Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, July 11, 2008

News Not Fit To Print

Considering how much opinion finds its way onto the front page, perhaps a little room should be made for news on the opinion page. There have been a number of interesting stories in these last few weeks that have not seen the prominence they deserve. In fact some have been totally ignored.

For example, you probably heard that several hostages were rescued from the so-called Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) guerillas in Columbia. These cocaine smuggling terrorists have made life miserable for Columbians for years. You might also have read someplace that the FARC has suffered a number of other devastating defeats recently.

But, unless you read the Wall Street Journal, you probably have not heard that a laptop computer was recently captured and that it contained a wealth of information about the FARC and its allies. Along with revelations about FARC’s alliances with Venezuela and Ecuador, we learned that the Democratic Party was conducting back channel negotiations with the FARC.

More recent information has come to light that Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco, where else?) had a direct hand in these negotiations and had personally designated Representative James McGovern (D-Massachusetts) to represent her to the terrorists. Among the issues discussed was the recently negotiated Columbia Free Trade Agreement. The terrorists are against it. Nancy Pelosi exercised unprecedented powers to stall the treaty in the House. Coincidence?

If you doubt the authenticity of the intelligence, it should be noted that Columbia allowed Europe’s Interpol to examine the hard drive and Interpol concluded that the evidence was authentic and that the hard drive had not been tampered with.

A few years ago, the front pages were covered with the Valerie Plame affair. Valerie Plame was a CIA desk jockey who’s “cover” was blown after her husband, the execrable Joe Wilson had written a New York Times Op-Ed piece in which he claimed to have disproven President Bush’s claim that Iraq had sought to purchase high grade uranium ore from Niger. The mainstream press dutifully repeated Joe Wilson’s accusation that Karl Rove had exposed his wife and ruined her career.

Well, it turned out that Joe Wilson’s Op-Ed was directly contradicted by the report that Joe Wilson had submitted to the Bush Administration. The Iraqi trade minister had indeed visited Niger to promote trade between the two countries. And considering that uranium ore is Niger’s only export, the Niger government interpreted the visit as an attempt to purchase the raw materials for a nuclear bomb.

This is old, if not widely reported news. Even less widely reported was the recent revelation that Valerie Plame shares her husband’s reverence for the truth. When asked why the Bush Administration would have hired a flaming lefty like Wilson for such an assignment, the answer given was that, he had been recommended by his wife. She vehemently denied that publicly and under oath. A recently declassified document shows that indeed, Joe Wilson was hired after his wife’s recommendation.

You’d think that the truth would deserve as much prominence in the mainstream news as the original lies received. You’d think. But you’d be wrong.

Early last month, the New York Times briefly noted that a major military operation was getting underway in Iraq. In fact, what was happening was an Iraqi-led operation to snuff out the last remaining organized remnants of Al Qaida in Iraq. An estimated 12,000 terrorists had been surrounded and ever since their number was being ground down. The final pocket of about a thousand was essentially wiped out. Iraqi president Maliki declared the war essentially over. I didn’t learn this from reading American newspapers or watching American television news. I learned it reading the Times of London online edition.

At last check, the US had only suffered one combat death this month.
So, how did the mainstream media go about putting a negative spin on this grim milestone? They noted that combat deaths in Afghanistan had surpassed Iraqi combat deaths.

I think that I am far more likely to read about Britney Spears being seen again in public sans underwear than good news from Iraq.

Finally, the latest underreported story was the revelation that the United States has spirited 550 tons of purified uranium ore out of Iraq. Now, what would 550 tons of uranium ore be doing in Iraq? As everyone surely knows, Saddam Hussein had no plans to develop nuclear weapons. And so, he would have had no use for uranium. Surely, somebody simply misplaced it. It was probably Niger.


Mattwi said...

That would be 550 METRIC tons, or 1.2 MILLION pounds...

Another thing that may have not been in the news was this sad story:

"Arraignment is scheduled today in Kennewick for a 23-year-old woman accused of killing a pregnant woman and cutting out her baby and claiming it as her own. The baby boy was last reported in critical condition at a Spokane hospital. The 27-year-old mother was found stabbed to death Friday night in a Kennewick park."

Satanic Mechanic said...

I'm trying to remember my processing numbers... 1,200,000 pounds of Yellow Cake (processed uranium oxide at >=80%), 40,000 pounds of uranium oxide through gaseous diffusion yields one pound of U-235, and over forty pounds is needed to make a "Little Boy" atomic bomb.
Then there is the process to make Plutonium 239 and 240 with the inert U-238 to make many bombs.

Michael said...

I wonder if anyone would make a uranium bomb today? I recall that there was some skepticism about whether Pakistan or North Korea actually succeeded in their "nuclear tests" some years back. As I recall, seismic recording were not consistent with a successful nuclear explosion. We know that North Korea was pursuing plutonium. Could anyone comment on whether or not Pakistan has a reactor capable of producing plutonium?
I ask because it's not hard to detonate a uranium bomb if you have enough weapons grade uranium. Detonating a plutonium bomb is far trickier.

Barenjager said...

Uranium or Plutonium isn't the issue. Both can be used for 1st generation nuclear weapons which are relatively easy to produce. The "trickier" variety is the "hydrogen" bomb.

Satanic Mechanic said...

I think the North Korean bomb fissled out. Either the timing was off, the "lenses" they used to focus the implosion was off or they were using some crappy grade material. I saw the seismograph of the explosion, it started out like a normal nuclear explosion but it stopped in the middle.
As for the hydrogen bomb, I wonder if the terrorists or some rogue nation could maintain the hydrogen bombs. Tritium breaksdown fast and the Lithium Hydride is tricky since it reacts bad to certain substances.

Satanic Mechanic said...

I forgot to answer Michael's question, yes Pakistan does have a nuclear reactor that produces plutonium. They are in an arms race with India and a lot of Pakistan's nuclear technology came from China.