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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
There was no slant to the sun — it was just there, overhead, burning, making him sweat, making his underwear bind and the shirt stick to his back as if it had been glued on, and why he’d ever let Carolee talk him into this he’d never know. The bus lurched. There was a stink of diesel. Gears ratcheted beneath the floorboards, metal on metal, as if they were going to fuse or maybe explode into a thousand pieces at any moment. He looked beyond Carolee, out the window, feeling ever so slightly queasy, though everyone assured him the water was good here — potable, that was the word on everybody’s lips. Plus, the food was held to the highest standards and the glasses out of which they’d sipped their rum punch and rum Cokes and rum tonics had been scrupulously washed in hot sudsing pristine well water, because this wasn’t like Mexico or Guatemala or Belize, this was special, orderly, clean, a kind of tourist paradise. And cheap. Cheap too.
On top of it all, he had a headache. Or the beginnings of one. But that was understandable, because he’d gulped down three rum punches with lunch, so thirsty he could have drained the whole pitcher the waiter had set in the middle of the table, and no, he wasn’t going to drink the water, no matter what anybody said — not unless it came from a bottle with an unbroken seal. He rubbed his eyes. He had aspirin in his kit back on the ship. Cipro too. But that didn’t do him a whole lot of good now, did it? Anonymous streets rolled by, shops, people, dogs, ratty-looking birds infesting the trees and an armed guard outside every store — or tienda, as his guidebook had it — and what did that tell you about the level of orderliness here? Buenos vecinos. Welcome. Mi casa es su casa.
Acreage of a Christian nudist colony under development in Florida:
Florida’s wildlife officials decided to remove the manatee, which has a mild taste that readily adapts to recipes for beef, from the state’s endangered-species list.
A 64-year-old mother and her 44-year-old son were arrested for running a gang that stole more than $100,000 worth of toothbrushes from Publix, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS stores in Florida.
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“He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.”