THE GULF WAR made CNN a household name. No other news service managed to cover the war so completely. But the Gulf War was a couple of conflicts ago, and the mantle of "most informative" has passed on from TV to the Web and to a site called Stratfor (short for Strategic Forecast). Stratfor was originally an outgrowth of a think tank affiliated with Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. In 1996 the company began emailing its Global Intelligence Update (GIU) newsletter as a marketing tool. The hidden beauty is that this subscriber base is also a rich source of original information. During the Kosovo crisis the site was able to track the NATO bombing patterns because GIU subscribers in the region emailed Stratfor when and where they heard bombs being dropped. The site breaks the planet up into six regions and covers each in some detail. Forecasts are also offered on a weekly, quarterly, annual and even a decade basis (last launched in 1995) and if you sign up for the email service, unpleasant little reminders of the wider world arrive in your mailbox on a frighteningly regular basis. The site is laid out in a basic text-oriented manner, not dissimilar to Windows Explorer. You can search the entire site, have a look at recent archives for a particular area or just check out the headlines and hotspots. Updates are an ongoing affair, and I recommend signing up for the GIU. — Paul Brislen Stratfor
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