Sunday, January 18, 2015
Monday, December 8, 2014
Don't forget to order your copy of "Nuclear Road Trip-Onward to Destruction" from amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Nuclear-Road-Trip-Onward-Destruction-ebook/dp/B00OME9QO6
Is this the end of the world? From 'demonic' AI to nuclear war, seven scenarios that could end human race
Humanity may have already created its own nemesis, Professor Stephen Hawking warned last week. The Cambridge University physicist claimed that new developments in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) mean that within a few decades, computers thousands of times more powerful than in existence today may decide to usurp their creators and effectively end humanity's 100,000-year…
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Last month I published Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to the UN. He, a prominent, famous, well recognized person warned us all. DO NOT TAKE NUCLEAR LIGHTLY. So, please, take the time to read and spread the word of a novelist releasing her third work saying the same thing. It is meant to be fun, enjoyable reading. But it says the same thing. Thanks in advance. And here is the Prologue plus the first chapter. If you like it, the link to order it is at the end. My thoughts - just another voice to get the word out to the world. Help, please.
By Barbara Billig and Michelle McKeeth
Our book is fiction, grounded in reality and fictionalized current events; it will seem extraordinary at times. Right up until it becomes our true current event.
Nuclear Road Trip
By Barbara Billig and Michelle McKeeth
Our book is fiction, grounded in reality and fictionalized current events; it will seem extraordinary at times. Right up until it becomes our true current event.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the Author except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author's intellectual property. Thank you for your support of the author's rights.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Copyright: 2014, by Barbara Billig and Michelle McKeeth
THE FATUOUS BLOWHARD, Erich Schneider, was leaning over his desk, looking into a mirror placed directly in the center. He moved closer, and holding one nostril shut, sniffed deeply. The white powder on the mirror disappeared in a rush, hitting his brain with a jolt. He then inhaled through his other nostril; he loved the feeling of the jolt and the subsequent high.
He leaned back, thinking “aaahhhh,” when claxons began to reverberate loudly in his ears at monitor #3. “What the F?” he thought, jumping up from his chair. He glanced at the #3 monitor and saw the message: radiation exceeding maximum levels of emissions from stack.
He quickly scooped up the mirror, razor blade and the bag of white powder, folded a magazine around them and put the magazine with its contents in a file marked, “Classified.” This he stuffed into a desk drawer which he quickly locked. It was an extra cost for the powdered form, but he could afford it. Erich certainly did not want to do the work himself. It was called being inherently lazy.
Going to the door, he slid the deadbolt open and rushed past his secretary. “No calls, Margaret, not until I make sure this is under control,” he called out as he continued walking.
“What is happening, Dr. Schneider?” she shouted anxiously, trying to be heard over the ear-splitting noise. Margaret had heard one too many alarms blaring since she began working for Erich. Each occurrence made her want to quit and move west where there would be far fewer nuclear plants surrounding her - in all directions. The Chicago area was rife with them.
“Nothing to be concerned about, Margaret; it is probably just a bad sensor. But I want those damned alarms shut off,” he said brusquely as he turned into the corridor and headed for the main control room. “God, I could use another hit; this place with its constant stress and pressure is getting to me,” he thought to himself.
An employee wearing a white lab coat was coming toward him. As they came abreast of one another, the employee did a tight one-eighty, quickly swinging into step with Erich. “We are lowering the control rods now, Dr. Schneider,” he said loudly, albeit in a reassuring tone, searching Schneider’s face.
“Do NOT patronize me, young man,” he stormed. “What is the chance it has a bad sensor?” Dr. Schneider snapped, continuing to make his way quickly to the control room.
“Not good. Probably the same old, same old,” the employee answered.
“I do not know what they expect of this 44 year old piece of crap. Can you believe they renewed its license to operate until 2028? I cannot. How stupid can they be?” Schneider’s face was red from the fast pace in tandem with his anger. The effects from the cocaine weighed in heavily.
The main control room was ahead and he jerked the door open. “Turn off that damned siren,” shouted Schneider. “We got the message already. There is a problem. Shut that damned thing off!”
The claxons were finally silenced. “Ah,” he sighed, and thought, “The sound of silence really can be wonderful.”
He looked around at the various employees, most in lab coats, in front of the computer banks, dials and gauges.
A young woman stepped forward and said quietly but firmly, “The rods are dropped, sir. We are going to have to shut it down, however.” Her voice sounded almost like a whisper after the noise of the warning horns.
Dr. Schneider looked apoplectic. “Pancorp is going to have a cow. A massive one…and it is going to dump all over me,” he exclaimed. “The bad publicity, the lost revenue from a shutdown, angry customers, and the cost of repairs are bad enough. But the board and the shareholders will be looking for someone to sacrifice. Are you certain?” he asked, a pleading look in his eyes.
“Sorry, Doctor, but once again it is definitely a leak in the cooling pipes. They are old and have been patched in so many places already,” she shrugged. “A temporary patch simply will not do; it needs to be permanently repaired. We have to shut it down to remove the damaged section and weld a new pipe in its place. This time the hole is too large. We could replace all the piping, but that requires a permit. It would be really expensive, and the plant would probably be down for a year - at the very least.”
“Okay, okay,” he waved his arms in the air, declaring defeat. “No big deal; and we will not be down for a year replacing pipes. I will prepare yet another press release,” Erich looked up, focusing a glare while raising his voice. “No one here is to say a word to the media. Not if you value you jobs,” he said, grim-faced. “In fact, no one, and I mean no one,” he practically growled, “discusses this with anyone outside this plant, including spouses, lovers - hell, even pets! Is that understood?” he demanded, staring in turn at each person in the room. “I am certain I can have you arrested for treason if you do,” he assured them. “And you can enjoy Guantanamo Bay for the rest of your measly little lives,” he turned on his heel and stomped back toward his office.
When Dr. Schneider returned to his office, Margaret was busy answering the plant's phones. “Reporters are calling and asking what is going on—the alarms can be heard outside the plant,” she told him. “And the General Director of Pancorp called. They are sending five evaluators who work for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to the plant. He said to make sure the leak is repaired by the time they arrive. Pancorp wants to look like they care, but in order to downplay the seriousness of the situation, the evaluators have been given two weeks to arrive; they were essentially put on vacation. The plant, however, is to remain closed until they have finished their evaluation; the employees who were told to stay home are on paid leave. And the rest of the employees will stay unless told otherwise.” Margaret moved toward the keyboard of her computer. “I will print out the directive which just arrived by email.”
Dr. Schneider gazed blankly at Margaret for a moment, shaking his head in disbelief. “They are giving them a vacation when we are shut down? What the F?” he thought to himself for the second time that morning. He entered his office and dug out his magazine. He really needed another hit. Maybe two.
JAKARTIAN SAT IN the Barnes and Noble Book Store in Joliet, Illinois, west and south of Chicago. He was sipping the cheapest and smallest coffee the store had to offer, which he had loaded with sugar and cream at their expense. He sat watching the doorway. His name was really Jakarta, but felt Jakartian sounded more sophisticated and Jakartian did not make him sound like a city. He, as much as any other person, desired respect.
A dark-skinned man entered and casually glanced around the room before proceeding to the order station. After a few minutes, he had a cup of something hot and walked out the door into the parking lot.
Jakartian casually stood up, and he too left the book store. He followed the dark-skinned man as he continued around a corner within the covered shopping mall, leading him to a more deserted section. There was a vacant unit next to a music store where the dark-skinned man stopped, looking through the glass at nothing.
Jakartian approached and said casually, “Have you decided?”
The man responded, “No. We are still looking at a dirty bomb, or infecting their software, or both.”
“You have the contact, though? That came through?” Jakartian asked softly, but firmly for assurance.
“Yes. We believe we have someone who will work with us. We have had many discussions.”
“Do I need to know who?” Jakartian asked.
“No. No names. No email. No phones. They are watching everything. We are contacting each other through drops, just as you were contacted.”
“But you can get the virus for the software prepared.” Jakartian made it a statement, not a question as he would not tolerate hesitation.
“Again, yes. We have hackers just as everyone else does.”
“You know they allow no strange personnel in these nuclear plants. They all have to have security clearances. And they cannot bring in portable devices either, as they are always searched.”
“Snowdon had security clearances. How much good did it do them? None. And he was not allowed portable devices either. Everyone thinks a rule makes it happen.”
“So what is next?” posed Jakartian.
“Look into the water supply for the nuclear plant. Check out how the pipes bring it in and from what source. And get drawings or photos of the blueprints. They are public record. Look for vulnerable areas outside the facility,” replied the man.
“All right. Give me a week. Check my drop for the signal telling you I have the material prepared.” Jakartian moved casually away, tossing his empty Barnes and Noble cup into the trash.
The dark-skinned man walked the other direction.
Chapter One: John and Aadhil on vacation
“WHAT DOES ROUTE 66 have to do with anything?” asked John (Rocky) Rockford, a trim, solidly built 6' 5” tall man who exuded strength, reliability and trustworthiness: a rock among men. “Nowadays, it is no longer traveled with any degree of frequency. It is not even on the maps anymore, although there is a movement to put it back,” John smiled. “Did you know that parts have been overtaken by Interstate 40?”
“Darn it, Bear, stop licking me!” John grumbled for the umpteenth time, wiping his face with a towel he kept at hand. “Remind me why we brought this dog again?” asked John, although it was a rhetorical question and treated as such by Aadhil, who just grinned at John. Bear licked only John; it was a game they played. Well, Bear played anyway. He licked. John complained. It worked. It was routine. It was funny.
“More than thirteen million people now travel Route 66 each year, so that is probably why it will go back on the maps,” responded Aadhil Nazir proudly.
“Over the years it has been called, the “Will Rogers Highway,” “The Mother Road” and the “Main Street of America,” continued John, ignoring Aadhil’s comments. “And it stood as a symbol of opportunity, adventure and exploration for all travelers. It represented the golden years, when the world was still fresh and new, possibilities were endless, and life was simpler. It was completed in 1926 - about midway between WWI and WWII - but in 1985, Route 66 was officially decommissioned. The familiar highway markers came down, essentially closing the road. Oh, and it was also known for the song, “Get Your Kicks on Route Sixty-six” That was from the song, and the television show of the early 1960s, ‘Route 66’.” John was smiling with glee.
John was on a roll now. “Route 66 is a historical landmark. Its distance has changed over the years, from 2,448, in 1926 down to 2278 miles in 1947, running from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. It was the first cross-country road built and used extensively for travel, especially during the “dust bowl” years, which is somewhat ironic as it was initially a dusty, unpaved two-lane road. Parts of Interstate 40 eventually rolled right over it, so now there are bypasses and frontage roads. There are still many folks trying to make a living from Route 66 on those bypasses and frontage roads. Indeed, in a recent study done by the National Park Service, US Department of the Interior, more than $132,000,000 is spent per annum in communities along historic Route 66, shedding new light on the importance of preserving it. Money speaks,” he finished.
Route 66 was important to Aadhil Nazir. He wanted to better understand his country of choice, and Route 66 represented a major role in the making of the United States. He also wanted a much needed vacation, as did they all, so it had everything to do with him, and ultimately, with all of them.
“You have stolen my…my, I forget, but you have stolen it. Parade. That is it. Thief! How do you know so much about Route 66?” he demanded, now accusatory and suspicious. “You did not even want to come this way! Bear. Lick!” Bear obligingly licked John who wiped the slobber from his face with the handy towel while glaring at Aadhil.
“Well,” replied John, “you have forced me to take a vacation and travel the dusty trails, so to speak. I, therefore, read a little about it.”
“Some people have all the nerves,” replied a disgruntled Aadhil. “But I bet that is all you know.”
“You have me there, Aadhil. I‘ve given you everything I memorized from the guide book!”
“Good. Steal the parade from someone else in the future,” he blurted.
Aadhil Nazir was Muslim, still fighting for his place in a world. After twelve years of residency in the United States, he knew Muslims were largely disliked and automatically thought of as terrorists. Often he struggled with the concept of how to convey the reality that terrorists were a minority group, and not always Muslim.
Aadhil had very refined and pleasing features, with prominent cheekbones, black hair and nearly black, fathomless eyes. He was also a very good-natured, kind and gentle thirty-one year old man. Many of his colleagues considered him to be far too young to hold the degrees he had earned. Aadhil was a genius who achieved his PhD in nuclear engineering at the ripe old age of twenty-four. He accomplished this feat within a very suspicious country in which he was only now a new citizen, even though he had moved here at nineteen. He was 5’9”, of average build, usually hiding his musculature under Muslim garments. Friends and strangers alike found he always had their backs for a good cause because he was also a loyal and caring person. “This is my parade,” he declared, again wearing a determined look.
“Please stop the truck, John. Bear-Lee-a-Dog needs to take care of his business and have some water as he is thirsty,” Aadhil reached into the back seat to pet his yellow labrador retriever, who looked rather dashing in his red mesh ‘Service Dog’ harness.
“Did we not just do that?”
“Quit telling of the jokes, John. You know he has not done his business since before we left, and he must be thirsty as well. I know I am.”
Once they had stopped, Aadhil let Bear out the back door and began walking a short distance from the road, with Bear glued to his side.
John watched them, smiling fondly. Aadhil’s doctor had suggested to him that a service dog might help Aadhil deal with the stresses of his job. The doctor had written a medical need letter after Bear had been adopted. The medical letter permitted Bear immediate access to any facility or building. But the dog had progressed with more training far beyond his initial service designations. He was, as far as John knew, the only dog allowed within the walls of any of the sacrosanct nuclear power plants in the entire world, making him quite unique.
Bear, beloved as he was, even had his own harnesses in a variety of colors, announcing he was a Service Dog and was entitled to be accepted within any establishment. Aadhil kept Bear’s paperwork in his wallet, just in case he was detained for any reason. He also had several sets of work clothes, each with its own lightweight cooling system so Bear’s core temperature could be maintained between 100̊ and 102̊ while inside any plant. The dog’s work clothes were emblazoned upon the sides with the words, ‘Service Dog’ as well and ‘Do Not Pet’. These work clothes met two important standards. First Bear was clearly designated as a Service Dog, permitting him entry anywhere. And secondly the dog had a sterile uniform which controlled his hair and dander while he was inside a nuclear power plant. The garment was made of a very lightweight mesh with such small holes it appeared to be a solid fabric. It was constructed somewhat like the pads available for human beds which kept the dust mites at bay, but was lighter. The material, which controlled his hair and dander, was developed specially for him, and for the other dogs that might follow in Bear’s footsteps. He had become quite the phenomenon within the nuclear industry.
John was very fond of Bear, but grumbled when the dog licked him, just because he could. And it gave Aadhil a kick. Aadhil was his friend whom he had sponsored for his American Citizenship. He was hoping the two other team members they picked up in Albuquerque did not grumble about Bear when they saw a dog was traveling with them. Bear had earned his seat. Furthermore, as far as John was concerned, if either complained, that person could sit among the baggage for all he cared. When John died, he wanted to come back as a Bear-Lee-a-Dog IV, for someone as amazingly wonderful as Aadhil. Of course, at thirty nine, John hoped to wait awhile.
BACK IN THE CAR John and Aadhil were continuing their conversation as they sped along Route 66. “What are you talking about Aadhil?” John grumbled. “Caribou in one sentence and the Morristown, Illinois, nuclear power plant in the next? What do Caribou have to do with Morristown?” John Rockford turned piercing blue eyes to the right, glancing at his passenger. “Caribou. Really. They are in Alaska, and we are on Route 66, which is not even in the general direction of Alaska. By the way, it is a really slow way to travel,” he sighed.
A nervous passenger, Aadhil Nazir, replied, “Please keep your eyes on the road, John. Yes. Caribou. You know…2011,” he said.
“That was years ago—Know what?”
“Are you trying to be one of the groups that dismisses what happened in 2011?” asked Aadhil, he looked frustrated but slightly comical as the wind from the open window spiked his straight black hair.
“No, you are aware I know the significance of 2011. That nuclear disaster in Fukushima was one of the major events of the 21st century, not to be dismissed lightly. But I am on vacation now which is how I know you are not dressed appropriately,” John displayed an impish grin, dimples prominent, as he baited his friend. “He is such an easy target,” he thought.
“What is wrong with how I dress?”
“Well, you are wearing a t-shirt instead of a Kurta. And jeans? Really? I like your Kurtas and white baggy pants; they look so comfortable.”
“I am on vacation, also, remember? And I am American Citizen now,” Aadhil proudly announced, a glint in his eyes. “So I will be wearing of the jeans any time I want, and I want,” he retorted, with a curt nod. “And you are trying to change the subject, my friend. Again.”
“The Caribou population has been decimated, John. The herd normally declines an average of 3% per year, which is bad enough as it implies the herd die-off, and it has been declining for a very long time. But since 2011, it has dropped by 28%, for an overall decline of 52% in just 8 years. The largest drop in the herd occurred during 2011 and 2012,” Aadhil informed him, with a look resembling horror upon his face. “This is why Caribou are important. They are very important to us right now because of Fukushima. Studies have shown the airborne radiation has increased from Fukushima,” Aadhil concluded.
“What importance does it have right now?” John asked, still confused.
“Because of Morristown. Because of its leak.”
John shook his head, frowning. “Well, that situation is under control at the moment. They have closed the plant and fixed that leak; I thought we were on vacation,” was John’s retort. “We are going to be very, very busy once we get there, so we really need this vacation. Now.”
“We are, but the Fukushima meltdown had a severe impact upon both sea life and of the wildlife along the Western Coast of the United States. Don’t you wonder what it has doing to the people who live there?” he persisted. “And especially if they have been eating of the local seafood. Morristown uses the same Boiling Water Reactors as Fukushima did, but Morristown is so much older,” he commented, “and it has the leaking of the radioactive particles and gases, which is why we are traveling there now, and why Caribou are important.”
Aadhil slapped his forehead. He was not to be deterred. “The Caribou are important, yes, but what about the children? Who is to think of the children?” he cried.
Aadhil was so upset John pulled off the road and stopped the car, giving him a questioning look.
“What about the children? What children? What are you talking about?” John could clearly see Aadhil was agitated and about to panic, so he reached behind the seat and unbuckled Bear, calling him to jump into the front seat. Aadhil promptly wrapped his arms around his dog child.
“The children on the Western Coast, especially in Washington, and now even in Nevada. The Caribou and the children. In 2011, right after Fukushima, there was a sudden and dramatic spike in the number of children born with the horrid birth defects; especially the babies born with only the partial brains, or none at all. And almost all died immediately, but the parents suffered.” Aadhil wore a horrified look, and with good cause.
John blanched. He was completely focused upon what Aadhil had to say now, while silently berating himself for getting sucked into this conversation. He was not ignorant of the impact Fukushima had upon the populace; it was not as if he did not work in the industry. But their colleagues both in the United States and in Japan were almost fanatical in not admitting anything was wrong after the Fukushima disaster. Their state of denial was thought to be an effort to protect their jobs. So much money had been invested in nuclear plants the government was determined to continue their operation to generate profits. So somehow various groups associated with nuclear had refused to see all this information while in pursuit of their own goals.
Aadhil continued, his face buried Bear’s in fur. “These occurrences decreased in 2012, but are still happening.”
“I am so sorry, Aadhil, and you are right. It is catastrophic!” he exclaimed. “And Morristown, as you correctly pointed out, is a Boiling Water Reactor just like Fukushima. As old as it is, it probably should be permanently shut down.”
“Yes,” responded Aadhil tears streaming from his eyes, “and now, children in New Mexico are endangered because of WIPP, the nuclear waste interment pilot project treatment plant that is leaking there.”
“Thanks. Aadhil. One of the primary reasons I enjoy our friendship is because you are such a caring person; it is what caused me to want to be your friend. But this denial of consequences from nuclear accidents is a problem within our industry. It is good you have Bear. Perhaps, though, you should work on your emotions a little more, Aadhil. You store so much knowledge in your brain that you often become hyper-focused. That is why I think you don’t want to forget the children. Not even for a moment,” John added, sympathy clearly displayed in his eyes, along with sadness for all those endangered children and their families.
John continued, “Bear has an innate sense for knowing when you need him. I will move his seatbelt and he can stay upfront with us for now. Of course, Bear seems to sense that licking me will make you happy, so I will just …” John grunted while tugging the towel from beneath Bear, “hang on to this,” he smiled, dangling the towel in front of himself. As if on cue—lick, towel, sigh, and a chuckle or two ensued.
John moved Bear’s seat belt to the front seat and then restarted the SUV. They reentered traffic and proceeded along Route 66. “So, my friend, we must set these worries aside for now and move onward. Now, Morristown had a leak, which is very serious as it released radioactive material into the air. So, yes, we need to discover how and why, and fix this situation. Permanently. What you may not know, since I have not mentioned it, is that Pancorp is putting me in charge. I have the authority to do whatever it takes to either fix that plant from head to toe, or to shut it down permanently. This has been weighing heavily on my mind since we were ordered to Illinois by the NRC. We need to focus on Morristown, absolutely, and prevent more of the same.”
“But right here, right now, we enjoy our vacation and let work wait until we get there. Trust me,” John said, “it will still be there once we arrive,” John urged. “And they did give us this vacation time, and we have not had a vacation since I cannot even remember when. So we will use it as such. Then we will be relaxed and ready to hit it hard when we get to the Morristown nuclear power plant,” he said, a little more forcefully than intended. “You said this is a vacation, so vacation. And just think of poor Bear,” he gave Bear a sad look. “He has never been on vacation.” Lick. Sigh. Towel.
“This is true,” replied a guilty-looking Aadhil Nazir. “Eyes. Road. Thank you.” He gave Bear a big hug while Bear, never allowed to sit up front, enjoyed the sights.
“What did you want to stop and see?” John adroitly changed the subject. “Since this is a vacation, after all, and I can see you have been bursting with excitement all morning, where to McDuff?”
Aadhil looked very confused. “Who is McDuff, John?” Aadhil looked at John, a little worried about his sanity.
Small things made Aadhil happy, and John was willing to oblige. They were on Route 66 after all, which was certainly not his idea; he would have rather gone straight to Chicago to sightsee. That would have been a much more relaxing and enjoyable vacation. Chicago was a thriving metropolis.
“Why, you are McDuff, Aadhil. It is a joke,” said John, realizing this joke, like so many others, flew right over Aadhil’s head.
“Ah. I see,” he said, although he really did not. But that was okay with him since John thought it was funny. They were back on track for now. “Well, when we go to Missouri, we need to stop in Fanning to see the “Route 66 Rocking Chair,” he responded excitedly. “It was completed on April Fool’s Day as a joke and everyone thought it was funny because who would be looking for a rocking chair off Route 66?” he queried.
John could not help himself. “Okay, I’ll bite; what is so special about this rocking chair?” he asked. “They are a dime a dozen.”
“No, they are not,” he replied. Aadhil could be rather literal minded at times. “A good one is very expensive.”
Aadhil then looked at John, a huge grin forming upon his youthful face, an unmanly giggle escaping his lips and excitement glowing from his eyes. “This one is 42’1” tall and 20' 3” wide, and weighs 27,500 pounds. It does the rocking, although they have to keep it tied down as it would be very dangerous if it begins to rock and falls over. It was completed on April 1, 2008. I saw it on an annoying food show where this man eats a ton of food,” he shuddered, “and looked it up. I have been waiting for this for a long while.”
John smiled, a big grin forming upon his face while shaking his head in amusement. “You sound as if you are quoting text, but you are a font of information, Aadhil. And are we planning to sit in this chair?” he asked.
“That fat annoying eating machine did, but they had to hoist him up, so I do not know yet. He is famous. We are not. I hope we can. I have my camera, and four of us will be there to see,” he noted. “And the owner said if anyone is to build a bigger one, so will he, and he will call it “Mama Bear,” and the original would be the “Baby Bear.”
That did make John laugh heartily. “More Bears! Will our Bear go to the top if they let us?” Even he was looking forward to seeing the behemoth with Bear sitting on the rocking chair.
“We must see first if it is safe for him to be up so far from the ground,” responded Aadhil.
“What other sights have you chosen for our vacation?” John asked, giving in to the inevitable. “Or will we be bored until then? And where did you hide your itinerary? I have yet to see one.”
Aadhil pointed at his head. “Here,” he smiled. “is where I keep all good things,” he winked at John. “No, of course we will not suffer boredom. Did you know the original Route 66 was unpaved?” he asked, reverting back to guide book mode. “And for your predilection,” he smiled broadly, “we have The Rock Café, halfway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. The Rock Café had burned to the ground at one point, but it was re-built from sandstone that was removed as Route 66 was being constructed. It was completed the same time as Route 66 was finished in Santa Monica. Now it is historically significant,” he proudly informed John, “And do not forget that most people call you Rocky, so you should be right at home there.”
“Ha! How many of these sights you have so carefully chosen are just places for you to eat to fill that bottomless pit you call a stomach?” laughed John.
Aadhil frowned at him. “None, but this one is important to Route 66 and just happens to be someplace where we can have an eat. It is a lucky happenstance, yes? As will be the others,” he gave John an impish grin. “How far have we traveled?” he asked.
“About 90 miles. Why?” queried John.
“Because the Petrified Forest is 120 miles from Flagstaff, right off Route 66. It should be our first stop because we need to take a break for Bear every two hours,” he pointed out. “We are very close. I hope the restaurant is tasty.”
“Really?” exclaimed John. “Are you planning on eating the restaurant, Aadhil?” he joked.
“I do not understand you John. Have you the crazies?”
John was chuckling. “No, Aadhil; I was joking because you said you hoped the restaurant is tasty, not the food at the restaurant.”
“It is very clear to me that you are trying too hard to be funny, John.”
John was still chuckling but Aadhil continued. “Yes. Well, it is 142 miles from Palo Verde to Route 66 by Flagstaff, and another 120 miles to the Petrified Forest. Even you must be getting hungry, John.”
“Well, yes, but please do not tell my friend, Aadhil, or he will start teasing me.”
They both laughed and drove on in companionable silence. They had worked together for seven years and considered themselves close friends.
When they were almost to the desert area known as the Petrified Forest, they stopped at a local pub to enjoy cheeseburgers smothered with grilled onions surrounded by curly fries. John had a beer while Aadhil, as a Muslim, drank water. Of course. Bear-Lee-a-Dog ate his kibble and slurped his water with gusto. His water was bottled by a well-known US manufacturer and cases of it were packed for him when he traveled. His stomach, therefore, would not be exposed to possible upsets from local water sources. After getting a tiny bite of burger as a treat, the dog smiled and thought, “This vacation is pretty much fun.”
While they were eating, John mentioned his sister, Chloe, who had once asked about petrified wood. She wanted to know if it could be burned in the fireplace. “She was born late in my mother’s life, and was only twelve at the time. She was so upset when I told her it really is not wood anymore, but rock. The striated colors come from the various iron and manganese compounds in the rock. On a sunny day these produce vibrant reds and oranges. The wood petrifies to become something else while still maintaining the look of wood.”
“She gave me a look full of horror because she thought it was just really old wood which had dried out and become really hard over all the millennia. I think it was a week before she would speak with me again,” he said. “Even now, she still gives me the stink eye as she states, “petrified wood.”
Aadhil looked appropriately sympathetic. Mostly. He could also see her side, and hers was the more charming concept.
They had a fun afternoon sightseeing through the National Monument with Bear. After they exited the park Bear was allowed to go off leash so he could sniff everything around him, and there was a lot to be sniffed. Aadhil even allowed him to briefly chase a squirrel before returning to the truck.
As they both approached the truck, Aadhil attached Bear's leash, which Aadhil handed to John. “Will you put him in and get him settled? I have a quick phone call to make,” he said by way of explanation.
John nodded and proceeded to open the back door for Bear so he could jump into the truck. He was removing the leash but noticed Aadhil had moved a short distance away. He could hear him speaking to someone. But the conversation was in a foreign language.
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Benjamin Netanyahu , prime minister of Israel, spoke to the United Nations of Monday, September 29, 2014. His speech was on the subject of terrorism and the Islamic militants. The whole of his speech is printed below but important points are highlighted.
Most of us today did not experience World War II. It was a terrible time with countries such as France and England having major cities destroyed. Estimates are from fifty to eighty million people were killed in that war. And what caused this war? Fanaticism. Hitler decided his way was the best way and set out to conquer the world, leaving a swath of destruction behind him in terms of people and property.
Today we are faced with fanaticism from the Islamic Militants. Throw in the nuclear capabilities card and it is a grave danger we should not take lightly. They believe in killing to get their way. And they believe that "they are right", and use it as a validation to kill. Hitler was a psychopath. A psychopath is someone who does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, because this is what he wants... whether it harms others or not.
We saw the twin towers go down in New York with the Pentagon crashed into with another airplane on the same day. That took the lives of (according to Wikipedia) approximately 3000 people. That's a small start to what would happen in World War 3. You think the Islamic Militants wouldn't have been absolutely delighted to bring an atomic bomb on board each of those planes? Netanyahu's speech is stating that we must see what is ahead of us. Ignoring these facts, underestimating their strength, will lead to only our downfall.
Why am I writing about this...am I Jewish? No. I am agnostic from a christian background. But I do believe in the dangers of nuclear. There are positive aspects of nuclear...but there are many more dangerous aspects which might bring down humanity. Hitler was ignored for years by America before we finally joined World War II. Let us not ignore the dangers from the Islamic Militants as outlined by Netanyahu. I think it was one of the great speeches of the 21st century.
Transcript of Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the 2014 UN General Assembly
PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: Thank you, Mr. President. Distinguished delegates, I come here from Jerusalem to speak on behalf of my people, the people of Israel. I've come here to speak about the dangers we face and about the opportunities we seek. I've come here to expose the brazen lies spoken from this very podium against my country and against the brave soldiers who defend it.
Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Israel pray for peace, but our hopes and the world’s hopes for peace are in danger because everywhere we look militant Islam is on the march. It’s not militants. It’s not Islam. It’s militant Islam. And typically its first victims are other Muslims, but it spares no one: Christians, Jews, Yazidis, Kurds. No creed, no faith, no ethnic group is beyond its sights. And it’s rapidly spreading in every part of the world.
You know the famous American saying, all politics is local? For the militant Islamists, all politics is global, because their ultimate goal is to dominate the world. Now, that threat might seem exaggerated to some since it starts out small, like a cancer that attacks a particular part of the body. But left unchecked, the cancer grows, metastasizing over wider and wider areas. To protect the peace and security of the world, we must remove this cancer before it’s too late.
Last week, many of the countries represented here rightly applauded President Obama for leading the effort to confront ISIS, and yet weeks before, some of these same countries, the same countries that now support confronting ISIS, opposed Israel for confronting Hamas. They evidently don’t understand that ISIS and Hamas are branches of the same poisonous tree.
ISIS and Hamas share a fanatical creed, which they both seek to impose well beyond the territory under their control. Listen to ISIS’ self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This is what he said two months ago: A day will soon come when the Muslim will walk everywhere as a master. The Muslims will cause the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism and destroy the idol of democracy. Now listen to Khaled Mashal, the leader of Hamas. He proclaims a similar vision of the future: We say this to the West -- by Allah you will be defeated. Tomorrow our nation will sit on the throne of the world.
As Hamas’ charter makes clear, Hamas’ immediate goal is to destroy Israel, but Hamas has a broader objective. They also want a caliphate. Hamas shares the global ambitions of its fellow militant Islamists, and that’s why its supporters wildly cheered in the streets of Gaza as thousands of Americans were murdered in 9/11, and that’s why its leaders condemn the United States for killing Osama bin Laden whom they praised as a holy warrior.
So when it comes to their ultimate goals, Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas. And what they share in common all militant Islamists share in common. Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al-Shabab in Somalia, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Al-Nusra in Syria, the Mahdi army in Iraq, and the Al-Qaida branches in Yemen, Libya, the Philippines, India and elsewhere.
Some are radical Sunnis, some are radical Shiites, some want to restore a pre-medieval caliphate from the seventh century, others want to trigger the apocalyptic return of an imam from the ninth century. They operate in different lands, they target different victims and they even kill each other in their battle for supremacy. But they all share a fanatic ideology. They all seek to create ever-expanding enclaves of militant Islam where there is no freedom and no tolerance, where women are treated as chattel, Christians are decimated and minorities are subjugated, sometimes given the stark choice, convert or die. For them, anyone can be considered an infidel, including fellow Muslims.
Ladies and gentlemen, militant Islam’s ambition to dominate the world seems mad, but so too did the global ambitions of another fanatic ideology that swept into power eight decades ago. The Nazis believed in a master race. The militant Islamists believe in a master faith. They just disagree who among them will be the master of the master faith. That’s what they truly disagree about. And therefore, the question before us is whether militant Islam will have the power to realize its unbridled ambitions.
There is one place where that could soon happen -- the Islamic State of Iran. For 35 years, Iran has relentlessly pursued the global mission which was set forth by its founding ruler, Ayatollah Khomeini, in these words. “We will export our revolution to the entire world until the cry ‘there is no god but Allah’ will echo throughout the world over.” And ever since, the regime’s brutal enforcers, Iran’s revolutionary guards, have done exactly that.
Listen to its current commander, General Mohammad Ali Jafari. And he clearly stated his goal. He said “Our imam did not limit the Islamic revolution to this country, our duty is to prepare the way for an Islamic world government.”
Iran’s President Rohani stood here last week and shed crocodile tears over what he called the globalization of terrorism. Maybe he should spare us those phony tears and have a word instead with the commanders of Iran’s revolutionary guards. He could ask them to call off Iran’s global terror campaign, which has included attacks in two dozen countries on five continents since 2011 alone.
You know, to say that Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying Derek Jeter never played shortstop for the New York Yankees. This is -- this bemoaning by the Iranian president of the spread of terrorism has got to be one of history’s greatest displays of doubletalk.
Now, some argue that Iran’s global terror campaign, its subversion of countries throughout the Middle East and well beyond the Middle East, some argue that this is the work of the extremists. They say things are changing. They point to last year’s election in Iran. They claim that Iran’s smooth-talking president and foreign minister, they’ve changed not only the tone of Iran’s foreign policy but also its substance. They believe that Rohani and Zarif (generally/genuinely ?) want to reconcile with the West, that they’ve abandoned the global mission of the Islamic Revolution. Really?
So let’s look at what Foreign Minister Zarif wrote in his book just a few years ago:
We have a fundamental problem with the West, and especially with America. This is because we are heirs to a global mission which is tied to our raison d'être, a global mission which is tied to our very reason for being.
And then Zarif asks a question -- I think an interesting one. He says: How come Malaysia -- he’s referring to an overwhelmingly Muslim country -- how come Malaysia doesn’t have similar problems? And he answers: Because Malaysia is not trying to change the international order.
That’s your moderate. So don’t be fooled by Iran’s manipulative charm offensive. It’s designed for one purpose and for one purpose only: to lift the sanctions and remove the obstacles to Iran’s path to the bomb. The Islamic Republic is now trying to bamboozle its way to an agreement that will remove the sanctions it still faces and leave it with a capacity of thousands of refugees -- of centrifuges, rather -- to enrich uranium. This would effectively cement Iran’s place as a threshold military nuclear power. And in the future, at the time of its choosing, Iran, the world’s most dangerous regime, in the world’s most dangerous region, would obtain the world’s most dangerous weapons. Allowing that to happen would pose the gravest threat to us all. It’s one thing to confront militant Islamists on pickup trucks armed with Kalashnikov rifles. It’s another thing to confront militant Islamists armed with weapons of mass destruction.
I remember that last year, everyone here was rightly concerned about thechemical weapons in Syria, including the possibility that they would fall into the hands of terrorists. Well, that didn’t happen, and President Obama deserves great credit for leading the diplomatic effort to dismantle virtually all of Syria’s chemical weapons capability. Imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic State, ISIS, would be if it possessed chemical weapons. Now imagine how much more dangerous the Islamic state of Iran would be if it possessed nuclear weapons.
Ladies and gentlemen, would you let ISIS enrich uranium? Would you let ISIS build a heavy water reactor? Would you let ISIS develop intercontinental ballistic missiles? Of course you wouldn’t. Then you mustn’t let the Islamic state of Iran do those things either, because here’s what will happen. Once Iran produces atomic bombs, all the charms and all the smiles will suddenly disappear. They’ll just vanish. And it’s then that the ayatollahs will show their true face and unleash their aggressive fanaticism on the entire world.
There’s only one responsible course of action to address this threat. Iran’s nuclear military capabilities must be fully dismantled. (Applause.) Make no mistake: ISIS must be defeated. But to defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war.
Ladies and gentlemen, the fight against militant Islam is indivisible. When militant Islam succeeds anywhere, it’s emboldened everywhere. When it suffers a blow in one place, it’s set back in every place. That’s why Israel’s fight against Hamas is not just our fight, it’s your fight. Israel is fighting a fanaticism today that your countries may be forced to fight tomorrow. For 50 days this past summer Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel, many of them supplied by Iran. I want you to think about what your countries would do if thousands of rockets were fired at your cities. Imagine millions of your citizens having seconds at most to scramble to bomb shelters day after day. You wouldn’t let terrorists fire rockets at your cities with impunity, nor would you let terrorists dig dozens of terror tunnels under your borders to infiltrate your towns in order to murder and kidnap your citizens. Israel justly defended itself against both rocket attacks and terror tunnels. (Applause.)
Yet Israel faced another challenge. We faced a propaganda war because in an attempt to win the world sympathy, Hamas cynically used Palestinian civilians as human shields. It used schools -- not just schools; UN schools -- private homes, mosques, even hospitals to store and fire rockets at Israel. As Israel surgically struck at the rocket launchers and at the tunnels, Palestinian civilians were tragically but unintentionally killed. There are heartrending images that resulted, and these fueled libelous charges that Israel was deliberately targeting civilians. We were not. We deeply regret every single civilian casualties.
And the truth is this: Israel was doing everything to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas was doing everything to maximize Israeli civilian casualties and Palestinian civilian casualties. Israel dropped flyers, made phone calls, sent text messages, broadcast warnings in Arabic on Palestinian television, all this to enable Palestinian civilians to evaluate targeted areas. No other country and no other army in history have gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties among the civilian population of their enemies. (Applause.)
Now, this concern for Palestinian life was all the more remarkable given that Israeli civilians were being bombarded by rockets day after day, night after night. And as their families were being rocketed by Hamas, Israel’s citizen army, the brave soldiers of the IDF, our young boys and girls, they upheld the highest moral values of any army in the world. (Applause.) Israel’s soldiers deserve not condemnation but admiration, admiration from decent people everywhere. (Applause.)
Now, here is what Hamas did. Here is what Hamas did. Hamas embedded its missile batteries in residential areas and told Palestinians to ignore Israel’s warnings to leave. And just in case people didn’t get the message, they executed Palestinian civilians in Gaza who dared to protest. And no less reprehensible, Hamas deliberately placed its rockets where Palestinian children live and play. Let me show you a photograph. It was taken by a France 24 crew during the recent conflict. It shows two Hamas rocket launchers, which were used to attack us. You see three children playing next to them. Hamas deliberately put its rockets in hundreds of residential areas like this -- hundreds of them.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a war crime. And I say to President Abbas, these are the crimes, the war crimes, committed by your Hamas partners in the national unity government which you head and you are responsible for. And these are the real war crimes you should have investigated or spoken out against from this podium last week. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, as Israel’s children huddle in bomb shelters and Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense knocked Hamas rockets out of the sky, the profound moral difference between Israel and Hamas couldn’t have been clearer. Israel was using its missiles to protect its children. Hamas was using its children to protect its missiles. (Applause.)
By investigating Israel rather than Hamas for war crimes, the UN Human Rights Council has betrayed its noble mission to protect the innocent. In fact, what it’s doing is to turn the laws of war upside down. Israel, which took unprecedented steps to minimize civilian casualties -- Israel is condemned. Hamas, which both targeted and hid behind civilians -- that’s a double war crime -- Hamas is given a pass.
The Human Rights Council is thus sending a clear message to terrorists everywhere: Use civilians as a human shield. Use them again and again and again. And you know why? Because, sadly, it works. By granting international legitimacy to the use of human shields, the UN Human Rights Council has thus become a terrorist rights council, and it will have repercussions -- it probably already has -- about the use of civilians as human shields. It’s not just our interests. It’s not just our values that are under attack. It’s your interests and your values.
Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world steeped in tyranny and terror where gays are hanged from cranes in Tehran, political prisoners are executed in Gaza, young girls are abducted en masse in Nigeria, and hundreds of thousands are butchered in Syria, Libya and Iraq, yet nearly half -- nearly half of the UN Human Rights Council’s resolutions focusing on a single country have been directed against Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East; Israel, where issues are openly debated in a boisterous parliament, where human rights are protected by the -- by independent courts, and where women, gays and minorities live in a genuinely free society.
The human rights -- that’s an oxymoron, the human -- UN Human Rights Council, but I’ll use it just the same. The council’s biased treatment of Israel is only one manifestation of the return of one of the world’s largest prejudices. We hear mobs today in Europe call for the gassing of Jews. We hear some national leaders compare Israel to the Nazis. This is not a function of Israel’s policies. It’s a function of diseased minds. and that disease has a name. It’s called anti-Semitism. It is now spreading in polite society where it masquerades as legitimate criticism of Israel.
For centuries the Jewish people have been demonized with blood libels and charges of deicide. Today the Jewish state is demonized with the apartheid libel and charges of genocide -- genocide. In what moral universe does genocide include warning the enemy civilian population to get out of harm's way, or ensuring that they receive tons -- tons of humanitarian aid each day even as thousands of rockets are being fired at us, or setting up a field hospital to aid their wounded?
Well, I suppose it's the same moral universe where a man who wrote a dissertation of lies about the Holocaust and who insists on a Palestine free of Jews -- Judenrein -- can stand at this podium and shamelessly accuse Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing. In the past, outrageous lies against the Jews were the precursors to the wholesale slaughter of our people, but no more. Today, we, the Jewish people, have the power to defend ourselves. We will defend ourselves against our enemies on the battlefield -- (applause) -- we will expose their lies against us in the court of public opinion. Israel will continue to stand proud and unbowed. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, despite the enormous challenges facing Israel, I believe we have a historic opportunity. After decades of seeing Israel as their enemy, leading states in the Arab world increasingly recognize that together, we and they face many of the same dangers, and principally, this means a nuclear-armed Iran and militant Islamist movements gaining ground in the Sunni world. Our challenge is to transform these common interests to create a productive partnership, one that would build a more secure, peaceful and prosperous Middle East. Together, we can strengthen regional security, we can advance projects in water and agricultural, in transportation and health and energy in so many fields.
I believe the partnership between us can also help facilitate peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Now, many have long assumed that an Israeli-Palestinian peace can help facilitate a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world. But these days, I think it may work the other way around, namely that a broader rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world may help facilitate an Israeli-Palestinian peace. And therefore, to achieve that peace, we must look not only to Jerusalem and Ramallah but also to Cairo, to Amman, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and elsewhere.
I believe peace can be realized with the active involvement of Arab countries -- those that are willing to provide political, material and other indispensable support. I'm ready to make a historic compromise, not because Israel occupies a foreign land. The people of Israel are not occupiers in the land of Israel. (Applause.) History, archaeology and common sense all make clear that we have had a singular attachment to this land for over 3,000 years.
I want peace because I want to create a better future for my people, but it must be a genuine peace -- one that is anchored in mutual recognition and enduring security arrangements -- rock solid security arrangements on the ground, because you see, Israeli withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza created two militant Islamic enclaves on our borders for which tens of thousands of rockets have been fired at Israel, and these sobering experiences heightens Israel's security concerns (regarding ?) potential territorial concessions in the future.
Now, those security concerns are even greater today. Just look around you. The Middle East is in chaos, states are disintegrating, and militant Islamists are filling the void. Israel cannot have territories from which it withdraws taken over by Islamic militants yet again, as happened in Gaza and Lebanon. That would place the likes of ISIS within mortar range, a few miles, of 80 percent of our population.
Now think about that. The distance between the 1967 lines and the suburbs of Tel Aviv is like the distance between the UN building here and Times Square. Israel is a tiny country. That’s why in any peace agreement, which will obviously necessitate a territorial compromise, I will always insist that Israel be able to defend itself by itself against any threat. (Applause.)
And yet despite everything that has happened, some still don’t take Israel’s security concerns seriously. But I do and I always will -- (applause) -- because as prime minister of Israel, I’m entrusted with the awesome responsibility of ensuring the future of the Jewish people and the future of the Jewish state. And no matter what pressure is brought to bear, I will never waiver in fulfilling that responsibility. (Applause.)
I believe that with a fresh approach from our neighbors, we can advance peace despite the difficulties we face. See, in Israel, we have a record of making the impossible possible. We’ve made a desolate land flourish, and with very few natural resources, we’ve used the fertile minds of our people to turn Israel into a global center of technology and innovation, and peace, of course, would enable Israel to realize its full potential and to bring a promising future not only for our people, not only for the Palestinian people, but for many, many others in our region.
But the old template for peace must be updated. It must take into account new realities and new roles and responsibilities for our Arab neighbors.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a new Middle East. It presents new dangers but also new opportunities. Israel is prepared to work with Arab partners and the international community to confront those dangers and to seize those opportunities. Together, we must recognize the global threat of militant Islam, the primacy of dismantling Iran’s nuclear weapons capability and the indispensable role of Arab states in advancing peace with the Palestinians. All this may fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth, and the truth must always be spoken, especially here in the United Nations. (Applause.)
Isaiah, our great prophet of peace, taught us nearly 3,000 years ago in Jerusalem to speak truth to power. (Speaks in Hebrew.) For the sake of Zion, I will not be silent, for the sake of Jerusalem, I will not be still until her justice shines bright and her salvation glows like a flaming torch.
Ladies and gentlemen, let us light a torch of truth and justice to safeguard our common future. Thank you. (Applause.)