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November 24, 2001

Where is the World Heading?

by Noam Chomsky

A few years ago, one of the great figures of contemporary biology, Ernst Mayr of Harvard published some reflections on the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. His conclusion was that the likelihood of success was effectively zero. His reasoning had to do with the adaptive value of what we call higher intelligence, meaning the particular human form of intellectual organisation. Mayr estimates the number of species since the origin of life at about 50 billion, only one of which, he writes, achieved the kind of intelligence needed to establish a civilisation. It did so very recently, perhaps a hundred thousand years ago in a small breeding group of which we are all survivors. And he speculates that this form of intellectual organisation may not be favoured by selection, and points out that life on earth refutes the claim that "itís better to be smart than stupid," at least judging by biological success, which is great for beetles and bacteria but not so good as you move higher up the level of cognitive organisation. And he also makes the rather sombre observation that the average life expectancy of a species is about a hundred thousand years. Full Article

Moving Toward A Police State or Have We Arrived?

Secret Military Tribunals, Mass Arrests and Disappearances, Wiretapping & Torture

by Robin McKie

I live a few blocks from the World Trade Center. In New York, we are still mourning the loss of so many after the attacks on our city. We want to arrest and punish the terrorists, eliminate the terrorist network and prevent future attacks. But the government's declared war on terrorism, and many of the anti-terrorism measures include a curtailment of freedom and constitutional rights that have many of us very worried.

I wrote the above paragraph and much of the article that follows toward the end of October. At that time, the repressive machinery then being put into effect was already terrifying. Since that time the situation has gotten unimaginably worse; rights that we thought embedded in the constitution and protected by international law are in serious jeopardy or have already been eliminated. It is no exaggeration to say we are moving toward a police state. In this atmosphere, we should take nothing for granted. We will not be protected nor will the courts, the congress, or the many liberals who are gleefully jumping on the bandwagon of repression guarantee our rights. We have no choice but too make our voices be heard; it is time to stand and be counted on the side of justice and against the antediluvian forces that have much of our country in a stranglehold. Full Article

The anti-terrorism bill undermines both the human rights convention and the rule of law

by Martin Thomas UK Guardian

When, less than two years ago, Jack Straw introduced the bill which became the Terrorism Act 2000, he proclaimed: "We will have handed the terrorists the victory that they seek if, in combating their threats and violence, we descend to their level and undermine the essential freedoms and rule of law that are the bedrock of our democracy."

He is now one of the signatories to the emergency anti-terrorism bill which does precisely that. The bill goes before the Commons again today. In its first serious test, the human rights convention is sidelined.Full Article

No more undeclared wars

by Patrick J. Buchanan

FDR "lied us into war because he did not have the political courage to lead us into it," Rep. Clare Luce blurted out in 1944.

The target of Luce's accusation was a president who by then had entered the pantheon alongside Lincoln and Washington. FDR's courtiers savaged the lady for maligning the Great Man, but few could credibly deny the truth of what she had said.

No matter the justice and nobility of America's cause in World War II, FDR had lied us into war. Even as he soothingly reassured the mothers and fathers of America ("I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars"), he was stoking war, and provoking Germany and Japan. Full Article

Journal axes gene research on Jews and Palestinians

by Robin McKie

A keynote research paper showing that Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians are genetically almost identical has been pulled from a leading journal.

Academics who have already received copies of Human Immunology have been urged to rip out the offending pages and throw them away.

Such a drastic act of self-censorship is unprecedented in research publishing and has created widespread disquiet, generating fears that it may involve the suppression of scientific work that questions Biblical dogma. Full Article