In ordering a sustained military campaign against Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, President Obama on Wednesday night effectively set a new course for the remainder of his presidency and may have ensured that he would pass his successor a volatile and incomplete war, much as his predecessor left one for him…the widening battle with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will be the next chapter in a grueling, generational struggle that has kept the United States at war in one form or another since that day 13 years ago on Thursday when hijacked airplanes shattered America’s sense of its own security.
"Yes, of course it could happen here. Just park and enter the Queens Center Mall on a sunny Monday morning and you see how soft a target it is for terrorist gunmen like the ones who slaughtered dozens of shoppers at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi. Go do some shopping as the hostage situation in Africa airs live on TV and feel the big, fat bull’s-eye on your back — especially as the holidays approach, when we will jam malls like this one across the country. But if you’re a New [...]
Teenagers are idiots. They listen to 40-year-old music like Led Zeppelin or the New York Dolls, they dress like those old dudes from The Strokes, and they will never have jobs because of robots. But in one respect, today's teenager is much like the previous century's teenagers: They do not like socializing around their dumb parents and weird uncles and Tea Party Jesus-freak aunts. Because all of those creepy segments of adult society spend all their time on Facebook, the kids have finally figured out that Facebook is not at all cool.
Facebook management admits in new corporate filings that they're losing the teen market to competitors that don't [...]
There are those who say that leaving ironic product reviews on Amazon is proof that we have ultimately failed in our haphazard pursuit of a higher purpose, but those people would be wrong. What was Jonathan Swift's famous op-ed about eating dead Irish babies if not a proto-Amazon review done in irony? Is the Book of Revelation anything more than a parody of Roman imperial politics and luxury obsession? Anyway, here's a Playmobil playset that Amazon doesn't even sell, and the Freedom Writers are leaving some very biting fake reviews that are probably really more about their unhappiness with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.
"Since September 11, 2001, there have been roughly 30 Americans killed by terrorism (depending on how you do the numbers). Meanwhile, extreme weather deaths in the same time period have totaled 6,408 as of 2011, according to the National Weather Service." —But terrorism lets us blame scary foreigners!
“Now, if we have a more decentralized mass transit system using buses, if the terrorists blow up a single bus, we can work around that. When they blow up a rail, that just brings the system to a grinding halt. So how much security are we going to have on this rail system, and how much will it cost?” —That's J.D. Van Brink, of the Georgia Tea Party, explaining why trains shouldn't be built in the US of A. So, I guess the terrorists won? Also, I would like to report that I saw the movie Unstoppable recently, because I was sure the "runaway train" concept was just [...]
Today's rather horrific bombing at Domodedovo airport in south Moscow—in the baggage claim, it looks like—is Russia's first act of terrorism in ten months. (Unless you count the Chechen Parliament attack in October. Or the Vladikavkaz bombing in September, or the bombing in Stavropol in May.) There are more! (No really. Anyone remember Dagestan? Ingushetia?)
"Nobody has been arrested or charged in [April's coordinated sniper] attack at PG&E Corp.'s Metcalf transmission substation [in which "snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley."] It is an incident of which few Americans are aware. But one former federal regulator is calling it a terrorist act that, if it were widely replicated across the country, could take down the U.S. electric grid and black out much of the country."
He travels to Asia for work. She looks up pressure cookers online. And God only knows what the 20-year-old boy in the house Googles. That combination, apparently, is how you get a "joint terrorism task force" to show up at your door on Long Island:
"Meanwhile, they were peppering my husband with questions. Where is he from? Where are his parents from? They asked about me, where was I, where do I work, where do my parents live. Do you have any bombs, they asked. Do you own a pressure cooker? My husband said no, but we have a rice cooker. Can you make a bomb with that? [...]
Nothing makes my day like an upgrade clearing at the last minute!
— Matthew Klint (@LiveandLetsFly) January 26, 2012
This story has it all. Okay, first the facts, as we know them. (We know them, so far, from the account of just one party.)
Dude—Matthew Klint, a 26-year-old preppy white man and a frequent flier blogger—boards plane. (The plane is a United plane.) Dude takes a few pictures of his seat. Flight attendant says pictures are forbidden, points out printed rules. (Photography is disallowed on-board, say rules: explicitly any photos of other passengers, crew, equipment and procedures are banned, with an exception for "personal events.") Passenger says [...]
Carrie: So Ken, I understand that you recently purchased a Prius and are pleased with your purchase! And I bought one several years ago, and am likewise very happy with it. So my first question would be: What do you think the plural of Prius is: Prius-us? Pri-i?
Ken: Well, did you know that Toyota asked Prius owners to vote for the plural form of Prius, because the actual Latin plural (priora) was already taken by a crappy Lada? I just read this on Wikipedia, so I am pretty much an "automotive journalist" now. Anyway, the plural is officially and legally prii.
Carrie: I did not know that! Very [...]
"There’ve been no hearings about the rising white supremacist threat, but there’s been a long list of attacks over the last few years. But they still hold hearings about Muslim extremism. It’s out of balance." —Nobody likes to hear about American wackos, including Homeland Security.
"Air security is expected to tighten, particularly for international flights into the United States, in light of recent intelligence that terrorists might be considering boarding flights with surgically implanted explosive devices, an American security official said Wednesday." —Good night nurse.
According to this convoluted Miami Herald article that macerates its own opening, the recently arrested Francisco Chávez Abarca, who is accused of terrorist attacks in Cuba in the 90s, is actually a double-agent mystery man in a thriller of international suspense and intrigue. He admits to planting bombs in hotels and colluding with others on the bombing of Cubana Flight 455, but maybe he's just a patsy in a game of cloak and dagger and disinformation to tarnish the good name of admitted terrorist Posada Carriles?
Actually, no, none of that makes any sense. Some back-story might be helpful.
Adam Klein has the kind of life that many of us, chained to our desks, might envy. A wanderer and frequent expatriate, he has lived and taught in places as disparate as Bangladesh, India, Beirut and Kabul. He is the singer and co-songwriter for San Francisco-based band The Size Queens, as well as the author of the Lambda Book Award-nominated short story collection The Medicine [...]
This week, two—possibly three, or maybe more—not particularly bright asshole millennials discovered a terrible new way get attention. Then, for an encore, they figured out a way to shut down a mid-sized American city today.
After shooting some people and robbing a store last night, like total morons, one of the idiots actually managed to simply disappear, despite being in a shoot-out with police, in which the other main numbnuts was killed, and despite every law enforcement person in New England looking for him.
TV news spent most of the morning trying desperately to not be underfoot while people were actually trying to do their jobs to find the remaining [...]
"But the Shooter will discover soon enough that when he leaves after sixteen years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, and blown disks, here is what he gets from his employer and a grateful nation: Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family." —Things have not worked out so well for the Seal Team 6 assassin who took out Osama bin Laden, America's most wanted global terror mastermind Bond villain. Update: Someone should have told him about the VA hospital though.
Robots: friendly helpers or heartless monsters that will destroy humanity? This is no longer just a question for the movies that play all the time on "Spike" or TNT. As you may or may not have noticed, aggressor nations such as the United States are getting out of the people business when it comes to fighting wars. Drones and robots are where the action is today, because drones don't urinate on the corpses of innocent people in Afghanistan, and drones don't burn the Koran, and drones don't come home missing a couple of limbs or a chunk of brain and end up standing alongside a freeway ramp with a [...]
Not long ago, I got a letter from my airline of choice, explaining that they'd partnered with the fine people in the U.S. government to help prevent terrorism faster. If you've spotted people at airports being whisked into a special line, where they don't have to take off their shoes, don't have to take out their laptops or even remove their belts, you've already spotted this program in action. The rollout of TSA PreCheck—branded as TSA Pre✓™—started just back in October, with seven airports, including Los Angeles and Miami, and just for American and Delta passengers. Then the TSA announced they'd be including JFK airport—which just happened last week—and then [...]
Dear brown friends,
So by now you know: if you make noises, move about the plane, feel ill, talk to people in a non-English language, gesture, wear a backpack, or, now, spend your time on the plane "passing notes and writing in a notebook," you will not arrive at your destination, as the allegedly brown passengers on this week's Delta flight from D.C. to Oregon found out.
Please make a note of these forbidden behaviors. It might be best if you just drug yourself into oblivion while flying? But don't get too drugged: if you slur your words or "act strangely," you will also find [...]