Wednesday, October 31, 2001
T h u r s d a y ,    N o v e m b e r  1,  2 0 0 1
Friday, November 2, 2001

B-52H Stratofortress

Link to video describing the B-52 'stick' bombing of Taleban front lines and excerpts from an article describing the amazing long-lived aircraft in use since the year I was born (and the year in which James Dean and Albert Einstein passed away) ...

BBC video report on B-52 'stick' bombing,
today, yesterday, and in times past

(click for video)

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Introduced in 1955, the B-52 of Dr Strangelove fame was designed as the mainstay of the USA's long-range nuclear bomber force, but has been used in anger to drop conventional weapons.

In the Gulf War, B-52s dropped 40% of all coalition bombs. Carrying air-launched cruise missiles, they opened the attack on Yugoslav forces in the Kosovo campaign.

... There are six crew places on two decks but on the current version there are only five crew, since the job of rear gunner was dropped: Commander, co-pilot and electronic warfare officer, navigator and radar navigator, who delivers the weapons.

In its internal, twenty-eight ft-long weapons bay and on pylons beneath the wings the current H version can carry a wide mix of bombs and missiles, such as fifty-one 500 lb (227 kg) bombs, thirty cluster bombs, or twenty cruise missiles.

The United States has forty-four B-52s in constant readiness for combat use and the aircraft is expected to continue in service for another forty years.

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Rumsfeld: Don't Expect 'Instant Victory' In Anti-Terror War

Excerpts from today's press conference with Donald Rumsfeld and Air Force General Richard B. Myers ...

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Rumsfeld: Good afternoon. I've reflected on some of the questions that were posed at the last briefing about the speed of progress and questions about the patience of the American people if something didn't happen immediately. And I personally have a sense that the public understands the following facts:

On September 11th, the terrorists attacked New York and Washington, murdering thousands of people, Americans as well as people from dozens of other countries of all races and religions.

On October 7th, less than a month later, we had positioned coalition forces in the region, we began military operations against Taliban and al Qaeda targets throughout Afghanistan.

Since that time, roughly three weeks, coalition forces have flown over 2,000 sorties; broadcast 300-plus hours of radio transmissions; delivered an amazing 1 million-30 thousand humanitarian rations to starving Afghan people.

Today is November 1st. And if you think about it, the smoke at this very moment is still rising out of the World Trade Center, or the ruins of the World Trade Center, I should say.

And with those ruins still smoldering and the smoke not yet cleared, it seems to me that Americans understand well that despite the urgency in the questions that were posed at the last briefing, we're still in the very, very early stages of this conflict.

The ruins are still smoking. That is, I think, important to reflect on.

Consider some historical perspectives:

  • After December 7th, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, it took four months before the United States responded to that attack with the Doolittle Raid in April of '42.
  • It took eight months after Pearl Harbor before the U.S. began a land campaign against the Japanese, with the invasion of Guadalcanal in August of 1942.
  • The U.S. bombed Japan for three and a half years, until August 1945, before they accomplished their objectives.
  • On the European front, the allies bombed Germany continually for five years, from September 1940 until May of '45.
  • Took 11 months to start the land campaign against the Germans with the invasion of North Africa.
  • And it took the United States two years and six months after Hitler declared war before we landed in France in June of 1944.

We're now fighting a new kind of war. It's unlike any that America has ever fought before. Many things about this war are different from others. But as I have said, one of those differences is not the possibility of instant victory or instant success.

At my briefing, when I announced the start of the air war on October 7th [ transcript ], I stated that our initial goals were the following:

  • to make clear to the Taliban that harboring terrorists carries a price;
  • to acquire intelligence that would facilitate future operations against al Qaeda and Taliban forces;
  • to develop useful relationships with groups of Afghanistan people that oppose the Taliban and the al Qaeda;
    to make it increasingly difficult for the terrorists to use Afghanistan freely as a base of operation;
  • to alter the military balance over time by denying the Taliban the offensive systems that hamper the progress of the various opposition forces;
  • and to provide humanitarian relief to Afghans suffering oppressive living conditions under the Taliban regime.

Now those were the goals I put out on October 7th. That was 24 days ago -- three weeks and three days; not three months; not three years, but three weeks and three days. And we have made measurable progress against each one of those stated goals from October 7th.

The attacks of September 11th were not days or weeks, but years in the making. The terrorists were painstaking and deliberate, and it appears that they may have spent one or even two years planning their activities.

There's no doubt in my mind but that the American people know that it's going to take more than 24 days to deal with this very difficult problem.

I also stated that our task is much broader than simply defeating Taliban or al Qaeda. It's to root out the global terrorist networks -- not just in Afghanistan but wherever they are -- and to ensure that they cannot threaten the American people or our way of life.

This is a task that's going to take time. Victory will require that every element of American influence and power be engaged. Americans have seen tougher adversaries than this before, and they have had the staying power to defeat them. I think underestimating the American people is a big mistake.

In the end, war is not about statistics, deadlines, short attention spans or 24-hour news cycles. It's about will, the projection of will, the clear, unambiguous determination of the president of the United States -- and let there be no doubt about that -- and the American people to see this through to certain victory.

Two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornets
receive fuel from a British Royal
Air Force VC-10 tanker, 10/31/01

In other American wars, enemy commanders have come to doubt the wisdom of taking on the strength and power of this nation and the resolve of her people.

I expect that somewhere in a cave in Afghanistan there's a terrorist leader who is at this moment considering precisely the same thing.

General Myers.

Myers: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.

We'll turn to day 25 of combat operations, where our efforts focused on destroying command and control elements, whether in bunkers, tunnels or caves, as well as continuing our support to operation forces by degrading Taliban military forces.


Q: General Myers, I had a question on the impact the B-52 raids may be having on the Northern Alliance's chances to break through at Mazar-e Sharif. They're saying that the raids have been -- have helped them position for a potential breakout offensive in that region and possibly moving toward Kabul. Was that kind of the macro- strategy underlying the B-52 raids and increasing those in the last few days?

Myers: The strategy by using any weapons system is to have the maximum effect you can on the targets you're going after. In this case, we're trying to destroy Taliban forces that are arrayed against the opposing forces.

One thing to think about in the B-52 raids, for some of us, we go back to Vietnam and we -- and that's where the term "carpet bombing" came up, because it was perhaps less accurate then than it is today. The B-52 has been modified extensively, and so I think the term carpet bomb is not right.

What we've done is if there are targets that are suitable for general-purpose bombs, i.e. non-precision bombs, where you have to drop, say, 40 or 50 or more at a time, and we find those targets -- as you can guess, they probably aren't going to be close to areas where we'd worry about damage to civilian structures, but some of them are ideally suited, some of those -- that techniques is suited for the kind of troops in the field that we find.

And yes, we think they're having some effect.


Q: What about the -- [inaudible] for the public who -- you know, beyond the criticism from human rights organizations for using the cluster bombs, they're calling for a halt -- could you explain the tactical rationale for using them?

Myers: Yeah. This is very simple. On September 11th, we lost over 5,000 innocents to an intentional act. We are prosecuting now a global war on terrorism. We are trying to be very careful in the way we plan this particular conflict.

Probably only the U.S. and its allies could do it in such a way that we minimize civilian casualties. If we match up a specific weapon to a specific target and we make the judgment that it's in accordance with the law of armed conflict, and we've worked this very, very carefully, then we'll use that weapon.

In some cases, that means cluster bombs. And we understand the impact of those. I would take you back to September 11th. We also understand the impact of that.

Rumsfeld: They are being used on front-line all Qaeda and Taliban troops to try to kill them, is why we're using them, to be perfectly blunt.


Q: Well, one of the continuing issues, the pictures of civilian casualties, which is difficult for the U.S. to explain -- and you have addressed this issue.

Last week we asked three different times on this one village, called Chukar Karezz, which has been addressed again and again in questions, and today there are American reporters on the ground in this village looking at the destruction with no apparent military targets around it.

Did the U.S. strike this village? The Taliban said more than a hundred people were killed. If we did, why? And is there an explanation? Or was it Taliban propaganda on the other side?

Rumsfeld: I cannot deal with that particular village. I suppose I could try and find out for you, and will.

I can deal with the question of the Taliban's comments. We know of certain knowledge they're putting anti-aircraft batteries on top of buildings in residential areas for the purpose of attracting bombs so that, in fact, they can then show the press that civilians have been killed. And I can tell you that the Afghan civilians don't like it.

We know also that they have been seizing and beating non- governmental organization workers. And when I asked, on one occasion -- my, it's interesting that when I hear a non-governmental worker, they seem to say that the bombing is inhibiting their ability to distribute food from time to time, or something like that, and I see that reported in the press.

And I asked this World Food person, who is knowledgeable about it, why don't we hear non-governmental organizations talking about the fact that their warehouses are broken into, the materials are taken, their workers are beaten?

And the answer is, it's very simple -- the Taliban will shoot their people if they do, so they keep their mouths closed.


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Implantable Insulin Capsule May Replace Jabs Some Day

Excerpts describing an experimental insulin dispensing / glucose sensing capsule that may some day replace daily insulin injections (or insulin pumps worn by some) required for persons with type 1 diabetes and some persons with type 2 diabetes. ...

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Diabetics could be saved from the regime of daily insulin injections by a tiny capsule implanted in the body. An American researcher has developed the silicon-covered
capsule, which is the size of a microchip.

It works by taking nutrients from the body to stimulate insulin-producing cells within the capsule. The silicon means the body will not reject the tiny pump.

Experimental Insulin Capsule

(click for further details)

... The device is being developed by Tejal Desai of the University of Illinois at Chicago, though she admits it will need a lot more testing before diabetic patients can use it.

Ms Desai, who presented her findings to a meeting of the American Vacuum Society in San Francisco on Wednesday, said: "The capsule essentially acts as a bioreactor - it contains insulin-secreting cells
that borrow nutrients from the body to keep producing insulin indefinitely. As long as the body produces glucose, the cells will respond with insulin."

... 'Promising'

Mairi Benson, of the charity Diabetes UK said the initial findings of the US research were promising.

But she added: "The research is still at an extremely early stage of development, and we'd look forward to seeing future study results, in particular, whether islet (insulin-
producing) cells can be used in the implant for people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

"The long term prevention of any rejection of the implant will be a key factor in the safety and suitability of this device for people with diabetes."

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Waves of B52s Hit Taleban's Hilltop Line

Complete article describing the use of B52s in northern Afghanistan ...

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The sun had not yet risen and the Taleban troops were still slumbering in their strongholds atop the Kalakata ridge when the war against terrorism arrived yesterday, swiftly and without warning.

At 5.45am, as the first farm labourers were moving on to the fields below, tethering their oxen to wooden ploughs, the faint drone of aircraft engines could be heard from the south. Moments later the first enormous explosions ripped along the length of the ridge, a key Taleban position in their fight against the Northern Alliance.

In a significant shift in tactics, the Americans were using B52s to bomb the Taleban front line intensively, and for the next five hours waves of aircraft hit Kalakata after flying from Diego Garcia, 3,050 miles away.

As dawn broke, mushrooms of earth, debris and thick black smoke could be seen rising 800ft into the sky as each bomb struck. “I have never seen anything like this,” Ahmad Masood, 23, a tank driver with the Northern Alliance forces, said. “It is horrible, and wonderful. Perhaps the Americans have heard our appeals for help, and perhaps we can soon move forward.”

The raids coincided with the first rain for months, with low cloud concealing the bombers as they approached.

Taleban forces have dominated the open plains beneath the ridge for months, ever since they dug Soviet-era T55 and T72 tanks into fixed positions to use as artillery. The Northern Alliance believes that another day or two of such raids would enable it to take Kalakata ridge, just a few miles south of the border with Tajikistan, which safeguards the main supply route from Kabul to Mazar-i Sharif, the city it has tried to recapture from the Taleban all year.

Of the four raids on the ridge yesterday, three appeared to have been made by B52s, while one apparently involved planes carrying 1,000lb bombs. Similar B52 raids were reported around the northern city of Taloqan and Mazar itself.

Taleban radio messages suggested that the attacks on Kalakata had inflicted high casualties, with 18 men reported killed in one trench alone.

Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, told the Commons yesterday that dropping long “sticks” of bombs over Taleban positions was not the same as “carpet-bombing”. “This inaccurate and outmoded term gives the impression that the coalition is engaged in indiscriminate attacks. Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

Carpet-bombing is associated with the Vietnam War when B52s attacked Vietcong positions in waves, dropping hundreds of free-fall bombs. The technique was also deployed against Iraqi troops in the 1991 Gulf War.

B52 crews targeting Taleban lines from 30,000ft use a computerised “intervalometer” device under which a set amount of 1,000lb bombs is dropped at intervals of a few seconds. Duncan Lennox, co-editor of Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, said bombing with the intervalometer device could never be described as precision-guided bombing. “It may not be carpet-bombing on the scale of Vietnam, but it’s still a lot different from dropping single laser-guided bombs.”

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  • The Times [link inactive]

Targets of Terror / Ways to Reduce the Risks

Excerpts from article detailing possible terrorist targets and actions which can be taken to minimize the risks ...

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Aircraft, nuclear power plants, even sports stadiums - we must be aware that the very strength and assets of our civilisation can be used by terrorists to wreak destruction, but the risks can easily be minimised

As no commission report could ever do, the terrorist acts of September 11, have galvanised the United States.

Taking over a commercial aircraft to use it as a piloted cruise missile evidently exploited a terrible vulnerability of modern society.

No commercial pilot could be induced by threats to do this, but the imagination of public officials did not encompass those willing and even wishing to die to kill hundreds or thousands of others.

My purpose here is to discuss threats and not primarily solutions, although the two are interlinked. If hijacking a passenger aircraft will no longer work, motivated terrorists will doubtless choose something else.

... even if we have seen the end of hijacked passenger jets as cruise missiles, that is not the end of their equivalent — the use of rented or stolen cargo jets as piloted cruise missiles. Opportunities range from large fleets, such as those of UPS or Federal Express, to the hundreds of 707s and even 747s available for lease at airports in the US and elsewhere.

More skill but less violence would be involved in stealing such an aircraft. It might be used against buildings or operating nuclear reactors, which are not designed to withstand the impact of a jumbo jet at high speed.

... Terrorists have other means of turning the strength and assets of American society against itself. These include targeted attacks on chemical plants, but even more important, on shipments of industrial chemicals such as chlorine, which are transported in tank cars or trucks.

The terrorist driver might apply for a job with the intent of fitting the tank truck with detonators and exploding it in a community; or such a truck might be ambushed and the material dispersed by a rocket-propelled grenade.

... Some failures to protect particular vulnerable points would cause tremendous damage and inconvenience to modern society — at the major bridges and tunnels, for instance. Not only destruction but radiological contamination of tunnels could be very disturbing, even if it killed few people.

Detonating thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate loaded on a ship in a harbour would have the impact of a small nuclear explosion.

Terrorist acts are possible that would be less significant in damage but highly significant in causing terror and weakening perceptions of US strength. Attacks on spectators in a sports stadium seem a particular hazard, especially in the case of events shown on TV.

... In the case of nuclear and biological terrorism, the largest amount of damage would be caused either by a nuclear explosion in a city or by a biological warfare attack. ...

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  • The Times [link inactive]

Could Men Become Extinct?

Excerpt from article detailing social changes which have had adverse impacts on men, technological changes that may one day make men optional as regards procreation, and the ways in which men are dealing with these pressures ...

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A leading expert on men's health predicts that his sex risk becoming extinct unless their basic approach to health issues changes.

Professor Siegfried Meryn, from the University of Vienna in Austria, believes that over the past 25 years men's role in society, in the home and at work has dramatically changed.

And women have become the more dominant members of society.

"What will be the implications of the redefinition of men's roles within the family, work and society on their health?," wrote Professor Siegfried.

"Will there come a time when they may not be needed at all?"

With the advent of sperm banks, in-vitro fertilisation, sex sorting techniques, sperm independent fertilisation of eggs with somatic cells, human cloning and same sex marriages it is a distinct possibility, he argues.

His editorial in the British Medical Journal coincides with the first World Congress on Men's Health in Vienna, where experts are examining the impact men's altered role in society is having on their health.

Threat to masculinity

Professor Siegfried, president of the congress, said: "Women now have a higher emotional intelligence and better social competence then men and are much more in control of their own lives than they used to be.

"Men are not necessarily at the top of the hierarchy in their work-place and their role in the family has completely changed.

But he says men are trying to hang on to the past and cannot accept the increasing threats to their masculinity.

Professor Siegfried stresses that unless there is a fundamental change to their approach to fit in with today's society, problems will ensue. ...

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