Friday, February 19, 2010

IAEA Report, Writing Off Bad Czechs

Paul Krugman
David Schenker
Dana Milbank

"On the Fox Business Network, a host chided a vice president of WellPoint, which has told California customers to expect huge rate increases: “You handed the politicians red meat at a time when health care is being discussed. You gave it to them!” - Paul Krugman
"You cannot make war in the Middle East without Egypt and you cannot make peace without Syria" - Henry Kissinger

The past head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Muhamed ElBaradei flew back to his native Egypt and was greeted by a pleasant surprise at the airport: "Hundreds of people across Egypt’s political spectrum greeted the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei on his arrival at the airport here Friday and called on him to run for president, a daring political gesture in a country where unauthorized political demonstrations are illegal.

Crowds greeted Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, upon his return to Egypt on Friday.
Dr. ElBaradei’s plane landed several hours late, at 6 p.m., marking his first return to Egypt since leaving his post at the end of last year as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Though opposition politics in Egypt are constrained by laws that restrict freedom of speech and the right to assemble, a grass-roots effort has emerged to try to draft Dr. ElBaradei to run during the presidential election in 2011.

The broad nature of Dr. ElBaradei’s appeal — as an outsider of international renown with no ties to a political system widely seen as ineffective and corrupt — was on display at the airport. Those gathered included people who said they had never been involved in politics, prominent actors and writers, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, men and women, as well as leading members of groups calling for democratic change."

The question is, what will the 81 year old president Hosni Mubarak do, besides try and nip this movement as soon as he can concoct an evil plan? He may run again, but is feeling the strain of impending old age. He would like his son to take over in a dynastic fashion, but there is already organized opposition to that; it seems that the recent emphasis on free and open elections is spilling over into Egypt. It should prove to be an interesting debate, especially if Mr ElBaradei decides to run for office. Think of him as the John Mellencamp of Cairo...

The new director of the IAEA, Yukia Amano has wasted no time releasing a report that says that Iran has been tinkering with making a nuclear warhead for some time, and contained information that was new, even to US intelligence. It agrees with the Obama administration's assessment that: "... an escalating series of steps are being taken by Iran: the enrichment to 20 percent, its acknowledgment of a secret enrichment plant in Qum, its efforts to metalize uranium and its rejection of a deal to enrich its uranium outside the country.

The report also reiterated evidence that Iran appeared to have tested ways of detonating weapons and to have worked extensively to design warheads small enough to fit atop a missile."

Metalizing uranium is used as the core of an atomic bomb. The Obama spin guys also added some info of their own: "... suspect that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps or its leading religious leaders are betting that an escalation of the nuclear confrontation might distract attention from the protests that have rocked the government, while unifying the country against outsiders supposedly trying to suppress Iran’s rise as a significant power.

The report buttressed that view by indicating that Iran had moved most of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium into an above-ground storage plant at Natanz, where it is vulnerable to military attack.

“It’s odd, and there is no technical explanation for it,” the senior administration official said at a briefing. “There must be some other explanation.” He and other Obama administration officials declined to speculate why the Iranians would deliberately place their stockpile in a place where, with relatively little effort, Israel or another country could strike it." Well, we can speculate. The language that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently used almost dared someone to make an attack. What would Iran gain if Israel or the US or someone else bombed their sitting ducks? They might be hoping to generate a lot of sympathy in the Arabic world, right now they are pretty much isolated. This approach is the lazy way, it takes a lot of work to try and present their case diplomatically. But then, Iran may have jailed anyone who could help it, leaving only the crazies who cannot listen to others, and only lecture or put their foot in their mouth like Mahmoud... Iran also may hope to galvanize its citizens in a burst of patriotic fervor, burning away any arguments and sentiments of opposition to the saviors of Iranian culture, meaning the ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guard. Hoping that the ruse is good enough that its citizens won't further turn on them because they led Iran into this disaster. Last, a war always seems good for a troubled economy, just ask Ronald Reagan or George Bush... the result of the report and the weak Iranian response has prompted the UN Security Council to begin drafting sanctions. And of course, it all could be a horrible mistake, and the friendly Iranians are just trying to provide power for its citizens, so they can play games on the Internet...
"The West's accusations are baseless because our religious beliefs bar us from using such weapons ... we do not believe in atomic weapons and are not seeking that" - Ayatollah Khamenei
"None of the documents had any confidential or secret stamps on them, and thus it was proved that all of the documents have been fabricated and are baseless and thus do not have any validity.”  - Ali Asghar Soltanieh
"The question is not who has a bomb, but who has hangmen who carry out executions. The Iranians are hangmen trying to get a bomb and it's time to call the hangman by his name, to call a dictator - a dictator," - Shimon Peres

bad czechs...
The Czech Republic may be the smartest country ever: "A Czech court has banned the far-right Workers’ Party, the first time a political party has been outlawed since the Czech Republic was founded in 1993.

In its 120-page ruling on Wednesday, the Supreme Administrative Court said the Workers’ Party, established in 2003, was a threat to Czech democracy. The court described the party as xenophobic, anti-Semitic and homophobic and said it shared the ideology of Hitler’s Nazi party and maintained links to openly white-supremacist and racist groups.

“This ruling needs to be understood as a preventive one, to maintain the constitutional and democratic order in the future,” Judge Vojtech Simicek said in issuing the ruling. Noting that the party held up an uncomfortable mirror to Czech society, he added: “Society must realize that the causes for the Workers’ Party lie deeply within itself. The Workers’ Party is not an external enemy to society, but one of its faces.”

This flies in the face of just about everywhere else in the world, where right wing extremism is on the rise. Which is sad, because right wing extremists are mentally ill, and adjusting their meds won't help. You can be a conservative without being a fundamentalist, whose mental processes have been shortened through operant conditioning watching television (see Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, by Jerry Mander). Right wing extremism may also be the result, at least in America, from the widespread abuse of prescriptions of drugs like neuroleptics and viagra, or even any other popular drug advertised on the tube...

Why is the Czech Republic so smart? They have flat screen tvs and ipods and cell phones like the rest of the world, their doctors write just as many needless prescriptions as any other country?... It's the beer. They drink more beer per capita than any other nation on earth, about 35 gallons per person per year.

Oh, aren't they a nation of drunks, then? Ahh, not quite, because the important factor is that they drink really good beer, carefully crafted, made with love and attention to details. People who drink such an exceptional beverage are more relaxed and able to talk ideas to each other. They take more care and pride in the settings where they drink, and the interest in the details of how your beer was made creates an intellectual spark that carries over into other areas of your life.

By putting attention to details, and adding care and love to what we eat, we become healthier and more compassionate. This is why even the best of chefs prefer a home-cooked meal, and the better restaurants all have creativity and the attention paid to crafting the meal in common. People who smoke cigarettes, which are made by machine rolling, smoke when they are nervous, using the nicotine to hype up the nervous system, while smokers of fine cigars have relaxing rituals, and the longer lasting cigars often go with good conversation and the finer things in life. The only bad part about cigars these days is how much the damned things cost, when even a Cuban shouldn't cost you more than $5...

"What This Country Needs is a Really
Good 5-Cent Cigar"   - Thomas Marshall

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