Saturday, June 21, 2008
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that an oil price surge of 5 percent to $135.92 was triggered by the report leaked by US government officials of an Israeli air force drill over Greece for an apparent strike against Iran, Friday, June 20. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered a war alert in the Revolutionary Guards and armed forces, with the Israeli and US Gulf forces following suit.
Tehran made no immediate comment, while Iranian leaders were reported puzzled by the Bush administration’s motives in leaking the report to the New York Times.
The most extreme reaction came from the UN nuclear watchdog’s director Mohamad ElBaradei, who threatened to resign if there was a military strike on Iran, warning such an attack would turn the region into a “fireball.”
“A military strike would be worse than anything possible,” he warned. “..it will mean that Iran, if it is not already making nuclear weapons, will launch a crash course to build them…”
U.S. intelligence officials disclosed that one objective of the Chinese hacking is to plant “trap doors” into government computer systems that would permit shutting down or disrupting the systems in war time. Some government agencies were forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars replacing compromised computers because they could not be certain that Chinese hackers had not left hidden access points in them.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Decades must often pass before shattering historic events can be truly understood. So it is with the assassination of senator Robert Kennedy, which stunned the world 40 years ago this month.
The killer, Sirhan Sirhan, seemed at the time to fit the pattern of the wild-eyed lunatic that is often associated with political assassins. James Reston, the eminent New York Times columnist, called the murder "a wholly irrational act". Most Americans saw it that way.
Only now is it clear how wrong this view was. Far from being a "maniacally absurd" crime, as Newsweek concluded, the Robert Kennedy assassination was in fact an eminently political act. It was the first "blowback" attack the United States suffered as a result of its Middle East policies.
Monday, June 09, 2008
But dive into Rockefeller's report, in search of where exactly President Bush lied about what his intelligence agencies were telling him about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and you may be surprised by what you find.
On Iraq's nuclear weapons program? The president's statements "were generally substantiated by intelligence community estimates."
On biological weapons, production capability and those infamous mobile laboratories? The president's statements "were substantiated by intelligence information."
On chemical weapons, then? "Substantiated by intelligence information."
On weapons of mass destruction overall (a separate section of the intelligence committee report)? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information." Delivery vehicles such as ballistic missiles? "Generally substantiated by available intelligence." Unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to deliver WMDs? "Generally substantiated by intelligence information."
As you read through the report, you begin to think maybe you've mistakenly picked up the minority dissent. But, no, this is the Rockefeller indictment. So, you think, the smoking gun must appear in the section on Bush's claims about Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to terrorism.
But statements regarding Iraq's support for terrorist groups other than al-Qaeda "were substantiated by intelligence information."
James Johnson, one of three people tapped by Mr. Obama recently to oversee the search for his running mate, took at least five real estate loans totaling more than $7 million from Countrywide Financial Corp. through an informal program for friends of the company's CEO, Angelo Mozilo, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday. The Journal said at least two of the mortgages, among a series of loans made available to people Countrywide officials called "friends of Angelo," were at rates below market averages, though it is difficult to predict a market rate without access to nonpublic information about a borrower's credit history and other factors that can reduce interest charges on a loan.
Looking ahead to the fall campaign, 44% believe most reporters will try to help Obama while only 13% believe that most will try to help McCain. Twenty-four percent (24%) are optimistic enough to believe that most reporters will try to offer unbiased coverage.
Even Democrats tend to believe their candidate will receive better treatment—27% of those in Obama’s party believe most reporters will try to help him win while only 16% believe they will help McCain. A plurality of Democrats—34%--believe most reporters will be unbiased.
I am not confident that a Democrat congress is doing any better (or will do better) on this issue. You combine these misjudgments with those of the Bakken oil field in the Dakotas and Montana, Anwar, and off-shore drilling in general and America's oil development is almost nil. Even environmentally liberal Canada is doing much better with its Alberta oil sands development.
Until we get really serious about alternative energies, we need to keep oil flowing or face a severe economic crisis.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
- Talks with Iran a possibility, but reserves the right to use force
- Says he has an affinity for Israel
- Israel must play a role in reducing tensions -- allow Palestinians more freedom
- Supports trilateral talks between Syria, Israel, and US
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
For decades, Boston University sociologist Peter Berger says, American intellectuals have looked down on evangelicals.
Educated people have the notion that evangelicals are "barefoot people of Tobacco Road who, I don't know, sleep with their sisters or something," Berger says.
It's time that attitude changed, he says.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Rod Dreher's "Retreating to a Defensible Position on Gay Marriage" concludes that the battle to stop same-sex marriage is finished and evangelicals need to find a way to live with the fact. Republicans are all talk. Conservatives should quit lying to themselves about the culture war. It's over. We've lost. What is also interesting is how he sees same-sex marriage as the logical result of philosophical assumptions about the nature of truth that nearly everybody in the modern era takes for granted. He analyzes this by going to Pitirim Sorokin's theory of ideational and sensate cultures.
Christine Wicker's "The Great Evangelical Decline" echoes some of the polls of the Barna Group. While she focuses on the Southern Baptists (half their churches will be closed by 2030), she alludes to the broader evangelical movement. Evangelical faith has been dropping since 1900, when 42 percent of the U.S. claimed that distinction. Every year, Religious Right evangelicals, such as those who lead the Southern Baptists, are a smaller proportion of the country. Every year, their core values are violated more flagrantly by the media, scientific discovery and mainstream behavior. Every election, politicians promise to serve them and then don't because evangelicals lack the power to make them.
It is easy to be pessimistic, but throughout the ages people have counted the church out only to see revival and awakening occur.