Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good News For The Credulous

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The extent to which Yongbyon's aggregate plutonium production has been
weaponized and concealed is one critical unresolved issue. Moreover, analysis of
the much-touted 18,000 pages of Yongbyon documentation previously turned over
has uncovered significant gaps in information, especially concerning the
reactor's early years of operation, that preclude making a truly accurate

Ironically, the documents themselves are contaminated with
particles of highly enriched uranium, probably from that enrichment program
North Korea still denies. This program's extent is crucial, because if it is
production scope, the North will still have a route to fissile material no
matter what Yongbyon's ultimate fate, proving yet again that leveling those aged
facilities was a nonconcession.

The only good news is that there is little opportunity for the Bush
administration to make any further concessions in its waning days in office.

Fauxtography Update

France 2, dragging its feet, eventually produced 18 minutes of film. (There is
practically no such thing as "contempt of court" in such circumstances in the
French judicial system.) The showing of this film made for an eerie moment at
the trial, when the hitherto blasé judges sat up and started watching with more
attention, then took a recess, after which they asked for all of France 2's
footage. It would prove to be the turning point in the proceeding.
You could see Palestinians being carried on stretchers into ambulances, then
coming out again unharmed, all in a kind of carnival atmosphere, with kids
throwing stones and making faces at the camera, despite what was supposed to be
a tense situation. The tape showed occasional gunshots, not continuous firing.
From the general horsing around captured on film by Abu Rahmeh, Mena concluded
that the whole scene must have been staged.
Check out Second Draft if you haven't yet.

Welcome To The Nursing Home

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Those inclined to see the glass as half-full include some people who are closest to the numbers. James W. Vaupel, founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, looking in particular at Germany’s demographic status, is downright sunny on the future. He, too, says that the shrinking and graying of European societies is inevitable, but he suggests that “on balance, the future will probably be better than the past. People will probably live longer, healthier lives. Continued economic growth, even if at a slower pace than in the past, will further raise standards of living.”

Haub wasn’t buying it. “Maybe tinkering with the retirement age and making other
economic adjustments is good,” he said. “But you can’t go on forever with a
total fertility rate of 1.2.
You can’t have a country where everybody lives in a nursing home.”

Shocka: Germany Working Once More To "Cancel" Jews

Last week in Berlin, at a location close to both the Holocaust memorial and the former Nazi center of power, the Third Transatlantic Conference took place. Its stated purpose was to address "common solutions" in the Middle East. During the conference, Iran's former deputy minister of foreign Affairs, Dr. Muhammad Javad Ardashir Larijani, stated that "the Zionist project" should be "cancelled" because it "has failed miserably and has only caused terrible damage to the region." According to the Jerusalem Post, representatives from Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia also attended, and contributed their own harsh anti-Israeli statements.

Reasonable people can disagree over what the German Foreign Ministry's Iran policy should be. One would have thought it beyond dispute, however, that the German Foreign Ministry should not be sponsoring, supporting, or faciltating a conference whose goal is to "cancel" Israel, and that the Federal Economic Ministry should not be financing such a conference.

How Long Before The Next Retreat Though?

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At first, the operation appeared aimed at a splinter group in the Taliban, but the main partner in their negotiations believes otherwise.  Baitullah Mehsud abruptly suspended talks with Islamabad in the wake of the military operation, ending for the moment the Gilani government’s new strategy of engagement with native radicals.  Mehsud threatened to wreak havoc in major cities if the government did not retreat from its new positions and end all offensives against Taliban elements.

Hopefully, Gilani learned his lesson quickly on appeasement, having allowed Peshawar to teeter on the brink of Taliban takeover before acting.  For today, Gilani appears ready to revert back to at least the Pervez Musharraf position.

Lunatic Hypocrisy Watch

The chief practical argument coming from those who oppose opening our
continental shelf and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling is that
it will take ten years to get the oil so it will not have any impact on current
oil prices. The response is that is factual and analytical hogwash, insofar as
the whole point of futures markets is to discount the impact of changes in
future supply.

It is also, by the way, reasoning that many on
the left would not want applied to their own pet project:

My response to those who say that increased drilling is pointless
because it won't yield immediate results -- like Arnold Schwarzenegger --is why worry about the greenhouse
effect, then? Nothing we do will cool the planet immediately. Yet we're told
immediate action there is vital. In fact, we're told that by none other than
Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the very same speech.

One would have
thought that this point was so obvious it would not have to be made at all.

Tinfoil Apocalypse Update

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A former head of Mossad has warned that Israel has 12 months in which to
destroy Iran's nuclear programme or risk coming under nuclear attack itself. He
also hinted that Israel might have to act sooner if Barack Obama wins the US
presidential election.

Shabtai Shavit, an influential adviser to the Israeli parliament's defence
and foreign affairs committee, told The Sunday Telegraph that time was
running out to prevent Iran's leaders getting the bomb.

Mr Shavit, who retired from the Israeli intelligence agency in 1996, warned
that he had no doubt Iran intended to use a nuclear weapon once it had the
capability, and that Israel must conduct itself accordingly.

"The time that is left to be ready is getting shorter all the time," he said
in an interview.