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F-16 strafes New Jersey school

Shock and Awe

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In a night time attack, a bomber has shelled a New Jersey school - only two days after the re-election of George W Bush as US president. But warbloggers, put down your wikis. It's not the French, and not, it seems, even a foreign airforce. The US Air Force has admitted that it made the attack, and confirmed that it was an F-16 bomber that attacked Little Egg Harbor Intermediate School in southern New Jersey late last night.

A caretaker at the school, who was the only person in the building, reported hearing "what sounded like someone running across the roof", according to AP. Which doesn't sound anything like Donald Rumsfeld's Shock And Awe, or the pictures that Fox News showed us during the recent demonstration of military firepower in Baghdad last year. Many of you will have run across the roof of your school, without causing damage on a scale usually associated with the visit of the United States Air Force. Shouldn't the school at least have been vaporized, vanishing in a puff of smoke? Perhaps the under-funded military, stretched by the occupation of Iraq, has got so desperate it's firing rolled-up copies of New Yorker magazine at targets instead. (You have to wonder - and tips here, please you guys in the know).

The school is close to an Air Force firing range, so "computer error" may eventually be cited. In which case, we're almost certainly interested. Earlier this year the FBI blamed computers for their own bad detective work. The Feds' faith in useless social software and their religious belief in the naturally good, naturally digital fingerprint software systems was so strong, that shortly before the Madrid bombings, they arrested an innocent man who'd never been to Spain. Alternatively the senior staff at the USAF may blame the amphetamine-wired pilot, but that would mean opening a whole new can of worms for the service, which is unlikely.

Either way, the US military's brightest brains at DARPA are trying to create machines that look and act like humans, at the same time as trying to make their human staff behave as super machine-like as possible. Something had to give. ®

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