Some Myths About The Afghan War
We need to disabuse ourselves of several untruths being told about our war efforts in Afghanistan. One is that we are fighting for democracy. Democracy is fine for Norway and Denmark but it is bad in war-torn places that are undeveloped because it becomes a patronage system for kickbacks being handed out to corrupt insiders. What we want is a competent government that can secure its own boundaries and streets. There are plenty of undemocratic governments that do this better than democracies—in fact, most do. Before you write me quoting Winston Churchill’s famous line about democracies, I would just say it was not until Nuri al-Maliki started acting like an all-powerful strongman—or "Saddam without the mustache," as some of his detractors have described him—that the country started resembling a normalized state.
Second, let’s disabuse ourselves of this notion that the corrupt election of Hamid Karzai is somehow why we are rethinking our misadventure there. This is a bogus sentiment. I agree that Karzai is as corrupt as they come, but most of us knew that beforehand so our recent post-election indignation has a Captain Renault sniff to it. The former Iraqi government under Iyad Allawi, in which over $1 billion for the defense ministry somehow went missing, was way more corrupt than Karzai’s government, yet I don’t remember calls from Washington calling for an immediate pullout as a result of such outright fraud. I think we are holding Karzai up to a higher standard because he gives off the impression that he is this regal, above-the-fray leader of his people, when in fact he’s just a backroom dealer who will do anything to keep his current gig.
Finally, Afghanistan is the central front in the war on terror. This stands logic on its head. Let’s assume for a second that Osama bin Laden was not in Afghanistan when the planes struck the Twin Towers but was in Sudan (which is where he was ensconced previously). Would we have invaded Sudan and deposed of its government? Perhaps. But we may also have left the Taliban alone if its fingerprints were not on 9/11. Lawrence Wright in his book The Looming Tower confirms that the Taliban was reluctant to host al-Qaeda and was ticked after bin Laden started attacking targets in the West.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
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