U.S. To Send 30,000 Mall Security Guards To Iraq

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Vol 40 Issue 45

Political Blogger Mass Suicide To Be Discovered In Several Weeks

BOSTON—By examining web-traffic data for left-leaning DailyKos.com, researchers have predicted that the mass suicide of 14 political bloggers will likely be discovered sometime in mid-December. "After months of doing nothing but sit alone in our rooms at our computers, trying to get our message to the people, we lost the election anyway," read the still-unread suicide pact posted Nov. 3. "We'd rather be dead than live in a country as fucked up as this one." The bodies will most likely be found by property managers, long-estranged parents, or neighbors returning copies of Joe Trippi's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

Procrastinating Catholic 20 Rosaries Behind

BOSTON—Following three trips to the confessional in recent months, Paul McMullen has a backlog of 20 recitations of the rosary, the 32-year-old Catholic reported Monday. "Father O'Riordan gave me three rosaries last time, five the time before, and I still had 12 left over from last month," McMullan said. "I tried doing the 'Hail Marys' and the 'Our Fathers' on my way to work, but I kept losing my place during the Sorrowful Mysteries." McMullan said he plans to stop going to confession for a few months so he can catch up.

Amount Of Halloween Candy Collected Down 15 Percent

WASHINGTON, DC—According to data released Monday by the Federal Confectionery Reserve, the amount of candy collected by U.S. children this Halloween dropped 15 percent from 2003. "As the treating indicator plainly shows, our Snickers, Dum Dums, and Bit-O-Honey numbers were far below projections," FCR chairman Bert Worak said. "As we head into the next quarter, we should brace ourselves for a sharp reduction in levels of childhood wonder." Bennett also cautioned against counting on Santa Claus to boost candy acquisitions during the coming months.

Prehistoric Discoveries

This year, paleontologists made a number of important discoveries about prehistoric times, including the existence of a 40-inch-tall species of human, as well as that of an early, feathered relative of the Tyrannosurus Rex. What are some other recent discoveries?

The Republican Majority

Last week, Bush became the first Republican president to be re-elected with House and Senate majorities since 1924. What do you think?

Nation's Poor Win Election For Nation's Rich

WASHINGTON, DC—The economically disadvantaged segment of the U.S. population provided the decisive factor in another presidential election last Tuesday, handing control of the government to the rich and powerful once again.
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U.S. To Send 30,000 Mall Security Guards To Iraq

WASHINGTON, DC—Pressed for additional troops to police the Iraqi general elections scheduled for January, the Pentagon announced Monday that it will dispatch 30,000 U.S. shopping-mall security guards to the troubled Sunni Triangle region.

A Brenneman Security guard, previously employed by the Northway Mall in Phoenix, patrols a Najaf street.

"A force of security guards trained to protect retail stores across America will be deployed to the Persian Gulf region," said Maj. Peter Archibald, a spokesman for Central Command. "Once in Iraq, security teams will fortify ground forces and assist them in keeping the peace and quelling any horseplay."

According to Archibald, the Pentagon wanted to bolster forces in Iraq without further extending the tours of soldiers currently in the theater. The solution should offer the additional advantage, Archibald said, of potentially dispelling the public's rising concerns over a possible military draft.

"We found that mall security guards are as well-trained and ready to face danger as the coalition-trained military police," Archibald said. "They may not have the power of arrest, but real authority is only a walkie-talkie call away."

Hired by the Defense Department through a number of licensed, reputable firms, the security guards will work independent of the roughly 135,000 troops currently stationed in Iraq. The guards will receive an hourly wage from the U.S. government, and they will be eligible for health and dental benefits after six months.

A test deployment of 1,000 mall security guards to Najaf in September convinced skeptical coalition officials that private-sector security forces provide a palpable sense of order.

"Iraqi patrons of mall-guard-patrolled marketplaces—the Iraqi equivalent of our nation's food courts—reported that the guards' uniformed presence was unobtrusive or even reassuring," Archibald said. "While many Iraqis are intimidated by soldiers from the U.S., they were largely able to disregard the mall security forces."

Archibald said that casualty rates for the mall security guards were only slightly higher than those among Iraqi police forces.

Bobby Adcock, 27, of Bakersfield, CA, was rejected for military service in August 2002, due to poor eyesight and excessive weight. He was hired by A-Star Security shortly thereafter, and was surprised to find himself patrolling an Iraqi bazaar in a Ford Taurus two years later.

"The work is similar in a lot of ways," Adcock said, pausing mid-sentence to order a nearby Iraqi to pick up a candy wrapper and a blood-spattered keffiyeh. "I thought maybe I'd be dodging artillery fire and flushing insurgents out of hiding places, but mostly I stand around and keep my eyes peeled for trouble. Just the other day, we caught some vandals spray-painting 'Go home USA' on the side of a building. Then, there's the suspicious package sightings. Fortunately, a good number of those turn out to be false alarms."

"All in all, it's an okay assignment," Adcock said. "The food is strange, except for those lamb kebabs. Those aren't bad. The break room is just a shed out in back of a used-electronics store, but I don't want to complain. I'm getting a lot of overtime."

Dale London, 47, is employed by Five-Eagle Security, based in Ames, IA. A former Loews Cineplex security guard who spent three years as an airport metal-detector operator, London now patrols the streets of Najaf.

"I had to retrain my eye to spot the particular dangers over here in sand-land," London said. "Yesterday, this kid with a bulge down his shirtfront comes around the corner. When I ask him to undo his jacket, wouldn't you know, there's a grenade launcher. Well, I hustled his keister right behind the falafel stand and told him the next time I saw his face around here, I'd turn him over to the coalition. Then I called his mullah to come pick him up."

Added London: "I never figured out where he shoplifted the grenade launcher from, so I took it to our lost and found. If any Najaf shopkeepers out there are missing a grenade launcher, they should contact me, Dale London, at the Five-Eagle Security station. It's near the grocery where they sell that funny sesame candy."

While the security guards' power is limited by international law, they are authorized to alert coalition forces in the event of trouble. Last week, a Marine platoon was dispatched after Adcock noticed that a vehicle had been parked unattended in an abandoned lot for several hours.

"We inspected the car, but it contained no bomb or weapons," Marine Sgt. Michael Shahinian, 25, said. "Weird thing is, turns out the call came from this guy Bobby Adcock, who was two grades above me at Bakersfield High School. I guess he's a pop cop working here now. Holy shit. I wonder if he ever did pass that shop class we had together."

Rebecca Chatelain, a research associate at the Institute For Defense Analysis, expressed misgivings over the use of mall security guards in Iraq.

"The situation there is extremely volatile," Chatelain said. "The guards may provide a layer of security, but it's more psychological than actual. Any determined insurgent will soon discover how easy it is to overcome a lightly armed, out-of-shape mall cop. I'd hate to see a repeat of what happened in Somalia."

Chatelain was referring to a 1993 incident in which several dozen American prom chaperones were sent to Somalia along with U.N. peacekeeping troops. All were shot by factional guerrillas within hours of their arrival.

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