Watching seven men die . . .

A National Airlines Boeing 747-400 cargo aircraft crashed on takeoff from Bagram airfield in Afghanistan yesterday.  All seven souls on board were killed.  It’s reported by some sources, but not yet confirmed, that the crew radioed that the cargo had shifted aft, making the aircraft tail-heavy and uncontrollable.  This video, shot by a passing vehicle, appears to lend credence to that, in the form of aircraft attitude and control response.  (Thanks to reader M. J. for sending me the link.) Say a prayer for those on board as you watch this.  You’re watching them die. May their sins be forgiven

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Perhaps we should import her?

I can’t help but goggle at the famous nude portrait of Alejandra Benitez, the Olympic fencer who’s just become Venezuela’s new Sports Minister.  (In order to keep this blog family-friendly, I’ve cropped the smaller image below.  For a larger one, uncropped, click here.) Being a Venezuelan cabinet minister, we already know she’s a left-wing politician:  but that simply means she’d fit into the Obama administration without major ideological difficulties.  With looks like that, don’t you think we’d prefer seeing her there, compared to some of the women already in it?  (I won’t name names, but you can check out candidates

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So much for Internet security!

It seems that Internet security often isn’t.  MIT’s Technology Review reports: You probably haven’t heard of HD Moore, but up to a few weeks ago every Internet device in the world, perhaps including some in your own home, was contacted roughly three times a day by a stack of computers that sit overheating his spare room. “I have a lot of cooling equipment to make sure my house doesn’t catch on fire,” says Moore, who leads research at computer security company Rapid7. In February last year he decided to carry out a personal census of every device on the Internet

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Is Israel bombing Syrian chemical weapons plants?

And if so, is it doing so with the permission and encouragement of allies both old and new, both familiar and very strange indeed?  There seems to be a whole lot of smoke and mirrors at work in the Middle East right now.  Consider: In August last year, President Obama said that ‘any attempt by Syria to move or use its chemical weapons would change his administration’s “calculus” in the region, evoking the possibility of more direct U.S. intervention in the conflict‘.  However, his administration appears to have backed away from this position in recent days. There are reports that

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What an amazing photograph!

This extraordinary photograph comes from the Telegraph’s latest ‘Pictures of the Day’ gallery.  It shows a whale shark rising vertically, mouth wide open, to engulf a net full of fish next to a small fishing boat in Cenderawasih Bay, Indonesia.  I’ve reduced the image size to fit this blog – see the original at the link for a larger view. I’ve never seen a whale shark from that perspective.  It’s got a honking great mouth, hasn’t it?  It’s comforting to see the absence of teeth – whale sharks feed on plankton, krill and small fish, and are no threat to

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21 years ago today, Los Angeles burned

Twenty-one years ago today, the verdict in the Rodney King case sparked six days of murder, mayhem, rioting and looting in Los Angeles.  53 people died and over 2,000 were injured.  Property damage ran into the billions of dollars. At first the police went into self-protection mode, refusing to enter the most risky areas.  Residents of those zones were left to their own devices.  Hundreds, if not thousands, who were unable to protect themselves or their property became victims. Others, better prepared and equipped, did not.  As the Los Angeles Times reported: In the shadow of a flaming mini-mall near

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Tank combat in World War II: a different view

I recently came across a two-part BBC documentary about five men of the Fifth Royal Tank Regiment during World War II.  The unit saw action during the fall of France, fought through the Western Desert campaign, then came back to Britain in time to take part in the Normandy invasion and battle its way across Europe to Germany and final victory. This is something different for American viewers.  British tanks were generally inferior to those of both its allies and its enemies during the Second World War, only Japan’s being worse.  British tactics were also abysmally poor during the early

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Doofus Of The Day #698

Courtesy of links provided by multiple correspondents, today’s winner comes from Florida. A sworn complaint was filed against William Daniel Lloyd, 31, for discharging a firearm in public and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, Officer Ben Tobias stated in a press item. Officer Diana Mattern responded to a medical emergency call at 600 SE 12th Terrace and learned that Lloyd had taped the cartridge to the end of a BB gun to shoot a squirrel, Tobias said. Lloyd fired the BB gun, causing the BB to strike the cartridge’s primer. The cartridge discharged and fragmented, striking Lloyd in

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Will the banksters finally be brought to justice?

I wouldn’t bet on it . . . but that won’t be because Matt Taibbi hasn’t done his best to bring it about.  In a hard-hitting article for Rolling Stone, he exposes what he calls ‘The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever‘.  Here’s an excerpt. You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that’s trillion, with a “t”) worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling

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