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Use bears to catch Bin Laden, of course 26, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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(Clearly the best photo I’ve ever posted. Many thanks.)

Using parachuting bears to catch Bin Laden is just one great idea submitted to the US Department of Defence in recent years.

Bears have scent detection that is far superior to bloodhounds! Trained bears with GPS and day/night cameras around their necks might be able to hunt down the scent of [Osama bin Laden], even in and through any caves and tunnels!!! Overnight, parachute some bears into areas [bin Laden] might be. Attempt to train bears to take off parachutes after landing, or use parachutes that self-destruct after landing.

“The authors’ names were withheld, but all spelling, grammar and paranoia are authentic,” notes Stars and Stripes.

Here’s another peach of a comment submitted to the DOD that the Guardian highlights:

Has anyone at the Department of Defense noticed that the Twin Towers were destroyed on 9/11, and that when you dial emergency services in the USA you dial 911? If so, is this merely a coincidence

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The death of the Arabic language? 26, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Middle East.
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Many people in the Gulf that I’ve spoken to in recent years fear greatly for the future of the Arabic language. This is to some perhaps surprising. It is difficult to countenance the notion of a people forsaking their own language when it is such a key feature of their religion, life and culture. Yet although Arabic will clearly never disappear, fears of its increasing marginalisation are real.

Abbas Al Tonsi, known to many an Arabic student for co-authoring the Arabic language text-book Al Kitab, has verbalised these fears. There are primarily two factors at play.

Firstly, the march of the English language, the lingua franca of business and economics as well as a whole host of other spheres, is continuing apace. In – as they say – an ever more globalized world, a firm grasp of English is becoming ever more important. Gulf countries are switching their education systems from Arabic-focused to English-focused to supply their future generations with one of the key skills enabling them and their country to compete effectively: English.

Secondly, compounding this problem, Al Tonsi places the blame on Arabic schools whose teaching styles, as anyone who as been in a government school in the Gulf can testify, leave a lot to be desired. Rote learning, drilling and grammar and emphasized ad nauseum, which is quite at odds with more advanced and interactive methods used in teaching English.

Bum bomb evolves: the breast bomb 26, March 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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I realise that alliteration can be rather a clumsy tool to use at times, but I’m finding it difficult to resist at the moment. Fox News quotes British intelligence agents asserting that there is a chance that female suicide bombers may be seeking to use

exploding breast implants which are almost impossible to detect

The story seems to be faintly absurd to me for several reasons.

Firstly, it’s Fox News reporting it.

Secondly, what’s worse is that Fox News borrowed this story from The Sun, the most tabloidish of British tabloids, which pays but the scantest of attention to the truth and relies on spectacular sensationalism, exaggeration and…well…breasts. [I love how the Wiki article describes the topless model as ‘tastefully nude’.]

Thirdly, the terrorist expert quoted, Joseph Farah, is, as far as I see it, not at all an expert on terrorism. He hasn’t written one book or published one academic article on the subject of which I am aware. I can only assume that no serious expert would agree with such a notion and so they called the arch-conservative, Limbaugh supporting Birther Farah to add the slimiest and thinnest veneer of ‘rigour’ to the article.

Fourthly, yes, of course, it is technically possible. Many things are technically possible. Yet we need to start to pare down the possible possibilities and come up with a reasonable list of things and threats to guard against.

In any case, as the bum bomber spectacularly proved himself, the human body is a great cushioning and absorbing device. Add to this the fact that the BBC proved quite well I think that a decent sized amount of PETN (as used in the pants bombing) will still NOT break the skin of a plane (even outwith the human body) and as far as I’m concerned I’ll not be obsessively scrutinizing women’s breasts on planes as a sensible safety precaution.