links for 2010-06-04

  • Beneath its commitment to soft-spoken diplomacy and beyond the combat zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Obama administration has significantly expanded a largely secret U.S. war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups, according to senior military and administration officials.
    Special Operations forces have grown both in number and budget, and are deployed in 75 countries, compared with about 60 at the beginning of last year. In addition to units that have spent years in the Philippines and Colombia, teams are operating in Yemen and elsewhere in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia.
  • In photo imaging, one program reigns supreme for turning photographs into fine art resembling natural-media-like paintings and illustrations, and that program is Corel Painter. Painter gives the artist a remarkable range of brushes and textures for one of the most–if not the most–creative platforms on any computer. But Painter is also a professional's tool, which requires a high degree of skill and talent to use effectively. One step down, in both difficulty and versatility, is Corel Painter Essentials, though it also requires a certain level of skill to master. And then there's Corel's new, almost foolproof painting program, Paint It ($40, 15-day free trial).

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