop his new speaker system thumped out, turned grim. “I don’t have a downtown permit,” he said, referring to the official sticker allowing cars in central Tehran at rush hour. “It could be a heavy fine.”

We stepped out of the car and approached the officer. He was young, not more than 25, with a peach fuzz mustache. “I’m a journalist from America,” I said in Persian. “Please write the ticket in my name. It’s my fault.”

“You have come from America?” the officer asked. “Do you know Car . . . uh . . . Carson City?”

Carson City? In Nevada?

He crinkled his eyebrows. The word “Nevada” seemed unfamiliar to him. “Near Los Angeles,” he said.

It’s a common reference point. The city hosts the largest Iranian diaspora in the world, and homes across Iran tune in to Persian-language broadcasts from “Tehrangeles” despite regular government efforts to jam the satellite signals. The policeman said his cousin lives in Carson City. Then, after inspecting my press pass, he handed it back to me and ripped up the traffic ticket. “Welcome to Iran,” he beamed. “We love America.”

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Researchers Have 'Connected The Dots': Low-Carb Improves Metabolic Syndrome Livin' La Vida Low-Carb

Researchers Have 'Connected The Dots': Low-Carb Improves Metabolic Syndrome

Livin' La Vida Low-Carb


Dr. Richard Feinman and Dr. Jeff Volek are heroes of the low-carb lifestyle

Despite the fact that the low-carb lifestyle has been openly ridiculed, condemned, and described in every negative light possible this year by the media and health experts, a new study released on Wednesday found that the benefits of following such a plan may be better than previously thought.

Published in this week's issue of the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, the study is being heralded as a "classic light bulb moment" and a scientific breakthrough for people who believe in livin' la vida low-carb.

Dr. Richard Feinman of SUNY Downstate and Dr. Jeff Volek from the University of Connecticut were looking at the features of metabolic syndrome and discovered carbohydrate-restricted diets improve each of those factors.

Metabolic syndrome includes anything that increases the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease, such as obesity, high triglycerides, low HDL "good" cholesterol, high blood sugar, hypertension and insulin resistance.

While conventional wisdom has always been to lower your fat intake to improve metabolic syndrome, what Dr. Feinman and Dr. Volek could not believe is the fact that a low-carb lifestyle change, which millions of Americans have used to lose weight and get healthy, is precisely what is needed to ward off each of those risk factors associated with it and the data has been right there the entire time.

"It's been staring us in the face for years," said Dr. Feinman. "Now we've connected the dots."

THIS IS AN EARTHQUAKE MOMENT IN SCIENTIFIC HISTORY!!!

Medical experts have been looking for a way to treat metabolic syndrome for many, many years and now they have their answer: it's livin' la vida low-carb.

"Make a list of the features of metabolic syndrome, then, make a list of the things that carbohydrate restriction is good at fixing. They're the same list. Somehow, we never really noticed that," Dr. Volek explained.

We're glad you did, Dr. Volek. He added that controlling insulin production is the key to treating metabolic syndrome.

"We know the cause of metabolic syndrome is often linked to disruption of insulin," Dr. Volek continued. "Thus, the key to treating metabolic syndrome is to control insulin, and carbohydrates are the major stimulus for insulin."

He's exactly right. Your body turns virtually every morsel of non-fiber carbohydrates into sugar which can create a multitude of problems for the body which become evident in the symptoms characterized by metabolic syndrome.

But the researchers didn't just stop there. Guess what kind of diet made metabolic syndrome get worse, not better?

"The most obvious factor in the obesity epidemic is the drastic increase in carbohydrate consumption in recent years and the decrease in fat consumption, so the story is consistent," Feinman remarked. "I think people have learned the value of reducing carbohydrates during the media popularization of low-carb diets, but they are still making it hard for themselves by also trying to reduce fat, when fat seems to be much less important a factor than carbohydrates.”

I couldn't have said it better myself, Dr. Feinman. Yep, you heard it right. Low-fat diets are WORSE than low-carb plans because they exascerbate metabolic syndrome rather than improving it.

These study results challenge the premise that a low-fat/low-calorie/portion control diet is the ONLY way to lose weight and get healthy. The government should use this new research to help them start properly educating the American people about the positive effects the low-carb lifestyle can have on their health.

While livin' la vida low-carb certainly helped me lose a whole lot of weight, I think I appreciate the fact that I am so much healthier now than I have ever been.

Medical "experts" will now be faced with a conundrum: do they continue recommending the same old dietary information they've been telling patients for years or do they tell them they should start restricting their carbohydrate intake for health reasons?

“I think official agencies are trying to back off from recommending high carbs and low fat across the board, so I think there are real signs of progress," Feinman noted. "The bottom line is that if you reduce carbohydrates, you can be less concerned about your fat intake, and that often makes it much easier to stick to a beneficial new diet or lifestyle change.”

Arutz Sheva - Israel National News

Arutz Sheva - Israel National News

White Supremacist David Duke in Syria
02:29 Nov 24, '05 / 22 Cheshvan 5766

(IsraelNN.com) Former Ku Klux Klan leader and Louisiana State Representative David Duke was in Syria on Monday to express solidarity with Damascus.

At a press conference in the Damascus' Rawda Square, Duke said, "I have come to Syria to express my support for the Syrian people.... It's the duty of every free man to reject the conspiracies and threats Syria is exposed to." Duke charged that pro-Israel neo-conservatives in the US are controlling American foreign policy and that "Zionist-controlled mass media" are hiding "the reality of Israeli terrorism against the Arabs."

Attending the press conference were several members of the Syrian parliament, and Arab and foreign correspondents, as well as representatives from Russian academia.

How ironic that the liberals who crow about how they are so un-racist, despite their raging anti-semitism, line up on the same side of the fence as the neo-nazis and KKK in blaming Israel for muslim terrorism, and being against the war on terror.

Wi-Fi mosquito killer coming to a porch near you | CNET News.com

Wi-Fi mosquito killer coming to a porch near you | CNET News.com

Wi-Fi mosquito killer coming to a porch near you
By Stefanie Olsen
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: November 21, 2005, 4:00 AM PST
Tell us what you think about this storyTalkBack E-mail this story to a friendE-mail View this story formatted for printingPrint See links from elsewhere to this story (TrackBacks/Pingbacks)TrackBack

A biotechnology company with a specialty in killing mosquitoes is turning to wireless technology and computers to make a killing for itself.

American Biophysics, a small private company based in North Kingstown, R.I., runs a healthy business selling the "Mosquito Magnet," a system to rid American backyards of biting insects, according to its new CEO Devin Hosea.

Simply described, the magnet emits a humanlike scent that includes carbon dioxide and moisture to attract bloodsucking insects. When the bugs flutter past, they're sucked into and suffocated by a vacuumlike device.

Now AmBio, as the company is commonly called, is upping the ante with a "smart" mosquito net, or computerized defense system, to serve the corporate and public health sectors. By the first quarter of 2006, AmBio executives hope to have finalized sophisticated software to control a network of magnets--forming a kind of wide-scale fence--which will be able to communicate with a central network through wireless 802.11b technology.
It's unbelievable the lengths people will go to, to get rid of mosquitoes.
--Devin Hosea, AmBio CEO

That way, the system will be able to efficiently ward off bugs from golf courses and resorts, or even help mitigate cases of malaria in third world countries, according to Hosea.

"We got the idea from institutions that were jury-rigging our technology to computer networks and mesh networks, with PC panels, to see how many mosquitoes they'd caught or how much propane they had left...It's unbelievable the lengths people will go to, to get rid of mosquitoes," said Hosea, a former National Science Foundation Fellow in artificial intelligence.

"We've meshed a great mosquito-catching machine with a computer technology on top of it, and wireless network technology on top of that, and then turned it into a great defensive shield against mosquitoes coming into your habitat," he said.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali nurtures a dream of making a muslim "Life of Brian" with all the juicy details of the prophet Muhammed's life as a conqueror and woman

Ayaan Hirsi Ali nurtures a dream of making a muslim "Life of Brian" with all the juicy details of the prophet Muhammed's life as a conqueror and womanizer - and if possible in Denmark. All they have to do is call

Interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali
It's Your Life or Your Thoughts

By Helle Merete Brix and Lars Hedegaard


Disturbing questions about the massive muslim presence in Europe are becoming more urgent by the day: It it possible to integrate muslims to become part of Europe? Will we have a liberal version of islam? And if not, what is there to look forward to? Civil war? Dissolution? An islamic take-over?

If your head is full of such nagging thoughts, it is a solace to meet Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the liberal Dutch politician and originally muslim immigrant from Somalia. Since the murder of Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh, for whose strongly islam-critical film "Submission I" Ms. Ali wrote the script, Hirsi Ali between the two journalists Lars Hedegaard and Helle Merete Brix she has been under constant police protection. That was also the case when Sappho.dk interviewed her during her recent visit to Copenhagen.

But in spite of death threats and constant vilification the slender woman has by no means lost heart. She still waxes eloquent when she talks about the issue that concerns her the most: The defence of European civil rights and particularly freedom of expression.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali comes across as a genuinely European intellectual of the kind that is becoming increasingly rare as our home-grown cultural personalities and opinion leaders are buzily discarding our intellectual heritage.

The strength of art
Why does this thoroughly political person with her background as a political scientist express herself through an artistic medium?
"Because sometimes art is much more powerful than words. Art is accessible to many more more people than if you write a piece on an op-ed page. To understand art you don't have to know how to read and write," says Hirsi Ali, who then turns to the international furor caused by the twelve drawings of the prophet Muhammed recently published by the Danish national daily Jyllands-Posten.

"It is absolutely necessary for liberal European countries like Denmark to protect free speech. I've been in Holland for 13 years, and in a very short time I have learned how Europe came to be what it is today. And part of that was a huge conflict of religion. It started with the Reformation and reached its climax during the Enlightenment. If you refrain from making cartoons of Muhammed to accommodate Islamic intolerance, then you will go back to the time of Christian intolerance."

- Have you had any support among Dutch artists for your position?
"Yes, most of them do not agree with the style of what I have to say, but they find that I have the right to say it. I'm going to make a film called "Submission II", and the people who want to help me make it think that it is my decision what I want to say. I'm so happy about that. It's a big relief because at first I was afraid nobody was going to help me. The next challenge will be who is going to broadcast it. Which TV-channel, which cinema? But we will cross that bridge when we get to it."

A muslim "Life of Brian"
- You have said that you would like to make a muslim "Life of Brian".
"Yes, Muhammed is a much more colourful personality than Jesus. Such a film could be a learning instrument for muslims. There are some islamic films but they don't show the image of Muhammed and they are not really about him. They are more about how islam was established. I would really like to make a critical film about him. I could write a script very quickly."

Hirsi Ali speaking with Lars Hedegaard. - Would you dare to put in some of the details of his life such as the affair with Aisha, who Muhammed married when she was six and had sex with when she was nine?
"Oh yes. When I say colourful, Muhammed was of course a messenger of God like you read in the Bible about Noah and Moses, and you could make a beautiful film about that. But it would be much more interesting to describe that he was also a conqueror. He was superstitious. Every time he would need the support of his people, he would go to the cave to listen to the angel Gabriel. Putting that in a film would be very colourful, because whose voice is it going to be? Who could act as Muhammed?"

"Muhammed had many wifes. He was a sensuous man. He talked lot about sex and sexuality, about women. You can read that in the Koran and in the Hadith. They are very detailed on the sexuality business. For the Americans it might be too much but I'm sure that the Europeans would find it very colourful. I would put all of that in there in graphic detail, but also the moral dilemmas. Muhammed had adopted a son who was married to Zaynab. He fell in love with Zaynab and wanted her, but morally, of course, he could not demand to have her although his adopted son said that he could have his wife. So Muhammed had to go the cave and came back with a message that it was all right."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Security Consulting Intelligence Agency - Strategic Forecasting

Has Al-Zarqawi Run Out of Room?
By Fred Burton

The U.S. military claimed it nearly captured al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi during a raid in Mosul earlier this week. In fact, some early press reports said al-Zarqawi might have been among several insurgents who died during the raid -- some killed by U.S. troops, others by their own hand -- but those later were denied by the White House and the Pentagon.

Now, al-Zarqawi has had some narrow scrapes before, and his death has been rumored in the past, but in this case there are several reasons to believe that U.S. troops might indeed have been acting on a hot lead that brought them in close. Among these, perhaps the most significant is the intense shakedown that has been under way in Jordan since the Nov. 9 hotel bombings in Amman.

We wouldn't put too much faith in any direct intelligence about al-Zarqawi's whereabouts having come from the failed female suicide bomber who was arrested. But given the long history of attempts to stage attacks in Jordan, it certainly is possible that al-Zarqawi has a network of some kind in the kingdom, and Jordan's General Intelligence Department finally got to someone who has had recent contact. Attention turns first to the Jordanians as a possible source of the intelligence, in part because of the way al-Zarqawi's death was initially reported: It was picked up quickly by the Israeli media on Sunday -- implying some sort of a link. The Israelis work closely with Jordanian intelligence; had the information arisen through the U.S. military's sources in Iraq, the Israelis likely would not have had such ready access.

Whatever the source of the intelligence, the entire event -- particularly in combination with several other recent occurrences leading up to it -- indicates that al-Zarqawi's room to maneuver not only is shrinking, but may in fact soon be too small for comfort, with his base of local supporters rapidly drying up.

Let's begin with the raid in Iraq. U.S. and Iraqi troops surrounded a farmhouse in Mosul -- an area, we note, quite removed from the anti-jihadist military operations under way in Anbar province -- where several people believed to be al Qaeda leaders were said to be meeting. There was a gunbattle in which four or five insurgents were killed; three others blew themselves up -- lending credence to the notion that they could have had information too valuable to give up. The bodies of the eight insurgents were said to be burned beyond recognition, and authorities were using DNA samples to try to confirm identities. Within a day, U.S. military and intelligence authorities more or less concurred that al-Zarqawi is, in fact, still alive; therefore, troops removed the cordon around the farmhouse and returned to their forward operating base.

It is interesting that the raid took place in Mosul, more than 200 miles north of Baghdad. Interesting, but not illogical, as any al Qaeda command cell would want to avoid hot zones like Baghdad or areas to the west at present. U.S. forces have been applying considerable pressure on the insurgency with Operation Hunter, focusing on Ar Ramadi, Al Fallujah and other areas of Anbar province, neighboring Syria. There have been some reports in recent days that intelligence indicates the jihadists feel they have nowhere else to go.

That likely is due in no small part to the increasingly inhospitable political environment in Iraq. U.S. efforts have focused for some time on splitting the jihadists away from Iraq's Sunni nationalists in order to forge a viable political framework -- efforts that, given a recent meeting between Baathists and other nationalist insurgents and President Jalal Talabani in Cairo, now appear to be bearing some fruit. Certainly, Iraq's other factions have no love for the jihadists: Among other recent developments, the Shia of both Iraq and Iran have pledged to aid each other, along with the Kurds, in the fight against al Qaeda -- which would tend to discourage most jihadists from seeking havens or escape routes to the north or east. Al-Zarqawi, however, has some history of operating in Iraq's Kurdish regions, where he cooperated with Ansar al-Islam prior to the U.S. invasion in 2003.

If either al-Zarqawi or his men have begun seeking more welcoming surroundings, Jordan would not be high on their list. There is, of course, a security crackdown under way. But of equal if not greater significance, there are signs that opinion among the locals -- whose support can be vital for the physical survival, let alone operational viability, of jihadists on the run -- is toughening toward al-Zarqawi in the wake of the hotel bombings.

This goes quite beyond the statement by al-Zarqawi's family, issued at the same time that reports of the Mosul raid were surfacing, in which the clan severs "links with him until doomsday" -- though that itself is not insignificant. In the days since the hotel bombings, there have been mass demonstrations by Jordanians denouncing al-Zarqawi for targeting fellow Arabs and Muslims -- a touchy subject that also was broached in a missive from Ayman al-Zawahiri several weeks ago. Though the sentiment is logical, anti-jihadist backlash in Arab regions is seldom so evident or pronounced, since it often commingles with equally heartfelt anti-U.S. or anti-Western feelings among the populace. And though some Islamist commentators have claimed that the demonstrations in Jordan obviously were staged by the monarchy, there have been a series of unprecedented statements from al-Zarqawi, explaining his rationale for the hotel attacks, that indicate he is aware of the repercussions.

These statements include an unusually detailed claim of responsibility, outlining several reasons he chose to strike at Western hotel chains in Amman (even though the targeting rationale is perfectly in keeping with radical Islamist ideology), and hinting that efforts were made to avoid Arab casualties. This was followed by an even more directly worded audiotape, issued over the Internet last week, in which a speaker believed to be al-Zarqawi himself says al Qaeda had no intention of blowing up Muslim wedding parties -- which is what actually occurred at one of the three hotels that were struck. This statement, of course, has been rather discredited not only by authorities but by the account of the failed female suicide bomber, who said she and her husband mingled among the wedding guests before detonating -- or attempting to detonate -- their explosives. At any rate, al-Zarqawi's recent statements have struck both defensive and apologetic notes, signaling that he is aware of the value of public opinion and more than a little insecure about his standing within it.

Having a $25 million bounty on his head can't help in that regard. In fact, now that he has been denied the hospitality of his tribe in Jordan, the notion that the public is growing increasingly hostile has additional and sinister implications for al-Zarqawi. And it all points toward the possibility of actionable intelligence that, though he escaped in Mosul, could lead to his capture. In short, the net is tightening.

It is impossible to predict when or where al-Zarqawi might be eliminated, but perhaps not too soon to begin gaming out the next stage of the war once, or if, that occurs. Certainly, it would be a serious -- though not mortal -- blow to al Qaeda, which is running rather short of recognizable commanders (who are important rallying points for both fund-raising efforts and recruits) these days. With Osama bin Laden silent for nearly a year, there really are only a handful left: al-Zawahiri, believed to be hiding somewhere in the border regions of Pakistan; Noordin Mohammed Top, a bomb-maker and planner for Jemaah Islamiyah in Southeast Asia; and al-Zarqawi, who for some time has been the only known and effective al Qaeda commander in the Middle East.

Though al-Zarqawi's death would not spell the end of al Qaeda, it would have significant implications for the shape of the war. Clearly, al-Zarqawi does not operate in a vacuum: He has surrounded himself with capable managers and leaders, who could rise up to replace him -- but who also would need time to regroup, firm up their support networks and possibly establish their own leadership credentials. The intelligence problem at that point would be identifying these lower-profile operatives and neutralizing them before that could occur.

Another distinct possibility is that al Qaeda might continue down an alternative path, for which there already is some evidence -- becoming an increasingly diffuse entity consisting of large numbers of localized cells and operations, answering to no recognized regional commanders at all.

This is from Stratfor's email updates. Very good intel. I also read the book they put out about the war. Very good stuff. To subscribe to their information services can be very pricey, so the email updates are good to give you a taste of the intel they have.

Salon.com Technology | Riding along with the Internet Bookmobile

Salon.com Technology | Riding along with the Internet Bookmobile
Angered by a law that extends copyright terms for 20 years, a crusader named Brewster Kahle wants to use the Internet to make books available to everyone.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Richard Koman

Sept. 30, Belle Haven School, East Palo Alto, Calif.

"Woohoo! We're making books!"

The Internet Bookmobile has arrived at its first stop: the playground of Belle Haven School, a public K-8 school in this working-class community of Latino, black and Pacific Islander families. Brewster Kahle, director of the Internet Archive and mastermind of the Bookmobile, is printing, binding and cutting books for a crowd of fourth-graders. After a girl works an oversized paper cutter to make the final cut that turns some computer printouts into a finished copy of "Alice in Wonderland," Kahle holds the finished product up. "That's it, we made a book," he says triumphantly.

The Internet Bookmobile is a van on a mission: to drive across the country, stopping at schools, museums and libraries, making books for kids and spreading the word about the digital library that is the Net. From East Palo Alto, Kahle and his entourage -- his son Caslon, friends Art Medlar and Michael Robbin, and me -- will hit a school in Salt Lake City, a bookmobile librarians conference in Columbus, Ohio, the International Inventors Museum in Akron, the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, and another school in Baltimore.

To finish the trip off, the Bookmobile will park in front of the Supreme Court on Oct. 9. Inside, the justices will be listening to arguments in the case of Eldred vs. Ashcroft, a lawsuit seeking to overturn the 1998 "Mickey Mouse" law that has extended copyright terms for an additional 20 years.

Technically called the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, the law is called "Mickey Mouse" because it went into effect just before the copyright to Mickey's first feature, "Steamboat Willie," expired. And it is the potentially dire consequences of endlessly extended copyright -- the possibility that creative works, like books, are prevented from ever going into the public domain -- that impelled the creation of the Internet Bookmobile.

Pointing at signage on the bookmobile -- a 1992 Ford Aerostar equipped with mobile satellite dish, duplexing color printer, desktop binding machine and paper cutter -- that says, "1,000,000 books inside (soon)," Kahle yells, "We want to have a million books for everyone to use. We can't build a library to hold a million books -- the building would be just too big! So we use the Internet. We download a book from the Internet. We print it out, put a binding around it, you get to pick the book you want. Today we have 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Huckleberry Finn.' And there's a really awesome book, my favorite book, 'The Wizard of Oz.' We got it from a used bookstore and scanned it. Now it's always on the Internet. The idea is to put books on the Internet. We can do this with these books because they're in something called the public domain. That means they're free! We think there should be lots of books in the public domain."

Kahle cooked up his mission of insta-book freedom just one month ago. Working with a few of the 6,000 texts on Project Gutenberg -- Michael Hart's 30-year-long effort to publish on the Net the public domain classics of Western literature -- Kahle, his wife Mary Austin, and employees of the Internet Archive formatted books such as "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" in Microsoft Word and designed covers for them, complete with the Internet Archive logo.

A $1,200 binding machine turns the printouts into finished books. "These don't look like books; they are books," a visitor to the Belle Haven event said. The books aren't perfect: There are a few typos, some bad line breaks, and straight quotes instead of curly quotes, but they still look remarkably good. With a MotoSAT dish on top of the van, Kahle was able to cram a remarkable message into the back seat of a 10-year-old minivan: The Internet can be a digital library filled with the full array of human knowledge. Technology allows us to bring this massive resource anywhere, not just for reading on screen, but for creating books themselves.

Yvonne Casias-Young, Belle Haven's principal, gets it. "Students who don't have access to libraries, who don't have transportation can now get access," she says. "As long as we have the Internet and a printer, we can create these books for students and the library. These books never have to be checked out ... we can always print out another copy if a kid wants it."

Tuesday, Oct. 1, Newman School, Salt Lake City

The bookmobile is a print-on-demand-mobile. It changes the notion that books are a limited resource. It changes the basic concept of what libraries do, as well as the idea that schools need large book budgets. In a print-on-demand world, where the cost of creating a book runs about $1 and the capital costs run under $10K, libraries don't lend books, they give them away. Schools aren't dependent on the textbook readers the state board of education buys at a cost of millions of dollars -- every district, every school, every teacher can create their own reader at minimal cost.

"Wouldn't that be amazing?" says Seth Marshall, community education manager for the Newman School. "This presentation needs to be made to administrators. Our library is limited in terms of the number of books we can offer students."

"This is the coolest thing ever," says Paul Black, a sixth-grade teacher at Newman. "Where I taught in Chicago, the school library has hardly any space, hardly any shelves, and what shelves they do have, have hardly any books. You walk in the library and there's no there there. Having something like this could completely change kids' lives. My last job was in an adolescent lockdown facility. The resources are just pitiful. This would be such a great thing for them."

Yes, the bookmobile is driving proof that universal access is possible today. But there is a problem. And its name is Mickey Mouse.

TThe Google Story -- An Excerpt From David A. Vise's BookThe Google Story: An Excerpt

The Google Story: An Excerpt
Chapter 26: Googling Your Genes


Not since Gutenberg invented the modern printing press more than 500 years ago, making books and scientific tomes affordable and widely available to the masses, has any new invention empowered individuals or transformed access to information as profoundly as Google. I first became aware of this while covering Google as a beat reporter for The Washington Post. What galvanized my deep interest in the company was its unconventional initial public offering in August 2004 when the firm thumbed its nose at Wall Street by doing the first and only multi-billion dollar IPO using computers, rather than Wall Street bankers, to allocate its hot shares of stock.

A few months later, in the fall of 2004, I decided to write the first biography of Google, tracing its short history from the time founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page met at Stanford in 1995 until the present. In my view, this is the hottest business, media and technology success of our time, with a stock market value of $110 billion, more than the combined value of Disney, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Amazon.com, Ford and General Motors.


Chapter 26 -- Googling Your Genes

Sergey Brin and Larry Page have ambitious long-term plans for Google's expansion into the fields of biology and genetics through the fusion of science, medicine, and technology. Their goal -- through Google, its charitable foundation, and an evolving entity called Google.org -- is to empower millions of individuals and scientists with information that will lead to healthier and smarter living through the prevention and cure of a wide range of diseases. Some of this work, done in partnership with others, is already under way, making use of Google's array of small teams of gifted employees and its unwavering emphasis on innovation, unmatched search capacity, and vast computational resources.

"Too few people in computer science are aware of some of the informational challenges in biology and their implications for the world," Brin says. "We can store an incredible amount of data very cheaply."

He and Larry want to make it easier for users to find the right information faster, and the company is pouring the bulk of its resources into enhancing the breadth and quality of search. This involves wholly different methods of searching that may eventually make today's Google seem primitive. As these evolve, the search mechanisms of the future will produce better answers to queries, just as Google is superior to the early search engines that preceded it.

"The ultimate search engine," says Page, "would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want."

The critical path inside the Googleplex includes experimentation with artificial intelligence techniques and new methods of language translation. Brin and Page are hopeful that these efforts will eventually make it possible for people to have access to better information and knowledge without the limitations and barriers imposed by differences in language, location, Internet access, and the availability of electrical power.

To assist in this effort, Larry and Sergey have recruited a diverse group of people to work at the Googleplex, including a collection of former CEOs, hundreds of Ph.D.'s, U.S. and world puzzle champions, former Olympians, an award-winning independent filmmaker, and a coterie of university professors.

Brin and Page foresee Google users having universal access to vast repositories of fresh information, some of it public and some private, which is not currently available on the Internet. This encompasses motion pictures, television, and radio programs; still images and text; phone calls and other voice communications; educational materials; and data from space. The pair is also involved in the hunt for clean, renewable energy sources to power Google and broaden economic growth. "These guys have a big, compelling vision for what the company is going to do," said Stanford president John Hennessy. "They think very hard about the long term."

One of the most exciting Google projects involves biological and genetic research that could foster important medical and scientific breakthroughs. Through this effort, Google may help accelerate the era of personalized medicine, in which understanding an individual's precise genetic makeup can contribute to the ability of physicians and counselors to tailor health care treatment, rather than dispensing medications or recommending treatments based on statistics or averages. New insights, new medicines, and the use or avoidance of certain foods and pharmaceuticals for people with specific genetic traits are among the possible outcomes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

VillageSoup Rep. John Murtha Urged Somalia Pullout in '93

VillageSoup Community Letters - VillageSoup Rep. John Murtha Urged Somalia Pullout in '93:

"Rep. John Murtha Urged Somalia Pullout in '93

Monday, Nov. 21, 2005 9:57 a.m. EST

Excerpts:

http://newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/11/21/100353.shtml

After terrorists attacked U.S. troops in Mogadishu, Somalia 12 years ago, anti-Iraq war Democrat, Rep. John Murtha urged then-President Clinton to begin a complete pullout of U.S. troops from the region.

Clinton took the advice and ordered the withdrawal - a decision that Osama bin Laden would later credit with emboldening his terrorist fighters and encouraging him to mount further attacks against the U.S.

'Our welcome has been worn out,' Rep Murtha told NBC's 'Today' show in Sept. 1993, a month after 4 U.S. Military Police had been killed in Somalia by a remote-detonated land mine.

The Pennsylvania Democrat announced that President Clinton had been 'listening to our suggestions. And I think you'll see him move those troops out very quickly.'

In a 1998 interview with ABC's John Miller, Osama bin Laden said that America's withdrawal from Somalia had emboldened his burgeoning al Qaida force and encouraged him to plan new attacks.

'Our people realize[d] more than before that the American soldier is a paper tiger that run[s] in defeat after a few blows,' the terror chief recalled. 'America forgot all about the hoopla and media propaganda and left dragging their corpses and their shameful defeat.'

Osama bin Laden 1998

Murtha played right into al-Quaida’s hands then as he is trying to today."

OpinionJournal - Atta in Prague? An Iraqi prisoner holds the answer to this 9/11 mystery.

OpinionJournal - Featured Article: "Atta in Prague?
An Iraqi prisoner holds the answer to this 9/11 mystery.

BY EDWARD JAY EPSTEIN
Tuesday, November 22, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

PRAGUE--On Oct. 27, 2001, the New York Times reported (erroneously) that 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta 'flew to the Czech Republic on April 8 and met with [an] Iraqi intelligence officer,' helping to give credence to the so-called Prague connection. It subsequently cast doubt on it, editorializing in November 2005 that the alleged meeting between the hijacker and the Iraqi was part of President Bush and his team's 'rewriting of history' based on nothing more than a false tale 'from an unreliable drunk.' But was the putative Prague connection solely an invention of the Bush administration--or was it the product of an incomplete intelligence operation?

To sort out the confusion, I met earlier this month in Prague with Jiri Ruzek, chief at the time of the Czech counterintelligence service, BIS. Mr. Ruzek is in a position to know what happened. He personally oversaw the investigation of Iraq's alleged covert activities that began, with full American collaboration, nearly two years before Mr. Bush became president and resulted, some five months before the 9/11 attack, in the expulsion of Ahmad al-Ani, the Iraqi intelligence officer alleged to have met with Atta. I also spoke with ex-Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, who headed the intelligence committee to whom Mr. Ruzek reported, and to Ambassador Hynek Kmonicek, who, as deputy foreign minister at the time, handled the al-Ani expulsion for the foreign ministry. According to them, here's how the Prague connection developed.

The proximate cause for BIS interest in al-Ani was a sensational revelation of Jabir Salim, the Iraqi consul who defected in Prague in December 1998. Mr. Salim said in his debriefings that the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence service, had given him $150,000 and tasked him with carrying out a covert action against an American target in the Czech Republic: Using a freelance terrorist, he was to blow up the headquarters of Radio Free Europe in Wenceslas Square, in the heart of Prague.

This intelligence about state-sponsored terrorism was taken very seriously by both America and the Czech Republic. The U.S., for its part, doubled security at the Radio Free Europe facility and began its own countersurveillance, including photographing suspicious individuals in Wenceslas Square. The BIS did what counterintelligence services do in such circumstances: It sought to penetrate the Iraq Embassy by recruiting Arabic-speaking employees familiar with its operations. The source the BIS used, according to Mr. Ruzek, was neither unreliable nor a drunk."

Telegraph | Opinion | Listen to the word on the 'Arab street'

Telegraph | Opinion | Listen to the word on the 'Arab street':

"On Friday, the allegedly explosive 'Arab street' finally exploded, in the largest demonstration against al-Qa'eda or its affiliates seen in the Middle East. 'Zarqawi,' shouted 200,000 Jordanians, 'from Amman we say to you, you are a coward!' Also 'the enemy of Allah' - which, for a jihadist, isn't what they call on Broadway a money review.

The old head-hacker was sufficiently rattled by the critical pans of his Jordanian hotel bombings that he issued the first IRA-style apology in al-Qa'eda's history. 'People of Jordan, we did not undertake to blow up any wedding parties,' he said. 'For those Muslims who were killed, we ask God to show them mercy, for they were not targets.' Yeah, right. Tell it to the non-Marines. It was perfectly obvious to Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari and his missus what was going on when they strolled into the ballroom of the Radisson Hotel.

Still, Mr Zarqawi has now announced his intention to decapitate King Abdullah. 'Your star is fading,' he declared. 'You will not escape your fate, you descendant of traitors. We will be able to reach your head and chop it off.'

Good luck, pal. I don't know what Islamist Suicide-Bombing For Dummies defines as a 'soft target' but a Jordanian-Palestinian wedding in the public area of an hotel in a Muslim country with no infidel troops must come pretty close to the softest target of all time. Even more revealing, look at who Zarqawi dispatched to blow up his brother Muslims: why would he send Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari, one of his most trusted lieutenants, to die in an operation requiring practically no skill?

Well, by definition it's hard to get suicide bombers with experience. But Mr Shamari's presence suggests at the very least that the 'insurgency' is having a hard time meeting its recruitment targets.

[...]

Sending a surviving member of your rapidly dwindling inner circle to blow up a Palestinian wedding is not a sign of strength.

True, he did manage to kill a couple of dozen Muslims. But what's the strategic value of that? Presumably, it's an old-fashioned mob heavy's way of keeping the locals in line. And that worked out well, didn't it? Hundreds of thousands of Zarqawi's fellow Jordanians fill the streets to demand his death.

Did they show that on the BBC? Or are demonstrations only news when they're anti-Bush and anti-Blair? And look at it this way: if the "occupation" is so unpopular in Iraq, where are the mass demonstrations against that? I'm not talking 200,000, or even 100 or 50,000. But, if there were just 1,500 folks shouting "Great Satan, go home!" in Baghdad or Mosul, it would be large enough for the media to do that little trick where they film the demo close up so it looks like the place is packed. Yet no such demonstrations take place.

Happily for Mr Zarqawi, no matter how desperate the head-hackers get, the Western defeatists can always top them. A Democrat Congressman, Jack Murtha, has called for immediate US withdrawal from Iraq. He's a Vietnam veteran, so naturally the media are insisting that his views warrant special deference, military experience in a war America lost being the only military experience the Democrats and the press value these days. Hence, the demand for the President to come up with an "exit strategy".

In war, there are usually only two exit strategies: victory or defeat. The latter's easier. Just say, whoa, we're the world's pre-eminent power but we can't handle an unprecedently low level of casualties, so if you don't mind we'd just as soon get off at the next stop.

Demonstrating the will to lose as clearly as America did in Vietnam wasn't such a smart move, but since the media can't seem to get beyond this ancient jungle war it may be worth underlining the principal difference: Osama is not Ho Chi Minh, and al-Qa'eda are not the Viet Cong. If you exit, they'll follow. And Americans will die - in foreign embassies, barracks, warships, as they did through the Nineties, and eventually on the streets of US cities, too.

[...]

So, just as things are looking up on the distant, eastern front, they're wobbling badly on the home front. Anti-Bush Continentals who would welcome a perceived American defeat in Iraq ought to remember the third front in this war: Europe is both a home front and a foreign battleground - as the Dutch have learnt, watching the land of the bicycling Queen transformed into 24-hour armed security for even minor municipal officials. In this war, for Europeans the faraway country of which they know little turns out to be their own. Much as the Guardian and Le Monde would enjoy it, an America that turns its back on the world is the last thing you need."

Wired 13.12: Why Gas Is Good for America

Why $5 Gas Is Good for America
The skyrocketing cost of oil is sending pump prices soaring. But it's also subsidizing research into new technologies that can change the energy game.


So rising oil prices are more than just an irritant or even an ominous nick out of the GDP. They're an invitation to corn and coal and hydrogen. For anyone with a fresh idea, expensive oil is as good as a subsidy - with no political strings attached. Indeed, every extra penny you pay at the pump is an incentive for some aspiring energy mogul to find another fuel.

For the better part of a century, cheap oil has fatally undercut all comers, not to mention smothered high-minded campaigns for conservation, increased efficiency, and energy independence. But growing demand is outrunning the oil industry's carefully computed supply curves, bidding up long-term expectations for the price of energy. The long term may not mean a lot when you're standing at the pump, but the oil industry lives in a world where big projects take a decade to build and the checks that pay for them have eight or nine zeroes. Crude hit $70 a barrel last August, but oil companies have learned the hard way how quickly prices can crash. They adjust their expectations accordingly - downward.

For years, the industry's long-term benchmark was $20 a barrel in today's dollars; to get a green light, new investments needed to be profitable at that level. Now the industry is counting on prices to settle near $30. Some aggressive CEOs believe they'll stay as high as $40.

The changing outlook opens horizons - for conventional drilling, sure, but also for alternatives. Some new technologies merely produce more crude. But others tap energy supplies that have nothing to do with black pools under the Middle East.

Big Oil is already reaping the benefits of innovations developed in the 1990s, when long-term forecasts still pegged oil at $20 a barrel. Take digital oil fields - sensor-laden pumping operations under remote control - and ultradeep offshore platforms that drill beneath miles of water and rock to get at previously inaccessible deposits. But with the high end of long-term expectations hitting $40, novel energy sources are becoming attractive. Natural gas that used to be burned as an unwanted oil-field byproduct is being compressed into liquid fuel, and gooey tar sands are being shoveled out of the Canadian countryside to extract the embedded petroleum.

Push the long-term price forecast above $40, and more exotic possibilities come into play. Remember Jimmy Carter's synfuel program, which aimed to turn huge US coal reserves into gasoline? Three billion dollars in federal research money is now committed to making it happen. Corn, sugar, and soybean farmers hope rising prices can do what billions in subsidies and tax-funded research couldn't: make ethanol and biodiesel cost-effective. Smarter money is betting that using plant waste will prove more economical. These technologies join compressed natural gas, already widely used where it's worth spending extra money for cleaner exhaust.

Sustained crude prices above $60 would make feasible technologies that today seem too expensive or entirely speculative. It's hard to see demand for oil surviving long at such a cost. But given a push now, some nascent technologies - hydrogen, most obviously, but also hydrocarbons locked away in methane hydrates - could become viable at the end of a long road. Technology breakthroughs are the key here: For instance, Shell has found a better way to extract oil from shale, reviving a long-abandoned resource. And some seemingly distant options are right under our noses; consider the plug-in version of the hybrid car.

The cost of developing entirely new energy supplies is daunting, but the money is available - and we're not talking about the $14.5 billion porkfest served up by Washington's recent energy bill. The global oil industry will rake in three quarters of a trillion dollars this year. And when that kind of money is up for grabs, investors are never far away.

But it's not just energy producers and their shareholders who should be smiling about today's high prices. Conservation your thing? Savor the long faces worn these days by Hummer salespeople. Eager for energy independence? There won't be any wars for oil in Colorado shale country. Praying for reductions in atmospheric carbon? Synthetic diesel made from natural gas would be a step in the right direction.

True, fuzzy logic can't refill spent oil wells. But neither are digital oil fields and coal-to-liquid processing some last, forlorn rest stop on the highway back to the Stone Age. It was James Watt's steam engine that chained sailing ships to their berths - not lack of wind. Petroleum sent coal and horse power packing, even though mountains of coal waited to be mined and plenty of stallions remained in the barn. The oil shocks of the '70s gave a boost to funny little cars from Japan, and mid-20th-century American industrialism never recovered.
[...]

So what's a price-shocked, carbon-afflicted highway jockey to do? Keep driving. In fact, drive more. The longer gas stays expensive, the higher the chance we'll see alternatives. Put that pedal to the metal. And smile when you see a big black $3 or $4 out in front at the gas pump. Those innovators need all the encouragement they can get. Shale oil, uranium, sunlight - there's enough energy out there for a dozen planets. Where we'll all park is another matter.

My Way News - Exiled Iranian Says Nation Hides Materials

Exiled Iranian Says Nation Hides Materials

By BARRY SCHWEID


WASHINGTON (AP) - An Iranian exile who opposes his country's Islamic government said Monday that Iran's military is building a series of secret tunnels to hide equipment for missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, who helped expose nuclear facilities in Iran in the past, told a news conference in September that tunnels were under construction mainly in an area called Parchin.

But on Monday he said the secret construction of missiles extends well beyond that location. He said that on orders of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the Iranian defense ministry has taken over an area in eastern and southern regions of Tehran.

North Korean experts have cooperated with Iran in the design and building of the complex, producing blueprints, for instance, the dissident said.

A leading Iranian aerospace group, Hemmat Industries, is located in the area and is building three versions of Shahab and Ghadar missiles, Jafarzadeh said.

The Shahab 3 has a range of 1,300 to 1,900 kilometers and Ghadar, still in the production stage, 2,500 to 3,000 kilometers, he said.

Some of the tunnels are located in Kahk Sefid Mountain, he said, pointing to a map.

In an interview, Jafarzadeh said the most significant development was that Iran was concentrating its work on missiles and nuclear warheads all together in tunnels underground in the Tehran area.

"I think the United States should be doubly worried about this because President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sped up its nuclear weapons program and the revolutionary guards are now dominating all three branches of power - executive, legal and judicial," Jafarzadeh said.

"It's a nightmare," he said.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack agreed that Iran has a covert nuclear program. "It's hidden from sight and it's hidden through a variety of means," he said.