Gregory Johnsen, a former Fulbright Fellow in Yemen, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. Johnsen has written for a variety of publications on Yemen including, among others, Foreign Policy, The American Interest, The Independent, The Boston Globe, and The National. He is the co-founder of Waq al-Waq: Islam and Insurgency in Yemen Blog. In 2009, he was a member of the USAID's conflict assessment team for Yemen.
Waq al-waq's spring cleaning goes on, as we continue to ignore stories in nearly every sector. But I think it is time for a quick round-up.
First is this story about the new courts for media cases. This is a horrible idea, but it does illustrate how sensitive the government is about issues of secession as opposed to al-Qaeda and the al-Huthi revolt.
Second is this NPR story, about al-Qaeda. For the record I disagree with Sha'a about al-Qaeda in Yemen (ahem, the Arabian Peninsula) becoming a global threat in the same way al-Qaeda in Afghanistan prior to 9/11 was, also it seems that the meeting didn't take place in a "mountain hideout" but rather in a neighborhood in San'a.
There is also this inane and uninformed post by Thomas Jocelyn at The Weekly Standard. He is discussing the case of Adnan Latif, whom I have written about in other places, most recently in Jane's Intelligence Review along with Andrew Nash.
Jocelyn writes that: "Latif also denied any connection to al Qaeda, implausibly arguing that he traveled from Yemen to Jordan and then to Pakistan and Afghanistan simply for medical treatment. Latif says that he made this trip with the help of a man he didn’t know and that he wasn’t even sure what organization employed the man."
This is one of the problems that arises when people without local knowledge start commenting on the plausibility or implausibility of events in a country they know only superficially. For the record, I have no connection with Latif's family or his defense, but I think a reasoned reading of his transcript combined with knowledge of Yemen would strongly suggest that he was someone who was caught up in the bounty dragnet in the aftermath of 9/11. It is also, in my opinion, entirely plausible that Latif did travel to these countries to seek medical help.
This is also one of the problems of the confusion and inability to decide what to do with the Yemeni detainees, while the Obama administration attempts to come to a decision on what to do with the men it can't release and it can't try the rest of the detainees like Latif continue to remain in detention.
Latif's transcript (available at the above link) makes for disturbing reading. He is also featured in Poems from Guantanamo with an excellent introduction by W. Flagg Miller.
My apologies to the comments we have failed to answer or at least respond to, I'll be back at full operating strength next week.
It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.
- Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
- These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
- The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.
- Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
- Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
- Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
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