Archive for January 2013
Damascus, Syria (AP) – Following an Israeli air attack on a Syrian military convoy headed toward Lebanon, the Assad government and Iranian President Ahmadinejad condemned Israel’s “aggression” against the surface-to-air missiles the convoy was transporting.
“The Zionist regime has once again demonstrated its utter disregard for basic decency,” read a statement issued by Syrian President Basher Assad’s office, referring to Israel. “The innocent missiles were not armed with missiles. This is yet another gross Zionist violation of international law. The international community must take real steps to address this travesty.”
Iran, a staunch supporter of the beleaguered Assad government, also spoke out against Israel. In an address at a political function, President Ahmadinejad likened the preemptive strike to a snake uncoiling in pursuit of a victim, only to be crushed by a passing tank. “The cruelty of the Zionists against harmless missiles knows no bounds. Only a country with no moral compass would direct its forces against armaments that were not carrying even light ammunition, nor a single hand grenade. This vicious assault exposes the Zionists for what they are.”
US and Israeli experts believe the convoy was ferrying sophisticated Russian-made SA-17 missiles, which could pose significant risk for Israeli air operations over Lebanon. The likely recipient, they say, is Hezbollah, the militant Shiite movement that controls much of Lebanon and fought a war with Israel 2006. The movement also condemned the assault, calling it, “a betrayal of human values by the Zionist beast that would deprive Lebanon of its sovereign right to shoot down aircraft trying to prevent us from killing Zionists.” Hezbollah has been replenishing its arsenal of missiles, thousands of which were launched at Israeli towns and cities during the war.
This is not the first time Israeli aircraft have attacked unarmed targets inside Syria. In 2007 the Israel Air Force attacked and destroyed a nuclear reactor in Syria. At the time, the reactor had yet to receive its first shipment of uranium, which, at the time, experts said called into question whether Israel was playing fair. Israel has never commented on the attack and Syria never officially acknowledged it, even leveling the site before international inspectors could examine it, seeking to emphasize just how innocent and peaceful the site was.
In a similar case, Israel has never acknowledged an air attack that destroyed a suspected weapons factory in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, last year. The factory was undefended, prompting international outrage at Israel’s unprovoked aggression. Hamas, the Islamist militant faction that runs the Gaza Strip, is widely believed to be the intended user of the weapons supplied originally by Iran for use against Israel. At the time, a spokesman for the government of Sudan decried the Israeli action, calling it, “an unprovoked, evil attack on rockets and armaments that were just sitting there, not harming anyone.”
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Washington, DC (AP) – The Federal Bureau of Bureaucracies released a new set of inefficiency guidelines today, the first comprehensive overhaul of the sprawling set of overlapping jurisdictions and redundancies in at least two years. The new rules will take effect on or about June 31, pending approval of the necessary forms by the Commission to Reform Idiotic Paperwork-Emitting Standards (CRIPES), which has yet to receive them.
The new standards were the result of a nationwide study in 2009 indicating that more than 35% of public-sector bureaucracies were still providing service to the citizen or customer in a timely and minimally aggravating manner. Under the previous system, enacted in 2000 but not implemented until 2010 because of miscommunication among various bodies with incompatible systems, the maximum proportion of non-dissatisfied bureaucracy users was eight percent.
Taika Number, who conducted that study, explained that enforcement of the aggravation minimum was a serious challenge, as the body charged with enforcement, the Department of Eternal Languishing And Yearning (DELAY), had to adhere to its own strict inefficiency standards. “We actually had to disconnect some agents’ phones because they were returning calls within two business days,” she recalled. “Fortunately, we hired some overpriced consultants to crash multiple computer systems across the country, and things got back to normal.”
Under the new rules, two identical agencies will be established, both called the Department of Redundancies Department, which will have several responsibilities.
Chief among them will be conducting audits of bureaucracies, which will be required to keep every document in triplicate on file. As part of this requirement, every office will be required to maintain photocopying machines in multiples of three, and digital scans of the documents will not be acceptable. The latter provision remains in force from the previous system, and adheres to the Outdated Bureaucracy System of Office Letter Execution Torpedoing Ensurance (OBSOLETE). OBSOLETE mandates that no aspect of bureaucratic technology may be fewer than twenty-five years behind current standards.
A second function of the Department of Redundancies Departments will be to conduct overlapping Take Your Time training programs for clerks and back-office personnel, and drill them in the misplacement and erroneous filing of documents.
The bodies will also create and maintain conflicting systems for handling visitors, and issue confusing rules. One department will cover Motor Vehicle Bureaus, welfare agencies and unemployment and IRS offices. The other will cover welfare agencies, IRS offices, Motor Vehicle Bureaus (which it will call the Department of Motor Vehicles, and recognize no other name as valid) and customer service at major utilities and insurance providers.
Ann Arkey is slated to head one of the Department of Redundancy Departments, but until CRIPES approves the new standards, which one she will direct is still unclear. She has ambitious plans for the bureaucracies under her supervision, such as a Frustration Index that determines which visitors are the ripest for being shunted from window to window and which ones are most likely to escalate mild altercations over a forfeited place in line into full-fledged fistfights.
“I also want to develop a program to keep our information desks at peak unhelpfulness,” she said, “and there’s really only one thing standing in the way right now. CRIPES.”
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New York, NY (AP) – The United Nations Security Council reacted coolly to a petition calling for the body to investigate alleged war crimes by the Syrian government, saying that the request failed to provide for adequate condemnation of Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
The petition, signed by 58 countries, asked the Council to look into accounts of massacres and the targeting of civilians by Syrian forces and affiliated militias. It comes against the backdrop of continued violence all over the country, including a newly intensified campaign in the north and the Syrian Air Force bombing of the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus.
Russia, long opposed to international intervention in the two-year-long civil war gripping Syria, warned that it would veto any resolution targeting the Assad regime. Russia seeks to forestall foreign involvement in its internal struggles with separatist elements, and sees in its longtime ally Syria a precedent for such involvement. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters in Moscow, “Russia sees no benefit to singling out one side in this bloody conflict for condemnation,” unless it’s Israel, which was oppressing countless innocent, peace-loving Palestinians long before Assad began killing them indiscriminately.
China, also wary of legitimizing international “meddling” in other countries’ internal conflicts, does not wish to invite scrutiny of its policies in Tibet, and has shied away from “one-sided declarations that will accomplish nothing,” as the Foreign Ministry in Beijing phrased it, unless those declarations are leveled at Israel. “The wholesale slaughter of women and children in the Yarmouk refugee camp must not be used by cynical partisan parties to imply that anyone but Israel mistreats Palestinians,” its statement read. “The allegations of carnage serve no one but the merchants of death who wish to encourage further involvement,” and since Israel cannot be blamed directly for the massacres, it is best to remain silent on the issue.
The United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, Navi Pillay, lamented the lack of UN action on the issue of Syrian refugees, expected to number one million by the end of the winter. “But I can’t really blame the Security Council for this one,” she explained. “Since it’s not Israel driving these people from their homes, who can be expected to care? It’s not as if actual concern for human lives has ever been the driving force behind Security Council resolutions.”
At press time, the Shiite Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, allied with Assad, had announced that it was prepared to start another war with Israel so the international community might do something. “Plus, we’d get to launch all these cool rockets into Israel,” said Hassan Nasrallah, the movement’s leader.
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