Stressmarks already as the Web goes to war

A Register special report

War and worries about terrorist attacks has put severe stress on government Web sites in the US and UK, reports Reuters. The US Army home page and the US Marines are said to be having trouble, while over on this side of the pond dubious advice about terrorism is sometimes unobtainable.

This is of course to be expected - war boosts web traffic immensely, usually more than compensating for any readership that is unfortunately removed owing to one of war's other well-known effects. our good friends over at CNET have with commendable despatch rounded up a posse of wire service war items and set up a please stress my site landing page, presumably aimed at those too busy reading about tech news to read up on the war in more probable venues.

We at The Register propose to go one, or even two, better. First, let's spread the stress around about US.gov a tad - it's only fair. Over at the Department of Defense we have two new GWOT medals (Global War on Terrorism, of course) aimed at veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle. Enduring Freedom, in case you need reminding, is the war on terrorism. Or Al Qaeda, outside the US, while Noble Eagle is the one inside. The US Coastguards are among those eligible for the Noble Eagle gong, and authorised the construction of a web site to "preserve vital historical data that documents Coast Guard operations since 11SEP01." Sadly, it remains under construction, and we are denied knowledge of the Coast Guards' noble deeds in the war. We trust this will not impede medal distribution - wear your GWOT Gong with pride while you watch for Iraqi submarines.

US.gov also has a shiny new web site to advise on terror readiness, ready.gov. Of itself it's really quite dull, merely advising on things like stocking up on food and water for three days. It would, we feel, get a lot more stressed if it went a little beyond this in order to cover contingencies such as the arrival of The Beast, the Battle of Armageddon, the Second Coming and the subsequent entry of the Chosen Few to Paradise. Just a traffic-building suggestion from the pros, people, but note that a serious rush on canned food and heavy weaponry would maybe help the economy. But ready.gov does have many intriguing little pictures to illustrate the various terrors covered; these you will find alternatively explained here. We particularly liked "Michael Jackson is a terrorist. If you spot this smooth criminal with dead, dead eyes, run the fuck away" and "After exposure to radiation it is important to consider that you may have mutated to gigantic dimensions: watch your head", but it's all good stuff.

OK, that's enough site stressing for now. How would you like a glimpse of next week's news? First, you should be aware that quite a lot of the stuff you read about major issues is sourced from wire services, and in addition to providing hard and immediate news (no, they really do sometimes) these services provide a whole lot of supporting stuff, background, human interest, quick items ready to roll when various milestones are reached. We're not picking on Scripps Howard News Service for any particular reason, other than the outfit very decently lets you read explanations of the stories it has in store, before demanding your customer log-in.

Today, you will note that Bush has told us the war has begun, but that the item about the "volcanic American and allied assault on Iraq" may have to wait a couple of days yet. And there's the Baghdad street map - never know when you're going to need one of these. Further down we have the opname, Operation Iraqi Freedom, can't launch an op without an opname, and then "IRAQ-FINDSADDAM." This is a very handy one indeed, presuming that a swift collapse could well result in a frenetic hunt for Saddam. Yesterday Scripp Howard was recommending it as a likely item for this weekend, but it now seems a little more cautious. Whatever, bookmark this one and you can amaze your friends by commenting on the news before it has entirely happened. Recommended. ®

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