Month: February 2005

Google Links

Link Directory of Important Google Information: “Some of the best Google links for learning about all things Google as rated by webmasters. One of the members at Cre8asite Forums, projectphp, have put together an excellent list of links that pertain to many Google related sections. It was followed up with some other good lists. From whitepaper to patents to Froogle to Adwords, a lot of it is here. If you can’t find what you looking for here, then try the offical Google Site Map. This list took me a bit longer than expect, as I had to pull all the urls to post on here, but I definately think its worth it.” (Search Engine Roundtable )

BBC: Call for action on child exorcism

Back in the days when exorcism was popularized by The Exorcist and its sequels, Catholic Church spokespeople were emphatic that the Church did hardly any exorcisms anymore. The bar was set extraordinarily high to prove that a case was one of possession rather than psychiatric distress, and the challenge for the Church was to dissuade credulous people convinced they needed an exorcism. But now, a BBC report suggests that the situation has been turned on its head; that Church leaders in England who believe in demonic possession are doing nothing to protect children wh are beaten to drive spirits out. The article suggests that the problem pertains mostly to African immigrant congregations. Five years ago, Victioria Climbie, an eight-year old girl, was killed by ‘carers who claimed she was possessed by the devil.’ Defenders say things like “Exorcism is a good thing but it’s not meant to be abusive…” while detractors call it child abuse fueled by ignorance. The Church has always crafted a syncretistic appeal atop the foundation of the indigenous beliefs of those it wishes to convert; that is how it assimilatedd European paganism. As the appeal of the Catholic Church shifts increasingly to the Third World, we might expect to see more and more of clerics ‘benignly’ indifferent, if not covertly or overtly supportive, of this modern malignant appeal to superstition and ingnorance. At least the Church-based child abuse in the First World is not consonant with the cultural norms of its congregation.

Two New Viruses Reported Belonging to AIDS Family

“American scientists said Friday that they had discovered two new human viruses in Africa that belong to the same family, retroviruses, as the virus that causes AIDS.

So far, the scientists said, the new viruses have not been linked to any disease, but they are being monitored out of concern that they or similar retroviruses might conceivably spawn another epidemic.

The viruses, found in rural Cameroon among people who hunt monkeys and other primates, were probably transmitted from the animals through blood from bites and scratches received in hunting, butchering and keeping the primates as pets, the scientists said at the 12th Annual Retrovirus Conference, which ended here on Friday.” (New York Times )

Sloshed in America

David Edelstein: “As someone who frequently contemplates the pros and cons of alcohol consumption, I’ve wondered why no one ever talks about out-of-control epicureans—why Alcoholics Anonymous people (at least in my circles) never tell horror stories of self-destructive Chateauneuf du Pape obsessions or ridiculous 150-mile trips to taste some acclaimed brewpub India pale ale or rent monies blown on bottles of 25-year-old Springbank. I admit that doesn’t sound as nightmarish as, say, waking up from a three-day blackout on a rooftop, naked, covered in vomit, with a needle sticking out of one arm and two cops pointing guns. But there is a class of addicts (and not always privileged ones) for whom the epicurean drive is closely allied with the drive to self-medicate. Epicures go sideways, too, big time.” (Slate)

Related: Is a Wine-Soaked Film Too, Er, Rosé?

“Critics for the most part found the movie delightful and described Miles as an oenophile, adult viewers flocked to the clever comedy, and the positive buzz bolstered tourism in the Santa Ynez Valley, where the movie was filmed.

But a much more critical appraisal is coming from alcohol treatment professionals, recovering alcoholics and others who say that while Miles obviously suffers from alcohol addiction, his illness does not seem to register with audiences, just as it is overlooked in the movie. Polly McCall, an alcohol and drug therapist in New York City, said many of her patients are appalled that all they hear people talk about is how funny the characters are in ‘Sideways,’ which has been nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture and best adapted screenplay. Ms. McCall argued that there is a connection between all of Miles’s imbibing and his considerable troubles, from finding it hard to get up in the morning to his failed relationships and money problems.” (New York Times )

Psychedelic medicine:

Mind bending, health giving. As a close follower of the research in the area, I find this New Scientist review of the current renascence of interest in the psychotherapeutic applications of psychedelic drugs hits all the high spots.

Panning for Hope

Sam Smith: “Today the major business of Americans earning more than minimum wage is selling false or faulty dreams to each other. As with Willie Loman and the Yellow Brick Road, this only takes you so far. Then it’s time for something different. One of the reasons Dean did as well as he did because, like him or not, he was real. It was an astounding change from the spinoids who dominate politics, media, and what passes for thought in Washington. As more people weary of fraudulent semiotics, their willingness to rebel may grow.

…The red state myth is the latest form of self-abuse by liberals. In 39 states Democrats are either comfortably ahead or could win by changing the minds of just five percent of the electorate. Further, the number of states solidly Republican has been declining since 1972, not surprising since the party’s strength has been based on unsupportable economic, social, and environmental ideas.
If the Democrats would stop worrying about the red-blue business and start being nicer to people in the red states, they will be on their way to a far more successful politics.” [via robotwisdom]

Platelets Pose Infection Risk in Transfusions

“Americans who receive blood platelet transfusions are probably at a higher risk of contracting potentially deadly bacterial infections than previously believed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a report published Thursday.

Doctors are often unaware of the threat, the agency reported, citing a survey of infectious-disease experts last year and a subsequent investigation into two transfusion-related deaths.” (New York Times )

Alarming, Alarmed or Alarmist?

Scientists Outline Research on a Rare Case of AIDS: “In a special symposium arranged to deal with the issues raised by the New York case, Dr. Ho presented his case to thousands of the world’s top AIDS experts at the Hynes Convention Center. He said it was unique not only among all those the Aaron Diamond Center had ever seen, but also among all the cases cataloged in the laboratory at Los Alamos, which collects data of the gene sequences and other molecular biology information of H.I.V. isolates from around the country.

He said that while it was still not known whether the New York case was isolated or part of a cluster, alerting the health department was the right thing to do. ‘That is a decision we stand by today,’ he said.

Some scientists and members of gay rights groups have criticized the disclosure as premature and unnecessarily alarmist, but there is little doubt that the strain of H.I.V. was resistant to three of the four licensed classes of antiretroviral drugs used to combat the AIDS virus.” (New York Times )

First Invisible Galaxy Discovered

Cosmology Breakthrough: “Astronomers have discovered an invisible galaxy that could be the first of many that will help unravel one of the universe’s greatest mysteries.

The object appears to be made mostly of ‘dark matter,’ material of an unknown nature that can’t be seen.

Theorists have long said most of the universe is made of dark matter. Its presence is required to explain the extra gravitational force that is observed to hold regular galaxies together and that also binds large clusters of galaxies.” (space.com)

Global blogger action day called

“The month-old Committee to Protect Bloggers’ is asking those with blogs to dedicate their sites on Tuesday to the ‘Free Mojtaba and Arash Day’.

Arash Sigarchi and Mojtaba Saminejad are both in prison in Iran.

…Iranian authorities have been clamping down on prominent sites for some time.

…”If you have a blog, the least you could do is put nothing on that blog except ‘Free Mojtaba and Arash Day’,” said (the organizer).” (BBC)

The Committee is also focusing on US webloggers whose weblogging activity has gotten them into trouble at their workplace. (That fired flight attendant you may have heard about is prominent on the committee.)

This is a misguided use of resources and energy, IMHO. I know putting up a banner is characterized here as being merely the least one can do, but there is little more one can do by weblogging unless one is one of a handful of influential webloggers I can count on the fingers of one hand. And those handful of webloggers are influential because they have the ear of the press and are visible beyond the weblog audience. Putting up a banner on your site is little more than self-righteousness. Weblogging is nothing special; it is just an efficient form of fee (interesting Freudian slip? I meant “free”) speech. If people are concerned about imprisoned Iranian webloggers, they should do something like join or create an Amnesty International affinity group and adopt them as prisoners of conscience. The sort of tactics AI uses to publicize cases and address them with the imprisoning authorities are vastly more effective than publicity directed at the small segment of the public which reads weblogs.

For your domestic webloggers who have gotten in trouble at their jobs, there is always the ACLU and other protectors of our civil liberties. I know that the recent massive research study that established how woefully ignorant most American students are about their First Amendment rights also said they are more likely to be informed and involved when an issue is close to their own lifestyles — e.g. restrictions on music — but if this committee thinks that only webloggers are going to protect weblogging freedom, that is because its members unduly construe weblogging as a unique activity rather than a version of free expression. This is ridiculously parochial. (As an aside, being informed about one’s civil liberties also entails being informed about the various ambient threats to one’s rights in our ‘free’ society — for example, that your employers might be monitoring your internet activities at your workplace and that if you weblog on the job it might get you into trouble?)

This effort also strikes me as tactically foolish since, no matter how few people are energetic free speech and civil liberties activists, they are far more numerous than those who would be specifically interested in the right to weblog. Instead of a solipsistic effort to mobilize webloggers to defend other webloggers through the weblog medium, such a committee might function better as a public relations tool for weblogging, using non-weblog media to broaden the awareness of the non-weblog-reading public about the the weblogging phenomenon’s potentially important contributions to freedom of speech both domestically and abroad. Probably, more people can understand the samizdat concept than the weblog concept; the analogies could be drawn for them…

Spyware on Blogspot?

Beware of clicking on the ‘next blog’ button at the top of some ‘Blogger’ blogs which have the ‘Blogger NavBar’ enabled. (From Blogger: “The Blogger NavBar is a navigation bar and toolbar with a form that allows people to search just your weblog using Google’s SiteSearch and gives you the ability to check out what’s happening on other recently published blogs with one click.”) I don’t know why, in this day of low signal-to-noise ratio, anyone would want to go to a random weblog, but weblogger Alvin Borromeo reports that one of the places he reached apparently installed hijacking software as soon as he surfed there. Here and here are other reports of this. This was Blogger’s response to Borromeo:

“Thanks for your email. In this version 1.0 release of the

Blogger Navbar,the NextBlog button brings users to a random blog

that 1) has a navbar, 2) was recently updated and 3) is listed

as a public blog. Right now, it’s impossible to know what sort

of blog you’re going to land on. However, we are working on how

best to help our users avoid content they don’t want to see

along with other ideas and upgrades to the Navbar. Your feedback

is appreciated in this process.”

"Whoppingly Bright"

Dying Star Flares Up, Briefly Outshining Rest of Galaxy: “For a fraction of a second in December, a dying remnant of an exploded star let out of a burst of light that outshone the Milky Way’s other half-trillion stars combined, astronomers announced Friday.

Even on Earth, half a galaxy away, the starburst was one of the brightest objects ever observed in the sky, after the Sun and perhaps a few comets. The magnitude of the event caught most astronomers by surprise.

…No one on Earth directly saw the flare because most of the light was gamma rays, photons that are more energetic than X-rays and are blocked by the atmosphere. But the Dec. 27 pulse registered on instruments aboard 15 spacecraft, including NASA’s new Swift satellite, which was designed to record cosmic gamma rays and had been turned on just the week before.” (New York Times )

"Whoppingly Bright"

Dying Star Flares Up, Briefly Outshining Rest of Galaxy: “For a fraction of a second in December, a dying remnant of an exploded star let out of a burst of light that outshone the Milky Way’s other half-trillion stars combined, astronomers announced Friday.

Even on Earth, half a galaxy away, the starburst was one of the brightest objects ever observed in the sky, after the Sun and perhaps a few comets. The magnitude of the event caught most astronomers by surprise.

…No one on Earth directly saw the flare because most of the light was gamma rays, photons that are more energetic than X-rays and are blocked by the atmosphere. But the Dec. 27 pulse registered on instruments aboard 15 spacecraft, including NASA’s new Swift satellite, which was designed to record cosmic gamma rays and had been turned on just the week before.” (New York Times )

Disease Gene Linked to Evolution

Once you establish that a devastating disease has a heritable component, you are at pains to explain how the genetic predisposition has survived if the illness confers a reproductive disadvantage, right? The classic example is sickle cell anemia. Homozygotes have the illness; heterozygotes have sickle trait, which confers resistance to malaria, an endemic cause of excess mortality where sickle cell disease originated. Here’s a discovery about the genetics of schizophrenia that bears on this phenomenon; this is the first such explanation of which I am aware for a behavioral disease. For psychiatric diseases, I have been assuming that the selective advantage for those who get the ‘trait’ by inheriting one copy of the gene would be in the behavioral realm. For example, people have speculated that a ‘watered-down’ version of the bipolar (manic-depressive) genetic heritage might confer a selective advantage by giving its bearer a creative and mercurial temperament. At first reading I thought they were saying this ‘schizophrenia gene’ also confers malaria resistance (see the discussion in the comments to the post) but I realized that was a misreading; the article simply drew the same analogy to the sickle cell situation that I have above. The selective advantage of the gene being investigated here is not specified but may be in the realm of physical, not behavioral, health. I am on the lookout for further reports of this research.

“Approximately two percent of Caucasians have a gene segment variation that can cause a certain form of schizophrenia. Most people with the variation, known as a polymorphism, do not have the disease. A University of Iowa, Iowa City, study reveals a good prognosis for those who do have this form of schizophrenia. The researchers also found that this polymorphism is associated with overall benefits for human survival, and the initial mutation occurred in a single common ancestor about 100,000 years ago.

This has implications for finding better ways to treat this particular type of schizophrenia and possibly augmenting the positive influences of the polymorphism on human survival, as well as studying other gene defects.” (RedNova )

This is an aside, but when they refer to ‘types’ of schizophrenia with different symptoms, some psychiatrists, myself included, believe we are talking about distinct, heterogeneous diseases. Without going into too much detail, some people carrying that diagnosis have a disease such as the one described in this article, characterized predominantly by ‘positive’ symptoms such as hallucinations or paranoia. In the realm of schizophrenia, this is the type with the greatest evidence for heritability, and it has the best response to antipsychotic medication and the best overall prognosis. Other schizophrenics have a disease with more disturbance of the organization and logic of thought as well as ‘negative’ symptoms such as passivity, flatness and withdrawal. These are the schizophrenics who show abnormalities in the structure of their brains on MRI and other imaging studies; less genetic influence; less medication response; poorer premorbid functioning even in childhood; and overall worse prognosis. I believe that, in contrast to the ‘other’ schizophrenics who have a biochemical defect on the genetically encoded molecular level, usually inherited, which primarily affects synaptic communication between neurons, this latter class have a disease process, probably acquired or perhaps neurodegenerative, that affects the structure and gross organization (the ‘wiring’) of the brain. Research into the basic nature of the schizophrenic defect or defects and their etiology is hampered by lumping together patients with very different pathologies and processes.

As an analogy, what if our classification of diseases lumped chronic lower back pain sufferers and patients with migraine headaches as having a condition called dolorophrenia, because both had ‘pain’ and responded somewhat to various analgesic medications, and we did not recognize that that basis for classification was inadequate and the patients really had two (or more) very different pathological processes going on. If we took all these dolorophrenic patients and tried to do research into the genetics of their disease, did imaging studies of various parts of their anatomy, studied the longitudinal course of the illness, investigated the efficacy of other treatment approaches such as spinal surgery, looked at the question of whether there were perceptual or cognitive distortions during episodes, etc. etc., we would not be able to reach statistically significant conclusions about the nature of dolorophrenia because of its heterogeneity. That is the case, I think, with schizophrenia.

Ecstasy trials for combat stress

“American soldiers traumatised by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are to be offered the drug ecstasy to help free them of flashbacks and recurring nightmares.

The US food and drug administration has given the go-ahead for the soldiers to be included in an experiment to see if MDMA, the active ingredient in ecstasy, can treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Scientists behind the trial in South Carolina think the feelings of emotional closeness reported by those taking the drug could help the soldiers talk about their experiences to therapists. Several victims of rape and sexual abuse with post-traumatic stress disorder, for whom existing treatments are ineffective, have been given MDMA since the research began last year.” (Guardian.UK)

New Study: Race Fear Isn’t Hard Wired

“If you’ve ever walked down a dark alley and seen a stranger approach, then you probably know that automatic vigilance – a signal from your brain making you more alert. And even if you consider yourself unprejudiced, you may have also noticed that this response is more prevalent when you encounter people of races other than yours.

It can be chalked up partly as caution around the unknown – the fact that we are generally less familiar with other races than we are with our own – but it is still discouraging for race relations. Some new research, however, has shown that we may have more control over our race-based vigilance reaction than previously thought.

Princeton University researchers Mary Wheeler and Susan Fiske suggest that our automatic vigilance happens mainly when we put people into categories, and is not inevitable. ‘We react that way to harmless strangers of another race – unless we trouble to think of them as unique individuals,’ Fiske said.” (American Psychological Society)

I Ain’t Got Rhythm…

Why North America Is Not a Rhythm Nation: “North American adults have problems perceiving and reproducing irregular rhythms. That’s what past studies have shown, and some new research has addressed the question of whether our seeming inability to dance to a different tune should be chalked up to nature or culture. New findings point to a harmonious blend of both.” (American Psychological Society)

The Top 100 Gadgets of All Time

I’ve had a longstanding romance with gadgets. The way I’m counting, I have owned, used or had an intimate relationship with 42 of these 100 at one time or another. And how was it for you? (Mobile PC)

The 2004 Elections and the Collapse of the Left

Thomas Harrison: “What a waste. All those liberals and radicals, including tens of thousands of young people, people who had marched in antiwar demonstrations, flocking to the swing states to leaflet, ring doorbells, sit at phone- banks, and register voters, all on behalf of a candidate who was promising them at least four more years in Iraq! The great outpouring to elect Kerry amounted to a veritable mass movement; though profoundly misguided, it exhibited enormous energy and idealism.

It would bode well if there were now at least some awareness on the left that working for Kerry was a fool’s errand, and that the impact on progressive politics has been calamitous. But so far the signs are not good…” (New Politics)

Clicking on the title, I looked forward to reading a perspective that shared my concerns about how progressives had handled themselves in ’04. I agree with him that many of those with a true progressive agenda who threw their lot in with the Democrats are guilty of losing their nerve and not holding Kerry accountable to leftist ideals. The left “…muzzled itself at election time, accommodating the Democrats’ move to the right precisely when people are most tuned in to politics”.

But Harrison goes further. He utterly rejects the logic of Anyone but Bush and minimizes the differences between Bush and Kerry. As someone who was passionate about the necessity of Anyone but Bush, I find it outrageous that Harrison does not seem to find it conceivable that people could both find the lesser-of-evils vote necessary and palatable in 2004 and be committed to and working toward a politics that transcends the two-party system in the longer term. This sort of holier-than-thou, patronizing arrogance of a certain kind of ur-leftist, refusing to compromise on principle, was the downfall of the left in decades past. It is an attitude which will not be its salvation now.

Moreover, Harrison writes as if he invented the notion that there is little to choose between the Demublicans and the Republocrats. I was proud of saying, up until Bush emerged as the Republican candidate in the lead-up to the 2000 election, that I was above electoral politics and that one’s choice in the presidential election could not make much of a difference. Many people had a similar conversion. The weakness of the Democrats’ ability to appeal to the left is that too many people whose inherent decency and morality put them above politics have to be enlisted. It was a triumph, not a disgrace, that these people were successfully mobilized in 2004. It was their conscience — not some conspiracy to quash third parties among the wing of the military-industrial complex that controls the Democratic Party machine — that recruited them to oppose Bush in 2004.

Harrison also ignores the fact that many were initially drawn in by Kucinich and Dean, whose names do not even appear in the essay because they would be awkward contradictions to his thesis. A politics of exuberant grassroots progressivism almost hijacked the Democratic Party in 2004 before it flagged and people made their conscientious lesser-of-evils choice. And it seems to me that the struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party between those who feel it loses because it is not enough Republican-like and those who feel it is because it is too much so is not yet over.

In attacking the logic of Anyone but Bush, Harrison asks us if we suppose the Republicans will mount anyone less heinous in future years, and whether the “strategic” vote for Kerry will become a pattern every four years required by equivalent emergencies. His main concern is that this will forestall the effort to build a political alternative, i.e. a third party movement. It may well, for the near term. The Republican “emergency” is of course not Bush; he is the front man for a neo-conservative agenda of dismantling the social progress of the last century or so. It is an ongoing emergency that will continue to require realpolitikal compromises for a great while before we can rely on the upwelling of a Third Wave. Those of us who are disgusted with the current shape of the Democratic Party are at the same historical point as the reactionaries who felt betrayed by the Republican Party in the mid-60’s. How they responded was to carefully and methodically lay the groundwork for the hijacking of that party over the next twenty to forty years. Progressives can count on needing nothing less than an equivalent effort. In the meanwhile, there will probably be alot of Gore- and Kerry-like insipid, co-opted Democrats for whom many find it necessary to hold their noses and vote (for example [ugghh] Hilary Clinton in ’08?). Harrison argues that the last vestiges of difference between the parties, e.g. support for abortion rights, will almost inevitably evaporate over the continuing Republican onslaught of the next decade or so. This ignores the likelihood that defense of abortion rights may be a moot point long before the Democrats have to concede that plank in their platform, as Bush stacks the judicial system with reactionaries who will dismantle progressive velues by coup and not just slow attrition. This was what the Anybody but Bush vote was trying to forestall.

Harrison also feels blaming the American people for the choice 51% of them made is ‘blaming the victim’ and that it is a mistake to conceive of the electorate as permanently reactionary. He has the sort of naive faith in The People that I have seen in decades past, in defiance of the evidence, mostly in the dogmatic Marxist Left: ” …(T)he people we want to reach, the vast majority, having no fundamental stake in the perpetuation of the existing system, are capable of grasping the reality that they are plundered, exploited, and ideologically manipulated in the interests of a ruthless elite.” But the theoreticians of the left have always understood that overcoming the False Consciousness by which the ruled are made to feel that the rulers’ interests are their own is no trivial matter. His solution to turn mass consciousness around is “hard campaigning by an independent left,” with the emphasis on independent. Harrison feels, quite ridiculously, that beginning to model opposition to the Democrats now will align “millions of Americans who are sick of wars, insecurity, declining wages, worsening schools, racism, and homophobia and long for peace, equality, and social justice” behind a third party. He suggests that a declaration of independence by the left is the only thing that would avert a grim future.

The contradiction in Harrison’s thinking is to argue that, within the Democratic party, there is no hope to avoid the co-optation of progressive values by an inescapable False Consciousness, while at the same time arguing that in the broader plane of the electorate such co-optation to Republican ideals could be readily countered by some sort of vigorous movement to raise mass consciousness. He faults those of us who thought the electorate should have known better than to vote for Bush, but is contemptuous of progressive Democrats — the constituency his argument needs — because he thinks they should have known better than to vote for Kerry. He holds progressives to a higher standard of political enlightenment than he does the electorate while arguing that those he criticizes are guilty of a failure of faith in the electorate.

Remember my first posts after the 2004 Bush victory, in one of which I described the relevance of the stages of mourning? I know I talked about my reluctance to leave the anger stage, but this is ridiculous. Harrison is contemptuous of: the Kerry campaign, Democratic party hacks, progressives within the Democratic party, the Greens, other existing attempts at third party movements, Nader’s ineptitude, most of the Left. The only people for whom no scorn is reserved are the Bush folks and the folks who elected him.

Energy secretary pushes to ramp up U.S. ability to test nuke bombs

“Although scientists continue work on simulating nuclear bomb tests by computer, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Tuesday that the Nevada Test Site’s ability to resume actual underground warhead detonations must be enhanced.

The Bush administration’s commitment to step up preparations for a potential resumption of nuclear bomb testing in southern Nevada comes less than a week after the Utah Senate unanimously approved a House-passed resolution that urged the federal government not to ‘return to the mistakes and miscalculations of the past which have marred many Utahns’ and that would create ‘a new generation of downwinders.'” (Salt Lake Tribune)

Navy Commissions Attack Submarine Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter was the only US president to have qualified in submarines.This news release from the Dept of Defense crows over the upcoming commissioning of the newest nuclear attack sub in the US fleet in his name.

I wonder, however, if Carter will welcome this, or if the US Navy would take note if he did not. The peace and disarmament movement has always been graced by the ‘conversion’ of former heads of state and senior military officers. It is an often-observed phenomenon that, once freed of the pressures of their leadership positions which do not allow them to take a position of conscience, they can be exceedingly persuasive opponents of their country’s potential to unleash mass destruction, having once had their finger on the trigger. I am not certain that the statesman-like Nobel Peace Prize winner Carter has joined those who are freed to become anti-militarists — perhaps some of you readers know — but I assume so, given his outspoken post-presidential diplomatic and humanitarian concerns. The article mentions that Rosalynn and Amy Carter will participate in the launch of the USS Carter, but mention of the ex-president’s intention to attend is conspicuous for its absence.

Even the most modern of these monstrous weapons, armed with MIRVed ICBMs with massive warheads tactical Cruise missiles, are outmoded relics of the Cold War, designed to fight a war too terrible to comprehend against an enemy who no longer represents a threat. The press release boasts that the USS Carter is the largest submarine in its class, with “enhanced payload capacity” and advances enabling it to “develop and test a new generation of weapons.” It is an obscenity to build these things, an obscenity to rob legitimate human needs of the cost of building this thing, an obscenity to reactivate the nuclear arms race and reverse the previous decade’s progress in averting the nuclear threat as the Bush administration is doing, and an obscenity to name this WMD after the American president who most nearly deserves being called a peacemaker. His values are as antithetical to the aims and means of the current administration as can be. It is an obscenity to unleash this against the world in my name as an American citizen as well.

Besides, I thought we did not commemorate the famous by naming monumental works after them while they are still alive. The first time I saw that principle violated was with Reagan, but he was effectively gone for many years before his physical demise, as his Alzheimer’s Disease took his mind.

It brings up a related concern. Will there be any antiemetic strong enough for how I feel when they start naming things after George W. Bush?

‘My Addicted Son’

This anguished piece from the New York Times Magazine by a California writer about his son’s devastation by methamphetamine addiction ends on a hopeful note, but just barely. As someone who treats detoxing substance users on my psychiatric hospital unit, it is useful for me to have a window into the experience at least some of their loved ones might have. When my ability to be compassionate to one of my patients is frayed, one of the mantras I use to get back to where I want to be in caring for them is to remind myself that this is someone’s son or daughter, that this patient was once a babe in arms cuddled and loved by some mother or father.

But it also makes me desperate to go and hug my sleeping children, still too young to have been exposed to drugs, and never let go.

Jurors in Boy’s Murder Trial Consider if Zoloft Is to Blame

Here we go again. I have written extensively in FmH in the past about scurrilous and scientifically unwarranted attempts to link antidepressant use to violent crimes. This case invloves a minor, and is fueled by the FDA’s recently mandating a ‘black box warning’ that antidepressants may cause increased suicide risk in children. The defense, contending that sertraline (Zoloft) transformed ‘a “nice, shy Christian boy” to a violent predator’, is attempting to use an “involuntary intoxication” defense, which requires

“…three conditions: the defendant must have been unaware that the drug had a potentially intoxicating effect; must have taken the drug according to a doctor’s prescription; and must have been rendered incapable of distinguishing right from wrong, a condition that must also be proved in an insanity defense.” (New York Times )

Antidepressants can rarely induce acute mania, sometimes psychotic, which can possibly meet these criteria, but short of that I cannot think of a way in which an antidepressant can ‘intoxicate’ or obscure distinguishing right from wrong. Adverse events occurring while someone is being treated with an antidepressant are far far more likely to be consequences of the patient’s underlying psychological distress than the effects of the drug. The scurrilous publicity to the contrary steers many patients, or parents of minor patients, away from agreeing to urgently needed and hugely effective therapeutic options for their suffering.

Rocket Fails to Launch in Test Run

“The nation’s fledgling missile defense system suffered its third straight test failure when an interceptor rocket failed to launch Sunday night from its base on an island, leaving the target rocket to splash into the Pacific Ocean, the Pentagon said Monday.” (New York Times )

I have nothing but contempt for the stupidity of the missile defense program and nothing but smug satisfaction and relief when I hear about these test failures. Here’s to the status quo!

Altered HIV Attacks Mice Tumors

“Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles have tweaked HIV to create a gene therapy that attacks cancer tumors in mice.

…The UCLA AIDS Institute scientists genetically altered HIV and folded it into an envelope made of another virus called sindbis, which typically infects insects and birds. That turned the altered HIV into a missile that hunted down metastasized melanoma cells in the lungs of living mice.

…The researchers programmed the altered virus package to attack a protein on the cancer cell surface called p-glycoprotein, which causes problems in cancer patients by shuttling cancer drugs away from the cell. In other words, p-glycoprotein causes resistance to cancer medication. Scientists could customize the system to target any protein on the surface of a cell, Chen said. He and his colleagues have seen success with about a dozen different molecules, including brain and other blood cells, he said.

More incremental work, with the goal of increasing the precision of the treatment and reducing the chance of side effects, is necessary before this type of gene therapy can be tested in humans, Chen said. In a premature human trial in 1999, 18-year-old Jesse Gelsinger died during a gene therapy clinical trial at the University of Pennsylvania, which led to an FDA investigation and closure of the Penn gene therapy program. ” (Wired)

Nothing to Fear But Bush Himself

“Suppose you are the party responsible for invading a country under totally false pretenses. Suppose you had totally unrealistic expectations about the consequences of your gratuitous aggression.

What do you do when, instead of being greeted with flowers, you find your army is tied down by insurgents and you have no face-saving way to get out of the morass? If you are the moronic Bush administration, you blame someone else.” — Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration, former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review (Counterpunch ).

Older people get the big picture

“Psychologists from McMaster University have discovered that the aging process improves certain abilities — the ability to grasp the ‘big picture’. The study, published in the journal Neuron dispels the myth that older people perform slower and worse than younger people.

‘Going into the study, we knew that ageing changes the way people see the world,’ says Allison Sekuler, one senior author of the study. ‘But these results are an unusual twist on the standard ‘ageing makes you worse’ story, and they provide clear insight into what is changing in the ageing brain.'”

A Princeton Philosopher’s Unprintable Essay Title

“Harry G. Frankfurt, 76, is a moral philosopher of international reputation and a professor emeritus at Princeton. He is also the author of a book recently published by the Princeton University Press that is the first in the publishing house’s distinguished history to carry a title most newspapers, including this one, would find unfit to print. The work is called On Bull – – – – .’

The opening paragraph of the 67-page essay is a model of reason and composition, repeatedly disrupted by that single obscenity:

‘One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much [bull]. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize [bull] and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry.'” (New York Times )

Master of disgust?

“‘From the greatest of horrors irony is seldom absent,’ reads the first line of the H.P. Lovecraft story ‘The Shunned House,’ but chances are Lovecraft, who died in 1937, wouldn’t have appreciated the irony of his present position as American literature’s greatest bad writer. There are two camps on the subject of the haunted bard of Providence, R.I., and his strange tales of cosmic terror. One, led by the late genre skeptic Edmund Wilson, dismisses him as an overwriting ‘hack’ who purveyed ‘bad taste and bad art.’ The other, led by Lovecraft scholar and biographer S.T. Joshi, hotly rises to Lovecraft’s defense as an artist of ‘philosophical and literary substance.'” (Salon )

As seems to have been the case with many of his admirers, I devoured Lovecraft’s work most recently as an adolescent. I went a little overboard; I have first editions of most of his books, and they are virtually the only first editions I have ever collected. It sometimes takes hyperbole to inspire a jaded modern sensibility with the delicious experience of the weird and the horrible. I much prefer Lovecraft’s way of doing it than, say, the Halloweens and Friday the 13ths that pass for horror these days. They play very differently on the emotion of disgust, and with absolutely no irony. Besides, the adjective eldritch seems to have been made specifically for him.

Worry Spreads Over GI Drug Side Effects

“Some current or former troops sent to Iraq claim that Lariam, the commercial name for the anti-malarial drug mefloquine, has provoked disturbing and dangerous behavior. The families of some troops blame the drug for the suicides of their loved ones.

Though the evidence is largely anecdotal, their stories have raised alarm in Congress, and the Pentagon has stopped giving out a pill it probably never needed to give to tens of thousands of troops in Iraq in the first place.” (Yahoo! News)

But the evidence is not merely anecdotal! Most psychiatrists are familiar with the neuropsychiatric changes the drug causes, and the psychiatric literature is rife with reports.

Inventor Kurzweil Aiming to Live Forever

“Ray Kurzweil doesn’t tailgate. A man who plans to live forever doesn’t take chances with his health on the highway, or anywhere else.

As part of his daily routine, Kurzweil ingests 250 supplements, eight to 10 glasses of alkaline water and 10 cups of green tea. He also periodically tracks 40 to 50 fitness indicators, down to his ‘tactile sensitivity.’ Adjustments are made as needed.” (Yahoo! News)

Some People Push Back

This is the essay by Ward Churchill about Sept. 11th that caused him to resign under fire as chair of the department of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado. It has been intolerable to the jingoists ever since Sept. 11th and clearly remains so to suggest what is self-evident — that terrorist attacks against the US have some relationship to our arrogant swagger on the world stage.

Churchill, a Native American with an acute sensitivity to historic abuses committed in the name of American values, was certainly tactless in using one form of hyperbole that is taboo in public discourse — likening US militarism against the third world to Nazi genocide. (It remains a virtually unquestioned kneejerk assertion that no other evil is commensurate with Nazi evil. This acts, conveniently, to place the demons outside ourselves and obviate the need to examine our own baser tendencies.)

But Churchill is not exactly, or not only, saying that the American regime is like the Nazis. I read his point as more profound, more disquieting and more accurate. Churchill asks Americans to see that, if we held the average German citizen accountable for going along with the tyranny of the Nazi regime, we must necessarily examine our own complicity in the crimes against humanity that continue to be committed by the Bush regime. It speaks to the parallels that Churchill is drawing that he apparently could not make this point any more freely in the U.S. than a critic of the Nazis could have in Germany of the 1930’s or 1940’s. At least we don’t use concentration camps yet.

Survival of the druggies

“Taking narcotics may be part of our evolutionary inheritance.

If drugs are so bad for us, why do so many people use them? Because they helped our ancestors survive, argue two anthropologists.

Our predilection for psychotropic substances is usually seen as a biological accident. The conventional view is that drugs fool the brain into thinking it is getting a reward when in fact it isn’t.

But anthropologists Roger Sullivan of the University of Auckland and Edward Hagen of the University of California at Santa Barbara point out that our ancestors were exposed to plants containing narcotic substances for millions of years. In the April issue of Addiction, they argue that we are predisposed to drug-taking because we evolved to seek out plants rich in alkaloids.

Consuming such plants could have been a basic survival strategy.” (New Scientist)

Finally on DVD

The Adventures of Pete & Pete was a surreal comedy in which a peaceful suburban neighborhood was a strange and skewed world as seen through the eyes of pre-teens. Wellsville, USA contained many different unique characters, such as: two brothers that were both named Pete, their mom who had a metal plate in her head, Artie the spandex-wearing super-hero, and Petunia, little Pete’s tattoo. The Adventures of Pete and Pete originated as a series of one-minute vignettes (shorts) in 1990, then was expanded into a series of five specials, and then became a regular weekly series in late 1993 for three seasons. There is still a strong Pete & Pete fan base that has submitted an on-line petition to Nickelodeon to put Pete & Pete on DVD, with 3800 signatures to date.”

Update:

CNN’s Jordan Resigns Over Iraq Remarks: “Eason Jordan resigned last night as CNN’s chief news executive in an effort to quell a burgeoning controversy over his remarks about U.S. soldiers killing journalists in Iraq.

Even as he said he had misspoken at an international conference in suggesting that coalition troops had ‘targeted’ a dozen journalists and insisted he never believed that, Jordan was being pounded hourly by bloggers, liberals as well as conservatives, who provided the rocket fuel for a story that otherwise might have fizzled.” (Washington Post)

Can This Black Box See Into the Future?

“Deep in the basement of a dusty university library in Edinburgh lies a small black box, roughly the size of two cigarette packets side by side, that churns out random numbers in an endless stream.

At first glance it is an unremarkable piece of equipment. Encased in metal, it contains at its heart a microchip no more complex than the ones found in modern pocket calculators.

But, according to a growing band of top scientists, this box has quite extraordinary powers. It is, they claim, the ‘eye’ of a machine that appears capable of peering into the future and predicting major world events.

The machine apparently sensed the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre four hours before they happened – but in the fevered mood of conspiracy theories of the time, the claims were swiftly knocked back by sceptics. But last December, it also appeared to forewarn of the Asian tsunami just before the deep sea earthquake that precipitated the epic tragedy.” (RedNova News)

Skeptics claim there will always be a world event that can be used to explain an observed spike on the machine. Investigators should be ‘blind’ to the output of the ‘oracle’ during a given period of time until they decide which world events they predict should have registered on it. Then analyze the data. The built-in defense of the true believers is that paranormal phenomena evaporate under too much scientific scrutiny; here is a case in which the scrutiny could be far after the fact. Oh, but wait, if ‘sensitives’ can sense the future, they might sense that scrutiny coming from the future too…

Freedom, From Want

“Why does foreign aid have such a dismal reputation in the country that financed the Marshall Plan? Maybe it’s the term itself (which may explain why it has been replaced by the studiously neutral ”official development assistance”). For many Americans, ”foreign aid” sounds suspiciously like ”welfare for foreigners.” We don’t like welfare, and we aren’t quite sure what to think about foreigners. What’s more, American giving typically proceeds from a sense of personal affiliation, whether to church or community or school; and we have, until very recently, thought of foreigners as a remote species. That era came to an end with 9/11, of course. In his Inaugural Address, President Bush vowed that ”all who live in tyranny and hopelessness” will find a staunch friend in the United States. For all those around the world who live in poverty, however, he made no such promise.” (New York Times Magazine)

The Republican aganda is really an extreme form of social Darwinism in which we owe nothing to those, domestic or foreign, who are less ‘fit’. By fit, of course, the president and his cronies mean well-connected to a revenue stream and to opportunities to plunder. This is most clear on the domestic front, where the welfare state is being dismantled — hey, America is the Land of Oppurtunuhty, it is not our fault if some people are too stupid to take advantage. But the same sentiment, as well as other time-honored American traditions like xenophobia, invests the Republican attitude to the unfortunates abroad.

And this from professed Christians? They ignore this passage in scripture, I am sure:

“Neither was there any among them that lacked: for those who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” (Acts 4:34-35)

This smacks abit too much of Marx’s cornerstone of socialist ideology, “…from each according to his ability, to each according to his need…”

stilicho

Dan Hartung is back. Lake Effect was one of the best, first weblogs I read regularly, and kept reading it until it dribbled out of existence. Dan always had a way of thinking through clearly, often to the conclusion that the emperor had no clothes. When I did not agree with him, that was a sign I ought to listen to his argument harder. As the introductory posts in his new weblog reveal, he has been through some difficult changes since he stopped posting to Lake Effect. Stilicho comes online with the hope — and the promise — of reclamation. I wish him well and I will be reading…

IQ Standard for Execution Overturned in California

“The California Supreme Court says IQ is not a sufficient basis to decide who may be executed. Prosecutors suggested anyone with an IQ of 70 or higher was not retarded and therefore could be executed. But the court decided 1) ‘IQ tests are insufficiently precise to utilize a fixed cutoff’ and 2) death-row inmates can get their sentences changed to life in prison if a judge rules that they’ve probably had ‘significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning’ and other mental disabilities since they were minors. IQ can be a factor, but not the sole factor. Victim advocate’s spin: The ruling will create ‘a lot of work’ for prosecutors fighting off appeals. Anti-death penalty spin: A little work never killed anyone. Implication: Our understanding of intelligence is becoming more complex.” (Slate )

This more sophisticated approach would avoid Kafkaesque situations like the recent case in which a mentally retarded convicted murderer was said to have had his intellectual development so stimulated by working with his defense attorneys on the appeals of his death sentence that he was no longer below the IQ threshold for execution.

Better Red Than Dead?

Eric Alterman reviews the gyrations the press must go through to meet the obligation they seem to feel to do dignified reporting about a passel of snakeoil salesmen:

“The United States government is currently run by a group of people for whom verifiable truth holds no particular privilege over ideologically inspired nonsense. For members of the mainstream media, trying to maintain a sense of self-importance and solemnity and to keep the wing nuts from crowing for more scalps, this requires a series of stratagems to keep up the scripted charade, no matter how foolish it makes them look or feel while doing so.” (The Nation )

Annals of the Decline and Fall (cont’d.)

The media and weblog nation are all over this massive study showing that students neither understand nor value their First Amendment rights. Many are drawing the wrong conclusion from this if they are primarily finding fault with the young people’s indifference or incomprehension. The more important finding is that the ignorance and apathy are directly related to the unwillingness of schools to teach the importance of free speech. But what do you expect? What proportion of American schools have caved on daring to teach evolution, for example? Besides, students have less free speech rights than almost any segment of society, so what do you expect them to learn?

Europe vs. America

I have been paying alot of attention recently to one inescapable fact. Denizens of the United States are the only people deluding themselves into believing that the United States is still the best place to live. In many of the respects that matter, quality of life is far better in the United States of Europe than it is here. ThisNew York Review of Books essay reviewing recent books on the theme by T. R. Reid, Jeremy Rifkin and Timothy Garton Ash manages to capture the essence of the debate. And you can’t simply dismiss it as typical NYRB America-bashing.

The Painful Truth

I have been fascinated and disturbed by the fact that the price paid for the reduction in battlefield mortality brought about by new body armor and combat medical intervention and evacuation techniques has been far more soldiers surviving with horrendous injuries to unprotected parts of their bodies such as limbs, and with horrendous acute and chronic pain. In a fascinating and disquieting Wired piece, Steve Silberman grapples with these implications as he profiles a pioneer of a revolutionary new anaesthetic pain relief technique known as continuous peripheral nerve block. I read this piece in the print edition of Wired and was impatient for it to appear online so I could blink to it.

Annals of the Decline and Fall (cont’d.)

The media and weblog nation are all over this massive study showing that students neither understand nor value their First Amendment rights. Many are drawing the wrong conclusion from this if they are primarily finding fault with the young people’s indifference or incomprehension. The more important finding is that the ignorance and apathy are directly related to the unwillingness of schools to teach the importance of free speech. But what do you expect? What proportion of American schools have caved on daring to teach evolution, for example? Besides, students have less free speech rights than almost any segment of society, so what do you expect them to learn?

Spammer trick could send junk email soaring

“The number of junk email messages clogging inboxes could be set to soar with spammers harnessing a new technique to churn out advertising missives.

Steve Linford, head of the UK anti-spam organisation Spamhaus, says spammers are now using a clever trick to get around current spam-blocking defences. Instead of sending spam using illegitimate mail servers, he says they are now routing messages through valid servers via hijacked home computers.” (New Scientist)

Annals of Depravity (cont’d.)

Texan dies after wife administers sherry enema: “A Texas woman has been indicted for criminally negligent homicide for causing her husband’s death by giving him a sherry enema, a police detective said today.

Tammy Jean Warner, 42, gave Michael Warner two large bottles of sherry on May 21, which raised his blood alcohol level to 0.47 per cent, or nearly six times the level considered legally drunk in Texas, police detective Robert Turner in Lake Jackson, Texas, told the Houston Chronicle.

‘We’re not talking about little bottles here,’ Turner said.

‘These were at least 1.5-litre bottles.’

Warner, 58, was said to have an alcohol problem and received the wine enema because a throat ailment left him unable to drink the sherry, Turner told the newspaper.” (Sydney Morning Herald)

Those who forget history

I have heavily edited this passage, but if you aren’t already familiar with it, you owe it to yourself to click here to read the unedited original. You may be amazed*.

“United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in (the) presidential election despite a …terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting.

According to reports from (the capital), 83 per cent of the … registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the (rebels).

The size of the popular vote and the inability of the (insurgents) to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here.

Pending more detailed reports, neither the State Department nor the White House would comment on the balloting…

A successful election has long been seen as the keystone in (the) President…’s policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes… The election was the culmination of a constitutional development that began (fifteen months earlier), to which (the) President … gave his personal commitment when he met… the chief of state… in February.

The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the …Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays…” [thanks, walker]

*(or at least nostalgic)

Book Review: Born Losers

“‘Nobody wins.’

This may be a core truth, but it’s usually ignored or scanted by historians and social scientists, for whom triumph is an irresistible story and who tend to write about losers only when they go down in spectacular flames: Napoleon at Waterloo, Hitler in the bunker, Sonny Liston flat on the mat. Yet though the losses and setbacks with which most of us are familiar rarely are dramatic, they are intensely human and have a lot to say about us as individuals and about the society in which we live. They are stories that deserve to be told.

Which is what Scott Sandage has attempted to do in Born Losers. By examining the lives and careers of a number of businessmen who failed during the 19th century, he portrays what we reflexively think of as the dark side of the American dream but what is, in reality, an only slightly exaggerated mirror of the reality with which ordinary people — i.e., thee and me — are fated to contend.” (Washington Post)

R.I.P. Jim Capaldi

//graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2005/01/29/arts/music/29capaldi184.jpg' cannot be displayed]Mainstay of the Rock Band Traffic Dies at 60: “Jim Capaldi, a drummer and songwriter who played with the classic British rock band Traffic on ‘Feelin’ Alright,’ ‘You Can All Join In’ and other songs, died early yesterday in London. He was 60 and lived in Marlow, England.” (New York Times )

‘Bird Brains’ No More

Some New Names And New Respect: “Today an international group of experts is publishing a call for scientists around the world to switch to a new set of words to describe the various parts of the avian brain — a wholesale revision of terms that is rarely seen in science and the first total makeover of bird brain anatomy in more than a century.

The new system, which draws upon many of the words used to describe the human brain and has broad support among scientists, acknowledges the now overwhelming evidence that avian and mammalian brains are remarkably similar — a fact that explains why many kinds of bird are not just twitchily resourceful but able to design and manufacture tools, solve mathematical problems and, in many cases, use language in ways that even chimpanzees and other primates cannot.

In particular, it reflects a new recognition that the bulk of a bird’s brain is not, as scientists once thought, mere ‘basal ganglia’ — the part of the brain that simply coordinates instincts. Rather, fully 75 percent of a bird’s brain is an intricately wired mass that processes information in much the same way as the vaunted human cerebral cortex.” (Washington Post)

As Clinton Shifts Themes, Debate Arises on Her Motives

“In a recent series of public appearances, Mrs. Clinton has generated considerable attention – and, in some cases, scorn – by imbuing her remarks with mentions of God, faith, prayer and the need to be more tolerant of people who are opposed to abortion and gay marriage because of their beliefs.

By design or not, Mrs. Clinton has displayed remarkable timing. Her comments come against the backdrop of the Democratic Party’s efforts to shed its secular image after suffering major electoral defeats in November at the hands of Republicans, who emphasized Christian values in their campaigns.

The recent pronouncements of Mrs. Clinton, who is widely considered a possible candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, are a matter of considerable debate.” (New York Times )

Simon Singh’s Big Bang Reviewed

Course: Cosmos Explained. Prerequisites: None.: “The Big Bang, at first glance, seems incomprehensibly big and dauntingly abstract. But turn on a good FM radio, twiddle the dial and tune it in. There, in the intervals between stations, you hear a shushing sound. A tiny part of that sound is caused by radiation emitted just after the universe came into being , primordial light waves that stretched with the expansion of the universe and became transformed into radio waves. The Big Bang was way back then, but it’s also here and now, and never more so than in Mr. Singh’s stirring tale of scientific adventure.” (New York Times )

The Waiter You Stiffed Has Not Forgotten

“Grievances, including friction between kitchen and dining room staff, rapacious management and near-universal bitterness over tipping, are being revealed with gusto on the Internet by restaurant staff members. As a customer, to read Web sites like www.bitterwaitress.com, www.waiterrant.blogspot.com and www.webfoodpros.com is to wonder nervously, ‘Could they be talking about me?’

Each month, www.stainedapron.com publishes a new extreme example of customer obnoxiousness. (One forum is titled “Keep Your Brats at Home!”) On bitterwaitress.com, the most popular page is an annotated database of people who give bad tips (defined on the site as “any gratuity under 17 percent for service which one’s peers would judge as adequate or better”). Anyone can add a name to the database, along with the location, restaurant, amount of the check, amount of the tip and any details, most of which cannot be printed in a family newspaper. (A disclaimer reads: “We are not responsible for submissions. Uh-uh, no way, not in the least.”) There are almost 700 entries.” (New York Times )

Cat And Mouse Game Over Iran

“The U.S. Air Force is playing a dangerous game of cat and mouse with Iran’s ayatollahs, flying American combat aircraft into Iranian airspace in an attempt to lure Tehran into turning on air defense radars, thus allowing U.S. pilots to grid the system for use in future targeting data, administration officials said.

‘We have to know which targets to attack and how to attack them,’ said one, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The flights, which have been going on for weeks, are being launched from sites in Afghanistan and Iraq, and are part of Bush administration attempts to collect badly needed intelligence on Iran’s possible nuclear weapons development sites, these sources said, speaking on condition of strict anonymity.” (Spacedaily)

And: related story from The Guardian.

Target Iran: How Likely Is a U.S. First Strike?

“Many say the possibility of military conflict between the United States and Iran, which Washington believes seeks to develop nuclear weapons, is now growing. While verbal warfare between Washington and Tehran is nothing new, international pundits point to a number of recent developments, large and small, that suggest rhetorical bombshells could give way to the real thing.” (Washington Post) Are the American people going to let the Bush dysadministration open the next front in the imperial neverending war? You bet they are; 42% and counting already in support, and the propaganda blitz hasn’t even started yet. If you oppose this expansion of American aggression, the time is now to begin building effective opposition to the war machine.