Barack Obama

What Artificial Intelligence Is Not

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Posted yesterday by (@robpecabu)
Editor’s note: Rob Smith is CEO of Pecabu.

Artificial Intelligence has been in the media a lot lately. So much so that it’s only a matter of time before it graduates to meaningless buzz word status like “big data” and “cloud.” Usually I would be a big supporter. Being in the AI space, any attention to our often overlooked industry is welcome. But there seems to be more misinformation out there than solid facts.

The general public seems to view AI as the mythical purple unicorn of technology; Elusive, powerful, mysterious, dangerous and most likely made up. And while there is plenty of debate in the scientific community, I can at least tell you what AI is definitely not. Read the rest of this entry »

Obama Ramps Up Spying on ISIS, Paving the Way for Possible Airstrikes

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In ordering hundreds of military advisors to Iraq and dramatically ramping up intelligence-gathering on jihadist fighters threatening Baghdad, President Barack Obama sent his strongest signal yet that U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) may be likely.

Since ISIS fighters took control of two key Iraqi cities last week, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies have blanketed portions of the country with spy satellites and drones, giving them what one senior administration official called “round-the-clock coverage” of locations where ISIS is active. The military personnel headed to Iraq — as many as 300, Obama said — will work alongside Iraqi military forces in special intelligence centers, using drone video feeds and spy satellite photographs to track and attack ISIS fighters. They’ll also be in a prime position to help carry out U.S. airstrikes the moment Obama orders them.

In remarks from the White House Thursday, Obama didn’t say that airstrikes are imminent. He stressed that the only long-term solution to Iraq’s stabilization will come from political reconciliation between the Shiite-led government and the marginalized Sunni minority. But he left no doubt that he’s putting all the pieces in place to launch the first significant military action in Iraq since U.S. forces left there in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

Disinformation and misinformation

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The 2003 Iraq war was triggered by a carefully orchestrated campaign of disinformation about Saddam Hussein’s alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. As pressures mount on President Obama to save Iraq’s all-Shia minority government against an onslaught of extremist Sunni guerrillas, past murky history is worth recalling.
By Arnaud de Borchgrave, UPI Editor at Large   |   June 19, 2014 at 11:18 AM   |

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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki (L) shakes hands with U.S. President Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, November 1, 2013. UPI/Olivier Douliery/Pool

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It was dinnertime at the Vice President’s house on Massachusetts Avenue eleven months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The discussion centered on the need to get rid of Saddam Hussein‘s Sunni dictatorship in Iraq and replace it with a democratic government. This, in turn, would trigger democratic changes in Israel’s last hostile neighbor — Syria.On March 26, 1979, Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and President Jimmy Carter signed the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab nation. And on Oct 26, 1994, the late King Hussein of Jordan became the 2nd Arab leader to sign peace with Israel, putting behind them 46 years of hostility.

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction never came up once at VP Cheney’s dinner. An invasion, the participants agreed, would be designed to trigger a democratic process in Iraq, thus completing a peaceful Arab circle around Israel. Read the rest of this entry »

Russia’s cyber weapons hit Ukraine: How to declare war without declaring war

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By targeting the Ukrainian government with a cyber weapon, the Russians are able to effectively engage in an aggressive, kinetic act without actually declaring war, or other countries reacting like it is an act of war. This will not last forever. 

By Alec RossCommentary contributor / March 12, 2014

A man looks at posters from an international campaign to support Ukraine in Kiev, March 12. Commentary contributor Alec Ross writes: ‘The absence of a set of broadly held norms and treaties governing the use of cyber weapons has not led to the firing of guns or launching of missiles, but this will not always be the case. We need something more than playground rules.’

Efrem Lukatsky/AP

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Convicted al Qaida operative released from Guantánamo, repatriated to Sudan in plea deal

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English: Frame grab from the Osama bin Laden v...
English: Frame grab from the Osama bin Laden videotape released by the Department of Defense on Dec. 13, 2001. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The United States sent home to Sudan on Tuesday one of Guantánamo’s longest-held prisoners, a 52-year-old confessed al Qaida foot soldier and sometime driver for Osama bin Laden whose release was seen as a crucial test case of the Barack Obama-era war court.

Ibrahim al Qosi pleaded guilty to terror charges in July 2010 in exchange for the possibility of release after serving a two-year sentence.

U.S. troops spirited him from the remote base days after his war crimes sentence ran out and dropped him off in the capital city Khartoum about 8 p.m. Miami time Tuesday night, Wednesday in Sudan, U.S. government sources said.

The Pentagon has not yet disclosed the transfer — which reduced the number of foreign prisoners at the Navy base in Cuba to 168 — to give Sudanese officials time to put the returnee in a rehabilitation program in the Horn of Africa nation. But the repatriation demonstrated that the Obama administration is still in the business of deal-making and downsizing the prison camps even as the Defense Department is planning to spend $40 million on an undersea telecommunications cable to the base in southeast Cuba.

Now-grown “child soldier” Omar Khadr could go next, to a lock-up in his native Canada. The White House is also reportedly considering transferring some Taliban captives at Guantánamo to Afghanistan as part of a regional peace accord there.

The release of Qosi was the first of a convicted war criminal since the Bush administration sent home Yemeni Salim Hamdan in 2008. Qosi’s attorney argued the U.S. had no reason to fear the Sudanese man.

“He is now in his 50s, eager only to spend his life at home with his family in Sudan — his mother and father, his wife and two teenage daughters, and his brothers and their families — and live among them in peace, quiet and freedom,” said Washington, D.C., attorney Paul Reichler, who defended Qosi without charge for seven years.

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After Chávez, the Narcostate

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Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez has tried for 10 months to conceal the fact that he is losing his bout with cancer, determined to appear in command of his revolutionary regime and the nation’s future. This past Holy Week, however, television cameras captured him pleading for his life before a crucifix in his hometown church, his mother looking on without the slightest glint of hope on her face. Chávez’s raw emotion startled his inner circle and led some to question his mental health. As a result, according to my sources inside the presidential palace, Minister of Defense Gen. Henry Rangel Silva has developed a plan to impose martial law if Chávez’s deteriorating condition causes any hint of instability.

Pretty dramatic stuff. So why isn’t anyone outside Venezuela paying attention? Some cynics in that country still believe Chávez is hyping his illness for political advantage, while his most fervent followers expect him to make a miraculous recovery. The democratic opposition is cautiously preparing for a competitive presidential election set for Oct. 7 — against Chávez or a substitute. And policymakers in Washington and most regional capitals are slumbering on the sidelines.

In my estimation, the approaching death of the Venezuelan caudillo could put the country on the path toward a political and social meltdown. The military cadre installed by Chávez in January already is behaving like a de facto regime determined to hold onto power at all costs. And Havana, Tehran, Moscow, and Beijing are moving to protect their interests. If U.S. President Barack Obama were to show some energetic engagement as Chávez fades, he could begin to put the brakes on Venezuela’s slide, reverse Chávismo‘s destructive agenda, and reclaim a role for the United States in its own neighborhood. But if he fails to act, there will be hell to pay.

Sources close to Chávez’s medical team tell me that for months, his doctors have been doing little more than treating symptoms, trying to stabilize their workaholic patient long enough to administer last-ditch chemo and radiation therapies. In that moment of Chávez’s very public prayer for a miracle, he set aside his obsession with routing his opposition or engineering a succession of power to hardline loyalists. Perhaps he knows that his lieutenants and foreign allies are behaving as if he were already dead — consolidating power, fashioning a “revolutionary junta,” and plotting repressive measures.

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Latin Leaders Behaving Badly

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The buildup to this weekend’s sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, has been rife with drama. Ecuador’s left-wing president, Rafael Correa, announced that he will skip the 34-country conference because it excludes Cuba, which does not belong to the Organization of American States (membership requirement: democracy). The presidents of El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua sparred publicly with the president of Guatemala over a drug legalization proposal. And not to be outdone, Cuba’s Fidel Castro ridiculed U.S. President Barack Obama‘s reported plan to wear a guayabera — a light tropical dress shirt originating in Cuba — at the summit.

Yet for all the hoopla, the summit will likely produce little of substance. There are already reports that officials will sidestep hot-button issues such as drug policy and the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands. In fact, this is in keeping with the way these gatherings typically play out in Latin America, a land in which a dizzying array of acronymed intergovernmental organizations host an endless but ultimately empty parade of summits.

Sure, there have been some successes. The inaugural Summit of the Americas in 1994 marked a high point of goodwill between the United States and Latin American countries (Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and his like-minded allies had yet to assume power) and launched a proposal — never realized — for a free-trade bloc stretching from “Alaska to Argentina.” The third Summit of the Americas in 2001 produced the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which emphasized the importance of democratic institutions in the Americas.

But the summits are more often remembered for temper tantrums and mischievous antics by government leaders — with Chávez in particular at the center of many of the tempests. If past Latin American summits are any guide, we should expect some serious sparks to fly in Cartagena. Here are some of the least auspicious moments from summits past.

THE NO-SHOW

What: Ibero-American Summit

When: 2011

Where: Asunción, Paraguay

Meltdown: The annual gathering of leaders from the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations of Europe and the Americas was marred by the absence of several heads of state, including Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff and Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who claimed they had to prepare for an upcoming — and implicitly more important — G-20 summit in France.

The poor attendance — and surely the optics of their king and prime minister mingling with lower level officials — enraged Spanish news outlets, which deemed the summit a demoralizing failure. “The summit has become redundant for Latin American powers, who already have their own voice in other, more global forums,” La Voz de Galicia lamented.

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