Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Have an Explosive Good Time on Your Dream Vacation in Iraq, Dithering Dimitry

Dimitry Medvedev

Wondering where to go on your next vacation? Tired of the same old safe places, need some excitement and romance in your life? Why not visit the cradle of civilization, beautiful Iraq? Its already a holy destination for Shiites from around the globe, and Kurdistan has been advertising itself as "The Other Iraq" for years. So now is the time for the Iraqi Tourism Board to promote downtown Baghdad and the surrounding areas: "Our strategy now is to attract people from other parts of the world, like Europe, North America and Asia, after the security situation has improved,"

Key tourist draws include Babylon, less than 100 kilometers from Baghdad; the ancient city of Ur, the Biblical birthplace of Abraham; and the southern port of Basra, from which Sinbad set sail in "One Thousand and One Nights".

Of course, there are still a few bugs to work out. Three out of four hikers in Kurdistan were arrested for straying over into Iran and are now being tried as spies, but that would only add spice to the adventurous minded. So, if you want to take that voyage with Sinbad, or trek across the dried-up Tigris and Euphrates, Mesopotamia may be the next hot tourist destination.
"Most of the city is safe. Very few pockets are still dangerous,"
I know that you'll feel really safe now that the Iraqis are using the ADE 651 at all checkpoints, which has been described as: "The small hand-held wand, with a telescopic antenna on a swivel, is being used at hundreds of checkpoints in Iraq. But the device works “on the same principle as a Ouija board” — the power of suggestion — said a retired United States Air Force officer, Lt. Col. Hal Bidlack, who described the wand as nothing more than an explosives divining rod."

Is this voodoo wand safe and effective? "The suicide bombers who managed to get two tons of explosives into downtown Baghdad on Oct. 25, killing 155 people and destroying three ministries, had to pass at least one checkpoint where the ADE 651 is typically deployed, judging from surveillance videos released by Baghdad’s provincial governor." If it can miss two tons of explosives, think how happy you'll be dining by candlelight at some cozy restaurant. Paranoia is part of the vacation package, kevlar vest sold separately...

The company that makes this wand is based in London and "ATSC’s promotional material claims that its device can find guns, ammunition, drugs, truffles, human bodies and even contraband ivory at distances up to a kilometer, underground, through walls, underwater or even from airplanes three miles high. The device works on “electrostatic magnetic ion attraction,” ATSC says." I'm familiar with the principle of electrostatic magnetic ion attraction because I used to be able to buy bottles of ionized water on the Internet, and they helped make you smarter and more spiritual. Ignore the fact that no major country in the world has ordered any:
“It would be laughable,except someone down the street from you is counting on this to keep bombs off the streets.” - Hal Bidlack

Speaking of fertilizer bombs in Iraq and Afghanistn: "Afghan police and American soldiers discovered a half-million pounds of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that is used in the overwhelming majority of homemade bombs here. Some 2,000 bomb-making devices like timers and triggers were also found, and 15 Afghans were detained... With a typical homemade bomb weighing no more than 60 pounds, the seizure of that much fertilizer — more than 10 tractor-trailer loads — removed potentially thousands of bombs from the streets and trails of southern Afghanistan, officials said. “You can turn a bag of ammonium nitrate into a bomb in a matter hours.”

Since the military and police don't have any Iraqi shit detectors, err, magic wands to help them, it's hoped that this was the major supply cache and will severely limit any future bombings. There have been over 10,000 bombs planted in the last two years, even though ammonia nitrate is illegal to use in Afghanistan. The next step is to trace where it came from, and how it was smuggled into such a rural region. You can buy it over the counter in neighboring Pakistan, so they will probably be blamed for this, too...

end of the buddy system...

When Soviet Russia collapsed, many Russian scientists went to Iran to help with their nuclear program. Building nuclear weapons stopped in 2003, coinciding with the US invasion of Iraq. Nowadays, Russia has been playing the fence when it comes to Iran's nuclear ambitions: "Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy issued a statement Monday warning Iran that "the international community's patience is not infinite." The two leaders, in Berlin for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, said they "do not rule out" another round of sanctions aimed at the Iranian leadership and its advancing nuclear program."

Today they are our friend, but is Russia also sending more scientists to Iran for permanent vacations? Russia and China could easily block more sanctions at the UN, and Russia has sold them missiles in the past: "Officially, Russia has sold defensive missile systems to Tehran – though it is currently holding up delivery of a more sophisticated surface-to-air system, drawing protests from Iranian officials. "The Russians seem to modulate that cooperation depending on how things are going," Mr. Albright says, noting there could be a connection between Iran's lack of response to the uranium deal and the Russian brakes on delivery of the new missile system.

But suspicions have also grown over the last year that Russian scientists, perhaps acting in an unofficial or "rogue" capacity, have been assisting their Iranian colleagues in pursuit of a nuclear weapon and weapons delivery systems. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is believed to have flown secretly to Moscow in September to present Medvedev and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin with a list of names of Russian scientists that Israel says took nuclear know-how to Iran." The Israelis seem pretty good at finding ships with arms going to and from Iran, but smuggling scientists is more difficult to detect. Gives the term going rogue some new meaning, I wonder how many Russian and Iranian orders are already in for Sarah Palin's new book, due at your local bookstore next week...

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