Thursday, May 17, 2007

Notable juxtapositions #1

I saw in the news yesterday that the Boy Scouts of America are paying the US government $6.5 million for a forest fire a group of scouts started a few years ago in Utah. Apparently, through lack of proper supervision the kids were allowed to light a camp fire in an area designated as off limits for fires, hence the fine. When it comes to burning down forests the government doesn't play around. Johnny Cash was forced to pay several million dollars in fines for starting a forest fire back in 1964. [Another notable firebug who got away without paying a dime for burning down the forest around Lake Tahoe was Mark Twain, but that's neither here nor there.]

Anyway, at the same time that the news of the BSA ponying up the dinero for their forest fire was moving across the wires, a New Jersey National Guard F-16 started a wild fire which, so far, has burned 14,000 acres or 2 square miles of Burlington and Ocean counties in New Jersey. The fire forced the evacuation of 6,000 residents, destroyed five homes and taxed the resources of 1,000 fire fighters and police officers, according to the Inquirer. Army Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, adjutant general, said the Air Force was investigating the possibility that "something left" an F-16 during a military exercise involving US Marines on their way to Iraq. [Inquirer] Rieth says that if the Guard is responsible for the conflagration, the Air Force will "incur all liability."

Why do I get the impression that the folks that lost their homes will be long dead and buried before they see a penny from this? Maybe I'm just being too cynical, but I've just got this feeling. By the way, this isn't the first screw-up to befall the Warren Grove gunnery range in Bass River Township, NJ: Back in 2004 another F-16 fired live rounds at an elementary school in Little Egg Township. Luckily no one was injured, but these National Guard pilots sure do seem to be accident prone.


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