Tuesday, November 20, 2001
W e d n e s d a y ,  N o v e m b e r  2 1,  2 0 0 1
Thursday, November 22, 2001
Taliban Kunduz Chief Says His Men Will Surrender

Recent reports from Afghanistan are optimistic that the Kunduz Taleban stronghold is on the verge of folding.

However, it remains to be seen whether the end game in Kunduz will work in a manner that meets with the expectations of the US and the United Front (aka Northern Alliance). Excerpts from an article reporting on the developments follow:

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All Taliban forces in the besieged northern Afghan enclave of Kunduz have agreed to surrender, a top Taliban commander said early on Thursday.

Kunduz Taliban commander Mullah Faizal was speaking to reporters in the nearby town of Mazar-i-Sharif, which is under Northern Alliance control, after talks with Alliance leaders in which he and his colleagues agreed to surrender.

Faizal said all the Taliban forces in the city, Afghans and foreigners alike, were under his control and all would give themselves up.

"There will be peace," he told a Reuters Television correspondent, one of several reporters allowed into the meeting room. "Nothing (violent) will happen (in Kunduz)," he added. The talks were continuing to work out details of the surrender.

Alliance commander Abdul Rashid Dostum told reporters at the talks that the Kunduz problem would be solved "without a fight" and that the battle for the city was finished, Reuters Television's Nikolai Pavlov reported.

... Kunduz is the strict Muslim militia's last redoubt in northern Afghanistan after its rout over recent days by Alliance troops, backed by weeks of heavy U.S. bombing.

... U.S. raids on Kunduz were relatively light for a second day on Wednesday, with only two bombs being dropped.

Taliban defectors and Alliance troops said earlier that Afghan Taliban troops wanted to give up, but foreign al Qaeda fighters, with nowhere to run, had vowed to fight to the death and were executing Afghans who wanted to surrender.

The Alliance suspended its ground offensive against the city but said it would advance on Kunduz if the talks, which began in earnest on Sunday, failed. ...

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FBI Going to New Lengths to Eavesdrop

In the interest of preventing the government from exceeding its constitutional authority, one must wonder where the line is to be drawn between efforts to prevent terrorism and invading the privacy of citizens:

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The FBI is going to new lengths to eavesdrop, building software to monitor computer use and urging phone companies to help make wiretaps more reliable.

The FBI's "Magic Lantern" technology would allow investigators, via the Internet, to secretly install powerful software that records every keystroke on a person's computer, according to people familiar with the effort.

The software is similar to "Trojan horse" programs already used by some hackers and corporate spies.

The FBI envisions using Magic Lantern, part of a broad FBI project called "Cyber Knight," to record the secret key a person might use to encrypt messages or computer files.

The bureau has been largely frustrated in efforts to break open such messages by trying random combinations, and officials are increasingly concerned about their inability to read encrypted messages in criminal or terrorist investigations.

... Earlier this month the FBI urged some of the nation's largest telephone companies to change their networks so that investigators can reliably eavesdrop on conversations using new data technology. ...

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  • CBS News [link inactive]
Potential Breakthrough in Fighting Cancer

Excerpts from article detailing the potential of using a new type of gene therapy to fight all types of cancer ...

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A new type of gene therapy which fools cancer cells into committing suicide has been developed by scientists. The technique, which has proven effective on all types of cancer, is a potential breakthrough in the fight against the disease.

Designed by a team of scientists funded by the Cancer Research Campaign, the gene therapy system appears to target cancer cells while leaving healthy tissue unharmed.


Team leader, Dr Nicol Keith, said: "I feel very strongly that our research represents a potential breakthrough, with implications for the treatment of a variety of common cancers.

"People have discussed similar kinds of gene therapy system before, but we have now made significant progress by moving from talking about the theory to actually killing cancer cells in a very efficient manner."

"With a bit of genetic trickery, we have managed to fool cancer cells to their doom without harming normal cells. I am optimistic that we could soon have targeted treatments that spare cancer patients the side-effects that many suffer today."

The technique works by fooling a cancer cell into "switching-on", or activating, a gene which will in fact destroy it.

Gene therapy could save
many lives from cancer

In 80% of human cancers the gene telomerase is switched on to ensure the cell's survival and to allow it to divide beyond its allotted time span. The scientists, from the Beatson Laboratories at Glasgow University, took a copy of the "on-switch" for telomerase and wired it to another gene, called nitroreductase.

The cancer cells were then tricked into switching on the nitroreductase, which is a very effective cancer treatment, thinking it was telomerase. Nitroreductase works by converting the normally harmless drug CB1954 into a toxic product which rapidly kills cancer cells.

But non-cancerous cells are not able to "switch-on" telomerase and therefore are unable to switch on the genetic treatment either - saving them from damage. ...

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Thank Goodness and Praise Be

A Thanksgiving version of a prayer I wrote on 032901 follows.

For Americans apart from belief in god, the following prayer reflects a pro-human interest in communing with fellow citizens on a level not requiring suspension of doubt about an almighty creator, but instead, treasuring the communion of those who enjoy the treasures of freedom and liberty available to the most fortunate beings on the planet, the citizens of the United States of America.

Long may freedom and liberty reign over the forces of tyranny, deceit, and denial of that which is the best that we can be, on this earth, at this time, in this life ...

For those Americans called to pray before a Thanksgiving meal, consider the following prayer of a pro-human nature...

-Thank goodness I'm an American and praise be to good food and good company.

-Thank goodness I'm an American and praise be to enjoying life.

-Thank goodness I'm an American and praise be to the highest aspirations of humanity.

-Thank goodness I'm an American and praise be to the science which benefits us and opens our minds to a world of wonder.

-Thank goodness I'm an American and praise be to our informed ability to disbelieve or believe, free from threats and hate (and may those who violated our freedom on September 11th pay the ultimate price for their heinous acts).

-Thank goodness I'm an American and praise be to those in need, may we help them in pro-human ways, for we are one with them.

-Thank goodness I'm an American and praise be to those who reach out to love and nurture humankind.

-Thank goodness I'm an American and praise be to the best that humankind can be.

-Thank goodness I'm an American and let us rejoice in Freedom, Liberty, Verity, and Joy.