Al Jazeera English now over the air in the USA

[/caption] Al Jazeera’s English service is very slick, very professional, and if you want, very biased (depending on who you talk to).  But for most Americans without FTA dishes or access to some IPTV programs, they never had an opportunity to judge for themselves.  Until now. MHZ Networks, a non-profit in DC that rebroadcasts nearly 10 foreign news services is adding Al Jazeera English service to their lineup, so says the Washington Post.  MHZ currently offers Russia Today, France 24 and Euronews to name a few, but AJE will certainly be  a eye-catching event.   I’ve watched AJE sporadically over the last few years on the FTA dish and later on Livestation and other tv players.  It’s not my first choice for news (it is heavily focused on the Middle East, no surprise) but it isn’t bad nor is it as biased and opinionated as the more famous network Al Jazeera, called the Bin Laden channel by many of its critics. Anyway, Comcast and Verizon Fios should see the new channel soon.  No idea when we’ll get it out here in the sticks (and since I don’t have cable I probably never will figure it out).  Still worth checking if you want to hear a different slant on thing.]]>

What's so special about this variant of Swine Flu

There has been some interesting tidbits dripping out about the new Swine Flu that is making its way around the world.  Already there is speculation that this was cultured in a laboratory and not naturally occurring, and some do wonder if it is a biological warfare agent or even an attempt on Barrack Obama’s life, but the reason is not alarmist conspiracy theories but due to the nature of this virus:  

There are eight genes in the flu virus. According to Dr Hay, this new one has six genes from swine flu viruses already known to have been circulating in the US, and two from swine flu viruses from Europe and Asia. The US swine flu virus genes in this new virus are themselves mixtures of swine flu, bird flu and human flu viruses – what’s described as a classic “re-assortment” – a combination feared most by those watching for a flu pandemic. Experts around the world have been warning for years that this is inevitable.  
I do kind of wonder how the virus from Europe, Asia and the US all ended up together.  Or maybe it is some sort of mutation that created something that looks like all the regional variations.  This will be interesting to watch. (as for my preventive measure–no burritos for the time being and maybe I’ll stock up on some shotgun shells).]]>

Does our embassy in Pakistan have a heliport? We may need it.

[/caption] A frightening story in the New York Times (which is already being updated in other papers). Seems the Pakistani Taliban are closing in on the capitol of Islamabad after seizing a strategic district about 70 miles from the city. Despite having only about 400 fighters, the Pakistani Army is too concerned with war with India to actually go after the Taliban holding the town.  After taking over the Swat Valley, some in the Taliban movement felt emboldened to flog a young woman and move forward into other areas.  But US protests about Pakistani indifference is starting to worry even the Taliban, who fear a military response might be forced by the US and Taliban opponents within the Pakistani government.   For those who forget, Pakistan has nukes.  Nukes and the Taliban?  Not a good mix.   Why do I have a flashback to this image?  I wonder if our embassy has a heliport…]]>

34 days that could drastically change the Pentagon?

The Washington Post is writing that a huge debate is underway in the Pentagon about counterinsurgency vs. conventional warfare. This has been a constant battle since conventionally trained forces (i.e. battling the Soviets in Western Europe) arrived in Vietnam many decades ago, but it has been heightened by the collapse (and resurrection?) of the Russian military along with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The discussion about this has taken a relatively small ‘war’ and turned it into a bellweather phrase in the Pentagon to discuss the overall change in the military. 34 Days in Lebanon was how long the Israeli Army battled (unsuccessfully) the Hezbollah guerillas to a standstill, basically. Army war planners have conducted no less than 5 simulated US vs. Hezbollah battles in war games to see how the US military would fare in this type of battle.

Discussion of the Israeli 34-day offensive is now a coded phrase, where people judge which side of the conventional vs. counterinsurgency debate you happen to fall on by how you view that operation. (For those who don’t remember, the Israeli army poured into Southern Lebanon to rout out Hezbollah but Hezbollah stood their ground and put up a stronger than expected fight, including knocking out a few tanks and blasting an Israeli Naval vessel with a cruise missile (which they got from Iran).


Blocking by IP address in the 'cloud' (Mosso)

I had a hacker on one of my sites over the weekend. Found a root kit hidden away which I removed but not after he found a way to add some text to one of my webpages.

So I started by adding his IP address to my block list, but apparently that’s easier said than done with the ‘cloud’. In the cloud sometimes the server isn’t really sure where the actual request is coming from, apparently.

But fear not, I got this nugget back from Mosso support (after 48 hours or so–come on guys, security issues should be answered immediately)

Unfortunately there are some issues with being able to block by IP
address on the cloud using the standard methods. Because of our load
balancer and clustered environment the IP address in the REMOTE_ADDR
will not be the end users.

You can however use the following:

SetEnvIf X-Cluster-Client-Ip block
Deny from env=block

in your .htaccess to block access to your site via IP. Just replace with the IP address you want to block.