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Since her abduction by her mother last summer, my two-year-old US citizen daughter, who is in ailing health, remains in her abducted country of Syria under the immigration status of "Palestinian Immigrant Worker." Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story Sofia needs to appear every three months before Syrian immigration authorities to renew her "guest worker" visa, stamped in her American passport. Syria, one of the most oppressed regimes in the world together with North Korea and Iran, does not offer many human rights, freedom or democracy, nor does it recognize the International Hague Convention for Child Abduction. Not being a Syrian citizen Sofia has no civil rights. For the past seven months she did not receive any medical care for her GDD - Global Development Delay condition with autism. Since she is an out-of-status American child, she is also not able to enroll in any acc... (more)

Uncle Who Kidnapped Sofia to Syria Still a Practicing MD in Chicago

More than a year ago, Sofia was abducted from her home in Lighthouse Point, Florida, by her Syrian National uncle, who is practicing medicine in the Chicago area. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story Last March, a Florida judge issued an order to pick Sofia up from the uncle's house in Chicago and return her to her home to Florida. Due to a jurisdiction question in court - since Sofia had never lived more than 6 months in one state at the time of her abduction - the judge later gave temporary custody to her mom until the court could determine final jurisdiction between Florida, New Jersey, and Illinois. Sofia at Chicago's O'Hare Airport on her way home after her initial kidnapping from her home in Lighthouse Point, FL, by her uncle who is a practicing MD in the Chicago area. In July 2010, based on this uncle's instructions, Sofia was abducted by her mom to Syria where she ha... (more)

Amazon to Offer Cloud Certification

AWS has launched a new certification program like Microsoft's, Novell's and VMware's. There will be courses available through AWS Training and certification will involve an independently verified test on AWS best practices and the applicant's proficiency in designing, building, deploying and maintaining applications and services on the AWS Cloud. Test center sponsor Kryterion will act as the verifier; it has testing centers in 100 countries. There will be three certifications: Solutions Architect, SysOps Administrator and Developer. The first will be architect. The two others will follow later this year. See http://aws.amazon.com/certification. ... (more)

My Two-Year-Old Daughter Sofia Facing Life-Long Disability in Syria

The day after my last tweet regarding the lack of any new information about my abducted daughter Sofia since March 4, I received an updated letter on Thursday, April 7, 2011, from the State Department on Sofia's welfare in Syria. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story Sofia was abducted by her mother from the United States to Syria last July, following her diagnosis of GDD with possible autism. She had 13 remaining medical appointments left at the time of her abduction, none of which she was able to keep. Last week's welfare report prepared by our Embassy in Damascus, Syria, after their second welfare visit to the home in Syria where Sofia remains with her mother and grandmother, showed a bleaker outcome for my daughter than the previous report dated November 2010. At two years and two months of age, Sofia still doesn't speak a single word, make or follow simple hand gestures... (more)

Sofia Facing Bloodiest Easter Abducted in Syria

More than a year ago, Sofia was abducted from her home in Lighthouse Point, Florida, by her Syrian National uncle Feras Bankosly, MD, who is practicing medicine in the Chicago, IL, area. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story Last March, a Florida judge issued an order to pick Sofia up from the uncle's house in Chicago and return her to her home in Florida. This weekend my two year-old abducted daughter Sofia remains in the middle of the bloodiest Easter in Syria's history! Demos against the Syrian regime and Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Banias, Latakia, Douma, and Daraa already left more than 150 dead between Good Friday and the funerals on Saturday, before Easter! Furthermore, it's widely anticipated that due to increasing violence in the country, the U.S. mission in Damascus will be closed before June, 2011. Turkey will also close its border with Syria by June, 2... (more)

Next for My American Baby in Syria: A Refugee Camp in Turkey

The US State Department on Monday said that it has ordered some non-essential US embassy officials in Damascus and all embassy dependents to leave Syria because of the "uncertainty and volatility" in the country. On Wednesday Bloomberg reported that "Turkey considers it likely that Syrians may flee the country and has designated areas for refugee camps and hospitals in the cities of Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa and Mardin near the Syrian border, it said. Additional mine-sweeping equipment has been sent to police stations in the area, it said." Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story As of this morning, and since July 2010, my abducted daughter Sofia Kircaali, a US citizen, remains in Syria and in harm's way. Feras Bankosly, M.D. Last Known Employment Address: Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare Medical Education: University of Aleppo - Syria Over the Easter weekend and on Monday, th... (more)

Cloud Computing in Higher Education

The irony about cloud computing in the higher education environment is that most schools have already been using it to some extent but may not even realize it. Gmail is one example. Yahoo Mail is another. The fact is web-based applications, which many schools rely on for daily communication, don't always register with most people as being part of the cloud computing trend. But they are, given that they essentially fit the layman's rudimentary explanation of the cloud: where storage and computing capacity exist (provided by a vendor) so all that is needed on a PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone is a browser. There are more "technical details" to actual cloud infrastructure, platforms and delivery, but for the purposes here, we will stick with the basic view. There's no question that cloud computing usage has exploded and will continue unabated. An article in the Sep... (more)

Online Learning Pioneer Picks Up $103M in Funding

Online learning company Lynda.com has gotten $103 million in funding from Accel Partners and equity investor Spectrum Equity. Meritech Capital Partners also participated. It's the first money Lynda has taken from the outside and is meant to push the 17-year-old company into the international arena, which will mean localization, and add to its curriculum. It expects to scale its web and video platform. Its video learning platform, available in monthly and annual subscriptions, teaches computer skills such as 3D and animation, audio, business, design, development, home computing, photography, video and web and interactive design to individuals as well as corporate, government, school and university accounts. It claims more than half of the Fortune 100, all branches of the US military and all cabinet-level departments of the federal government. It has upwards of 200... (more)

Big Data Will Revolutionize Learning

New technologies allow schools, colleges and universities to analyze absolutely everything that happens. From student behavior, testing results, career development of students as well as educational needs based on changing societies. A lot of this data has already been stored and is used for statistical analysis by government agencies such as the National Center for Educational Statistics. With the rise of more and more online education and the development of MOOCs all the data gets a completely new meaning. Big Data allow for very exciting changes in the educational field that will revolutionize the way students learn and teachers teach. To stimulate this trend, the US Department of Education (DOE) was part of a host of agencies to share a $200 million initiative to begin applying Big Data analytics to their respective functions, as described in a post by James Loc... (more)

[webinar] Enabling the Digital Leap | @CloudExpo @Cisco #Cloud

Click Here to Register Now! Enabling the Digital Leap: Strategies for K–12 Schools Learn how you can use the CoSN SEND II Decision Tree for Education Technology to make sure that your K-12 technology initiatives create a more engaging learning experience that empowers students, teachers, and administrators alike. Click Here to Register Now! Register FREE Before Friday! ▸ Here Your registration includes: ▸ Cloud Expo sessions ▸ Big Data Expo sessions ▸ @ThingsExpo sessions ▸ DevOps sessions ▸ Containers sessions ▸ Microservices sessions The World's Largest Cloud Computing Event, November 3-5 at the Santa Clara Convention Center! Cloud computing budgets worldwide are reaching into the hundreds of billions of dollars, and no organization can survive long without some sort of cloud migration strategy. Each month brings new announcements, use cases, and success stories. ... (more)

A Bedtime Story for Sofia Who Remains Abducted in Syria

Diane Macedo of Fox News worked on Sofia's story for more than a month, studying documents, interviewing more than a dozen people, and fact-checking before publishing her news story on Monday and airing our interview. Fox News: ▸ video ▸ story On Monday, she also published a detailed article on Sofia that was picked up by a dozen or so media outlets around the world during the week. ▸ Fox News Story on Sofia's Abduction to Syria When Sofia returns safely home, she will pay her first visit to Diane at the Fox News headquarters in New York City. ▸ US Leaves Its Youngest Citizen Behind Syria The following is a short weekend "bedtime story" for my daughter while she still remains abducted in Syria. Twitter updates on Sofia @FuatKircaali One day, during his travels, Daddy found a "little green Swiss frog" on his bed as he arrived in his hotel room. Daddy took the little g... (more)