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Gates outs Israeli nukes December 7, 2006

Posted by publicpolitics in Butter and Guns, War Policy.
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Some Israelis were less pleased, however, to hear Gates mention with equal frankness what U.S. administrations have long avoided saying in public — that the Jewish state has the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal.

Dan Williams, Reuters

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According to Robert Gates, one reason Iran might be seeking atomic
weapons is that the Islamic theocracy is surrounded by them : to the
east is Pakistan, to north are the Russians, in the Gulf are the
Americans, and in the West are the Israelis- except he wasn’t supposed
to mention that last bit, according to one of those strange silences
that the U.S. has brokered, in an unspoken way, with its single largest
recipient of military largesse. According to an ex Israeli diplomat
interviewed by Reuters, one can only assume that Gates has “yet to get
to grips with understandings that exist between us and the Americans.”.
The understanding referred to here is a policy of mutually agreed
silence which , according to documents cited by the Bullentin of the
Atomic Scientists, prove that as far back as the presidency of Richard
Nixon, the United States knew that Israel had the bomb, but decided
against pressing for disclosure and thus regulation.

By its policy of “strategic ambiguity”, Israel hopes to maintain its
arsenal but not to provoke an arms race. The dual conspiracy to avoid
mentioning the atomic elephant in the room allows Israel to skirt a
U.S. ban on funding countries that allow proliferation of weapons of
mass destruction. The policy also enrages many in the region who see
evidence, if there needed to be any , of U. S. hypocrisy. Shimon Peres
pointed out that the Gates statement makes no real difference, and that
whether or not Israel has nuclear arms is irrelevant because Israel
threatens no one.

Of course, it is true that the Israelis have not been as blatantly
threatening as has President Ahmadinejad. But don’t you wonder how the
U.S,. would react to a Mexican nuclear arsenal one border and a
Canadian one on the other, despite protestations of friendliness, a
common economic destiny, and the virtues of free trade?

It is not news that Israel has a bomb. What should be news is the
deadly duo of silence in the United States and strategic ambiguity in
Israel. And the worst part is that the nuclear arms race in the Middle
East appears to be virulently alive, at the expense of U. S.
credibility in the region.

Tags: piqued | frankness | saying | pleased | Nuclear | mention | confirmation | avoided | Administrations | Washington | Pakistan | Middle East | Jewish | Jerusalem | ISRAELI | Iran | Gates

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Seattle’s racial tiebreaker case: U.S Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow December 4, 2006

Posted by publicpolitics in Butter and Guns, Seattle Politics, Supreme Court.
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Seattle Public Schools will be under a constitutional microscope Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on whether the district acted properly when it used race to assign students to its most popular schools.

Seattle Times

Attorneys representing the Seattle Public School System will argue an important case tomorrow before the Supreme Court, a case that constitutional law experts believe is the most important to be heard in the coming term. The essentials of the case are that Seattle Public Schools used race as tiebreaker when students, under an open admission policy for places in the public schools, competed for places at their favorite locations and there were an insufficient number of places for them The first tiebreaker was whether a prospective student had a sibling already in the school, and race was the second. The plantiffs argue that denial of a place based on race is discrimination, but the school system notes that each prospective student would be placed somewhere, even if not at the school of first choice. The policy has been suspended since 2001 , when the aggrieved parents filed the first suit. The original plantiffs are now in college.But the case is expected to set or augment mportant precedents about whether a racially diverse student body is a compelling government interest..

As controversial as this case remains, the decision, expected to come down sometime in the spring, is not likely to make anyone happy, even the winning side.

Tags: racial-tiebreaker | Students | properly | MICROSCOPE | involved | District | CONSTITUTIONAL | assign | Arguments | acted | supreme | Seattle | Monday | douglas | court

Toady Duel: Senator Allen Fires Last Shot and Webb Uses Starting Pistol In Curious Political Battle November 25, 2006

Posted by publicpolitics in Butter and Guns.
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One might expect the nearly departed Senator George Allen (lately R- Virginia) to fire at least one shot in anger, and he has promised to do so by honoring one of his campaign promises to the Virginia Gun Owners’ Coalition. His parting shot will be to introduce legislation permitting the use of concealed weapons in U. S. national parks. What is perhaps (and only perhaps) a little more surprising is Jim Webb, his victorious and gun-lobby unendorsed Democratic opponent , also promised to introduce similar legislation on October 30. In one of those curious configurations which mark political contests, the incumbent now appears to have lined up on the finish line and taken aim , while his opponent did so from his position on the starting line, days before his victory. The situation calls for a mixed metaphor: in their duel over who will shoot the national (parks’) foot first, the combatants are seemingly engaged in a race for the Lobby Toady Trophy.

We might have the beginnings of a great idea here, and it is not to permit guns in national parks. The chances of being stalked and killed while visiting the bears exist, but are inifitesimal, as are the chances of the victim being able to off a determined killer by first accurately assessing the motive, removing said constitutionally protected method from its concealment, and then using same in a highly stressful situation. But, let me emphasize, the chances of such an event do exist. They are dwarfed , however, by the much more likely scenario of accidentally killing a bear, a racoon, or the obnoxious guy in the neighboring campsite who seems determined to cook his hotdogs on your grill while beating his girlfriend regularly and in the wee hours. Or he might just shoot you or one of your children instead.

No, the great idea is to convert the existing firing sqaud into a tetrad. Have Webb, Allen, a representative of the N.RA. , and a spokesperson for the Virginia coalition to form a circular firing squad, deep in the woods where their antics will probably go undiscovered until they become cold cases, and rescuers arrive to remove their rusting weapons from their cold, dead… you know the rest.