Today's Blogs

Terror in the Caucasus

Bloggers struggle to make sense of attacks in the Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria; they also evaluate Apple’s newly unveiled video-capable iPod and respond to playwright Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize.

Terror in the Caucasus: Chechen militants claimed responsibility for this morning’s attacks on the city of Nalchik in Kabardino-Balkaria, a primarily Muslim republic in the North Caucasus near Beslan, site of the school massacre that killed 331 last year. The attackers targeted government buildings (including the headquarters of the interior and security ministries, police stations, an army recruitment center, a drugs-control office, and the airport). At least 85 were killed, many were injured, and the Washington Post reports that two attackers continue to hold an undetermined number of hostages. Russia’s President Putin sealed off the city and issued shoot-to-kill orders.

Gateway Pundit’s conservative Jim Hoft has the best news roundup. He points out that Russia’s suggests that the militants supposedly were trying to hijack a military plane, load it with explosives, and take it to Moscow. While many bloggers cheered early reports that notorious Chechen leader Shamil Basayev, Russia’s most wanted terrorist, died in the attacks, Hoft also points out that Russian officials later said Basayev wasn’t in Nalchik.

Some bloggers analyze the violence in the context of the global war on terror. “If you are one of those people who don’t think Islamic terrorism is really a threat, keep in mind that the Chechen ‘rebels’ are Muslim as well, and seek the establishment of an Islamic Chechnya. The reach and scope of the Islamist’s campaign is as global as McDonald’s, and arguably worse, no matter what the left says,” opines Profound Samurai, a supporter of the Iraq war, on My Pen Is Mighty. “Sounds like a full scale war is afoot as the terrorist continue their campaign against the Russians,” writesTonecluster’s Sherwin, a conservative. “This is the reward Putin gets for going ahead with the sale of very sophisticated surface missiles to Syria. A sale easily intrepreted as weakness by the terrorists who know full well that whatever goes to Syria goes to them.”

Others are wondering if the Russians are playing games with semantics. “Even beyond the terrorist/freedom fighter debate, one also can’t avoid bringing up the terrorist/insurrectionist/insurgent/separatist debate as well,” writesBrian J. Phillips, an international relations student. “No one called the Viet Cong ‘terrorists,’ but the Russians know how important the ‘t’ word is to international community, particularly the United States. Granted, some of the Chechens have committed some ghastly crimes, but perhaps we shouldn’t call every militant act ‘terrorism’.”

Read more about the attacks.

The  iLife: Bloggers analyze Apple’s new product, an iPod that plays low-resolution videos that can be downloaded from the iTunes store for $1.99.

Most are less excited by the product than the possibilities it opens up for video distribution. “I’m not too interested in watching video on an iPod, except possibly on an airplane or while travelling. What is interesting, though, is the possibility of getting online video distribution into the mainstream,” writesHo John Lee, a techie who works in finance.

Pointing out that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had previously expressed skepticism about a video iPod, many wonder about this change of heart. “I think it’s pretty clear that Steve Jobs wanted it to suck,” writesThinkcorps’ Tim Barkow, a writer and Web consultant. He argues that Jobs announced this new iPod to open up the legally downloadable digital video market for Apple’s new Front Row home entertainment center package. Claiming that Jobs is forcing studios “to take a baby step that in no way could possibly be threatening to them (320×240 is a ridiculous resolution, after all),” Barkow insists, “Apple is going to pitch these studios to death, and eventually pressure them into releasing more content and in higher-def.” Skeptical techie Thomas Hawk stresses, “I doubt this download service will replace our satellite, cable or OTA television. Will people really want to pay $1.99 additional for something that they can get for free today?”

Read more about the video iPod video, and watch this New York Times video spoof titled “The iPod Flea.”

Pinter prized: The Nobel Prize for literature was awarded today to British playwright Harold Pinter.

Some bloggers are happily posting their favorite bits of Pinter’s dialogue. Noting that “[Pinter’s] stuff really comes alive when it’s performed,” Lehigh University professor Amardeep Singh suggests that newcomers should start with the movies for which Pinter wrote the screenplays.

Others are examining Pinter’s politics. Under the headline “Nobel Academy slaps America,” conservative Western Resistance claims,”[O]nce again, we see the subjugation of everything to the cause of oppossing mythical American Imperialism, and protecting very real Islamic Imperialism.”

But some fans are irritated by news stories that foreground Pinter’s opposition to the Iraq war. “I really don’t think the Swedes looked at Dear Harold and decided to award him the highest honour in writing on the basis of his opposition to a war that almost every writer, artist, musician, actor, and soccer mom opposed with every fibre of his or her body. It’s not like every other writer in the running was saying, ‘F*** it, man. Tikrit has to go. Let’s nuke the bitch from orbit and go to Denny’s afterward.’ Unless Hitchens was nominated this year,” writes Canadian blogger Deep Fried Gold.

Read more about Pinter.

Got a question, comment, or suggestion? E-mail