Monday, November 19, 2001
T u e s d a y ,  N o v e m b e r  2 0,  2 0 0 1
Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Tribes and More US Troops in bin Laden Hunt / US vs Taliban

Excerpts from articles detailing the latest state of affairs in Afghanistan ...

US Recruits Tribes for Cave Search

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The Pentagon is counting on Afghan opposition groups to play a key role in finding Osama bin Laden. Although hundreds of Special Forces troops are operating inside Afghanistan, there are not enough for cave-to-cave searches.

View inside a bunker that Osama bin
Laden used in the city of Jalalabad

The United States Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said on Monday that a $US25 million ($48 million) reward for bin Laden's capture should provide an incentive to leaders of Pashtun tribal groups to help find the leader of the al-Qaeda network.

But he dismissed speculation that bin Laden and other senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders had been forced into a "small area" in southern Afghanistan.

His comments signalled that the 45-day-old war in Afghanistan could be entering a new stage focused on finding a small number of senior leaders.

"As enemy leaders become fewer and fewer, it does not necessarily mean that the task will become easier," Mr Rumsfeld said. "People can hide in caves for long periods, and this will take time."

He said that although the US Special Forces troops were already working with opposition groups, there were no immediate plans for them to search remote mountain caves and tunnel complexes for bin Laden. "That would probably require somewhat different types of forces." ...

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More US Troops to Hunt bin Laden

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America was covertly deploying infantry units close to Afghanistan yesterday, indicating plans to step up the hunt for Osama bin Laden and his followers.

Hundreds of marines and airborne troops are being discreetly but rapidly moved in to increase the options available to the US commander, Gen Tommy Franks.

The military is concerned that negotiations in the last Taliban strongholds of Kandahar and Kunduz are heading towards surrender agreements that could allow foreign fighters supporting al-Qa'eda to slip away.

Pentagon planners fear that if peace talks make rapid progress towards an interim government, pressure may grow for a ceasefire, so complicating efforts to track down and kill bin Laden and his al-Qa'eda fighters.

Northern Alliance leaders and representatives of the country's Pathan majority yesterday agreed to attend talks in Berlin on Monday.

The Pentagon's deployments are twofold. It has sent a second shipborne marine battalion to the coast of Pakistan, increasing to 1,600 the number of specialised assault troops available to Gen Franks.

The Bataan, which carries a battalion of marines, had been cruising off Albania last week, but steamed at full speed to reach the Arabian Sea, suggesting an urgency to America's actions.

Another 800 airborne soldiers were said to have been sent to the region.

They could support up to 500 special forces soldiers and CIA agents already searching in the mountains for bin Laden. US intelligence officials said they believed he was in the highlands east of Kandahar. ...

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Give Up or Die, US tells Taliban

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United Front soldier
ready to fight, in the
back of a truck
loaded with
anti-tank shells
  The United States last night closed off any hope of escape for thousands of hardline Taliban fighters encircled in grim conditions inside the northern Afghanistan town of Kunduz.

... Rumsfeld said: "My hope is that they will either be killed or taken prisoner."

The US is taking a similar position on Kandahar, the Taliban's spiritual capital in the south, where Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is reportedly preparing for a last stand. ...

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FDA OKs Birth Control Skin Patch

The new patch can be applied to the
lower abdomen, buttocks or upper
body but not the breasts, the FDA said

Excerpts from article describing a birth control device that works like the birth control pill but is worn as a patch rather than being swallowed ...

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The world’s first birth control patch was approved for sale in the United States on Tuesday, giving women an option considered as safe and effective as the pill but easier for some to use.

Known as Ortho-Evra, the patch emits through the skin low doses of the same hormones used in birth control pills - but only needs to be applied weekly rather than taken daily like the pill. Overall, “it is very, very, very similar to the pill” in preventing pregnancy. ...

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  • MSNBC [link inactive]

Fat Zapper

No, not the latest in gimmicks from high pressure mass marketers, not a "quick fix" solution that promotes a miraculous path to thinness, but instead, an ethical way to reduce fat bulges has ultrasounded out of the lab.

Dreams of an easy
way to be thin

Perhaps the excerpts from the following article will help relieve the guilt that many will be experiencing sometime this Thursday, Friday, Saturday ...

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An easier alternative to liposuction could allow patients to go for treatments during the lunch hour, claim researchers. The handheld ultrasound device pummels unsightly fat cells.

... However, their machine has so far only been tested on pigs. ... They claim that there is no need for patients even to go on a diet for the technique to be effective.

Dr Ami Glickman told a newspaper: "It is going to be a totally non-invasive procedure - no operating room will be needed. You walk in, you get it, and you walk out." ...

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New Approach to Drugs Needed

Excerpts from article describing ideas to reduce the focus on demonizing all drugs for all people, and instead, to create an approach of tolerance and respect while at the same time reducing crime, imprisonment, and harassment of otherwise law-abiding drug users and hardened drug users:

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Senior police officers backed radical reform of the drugs laws yesterday, including the downgrading of ecstasy to a Class B drug.

They also indicated cautious support for "shooting galleries" where addicts could legally inject heroin.

... Brian Paddick, the police commander in charge of policing in Brixton, south London - an area of high drug use - expressed the most liberal approach.

He told an inquiry by the Commons home affairs select committee that arresting people for possession of ecstasy was a "waste of valuable police resources" that should be directed at more harmful drugs.

Mr Paddick, who has overseen a six-month experiment in Brixton, where possession of small amounts of cannabis has been dealt with by a caution rather than arrest, said he favoured legalising the drug.

(click for details on the
harsh impacts of the drug
war on American citizens)

He also drew a distinction between recreational users of drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine and the addicts who commit crimes to feed their habit.

"My view is that there is a whole range of people who buy drugs - not just cannabis but even cocaine and ecstasy. They buy them with the money they have earned legitimately and use a small amount - a lot of them just at weekends."

"It has no adverse effect on the rest of the people they are with or within the wider community and they go back to work on Monday morning and are unaffected for the rest of the week. As an operational police officer, they are low down my priority list." ...

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Which God Are They Talking About?

As President Bush meets with Muslims and celebrates (as Imus would say) "Ramadama-ding-dong or whatever", there are those of faith who dare to discuss openly what goes on behind the closed doors of most churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other places of worship.

In most of those places, single mindset interpretations of faith are the deal, "believe in the one correct interpretation or else" is the pitch, and it's only when they emerge from those bastions of single mindset indoctrination that they promote the "we're all one with God" multi-monotheistic-faiths' notion.

'Tis disingenuous but fortunate for human welfare that most believers are able to pretend that religious differences don't matter when in public, because if they didn't, heck, we'd have crusades and holy jihads and mass murders over differences in faith.

But aren't the private notions of "single mindset indoctrination into a single faith" at the root of the problem, whether or not they're publicly expressed?

In the interest of that which is the best that humankind can be, in terms of honesty, freedom, and liberty, it would behoove believers to face up to the following facts:

  1. It is old-time fundamental "believe or else" religion, of the truest and oldest and most fervent type, that planted the seeds of many of the horrors of the last 3,000 years, by believers of all types and even by disbelievers within cultures heavily exposed to the anti-humanism promoted by fundamental "believe or else" religious mindsets.

  2. Humankind would best be served by turning to an elevation of this one and only life we all share, choosing to be freed from religion in a pro-human and pro-liberty way, rather than remaining enslaved to it or inspired by the darker sides of it.

  3. If one is willing to say "We're blessed by God" or "God bless America" or "Muslims, Jews, and Christians worship the same God" in public, promoting the one God notion, one who is honest must be willing to say "let's not promote irreconcilable 'believe or else' doctrines" behind the closed doors of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and other places of worship.

    Note that this approach would put to rest notions that "one set of beliefs and/or acts are required or else you'll burn in hell forever", as those notions are antithetical to the "any God will do" notions.

  4. Do most have an equal opportunity policy now, treating all faiths (including polytheistic ones), distance from faith, and non-faith as worthy alongside their promotion of the monotheistic God? No.

Excerpts follow from articles on those who are openly exposing the nature of their faiths, revealing the goings-on behind closed doors.

I submit that the following individuals have exposed the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what's really behind the doors of faith, and I would encourage them to examine the sins of their own faiths, of all faiths, of the very nature of that which is faith, as well as the sins of the faiths they fear:


Muslim Group Wants Graham Meeting

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A Muslim advocacy group wants to meet with evangelist Franklin Graham to discuss his recent statement that Islam is "a very evil and wicked religion," a group spokesman said Tuesday

... . "If that is his belief, what does that say about him being accepted in mainstream Christian thought?" ... "You've got everybody from the president to the pope saying Islam is not evil and wicked."

... Graham, son of evangelist Billy Graham and heir to his father's ministry, prayed at President Bush's inauguration. On Sept. 17, Bush called Islam "a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world."

But on Friday's "NBC Nightly News," Graham said: "We're not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He's not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion."

In a statement released Sunday, Graham said his calling is not to analyze Islam, but added that he was concerned about Muslim treatment of women and "the killing of non-Muslims or infidels." Graham is his father's successor as the chief executive of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. ...

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Vicar's Yoga Position is 'Not in my church hall'

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A vicar has banned yoga from his church hall because he fears the exercise classes could lead participants on a path to "Eastern mysticism".

The Rev Richard Farr, of St Mary's in Henham, on the Essex-Hertfordshire border, said he had acted after Tom Newstead, the yoga instructor, had confirmed that the ultimate aim of yoga was to enable participants to "ascend to a higher spiritual plain".

Mr Farr said yesterday: "The yoga issue is a broad one and I accept that for some people it is simply an exercise. But it is also often a gateway into other spiritualities, including Eastern mysticism.

He added: "We are here to tell people about Jesus and his exclusive claims. It seems completely inappropriate that we should give someone a platform who is advocating different spiritualities."

Yoga, based on a Hindu system of exercise and philosophic meditation, has supporters in the medical profession who say it can relieve stress as well as help with spinal and muscular ailments. ...

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