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April 26, 2013: News Cleanse

My doctors inform me this country is ruining my health. It has been a cumbersome winter, and events have left me poorer for it. I go hardly a few seconds without hiccupping. My arteries resemble something like the piping of a bicycle pump left outside for a winter. My stomach can only hold down split-pea soup, weak tea, and lime Jell-O; anything else, I upchuck violently, spraying the detritus out of my mouth like a can of mace.

The human body is a perfect instrument, and thus, I must heed its call, and draw interpretations where my doctors cannot: American news is poisoning me, slowly sapping my bene esse. Have you got me? Yet still I continue. Just for you, the reader.

Every day of the past week has been, to quote Bob Hoskins in “The Long Good Friday,” kind of “like fuckin' Belfast on a bad night.” As the story of the Boston Marathon bombings continues to unfold, at least one thing is clear: the Tsarnaev brothers were stupid, grotesque burn-outs whose great accomplishment in life was to kill four people, one of them a child. They were not terror masterminds; young Dzhokhar, whose Twitter account seems like an extended performance art piece demonstrating the “banality of evil,” ran over his own brother fleeing the Watertown shoot-out, before shooting himself in the mouth – and surviving. Personal accounts of Tamerlan Tsarnaev seem to confirm what photographs only suggest: he was an arrogant prick, a bully, and possibly an experienced killer.

But there’s a disconnect here. The international terrorists who bombed the Marathon and killed a young MIT officer turned out to be two waterheads who’d be unqualified to shovel shit. Was not the threat somewhat overblown? And yet, the usual suspects were out in force – demanding we shred the already tattered Constitution, try Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an “enemy combatant,” and give him no Miranda warning prior to his confession. In America, an assault weapon you can buy with no ID at a gun show is not a federally classified “weapon of mass destruction” – but a Williams-Sonoma pressure cooker is.

Whatever. Tsarnaev’s life is already over, his death sentence a foregone conclusion, barring a dramatic turn of events (what if his confession is thrown out?). Yes, we’ll pad the law books with draconian law after draconian law to prevent people from making a dirty bomb out of their kitchen appliances, but will kill any attempt at gun control and quash any remaining workplace safety regulations.

After all, last week, the town of West, Texas was the site of an explosion the depraved Tamerlan Tsarnaev could only dream of inflicting. The explosion at the West Chemical and Fertilizer Company plant, which registered as a 2.1 magnitude earthquake and flattened buildings, killed at least fifteen people, mostly firefighters and paramedics. As the specter of legislation restricting the immigration of Muslims bounces around the echo chamber, less discussed are the regulatory failings that preceded the Texan disaster. As ProPublica reports,

“The fertilizer plant hadn’t been inspected by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 1985. Its owners do not seem to have told the Department of Homeland Security that they were storing large quantities of potentially explosive fertilizer, as regulations require. And the most recent partial safety inspection of the facility in 2011 led to $5,250 in fines.”

Negligence on a murderous scale – much like Wednesday’s events in Bangladesh, where a politically-connected building owner’s sweatshop complex collapsed, killing hundreds, despite visible cracks and government warnings to stay away.

There are many rooms in the mansion. And many weapons of mass destruction in this world.

General Gandhi

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