Saturday, April 30, 2005

Meet "Willy Pete."

Way back at the beginning of the second offensive on Fallujah last November, which I dubbed "Operation Phantom Victory" in a letter to the Reverend Moon's Washington Times, (A play on the actual short lived military designation, "Operation Phantom Fury.") I wrote to Dahr Jamail, an unembedded journalist in Iraq, (Who has recently returned to the U.S) that I thought the then media frenzy over the death of Yassar Arafat would knock "Falluja right off the front page. By the time we find out how many marines and Fallujans have died in this pointless exercise, no one will care." (Turns out we still don't know exactly how many Fallujans died.)

He replied, "Just give it some time. And there will be outrage." Well, in a sane world he would be correct, but this is America in 2005. No one cares and we've got Bush for another four years.

Since Dahr has returned, though, there has much talk in the leftist media and "blogosphere" about his assertion that the U.S. used chemical weapons in Fallujah.

He quotes a witness to the U.S. bombardment in Fallujah as saying:

"They (US military) used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud. Then small pieces feel from the air with long tails of smoke behind them. "He explained that pieces of these bombs exploded into large fires that burnt peoples skin even when water was dumped on their bodies, which is the effect of phosphorous weapons, as well as napalm. "People suffered so much from these, both civilians and fighters alike."

My first impression was that Jamail's eyewitness might have been describing one of the "non-lethal" chemical weapons of the type the Russians reluctantly admitted they had deployed during the Chechen hostage rescue attempt that subsequently killed 117 hostages along with the Chechen terrorists. The Israeli 2001 chemical attack in Khan Younis also came to mind.

I queried Madtom of "This Fucking War" on this issue of the U.S. employing chemical weapons (As today we hear of the Kurdish victims of Saddam's chemical massacres) and he pointed me to a blog entitled "Armor Geddon," in which there is a post by a marine who was involved in the assault on Fallujah.

1st Lt. Neil Prakash writes that on November 8th 2004:

"In preparation for the assault, artillery guns dropped white phosphorus or "Willy Pete" on the city. The FA guys later told us this was the newest WP in the way it deployed. Whatever it was, it was incredible. As the rounds came in, they burst in the air several hundred feet above the ground. They streaked towards the ground in little spider trails burning bright orange. The WP hit the ground creating a thick white smoke screen but it still burned bright orange on the ground. This lit up the battlefield for the main effort, and created a smoke screen."

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry states: "White phosphorus is used by the military in various types of produce smoke for concealing troop movements and identifying targets. White phosphorus is a waxy solid which burns easily and is used in chemical manufacturing and smoke munitions. Exposure to white phosphorus may cause burns and irritation, liver, kidney, heart, lung, or bone damage, and death. (EPA)."

This certainly sounds like a plausible explaination of what was going on there. Judging from the marine's quote above and the description of White Phosphorus at the ATSDR web site, that this is at least part of the answer to the mystery of what our military dropped on Fallujah in our new "Hue city in the making."

[Also, see my letter to the Washington Times: April 4, 2004 regarding the first attack on Fallujah.]

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

"Hey mom, play with this!"

When I tell people I've worked for all the major retail toy chains over a period of ten years, their first reaction is always a gasp. Then they ask, "how did you ever put up with all those little brats?" This is a common misconception, that the worst thing about working for a toy store is the kids. Most of the children who come into the store are toddlers. They're not old enough to be little monsters, yet. They learn thatlater from their parents, who are the real monsters.

There is no other retail environment that comes close to toys, believe me. You have never seen such egregiously inhuman behavior by suppossed adults. Grown men, who are old enough to know better, throwing frisbees, footballs and baseballs through the aisles oblivious to the danger to others, riding 20" bikes (Made for 10 years olds.), sitting on battery powered cars (Designed for 5 year olds) and generally making complete asses out of themselves. They do this right in front of you, too, as if challenging you to stop them. The bratty customer is always right. "I'll have your job!" (Take my job, please!)

By far, though, mothers are the absolute worst! They come in with their kids and let them run wild not paying a bit of attention to where they are or what they're up to. News flash mom, we're not baby sitters! If your child gets hurt or gets kidnapped, it's not our responsibility. And here's a little heads-up mommy dearest; when you come in with your stroller and "accidentally" drop pacifiers, teething rings, various small toys etc. into the under-padding, we know. Putting Enfamil on the rack under your stroller and "forgetting" to pay for it on your way out doesn't fool us either.

Please, do try to refrain from knocking all the merchandise off one of our end caps and changing your baby on it. At the very least, take the diaper with you! We do have changing tables in the restrooms which are naturally always in a state of total hell- on- earth because of others such as yourself. By the way, the toilet is where you do your business, not on the floor or in the sink. (Note: Men's rooms are usually very clean. I know, I've cleaned both. During the Christmas season, no less!)

And finally mothers, we don't come into your house and rip all your belongings to shreds like wild animals and leave them scattered everywhere, we don't get into hair-pulling matches over the floor sample of the latest "hot toy" and we don't rob you blind and react with moral outrage when we get caught. Every wonder why your kid is such a brat? Look in the mirror!
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