Updated: 5/16/2006; 11:30:32 AM.

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daily link  Sunday, January 25, 2004

Whole Earth: New Feature Articles:  WER is closing down.  Their site still has a collection of recent articles, on the Singularity.  11:41:21 PM  permalink  

Best Western hotels to install free high-speed Internet chainwide: "Best Western International Inc. will offer free high-speed Internet in all 2,300 of its hotels in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, its chief executive said Friday.  "It's the No. 1 amenity requested by virtually everyone, especially businesspeople, said Tom Higgins, CEO and president of the Phoenix-based hotel chain. "High-speed Internet for free is going to be where it's at."

Only about 10 to 15% of Best Western hotels currently have high-speed access, but Higgins said it will be available chainwide by September.  "Come Sept. 1, when you see a Best Western sign, you'll know they have it. That's the comfort we want to provide for the traveling public," he said.

In each of the hotels, at least 15% of the guest rooms and public areas will have high-speed Internet access. The company will also make wireless cards available at the front desk for guests who are in rooms without hard wiring.  Additionally, the hotel's corporate office will make a toll-free number available around-the-clock for guests who have difficulty connecting to the Internet.

Higgins predicts that other hotels will also be forced to offer free service eventually because travelers have become so dependent on e-mail and Internet services. "Everybody is going to be here. It's just a matter of how soon they're going to get there," he said. "

  11:30:50 PM  permalink  

Sp@m ShEn@nig@nS!!: That Gibberish in Your In-Box May Be Good News: Are filters beating spam?  Good summary article.  11:09:55 PM  permalink  

Friedman on root causes of Islamic terrorism, and Iraq: Predictable, but concise: "My hope is that Iowa will embolden the Blair Democrats to shuck off their intimidation, by Mr. Bush and Mr. Dean, and press their case. It is the only way to build a national consensus for what's going to be a long cold-war-like struggle to strengthen the forces of moderation and weaken the forces of violent intolerance within the Arab-Muslim world — which is what the real war on terrorism is about. To be successful, Democrats will need a candidate who understands three things (which Messrs. Kerry, Lieberman, Clark and Edwards do):

First, this notion, put forward by Mr. Dean and Al Gore, that the war in Iraq has diverted us from the real war on "terrorists" is just wrong. There is no war on "terrorism" that does not address the misgovernance and pervasive sense of humiliation in the Muslim world. Sure, Al Qaeda and Saddam pose different threats, Will Marshall [of the Progressive Policy Institute] notes, "but they emerge from the same pathology of widespread repression, economic stagnation and fear of cultural decline." Building a decent Iraq is very much part of the war on terrorism.

Second, sometimes smashing someone in the face is necessary to signal others that they will be held accountable for the intolerance they incubate. Removing the Taliban and Saddam sent that message to every government in the area.

Third, the Iraq war may have created more hatred of the U.S., but it has also triggered a hugely important dialogue among Arabs and Muslims about the necessity of reform."  Conclusion: "The war of ideas among Arabs and Muslims can only be fought and won by their own forces of moderation, and those forces can only emerge from a growing middle class with a sense of dignity and hope for the future. Young people who grow up in a context of real economic opportunity, basic rule of law and the right to speak and write what they please don't usually want to blow up the world. They want to be part of it. "

  10:59:52 PM  permalink  

A Tougher War for the U.S. Is One of Legitimacy:  Excellent essay by Robert Kagan, with surprising support from Kissinger:  "Opinion polls taken before, during and after the war have shown two peoples living on separate strategic and ideological planets. More than 80 percent of Americans believe that war may achieve justice; less than half of Europeans believe that a war — any war — can ever be just. Americans and Europeans disagree about the role of international law and international institutions, and about the nebulous and abstract yet powerful question of international legitimacy.

Americans will find that they cannot ignore this problem. The struggle to define and obtain international legitimacy in this new era may prove to be among the critical contests of our time, in some ways as significant in determining the future of the international system and America's place in it as any purely material measure of power and influence.

Americans for much of the past three centuries have considered themselves the vanguard of a worldwide liberal revolution. Their foreign policy from the beginning has not been only about defending and promoting their material national interests. "We fight not just for ourselves but for all mankind," Benjamin Franklin declared of the American Revolution, and whether or not that has always been true, most Americans have always wanted to believe that it is true ..

The Clinton administration, Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, wrote in a famous essay in January 2000, had failed to focus on the "national interest" and instead had addressed itself to "humanitarian interests" or the interests of "the international community." The Bush administration, by contrast, would take a fresh look at all treaties, obligations and alliances and re-evaluate them in terms of America's "national interest." ..

Besides being an analytical error, the enunciation of this "realist" approach by the sole superpower in a unipolar era was a serious foreign policy error. The global hegemon cannot proclaim to the world that it will be guided only by its own definition of its "national interest." This is precisely what even America's closest friends fear: that the United States will wield its unprecedented vast power only for itself. In her essay, Ms. Rice derided "the belief that the United States is exercising power legitimately only when it is doing so on behalf of someone or something else." But for the rest of the world, what other source of legitimacy can there be? ..

"To be sure," she argued, "there is nothing wrong with doing something that benefits all humanity, but that is, in a sense, a second-order effect."  But could even America's closest friends ever be persuaded that an America always pursuing its self-interest could be relied upon to serve their interests, too, as some kind of "second-order effect"? ..

No one has made this argument more powerfully, and more presciently, than that quintessential realist, Henry A. Kissinger.  The task in Iraq, Mr. Kissinger argued in an essay, was not just to win the war but to convey "to the rest of the world that our first pre-emptive war has been imposed by necessity and that we seek the world's interests, not exclusively our own." America's "special responsibility, as the most powerful nation in the world," he said, "is to work toward an international system that rests on more than military power — indeed, that strives to translate power into cooperation. Any other attitude will gradually isolate and exhaust us."  ..

Right now many Europeans are betting that the risks from the "axis of evil," from terrorism and tyrants, will never be as great as the risk of an American Leviathan unbound. Perhaps it is in the nature of a postmodern Europe to make such a judgment. But now may be the time for the wisest heads in Europe, including those living in the birthplace of Pascal, to begin asking what will result if that wager proves wrong."

  10:54:26 PM  permalink  

The untamed madrasas: "In January 2002, Musharraf gave a televised speech promising to combat extremism. One aim was to bring all of Pakistan's madrasas, or Islamic schools, into the mainstream. Many now cultivate radical thinking and act as recruiting and indoctrination centers for jihadi terrorists. Declaring that no institutions in Pakistan would be above the law, Musharraf's government promised that it would register all madrasas to obtain a clear idea of which groups were running which schools, insist that all madrasas adopt a government curriculum by the end of 2002, and stop madrasas and mosques from being used as centers for the spread of politically and religiously inflammatory statements and publications.

Two years later, no presidential ordinance to regulate madrasas has been promulgated, and the government openly assures the clergy that it will not interfere in madrasas' internal affairs. Most madrasas in Pakistan remain unregistered. .. No national curriculum has been developed for the madrasas. The board has set up three “model madrasas” teaching government-approved versions of the standard madrasa course along with subjects like mathematics, general science, computers and English. But together these three schools have only about 300 students, while as many as 1.5 million students attend unregulated madrasas.

Most important, Musharraf has yet to curb the abuse of madrasas and mosques by religious extremists. During the 2002 national elections, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, or MMA, an umbrella group of six religious parties, used these institutions for its anti-American and pro-Taliban campaign. Some mullahs, including leaders of political parties that Musharraf has banned, continue to use them to propagate an extremist Islamic agenda.  .. The government has done very little to implement tougher controls on financing of madrasas and extremist groups despite obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373. It even removed the issue of terrorism funding from draft regulations on money laundering.

There is also no evidence of any focused and systematic campaign against homegrown extremists. The government has, it is true, apprehended foreigners with links to Al Qaeda and turned them over to U.S. authorities, but Al Qaeda was only officially banned in Pakistan in March 2003. In his time in power, Musharraf has concentrated hardest on legitimizing and consolidating his military-backed rule. The government has been hesitant to take any step against the religious right because it has needed the MMA's support in Parliament for measures supporting its rule."  10:43:52 PM  permalink  

Nuclear chief tells of black market: "The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei.. says in today's issue of Der Spiegel: "It's obvious that the international export controls have completely failed in recent years. A nuclear black market has emerged, driven by fantastic cleverness. Designs are drawn in one country, centrifuges are produced in another, they are then shipped via a third country and there is no clarity about the end user. Expert nuclear businessmen, unscrupulous firms, and perhaps also state bodies are involved. Libya and Iran made extensive use of this network."

He said at the weekend that his experts were working with Pakistan to try to crack the nuclear black market, the scale of which has stunned the IAEA and the western intelligence services investigating the Libyan and Iranian nuclear programmes.  ..

The IAEA confirmed on Friday that Libya had used the black market to buy equipment for turning uranium into weapons-grade material and had acquired designs for a nuclear warhead. .. Much of the equipment seen in Libya after Col Gadafy announced last month that he was renouncing weapons of mass destruction is of similar design to Iran's extensive uranium enrichment technology, all based on Pakistani designs derived from a 30-year-old European design."

  10:23:09 PM  permalink  

Referendum planned for Kurdistan?: "Under the plan, the Kurds will be asked to back the creation of an independent state, despite pledges from their political leaders that they would not secede from a future federal Iraq.  From Dohuk on the northern border with Turkey to Kirkuk more than 200 miles to the south, branches of the Kurdish Referendum Committee are fanning out across what they claim is Iraqi Kurdistan, whipping up support for the vote. At first, they are merely canvassing signatures in favour of a referendum, but large demonstrations will follow."

  9:55:27 PM  permalink  

Saddam WMD material hidden in Syria: "In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Dr Kay, who last week resigned as head of the Iraq Survey Group, said that he had uncovered evidence that unspecified materials had been moved to Syria shortly before last year's war to overthrow Saddam.  "We are not talking about a large stockpile of weapons," he said. "But we know from some of the interrogations of former Iraqi officials that a lot of material went to Syria before the war, including some components of Saddam's WMD programme. Precisely what went to Syria, and what has happened to it, is a major issue that needs to be resolved."  ..

A Syrian official last night said: "These allegations have been raised many times in the past by Israeli officials, which proves that they are false."

  9:52:58 PM  permalink  

Google Deskbar: Very nice tool for a taskbar form for Google searches with a popup window for results.  And, it's extensible:  "If you have sites you search frequently, you can add custom searches to the Google Deskbar menu."  9:41:40 PM  permalink  


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Last update: 5/16/2006; 11:30:32 AM.