Posts Tagged ‘Osama

Bin Laden Family To Build World’s Tallest Skyscraper

- August 2nd, 2011

Saudi Skyscraper 1_

The construction company owned and operated by Osama bin Laden’s family has been commissioned to build the world’s tallest building in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Prince  Alwaleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family and 26th richest person in the world (according to Forbes magazine), announced Tuesday that his Kingdom Holding Company will put up the $1.23 billion to build the skyscraper that will soar one kilometre (3,281 feet) into the desert sky near the Red Sea.

To be called the Kingdom Tower, the megacomplex will be 173 metres (568 feet) taller than the current record holder, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa (the red building below).

Burj Khalifa 2

(The Burj Khalifa has been completed  for almost two years and is still, as I understand it, half empty.)

Here are some photos of what’s planned for the Kingdom Tower. Architect Adrian Smith (who also designed the Burj Khalifa) said the new monstrosity is supposed to remind you of a desert plant.

Saudi Skyscraper 2

Saudi Skyscraper 5

Saudi Skyscraper 3

The Kingdom Tower will be built by the Bin Laden Group, the construction company formed by Osama’s father Mohammad in the 1930s, which grew into a megarich conglomerate constructing palaces and expanding religious holy sites for the Saudi Royal family over the past 80 years.

Most of Osama’s 53 brothers and sisters cut ties with the al Qaida leader (officially, anyway) in 1994 when he was stripped of his Saudi citizenship for criticizing the royal family and — oh, yeah — plotting terrorist activities.

The Kingdom Tower, which will take more than five years to build,  will be so big it’s hard to grasp the scale. To help, here’s a bit of what Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture had to say in their news release about the project:

At over 1,000 metres and a total construction area of 530,000 square metres (5.7 million square feet), Kingdom Tower will be the centerpiece and first construction phase of the Kingdom City development on a 5.3 million-square-metre site in north Jeddah. The tower’s height will be at least 173 metres (568 feet) taller than the world’s current tallest building, Dubai’s 828-metre-tall Burj Khalifa, which was designed by Adrian Smith while at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Kingdom Tower will feature a Four Seasons hotel, Four Seasons serviced apartments, Class A office space, luxury condominiums and the world’s highest observatory…

The sleek, streamlined form of the tower was inspired by the folded fronds of young desert plant growth, Gordon Gill added. “The way the fronds sprout upward from the ground as a single form, then start separating from each other at the top, is an analogy of new growth fused with technology…”

The three-petal footprint is ideal for residential units, and the tapering wings produce an aerodynamic shape that helps reduce structural loading due to wind vortex shedding. The Kingdom Tower design embraces its architectural pedigree, taking full advantage of the proven design strategies and technological strategies of its lineage, refining and advancing them to achieve new heights.

The result is an elegant, cost-efficient and highly constructible design that is at once grounded in built tradition and aggressively forward-looking, taking advantage of new and innovative thinking about technology, building materials, life-cycle considerations and energy conservation. For example, the project will feature a high-performance exterior wall system that will minimize energy consumption by reducing thermal loads. In addition, each of Kingdom Tower’s three sides features a series of notches that create pockets of shadow that shield areas of the building from the sun and provide outdoor terraces with stunning views of Jeddah and the Red Sea.

The great height of Kingdom Tower necessitates one of the world’s most sophisticated elevator systems. The Kingdom Tower complex will contain 59 elevators, including 54 single-deck and five double-deck elevators, along with 12 escalators. Elevators serving the observatory will travel at a rate of 10 metres per second in both directions.

Another unique feature of the design is a sky terrace, roughly 30 metres (98 feet) in diameter, at level 157. It is an outdoor amenity space intended for use by the penthouse floor.

AS+GG also designed the master plan for the 23-hectare Kingdom Tower Waterfront District, which surrounds the tower and which will include residential and commercial buildings, a shopping mall, high-quality outdoor spaces and other amenities. The Waterfront District provides a cohesive and pedestrian-friendly setting for Kingdom Tower while creating a pleasant neighborhood experience along the Kingdom City lakefront.

Here’s a link to the full news release if you’re interested, but I’ve already quoted most of it.

Nobody’s saying exactly how many floors are involved in this new building, but since the Burj Khalifa is 162 stories, Kingdom Tower has got to be in the 180 range.

Basically it’s another very big building in another very hot country that I have no intention of visiting. In a hundred years, swirling sand dunes will probably have buried it up to 34th or 58th floor anyway.

And apparently the fact that there’s already another building in Saudi Arabia called the Kingdom Tower doesn’t bother Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Here’s a photo of the first Kingdom Tower in Riyadh.

43468757

This Kingdom Tower looks more than a little like Shanghai’s famed “bottle opener” skyscraper (below) which was, I believe, the world’s tallest building for a few weeks or months.

Shanghai tower2big

Here’s a link to a list of the world’s 100 tallest completed buildings.

Just remember those famous last words: “If you build it, they will jump.”

The Dog That Cornered Osama Bin Laden

- May 12th, 2011

UPDATE, July 5, 2011: It’s now almost two months since I put up this Nosey Parker blog post and I can’t believe the number of people still reading it — and adding loads of new information in their comments at the end of the post. Thank you all. And thanks for all the added comment info, especially on the wonderful Malinois breed, titanium teeth and the Vietnam dogs. And, yes, I apologize for calling Malinois “stubby”  — that would be like calling Jose Bautista “stubby” because he’s not as tall as Alex Rodriguez. Alan.

NOTE: This blog post is exactly the same as the one entitled “Canadian Connection To Raid On Bin Laden Compound.” I just wanted to reflect two different aspects of the story in the headlines.

When U.S. President Barack Obama went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, last week for a highly publicized but very private meeting with the commando team that killed Osama bin Laden, only one of the 81 members of the super-secret  SEAL DevGru unit was identified by name: Cairo, the war dog.

Cairo, like most canine members of the elite U.S. Navy SEALs, is a Belgian Malinois. The Malinois breed is similar to German shepherds but smaller and more compact, with an adult male weighing in the 30-kilo range.

skydiving_dog_04

(German shepherds are still used as war dogs by the American military but the lighter, stubbier Malinois is considered better for the tandem parachute jumping and rappelling operations often undertaken by SEAL teams. Labrador retrievers are also favoured by various military organizations around the world.)

dog_jump3

skydiving_dog_11

Like their human counterparts, the dog SEALs are highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated special ops experts, able to perform extraordinary military missions by SEa, Air and Land (thus the acronym).

The dogs carry out a wide range of specialized duties for the military teams to which they are attached: With a sense of smell 40 times greater than a human’s, the dogs are trained to detect and identify both explosive material and  hostile or hiding humans.

The dogs are twice as fast as a fit human, so anyone trying to escape is not likely to outrun Cairo or his buddies.

110504_wardogs4

The dogs, equipped with video cameras, also enter certain danger zones first, allowing their handlers to see what’s ahead before humans follow.

As I mentioned before, SEAL dogs are even trained parachutists, jumping either in tandem with their handlers or solo, if the jump is into water.

Last year canine parachute instructor Mike Forsythe and his dog Cara  set the world record for highest man-dog parachute deployment, jumping from more than 30,100 feet up — the altitude transoceanic passenger jets fly at. Both Forsythe and Cara were wearing oxygen masks and skin protectors for the jump.

Here’s a photo from that jump, taken by Andy Anderson for K9 Storm Inc. (more about those folks shortly).

SEALRecordJump

As well, the dogs are faithful, fearless and ferocious — incredibly frightening and efficient attackers.

I have seen it reported repeatedly that the teeth of SEAL war dogs are replaced with titanium implants that are stronger, sharper and scare-your-pants-off  intimidating, but a U.S. military spokesman has denied that charge, so I really don’t know (never having seen a canine SEAL face-to-face). I do know that I’ve never seen a photo of a war dog with anything even vaguely resembling a set of shiny metal chompers.

When the SEAL DevGru team (usually known by its old designation, Team 6) hit bin Laden’s Pakistan compound on May 2, Cairo’s feet would have been four of the first on the ground.

And like the human SEALs, Cairo was wearing super-strong, flexible body armour and outfitted with high-tech equipment that included “doggles” — specially designed and fitted dog googles with night-vision and infrared capability that would even allow Cairo to see human heat forms through concrete walls.

Now where on earth would anyone get that kind of incredibly niche hi-tech doggie gear?

From Winnipeg, of all places.

Jim and Glori Slater’s Manitoba hi-tech mom-and-pop business, K9 Storm Inc., has a deserved worldwide  reputation for designing and manufacturing probably the best body armour available for police and military dogs. Working dogs in 15 countries around the world are currently protected by their K9 Storm body armour.

K9-Storm-2

Jim Slater was a canine handler on the Winnipeg Police Force when he crafted a Kevlar protective jacket for his own dog, Olaf, in the mid-1990s. Soon Slater was making body armour for other cop dogs, then the Canadian military and soon the world.

The standard K9 Storm vest also has a load-bearing harness system that makes it ideal for tandem rappelling and parachuting.

Navy-Seal-Dog-1

And then there are the special hi-tech add-ons that made the K9 Storm especially appealing to the U.S. Navy SEALs, who bought four of  K9 Storm Inc.’s top-end Intruder “canine tactical assault suits” last year for $86,000. You can be sure Cairo was wearing one of those four suits when he jumped into bin Laden’s lair.

Here’s an explanation of all the K9 Storm Intruder special features:

K9-Storm

Just as the Navy SEALS and other elite special forces are the sharp point of the American military machine, so too are their dogs at the top of a canine military heirarchy.

In all, the U.S. military currently has about 2,800 active-duty dogs deployed around the world, with roughly 600 now in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Here’s the link to a dandy photo essay about U.S. war dogs that just appeared in the journal Foreign Policy.

Several of the photos I have included here are from Foreign Policy, as you will see. Other photos are from K9 Storm Inc.

110504_wardogs1

snf2630fly-main_1259920a

As for the ethics of sending dogs to war, that’s pretty much a moot point, don’t you think? If it’s ethical to send humans into combat, then why not dogs?

At least the U.S. now treats its war dogs as full members of the military. At the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. combat dogs there were designated as “surplus military equipment” and left behind when American forces pulled out.

Canadian Connection To Raid On Bin Laden Compound

- May 12th, 2011

NOTE: This blog post is exactly the same as the one entitled “The Dog That Cornered Osama Bin Laden.” I just wanted to reflect two different aspects of the story in the headlines.

When U.S. President Barack Obama went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, last week for a highly publicized but very private meeting with the commando team that killed Osama bin Laden, only one of the 81 members of the super-secret  SEAL DevGru unit was identified by name: Cairo, the war dog.

Cairo, like most canine members of the elite U.S. Navy SEALs, is a Belgian Malinois. The Malinois breed is similar to German shepherds but smaller and more compact, with an adult male weighing in the 30-kilo range.

skydiving_dog_04

(German shepherds are still used as war dogs by the American military but the lighter, stubbier Malinois is considered better for the tandem parachute jumping and rappelling operations often undertaken by SEAL teams. Labrador retrievers are also favoured by various military organizations around the world.)

dog_jump3

skydiving_dog_11

Like their human counterparts, the dog SEALs are highly trained, highly skilled, highly motivated special ops experts, able to perform extraordinary military missions by SEa, Air and Land (thus the acronym).

The dogs carry out a wide range of specialized duties for the military teams to which they are attached: With a sense of smell 40 times greater than a human’s, the dogs are trained to detect and identify both explosive material and  hostile or hiding humans.

The dogs are twice as fast as a fit human, so anyone trying to escape is not likely to outrun Cairo or his buddies.

110504_wardogs4

The dogs, equipped with video cameras, also enter certain danger zones first, allowing their handlers to see what’s ahead before humans follow.

As I mentioned before, SEAL dogs are even trained parachutists, jumping either in tandem with their handlers or solo, if the jump is into water.

Last year canine parachute instructor Mike Forsythe and his dog Cara  set the world record for highest man-dog parachute deployment, jumping from more than 30,100 feet up — the altitude transoceanic passenger jets fly at. Both Forsythe and Cara were wearing oxygen masks and skin protectors for the jump.

Here’s a photo from that jump, taken by Andy Anderson for K9 Storm Inc. (more about those folks shortly).

SEALRecordJump

As well, the dogs are faithful, fearless and ferocious — incredibly frightening and efficient attackers.

I have seen it reported repeatedly that the teeth of SEAL war dogs are replaced with titanium implants that are stronger, sharper and scare-your-pants-off  intimidating, but a U.S. military spokesman has denied that charge, so I really don’t know (never having seen a canine SEAL face-to-face). I do know that I’ve never seen a photo of a war dog with anything even vaguely resembling a set of shiny metal chompers.

When the SEAL DevGru team (usually known by its old designation, Team 6) hit bin Laden’s Pakistan compound on May 2, Cairo’s feet would have been four of the first on the ground.

And like the human SEALs, Cairo was wearing super-strong, flexible body armour and outfitted with high-tech equipment that included “doggles” — specially designed and fitted dog googles with night-vision and infrared capability that would even allow Cairo to see human heat forms through concrete walls.

Now where on earth would anyone get that kind of incredibly niche hi-tech doggie gear?

From Winnipeg, of all places.

Jim and Glori Slater’s Manitoba hi-tech mom-and-pop business, K9 Storm Inc., has a deserved worldwide  reputation for designing and manufacturing probably the best body armour available for police and military dogs. Working dogs in 15 countries around the world are currently protected by their K9 Storm body armour.

K9-Storm-2

Jim Slater was a canine handler on the Winnipeg Police Force when he crafted a Kevlar protective jacket for his own dog, Olaf, in the mid-1990s. Soon Slater was making body armour for other cop dogs, then the Canadian military and soon the world.

The standard K9 Storm vest also has a load-bearing harness system that makes it ideal for tandem rappelling and parachuting.

Navy-Seal-Dog-1

And then there are the special hi-tech add-ons that made the K9 Storm especially appealing to the U.S. Navy SEALs, who bought four of  K9 Storm Inc.’s top-end Intruder “canine tactical assault suits” last year for $86,000. You can be sure Cairo was wearing one of those four suits when he jumped into bin Laden’s lair.

Here’s an explanation of all the K9 Storm Intruder special features:

K9-Storm

Just as the Navy SEALS and other elite special forces are the sharp point of the American military machine, so too are their dogs at the top of a canine military heirarchy.

In all, the U.S. military currently has about 2,800 active-duty dogs deployed around the world, with roughly 600 now in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Here’s the link to a dandy photo essay about U.S. war dogs that just appeared in the journal Foreign Policy.

Several of the photos I have included here are from Foreign Policy, as you will see. Other photos are from K9 Storm Inc.

110504_wardogs1

snf2630fly-main_1259920a

As for the ethics of sending dogs to war, that’s pretty much a moot point, don’t you think? If it’s ethical to send humans into combat, then why not dogs?

At least the U.S. now treats its war dogs as full members of the military. At the end of the Vietnam War, the U.S. combat dogs there were designated as “surplus military equipment” and left behind when American forces pulled out.