mikeforbes's Articles, Page 1 of 4

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30 Jul 11

A National Strategic Narrative

In light of the current situation in Washington, and recent discussion on this site about national policy, this paper (.pdf) published by the Wilson Center in April 2011 deserves another look.

Written under the pseudonym “Mr. Y” by two members of JCS Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen’s staff, Navy Captain Wayne Porter and Marine Colonel Mark Mykleby, “A National Strategic Narrative” attempts to describe a long-term vision and defining purpose for the United States, to update and replace the narrative of the last 60 years which was crafted in the context of the Cold War. The thesis is that our national priorities and resources should be committed in accordance with a clear vision of the direction America is headed, to ensure future prosperity and security, bounded by enduring values. Further, that the U.S. should move away from the current threat-based, reactive outlook to a more proactive stance focused on opportunities and interdependence.

31 Mar 10

Freedom of Speech and Funeral Protests

A recent decision in an old case has sparked new outrage directed at the Westboro Baptist Church. After Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder was killed in Iraq in 2006, members of the WBC protested at his funeral with their now-familiar “God hates fags” placards, among other such inflammatory rhetoric. His family sued the church (.pdf) for invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress, and won $10.9 million in damages in 2007 (later reduced to $5 million). Last September, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision (.pdf), finding that the WBC’s protests constituted speech that was protected by the First Amendment. Last Friday, the 4th Circuit added that Snyder’s family must pay more than $16,000 requested by WBC for court costs.

22 Nov 09

The Killings At The Canal: Rules Of Engagement, Revisited

In 2007, three U.S. Army soldiers in Baghdad captured four Iraqi men they suspected of being insurgents or terrorists. However, they lacked sufficient evidence to convict the men in an Iraqi courtroom—the standard they needed to meet in order to turn the men in to their unit’s detainee holding area. Their leader, First Sgt. John Hatley, believing that releasing the detainees would endanger the lives of his men, ordered the four Iraqis to be killed, then dumped the bodies in a canal.

First Sgt. Hatley and two other U.S. soldiers were later convicted of murder.

While the incident and convictions are old news, recent coverage including video of the soldiers’ confessions have brought the case back to the surface.

30 Sep 07

Iran Declares CIA, U.S. Army 'Terrorist Groups'

On Saturday, the Iranian Parliament voted to declare the U.S. Army and Central Intelligence Agency "terrorist groups."

In a statement, the Parliament cited the "[b]ombing [of] Hiroshima and Nagasaki with atomic weapons and throwing depleted uranium bombs in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan…" as well as "[support of] Israel in its crackdown on Palestinian and Lebanese people" to justify its resolution. This declaration comes just three days after the U.S. Senate passed a similar resolution that urged the State Department to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a "foreign terrorist organization."

09 Jan 07

Apple Unveils iPhone

On Tuesday, Steve Jobs confirmed months of rumors by introducing the iPhone, Apple’s entry into the smartphone market.

Roughly the same size as a 30GB iPod, the new device will combine the capabilities of an iPod, cell phone, and PDA, and will be powered by Mac OS X. Features include a 3.5-inch widescreen display, a "multi-touch" interface, Safari web browser, and an HTML e-mail client. The iPhone will be available in 4GB and 8GB models for $499 and $599, respectively—but only with a 2-year service contract with Cingular Wireless. Enthusiasts have some time to wait: the iPhone will not be available for sale until June 2007, so it remains to be seen whose predictions—the fans or the skeptics come true.

08 Jan 07

Junk Science as a Policy Tool

In 2003, Michael Crichton gave a speech at the California Institute of Technology in which he warned of the dangers of "consensus science" and its use (or abuse) as a policy-making tool. From the popularization of SETI, to the Cold War scare of nuclear winter, to secondhand smoke and global warming, Crichton contends that many of the consensus conclusions reached by scientists and politicians in recent years have been based on very little or no actual scientific evidence.

02 Dec 06

Should the Net Be Neutral?

"Network neutrality" is a topic of hot debate among Internet content providers, broadband access providers, web surfers, and lawmakers — in other words, almost everyone. But what does it all mean? The term itself is shrouded in controversy, and what sounds like a good idea in theory may have unintended consequences in reality. And do both sides have hidden agendas?

Advocates such as the Save The Internet Coalition define Net Neutrality as non-discrimination in terms of quality of service. In simple terms, everyone should have the same opportunity to access the network without the access provider charging a premium for privileged service. For example, Slashdot shouldn’t get faster network access or more search engine hits than OmniNerd solely because they can afford premium access to the "fast lane." Or, one shouldn’t be forced to use Yahoo instead of Google because the former has ties to Verizon. The network’s only job should be to move data — not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.

10 Nov 06

Marine To Receive Medal of Honor

During the dedication of the "National Museum of the Marine Corps ":http://www.usmcmuseum.org/ on Friday, President Bush announced that Marine Corporal Jason Dunham would be postumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions near Karabilah, Iraq in April 2004.

After stopping several suspicious vehicles near the site of a recent attack, Corporal Dunham was reportedly attacked by an insurgent from one of the cars. During the fight, the insurgent dropped a hand grenade near a group of Marines. Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet, then threw himself on top of it to shield his men from the blast. While he initially survived the explosion, he died eight days later from his wounds.

19 Oct 06

CNN Posts Controversial Insurgent Video

On Wednesday, CNN.com posted a story that included a video of Iraqi insurgent snipers shooting American soldiers. The piece, produced by CNN’s Baghdad correspondent Michael Ware, started as a simple interview (through intermediaries) with Ibrahim Al-Shimary, the leader of the "Islamic Army." In response to the questions Mr. Ware sent to the insurgent leader, CNN received two videotapes, one with responses to the questions and the other showing several incidents of insurgent snipers attacking U.S. military personnel. The network posted elements of both videos in the final story.

10 Oct 06

U.S. Army's New Slogan

After five years of "An Army of One," the U.S. Army is changing its recruiting slogan in an effort to better relate to its target audience.

Last December, the Army hired McCann-Erickson as its new advertising agency after missing its recruiting goal for 2005 by 8%. Since changing advertising firms, the Army has met its recruiting goal of 80,000 for FY 2006, albeit after raising the eligible age from 35 to 42 and adding 1,500 recruiters to the ranks. The Army’s contract with McCann-Erikson, the agency that created MasterCard’s popular "Priceless; ad campaign, is reportedly valued in excess of $1 billion over five years. And after ten months and almost $200 million worth of research and development, the new slogan is … "Army Strong; The Army is expected to officially launch the new recruiting campaign over Veteran’s Day weekend.

27 Sep 06

No Trans Fat for You

New York City’s Health Department has proposed a ban on the use of trans fat in the city’s restaurants, comparing the health dangers to that of lead-based paint. Consumption of trans fat, which is created by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil in order to increase shelf life and flavor stability of certain foods, has been shown to increase LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels in the blood and increase the risk coronary heart disease (CHD).

Proponents of the ban claim that while it may take some effort, restaurants could replace the trans fat in their menus without changing the cost or taste of food. But opponents call the ban "the latest in trendy food panic," as well as an unnecessary measure since many restaurant chains are already taking steps to reduce or eliminate trans fat from their foods.

07 Sep 06

Oil Prices Fall After Discovery in Gulf

Chevron and two partners announced Tuesday that they had tapped a potentially huge new source of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The "Jack" field, as the 300-square-mile region around Chevron’s test well is known, could hold an estimated 3 billion to 15 billion barrels of oil and natural gas, which would increase U.S. reserves up by as much as 50 percent.

The discovery could eventually help reduce the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, but is not expected to come on-line for at least four years, with full capacity not reached until at least 2012. Despite this, along with the likelyhood that the field is mostly natural gas, oil prices fell to a five-month low on Wednesday. But hang on to your hybrids – the depth of the well will make the oil/gas costly to retrieve, so today’s high oil prices are what makes this deep-well drilling possible in the first place. Experts estimate that producing oil from ultra-deep wells can be profitable as long as oil stays at or above $40 to $45 per barrel. Could previously un-economical discoveries like this one significantly push back the date for "Peak Oil;

22 Aug 06

Kentucky Teacher Burns Flag in Class

Dan Holden, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Stuart Middle School in Louisville, KY, burned two American flags in front of his class last Friday during a lesson on freedom of speech. While school district officials have stated that the teacher’s actions did not appear to be politically motivated, and that he only intended to inspire his students to write an opinion paper on the subject of flag burning, Mr. Holden was still reassigned to "non-instructional duties" pending an investigation into the incident. Reactions of students and parents ranged from confusion to outrage over both the controversial political issue of burning the flag and also the safety issue of setting fires in a crowded classroom.

21 Aug 06

SanDisk One-Ups iPod

Flash memory maker SanDisk has released a new digital music player, the Sansa e280, which offers double the capacity of the iPod Nano at the same price. In contrast to the Nano, the e280 also features a user-replaceable battery, an expansion slot for more memory, voice recording, and an FM tuner. While the device uses a "nonproprietary digital rights management system" and supports both the MP3 and WMA formats, it does not support the AAC format used by the iTunes Music Store.

08 Aug 06

Apple Completes Transition to Intel

At this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Fransisco, Apple revealed the last step in its transition from PowerPC to Intel processors. The Mac Pro replaces the Power Mac G5 and features a pair of dual-core "Xeon" processors at speeds of up to 3GHz. The Mac Pro also offers increased expansion capability, with room for up to 2TB of storage space, 16GB of RAM, and enough graphics cards to support up to eight display monitors. The base model starts at $2,500, but a "fully loaded; system could run as much as $17,000. Of course, that would involve convincing your boss that two 30-inch high-definition displays will make you more productive.

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