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back to article The terror dam of doom that looms over Boise, Idaho

It shouldn't come as a surprise that some American scientists think terrorism can be defined by equations and a priori vulnerability factors. Close study of terrorist action and behavior is too dull for many in the US counter-terror business, so it's better to have numbers; insurance men, newspaper reporters and government …

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IT Angle

Units of the world, unite

How many acre-feet are there in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, then?

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Potatoes and Mormons

Does Osama bin Laden have a grudge against potatoes and Mormons?

That's the only plausible explanation why Boise might be an al-Qaeda target.

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Anonymous Coward

"new forms of coastal antiterrorist protection"

May I requisition some of what those guys are smoking?

Norfolk is a major USN base. Whcih makes it aye, a target, but surely one of the best-protected against it too, and WTH is "coastal antiterrorist protection"? Are they going to land from zodiacs and make a beachead? Is the odd hole in a sea wall due to nifty explosives

a) preventable at *any* cost?

b) such a big deal? Sea walls get overtopped all the time, and the VA coast isn't exactly storm-wracked.

Idiocracy in action.

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Paris Hilton

Acre feet?

Acre feet? What's that in funbags?

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Reg Units

Feet-Acres, good god! Is that how American civil engineers measure volume?

What does that translate to in Reg Units, anyone know?

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Ade
Coat

@Matt

Aren't acre feet what you get when you've been standing up all day in ill-fitting shoes?

Mine's the very very waterproof one...

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Boffin

@ Tonks

How many acre-feet are there in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, then?

2.0268

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Stop

Assumptions...

The biggest problem with this is their primary assumption, that terrorists choose targets rationally for maximum physical damage. First, they are not rational, if they were they wouldn't be terrorists, and second, they choose targets to maximize terror, after all, they *are* terrorists.

No matter how easy it is, wiping Boise Idaho off the map will generate a resounding "Huh? Where's that?" from most U.S. citizens and most of the world for that matter. It may cause more damage and result in more loss of life then the Word Trade Center attack, but the WTC generated more terror and more press then destroying Boise ever could.

I can just see the headlines "And this just in, Boise Idaho was destroyed by some damn failure. Hmm, wonder what failed. Oh well, back to our two hour coverage of Dancing with the Stars!"

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Bronze badge

Surely not

I can't believe I'm writing this but Acre-feet actually makes some sense for the quantity of water in a lake/whatever. that's not to say that it should not have also been written in swimming pools, or more probably MSp or even GSp.

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Flame

What about old blighty?

Living in "The North", we have loads of those huge Gas Storage things kicking around. Surely a homemade device of some kind would do some damage to one of those? I bet when they're full they have lots of cubic acre-feet of gas in em. Enough to flatten a fair percentage of our modest northern towns.

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Anonymous Coward

Looks like someone's been reading Schneier's blog...

... and has gotten their feathers in a ruffle. Pity they missed the entire bloody point. (See http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/06/movieplot_threa_1.html)

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Coat

Feet-Acre

Surely that's the Reg Unit for consultants?

As in a 1000 Feet-Acre project, which requires 1 BOFH to fix (1 BOFH = 1 kilo feet-acre)

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Anonymous Coward

American : Reg. Standard.

It seems that Americans really do have acre feet (sounds painful).

According to the standards converter.

One acre foot is:-

Bulgarian funbag : 720429956.8034

Olympic-sized swimming pool: 492.8

So the terror dam of doom retains:-

216128987041.02 Funbags.

147840 Olympic sized swimming pools.

Seeing them in standard units makes these figures seem a trifle small..

I notice that the earthen terror dam of doom has a smaller upper concrete dam, it seems obvious that this is the easier target for bomb mad madmen the water thus washing the more challenging terror dam of doom off the map...

Do the figures include this slightly unnerving dam of trouble above?

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Coat

@ Hugh & John: Official Reg Units

An acre-foot is defined by the volume of one acre of surface area to a depth of one foot. Since the area of one acre is defined as a chain by a furlong (66 by 660 feet ) then the volume of an acre-foot is exactly 43,560 cubic feet. Alternatively, this is approximately 325,851.4 U.S. gallons or 1,233.5 kL (or m³).

An Olympic size swimming pool is 50m * 25m * 2m (2m is minimum depth). A volume of 2500000 l or 2,500m3. It is left as an exercise to our Usian friends to convert that into proper gallons and usian gallons.

So it can be seen that an olympic swimming pool is a little more than 2 acre-feet. (2500m3 v 2467m3). 2467m3 / 2 acre-feet now being defined as a “Quite Big Swimming Pool”

The dam in question being 300000 acre-feet is 150000 Quite Big Swimming pools, or 148020 olympic pools.

Mines the long furry coat with the arm hole at the back and the two sticks on the sleeves so that Jim Henson* can operate me, ‘cos I’m a muppet.

* Yes I know he’s dead, it’s just that despite having a funnier name. “Frank Oz” doesn’t work in context.

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Pirate

Nine/Eleven

So 9/11 happened because the US in its infinite wisdom had decided that security was something they only did on international flights, not internal ones. The result, one justified war and one illegal one, a whole bunch of anti-freedom legislation in a bunch of western countries, and a stack of pointless new restrictions on travel in general. As far as I can tell the terrorists won.

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*NEWS FLASH*

Beware of mulsims carrying upkeeps

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouncing_bomb

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Alert

Re: Surely not

Volume of water is measured in gallons or liters (since this is in Idaho) or m^3. Acre-feet is like me measuring the area of my back garden in furlong-inches.

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Boffin

@AC

"So 9/11 happened because the US in its infinite wisdom had decided that security was something they only did on international flights, not internal ones"

Funny that, I could've sworn it was partly because of the foreign military bases dotting Saudi Arabia like a pox.

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Happy

RE: That's the only plausible explanation why Boise might be an al-Qaeda target.

Well, after the amazing lack of vision prior to 9-11 which somehow led everyone to miss the idea of a commercial airliner as a massive Molotov device (what, they never heard of Kamikazis?) , the so-called "experts" started coming out with other wild-n-whacky ways that jihadis could get their 72 raisins in spectacular fashions, and the surprise leader became running a supertanker into a coastal city. Apparently, the idea is not just the immense shockwave from the exploding oil (if said jihadis managed to time the blast exactly so as to get all the oil to mix with air and to explode in one go - not easy), but also the sheer impact of such a massive wieght hitting a seafront will apparently cause skyscrapers in the locale to simply topple over (at least they did in all the "experts" computerised models). Hence the sudden poor score for coastal towns, especially those on the Eastern US seaboard which tankers pass on their way to Southern US refineries. As far as I know, none of the "experts" ever considered what would happen if you could get a supertanker to go fast enough to use a massive waterski jump as a means of launching itself at the said dam in Boise....

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Ummmm....

"The most vulnerable city in the US, according to the study, is New Orleans"

Is there anything of New Orleans left to destroy? last time I checked the worlds richest nation had made bugger all progress in clearing up the flood damage.

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Terror Risk Silliness

Our own Canadian Government security lunatics have disrupted the village life of a small town out in the wasteland of the lower St. Lawrence in a classic example of the current cover your ass approach to mythical threats. The want to block the village dock off with a fence to prevent jihadists from penetrating the North American security wall and carrying out devastating attacks. Well, this place is so far out in the bushes that any arriving jihadists would stand out simply by being not recognized as someone's cousin, brother, uncle or whatever. 8 months of the year you basically can't get there because of the snow and ice, and the rest of the time the bugs would pretty well finish off anyone not prepared for the local woods. Of course, the attitude of the Gov't is that we just can't be too careful, and besides, its a local make work project, just like the fences along the US borders.

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Go

How much water?

370 million tonnes.

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Alert

@ Blighty and 2001

If gasholders were soft targets how did they survive the Second World War?

The 2001 building collapse happened because New York didn't enforce its building code, which required skyscrapers to not fall down if they were set on fire. Regardless of the size of their acre feet.

On a related note, structural neglect is the world's top-performing cause of dam collapses.

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Joke

@Iain B. Findleton

"arriving jihadists would stand out simply by being not recognized as someone's cousin, brother, uncle or whatever"

Aren't they all the same person?

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Black Helicopters

the purpose of said report

is clearly to irritate potential jihadists with unintelligible units. And when they google for "unit conversion, acre-feet to swimming pools" to work out what that #10 target is worth, the black helicopters will close in.

Now why exactly did YOU read this page? Planning something we should know about? Don't bother, We'll pick You up...

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E

Analysis

Look for a serious political scandal or instance of pork in Idaho, perhaps specifically Boise. Every time the US authorities play the terror card they are hiding something.

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Bronze badge

Acre-feet and such

While it looks a bit weird to younger people, who have only been exposed to SI-based measurement systems, it's a quite sensible sort of unit for figuring out water supplies. You have the area of the dam's catchment in acres, and you measure the rainfall. OK, you probably have to convert from inches to feet, but it's fairly simple.

Hectare-metres would work, but it might, like some other metric units, be awkwardly sized. The acre, or something very like it elsewhere in Europe, comes from farm work. It originated as the amount of land a man and horse could plough in a day. Inches and feet are on a human scale, but we're supposed to use millimetres and metres.

Oddly, a newton (the unit of force and thus weight) can be approximated by an apple.

Anyway, all the US Government needs to do is keep track of airworthy Lancaster bombers and large amounts of high explosive.

Oh, a pity they "lost" all that explosive from the Iraqi stores they captured.

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Anonymous Coward

gasometers

my grandfather worked for the gasworks during WW2, and tells of an incident where some men from the ministry were assessing the risk of gasometer explosion due to bomb shrapnel ( - not much one can do about a direct hit...). a certain "chalky" White duly punched a hole in the side of the gasometer with a big screwdriver, and as the gas was pissing out, set about trying to light it with a box of matches - to demonstrate that it just blows the flame out - town gas will not burn until mixed at least 30:70 with air.

Unfortunately said brave souls from the ministry did not hang around to witness the demonstration, preferring to observe whilst running hell for leather in the opposite direction.

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Flame

Cancer???

"Funded by grants from ... the National Cancer Institute"

Errr, WTF? Are terrorists going to give us cancer?

I'll never donate to *these* idiots again. I see that was a total waste of money.

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Thumb Down

you never bothered to read the original release articles did you?

the producers of this report, as plainly as the nose on your face, deliberately and clearly stated to the press at the release, that their report *IN NO WAY* indicated the probability or likelihood of *any* site to be chosen for a terrorist attack. It merely pointed out vulnerability factors, factors that are generated for any city, that can be used by *real* intel and security analysts to prevent threats in the future.

To try to make this into a propaganda tool for the "Americans are teh stoopid" crowd, is yet another fallacy by individuals with an agenda leaving out the important stuff and spinning the rest.

Biased reporting and poor fact checking, as well as fitting the writer's prejudices, is apparently live and well across the pond as it is here in the States. Whatever happened to the pragmatic, cynical, thorough "stiff upper lip" people that we used to know?

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Pirate

You've mis-represented the problem

Jihadi are only one group of terrorists. Idaho is home to several different groups of terrorists, from the far-right specturm of American politics. And these are people who have used large explosives in the past - think Oklahoma City.

It's not uncommon in the U. S. west to find a large, un-maintained dam sitting upstream from a city of 10,000 plus people, governed by people who's primary method of protecting the citizentry from a dam failure is praying.

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Silver badge

Threat?

So, casualties and damages caused by terrorist are pretty close to the bottom of the scale. I'm sure kids gone wild with their parent's weapons cause more deaths and damages. Why such a coverage for such a small risk? Let me check my calendar. Ho, right. Elections.

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Alien

Why Boise?

About the only thing of merit in Boise is HP's Laser Printer division - maybe the terrorists are striking out against the cost of printer inks and toners?

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Flame

Gasholders and such-like

Here in Clydebank (just down river from Glasgow) we have an oil storage depot which gets topped off at least once a week by small tankers coming up the Clyde.

Said oil storage depot is directly under the usual approach path to Glasgow airport and the aircraft are tyically under 150ft at that point....

http://tinyurl.com/5flxu9

Tanks at top, runway at bottom. Icon for impact

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Boffin

Re: Acre-feet and such

"Hectare-metres would work, but it might, like some other metric units, be awkwardly sized."

Um... awkardly sized? Actually its much more better to understand/convert meters/liters/etc as its merely a matter of moving the decimal point, unlike those weird 1:12 ratios and similars. "Hectare-meters" would work over here, as arable land is measured in hectares. Though I think the actual measure used would be cubic metres (or 1000 liters).

Also it helps that 1 Kilogram of water = 1 liter of water, which enables me to measure water volume with my trustworthy cooking scale ;)

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Pirate

I-Da-Ho

Let's be honest here. Even if Lucky Peak Dam failed it wouldn't damage much of the downtown area, since most development is outside the path of the water. What a stupid, stupid idea. Only a bunch of retards would consider such an option.

Personally, if I was a terrorist in Idaho and wanted to create a ruckus, I'd lock Napoleon Dynamite in a bathroom stall with Senator Larry Craig.

Or maybe make marrying your sister illegal.

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Coat

RE Why Boise?

"About the only thing of merit in Boise is HP's Laser Printer division"

I knew you were gonna say that.

So what you're saying is ........Dell are behind all this.

</coat>

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Bronze badge

Hmm

I would like to pit US home grown terrorist against these Jihadist. Be browning in some these areas were are wack jobs are at, is a crime.

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Stop

Sandleheath nr Fordingbridge

If terrorists were to find out that the footpath that crosses the stream in the village I used to live in is vulnerable, can I get some money too? Last week my mum told me terrorists (or school kids, always confuse the two) were toiling away with buckets and spades. We believe they were building either a large pile of mud or were they trying to redirect the stream that rises to nearly 6 inches in the rainy season.. with disastrous consequences. If you aren't welly boots that is.

A decent set of shoes could get really muddy or wet.

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Anonymous Coward

boise..terrorism.......ha.sputter.ha.....i just blew coffee out my nose

Ok, i live in Boise, so i feel qualified to comment. First of all, like our Canadian friend above mentioned, most of your potential terrorists are going to stand out like like a herpes rash at a nudist camp. Boise may be technically a city, but this is still the rural west. The majority of the people around here are still well-armed rednecks.

As for targets, lucky peak is one of those concrete-core earth-fill dams. It's basically a giant pile of gravel. Those types of dams get their strength from the fact that the backslope of the dam is very gradual, so the weight of the water pushes down on the fill and keeps it in place rather than pushing forward at the dam. You'd need a couple of semi-trailers full of very powerful explosives to make a dent in it. and you'd have to get them inside somehow to open it up enough to break. there's a public road that runs across the top of the dam, but a huge explosion there would just open up a big crater. You'd have to actually displace a area of about 100 yards x 50 yards about 60 feet deep of large aggregate rock. It would be pretty spectacular if it broke, though. There's about another mile of tight canyon downstream from the dam, then it opens up into the valley, pointed directly at boise. there's an old river basin that would send it right downtown. It'd be awesome. Realistically, it's way more likely to get blowed up by some cranked-out whitetrash moron, just to see what happens. this is the kind of place where people go out in the desert and shoot/blow shit up for fun. The kind of place where every road sign is riddled with bullet holes.

Hp would be a crap target cause they actually have security, and it's just a campus of big spread out 2-story bldgs, not a very concetrated target. Micron's HQ is here too but same deal. There's maybe 2 bldings taller than 5 stories downtown. The Mall would be your best concentration of people, but blowing that up would be doing the valley a favor. You'd be making half the people happier and improving traffic.

There are just no good targets here and like someone else said, who would care? The funny/sad thing is that if something did happen here, people here would love it. It would legitimize Boise as a 'real' city and maybe people would feel sorry for us for some reason other than that we live in boise. This place has the weirdest collective inferiority complex. The town wants to rate nationally so bad in any way. Every time some fucked up thing happens somewhere else that makes national news you get to watch the local talking heads struggle to find an "Idaho connection".

As for there being political pork involved in this as far as Boise is concerned, i can only respond hahhahhahahahhahhahah.... The idea that our legislators are competent enough to bring home any pork is a fun little fantasy that the locals indulge in but that's about it. Have you forgotten our most famous senator - the Mineappolis Airport bathroom bandit - Larry Craig? Plead guilty, thinking no one would notice, then resigned in embarrassment when everyone noticed, then UNresigned after he calmed down a little bit, then gave a press conference about how he's not Gay, then tried unsuccessfully to get the judgement nullified. All right out in front of God and the media. Now that's some savvy political maneuvering for you.

Actually if you want to terrorize Boise, attack the BSU football team. They are the only thing that everyone loves enough to do something about.

Maybe.

More likely they would just bitch endlessly and impotently, just like now.

anon, cause, well.... I live in Boise id.

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Silver badge

@boise..terrorism.......ha.sputter.ha.....i just blew coffee out my nose

Are you then saying, AC Ok, i live in Boise, that Walter W. Piegorsch, Susan L. Cutter, and Frank Hardisty, the authors/fantasists of Benchmark Analysis for Quantifying Urban Vulnerability to Terrorist Incidents are activists/stooges for the War of Terror, oft misspoken as the War on Terror.

Propagandists working for Schhhh...you know who, to keep the campaign momentum of Dumb Chaos Theory pays better than SMART New World Order going. Spinning Strife to justifying Fighting against it will always, eventually have you speeding towards a trainwreck showdown with yourself as everything becomes clearer and the Spin is shown to be bogus with the simple Sharing of the Truth behind the motivational payments for the stories.....The Who's Who always Behind the Paying for What and Why.

But hey, it could also be just the authors living the American Dream .....Money for Nothing, and the Chicks for Free ..... Dire Straits. Placing Nightmare Scenarios into the Human Consciousness/DreamScape though is a Lack of Intelligence at ITs Work, Rest and Play ........ Ignorance masquerading in Academe as valid Study?

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Pirate

Hmmm

Hmmm , any normal cynic would say to cure this kind of stupidity and insanity of the most implausible/improbable kind , is a daily dose of the grand Insurance Pre-Paid Funeral Plan Ad for a dollar a day , followed up by regular reading of the preventable deaths that most Western Democratic Health Departments and including the World Health Organisation love to shout from the rooftops in order to show how great a service they are . Strangely death at the hands of a terrorist is well and truly below their normal Radar Horizon !

Only for the morbid they can try this link http://www.hammeruncut.com/realtime-death-toll-counter/

To me it sounds like some agents in a nameless bureau notorious for terrorising peace trendies in the land of the new paranoid empire post 2001 with an imaginary bill of rights and false illusion of democracy and freedom due west across the Atlantic Ocean to Portugal are trying flee their unkind fate of the mediocre mindless planks of too stupid to go forward and too dumb to let go and learn from the past to live out their lonely lives in all the one horse border dead holes like El Paso or other god forsaken pimples that blight their landscape !

Ah man's mortality what a killer , but not a terrorist above or below the horizon called mortality either !

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Paris Hilton

EEK! Please don't send them here....

I live at, and am typing from, the border between California and Nevada. (More or less-- I'm a few of miles West of Reno, NV).

BTW, Brits will be amused: we just had ANOTHER little earthquake, about 3.8. We've had three 3.0+ shocks in the four days, and a bunch of smaller ones. But none of these little quakes really release any energy, we're still in for "the big one" sometime.

S**T for brains to keep living here, we've all decided to ignore the obvious and live in happy oblivion. (Paris lives in a similar neighborhood.)

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Thumb Up

@ David Neil & Boise A/c

Gasholders and such-like : But what about the golf course? Priorities, Man, Priorities!

Boise: Good to see one of our cousins who can sum up terrorism in the States succinctly and with a sense of humour. Are you sure you're not Canadian?

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Gold badge
Joke

What the hell are you playing at guys?

You've got an article on how Boise, Idaho (where, what, who?), is a nice, fat, terrorist target pinned to the page top rather than the "Sky to resurrect Blake's 7" article?

For Christ's sake show some sense of proportion people, this is supposed to be a British rag.

Let's just check: Hands up everyone in Great Britain who gives a toss what happens to Boise, Idaho....... Ok, hands up all those who care about Sky's recommisioning of Blake's 7........

There, see?

Right, got to go, by sheer coincidence I have a prior appointment to crash the "Liberator" into a dam close to Boise, Idaho.

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Coat

I'd a ho...

...but then she ran off with some bad ass pimp..

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America sure does love its diet of Fear

Who needs terrorists to spread Fear when you have the media and its ability to use reports like this to continue to terrify the country.

Remember when all we had to worry about was "what exactly did Clinton do with that cigar and the fat chick?"

Good times.

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Coat

Who needs terrorists to spread Fear..

If I'd a hoe I'd get the boise to use that...

(Mine's the Asscoat to go with the hat and bag.)

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Alien

Not so much a worry to fear ...more a fantasy *

"Remember when all we had to worry about was "what exactly did Clinton do with that cigar and the fat chick?"" .... By Joe K Posted Friday 25th April 2008 09:25 GMT

Obviously something which a wannabe President wasn't interested in, Joe K. Makes one wonder what lights her fire and why it didn't turn a hubby on.

* Not a fantasy in any number of PatPong's diversionary dens, though. And they'll hardly have the exclusive Franchise Rights ..... for also in ....... It's a funny old World and not a bit like you think it is, for it is only as big and as interesting as your own experience if you do not employ and live by your Imagination in the experience of others with other experiences ...... to take you out of your world and into theirs, which can then become yours with some Sublime Instruction ..... MkUltraProgramMIng........ and QuITe "Out of this World" can be the XXXXPerience for ITs Seasoned Travellers/ZerodDay Trippers.

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