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31 January 2007

German court challenges the immunity of America's government kidnappers & torturers -- lawless terrorists vs. lawless terrorists

Khaled el-Masri / Khaled Masri / Khaled al-Masri

At the heart of George W. Bush Jr.'s interpretation of America's War On Terror is that we must be as tough and as terrifying as our enemy, and we cannot allow Law and Due Process of Law and Constitutional or international treaty guarantees of human rights to slow or enfeeble our fight against terrorists.

The case of Khaled el-Masri in particular emphasizes that we cannot let Innocence, or the Presumption of Innocence, get in the way of winning the war. If we do not kidnap, imprison and torture innocent people -- like the Canadian Maher Arar -- we cannot possibly defeat terrorism.

Nor can we let other nations' sovereignty, or a foreign country's obligations to protect the rights of its own citizens, get in our way.

The case of German citizen Khaled el-Masri is almost identical -- in the actions of the U.S. Government's secret War On Terror -- to the case of Canadian citizen Maher Arar. The link is to the Canadian government's official report on his case. Many documents are in .pdf format.
Here is Maher Arar's more easily readable website.

But is it possible, within just a few years, that America's official but secret cadre of state kidnappers may be brought to justice in these other countries where they allegedly committed their crimes and sent foreign nationals to be tortured?


Wednesday 31 January 2007

German Court Orders Arrest
of El Masri Kidnappers

BERLIN (Reuters) -- A court in Germany has ordered the arrest of 13 people suspected of being involved in the abduction of a German national who says he was kidnapped and tortured by the CIA, state prosecutors said on Wednesday.

"According to current findings, the particulars of the suspects listed in the arrest warrants suggest these could be cover identities of CIA agents," prosecutors said in a statement.

They said a district court in Munich had issued warrants for the arrest of the 13 on suspicion of falsely imprisoning and causing grievous bodily harm to Khaled el-Masri, a German of Lebanese descent.

Masri was arrested in Macedonia at the end of 2003 and says he was handed over to the CIA, who flew him to Afghanistan and wrongly held him until his release in late May 2004.

Investigators say they believe his account.

State prosecutors said the suspects had been identified on the basis of a list compiled with the aid of Spanish authorities. The list purported to detail those who were on board the plane Masri said took him to Afghanistan.

Additional information about the identities of the suspects was provided by prosecutors in Milan and Council of Europe investigator Dick Marty, prosecutors added.

"These findings, as well as the results of other investigations, have now provided the grounds for the strong suspicion that 13 identifiable persons participated in the abduction of el-Masri," prosecutors said.

Masri's case has fueled debate in Europe about secret transfers of terrorism suspects by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Further investigations would concentrate on establishing the real identities of the suspects, prosecutors added. They gave no further information, including on the nationalities of the suspects.

German NDR state television said the 13 suspects were CIA employees, according to its own research. It said the majority of them were in the United States.

- 30 -

Copyright 2007 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved.


The Washington Post (DC USA)
Sunday 4 December 2005
Page A-1

Wrongful Imprisonment:
Anatomy of a CIA Mistake

German Citizen Released
After Months in 'Rendition'

by Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer

In May 2004, the White House dispatched the U.S. ambassador in Germany to pay an unusual visit to that country's interior minister. Ambassador Daniel R. Coats carried instructions from the State Department transmitted via the CIA's Berlin station because they were too sensitive and highly classified for regular diplomatic channels, according to several people with knowledge of the conversation.

Coats informed the German minister that the CIA had wrongfully imprisoned one of its citizens, Khaled Masri, for five months, and would soon release him, the sources said. There was also a request: that the German government not disclose what it had been told even if Masri went public. The U.S. officials feared exposure of a covert action program designed to capture terrorism suspects abroad and transfer them among countries, and possible legal challenges to the CIA from Masri and others with similar allegations.

The Masri case, with new details gleaned from interviews with current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials, offers a rare study of how pressure on the CIA to apprehend al Qaeda members after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has led in some instances to detention based on thin or speculative evidence. The case also shows how complicated it can be to correct errors in a system built and operated in secret.

The CIA, working with other intelligence agencies, has captured an estimated 3,000 people, including several key leaders of al Qaeda, in its campaign to dismantle terrorist networks. It is impossible to know, however, how many mistakes the CIA and its foreign partners have made.

Unlike the military's prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- where 180 prisoners have been freed after a review of their cases -- there is no tribunal or judge to check the evidence against those picked up by the CIA. The same bureaucracy that decides to capture and transfer a suspect for interrogation -- a process called "rendition" -- is also responsible for policing itself for errors.

The CIA inspector general is investigating a growing number of what it calls "erroneous renditions," according to several former and current intelligence officials.

One official said about three dozen names fall in that category; others believe it is fewer. The list includes several people whose identities were offered by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations, officials said. One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade, one official said.

"They picked up the wrong people, who had no information. In many, many cases there was only some vague association" with terrorism, one CIA officer said.

While the CIA admitted to Germany's then-Interior Minister Otto Schily that it had made a mistake, it has labored to keep the specifics of Masri's case from becoming public. As a German prosecutor works to verify or debunk Masri's claims of kidnapping and torture, the part of the German government that was informed of his ordeal has remained publicly silent. Masri's attorneys say they intend to file a lawsuit in U.S. courts this week.

Masri was held for five months largely because the head of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center's al Qaeda unit "believed he was someone else," one former CIA official said. "She didn't really know. She just had a hunch."

The CIA declined to comment for this article, as did Coats and a spokesman at the German Embassy in Washington. Schily did not respond to several requests for comment last week.

CIA officials stress that apprehensions and renditions are among the most sure-fire ways to take potential terrorists out of circulation quickly. In 2000, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet said that "renditions have shattered terrorist cells and networks, thwarted terrorist plans, and in some cases even prevented attacks from occurring."

After the September 2001 attacks, pressure to locate and nab potential terrorists, even in the most obscure parts of the world, bore down hard on one CIA office in particular, the Counterterrorist Center, or CTC, located until recently in the basement of one of the older buildings on the agency's sprawling headquarters compound. With operations officers and analysts sitting side by side, the idea was to act on tips and leads with dramatic speed.

The possibility of missing another attack loomed large. "Their logic was: If one of them gets loose and someone dies, we'll be held responsible," said one CIA officer, who, like others interviewed for this article, would speak only anonymously because of the secretive nature of the subject.

To carry out its mission, the CTC relies on its Rendition Group, made up of case officers, paramilitaries, analysts and psychologists. Their job is to figure out how to snatch someone off a city street, or a remote hillside, or a secluded corner of an airport where local authorities wait.

Members of the Rendition Group follow a simple but standard procedure: Dressed head to toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip. Their destinations: either a detention facility operated by cooperative countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, or one of the CIA's own covert prisons -- referred to in classified documents as "black sites," which at various times have been operated in eight countries, including several in Eastern Europe.

In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the CTC was the place to be for CIA officers wanting in on the fight. The staff ballooned from 300 to 1,200 nearly overnight.

"It was the Camelot of counterterrorism," a former counterterrorism official said. "We didn't have to mess with others -- and it was fun."

Thousands of tips and allegations about potential threats poured in after the attacks. Stung by the failure to detect the plot, CIA officers passed along every tidbit. The process of vetting and evaluating information suffered greatly, former and current intelligence officials said. "Whatever quality control mechanisms were in play on September 10th were eliminated on September 11th," a former senior intelligence official said.

J. Cofer Black, a professorial former spy who spent years chasing Osama bin Laden, was the CTC's director. With a flair for melodrama, Black had earned special access to the White House after he briefed President Bush on the CIA's war plan for Afghanistan.

Colleagues recall that he would return from the White House inspired and talking in missionary terms. Black, now in the private security business, declined to comment.

Some colleagues said his fervor was in line with the responsibility Bush bestowed on the CIA when he signed a top secret presidential finding six days after the 9/11 attacks. It authorized an unprecedented range of covert action, including lethal measures and renditions, disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks against the al Qaeda enemy, according to current and former intelligence officials. Black's attitude was exactly what some CIA officers believed was needed to get the job done.

Others criticized Black's CTC for embracing a "Hollywood model" of operations, as one former longtime CIA veteran called it, eschewing the hard work of recruiting agents and penetrating terrorist networks. Instead, the new approach was similar to the flashier paramilitary operations that had worked so well in Afghanistan, and played well at the White House, where the president was keeping a scorecard of captured or killed terrorists.

The person most often in the middle of arguments over whether to dispatch a rendition team was a former Soviet analyst with spiked hair that matched her in-your-face personality who heads the CTC's al Qaeda unit, according to a half-dozen CIA veterans who know her. Her name is being withheld because she is under cover.

She earned a reputation for being aggressive and confident, just the right quality, some colleagues thought, for a commander in the CIA's global war on terrorism. Others criticized her for being overzealous and too quick to order paramilitary action.

The CIA and Guantanamo Bay

One way the CIA has dealt with detainees it no longer wants to hold is to transfer them to the custody of the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, where defense authorities decide whether to keep or release them after a review.

About a dozen men have been transferred by the CIA to Guantanamo Bay, according to a Washington Post review of military tribunal testimony and other records. Some CIA officials have argued that the facility has become, as one former senior official put it, "a dumping ground" for CIA mistakes.

But several former intelligence officials dispute that and defend the transfer of CIA detainees to military custody. They acknowledged that some of those sent to Guantanamo Bay are prisoners who, after interrogation and review, turned out to have less valuable information than originally suspected. Still, they said, such prisoners are dangerous and would attack if given the chance.

Among those released from Guantanamo is Mamdouh Habib, an Egyptian-born Australian citizen, apprehended by a CIA team in Pakistan in October 2001, then sent to Egypt for interrogation, according to court papers. He has alleged that he was burned by cigarettes, given electric shocks and beaten by Egyptian captors. After six months, he was flown to Guantanamo Bay and let go earlier this year without being charged.

Another CIA former captive, according to declassified testimony from military tribunals and other records, is Mohamedou Oulad Slahi, a Mauritanian and former Canada resident, who says he turned himself in to the Mauritanian police 18 days after the 9/11 attacks because he heard the Americans were looking for him. The CIA took him to Jordan, where he spent eight months undergoing interrogation, according to his testimony, before being taken to Guantanamo Bay.

Another is Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, an Egyptian imprisoned by Indonesia authorities in January 2002 after he was heard talking -- he says jokingly -- about a new shoe bomb technology. He was flown to Egypt for interrogation and returned to CIA hands four months later, according to one former intelligence official. After being held for 13 months in Afghanistan, he was taken to Guantanamo Bay, according to his testimony.

The Masri Case

Khaled Masri came to the attention of Macedonian authorities on New Year's Eve 2003. Masri, an unemployed father of five living in Ulm, Germany, said he had gone by bus to Macedonia to blow off steam after a spat with his wife. He was taken off a bus at the Tabanovce border crossing by police because his name was similar to that of an associate of a 9/11 hijacker. The police drove him to Skopje, the capital, and put him in a motel room with darkened windows, he said in a recent telephone interview from Germany.

The police treated Masri firmly but cordially, asking about his passport, which they insisted was forged, about al Qaeda and about his hometown mosque, he said. When he pressed them to let him go, they displayed their pistols.

Unbeknown to Masri, the Macedonians had contacted the CIA station in Skopje. The station chief was on holiday. But the deputy chief, a junior officer, was excited about the catch and about being able to contribute to the counterterrorism fight, current and former intelligence officials familiar with the case said.

"The Skopje station really wanted a scalp because everyone wanted a part of the game," a CIA officer said. Because the European Division chief at headquarters was also on vacation, the deputy dealt directly with the CTC and the head of its al Qaeda unit.

In the first weeks of 2004, an argument arose over whether the CIA should take Masri from local authorities and remove him from the country for interrogation, a classic rendition operation.

The director of the al Qaeda unit supported that approach. She insisted he was probably a terrorist, and should be imprisoned and interrogated immediately.

Others were doubtful. They wanted to wait to see whether the passport was proved fraudulent. Beyond that, there was no evidence Masri was not who he claimed to be -- a German citizen of Arab descent traveling after a disagreement with his wife.

The unit's director won the argument. She ordered Masri captured and flown to a CIA prison in Afghanistan.

On the 23rd day of his motel captivity, the police videotaped Masri, then bundled him, handcuffed and blindfolded, into a van and drove to a closed-off building at the airport, Masri said. There, in silence, someone cut off his clothes. As they changed his blindfold, "I saw seven or eight men with black clothing and wearing masks," he later said in an interview. He said he was drugged to sleep for a long plane ride.


Masri said his cell in Afghanistan was cold, dirty and in a cellar, with no light and one dirty cover for warmth. The first night he said he was kicked and beaten and warned by an interrogator: "You are here in a country where no one knows about you, in a country where there is no law. If you die, we will bury you, and no one will know."

Masri was guarded during the day by Afghans, he said. At night, men who sounded as if they spoke American-accented English showed up for the interrogation. Sometimes a man he believed was a doctor in a mask came to take photos, draw blood and collect a urine sample.

Back at the CTC, Masri's passport was given to the Office of Technical Services to analyze. By March, OTS had concluded the passport was genuine. The CIA had imprisoned the wrong man.

At the CIA, the question was: Now what? Some officials wanted to go directly to the German government; others did not. Someone suggested a reverse rendition: Return Masri to Macedonia and release him. "There wouldn't be a trace. No airplane tickets. Nothing. No one would believe him," one former official said. "There would be a bump in the press, but then it would be over."

Once the mistake reached Tenet, he laid out the options to his counterparts, including the idea of not telling the Germans. Condoleezza Rice, then Bush's national security adviser, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage argued they had to be told, a position Tenet took, according to one former intelligence official.

"You couldn't have the president lying to the German chancellor" should the issue come up, a government official involved in the matter said.

Senior State Department officials decided to approach Interior Minister Schily, who had been a steadfast Bush supporter even when differences over the Iraq war strained ties between the two countries. Ambassador Coats had excellent rapport with Schily.

The CIA argued for minimal disclosure of information. The State Department insisted on a truthful, complete statement. The two agencies quibbled over whether it should include an apology, according to officials.

Meanwhile, Masri was growing desperate. There were rumors that a prisoner had died under torture. Masri could not answer most questions put to him. He said he steadied himself by talking with other prisoners and reading the Koran.

A week before his release in late May 2004, Masri said he was visited in prison by a German man with a goatee who called himself Sam. Masri said he asked him if he were from the German government and whether the government knew he was there. Sam said he could not answer either question.

"Does my wife at least know I'm here?" Masri asked.

"No, she does not," Sam replied, according to Masri.

Sam told Masri he was going to be released soon but that he would not receive any documents or papers confirming his ordeal. The Americans would never admit they had taken him prisoner, Sam added, according to Masri.

On the day of his release, the prison's director, who Masri believed was an American, told Masri that he had been held because he "had a suspicious name," Masri said in an interview.

Several intelligence and diplomatic officials said Macedonia did not want the CIA to bring Masri back inside the country, so the agency arranged for him to be flown to Albania. Masri said he was taken to a narrow country road at dusk. When they let him off, "They asked me not to look back when I started walking," Masri said. "I was afraid they would shoot me in the back."

He said he was quickly met by three armed men. They drove all night, arriving in the morning at Mother Teresa Airport in Tirana. Masri said he was escorted onto the plane, past all the security checkpoints, by an Albanian.

Masri has been reunited with his children and wife, who had moved the family to Lebanon because she did not know where her husband was. Unemployed and lonely, Masri says neither his German nor Arab friends dare associate with him because of the publicity.

Meanwhile, a German prosecutor continues to work Masri's case. A Macedonia bus driver has confirmed that Masri was taken away by border guards on the date he gave investigators. A forensic analysis of Masri's hair showed he was malnourished during the period he says he was in the prison. Flight logs show a plane registered to a CIA front company flew out of Macedonia on the day Masri says he went to Afghanistan.

Masri can find few words to explain his ordeal. "I have very bad feelings" about the United States, he said. "I think it's just like in the Arab countries: arresting people, treating them inhumanly and less than that, and with no rights and no laws."

- 30 -

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this article.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

30 January 2007

PizzaQ 2nd Notice: u got 68 days to solve the Easter Bunny Faberge Egg Distribution Problem. u can do this.

Click the map with the Easter Bunny.
Click the table of number pairs.

Here comes Peter Cottontail,
Hoppin' down the bunny trail,
Hippity, hoppity, Easter's on its way!

Bringin' every girl and boy
Baskets full of Easter joy,
Things to make your Easter bright and gay!

He's got jelly beans for Tommy,
Colored eggs for sister Sue,
There's an orchid for your Mommy
And an Easter bonnet, too.

Oh! here comes Peter Cottontail,
Hoppin' down the bunny trail,
Hippity hoppity, Happy Easter day.

Here comes Peter Cottontail,
Hoppin' down the bunny trail,
Look at him stop, and listen to him say:

"Try to do the things you should."
Maybe if you're extra good,
He'll roll lots of Easter eggs your way.

You'll wake up on Easter morning
And you'll know that he was there
When you find those choc'late bunnies
That he's hiding ev'rywhere.

Oh! here comes Peter Cottontail,
Hoppin' down the bunny trail,
Hippity hoppity, Happy Easter day!

Okay, now look
-- are we at this pathetic moment again, where Vleeptron asks A Very Simple PizzaQuestion, but NOBODY on the entire Internet can answer it?

All Vleeptron wants is The Shortest Path for the Easter Bunny to come from Easter Bunny Centre, deliver a fabulous bejewelled Faberge Easter Egg to 13 little girls and boys, and then go home again to Easter Bunny Centre.

ramanuJohn solved a similar Path-Finding Problem for Santa Claus to deliver toys to the homes of 7 little girls and boys.

So surely SOMEBODY can help the Easter Bunny find the Shortest Path in time for Easter Sunday. You have 68 days (see calendar).

Here's the deal:

1. The Earth is Flat.

2. The Easter Bunny's map is a standard piece of Cartesian x-y graph paper. Distances are in kilometers.

3. Easter Bunny Centre is at the origin: x = 0 and y = 0

4. Each child lives at an ordered pair (x, y)

5. The Easter Bunny always hops between one place and the next in a straight line.

6. Starting at Easter Bunny Centre, the Easter Bunny visits each child just once, and then returns to Easter Bunny Centre.

By an amazing coincidence, each child's name starts with one of the first 13 letters of the alphabet. Small e stands for Easter Bunny Centre. So an example path will look like this:




and if you think that's the Shortest Possible Path, you also have to give its length, like

76543.21 Kilometers

Just work it out to 2 decimal places of precision.

You can do this. SOMEBODY out there can do this. It's just not possible that NOBODY attached to the World Wide Web has the brains to do this. That would be like totally pathetic. The whole Internet and C-Space and the entire Blogosphere would just have to be so ashamed.

Oh, I forgot. The Ministry of Pizza is giving away 1 Large Pizza with your choice of 4 toppings (transportation and shipping not included). Anchovies. Pineapple. Wurst. Whatever.

Make Vleeptron proud. Make your mom proud. Make your dad proud. Make your Significant Other all excited and hot and in awe of you, make that person your Drooling Love Slave forever.

29 January 2007

Part of a child / Israel's US cluster bombs dropped on Lebanon: war is over, killing and maiming will go on for decades

At top, a cluster bomb victim. Typically young children are attracted by the bright colors of cluster bombs they find on the ground.

Land mines are the weapons that keep on killing decades after a cease-fire or an end to a war. They are still killing civilians in Vietnam; the Vietnam War ended in 1974.

Cluster bombs, first used by the Germans in World War Two, are a way to drop thousands of land mines on an area from aerial bombers. Cluster bombs manufactured in the United States have been sold, with US government approval, to Israel, and were used in large number in last summer's war in southern Lebanon.

Other stories indicate that if Israel's use of the cluster bombs violated its permissions from the US government, the Bush administration will consider at most a mild rebuke to Israel.

It should be noted that Israelis are extremely unhappy with the performance of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the Lebanon War. Hezbollah was certainly not destoyed, and two Israeli soldiers abducted from northern Israel by a Hezbollah raid were never returned. The IDF commander has resigned and been replaced. So cluster bombs are not necessarily particularly effective in killing the enemy or halting or impeding his military movements and activities.

But they'll be killing and maiming Lebanese civilians for many years to come.


International Herald Tribune
Sunday 28 January 2007

Israel may have violated
arms pact, officials say

Early U.S. report cites cluster bombs

by David S. Cloud and Greg Myre

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration is set to inform Congress on Monday that Israel may have violated agreements with the United States when it fired U.S.-supplied cluster munitions into southern Lebanon during its fight with Hezbollah last summer, according to the State Department.

The finding, though preliminary, has prompted a contentious debate within the administration over whether the United States should penalize Israel for its use of cluster munitions against towns and villages where Hezbollah had placed rocket launchers.

Cluster munitions scatter tiny but deadly bomblets that explode over a wide area to kill or maim people. The grenade-like munitions, tens of thousands of which have been found in southern Lebanon, have caused 30 deaths and 180 injuries among civilians since the end of the war, according to the UN Mine Action Service.

Midlevel officials at the Pentagon and the State Department have argued that Israel violated U.S. prohibitions on using cluster munitions against populated areas, according to officials. But other officials in both departments contend Israel's use of the weapons was for self- defense, aimed at stopping Hezbollah rocket attacks that killed 159 Israelis, and at worst was only a technical violation.

Any sanctions against Israel would be an extraordinary move by the Bush administration, a strong backer of Israel, and several officials said they expected little further action, if any, on the matter.

The State Department is required to notify Congress even of preliminary findings of possible violations of the Arms Export Control Act, the statute governing arms sales.

Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said the notification to Congress would occur Monday, but that a final determination about whether Israel violated the agreements on use of cluster bombs was still being debated.

"It is important to remember the kind of war Hezbollah waged," he said. "They used innocent civilians as a way to shield their fighters."

Even if Israel is found to be in violation, the statute gives President George W. Bush discretion about whether to impose sanctions, unless Congress decides to take legislative action. Israel makes its own cluster munitions, so a cutoff of U.S. supplies would have mainly symbolic significance.

Israel gave the State Department a dozen-page report late last year in which it acknowledged firing thousands of U.S. cluster munitions into southern Lebanon but denied violating agreements that prohibit their use in civilian areas, the officials said.

Before firing at rocket sites in towns and villages, the Israeli report said, the Israeli military dropped leaflets warning civilians of the attacks. The report, which has not previously been disclosed, also noted that many of the villages were deserted because civilians had fled the fighting, the officials said.

David Siegel, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said Israel "provided a detailed response to the administration's request for information" on its use of cluster munitions "to halt Hezbollah's unprovoked rockets attacks against our civilian populations centers."

- 30 -

Copyright © 2007 the International Herald Tribune All rights reserved

from Wikipedia

Cluster bomb

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A US B-1 Lancer releasing its payload of cluster bombs

Cluster munitions are air-dropped or ground-launched shells that eject multiple small submunitions ("bomblets"). Their primary purpose is to kill enemy infantry, although specialized weapons designed for anti-personnel, anti-runway, anti-armor and mine-scattering purposes have also been developed.


The first cluster bomb used operationally was the German SD-2 or Sprengbombe Dickwandig 2 kg, commonly referred to as the Butterfly Bomb. It was used during the Second World War to attack both civilian and military targets. The technology was developed independently by the United States of America, Russia and Italy (see Thermos Bomb). Cluster bombs are now standard air-dropped munitions for most nations, in a wide variety of types.

Artillery shells that employ similar principles have existed for decades. They are typically referred to as ICM (Improved Conventional Munitions) shells. The US military slang terms for them are "firecracker" or "popcorn" shells, for the many small explosions they cause in the target area.

Types of cluster bombs

A US Vietnam era BLU-3 cluster bomblet.

A basic cluster bomb is a hollow shell (generally streamlined if intended for carriage by fast aircraft) containing anywhere from three to more than 2,000 submunitions. Some types are dispensers that are designed to be retained by the aircraft after releasing their munitions. The submunitions themselves may be fitted with small parachute retarders or streamers to slow their descent (allowing the aircraft to escape the blast area in low-altitude attacks).

Incendiary cluster bombs, also called firebombs, are designed to start fires. They are generally specifically designed for this purpose, with payloads of white phosphorus or napalm, but they are often combined with a payload of anti-personnel and anti-tank submunition to make firefighting efforts more difficult. When used in cities they were often preceded by the use of conventional explosive bombs to break open the roofs and walls of buildings to expose flammable contents for the incendiaries. This type of munition was extensively used by both sides in the strategic bombings of World War II. It was bombs of this type that were used to start firestorms such as those in Dresden and Tokyo.

Anti-personnel cluster bombs use explosive fragmentation to kill troops and destroy soft (unarmored) targets. Along with incendiary cluster bombs, these were among the first forms produced by Germany during WWII. They were most famously used during the Blitz with delay and booby-trap fusing to prevent firefighting and other damage control efforts in the bombed areas. They were also used with a contact fuse when attacking entrenchments.

Most Anti-armor munitions contain shaped charge warheads to pierce the armor of tanks and armored fighting vehicles. In some cases, guidance is used to increase the likelihood of successfully hitting a vehicle. Guided submunitions can use either a shaped charge warhead or an explosively formed penetrator. Unguided shaped-charge submunitions are designed to be effective against entrenchments that incorporate overhead cover. To simplify supply and increase battlefield effectiveness by allowing a single type of round to be used against nearly any target, submunitions that incorporate both fragmentation and shaped-charge effects are produced. In United States Army and Marine Corps Field Artillery units, this is a common type of shell used in ground warfare.

Anti-runway submunitions such as the JP233 are designed to penetrate concrete before detonating, allowing them to shatter and crater runway surfaces. In the case of the JP233, the cratering effect is achieved through the use of a 2-stage warhead that combines a shaped charge and conventional explosive. The shaped charge is designed to create a small crater which the conventional explosive falls into and then enlarges by its explosion. Anti-runway submunitions are usually used along with anti-personnel submunitions equipped with delay or booby-trap fuses to make repair more difficult.

Mine-laying weapons do not detonate on contact, but scatter their cargo of land mines for later detonation. They come in antipersonnel and antitank forms. Antitank mines are nearly always used in combination with antipersonnel mines to make the antitank minefield more difficult to clear. Since such mines usually lie on exposed surfaces, the antipersonnel forms, such as the US Area Denial Artillery Munition normally deploy tripwires automatically after landing to make clearing the minefield more difficult. In order to avoid rendering large portions of the battlefield permanently impassable, and to minimize the amount of mine-clearing needed after a conflict, scatterable mines used by the United States are designed to self-destruct after a period of time from 4-48 hours.

During the 1950s and 1960s the United States and Soviet Union developed cluster weapons designed to deliver chemical weapons, ranging from lethal nerve gas like Sarin to defoliants and tear gas. International pressure has made the use of chemical weapons politically volatile, although both the U.S. and Russia retain such weapons in their arsenals.

An anti-electrical cluster weapon -- the CBU-94/B -- was first used by the U.S. in the Kosovo War in 1999. These consist of a TMD (Tactical Munitions Dispenser) filled with 202 BLU-114/B submunitions. Each submunition contains a small explosive charge that disperses 147 reels of fine conductive fiber; either carbon fiber or aluminium coated glass fiber. Their purpose is to disrupt and damage electric power transmission systems by producing short circuits in high voltage power lines and electrical substations. On the first attack, these knocked out 70% of the electrical power supply in Serbia. There are reports that it took 500 people 15 hours to get one transformer yard back on line after being hit with the conductive fibers.

Modern cluster bombs and submunition dispensers are often multiple-purpose weapons, containing mixtures of anti-armor, anti-personnel, and anti-materiel munitions.

A growing trend in cluster bomb design is the "smart" submunition, which uses guidance circuitry to locate and attack particular targets, usually armored vehicles. Some recent weapons of this type include the U.S. CBU-97 sensor-fused weapon, first used in combat during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Munitions specifically intended for anti-tank use may be set to self-destruct if they reach the ground without locating a target, theoretically reducing the risk of collateral damage to civilians and non-military targets. Another limitation of the "smart" submunition is cost: such weapons are many times more expensive than standard cluster bombs, which are cheap and simple to manufacture.

Threats to civilians

98% of 11,044 recorded cluster munitions casualties that are registered with Handicap International are civilians. Cluster munitions are hotly opposed by many individuals and hundreds of groups, such as the Red Cross,[1] the Cluster Munition Coalition and the United Nations, because of the high proportion of civilians that have fallen victim to the weapon. Since February 2005, Handicap International called for cluster munitions to be prohibited and collected hundreds of thousands signatures to support its call.[2]

Cluster bombs pose a threat to civilians for two reasons: they have a very wide area of effect, and they almost always leave behind unexploded bomblets.

The area affected by a single cluster munition, also known as the footprint, can be as large as two or three football fields.[citation needed] Because of the weapon's very wide area of effect, they have frequently been documented as striking both civilian and military objects in the target area. This characteristic of the weapon is particularly problematic for civilians when cluster munitions are used in or near populated areas and has been documented by research reports from groups such as Human Rights Watch[1], Landmine Action and Handicap International.

The other serious problem is unexploded ordnance (UXO) of cluster bomblets left behind after a strike. These bomblets may be duds or in some cases the weapons are designed to detonate at a later stage. In both cases, the surviving bomblets are live and can explode when handled, making them a serious threat to civilians and military personnel entering the area. In effect, the UXOs can function like land mines. These are sometimes called triple-threat weapons[citation needed], because they can explode in the air, on the ground, or later when stepped on or disturbed.

Even with cluster bombs that are designed to fully explode there a certain number of individual submunitions that do not explode on impact. The US-made MLRS with M26 warhead and M77 submunitions are supposed to have a 5 percent dud rate but in reality have a rate of 16 percent[2]. The rate for this type tested during the Gulf War was as high as 23 percent[3]. The M483A1 DPICM artillery-delivered cluster bombs have a reported dud rate of 14 percent[citation needed].

Given that each cluster bomb contains hundreds of bomblets and are fired in volleys, even a small failure rate can lead each strike to leave behind hundreds or thousands of UXOs scattered randomly across the strike area. For example, after the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, UN experts have estimated that as many as one million unexploded bomblets may contaminate the hundreds of cluster munition strike sites in Lebanon[4].

In addition, some cluster bomblets, such as the CBU-87, are brightly colored in order to increase their visibility and warn off civilians. However, the color, coupled with their small and nonthreatening appearance has caused children to interpret them as toys. This problem was exacerbated in the United States military action against Afghanistan, when US forces dropped humanitarian rations from airplanes with the same yellow colored packaging as the BLU97. The rations packaging was later changed first to blue and then to clear packaging in the hopes of avoiding such hazardous confusion.

The US military is developing new cluster bombs which they claim have a much lower (less than 1%) dud rate[5]. However, in the past, new more efficient cluster bombs have not been made in sufficient quantities to push the older bombs out of the stockpiles and use.[citation needed] Sensor-fuzed weapons that contain a limited number of submunitions that are capable of autonomously engaging armored targets may provide a viable, if costly, alternative to cluster munitions that will allow multiple target engagement with one shell or bomb while avoiding the civilian deaths and injuries consistently documented from the use of cluster munitions.

Civilian deaths from unexploded cluster bomblets

* In Vietnam, people are still being killed as a result of cluster bombs and other objects left by the US military. Estimates range up to 300 per year.[3]

* In post-war Kosovo unexploded cluster bomblets caused more civilian deaths than landmines.[4]

* In Lebanon as many as 40% of the bomblets dropped may not have detonated [5]. 16 have been killed and 100 civilians were injured [6] by unexploded bomblets since the August 14, 2006 ceasefire in the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon conflict. The US State Department is inquiring into whether Israeli use of US-made cluster bombs during the conflict conformed with the terms of agreements between them as to the conditions of the munition's use. It is confirmed that Hezbollah also used clusters. Israel has expressed readiness to cooperate, but has not provided detailed maps or coordinates of areas targeted with cluster munitions[7]. In August 2006, the UN's Mine Action Coordination Center in Tyre, Lebanon, raised an alarm over the post-conflict impact on returning civilians of unexploded cluster bombs used by Israel in village areas.[8]. Israel immediately after the cease-fire gave UNIFIL maps indicating the likely locations of unexploded ordnance, to aid the international attempt to clear these areas and avoid injury to the population, but these maps only showed the general location of unexploded ordnance and were not useful for systematic clearance of areas contaminated by cluster munitions. Immediately after the cease-fire Israel distributed warning notices to the residents in the areas of warfare, and recommended that they wait a few days before returning to the south until the UNIFIL forces were deployed there and the area had been cleared of unexploded ordnance. Clearance experts have estimated that it will take 12-18 months to remove the immediate threat from unexploded ordnance from southern Lebanon.[9]

Areas with significant cluster bomb UXO problems

* Lebanon

* Indochina, especially in Laos and central Vietnam's former demilitarized zone.

* Kosovo

* Afghanistan

* Iraq

Countries that have been affected by cluster munitions include:

Bosnia & Herzegovina
Sierra Leone

International legislation

Although covered by the general rules of international humanitarian law, cluster munitions are not currently covered by any specific international legal instrument. However, a number of sections of the Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War (Protocol V to the 1980 Convention), 28 November 2003 address the use of cluster muntions, in particular Article 9, which mandates States Parties to "take generic preventive measures aimed at minimising the occurrence of explosive remnants of war". So far Belgium is the only country to have issued a ban on the use (carrying), transportation, export, stockpiling, trade and production of cluster munitions.[10]

There has been parliamentary activity on cluster munitions in several countries, including Austria, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. In some of these countries, there are ongoing discussions concerning draft legislation banning cluster munitions, along the lines of the legislation adopted in Belgium. Norway has also committed itself to an international ban on cluster munitions and recently announced a moratorium on the weapon. Austria has also committed itself to an international legally-binding instrument on cluster munitions, after the Parliament passed a resolution on cluster munitions in July. On December 5, 2006, an Australian senator introduced a private bill, titled the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill 2006, to prohibit Australia's use, manufacture and possession of cluster munitions. This bill is not supported by the Australian Government and as a result is unlikely to be passed by Parliament. Moreover, the Australian Defence Force does not currently possess stocks of cluster munitions.

Cluster bombs and international treaties

Although other problematic weapons, such as land mines have been banned in many countries under specific legal instruments for several years, notably the Ottawa Treaty and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, cluster bombs are not yet banned by any international treaty and are considered legitimate weapons by some governments. International governmental deliberations in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons still revolve around the broader problem of explosive remnants of war, a problem to which cluster munitions have contributed in a significant way. However, despite calls from humanitarian organizations and approximately 30 governments, international governmental negotiations to develop specific measures that would address the humanitarian problems cluster munitions pose have not proven possible in the conventional multilateral fora.

Against this background, a new flexible multilateral process similar to the process that led to the ban on antipersonnel landmines in 1997 began with an announcement in November 2006 by the Government of Norway that it would convene an international meeting in early 2007 in Oslo to work towards a new treaty prohibiting cluster munitions. This announcement followed Belgium's decision to ban the weapon in February 2006, Austria's decision to work for an international instrument on the weapon and the international controversy over the use and impact of cluster munitions during the war between Hezbollah and Israel in July and August 2006. 40 governments are expected to attend the meeting in Oslo in February 2007 in order to reaffirm their commitment to a new international prohibition on the weapon. The ICRC will hold an expert meeting on cluster munitions in April 2007 to clarify technical, legal, military and humanitarian aspects of the weapon with a view to developing an adequate international response.

In November 2006, a new international law came into force requiring countries to undertake or facilitate clearance of explosive remnants of war and to provide information on location of explosive remnants of war in order to make this clearance possible, but the law includes no specific obligations on cluster munitions, which are not mentioned in the text of the instrument.[11]

See also

* Cluster Munition Coalition

* Handicap International's global petition against cluster-munitions

* Bomb disposal

* Demining

* Clear Path International

* Human Rights Watch

* CBU-100 Cluster Bomb, an American cluster bomb, known as the Rockeye, employed primarily in an anti-tank mode and displaying very high failure rates in combat situations.

* JP233, a British cluster bomb delivery system designed to attack runways

* CBU-97, an American submunition-based weapon system which contains a small number of individually guided submunitions. It is considered effective against groups of vehicles such as tanks and support vehicles and because of the guided nature of its submunitions, there is some debate over whether to consider it a cluster munition.

* BL755, a British cluster bomb used in the Falklands War, Gulf War / Operation Granby, and 2003 Invasion of Iraq / Operation Telic.


1. ^ (2003-12). "Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq" (PDF). Human Rights Watch.

2. ^ 1 Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, "Unexploded Ordnance Report," table 2-3, p. 5. No date, but transmitted to the U.S. Congress on February 29, 2000

3. ^ (August, 1993). "Operation Desert Storm: Casualties Caused by Improper Handling of Unexploded U.S. Submunitions" (PDF). US General Accounting Office. Retrieved on 2006-09-01.

4. ^ "'Million bomblets' in S Lebanon", BBC, 2006-09-26. Retrieved on 2006-09-26.

5. ^ (February, 1993). "Army RDT&E Budget Item Justification, Item No. 177, MLRS Product Improvement Program" (PDF). Defense Technical Information Center. Retrieved on 2006-09-01.

Threat to civilians

* Official Web Site of the International Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC)

* "Fatal Footprint," a report released by Handicap International, November 2006.

* Web site of Clear Path International. An organization assisting cluster bomb survivors in Vietnam.

* Handicap International's global campaign to ban cluster-munitions.

* Human Rights Watch - Reports, studies and statements on cluster munitions.

* Research reports on cluster munitions.

* "Cluster weapons: Necessity or convenience?" report on the limited military utility of cluster weapons.

* Cluster Bombs: The Hidden Toll, article by Richard Norton-Taylor

* Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD), an organisation clearing cluster bombs and landmines


* Textron Inc.

[a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island USA]

* Insys Ltd.


* CBU 97 Cluster Bomb


* Federation of American Scientists article on the CBU97 and CBU105 cluster bombs with smart munitions.

* Federation of American Scientists article on the BLU-114 anti-electrical weapon.


* Inquiry by the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee of the Australian Senate into the provisions of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill 2006

* This page was last modified 06:15, 29 January 2007.
* All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrights for details.)
Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., a US-registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity.

28 January 2007

1st Day Issue / Postalo Vleeptron / l'esprit d'escalier

Click for Better.

l'esprit d'escalier
is a French phrase for something extremely witty and clever you wish you had said to your boss while you were screaming at him and quitting your job. You think of this extremely witty and clever thing as you are leaving your office building on the down escalator for the last time.

27 January 2007

Here it is! Comet McNaught above Cape Town, South Africa!


Comet McNaught C 2006 P1 above Table Mountain, Cape Town / Kaapstad / iKapa
, South Africa, photographed just a night or two ago, on McNaught's return after diving around the Sun.

Below, McNaught's path through the Zodiac from 1 August 2006 to 28 January 2007, from Seiichi Yoshida's website. Yoshida is a Japanese astronomer associated with Project

Sky Survey and

(and Misao
巻町操 is a 16-year-old girl ninja in an anime series).

Now McNaught flies back to the Oort Cloud beyond Pluto, and I don't know when it will be back again -- but maybe the Scots-Australian astronomer Rob McNaught knows!

Vleeptron was a day late, a dollar short, and a hemisphere wrong about the brightest comet to fly by Earth in 40 years, Comet McNaught.

But God Bless Internet Relay Chat! As I was bothering the neocons on Undernet #politics , one of the chatters was talking about McNaught -- she'd seen it and photographed it from her beachfront condo in Cape Town, South Africa!

The Cape, of course, is the Cape of Good Hope, the southwestern tip of Africa, and t
hat's Cape Town's famous Table Mountain.)

This is one of four marvelous photos she sent me!

She writes:


All taken dusk or predusk....and evening....compass direction..are you totally mad?????????? LOL West and that's all I know..I went with the flow! Nikon digital camera...!

I saw the comet the first time from the air landing here then I am sitting in my condo doing email and I see all these [camera] flashes going off on the I get up and look and OMG...I ran down and went with the flow each night! I am a friggin amateur!


Of course that begs the question: Why the heck were the people on the beach using their flashes to try to photograph a comet in the night sky? Comet McNaught was happy to supply lots of its own light, and it's pretty unlikely that a digital camera flash is going to travel half a gazillion kilometers out into space, bounce off the comet, and come back to your camera.

So Vleeptron didn't miss the comet after all!

Halley's pal Newton believed God put all these strange objects in the night sky intentionally as a Puzzle so humans would try to solve it. Newton and Halley are Major Players in Earth's efforts to Solve God's Puzzle.

And remember the PizzaQ image of the palatial buildings and gardens in Scandinavia in 1598? The guy who built it and lived there was another Big Player in solving God's Sky Puzzle! (That's a hint, if you want to give it one last Guess, but I'll Answer it (PatfromCH got it right in a pvt e-mail) in a day or two.

Who has a gripe against Newton's Puzzle Theory? Are all these Comets and Shooting Stars and Supernovae and Eclipses and Moons and Planetary Rings and Nebulae just random accidents?

I'm hardly the fellow to try to Spread Religion to anyone. But What A Show in the Night Skies! What Mysteries! What Fireworks -- the Comet a few years ago that broke apart and plunged into Jupiter while we watched!

Leave A Comment if you think it's all just a random accident. Defend your position. Be passionate about your Belief In Nothing.

Up from fœtid Comment Sewers beneath Ciudad Vleeptron: SNAKES ON AN ARK!!!

i see no reason
not to click


Abbas said...

i downloaded the film yesterday and only got to see ten minutes of it before my wife fell asleep so i read the first line of your post and stopped reading from that point on. will continue reading once i', done with the film, which will now most likely be after ashura.

Sat Jan 27, 08:57:23 AM 2007

* * * * * * *

If any of this explanation of Ashura is profoundly Wrong, please direct all Complaints to the British Broadcasting Corporation in London (i.e., Not Me in Massachusetts).

Woody Allen once wrote about the Jewish Holiday which comemmorates the day God reneged on all His promises to the Jews.

When I was in the Army, the Fort Benning daily bulletin once wished all Jewish personnel a

Happy 9 Av

I had to phone the Jewish Chaplain's officer to find out what the hell they were talking about.

(1 slice kosher or halal Pizza, or, if you're None Of The Above, trayfe or haraam pizza)

I can't find the Ashura greeting people traditionally say to each other. Tell me what it is, or you'll have to settle for Happy Ashura.

I don't know where Muslims believe Nuh/Noah made landfall, but Western archeologists and the occasional NASA astronaut are constantly crawling all over Mount Ararat in Turkey looking for debris from The Ark. The Flood story pre-dates Judaism and Islam, and is a big section of The Epic of Gilgamesh, from Mesopotamia/Iraq.

The historical Gilgamesh King of Uruk (on the Euphrates) ruled around 2650 BCE. In the last few decades historians and their ilk have come to believe The Flood was the natural breaking (by earthquake) of a natural earth dam at one end of the Black Sea -- but it was Real and it was Big and it was Wet and it indeed was Memorable, the kind of flood makes a feller want to write an Epic and found a Religion about.

Much of the above comes from watching crappy documentaries of questionable authenticity on The Discovery Channel, or worse.

So Happy Ashura and then get really psyched for 30 January -- SNAKES ON A PLANE!!! (Rosebud was his sled.)

* * * * * * *

Ashura (10 Muharram)

[Wikipedia says "ashura" means "10th")

Find this year's date in the multifaith calendar: Monday 29 January 2007

Ashura has been a day of fasting for Sunni Muslims since the days of the early Muslim community. It marks two historical events: the day Nuh (Noah) left the Ark, and the day that Musa (Moses) was saved from the Egyptians by Allah.

Muslim men wearing red headbands in the Ashura procession

Shi'a Muslim men at the Ashura procession in London in 2002 ©

Shi'a Muslims in particular use the day to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet (pbuh), in 680 CE.

In Shi'ite communities this is a solemn day: plays re-enacting the martyrdom are often staged and many take part in mourning rituals.

Every year in London Shi'a Muslims gather for a mourning procession and speeches at Marble Arch. The procession attracts up to 3000 men, women and children from many different ethinic backgrounds.

Cahiers du Vleeptron: oh god jesus christ a giant poisonous snake just leaped out of the toilet bowl and is biting me in the penis!!!

Before clicking, make sure
there are no venomous snakes
on your mouse or trackball.

Google Image Search had about 10,000 hits for "Snakes on a Plane," but I couldn't find the precise two images from this fine piece of Cinema, which we rented from NetFlix and watched last night.

So I shall have to reconstruct my two favorite scenes.

In (A), two naughty teenagers lock themselves in the second-class bathroom aboard a 747 to smoke marijuana (which does not set off the bathroom's smoke alarm) and then have Hot Pounding Sex. (Since planes first had enough room to try to have sex, this has been called "The Mile High Club.") An instant before mutual simultaneous explosive orgasm, a huge venomous snake suddenly appears and buries its fangs in the girl's young firm attractive right breast. Other snakes follow and kill both of them horribly.

In (B), a much more innocent man goes into the plane's bathroom just to take a whiz, but a large venomous snake leaps out of the toilet bowl and devours the man's penis. For the next 10 seconds the man writhes and dances around the bathroom trying to pull the deadly snake off his penis -- which you can't see, because a snake has swallowed it. All you can see is the man with his pants down screaming and trying to pull the giant viper off his penis.

I'm no film critic. Vleeptron is not Cahiers du Cinema.

But I learned from "Snakes on a Plane" that you should never fly on an airplane infested with hundreds of deadly venomous snakes who have been made violently aggressive by being sprayed with snake pheremones.

Oh, okay, I am a film critic. "Snakes on a Plane" is to Cinema what sugar-glazed jelly doughnuts are to Haute Cuisine.

By the last reel, the entire cockpit crew has been murdered by the snakes, so as the 747 from Hawaii nears Los Angeles, there's nobody aboard who can land the airplane. Everybody who hasn't already been bitten to death by an overaggressive pheremone-pumped toxic snake is doomed to die in a plane crash.

But there's a MIRACLE! There IS somebody who can land the airplane!

PizzaQ! Pretend you're the screenwriter. Finish off "Snakes on a Plane."

It's 2006, a 747 full of a socio-economic cross-section of Modern American People of all backgrounds and races, rich, poor, black, white, Asian, young, old, skinny, fat, straight, gay.

(Well, you think he's gay until the last 30 seconds of the movie, then it turns out he was straight all along. Sorry. Oh, and Rosebud was his sled.)

2 Slices! Who lands the plane?

(NOT the Flight Attendant ... to date 250 stewardesses/flight attendants have landed movie airliners.)

You're eligible to answer the PizzaQ even if you saw the movie.

But you MUST use your REAL NAME so everybody in Cyberspace, and your Mom, will know you watched "Snakes on a Plane."

One of Life's Most Delicious Experiences is to spend 93 minutes wallowing mindlessly in total excrement-filled mud.

Look at pigs in a sty. Are they enjoying life, or what?

I'm not ashamed of myself, S.W.M.B.O. was the one who ordered "Snakes on a Plane." I just didn't want her to have to wallow alone. I am a loving husband.

The teen girl passenger was a hottie until the snake leaped out and bit her in her firm attractive right teen breast.

She shouldn't have smoked the illegal marijuana or had sex until she was married. Let this be a warning to all young people reading this.

This film is rated R for Ridiculous.

Never expose your penis to a toilet bowl before inspecting it (the toilet bowl, not your penis) carefully first.

When I was a kid I had to paint the underside of the holes of outhouses with creosote. Black widow spiders, which like to nest under the seats of outhouses, are nearly blind, and think dangling testicals are prey.

25 January 2007

all he were saying / is give war a chance / all he were saying / is give war a chance / all he were saying / is give war a chance / all he were saying

BBC Washington correspondent Matt Frei.

Every year, in accord with requirements in the United States Constitution, the President gives a State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. President Bush gave his seventh State of the Union address on Tuesday.

The centerpiece and most closely watched part of the speech were his comments about his War in Iraq, which is spiraling down a toilet of violence, and his new "troop surge" plan to send 21,000 new U.S. combat troops to Iraq, and achieve Victory for the USA.

Since the beginning of January, both houses of Congress have come under the control of the Democratic Party. President Bush is a Republican.

Although as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. military, Bush does not need Congress' permission to order the troops to Iraq, he nevertheless needs a considerable degree of Congress' support for his new plan. So he asked Congress to give his plan time to succeed.

The BBC's Washington correspondent Matt Frei provided color commentary for the BBC's coverage of the State of the Union address. In describing Bush's speech, Frei said the President was begging the hostile Congress to "Give War A Chance."

(About 200 headline writers from Australia to Scotland to North Dakota picked up on the same phrase.)

In 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, John Lennon recorded one of his most famous songs. The song and title are indelibly tattooed on the memories of anyone who had a radio and lived through the ghastly murderous lost war (52,000 US military deaths) which today's war-happy Bush-friendly Republicans insist has utterly no bearing on or similarities to Bush's crazy fucked-up loser War in Iraq.

Matt Frei (see bio below) clearly is familiar with the song.

Give Peace A Chance

by John Lennon

Ev'rybody's talkin' 'bout
Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism
This-ism, that-ism, ism ism ism
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Ev'rybody's talkin' 'bout
Minister, Sinister, Banisters and Canisters,
Bishops, Fishops, Rabbis, and Pop Eyes, Bye bye, Bye byes
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

(Let me tell you now)
Ev'rybody's talkin' 'bout
Revolution, Evolution, Masturbation, Flagellation, Regulation,
Integrations, mediations, United Nations, congratulations
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance

Ev'rybody's talkin' 'bout
John and Yoko, Timmy Leary, Rosemary,
Tommy Smothers, Bobby Dylan, Tommy Cooper,
Derek Taylor, Norman Mailer, Alan Ginsberg, Hare Krishna
Hare Hare Krishna
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance


Matt Frei has been the BBC's Washington correspondent since 2002.

Prior to that he was the BBC's Asia correspondent based in Singapore, and in Hong Kong -- taking up his post just before the handover to China.

He joined the BBC in 1986 shortly after leaving university.

His first job was in the German section of the BBC World Service, before moving to English language Current Affairs from 1987 to 1988.

From 1992 to 1996 he was BBC Southern Europe correspondent in Rome from where he covered events in Bosnia, North Africa and the Mafia.

Matt has witnessed many dramatic events including the fall of Berlin Wall and reported on the intifada and the Gulf War as the London foreign affairs correspondent.

Matt has won several awards including the Amnesty International Asia Award in 1997 and 1998 for his reports on Vietnam and Indonesia and a Royal Television Society International News Award for his reports of turmoil in East Timor.

Matt Frei was born on November 26, 1963 in Essen Germany. He went to school in Germany until his family moved to London when he was 10.

He read History and Spanish at Oxford University, graduating in 1986.

24 January 2007

educational standards

This is probably very Googlable, so Vleeptron isn't giving away any Pizza, but who said these things? (Helps if you're in the UK.)

* "Where is East Angular, is it abroad?"

* "Rio de Janeiro -- that's a person"

* "The Daily Mail is the post"

* "Saddam Hussein -- that's a boxer"

* "A ferret is a bird"

* "I had my first birthday when I was one"

* "Who is heinzstein?"

* "Mother Theresa is from Germany"

* "Sherlock Holmes invented toilets"

* "The Union Jack is for all of us, but the St. George is just for London, isn't it?"

* "I knew Lynne was from Aberdeen, but I didn't realise Aberdeen was in Scotland"

* "What's a sparagus? Do you grow it?"

* "I am intelligent, but I let myself down because I can't speak properly or spell"

* about peacocks: "You see those things... don't think I'm being daft... but them things that look like eyes, are they their real eyes?"

* "Jonny, I'm not being tictactical in here"

* "They were trying to use me as an escape goat"

* "Do they speak Portuganese in Portugal? I thought Portugal was in Spain"

* "That's asexual harassment"

23 January 2007

VleepSort: how we sort things short-to-tall left-to-right on Vleeptron (why Bob is not Sir Bob)

Sure, click.

Rise, Dame RheLynn, Guesser of QuickSort!

Sir Charles Antony Richard (Tony) Hoare & wife Jill at Buckingham Palace to receive his Knighthood "for services to education and Computing Science."

Hi RheLynn! Hi Mark!

Glad ya like Vleeptron!

You now have 75 days in which to solve the Easter Bunny Faberge Egg Distribution Problem!

That should be enough time -- but I advise you and all other ppl who want to take a whack at it not to tarry or dawdle.

RheLynn -- you really ARE a Geeky Girl Extraordinaire!

By virtue of Our powers as Sovereign of the Planets Vleeptron, Yobbo, Hoon, Mollyringwald, and the Dwingeloo-2 Galaxy, Rise, Dame RheLynn of Earth!

On the nose! It's Sir Tony Hoare's Amazing QuickSort!

I'd describe it as The Fastest Known Way To Sort Things ... but it's NOT! QuickSort has this screwy little caveat loophole:

If the initial Set of Elements to be sorted is ALMOST in proper order to begin with, then QuickSort is the SLOWEST sorting method of all! Slower than even Cocktail or the even more primitive Bubble!

But when the initial Set is very jumbled up and disordered, yes indeedy, Sir Tony's QuickSort is the Fastest Known Way (at least on Earth) to Sort a buncha disordered Things!

Wish I'd been at Buckingham Palace to watch Her Majesty say, "Rise, Sir Tony, Inventor of the Amazing QuickSort Algorithm!"

Who says Math(s) will never get you anywhere?

btw we saw Helen Mirren's movie "The Queen" Sunday night. You guys can catch it at the Regal Brooklyn Center 20 in Minneapolis. It's Really Good! (Only one car chase.)

Tony Blair is wheezing to the end of his Prime Ministry with a nasty ugly tabloid scandal in which his Labour Party is accused of selling Knighthoods for political cash contributions. But I very seriously doubt that Sir Tony Hoare's name will be dragged through the mud.

Had you read Knuth's volume "Sorting and Searching"? Had you bumped into QuickSort before? Where? Dja ever have to write a QuickSort proggie? Or did you get the answer from a Cold Start just from gazing mesmerized at the Wiggle.gif ?

So anyway, now everybody (including Mark and the cats) on Vleeptron must address you as Madame or as Dame RheLynn! Also you get some pizza if you're ever hereabouts. Ya like anchovies?

Meanwhile, for your Alter Ego KnitOwl, here's a little treat:

22 January 2007

PizzaQ ... Vleeptron will feed you pizza and KNIGHT you if you tell Vleeptron what the heck this is

I hope this wiggles for you.

Vleeptron awards clever Sentients (carbon-based or silicon-based, we're not prejudiced) with cheap Pizza.

But if you're Really Clever, you can get Much Better Than Pizza!

A Sentient cooked up This Thing in 1960. He is now a Knight. The Queen of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland finally Knighted this Senient. You now have to address this Sentient as Sir.

So like ... what the heck is this? If you're the first to know ... Rise, Sir Commenter! or Rise, Dame Commenter! Receive 3 slices of square pizza, with double anchovies!