Talking points 6 August

Good morning, and another new name on the blog for you – it’s Helen from the WHYS team here today. Many thanks to John in Nairobi and Robert in Europe for a great moderating debut.

Some of the topics being discussed overnight..

Nuclear Iran

You were keen to talk about efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear programme . While negotiations continue between Iran, the UN and the EU, you were asking whether we can ever trust Iran with a civilian nuclear programme? As a sovereign state, doesn’t Iran have a right to develop nuclear power? Is this simply sabre rattling by both sides, or could the threats escalate into something far more serious?

Child health

Who should be responsible for children’s health? Child obesity is a growing problem (excuse the pun) in much of the developed world. In the UK, parents are to be sent letters with the results when their children are weighed and measured at school. Is it the responsibility of parents to feed their children healthily? Or is it the fault of the advertising industry promoting unhealthy food? What about schools that install vending machines to boost their funds? And what role should governments play?
On the flip side, Abdelilah points out that India is failing to provide basic healthcare for its poorest children, although the country’s economy is booming. Who should provide for these neglected children?

The end of the “super-mum”?

On the subject of families, new research at Cambridge University asks if the days of the super-mum are numbered. According to the study, conducted in the US, Britain and Germany, people increasingly think families suffer if the mother goes to work. At the same time, families are less likely now to divide family roles between the man as the breadwinner and the woman as the childcarer. Can a woman juggle work and children successfully? And should men be getting more involved in the home as women go to work?

Identity theft

Finally, the US authorities have charged 11 people with the theft of more than 40 million credit and debit card details. Also, the micro blogging site Twitter is the latest to be hit by cyber criminals. Do you worry who might be accessing your credit card details? How can we safeguard our personal information? Can we trust the authorities to protect our personal data, or will hackers always find ways to crack the systems?

135 Responses to “Talking points 6 August”

  1. 1 Melanie Chassen
    August 5, 2008 at 20:03

    Phoenix Spacecraft Confirms Water on Mars

    Over the years I have heard many times that “where there’s water, there’s life”. Suppose one day NASA does find life on Mars… what would this mean for the future of Earth? Or is Mars (assuming it is devoid of life) a futuristic look at Earth should the atmosphere continue to heat up?

  2. 2 Jens
    August 5, 2008 at 20:10

    what a pity that parents force their bad habbits upon children.

    Type II diabetis at age 7. i wonder how many mars bars, big macs, sugary sodas and high fructose corn syrup instant meals it takes….


  3. 3 jcheburet2002
    August 5, 2008 at 20:16

    Hi everybody. John here in Nairobi. Robert and I will be moderating tonight. I can’t wait to hear what you have for today’s talking points page. What would you like us to talk about? Keep it short and precise. Over to you.

  4. 4 Anthony
    August 5, 2008 at 20:20

    So no matter what happens, it seems like the U.S. is never happy with what Iran does regarding its nuclear program. I remember when this happened the first time in Iraq. Does anyone else think this might end up very badly?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  5. 5 Anthony
    August 5, 2008 at 20:27

    @ Jens

    Yes, it’s an addiction I know too well. I’ve stopped eating as bad as I did. I wonder why people hate cigarettes so much, when all that junk food ruins people far worse.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  6. 6 nelsoni
    August 5, 2008 at 20:30

    Stranger than fiction? check this out

    German police women to be issued bullet proof bras

    How safe are our blogs?

    Hi-tech criminals target Twitter

  7. 7 Will Rhodes
    August 5, 2008 at 20:35

    May I point out – once again – insulting posts will not be published. They will be deleted.

    This blog is not for fighting – it is for discussing the issues.

  8. 8 Will Rhodes
    August 5, 2008 at 20:36

    So no matter what happens, it seems like the U.S. is never happy with what Iran does regarding its nuclear program. I remember when this happened the first time in Iraq. Does anyone else think this might end up very badly?

    Sorry to say, Anthony – if the US votes in McCain it will get very bad indeed.

  9. 9 Robert
    August 5, 2008 at 20:37


    I hope that it is just saber rattling from an outgoing president. Bush made a big thing of the axis of evil in the early years of the presidency. To do anything else but criticism Iran would be admitting that the policy was ill thought out at best, or even completely wrong . Once Bush is out the way the slate is wiped clean and the back door diplomacy might find a solution by which both the US and Iran can save face and back down.

  10. 10 Anthony
    August 5, 2008 at 20:40

    @ Will,

    So do you think there are some alternative motives involved with the whole “Nuclear Iran” thing?

    I know some hard core republicans who insist that they (Iran) are evil, and that “our future Americans will see how great George W. Bush was”.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  11. 11 Nick in USA
    August 5, 2008 at 20:44

    @ Ice on Mars

    I’m really happy you found this story. I wish the space program was on television more often in the states. If NASA had their own television channel, I would watch it all the time. They are doing so many amazing things that nobody knows about.

    P.S. They should bottle that water and sell it on Ebay. I think Fiji brand water is expensive, but I’m sure Mars water would put it to shame.

    @ Chubby Kids

    This is an interesting topic right after the discrimination thread. I think I might offend. It is my opinion, that a parent is directly responsible for a 7 yr. old child’s health. If their child has been shown to be obese, then they should either be charged with child abuse or there should be a mandatory health and nutrition program that they attend several times per week.

  12. 12 Angela in Washington D.C.
    August 5, 2008 at 20:46


    Although I am not a huge W. fan. I am sure future generations will look upon him better than the media portrays him now.

  13. 13 Robert
    August 5, 2008 at 20:46


    Would we even identify life on Mars? Science has a rather arbitrary definition between a complex chemical reaction (say a virus) and life (bacteria). Given a completely different starting point and conditions over evolution would human science and understanding be able to tell that what we had in the laboratory on a lander was something living?

  14. 14 Angela in Washington D.C.
    August 5, 2008 at 20:49


    NASA does have their own television station. I never watched the channel but I used to get a channel that was devoted to NASA.

  15. 15 Nick in USA
    August 5, 2008 at 20:52

    @ Anthony

    “I know some hard core republicans who insist that they (Iran) are evil, and that “our future Americans will see how great George W. Bush was”.”

    Is that a Sean Hannity quote? I agree, I have heard a number of people claim that people in the middle east are inherently evil. Then again, I’ve heard these same people say that liberals are trying to attack the “American way of life” because they want people to turn their AC thermostats up a few degrees and drive more fuel efficient cars. Did I miss out on the “American way of life” rule book when they were passing them out? Is the American way of life driving big fuel inefficient vehicles and living in climate controlled bliss? Does not doing these things make someone less American?

  16. 16 Anthony
    August 5, 2008 at 20:53

    @ Angela

    You’re probably correct. I still truly believe in my heart, he is one of the worse, most selfish presidents in our nation’s history. I hope after he’s gone we can have better relations with Iran.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  17. 17 Luz Ma from Mexico
    August 5, 2008 at 21:00

    @Anthony about Iran

    Definetely, it will end up badly if the US conservative approach regarding this issue continues.

    @Nick about overweight kids

    I completely agree… Parents are full responsible of weight issues regarding their children. Feeding your children with high amounts of junk food is bad parenting. I also blame schools that allow the selling of junk food in their premises.

  18. 18 Nick in USA
    August 5, 2008 at 21:02

    @ Angela

    I have seen the shuttle launches on tv, but not a channel. The problem with shuttle launches is that they aren’t edited at all. They are so boring. I want to see behind the seens stuff. I want to know shuttle statistics and things of that sort. If a station with high production value like the Discovery channel were to spend 2 weeks at NASA, I bet they could make an entire seasons worth of shows.

  19. 19 Angela in Washington D.C.
    August 5, 2008 at 21:06


    The whole channel was dedicated to NASA. I think it was with direct TV. The name of the channel was NASA.

  20. 20 Nick in USA
    August 5, 2008 at 21:09

    @ Luz Ma

    “I also blame schools that allow the selling of junk food in their premises.”

    Absolutely! What did these junk vendors have to offer to get into schools? How much of a cut is the school getting off the sales of these junk foods?

  21. 21 Justin from Iowa
    August 5, 2008 at 21:09

    @ Melanie and mars:

    Venus would be a better example of the greenhouse effect taken to an extreme. Mars’ problem in this respect is a lack of atmosphere, not an over-abundance of it.

  22. 22 Nick in USA
    August 5, 2008 at 21:11

    @ Angela

    Was it interesting? Don’t you agree that the Science or Discovery channel could make awesome shows based on the space program? I mean, weightlessness!!!
    It doesn’t get any more interesting than that.

  23. 23 Will Rhodes
    August 5, 2008 at 21:13

    Anthony –

    I have to look at the Iran question like this – it may be a little over-simplified but please bare with me.

    Iran is building some form of nuclear something. We really don’t know if it is a nuclear reactor for power or if it is something far more sinister.

    Now, this is where I get kinda narked at the US and Republicans and some, but not all, American citizens.

    If, and this is a massive if, Iran were to be able to build and deploy a nuclear strike on any nations Iran would be obliterated in a few minutes. That is the core fact on this. Iran knows this – do you honestly think that the leadership in Iran would put themselves to a nuclear death by sending over a missile loaded with a nuclear warhead?

  24. 24 jcheburet2002
    August 5, 2008 at 21:20

    Will Rhodes –

    I like your massive if – Why would Iran risk isolation just for PR purposes? If the Iran is not building any nuclear weapons, why would it’s president talk tough – over nothing?

  25. 25 Robert
    August 5, 2008 at 21:25


    The Iranian leadership would talk tough just to appear to be tough. What you are really seeing is a power struggle between the major players in the middle east (Saudi, Iraq, Iran and Kuwait) that has been going on since the seventies.

  26. 26 Jens
    August 5, 2008 at 21:25


    parents have a lot to answer for regarding overfeeding their kids. i am absolutly shocked and hoorified by what i see people by for dinner in the supermarket.

    on the other hand look at food advertising on chilrens channels. everything is saturated with processed crap, artificial colors, emulsifiers, preservatives etc. no wonder kids are becoming obese ADD monsters, with a short term attention spans.

    plus ronald mc should be taken out to the back of the building and put down. chamel had to scrap it’s joe the camel and ronald is equaly as evil as joe……plus clows are infinitly more creepy than camels.

  27. 27 jcheburet2002
    August 5, 2008 at 21:34

    Robert –

    Who wants to control who? Where does the US come in?

  28. 28 nelsoni
    August 5, 2008 at 21:36

    @ will rhodes,

    I dropped a message for you on you blog

  29. 29 Jens
    August 5, 2008 at 21:41

    what exactly was wrong with my list of acrynoms that also spell out NASA. there was nothing offensive on that list, shorter than many others and some fun to see on how many other REAL organizations use NASA as their acrynom.

    please let me know, I really would like to see/hear the reason for the exclusion

  30. 30 Anthony
    August 5, 2008 at 21:48

    So McCain used Paris Hilton in a campaign add to poke fun at Obama. Then, Paris Hiltons mom publicly announced she was upset because her daughter was being exploited….

    HAHAHAHA!!! YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! After all Paris’s other “videos” she gets mad at McCains video? After all that exploitation of herself??? I thought that was funny, and a lame attempt by McCain!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  31. 31 Robert
    August 5, 2008 at 21:50

    The middle east is less about absolute control and more about the heads of each kingdom being seen as more impotent than the others by the outside world.

    The middle eastern states for some reason don’t want to be seen to challenge each other directly at the moment , just like the the cold war. They use proxies like Israel to as a show of strength and influence just like the US and Soviets used Cuba, Vietnam, Afghanistan.

    The US comes into the equation unfortunately because it is the biggest user of oil, they are the biggest suppliers. This is the classic question of who is in real power. The middle east because they have the oil to supply or the US because they have the supply of money.

    If the middle east really did want to damage the US it doesn’t need nukes. Just needs to turn a few valves.

  32. 32 Brett
    August 5, 2008 at 21:50

    parents have a lot to answer for regarding overfeeding their kids. i am absolutly shocked and hoorified by what i see people by for dinner in the supermarket.

    on the other hand look at food advertising on chilrens channels. everything is saturated with processed crap, artificial colors, emulsifiers, preservatives etc. no wonder kids are becoming obese ADD monsters, with a short term attention spans.

    plus ronald mc should be taken out to the back of the building and put down.


    Those parents which give their children whatever they want, whenever they want without regard for their health, do not deserve to be parents. It is the parents responsibility (I know, scary word, right?) to make sure the child eats right and exercises daily. I get infuriated with parents who cave in or ignore their children altogether and let them do what they want with their diet and lifestyle at a young age.
    Parents!!! RAISE YOUR CHILDREN! That includes making sure they eat right. Even if you succumb to the American way of daily fast food and starbucks. Don’t make your kids suffer because you are irresponsible or lazy.

  33. 33 Ahmad Hammad
    August 5, 2008 at 21:50

    In Taliban’s custody, a british female journalist was treated so politely that she embraced Islam.

    But in the US Army’s illegal detension, this Doctor (Mother of three) has been tortured to the extent that she seems to be winding up her breaths. Look at the story and her photo by clicking the URL.


    The jigsaw puzzle of Al-Qaeda and 9/11 has not been solved yet. And the indicators are showing that the drama was executed by some other minds than the face brought to the front.

    Whatever the case is, Please don’t kill human beings in the name of War on Terror, which has been already well recognized by the War on Oil…

    No Blood for Oil please….

    Dr. Fozia, sister of Dr Aafia says that her family doesn’t expect any justice from the Americans. It’s a test of the American Judicial System now…

    My question is:
    Is such an illegal detension of Dr. Aafia justified anyway???

  34. 34 Brett
    August 5, 2008 at 21:52

    @ Anthony:
    After all that exploitation of herself???

    Hey! She tried really hard to work like a normal human on The Simple Life!!!



    She deserves all the ‘exploitation’ she gets.

  35. August 5, 2008 at 21:54


    I believe that Paris’ mom was peeved because she is/was a supporter and contributor to the McCain campaign.

  36. 36 Ahmad Hammad
    August 5, 2008 at 22:02

    John and Robert:
    Moderating overnight is a wonderful experience. I have experienced it….

    I still remember the trance I was into while reading novel ideas from around the world.

    Mine was the maximum-responded night by then. 🙂

    Wish you all the best!
    And I Miss WHYS team as well. Not beacause you guys are not doing great, but because they have provided us with an opportunity of expressing ourselves that’s unmatched in its nature. feeling them around keeps our sense of gratitdue alive…

    Love You all guys…

  37. August 5, 2008 at 22:04

    Hi gang ! ;-)… Guys, please check this link out : http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/world/9584363.asp?sc=1. I’m just wondering innocently here, if there weren’t so much oil wealth in Kirkuk, will our Kurdish brothers be extremely enthusiastic about it becoming a part of the autonomous Kurdish region of Kurdistan ?! Just an innocent question ! ;-)… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  38. 38 Will Rhodes
    August 5, 2008 at 22:14

    28 nelsoni August 5, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    @ will rhodes,

    I dropped a message for you on you blog

    No message there, Nelson.

    Use the comment box to mail me or use this e-mail address, Nelson. 🙂

  39. 39 Jens
    August 5, 2008 at 22:53


    i agree with you, but look at the flip side of the coin paris and nicole are so skinny and screwed-up and that has also to do with parenting, or better lack of it. and now mummy paris is all upset. poor wee old girl.

    obama should change his slogan to

    commen sense politics for common citizens.

  40. 40 Jens
    August 5, 2008 at 23:11

    just read about the “flat belly diet”

    i can’t believe it. i will be writing a diet book myself call. “Dr J’s diet of shut the hell up and eat half the portion”.

    it is very simple to follow and will be only a page long. any editors out there interested.

  41. 41 Dennis
    August 5, 2008 at 23:13

    Hi all of the WORLD HAVE YOUR SAY moderators, currently at the library!

    Be around later! 🙂

    Syracuse, New York

  42. 42 Amy
    August 5, 2008 at 23:39

    Hi everyone. Regarding food and children, the question came up about junk food in schools. Many schools, at least here in the States, are so lacking money that companies like Coke and Pepsi come in and offer LARGE sums of money to have the soda machines in the school. I know here in Oregon most of the school districts here in the Portland area are trying to get out of their contracts and now are having the machines offer water and juices predominately.

    While many parents do feed their kids “junk” because of laziness, sometimes it boils down to economics. It can be cheaper to get the unhealthy foods, right or wrong. What if a parent has to make a choice between McDonalds for dinner and making the rent/mortgage or buying healthy food at the grocery store and making dinner but getting evicted? What is worse for the child – fatty foods or no home? These are real problems that many parents face today.

    With my older daughter, I have the opposite problem. She has been diagnosed since birth (3 months early) as failure to thrive. While she has made tremendous strides over the past 8 1/2 years, the doctors (including specialists) want her to eat “junk.” She needs the calories. I shouldn’t have to carry around a note from the doctor saying it is ok for her to eat at Jack in the Box.

    Amy in Oregon

  43. 43 Rick
    August 5, 2008 at 23:41

    @ jens
    great book, Iv’e got one that says put your fork down after the first plate full and get up.

    Now if I could get a good name for it and stretch it out for a few chapters I might be onto something.

    Damn, been done already about a thousand times, oh well…

  44. 44 Rick
    August 5, 2008 at 23:46

    The answer for schools is easy. Pack a lunch and make sure the kid has no money.

  45. 45 steve
    August 5, 2008 at 23:48


    Canada Greyhound pulls “Bus Rage” ads. Wonder why…

  46. 46 Amy
    August 5, 2008 at 23:56

    @ Rick,

    While packing a lunch and not sending money with your child takes care of the food problem, it still doesn’t give the school districts the money they need. I’m not saying that children should be obese to subsidize schools. It is a simple fact that as long as schools need money, those vending machines will be in the hallways.


  47. August 6, 2008 at 00:22

    As a student of science, i applaud NASA for exploring our solar system. I am of the conviction that our biosphere will one day be redefined. The life prospect of finding life on mars is thrilling. Bravo NASA!

  48. August 6, 2008 at 00:33

    Why should the rest of the world be compelled to operate at the whims of the USA? Iran has a sovereignty which must be respected. If America is committed to instilling democratic values in Iran, she needs to assist rights groups to fight for reforms.

  49. 49 Julie P
    August 6, 2008 at 00:36


    Lovely day on your blog, I see. I was trapped at a corporate event all day and decided to see the outcome of one your critiques. My word! It is inspiration to blog about literacy.

  50. 50 Count Iblis
    August 6, 2008 at 01:09

    Why would Iran risk isolation just for PR purposes? If the Iran is not building any nuclear weapons, why would it’s president talk tough – over nothing?

    Well, what we in the West want amounts to an infringement on Iran’s sovereign rights. What we are saying is essentially that Iran enriching uranium under IAEA supervision isn’t good enough. Far from it. We even say that Iran’s proposals to deal with our concerns by allowing more inspections, by setting up a joint venture in Iran etc. etc. are all non starters.

    Why? Because if Iran is allowed to enrich uranium on its own soil, then no matter how many safeguards and inspections you have, Iran could, in theory, decide to kick out the inspectors, leave the NPT and make nuclear weapons quite fast.

    We don’t want Iran to be in this position. But from an Iranian position, this is a very aggressive stance of us, to them it would be surrendering their sovereign rights.

    The only way out would be for us to accept that Iran has the right to enrich uranium and to start negotiating about an inspections regime along the lines what Iran has proposed.

    We should realize that our ideal solution, i.e. Iran agrees to stop enriching uranium, isn’t as good as it sounds. This is because the reason why we want this, as I explained above, is because we are afraid that Iran will not stick to agreements. So, if that’s our logic, then how can we trust that Iran is not continuing their enrichment program somewhere else?

    After all, if Iran were to agree to suspending enrichment, it would have done so very reluctantly. So, all the more reasons for us to distrust Iran. This means that we would want to be able to inspect many places in Iran. But how would be able to negotiate these rights?

    It seems to me that allowing Iran to enrich uranium gives us a stronger position to demand more rights for inspectors in return.

  51. August 6, 2008 at 01:11

    @water on mars, we have over 6 billion lives on earth that we can’t take care of. So what’s the essence of looking for life on another planet? The monies use for this purpose could be used to alleviate poverty in other parts of the world.

  52. 52 Julie P
    August 6, 2008 at 01:20

    Hackers steal 40 MILLION credit and debit card numbers from nine major US retailers.


  53. August 6, 2008 at 01:23

    @iran, I’ve always argue that I would prefer a nuclear free world. I see it as a double standard on the part of the USA to allow other countries to obtain nuclear weapons and at the same time denying others. All countries should be treated equally.

  54. 54 Count Iblis
    August 6, 2008 at 01:31

    If we find life on Mars, say primitive bacteria, then we could be looking at our distant ancestors, see here.

  55. August 6, 2008 at 01:36

    In Liberia it’s difficult to find obese children. We are not used to eating much and there is not much sweet that we have to eat. Probably this is due to the economic inability of us to get those kinds of foods that lead to obesity.

  56. August 6, 2008 at 01:44

    @hackers, those guys are cyber terrorists. May the justice system deals with the appropriatly.

  57. 57 Will Rhodes
    August 6, 2008 at 01:53

    jcheburet2002 –

    why would it’s president talk tough – over nothing?

    Because he wants to be seen as a tough leader in the Middle-East. But there isn’t just a political struggle going on – there is a religious one, too.

    Look at the different factions and sub-factions in the Middle-East. Then – you have to add into the mix that Iranians are Persians and not Arab. You have an awful lot of conflict even BEFORE the Middle-East countries tries to take on Israel and the west.

  58. 58 Will Rhodes
    August 6, 2008 at 01:54

    Julie –

    She was a prat and showed herself up as one. I have no problem with that. 🙂

  59. 59 Will Rhodes
    August 6, 2008 at 01:59

    Ali –

    Sorry to have to disagree with you

    @hackers, those guys are cyber terrorists. May the justice system deals with the appropriatly.

    If anyone had any real sense who are running the governments of our world – hackers/crackers would be employed by those same governments at a high, high salary.

    Problem – they don’t have the documentation that say they have been to certain schools so are ineligible for recruitment.

    Those guys are a real pain in the arky – but if they can crack the most secure of security software you have to think and act like them.

  60. August 6, 2008 at 02:00

    Unicef, the UN children’s agency, says India is failing to provide basic healthcare for its poorest children – despite robust economic growth. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7542521.stm
    India is considered the biggest country with the highest rate of child death. It had 2.1m child deaths in 2006.The corresponding figure for China was more than 400,000.

    What should be done to ensure that children enjoy good health care in developing countries?

    Is it a national issue or should it extend to the international community to ensure that neglecting the basic health care for children who are left to die despite the means to treat them is a crime against humanity?

    How should health care be a priority for developing world governments as a step to reduce the huge gap between the rich and the poor?

  61. August 6, 2008 at 02:01

    @ahmad, whether it is illegal detention, war on oil, war on terror, torture or whatsoever, once the US sees it as being justified, the majority accepts it. They are the super power and remember, ‘might makes right’.

  62. 62 Tom
    August 6, 2008 at 02:09

    @ Count Iblis

    If life on Earth originated from Mars, the next question would then be, where did life on Mars originate? The same question simply shifts from one place to another.

  63. 63 steve
    August 6, 2008 at 02:11

    If anyone has access to HBO on demand, I highly recommend you watch Hard Times at Douglass High, it’s about an inner city (Baltimore) school and the problems. For example, on back to school night, only a handful of parents show up, and the teachers admit the community doesn’t stress education at all. Only the good students would show up, not the ones who need special attention.


  64. August 6, 2008 at 02:13

    It is a pity that India as an emerging economic power has such a poor health care for children. Indee it is a crime against humanity for governments to sit supinely and allow children to die in millions while they have the means to curtail such huge number from dying.

  65. August 6, 2008 at 02:17

    @Will, yes I agree with you. Equally so, if some terrorists were to volunteer their services in providing means through which other terrorists could be captured or attacks averted, they’ll gladly be employ by world governments.

  66. August 6, 2008 at 02:25

    @steve, I think Douglass High should do what it does best, debate, basketball, and musics and leave the academic aspect with other schools.

  67. 67 jcheburet2002
    August 6, 2008 at 03:10

    Hi everybody. It seems ideas – NASA, Iran Vs the west, the neglect of our children in and out school are generating a lot of interest. Thanks for you patience with us first time moderators. So far so good. Any other interesting ideas? Keep the discussion going.

  68. 68 Rick
    August 6, 2008 at 03:15

    @Mohammed Ali
    the first thing India needs to do is have a lot less children.

  69. 69 Rick
    August 6, 2008 at 03:28

    what is the carbon footprint of putting one shuttle into orbit? Like Mohammed, I’d like so see a few problems sorted out here first. Like sustainability for one.

  70. 70 Asad_Babyl
    August 6, 2008 at 03:53

    I propose that we talk about the crimes of white people and the way in which they should pay for them.

    White people have caused every major disaster in known history and the only reason we don’t know anything about the crimes they commited earlier is because thet had a big war and destroyed the first civilization developing in Africa (Zion).

  71. 71 Count Iblis
    August 6, 2008 at 04:12

    Tom, that’s the big question: Where and how did life originate from the basic chemical compounds? How did complex molecules like DNA and RNA form from simple chemicals like methane, carbon dioxide water etc.?

    The problem here is that while the complex molecules you find in cells are relatively stable, no reaction in a test tube starting from simpl molecules like methane etc. will produce them, because these simple molecules are actually the most stable compounds. You can form amino acids but nothing more complex than that.

    The intermediary steps from the simple compounds to something like an RNA molecule very likely involves some very unstable molecules which would simply disintegrate before it gets a chance to combine to form RNA.

    In a recent documentary (on of the programs in the NGC series “Earth Investigated”), it was claimed that complex molecules like RNA could have formed inside comets. Comets are known to contain organic compounds. The theory is that because comets are very cold, molecules will react with whatever molecule is sitting next to it. So, you can form all sort of strange compounds that could be very unstable under normal conditions.

    Some of these complex unstable molecules can then react to form even more complex molecules, some of which can actually be stable. So, it is possible to bridge the gap from the simple stable molecules to the very complex stable molecules in this way.

    This process probably involves the comet being kicked out of its orbit in the Oort cloud and entering an elliptic orbit around the Sun. Then when the comet is close to the Sun, it is heated up a bit. The interior will still be very cold but the outer layers will warm up a lot. You can imagine that this destroys the unstable molecules and you have a rudimentary selection process in which the more stable molecules survive.

    At higher temperatures, the molecules can move around a bit more and there are more reactions possible. The chemicals could then be delivered to Earth or Mars via an impact. Complex chemicals can survive an impact, if the impact is very oblique.

    So, if I have to bet, I would put my money on comets. 🙂

  72. 72 Shirley
    August 6, 2008 at 04:16

    Will, why do you say, “Sorry to say, Anthony – if the US votes in McCain it will get very bad indeed“? What would it mean for Iran if McCain were elected president? Btw, your rhetorical question, do you honestly think that the leadership in Iran would put themselves to a nuclear death by sending over a missile loaded with a nuclear warhead? is very much a duh moment. Iran is not masochistic or stupid. I honestly feel that they have been talking big in order to stave off any attacks, but that they would not use nuclear weapons in military action.

    Number of words: 103

  73. 73 Shirley
    August 6, 2008 at 04:17

    Childhood Obesity
    Nick: What did these junk vendors have to offer to get into schools?

    Money. Some of our schools are so desperate for money that they would actually accept having junk food vending machines on their premises.

    Number of words: 38

  74. 74 Nick in USA
    August 6, 2008 at 04:24

    @ Mohammed Ali

    “@water on mars, we have over 6 billion lives on earth that we can’t take care of. So what’s the essence of looking for life on another planet? The monies use for this purpose could be used to alleviate poverty in other parts of the world.”

    The reason it is important to discover life on Mars is to prove that Mars can actually support life. Which means that it could theoretically support human life after technology has found a way to create atmosphere on currently barren planets. Thus providing a new home for some of the 6 billion or predicted 10 billion in the coming century. This is of course theoretical and we are far from these technologies, but the earth is already telling us that it can’t support this many people, so we need to find a new world to expand to. Yes, I am a sci fi geek.

  75. 75 Shirley
    August 6, 2008 at 04:49

    International Law
    Steve: I would recommend a nutshell or at treatise. Any “text” would be using the case method…

    Steve, in what ways might a treatise inform me? How long would it be? Would it be a real book, or more of a pamphlet?

  76. 76 Shirley
    August 6, 2008 at 05:19

    Iraqi Oil
    Lubna, salam. Is there something wrong about Kirkuk going to an autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan?

  77. 77 Shirley
    August 6, 2008 at 05:20

    School Funding & Childhood Obesity
    Amy, but God forbid that we should have to pay taxes (horrified gasp!) to fund our schools. Surely there must be some wealthy philanthropist corporate CEO who would be willing to drop money on our schools in a warm and fuzzy Republican trickle-down dream?

    I’ve been trying to look at my state budget comparatively under two different governors and have seen glimpses of what happens when taxes are slashed while spending increases. In the cases that I have been studying, more money was spent per prisoner than per student, teachers began going on strike to protest large class sizes and education budget cuts, and the rainy day fund was completely used up. When terms limits gave the hats off to that governor, the incoming was left with a deficit that some continue to refuse to blame on the outgoing. It must be the incoming’s fault: after all, the deficit came to light within days of the election!

    Number of words: 157

  78. 78 Rick
    August 6, 2008 at 06:42

    @ Shirley
    I find it hard to believe that the condition of schools in the greatest country on earth could be so bad. We must be in the fall part of the Rise and Fall of the American Empire.
    from Rick in the leftist, liberal, commie country of Australia.

  79. August 6, 2008 at 07:37

    @rick, I agree with you. India should have some form of birth control since they can’t take care of the ones being born. @nick, carrying people to live on mars is yet a virtual impossibility. Using billions of dollars to find life of mars while billions on earth can’t afford a dollar per day to survive is absurd.

  80. 80 Cheburet
    August 6, 2008 at 08:39

    Hi Rick,Shirley and Ali.
    I am just wondering. What do those in Africa have to say about this issue?

  81. 81 Rick
    August 6, 2008 at 09:00

    If spending on space science is a waist, how about space tourism for being the ultimate obscene self- indulgence? Brampon, get a cause!

  82. 82 nelsoni
    August 6, 2008 at 10:18

    @ Iran nuclear issue, I firmly believe that all the parties involved are just saber rattling. There is far too much at stake for the US or Israel to launch a military strike at Iran. This would simply make the region go up in flames. For the muslim extremists, it will be seen as another attack by the west against the Islamic world. Besides, the US has her hands full with Iraq and Afganistan and after their misadventure in Iraq, no country in her right senses will gladly follow the US into conflict with Iran. So all we will see is just talk and diplomatic actions.

  83. 83 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 10:36


    “Can we trust the authorities to protect our personal data?”

    But it’s exactly the “authorities” from whom we need to protect our personal data. Private companies at the worst can do what, show us an advertisement. The authorities can fine, imprison, and (in the US) kill us.

  84. 84 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 10:38


    So I heard your voice for the first time on Tuesday’s show. Um, no offense, but you sound completely American! (Accent, not attitude.) How did that happen?

  85. 85 Bob in Queensland
    August 6, 2008 at 10:50

    Hi Helen!

    …am I the only one amused that you posted partly about identity theft while using Chloe’s login? 🙂

    Seriously, I think Jonathan has it right this time, at least partly. Far from trusting “the authorities” to protect our personal data, it’s them I worry most about. How many times have civil servants in the UK lost laptops and disks lately? How many changes get proposed every so often to make it easier for government agencies to snoop? Nope, the question should be “who’s watching the authorities”? (I won’t quote Latin again!)

    @ Jonathan. My mongrel accent is the product of the first 24 years of my life being in Western Canada, then 30 years in the UK but travelling a lot, including one week in four in NYC much of the time. I get accused of almost everything…though I have to say “American” is rare…but maybe west coast Canadian is similar to SF.

  86. 86 nelsoni
    August 6, 2008 at 10:53

    @ Jonathan, in line with what you just asked? How safe are our Blogs? Twitter targeted by Cyber criminals So which blog is next?

  87. 87 nelsoni
    August 6, 2008 at 11:05

    @ Cyber criminals, pardon me If I am being paranoid but I have kind of subscribed to this “conspiracy theory” that the same people who create the source code for malicious software be it virus or whatever are also the same people who make anti virus software and other security product because what’s the point of creating an anti virus software when there’s is no virus around? Just like in the medical field to create a vaccine you have to obtain a weakened version of the organism, create a vaccine and release the virus, and you have a high demand for vaccine. Just the way we see the high demand for computer security products world wide.

  88. 88 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 11:12

    Iran isn’t stupid? What’s a better word? They insist on producing fissile materials (bomb stuff–you don’t need it for making electricity) in the knowledge that they’re scaring their neighbors, at least one of whom they’ve threatened to destroy. That threatened nation has already demonstrated its reluctance to be exterminated, by massively defeating its (much larger) neighbors in several wars, and by converting similar endeavors in Iraq and Syria into grease stains. It now stands poised to preserve itself yet again if need be.

    Iran has built a huge “KICK ME” sign and refuses to be dissuaded from wearing it. That doesn’t seem especially smart, no matter who is president of the US. America is the least of Iran’s problems.

  89. 89 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 11:15


    Well, those horrible hackers have already stolen Bob’s accent. All bets are off. Lock up the silver!

  90. 90 nelsoni
    August 6, 2008 at 11:19

    @ Jonathan. I was not expecting Bob’s accent to be like that. For a moment, I thought it was scouse.

  91. 91 Robert
    August 6, 2008 at 11:26

    @nelsoni and Jonathan

    I thought it was Welsh.

  92. 92 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 11:36


    I can pardon paranoia, but “conspiracy theory” is always a red flag for something other than logical, innformed deduction. To observe that there’d be no need for antivirus software if there were no viruses (true, duh) does not logically lead to the theory that the makers of antivirus software are responsible for creating viruses.

    That’s like saying, hmmm, fire fighters would be out of work if there weren’t any fires, so they must be starting fires everywhere.

    I very much hope you’re making a bad-taste joke about vaccines spreading disease. That particular wacky “conspiracy theory” has condemned a huge portion of South Africa’s populace to death by AIDS because its president took it seriously. Forgive me if I don’t even smile.

  93. 93 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 11:38

    What’s “scouse?”

  94. 94 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 11:42


    Welsh! “)

  95. 95 steve
    August 6, 2008 at 11:48

    @ Shirley

    A treatise is normal casebook size, but full of black letter law and examples from cases, rather than just being a casebook. It’s easier to understand for a nonlawyer and a lawyer than a casebook is.

  96. 96 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 11:54


    Public schools are “starving for money,” yet, oddly, they absorb hundreds of billions of dollars to no discernable result like some giant mutant sponge, and do a worse job than private schools which cost less. Predictable and typical monopoly behavior.

  97. 97 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 12:00


    I have another one: Fire fighters wouldn’t be needed if there weren’t any fires, so it must be firre fighters who start fires.

  98. 98 nelsoni
    August 6, 2008 at 12:12

    @ Jonathan. “Scouse” is the name of the accent from liverpool, aka merseyside, UK. Jonathan my theory about the virus was informed by an experience I had once. This chap from eastern Europe could write code that could wreck your pc and he would also give you a cd that would clean it up. Both from him. Mirror that to the larger world … Of course fire men would not go around setting fire …

  99. 99 Bob in Queensland
    August 6, 2008 at 12:20

    @ Jonathan

    Agree with you on conspiracy theories, especially the one you mention.

    However, you may be a bit simplistic in your discussion of schools. Of course private schools do better than state schools: money determines that they get only middle and upper class students from families where education is valued. State schools have to take everyone, including the real dregs.

    As for costing less, this is certainly not the case in the UK. The per-student budget for state schools there is far less than the tuition at even run-of-mill private schools.

    (And I think I’ve done a good job of avoiding the public school/private school/state school confusion that exists between Englisn and American English.

    P.S. A scouser is from Liverpool…and I’ve never spent more than an hour or two there. My wife is Welsh…but has lived most of her life in Australia and has an Aussie accent, even when she speaks Welsh. Go figure!

  100. 100 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 12:22


    No, nobody is seriously “asking whther we can ever trust Iran with a civilian nuclear programme,” because nobody seriously believes they’re building one. They’ve lied, cheated, concealed, deceived inspectors for years, which makes it hard to “trust” them. Even assuming for a moment the absurd notion that a country perched atop the planet’s largest known pool of petroleum wanted to build a nuclear power station to generate electricity, this wouldn’t be it. They’re enriching uranium. The “civilian” bit was a clever but transparent fig leaf to get through a loophole in the non-proliferation treaty, which they’re now openly violating anyway. There’s a bigger “wink wink nudge nudge” to their “civilian” nuclear production than Monty Python ever dreamed of.

  101. 101 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 13:02


    Private schools skim the cream of students…. Oh, if you’re serving canard, where’s the orange sauce at least. All monopolies are terrible, because they can be. Private schools can’t. Specifically, they’re not hidebound by ridiculous contracts that make it impossible to fire bad teachers and administrators, or stifled by certification and seniority systems that venerate and reward mediocrity. Just to start.

    I’ve seen private schools with vastly superior teachers, even at lower salaries, because they’re allowed to actually teach creatively and with heart, not forced into Procrustean beds.

    For costs, compare like with like. Not budget with tuition. Operating costs, including administration above the school itself. Private schools seem expensive because we’re all forced to pay for the public ones (whose actual cost is not readily apparent) and few can pay again for private schooling.

  102. 102 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 13:24

    Re Tuesda’s show–I won’t open the stale can of media bias again, but I wonder how it is that libertarians only appear in stories where the libertarian position is at its most extreme-sounding and unappealing. Hurricane catastrophe? Call a libertarian to say that the government shouldn’t help thousands of victims. Never mind that FEMA did more harm than good. Discrimination? Call a libertarian to say there shouldn’t be a law. But never allow them to explain why these apparently monstrous positions are not what they seem. No, it’s Thank you, hideous beast bogeyman, oh, sorry we’re out of time now. This isn’t just BBC; it’s everywhere including US.

    I never see or hear libertarians invited to explain why so-called market failures are actually failures of regulation, and of dishonest governmental fictions like Fannie and Freddie the terible mortgage twins. Or describing corporate welfare and how to end it. Or why the only real solution for political corruption is to remove from politicians the power they shouldn’t have in the first place, to favor some and damage others. Et cetera, and so on.

  103. August 6, 2008 at 13:32

    Just checking in for a quick look to see what everybody is talking about.

    Jonathan. First fissile material is required for both energy and weapons grade reactions. Pick your favorite science site and look up the description.

    Secondly our very own Iranian NIE said that they are not currently engaged in activities that are not conducive with creating a nuclear bomb. Iran Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities IT is a long and boring read as these things are, but you can do a search for the estimates and find that the CIA don’t believe they are currently trying to develop nuclear weapons.

    Third, even if they wanted to. If they started right now, it would take between 12 to 20 years before they could get the material produce, then design a warhead, (no you can’t just stick the stuff in a suitcase.) then a targeting system that won’t get screwed up by the material it is carrying.

    This illogical paranoia is far more dangerous then UFO’s, JFK, or even 911 hoaxes. It is far more illogical.

  104. 104 Tom
    August 6, 2008 at 13:43

    @ Count Iblis,

    I’m impressed by your scientific knowledge and I share your view on dormant organic matter inside the sea of comets. Isn’t it such an irony that with the seemingly abundance of organic matters in the universe that it isn’t already teeming with life? In most part the universe is just too hostile for earth-like lifeforms to exist. My money, though, goes not to comets but on life being indigenously “created” and evolved on planet earth.

  105. August 6, 2008 at 13:50

    Speaking of “Trust”, has WHYS discussed the latest development. White House ordered forgery . Alone this would seem more like crazy talk. But combined with the hundreds of allegation that have come out since, including the fact that the Whitehouse knew the Niger papers were a fraud, this guy has very credible assertions. At what time does supplying the public with false information in order to whip up war rhetoric become illegal.

    @ Iran’s oil. Iran has a problem. Lots of oil and not enough refineries. Sound familiar. They also live in a very chaotic part of the world where refineries and pipelines can be targeted way easier. Anyway, all developing economies are looking not to go down the path of the West and depend on finite resources to power their economy. (Just like we learned from the Romans not to start too many wars or risk spreading ourselves too thin and being hated by the rest of the world.) The difference between the Middle East and the US is that they look at oil as a product, not a raw material. It is worth more sold on the market, then used in energy production, way more. It is currently worth more in the ground then above. The last one holding oil wins. The most conservative estimates are that we have about another 80 to 100 years at current trends. So Iran wanting to develop nuclear power makes very logical sense. Then again in light of the fact they are threatened by a nuclear power everyday, them wanting to develop a nuclear weapon makes logical sense too. I know I would in their shoes.

  106. 106 Melanie Chassen
    August 6, 2008 at 13:52

    @ NASA

    Maybe I am being cynical.. but here’s a thought. Space exploration costs billions of dollars. Yes – it’s exciting and appeases our insatiable desire to explore the unknown. But couldn’t that money being put to better use? Real problems could be solved with that money. For the most part, space exploration gathers exploration, and if they’re lucky – happens to open the door to greater understanding about an Earth process that we can relate to global issues ‘on the ground’ so to speak. But aren’t these advancements few and far between? Other than learning about the sun (which has led to greater understanding about climate, etc.) and changing the way people look at the world biologically (when Earth was seen from space for the first time) – what good do most space explorations do? Finding water on Mars, although extremely interesting, doesn’t solve any problems for us here on Earth. I think there are more important priorities where those resources could be better spent.

  107. 107 Bob in Queensland
    August 6, 2008 at 13:58

    @ Jonathan

    I won’t argue that state schools do a good job, not least because I don’t know enough about the American situation. I would suspect that, like many things, it can vary greatly from city to city and state to state.

    Certainly, in the UK that quality is quite variable but the good state schools are very good indeed. Alas, the bad ones are pretty poor.

    However, whatever you think of a school monopoly, I wonder if you can suggest a better alternative. This is a case where the free market isn’t going to work. For every really good school you’re going to have 5 or 10 sink holes–the “HMOs” and “Charity Hospitals” of the education market. If you have a way to privatise general education and still provide it to those who need it most, please run for President!

    Oh, and I make an excellent Duck a l’orange….cliche food but good nonetheless!

  108. 108 steve
    August 6, 2008 at 14:12

    @ Melanie and others

    Do you people realize that we have to explore space for humanity to survive? Though it may be in the distant future, Earth one day will be unlivable. It might happen from an asteroid or comet in the not too distant future, or the inevitable future, billions of years from now when plate tectonics stops and we lose the magnetic field and most of our atmosphere, and also when the sun becomes a red giant end engulfs most of the inner solar system. If we stay on earth, humanity WILL die out. Understand?

  109. 109 Shirley
    August 6, 2008 at 14:14

    International Law
    Steve, how does one go about searching for treatises? Is it goglable as is: international alw treatise?

  110. 110 Huduma
    August 6, 2008 at 14:16

    Dear BBC

    Coups in Africa were so common once upon a time and most of us came to hate coup-de-tats.

    However, unashamedly today I hail the Mauritanian army for staging a coup against an errant government.

    To all governments that think the rest of the population are ignoramuses; steal from national coffers; play havoc with human rights and retard the development of multi – party-ism and development of functioning democratic institutions I say serve you right when there is a coup-de-tat in their country.

    African leaders give Africans a break or what happened to Mauritania will once again be the order of the day in Africa with a lot of young, poor and frustrated youths who see no way those who own capital can give way to their blossoming and flowering….


  111. 111 Melanie Chassen
    August 6, 2008 at 14:19

    @ Steve

    Of course I understand. However, humanity will die out anyway. Evolution is not over. Humans will go extinct one day. And it will most likely be before the Sun explodes in the next 4.5 billion years. I still maintain that we’d be better off spending the money on problems on the ground.

  112. 112 Dennis
    August 6, 2008 at 14:27

    identity theft: is a crime, that must be crackdown on hard and severe punishments should be imposed!

    Syracuse, New York

  113. 113 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 14:39


    I didn’t mean to say that you could run a nuclear power station without fissile material. You’re spltting semantic hairs but the facts and the logic are against you.

    Let’s allow, arguendum, the absurd premise that a country that produces endless oil for about $4 per barrel becomes illogically seized with the compulsion to spend billions to generate power in ncudlear stations. Does it seem at all strange that it inexplicably insists on reinventing the wheel by making its own fuel–an immensely expensive endeavor, taking years, rather than simply buying it off the shelf? Pretty illogical if you want a power station. Quite logical if you want to make things that go boom.

    We’re still left to wonder why it embarked on this enrichment secretly, going to huge effort to conceal it from the inspectors in violation of NPT rules, and why its effort is scattered across the country in numerous ultra-hardened military bunkers, and on and on and on. All quite illogical.

    Now, would this CIA you cite about Iran be the same CIA you deplore about Iraq? Why do you believe them when you want to, and disbelieve them when you don’t? Seems illogical. OK, let’s stipulate that too. “Not currently trying to develop nuclear weapons” is not logically inconsistent with “trying like heck to enrich uranium.” Finally, recall that they needn’t also reinvent the warhead, etc. from scratch if they bought that technology from AQ Khan’s atomic supermaket already.

    I stand by my statement that no serious observer of any political conviction inside or outside Iran thinks this is really about power stations. If the above doesn’t convince you, then your ideology is blinding you to logic, and you’re determined to believe what nobody does. And I’m not paranoid, thank you.

  114. 114 Angela in Washington D.C.
    August 6, 2008 at 14:42


    I know the house had a committee meeting regarding the adminsitration’s actions last week. However, I am not sure it is even worth anyone’s time. The issues are important and several suspicious activites have occured with this administration. I listened to a portion of the meeting on my way home from work but I think it is too late to try to start some impreachment hearings. Since W. is a lame dame and unpopular there is not much he can do. I don’t believe most of these issues will ever get addressed, especially since the White House does not believe everyone nust testify before Congress.

  115. 115 steve
    August 6, 2008 at 14:44

    @ Angela

    I doubt you will find any “legal” treatises online. The publishers do like to make money. However if you live near a courthouse, the law library should have copies you could read there. They will also like sell them at amazon.com, you can buy them used. Law students also sell stuff on ebay. You could also go to a law school bookstore and buy one.


    You can find some OLD OLD international law treatises on google books, but they are REALLY old and so won’t be current. This stuff is from the late 19th and early 20th centuries but can tell you about the concepts of international law.

  116. 116 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 14:51

    @Dwight again–

    Iran is “threatened” only BECAUSE of its nuclear program, and its announced intention to annihilate a nearby nation with it, when it’s ready. No nuke, no threat. Yet they proceed with the nukes. Pretty illogical course of action. Illogical to suggest that it’s a sensible response to a threat whn it’s the genesis of that very threat. You’d do the same, in their shoes? Sounds… almost…. paranoid.

  117. 117 Nick in USA
    August 6, 2008 at 15:09

    @ Melanie and Mohammed

    If we saved the people on the ground now, what would the outcome be? We would have found a way for people in poverty to live, breed, and continue to overpopulate the world. Thus, we would have even more people on the ground, who can die when the world has just plain run out of natural resources. Sustaining an unsustainable population until extinction is not the answer. Making that population sustainable is an answer. That’s why we need to continue funding space exploration. I would rather save 10 billion people and the human race later, than save 50 million people now. It’s insensitive, but true.

  118. 118 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 15:19


    Your second Iran post:.They have “not enough refineries?” What’s the logical solution to that? Hint: It’ not enriching uranium to weapon grade, at a cost of hundreds of millions, in a huge far-flung network of bunkers. Building refineries would be logical. They could build a hundred refineries for a fraction of the cost, and without the complication of inviting attack.

    “The last one holding oil wins?” Really? More than 100 years from now? Illogical. Certainly illogical to imagine that it will fetch $140 a barrel for the next hundred years. It’s already way down from that now. Logically, it’s worth more pumped and sold now than in the ground awaiting obsolescence. Hardly more than 100 years ago, our primary oil was whale oil. Logic suggests we won’t have any use for petroleum at all in 100 years.

  119. 119 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 15:30

    @space exploration

    Ever the peacemaker, allow me to suggest a compromise that will not waste resources, while not leaving us unprepared for the events of a couple of billion years hence. Let’s pursue rational space exploration, but not manned space exploration. It’s a hundred times more expensive to put people into space, give them food and drink and air and safety and space to move around, and get them back, than to send out increasingly capable robots to do what we want to do. Real scientists would prefer to spend money doing more science. It’s only the old-guard mentality at NASA that wants to put people in space, for no reason than their hope to return to the glamor, and carefree budgets, of 40 years ago.

  120. August 6, 2008 at 15:51


    What exactly is meant when you are called a member of “the axis of evil”, told “the nuclear option is on the table”, and then watch as one of the declared members is crumbled for what we now know was at best faulty intelligence? What is meant if that threat came from the only world power to used such weapons? What does that mean. To me it means “we would consider dropping a nuclear bomb on you and wipe you off the map.”

    Again, in their shoes, I would do the same at least. Actually, I would probably be more blatant about wanting nuclear weapons. I would offer anybody who helped me out a portion of my oil wells.

  121. August 6, 2008 at 16:06

    Jonathan your economic understanding is eluding again. The price is dropping because the US economy is busting. a decrease in the increase of demand has occurred. Don’t fret it will be back by the time the fall season rolls around again.

    Again, they have not been found to be enriching Uranium to “weapons grade” as cited in the report! However, Enriching Uranium to lesser grades has a high front end cost and a low operation cost once there. But then again, having the weapons to secure your future is evidentially worth bankrupting your whole country over.

    So you are now saying that you want to pick and choose intelligence? When it comes to waging war they are spot on, but when it comes to opposed to waging war on oil rich countries you question the validity? Let us hope things have improved since the Iraq debacle 4 years and a few new head in place later. The US isn’t the only one to say they don’t haven’t been perusing a weapons program. Remember, the first step into Iraq was allowing inspectors to run about the place. Again in their shoes, I am saying, “no way”. The administration used them to gather intelligence that was corrupted and turned against them.

    Have to cut this short, little one is hailing me. But there is so much wrong with you Iranian assessment I have a hard time picking where to begin. It really isn’t much different then the case against Iraq. Only lots of people like them.

  122. August 6, 2008 at 16:26

    Damn the Bomb, Get On with Repatriation, Restitution and Building Iran
    TEHRAN – Iran’s response to Europe, US and United Nations Security Council on the suspension of uranium enrichment and developing a nuclear bomb is ‘I’m alright Jack, you can’t touch me.” It’s a clever move since the United States is busy with presidential elections and Europe is proceeding gingerly and weighing its options.
    It is also true that we are talking at cross purposes. The international community wants peace and security in the Mideast, Iranian prelates want to tighten their grip on the country and legitimize their claim to rule.
    The June 23rd EU sanctions on Iran includes ‘droit d’ingérence,’ meaning intrusion, invasion and takeover. Let it be, but get on with the job. Iran has been touting the right of Palestinians to return home, but shouldn’t we take care of our own expatriates first. The trouble is that Britain or France talk of removing the ban on Mojahedin Khalq and disarming Hezbollah, but nothing is heard thereafter. The new breed of politicians in Europe are too engrossed in their own image. It is about time they dirtied their hands and started doing what they preach. It is about time they adopted ‘droit d’ingérence.’

  123. 123 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 17:05


    Hello again Akbar! I still owe you the explanation you asked for, about US bank failures. The short answer is that bank deposits are guaranteed by the government, up to $100,000 per depositor. Nobody has lost a dollar here to bank failure for 70 years. (Stockholders lose, but not depositors.)

    The real problem here is the decline in home values after many years of rising fast and far, and the related circumstance of mortgage loans going “bad” as people can’t pay them. People are losing their homes, and the world’s banks are losing many billions that they invested in the mortgages. The two huge “fannie and freddie” mortgage banks in the US are in trouble but have been saved by us taxpayers, hooray.

    I’ll be back to talk about your very interesting Iran post in a few minutes if you’re still around. Really.

  124. 124 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    August 6, 2008 at 17:17


    My economic grasp is still firm. I know why oil price is falling. Why do you think demand will resume in the fall? I didn’t propose picking and choosing intelligence. You did. You believe the CIA lied about Iraq, yet you believe they tell the truth about Iran. I explained why their finding (not making weapons now) is not inconsistent with the amassing of boom-boom powder, even if the findings are right. And my logic is still OK, or at least unrefuted. Have a great day Dwight!

  125. 125 Jens
    August 6, 2008 at 17:28


    have we become such cry-babies. I am seriouse 90% of the list is just trash. there are real events that shake the world and make one cry.

  126. 126 Nick in USA
    August 6, 2008 at 17:29

    @ Jonathan

    “It’s a hundred times more expensive to put people into space, give them food and drink and air and safety and space to move around, and get them back, than to send out increasingly capable robots to do what we want to do.”

    Agreed! We don’t need heroes, we need science. Imagine how long it would have taken us to send humans to discover water on mars, rather than robots.

  127. 127 Shirley
    August 6, 2008 at 18:29

    Hi, Steve. Thank you for the tips.

    Word Count: 7

  128. August 6, 2008 at 18:31

    Hi Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    Thku so much for the mortgage slump explanation.
    How do you view Iran?
    is the issue primarily ‘uranium enrichment’?
    Do you think the standoff between Iran, 5+1 will escalate?

  129. 129 Jens
    August 6, 2008 at 18:31

    Hi Shirly

    Word Count: 2

  130. August 6, 2008 at 18:54

    I am not picking and choosing. The Iranians, as well as the Iraqis, have said they are not pursuing a nuclear weapons program for years. French and Russian Intelligence have said the same. As it turns out the CIA had Iraq pre-war dead on. Our clear and resounding position on Iraq’s nuclear program and his connections to al Qaeda had been that it was unclear. That has been the position of the CIA from day the beginning. The current administration chose to cherry pick and misstate information given to them. All kinds of informants could be found to say that they knew somebody who had first hand knowledge, but nobody ever had it themselves. Saddam had played a “shell game” with his own commanders. You are the one that alluded to our pre-war intel being faulty. The position form the administration had been, it was accurate when they invaded, then it was the intelligence agencies fault when it was wrong, then it was accurate about Iran when the last known report showed they had a weapons program. Then when that report was updated to show they had stopped years ago, the administration criticized it and said, “look how wrong you were about Iraq.” You seem to with that self-serving ideology. I dear say I have expressed a “deplorable” attitude about the CIA. Remove the political pressure and let them do their job and one agent can do the work of an entire brigade. The current leaders seem so far to be less willing to buy into the Washington mess.

    Alls I have to say to sum up everything you stated is there few answers. You ask why the Iranians would want nuclear power when they have so much oil? To which I ask, why did the US pursue and develop it when they had so much oil to fuel their economy? You ask why they would spend so much developing nuclear when they could spend it building refineries? To which I ask, why does the US do the same? You ask “why not produce endless oil?” and I submit there is no such thing. The time for us to address the current toil crisis was 30 years ago. You ask why they would need a nuclear weapon for their national defense? I ask why do we? The humorous part is dropping a bomb on one of the worlds largest oil reserves is “mutually assured self destruction”. They know that.

  131. 131 Jonathan
    August 6, 2008 at 19:04


    Well, I view Iran as the home country of several dear friends of mine here, and I hope our countries will someday be friends too. I’m not sure what “5+1” is. I know the nuclear stuff is what people talk about, and it could be troublesome for Iran. Europe won’t do anything, and America has burned its fingers so badly in Iraq that you won’t see our boots on your ground. But you should worry about the tiny country that your president has promised to wipe from the map, whose people react badly to that threat.

    Do you mean you’d welcome invasion and occupation? Even with the vivid example of a spectacular failure in Iraq? Things must indeed be bad there, my friend.

  132. 132 Jonathan
    August 6, 2008 at 19:18


    We agree, I think, on the importance of respecting the integrity of the CIA, and that this administration badly abused it as they have every other organ of government. I don’t have an ideological bias in that regard. I was curious about why you woud so eagerly believe this CIA under this administration about Iran, given the failure about Iraq.

    Actually my main question was not the ones you posed, but the one I asked: how and why you could convince yourself that Iran’s purpose is civilian power, given the absurdly complex and expensive undertaking for enriching uranium which would be entirely unnecessary for civilian nuclear power. And the lying, cheating, concealing from inspectors. And, well the stuff I said. I won’t repeat it. You obviously know what you want to believe, and if it makes you happy, I won’t spoil your fun, or waste my time.

  133. 133 Shirley
    August 6, 2008 at 19:25

    World Domination & Oil

    Dwight: Again, in their shoes, I would do the same at least. Actually, I would probably be more blatant about wanting nuclear weapons. I would offer anybody who helped me out a portion of my oil wells.

    But then would the oil still be considered nationalised? Is it possible to allow other nations or corporations to share in the benefits without de-nationalising?

    Also, wouldn’t an invasion of Iran radicalise even ordinary Shia Muslims the world over? Wouldn’t it turn Pakistan into a seething hotbed of both Salafist and Shia extremism? From what I have read in a recent National Geographic magasine, Iranians in general have a rather casual attitude towards Shia Islam and tend to be more nationalistic. However, seeing a country to the south go badly, knowing that the population is majority Shia Muslim, and knowing that there are several pilgrimage sites there which are popular amongst Iranian Shia Muslims, I definitely see the potential for an exploding gas leak.

    Perhaps we should take over some other county. All that we have to do is fund fake oil explorations of Zimbabwe or Myanmar and plant some WMD… Who shall we take over next, mwahahaha!

    Number of words: 195

  134. 134 Jonathan
    August 6, 2008 at 19:59


    “Fund fake oil explorations?” What on earth is a “fake oil exploration,” and why would we want to “fund” it? Recall that America is not an empire, has no colonies, and does not go aout “taking over” countries. Nor do we “plant WMD,” which is why you can chuckle knowingly abot “finding no WMD.” Had we planted it, we’d have found it.

    Fake oil sounds as useless as no oil, which I’ll remind you yet again is how much oil we’ve taken from Iraq: None. You can tell this because we’re having an oil shortage. You can tell THAT because the stuff is selling for six times more than just a few years ago, and gasoline costs $4 per gallon. If we were plundering Iraq’s oil, this would not be the case.

    Seriously, though, nobody is going to invade Iran. If Israel or America did anything, it would take the form of a bombing campaign directed against the most vulnerable parts of the nuclear facilities.

  135. August 7, 2008 at 03:42

    Hi Jonathan
    Thku so much for response.
    The best news today is that there will be a strike. It was inevitable. Good riddance. Europe, US, Russia and China have been listening to a load of rubbish. I have had the Chiefs of Staff on hand, but the process of getting them to act has been lengthy and tedious.
    It is not so much that things are any worse than before on the ground, but the nuclear bomb issue has swamped and muffled the important matter of governance, rule of law, modernization, adopting a market economy and stamping out loan sharking in the name of Islamic banking.
    Perhaps we should assign specific tasks, in the aftermath, to each and every member of 5+1 to assist and cooperate in the reconstruction program.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: