Sunday, December 2, 2001
M o n d a y ,  D e c e m b e r  3,  2 0 0 1
Tuesday, December 4, 2001

Israel Responds to Palestinian Islamic Extremist Bombings

Smoke rises over the area of Palestinian
leader Yasser Arafat's Gaza office
after an attack by Israeli helicopter
gunships, 12/03/01

Excerpts from article describing Israel efforts to respond to Islamic extremism:

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Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, warned Yasser Arafat last night that he was engaged in a war that could end in his own destruction, hours after Israeli attack helicopters struck the Gaza residence of the Palestinian leader in a highly symbolic act of retribution.

The hard-hitting speech was delivered after missiles ripped into the sprawling beachfront compound that houses Mr Arafat's official residence in Gaza, destroying his helipad and two helicopters.

Israeli missiles struck near Palestinian
leader Yasser Arafat's headquarters
in Gaza City, 12/03/01

Mr Arafat was not at home, but at his secondary headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Minutes later, Israeli F-16 jet fighters screamed over the West Bank town of Jenin, bombing a building belonging to Mr Arafat's police forces.

Early this morning the Israeli security cabinet declared Mr Arafat's Palestinian Authority a "terror-supporting entity", opening the way for harsher retaliation for a wave of suicide attacks, according to an Israeli security source quoted by Reuters.

The cabinet also declared the armed wing of Mr Arafat's Fatah organisation and his elite Force 17 security units to be "terrorist groups", making them possible targets, the source said.

... After yesterday's strikes on Gaza and the West Bank Mr Sharon said: "I say to everyone who hears me throughout the world: those who rise up against us to kill us are responsible for their own destruction as has been done in the world under the courageous leadership of President Bush."

His personal appeal to the US president was carefully constructed. Since September 11, Mr Sharon has repeatedly sought to draw parallels between Israel's attempts to crush the Palestinian revolt, and America's campaign against Osama bin Laden and the war in Afghanistan.

After a weekend of suicide attacks, which killed 25 Israelis in Haifa and Jerusalem, Washington indicated yesterday that it approved of the comparison - and of Mr Sharon's hardline strategy.

In a departure from the past, there was no criticism from Washington of Israel's use of US-made weaponry in the F-16 attacks on Jenin. Instead, the White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said: "The president's point of view is Israel is a sovereign power. Israel has a right to defend itself." ...

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State of Affairs in Kandahar and Tora Bora Caves

Marines from the 15th MEU (Marine
Expeditionary Unit) listen to a
briefing, on the Marine operating
base in southern Afghanistan, 12/03/01

Excerpts from article describing ongoing US and anti-Taleban efforts in Afghanistan, around Kandahar in the south and Jalalabad in the east:

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US warplanes have continued to target the Taleban stronghold of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, amid reports that opposition groups are closing on the city.

US B-52 bombers dropped their loads over Kandahar and to the southeast of Jalalabad, targeting cave systems where some reports have suggested that Osama Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda leadership could be hiding.

Rear Admiral John Stufflebeem, deputy director of operations for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the situation around Kandahar remained "fluid".

US Marine Cobra attack helicopter
on the perimeter of the Marines operational
base in southern Afghanistan, 12/03/01

"Southern opposition groups both north and south of the city are consolidating power. These opposition leaders are in contact with some of the Taleban factions and are still negotiating the release of the city to the southern opposition groups.

"There are (Taleban) forces that we are seeing digging in that would intend, obviously, to stay and fight, and those are probably non-Afghanistanis," he said.

Reports from Kandahar talked of heavy fighting between Taleban forces and Afghan opposition groups around the airport, to the east of the city.

U.S. Marines LAVs (light armored vehicles)
from the 26th MEU (Marine Expeditionary
Unit) prepare for a mission
in southern Afghanistan, 12/03/01

... About 1,000 US marines are now in place at a desert airfield 120 kilometres from Kandahar. US Captain David Romley said the marines had significantly increased their firepower in the area.

Marines continued Monday to deploy an
array of vehicles and weapons within
striking distance of Kandahar, 12/03/01

They have been flying in more armoured vehicles with anti-tank weapons, and using Harrier aircraft to hit undisclosed targets.

... US commandos have been flown to mountains near the eastern city of Jalalabad, to mount a search for Bin Laden in the Tora Bora caves.

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IT Personal Transporter Unveiled

Excerpts from article describing the invention that may transform the way cities are designed in the future:

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After nearly a year of speculation, Dean Kamen's mysterious machine — IT — was revealed on ABC News'' Good Morning America.

... "This is the world's first self-balancing human transporter," Kamen said. "You stand on this Segway Human Transporter and you think forward and then you go forward. If you think backward, you go backward."

... It is designed to mimic the human body's ability to maintain its balance; riders control the speed and direction of the device simply by shifting their weight and using a manual turning mechanism on one of the handlebars.

"All of the knowledge that went into knowing how to walk is transferred to this machine," Kamen said. "When you stand on this machine, it kind of walks for you. It just does it smoothly and gracefully."

The 65-pound device, also known by its former code name, "Ginger," looks simple, but its inner workings are intricate.

Tilt sensors monitor the rider's center of gravity more than 100 times a second, and are able to signal both the direction and the speed to the device's electric motor and wheels.

Kamen says the Segway can take its rider up to 15 miles on a six-hour charge from a regular wall socket. He bills it as an environmentally friendly alternative to cars, and expects that in the future the devices will replace the car in urban centers.

The first models are expected to be available to consumers in about a year at a price of about $3,000, said Kamen.

The United States Postal Service and the National Park Service have plans to field test a number of the personal transportation devices next year.

"We've got a quarter of a million letter carriers out on the street," said John Nolan, the deputy postmaster general, "and we've got the opportunity to increase efficiency reduce the wear and tear on their bodies and improve the environment all the same time."

... There does seem to be a clear consensus: It is a bold attempt to not just reinvent the wheel but to reinvent the ways wheels can be used.

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Sleep Optional?

Scientists say modafinil, a stimulant
that is currently used to treat narcolepsy,
could keep people awake for days at a time

Having trouble catching up on your sleep? No prob, sleep may become somewhat optional in the future, based on the following excerpts from an article describing new medication to overcome the normal requirements for sleep:

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Imagine a pill that would make sleep unnecessary for fighter pilots on long-range missions, or even the high-powered executives and parents of newborns among us.

It might not be too far off. Scientists are looking at a variety of uses for modafinil, a stimulant that is currently used to treat narcolepsy, a sleep disorder characterized by uncontrollable sleepiness and frequent daytime sleep.

Modafinil (sold under the name Provigil) has been found to increase both wakefulness and what researchers call "vigilance," the ability to stay on task, thinking clearly and functioning normally.

Other drugs designed to keep people awake, such as amphetamines, or "uppers," are not nearly as good at keeping users mentally sharp, and they often make people jumpy and anxious.

... Currently, modafinil is only approved and prescribed for those with narcolepsy. But it is also being studied as an option to treat syndromes where fatigue plays a role, such as multiple sclerosis. Researchers are also exploring the possibility that healthy people could take the pill in order to stay awake, and mentally alert, for days at a time.

... Sleep research took a big step forward three years ago, when scientists discovered a new family of neurotransmitters called orexins. Studies showed that a deficiency of orexin causes narcolepsy.

Somehow, the drug modafinil makes up for the missing orexin, though scientists are not clear on how it does so.

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Links/excerpts from a series of articles on the impact of stress on men, women, and workers:

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Men 'stressed in the womb' Scientists believe men may be naturally more inclined to suffer from stress, even before birth.

Research carried out at the University of Cambridge, UK, suggests men may be predisposed to stress because they release more of the stress hormone cortisol than women.

Scientists examined levels of the hormone in unborn lambs and found that males released twice as much cortisol as females. ...

Women 'cope better with stress' Young women cope better with stress than young men because they possess a special "anti-stress" hormone, a scientist has suggested.

... tested on how well they remembered the words. Men who had higher levels of the hormone cortisol, which is produced during stress, could recall fewer words than those who had lower levels. The same link was not found in women.

... It is commonly understood, though with very little evidence, that men deal with acute stress, such as a fire better, while women cope better with chronic stress, such as a long period of financial stress, or screaming children.

Social stress 'can kill' Social stress can trigger potentially deadly over-activity by the immune system, scientists have found.

Although the research was carried out on mice, the US scientists believe the results could be directly relevant to humans.

They found that stressful social interactions stimulated a dangerous inflammatory response in the mice equivalent to the human condition septic shock. ...

Stress: The effects' Many workers are finding their jobs stressful. Stress-related illness is a growing problem for both employees and employers.

... Stress is a manifestation of the traditional "fight or flight" response to a potential threat or danger. Of course, over short periods, this is perfectly healthy, and virtually everyone can cope with very short periods of stress.

However, over a sustained period, keeping the body in readiness this way is harmful. Although some people appear to thrive on stress, for others, the consequences can be devastating. ...

'Most workers stressed' More people feel stressed in the work place. More than four out of five workers believe the work place has become more stressful over the last five years, a survey has found.

... a combination of long working hours and an autocratic management style are key sources of stress in the workplace.

Employers need to move away from long working days as this does not result in increased efficiency - only increased levels of illness.

Managers should become more oriented towards a greater praise and reward culture, and should also adopt more flexible working arrangements to help strike a better balance between home and work.

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