Monday, March 26, 2012

Post op-ed notes that problem of loose nuclear materials is still very much with us

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has an important op-ed on p A15 of the Washington Post, “Securing nuclear materials,” link here

Amano reports on a sting in Moldavia in 2011 nabbing an individual trying to sell HEU.
The biggest practical risk to the public would remain the release of a radioactive dispersion device.  

Generally, these events are not covered  by homeowner’s insurance (as with this article) .   An event like this would obviously make many properties uninhabitable for decades, saddling individuals (often with mortgages) with the total financial loss.  The uninhabitability could last much longer than after a non-covered flood or earthquake.  As far what the government would go through FEMA, one has 9/11 and Katrina to judge by.

Eric Paulos has a perspective from late 2010 on the development of reinsurance and the debate on terrorism insurance in the apartment industry in “Apartment Magazine” here

An attacker could be motivated by the desire to provoke permanent economic ruin on ordinary property-owners in America and the West, and believe he was fomenting “revolution”.

The concerns expressed by the NTI remain as valid today as ten years ago.

Here’s a presentation “Preventing an American Hiroshima” from three years ago on “Uncommon Unknowledge” by the Hoover Institute.   Is this inevitable?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Russia starting to crack down on bloggers who dissent

Kathy Lally as an important Washington Post story Wednesday indicating that Russia seems to be starting a crackdown on bloggers who try to incite opposition to Putin, as in this story

The blogger is Arkady Babchenko.   There is little criticism of the Russian government in establishment media, including TV.

There are more details in the Moscow Times, here.

Babchenko has authored a book about fighting in the Chechnyan wars.  

Friday, March 16, 2012

George Clooney arrested in protest near Sudan embassy; making (another) documentary film about war crimes in the Sudan

NBC Washington reports that actor/producer/director George Clooney was arrested in a protest near the embassy of Sudan Friday morning Mach 16. The NBC4 news story is here.
Clooney has worked with the Enough Project regarding ethnic cleansing in the Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. This is a different problem from the one reported earlier about Darfur.  

Here is the link. The spokesperson in John Prendergrast.

Others were arrested.  These include Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA), Clooney's father, and an NAACP official.  They said they spent a pleasant three hours in a jail cell discussing future strategy, as if it were a "meeting".  They posted $100 bonds to be released. 

Here is the four-minute video “George Clooney Witnesses War Crimes in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains”.

Wikipedia attribution link for Sudan Embassy picture   I will take my own picture as soon as I am in the area again. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Israel may strike Iran very soon; is U.S. ready to defend Hormuz?

The Washington Times greeted everyone this morning with brash articles and headlines “Plotting against Iranian nuke sites”, by Rowan Scarborough, link here

The impression left is that an attack from Israel could not come at any time and would last several days.
It’s still unclear as to whether Iran really can close the Strait of Hormuz by sinking ships.  It cannot keep it closed merely by force.  It could make oil companies afraid of undetected mines. 

As I went to a cash register with the paper today in a retail outlet, a female employee said, when she looked at the map in TWT, “that’s my country.” She said that things really are that bad there for women.

In Afghanistan, Karzai has asked that American troops not stay in villages, given the tragedy from that one rogue NCO.

Obama’s re-election likely depends on how well the world comes through these two crises.   

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Iraq: gays and "emo's" targeted, especially in Shiite neighborhoods

CNN is reporting the targeting of gay and "emo"-dressed people in Iraq, particularly in Shiite neighborhoods, in this story (authored by Mohammed Tawfeeq), link. Google chose the article for its own news feed to account holders.

"Emo" refers to a style of mod western dress with young people that some consider "blasphemous".

The "new" Iraqi government had denounced the style of dress.

Wikipedia attribution link for map of Iraq in 2003. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

"Kony 2012", short film, exposes dangerous warlord in Uganda; media promotion has drawn attention to the drive to make him "famous"

 Today several media outlets reported on a 30-minute short film by Jason Russell (and “Invisible Children”), “Stop Kony 2012”, about warlord Joseph Kony, who is reported to be maintaining power in northern Uganda by kidnapping boys from their homes and turning them into soldiers, and even kidnapping girls and selling them into the sex trade. (This, of course, invokes Ashton Kutcher’s “real men don’t buy girls”.)  Kony  claims to run a rebel group called the LRA (called the “Lord’s Resistance Army”).

The filmmaker explains the issue to his four year old son, who looks up to his father as someone whose job is to “stop bad guys” rather than (just) make art.  
Russell explains how, in Kony’s part of the world, rulers stay in power by keeping a low profile. He plans to use social media to turn the tables on this way of holding power, even more so than with the Arab Spring.
Russell wants the “Culture Makers” (Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney) to join with the “Policy Makers” (Barack Obama, Congress members, GOP political candidates) to join in a kind of “area of mutual agreement’ to out Kony and all other warlords like him.
The website for the film and pledge drive is hereThe group will post signs all over major US cities April 20, 2012.

MSNBC has a report on the media coverage recently here  (starting with Oprah), and CNN reported it tonight on Piers Morgan.

The film did not cover the controversy over anti-gay legislation in Uganda. 

Media coverage has continued into the next week, with some questions about the accounting for the charity.  Randall appeared on Anderson March 12. 

Update:  April 23, 2012

The organization "Invisible Children" has been reported to have ties with anti-gay groups that supported Proposition 8 in California and maybe even the ferocious anti-gay bills in Uganda, according to Bruce Wilson on the "Talk to Action" blog, link here, as tweeted by the Washington Blade this morning. Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

On Super Tuesday, Post runs Romney's op-ed on Iran policy

I’m going to pass along the link to Mitt Romney’s Washington Post article, “How I would check Iran’s nuclear ambition”, here. Yes, it’s Super Tuesday.

Romney says that Jimmy Carter was weak with the hostage issue (his mission failed in 1980), but that Iran released the hostages the moment Reagan took office because Iran feared him. He says Obama is weak on Iran.

Today, Iran agreed to admit IEAE observers of its nuclear facilities (breaking news).

Romney's article, and maybe blogger attention it today, prompted a sudden news conference from the president today at 1 PM.  "They are not the commander in chief". 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"Voice of the Martyrs" has a message about persecution

Today, at church, I saw more focus on the perception of persecution of Christians overseas, this time in Indonesia, with a group called the “Voice of the Martyrs”, whose Internet domain is actually named “persecution”, link.The group seems to have an Executive Director Tom White, and offers a “free” book “Tortured for Christ”, about the life of Richard Wurmbrand (link for book ) who fought against Communism in Romania under Ceausescu.

The group has a (somewhat sensational) newsletter article "Beauty in Suffering: do you remember this face?" 

The group has a YouTube video “Shafia’s Story” about the “Chura” in Pakistan: