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Candide’s Latest: Thursday, August 24, 2006
Iran Intelligence Has IQ of Crop Circles

What Iranian nukes look like to American intelligence analysts.

Iran intelligence follows in the footsteps of Iraq: “The United States lacks critical information needed for analysts to make many of their judgments with confidence about Iran and there are many significant information gaps,” says a report prepared by the staff of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “There is a great deal about Iran that we do not know.” But apparently there is “sufficient information available to conclude that Iran poses a serious threat to U.S. national security and to the security of our friends and allies,” although intelligence is “inadequate to develop a thorough understanding of the threat…. Based only on unclassified material, it is reasonable to assume that Iran has a program to produce nuclear weapons.” So: we don’t really know what Iran is up to. We don’t have the necessary information to know what Iran is up to. But we figure, heck: they must be onto something, it must be nuclear, they must be dangerous. The House is going to be as useful a check and balance on Iran as it was on Iraq. Load your weapons.

Israel’s German military: Last week the question was whether Germany would send troops to be part of the multinational force in South Lebanon. Germany decided against the notion of having its soldiers potentially face (or shoot at) Jews for the first time since World War II. But Israel has no qualms putting its soldiers in German war machinery. “Israel has signed a contract with Germany to buy two submarines capable of carrying atomic weapons, as world powers carefully weighed Iran's reply to an offer meant to end the standoff over the Islamic Republic's nuclear programs,” Beirut’s Daily Star reports. Citing the Jerusalem Post, and “under the contract signed in July, the two Dolphin-class submarines, called U212s, will be assembled in Germany and fitted with a propulsion system allowing them to remain underwater for far longer than submarines already in use by the Israel Navy. The report of the sub purchase came a day after a Cabinet minister and former Mossad spy warned that Israel should prepare for a ballistic missile attack by Iran.”

Israel’s and Hezbollah’s war crimes: “First-hand information gathered by recent Amnesty International research missions to Lebanon and Israel points to an Israeli policy of deliberate destruction of Lebanese civilian infrastructure during the recent conflict,” Amnesty International concludes in a new report. “Amnesty International's findings point to an Israeli policy of deliberate destruction of Lebanese civilian infrastructure, which included war crimes, during the recent conflict. The organisation calls for the immediate establishment of a comprehensive, independent and impartial UN inquiry into violations of international humanitarian law by both Hizbullah and Israel in the conflict. The inquiry should examine in particular the impact of this conflict on the civilian population. It should propose effective measures to hold accountable those responsible for crimes under international law, and to ensure that the victims receive full reparation.” The Jerusalem Post judges “the best photos from the war in Lebanon.

Speaking of brilliant, American-like Israeli intelligence: Here’s the story of the Lebanese grocer mistaken for the leader of Hezbollah when Israeli commandos kidnapped him in a “daring” raid and took him back to Israel for interrogation. "They said, `Are you Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah?'" the grocer recalled, using an honorific that designates Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah as a descendant of Muhammad. "I said no," McClatchy reports. “Wednesday, Nasrallah was back in his hometown 60 miles north of the Israeli border after a three-week absence that may be the oddest saga yet to come from Israel's 34-day campaign against Hezbollah. Israeli officials turned Nasrallah, his son and three other men over to U.N. peacekeepers Monday after an Israeli civil rights lawyer filed a petition to Israel's High Court of Justice demanding their release.”

Arabs Can’t be Anti-Semites.” Khald Almaeena makes a few curiously interesting points, but a few silly ones too that add up to a deflection of the obvious: It doesn’t matter what you call it, racism is always racism.

In Other Worlds and Blogs

Stem-cell breakthrough or sophistry? “Scientists have for the first time grown colonies of prized human embryonic stem cells using a technique that does not require the destruction of embryos, an advance that could significantly reshape the ethical and political debates that have long entangled the research,” the Washington Post reports. “The new work, described in today's issue of the journal Nature, shows that even a single cell plucked from an early human embryo can be coaxed to divide repeatedly in a laboratory dish and grow into a colony of stem cells, coveted for their potential to mend failing organs.” But so what? Or why bother? This would be exclusively a concession to religious reactionaries who would rather see fertility clinic embryos end up in the garbage rather than in a potentially more life-giving lab.

Another incumbent falls: Gov. Frank H. Murkowski was decisively defeated in a Republican primary on Tuesday, a loss the governor interpreted as a rejection of his leadership style but one that also echoed an anti-incumbent mood elsewhere in the country.

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