I may come up with something reflective and thoughtful when that date comes around, but for now I'll just take a quick run through today's headlines.
"Chinese military hacked into Pentagon" Financial Times (September 3, 2007). The Pentagon had to shut down part of its network recently. Apparently the data that was compromised wasn't particularly important. And, the attack came from computers in China. "Current and former officials have told the Financial Times an internal investigation has revealed that the incursion came from the People’s Liberation Army," the London news outfit reported. "These hacking attacks go on everyday but this was a more complicated attack with more sophisticated technology that broke through the current firewalls," another news service reported. The Chinese government denies having anything to do with the Pentagon attack, and on a hack attack on German government computers earlier.
China isn't involved in the jihad against the west: or if it is, it's showing it in a very strange way. The Online Times reports that "Beijing’s 'war on terror' hides brutal crackdown on Muslims" (July 22, 2007). The article focused on the late Ismail Semed, "a Muslim and a political activist." He confessed to "attempting to split the motherland," after being encouraged with torture.
China's western holdings include Uighur Muslims, a Turkic people who would just as soon not be part of China's regime. Chinese authorities were quiet about killing unruly Uighurs until 9/11 and the "war on terror" gave them an excuse for their anti-Muslim actions.
Please note: 9/11 didn't make the Chinese government start killing Muslims. It gave them a polite excuse for doing what they'd been doing for years.
The conflicts of the early 21st century are not a simple, two-sided confrontation.
- Fanatic Muslims are killing westerners, Muslims who aren't Islamic their way, and anyone else they don't approve of
- China is killing Muslims who don't want to be Chinese on the Chinese government's terms
- Russia is flying long-range bomber patrols over the Atlantic, and, according to President Putin, putting money into their aircraft industry, because "Russia ... faces the task of maintaining supremacy in producing military aircraft," according to CNN.com / World, which quoted Reuters
- America and a coalition of other nations have attacked nations which harbor the Islamic fanatics
"Budget Cut Will Delay Anti-Missile Laser" Yahoo! Finance (September 4, 2007). A flight test of the airliner-based Airborne Laser (ABL) system last week went very well. ABL system development is running behind schedule and over budget.
A big reason for the delay and expense is that "jitter," vibration that's part of a 747's normal flight, interferes with the precision aiming needed: and is harder to deal with than expected.
The Senate and House Armed Services committees, acting with the responsibility and wisdom that we've come to expect, cut the president's proposed fiscal 2008 ABL budget of $549 million. So far, the House Armed Services committee wants to cut the budget by $250 million. The Senate Armed Services Committee wants to cut $200 million from the ABL program.
With any luck, nobody will try to shoot down an American airliner until the system is finally ready. What astonishes me about the congressional decision is that those people often use civilian airliners themselves. You'd think that they'd be more concerned about airplanes blowing up with people inside, when they could be some of the people.