Tight Glucose Control Lowers the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Events by 42%

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A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine describes the cardiovascular benefits of rigorous control of blood glucose by those with diabetes. The report focuses on a fairly simple and extremely important indication: that rigorous control of blood glucose levels not only reduces the best known complications of diabetes – damage to the eyes, nerves and kidneys – but that it also greatly reduces the incidence of heart disease in this disease population. Previous reports issued at conferences of the American Diabetes Association (ADA; Alexandria, Virginia) have pointed to the value of good glucose control for reducing heart disease in this population. But publication in NEJM results in broader dissemination to the public through general news outlets. In summary, the study showed that tight glucose control lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease events by 42% and the risk of a serious event, such as heart attack or stroke, by 58%.

The findings reported in the NEJM story are based on a follow-up study of patients who took part in long term research termed the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) – a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH; Bethesda, Maryland) and its National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease (NIDDK) unit – and launched about 20 years ago. DDCT involved 1,441 people in a comparison of intensive vs. conventional control of blood glucose, with the initial results rolled out in 1993 and indicating a large reduction (from 39% to 76%) in the development of microvascular complications such as retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy. Then a study of DDCT participants released in 2003 showed that steady glucose control had the effect of reducing atherosclerosis. As a subset of the DDCT study, a large majority of the participants (1,375) in DDCT then were enrolled in the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC) study, which went on to make annual assessments over an eight year period and has served to produce the more definitive results concerning reduction of heart disease and the lowered occurrence of angina, heart attack and stroke. “We see a greater reduction in cardiovascular events from intensive blood glucose control than from drugs that lower blood pressure and cholesterol,” said Saul Genuth, MD, of Case Western University (Cleveland), chair of the EDIC study.

Besides demonstrating the overall value of strict glucose control for reducing serious cardiovascular events, the study produced a sort of sub category of interesting and clinically important outcomes, chiefly:

That early good control of blood glucose levels had long lasting effects. The benefits of the first six years of intensive control persisted even though the blood glucose level of the intensively treated group had gradually risen to a HbA1c reading of about 8%, matching to that of the conventionally treated group, which had declined.
And that intensive control of blood glucose may be as important for those with Type 2 diabetes (the less serious type of the disease) as those with Type 1 diabetes. Indications that glucose control produced lower rates of heart disease in Type 2 sufferers has been assumed for some time, but the new data indicates that these advantages are relevant for all of those with the disease.
This concept could be better established in another study, the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD), which will test ways to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke in adults with Type 2 diabetes, sponsored by NIDDK and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Results of this study are slated to be released in 2009. In the initial DCCT study, patients 13 to 39 years of age were randomly assigned to intensive treatment, which meant attempting to keep glucose levels as close to normal as possible – hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) readings at 6% or less with at least three insulin injections a day or an insulin pump, guided by frequent self monitoring of blood glucose. (HbA1c reflects average blood glucose over the past two to three months.)

At the end of the study, HbA1c readings averaged 7% in the intensively treated group and 9% in the conventionally treated patients, who were then encouraged to adopt intensive control and shown how to do it. The NIH said that these findings prompted “a major shift” in the way doctors manage their patients with Type 1 diabetes. Among the 1,375 volunteers who continued continuing to participate in the study, the intensively treated patients had 46 cardiovascular disease CVD events, compared to 98 such events for the conventionally treated group. Thirty-one intensively treated patients (4%) and 52 conventionally treated patients (7%) had at least one CVD event during the average 17 years of follow-up from the start of the DCCT. The average age of participants is now 45 years, slightly more than half of them males. <>Nearly 21 million people in the U.S. – 7% of the population – have diabetes, and at least 65% of those with diabetes will die from a heart attack or stroke. But the ADA says that two out of every three with diabetes are unaware of their increased risk. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5% to 10% of diagnosed cases of diabetes in the U.S. (up to 1 million people). This form of diabetes usually strikes children and young adults, who need three or more insulin injections a day or treatment with an insulin pump to maintain the level of blood glucose control shown to prevent or delay long term complications.

The Futility of Flame Wars

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I recently witnessed a cringe-worthy flame war between two consultants on a blog. You’ve probably seen your share too.

Most flame wars start with a spark: someone leaves a critical comment on a blog or in some other forum, which provokes a response from the author. Then the criticizer adds fuel to the fire with another comment, more strident than the first.

Before long, the author and critic abandon the original disagreement and start sniping at each other. Finally, the exchange deteriorates until the combatants are disparaging each other’s expertise, credibility, or position in the industry.

Here’s my question for the flame throwers: Why do you do it?

Maybe you think a flame war will attract people to your site. But most will come just to watch a fight or pile on–not the readers you really want.

Debate is fine, but you’re not going to resolve a disagreement with a flame war. Once it starts, no one is listening or responding to anything other than the personal flaming. Any legitimate issue goes up in smoke.

Besides, such exchanges make you look petty and petulant to readers and prospective clients. You won’t endear yourself to many clients by insulting your colleagues.

If you’re tempted to start or jump into a flame war, consider this: you’re not as right and the other person isn’t as wrong as either of you think.

And no one wins a flame war–there are only losers.

The Trade-Offs in Consulting

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I hear from many of you about jumping into consulting, either by joining a firm or starting a business.

The good news is that this is a great time to be in the consulting business. In the US, for example, forecasters predict that Business and Professional Services will be the second fastest growing industry in the next ten years.

But consulting is not right for everyone. Over time, I’ve asked countless consultants what they like most (and least) about being in this business. Their answers always involve a discussion of trade-offs.

If you’re considering a career in consulting, here are some of the trade-offs people talk about:

  • Within a few months, you know every consulting joke by heart. In spite of all the wisecracks about the profession, your clients trust you to help solve their most complex problems.
  • You live with uncertainty, never completely sure of your next project. That next project always materializes, though, and it’s often more interesting than you could have imagined.
  • Clients tell you that your price is too high more often than you think is reasonable. Even so, you still win your fair share of profitable work at the fees you want.
  • You often travel to locations that you’d never visit if it wasn’t for client work, but you quickly learn how to appreciate things about new places.
  • You always wish that you had one more week to wrap up your project. As a result, you become a highly-skilled project manager who knows how to hit any deadline.
  • Clients rarely return your calls as quickly as you’d like. When they do call, though, they’re ready to engage with you.
  • You have to make personal sacrifices, including traveling at inconvenient times, missing family events, and working long hours. On the other hand, you enjoy a degree of independence in your work that most people never experience.
  • Your projects get tangled up in clients’ political drama, leaving outcomes in doubt. But, eventually, you watch your clients’ businesses and people change for the better as a result of your work.
  • You die inside when one person’s poor word choice in a meeting sets your client relationship back to square one. But, in the long-run, you develop lifelong business and personal relationships with your clients and colleagues.

Those are the trade-offs consultants mention to me most often. What would you add to the list?

Emmanuval Silks shuts shop in Kochi

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KOCHI: A year-and-a-half ago, Bollywood Badshah Shah Rukh Khan opened the showroom of Emmanuval Silks in the city, dancing to his hit number ‘Chammak chalo’ and for a reported Rs 2-crore fee. The ‘chammak’ it seems didn’t last long as the management closed down the showroom on Monday, citing ‘heavy losses’.
According to sources, the management decided to close the showroom after running up huge bills. The showroom, which opened in December 2011, was the third one of the Thrissur-based retail garment chain. It had planned to open showrooms in other cities too.
The showroom, which spanned over an area of 5lakh sq ft, had around 300 employees. Sources said that over 250 employees were relieved by the management after paying a month’s salary. The remaining 50 employees have been transferred to its Thrissur showroom. Sources said the shop had run up heavy losses over the last year. While the monthly rent of the building was around Rs 60 lakh, the company had to shell out Rs 30 lakh monthly on electricity alone, according to sources.

Meanwhile, the labour department said that it was unaware of the development. “We have not been informed by the management about the closure. The management can relieve employees by giving one month’s salary, if they wish so,” said an official with the labour department.
However, T O Byju, one of the promoters of Emmanuval Silks, denied the closure of Kochi showroom. “We closed down the showroom on Monday for renovation. Our plan is to convert it into a shopping mall to move with the changing times,” said Byju.

[ View Original Article at timesofindia ]

Pioneer Introduces New Powered Speaker Bar Designed by Andrew Jones

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We’ve talked a lot about TV audio — and how bad it can be. Despite those big, beautiful images, most HDTVs don’t really sound all that great. An easy, compact fix can be found via a simple soundbar system.

Soundbars pack better audio into one or two pieces. Of course, this option can’t really replace a full-blown speaker setup, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t manufacturers out there trying. The latest comes from Pioneer Electronics and legendary speaker engineer Andrew Jones. The company just announced the SP-SB23W Speaker Bar system, which boasts full-range sound from a small, attractive audio package.
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Pioneer has certainly packed a lot of goodies inside this unit’s composite wood curved cabinet. First up are the soundbar’s six individual speakers, which includes four custom 3-inch woofers and two 1-inch soft dome tweeters. Each of the woofers has a vented pole piece for better bass, while the tweeters include a custom waveguide enclosure for better sensitivity and controlled dispersion of high frequencies.

It’s also important to note that Pioneer has included six individual amplifiers to power each one of these drivers. Those certainly pack a nice punch, cranking out up to 28 watts of power each.

To add a little oomph into the room, the Speaker Bar comes with a matching wireless subwoofer, which has a 6.5-inch driver and a built-in 50-watt amplifier. If you want a little less oomph, Pioneer has made it easy to adjust the sub’s output level, via the included remote.

Other features include Dolby Digital recording, an active crossover network, and built-in Bluetooth connectivity for wirelessly streaming music from a smartphone or tablet right to the soundbar. The Sound Bar even has three sound modes, so you can tweak for music, movies and dialogue.

Of course, it also looks very nice. The Sound Bar has a composite wood cabinet, which can resist unwanted resonance and has an RF molded curved enclosure that’s made for reproducing the best audio possible.

“Pioneer created a similar speaker bar in the late 90’s for conventional television sets and now we’re building the best sounding speaker bar for today’s flat panel televisions,” said Chris Walker, director of AV marketing and product planning for Pioneer’s home electronics division. “Unlike most offerings, the new Speaker Bar is made of composite wood, a far superior material that makes a significant difference when it comes to sound quality.”

Pioneer will ship the Speaker Bar this fall with an optical cable and everything needed for wall mounting. The company has listed the product with an MSRP of $399.

Finding the Real Decision Makers

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We all know that clients buy perceived value when they hire an outside service provider.

Your efforts during the sales process contribute to your client’s perception of value, of course, but other sources of influence can be equally critical to your client’s buying decision. Before most people make a big purchase, they seek advice from those they trust–colleagues, mentors, a boss, or even a family member.

I’m not talking about people who have an “official” role in approving the sale, but those in your client’s network who are likely to get your client’s ear. It’s possible that you’re not aware of these people and how they could shape the sales process.

Not long ago, for instance, I worked with a prospective client on a project that never got off the ground. Why? I found out later that one of the client’s influential colleagues questioned the project’s value and that was the end of it.

It’s not always possible to know which individuals could sway a client, but you can ask questions to help identify them and their potential concerns.

For example, to understand the perspective of your client’s colleagues, ask how your proposed project fits with other ongoing or planned initiatives. Is your project complementary to others or competing? You can also ask directly how your client’s colleagues view the value of your proposed project.

To get a better understanding of how the client’s staff might influence the buying decision, you can ask what the most influential staff people think of the project–and the potential organizational change it would bring. Will they view the project as essential, somewhat important, or just another initiative?

You can come up with similar questions to figure out how your project may be viewed by others in your client’s network.

Use the answers to these questions to shape a value proposition that includes the impact of the project on the people who aren’t directly involved in the decision process but who are important to the sale.

Dylan Redwine’s remains found near Vallecito, sheriff says

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VALLECITO — Dylan Redwine’s father said he was “blindsided” Thursday by the news that his 13-year-old son’s remains were found about 10 miles from his home north of Vallecito Lake.

“I cannot wrap my head around it. You can never be prepared for something like this,” Mark Redwine said after the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office announced that remains found during a search this week were positively identified as Dylan’s.

The boy disappeared while spending a court-ordered, Thanksgiving-week visit with his father last year.

Mark Redwine, who fought a long, contentious divorce and custody battle with Dylan’s mother, Elaine Redwine, said his focus now is on trying to contact her to make arrangements for the burial of their child.

“I am reaching out to his mom so he can have a proper burial. Making sure he gets a proper burial and the respect he deserves is what I have to focus on,” he said.

The recovery of their son’s remains has not eased either parent’s suspicion or animosity. They have blamed each other for Dylan’s disappearance, even exchanging accusations on the “Dr. Phil Show.”

Mark Redwine said that after Thursday’s announcement, his ex-wife was driving on a street in Durango when she spotted him, rolled down her window and shouted, “Murderer!”

The community had held out hope for Dylan’s return. The sandy-haired boy’s image still peers from fliers and posters taped up in shop windows and stapled to tree trunks and fence posts in the region.

At Vallecito Country Market, near Mark Redwine’s home, a cashier broke down at the news.

“She (the cashier) had been holding out hope. There’s a lot of people who had been holding out hope,” said store owner Rolland Healy, who kept a flier in the window.

As the news spread, customers milled about the grocery, asking him questions in hushed tones. “There’s a lot of sadness,” he said. “This is the last thing anyone up here wanted to happen.”

About 45 law enforcement and search and rescue workers discovered Dylan’s remains and other items while searching along 12 miles of Middle Mountain Road, said sheriff’s department spokesman Dan Bender.

They worked more than 1,600 man-hours during the five-day search on the rugged, unpaved road, which runs parallel to the road Mark Redwine lives on.

Mark Redwine said investigators told him they had found only four or five of his son’s bones and that they would continue searching. He said authorities told him his son was ravaged by wildlife.

Investigators also found a piece of the boy’s shirt, one sock and his shoestrings but not the backpack or other items he had when he went missing, Redwine said.

“Ninety-eight percent of Dylan is scattered about the countryside,” said Redwine, his voice trembling in an interview Thursday night.

Bender said the Colorado Bureau of Investigation positively identified bones as Dylan’s on Thursday and notified Dylan’s family.

Bender said Dylan’s disappearance is being treated as a criminal matter, and he said the boy’s parents are cooperating in the investigation.

Searches for the boy, which had been called off during the winter months, resumed in the spring.

The latest searches, through deep canyons, dense forest and extensive ground cover, were not the result of new information, Bender said. They were part of a series of follow-up searches conducted after the snow melted.

Dylan disappeared while spending a visit with his father in Vallecito, which is near Durango. He lived near Colorado Springs with his mother and her boyfriend.

Mark Redwine said he left Dylan at home alone while he was out running errands, and when he returned, his son was gone.

Although tears were shed in Vallecito and nearby communities on Thursday, the news wasn’t entirely a shock. Those who work at the Schank House restaurant had been watching search crews in hiking gear venture in and out of the mountain all week. When sheriff’s cars — but no firetrucks — came down the road late Wednesday, they sensed a grim development.

“Everyone was in anticipation and hoping they’d find something,” said Lisa Crombie, who works at the restaurant where Dylan’s mother and brother, Cory, dined earlier in the week. Their body language told her something was wrong, Crombie said.

Crombie remembered the quiet but troubled Dylan coming through her lunch line when she worked for Bayfield School District.

“It stares you in the face,” Crombie said. “By putting up posters and keeping his face around, it very well made it to the point that no one ever did give up hope. I don’t think anyone really ever stopped thinking of him.

“Being a mom myself, at least you have closure. You’ve found him, you can lay him to rest. There are a lot of parents that don’t get that.”

But for others, the discovery only prompted more questions.

“Everyone is curious to know if they can figure out what happened,” said Kaitlyn Vervaet, who works at Pura Vida cafe, where tourists for months have asked questions about what happened to the missing boy. “Living in the mountains, there’s so many things that could have happened. We were all hoping (he had) run away and maybe we’d see him again.”

Residents plan a candlelight memorial for Dylan at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in nearby Bayfield.

[ View Original Article at denverpost.com ]

 

How Instagram Named Its New Set of Video Filters

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As Instagram introduced a new video feature to the app on Thursday, founder Kevin Systrom was particularly proud of an update to its filters, the colored effects Instagram is most known for.

After unveiling the video product, Systrom dropped a whole new set of 13 filters made specifically to apply to video posts, apparently with the aid of a visual artist whose work focuses primarily on video and photography.

But while the eternal, oh-so-important question raged on in the press afterward — is six seconds of short-form video (like Twitter’s Vine app) better than 15 seconds? — I had another question, equally as important: Just how does the team come up with the cutesy names for its photo filters?

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At last! We’ve got the scoop on what’s behind Systrom’s new set — here’s details on 10 of them. Let’s go through the list.

The Stinson is named after a dog of an Instagram team member. If you aren’t a Californian, that name won’t mean much to you — it comes from Stinson Beach, a nice little area over in Marin County. The Moon filter is also named after a pup from someone on the team.

I could have sworn that the Vesper was named after the Bond heroine of the same name in “Casino Royale.” But no, it’s one of the Instagram team’s favorite cocktails (though if I remember correctly, James Bond does name a cocktail “the Vesper” in the flick).

Many of the new filters are named after streets, towns or areas, which I figure is an attempt to capture the feeling or ambiance of that specific locale. The Clarendon, for example, comes from a street in San Francisco, while Helena is named after the town in Napa, St. Helena. Brooklyn is pretty easy to figure out, and Ashby comes from one of the main drags in Berkeley, Calif.

Others, I’d guess, are evocative of feelings that the team had going to certain places. Ginzacomes from a trip to Tokyo, named after one of the neighborhoods in the area. And Skyline is straight from Kevin Systrom — it’s one of his favorite drives down south (it’s the common name for State Route 35, the two-lane road that runs along the ridge of the Santa Cruz Mountains).

Lastly, there’s the straight-up homage: Dogpatch is an area in San Francisco, but this filter is named specifically after Dogpatch Labs, the small office spaces in tech-heavy areas where small startups are invited to come and work on their companies. Dogpatch Labs was where Systrom originally founded Burbn with Mike Krieger, the duo’s first attempt at a location-sharing startup.

The common theme here? I’d say most are named after things, places or “moments” that evoke emotions, particularly in the founders themselves. Pretty spot on for a service that purports to “capture and share the world’s moments.”

 

[ View Original Article at allthingsd.com ]

WikiLeaks cables dismantle Labor’s Iraq withdrawal spin

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wikileaks_12Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd fulfilled his campaign pledge to withdraw Australian “combat” forces from Southern Iraq on June 2008. Rudd used the occasion to condemn former Prime Minister John Howard for joining the war, but US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks show the Rudd government wanted to keep more Australian forces in Iraq than it had withdrawn.

After the withdrawal of soldiers, about 1000 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel remained in Iraq, including sailors on board warships in the Persian Gulf ― Australia’s contribution to the multinational Task Force 158 (TF158) guarding Iraqi oil platforms.

The remaining soldiers also included air force units, soldiers guarding Australian diplomats in Baghdad, and officers “embedded” in key positions within coalition headquarters (HQ).

Combat forces

Despite government spin about withdrawing all “combat forces”, the cables said some of these forces could be deployed in combat roles. One cable said, “[d]espite the withdrawal of combat forces, Rudd agreed to allow Australian forces embedded or seconded to units of other countries including the U.S. to deploy to Iraq in combat and combat support roles with those units”.

Other cables refer to TF158 as “combat forces”.

In 2007, the Iraqi government requested that the United Nations mandate, which had authorised the presence of multinational forces in Iraq since October 2003, be renewed for “one last time”. As a result, the US and other coalition countries faced the prospect of having to withdraw their troops by December 31, 2008.

Not wanting to relinquish the strategic power and control of Iraq’s resources that the occupation offered, the Bush administration had consistently refused to set a timetable for withdrawal.

In March 2008, it began negotiations with the Iraqi government on a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which would establish a legal basis for the continuing presence of its soldiers. It would also set the terms under which they would operate after the UN mandate expired.

Australia was seeking an agreement that would cover the deployment of its forces, either by extension of the US-Iraqi agreement, or by negotiating a separate bilateral agreement with the Iraqi government.

The cables show the Australian government was demanding a “treaty-level agreement”, which would need to be ratified by the Iraqi Parliament.

A February 2008 cable from the US Embassy in Canberra reported that David Hallett of the Australian Department of Defence told the US: “The arrangement must be legally enforceable, not only on Australia but also on Iraq.”

The cable reports that Hallett said: “ADF forces must have immunity from [Iraqi] criminal and civil jurisdiction, with Australia retaining exclusive right to waive immunity.”

Immunity for its troops and private security contractors was a key US demand. Others included the power to conduct missions without approval by Iraqi authorities, use of 58 long-term bases, control of Iraqi air space up to 29,000 feet, and the power to arrest and detain any Iraqi the US claimed was a security threat.

The cables show Australia initially hoped to take advantage of US “leverage” with Iraq to get the most favourable agreement.

US-Iraqi negotiations

A cable from October 14 reported that Australian Deputy Secretary of Defence Stephen Merchant said Australia had refrained from entering into separate bilateral negotiations with Iraq, “partly to avoid introducing complications into the U.S. negotiations but also because Australia believed it would be unable to negotiate more comprehensive protections than could the U.S.”

The US had set a deadline of July 2008 to finalise the SOFA. However, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was facing rising opposition to the occupation from the Iraqi public.

Maliki was partly reliant on US backing to stay in power, but the SOFA would need to at least pay lip service to Iraqi sovereignty to pass parliament.

In June, Maliki publicly stated that the negotiations were at an impasse, because “the US demands would so deeply affect Iraqi sovereignty and this is something we can never accept … We cannot allow US forces to have the right to jail Iraqis or assume, alone, the responsibility of fighting against terrorism.”

A June 2008 cable from the US Embassy in Canberra reported that “[t]he Government of Australia … is satisfied with the pace of U.S. negotiations on a Status of Forces Agreement”.

But by October, the embassy reported that the Australian government had “registered concern at the rapidly diminishing timeline in which to meet requirements for their forces to remain in Iraq beyond 2008”.

The cable said that Australia was now seeking a “green light from the United States to begin bilateral SOFA negotiations with the Iraqi government”, a request the US promised to “take on board”.

The US and Iraqi governments finally reached agreement on a draft SOFA in October 2008. The US was forced to concede some of its key demands.

The SOFA stated that US soldiers were to be withdrawn from Iraqi urban areas by July 2009, and from all other areas by December 31, 2011.

It required US forces to hand over detainees to Iraqi authorities within 24 hours of their detention or arrest. Private security contractors would no longer be immune from Iraqi law.

Nevertheless, the agreement effectively legitimised the occupation for a further three years. It allowed US forces to continue to operate with immunity from Iraqi law, with the exception being serious offences committed by off-duty troops outside US bases.

This exception was essentially meaningless, as the troops rarely left their bases unless on duty.

Opposition

Tens of thousands of Iraqis took to the streets to protest the agreement. Iraqi nationalist Muqtada al-Sadr tried to mobilise enough members of the Iraqi parliament to vote the agreement down. It was eventually ratified by the parliament on November 27, only just gaining the simple majority needed.

The unexpectedly long period of US-Iraqi negotiations left other coalition countries scrambling to make their own agreements with Iraq in the few remaining weeks of 2008.

Australia was still holding out for a “treaty-level agreement” for all its forces, including those referred to as combat forces. The Iraqi government would not accept these terms.

A December 3 cable from the US Embassy in Baghdad reported that Maliki wanted to avoid “another campaign with the various political factions in the [Council of Representatives]”. He had “made it absolutely clear … that [the Iraqi government] will not support any further agreements which require COR ratification”.

Maliki had also told the US that all non-US coalition forces could remain in Iraq in a “’non-combat’ assistance capacity” only.

The US was worried that Australia’s position would jeopardise the placement of 42 Australian officers embedded at high levels within coalition HQ. Australian officers had taken key roles in running the war from the outset, such as Major General Jim Molan who served in various positions including Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Operations.

Time was running out, and if Australia persisted in seeking an agreement which covered all its forces, it could end up with no agreement at all. In that event, all remaining ADF personnel, including the 42 officers, would have to be withdrawn.

The cable therefore requested that the US State Department instruct the US Embassy in Canberra to “urgently demarche the [Government of Australia] to suggest strongly that the GOA consider an exchange of diplomatic notes or other legal mechanism that does not require action by the [Council of Representatives]”.

It said that, “given PM al-Maliki’s position against combat forces”, the Australian government should “focus on a security agreement covering the Australian staff officers embedded with [Multinational Force ― Iraq] only”.

The cable noted: “The Australians understand the complexity of including combat forces (TF158) in their agreement and may be willing to drop this in order to focus on the non-combat embedded officers.”

A December 5 cable from the US Embassy in Canberra reported that the Australian government still wanted a treaty-level agreement, “in order to insure that their troops are provided the same legal protection as their American colleagues”.

However, the cable reported that US contacts within the Australian government departments involved in the negotiations had “concluded that the Iraqi Prime Minister does not have the stomach to present any further bilateral agreements to the Council of Representatives this year”.

On December 16, only two weeks before the expiration of the UN mandate, the Iraqi Council of Ministers approved legislation that authorised the continuing presence of British, Australian, Romanian, Salvadoran and Estonian forces, as well as the NATO Training Mission.

Agreement for withdrawal

On December 30 the Iraqi defence ministry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Australian government ― not the treaty the Australian government was looking for.

The agreement only covered the activities of Australian soldiers embedded with US forces. They were permitted stay beyond the expiration of the UN mandate, but had to “fully withdraw from Iraq by no later than 31 July 2009”.

This meant that the 42 officers embedded within coalition HQ could stay, along with about 80 soldiers guarding the Australian Embassy in Baghdad whose legal status was covered by the Vienna Convention.

Since the MOU did not cover the forces within TFI58, the Australian Frigate guarding Iraqi oil platforms was redeployed to international waters.

A cable from January 16, 2009 said this resulted in a much sharper drop in the number of ADF personnel in Iraq than was achieved by Rudd’s withdrawal of the Overwatch Battle Group in June 2008. The cable says that the withdrawal of that battalion in 2008 left “in place approximately 1,000 defense personnel”, but the MOU resulted in “a further reduction in the number of personnel in-country to 120 troops”.

The embedded forces were withdrawn in 2009, as per the terms of the MOU. Soldiers guarding the Australian Embassy remained until 2011 when they were replaced by private security contractors.

[This is part II of a two-part piece. The first part can be read here.]

[ View Original Article at greenleft.org.au ]

I Pale in Comparison

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I was only in the sun for an hour and it wasn’t even summer yet. Nonetheless, that night, I saw red. Well, pink actually. Two thirds of my head and most of my face were bright pink, the result of solar exposure without sun block.
Yes, I hate to admit it but I’m a sun-sensitive white boy. A paleo sapien. I was born pale, I’m still pale and I’ll surely die pale. I’m almost clear.

Tips for Dealing with dreadful absence of skin tone

It’s taken me forty-five years to understand how to cope with my genetic disability and for the hosts of other paleo sapiens, I’d like to offer some tips for dealing with this dreadful absence of skin tone.

  1. Use sun block. Sun block comes in different strengths. The strength is measured by SPF which I believe stands for Stop Paleo’s from Frying. The higher the number, the stronger the block. I use SPF 425. It comes in a tub, smells like lard and spreads with the consistency of chunky peanut butter. I may look like the inside of a Reece’s Cup, but I won’t burn.
  2. Wear a hat. I don’t mind when my bald head burns. I hope people think I’m a red head. But eventually, the burned area will peel and that’s when the fun runs out. Large chunks of dead skin tangled in my wispy locks of hair are pretty disgusting. It looks like I just ran in from an artificial snow storm on the set of “All My Children.” So wear a hat. (Note: Those big-billed gardening hats should only be worn when you’re over 80 years old.)
  3.  Wear black. This is a trick my paler-than-me wife taught me. Wearing black clothes somehow makes your paleness less of an issue. It’s that ebony and ivory thing ­ it looks good together. Look at Michael Jackson. He’s always wearing black. Of course, I stay away from the single glove, the glittery coats and hanging my children from balconies.
  4.  Do not wear beige. This was a mistake I made early in life. I bought lots of beige clothes. One day, my sister said, “You don’t look so good.” I looked in the mirror and discovered she was right ­ but didn’t know why. A couple of years later; I discovered it was the clothes. My beige shirt had made my paleness look pasty. Pasty is not good. Pasty is pale lite. So ditch the light clothes and see #3 above.
  5. Don’t stand next to tan people. Have you noticed that you never see Queen Elizabeth and George Hamilton together? Coincidence? I think not. Her highness knows better than to stand next to a man of his leathery complexion. Smart move, your pale majesty. I suggest you don’t get near anyone with a good tan and certainly never date them. And should you marry someone who is tan, don’t reproduce or else your latté-colored children will be ridiculed their entire lives. Don’t subject them to being called grandé and venti.
  6.  Go easy on the makeup. Most female paleo sapiens try to cover up their disability as if trying to blend in with the people around them. But just like a bad toupee, everyone notices. As one who uses no makeup, I suggest only slight alterations to your natural skin tones. Never, and I mean never, use bright-colored makeup or else you will likely scare small children and the elderly.
  7.  Stay away from tanning salons. You may be tempted to get a “little color” before going to the beach but be warned that a little color can turn you into a lobster in a matter of minutes. Before my seventh grade dance, I wanted a little color so my “date” would find me more attractive. I placed my face in front of a sun lamp while I listened to one side of the Eagles’ Hotel California album ­ which apparently was one side too long. Oh, I ended up with a little color alright, plus running blisters and streaks of red that must have been some sort of circulatory heat poisoning. Very attractive.

Take heart fellow paleo sapiens. We may yet one day live in a world where tans are bleached, beaches have roofs and beige clothes are only sold on the black market. But for now, we must cope with our paleness and not give in to The Man’s desire to tan us. It’s just that clear.
Until next time, just humor me.