Blog Smith

Blog Smith is inspired by the myth of Hephaestus in the creation of blacksmith-like, forged materials: ideas. This blog analyzes topics that interest me: IT, politics, technology, history, education, music, and the history of religions.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Girls Are the Perfect Weapon

15 Year old girl suicide bomber awaits her fate.

Video source: The Times Online

A 15 year-old teenage girl, handcuffed to an iron railing, patiently waits as an Iraqi explosives expert cuts the trigger cords on a suicide vest strapped to her body.

The footage originates from an August incident when police found Rania Ibrahim Mutlib in a side road in Baquba, north of Baghdad, having failed to detonate her charge. The girl claimed that she had been drugged and did not wish to become the 16th teenage girl bomber said to have struck in the past year. Her husband, Mohammed Hussein Mohammed Sameet, 24-years-old, bade her farewell as she dressed that morning. Police have been given metal detectors to scan women because women would pass through checkpoints without being searched since Islam forbids a man to frisk a woman. Young girls are the perfect weapon.

Same Old Chicago Boss: Obama

What is wrong in Ohio?

"How can you run when you know?"

"Ohio," lyrics by Neil Young

As the bailout fiasco continues, the Democrats in Congress managed to attach funds in the bill for Acorn which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Among their many activities is to organize voter registration efforts for the Democratic Party. In 2006 their efforts registered 1,800 new voters in Washington but only six were later verified as authentic. Yet, the same organization has been involved in similar nonsense in the swing states of Missouri, Michigan, and Colorado, in addition to Washington and Ohio. Moreover, the New York Times reported that the group misappropriated funds.

Who else would such an organization attract but of course Barack Obama during his community organizing. He trained Acorn staff and later the Democratic nominee funneled money to the group through the Woods Fund, on whose board he sat, and through the Chicago Annenberg Challenge.

During this organization, Acorn promoted non-credit-worthy borrowers and now taxpayers are expected to foot the bill for the failing lending companies.

Why not just put our collective feet down, on Acorn and their crony?

But, there is more.

The likelihood of fraud is greater than ever in this election year.

Ordinarily, ballots are safeguarded with representatives from major parties who overlook the voting process. Not this year in Ohio.

A lawsuit by GOP-backed voters was dismissed against the Democratic secretary of state, Jennifer Brunner, and her interpretation of Ohio's absentee voting law. Ohio changed its election law in 2005 to allow any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot, beginning Sept. 30. The deadline for registering isn't until Oct. 6, so Brunner ruled there is a six-day window in which voters can register and vote at the same time.

In Ohio there are no safeguards, no validation of ballots, no oversight. Obama learned his Chicago style politics well: `vote early, vote often.' To quote the Who: "Here comes the new boss, same as the old boss."

Africom Debuts

One place the U.S. can not afford to go is Africa. Nonetheless, the U.S. Africa Command, the Pentagon's first effort to unite its counterterrorism, training and humanitarian operations on the continent, is beginning. Africom, as it is known, may be an expansion of the U.S.-led war on terrorism and a bid to secure greater access to the continent's vast oil resources. Insurgent groups have been active in Somalia and North Africa which may be leading to an anti-AQAM move into Africa. In 2006, the U.S. military supplied intelligence to help Ethiopia overthrow a fundamentalist Islamic regime next door in Somalia. As blowback, the invasion energized a Islamist insurgency. U.S. forces have continued to launch strikes on suspected terrorist targets.

The economic factor plays an important role in the debate. Department of Energy statistics indicate that 17% U.S. crude oil imports now come from Africa, more than the United States gets from Persian Gulf countries. However, China is a looming presence in Africa and counter-balances American influence.

Is the U.S. willing to open up a third front in the war on terror? We are already stymied on two fronts. Is the U.S. willing to cozy up to more repressive regimes in order to extend our dependence on foreign oil? Many Africans would think so. And finally, has the U.S. already been beaten to the punch since China preceded the U.S. as an important presence on the Continent?

Monday, September 29, 2008

I Hate Congress; I Love Congress

The news just keeps getting worse for Congress, if they would listen of course as more Americans are willing to say they disapprove of how politicians have handled the financial crisis. According to a Gallup poll Obama won the approval of 46% of Americans, although it is largely his party that supports rewarding poor business practices on Wall Street. This is typical behavior, disliking Congress but liking my representative. Indeed, 39% approve of Democratic leaders in Congress. 37% approve of how McCain has responded, compared with 31% approval of Republican congressional leaders. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the main author of bailout plan, and George Bush received only 28% of respondents who said they approved of how Paulson and Bush responded. The overwhelming majority of Americans weighed in, against the plan, yet the plan was rather narrowly defeated although most Democrats voted in favor of the measure. At least it was turned down, so far.

The People in Lashkars Fight the Taliban Invaders

Some intelligence is reporting that in Pakistan a possible popular resistance movement is emerging. In the chaotic North West Frontier Province and the tribal territory, and in the face of the violent Taliban, some resistance has occurred. Islamabad is quite removed from then, most likely can not defend them, and they have organized themselves. Pakistani culture consists of fierce tribes and widely held gun ownership which has resulted in traditional private armies, or lashkars, each consisting of hundreds or even several thousands of volunteers. Lashkars have arisen in Bajaur, in the tribal zone, and Dir and Buner in the "settled" areas of NWFP.

Anyone for the Sons of Afghanistan?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Slick Willie Calls McCain "Great," Not So Obama

Former President Bill Clinton declined to call Obama "great" but he then explained what he meant in characterizing McCain as a "great man."

"I think his greatness is that he keeps trying to come back to service without ever asking people to cut him any slack or feel sorry for him or any of that stuff because he was a POW."

Bill knows a great possible President when he sees one, it takes one to know one.

Obama Up Again

The latest Gallup poll shows Obama Biden at 50% and McCain at 42% which is only one point less than the biggest lead Obama has held all year.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kissinger Opposes Obama

Obama misspoke in regards to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's comments about Iran in Friday's debate. Kissinger defended McCain's attack against Obama for Obama's willingness to meet with the Iranian president "without precondition."

Kissinger stated that he is not in favor of negotiations with Iran at the presidential level. He stated: "Sen. McCain is right. I would not recommend the next president of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the presidential level." Kissinger does not agree with McCain in all matters but he is right on Iran according to Kissinger.

Obama is embarrassing this country.

Pakistani Reaction to the 1st Presidential Debate

Mushahid Hussain, chair of Pakistan's Senate Committe of Foreign Relations, commented on the first presidential debate.

Hussain stated: "Senator McCain came across as more thoughtful with a better understanding of the situation in Pakistan's frontier regions, which he has visited, and he got it right when he said that we have to win the support of the people rather than threaten them with military strikes."

One thing strikes me, what is obvious to Pakistanis, is something that American independent voters fail to grasp.

What we can not agree to though, is something that weaker countries, allow for: unrestricted, and non-conditional talks. It should be obvious to the Pakistanis, and if the Islamabad bombing is not a message, I don't know what else could be, is that you can not sit down at the same table with people who want to kill you.

People Believe in Savior Obama

As I suspected, the polls suggest that most people believed the promises of Obama. An immediate telephone poll by CNN and Opinion Research Corp found 51% said Mr Obama had won, to 38% for Mr McCain; a poll of uncommitted voters by CBS News found that 39% gave Mr Obama victory, 25% thought John McCain had won, and 36% thought it was a draw.

Analysis of the First Debate

In the analysis of most commentators I believe last night's debate will be considered a draw. Both candidates were obviously not completely comfortable with the format, neither looked directly at the opponent for about the first 45 minutes, and they only got a bit more testy as the night wore on. If neither scored a knockout punch, then what else can we say about the candidates as they faced off head to head?

The debate hurt McCain more since he needed a knockout punch if he expected to pick up much needed votes. Also, it is difficult to evaluate the visible but hard to interpret reaction line that ran beneath the screen, consisting of Democrats, Republicans, and critically important Independents, but I would guesstimate that the Independents found Obama's words and promises more appealing.

On the other hand, several comments are in order. The issues of the economy seemed to have stumped Obama. When asked directly if he favored the proposed $700 billion dollar bailout, he waffled. Then, as a follow-up, when asked what he would cut since he identified not everything can be funded and some projects would need to be delayed, he again seem mystified. We are in dire financal straits but Obama went on to list more programs that he favored and would pay for, treasured Great Society programs such as education and food for poor children. Obama doesn't get it. He is not LBJ. We don't have that federal largesse any more. At one point McCain noted that Obama is the furthest from center candidate ever nominated by either major party. On the other hand, McCain stated his position bluntly. He would pay for defense, care for our veterans, and veto spending bills to reign in the free-spending government. In a time of fiscal crisis, which guideline might work? The French before the Revolution fell into a tailspin during war time yet they continued to fund extravagant projects.

In addition, McCain has been there. During any questions that involved how would you handle such and such international crisis or war effort, McCain was able to deftly respond, I've been there, I know the particulars and the players, and this is what I would do. Obama was left flailing on the ropes. He is embarrassingly out of his league in experience and international affairs, and the global situation is more dangerous today than it ever was during the Cold War. He is not prepared to handle an international crisis.

On the specific issues of war, Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama is running against the ghost of George Bush circa 2003. It is not 2003; it is 2008 and the surge worked in Iraq, and the military can apply the lessons learned there to achieve covert and overt victory in Afghanistan as well. Yet, Obama said we need to press Pakistan and take care of Osama et. al. by ourselves if necessary. As McCain rightly observed, you don't announce your intentions to your enemies, and doesn't Obama realize we have CIA assets in Pakistan who no doubt at this very moment are operating undercover? You don't unnecessarily put your troops at risk.

And, last but not least, isn't the lack of respect towards McCain revealing? Obama consistently referred to McCain as "John," ironically, even calling him "Tom" at one point, as if they were long-time colleagues from the Senate. They are not. In the Senate, Obama is in the background but McCain is a player who has reached across the aisle and cooperated with Democracts to sponsor major legislation. McCain, on the other hand, conducted himself as a gentleman, and respectfully referred to Obama as "Senator."

In the critical issue of experience versus judgement, McCain's experience trumped Obama's hailing of his sound judgement by calling him to task. Obama can not deliver; he is the Teflon candidate.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Of Vices and Dustbins

And now let us praise famous men, drum roll please: George Clinton, Elbridge Gerry, Daniel D. Tompkins, Richard M. Johnson, George M. Dallas, William R. King, Hannibal Hamlin, Schuyler Colfax, Henry Wilson, William A. Wheeler, Thomas A. Hendricks, Levi P. Morton, Garrett A. Hobart, Charles W. Fairbanks, James S. Sherman, Thomas R. Marshall, Charles G. Dawes, Charles Curtis, John N. Garner, Henry A. Wallace, Alben W. Barkley, Hubert H. Humphrey, Spiro T. Agnew, Nelson A. Rockefeller, Walter F. Mondale, and J. Danforth Quayle. If the names do not roll off the tongue, nor can you really identify who and what they are about, this should not surprise us. They are a particularly undistinguished lot in terms of their actual service record in the position in question. Even when their names are somewhat familiar, George Clintion, not the singer, nor related to "Slick Willie, or Gerry providing his name to a disreputable political practice, "gerrymandering," or even those more recent figures whose names might be somewhat known and may ring a bell: Wallace, Humphrey, Agnew, Rockefeller, Mondale, or Quayle, they are not easily identified. The point here is that Vice-Presidents, the list of unknowns here, really are "just a heartbeat away from the Presidency," but most Vice-Presidents simply retreat into the dustbin of history. It is true of course that numerous Vice-Presidents were known commodities, but that is largely because they went on to distinguish themselves as President or they were identifiable as part of a larger historical movement or made another important contribution.

To wit, Palin is a political choice for the Republican ticket, if she does not know all the intricacies of foreign policy, she will simply do what all Vice-Presidents do, study for the job and if history calls upon her, God help us if she is not ready.

This is the traditional role of Vice-Presidents anyway. Most just fade away over time. The more interesting aspect of the Republican ticket, it seems to me, is that many people already have poor McCain dead and buried while displaying an unhealthy predilection towards age discrimination.

Many older people can and do have important contributions to make to this country. I would hope that the nay-sayers would lighten up. McCain might not die tomorrow.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain Believable on Economy

McCain does not need to "grand-stand" on the economy, in fact, it hurts him. It is not in his interest to suspend the debates unless he truly believes, and he is of course a key player, he can help the U.S. to end the financial crisis. He would be better off trumpeting Iraq, an issue that he comes off stronger in the polls, if he were really only trying to get attention for his campaign. The debate should end and the principals should agree to a plan.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Maverick McCain Shows His Presidential Character

Whether he wins or loses, there is a candidate who certainly appears Presidential. In another surprising move for a guy who is accused of being more of the same, McCain had another idea. McCain announced that he is suspending his campaign to return to Washington and focus on the "historic" crisis facing the U.S. economy. If Obama follows, and he is in a difficult position, since he is following, he will demonstrate that he is not a leader. If he continues on the campaign trail, he will demonstrate that he is more interested in himself, and his campaign, than he is in the country's well-being. McCain also called on the organizers of Friday's presidential debate to postpone the event.

Bush has proposed a $700 billion bailout for the troubled U.S. economy.

The proposal was drafted by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

The troubling aspect of the Obama campaign is that he previously just played politics as usual by lashing out at the Bush administration, McCain, and the handling of the crisis on Wall Street as well as the $700 billion bailout plan by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.

The move would be the most sweeping economic intervention by the government since the Great Depression. Maybe we should think about it first: 'ya think?

Petraeus 2008 Ramadan Style

A spokesperson for the Multi National Forces (MNF) in Iraq on Wednesday stated that violence during Ramadan 2008 was 82% less when compared with Ramadan 2007. And, speaking of comparison, if Petraeus was Washington, he would hailed as one of American's finest generals ever. But alas, he will not receive as much credit as he deserves for carrying out one of the most significant about-faces ever in American military history.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Advice to the President?

What would you do if you had to advise the next President? We would all probably wonder what we would say to the politicians if we had the chance, starting with, perhaps, work harder, but secretaries of state actually get to advise the President. Five former secretaries of state recently had some words of advice. Former Secretary of State James Baker advised engaging Syria. Baker served President George H.W. Bush and has endorsed McCain.

Colin Powell criticized McCain's toughness on Moscow. He pointed out that the Russian Federation had legitimate interests in the region. Interestingly, Powell has not decided which candidate to back. He stated the election of an African-American president "would be electrifying, but at the same time [I have to] make a judgment here on which would be best for America." Powell is hedging his bets.

Henry Kissinger, who served under Nixon and Ford, said the U.S. needs Russia for help on Iran and we may need Russia if Pakistan evolves in a positive direction.

Madeleine Albright stated that the U.S. did not understand Iranian society. Yes, Madeleine, so what is your point? Does Iran understand us?

Warren Christopher said we should check how authentic the Iranians are while we attempt to negotiate with them. We have to be wary because of their nuclear potential but without substantive dialogue we have few alternatives "because, frankly, the military options here are very, very poor." He is correct on that point.

Monday, September 22, 2008

U.S. Allies, the Pakistanis, Fire Upon American Troops

Our beloved allies, the Pakistani military, fired on U.S. helicopters as they attempted to cross Pakistan's border to attack the Taliban in the lawless region near the village of Lwara Mundiof, North Waziristan. The area is dominated by the Taliban Haqqani family. Pakistani regular Army and Frontier Corps units opened fire during two separate incidents. Since U.S. sources denied the incursion, it is possible that the Pakistanis are simply posturing for their domestic audience. They have to play up to the insurgents in their midst and show how they are standing up to the U.S.

Pakistan may yet need U.S. intervention. We have eliminated three senior al Qaeda leaders who have been killed in the attacks. Also, the Haqqanis, run by Jalaluddin and Siraj Haqqani, has also been hit heavily. We need to attack these targets because otherwise AQ will have the ability to plan and conduct attacks against the West since we know these are the staging grounds for attacks against us. Pakistan may regret having these cretins in their midst.

Pakistan's leaders seem to think you can placate the insurgents but the suicide attack against the Marriott Hotel should convince them otherwise. The majority of those killed were Pakistanis.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two U.S. Killed in Islamabad

Two members of the U.S. armed forces were killed in the Islamabad Suicide Blast (ISB) that killed more than 50 people at the Marriott Hotel, the Defense Department said on Sunday.

10% Undecided: McCain Ahead in Florida, Ohio, and Missouri

Sens. Obama and McCain are neck and neck in key battleground states. The key states are Florida, Ohio, and Missouri. McCain holds a one-point lead in Florida, ahead of Obama 47-46 percent. Obama has outspent McCain by a margin of more than eight to one. McCain also leads by a one-point margin in Ohio, up 47-46 percent. In Missouri, McCain leads Obama by four points, 49-45 percent. 6 percent remain undecided in Missouri. Obama is ahead in CNN's national poll of polls. Obama is ahead of McCain by three percentage points, 47-44. About 10 percent of voters are still undecided so the debates could prove critical but it is not unusual that the winner in the debates still goes on to lose the election, to wit, Kerry lost to Bush last time around.

Bin Laden the Pop Star

Graphic source: Language and Communication

Poetry recitals by Osama Bin Laden will be published from performances at wedding banquets and feasts from the 1990s. The performance tapes were preserved on recordings recovered from his compound in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. Professor Flagg Miller, an Arabist at the University of California, Davis, reports that Bin Laden excells in a standard Arabic poetic form, hamasa--a warlike poetic tradition from Oman--that is enormously popular throughout the Islamic world. Bin Laden was so well known at the time that many people taped him and the recordings were circulated like pop songs.

Some sample lines of one poem states:
“A youth who plunges into the smoke of war smiling stains the blades of lances red. May God not let my eye stray from the most eminent humans, lest they fall.”

The FBI originally suspected that the poems may have coded messages to sleeper cells but it seems more obvious that Bin Laden simply expressed himself in a typical Islamic manner. The search for coded messages, hidden in typical Arabic poetry, is part and parcel of how the U.S. fails to grasp the obvious. Bin Laden explicitly stated his intentions, and then carried out all of his threats, all in plain sight (Cf. Michael Scheuer, Through Our Enemies Eyes). In addition, the FBI has no place, operating as it is as a fish out of water, in the brutal, cut-throat overseas world of jihad.

About 20 tapes feature the “distinctive monotone” of Bin Laden, according to Miller. Excerpts from the tapes will appear in the October issue of the journal Language and Communication, (Cf. The Abstract below).

The tapes often revealed news to family members about the deaths of their sons. According to Miller, Bin Laden's poems were calculating: “He crafts his words to excite the urban dissatisfied youth, offering them escape from their elders and villages. Instead, many just die in terrible ways.”

Miller plans to write a book about Bin Laden’s poetry while the tapes will be preserved at Yale University where they will be available to scholars.


This article explores area studies contributions to sociolinguistics by examining Sunni reformers’ use of the Arabic term al-qācida, or a “pragmatic base.” Material is drawn from an audiocassette collection formerly owned by Usāma Bin Lādı¯n. Divergent approaches to the qācida suggest that the term functions a base for many forms of spatial, temporal, social, and ethical orientation. Much of the critical leverage of the concept stems from speakers’ sense of Arabic as a template of ethical attunement that cues language users to founding Muslim lifeways and leaders in and beyond the Arabian Peninsula. A review of Western Arabic sociolinguistics shows how scholars have hampered and also enhanced an understanding of the pragmatic resourcefulness of Arabic. Special attention is given to the ways area studies can help situate Arabic as a signifying practice that accommodates diverse textual, historical, and territorial claims.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

U.S. Army to Take Care of Business in Pakistan

In what is one of the most important recent developments in the Pakistani versus the U.S. standoff it has been announced that U.S. army trainers are set to arrive in Pakistan shortly. There had been a plan to send dozens of U.S. military advisers to Pakistan to train the Pakistan Army in counter-insurgency but this has received new force recently. In a matter of weeks a new agreement has centered on a training base to be located in Pakistan. Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen as stated that the U.S. and Pakistan had cleared the remaining obstacles to the arrival of the advisers.

This should be a good move since Pakistan has dragged its feet while claiming they are allied with us in the war on terror. With the massive amounts of support and aid the U.S. has squandered on the Pakistanis, they are no closer to shutting down the Taliban and other AQAM than before. The Pakistanis have been adept at manipulating American officials and have been eager to receive weaponry and equipment that look as if best suited to oppose its regional rival India.

Since Pakistan has accused the U.S. of violating Pakistani sovereignty, as if Pakistan had sovereignty throughout its entire nation, which it doesn't; and, I believe Pakistan fails as a supposed ally in the war on terror, the building of a U.S. training facility, on Pakistani soil and with their permission, is a solid move against the Taliban and AQAM. The U.S. can take care of business.

Whoever heard such an outrageous comment from a supposed ally as Pakistani officials issued a warning that they might open fire on Coalition troops crossing into Pakistani territory?

Either Pakistan is with us or they are against us. And, if they do not prosecute the war on terror with zeal, then, we will. We can not afford to have our troops subject to attack while the insurgents simply scurry back across the lawless Pakistani regions (FATA).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Briton's Youngest Terrorist Convicted

Graphic source: Reuters

The youngest Briton, Hammaad Munshi, 18, ever to be convicted of a terrorism offense was jailed for two years for his worldwide plot to target non-Muslims. His co-accused Aabid Hussain Khan recruited Munshi when he was 15 and at just 16 Munshi was arrested in Dewsbury, northern England for his support of AQ. Khan will serve a 12 year term while their cell-mate Sultain Muhammad was sentenced to a 10-year term. Munshi was found guilty of being part of a cell that spread extremist propaganda and provided practical guides on how to make poisons and suicide vests. The Internet was his tool as he circulated material including technical documents on how to make napalm and homemade explosives, and discussed how to smuggle a sword through airport security. He was sentenced to two years in a young offenders' institution. Prosecutors said Munshi was part of a cell that provided information on terrorist techniques, training, weapons and explosives.

U.S. Special Operations Target Pakistani Camps

U.S. Special Ops have increased attacks against insurgents in Pakistan's chaotic tribal regions as intelligence officials seek to stem an attack inside the United States. AQ has proved to be remarkably resilient but the next expected attack seems involved training in the tribal camps. As the U.S. has raided Pakistani areas, the attempt is intended to root out the training camps and safe houses. The targets are AQ's Taliban allies, in particular the long-standing Haqqani family in North Waziristan and the Taliban forces of Mullah Nazir in South Waziristan. The insurgents appear to be actively recruiting Western looking operatives. These operatives seem to be training somewhere in the Northwest Frontier Province at the 157 training camps and more than 400 support locations dispersed throughout the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

At Least One American Killed in Yemeni Embassy Attack

Graphic source: CNN

Susan Ali Elbaneh, a U.S. citizen, was killed in the terrorist attack in Yemen, site of the attack on the U.S.S. Cole. She was 19 and had been married for just two months. She died alongside her husband. Ironically, and just a coincidence that she was killed in the attack, Elbaneh is a relative of Yemeni-American Jaber Elbaneh who is on the FBI's most wanted list. Yemen has not cooperated in extraditing Jaber. Elbaneh had accompanied her sister in law who had an appointment with the embassy. During the attack, Ms. Elbaneh's nephew, aged three, may also be among the casualties.

The U.S. had only recently decided to return to the Embassay after having pulling out citing security concerns.

The highly coordinated and complex attack is usually a hallmark of AQ attacks but another group, the Yemeni Islamic Jihad, has claimed responsibility. How the group and AQ are related is unclear. Leading figures include Qasim al Raymi and Nasser al Wahayshi, two of the 23 AQ insurgents who escaped prison in February 2006. Hamza al Quaity, the former leader of Yemeni Islamic Jihad, also escaped during the same prison break and later formed Yemeni Islamic Jihad. All three have strong ties to al Qaeda.

All told, 16 people were killed in the attack, which did not involve U.S. service personnel. In addition, the actions of the Yemeni security forces apparently thwarted the attack and bore the brunt of the casuality toll.

AQ Network Problems

Well, after a couple of days in cyberspace, and no one really taking credit, whoever took down AQ: the world thanks you. After hearing so many Islamo-apologists proclaim just how media savvy AQ is; they are not. Al-Qaida's As-Sahab Media Foundation suffered a number of technical problems that delayed the publication of AQ's 9/11 anniversary video. A crippling network outage thwarted AQ plans to distribute their drivel. One of the AQ discussion forums, "Al-Ekhlaas," was thankfully knocked off line before this 9/11. Thereafter, a series of domains used by yet another competing extremist forum "Al-Hesbah," blacked out. "Ekhlaas" has been offline, and there has been no word from As-Sahab. AQ wants to play the game but they lost so thanks whoever you are. AQ's tech needs some work. Finally, As-Sahab has breathed new life today and distributed packaged copies of the video "Results of 7 Years of the Crusades," or at least it has attempted the distribution. Now, they have caused their own problems. Human error is at fault when the wrong password for the packaged video--meaning that users can download but not actually view the film, was announced. All the site needs to state is the correct password but our poor insurgents are still waiting for re-publication. As-Sahab is not as slick and professional as many would like to claim, and really, does the world need more hate and recruitment for insurgents?

The mustard comes off the hot dog.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

EU May Act to End Horn Piracy

In what I believe to be a positive development, the European Union, with 27 member nations, plans a mission to tackle the increasing problem with piracy off Somalia. The EU plans to send a possible naval mission to the Horn of Africa. The U.S. has argued, alone and with its own forces, that lawlessness should end in the region but I do not think the U.S. should go it alone. The shipping lanes directly impact the EU and they should be solving their own problems.

There have been at least fifty attacks since January in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. The International Maritime Bureau, a private non-profit organisation that tracks such data, says seizures of ships and sailors are running at their highest level since 1991, when it first started to collect piracy data.

If the EU does decide to act, their justification is within the framework of United Nations Security Council resolution 1816, which the members unanimously adopted in June. The potential action is also in line with their recent higher-profile role in efforts to promote security in Africa, having deployed a 3,700-strong peacekeeping force in eastern Chad this year.

The next more positive development, although there are no signs of anything of the sort happening now, is that India and possibly China would send additional personnel.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hackers Shut AQ Up

As-Sahab, Al Qaeda’s media unit, was not able to post a videotape on 9/11. Western intelligence suspects two hackers who have targeted Islamicist sites before were responsible: Aaron Weisburd from Internet Haganah and Rusty Shackleford from the web group My Pet Jawa.

In 2004, a hacker group called TeAmZ USA had knocked out the websites of Abu Musal al-Zarqawi, late head of the Al Qaeda in Iraq, for showing tapes of Westerners being beheaded. The hackers left the image of a gun-toting penguin on the website.

Sheikh Pronounces Islamic Law: Mickey Mouse Must Die

Sheikh Muhammad Munajid, a cleric and a former diplomat at the Saudi embassy in Washington DC, stated that Mickey Mouse is "one of Satan's soldiers" and makes everything it touches impure. Under Sharia, both household mice and their cartoon counterparts must be killed. Munajid provided Islam's teaching on mice during a religious affairs programme broadcast on al-Majd TV, an Arab television network. According to a translation prepared by the Middle East Media Research Institute, an American press monitoring service, he said: "The mouse is one of Satan's soldiers and is steered by him." The Islamic expert declared that "according to Islamic law, Mickey Mouse should be killed in all cases." Last week his target was the Beijing Olympics which was described as the "bikini Olympics", claiming that nothing made Satan happier than seeing females athletes dressed in skimpy outfits.

My blog may be hard to take at times, but I assure you, I did not make this story up.

Checkpoint-Friendly Bags for Airport Security

Checkpoint-friendly bags allow laptops to be fully visible to security scanners. This scan was taken by Aerovation, which went to the distributor of the X-ray equipment used by TSA and rented its lab. Graphic source: Aerovation

While traveling this summer I noticed all the difficulties people had with their laptops, especially at one of the most secure airports I traveled through: Phoenix. The issue arises once people are required to remove their laptops from their protective cases. Laptops get dropped, damaged, forgotten and even stolen outright. One study by Dell estimated that about 12,000 laptops are lost in U.S. airports every week. All you need is for yours to be one of the numbers and its costly.

Presently, the TSA has recognized the importance of the laptop issue and on the market now are five criteria: a designated laptop-only section; a laptop-only section that completely unfolds to lay flat on the X-ray conveyor belt; no metal snaps, zippers or buckles inside, underneath or on top of the laptop-only section; no pockets on the inside or outside of the laptop-only section; and, nothing packed in the laptop-only section other than the computer itself.

There are eight full-featured TSA-approved cases, available now or soon, with pockets and compartments that hold everything from your power adapter and accessories to a change of clothes: Aerovation Checkpoint Friendly Laptop Bag, CODi Phantom CT3, Mobile Edge ScanFast Backpack, Pathfinder Wheeled Checkpoint Friendly CompuBrief, Skooba Design Checkthrough, Solo CheckFast Laptop Clamshell, Targus Zip-Thru 15.4" Corporate Traveler Laptop Case, and the Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer Briefcase.

Lieberman Fighting YouTube, Again

I have to hand it to one of the few politicians to be persistent. Even if I disagree with censorship, which I do by nature, and I think that the response to stupidity is a strong counter, I admire Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) in his battle with YouTube. Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, has asked the service to remove video content produced by terrorist organizations that showed assassinations, the deaths of U.S. soldiers and civilians, weapons training and other objectionable material. Lieberman said the content intends to "encourage violence against the West."

The solution seems to be working towards a solution as YouTube revises its community standards, or Terms of Service. The key line is the note about "inciting others to commit violent acts or to violate the terms of use are taken very seriously."

There are countries in which free speech to incite others to violence is not protected speech. In Canada for example, freedom of speech is generally protected under Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Criminal Code of Canada, however, limits these freedoms and provides for several forms of punishable hate speech. The form of punishable hate speech considered to encompass fighting words is identified in Section 319. Free speech has its limitations when it is an incitement to violence against others.

Lieberman's point is along these lines. He stated: "YouTube was being used by Islamist terrorist organizations to recruit and train followers via the Internet and to incite terrorist attacks around the world, including right here in the United States, and Google should be commended for recognizing that." He added: "I expect these stronger community guidelines to decrease the number of videos on YouTube produced by al-Qaeda and affiliated Islamist terrorist organizations."

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pakistan Threatens Britain with Reprisal Violence

Pakistan’s high commissioner to the UK, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, threatened Britain. The recent actions by the U.S. bombings, intending to eliminate Taliban and AQAM elements, had inadvertently killed civilians. According to Hasan, this makes the streets of London fair game for reprisals. He stated: “There are 1m Pakistanis in the diaspora here and resentment is mounting. I’m being flooded by text messages from community leaders saying we must organise our anger."

Pakistan’s newly elected president, Asif Ali Zardari, arrives in Britain today. He will hold talks with Gordon Brown and David Miliband, the foreign secretary. He will appeal to them to exert their influence to halt the unauthorised bombings.

Taliban Kills Children

The world will not be outraged but an explosion killed six children in Afghanistan, 12 were wounded, some of them critically. The roadside bomb was apparently planted by Taliban rebels to target Afghan and Coalition troops. The children from Sardar village started playing with explosives and they went off. If the Coalition targets the Taliban and civilians are killed as a result, expect an outcry against the U.S.

Model Checking

One of the most frustrating things about computing is that the equipment does not work simply. I envision the day when computer use is as simple as a television. You simply plug it in, and it works, although T.V.'s are evolving to be more complicated than that. The point holds for T.V.'s `back in the day.' Along comes a work that I recently reviewed (forthcoming) which outlines current work in computing, Model Checking, that seems to be a useful area of endeavor. Working closely with programmers and computer specialists I never cease to marvel at their technical abilities, though computers themselves still seemed obtuse. However, even for non-specialists, the area of Model Checking is intriguing because computing specialists in this area may be solving some of the most frustrating aspects of computing: waste and delay. I intend to follow some of the current work in the field in the hopes that computing will be more efficient and practical.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

About Time for Pakistan

Pakistan’s unwillingness, or inability to dismantle insurgent safe havens in Fata (the lawless regions of Pakistan) has finally prompted the U.S. administration to decide that "enough is enough." Pakistan must be cooperating since they have been largely mum about the new initiative although previously Pakistan disapproval was clear. The U.S. needed to take action to solve the problem of insurgents having a free rein in the region. The move followed Pakistan’s feeble attempts to forge peace deals with militants in the tribal areas. In addition, the U.S. should not be expected to conduct business as usual following heavy casualties.

Friday, September 12, 2008

McCain Lead Currently 1 Point

CNN's average of national polls shows McCain currently holds a 1-point lead over Obama at 46-45%. The average is composed of five national general election surveys: Fox News/Opinion Dynamics (September 8-9), NBC/Wall Street Journal (September 6-8), American Research Group (September 6-8), Gallup (September 8-10), and Diageo/Hotline (September 8-10). It does not have a sampling error. If the polls remain at those numbers it will be an extremely close race, among the closest ever.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Al Qaeda Loss in Iraq

Graphic source: The Long War Journal

In what is probably the most fascinating set of documents yet uncovered, a number of AQ letters reveals what has become obvious in the long war community: AQ is fragmenting in Iraq. Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda's second in command, Abu Ayyub al Masri, al Qaeda in Iraq's leader, and Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq exchanged letters which were intercepted by Coalition forces. The letters reveal that AQ's senior leadership has lost confidence in AQ's leadership in Iraq. Perhaps even more revealing is a graphic revealing the loss of territory by AQ between 2006 up to the present. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Most Recently Conducted Polls: McCain Even, a Victory of Sorts

Several recent presidential polls are interesting to consider. The CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted in Michigan among registered voters calculated Barack Obama at 45 percent, John McCain 42 percent, and Ralph Nader 6 percent. Of particular pain for McCain is that in southwestern Michigan-—which Bush won overwhelmingly four years ago-—Obama is up by 9 points. A similar poll in Missouri among registered voters showed McCain at 48 percent and Obama at 44 percent. In New Hampshire among registered voters Obama garnished 48 percent and McCain 43 percent. In Virginia among registered voters McCain took 49 percent and Obama 43 percent.

Score: Obama 2, McCain 2.

The most striking aspect of this, admittedly unusual presidential election, is that Obama has not struck the killer blow. It seems closest to the Carter defeat at the hands of Reagan, the significant difference is in their respective parties. However, a hugely unpopular incumbent President, Carter, similar to Bush, lost overwhelmingly to Reagan. Obama should be delivering the knock-out blow to McCain as a third term of Bush but this has not happened. McCain is in the running or beating Obama in the polls. As some have noted, Obama might not possess the toughness required of a President. He can not deliver.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why I Take Middle Eastern Opinion Polls With a Grain of Salt

I know the conventional wisdom is to take the results of polls fairly seriously. On the other hand, bear in mind the off-base things that people believe. For example, Arab nations still suspect that it was U.S. in cahoots with Israel who were behind the 9/11 attacks. There is no credible evidence that such a thing actually occurred but the facts do not trouble the irrational and misguided. Nonetheless, when poll after poll shows how America's place in the world is diminished, I do not lose much sleep over it. As the cliche states it: consider the source.

Many Medieval people believed the planets revolved around the Earth but such wishful thinking did not make it so. Likewise, many Middle Easteners think there is a conspiracy against Muslims.

The San Diego Tribune reported one such statement: “Look, I don't believe what your governments and press say. It just can't be true,” stated Ahmed Issab, 26, a Syrian engineer who lives and works in the United Arab Emirates. “Why would they tell the truth? I think the U.S. organized this so that they had an excuse to invade Iraq for the oil.” A person intelligent enough to receive a decent education, a scientist no less, and an engineer to boot; yet, Mr. Issab is not discerning enough to understand that the U.S. and Israel and not involved in a devil's pact to bring down Islam? I do not buy it.

Isn't there a way to end the double standard against Americans? I mean, we are often described as the ugly Americans because we do not understand the rest of the world; on the other hand, any nonsense that the media reports on from the Middle East is treated with the utmost respect. Why can't someone simply ask for evidence? What evidence is there that a grand conspiracy exists between these two nations? At least that would be the scientific way to approach a controversial issue.

The same Times article noted: "Americans might better understand the region, experts here said, if they simply listen to what people are saying – and try to understand why – rather than taking offense." The point they make is that Americans need to understand, yet, any half-baked notion arising from the Middle East is accepted uncritically. The fact that the foreign policy of the U.S. and Israel coincides is evidence of nothing more than what it is: two nations view their self-interest, for a time, similarly. These things change, they have before and they will again.

Offensive prejudice, on the part of Middle Easteners, is accepted uncritically and embraced as an authentic voice of the people. This is wrong-headed. The only way America was able to stare down and defeat prejudice, such as lynching, was through education, a more active Justice Department, and federal intervention. It helps no one not to ask Middle Easterners to learn more accurate information about the U.S.

Monday, September 8, 2008

British Muslims Convicted of World's Biggest Terrorist Atrocity Planning

Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, Assad Sarwar, 28, and Tanvir Hussain, 27, three British Muslims were found guilty of conspiracy to murder. The world's biggest terrorist atrocity plot is the one responsible for the banning of liquids of airline flights up to the present. An unknown AQ associate, planned to conceal explosives within 500ml Oasis or Lucozade bottles; thereafter, the al-Qaeda cell members in London planned to detonate a series of liquid-based bombs disguised as soft drinks. The suicide bombers intended to blow up several transatlantic airliners bound for America in a simultaneous attack which would have caused an even greater loss of life than 9/11. Other possible targets included the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, nuclear power stations, and oil terminals.

The jury was unable to reach verdicts on conspiracy to murder charges relating to four other defendants: Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Khan, Waheed Zaman and Umar Islam; they now face a retrial.

An eighth man, Mohammed Gulzar, was found not guilty on all counts, including conspiracy to murder.

Police said the plot was drawn up in Pakistan with detailed instructions passed to Ali during frequent trips to its lawless border with Afghanistan. In a suicide video Ali warned the British public to expect "floods of martyr operations" that would leave body parts scattered in the streets.

Zawahiri Admits Defeat in Iraq

Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda's deputy leader, stated in his latest missive that Iran was "collaborating" with the US in its occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. The video entitled "Assessment of Seven Years of Crusades," was produced by AQ's media arm, Al-Sahab. The 90-minute video also attacks Lebanese, Pakistani and Afghan leaders. The interesting aspect of the message is that it is an admission of AQAM's failure in Iraq. Of course Iran and the U.S. did not collaborate but by attacking fellow insurgents, Zawahiri is admitting defeat in Iraq, something that the U.S. surge handled by early this year spring and at the same time Zawahiri announced was critical to AQ's aims. The recruitment of young people and children that Zawahiri announced at the time did not come to pass.

Zawahiri exacerbates already troublesome relationships with Iraqi Shia clerics and the Lebanese Shia militant group, Hezbollah. He stated: "Hezbollah has not obtained any victory in Lebanon against Israel." Otherwise, the tape is just more of the same with the added note regarding the importance of Algeria. The tape also unwittingly points to increasing tensions within worldwide insurgent movements.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Infrastructure Issues: Not to Mention Attacks

One of the biggest concerns with our aging infrastructure is that the demands placed on the systems are too great. Coupled with possible insurgent attacks, Americans are really susceptible to increasing issues with transportation. The problem was illustrated graphically with the recent Federal Aviation Administration's traffic management computer system issue which caused flight delays at U.S. airports.

The delays were largely centered around airports in the northeastern U.S. which is among our oldest and most prone systems. reported that all major U.S. airports were affected by the computer problem at a facility near Atlanta. Problems processing data in Atlanta meant that flight-plan information had to be routed through another facility in Salt Lake City.

Now, if you were seeking to create havoc on American airlines, where would you strike?

Those two sites handle all flight plans for commercial and general flights in the U.S.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

August Order of Battle in Iraq

Graphic source: The Long War Journal

The August Order of Battle in Iraq demonstrates progress in increasing responsibilities for native Iraqi elements as the U.S. plans to draw down its troops.

Pakistan Makes a Step Towards Democracy: Zardari

Nearly a year after assassins killed Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, won the country's presidential election and hailed his triumph as a victory for democracy. "I feel democracy has been vindicated," Zardari told CNN. Zardari had been the front-runner in the race to replace former President Pervez Musharraf, who was forced to resign last month. The pro-American Zardari will rule a nuclear power threatened by the Islamic Taliban militants and economic turmoil. Conditions are extremely difficult currently but if Zardari can support the U.S. efforts to curtail Islamism the world will be a better place. The U.S. can possibly access the areas where the central Pakistani government is too weak to control.

Pakistan Cuts its Own Throat

Supposedly our ally, Pakistan, has reportedly blocked a major fuel supply route for Western forces in Afghanistan in response to a raid by US forces in northwest Pakistan earlier this week. Al-Qaeda and pro-Taliban fighters live in sanctuaries in northwest Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun tribal areas, where they organise attacks in Afghanistan. The U.S. can not afford to sit idly by while its troops are being attacked. And, in these lawless regions, the central Pakistani government is hardly in control of the regions, thus, Pakistan does not enjoy sovereignty in the region. The U.S. has every right to protect its troops any way it can.

Afghan Support to Increase, Eventually

With the developing violence and the increasing numbers of foreign insurgents, some of whom are fleeing the losing AQAM campaigns in Iraq, which is not a bad thing, are pouring into Afghanistan, the U.S. will launch a "very aggressive" winter campaign according to Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Schloesser, commander of the 101st Airborne Division task force in eastern Afghanistan. The unprecedented winter offensive, and the first major action since 2002, will be coupled with a development drive that will provide some $479 million to help employ young Afghan males on local development projects. Due to a lack of troops, the U.S. is pressed to hold territory and protect the people against the Taliban and other foreign invaders. American military commanders in Afghanistan have been pleading for more troops for more than a year. At least 10,000 more troops, about two brigade combat teams, are needed in Afghanistan, U.S. commanders have stated. About 33,000 U.S. troops are fighting in Afghanistan, including 19,000 under Schloesser's command and 14,000 assigned to the NATO command. Both Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated that it is unlikely that additional troops will be deployed to Afghanistan until troop reductions are made in Iraq next spring. The unusual winter campaigns have been provoked by U.S. intelligence reports which indicate that many of the 7,000 to 11,000 insurgents in Afghanistan are planning to remain there over the winter.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Celebrating Jihad

On 14 August 2008 the Islamist group Jamatud Dawa - the new name of the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, led by Professor Hafiz Muhammad Saeed - held a conference in Lahore, billed as the "Defend Pakistan Conference."

At the opening of the conference, a duo, Hafiz Abdul Wadud Hasan and Hafiz Abdur Rauf, sang the following song, described by the organizers as the "jihadi tarana (anthem)."

The song is available at the Jamatud Dawa website.

"Jihad will continue till the Day of Judgement; jihad will never stop.

(Jihad jari rahega ta qayamat
Jihad hargiz naheen rukega)

It has forced oppressor's head to bow; it will end oppression and torture.

(Is se zalim ka sar jhuka hai
Is se zulm-o-sitam mitega)

Jihad is the order of Allah; jihad is the path of the Prophet.

(Jihad farman hai Khuda ka
Jihad rasta hai Mustafa ka)

Jihad is the assurance of loyalty; every true Muslim will be loyal.

(Jihad paiman hai wafa ka
Her ek momin wafa karega)

Jihad is mentioned in the Koran; jihad is the eternity of faith.

(Jihad Qur'an mein likha hai
Jihad Eiman ki baqaa hai)

This is the Will [of God], this is [His] happiness; no one can change it.

(Yahi masheeat, yahi raza hai
Jise na koi badal saekga)

Only Jihad has always cut the head of evil from the earth

(Zameen se fitno ka sar hamesha
Jihad hi se qalam huwa hai)

If jihad has the power in it; mischief will have no substance.

(Rahega dam kham jihad mein to
Fasad mein dam naheen rahega)

Jihad alone gives voice; respect comes to the helpless.

(Jihad hi se zaban milti
Hai aan milti hai bekason ko)

Jihad will make the gods of falsehood naked.

(Jihad jhooti khudaion ko
Ulat kar be abroo karega)

Avoidance of jihad has given birth to subjugation.

(Jihad se ijtniab hi ne
Ghulamion ko janam diya hai)

Enemies of Jihad will be dishonoured; they will sink into an unending abyss.

(Jihad dushman zaleel hoker
Athaah pasti mein ja girega)

Jihad is the protection of the Ummah; jihad is the symbol of self-respect.

(Jihad millat ki pasbani
Jihad ghairat ki hai nishani)

Jihad is a Revealed gift; only the lucky ones will get it.

(Jihad tuhfa hai aasmani
Naseeb walon ko hi milega)

Jihad destroys terror; jihad brings good news.

(Jihad dehshat mitane walaa
Jihad muzde sunane walaa)

Jihad teaches how to live; only those will live who learn to die.

(Jihad jeena sikhane walaa
Jo marna seekhega wo jiyegaa)

Jihad is the state of ecstasy; jihad is the army of the brave.

(Jihad alam hai bekhudi ka
Jihad Lashkar bahaduri ka)

Jihad is the flag of truth; Never has it bowed, nor will it bow.

(Jihad parcham hai rasti ka
Kabhi jhuka, na kabhi jhukega)

Jihad is the kingdom of faith; jihad is the depth of emotions.

(Jihad eiman ki hai shahi
Jihad jazbon ki hai bepanahi)

Jihad is the destruction of heretics; those who fight against it will die.

(Jihad alhad ki tabahi
Ise mitayega jo mitega)

Jihad is to stand for truth; not go back once you have taken the step.

(Jihad Afazan haq per hai datna
Qadam barhaker ne peechhe hanta)

Jihad is the Eagle's attack; falsehood will be victim.

(Jihad shaheen ka jhapatna
Shikar batil bana rahega)"

IED Found Near the Capitol

Years ago the famous American novelist Sinclair Lewis wrote a well-known novel about it can't happen here. This type of thinking should be dispelled as a man was arrested near the Capitol when an IED, a rifle, and ammunition was allegedly found in his Jeep. The man stopped to ask police for directions near the Capitol building at about 11 a.m. EDT Friday, at the intersection of 2nd and Independence Avenue Southeast. The alert officer responding noticed a rifle case on the car seat and inspected the jeep and discovered the contraband. Library of Congress employees near where the jeep was stopped were evacuated as a precaution, and several roads are closed while police continue their investigation. The IED is on its way to the FBI facility in Quantico, Va., for analysis. Kudos to the alert officer protecting Washington.

Malaysia Works to Make Sea Lanes Safer

Malaysia is demonstrating a forthright policy by deploying its navy to Somalia. I believe that many nations should be more involved in security issues, especially those that occur within their regional domain and Malaysia has done just that. Malaysia is sending three navy ships to the coast of Somalia to protect merchant vessels from piracy. The ships will begin patrolling in the Gulf of Aden in the next few days. The seas off Somalia, close to busy shipping routes and therefore of direct interest to Malaysia, have some of the highest rates of piracy in the world. The country has been without a functioning central government for 17 years and has suffered from continual civil strife. If only China and India would get more involved, and support Malaysia, the piracy issue could very well be eliminated.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

McCain Down and Out?

It would be extremely difficult to count out John McCain, despite the media's penchent for burying him prematurely, after watching his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention. He was conciliatory, humble, if feisty in his closing arguments which asked people to fight with him for America. He is a guy who you really can't consider out of the running when he quite obviously is just the guy who he says he is. While he does not have Obama's smoothness in the prepared speech, there really is no effective counter once he relates his narrative about having both arms broken and depending on two fellow prisoners of war to feed him. How do you counter a story like that? He has a powerful narrative of service and dedication to country. He is not out of the running just yet.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chrome Makes Impressive Debut

The widely bally-hooed Google Inc.'s new Chrome browser grabbed 1% of the browser market in its first day out in public. U.S.-based tracking company Net Applications Inc., and Irish vendor StatCounter, placed Chrome's total market share at around 1%, less than 24 hours after the browser's launch, passing rivals such as Opera and Netscape in the process.

Palin Introduces Herself to America

Palin accomplished major goals in her speech at the Republican Convention. She came across as a fighter, praised her party's nominee, attacked her opponent, actually, an indictment of Obama's lack of achievement, and spoke dynamically as a down-to-earth woman and mother. She should help McCain in crucial middle America states and is an asset. The surprise choice of Palin will help McCain appeal to women and broaden the appeal of the Republican party. It was a good choice. She has only had less than a week to prepare which is revealing. She is not a studied and rehearsed vice-presidential nominee. We are viewing the real deal.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Google Browses

Graphic source: Google

Google finally launched its own Web browser which ends years of speculation that the search company had designs on the browser market. The new browser, Chrome, was released and thus the company now competes against Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, and Apple, all of which distribute browsers of their own. Chrome, still in beta, is only available in a version that runs under Windows XP or Windows Vista although others are fast at work expanding the shine of Chrome.

Anbar Now in Iraqi Hands

Indicative of the increasing well-being of the U.S. effort in Iraq is that the United States and the Multi-National Force-Iraq is transferring security in Anbar Province over to Iraqi responsibility. Anbar is the eleventh province to be transferred to Iraqi security responsibility since the first province transferred to Government of Iraqi security control in July 2006. The transfer of security responsibility in Anbar is significant because it is geographically the largest province in Iraq and borders three countries.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Upcoming Attractions

Now back online you can look forward to upcoming attractions: Joe Biden for President, updates on glaciers in Alaska, Montana, and global warming, review of Cirque du Soleil, the Beatles "LOVE," Las Vegas Show, and many other new features. Stay tuned.

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Reading since summer 2006 (some of the classics are re-reads): including magazine subscriptions

  • Abbot, Edwin A., Flatland;
  • Accelerate: Technology Driving Business Performance;
  • ACM Queue: Architecting Tomorrow's Computing;
  • Adkins, Lesley and Roy A. Adkins, Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome;
  • Ali, Ayaan Hirsi, Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations;
  • Ali, Tariq, The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads, and Modernity;
  • Allawi, Ali A., The Crisis of Islamic Civilization;
  • Alperovitz, Gar, The Decision To Use the Atomic Bomb;
  • American School & University: Shaping Facilities & Business Decisions;
  • Angelich, Jane, What's a Mother (in-Law) to Do?: 5 Essential Steps to Building a Loving Relationship with Your Son's New Wife;
  • Arad, Yitzchak, In the Shadow of the Red Banner: Soviet Jews in the War Against Nazi Germany;
  • Aristotle, Athenian Constitution. Eudemian Ethics. Virtues and Vices. (Loeb Classical Library No. 285);
  • Aristotle, Metaphysics: Books X-XIV, Oeconomica, Magna Moralia (The Loeb classical library);
  • Armstrong, Karen, A History of God;
  • Arrian: Anabasis of Alexander, Books I-IV (Loeb Classical Library No. 236);
  • Atkinson, Rick, The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (Liberation Trilogy);
  • Auletta, Ken, Googled: The End of the World As We Know It;
  • Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice;
  • Bacevich, Andrew, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism;
  • Baker, James A. III, and Lee H. Hamilton, The Iraq Study Group Report: The Way Forward - A New Approach;
  • Barber, Benjamin R., Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism's Challenge to Democracy;
  • Barnett, Thomas P.M., Blueprint for Action: A Future Worth Creating;
  • Barnett, Thomas P.M., The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century;
  • Barron, Robert, Catholicism: A Journey to the Heart of the Faith;
  • Baseline: Where Leadership Meets Technology;
  • Baur, Michael, Bauer, Stephen, eds., The Beatles and Philosophy;
  • Beard, Charles Austin, An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States (Sony Reader);
  • Benjamin, Daniel & Steven Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam's War Against America;
  • Bergen, Peter, The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader;
  • Berman, Paul, Terror and Liberalism;
  • Berman, Paul, The Flight of the Intellectuals: The Controversy Over Islamism and the Press;
  • Better Software: The Print Companion to;
  • Bleyer, Kevin, Me the People: One Man's Selfless Quest to Rewrite the Constitution of the United States of America;
  • Boardman, Griffin, and Murray, The Oxford Illustrated History of the Roman World;
  • Bracken, Paul, The Second Nuclear Age: Strategy, Danger, and the New Power Politics;
  • Bradley, James, with Ron Powers, Flags of Our Fathers;
  • Bronte, Charlotte, Jane Eyre;
  • Bronte, Emily, Wuthering Heights;
  • Brown, Ashley, War in Peace Volume 10 1974-1984: The Marshall Cavendish Encyclopedia of Postwar Conflict;
  • Brown, Ashley, War in Peace Volume 8 The Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of Postwar Conflict;
  • Brown, Nathan J., When Victory Is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics;
  • Bryce, Robert, Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence";
  • Bush, George W., Decision Points;
  • Bzdek, Vincent, The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled;
  • Cahill, Thomas, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter;
  • Campus Facility Maintenance: Promoting a Healthy & Productive Learning Environment;
  • Campus Technology: Empowering the World of Higher Education;
  • Certification: Tools and Techniques for the IT Professional;
  • Channel Advisor: Business Insights for Solution Providers;
  • Chariton, Callirhoe (Loeb Classical Library);
  • Chief Learning Officer: Solutions for Enterprise Productivity;
  • Christ, Karl, The Romans: An Introduction to Their History and Civilization;
  • Cicero, De Senectute;
  • Cicero, The Republic, The Laws;
  • Cicero, The Verrine Orations I: Against Caecilius. Against Verres, Part I; Part II, Book 1 (Loeb Classical Library);
  • Cicero, The Verrine Orations I: Against Caecilius. Against Verres, Part I; Part II, Book 2 (Loeb Classical Library);
  • CIO Decisions: Aligning I.T. and Business in the MidMarket Enterprise;
  • CIO Insight: Best Practices for IT Business Leaders;
  • CIO: Business Technology Leadership;
  • Clay, Lucius Du Bignon, Decision in Germany;
  • Cohen, William S., Dragon Fire;
  • Colacello, Bob, Ronnie and Nancy: Their Path to the White House, 1911 to 1980;
  • Coll, Steve, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century;
  • Collins, Francis S., The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief ;
  • Colorni, Angelo, Israel for Beginners: A Field Guide for Encountering the Israelis in Their Natural Habitat;
  • Compliance & Technology;
  • Computerworld: The Voice of IT Management;
  • Connolly, Peter & Hazel Dodge, The Ancient City: Life in Classical Athens & Rome;
  • Conti, Greg, Googling Security: How Much Does Google Know About You?;
  • Converge: Strategy and Leadership for Technology in Education;
  • Cowan, Ross, Roman Legionary 58 BC - AD 69;
  • Cowell, F. R., Life in Ancient Rome;
  • Creel, Richard, Religion and Doubt: Toward a Faith of Your Own;
  • Cross, Robin, General Editor, The Encyclopedia of Warfare: The Changing Nature of Warfare from Prehistory to Modern-day Armed Conflicts;
  • CSO: The Resource for Security Executives:
  • Cummins, Joseph, History's Greatest Wars: The Epic Conflicts that Shaped the Modern World;
  • D'Amato, Raffaele, Imperial Roman Naval Forces 31 BC-AD 500;
  • Dallek, Robert, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy 1917-1963;
  • Daly, Dennis, Sophocles' Ajax;
  • Dando-Collins, Stephen, Caesar's Legion: The Epic Saga of Julius Caesar's Elite Tenth Legion and the Armies of Rome;
  • Darwish, Nonie, Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror;
  • Davis Hanson, Victor, Makers of Ancient Strategy: From the Persian Wars to the Fall of Rome;
  • Dawkins, Richard, The Blind Watchmaker;
  • Dawkins, Richard, The God Delusion;
  • Dawkins, Richard, The Selfish Gene;
  • de Blij, Harm, Why Geography Matters: Three Challenges Facing America, Climate Change, The Rise of China, and Global Terrorism;
  • Defense Systems: Information Technology and Net-Centric Warfare;
  • Defense Systems: Strategic Intelligence for Info Centric Operations;
  • Defense Tech Briefs: Engineering Solutions for Military and Aerospace;
  • Dennett, Daniel C., Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon;
  • Dennett, Daniel C., Consciousness Explained;
  • Dennett, Daniel C., Darwin's Dangerous Idea;
  • Devries, Kelly, et. al., Battles of the Ancient World 1285 BC - AD 451 : From Kadesh to Catalaunian Field;
  • Dickens, Charles, Great Expectations;
  • Digital Communities: Building Twenty-First Century Communities;
  • Doctorow, E.L., Homer & Langley;
  • Dodds, E. R., The Greeks and the Irrational;
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor, The House of the Dead (Google Books, Sony e-Reader);
  • Dostoevsky, Fyodor, The Idiot;
  • Douglass, Elisha P., Rebels and Democrats: The Struggle for Equal Political Rights and Majority Role During the American Revolution;
  • Doyle, Sir Arthur Conan, The Hound of the Baskervilles & The Valley of Fear;
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