Monthly Bomb Report

December 31, 2009

Here is a summary of  bombing reports for December 2009. These reports were collected from news sources world wide. Sources were searched for bomb reports without regard to any criteria. No attempt was made to confine reports to Muslims or to Middle Eastern locations although one, or both, of these criteria apply in virtually every case.

Because these headlines are contemporaneous with the events, the numbers of persons killed or wounded may not agree with later reports.

I did not attempt to tally the casualties. I’m sick enough just looking at this abomination.

Dec 3 – Suicide Bomber Hits Somali Graduation, 22 Dead

Dec 4 – Suicide Bomb Kills 5 in Hussein’s Hometown

Dec 5 – 1 Dead in Bombing near Philippine Police Station

Dec 7 – 10 Turkish Soldiers Killed by Remote-Controlled Bomb

Dec 8 – At Least 49 Dead in Pakistan Market Bombs

Dec 8 – Three Iraqis Killed by Powerful Motorcycle Bomb

Dec 8  – Nine Dead As Attack Targets Pakistan Spy Agency

Dec 8  –  Pakistan Militants Bomb Multan, 100 Dead in Five Days

Dec 8  – 127 Dead after Four Bomb Blasts Rock Baghdad

Dec 8  – Death Toll from Blasts in Pakistan’s Lahore Up To 49

Dec 11 – Bomb Blast Kills at Least 6 South of Baghdad

Dec 14 – One Dead in Manila Car Blast

Dec 15 – Somali Police Officers Killed by Bomb

Dec 15 – Eight Dead in Kabul Suicide Bombing

Dec 15 – Series of Bomb Blasts Leaves 8 Dead In Iraq

Dec 15 – Two Blasts Kill 13 Afghans, Wound Over 40 Others

Dec 15 – Bombs Besiege Manipur; 3 Dead

Dec 15 – Pakistan Market Bombing Leaves 20 Dead

Dec 15 – Bombs Kill Four NATO Soldiers in Afghanistan

Dec 15 – Roadside Bomb Kills 5 Afghan Policemen

Dec 16 – At Least 25 Killed in Pakistan Market Blast

Dec 17 – 20 Killed in Pakistan Bomb Blast

Dec 17 – Bombs in Afghanistan Kill 5 Policemen, 6 Troops

Dec 17 – About 10 Policemen Injured In Suicide Bomb Attack in Nazran

Dec 17 – Car Bomb near Central Baghdad Restaurant Kills 3

Dec 18 – 12 Dead, 28 Hurt in Dir Mosque Bomb Attack

Dec 18 – Burma Karen Rebels Responsible for Bomb That Killed at Least Seven

Dec 18 – Roadside Bomb Kills 7 Members of Same Family in Taliban Hotbed

Dec 20 – Seven Killed, 11 Injured in Myanmar Bombing

Dec 21 – Iraq: Bombs Kill 5 in Northern City, Baghdad

Dec 21 – Somalia: Roadside Bomb Kills Five in Mogadishu

Dec 22 – 4 Wounded in Separate Bomb Attacks in Iraq

Dec 22 – Mortars, Roadside Bomb Attack Kill Eight in Somali Capital

Dec 23 – Bomb Targeting Church North of Baghdad Kills at Least One

Dec 23 – Bicycle Bomb Kills Three Civilians, Wounds Five in Helmand Province

Dec 23 – Iraqi Official, Two Bodyguards, Killed by Car Bomb

Dec 24 – Series of Bomb Attacks Kills at Least 23 in Iraq

Dec 24 – Suicide Bombing Kills Five near Security Checkpoint in Pakistan

Dec 24 – Bomb Blast Wounds 3 Civilians in Taliban Birthplace

Dec 24 – Bomb Blast Kills Canadian, Afghan Soldiers

Dec 25 – Bomb Ignited aboard Detroit-bound Plane; No Serious Injuries

Dec 26 – Beirut Bomb Targets Hamas Car, One Wounded

Dec 26 – 8 Killed In Afghanistan Bombing

Dec 28 – Army Soldier Killed In Afghan Bombing

Dec 28 – Iraqi Forces Defuse Nine Bombs

Dec 28 – Iraq Bombs Kill 6 Pilgrims as Shi’ites Observe Ashura

Dec 28 – Suicide Bombing Kills 32 in Pakistan

Dec 30 – Eight Americans Killed in Suicide Bomb Attack in Afghanistan

Dec 30 – Bomb Blasts in Iraq Kill 30

Dec 31 – Afghan Suicide Bomber Kills Four CIA Agents after Attacking Base

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“Bend over please. This will only take a second.”

December 30, 2009

You may remember the “Shoe Bomber” Richard Reid (aka Tariq Raja or Abdel Rahim).  Reid was the scruffy-looking prison convert to Islam who was arrested on December 22, 2001 for attempting to destroy a Boeing 767 on a flight from Paris to Miami by igniting explosives hidden in his shoes. He was sentenced to three consecutive life terms plus 200 years. Even with time off for good behavior, it is unlikely he will be released for at least another 400 years.

Tired of the hassles at airport security, Armand showed up wearing only a Speedo

Post-Reid, the government initiated a knee-jerk remedy, requiring passengers going through aircraft boarding security to remove their shoes and run them through the x-ray machines. The common joke in security lines was, “I’m glad that Reid asshole didn’t hide his explosives in his underwear.”

No, we had to wait nine years for that Abdulmutallab asshole to try the underwear trick on a Christmas-day flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Think about it. Within hours of the new regulations requiring that shoes be scanned, people were making flippant comments about underwear bombs. Anyone who knew even a little bit about security knew underwear bombs were not a joke. They were both plausible and likely; it was just a matter of time until someone tried it. Yet almost a decade after the Shoe Bomber, along comes the Underwear Bomber, and everyone is ‘surprised.’ He made it through two security checkpoints in two countries. Experts say he could have made it through the security checkpoints at almost any airport in the world.

Following Abdulmutallab’s arrest, Obama administration flacks were on the Sunday talking head shows saying “the system worked.” Finally, four days after the event, the president had to admit there was “a systemic failure.” Wrong again, Barry. The system worked as it is designed to; unfortunately, it just isn’t very good.

Only two things have made flying safer [since 9/11]: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.

Security Technologist Bruce Schneier

So now, airports are instituting “special procedures.”

"Boxers or briefs, sir?"

I feel sorry for some old duffer in Depends who is singled out for a secondary inspection. I guess I feel even sorrier for the TSA agent who has to put on rubber gloves and lube gramps up with KY Jelly to make sure he doesn’t have a claymore mine up his ass. And women wearing menstrual pads or tampons? This is going to get ugly.

On your next trip through airport security, don’t be surprised when the nice TSA officer says, “Bend over please. This will only take a second.”

I’m just hoping I get a free prostate exam out of the deal.


Term Limits for Parasites?

December 29, 2009

My favorite correspondent recently sent me the kind of petition that often circulates on the internet. This one demands that term limits be imposed on our senators and representatives.

I’m all for the idea of term limits on congressmen but, in the absence of other important changes in the way government works in this country, terms limits alone won’t accomplish much.

Politicians

Here’s why. Politicians are, by nature, parasites. Before we continue this discussion a review the meaning of parasite should prove amusing. Here are some of the more common uses of the word, drawn from Merriam Webster’s Third International Unabridged Dictionary:

  1. one frequenting the tables of the rich or living at another’s expense…
  2. an organism living in or on another living organism, obtaining from it all or part of its organic nutriment…
  3. such an organism that causes some degree of real damage to its host…
  4. something that resembles a biological parasite in dependence on something else for existence or support without making a useful or adequate return…
  5. the less perfectly formed twin of a double monster (OK, that’s a bit of a stretch but the hyperbole is wonderful, you must admit)…
  6. one that is supported or sustained or seeks support or sustenance from another without right or justification…
  7. one that as a matter of policy is supported more or less by another and gives nothing in return…
  8. anyone who clings to a person of wealth, power, or influence in order to derive personal advantage or who is useless and unnecessary to society…

We’ll start with this axiom. All politicians are parasites, though not all parasites are politicians.

Most parasites have the same MO. They draw nutrients from their host, often debilitating or killing the host in the process. When parasites are done feeding, or if their host dies, they simply drop off the host and lie in wait for another opportunity.

Tick

Politicians, even those regulated by term limits, behave in a similar manner. California provides a perfect example of this phenomenon. California term limits restrict Assembly members to six years in office and Senators to eight years in office, after which time they are banned from that chamber for life.

Problem solved, eh? No more senators for life like Robert Byrd, Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms, or Ted Kennedy.

Not exactly, because in California the pols create all sorts of boards and commissions to which they can be appointed (indefinitely) when they are banished from office. Some of these California commissions, staffed by ex-Assemblymen, meet once or twice a month. For their efforts on behalf of a grateful public some commissioners are paid over $100,000 annually.

Tapeworm

Sure, you may start out small laboring over the difficult and controversial issues faced by the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, or the Court Reporters Board, or the Hearing Aid Dispensers Bureau.

But hang in there and you’ll get a key appointment—maybe something like the California Marmalade Board or the State Surfing Commission.

The point is that politicians do not go out and get an honest job when they are booted out of office, whether by term limits or by the voters. Like the common parasites they are, they simply wait for another host and latch on.

Think about the politicians you know. How many had real jobs before they went into politics? Almost none. They started their adult careers as aides, constituent advocates or as prosecutors or public defenders. Sooner or later they ran for election and, once secure in an office or judgeship, they hung on for as long as they could. When their host died or finally peeled them off like a leech, the politician just waited for some other appointment.

Mosquito

How many politicians do you know who after leaving office took an honest job? No, Clarence, lobbyist is not an honest job.

For most parasites there are effective medications. We need one for politicians.


I Was Drunk

December 28, 2009

One of the hottest YouTube videos this week is Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont) delivering a speech on the Senate floor. This speech allegedly was made sometime during the Senate debate on health care.

Mr. Baucus appears to be drunk.

Some of his defenders say he was ‘exhausted,’ from his non-stop battle championing health care reform. Others claim the video is a forgery or ‘taken out of context.’

I think the video is a brilliant ploy on Mr. Baucus’ part.

Sooner or later Mr. Baucus and all Democrat senators are going to be asked by their constituents, “Why in hell did you ever vote for this outrageous piece of shit?”

There are four possible answers:

  1. I was taken in by the wry humor and charisma of Harry Reid.
  2. I was seduced by Nancy Pelosi.
  3. I’m a fucking moron.
  4. I was drunk.

I think #4 will resonate well with the ranchers and independent thinkers of Big Sky Country who know that sometimes a fifth of Jack is the best answer to a conundrum.


al Qaeda U

December 27, 2009

On Christmas Day, a man attempted to detonate a bomb on board an aircraft flying from the Netherlands to the United States.  Quick action by the passengers and crew of Northwest flight 253 combined with incompetence on the part of the bomber resulted in a small fire and a few burns, mostly to the bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, but no explosion.

It will come as no shock to you that Mr. Abdulmutallab is a Muslim. Like many of the 9/11 terrorists, he came from a relatively privileged family.  In this case, Mr. Abdulmutallab was one of 16 children of a prominent Nigerian banker.  (One wonders if this “banking” was another of those Nigerian money scams that abound on the internet).

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

Mr. Abdulmutallab was trained at University College in London where he received a mechanical engineering degree in 2008. He was president of the college’s Islamic Society during 2006 and 2007. He received his terrorist training in Yemen, allegedly from an affiliate of al Qaeda. There is no word as to whether al Qaeda awarded him a degree.  Fortunately, neither of the institutions of higher learning he attended apparently knew much about detonators— a good thing, as Mr. Abdulmutallab was carrying pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), a fairly potent explosive. Had he successfully detonated the PETN, it could have blown a large enough hole in the aircraft to bring it down.

Once again, airport security failed (twice) to prevent a life-threatening  incident. George Carlin once pointed out that airport security was largely a joke, just a charade “to make white people feel safe.” There are plenty of experts in the security business who will tell you Carlin wasn’t joking.

At Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport,  Mr. Abdulmutallab was re-screened by security even though he had already been screened at Lagos, Nigeria. So two aviation security agencies entirely missed Mr. Abdulmutallab’s explosives. On top of that, Mr. Abdulmutallab recently had been added to a US ‘watch list’ after his father had reported him to the US embassy in Nigeria, advising officials there that his son’s words and behavior made his family suspicious of his intentions. The watch list contains about 550,000 names. Apparently it is being used as a door stop at some TSA office. That’s probably the best use for the watch list since boarding an aircraft under a phony name is pathetically easy. This security loophole has been well known for at least ten years. Slate published a good account of how to do it five years ago.

In the days following Mr Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt, airports initiated “tightened” security in which passengers’ carry-on baggage was subjected to visual search in addition to the standard x-ray search. Passengers were also “patted down” to make sure they weren’t wearing explosives. (Mr. Abdulmutallab’s explosives were in his underwear). This response is typical of airport security the world over. The protocols are designed to foil the last bombing or hijacking attempt rather than the next one.

Al Qaeda is known to have facilities in Yemen but my bet is that Mr. Abdulmutallab was ‘trained’ by some impostors who claimed their training was ‘al Qaeda approved.’ The real al Qaeda bunch know enough about detonators so that Mr. Abdulmutallab likely would have succeeded had al Qaeda trained him.

In fact, I’m going to bet that there are phony “al Qaeda” training facilities being set up all around the Middle East and Africa. Hang a couple of Osama’s pictures up next to a shredded American flag and a picture of the collapsing World Trade Center. Charge tuition to aspiring middle-class jihadists. Teach them a few things from the Anarchist’s Cookbook and send them on their way. If they manage to blow something up, great. If they get caught because they were poorly trained, what are they gonna do, sue you?


Religious Demographics

December 26, 2009

The recently-released American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) contains interesting data about religious trends in the United States. If you’re curious about how many Americans believe in magic, which particular magicians they patronize, and whether business is up or down for various magicians, read on.

Religion Population 2008 (millions) % of 1990 Population % of 2008 Population Change
No
response
11.8 2.30% 5.20% 126.09%
Eastern 2 0.40% 0.90% 125.00%
Muslim 1.4 0.30% 0.60% 100.00%
None 34.2 8.20% 15.00% 82.93%
New Age 2.8 0.80% 1.20% 50.00%
Protestant 7.1 2.60% 3.10% 19.23%
Pentecostal 8 3.20% 3.50% 9.38%
Mormon 3.2 1.40% 1.40% 0.00%
Christian Generic 32.4 14.80% 14.20% -4.05%
Catholic 57.2 26.20% 25.10% -4.20%
Baptist 36.1 19.30% 15.80% -18.13%
Mainline
Protestant
29.4 18.70% 12.90% -31.02%
Jewish 2.7 1.80% 1.20% -33.33%

Note: Christian generic includes non-denominational, unspecified Christian and Protestant, evangelical/born-again. Protestant denominations includes Churches of Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventist. Mainline Protestant includes Methodists, Lutherans, and Presbyterians. Note that all data refer to adults (18+)

I admit to being a demographics geek. Changes over time in the number of people who exist, where they live, what they believe, how much money and education they have, etc., are fascinating. And many of the trends you see in these numbers are as inexorable as the tides. They will rise or fall no matter what you do, so you’d best prepare for it.

Today’s demographics have to do with religion. I’m not a believer. Please, no appeals regarding the perils to my mortal soul. Even if you are right, I’d rather be in hell with Hunter Thompson than heaven with Jerry Falwell. But I do pay attention to market trends in religion, since it appears to me that religion is behind more than its fair share of the ills in this world.

Keep in mind that the US adult population grew from 175 million in 1990 to 228 million in 2008. I’ve done some math where necessary but, if you don’t believe me, you can go get the original report and do your own numbers. Some observations about the data above:

The numbers above count only adults. The increase in adult population amounts to about 30% over the past 18 years. So, if you look at the last column in the above table (Change), any group that shows a change of less than +30% is losing ground. Their share of the total adult population is less than it was 18 years ago. And if the change for a group is -30% or more, not only are they losing market share but they also are losing numbers of members despite the growth in population.

Notice that the biggest increase was “No response,” up 126%. When asked about their religious affiliation, the number of people who said they “didn’t know” or refused to answer more than doubled.

Another cohort that nearly doubled in size were those who said “None,” up 83%.

Personally, I think the group that answered “No response” is comprised of atheists,  agnostics, and skeptics who still stand in some fear of the propaganda they were fed as children. I count them with those who answered “None.” Thus it might appear that there are 46 million Americans, or 20% of all adults who do not believe in god. This conclusion would be wrong. While somewhere around 20% of American adults have no formal religious affiliation, only 12% of Americans describe themselves as atheists or agnostics. Good data are hard to come by, but it appears that the percentage of atheists/agnostics in the US population hasn’t changed much over the past 50 years. That is, even though more Americans than ever deny any church affiliation, somewhere around 86-88% claim to believe in god.

What has changed are the percentage and numbers in the population who do not connect themselves with any organized religious group. In the past 18 years this group has jumped in size from 18 million to 46 million, increasing from 10% of the population to 20%.

The losers: Every major religious group in the country from the Catholics to mainstream Protestants have lost market share. Only a few New Age and Eastern religions have shown real growth and all together they account for less than 4% of the population. The real losers are the Jews and mainstream Protestants. Despite population growth, the number of Jews has declined by half a million and the number of mainstream Protestants  by three and a half million.

Biggest surprise: The Mormons. Mormon market share (1.4%) has not changed a bit in 18 years. This is particularly surprising given that Mormons have larger than average-sized families and that every year they send tens of thousands of young men into American communities to recruit new members. One has to conclude that the Mormons must have a high rate of drop outs.

So what does all this mean to you? Make your own choices about religion but, in these hard economic times, you would be wise to join a religion with a low or negative growth rate. Sure, they may hit you up to help out with their budget problems but that will cost you a lot less than contributing to the building fund of some growing Pentecostal church.



“Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

December 23, 2009

It’s two days before Christmas and my intent had been to write something light, airy, and apolitical. I had illusions of creating a memorable piece; something along the lines of Francis Pharcellus Church’s 1897 editorial in which the famous aphorism “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” was first published.

Alas, I lack both Church’s gift for words and his sense of optimism in uncertain times.

On my mind today is another historical figure, Joseph Nye Welch, who was an attorney for the United States Army during the 1950’s. Welch represented the Army during the infamous McCarthy Senate hearings.

“Tail-Gunner Joe” McCarthy saw a communist under every bed, behind every lamp-post, and in virtually every government office. After weeks of abusive interrogations, during which McCarthy conjured rumors, lies, innuendo, fear, uncertainty, and despair over the character of a string of largely guiltless witnesses, Nye was at last moved to address McCarthy:

“You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

The hundreds who packed the galleries of the Senate burst into applause.

Today, I address Mr. Welch’s words to the 58 Democrats (and two independents) in the Senate who are lining up to vote for Obamacare.

You are ready to vote for this bill in the face of public opinion polls that clearly indicate a majority of Americans are opposed to it.

You are ready to vote ‘yes’ despite the dozens of documented questionable, certainly unethical, probably illegal, and perhaps unconstitutional deals that have been made with various states, individuals, lobbying groups, and private corporations in order to garner the bare minimum of support necessary to pass this bill.

You have turned your backs and held your noses so as not to witness the decay and corruption that abounds about you.

Only a few of you have complained and that was when you discovered too late that you did not hold out for enough—that Harry Reid and Barack Obama would have given you almost anything to buy your vote.

You have prostituted yourselves to your party, your president, and your contributors. You have betrayed your constituents. You have joined in a feast of greed and corruption by which every other congress pales in comparison.

I can only wish I were as eloquent as Joseph Nye Welch:

“You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”