"Pistols to Iraq:
The Sex Pistols plan to play in Baghdad next year. US-based John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten, above, said the band, now back together playing in America, want Iraqis to understand the downside of democracy." 10:45:12 PM
What is al-Qaeda?: From a new book by Jason Burke: "misconceptions were widespread. Foremost among them was the idea that bin Laden led a cohesive and structured terrorist organisation called "al-Qaeda". Every piece of evidence I came across in my own work contradicted this notion of al-Qaeda as an "Evil Empire" with an omnipotent mastermind at its head. Such an idea was undoubtedly comforting - destroy the man and his henchmen and the problem goes away - but it was clearly deeply flawed. ..
Western intelligence officials have been criticised for being slow to recognise al-Qaeda. This is unfair. In his first few years in Sudan bin Laden was at least as interested in arboriculture and road construction as in creating an international legion of Islamic militants. His own group had barely expanded beyond the dozen or so individuals who had pledged allegiance to him back in 1988 or 1989 and he was heavily reliant on the know-how and resources of larger and more established militant outfits such as Egytpian Islamic Jihad. Nor was he connected to the raft of attacks, including that on the World Trade Centre, there were in this period. His involvement in Somalia and the famous "blackhawk down" episode was marginal.
In 1996 bin Laden moved from Sudan to Afghanistan. This provided the first real opportunity for him to build something that could genuinely be described as an organised terrorist structure.
What bin Laden was able to do in Afghanistan was provide a central focus for many of the disparate elements within contemporary Islamic militancy. This led, not to the formation of a huge and disciplined group "with tentacles everywhere", but to a temporary concentration of many of the different strands within modern Islamic militancy on a single place and project. This period, from 1996 to 2001, is when "al-Qaeda" matured. ..
It is also true that representatives of bin Laden did have some contact with Saddam Hussein's regime, as the American administration has often said. But bin Laden rejected all of Baghdad's approaches - a point that is less often made by hawks in Washington. .. [Interesting he says Saddam approached bin Laden, repeatedly]
.. increasingly, the extremists are no longer perceived as the "lunatic fringe". Instead they are seen as the standard bearers. And their language is now the dominant discourse in modern Islamic activism. Their debased, violent, nihilisitic, anti-rational millenarianism has become the standard ideology aspired to by angry young Muslim men. This is the genuine victory of bin Laden and our greatest defeat in the "war on terror". 10:43:46 PM
Hydrogen Fuel Cells May Hurt Ozone:
In "Science magazine, researchers at the California Institute of Technology raised the possibility that if hydrogen fuel replaced fossil fuels entirely, it could be expected that 10 percent to 20 percent of the hydrogen would leak from pipelines, storage facilities, processing plants and fuel cells in cars and at power plants. Because hydrogen readily travels skyward, the researchers estimated that its increased use could lead to as much as a tripling of hydrogen molecules -- both manmade and from natural sources -- going into the stratosphere, where it would oxidize and form water. "This would result in cooling of the lower stratosphere and the disturbance of ozone chemistry," the researchers wrote. It would mean bigger and longer-lasting ozone holes in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, where drops in ozone levels have been recorded over the past 20 years. They estimated that ozone depletion could be as much as 8 percent." Others say the rate of leakage would be far less, esp if storage systems were designed to minimize leakaga; and some speculate that some H2 might enter the soil. 10:24:56 PM
When Frontier Justice Becomes Foreign Policy
: About assassination as a tool of foreign policy: "personalized killing has a way of deepening the bitterness of war without bringing conflict closer to resolution. In April 1986 President Reagan authorized an air raid on the home of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya that spared him but killed his daughter. The Reagan administration never acknowledged that Colonel Qaddafi, personally, was the target, nor did it publicly speculate two years later that Libya's bombing of an American jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people, was Colonel Qaddafi's revenge for the death of his daughter. But the administration got the message: after Lockerbie, Washington relied on legal action to settle the score" 10:03:13 PM