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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Google Earth and Iraq

Google Earth, the survival tool of war-torn Iraq

By Aqeel Hussein in Baghdad
Last Updated: 1:42am GMT 15/02/2007

Iraqis are using maps adapted from Google Earth satellite images to help navigate the sectarian neighbourhoods of Baghdad.

After The Daily Telegraph revealed that Shia terrorists in southern Iraq had been using the internet company's aerial photographs to pinpoint British bases, it has emerged that Google Earth images of the capital are being transferred from the internet to CDs and sold or passed among locals.

The information is also being annotated to identify trouble spots and the religious allegiance of districts with notes superimposed over the maps warning of such perils as a "battle area" or a mosque used by insurgents or militias prone to kill or kidnap.
Telegraph - TravelShop

A Shia militiaman said that the maps could be helpful in identifying how close a mortar-launching site needed to be in order to strike a Sunni community. But other residents said that they use them to plot routes around danger spots, choose variations on their usual journey to work or even target areas inhabited by members of rival sects.

The lack of paper maps, which were banned under Saddam Hussein for fear of foreign invasion, makes Google Earth all the more valuable to Iraqis today.

Hussein Ama, 22, plots his way from his home to Baghdad University each morning using Google Earth. The shifting threat of violence means he never travels the same road on three consecutive days.

"If there are reports of fighting, I consult Google Earth to try to find a new way," he said. "As I am a Shia I have to avoid roads with Sunni mosques. If there is a checkpoint outside, it is likely that I would be kidnapped and my throat cut." A taxi driver, Mohammad Sami, said he had other considerations when he consulted online maps. "I use the maps to find the connecting roads so that if I am stuck in a traffic jam and there is trouble I can get away," he said.

So when will the Bush Administration come after Google? Demand lower resolutions.

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