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There is growing evidence that the world is more screwed up today than yesterday. I can hardly wait for tomorrow.
(1) According to an AP story in the New York Times, Air Force secretary Michael Wynne is promoting the testing of nonlethal weapons on American citizens. For real.
Wynne said that anti-personnel weapons (e.g., high-power microwave devices) should be tested on Americans in crowd-control situations before they're used in battle elsewhere. He said, ''If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation. (Because) if I hit somebody with a nonlethal weapon and they claim that it injured them in a way that was not intended, I think that I would be vilified in the world press.''
Further reading is enlightening. "Nonlethal weapons generally can weaken people if they are hit with the beam. Some of the weapons can emit short, intense energy pulses that also can be effective in disabling some electronic devices."
May I suggest testing these weapons at one of George Bush's admission-by-loyalty-oath events? Should be great good fun to watch folks with pacemakers tumble into the punch bowl.
What are these people thinking???
(2) A little snippet in the Knoxville News Sentinel tells us that Bill Frist, who just got back from Gitmo, says conditions there are simply marvelous. In fact, he said detainees (i.e., prisoners) have access to "24/7 medical care'"better than many Americans (get)." He also said many detainees (i.e., prisoners) are getting dental care for the first time ever and that the ratio of health staff to detainees (i.e., prisoners) is one to four.
So clearly what's called for here is to ship impoverished Americans to Gitmo for health care. Right after they vote in November, Diebold notwithstanding. (By the way, I voted yesterday in the Minnesota primary at 7:30 a.m., and the one voting machine in my precinct was already kaput.)
(3) According to the Washington Post, George Bush's spot-on intuition tells him that a "Third Awakening" of religious devotion is developing, running parallel to the war on terror, which is (class?) "a confrontation between good and evil."
Bush was meeting with a group of conservative journalists. Surprising, really. He told them we might be moving into a major religious revival. He said that "some of Abraham Lincoln's strongest supporters were religious people 'who saw life in terms of good and evil' and who believed that slavery was evil. Many of his own supporters, he said, see the current conflict in similar terms."
Thus did The First Decider liken himself to The Great Emancipator.
(4) A little closer to my hometown is the rather startling news that crew members on two U.S. Coast Guard boats were firing M-240 machine guns at a floating target on Lake Superior near Two Harbors, MN this week.
Chief Petty Officer Robert Lanier said, "We need to do the necessary training to conduct our missions of maritime safety, homeland security and national defense." Who knew?
To that end, in August, "the Coast Guard proposed establishing 34 live-fire training zones across the Great Lakes, including four in western Lake Superior. That proposal was put on hold for 60 days after complaints (!) from Minnesota and Wisconsin congressmen who said their offices, the public and the media were not given proper notice.
"In addition to extending the public comment period into November, the Coast Guard also is organizing public hearings on the plans, although no locations or dates have been set."
"We never intended to say that we were putting training on hold," said Lanier.
Okey dokey. Even as my fingers fly across the keys, David is kayaking on Lake Superior. At no time did it cross my mind that the greatest peril he might face was not drowning but rather "friendly fire" from the U.S. Coast Guard.
There's also an environmental issue here. Duluth mayor Herb Bergson, who is pretty torqued about this whole thing, "pointed out that at a time the federal government is pushing efforts to clean up the Great Lakes, and with state officials encouraging anglers to use lead-free fishing tackle, the same government is adding toxic lead to the lake bottom."
For those of you who like data, Lanier said, "We think creating permanent safety zones is the best way to make sure we can do our training with the least impact on the public. Our No. 1 priority is public safety." Turns out that "Coast Guard units train with the M240-B lightweight automatic weapon, which fires a 7.62 mm round. The safety zones, combined, would encompass 2,376 square miles."
(5) The piece de resistance. Now before you go ballistic about my irreverent tone, please remember that we are bird lovers in my home. We feed them, provide bathing facilities and watch them on and off all day (though we try to avert our eyes while they bathe).
That said, there was an unfortunate piece of business in Texarkana, TX. It seems that a local bank hired an exterminator after a pigeon entered the bank and, ummmm, unburdened itself on a customer.
The pest control company placed treated corn on the bank roof with the intention of making the birds sick so they would leave. The president of the exterminating business said that one unfortunate side effect of the treated corn is death. Indeed.
And so it was that Texarkana's annual Quadrangle Festival was marred by poisoned pigeons "nose-diving into pavement and dying on downtown sidewalks." This prompted a Festival worker to say that the poisoning "sends a bad message to children." Yup, pretty much.
(6) The Twins lost. (sigh)