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Nota Bene #29 Part 1 of 2

Got hot links if you want ’em!

In a post titled “Why Johnny Can’t Google,” Rafe Colbun blogs about John McCain’s indifference to computers: “It’s tempting to. . . assume that. . . old guys just aren’t computer users. [But] in 1997 I worked for an IT consulting firm [among whose] clients was the George [H.W.] Bush Presidential library. [Part of our job was] setting up email accounts for President Bush and his friends (folks like Brent Scowcroft), generating PGP keys, and teaching them how to use them. President Bush has a good 12 years on John McCain, and he had his own laptop, email account, and PGP key ten years ago.”

As for blogging in general, Rob Peters at Vancouver’s the Tyee asks “Is Personal Blogging Fast-Fading?” Regarding “musing fatigue,” he writes: “Perhaps we’ve realized that blogging every day isn’t as fun as it sounds. . . . it actually takes work to develop new material on a regular basis. [But] there does appear to be a more realistic version of the blog coming down the fibre optic trunk line. If filling an entire blank page is a little daunting, how does a 200-character text box sound? Enter the microblog. Twitter and Jaiku are the front-runners in this arena.”

When Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington was subpoenaed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee writes Dana Milbank says in a Washington Post column, “When Anonymity Fails, Be Nasty, Brutish and Short,” he answered questions with “unbridled hostility.” As Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) questioned him, “he put his chin in his hand, stroked his beard and cut off the congresswoman with an offer of advice ‘that may be helpful to you in asking your questions.'”

In a post titled “The Real State of Iraq” at Informed Comment, Juan Cole writes: “By now, summer of 2008, excess deaths from violence in Iraq since March of 2003 must be at least a million. . . . There is not much controversy about it in the scientific community. Some 310,000 of those were probably killed by US troops or by the US Air Force, with the bulk dying in bombing raids. [It’s comparable to] bombing to death everyone in Pittsburgh, Pa. Or Cincinnati, Oh.” 310,000? Would that Juan Cole weren’t so credible.

In his New York Times column, “Why Obama Should Visit a Mosque,” Roger Cohen writes: “Fear-mongering about Islam is a global industry. It thrives on ignorance. Obama has a unique power to break the cycle, not least by emboldening moderate Muslims to denounce terror. Nothing would do more in the long run for the security of the world.”

From “Torture a Big Problem Worldwide, UN Expert Says” in Deutsche Welle: “Manfred Nowak. . . the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, sees reasons for both optimism and concern. A landmark UN anti-torture convention has been signed by 145 countries. Yet despite the official ban [it’s] very rare for him to travel to a country where there aren’t substantial allegations of torture.” Except in Denmark, where “I have no allegations of torture,” Nowak said. “That is really an exception.”

In “New Treaty for Iran and Israel,” Marc Gopin at Common Ground News Service writes: “But most experts agree that an Israeli strike will only delay a nuclear Iran while setting in motion a horrific downward spiral in regional violence and in the global economy. There is only one way to forestall this emerging train wreck, and that is new thinking [in the form of] the “No First Introduction Treaty”. Israel has never agreed to “no first use” of nuclear weapons [but it has] reiterated that it will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East conflict. . . . It would be wise right now for the Supreme Leader of Iran, Khamenei, to draft an Iranian-Israeli treaty of ‘No First Introduction.”

In “Gazillions,” a review in the London Review of Books of McMafia: Crime without Frontiers by Misha Glenny, Neal Ascherson quotes an expert: “Prohibiting a market [like drugs or prostitution] means giving the criminal corporations opportunities and resources for exerting a guiding and controlling influence over whole societies and nations. [The world] has yet to grasp the challenge to. . . civilisation posed by it.”

In a Wired article, “I’ve Seen the Future, and It Has a Kill Switch,” Bruce Schneier writes: “It used to be that just the entertainment industries wanted to control your computers. . . to ensure that you didn’t violate any copyright rules. But now everyone else wants to get their hooks into your gear. OnStar will soon include the ability for the police to shut off your engine remotely. [But this] is really about media companies wanting to. . . control what you do and when you do it, and to charge you repeatedly for the privilege whenever possible.”

Part 2

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