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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Iran: Just What are They Thinking?

So, as one faction of the Iranian government is stating that maybe, just maybe, the British sailors who were captured by Iran's navy were, in fact, in Iraqi waters and had not ventured into Iran's territory, another faction is making the only female in the group was being brought out in front of the TV cameras to tell the world that they sure did cross over to the wrong place at the wrong time.

"Obviously we trespassed into their waters,"
-British sailor Faye Turney via Iranian television

Well, obviously! How could we ever have doubted the honesty and veracity of Iran's leaders, especially Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, the leader Supreme Leader of Iran and the man who the Iranian navy reports to.

"They were very friendly and very hospitable, very thoughtful, nice people. They explained to us why we've been arrested, there was no harm, no aggression,"

Except for those guns placed at their heads and the knives at their throats, no doubt. If you thought the Hanoi Hilton, with such "guests" as John McCain was a horrific place, just what would you call the Tehran Marriot?

No doubt that Khamenei's "base" of "haves and have mores" felt that by using the only female sailor they could play on the heartstrings of the British people. I don't think it will work.

I have just three words for the people of Iran:
1- Falkland
2- Islands
3- Argentina.

Perhaps they should place a call to the South American nation which thought it could take on the British navy and ask their opinion.

It appears that the Iranians, for some reason, decided to test the resolve of the British people and Her Highness' armed forces. To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty woman, "Big Mistake."

"It's completely unacceptable for these pictures to be shown on television. There is no doubt our personnel were seized in Iraqi territorial waters."
-the British Foreign Office

And it is. What would the outcry of the Arab world have been had the British Navy taken fifteen Iranian sailors hostage, then paraded the most sympathetic one in front of the world's TV cameras to make him say, "Of course we ventured into the English Channel"?

And it appears that the Brits are right. Using the coordinates that they have provided, the British sailors were 1.7 nautical miles from Iranian waters, suing global positioning. Tehran has yet to show any proof, except their word of course, as to the location of what now appears to be the a kidnapping of sorts.

"That's not true. It happened in Iranian territorial waters."
-Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki

That's good enough for me. How about you? I finally found a group of people I trust less than the Bush administration - Iran's leaders.

"there was no justification whatever ... for their detention, it was completely unacceptable, wrong and illegal."
"We had hoped to see their immediate release; this has not happened. It is now time to ratchet up the diplomatic and international pressure in order to make sure the Iranian government understands its total isolation on this issue,"
-British Prime Minister Tony Blair

And the Iranian people better hope that this will be resolved using diplomatic channels. I sincerely doubt that the Brits will allow their sailors to be used the way the US Embassy hostages were used by the Iranians in 1979.

"fully unacceptable"
"The EU finds it fully unacceptable that 15 British troops have been captured and detained by Iran. We extend our absolute support and solidarity with Britain on this issue,"
-German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the European Union parliament

Of course, something t=like this could be playing directly into the hands of President Bush. We would have no choice but to support our greatest allies if they were to invade, bomb or do just about anything else to the nation of Iran either in retaliation for these kidnappings or in a military charge to free them. I, for one, certainly hope it doesn't come to that. I'm sure that President Bush has a different point of view.

One needs to remember that the ten year war between Iran and Iraq was won by Iraq, a nation which the United states, with England's help, defeated rather swiftly. Of course, if there was to be an occupation of Iran, then...

Maybe Iran is feeling that they'll get the help of Russia and China in any kind of negotiations regarding the release of the British soldiers. Whatever is it they want, maybe they think that their new "friends" to the north will help them.

Maybe what the Iranians are looking for is the swift removal of US troops from Iraq so that they could push their influence even more on the Shi'ite-led government of Iraq. I'm afraid that the reverse will be true here. This will only allow the Bushies the "See what will happen if we leave?" tactic which they have been looking for.

Maybe they're looking toward a new conflict with the west as an additional rallying cry against the US, and they feel that getting there through England is safer. It isn't.

Personally, I really don't think that the leaders of Iran have thought this through, and I hope, for their sake, that they come to their senses quickly.


-Noah Greenberg


Power – ‘Sittin in the mornin’ sun’ and ‘Blowin in the Wind.’

I sent this to NPR's Marketplace.

Power – ‘Sittin in the mornin’ sun’ and ‘Blowin in the Wind.’

Your piece on Nuclear Power, 3/27/7 AM, was predictable. There was an industry spokesman, a business lobbyist who says “it’s ok, we only worry sometimes,” and a environmental activist who used to work for the nuclear industry but became disillusioned by “business as usual.”

The industry spokesman repeated the same tired old fallacies about solar and wind power – that there is insufficient capacity to make a meaningful difference. But he’s wrong.

Just about any house in New Jersey can be retrofitted with enough solar panels to meet its needs for electricity and hot water. Similarly, much of the power needs for single family homes in every state, except Washington and Oregon, could be met through photovoltaic solar.

Solar panels don’t produce power at night. That’s where wind power comes in. Denmark meets one third of it’s energy needs with wind power. Today. The kind of wind turbines that General Electric built and installed on the Arklow Bank of Ireland, if installed in sufficient number off the coast of New Jersey, could also take care of much of the state's power needs. And if installed along the Gulf Coast, up the Atlantic Seaboard, and along the Pacific, they could provide much of the nation’s electricity needs.

Solar and wind provide power with no pollution: no greenhouse gases, no mercury, no radioactive wastes. There is no fuel so there are no fuel costs. No mines, no mills, no wells, no spills. None of the external costs that are associated with nuclear, coal, or oil.

Land based wind costs about $1.5 million per megawatt of generating capacity, offshore wind costs about $3.5 million per mw, rooftop solar costs about $7 per watt, $7 million per mw. At $6 Billion for a 1,167 mw plant, Watts Barr cost about $5 million per mw. So when you look at the hard costs to build, forgetting the externalities – massive government subsidies for nuclear power, the technologies cost the same.

But when you factor in those externalities – the costs of safety, security, waste management, and fuel for nuclear, versus practically nothing for wind and solar, when you factor in the 23 years to build Watts Barr versus a few months to build the Arklow bank wind facility – wind and solar can be brought on line faster and cheaper and without the kinds of public relations challenges or government subsidies nuclear requires.

So what’s the best answer for tomorrow’s power needs today? The answers, as Bob Dylan and Otis Redding once said, are ‘Sittin’ in the morning sun’ and ‘Blowin’ in the wind.’

-Larry Furman


In response to, "Ms. Goodling needs to lose her job right now. If anything the President, Gonzales and just about anyone else in this White House is to be taken at their word ever again, she has to go," Robert Scardapane writes:

She received her law degree at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. Regent, founded by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, says its mission is "to produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world."

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-Noah Greenberg