The Middle East Institute hosts this panel discussion on the status and future of Afghanistan."I point to this one, because Ambassador William Taylor, Coordinator for Afghanistan, U.S. Department of State is the first speaker, and he paints a very intriguing picture of current Afghanistan. Wow, this doesn't look like it's going to be much easier than Iraq. He states that the US is trying to conduct three missions simultaneously: 1) Disarming the Warlords, 2) eradicating the poppy crop and 3) Holding elections.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee meets to discuss the future of Iraq. Witnesses include: Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies; Retired Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, former commander in chief, U.S. Central Command; Phebe Marr, former senior fellow, National Defense University; and Larry Diamond, senior fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford, Calif."It appears that once you are retired, or hold no political office, you can tell the truth at a committee hearing. This panel provided what I think is the most accurate assessment of the current situation, the current difficulties, and future difficulties. But, they also appeared to provide some reasoned advice on how to move forward in the process of handing the Iraqi people back their government for 'the first time since...1956(?)'.
"On Wednesday night, Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer and actor Sam Waterson (of NBC's 'Law and Order' fame) embarked upon a modern social experiment of sorts: Could today's voters, accustomed to ingesting political messages in 30-second morsels, sit still for a rereading of the 'Right makes might' speech? Could they endure two hours of intricate discourse on an issue that's been dead for generations?It does start a hair slow.
To answer that question, they invited the public back to Cooper Union, where Waterson, who's played Lincoln on television and the stage, would reprise his role as the 16th president. And the public was a willing guinea pig, judging by the long line of hopeful participants that doubled over as it snaked around the stout, brownstone edifice an hour before Wednesday night's free event.
And logic like this, deserves to come back in to use in our modern political discourse:
Much as Lincoln reportedly had, Waterson struggled at first, straining to find his voice and unable to settle on a particular inflection ("It was the adrenaline," Waterson said later). The audience, perhaps stunned by Lincoln's long windup and with no assurances that they were not about to be supremely bored, simply froze.
But as the arguments took shape, carefully knit with strands of irrefutable logic and clever, crowd-pleasing rhetorical devices, the 2004 listeners began to stir. At first it offered murmurs and timid laughter at the subtle barbs and fitting parables. But ultimately, as Lincoln's assertions were galvanized one by one, Waterson was forced to stop several times, yielding to shouts of approval and rousing applause.
"But you will not abide the election of a Republican president! In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, 'Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!"'Watching this, I developed a greater respect for Lincoln's oratory capabilities, especially speech writing and debate,and Sam Waterson as a performer.
As long as there is a forum in which questions can be asked by men and women who do not stand in awe of a chief executive and one can speak as long as one's feet will allow one to stand, the liberties of the American people will be secure.On this I totally agree w/ Sen Byrd, we must maintain three strong, independent branches of government, or the Great American Experiment will pass into ignomy. My fear is that congress may have ceded to much power to the executive branch already. They look out of control to me.
"Offering an example of this impact, Kurzweil forecasted that 'Once we have full nanotechnology-based manufacturing, virtually all physical products will have their value primarily attributable to information. We're not that far from that today (even without nanotech). The price-performance of all information technologies -- hardware and software -- doubles about every year, so that means 50% deflation (the same information/capability costs 50% less a year later).'I got into a discussion over at KurzweilAI.net's Mind·X Forum with someone on the subject of the coming information singularity. My position is that it won't be a 'singularity', if the information rapidly disipates. I mean, if all of a sudden, we begin entering consiousness into machines, or cross over to other dimensions, or spead out across the galaxy, than there really won't be a singularity, because of the speed of diffusion and dispersion of the energy. On the other hand, if it happens that we are unable to dissipate the energy/information, well then, by Jove, we will have a singularity...My thoughts on it anyway.
This trend reflects Kurzweil's 'Law of Accelerating Returns.' The paradigm shift rate is now doubling every decade, so the 21st century will see 20,000 years of progress at today's rate, he said. 'Computation, communication, biological technologies (for example, DNA sequencing), brain scanning, knowledge of the human brain, and human knowledge in general are all accelerating at an even faster pace, generally doubling price-performance, capacity, and bandwidth every year."
The World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Semantic Web is ready for a new phase of development that will lead to the creation of new tools, languages and applications, the W3C's director said.I'll just have to confess to being out of the loop on this one.
In the process, the Semantic Web will respond more intelligently to user queries.
The future of the Semantic Web dominated the discussions at this year's week long World Wide Web Conference. Tim Berners-Lee used his keynote to applaud the recent approval of two key technologies -- Resource Description Framework (RDF) and the Web Ontology Language (OWL) -- and outline a vision of building up and out from those foundations.
Berners-Lee, one of the driving forces behind the idea of giving data more meaning through the use of metadata (define), said the second phase will offer a time of 'less constraints' where many new tools and languages built on RDF will emerge.
He predicted a future where enterprises would adopt the Semantic Web and be startled by the dramatic way in which data can be collected and formatted in order to help humans and machines interact with information. 'We will see many new different applications and RDF and OWL will tie them all together. We'll see an extension of languages with variables and quotation.'"
Almost 4000 Britons aged between 10 and 30 may be harbouring the prion proteins that cause the human form of mad cow disease. The new estimate comes from direct analyses of human biopsies, and is much higher than epidemiological projections of the likely number of deaths from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD).
The investigators discovered three infected tonsil or appendix samples from a total of 12,674 stored between 1995 and 1999. However, because so few positive samples were found, the projected total of 3808 can only be speculative. Furthermore, harbouring the prions may not necessarily lead to vCJD.
'I don't think too much should be read into our findings, but they should be investigated further,' says David Hilton, of the Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, UK, who led the study.
He notes that only one of the three positive samples matched the usual pattern of prion accumulation seen in confirmed vCJD cases.
The other two are different. 'It could mean these are false positives,' says Hilton. If they are, then the predicted incidence of the disease drops by two-thirds, from 237 per million British citizens to just 79 per million."
"Some claim they are a new life form responsible for a wide-range of diseases, including the calcification of the arteries that afflicts us all as we age. Others say they are simply too small to be living creatures.Science in conflict. It does lend it a sense of drama, don't it?
Now a team of doctors has entered the fray surrounding the existence or otherwise of nanobacteria. After four years' work, the team, based at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, has come up with some of the best evidence yet that they do exist.
Cautiously titled 'Evidence of nanobacterial-like structures in human calcified arteries and cardiac valves', the paper by John Lieske and his team describes how they isolated minuscule cell-like structures from diseased human arteries.
These particles self-replicated in culture, and could be identified with an antibody and a DNA stain. "The evidence is suggestive," is all Lieske claims.
Critics are not convinced. "I just don't think this is real," says Jack Maniloff of the University of Rochester in New York. "It is the cold fusion of microbiology." John Cisar of the National Institutes of Health is equally sceptical. "There are always people who are trying to keep this alive. It's like it is on life support."
"The world's first embryonic stem-cell bank opened in Britain Wednesday, breaking new ground in one of the most controversial areas of medical research.Well, it's got to be better than an alley dumpster.
The bank will store and supply stem cell lines -- strings of identical cells -- for research and possible treatment of conditions like diabetes, cancer and Parkinson's disease. Its store of cell lines is expected to number tens of thousands.
But opponents say such research involves the 'wanton creation and destruction of human life' and have condemned the bank as a storage site for dead babies."
"Frederic Zenhausern, director of the Applied NanoBioscience Center at ASU's Arizona Biodesign Institute, is co-leading the project that sports both fashion and function. The ASU exhibit features two very dissimilar outfits that utilize embedded electronics and fluidics � one is a 'wellness' costume designed in the style of a personal health garment, the second is a camouflage military outfit. Both were developed to show how electronics and fluidics could transform clothes into smart biometric bodysuits that respond to a wearer's environment and vital signs.
"The era of wearable electronics for fashion and health is here," said Zenhausern. "The biometric bodysuit shows how electronics and fluidics can be incorporated into clothing to perform a wide range of tasks, from highly functional (like dispensing medicine, detecting pathogens or providing environmental awareness for personal safety and protection) to the aesthetic (clothes that change colors or display patterns as downloaded from a website to change the fashionable motifs and designs of a garment). This will be the standard of the future for interactive personal communication systems."
The ASU researchers call their outfits the Scentsory Chameleon Bodysuit, which act as a "smart second skin" through the integration of printed organic opto-electronics and integrated flexible nano-genetic devices on textiles. They enable real-time remote personal health and medical monitoring into multi-media and sensorial clothing."
"Observations of giant clouds of galaxies far out in space and time have revealed new evidence that some mysterious force began to push the cosmos apart six billion years ago, astronomers said yesterday.
The results constitute striking confirmation of one of the weirdest discoveries of modern science: that the expansion of the universe seems to be accelerating, the galaxies flying apart faster and faster with time, under the influence of some antigravitational force. The work, astronomers said, opens up a powerful new way of investigating the nature of this 'dark energy' and its effect on the destiny of the cosmos.
The astronomers used an orbiting X-ray satellite called Chandra to observe hot gases in the distant galactic clusters. By analyzing the X-rays emitted by those gases, they could calculate the distance from Earth and the speed of each of the clusters and thus trace the history of the expansion of the universe over the last 10 billion years, they said.
'The universe is accelerating,' said Dr. Steve Allen of Cambridge University in England, leader of the international team that did the work. 'We have found strong new evidence for dark energy.'
They announced their results at a news conference at NASA headquarters in Washington. A paper describing the work has been submitted to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Other astronomers hailed the X-ray cluster method as a potential complement to other ways of investigating dark energy but said they would withhold judgment about this particular calculation until they could study the details. Most of the previous studies, including those that led to the discovery of dark energy, used exploding stars known as Type 1a supernovas as cosmic distance markers.
Dr. Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, an original discoverer of dark energy, hailed the work as another sign of the new age of "precision cosmology."
So, what is this game about?Well, I played the short, 4 hour, introductory version of the game last year at DragonCon. Their standard game is eight hours, and includes a great deal of time fighting over share of the national budget. During the game you start to get an idea of how complex and chaotic things are/can get in national/international politics. In the game I played, I wound up playing the Secretary of State. I had a personal mission of trying to establish a 3 brigade sized, international emergency response unit. I also had a $billion that I had somehow freed from my budget to apply to this goal. During the course of the game, the Turks (in the form of one of the controllers) offered me a three brigade force for peace keeping in Iraq. Now, I turned the offer down, which may have cost me the game (I could have had my three brigades, and than used my $billion to bargain for some other goal), but somehow, I knew that letting three Turkish brigades operate in the Kurdish zone would have caused severe repercussions (in real life). The guy who won, the head of the CIA, arranged for us to secretly 'steal' a damaged Russian submarine off the coast of Hawaii, which almost got us into war with the Russians. He did it w/o the president or the Sec State(me) knowing about it. In fact, it was startling how little control the president has over the agency and dept heads.
The NSDM Game recreates real-world international crises of the present or immediate future. Ideas for scenarios are taken from current headlines and developing trends. Players take the parts of national leaders, dignitaries, ambassadors, military leaders, and political groups and are given the opportunity to try and solve all the world's problems.
At the opening of the game Controllers will select a scenario appropriate for the number of players present. Players are assigned places within a Country or Organization cell, typically representing major world powers like the US, Russia, China, Japan, Great Britain, France, Germany, Iran, Israel, etc. And organizations like the international media, the UN, NATO, and the EU. Available player cells change with each game, and not all countries are represented in each scenario. In some games countries will be played by Controllers.
Each player is assigned a role and a set of motivations and goals. The object of the game is to play your role well and to accomplish your assigned goals. In some cases players have conflicting goals, just like in real life. As a player you spend time negotiating with allies and enemies, making deals to gain you or your country more power, more weapons, more food, or a national chain of convenience stores. Some players will have roles which require them to set a national budget for the country they represent, in order to fund actions of the military, state, intelligence, research, and business players. Other players, both within and outside of your cell, may be working with you or against you in order to further their own goals. Your opportunities are limited only by your imagination and ambition.
"This riveting and meticulously documented history of U.S. intervention in Iraq shows:Sorry about the lack of a link to the broadcast, but it was a good program, and I had to agree with a lot of what he said. Not everything, but a great deal. Somewhere about the time he starts answering questions form the audience (and he might have done that twice, I was also reading the AJC at the time), he was telling a story about how he handles right wing criticisms and gave this quote as an excellent example:
How the Bush administration seized on September 11 to consolidate a new global strategy of unbounded war for greater empire [?]
Why conquering Iraq is central to U.S. imperial objectives[?]
How the 2003 Iraq War grew out of over 80 years of foreign domination of the Middle East, yet also represents a radical leap in U.S. efforts to control the region[?]
How oil was a major objective of the war, not to fuel SUV's or reward favored corporations, but to secure a powerful weapon of empire[?]
How the U.S. is attempting to create an Iraqi client state, and why its occupation is spawning popular resistance[?]
How the Bush war juggernaut could be derailed[?]"
"Saddam was put into power by people like you to kill people like me."Which I thought was just a friggin' dynamite way to respond the next time someone relies on the 'Saddam was evil defense' for the war, and how can you be opposed to it?
"This briefing is intended as an overview. It neither examines the issues to which it gives rise nor attempts to weigh evidence in support of various claims. Since it assumes that publicly acknowledged contact is not far off (or has just occurred), evidence that extraterrestrials exist is outside its scope. Furthermore, the Star Visitors themselves will be in a better position to address in detail the many controversial and conceptually challenging claims contained herein. My sources for this overview (including myself) are numerous, varied, and fallible. Some of my claims may ultimately prove incorrect. No person credibly can lay claim to exclusive truth or to knowledge of the whole picture in this difficult arena. The 'matter of fact' style I have adopted for purposes of this briefing should be interpreted accordingly. Many of the ideas contained herein have been discussed both sympathetically and critically by other researchers. A few are relatively unique to me. However, since whatever truth this overview contains will be cashed in shortly after formal contact, I do not attempt to justify different sources of information. I have sought merely to prepare a document for the average reader that touches many bases and hopefully integrates an otherwise vast amount of information into a framework for useful discussion. A very select bibliography, touching on quite divergent aspects of this contact, is appended for those wishing to read further. I strongly recommend visiting Dr. Richard Boylan's website at www.jps.net/drboylan for authoritative information on many aspects of contact. Those interested in a comprehensive briefing prepared for members of Congress mostly around the question of evidence for current extraterrestrial visitations should consult Dr. Steven Greer's website www.disclosureproject.org. I also recommend the extensive documentaries on contact as presented by the History Channel as well as reports of the Paradigm Research Group and X-PPAC whose founder, Stephen Bassett, can be contacted at Disclosure2003@aol.com."So, don't worry, trust the 'spaceys'. But, I must admit that I saw a UFO, which was labelled as a UFO by the by the militaries on both sides of the Berlin Wall and reported in both the Stars and Stripes and German papers, if I remember correctly, but in one for sure. So...And I kind of appreciate the disclaimer. Interesting touch.
"The Venus Transit of June 8, 2004 is clearly the astronomical event of the year. But it may be much, much more than that. The Venus Transit has always preceded great breakthroughs in human consciousness and played a very significant role in the Mayan Calendar. It is also a turning point in the Vedic tradition. According to the Indian avatar Sri Kalki Bhagavan, the Venus Transit of 2004 will be the actual starting point of the Golden Age, a process that will come to an conclusion at the next Venus Transit in 2012. This article presents the significance of the Venus transit on June 8, 2004 in its larger context and in relation to the Mayan Calendar.So, it's extra-terrestrial, just not living, I guess. Heck I don't know. I do think there is a trend toward increasing synchronicity though, and I see it in a lot of the cultural shifts in time, including fashions, fads, cults, and every day interactions. So...
To begin with, a Venus transit is an astronomical event where the planet Venus passes between the Earth and the sun a sort of eclipse. Venus transits lasts for 6-7 hours and come in pairs separated by exactly 8 earth years minus two days. As far as human measures go such pairs of transits occur only rarely. Below is a list of the years of the most recent occurrences, where the second transit in the pair is given within parentheses:
Since there is no person alive today who was born in 1882 or earlier the Venus transit in 2004 will be everyone’s first such experience. What may we then expect from this occurrence? To find out it is certainly worth studying what happened in the world earlier in the first of these pairs of transits. We may then note that 1518 was when the first circumnavigation of the globe by Magellan/del Cano was launched (they set sail in 1519). The impact on the minds of people of this accomplishment was enormous. Through their journey these captains had shown in practice that the world was not flat, but spherical. In the following years a new world view emerged in which it was clear that humans inhabited a globe. The time of speculation was over and this may be said to have been the first step in the development of a Global Brain."