Drops Massive Bombs on Taliban
from an article detailing the state of the war and last weekend's
use of the largest conventional bomb in the U.S. inventory,
BLU-82 "daisy cutters", 15,000-pound bombs which devastate
a somewhat circular area about five football fields in diameter:
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The 12-foot-long BLU-82 — whose nickname comes from the
distinctive daisy-like pattern of destruction it leaves behind
— is so enormous that the only way it can be delivered
is to drop it by parachute out the back of a modified MC-130
cargo plane, according to its Pentagon specifications sheet.
bomb — 80 percent of which is explosive material —
sprays a mist of chemicals over a large target area and then
ignites it in a devastating explosion.
is so powerful that U.S. forces used it to create instant helicopter
landing pads after it was introduced in 1970 during the Vietnam
War, and it can clear large minefields by detonating every mine
with its massive concussive blast.
two of the bombs were used on Taliban troops in the north, where
the United States is inserting members of the special forces
to coordinate with opposition commanders.
main coordination with opposition forces is in the north, around
the strategic city of Mazar-e-Sharif, but opposition commanders
also want to march on Kabul.
thousand anti-Taliban soldiers and hundreds of military vehicles
have converged near the town of Jabal Saraj, about 40 miles
north of Kabul, the capital.
of troops in a Northern Alliance
training camp north of Kabul, 11/05/01
Northern Alliance staged its largest-ever military exercise
Monday at Jabal Saraj, firing dozens of rounds from tanks and
armored vehicles into a hill.
President Burhanuddin Rabbani reviewed several thousand troops,
whom he told: “Your jihad is right. ... You can save the
world from terrorism.”
forces continued what were described as relentless strikes Monday
in and around Kabul. Witnesses said U.S. missiles, possibly
fired by attack helicopters, hit a hotel used by Taliban forces,
killing some Taliban fighters.
said that from the sound of the engines, they believed helicopter
gunships carried out the attack on the Baghi Bala Hotel, a Taliban
base west of downtown, and the main road leading to it.
true, it would mark another first — the use of helicopters
in airstrikes over Afghanistan.
In other airstrikes Monday, B-52s bombed Taliban positions outside
a town near the northern border with Tajikistan and along the
front north of Kabul, The Associated Press reported. ...
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Quick Tests to Detect Anthrax Early?
from article detailing new tests under study with the possibility
for quick and affordable detection of anthrax:
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have developed a DNA test that may identify anthrax spores in
a letter, building or person in just 30 minutes — and this
week will begin studying whether a "smart bomb'' type of
medical test can diagnose inhaled anthrax well before symptoms
first test, developed by the Mayo Clinic, is intended to prove
that anthrax and not some other bacteria is present in the environment
— not to diagnose a sick person.
researchers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center are hopeful
the second test, called LeuTech, might help people survive inhaled
anthrax by identifying such patients before they become seriously
ill. To prove that, researchers on Tuesday will begin enrolling
500 people recently exposed to anthrax in the study.
tests are highly experimental. Roche Diagnostics, which manufactures
Mayo's DNA test, said it plans to begin shipping test kits to
certain laboratories later this week, although the Food and
Drug Administration has not yet approved the tests' use. ...
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Brains, Intelligence, Personalities
from article detailing the amazing amount of inheritability
of aspects of being (such as intelligence, personality, and
others) based predominantly on genes:
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brain mapping researchers have created the first images to show
how an individual’s genes influence their brain structure
findings, published in the Nov. 5 issue of the journal Nature
Neuroscience, offer exciting new insight about how parents pass
on personality traits and cognitive abilities, and how brain
diseases run in families.
team found that the amount of gray matter in the frontal parts
of the brain is determined by the genetic make-up of an individual’s
parents, and strongly correlates with that individual’s
cognitive ability, as measured by intelligence test scores.
importantly, these are the first images to uncover how normal
genetic differences influence brain structure and intelligence.
regions controlling language and reading skills were virtually
identical in identical twins, who share exactly the same genes,
while siblings showed only 60 percent of the normal brain differences.
“We were stunned to see that the amount of gray matter
in frontal brain regions was strongly inherited, and also predicted
an individual’s IQ score,” said Paul Thompson, the
study’s chief investigator ... “The
brain’s language areas were also extremely similar in family
The scientists employed magnetic resonance imaging technology
to scan a group of 20 identical twins, whose genes are identical,
and 20 same-sex fraternal twins, who share half their genes.
a high-speed supercomputer, they created color-coded images
showing which parts of the brain are determined by our genetic
make-up, and which are more adaptable to environmental factors,
such as learning and stress.
Recent research has shown that many cognitive skills are surprisingly
heritable, with strong genetic influences on verbal and spatial
abilities, reaction times, and even some personality qualities,
including emotional reactions to stress.
genetic relationships persist even after statistical adjustments
are made for shared family environments, which tend to make
members of the same family more similar. ...
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for Bin Laden Hideouts
detailing potential hideouts for bin Laden:
- The Times
War Is About Islam
article on the causality of the war the civilized world is fighting
against islamic extremist terrorism:
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Tuesday 6 November 2001
isn't about Islam." The world's leaders have been repeating
this mantra for weeks, partly in the virtuous hope of deterring
reprisal attacks on innocent Muslims living in the West, partly
because if the United States is to maintain its coalition against
terror it can't afford to suggest that Islam and terrorism are
in any way related.
trouble with this necessary disclaimer is that it isn't true.
If this isn't about Islam, why the worldwide Muslim demonstrations
in support of Osama bin Laden and alQaeda? Why did those 10,000
men armed with swords and axes mass on the Pakistan-Afghanistan
frontier, answering some mullah's call to jihad? Why are the
war's first British casualties three Muslim men who died fighting
on the Taliban side?
the routine anti-Semitism of the much-repeated Islamic slander
that "the Jews'' arranged the hits on the World Trade Centre
and the Pentagon, with the oddly self-deprecating explanation
offered by the Taliban leadership, among others, that Muslims
could not have the technological know-how or organisational
sophistication to pull off such a feat?
does Imran Khan, the former Pakistani cricket star turned politician,
demand to be shown the evidence of al Qaeda's guilt while apparently
turning a deaf ear to the self-incriminating statements of al
Qaeda's own spokesmen (there will be a rain of aircraft from
the skies; Muslims in the West are warned not to live or work
in tall buildings)?
all the talk about American military infidels desecrating the
sacred soil of Saudi Arabia if some sort of definition of what
is sacred is not at the heart of the present discontents?
course this is "about Islam". The question is, what
exactly does that mean? After all, most religious belief isn't
very theological. Most Muslims are not profound Koranic analysts.
For a vast number of "believing" Muslim men, "Islam"
stands, in a jumbled, half-examined way, not only for the fear
of God - the fear more than the love, one suspects - but also
for a cluster of customs, opinions and prejudices that include
sequestration or near-sequestration of "their" women;
sermons delivered by their mullahs of choice;
loathing of modern society in general, riddled as it is with
music, godlessness and sex; and
more particularised loathing (and fear) of the prospect that
their own immediate surroundings could be taken over - "Westoxicated"
- by the liberal Western-style way of life.
motivated organisations of Muslim men (oh, for the voices of
Muslim women to be heard!) have been engaged over the past 30
years or so in growing radical political movements out of this
mulch of "belief".
Islamists - we must get used to this word "Islamists",
meaning those who are engaged upon such political projects,
and learn to distinguish it from the more general and politically
neutral "Muslim" - include the Muslim Brotherhood
in Egypt, the blood-soaked combatants of the Islamic Salvation
Front and Armed Islamic Group in Algeria, the Shiite revolutionaries
of Iran, and the Taliban.
is their great helper, and the fruit of their efforts is paranoia.
This paranoid Islam, which blames outsiders, "infidels",
for all the ills of Muslim societies, and whose proposed remedy
is the closing of those societies to the rival project of modernity,
is the fastest growing version of Islam in the world.
is not wholly to go along with Samuel Huntington's thesis about
the clash of civilisations, for the simple reason that the Islamists'
project is turned not only against the West and "the Jews",
but also against their fellow Islamists.
the public rhetoric, there's little love lost between the Taliban
and Iranian regimes. Dissensions between Muslim nations run
at least as deep, if not deeper, than those nations' resentment
of the West.
it would be absurd to deny that this self-exculpatory, paranoiac
Islam is an ideology with widespread appeal.
years ago, when I was writing a novel about power struggles
in a fictionalised Pakistan, it was already de rigueur in the
Muslim world to blame all its troubles on the West and, in particular,
the United States.
as now, some of these criticisms were well founded; no room
here to rehearse the geopolitics of the Cold War and America's
frequently damaging foreign policy "tilts", to use
the Kissinger term, toward (or away from) this or that temporarily
useful (or disapproved of) nation-state, or America's role in
the installation and deposition of sundry unsavory leaders and
I wanted then to ask a question that is no less important now:
Suppose we say that the ills of our societies are not primarily
America's fault, that we are to blame for our own failings?
How would we understand them then? Might we not, by accepting
our own responsibility for our problems, begin to learn to solve
them for ourselves?
Muslims, as well as secularist analysts with roots in the Muslim
world, are beginning to ask such questions now. In recent weeks
Muslim voices everywhere have been raised against the obscurantist
hijacking of their religion. Yesterday's hotheads (among them
Yusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens) are improbably repackaging themselves
as today's pussycats.
Iraqi writer quotes an earlier Iraqi satirist: "The disease
that is in us, is from us." A British Muslim writes: "Islam
has become its own enemy." A Lebanese friend, returning
from Beirut, tells me that in the aftermath of the attacks on
September 11, public criticism of Islamism has become much more
outspoken. Many commentators have spoken of the need for a Reformation
in the Muslim world.
reminded of the way non-communist socialists used to distance
themselves from the tyrannical socialism of the Soviets; nevertheless,
the first stirrings of this counter-project are of great significance.
If Islam is to be reconciled with modernity, these voices must
be encouraged until they swell into a roar. Many of them speak
of another Islam, their personal, private faith.
restoration of religion to the sphere of the personal, its depoliticisation,
is the nettle that all Muslim societies must grasp in order
to become modern. The only aspect of modernity interesting to
the terrorists is technology, which they see as a weapon that
can be turned on its makers.
terrorism is to be defeated, the world of Islam must take on
board the secularist-humanist principles on which the modern
is based, and without which Muslim countries' freedom will remain
a distant dream.
novelist and essayist Salman Rushdie lives in New York. The
late Iranian leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa
against Rushdie in 1989 over his book The Satanic Verses. The
fatwa was lifted four years ago. Rushdie's column appears monthly
on this page.
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