Archive for  March 2010

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Amazing that in today’s world, pharmaceutical companies can ignore the suffering of so many people just because they were born on the wrong continent, have the wrong skin color and world status.

BBC News – Scientists in sleeping sickness ‘breakthrough’

Scientists in sleeping sickness ‘breakthrough’

Prof Paul Wyatt holds a molecular model of the new drug compound

Prof Wyatt says the discovery is one of the most significant in years

Scientists say they have identified a potential treatment for sleeping sickness, a killer disease that infects about 60,000 people in Africa a year.

British and Canadian experts say drugs could attack an enzyme the parasite causing the illness needs to survive.

They say the orally-administered drug could be ready for human clinical trials in about 18 months.

The disease, spread by the bite of a tsetse fly, is caused by a parasite attacking the central nervous system.

Fatal side effects

The “breakthrough” came at the University of Dundee in Scotland, where scientists were funded to research diseases neglected by major drugs companies.

Professor Paul Wyatt, director of the programme, said: “This is one of the most significant findings made in recent years in terms of drug discovery and development for neglected diseases.”

Tsetse fly

The deadly parasite survives inside the gut of tsetse flies

He said the research, published in the journal Nature, represented “significant strides” in the development of a full blown drug against the disease.

The World Health Organization estimates there are between 50,000 and 70,000 cases of the disease a year, with a further 60 million people at risk of infection.

The research in Dundee was backed by partners at the University of York in England and the Structural Genomics Consortium in Toronto, Cananda.

The two drugs currently available to treat sleeping sickness both have associated problems.

One is arsenic-based with side effects that kill one in 20 patients and the other – eflornithine – is costly, only partially effective and requires prolonged hospital treatment, the scientists said.

Don’t forget that Mr. Petraeus was forced to take back his ‘statement’ and saying that the Israeli actions have nothing to dfo with the US’s global security concern. Israel is living in a parallel universe where nothing can be blamed on them, their crimes against humanity can be hidden from the world by pictures of beautiful Israelis singing on European Song contest and the racist and disgusting foreign minister being treated like a equal partner by most countries in the world.

One day the American public will wake up and realize that the price they are paying for supporting the right wing nut cases in Israel is much higher than the billions of dollars they pay every day to them. And by then, I am sure they will find a lunatic bastard in the Arab world to blame for those problems and accept the suffering of the 100s of thousands of innocent Palestinians as a result of that, and not the colonial occupation of their land by religious zealots from US and europe.

Petraeus’ Cry by John V. Walsh —

Petraeus’ Cry

by John V. Walsh, March 30, 2010

“Jewish Settlers Live High While GIs Die” is what Gen. David Petraeus is saying if we strip away the niceties. Is Petraeus’ formulation anti-Semitic?

Perhaps it would be better to talk of “Israeli settlers.” But that portrayal is not accurate. The minority of Arab citizens of Israel, even though suffering so many forms of discrimination, do not move to the West Bank of the Jordan, which would be a jump from frying pan into fire. Nor are the settlers exclusively Israelis. They are Jews come from all over the world, and the most aggressive and racist appear to be from the United States – and Russia. So it seems that the slogan is accurate when put “Jewish Settlers Live High While GIs Die.”

Do Jewish settlers, or more precisely colonists, live high? The whole world knows about the apartheid highways, smooth and fast, walled off from Palestinians who are forbidden to travel them. The few pictures of the settlements available reveal a suburban paradise for Jewish settlers complete with swimming pools adjacent to parched Palestinian dwellings, and even at least one dude ranch, where games of “cowboys and Indians” are staged. (Apparently the dude ranch owners, the settlers, and the tourists see no irony in this; perhaps they hire Palestinians to play the “Indians.” Or perhaps they have never looked over the apartheid walls to see that there is a real shoot-out with real guns and a real indigenous people gradually being exterminated.)

One can make the argument that what applies to the settlements applies in spades to the rest of Israel. Even the mainstream punditry is discussing this. Thus Dan Ephron of Newsweek, quoted by Tom Friedman in the New York Times of March 28, writes:

“An improved security situation, a feeling that acceptance by Arabs no longer matters much, and a growing disaffection from politics generally have, for many Israelis, called into question the basic calculus that has driven the peace process. Instead of pining for peace, they’re now asking: who needs it? …

” Tourism … hit a 10-year high in 2008. Astonishingly, the IMF projected recently that Israel’s GDP will grow faster in 2010 than that of most other developed countries.

“In short, Israelis are enjoying a peace dividend without a peace agreement.”

And Friedman goes on to take up the theme:

“Now, in the same time period, America went from having only a small symbolic number of soldiers in the Middle East to running two wars there – in Iraq and Afghanistan – as well as a global struggle against violent Muslim extremists. With U.S. soldiers literally walking the Arab street – and, therefore, more in need than ever of Muslim good will to protect themselves and defeat Muslim extremists – Israeli-Palestinian peace has gone from being a post-cold-war hobby of U.S. diplomats to being a necessity.”

Will it be long before Petraeus’ cry rings across the majority of the citizenry fed up with America’s wars in the Middle East? And will this not put a sharper edge on the limp calls for Israel to think twice about continuing its apartheid policy, its relentless ethnic cleansing of Palestine? Does this not begin to pose the question of “Us or Them” for the American populace?

This writer has long contended that Israel has been risking a serious backlash in the U.S. When it erupts, it may not be pretty. And it may be especially dangerous given the long policy of crying “wolf” over anti-Semitism. It would seem very wise for American Jewry to boot out the neocons and Israel-Firsters from their midst and hasten back to the morality of the secular, humanist Judaism which was dominant in the U.S. not so long ago. It may not be simply a matter of morality but of self-interest.

Isn’t this funny?  Reminds me of Mossad creating Hammas in the 80s to stop PLO!

Web of intelligence gets more complex | Tim Stevens | Comment is free |

Web of intelligence gets more complex

Keeping online jihadists where you can see them is one thing – but the ethics of creating honeypot sites are far more debatable

Last weekend, the Washington Post reported that in 2008 the US department of defence closed down a “honeypot” website created by the CIA and the Saudi government to attract and monitor Islamist extremists in Saudi Arabia. Military officials decided that the intelligence value of the site was less important than their belief that extremists were using it to plan attacks on American forces in Iraq. Much backroom wrangling ensued but the Pentagon, citing operational security and backed by the National Security Agency (NSA), won out. Later that year, the site was attacked by US military operators, to the chagrin of the Saudis and the CIA, and of countries like Germany whose internet assets became accidental collateral damage from the takedown. Because US Central Command (CentCom) decided this was an operational military matter, the decision effectively escaped congressional oversight also.

Experts have long argued about the relative worth of keeping the enemy where they can see him in cyberspace, against more aggressive policies of denying him operational space whenever possible. By keeping online jihadists corralled, agencies can generate intelligence from their activities, to be operationalised as required. Rather this than chasing jihadists around the internet, goes the argument, especially if they just set up again within one or two days of taking a particular site offline. The ethics of governments creating specific honeypot sites are far more debatable, and might fall foul of statutory limitations on entrapment were they to be carried out domestically. In the foreign context, a 2008 department of defence report obtained during a recent Freedom of Information Act lawsuit states that a US Air Force honeypot operation “targeting non-US persons” was not only a “potential questionable activity”, but possibly unlawful. One wonders how similar reasoning might apply to the present case, if it turns out to be true.

The laws of armed conflict require that actions in war satisfy the principle of military necessity and we may never discover how the US reached its judgment on al-Hesbah, which experts think is the forum under the spotlight here. The Pentagon was likely concerned about the exchange of information on US troop locations and movements, and this alone can be interpreted as a threat to US forces in theatre. Internet use features prominently in the biographies of terrorists attacking western targets, and forums like al-Hesbah are often described as loci of Islamist radicalisation and recruitment. As sources of propagandist video and literature they may indeed contribute to people’s transitions to violence but there is little evidence they are places where terrorist acts are actually planned. Not least, this is due to a high level of paranoia among forum users about surveillance by intelligence agencies, a possibility that is hard to discount, even if facts are hard to come by.

All parties involved have declined to comment, so it may be a while until a clearer picture emerges. We do know one thing, however: by the end of 2008, al-Hesbah and most of the other major forums had gone offline in somewhat mysterious circumstances. At the time, experts suggested that the demise of al-Hesbah was very likely the work of US intelligence agencies, and illegal to boot. The current revelations may help explain these events. Or they may not, such is the murkiness of intelligence and counterintelligence – not to mention the stories told about them in the media.

Photos: The Erosion of Nomads’ Culture in Iran

Photos: The Erosion of Nomads’ Culture in Iran
Photos by Faramarz Mir-Ahmadi, Mehr News Agency

Nomadic people are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but traditional nomadic behavior is increasingly rare in industrialized countries.

By 1920 nomadic pastoral tribes were over a quarter of Iran’s population. Tribal pastures were nationalized during the 1960s. The National Commission of UNESCO registered the population of Iran at 21 million in 1963, of whom two million (9.5%) were nomads. Although the nomadic population of Iran has dramatically decreased in the 20th century, Iran still has one of the largest nomadic populations in the world, an estimated 1.5 million in a country of about 70 million.

But the modern age is also invading the culture of nomads and eroding it slowly. As these photos show, nomads life is increasingly being influenced by technology and consumerism. Some nomads now use modern appliances for heating and cooking, trucks for hauling cargo and bicycles for children. They’ve also turned to satellite TV for entertainment instead of engaging in the traditional storytelling.

metal replacing leather

modern heaters

traditional tents replaced with modern ones

bug spray?