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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Schemes and Science

Obama’s War Signals: Iran in the crosshairs

The president has already set a September deadline for Iran to respond to our as-yet-informal proposal to negotiate over the completely phony nuclear issue – an oddly confrontational approach to opening the first on-the-record high level talks with the Islamic Republic since the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979. 

The nuke issue is phony because our own intelligence community, speaking through the CIA, determined "with high confidence" the Iranians gave up their nuclear weapons program in 2003. Yet Obama has repeatedly said Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons. The great sigh of relief we all breathed when the CIA assessment was made public last year – effectively blocking any last-minute attempt by the Bushies to strike Iran in the waning days of Dubya’s reign – gives way to new anxieties.
The US military presence, to the south and the east, is looming larger. This, in tandem with an apparent hardening of the US stance – e.g. the "muscularity" of Hillary Clinton’s most recent peroration – can only be seen by Tehran as prefiguring war.

It’s no secret the Israel lobby has been in the forefront of the effort to mobilize American political, diplomatic and military muscle for a dust-up with Iran: the alleged "threat" emanating from Iran was the theme of the last AIPAC conference, and the propaganda machine that does Tel Aviv’s bidding has been going full-bore since the Iraq war ended in "mission accomplished," targeting Tehran as the next victim of our post-9/11 madness.

You thought you were safe, now that George W. Bush is out of the White House, and the neoconservatives have gone back to their well-subsidized holes – but you were wrong. I would not be at all surprised if the Iranian "crisis" – and it will be declared a "crisis," complete with ticking clocks and lines in the sand, of that you can be sure – required a "delay" in our plans to withdraw from Iraq. At that point, the American people will either rise up and put an end to the nonsense – or else they’ll acquiesce, without much protest, to what seems like the inevitable.

Iranian Planes and the Hidden Toll of Economic Sanctions

It’s too early to tell the reason for the midday plane crash on 15 July in Janat-Abad near the former capital of the Persian Empire, northwest of Tehran. All 168 people on board were killed in Qazvin province and there is an inquiry underway. One thing is sure, though. It wasn’t fired on by the U.S .military which, some twenty-one years ago, shot down flight IR655, killing 290 people, including 66 children. It was the same year as Lockerbie but the captain of the USS Vincennes which fired a missile at the plane was awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit and his crew given Combat Action Ribbons. But, even so, the relatives of the 168 that have died today may yet blame the U.S. and Britain for their dead.

U.S. foreign policy is being felt in Iran’s aircraft hangars, just as it is in the hearts of the millions of Iraqi refugees a few hundred miles from the crash site. They are fleeing the chaos unleashed by what was called Operation Iraqi Liberation, before the State Department realized the resulting acronym spelled “OIL”. Iran may have been the deciding factor when it came to deposing the U.S.-created Taliban from Afghanistan but as British soldiers die in Helmand, Iran is not the ally. Iran is the eternal irritant, refusing to budge in its support for anti-colonial struggle, fighting Anglo-American desires for apartheid in Palestine, fighting for sovereignty over its energy resources.
Sanctions currently prevent U.S. citizens from doing business with Iran and there is also a total ban on selling U.S. aircraft and repair parts to Iranian aviation companies and that includes U.S.-made components in Russian aircraft such as the Caspian Airlines Tupolev TU-154M. Some five years ago, the Iranian Transport Minister, Ahmad Khorram, claimed Iran’s aviation sector was at “crisis point.” Back then, more than one hundred perished in a similar plane and three hundred then perished in an air-disaster in 2003. 

In the 1990s, Bill Clinton’s U.N. sanctions on Iraq killed hundreds of thousands of children as discovered by its own agency, UNICEF. We now have a man in the White House who trumpets the use of sanctions over the war-war bluster of George W. Bush.

How to lose friends and alienate people

Hiring paid hasbaratchiks to “spew forth bullshit” online, parading out Ehud Olmert to convince Americans that opposing settlement construction is like opposing rainbows and kittens, launching a smear campaign against Human Rights Watch, one of the most conservative human rights organisations around… would it be an exaggeration to say that the Israeli Foreign Ministry is in a bit of a panic?

According to Avigdor Lieberman – advocate of “transfer”, former Kahanist and current Israeli Foreign Minister – Israel’s poor international image is its most pressing problem. That he could help matters by not being such a racist bastard doesn’t seem to have occurred to him, but he does have a point. Israel consistently ranks among the most unpopular countries in the world, and the Gaza massacre provoked a wave of opposition throughout the Middle East, Europe and even, to a surprising degree, the US.
The EU has become increasingly blunt in its opposition to settlement expansion.

Ha’aretz reports that the British government explained its partial arms-embargo on Israel as a result of “heavy pressure by both members of Parliament and human rights organizations“, including a legal challenge advanced by Public Interest Lawyers and the Palestinian human rights organisation Al Haq. Earlier this year Ha’aretz similarly reported:

“An internal Foreign Ministry document last week stated that following Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip, diplomatic bodies in a number of European countries have called for a freeze on the upgrade, citing the pressure of domestic public opinion.” 
In a leaked hasbara manual published by Newsweek, propaganda outfit ‘The Israel Project’ warns that Israel has “suffered greatly in the court of public opinion”.

How to avoid the truth, by Gordon Brown

 How much truth am I getting? 

That's what a child would ask, if it knew what journalism was.
The answer, of course, would be no truth whatsoever. For proof, one has only to stare around the room, and see various people fighting sleep, and various others succumbing to it.

People are curious about world around them, and the member of the public who attend liaison committee meetings, together with the journalists and MPs who join them, are particularly curious.

They are not getting what they want, and this morning Brown exhibited two separate tactics to accomplish this sad little task.
Tactic one involves the introduction of bureaucratic bodies and processes.

 It really should be perfectly possible for Joe Blogs to walk into a committee and understand the basics of what's being said. The Brownite tactic - to set up endless quangos and watchdogs and reviews - does to politics what quantum mechanics did to physics: it takes it out of the comprehension of the public.

The second tactic  is to answer specific questions with sweeping generalisations.It acts as another form of ignoring falsity and truth, but achieves it by leaning on statements which could not possibly be disagreed with, either by force of logic or morality.

A specific question on the level of equipment available to troops in Afghanistan was met with this response: "We are determined to do everything we can for our troops in Afghanistan."

George Orwell had a neat little trick, which I rather enjoy employing in these situations. For any statement a politician makes, simply invert its logic. If the resulting sentence is politically impossible, then the statement is without meaning. The inversion of this sentence is: "We are non-committal about doing everything we can for our troops in Afghanistan." Saying such a thing would be political suicide, and the sentence is therefore meaningless, according to Orwell's law.

HEIRS Environmental Illness Research Blog

Military Matters : Iraq, Afghanistan vets get mental health diagnoses at 37 per cent

Methamphetamines and Peroxiredeoxins

 1/ cell death and neurodegeneration

  2/ mitochondrial decay in neurons in the hippocampus that can lead to learning and memory dysfunction - alleviated by Vitamin E

Metals : Iron-induced oxidative injury differentially regulates P13K/Akt/GKS3{beta} pathway in synaptic endings from adult and aged rats

Parkinson's and Light Therapy 

near infrared laser can normalize mitochondrial function and respiration in a sporadic Parkinson's model

HEIRS Health : Women,fertility and second-hand smoke

- those exposed 6+ hours/day 68% more likely to have fertility problems and miscarriage

Adrenaline and Environmental Research

Lipid Peroxidation,Oxidative Stress and Aldehydes

 - 'free radicals'-    reactive species generate reactive molecules which attack membranes - environmental stress produces increased amounts

pain and inflammation involved

( at this point I'm going to note hints to avoid exposure are included in the article - it's not copying - and looks worth a read )

Professor Sheds Light on DNA Mechanisms

By manipulating individual atoms in DNA and forming unique molecules, a Georgia State University researcher hopes to open new avenues in research towards better understanding the mechanisms of DNA replication and transcription, and perhaps leading to new treatments for diseases. 

Chemistry and chemical biology professor Zhen Huang and his lab were able, for the first time, to manipulate methyl and phosphate groups of molecules in DNA that has been altered to contain selenium in order to bring them close enough together to form hydrogen bonds. 

Such interactions may reduce the energy needed for a process called DNA duplex separation, thereby playing a role in the unwinding of DNA, which must happen in order for the genetic code to be copied and transcribed during cell replication and transcription. The research also helps to explain how energy is used in the process, Huang said.

The research appears in the June 8, 2009 edition of Chemical & Engineering News and in the June 2009 edition of Organic Letters.

How brain training makes multitasking easier

Researchers in the United States have pinpointed the region of the brain that limits our ability to carry out more than one task at the same time - and have shown how, with training, the brain gets better at multitasking.

When we try to pay attention to multiple stimuli - a red traffic light and an SMS alert on a mobile phone, for example - the stream of information flowing from sensation to action gets clogged up. Using a suite of neuroimaging and analysis techniques, Marois, Dux and their colleagues identified a region of the brain that holds up multitasking, and discovered that training gives this region a speed boost.

Neuroimaging studies have previously demonstrated that multitasking increases brain activity in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). This area houses the executive control centres that are responsible for directing our attention to important things in our surroundings and selecting the ideal response. As we practise multitasking, the PFC becomes less active, but it was not clear how this helped - although several ideas have been proposed.

Male Sex Chromosome Losing Genes by Rapid Evolution, Study Reveals

 A pair of Penn State scientists has discovered that this sex chromosome, the Y chromosome, has evolved at a much more rapid pace than its partner chromosome, the X chromosome, which both males and females carry. This rapid evolution of the Y chromosome has led to a dramatic loss of genes on the Y chromosome at a rate that, if maintained, eventually could lead to the Y chromosome's complete disappearance. The research team, which includes Associate Professor of Biology Kateryna Makova, the team's leader, and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow Melissa Wilson, will publish its results in the 17 July 2009 issue of the journal PLoS Genetics.

California finds pot is a huge cash cow

Since the state became the first to legalize the drug for medicinal use, the weed the federal government puts in the same category as heroin and cocaine has become a major economic force.

Based on the quantity of marijuana that authorities seized last year, the crop alone was worth an estimated $17 billion or more, dwarfing any other sector of the state's agricultural economy.

And pot also props up local economies, mints millionaires and feeds a thriving industry of startups — stores that sell high-tech marijuana-growing equipment, pot clubs that pay rent and hire workers, chains of for-profit clinics that specialize in medical-marijuana recommendations.

Honduras nixes plan to reinstate ousted leader

The de facto government in Tegucigalpa says Zelaya will face criminal charges if he tries to return. He faces an array of institutions that lined up against what his opponents argue was his attempt to rewrite the constitution to allow him to run for re-election. Along with Congress and the military, the Supreme Court has ruled his actions were illegal.

But the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the Obama administration have said that Zelaya remains the legal president of Honduras.

State's water debate now in Congress' hands

Alabama/Georgia/Florida unable to resolve water issue while Atlanta goes thirsty

Canadian smelter will pay for cleaning up Black Sand Beach

A Canadian smelter has agreed to clean up a beach near Northport, Stevens County, that's become a symbol for a century's worth of pollution dumped into the Columbia River.

Teck Resources will excavate about 5,000 cubic yards of slag from the beach in the fall, when the water is low. The slag, a byproduct of the smelting process, contains such heavy metals as lead, arsenic and zinc. Through the $1 million cleanup project, the slag will be recycled and sold for use in the cement industry.

Wike Electric Sun = bike + WTF?

FIM to launch a new electric motorcycle racing series in 2010

Indonesian bicycle builds up steam, can go 75 mph

Briton, 82, completes 100 modes of transport challenge

Review: Pontiac Solstice GXP Coupe goes quick, just don't look back

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