Archive for September 2012
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Geneva, Switzerland (AP) – The International Committee to Ban Landmines has released what it calls “disappointing” figures of civilian landmine deaths in the the last two years, and is calling for nations to step up their efforts to improve the devices’ effectiveness.
Exact statistics of civilian deaths by landmine are hard to come by, as many such deaths occur in countries or areas with nominal or unreliable reporting mechanisms, such as North Korea and Sudan. But through statistical analysis, the ICBL noted a 12% decline in the estimated landmine deaths from 2005 to 2011, and calls this development “worrisome.”
Clay Moore, a spokesman for Human Rights Watch, one of the founding organizations of the ICBL coalition, said that the group had expected deaths from antipersonnel mines to increase during the period in question, since killing technology has continued to improve, and the level of political and military instability has remained more or less even worldwide during that time. “Unfortunately,” he said in a recent interview, “the mine-laying entities have failed to keep pace with developments in the affected populations, and the effectiveness of their techniques lags.”
One of the factors Moore cited in explaining the decline is that many of the long-lived minefields have gradually become less and less accessible to the local population, in some cases because they have all been killed off. In others, the local authorities have managed to restrict access to the minefields.
The latter case can be seen in the Golan Heights, currently held by Israel, but which the Syrian army strewed with minefields before the territory was captured in 1967. With barbed wire and warning signs, the minefields remain relatively off limits to humans, but occasionally an errant cow or sheep sets off a device.
“Instant roast beef,” recalled Colonel Yishai Grill, who heads the IDF’s minesweeping units, when asked about the last time he had to confront a landmine incident. A Hereford had wandered through a gap in the barbed wire fence and detonated two mines at once. He misses the thrill of possibly getting killed with every step.
The ICBL’s goal is to kill off unwanted segments of the human population, principally those living in squalid conditions in third-world economies who contribute little to the species other than appearing in heart-wrenching photos for National Geographic or Peace Corps promotional literature. Their main achievement has been the Otttawa Treaty, in which the signatory countries, mostly developed nations, agree not to use or manufacture antipersonnel mines.
“There are far more effective weapons for eliminating unwanted populations,” says Jenn O’Seid, an activist with Physicians for Human Rights, also a coalition member organization. “That’s why we only focus on antipersonnel mines. Antitank mines, Claymores and other high-explosive bombs are far more effective at killing, and that’s where the developed countries should be focusing their efforts,” she said.
Countries that have not signed the treaty include North Korea, Sudan, The Russian Federation, Pakistan, Iran and China, all of whom manufacture and use antipersonnel mines. Previous ICBL reports explain that these countries’ military technology lags behind their western rivals’, and they have little choice but to employ the less efficient killing technology of antipersonnel mines in ridding the world of unwanted civilians.
“It’s a shame, too,” says Ray Sist, ICBL coordinator for Human Rights Watch. “Perversely, many of the countries that have to rely on the older technology are overpopulated and non-white, so they actually have greater need for the technology they lack.”
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The Heavens, September 23 (AP) – The LORD Almighty and His ministering angels are just tickled pink, as it were, by the hullabaloo surrounding the cartoons and film mocking Muhammad, heavenly sources say.
“Thus saith the LORD: Thou canst not make this stuff up,” reported the archangel Gabriel, his seraphic cheeks ruddy from peals of hysteria. “For lo, not since Martin Luther’s earnestness have I seen thee worked up as the Euphrates doth churn in spring,” he continued, before collapsing in another fit. “Oh, LORD, thank Thee for not creating me with actual lungs, for they be deprived now of air,” he managed to gasp.
Angels have noted the LORD’s mirth since trailers for The Innocence of Muslims were first released in July, as He anticipated the reaction of His more manipulable children. “By My sacred Name, I cannot wait for the feces to hit the fan,” the LORD is said to have uttered as He beheld the horribly acted, obviously overdubbed piece of cinematic trash.
Heavenly giddiness has occurred before, notably during periods when there was an antipope, and whenever large groups of cult members immolate or otherwise kill themselves in anticipation of some apocalyptic or cataclysmic event. According to heavenly archives, the heavens shook with Godly laughter in 1997 when 39 adherents of the Heaven’s Gate movement committed mass suicide, expecting a spaceship to follow the approaching comet Hale-Bopp. “Oh Me, those idiots,” He said on that occasion, over and over again.
Records were not kept before 200 BCE, but the earliest confirmed episode of Godly amusement at humanity’s foibles occurred as early Christians debated the question of celibacy. That joke has since grown old to God, says spokesangel St. Peter, but under the right circumstances it still elicits a divine chuckle. “Just last month [archangel] Michael was commenting on the soon-to-be-announced manuscript mentioning Jesus’s wife – he said, ‘Does this mean the LORD tells mother-in-law jokes?’ God smiled and gave Michael a satisfied whack on the back. Poor guy is still having his wings repaired.”
The second chapter of Psalms directly refers to the LORD as laughing at people who plan evil, but the dating of that passage in in dispute. Attributed to King David, the book was actually composed over several centuries, with some portions heavily edited. God Himself declared He does not much care when it was written; the dating is irrelevant to the psalm’s meaning.
Heavenly computer terminals have been busier than usual in recent weeks as angels and departed souls watch the streaming video trailers to discover what all the fuss is about, and to join God in bouts of laughter. “It’s been unusually jolly here,” said the patriarch Isaac, whose name means “He will laugh” in Hebrew, and who knows a thing or two about the divine sense of humor. “The LORD has taken to looking over the shoulders of anyone watching that piece of crap and sharing the laughter with them as the train wreck unfolds on the screen and on Earth below.”
“It’s really only the Jews who get it,” mused Isaac. “They continuously get shafted throughout history, and they keep disproportionately producing comedians. Why do you think God chose them?” He then shuffled away, the victim of yet another divine stealth wedgie.
“Now that doth not get old,” the LORD was heard to say.
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Some people spend countless hours looking for just the right person not to do work. I’ve seen it at company after company. The administration spends who knows how many days interviewing candidates, whittling down the list of potential employees and finally making an offer to one or two lucky ones. All to determine which candidate will not do the work.
But you’re fortunate to have found me here and now – I don’t do work, so if there’s a job you want not done, give it to me and it’s as good as not done.
I’ll roll down my sleeves and not get started right away. Need that deck not sanded? Got it covered. Your car not washed? Exactly my cup of tea. Need someone not to watch your kids? Hey, I’ve done that hundreds of times. In fact, you name almost any job, and I can guarantee I’m tops at not doing it.
It takes a certain panache, a certain je ne travaille pas when it comes to not building up an extensive resume. In my case, my innate talent essentially paved my career path from a young age, when I discovered the pleasures of not working, way back in grade school. I’ve followed that dream ever since. Sure, I’ve had rough patches, but every career does. I recall being forced not to work as a garbage man, and at some point even volunteered not to work for pay at several NY City agencies. I was forced to doze in a city-provided car all day instead of not working behind a desk – but I was prepared to cope with what I knew would be temporary non-work.
And today, I have nearly thirty-five years of not working behind me. That may not sound like much, but if you ask around, you’ll discover pretty quickly it’s hard to find someone who has done no work for so long, or so often. Only politicians can claim numbers anywhere close to mine, and they have to do bona fide work when election time rolls around. I have no such handicap. I can do my not working anytime, anywhere, and regardless of the prevailing political situation.
What’s more, I can take non-payment in dollars, Euros, pounds sterling, yen, yuan, rupees – I’m flexible. I can do my not working overseas if necessary – in fact there’s a burgeoning not-working market in the Far East and Africa. They’re the up-and-not-coming labor markets. But it’s always best to hire your non-worker close to home, so here I am.
Best of all, you’ll never even notice I’m on vacation. The quality of my not working won’t diminish one iota when I’m not not on the job. Guaranteed.
So you know what to do. You have work not to do. I’m your man not to do it.
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