Thursday, August 04, 2005

Attacks in Iraq and Airline Crashes

More Things That Make Me Go Arrrggghhh

Athletes. Ambasadors. Attacks in Iraq. Airline Crashes. Arrogant Powermongers. Abstract Addresses by Supreme Court Nominees. And those are just the A's.

Athletes and Ambasadors, check (at least for now). Here are the next two A's. Oh, and let's add one more: Absent Presidents.

Attacks in Iraq


"You can't say that civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way." Will Rogers

News from Iraq this week: Seven marines killed by a small arms attack. Fourteen marines and an interpreter killed in a roadside bomb attack. An American journalist killed by his abductors.

Last week in Iraq: Eight soldiers killed in two separate roadside bombings.

Total US military death toll to date: 1,816.

It's become a deadly game of retaliation round-robin -- terrorists build new powerful bombs, America sends heavier tanks, terrorists build even more powerful bombs. Better bombs too, if the goal is maximum damage with the highest possible death count. American military experts are now saying the newer bombs resemble the ones Hezbollah uses against Israel. Oh great, now the Real pros are in the game.

What makes me want to scream bloody murder is the senseless murder of our soldiers -- less from the bombs than from woefully inadequate protection against them. We're fighting a war in which tanks are critical tactical troop movers through sandy desert terrain. So what does the US government send to our troops? Under-armored amphibious assault vehicles.

Soldiers are being blown to bits. Fourteen from one small town this week. If George W. Bush won't get us out of Iraq, then our military strategy there desperately needs an overhaul. So what's the president doing? He's taking yet another vacation at his Texas ranch. I bet his jeep has better armor than our soldiers' tanks in Iraq.

Airplane Crashes

Kevin Brazier/Getty Images

"You could see flames out the window. The next thing I remembered was everyone running for the exit. People were yelling for everyone to be calm and stay quiet. I wasn't thinking about anything but getting out of the plane." Samantha Todd,16-year-old Toronto high school student

A miracle happened in Toronto this week: a jumbo jet crashed and Everybody on board survived. Think about every other major passenger plane crash in modern history -- nobody survived and the death toll was always huge.

Then think about all the times we've sat on planes before takeoff, enduring the flight attendants' canned safety spiels with bored resignation. And when they're finished, all we want to know is When do you serve the drinks?

We don't listen to emergency information on planes for two reasons:

1. Denial -- it won't happen on our flight.

2. Reality -- a tiny voice of logic in the back of our mind knows if the plane goes down, we won't need to find the exits because we're not getting out alive.

The crew on Air France Flight 358 was literally heroic, performing their obviously well trained duties with skill and dedication under extreme duress -- not the least of which included malfunctioning escape chutes. But they got everyone off the burning, broken plane with no deaths and remarkably few injuries.

So now we ask two top questions:

1. Why did the pilots chose to land during the clear and present danger of a thunderstorm under an airport "red alert"? Perhaps they're also well trained not to make paying passengers unhappy by diverting to another airport.

2. Why didn't the control tower refuse permission for the jet to land and send it instead to another airport or have it circle until the storm passed?

And I have one big bone to pick with airplane manufacturers in general. Since the beginning of air travel, it's been an undeniable fact that if a plane crash doesn't kill you, the ensuing fire will. These huge companies make enormous profits on their enormous planes.

Instead of designing bigger airplanes with bi-level cocktail bars and first class showers, spend the money on research and development to prevent planes from breaking apart and bursting into flames on impact. Burning seat cushions are of no use as flotation devices to dead passengers.

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Blogger David Pakman said...

Hey, excellent website. A great Iraq resource is Deaths in Iraq. It breaks all of the casualties down by age, race, branch of the military, country, etc.

9:36 PM  

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