Monday, 19 December 2011

Our Extreme Weather: Is Arctic Sea Ice Loss Partly to Blame?

Climate change is a real event that is happening now, however in reality it has been a gradual change over years. We have simply reached a period where the affects are very apparent. Unfortunately there is really nothing we can do now, apart from adapt to out new ever changing climate. This is a fact, and it is a foolish to ignore the signs.

– by Jeff Masters in a Wunderblog repost

“The question is not whether sea ice loss is affecting the large-scale atmospheric circulation…. It’s how can it not?” That was the take-home message from Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, in her talk “Does Arctic Amplification Fuel Extreme Weather in Mid-Latitudes?”, presented at last week’s American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Dr. Francis presented new research in review for publication, which shows that Arctic sea ice loss may significantly affect the upper-level atmospheric circulation, slowing its winds and increasing its tendency to make contorted high-amplitude loops. High-amplitude loops in the upper level wind pattern (and associated jet stream) increases the probability of persistent weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere, potentially leading to extreme weather due to longer-duration cold spells, snow events, heat waves, flooding events, and drought conditions.

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice in September 2007 reached its lowest extent on record, approximately 40% lower than when satellite records began in 1979. Sea ice loss in 2011 was virtually tied with the ice loss in 2007, despite weather conditions that were not as unusual in the Arctic. Image creditUniversity of Illinois Cryosphere Today.

Summertime Arctic sea ice loss: 40% since 1980
The Arctic has seen a stunning amount of sea ice loss in recent years, due to melting and unfavorable winds that have pushed large amounts of ice out of the region. Forty percent of the sea ice was missing in September 2007, compared to September of 1980. This is an area equivalent to about 44% of the contiguous U.S., or 71% of the non-Russian portion of Europe. Such a large area of open water is bound to cause significant impacts on weather patterns, due to the huge amount of heat and moisture that escapes from the exposed ocean into the atmosphere over a multi-month period following the summer melt.

Figure 2. The extent of Arctic sea ice loss in the summer July – August – September period in 2007 was about 1.4 million square miles (3.6 million square kilometers) greater than in 1980, according to the University of Illinois Cryosphere Today. For comparison, the lost ice coverage (orange colors) was equal to an area about 44% of the size of the contiguous U.S., or 71% of the non-Russian portion of Europe.

Arctic sea ice loss can slow down jet stream winds
Dr. Francis looked at surface and upper level data from 1948 – 2010, and discovered that the extra heat in the Arctic in fall and winter over the past decade had caused the Arctic atmosphere between the surface and 500 mb (about 18,000 feet or 5,600 meters) to expand. As a result, the difference in temperature between the Arctic (60 – 80°N) and the mid-latitudes (30 – 50°N) fell significantly. It is this difference in temperature that drives the powerful jet stream winds that control much of our weather.

The speed of fall and winter west-to-east upper-level winds at 500 mb circling the North Pole decreased by 20% over the past decade, compared to the period 1948 – 2000, in response to the extra warmth in the Arctic. This slow-down of the upper-level winds circling the pole has been linked to a Hot Arctic-Cold Continents pattern that brought cold, snowy winters to the Eastern U.S. and Western Europe during 2009 – 2010 and 2010 – 2011.

Figure 3. West-to-east jet stream wind speeds at 500 mb (approximately 18,000 feet or 5,600 meters) in the mid-latitudes (40 – 60°N) over North America between 1948 and 2010. During fall (October – November – December) and winter (January – February – March), jet stream winds weakened by about 20%, from 13 – 14 m/s to 10.5 – 11 m/s. Spring (AMJ) and summer (JAS) winds changed little during this time period.

Arctic sea ice loss may increase the amplitude of jet stream troughs and ridges
The jet stream generally blows from west to east over the northern mid-latitudes, with an average position over the central U.S. in winter and southern Canada in summer. The jet stream marks the boundary between cold polar air to the north and warm subtropical air to the south, and is the path along which rain and snow-bearing low pressure systems ride. Instead of blowing straight west-to-east, the jet stream often contorts itself into a wave-like pattern. Where the jet stream bulges northwards into a ridge of high pressure, warm air flows far to the north. Where the jet loops to the south into a trough of low pressure, cold air spills southwards. The more extreme these loops to the north and south are–the amplitude of the jet stream–the slower the waves move eastward, and consequently, the more persistent the weather conditions tend to be.

A high-amplitude jet stream pattern (more than 1000 miles or 1610 km in distance between the bottom of a trough and the peak of a ridge) is likely to bring abnormally high temperatures to the region under its ridge, and very cold temperatures and heavy precipitation underneath its trough. The mathematics governing atmospheric motions requires that higher-amplitude flow patterns move more slowly. Thus, any change to the atmosphere that increases the amplitude of the wave pattern will make it move more slowly, increasing the length of time extreme weather conditions persist.

Dr. Francis discovered that during the early 1960s, a natural pattern in the atmosphere called the Arctic Oscillation increased the amplitude of the winter jet stream pattern over North America and the North Atlantic by more than 100 miles, increasing the potential for long-lasting weather conditions. The amplitude of the winter jet fell over 100 miles (161 km) during the late 1960s, remained roughly constant during the 1970s – 1990s, then increased by over 100 miles again during the 2000s. This latest increase in wave amplitude did not appear to be connected to the Arctic Oscillation, but did appear to be connected to the heating up of the Arctic due to sea ice loss. A warmer Arctic allows ridges of high pressure to build farther to the north. Since temperatures farther to the south near the bases of the troughs are not changing much by comparison, the result is that the amplitude of the jet stream grows as the ridges of high pressure push farther to the north. Thus it is possible that Arctic sea ice loss and the associated increases in jet stream amplitude could be partially responsible for some of the recent unusual extreme weather patterns observed in the Northern Hemisphere. This is preliminary research that has yet to be published, and much more work needs to be done before we can confidently link Arctic sea ice loss with an increase in extreme weather, though

Figure 4. A high-amplitude jet stream pattern observed over the U.S. on December 13, 2011. Instead of blowing straight west-to-east, the jet was contorted into a southward-bulging trough of low pressure that brought cold temperatures and a snow storm to Southern California, and a northwards-bulging ridge of high pressure that brought record warm temperatures to portions of the eastern 2/3 of the country. The axis of the jet stream is marked by the strongest winds (green and light blue colors) at the top of the lower atmosphere (200 – 300 mb pressure level.)

Earlier snow cover melt on Arctic land also increases the amplitude of jet stream troughs and ridges
As Earth’s climate has warmed over the past 30 years, the Northern Hemisphere has seen a dramatic drop in the amount of snow cover in spring (April, May, and June.)Spring is coming earlier by an average of three days per decade, and the earlier arrival of spring has significantly reduced the amount of snow on the ground in May. Less snow on the ground means the land surface can heat up more readily, and May temperatures in Arctic have increased significantly over the past 30 years. Dr. Francis found that the upper-level wave amplitude has increased by over 100 miles (161 km) in summer over the past decade, and this change appears to be connected to the decline in May snow cover. Thus, reduced May snow cover due to global warming may be causing higher-amplitude jet stream patterns, potentially leading to slower-moving weather patterns that favor extreme weather in summer, such as heat waves, drought, and flooding. Note that significant changes to the upper-level atmospheric circulation in spring were not observed, so springtime extreme weather events like the 2011 flooding and tornadoes in the U.S. cannot be connected to changes in the Arctic sea ice or high-latitude snow cover using this research.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Do we really have free will?

Does free will truly exist, or are we simply reactionary, based on the sum of our experiences and genetic make up at any given moment?

This is a very important question, that we all should consider, because the implications would change the nature of humanity. If we do not have free will, then could any of us truly be held responsible for our actions? However if free will is truly ours, this means that we have the ability to change any outcome, now and in the future.

The following, strange read, explains why in a quantum sense we must have free will. So choose to read this or not, it is up to you!


Robert Nozick....why there is something rather than nothing, quipped: “Someone who proposes a non-strange answer shows he didn’t understand the question.”

Science experiments always presume complete freedom of will; without it, how would we know that some grand conspiracy isn’t manipulating our choices to hide the truth from us?

I see no contradiction whatsoever between determinism and free will, because they operate at two different levels of reality. Determinism describes the basic laws of physics. Free will describes the behavior of conscious beings. It is an emergent property. Individual particles aren't free. Nor are they hot, or wet, or alive. Those properties arise from particles’ collective behaviour.

After all, physics is reversible. What determinism means is that the state at one time implies the state at all other times. It does not privilege one state over another. Thus your decision, in a very real sense, creates the initial conditions of the universe.

Free Will and Quantum Clones: How Your Choices Today Affect the Universe at its Origin

The late philosopher Robert Nozick, talking about the deep question of why there is something rather than nothing, quipped: “Someone who proposes a non-strange answer shows he didn’t understand the question.” So, when Scott Aaronson began a talk three weeks ago by saying it would be “the looniest talk I’ve ever given,” it was a good start. At a conference on the nature of time—a question so deep it’s hard even to formulate as a question—“loony” is high praise indeed. And indeed his talk was rich in ambition and vision. It left physics überblogger Sabine Hossenfelder uncharacteristically lost for words.
As part of his general push to apply theoretical computer science to philosophy, Aaronson has been giving thought to that old favorite of college metaphysics classes and late-night dorm-room bull sessions: free will. Do we have autonomy, or are our choices preordained? Is that a false choice? What does it mean to be free, anyway? For some of Aaronson’s earlier thoughts, see his lecture and blog post. Though hard to summarize, his talk (slides here) can be broken down into two parts.
First, he sought to translate fuzzy notions of free will into a concrete operational definition. He proposed a variation on the Turing Test which he calls the Envelope Argument or Prediction Game: someone poses questions to you and to a computer model of your brain, trying to figure out who’s the human. If a computer, operating deterministically, can reproduce your answers, then you, too, must be operating deterministically and are therefore not truly free. (Here, I use the word “deterministically” in a physicist’s or philosopher’s sense; computer scientists have their own, narrower meaning.) Although the test can never be definitive, the unpredictability of your responses can be quantified by the size of the smallest computer program needed to reproduce those responses. Zeeya Merali gave a nice summary of Aaronson’s proposal at theFoundation Questions Institute blog.
The output of this game, as Aaronson portrayed it, would be a level of confidence for whether your will is free or not. But I think it might be better interpreted as a measure of the amount of free will you have. Last year, quantum physicists Jonathan Barrett and Nicolas Gisin argued that free will is not a binary choice, live free or die, but a power that admits of degree. They proposed to quantify free will using quantum entanglement experiments. Freedom of will enters into these experiments because physicists make a choice about which property of a particle to measure, and the choice affects the outcome. Such experiments are commonly taken as evidence for spooky action at a distance, because your choice can affect the outcome of a measurement made at a distant location. But they can also be interpreted as a probe of free will.
If there are, say, 1000 possible measurements, then complete freedom means you could choose any of the 1000; if your choice were constrained to 500, you would have lost one bit of free will. Interestingly, Barrett and Gisin showed that the loss of even a single bit would explain away spooky action. You wouldn’t need to suppose that your decision somehow leaps across space to influence the particle. Instead, both your choice and the outcome could be prearranged to match. What is surprising is how little advance setup would do the trick. The more you think about this, the more disturbed you should get. Science experiments always presume complete freedom of will; without it, how would we know that some grand conspiracy isn’t manipulating our choices to hide the truth from us?
Back to Aaronson’s talk. After describing his experiment, he posed the question of whether a computer could ever convincingly win the Prediction Game. The trouble is that a crucial step—doing a brain scan to set up the computer model—cannot be done with fidelity. Quantum mechanics forbids you from making a perfect copy of a quantum state—a principle known as the no-cloning theorem. The significance of this depends on how strongly quantum effects operate in the brain. If the mind is mostly classical, then the computer could predict most of your decisions.
Invoking the no-cloning theorem is a clever twist. The theorem derives from the determinism—technically, unitarity—of quantum mechanics. So here we have determinism acting not as the slayer of free will, but as its savior. Quantum mechanics is a theory with a keen sense of irony. In the process of quantum decoherence, to give another example, entanglement is destroyed by… more entanglement.
As fun as Aaronson’s game is, I don’t see it as a test of free will per se. As he admitted, predictable does not mean unfree. Predictability is just one aspect of the problem. In the spirit of inventing variations on the Turing Test, consider the Toddler Test. Ask a toddler something, anything. He or she will say “no.” It is a test that parents will wearily recognize. The answers, by Aaronson’s complexity measure, are completely predictable. But that hardly reflects on the toddler’s freedom; indeed, toddlers play the game precisely to exercise their free will. The Toddler Test shows the limits of predictability, too. Who knows when the toddler will stop playing? If there is anybody in the world who is unpredictable, it is a toddler. What parents would give for a window in their skulls!
Yet no one denies that toddlers are composed of particles that behave according to deterministic laws. So how do you square their free will with those laws? Likecosmologist Sean Carroll, I lean toward what philosophers call compatibilism: I see no contradiction whatsoever between determinism and free will, because they operate at two different levels of reality. Determinism describes the basic laws of physics. Free will describes the behavior of conscious beings. It is an emergent property. Individual particles aren’t free. Nor are they hot, or wet, or alive. Those properties arise from particles’ collective behavior.
To put it differently, we can’t talk about whether you have free will until we can talk about you. The behavior of particles could be completely preordained by the initial conditions of the universe, but that is irrelevant to your decisions. You still need to make them.
What you are is the confluence of countless chains of events that stretch back to the dawn of time. Every decision you make depends on everything you have ever learned and experienced, coming together in your head for the first and only time in the history of the universe. The decision you make is implicit in those influences, but they have never all intersected before. Thus your decision is a unique creative act.
This is why even the slightest violation of free will in a quantum entanglement experiment beggars belief. “Free will” in such an experiment means simply that your choice of what to measure is such a distant cousin of the particle’s behavior that the two have never interacted until now.
This is where we get into the second big point that Aaronson made in his talk, about just how creative an act it was. Even if the influences producing a free choice have never interacted before, they can all be traced to the initial state of the universe. There is always some uncertainty about what that state was; a huge range of possibilities would have led to the universe we see today. But the decision you make resolves some of that uncertainty. It acts as a measurement of those countless influences.
Yet in a deterministic universe, those is no justification for saying that the initial state caused the decision; it is equally valid to say that the decision caused the initial state. After all, physics is reversible. What determinism means is that the state at one time implies the state at all other times. It does not privilege one state over another. Thus your decision, in a very real sense, creates the initial conditions of the universe.
This backward causation, or retrocausality, was the “loony” aspect of Aaronson’s talk. Except there’s nothing loony about it. It is a concept that Einstein’s special theory of relativity made a live possibility. Relativity convinced most physicists that we live in a “block universe” in which past, present, and future are equally real. In that case, there’s no reason to suppose the past influences the future, but not vice-versa. Although their theories shout retrocausality, physicists haven’t fully grappled with the implications yet. It might, for one thing, explain many of the mysteries of quantum mechanics.
In a follow-up email, Aaronson told me that the connection between free will and cosmic initial state was also explored by philosopher Carl Hoefer in a 2002 paper. What Aaronson has done is apply the insights of quantum mechanics. If you can’t clone a quantum state perfectly, you can’t clone yourself perfectly, and if you can’t clone yourself perfectly, you can’t ever be fully simulated on a computer. Each decision you take is yours and yours alone. It is the unique record of some far-flung collection of particles in the early universe. Aaronson wrote, “What quantum mechanics lets you do here, basically, is ensure that the aspects of the initial microstate that are getting resolved with each decision are ‘fresh’ aspects, which haven’t been measured or recorded by anyone else.”
If  nothing else, let this reconcile parents to their willful toddlers. Carroll oncewrote that every time you break an egg, you are doing observational cosmology. A toddler playing the “no” game goes you one better. Every time the toddler says no, he or she is doing cosmological engineering, helping to shape the initial state of the universe.
Quantum art courtesy of garlandcannon. Slide courtesy of Scott Aaronson.

The Quantum world gets stranger!

I am very interested in the world of Quantum Physics, a a place of discovery and where the conventional ideas of physics seem to fall away to a new set of changing possibilities. I found this article here in Scientific America, which adds a new layer of interest and mind spinning confusion, read on...

Like a Cheshire Cat, the animal has become separated from the properties that constitute a cat.

Quantum Cheshire Cat: Even Weirder Than Schrödinger’s
Just when you thought you’d heard every quantum mystery that was possible, out pops another one. Jeff Tollaksen mentioned it in passing during his talk at the recent Foundation Questions Institute conference. Probably Tollaksen assumed we’d all heard it before. After all, his graduate advisor, Yakir Aharonov—who has made an illustrious career of poking the Schrödinger equation to see what wild beasts come scurrying out—first discovered it in the 1990s and discussed it in chapter 17 of his 2005 book, Quantum Paradoxes. But it was new to me.
The situation is an elaboration of Schrödinger’s thought experiment. You have a cat. It is either purring or meowing. It is curled up in one of two boxes. As in Schrödinger’s scenario, you couple the cat to some quantum system, like a radioactive atom, to make its condition ambiguous—a superposition of all possibilities—until you examine one of the boxes. If you reach into box 2, you feel the cat. If you listen to the boxes, you hear purring. But when you listen more closely, you notice that the purring is coming from box 1. The cat is in one box, the purring in the other. Like a Cheshire Cat, the animal has become separated from the properties that constitute a cat. What a cat does and what a cat is no longer coincide.
In practice, you’d pull this stunt on an electron rather than a cat. You’d find the electron in one box, its spin in the other. Even by the standards of quantum mechanics, this is surprising. It requires what quantum physicists call “weak measurement,” whereby you interact with a system so gently that you avoid collapsing it from a quantum state to a classical one. On the face of it, such an interaction scarcely qualifies as a measurement; any results get lost in the noise of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. What Aharonov realized is that, if you sift through the results, you can find patterns buried within them.
In practice, this means repeating the experiment on a large number of electrons (or cats) and then applying a filter or “postselection.” Only a few particles will pass through this filter, and among them, the result of the softly softly measurement will stand out.
Because you avoid collapsing the quantum state, quintessentially quantum phenomena such as wave interference still occur. So, for a Cheshire Cat, you apply the following filter: you change the sign of one term in the superposition, causing the location and spin of the electron to interfere constructively in one box and destructively in the other, zeroing out the probability of finding the electron in box 1 and zeroing out the net spin of the electron in box 2. Voilà, the electron is in box 2 and its spin in box 1.
If this leaves your head spinning, it should. The word “weak” describes not only the measurement but also my intuitive grasp for what’s really going on. The best I can do is recommend the article on weak measurement by Aharonov, Tollaksen, and Sandu Popescu in last November’s Physics Today, but be prepared to read it several times before you have the slightest idea of what they’re saying. I’ve commissioned an article about Aharonov’s work for an upcoming issue ofScientific American to collapse some of the uncertainty. In the meantime, try sitting in a different room from where your confusion is.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

2012: are we witnessing the signs

If we consider not only the increased solar, geological and financial problems, we also have social issues at home and abroad. We now have an open conflict with Iran and now Pakistan, plus an increasing uneasiness  between China, Russia and the US.

Has this all been predicted?

It has been suggested that there will be a change in social consciousness and social order. There will be a catastrophe, whether geological or through a WWIII.

There will be a drastic change.

Are we witnessing this happening? Certainly events seem to be gaining speed and direction, we can all see that if we carry on the road we are on, the outcome is scarily obvious, so why?

Well maybe it is inevitable, not for civilisation to end, but to change. We are in a desperate need for equality, for all people to have the basics, to have a caring society based on a humanity not on greed.


Maybe if we aimed higher, aimed to be better, we would achieve a better world.


I had a conversation with a born again Christian, who is adamant that God will bring the 'End Of Days' and the unworthy will fall and suffer, only the chosen and those who repentant will be saved, if they have faith in Jesus Christ.

This really saddens me, that a God who created us all to be what we are, would condemn us for being what we have been created to be. Surely we are all God's children, to condemn a child for trying to understand this universe and find their way, is simply a cruel act. As a father the door is always open to my children, no matter what they do, they cannot truly offend, a parents love has no boundaries.

Quote from my conversation "We have free will to do the right thing, well as long as it agrees with God.... well, what I believe God wants...."

Free will cannot be given, but then we are condemned for using it. If we truly have free will, then free will and the decisions we make must be respected, if not, then we are all simply following a predetermined path, so cannot be held accountable for our actions.

We are all human, and it is humanity we should trust. If we put all our hopes in a God, we take away our own responsibility to make things better, to get along with each other, to make a better world.

Humans fight in the name of their God, we kill our brothers and sisters, maim, torture, there is no tolerance, is this right?

We are all from the same source, no matter what you call it, surly we should embrace the things we all have in common and stop embracing the differences.

We are all part of this universe, and if we dare to believe there is God behind the scenes, how can we truly understand a greater plan, we simply cannot. There are many religions, all claiming to be the way, the only way, it is only through narrow mindedness and ignorance that any one person can presume to be right.

To see the true beauty, we must look at the whole picture. The higher up the mountain we climb the better the view!

Prelude to WWIII?


Tension with Iran increases.

Sanctions against Iran, if agreed, will start WWIII. Sanctions will be seen as an act of war, and Iran have clearly said they will respond with force.

Unfortunately every country here has an agenda, and we will not truly know the truth for many years.

The scary thing is that 2012 has been predicted as the year of change. Is this just another step towards an inevitable pre-ordained outcome?

Watch the following clips, tension clearly mounting....

US Navy warning

US warns Iran against closing oil route

Threats from Iran

Build up to WWIII? Iran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz

Build Up to WW3 - Does the USA have a secret agenda? 

The USA seem to have an agenda for war

And this is what we are trying to prevent!!!

What Will Happen In An Event Of Nuclear War?

The world has always been fragmented, but we are starting to see clear dividing lines, and is this a prelude to WWIII? Russia, Pakistan, China, Iran.... USA, Europe?

Perhaps it is time for a change in leadership, it would be refreshing to have Governments that actually care about its people, without political agenda. We are all expendable in the eyes of any Government, our lives are measured by statistical analysis, not on human needs. This is simply wrong, so why do so many of us accept this way of living? If we carry on accepting this form of rule, we help to allow these nutters to ruin OUR world, and destroy OUR lives!
Remember apparently Iran has nuclear weapons, mind you, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction? Are we being lied to AGAIN! I think before we believe what our Governments tell us, we should pause, and reflect the lies of the recent past.
Governments are here to serve its people,
not to rule over us!

China-Pakistan vs. U.S.A

The US has an uncanny knack of alienating country's around the world. With a very intolerant foreign policy, the perception fast becoming 'my way or no way' Now this may or may not be true, however if people believe it to be true, then the US needs to change the perception, if not it will lead to down a road to ruin on a global scale.

The actions and statements recently made by the US about the alleged Pakistani relationship to those considered as 'terrorists' has once again created a divide with an ally. With comments accusing an ally publicly as aiding 'terrorists' obviously will only cause anger, why not address the issue privately only. This is a delicate issue, and as such should be handled with care, because no country wants to be associated with 'terrorists' therefore will strongly defend itself when such comments are publicly aired.

This is partially because Pakistan has not been as active against militants as the US would like, however this goes to show that lack of understanding about the internal affairs of the Government in Pakistan. The Government there has become increasingly unpopular with its people, because of the support it has shown the US. The US just does not care, why should they it's not their problem, but it is, by losing Pakistan as an ally, cuts off a supply route to its troops in Afghanistan and strengthens Pakistani friendships with theos who oppose the US and the west.

This new divide has simply created the opportunity for China to strengthen its relationship with Pakistan. The policies of the US and the west in general have helped to strengthen the bond between China, Russia, Iran and now Pakistan. We think things are tough now, well with a close group like that the world has become an even more dangerous place, balancing on a razors edge.

So what is really going on here? It seems the world is itching for a war. Conflict is now global and there does not seem to be any sign that Governments want a peaceful solution. There seem to be too many egos and far too much politics getting in the way. I would guess that most 'normal' people want a life without conflict, to be able to get up in the morning and go about their business without fear that the sky will come crashing down! So, why are we now in a situation where power is in the hands of the few, who seem so far detached from the people they are meant to serve... well, power corrupts, promoting a blind ignorance and intolerance and of course they are always right!?!

The problems started some time ago 2008. The then Senator Barack Obama did not have any issue supporting air strikes in Pakistan, so why would he care about the relationship now? It is this way of thinking that has been a long standing influence of US foreign policy 'if you don't agree we will do it anyway'. Though the US does have a point, and something has to be done, however by acting in a way without consideration of the greater issues to itself and to its allies only helps to degrade its own image, and create bigger problems. The US is not the bully in the playground, however acts that way at times!

The American War Moves to Pakistan: Bush's War Widens Dangerously 
Published on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 by
The decision to make public a presidential order of last July authorizing American strikes inside Pakistan without seeking the approval of the Pakistani government ends a long debate within, and on the periphery of, the Bush administration. Senator Barack Obama, aware of this ongoing debate during his own long battle with Hillary Clinton, tried to outflank her by supporting a policy of U.S. strikes into Pakistan. Senator John McCain and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have now echoed this view and so it has become, by consensus, official U.S. policy. 
Its effects on Pakistan could be catastrophic, creating a severe crisis within the army and in the country at large. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the U.S. presence in the region, viewing it as the most serious threat to peace.
Why, then, has the U.S. decided to destabilize a crucial ally? Within Pakistan, some analysts argue that this is a carefully coordinated move to weaken the Pakistani state yet further by creating a crisis that extends way beyond the badlands on the frontier with Afghanistan. Its ultimate aim, they claim, would be the extraction of the Pakistani military's nuclear fangs. If this were the case, it would imply that Washington was indeed determined to break up the Pakistani state, since the country would very simply not survive a disaster on that scale.

US accuses Pakistan of avoiding militant conflict  
Published on Wednesday, October 7, 2010 
The United States has criticised Pakistan for avoiding direct conflict with militants in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan. 
A White House report said this was as much a political choice as one based on resources.
The report follows a row between the US and Pakistan about a recent US incursion into Pakistani territory in which border guards were killed.
Pakistan says it works together with the US in the "war against terror." 
The BBC's Jill McGivering says that it is clear that the crucial alliance between Pakistan and the US is increasingly strained.Frustration 
The statement comes after a cross-border helicopter attack which led Pakistan to close one of the main border crossings used to supply Nato troops in Afghanistan. 
"The Pakistani military continued to avoid military engagements that would put it in direct conflict with Afghan Taliban or al-Qaeda forces in North Waziristan," the report said.
"This is as much a political choice as it is a reflection of an under-resourced military prioritising its targets."
The US has long expressed frustration about Pakistan's reluctance to take on militants in the tribal areas.
Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit expressed hope that two countries could work together to eradicate the threat posed by militants.
Our correspondent says that every Pakistani military offensive so far - including Swat and South Waziristan - has involved protracted negotiations and sustained pressure from the US.
The US believes that in order to weaken the Taliban in Afghanistan, places of refuge inside Pakistan must be eliminated.
But to many in Pakistan, any involvement in military assaults in the tribal areas risks upsetting a complex and delicate balance of loyalties - and alienating powerful clans who are also possible future allies.
The government, already deeply unpopular, also has to contend with rampant public hostility towards US policy in the region.
Many see the US as high-handed, pushing Pakistan into conflict without regard for its suffering
Pakistan feels it is paying an impossibly high price, our correspondent says, because it is rarely acknowledged that civilians are dying in their thousands and also not realised that more soldiers are being killed in Pakistan than Nato troops in Afghanistan.

New War Ahead: China-Pakistan vs. U.S.A 
Published on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

China has been deploying thousands of soldiers in the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan, a mountainous area in northern Pakistan, and a region historically contested by Pakistan, India and its inhabitants. 

Although cooperation between Pakistan and China is not new -- it was China in the 1970s that supported Pakistan's attempts to acquire its nuclear capability -- the deployment of Chinese troops in Pakistan, however, indicates a worrying alliance for the US. The US would do well to monitor these developments before a catastrophic scenario, especially for its troops, takes place.
The presence of the Chinese People's Liberation Army [PLA] in the contested Gilgit-Baltistan region, where a nascent revolt against the Pakistani rule is taking place, constitutes the direct involvement of Beijing in the dispute over Kashmir, making any future understanding between Pakistan and India more difficult, and can only arouse a new and serious rift between New Delhi and Beijing.
According to Mumtaz Khan, director for the International Centre of Peace and Democracy in Toronto, many Western analysts who view China's stance merely as a bargaining chip against India will unfortunately soon realize that China is redefining its priorities and interests in South Asia and beyond. "The current involvement of China in Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan administered Kashmir consists of more than just providing military and diplomatic support to Pakistan. Soon, Pakistan will swap its role to take the backseat as China exerts itself as a major player in the Kashmir issue" and maybe also in Afghani one.
The Gilgit-Baltistan region borders Afghanistan to the north; China to the northeast; the Pakistani administrated state of Azad, Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to the south, and the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast. Recently, the New York Times reported that two major developments are taking place there: a rebellion against the Pakistani rule, and the influx of an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 soldiers of the PLA.