Wednesday, November 28, 2001
T h u r s d a y ,  N o v e m b e r  2 9,  2 0 0 1
Friday, November 30, 2001

Pressure on Top 'Evildoers' Increasing

Excerpts describing the plans to steadily increase the US prescence in Afghanistan:

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Gen Tommy Franks, the commanding officer of coalition forces in the Afghanistan campaign, said yesterday that he was prepared to step up pressure on Osama bin Laden and Mullah Mohammad Omar by deploying more forces.

Gen Franks said US Marines could open up more forward operating bases in Afghanistan like the one they have at a desert airstrip 60 miles from Kandahar, which is codenamed FOB Rhino.

He said he expected Northern Alliance forces to make more incursions into the south, especially those from the west of the country who have contacts with southern Pathan commanders.

Gen Franks said the gradual increase of American and other forces in Afghanistan would depend on progress in the war. He told the New York Times: "It could well be that marines could be positioned in any place inside the country, or army forces could be positioned at another forward operating base at some point.

"We're going to continue to apply pressure. We're going to continue to refine our intelligence, and what we know. As we do that, the noose tightens."

American troops need to be on hand to mount quick efforts to capture or kill Taliban and al-Qa'eda leaders if intelligence is gained on their whereabouts.

... America is planning how best to attack the Tora Bora mountain cave complex where Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'eda leaders are believed to be hiding, it emerged yesterday.

... Tora Bora, which can be seen from Jalalabad, rises from the desert, through hills and forests, into snow-capped peaks that lead to Pakistan. A valley narrows into a labyrinth of caves, deep trenches and wooded cliffs, making it all but impregnable.

The Pentagon has said that Tora Bora is one of two places where it is hunting for bin Laden. But the American and British intelligence agencies are convinced that Tora Bora is his hideout, rather than in the area of Kandahar in the south.

Their belief is based on a welter of evidence, some collected by the SAS and American Delta Force soldiers and some in the form of signals and imagery intelligence from satellites and aircraft. ...

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Final Fight for Kandahar Begins

Afghanistan Military Status as of 11/29/01

Excerpts from an article describing some of the latest military activity in Kandahar and elsewhere in Afghanistan:

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The decisive battle for Kandahar was under way last night. Northern Alliance commanders reported heavy fighting on the eastern edge of the city as Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taleban Supreme Leader, said that the final fight had begun.

“It is the best opportunity to achieve martyrdom,” a Taleban official quoted Mullah Omar as saying. “Now we have the opportunity to fight against the infidels.”

... Around-the-clock US bombing of Taleban forces in and near Kandahar has intensified over the past few days. US Marines have continued to arrive at a desert airstrip within striking distance of the city, taking the number at Forward Operating Base Rhino to more than 1,000.

Scores of troops from the 10th Mountain Division based in Uzbekistan also moved yesterday to help to secure airstrips at Bagram, north of Kabul, and at Mazar-i Sharif. ...

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  • The Times [link inactive]
Tribute to George Harrison

George Harrison passed from this plain of existence at 1:30 PM, in Los Angeles, after a long battle with cancer. The following web site details his life and contributions to the lives of all blessed by his presence among us:

George Harrison

Bush Anti-Cloning Klutziness

Excerpts from articles describing some of the problems with the Bush stances opposing therapeutic cloning and restricting stem cell research:

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The cloning of a human embryo has created an entire new source of those miraculous stem cells that hold promise for treating a wide variety of currently untreatable diseases — and what is perhaps a more ethical source.

The feat also points to the inadequacies of the Bush administration’s policy on funding cloning and stem cell research — a policy that holds the American public its ultimate victim.

... The prospect of using embryos as a source of stem cells set off an enormous debate earlier this year that was only quieted when the president said that the federal government would continue to finance stem cell research — but only if stem cells produced before Aug. 9, 2001 were used in the work.

The problem with the president’s policy is that it is hopelessly arbitrary and inadequate. Why is it ethical to use stem cells made from human embryos before Aug. 9, but not after?

... As the Advanced Cell Technology announcement makes clear, the race is on to find new sources of stem cells. Indeed, finding ways to create stem cells that would be completely accepted by the recipient’s body — through cloning or tricking an egg to develop on its own — is where the action is in stem cell research. Unfortunately, this is not where the federal government’s science is at or where the government’s money is.

The federal government has already fallen behind the private sector with respect to stem cell research. Private companies not only are pioneering new strategies for creating cells and tissues, but also are racing one another to nail down patents and ownership of these technologies.

Without a strong federal presence in stem cell research, the American people will have to wait longer for their cures — and pay more when they finally do arrive.

If cloned human embryos or those made by tricking an egg into developing cannot become people, then what is the ethical objection to creating them and using them for stem cell research?

... The Incoherent Embryophile, by Michael Kinsley, ... the Bush administration policy on stem cell research and on human cloning is that embryos consisting of half a dozen cells are humans who deserve the protection of the government from those who would casually produce and discard these innocents for their own selfish ends, such as curing dreadful diseases.

... Stem cell research does not cause the creation or destruction of a single additional embryo. It uses embryos that are routinely discarded as part of IVF (in vitro fertilization).

Once a stem cell line is created, it can be reproduced in the laboratory and requires no embryos at all. So Bush's ban on federally funded stem cell research involving embryos destroyed after Aug. 9 will not directly save any embryo's life.

His rationale is that allowing such research implies federal government approval of the creation and destruction of embryos, and thus may encourage it indirectly. Meanwhile, the government encourages and even subsidizes IVF directly, Bush praises it, and has done nothing to stop it.

... George W. Bush's ostensible embryophilia is morally incoherent. Despite all the furrowed-brow posturing, which impressed the media, and despite his claims of deep moral struggle, he hasn't thought very hard. Either that or he isn't a person whose hard thinking takes him very far.

Or he is a cynic who doesn't really care about either embryos or people awaiting the fruits of stem cell research. ...

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