Friday, August 13, 2010

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Calm Down About Bushehr

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bushehr Nuclear Power Plants I and IIAre you aware of the fear mongering that has gone with the idea that Iran is making a nuclear weapon that it will give to terrorists in order to destroy Israel? Did you know that Israel already possesses over a hundred nuclear weapons and that any state that employs one against Israel is finished?
Let's face the facts here. The Bushehr Nuclear Power facility is as old as the hills--it was dreamed up by the Shah of Iran. It was built by the Russians. It's a light water nuclear reactor, and light water reactors aren't really much good for creating weapons.
Anyway, it comes on line this week, and the fear mongering has begun in earnest:
Russia's nuclear agency says it will load fuel into Iran's first nuclear power plant next week, marking the start of its launch.
"The fuel will be loaded on August 21," Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said. "This is the start of the physical launch (of the reactor)."
A ceremony will mark the start-up, Novikov also said, and from that moment the Bushehr plant will be officially considered a nuclear-energy facility.
Loading the reactor with fuel will be a key step toward starting up the reactor at the Islamic Republic's first nuclear power plant, Novikov said, though the reactor would not be considered operational from that date.
Russian officials said that the latest U.N. sanctions against Iran wouldn't affect the Bushehr project.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on March 18 that Russia planned to start up the reactor at the Bushehr plant in the summer of 2010.
Sanctions don't really matter when it comes to the facility at Bushehr because it is, as I said, a light water reactor system. Lots of countries with dubious resumes either have this type of technology or are getting it:
The VVER (From RussianВодо-водяной энергетический реактор; transliterates as Vodo-Vodyanoi Energetichesky Reactor;Water-Water Energetic Reactor) is a series of pressurised water reactors (PWRs) developed by the Soviet Union and used byArmeniaBulgariaChinaCzech RepublicFinland, former East GermanyHungaryIndiaIranSlovakiaUkraine, and theRussian Federation.
The earliest VVERs were built before 1970. The VVER-440 Model V230 is the most common design, delivering 440 MW of electrical power. The V230 employs six primary coolant loops each with a horizontal steam generator. A modified version of VVER-440, Model V213, was a product of the first nuclear safety standards adopted by Soviet designers. This model includes added emergency core cooling and auxiliary feedwater systems as well as upgraded accident localization systems. The larger VVER-1000 was developed after 1975 and is a four-loop system housed in a containment-type structure with a spray steamsuppression system. VVER reactor designs have been elaborated to incorporate automatic control, passive safety and containment systems associated with Western third generation nuclear reactors.
VVER series nuclear reactors were also scaled down in size and used by the Soviet Navy and RFAS nuclear submarine fleet as well as by surface warships.
The Russian abbreviation VVER stands for water-cooled, water-moderated energy reactor. This describes the pressurized water reactor design. Reactor fuel rods are fully immersed in water kept at 15 MPa of pressure so that it does not boil at normal (220 to over 300 °C) operating temperatures. Water in the reactor serves both as a coolant and a moderator which is an importantsafety feature. Should coolant circulation fail the neutron moderation effect of the water diminishes, reducing reaction intensity and compensating for loss of cooling, a condition known as negative void coefficient. The whole reactor is encased in a massive steel pressure shell. Fuel is low enriched (ca. 2.4–4.4% 235U) uranium dioxide (UO2) or equivalent pressed into pellets and assembled into fuel rods.
In order to "weaponize" any aspect of what this type of facility makes use of, the entire facility has to be shut down. This is easy to detect. Should a complete shutdown out of cycle occur, the world will know about it through monitoring methods I won't describe here. This is not the type of facility that can produce weaponized plutonium, and that's the key to understanding why there is going to be a great deal of fear mongering. The isotope needed for making a plutonium weapon is P-239; the way that this facility works, the less than useful isotopes P-240 and so on are produced.
Nevertheless, Iran is prepared to defend Bushehr:
In an effort to ward off future airstrikes against Bushehr and other strategic sites, Iran has sought to purchase Tor-M1, Tor-M1T, and S-300 surface-to-air missiles from Russia. According to reports, Russia agreed in December 2001 to sell S-300 PMU-01 missiles and to train Iranian personnel in how to operate the system. While it was unclear whether or not such units would be stationed in the immediate vicinity of the reactor facility, existing IKONOS imagery as of 2002 did not indicate an air defense presence.
Any fool can scare you; it takes a little analysis of your own to see why this facility is no threat to Israel or world peace or to the idea that Iran can start a weapons program. Iran is an irrational actor, however. I support containment and deterrence; going to war with Iran over this facility is ridiculous however, since it does not violate any of the non-proliferation treaties that Iran has signed on to. Should Iran take any step to shut down the facility or disable monitoring systems designed to prevent the weaponization of material produced by the facility, I would have no problem with efforts to disable or destroy the facility. I think Iran needs the economic boost that the plant provides, however. I think Iran realizes that this is a prestige move, and it is not to be ruined trying to build a weapon that it can never use or deploy.
Should Iran be watched and sanctioned? Absolutely. But I wouldn't listen to people who are panicking about Bushehr; they are sadly misinformed as to what the thing actually does.

NLRB’s Becker Hears SEIU Cases Despite Ethics Pledge, Worker Advocate Group Says

By Kevin Mooney
After resisting multiple requests to recuse himself from cases involving the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), an Obama Administration attorney with ties to organized labor should be investigated for possible ethical violations, according to the National Right to Work (NRTW) Foundation.

Craig Becker, who previously served as an associate general counsel for the SEIU and AFL-CIO, was selected via an Obama recess appointment to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in March after his nomination ran into congressional opposition. Becker has suggested in his academic writings that major policy changes could be implemented without legislative approval. He has also litigated against NRTW Foundation clients and help shape legal strategies for SEIU affiliates.

In a letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder, the Foundation calls for an investigation into Becker’s participation in recent legal cases that concern his former employer. This activity could be in direction violation of the ethics pledge that Becker signed in April, the NRTWF letter states.

To date, NRTW attorneys have filed over a dozen recusal motions against Becker but he has refused to comply in every case except one. The ethics pledge Becker signed includes the following pledge: “I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.”

Nevertheless, Becker has proceeded to take part in cases involving SEIU affiliates.
Get full story here.

Biggest Gift

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April 15th is no Holiday

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”—Albert Einstein
By Rebekah Rast
Ed Brown was sentenced to 37 years in federal prison in January after refusing to pay federal income taxes.
The story of New Hampshire couple, Ed Brown and his wife, Elaine, received national coverage. The couple insisted it was unlawful for the government to require them to pay income taxes. They were sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for tax evasion after failing to pay more than $1 million in income taxes.

But, according to Ed, they weren’t going anywhere. Ed and Elaine barricaded themselves inside their concrete walls for nine months.
Supporters of the couple would bring by food and ammunition in case the U.S. Marshals decided to raid the home. Ed was ready for a combat-style standoff, but all his preparations weren’t necessary. In October of 2007, U.S. Marshals made it inside the home by posing as supporters of the Browns, and arrested them both.
The government does not take lightly its citizens not paying their taxes.

“As the great American orator Daniel Webster once argued in front of the Supreme Court, ‘An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy,’” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “This may be why the IRS is the most feared federal agency of them all.”
This also may be why Ed and Elaine Brown barricaded themselves in their home with a full arsenal of weapons.

Get full story here.

The Coming Bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by Publius

From the Boston Globe:
Fannie and Freddie were once the most powerful forces in the US housing industry. They pumped liquidity into the sector by buying up mortgages written by banks and mortgage companies. That kept the cost of capital low and increased the volume of mortgages. Government backing allowed the two to borrow money at lower rates than anyone else in the housing financing market.

While Fannie and Freddie operated under some form of congressional oversight, they ultimately answered to their stockholders. Their business was making money. They joined Wall Street firms in making record profits — and hauling in record bonuses — by buying, securitizing, and reselling subprime mortgages that never should have been written in the first place.

The housing market’s collapse sowed destruction and put the nation’s biggest banks on a government lifeline. No lifeline has been bigger than the rope the feds threw Fannie and Freddie, though. In September 2008, the two firms received a bottomless line of credit. So far, their tab stands around $148 billion — more than AIG, the company that insured all of Wall Street’s worst housing bets, is in hock for.

In January, the Congressional Budget Office said the total cost to taxpayers could reach $373 billion.

Government aid to Fannie and Freddie has been handed out piecemeal so far. It’s easier to stick another $3.3 billion on the tab, as the two did last week after posting massive quarterly losses, than it is to grab the whole $300 billion pie all at once. But there’s a growing recognition in Washington that Fannie and Freddie can’t keep stringing along like this.

There is no easy way to clean up Fannie and Freddie. Lawmakers can’t just kill them, as has been suggested. The pair have actually been operating under a recent government mandate to increase their mortgage purchases, as a way of propping up the fragile housing market; if they disappeared suddenly, the economic aftershocks would be catastrophic.

Nor do they have a clear near-term path to privatization. The gap between the companies’ estimated bailout tab and what they’ve received so far reflects sizable losses they should incur, but don’t have reserves to absorb. Fannie alone has lost more than $150 billion over the past three years. Both companies were recently taken off the New York Stock Exchange.

That leaves nationalization. It’s notable that the White House has until after midterm elections to file formal reorganization plans for Fannie and Freddie. If Washington can’t kill or privatize the mortgage firms, it will have to assume responsibility for their massive liabilities.
Read the whole thing here.

Gingrich & Pawlenty: Voters Should Toss Out Any Gay-Friendly Judges

Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty, both of whom may run for president in 2012, are supporting a campaign in Iowa to toss out the state Supreme Court judges that ruled in favor of marriage equality. The effort to oust the judges was launched last week by former GOP candidate for governor of Iowa, Bob Vander Plaats.

Gingrich: "Iowans are unique in that they have the ability this fall to send a very clear and simple message that the court’s behavior is unacceptable by just voting ‘no’ on the three judges who are up for reappointment. If a majority of Iowans vote ‘no,’ that will send a signal to the whole country that there is a citizens revolt under way.”

Pawlenty: “The notion that judges stand for election is embedded in the Iowa Constitution. It’s embedded in the Minnesota Constitution. It’s the right and privilege of the citizens of this state and my state to weigh in on whether they like or don’t like the job that a judge is doing and to agree or disagree with him.”

Posted by Joe

[NY] 10 months after allegations Gov. Paterson's suspended top aid David Johnson finally arrested for DV assault

...One of Gov. Paterson's former top aides [David Johnson] was arrested Thursday on a six-count criminal complaint that says he threatened to kill his then-girlfriend on Halloween night... Victim Sherr-una Booker told prosecutors that David Johnson yanked her off the ground by her neck, tore phones from her hand when she tried to call 911 and left her gasping for air in a violent outburst...

Previous post: [NY] Sherr-una Booker's soul searching leads her to take a stand - regardless of who her ex's friends are - Sherr-una Booker, the woman at the center of the scandal that crippled New York State Governor David Paterson's administration is breaking her silence - and demanding prosecutors charge one of his former top aides [David Johnson]... Booker said she's coming forward now "after a lot of soul searching and praying... I don't want any woman to go through what I went through"...

...“Ms. Booker feels that she’s now a step closer to getting justice for what David Johnson did to her,” said Kenneth P. Thompson, a lawyer for Ms. Booker. “She also believes that no woman should ever go through what happened to her”...

...The 6-foot-7 Johnson started as Paterson's driver and became one of his most trusted aides until the governor suspended him without pay in February when the Halloween fight became public... The NYPD took almost 90 minutes to respond to Booker's three 911 calls that night, and responding officers refused to arrest Johnson, telling Booker to get an order of protection instead...
By William K. Rashbaum and Danny Hakim
August 12, 2010
[Excerpts] David W. Johnson, one of Gov. David A. Paterson’s closest aides, surrendered to Bronx prosecutors Thursday morning to face misdemeanor assault charges... He was expected to be formally charged and arraigned later in the day. Mr. Johnson is the man at the center of a domestic violence scandal that led to Mr. [Governor David] Paterson’s decision not to seek election... Sherr-una Booker, Mr. Johnson’s former companion, said that during an altercation on Oct. 31, 2009, Mr. Johnson tore off her Halloween costume, choked her and shoved her into a mirrored dresser. Mr. Johnson refused to cooperate with Ms. Kaye’s investigation. “We surrendered him this morning because the D.A.’s office told us they were going to prosecute him for the Oct. 31 incident,” said Mr. Johnson’s lawyer, Oscar Michelen... “He’s ready to face the charges, but he’s disappointed this petition was made,” Mr. Michelen said, adding that his client expects to be exonerated. “He is ready for his day in court”... “Ms. Booker feels that she’s now a step closer to getting justice for what David Johnson did to her,” said Kenneth P. Thompson, a lawyer for Ms. Booker. “She also believes that no woman should ever go through what happened to her.” [Full article here]

Fantasia Barrino Home From Hospital Following Overdose

Fantasia Barrino Home From Hospital Following Overdose
Earlier this week American Idol alumni Fantasia Barrino was rushed to hospital in North Carolina following an overdose on Aspirin and sleeping pills.

The overdose came after the 26-year-old singer, who is a single mom to 9-year-old daughter Zion, was named as "the other woman" in divorce proceedings between Antwaun and Paula Cook. Though Fantasia first denied the relationship, she has now admitted to the affair but insists she didn't know that Antwaun was married and is "heartbroken and is sorry for any pain she may have caused."

The Idol singer's manager added in a statement released today, “She has been lifted up by the outpouring of love and support from her fans. She is more committed than ever to her daughter and her work because they are her heart, her soul and inspiration.”
Photos: Bauer Griffin

Rihanna Tattoo Switcharoo

Today's News NJ  reports that Rihanna sort of screwed up her new tattoo, in that the French syntax is wrong:
The music superstar’s newest ink reads “rebelle fleur,” but someone forgot to tell the ‘Rude Boy’ singer that in French, adjectives typically follow the nouns they modify. To translate as “rebel flower,” which we assume is what she intended, that tattoo should read “fleur rebelle.”
Shut UP. I don’t know, but this just seems like a pretentious nit-picky thing, even though the criticism is absolutely correct. I’m sure it makes no sense, though I don’t speak French because I’m a true AMERICAN.* There’s just something about the phrase “in French, adjectives typically follow the nouns they modify” that makes me want to just syntax f*ck up. Anyway, I’m sure Rihanna doesn’t care. The kind of person that gets a side ‘o the neck tattoo probably doesn’t care if the words are a wee bit mixed up. Or maybe she meant to switch them around because she’s a rebel (flower). A grammar rebel (flower). Either way, looks good. For a neck tattoo.
*I got that from my file labeled “Jokes from 2001″

NFL's Chris Chambers Married His Stalker‎ By Ruth Manuel-Logan

Chris Chambers Married His Stalker‎

In a shocking development just recently reported, NFL superstar wide receiver Chris Chambers married the woman who stalked and harassed his family last year.

The Kansas City Chiefs player married Stacey Bernice Saunders (pictured) late last month. Chambers, who admittedly had an ongoing affair with Saunders during his marriage, had Saunders investigated by police.

The new Mrs. Chambers was charged with 11 misdemeanor counts for allegedly stalking and harassing his former wife, mother-in-law and sister-in-law over a six-month period. Saunders was arraigned but not arrested, because the charges were only misdemeanors.

According to police and court documents, Christina Chambers, who is now divorced from the 28-year-old Chris, testified that Saunders had harassed her and her family with menacing phone calls. Chris ended his affair with Saunders, but she was not willing to just go away quietly.

Chambers was quoted as saying that Saunders "launched an incessant attack verbally on me, and now my wife, her mother and sister." He characterized Saunders text messages, phone calls and e-mails as "abusive, vulgar and irrational."

At the time Chambers family members were being harassed, Saunders even admitted to having a baby by the NFL player, claiming that the baby died at 2 months old. Police investigators could not find a shred of evidence that the woman had even given birth to a child.

Chambers and Christina requested from the courts that a restraining order be taken out against Saunders, who was making their lives unbearable. Chambers' restraining order request was dropped in late June, though, after neither he nor Saunders showed up for a hearing on the matter. A week later, Chambers filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.

The ballplayer and his former stalker were married in Las Vegas.
"Hey, Chris, thanks for giving stalkers everywhere a ray of hope!"

Harlem high school celebrates a decade of 100 percent college acceptance

Shot, reported and edited by Lana Schupbach.

Today's education statistics are sobering. While test scores continue to gradually improve, many ask if that is happening at a fast enough rate? According to the New York State Education Department, "Statewide, almost 72 percent of the students who started 9th grade in 2005 had graduated after 4 years, by June 2009." However, among African-American students, "The 4-year graduation rate increased from 45 to almost 56 percent between 2005 and 2009." In New York City the graduation rate for all students rose from 56.4 percent in 2008 to 59 percent in 2009.

However, there are schools that are bucking this trend and providing students with the educational opportunities that they need and deserve. One such school is The Young Women's Leadership School of East Harlem. It's one of five schools in The Young Women's Leadership Network. Other locations in the system include: Jamaica, Queens; Astoria, Queens; Brooklyn and Rhodes, which is located in Philadelphia.
The flagship East Harlem school was opened in 1996 and follows an all-girls public education model. According to officials associated with the school, the concept of this single-sex focused school for young women was met with criticism in the beginning on why it was going to focus on just one sex, and whether or not it could be successful. However, the proof is in the numbers.

Since their first graduating class in 2001, the East Harlem school has had a 100 percent college acceptance rate in each successive class. Furthermore, it has been rated as being in the top 4 percent of high schools in New York City. Beyond the numbers there are four priority areas the school hones in on that may produce the aforementioned results: Math, Science and technology; Leadership, Health and Wellness and College preparation.

This network also supports a program known as CollegeBound Initiative, which is a school-based college guidance program for coed and single-sex public schools. From the moment a young woman enters TYWLS, as it's affectionately known amongst students and staff, college preparation is a major focus. According to college counselor Chris Farmer, "When they started TYWLS they created a mission statement and part of their mission is to prepare young women for college and everyone at the school, every single person genuinely believes in that. It's at the core of the soul of the school so everything we do is preparing young women for college."

The success of the East Harlem School can also be attributed to its regimented daily approach and the culture of responsibility that has been created according to Principal Althea Bradshaw-Tyson. "They might not admit that we care about them in the beginning because we're very strict with certain things. You must get your homework done; you must be in school on time. If you're not here we're calling your parents. But come 11th and 12th grade, they realize we're doing it for their own good."

It's not just the school's administrators who see the benefit of their approach but students as well. "They need a small school so the students can feel like they're interacting with what the school is trying to give us. I think the small environment is good for everyone. And I think the fact that the school is so focused on getting girls to college and getting us to be successful really helps," according to senior Crystal Civil who is set to attend Hunter College in the fall.

And with students and administrators on the same page it's a win-win situation for all. By Shanta N. Covington

Mexico's Drug Cartel War Continues -- News Roundup

Mexico Rethinks Drug Strategy As Death Toll Soars -- McClatchy News
MEXICO CITY — The drug war in Mexico is at a crossroads. As the death toll climbs above 28,000, President Felipe Calderon confronts growing pressure to try a different strategy — perhaps radically different — to quell the violence unleashed by major drug syndicates.

Even an elder from his own party, former President Vicente Fox, is taking potshots at Calderon, telling him that his policy is seriously off-track.

Many Mexicans don't know whether their country is winning or losing the war against drug traffickers, but they know they're fatigued by the brutality that's sweeping parts of their nation.

Read more ....

Mitrice Richardson’s Body Found: Family Wants Answers

Posted by editors 
image5374961x 300x225 Mitrice Richardsons Body Found: Family Wants AnswersThe tragic story of Mitrice Richardson has been spiraling out of Los Angeles for nearly a year, but is finally garnering national attention today when the 25-year-old’s substitute teacher’s remains were found in a Malibu Canyon park. The sad story took investigators everywhere from California to Las Vegas, where they had been searching for Richardson most recently based on tips from people in the area.

On September 17, 2009, Richardson was said to have stumbled into a restaurant off the Pacific Coast Highway, alone, and caused a disturbance. Witnesses claimed she was clearly intoxicated, and she even ended up sitting with a group of strangers, interrupting their meal. The final straw for managers at the restaurant was when Richardson was unable to pay her $89 dinner bill, and they called the police to come and get her.

What happened after she left with the cops remains a mystery, and her family is demanding answers.
After being arrested, Richardson was taken to the Malibu-Lost Hills police station and booked for not paying for her food and a small amount of marijuana found in her car, which was impounded upon her arrest. Though witnesses at the restaurant thought she was acting “out of the ordinary,” police officers at the station claimed Richardson was acting normally, even declining the offer to stay in jail overnight, despite not having anyone in the area to come to get her. Post-booking, she was released by police in the middle of the night, without her car or a cell phone on her. That was the last anyone saw her until her body was discovered early this morning.

Friends and family claimed that Mitrice was heading down a slippery slope, acting unlike her usual self shortly before her disappearance, but no one expected her tragic end. Now, her family is demanding answers, especially from the police station that released her into the night without any way to get home. Her parents have both filed lawsuits claiming police negligence, and her father insists that “someone will be held accountable.” The investigation into the police’s actions and Richardson’s death is ongoing.
What do you think? Do you think the police were wrong to release her in the middle of the night, even if Mitrice claimed she was fine?

Elias Abuelazam Latest News


The Arab Israeli arrested for an assassination attempt while he was waiting to board a plane to Israel and felt that the man who stabbed the 18 men – killed five of them – in recent months, police said today.
Officials said Abuelazam Elias (33 years) was arrested Wednesday night in the airport, Hartsfield Atlanta International while he was waiting for his flight to leave the country. Had been reached to the airport after investigators intermittently to track new leads that have emerged in Michigan. Abuelazam was trying to board a Delta jet bound for Tel Aviv, according to a statement issued by the Customs and Border Protection. He was waiting in the board when the door alerted the Transportation Security Administration for a Delta plane, while the authorities were in place. The police report said that the management staff in the Atlanta airport and then migrated Abuelazam through a contact, and when he arrived in office, then was taken into custody without incident.

He was charged with Abuelazam charged with assault with intent to kill in connection with an attack July 27 in Michigan. Although the charge could carry a life sentence, is expected to be charged and the investigation continues, Michigan Attorney General in Genesee County David Leyton said.

Murderous Iranian Thugs Torture Woman To Prep Her For TV "Confession"

A lawyer for an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning has told a British newspaper she was tortured for two days before confessing on state TV to being an accomplice to her husband's death. Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani's lawyer told the Guardian on Thursday that his client, a 43-year-old mother of two, was forced to give the interview, which was recorded in Tabriz prison where she has been held for the past four years.

"She was severely beaten up and tortured until she accepted to appear in front of camera. Her 22-year-old son Sajad and her 17-year-old daughter Saeedeh are completely traumatised by watching this programme," lawyer Houtan Kian said on the newspaper's website.

The lawyer said he feared the Iranian authorities would act quickly to carry out the death sentence, which was reportedly commuted to hanging after an international outcry against her sentence last month.

The Guardian gave no details of where the lawyer was speaking.
Another of her lawyers, Mohammad Mostafaie, fled Iran this month and is now in Norway after Iranian officials issued an arrest warrant for him and detained his wife.

The sentence against Mohammadi-Ashtiani was initially for "having an illicit relationship outside marriage", which drew condemnation from many countries.
But in the interview broadcast on state TV, she said that a man with whom she was acquainted had offered to kill her husband and she let him carry out the crime.

In a separate interview with the Guardian last week, she claimed she had been acquitted of murder, "but the man who actually killed my husband was identified and imprisoned but he is not sentenced to death."
In the earlier Guardian interview, she attributed her treatment by the Iranian authorities to her gender. "It's because I'm a woman, it's because they think they can do anything to women in this country," she said.

Sorry, ma'am, but they can. 

Iran is governed by people who can make up the rules as they go along, and one of the really sad things about this is the fact that me and lots of folks like me would fight to the death to help save you, but many Western women, the members of NOW, and all the other liberated feminine gripping machines remain absolutely silent on the issue.

It's like this; having given up their place as cherished, well-protected human beings, liberated gals know damned well that they would be fair game when push came to shove. They hate firearms, know nothing about defending themselves besides dialing 911, and are at their very core nothing but a gaggle of abject stupidity turned rancid.

So you won't be getting any help from "them". And while all we here can do is to broadcast your horrible fate, and condemn the lawless cultists who killed you, we do that with sadness laced sincerity. You have the same rights as any other being on the planet, and the animals masquerading as a religious entity will someday get their just desserts.

Sooner the better. Maybe we can't save you, but if enough of us create enough of a stink then maybe even our women will step up to the plate, too. Perhaps even our very own 1st Lady who just returned from a million-dollar-spending-spree in Spain.

Betcha she says something. We'll even begin a watch here to keep an eye out for it.

Iran: The Jews Are Calling For War


Many readers will have already come across Jeffrey Goldberg’s piece in The Atlantic about the possibility of Israel resorting to force against Iran. Though it’s received a lot of attention, I don’t think it’s that interesting; it’s long on personal anecdote (by the way, for a seriously unflattering view of the Netanyahu family you ought to read Chapter 12 of this book) and the views of unnamed sources and short on analysis. People seriously interested in this matter still need to read Tira.

However, Goldberg’s article has provoked Stephen M. Walt into making a revealing response. His text offers all the delights of his broader thesis; that a cabal of conniving Jews has undue influence on American foreign policy, in miniature form combined with a series of bromides about the dangers posed by Iran. When you strip away all the caveats and other academic bells and whistles what you get is an article that could be summarized like this, “Jew writes long article in magazine for the wonkishly inclined  = A sign that the innocent United States is being gulled into a war by  the sinister forces of Zionism”.
Walt rounds off his piece with a quote from his own book,
Although there is still some chance that President Bush will decide to attack Iran before he leaves office, it is impossible to know for sure. There is also some possibility, given the inflexible rhetoric of the presidential candidates, that his successor will do so, particularly if Iran gets closer to developing weapons and if hard-liners there continue to predominate. If the United States does launch an attack, it will be doing so in part on Israel’s behalf, and the lobby will bear significant responsibility for having pushed this dangerous policy.
Let’s unpack that last sentence and see what it contains:
There’s something inherently illegitimate about the United States taking a course of action that would benefit one of its closest allies.

There’s something inherently illegitimate about supporters of that ally in the United States advocating the taking of that course of action.

Taking that course of action would be dangerous. The unstated corollary is that not taking it wouldn’t be.
Now imagine the same logic being applied to relations between the United States and one of its other close allies. It’s good to know that fame and fortune show no sign of mellowing Professor Walt.

Fed Still Has Plenty of Options

An informative but somewhat odd piece on monetary policy from Sewell Chan in the NYT offers the following description of Ben Bernanke’s state of mind:
Having failed in 2007 to anticipate the subprime mortgage crisis and the economic havoc that resulted, Mr. Bernanke is eager not to seem slow or complacent as the recovery shows signs of stalling. But compared with three years ago, the Fed’s options now are more limited, and the consequences of acting (or not) potentially more dangerous.
Chan’s article surveys the views of various critics, including several inflation hawks who think Bernanke should be more complacent and one person who thinks he should be less complacent, but actually provides no reason whatsoever to think that the Fed’s options have become more limited. In his academic writing before becoming head of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke argued that a central bank faced with this situation could set a higher explicit inflation target and stick to it until the price level caught up to the long-run trend. In response to a question from Brad DeLong after assuming office, Bernanke reaffirmed his view that such a move would reduce unemployment but he expressed a preference for maintaining the lower inflation rate. Nothing has changed in the academic economics literature to suggest that Bernanke was mistaken, nor has anything changed in the world to suggest that Bernanke’s views have become obsolete.

It’s true that we can’t be certain how well this would work, since the historical record only provides a small set of data, but it seems clear that it would in fact reduce unemployment. And the option is on the table. It just needs to be used.

James Cameron is fishing for an underwater Avatar sequel

It was recently announced that director James Cameron has two Avatar sequels in the works. Even as the film’s extended re-release heads out to theaters, James spoke to MTV about a likely setting for the first of the sequels.
An expert in underwater filming, you’ll remember little flick called Titanic, James knows just what it takes to successfully shoot copious amounts of marine footage. It thus comes as no surprise that he wants to dive into Pandora’s oceans for Avatar 2.0.
I think what we should do there is — because we’ll have to have characters that are in and under the water — is that we should actually capture them underwater.
This will be an all new adventure for Hollywood. We’ve seen underwater filming. We’ve seen amazing motion capture. But, underwater motion capture? That is assuming the aquatic life on Pandora is even human-like enough to use an actor as the base. It could be that they are nearly 100% computer generated, which would be leap from James’ usual style. So I’m thinking we’ll be seeing something more along the lines of Na’vi with gills.
Related note – In addition to the extra 9 minutes being added to the theatrical re-release, the Avatar Special Edition DVD will have nearly 16 additional minutes!
Photo Cred: Getty Images

Charles Barkley: "LeBron James, Miami Big 3 Are Punks"

Charles Barkley
From NBA Fanhouse: "Charles Barkley weighed in Wednesday on a recent Twitter statement by LeBron James. Barkley, a TNT analyst and former NBA All-Star, said he hopes James remembers Barkley's critical comments and called a couple of James' more significant actions this summer "punk" moves. 'I heard about LeBron's little tweet today that he's remembering everybody who said anything bad about him,' Barkley said Thursday on ESPN Radio 103.3 FM in Dallas/Fort Worth. 'And he said 'everybody.' Well, I want him to make sure that he puts my name on that (list). I thought that his little one-hour special was a punk move. I thought them dancing around on the stage was a punk move, and I thought he should've stayed in Cleveland. Him joining Dwyane Wade's team was very disappointing to me."

More: "Mosley. Barkley referred to a Twitter post by James -- under the name King James -- in which he said: 'Don't think for one min that I haven't been taking mental notes of everyone taking shots at me this summer. And I mean everyone!'"

The Miami Big 3 event that Charles Barkley disliked
The NBA Fanhouse article about Mr. Barkley's comments continues: "In addition to the TV special [announcing LeBron James' decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat', Barkley also weighed in on a rally at American Airlines Arena where James, Chris Bosh and Wade were treated like rock stars and talked about themselves as arguably the greatest trio ever to play in the NBA and future winners of five, six, seven championships."

Booker Rising response: James, Bosh, & D-Wade are talking hard down in Miami....even though they ain't done squat. However, we here in Chicago can point to actual production  by the Michael Jordan/Scottie Pippen/Dennis Rodman trio and actual championships. When ya'll break the Chicago Bulls' 72-win mark set in the 1995-96 season - much less get a three-peat under your belt together (and that's excluding an additional threepeat that Mr. Jordan and Mr. Pippen won together in 1991, 1992, and 1993) - then ya'll can maybe talk smack about being a great trio.

Another bookerista responds: Javier David, a conservative in New York City, concurs with Mr. Barkley's comments on Facebook: "ROFL...when Sir Charles is right, he's right. And in this case, he's VERY right." He adds: "You gotta love Barklay -- he just speaks his mind. Guess he and D.Wade won't be making any of those buddy commercials for T-Mobile anytime soon LOL" More: "He's saying the way LeBron stuck it to the Cavs was shady, because it was. He could have left with some class and dignity, but he chose a different path."

Russia to Load Fuel Into Iran's Nuclear Reactor

The reactor building of Iran's nuclear power plant is seen, at Bushehr, Iran, 750 miles (1,245 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, (File).
Photo: AP
The reactor building of Iran's nuclear power plant is seen, at Bushehr, Iran, 750 miles (1,245 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, (File).

Russia says it will begin to load fuel into the reactor at Iran's first nuclear power plant on August 21.

A spokesman for the Russian nuclear agency made the announcement Friday, saying loading the reactor with fuel will be a key step toward starting the power plant in Bushehr. But he said the reactor will not be considered operational from that date.

Russia has been helping Iran build the nuclear power plant.  But Moscow has hardened its position against Iran's other nuclear activities in recent weeks. Western powers accuse Iran of seeking to build nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian nuclear program - a charge repeatedly denied by Iranian authorities.

President Dmitri Medvedev said Thursday that though the two countries have an active trade partnership, Russia is not indifferent to the way Iran is developing its nuclear program.

Last month President Medvedev called on Iran to explain its nuclear program and to fully cooperate with the international community.

Russia last month joined other world powers in approving a fourth set of U.N. sanctions on Iran for its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment operations.