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04/02/2003 Archived Entry: "T Rex"

My friend Gordon writes, "In one of the most elaborate April Fool's pranks I have ever seen, the Sanger Institute's ENSEMBL Project has produced a bogus "draft release" of the genome for T. rex, complete with bogus press-releases, and "preliminary annotation notes." I would say this conclusively proves that some biologists _do_ have a sense of humor --- and apparently FAR too much free time..."

On the Political Front:

For a review of yesterday's military events...

The BBC reports on something we intimately know, "the US economy is already suffering just 13 days after war began." Duh. Has a BBC reporter gone to a grocery store or restaurant in the US in the last 6 months? Canada is getting battered as well. I like to give microcosm glimpses of general statements, like the preceding one, because it gives a sense of the reality of ordinary people burdened by that generalization. My neighbor and I were chatting yesterday -- (a chat occasioned by the fact that my 100-lb+ German Shepherd has taken to chasing her two Shepherds across *her* fields and back to her doorstep, where they clamor in panic to get inside. Unacceptable behavior! Sam is grounded.) Anyway...my point is (and I *do* have one!)...she just got her heating bill for January. As a widow on the pension, she pinches pennies and, so, reluctantly made the splurge two years ago to convert from electric heat, supplemented by a fireplace, to an oil-burning furnace because it was cheaper. Her January bill for heat was $400, with oil rising a full 10 cents a litre from December. By contrast, our wood supply cost $500 for the year. We've been burning wood and heating the house to cozy temperatures since October and the airtight stove is crackling as I write. We rely entirely on the airtight...tho' electric is always available as a back up. But very few people have our options. They have to go cold or pay outrageous prices for warmth, which is a basic human need. Goddamn every politician on the face of the earth! Because my neighbor's choice -- warmth or better food -- is imposed by politics not by the free market.

The US military's "self-inflicted disaster" in the battle for hearts and minds continues. The incident in which soldiers from the US 3rd infantry division shot dead seven Iraqi women and children is being whitewashed by the US as "justified" but the details reported by a Washington Post journalist differ from the official account. To say the least. "You just fucking killed a family because you didn't fire a warning shot soon enough!", Capt. Ronnie Johnson reportedly yelled at the soldiers involved. Meanwhile the it has emerged that the explosion in a Baghdad market which killed more than 60 people last Friday was indeed caused by a cruise missile and not an Iraqi anti-aircraft rocket as the US has suggested. And, then, there are the horror stories of scared US kids shooting civilians that you just don't hear about.

Don't be fooled by the video of smiling Iraqis on CNN. As Charley Reese comments in his latest column, "This, too, is an ancient phenomenon. Certain people always greet the latest conqueror with public smiles. A friend in China immediately after World War II went into a Chinese shop that prominently displayed a decal of an American flag on its window. The shop owner was effusive in praise of Americans. But as my friend left, he could see that underneath the decal of the American flag was a decal of the Japanese flag. People from very old civilizations get used to seeing conquerors come and go. It is not the public smiles and words that count; it is what they say and do in private."

The war appears to be lengthening because Iraq is being reinforced by volunteers and equipment across Syria's border. Commentary on NoWarBlog insightfully addresses the situation, "Throughout the 1980s, the Afghan struggle against the Soviets attracted the attention of Islamic militants throughout the world, many of whom streamed into the country to assist the mujahadeen. In the 1990s, many would-be Islamic revolutionaries slipped into Bosnia and Chechnya in order to help the embattled Muslim populations ward off their adversaries, as this memoir vividly recounts. Although the war in Iraq is less than two weeks old, there's a distinct possibility that, if the war drags on for months, Iraq could become the new "hot spot" for radical Islamic groups. With this in mind, the stream of "volunteers" coming from Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine is undoubtedly an ominous sign. Despite American warnings, in the last few days Damascus has expedited the passage of volunteers wishing to join the Iraqis in their war against the Americans. Thousands of volunteers, most of them Syrians, are thronging to the Mosul and Kirkuk regions in north Iraq. It started with a few dozen volunteers, mostly from the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Damascus allowed them to cross the border to Iraq at the official border passes in its control. This went on until a missile from an American plane hit one of the buses of volunteers in Iraq, killing five passengers...The trucks do not go east toward Baghdad but northeast, to the Mosul and Kirkuk regions, on routes still free of American military activity. It is not known who receives these people when they arrive, where they stay or how they are organized. It would be ironic, to say the least, if Iraq became a rallying cry for Islamic radicals, considering that Saddam isn't exactly a hero in the region. But hey, I'm sure the 'best and the brightest' at the Pentagon envisioned this scenario, right?" Is Syria the next nation to be invaded by the marines?

And while we talking of the best and the brightest, why is the US extending its military mission in South Korea?

Thanks to Diane for sending me this link that is an extension the concerns I expressed in the 03/31/03 blog about Google's disregard for people's privacy. The site is definitely worth a read. And...if you are researching something that you'd rather not be public knowledge, maybe you shouldn't use Google.

Best to all,

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