July 2006


The U.N. Security Council passed a weakened resolution Monday giving Iran until Aug. 31 to suspend uranium enrichment or face the threat of economic and diplomatic sanctions.

Iran immediately rejected the council action, saying it would only make negotiations more difficult concerning a package of incentives offered in June for it to suspend enrichment.

“All along it has been the persistence of some to draw arbitrary red lines and deadlines that has closed the door to any compromise,” said Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Javad Zarif. “This tendency has single-handedly blocked success and in most cases killed proposals in their infancy.

“This approach will not lead to any productive outcome and in fact it can only exacerbate the situation.”

Because of Russian and Chinese demands, the text was watered down from earlier drafts, which would have made the threat of sanctions immediate. The draft now essentially requires the council to hold more discussions before it considers sanctions.

The draft passed by a vote of 14-1. Qatar, which represents Arab states on the council, cast the lone dissenting vote.

Full story here. Iran has already stated that it will not even respond to Western anti-nuke incentive proposals until August 22.

In a related story, Mom says Danny has to finish his peas by the time America’s Got Talent starts. Danny, meanwhile, says that before Alex Trebek calls the “final Jeopardy round,” he will either let Mom know whether he intends to eat his peas, or in the alternative, he will proceed to destroy the entire neighborhood with a thermonuclear device.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Britain and California are preparing to sidestep the Bush administration and fight global warming together by creating a joint market for greenhouse gases.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plan to lay the groundwork for a new trans-Atlantic market in carbon dioxide emissions, The Associated Press has learned. Such a move could help California cut carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases scientists blame for warming the planet. President Bush has rejected the idea of ordering such cuts.

. . . The aim is to fix a price on carbon pollution, an unwanted byproduct of burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gasoline. The idea is to set overall caps for carbon and reward businesses that find a profitable way to minimize their carbon emissions, thereby encouraging new, greener technologies.

Full article here.

Another indication of how effectively Hezbollah has managed its end of the war — it gets better and better at putting the Israelis (and the Americans, by extension) in positions which allow them to be portrayed as butchers:

QANA, Lebanon, July 30 — The dead lay in strange shapes. Several had open mouths filled with dirt. Faces were puffy. A man’s arm was extended straight out from his body, his fingers spread. Two tiny children, a girl and boy, lay feet to head in the back of an ambulance, their skin like wax.

In the all-day scramble to retrieve the bodies from the remains of this one house — backhoes dug for hours at the site after an early-morning airstrike — tallies of the dead varied, from as many as 60 to 27, many of them children.

This was the single most lethal episode in the course of this sudden war. The survivors will remember it as the day their children died. For the village, it is a fresh pain in a wound cut more than 10 years ago, when an Israeli attack here killed more than 100 civilians. Many of them were children, too.

The Israeli government apologized for that airstrike, as it did for the one here on Sunday. It said that residents had been warned to leave and should have already been gone.

Full article here.

The Chicago Tribune published an interesting report on America’s oil addiction here. From the intro:

When Tribune correspondent Paul Salopek asked the industry if he could track crude flows from across the globe to a single gas station, the answer was unequivocal: It simply can’t be done.

An industry spokeswoman reinforced that notion by referring Salopek to a Web site debunking popular legends. Snopes.com declared: “[B]y the time crude oil gets from the ground into our gasoline tanks, there’s no telling exactly where it came from.”

As it turns out, that’s not always true.

While gasoline is certainly a fungible commodity, the key to unlocking its far-flung sources lies hidden in an obscure industry document called a “crude slate.” Every refinery in America keeps a slate, or list, of the types of oil it processes. Because the names of individual crudes on such lists often can be linked to precise oil reservoirs, they offer a remarkably accurate map of the global oil supplies pouring into the Midwest.

The hitch: Such data are among the tightest-held secrets of a secretive industry. Companies compete for supplies that can vary in price by a penny a barrel–a margin that at high volume can spell the difference between profit and loss.

Meanwhile:

  • “Oil rose to around $74 a barrel on Monday after a leak on Russia’s largest oil export pipeline to Europe added to concerns about supply losses in Nigeria and violence in the Middle East.” (via Reuters)
  • “An explosion at an Indonesian oil refinery Saturday injured nearly 150 people, news agencies reported. Workers at the joint Pertamina-PetroChina facility set off the blast when they were trying to contain a gas leak, according to local police chief Rumhadi. There were no reports of fatalities.” (From AME Info)

In Somalia, within the last 48 hours:

  • Eighteen key cabinet ministers have resigned, citing a failure to bring peace;
  • Lawmakers have begun debate on a motion of “no confidence” in the administration of Prime Minister Mohammed Ali Gedi;
  • Abdallah Deerow Isaq, the cabinet minister charged with leading the establishment of a new Somali constitution, is assassinated outside a mosque in Baidao, provoking violent street riots;
  • The Islamic militia that controls the capital, Mogadishu, has received a new large cargo shipment of unidentified equipment, possibly from Eritrea — signalling a coming battle with Ethiopian troops, who have entered Somalia to protect the new government from the Islamists.

From Slate, a week ago:

Yes, war is a terrible thing, but this one [i.e. the one in Lebanon] —contrary to the grandiose prognostications of Armageddon-obsessed pundits—will not bring about World War III or the end of the West or the defeat of extremist Islamism. It is now clear that the war in Lebanon is a limited, contained war, with modest goals and rational expectations. The war that has just started between Ethiopia and Somalia could be more vicious and could exact a greater toll of human lives, but it will probably get scant attention.

RUSSIA has signed a $US2.9 billion ($3.8 billion) arms deal with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela risking a confrontation with the US, which has imposed an arms embargo on the South American country.

The outspoken Mr Chavez, who has claimed that America wants to assassinate him and who has pledged aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina and cheap heating fuel for London’s poor, told reporters in Moscow on Thursday that his country could develop its own nuclear program.

“Maybe some day we will start using nuclear energy,” he said, according to Interfax news agency. He did not specify when or how he might obtain nuclear power, but his ambitions will rile a Bush Administration already concerned by Iran’s nuclear program.

See full article here.

Also, from SANA News Agency on Tuesday:

Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed on Tuesday that his country gives great care to develop the Syrian-Russian dialogue regarding the regional and international urgent issues.

” Russia has strong relations with Syria which is considered the most important country in the Arab world, and will establish an active cooperation with her in the field of confronting the international terrorism.” Putin said during receiving credentials of the Syrian Ambassador to the Russian Federation Dr. Hassan Risha.

I’m inclined to believe that the foregoing is not just a pretty statement, especially in light of Russia’s establishment of a permanent naval base in Tartus, Syria — “that would give it a Mediterranean outpost and represent a major shift in the regional security balance of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Levant, and the Middle East as a whole.”  See article about the naval base here.

Michael D. Evans, touted as a “Middle East analyst” on Fox News and MSNBC’s Hardball, talking about Iraq and the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, has a very straight-forward analytical approach when it comes to the upheavals in the region and how they might affect American interests. In his book The American Prophecies: Ancient Scriptures Reveal Our Nation’s Future, he writes:

The Rapture is the church’s day of greatest hope. We need to see it as such and prepare for it. But we also need to know that it will not be the same for those not caught up in the Rapture. I don’t doubt that if you are reading this book, you have probably also read the book Left Behind or seen the movie. However, as devastating as the authors of that series portrayed that day, I don’t believe they even got close.

Think for a minute: How many people died on September 11? Roughly three thousand. Remember for a moment the painful chaos and mayhem of that day. Remember what it did to our economy, our confidence to fly in an airplane, our confidence to walk down the street, and the thousands of other ways that it touched our lives. Now imagine for a moment sixty-five million Americans vanishing in the twinkling of an eye — people flying planes, driving cars, steering ships, driving trains and subways, manning nuclear power stations and nuclear silos, navigating submarines filled with nuclear missiles, and so on.

How many times more is sixty-five million than three thousand? More than twenty thousand times…

Yes this is my hope. Not that the terrorists get us, nor even that we side with Israel in the final battle (though I would greatly prefer that to option one!), but that God gets us — all of us. That revival streaks across America and on the final day, so many of us go that there is not enough of America left to fight over.

Yes, that’s pretty unambiguous — let those other guys blow each other up, and we Christians will just scoot out the backdoor in the Rapture. It’s that kind of rigorous, enlightened examination of geopolitical affairs that will surely lead to . . . lead to . . . I think I’ll just go home and lock myself in the bathroom, if you all don’t mind.

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