Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Evidence Mounts For Companion Star To Our Sun

By Aussiegirl

Our new solar system companion, Sedna, seems to show that our sun has a gravitationally bound sister star -- but where is it? I can't see anything else in the sky that could serve as our second sun. It must be very far away, but how far? This article doesn't discuss this, so I found this Wikipedia article about binary star systems, but it doesn't help much either. How frustrating!
(The illustration that accompanies this post is an artist's conception of the planetoid Sedna. And here's the origin of its name: Sedna is an Inuit goddess who created the sea creatures of the Arctic.)

Evidence Mounts For Companion Star To Our Sun

The Binary Research Institute (BRI) has found that orbital characteristics of the recently discovered planetoid, "Sedna", demonstrate the possibility that our sun might be part of a binary star system. A binary star system consists of two stars gravitationally bound orbiting a common center of mass.
Once thought to be highly unusual, such systems are now considered to be common in the Milky Way galaxy.

Walter Cruttenden at BRI, Professor Richard Muller at UC Berkeley, Dr. Daniel Whitmire of the University of Louisiana, amongst several others, have long speculated on the possibility that our sun might have an as yet undiscovered companion. Most of the evidence has been statistical rather than physical.

The recent discovery of Sedna, a small planet like object first detected by Cal Tech astronomer Dr. Michael Brown, provides what could be indirect physical evidence of a solar companion. Matching the recent findings by Dr. Brown, showing that Sedna moves in a highly unusual elliptical orbit, Cruttenden has determined that Sedna moves in resonance with previously published orbital data for a hypothetical companion star. [....]

Walter Cruttenden agrees that Sedna's highly elliptical orbit is very unusual, but noted that the orbit period of 12,000 years is in neat resonance with the expected orbit periodicity of a companion star as outlined in several prior papers. Consequently, Cruttenden believes that Sedna's unusual orbit is something indicative of the current solar system configuration, not merely a historical record.

"It is hard to imagine that Sedna would retain its highly elliptical orbit pattern since the beginning of the solar system billions of years ago. Because eccentricity would likely fade with time, it is logical to assume Sedna is telling us something about current, albeit unexpected solar system forces, most probably a companion star".

Outside of a few popular articles, and Cruttenden's book "Lost Star of Myth and Time", which outlines historical references and the modern search for the elusive companion, the possibility of a binary partner star to our sun has been left to the halls of academia. But with Dr. Brown's recent discoveries of Sedna and Xena, (now confirmed to be larger than Pluto), and timing observations like Cruttenden's, the search for a companion star may be gaining momentum.

The "Mexicanization" of America

By Aussiegirl

In addition to the political corruption and fallout that this article is concered with, the economic implications are even greater for the eventual creation of this kind of two tiered society -- with a wealthy elite being serviced by a huge servant underclass. Consider the fact that in at least a decade mid-level wages have not risen in real terms. Correct me if I am wrong -- all this increased productivity that is constantly being hailed consists of you and me working longer and harder for the same amount of pay while the profits go up and up. One of the factors in keeping wages low is the pressure of illegals working in many areas, not just picking strawberries. Illegals are squeezing and holding down wages for construction and other building trades and many immigrants are also being imported to do more high-tech computer work, thus also suppressing those wages. Meanwhile the economy grows -- but who's getting rich? And to top it all off, the rich want YOU to subsidize all the cheap, illegal labor they desire with YOUR taxes to provide medical, schooling, welfare and other benefits that they would otherwise have to provide.

The American Thinker

By Thomas Baffy

The United States is being “Mexicanized” as we watch. I am not talking about race or demographics at all. I mean that our system of governance is being undermined, and that if we let matters continue, we will end up with a political economy like Mexico’s – unable to provide good lives for most of its people, but very good indeed for the wealthy elite.

I have no objection to any number of immigrants from any nation, if they enter the United States by following the rules. My objections center on the idea that our laws can be ignored by government officials when they deem them inconvenient to their own agenda.

The concept of equal rights for all Americans also revolves around the idea that our laws are applied equally to all of us. When governments ignore certain laws, they are in effect repealing them. They have accomplished through fiat what no one could do in the legislatures or the courts. The Constitution is bypassed. [....]

Our elected officials should be forced to go “on the record” if they want to change laws. Then we can register our verdict the next time they run for office.

It is plainly time for us to move the debate over illegal aliens to center on this point. Many other points in this issue are worth discussion, but this one is where we will either save our country or lose it.

Researchers explore whether parrot has concept of zero

By Aussiegirl

I've always been fascinated by those TV documentaries that show a beautiful little parrot choosing among various colored shapes. They seem so intelligent, so I'm not surprised that they just might have managed to develop the concept of zero. For an interesting article that includes a discussion of zero, see here:
History of the Hindu-Arabic numeral system.
(By the way, I learned about the difference between "number" and "numeral": a "number" is the abstract mathematical concept that lies behind a collection of, say, four objects, while a "numeral" is the symbol that refers to the concept, in this case "4".)

Researchers explore whether parrot has concept of zero

A bird may have hit on a concept that eluded mathematicians for centuries—possibly during a temper tantrum.

Researchers are exploring whether a parrot has developed a numerical concept that mathematicians failed to grasp for centuries: zero.

Oddly, it seems he may have achieved the feat during a temper tantrum, the scientists say.

Although zero is an obvious notion to most of us, it wasn’t to people long ago. Scholars say it came into widespread use in the West only in the 1600s; India had it about a millennium earlier.

Yet Alex, a 28-year-old Grey parrot, recently began—unprompted—using the word “none” to describe an absence of quantity, according to researchers at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

Alex thus possesses a “zero-like concept,” wrote the scientists.

Years earlier, Alex had been taught another meaning of “none,” as a lack of information, they added. But his feat was to extend the concept to a context involving numbers, during a test of his counting skills. [....]

Zero and none “are not identical,” Pepperberg wrote in a recent email. But since Alex never learned “zero,” the researchers said, it’s impressive that he started using a word he knew to denote something like it: an absence of a quantity.

Also unclear, though, was whether by “none” he meant no colors, no objects or something else. [....]

Chimps and possibly squirrel monkeys show some understanding of zero, but only after training, the researchers said. So Alex’s feat is the first time this has been documented in a bird, “and the first time it occurred spontaneously,” Pepperberg said via email. [....]

As they investigate whether Alex really understands zero, they will also have to untangle the meanings of “none” and “zero.” [....]

Zero was common in the West only from the 1600s on, though similar concepts appeared earlier in fits and starts, according to J.J. O’Connor of the University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland.

In pre-zero times, O’Connor wrote in an online essay, some mathematicians tied themselves in knots to solve problems that would have been much easier with a zero. But ancient peoples as a whole probably didn’t think of it because they didn’t need it: “If ancient peoples solved a problem about how many horses a farmer needed,” he wrote, “then the problem was not going to have 0 or –23 as an answer.” [....]

Thus Alex’s apparent insight into zero doesn’t necessarily reflect across-the-board mathematical brilliance. Alex’s abilities might parallel those of children “who have trouble learning language and counting skills,” the researchers wrote.

Panel Warns of a Crisis in American Physics

By Aussiegirl

The crux of the matter: The United States should be prepared to spend up to half a billion dollars in the next five years.... A half a billion dollars is equal to 500 million dollars, and the infamous Alaskan "Bridge to Nowhere", over which a handful of Alaskans would tread, would have cost 231 million dollars. In the long run, which is more important, walking over a bridge, or striding into the future by maintaining our lead in basic science?
Panel Warns of a Crisis in American Physics - New York Times


Physics in America is at a crossroads and in crisis, just as humanity stands on the verge of great discoveries about the nature of matter and the universe, a panel from the National Academy of Sciences concludes in a new report.

The United States should be prepared to spend up to half a billion dollars in the next five years to ensure that a giant particle accelerator now being designed by a worldwide consortium of scientists can be built on American soil, the panel said. If that does not happen, particle physics, the quest for the fundamental forces and constituents of nature, will wither in this country, it said. [....]

"Failure to build the machine, the International Linear Collider, in the United States, the panel said, would force American particle physicists to do their research in Europe, where a major machine is to come online next year, and other places, perhaps Japan.

The blow to American physics would erode the base of science and technology that has fueled innovation, provided intellectual and cultural inspiration and bolstered national security over the last century. [....]

The report says: "The committee has concluded that the price the United States would pay by forfeiting a leadership position in particle physics is too high. Leadership in science remains central to the economic and cultural vitality of the United States." [....]

The International Linear Collider will shoot electrons and their antimatter opposites, positrons, at each other through a tunnel some 20 miles long. Working in tandem with the Large Hadron Collider, another giant machine to begin operating at the European Center for Nuclear Research, CERN, outside Geneva, next year, the linear collider will enable physicists to explore "revolutionary new physics," probe the origins of mass and investigate the nature of the mysterious dark matter that dominates the universe, scientists say.

Dr. Shapiro said, "We concluded that this might be the most exciting moment in particle physics in a generation." [....]

The most powerful accelerator now operating, the Tevatron at the Fermi National Laboratory outside Chicago, is scheduled to shut down in 2010, leaving Fermilab with an uncertain future.

An even larger accelerator that would have been the world's largest, the Super Conducting Supercollider, under construction in Texas, was canceled by Congress in 1993.

Hezbollah, Illegal Immigration, and the Next 9/11

By Aussiegirl

A very important, must-read article about what may be our deadliest enemy.

FrontPage magazine.com :: Hezbollah, Illegal Immigration, and the Next 9/11 by LTC Joseph Myers and Patrick Poole

AUTHORS NOTE: This article was prepared and approved before the London Times report this past weekend which verified that longtime Hezbollah terror chief, Imad Mugniyah, has been tapped by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to initiate attacks against the West, especially the U.S., in the event that any preemptive strikes are made against Iran's nuclear facilities. In the following article we identify Mugniyah and his extensive role in a number of attacks on Americans since the 1980s and have assumed that any action taken by Hezbollah would be directed by Mugniyah, but this new supporting information was important enough and directly relevant to the discussion at hand to warrant us including this author’s note to call our reader's attention to it. This new report reinforces our argument made here that Hezbollah and its operations inside America and throughout Latin America pose an immediate national security risk that should be among the primary topics of consideration in the ongoing border security debate.

“Death to America was, is, and will stay our slogan!” – Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah Secretary-General (“Hezbollah Vows Anew To Target Americans”, Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2003)

In the prosecution of the Global War against Terror (GWOT) initiated only after the horror of 9/11, an important threat to the United States fell from the public radar screen while al-Qaeda, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and the regime of Saddam Hussein became the primary targets. That important threat was the Iranian-backed terrorist organization, Hezbollah.

Operating out of their stronghold in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has successfully waged a war against Israel for more than two decades and has provided ample financial, training and logistical support for the Palestinian terrorists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hezbollah’s particular expertise has been in teaching the art of suicide bombing, which it introduced to the Palestinian groups in 1993; and in constructing elaborate “mega-bombs” to inflict massive casualties. [....]

Hezbollah’s hatred is not limited to Israel, but extends to America. Islamic radicals see America as the primary purveyor of decadence, moral depravity, and secularism in the world. Ideologically, for many Muslims, America also stands as great of a threat to Islam as we view Islamist terror ideology as a grave threat to us. For that reason, recent events related to Hezbollah should punctuate that reality and should give political and national security officials pause as they discuss issues of Homeland Security disaster response and readiness, border security and illegal immigration. [....]

Prior to the 9/11 attacks by al-Qaeda, Hezbollah was responsible for more terrorism-related American deaths than any other organization in the world. It should be remembered that Hezbollah was killing scores of Americans when Osama bin Laden was still a Westernized playboy living in France. Organized in the early 1980s by Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah quickly racked up an impressive resume of terror against the U.S. [....]

Many terrorism analysts and experts rate Hezbollah as the best organized and most competent Islamist terrorist organizations in the world. With an annual budget of likely well over $100 million coming from Iran, Syria and its criminal operations in the West, it boasts more than 25,000 men under arms. Having pushed Israel out of its security zone in southern Lebanon and the American and French peacekeepers out of Beirut, they are arguably the most successful terrorist organization of the modern era.

In a speech in September 2002, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage described the danger of the organization: “Hezbollah may be the A team of terrorists and maybe al-Qaeda is actually the B team.” [....]

America’s enemies have identified this vulnerability; according to a March 2005 Time Magazine report, al-Qaeda lieutenant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi instructed jihadists to bribe their way into Honduras and cross the U.S. southern border to attack soft American targets. From an intelligence perspective the indicators and warnings of the threat cannot be clearer. [....]

If the U.S. is forced into preemptive military action against Iran to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons, it should be expected that the long-established Hezbollah network in the US will be activated and attempt retaliation by their primary state-sponsor. We will learn the extents and limits of Hezbollah’s military capabilities within the U.S., our own intelligence capabilities, and whether our immigration and border policies were adequate.


Subsidizing the Enemy

By Aussiegirl

The British just don't get it. What's so hard to understand about the phrase "the enemy within"? Pipes's last sentence says it all: Thus does the enemy’s infrastructure build in our midst.

FrontPage magazine.com :: Subsidizing the Enemy by Daniel Pipes

An Islamic school in London is teaching that non-Muslims are akin to pigs and dogs, and it is doing so with subventions from the British taxpayer. More alarmingly, when notified of this problem, the British authorities indicate they intend to do nothing about it.

The Times (London) reported on April 20 in “Muslim students ‘being taught to despise unbelievers as ‘filth’,” that the Hawza Ilmiyya, a Shi‘i institution, teaches from the writings of Muhaqqiq al-Hilli. This scholar lived from 1240 to 1326 and wrote the authoritative work on Shi‘i law (Shara’i‘ al-Islam). About non-believers, called kafirs, he taught:

The water left over in the container after any type of animal has drunk from it is considered clean and pure apart from the left over of a dog, a pig, and a disbeliever.

There are ten types of filth and impurities: urine, faeces, semen, carrion, blood of carrion, dogs, pigs, disbelievers.

When a dog, a pig, or a disbeliever touches or comes in contact with the clothes or body [of a Muslim] while he [the disbeliever] is wet, it becomes obligatory-compulsory upon him [the Muslim] to wash and clean that part which came in contact with the disbeliever.

In addition, a chapter on jihad specifies conditions under which Muslims should fight Jews and Christians.

One can only assume that the Hawza Ilmiyya will go on its merry way, undeterred by the pleas for help by its students, the exposure of its practices, questions raised in parliament, and the complaints of citizens, and it will also continue to enjoy its 28 percent Gift Aid. Thus does the enemy’s infrastructure build in our midst.

The Next Sino-Japanese War

By Aussiegirl

A good introduction to another potential crisis that gets little attention.

FrontPage magazine.com :: The Next Sino-Japanese War by Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu

The Next Sino-Japanese War
By Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu

If observers bother to look at threats in Northeast Asia at all in these days of exploding Middle Eastern terrorism, they usually focus on North Korea. While critically important, North Korea is today’s problem. The situation there will likely be solved during our lifetimes. But the long-term threat to peace and stability in the region has deeper historical roots. Comparatively speaking North Korea is young, only in existence since 1945. While that may seem forever to the historically challenged, it is smoke in the wind compared to the centuries-old enmity that persists between Japan and China. And that hostility, never far below the surface, has become more open of late. [....]

While the chance of open hostilities between China and Japan are thankfully slim at the moment, the caustic bitterness and mutual sarcasm both sides have been using publicly has slipped the bonds of the oily diplomatic speech we usually hear, particularly among Asian power. [....]

It is increasingly clear, however, that tensions between the two are rising. Aso leveled a harsh accusation at China, calling the Beijing government a “military threat,” primarily for the level of spending that China has devoted to arming itself. This armament has included development of weapons systems – such as blue water navy, space, and long range air – that lend themselves more to aggressive than defensive purposes. Other analysts, such as CIA Director Porter Goss, agree that the Chinese military forces “threaten” U.S. and allied interests. Not all U.S. officials agree.

Predictably, entrenched State Department officials – chronically sycophantic towards China – refuse to label the Peoples Republic of China a threat. As reported by Washington Times’ Bill Gertz, they “consider China a non-threatening state that will evolve into a benign power through trade and other global economic interaction.” Across the river at Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is more cautious, insisting that a recently – released Pentagon strategy report “include references to China's military buildup and the need for the U.S. military to respond to it.”

While it is unlikely that China-Japan or America-China issues will grow to crisis proportions overnight, we would be foolish to ignore festering problems and growing military capabilities because of what many might consider legitimate distractions elsewhere in the global fight. America is capable of walking and chewing gum simultaneously, but also has a history of ignoring problems till they explode in our face. A necessary first step is a long-overdue housecleaning at State, CIA, and other agencies who continue to pamper Beijing.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Digital Walls, Digital Holes

By Aussiegirl

An interesting, in-depth -- and encouraging -- article on China's attempts to distort the internet to its own purposes, and how eventually they must fail at complete control.

TCS Daily - Digital Walls, Digital Holes

Digital Walls, Digital Holes
By Hampton Stephens

Details of the conversation between Bill Gates and Chinese Premier Hu Jintao when they met recently at the Microsoft campus near Seattle, and afterward at a $20,000-per-plate dinner at Gates' Lake Washington compound, are somewhat scarce. A new deal between Microsoft and Chinese computer-maker Lenovo to pre-load Windows on the company's Chinese-made machines probably was eagerly discussed. It is less likely that Hu and Gates were eager to talk about the Chinese government's Internet censorship and control policies. In recent debates about that issue -- in international human rights circles, in the national media and even in the halls of Congress -- both men have been portrayed as villains.

Indeed, the Chinese Internet censorship story owes much of its national prominence to the growing realization that American Internet companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco are enabling China's censorship regime. The moral and practical dilemma about whether technological engagement or a principled embargo is the better way for U.S. companies to affect change in China has rightly been the subject of much debate, though the correct solution to that dilemma is not immediately obvious. More readily apparent is the logic of the Chinese government's censorship efforts. In a delicate balancing act between economic liberalization and the maintenance of political authority, China's leaders want to harness the Internet's potential as a propaganda tool and as a contributor to economic growth -- the bedrock of their tenuous legitimacy -- while suppressing the Web's use as a tool of political activism and truth-telling.

In the midst of this recent attention, however, the most important question about China's censorship of the Internet has not received its due consideration: Will the Chinese regime achieve its goals? Can it cleanse the Internet of undesirable information and thus shield its people from the influence of subversive truths? [....]

However, unfortunately for Hu and his Chinese Communist Party, and to the benefit of Gates and the rest of the American computer industry, which no doubt would love to do business in China without an authoritarian regime looking over its shoulder, the success of Chinese Internet censorship is bound to be short-lived. In the long run, the Chinese government's efforts are likely to fail because of the sheer magnitude of its task. China's censorship regime cannot possibly keep up with the dramatic growth in the number of Chinese Internet users and the resulting rise in the ranks of those actively working to subvert government control. Thus, the existence of the Internet will be a persistent and growing thorn in the side of the Chinese Communist Party. [....]

These technologies demonstrate that the struggle over control of the Internet in China is not a one-sided battle, in which the Chinese government has all the resources on its side. The situation more closely resembles an arms race between the Chinese government and activists and freedom-loving computer programmers the world over. As the number of Chinese Internet users grows, so will their access to tools like DynaWeb and UltraReach. [....]

Despite the early success of the Chinese government in controlling and censoring the Internet, it is clear that the difficulty of its task will only grow. Whether future holes in the filtering regime are due to Chinese government failures or new filter-proof technologies, more and more Chinese citizens will inevitably gain access to an unfiltered Internet. Xia, recounting his journey from Chinese citizen to expatriate working to undermine the censorship of the Chinese Communist party, neatly characterized the political effects that free access to information can have. After studying in the United States for a period, "I realized that many things I learned in school were basically propaganda from the CCP, and that key facts were actually lies," Xia said. That revelation was enough to turn him actively against his government. China's leaders have sought to censor the Internet because they know the truth has such power, but theirs is a fool's errand.

A Real Flip-Flopper, at 3 Trillion Times a Second

By Aussiegirl

Wow, 3 trillion times a second, that's just a blur! What's interesting is that it should flip-flop even faster, and this discrepancy frustrates the scientists. But I have always thought that the true scientist secretly welcomes the ugly little fact that comes along and slays his beautiful theory. Look what the researchers say in the final paragraph: Young-Kee Kim of the University of Chicago, a spokeswoman for the Collider Detector Facility collaboration, said, "Our real hope was for something bizarre." Nature is tough, she said, but physicists are pretty tough, too. "We keep fighting," Dr. Kim said.

A Real Flip-Flopper, at 3 Trillion Times a Second - New York Times

A Real Flip-Flopper, at 3 Trillion Times a Second

Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory reported what would seem to set a new standard for vacillation last week: a subatomic particle that reverses identity three trillion times a second, switching into its upside-down mirror-image evil-twin antimatter opposite and then back again.

The measurement of this yin-yang dance was a triumph for Fermilab's Tevatron, which smashes together trillion-volt protons and antiprotons to create fireballs of primordial energy, and for the so-called Standard Model, a suite of theories that explains all that is known to date about elementary particles and their interactions. [....]

The indecisive particle, known as a strange neutral B meson, is composed of a pair of smaller particles called quarks, which come in six different whimsically named types or "flavors." The meson contains a so-called bottom quark and a strange anti-quark, but the rules of quantum and quark physics allow quarks to change flavors. As a result the meson can flip over to its antiparticle, a strange quark and a bottom anti-quark.

Physicists hope that studying such behavior in this and other particles may help them understand why the universe is overwhelmingly matter and not antimatter, as well as gain a clue to whatever deeper theory may underlie the Standard Model, which leaves out gravity, among other things.

And there is the rub. As with many weird things in modern physics, the problem with the bipolar particle is why it is not even weirder. According to some versions of a popular theory known as supersymmetry, the meson should be oscillating even more rapidly than it does. [....]

Physicists are a bit frustrated that their results keep agreeing with the Standard Model and so far show no hint of supersymmetry. [....]

Young-Kee Kim of the University of Chicago, a spokeswoman for the Collider Detector Facility collaboration, said, "Our real hope was for something bizarre." Nature is tough, she said, but physicists are pretty tough, too. "We keep fighting," Dr. Kim said.

China: The New Red Superpower

By Aussiegirl

An excellent and comprehensive guide to China's activities around the globe. The author's warning from the final paragraph: America must be prepared for what will come in the future – an increasingly capable China with military, economic, political and cultural influence and power.

FrontPage magazine.com :: China: The New Red Superpower by Frederick W. Stakelbeck Jr.

Chinese President Hu Jintao’s first visit to the U.S. this week to meet with President George Bush and corporate executives from Boeing Co. and Microsoft Corp. comes at a difficult time for the Chinese leader, as concerns regarding his country’s meteoric global rise continue to grow. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick warned China recently that it must begin to take definitive steps to address what he called a “cauldron of anxiety” in the U.S. and abroad over Chinese global intentions. “Many countries hope China will pursue a peaceful rise, but none will bet its future on it,” he said.

Almost seventy years ago, Japan sought to dominate “Greater Asia”; eventually going to war with the United States and its allies. But unlike Japan, China in the 21st century has adopted an aggressive global positioning strategy that promotes relations with a select group of diverse global partners aimed at guaranteeing its continued cultural, economic, political and military transformation while at the same time, pursuing the systematic dismantling of perceived Western hegemony led by the U.S.

Indeed, China’s plan is global in scope, reaching deep into Asia, Europe, Latin/South America, Africa, the Middle East and even North America. [....]

Of particular concern to the West is China’s close relationship with a nuclear obsessed Iran, borne from China’s need for energy to run its growing economy and Iran’s need for cheap manufactured goods for its young, Western-leaning population. With a $100 billion, 25-year investment by China’s state-run energy enterprise Sinopec and an agreement to develop Iran’s lucrative Yadavaran oil field, Beijing’s continued presence in the country is virtually assured.

In North America, China has made energy and trade agreements with traditional U.S. allies Canada and Mexico, while increasing its industrial espionage activities on the continent. Last year, Canada’s National Post reported that the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) warned the country’s parliament that foreign spies were seeking Canada’s science and technology secrets. The annual report specifically cited China as a “very aggressive pursuer” of sensitive information which could be used for military purposes. The report also noted, “China’s intelligence services are preparing Chinese scientists and students to act as spies to steal Canadian technology and classified information.” Beijing has actively pursued Canada’s valuable oil sands, natural gas and mineral deposits ahead of the U.S., increasing national security concerns in Washington.

Chinese President Hu Jintao’s recent visit to Mexico City to meet with Mexican President Vicente Fox marked a new beginning in Sino-Mexican relations with both leaders signing agreements in the areas of bilateral trade, mining and energy. “The motive of my visit is to deepen the strategic association between Mexico and China,” Hu said.

At this time, it is important to understand that the Chinese philosophy of “globalism” is a far cry from the U.S. model based on individual freedoms, market competition and democracy. Instead, China’s philosophy is based on the development of a global system with limited individual freedoms, a state controlled media, highly regulated economic expansion and the use of state-controlled entities to secure strategic resources. The U.S. and China have different perspectives concerning global growth and responsibility, as well as different levels of capabilities. But what will occur once China’s global capabilities are well-established and in full working order?

If China’s recent history is any indication, the world is in for a time of exasperating change. Over the past year alone, Beijing passed an “Anti-Secession Law” asserting its legal authority over Taiwan, pressured Central Asian republics to remove U.S. bases, obstructed UN Security Council action against Iran, actively supported several African and Latin American dictators, armed the authoritarian Nepalese regime and oppressed the people of Tibet. These are not isolated examples of a country laboring through a maturation process – unfortunately; this is the Chinese leadership model that will one day be applied to the rest of the globe. [....]

Although the U.S. welcomes the opportunity to work with competitive world powers, it cannot blindly ignore a competitor’s preparedness for armed conflict and the creation of hostile, anti-West global alliances. In the case of China, both are being actively pursued. Beijing has no interest in joining the current global security structure led by Washington and the UN – That much has been made very clear recently. China’s global actions should be carefully monitored and a proactive plan of action formulated to address an emerging adversary, not a potential friend and partner. Diplomatic visits aside, America must be prepared for what will come in the future – an increasingly capable China with military, economic, political and cultural influence and power.

Hubble's Sweet 16

By Aussiegirl

Be sure to visit this website to see these glorious, awe-inspiring, humbling snapshots of our beautiful universe, our home. Here is the description of the photo I chose to illustrate this post:

This long-exposure, composite photo is the deepest-ever view of the universe. It looks back to the edge of the big bang, and shows a chaotic scramble of odd galaxies smashing into each other and re-forming in bizarre shapes. The image required 800 exposures taken over the course of 400 Hubble orbits around Earth. The total amount of exposure time was 11.3 days, taken between Sept. 24, 2003, and Jan. 16, 2004.

Wired News: Hubble's Sweet 16

Celebrating the Hubble Space Telescope's 16 years of service, NASA and the European Space Agency have issued new high-resolution photos of the starburst Messier 82 galaxy. The images show the birth of hundreds of young stars at the core of the so-called Cigar Galaxy. Wired News' Hubble's Sweet 16 gallery also contains some of the most spectacular Hubble shots from recent years. All images are courtesy of NASA. Visit the ESA's Hubble site for more info.

Your Thoughts Are Your Password

By Aussiegirl

Well, I can relax, the machine that can read my thoughts is still on the drawing board. But it would be nice to turn on the TV by just thinking "TURN ON". Still, it all sounds like a scary sci-fi novel!

Wired News: Your Thoughts Are Your Password

Your Thoughts Are Your Password
By Lakshmi Sandhana

What if you could one day unlock your door or access your bank account by simply "thinking" your password? Too far out? Perhaps not.

Researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, are exploring the possibility of a biometric security device that will use a person's thoughts to authenticate her or his identity.

Their idea of utilizing brain-wave signatures as "pass-thoughts" is based on the premise that brain waves are unique to each individual. Even when thinking of the same thing, the brain's measurable electrical impulses vary slightly from person to person. Some researchers believe the difference might just be enough to create a system that allows you to log in with your thoughts.

A pass-thought could be anything from a snatch of song, the memory of your last birthday or even the image of your favorite painting. A more achievable alternative might present you with predetermined pictures, music or video clips, to which you would think "yes" or "no" while the machine monitors your brain activity. [....]

The research is an outgrowth of efforts to build a brain-computer interface, or BCI, by trying to extract the meaningful parts of brain-wave signals measured by an electroencephalogram, or EEG, and translate them into recognizable computer commands that allow disabled people to control and manipulate prosthetic devices. A chief challenge facing BCI technology is that brain-wave signatures are unique, so a system trained to recognize a particular user can be quite difficult for another to manipulate. [....]

However, some researchers are skeptical that a computer will ever be able to
passively recognize a particular mental image in a person's head.

Iead Rezek, of the Pattern Analysis Research Group at the University of Oxford, says the proposal has "flair," but is impractical: Too many things are going on in the brain at the cellular level that all look the same from a scalp distance. "Signals from an uncountable number of nerve cells are smeared and lumped together by the time we are recording the brain-wave patterns," says Rezek. "Authentication is akin to recognizing speakers from muffled voices because, for example, the speakers are some distance away."

Even if recognizable readings could be taken, "the link between thought and brain waves is immensely indirect," says Jacques Vidal, a BCI expert and professor with UCLA's computer science department.

Moreover, the way we remember things evolves. It may not be possible to design a system that can passively recognize the changing signature of the same thought by the same individual over time. [....]

"The technology to remotely measure brain activity is in its infancy," says Shadmehr. "Yet if we consider that it was only 40 years ago that neuroscientists developed robust single-brain-cell recording techniques in awake, behaving animals, the future for sensing brain activity is very bright indeed."

But don't throw out your passwords yet, warns the more-reserved Somayaji. "I'd be surprised and impressed if a pass-thought system was deployed in 20 years," Somayaji says. "Maybe pass-thoughts will make the transition from science fiction to science fact one day. For now, though, they're still very much science fiction."

Secrets of the tuco-tuco society

By Aussiegirl

An interesting article on a rare rodent that should be extinct by now, but isn't, giving scientists the idea that species may owe their survival to weathering population crashes by becoming more social.

Telegraph | Connected | Secrets of the tuco-tuco society

Secrets of the tuco-tuco society

A rare rodent that should, by rights, be extinct has given scientists an insight into the role of social behaviour in the survival of species, writes Roger Highfield.

A toothy rodent that lives in burrows in the remote highlands of Patagonia might appear to be a glorified gopher of little interest to anyone except Sir David Attenborough.

Today, however, scientists from Stanford University announce that a DNA analysis of the "colonial tuco-tuco" (Ctenomys sociabilis ) could solve the mystery of why the rare rodent survives and, in turn, suggest how the rise of human society was driven by times of extreme hardship.

The subterranean rodent fascinates biologists because it has so little genetic diversity that the slightest whiff of climate change, competition or disease should have made it extinct long ago.

Yet the hearty gopher-like creature has not only managed to survive for thousands of years in a harsh climate, it has also evolved a complex social structure that is unique among the more than 50 closely related tuco-tuco species. [....]

"Adopting a colonial lifestyle may have been the key to the rodent's survival," said Dr Elizabeth Hadly, whose team reports, in the journal Public Library of Science Genetics, on how DNA from tuco-tuco teeth suggests that its thriving social life was given a lift by almost being wiped off the face of the Earth. [....]

No one knows exactly when C. sociabilis began to live up to its name, but Dr Hadly suspects it was a response to the population crash. "Maybe the evolution of sociality actually confers some advantage to withstanding periods of low genetic diversity," she says. "Most behaviourists would say that sociality is so complicated that it takes a while to evolve, but maybe if a species has to be social to survive, social behaviour could evolve pretty rapidly."

If so, the study of rare Patagonian tuco-tucos could have implications for understanding the evolution of social behaviour in other species that have suffered evolutionary bottlenecks, which includes man: perhaps the first glimmers of human society appeared in the wake of an ancient population crash.

Ukrainians remember Chernobyl - Chernobyl Disaster: 20 years later

By Aussiegirl

Ukrainians commemorated the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster with solemn ceremonies yesterday. One more sad chapter in the history of a nation that has suffered so much -- forced genocidal famine, persecutions, arrests, foreign domination. Yet Ukrainians still persist in seeking the light of freedom.

Ukrainians remember Chernobyl - Chernobyl Disaster: 20 years later - MSNBC.com: "Bells tolled across Ukraine and mourners carried red carnations and flickering candles to commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion Wednesday, an event that continues to scar the psyche of the ex-Soviet republic.

The April 26, 1986, pre-dawn explosion, to be marked in Ukraine with daylong events, became the world's worst ever nuclear accident, spewing radiation across vast stretches of Europe. It cast a radioactive shadow over the health of millions of people; many believe it contributed to the Soviet Union�s eventual collapse.
�My friends were dying under my eyes,� said Konstantyn Sokolov, 68, a former Chernobyl worker whose voice was hoarse from throat and lip cancer. Sokolov was among hundreds who gathered for a pre-dawn ceremony Wednesday in the Ukrainian capital, which President Viktor Yushchenko attended.

I try not to recollect my memories,� Sokolov said as Orthodox priests led the mourners in a somber procession. �They are very terrible.�
In Kiev, bells tolled 20 times starting at 1:23 a.m., marking the exact time of the explosion at Reactor No. 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station."

The long shadow of Chernobyl

By Aussiegirl

This is probably the most informative and balanced article I could find describing the lasting effects of the Chernobyl disaster on the health of the Ukrainian people. There is much controversy, with some estimates putting the casualty rate as low as about 50, with others, probably grossly exxagerated, as being potentially as high as in the tens of thousands.

One thing is for certain, from personal knowledge of the circumstances there, the lowest and most optimistic estimates seem to be unrealistic for a number of reasons, and the highest also appear to be a bit over the top. But the Chernobyl disaster has had lasting psychological effects on the Ukrainian psyche, and has produced a lasting trauma that is not quick to fade or to be assuaged with pat pronouncements on the benefits and even wonders of nuclear contamination.

Nuclear power is undoubtedly an environmentally friendly method of power generation that produces no greenhouse gases. Modern plants are not subject to the kind of explosion that rocked Chernobyl. However, Ukraine has the dubious distinction of being an ongoing experiment in the aftereffects of massive and long-lasting radiation exposure from a nuclear accident. By the way, Chernobyl in Ukrainian means Wormwood.

TorontoSun.com - World - The long shadow of Chernobyl

For her daughter Zoya's 12th birthday, Raissa Galechko was hosting a picnic in the woods of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

The infamous date was April 26, 1986.

"It was a beautiful day," recalls Galechko, 60, as she pores over old photos in her Mississauga home. "We were in bikinis taking suntans. The mothers were picking sorrel and the kids were playing ball and climbing trees."

She shakes her head at all they did not know then, and all that still lay ahead.

"And at the same time the reactor was on fire and we didn't know anything. Heavy radiation was spreading over the sorrel we were picking and over the trees our kids were playing in and nobody knew."

That just 90 km away, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor had exploded and their lives would never be the same.

For 10 days the fire raged, expelling 172 tonnes of toxic materials into the atmosphere, clouds of which drifted across northern Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and more than 14 European countries. It wasn't until alarm bells went off at a Swedish power station that the world learned of the disaster the Soviets had tried to hide.

The USSR waited almost three long days before it confirmed the "minor accident" with a terse statement read by a Moscow broadcaster. Still, they gave no warning of the poison that had been unleashed.

Galechko was a well-known journalist at the state-run Ukraine magazine when she heard rumours that all communist party officials had suddenly moved their families out of Kiev. "Even if I'd seen the fire at Chernobyl I wouldn't have known what it meant," she explains. "But when you're a mother you have this security trigger inside. You know nothing, but you have the intuition that something is very wrong and my first thought was my daughter, my daughter."

The single mother hastily made plans for them to spend the next few months by the Azov Sea thousands of kilometres away. But for her daughter Zoya, it may have already been too late.

Those living within 30 km of the power plant were evacuated within days. But there was nowhere to hide from the cloud of radiation that drifted over the former USSR.

Nadia Zastavna remembers it as the most glorious spring. On May Day, the biggest Soviet holiday, she and her children joined thousands in her Ukrainian town of Ternopil to celebrate with a traditional parade. "Everybody was outside, my oldest son and my youngest -- he had just been born that January," recalls Zastavna, now the senior administrator of the Children of Chornobyl Canadian Fund. "The weather was gorgeous. Your skin got red but we thought it was from the sun. But it wasn't."

Just a few days later came the terrifying edicts: Wash your clothes, stay indoors, close your windows, don't drink the water. "Everybody was furious and scared to death," she says. "Mentally, it was very difficult."

Her baby would grow to become such a sickly child that doctors feared it might have leukemia. "You can't say it was from radiation 100%, but he was born a very healthy child and after he was constantly sick."

High incidences of childhood thyroid cancer, sudden premature deaths. Two decades have passed and the great debate still rages: To what degree is Chernobyl responsible for the health problems that seemed to follow in its wake?

"There's no real consensus on the effects yet," notes Dr. David Marples, a professor of history at the University of Alberta who has written extensively on Chernobyl. "There's so much controversy over the health effects, the number of casualties, the number of long-term illnesses and what we might expect in the future."


The answers tend to depend on a group's views on the nuclear debate. At one end of the spectrum is the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency report last fall, which suggested health effects had been largely exaggerated and that most of the problems were actually psychological. The IAEA report argued there were only 50 direct victims of the Chernobyl disaster and no more than 4,000 will eventually die because of radiation exposure.

Countering that view is a recent Greenpeace study that claims the atomic agency grossly underestimated the effects. "The IAEA has a vested interest in minimizing the impact of Chernobyl," argues Shawn-Patrick Stensil, of Greenpeace Canada, which launched a haunting photo exhibit of Chernobyl victims commissioned for the anniversary.

The Greenpeace report predicts 93,000 will die of fatal cancers linked to Chernobyl radiation and more than 200,000 in all will eventually die from the disaster. But then, they are hardly objective themselves -- the environmental group has a decidedly anti-nuclear agenda.

"There's no middle ground on Chernobyl," says Marples, who tends to lean more towards the Greenpeace version. "The secrecy that occurred in the Soviet period was really one of the biggest problems because that's why we're in such doubt today about what really happened. All that data was officially classified."

Ruslana Wrzesnewskyj doesn't care about warring statistics; she knows what she has seen. When she adopted her daughter from Ukraine in 1993, the orphanages were crowded with children who had been born with deformities or left by parents who had suddenly died young. The Toronto realtor was so shaken by what she saw that she founded Help us Help the Children, a project of the Children of Chornobyl Canadian Fund that has assisted thousands of orphan victims with summer camps, medicines and scholarships.


"All you have to do is travel through Ukraine," she says. "It's called the silent killer. It's a horrible thing to come into a town and see that half of the people in their 40s are dead."

To this day, Raissa Galechko doesn't know if her daughter's brush with cancer was caused by the nuclear disaster. No one can prove that it was. No one can prove that it wasn't. All she does know is that it opened her eyes to seeking a new life.

Zoya had always had moles, but they suddenly began to change during the year after the Chernobyl explosion. When one turned bloody, her mother rushed her to the local cancer hospital. She will never forget the doctor's advice after he diagnosed melanoma and said her daughter needed immediate surgery: "After the operation, leave for a clean zone."

Escape suddenly became her goal. "When this happened to Zoya, I knew where my clean zone was -- Canada," she says. "Chernobyl was the turning point. It pushed me to leave."

When she arrived here in 1989, penniless and unknown, the journalist refused advice to seek charity as a victim of Chernobyl.

"I couldn't show my daughter like a bear in a circus -- look at her scars, give me money," says the publisher of the satirical Ukrainian monthly Bcecmix (Laughter). "So many abuse the term 'victim.' We are survivors."

Unlike Galechko, Mychailo "Mike" Ryndzak has no doubt that Chernobyl is directly responsible for his suffering.

It was just two months after the explosion when the 19-year-old military conscript was ordered to report to the nuclear plant and run evening films and other propoganda for the "liquidators" who spent their days cleaning the disaster zone.

"To me, radiation and death were synonyms. I was preparing myself to die," he recalls from his home in Ottawa.

"According to the officials, everything was calm, under control and beautiful. But as you know and we learned from western media sources, obviously it was not under control."

He could see the mutated plants that surrounded Chernobyl and how all the surrounding grass and leaves had turned the colour of metal. "I didn't have any protection at all. I didn't have any training at all," he says bitterly. "What was happening inside us? Radiation is something invisible but it has such severe power to change who you are."


Yet the only time he was issued a respirator was when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev arrived for a few hours to survey the damage.

"And after that, it was taken away."

Due to the high levels of radiation, crews were replaced every 10 days. But there was a scarcity of projectionists, so Ryndzak was left in the hot zone for five weeks.

His body would never be the same.

In 1989, after his arrival in Canada, his teeth suddenly began to crumble. Blood tests revealed an almost fatally low red cell count.

But he believes his time in the radioactive zone left him with a far more crushing legacy.

"It affected my fertility," the 39-year-old says softly. "I will never have children."

So he cannot forget Chernobyl on its 20th anniversary, not when its shadow haunts him to this day.

"This is a tragedy that is ongoing," Ryndzak warns. "God knows what consequences are waiting in the future."

Three challenges for the last thousand days of the Bush administration

By Aussiegirl

Peggy Noonan has some constructive suggestions for President Bush on his last thousand days in office. Pretty sound advice.

OpinionJournal - Peggy Noonan

There are three issues on which the administration can, and should, focus, and only three.

Issue 1: Iraq, Afghanistan and the age of terror. On these, stabilize, fortify, succeed. Keep America safe. All this will require ruthless concentration. Back up all action with illustration and explanation. Inform the public--constantly--as to what is happening, and why, and what is being done, and why. We already know liberty is God's gift to man; make statements that are less emotive and more fact-filled, more strategically coherent.

[...]Issue 2: the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is at new post-9/11 highs; there's little unemployment. New home sales are up, productivity up, profits up. This is President Bush's triumph. And yet in polls Americans don't credit him with it.

[...]Issue 3: the integrity of America's borders. That is, the right and ability to decide who comes here and when, the right and ability to make judgments based on our nation's needs. This is both an economic issue and a national security issue; it naturally connects to issues 1 and 2.

On this, Washington is talking a lot and doing

Finally parents fight back against homosexuality indoctrination in our elementary schools

By Aussiegirl

Parents are finally fighting back at the shocking methods of homosexual indoctrination going on in even our elementary schools. Those who tout communist regimes like those in Cuba and the former Soviet Union for providing universal public education fail to realize that the reason for doing this is to indoctrinate the children at the earliest possible age into the propaganda and mindset of the party and the proper ideology. My mother can still recite and sing from memory all the horrible things she was forced to learn as a child -- all about killing the priests, bourgeoisie and the kulaks, etc.

And the part about the "day of silence" sounds ominously familiar. Just the other day, a friend who teaches in a local college told me that the school had a "day of silence" in protest against "hate crimes" -- and when she approached a student with a question about an assignment the student put her finger to her lips and pointed to the lapel pin she was wearing that procaimed her "vow of silence". This is creepy, creepy stuff. The battle is lost if people do not take the education of their children in their own hands and stop this wholesale brainwashing and indoctrination. This is all a part of the left's agenda to destroy the family, which was also the aim of the communist party. Once you destroy the family as the formative factor in children's world view, you can pour in all the poison you want and educate an army of deluded robots.

Here's an excerpt of the press release along with some informative links:


On Thursday, April 27, Lexington parents David Parker and his wife, along with Rob and Robin Wirthlin, will be filing a major federal civil rights lawsuit in United States District Court in Boston.

The suit is against the Town of Lexington, and both individually and as public officials: Superintendent of Schools Paul Ash; former Superintendent of Schools William Hurley; School Committee Members Helen Cohen, Thomas Diaz, Olga Guttag, Scott Burson, and Thomas Griffith; Director of Education Andre Ravenelle; Health Education Coordinator Jennifer Wolfrum; Estabrook Principal Joni Jay; and second-grade teacher Heather Kramer.

According to a press release from the attorneys, the lawsuit has three counts: first, it alleges violations of the Federal Civil Rights of the plaintiffs by the defendants; second, it alleges violations of the plaintiffs' Massachusetts Civil Rights; and third, violation of the State's Parental Notification law [which we wrote and got passed in 1996] which ensures notification to parents prior to discussion with students regarding human sexuality issues.

The suit is seeking, among other things, injunctive relief, compensatory damages, punitive damages, exemplary damages, and attorney's fees.

Pushing parents beyond the limit.

Exactly one year ago David Parker was arrested and spent the night in jail when he insisted that school officials notify him before they discuss homosexuality with his 6-year-old son. Lexington school officials had arrogantly refused. Instead of working with him, they charged him with criminal trespassing when he merely demanded to be notified.
Click here for the exclusive background report

A few weeks ago, Lexington school officials defended the actions of a teacher who read a "modern" fairy tale of homosexual romance and "marriage" to second-graders. The teacher and principal told parents Rob and Robin Wirthlin that they could not remove their son from such this, nor could they get notice either before or after it happened. And that it might happen again.
Click here for our exclusive background report.

As you know, Article 8 / MassResistance exposed both of these horrific incidents to the world. Both incidents made national news and outraged people across the country and beyond. (Just today, we were on the radio in Australia about this! They could not believe this could happen anywhere.) Outrageously, Lexington has responded with even more acts of oppression, such as their yearly "Day of Silence" homosexual event at Lexington High School, which took place Wednesday. But everyone has been asking, "What can anyone do?"

Is the United States serious about Iran?

By Aussiegirl

Amil Imani, Iranian author, democracy advocate and poet, has a constructive proposal for dealing with the problem of Iran.

Is the United States serious about Iran? BaltimoreChronicle.com

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently asked Congress for $85 million to support pro-democracy groups inside Iran and also to assist Iranian groups outside Iran who oppose the Islamic regime in Tehran.
It is a very kind gesture from President George W. Bush’s administration, but this program will not change anything in Iran. And it is not likely the $85 million (if Secretary Rice indeed receives it) will be used effectively and wisely.

Yet, there is no denying Bush’s intent of support. In his 2005 state of union address, he again pledged his support for the Iranian people: “And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.”

In Iranian polls, Bush won the 2004 election by a landslide, even though in America, Bush won by only a few hundred votes. Today, Bush is sinking in American polls, but his popularity continues to climb in Iran.

[...]For five years, President Bush has consistently supported the Iranian people in his state of the union addresses. But it’s been simply a big carrot on a long stick. Or, as they say in Texas, it’s all hat and no cattle. While we have supported the president’s efforts to liberate Iraq and bring democracy to the region, we know the key to peace in Iraq and the region is in the hands of the Iranian people. As long as they are powerless to overthrow the Islamic terrorist regime in Iran, Iraq will never see the light of democracy.

America is spending over $200 million a day for the war in Iraq. In contrast, an $85 million proposal to bring change in Iran, administered over five years or more, is utterly unrealistic. After all, we are talking about the Islamic Republic of Iran—"the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism," according to the U.S. State Department.

[...]But consider this: the United States holds billions of dollars of Iranian assets in U.S. banks. Why not use this financial source to support the Iranian opposition groups who will actively seek regime change in Iran? This money must be returned to its legitimate heirs, the Iranian people, inside Iran and outside Iran.

If the U.S. is serious about a regime change in Iran, if the U.S. is hoping for a democratic form of government in Iran, and if the U.S. truly advocates a broader democracy in the Middle East, the White House must turn the Iranian assets over to all the Iranian opposition groups who want democracy Iran. After all, Iranians know Iranian mentality better than any foreign governments.

It is time for the U.S. government to get serious about regime change in Iran. Bombing Iran will not help the cause. In fact, it will probably create either civil war, or some kind of desperate, lethal unity inside Iran. The more effective way to achieve regime change is to spend the Iranian assets in the right way.

We can create a secular, democratic Iranian nation with our own Iranian money, and obliterate the venomous theocratic regime in Iran—which the majority of Iranians consider to be alien occupiers. The clock is ticking and the majority of Iranians want to be free from the oppressors now. The Bush administration must stop the useless, wasteful bureaucracy and get down to the business of regime change, immediately.

Colorado Kills Plan To Make English Official Language

By Aussiegirl

If this article makes a lick of sense to you, you are a better man than I, Gunga Din! How is it that a constitutional amendment ratified by voters is suddenly deemed unenforceable by our esteemed lords and masters -- the supposed representatives of "da peeple"?

KCRA.com - National News - Colorado Kills Plan To Make English Official Language

A Colorado House committee has killed a ballot proposal that would make English the official state language.

Republican State Rep. Dave Schultheis, of Colorado Springs, Colo., said a constitutional amendment voters approved in 1988 that requires English only on state documents isn't enforceable. He told the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee that he doesn't want the nation to become split by a language other than English.

But the committee killed the referred measure on a 6-to-5 vote after opponents said they didn't need to learn English to be an American.

The referred measure would have asked voters to require all state documents be printed only in English, unless other languages are required by the federal government. It would have exempted libraries
and public schools.

Iran buys surface-to-surface missiles capable of hitting Europe

By Aussiegirl

Looks like Iran has purchased a missile from North Korea capable of reading Europe. Gee, you think the Europeans might now be interested in acquiring some of that anti-missile technology from us that they railed against so vehemently only a short time ago?

Iran buys surface-to-surface missiles capable of hitting Europe - Haaretz - Israel News

Iran has purchased surface-to-surface missiles from North Korea with a range of 2,500 kilometers, the head of the Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Branch, Major General Amos Yadlin, said Wednesday.

While Iran already possessed missiles capable of reaching Israel, the new weapons pose a threat for countries in Europe and parts of the Middle East that have now come into Iranian range.

Some of the missiles have already arrived in Iran, Yadlin said in a lecture in memory of Israel's sixth president Haim Herzog, who was also head of the IDF Intelligence Branch.

The missiles are known in the West as BM-25s, operate on liquid fuel and are single-stage. The BM-25 was originally manufactured in the Soviet Union, where the first generation, adapted for use by Soviet submarines and able to carry a nuclear warhead, was known as the SSN6. After the Russians retired the missiles from service, they sold them to the North Koreans, who developed them to carry a heavier payload.

With this purchase the Iranians have leap-frogged over their Shihab-4 missile with its range of 2,000 kilometers.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Evicting Einstein

By Aussiegirl

Granted, this article is over two years old, but how can you not read further when it begins, Sooner or later, the reign of Einstein, like the reign of Newton before him, will come to an end. We read about the battle beween the giants of modern physics, relativity theory and quantum mechanics, and of the experiment that, when it is performed in three or four years, may break the stalemate and, as the author writes, a new theory of gravity, space, and time takes the throne.

Evicting Einstein

Evicting Einstein
by Patrick L. Barry
for NASA Science News
Huntsville - Mar 29, 2004

Sooner or later, the reign of Einstein, like the reign of Newton before him, will come to an end. An upheaval in the world of physics that will overthrow our notions of basic reality is inevitable, most scientists believe, and currently a horse race is underway between a handful of theories competing to be the successor to the throne.

In the running are such mind-bending ideas as an 11-dimensional universe, universal "constants" (such as the strength of gravity) that vary over space and time and only remain truly fixed in an unseen 5th dimension, infinitesimal vibrating strings as the fundamental constituents of reality, and a fabric of space and time that's not smooth and continuous, as Einstein believed, but divided into discrete, indivisible chunks of vanishingly small size. Experiment will ultimately determine which triumphs. [....]

It may not weigh heavily on most people's minds, but a great schism has long plagued our fundamental understanding of the universe. Two ways of explaining the nature and behavior of space, time, matter, and energy currently exist: Einstein's relativity and the "standard model" of quantum mechanics. Both are extremely successful.

The Global Positioning System (GPS), for instance, wouldn't be possible without the theory of relativity. Computers, telecommunications, and the Internet, meanwhile, are spin-offs of quantum mechanics.

But the two theories are like different languages, and no one is yet sure how to translate between them. Relativity explains gravity and motion by uniting space and time into a 4-dimensional, dynamic, elastic fabric of reality called space-time, which is bent and warped by the energy it contains.

Mass is one form of energy, so it creates gravity by warping space-time. Quantum mechanics, on the other hand, assumes that space and time form a flat, immutable "stage" on which the drama of several families of particles unfolds.

These particles can move both forward and backward in time (something relativity doesn't allow), and the interactions between these particles explain the basic forces of nature -- with the glaring exception of gravity.

The stalemate between these two theories has gone on for decades. Most scientists assume that somehow, eventually, a unifying theory will be developed that subsumes the two, showing how the truths they each contain can fit neatly within a single, all-encompassing framework of reality. Such a "Theory of Everything" would profoundly affect our knowledge of the birth, evolution, and eventual fate of the universe. [....]

The experiment, called Laser Astrometric Test Of Relativity (LATOR), would look at how the sun's gravity deflects beams of laser light emitted by the two mini-satellites. Gravity bends the path of light because it warps the space through which the light is passing.

The standard analogy for this warping of space-time by gravity is to imagine space as a flat sheet of rubber that stretches under the weight of objects like the sun. The depression in the sheet would cause an object (even a no-mass particle of light) passing nearby the sun to turn slightly as it went by.

In fact, it was by measuring the bending of starlight by the sun during a solar eclipse in 1919 that Sir Arthur Eddington first tested Einstein's theory of general relativity. In cosmic terms, the sun's gravity is fairly weak; the path of a beam of light skimming the edge of the sun would only be bent by about 1.75 arcseconds (an arcsecond is 1/3600 of a degree).

Within the limits of accuracy of his measuring equipment, Eddington showed that starlight did indeed bend by this amount -- and in doing so effectively impeached Newton.

LATOR would measure this deflection with a billion (109) times the precision of Eddington's experiment and 30,000 times the precision of the current record-holder: a serendipitous measurement using signals from the Cassini spacecraft on its way to explore Saturn. [....]

"We should continue to try to press for more accuracy in testing general relativity, simply because any kind of deviation would mean that there's new physics that we were not aware of before."

But if no deviation from Einstein is found even by LATOR, most of the current contenders--along with their 11 dimensions, pixellated space, and inconstant constants--will suffer a fatal blow and "pass on" to that great dusty library stack in the sky.

Because the mission requires only existing technologies, Turyshev says LATOR could be ready to fly as soon as 2009 or 2010. So it may not be too long before the stalemate in physics is broken and

A counter-boycott for May 1

By Aussiegirl

A reader sent me the following email -- looks like some people are organizing a counter-boycott and others have some ideas as well.


What do you do when your opponent gets a really good idea? Appropriate it. And implement it better than he can.

The pro-illegal-immigrant activists have come up with a superb plan. On May 1, they intend to drop out of the nation’s economy by (A) staying home from work and (B) buying nothing. It will be as if they had all left the country so that we—and Congress—can see what life would be like without them. Unlike lengthy traffic-blocking marches, it is non-disruptive and does not cost the cities anything for extra police duty, etc. It is the ultimate in passive resistance and could send a clear message to Congress that “we’re here and you’d better listen to us.” If I were an illegal immigrant, I’d praise it as an excellent idea. I’d even ignore the embarrassing fact that it happens to coincide with a Marxist holiday.

In fact, it’s too good an idea to waste on a mere eleven million illegals. I think that we hundred-million-plus anti-illegal conservatives should join in the fun by counteracting their boycott on May 1 and running a boycott of our own on May 5, which appropriately coincides with Mexico’s national holiday.

I was by no means the first to get this idea. it was originally suggested by Sher Zieve, on his website USA Sentinel, and then crystallized into a plan of action at Citizens on Strike.

The following proposal is my modification of the Citizens on Strike plan:

Step 1: Monday May 1: Counteract the boycott. If you workplace has illegal aliens or sympathizers who may stay out, be prepared to work extra hard so that the demonstrators won’t be missed. Send the message: “If necessary, we can do without you.” Then go out there and buy, buy, buy. Make a merchant happy on Mayday!

Step 2: Friday May 5: Follow Zieve’s plan as detailed at Citizens on Strike:

Stay home from work and transact no business.
Stay away from stores and make no purchases.
Do not use public transportation.
Consider turning off your TV, radio and computers.
In short, withdraw from the nation’s economy and focus on your home and family. Stay home or drive out into the country and enjoy nature—but buy your gasoline and picnic lunch the day before.

I’d make one exception to the above. With all the leisure time you will have available on May 5, make a few phone calls. Call your senator and congressman, tell them what you doing and why. Remind them that, unlike illegal aliens, you do have the right to vote and will use it in November. And while you’re at it, call your newspaper and tell them. Make their switchboards hum.

If we all do our part, business will peak on May 1 and sink ominously on May 5. We must send a clear message to Congress about who their constituency really are and how we will judge their voting record on immigration issues in November.

The frightening truth of why Iran wants a bomb

By Aussiegirl

The author doesn't mention it, but I think I've read that this Hidden Imam lives in a well. Sound pretty crazy to me, but being crazy doesn't preclude being smart enough to start a war.

Telegraph | Opinion | The frightening truth of why Iran wants a bomb

The frightening truth of why Iran wants a bomb
By Amir Taheri

Last Monday, just before he announced that Iran had gatecrashed "the nuclear club", President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disappeared for several hours. He was having a khalvat (tête-à-tête) with the Hidden Imam, the 12th and last of the imams of Shiism who went into "grand occultation" in 941.

According to Shia lore, the Imam is a messianic figure who, although in hiding, remains the true Sovereign of the World. In every generation, the Imam chooses 36 men, (and, for obvious reasons, no women) naming them the owtad or "nails", whose presence, hammered into mankind's existence, prevents the universe from "falling off". Although the "nails" are not known to common mortals, it is, at times, possible to identify one thanks to his deeds. It is on that basis that some of Ahmad-inejad's more passionate admirers insist that he is a "nail", a claim he has not discouraged. For example, he has claimed that last September, as he addressed the United Nations' General Assembly in New York, the "Hidden Imam drenched the place in a sweet light".

Last year, it was after another khalvat that Ahmadinejad announced his intention to stand for president. Now, he boasts that the Imam gave him the presidency for a single task: provoking a "clash of civilisations" in which the Muslim world, led by Iran, takes on the "infidel" West, led by the United States, and defeats it in a slow but prolonged contest that, in military jargon, sounds like a low intensity, asymmetrical war. [....]

The Iranian plan is simple: playing the diplomatic game for another two years until Bush becomes a "lame-duck", unable to take military action against the mullahs, while continuing to develop nuclear weapons.

Thus do not be surprised if, by the end of the 12 days still left of the United Nations' Security Council "deadline", Ahmadinejad announces a "temporary suspension" of uranium enrichment as a "confidence building measure". Also, don't be surprised if some time in June he agrees to ask the Majlis (the Islamic parliament) to consider signing the additional protocols of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). [....]

While waiting Bush out, the Islamic Republic is intent on doing all it can to consolidate its gains in the region. Regime changes in Kabul and Baghdad have altered the status quo in the Middle East. While Bush is determined to create a Middle East that is democratic and pro-Western, Ahmadinejad is equally determined that the region should remain Islamic but pro-Iranian. Iran is now the strongest presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, after the US. It has turned Syria and Lebanon into its outer defences, which means that, for the first time since the 7th century, Iran is militarily present on the coast of the Mediterranean. In a massive political jamboree in Teheran last week, Ahmadinejad also assumed control of the "Jerusalem Cause", which includes annihilating Israel "in one storm", while launching a take-over bid for the cash-starved Hamas government in the West Bank and Gaza. [....]

At the same time, not to forget the task of hastening the Mahdi's second coming, Ahamdinejad will pursue his provocations. On Monday, he was as candid as ever: "To those who are angry with us, we have one thing to say: be angry until you die of anger!"

His adviser, Hassan Abassi, is rather more eloquent. "The Americans are impatient," he says, "at the first sight of a setback, they run away. We, however, know how to be patient. We have been weaving carpets for thousands of years."

The Psychomyopic Democrats

By Aussiegirl

Dr. Shlichta examines the patient and makes his diagnosis.

The American Thinker

For several months, I have felt like the little boy in The Emperor’s New Clothes. Standing in the middle of a crowd of my elders and betters, watching the current political spectacle, I have been waiting for someone to say the obvious, waiting in vain until I feel compelled to blurt it out myself.

Here goes: “Many Democrats want the US to fail in Iraq!” I don’t mean that they think we’ll fail—they want us to. They want a big embarrassing collapse of US military and political policy in Iraq and will do whatever they can to make it happen. There, I’ve said it and I feel much better. [....]

To explain this peculiar logic, we must look to the emerging field of mental ophthalmology, which describes the aberrations of what Hamlet called “the mind’s eye.”

Blurring the Mind’s Eye

One such aberration is psychomyopia, or mental nearsightedness. Like most politicians in most parties in most countries of the world, these Democrats cannot see beyond the next election. Issues such as the fate of our nation, the fate of the Iraqi people, and the success or failure of Islamic terrorism are vague blurry background features that they cannot discern.. The only thing their brains can focus on is the nearby goal of getting into power and staying there. [....]

The symptoms of psychomyopia are easily confused with those of psychoglaucoma, or tunnel vision—a preoccupation with one aspect of a situation, coupled with a willful refusal to consider certain other aspects. As in physical ophthalmology, the latter is much more serious and (along with psychoastereopsis – failure to perceive depth) one of the few aberrations of the mind’s eye that can twist a soul into something evil.

Psychoglaucoma is culpable because it perverts the essence of free will. As Aquinas and others have pointed out, we are not free to refrain from choosing an obvious good or rejecting an obvious evil. Our freedom consists in deciding to ignore certain aspects of the choice—to avert our eyes from factors we don’t wish to see and confine our attention to the rest.

An intelligent and just man forces himself to see all aspects of a problem and therefore chooses the good. A psychomyopic cannot see some aspects but chooses as best he can. But a victim of psychoglaucoma chooses evil by seeing only what he wants to see and avoiding what he doesn’t want to see

Paul Shlichta

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Going Nuclear

By Aussiegirl

Greenpeace leader repents.

Going Nuclear

In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That's the conviction that inspired Greenpeace's first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.

Look at it this way: More than 600 coal-fired electric plants in the United States produce 36 percent of U.S. emissions -- or nearly 10 percent of global emissions -- of CO2, the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power. And these days it can do so safely.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Happy birthday, Shakespeare!

By Aussiegirl

What needs my Shakespeare for his honoured bones,
The labour of an age in piled stones?
Or that his hallowed relics should be hid
Under a star-ypointing pyramid?
Dear son of Memory, great heir of Fame,
What needs't thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou, in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thyself a livelong monument.

Thus Milton eulogized the Prince of Poets, William Shakespeare, born April 23, 1564. (That was yesterday, and I apologize for being a day late.) Tradition has it that he died on his birthday in 1616, still young at only 52 years of age. I'm always struck by how young he was when he died (according to this article, from a rare cancer of the tear duct)-- still he wrote 37 plays, plays that will live as long as English is spoken. I think we can say of Shakespeare, as he said of Cleopatra:
Age cannot wither him, nor custom stale
His infinite variety

The Modern Elizabethan - New York Times

The Modern Elizabethan


AN academic colleague of mine once asked me who had made me into a writer. "And I don't mean one of those creative writing professors," he said to me, a creative writing professor.

"Well, who do you mean?" I asked, probably ungrammatically, a thing creative writing professors get to do.

"I mean, who was your Shakespeare professor?" he asked; he was of course a Shakespeare professor himself.

I understood what he meant: Shakespeare was elemental, formative, fateful. Unlike the work of any writer before or since, Shakespeare's plays and poetry, while taking advantage of an audience's church-acquired tolerance for long speeches, celebrated the relatively new language of English and explored the strangeness within the ordinary and the familiar within the strange — the task of every artist. He returned again and again to the pathologies of love, marriage and family — interest in which is a prerequisite for embarkation on an American literary life. [....]

The limberness of Shakespeare's gift is arguably best demonstrated not by the greatest plays — "Hamlet," "King Lear," "Macbeth" — but by two that are considered more minor, one a tragedy, one a comedy, and both written the same year, more likely the tragedy first, as the comedy is something of a satire on the tragedy. These are "Romeo and Juliet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream." (That they might have been accruing simultaneously on his writing table is one of those events writers and critics alike are fond of imagining.)

Though they each have their various textual sources — Shakespeare, like Puccini, was a notorious artistic poacher, so much so that tales of Shakespeare's actual poaching of game have attached themselves to his legend — they are distinctly Shakespearean in their look at love. [....]

Shakespeare's London was one of the great cities of Europe, though smaller than Madison, Wis., is today. It was also rife with the religious bloodshed of modern Belfast or Baghdad. When Shakespeare arrived in London as a young man he would have passed, impaled on the famous bridge into town, the skull of a distant cousin, killed for being a Catholic. How could this fail to leave an impression?

He filled his early plays, written in his new home, with violent young men and angry mobs. When he left, rich and successful, it was to die (at 52) of what doctors today have speculated was a rare cancer of the tear duct — an illness as cruelly ironic as that of Puccini's cancer of the throat. His beloved Globe Theater had burned down. He could not have been happy.

But he did not know that his work would survive forever not just on stage but in book, screen and musical form — no one at that time could have. Or that his words would inspire their own honoring thefts: Joni Mitchell took a glittering simile of his for "That Song About the Midway"; "West Side Story" and "She's the Man" borrowed his plots.

A green Christian conservative

By Aussigirl

There's lots of mushy emotionalism and precious little science in this article. Dreher writes that there are NO serious people who can deny warming -- and that even if it can't be proven that human activity is the cause we would be derelict to ignore it. First of all, most REAL climatologists do not subscribe to the chicken-little global warming theories, and precisely what does Dreher think we can do about it, especially if it turns out that warming is a natural process the world has undergone many times in its past? It's incredible hubris to believe that by buying a hybrid car or avoiding a few trips to the mall we can change a global pattern most likely dependent on normal cyclical patterns and sun spots. And as for the left screaming loudest about the environment - it is precisely the most leftist governments in the world that have created the most environmental pollution and degradation -- the Soviet Union and China being the biggest criminals in this regard. The "capitalist" West, with all that greed he decries has actually used its resources most wisely and cleaned up the most pollution.

USATODAY.com - A green Christian conservative

By Rod Dreher

Earth Day is not my day, not really.
As both a conservative and an avid indoorsman, I've always seen it as a high holy day for hippies, Whole Foods devotees, spotted-owl fetishists and sundry crunchy-granola types who believe that "Think Globally, Act Locally" is the Eleventh Commandment. [....]

But you know, I've got to wonder how much longer we on the right can justify an environmental philosophy that amounts to little more than sneering at liberal tree-huggers.
Bottom line: When people like me start to believe Earth Day is for us, too, the earth will move under Washington's feet. But as long as cultural perceptions keep Earth Day a sectarian holiday for secular liberals, the pace of political change will be, alas, glacial.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

New Detectors Sniff Terrorists' Scents

By Aussiegirl

This seems like an invitation to a lot of bad jokes, but evidently it is actually being investigated -- already they can track terrorist mice. So rather than investigate what reading matter a suspected terrorist has been looking at in the library, now they will also track how much deodorant he buys. --- Listen, forget all the humor, I don't care what it takes to get the bad guys, we've got to get them before they get us!

Defense Tech: New Detectors Sniff Terrorists' Scents

The Pentagon's fringe science arm wants to keep track of potential enemies-of-the-state in every way imaginable: not just by sight, or by sound, or by their e-mail; but by their smell, as well.

Darpa's "Unique Signature Detection Project (formerly known as the Odortype Detection program)" aims to sniff out genetic markers in "human emanations (urine, sweat, etc.)" that "can be used to identify and distinguish specific high-level-of-interest individuals within groups of enemy troops."

"Recent experimental results" show that chemical compounds in a mouse's "urinary" scent produces an "odortype" that's unique to each individual rodent, Darpa observes in its original solicitation for the project. "Although experimental data for humans is far less quantitative," the agency is hoping that a similarly "genetically determined," "exploitable chemosignal" can be found in people, too. [....]
The sniffing-out process has already begun in the lab, one professor told Business Week last year. A person's smell "is a cocktail of hundreds of molecules... The question is whether it's a gin and tonic or a margarita." Making those distinictions out in the odorifically-complex real world won't be easy, he added.

Darpa's smell detector is part of a larger, $15 million-per-year effort to develop "novel sensors" for U.S. troop operating in "urban settings." The goal of the Urban Vision program is "to enable the warfighter to 'see' movers within a building using a variety of fused multi-spectral techniques." The "Enemy Dismount Intrusion Detection program," on the other hand, "will develop a chemical sensor that is capable of providing an advanced warning of the presence of enemy troops or combatants by detecting the chemical emissions... that are common to all humans."

Astronomers peer into the first trillionth of a second

By Aussiegirl

Some science articles are more mind-boggling than others, and I find this one of the most dazzling. First we must imagine cutting a second into a trillion parts -- but what's worse, we are then asked to imagine that the universe grew from submicroscopic to astronomical size in that cosmic eye blink! Yet perhaps the most awe inspiring part of this is that we small bipeds living on a small planet have managed to think our way to such mind-blogging conclusions.

Astronomers peer into the first trillionth of a second

Scientists say they have new evidence for what happened during the universe’s first trillionth of a second, obtained from looking at the afterglow of the explosion that started it all.

The WMAP satellite has produced a new, more detailed picture of the infant universe, scientists say. Colors indicate "warmer" (red) and "cooler" (blue) spots in the infant universe. The white bars show the "polarization" direction of the oldest light. This new information helps to pinpoint when the first stars formed and provides new clues about events that transpired in the first trillionth of a second of the universe.

During that period, many cosmologists believe the universe grew from submicroscopic to astronomical size in far less than an eye blink.

Researchers say the new findings are the best evidence yet for this scenario, known as “inflation.”

The evidence was gathered from what’s believed to be the afterglow of the Big Bang explosion that gave birth to the cosmos, some 14 billion years ago.

This light, called the cosmic background radiation, is thought to provide a sort of picture of the universe as it was shortly after the Big Bang. [....]

“It amazes me that we can say anything about what transpired within the first trillionth of a second of the universe, but we can,” said Charles L. Bennett of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., principal investigator for the project. “We have never before been able to understand the infant universe with such precision. It appears that [it] had the kind of growth spurt that would alarm any mom or dad.”

The new findings also support established theories on what has happened to matter and energy since the inflation, the researchers said, providing a consistent picture of how the cosmos grew from microscopic fluctuations to form stars, planets and life.

According to this picture, researchers say, only 4 percent of the universe consists of ordinary atoms. Another 22 percent is an as-yet unidentified dark matter that exerts a gravitational pull but seems undetectable otherwise. And 74 percent is a mysterious dark energy, which is now causing another growth spurt—fortunately, they say, gentler than the one at the beginning.

Tim Birdnow -- Only the Strong Survive

By Aussiegirl

Tim Birdnow has posted a very interesting article on the neo-Wilsonian idea of democracy as a panacea. He states their theory, gives several good examples of where democracies have failed, and ends by asking why the English-speaking peoples have on the contrary found democracy to be such a civilizing force for good. I have given a few excerpts, but I urge you to read his whole essay, which he develops with his usual impeccable logic.

Birdblog: Only the Strong Survive

Jihad Watch makes the case against the neo-Wilsonian vision which has been guiding the Administration in Iraq; the concept of democratization. As Jihad Watch points out, the only largely Islamic nation which has been successful with democracy has been Turkey, and their success is due, in large part, to the conscious restriction of the influence of Islam. The neo-Wilsonians think that it is possible to create an Islamic democracy, and I believe they are dead wrong. [....]

Declassified documents from Vietnam show that the Tet Offensive was the last hurrah; much like the Battle of the Bulge, the Viet Cong launched a final, desperate attack in the hopes of breaking the American Stranglehold. It worked; the American media portrayed it as a catastrophe, and We turned tail and ran. Had we instead launched a counter-offensive, we would have smashed them for good. Had we invaded North Vietnam we would have ended the war years before. Contrary to what many neo-Wilsonians claim, ``winning the hearts and minds`` was not the successful strategy there. It was a counterproductive strategy then, and it is likewise a failing strategy now. Strength counts for too much in the Islamic world, and what we see as winning hearts and minds they see as weakness.

This is a titanic struggle. Such struggles are won by those who have the greatest determination. Our enemy is absolutely determined. Are we?