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What is the greatest threat to U.S. security? The greatest threat to U.S. security is something that would upset the usefulness of the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), the consolidated U.S. government database of terrorist suspects around the world. The government uses that database to establish watch lists, no-fly lists, screen visa applicants at U.S. consulates, conduct surveillance, coordinate investigations with foreign and local partners, etc. It was the lack of such a database and its applications that permitted 9/11 to happen. Today, the TIDE database and the activities it supports is the U.S. government’s most important counterterrorism tool. –“The Greatest Threat”, Robert Haddick, Small Wars Journal
SPIEGEL: How has the experience changed you?
Groos: Heightened danger made me more thin-skinned — but also tougher. Today, if someone attacked my kids, I could shoot that person dead and have no trouble sleeping at night. I don’t know whether I should find that disturbing or not.
SPIEGEL: What was your worst experience in Afghanistan?
Groos: That would be the suicide attack on our bus in June 2003. There was absolute chaos, and it was way too much for our assistants to handle. I assigned numbers to the wounded, noted their injuries, and saw to it that they got the medical attention they needed so that they could be transported elsewhere. After they had all been taken away, it was eerily quiet. Another doctor, myself, and the dead were the only ones left. At that point, we didn’t know what to do next. Normally, as an emergency physician, you express your condolences to the dead person’s family and then you leave. But in this case we’d somehow slipped into the role of the bereaved. –“SPIEGEL Interview with Former Army Doctor in Afghanistan: ‘I Didn’t Want to Be Part of This Insane Mission’,” Spiegel Online
Both the Hindustan Times and the Times of India publish a running tally of how many people are killed each year by Delhi’s Blueline, those rickety private buses that prowl the city streets like wolves in a horror movie. Despite the volume with which they roar down the street—you hear them coming from a quarter-mile away—they still manage to pounce on an astounding number of victims. At least 115 people were killed by Blueline buses in 2008. –“Why Delhi’s Buses Are so Deadly: An economic analysis,” Dave and Jenny, Our Delhi Struggle (via)
I thought of Jarrell and the conflation of difficulty with neglect after reading Time book critic Lev Grossman’s rather unfortunate consideration, in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, of the Obscurity of the Modern Novelist. “Good Books Don’t Have to Be Hard,” would make a fine, snarky dismissal of Grossman’s argument, were it not the actual title the Journal had given to the piece. –“The Calculating Critic,” by Harper’s editor Christopher R. Beha, n+1
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”