Here is the text of the “side agreement” between IAEA and Iran:
Separate Arrangement II agreed by the Islamic State of Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency on 11 July 2015, regarding the Road-map, Paragraph 5
Iran and the Agency agreed on the following sequential arrangement with regard to the Parchin issue:
- Iran will provide to the Agency photos of the locations, including those identified in paragraph 3 below, which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the Agency, taking into account military concerns.
- Iran will provide to the Agency videos of the locations, including those identified in paragraph 3 below, which would be mutually agreed between Iran and the Agency, taking into account military concerns.
- Iran will provide to the Agency 7 environmental samples taken from points inside one building already identified by the Agency and agreed by Iran, and 2 points outside of the Parchin complex which would be agreed between Iran and the Agency.
- The Agency will ensure the technical authenticity of the activities referred to in paragraphs 1-3 above. Activities will be carried out using Iran’s authenticated equipment, consistent with technical specifications provided by the Agency, and the Agency’s containers and seals.
- The above mentioned measures would be followed, as a courtesy by Iran, by a public visit of the Director General, as a dignitary guest of the Government of Iran, accompanied by his deputy for safeguards.
- Iran and the Agency will organize a one-day technical roundtable on issues relevant to Parchin.
For the International Atomic Energy Agency: Tero Varjoranta, Deputy Director General for Safeguards
For the Islamic Republic of Iran: Ali Hoseini Tash, Deputy Secretary of Supreme National Security Council for Strategic Affairs
And here’s interpretation and comment from The Big Story, by George Jahn:
An AP report has revealed that the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency has agreed with Iran that Iranian experts and equipment will be used to inspect Iran’s Parchin military site, located in not far from Tehran, where Iran is suspected of conducting covert nuclear weapons activity more than a decade ago.
Here are some questions and answers about the document, and what it means for the larger deal between Iran, the United States and five other world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for easing sanctions against Iran.
WHAT HAVE IRAN AND THE IAEA AGREED?
According to a draft document viewed by AP, Iran has agreed to cooperate with the U.N. in answering longstanding allegations about possible past work to develop nuclear weapons at its Parchin plant — but only with the Iranians conducting the inspections themselves.
Iran would collect its own environmental samples on the site and carry out other work usually done by IAEA experts. The IAEA will be able to review the Iranians’ work after the fact. The deal on Parchin was between the IAEA and Iran. The Obama Administration was not a direct party to the agreement, but apparently was aware of it.
WHAT DO OPPONENTS OF THE DEAL SAY?
Opponents of the broader deal are seizing an opportunity to say the entire exercise of negotiating with Iran is flawed, that it relies too much on trust of the Iranian government.
WHAT DOES THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SAY?
The Obama administration and other supporters say the wider agreement is focused on the future, with ample inspections, and that the side accord between Iran and the IAEA is focused on Iran’s activities in the past and therefore is not central to the overall deal.
HOW UNUSUAL IS THE AGREEMENT ON PARCHIN?
Any IAEA inspection of a country suspected of nuclear irregularities is usually carried out by agency experts. They may take swipes of residue on equipment, sample the air or take soil samples in attempts to look for signs of clandestine work on atomic arms or other potentially dangerous unreported activity.
The document on Parchin, however, will let the Iranians themselves look for signs of the very activity they deny — past work on nuclear weapons.
It says “Iran will provide” the agency with environmental samples. It restricts the number of samples at the suspect site to seven and to an unspecified number “outside of the Parchin complex” at a site that still needs to be decided.
The U.N. agency will take possession of the samples for testing, as usual. Iran will also provide photos and video of locations to be inspected. But the document suggests that areas of sensitive military activity remain out of bounds.
The draft says the IAEA will “ensure the technical authenticity of the activities” carried out by the Iranians — but it does not say how. …
WHY IS THE PARCHIN AGREEMENT IMPORTANT?
Any indication that the IAEA is diverging from established inspection rules could weaken the agency, the world’s nuclear watchdog with 164 members, and feed suspicions that it is ready to overly compromise in hopes of winding up a probe that has essentially been stalemated for more than a decade.
Politically, the arrangement has been grist for American opponents of the broader separate agreement to limit Iran’s future nuclear programs, signed by the Obama administration, Iran and five world powers in July. Critics have complained that the wider deal is built on trust of the Iranians, while the administration has insisted it depends on reliable inspections.
The separate agreement on past nuclear activities does not affect the broader deal signed in July. And it doesn’t appear yet that the revelation will change any votes in Congress for or against a resolution of disapproval, which President Barack Obama is expected to veto if it passes.
HOW DID THIS AGREEMENT HAPPEN?
It could be a matter of priorities.
The Obama administration’s main focus in the broader Iran deal — signed by the U.S., Iran, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — is crimping Iran’s present nuclear activities so they cannot be used in the future toward making a bomb. Faced with more than a decade of Iranian resistance to IAEA attempts to probe the allegations of past weapons work at Parchin, there may be a willingness to settle for an agency report that is less than definitive — and methods that deviate from usual practices.
The IAEA also appears to have recognized that Iran will continue to insist the allegations are lies, based on false U.S., Israeli and other intelligence. After a decade of stalemate it wants to close the books on the issue and allow the U.N. Security Council to do so as well.
The alternative might well have been no inspection at Parchin of any kind. [As if this “inspection” is not exactly equivalent to no inspection – ed.]
WHAT DOES THE IAEA SAY?
Director General Yukiya Amano says, “The arrangements are technically sound and consistent with our long-established practices. They do not compromise our … standards in any way.” He says agreements with Iran on clearing up the nuclear arms allegations “are confidential and I have a legal obligation not to make them public – the same obligation I have for hundreds of such arrangements made with other IAEA member states“.
WHAT DO OTHERS SAY?
Ned Price, spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House: “We are confident in the agency’s technical plans for investigating the possible military dimensions of Iran’s former program, issues that in some cases date back more than a decade. Just as importantly, the IAEA is comfortable with the arrangements, which are unique to the agency’s investigation of Iran’s historical activities.”
Olli Heinonen, in charge of the Iran investigation as IAEA deputy director general from 2005 through 2010, says he can think of no similar arrangement — a country essentially allowed to carry out much of the probe of suspicions against it.
The agreement is sinister and ludicrous.
(And now we know there is a “Separate Arrangement I” that we know nothing of.)
Commander J. E. Dyer writes at Liberty Unyielding:
Kerry offered to give the Senators a classified briefing on the side agreement – even though he also stressed that the U.S. has not been given access to it.
The reaction of JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] supporters to the AP report has been to emphasize that this agreement is about resolving IAEA’s questions regarding Iran’s past activities. The side agreement on Parchin isn’t about monitoring current or future activities, which are a separate issue.
The implication is that self-sampling and selfies are good enough for resolving the lingering questions about the past. Going forward, suggest Team Obama and its allies, is where we’ll see the tough, unprecedentedly rigorous verification regime for Iran’s military-related nuclear work.
The big problem with that logic – even more important than the point that verifying Iran’s past activities is crucial – is that there is nothing written down about the nature of the verification regime for military-related activities going forward. The JCPOA is silent as to methods and measures. It does not describe a rigorous verification regime. It doesn’t describe a verification regime at all.
All it says is that Iran and IAEA will develop agreements for inspecting the military-related sites IAEA requests access to. If IAEA isn’t satisfied, it can appeal to the JCPOA’s Joint Commission – on which Iran is one of the eight voting members.
So the only model we have to go by, in judging how this verification process is going to work, is the text of the side agreement on Parchin. And that text says we’re going to take Iran’s word for it. …
That approach isn’t good enough for the nuclear program of a radical regime that is still the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, an Argentinian Communist and Pope, is telling whoppers.
Fortunately, Christopher S. Carson puts him right with a wonderfully cheerful story. It comes from Front Page. We slightly abbreviate it:
Last week, Pope Francis released his controversial environmental Encyclical, Praised Be, to the public. It is not simply a matter of global warming endangering the planet, he writes. The Pope has a comprehensively dark vision of the world. He writes that
The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth … beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish … Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.
In other words, the Industrial Revolution is to blame for covering the planet in rubbish. But if it’s covered in trash, it’s a strange kind of trash that has caused global crop yields to increase by 160 percent since 1961 and deaths from droughts to be reduced by 99.8 percent since the 1920s.
It’s an odd kind of “mistreatment” of the planet over the life of the Industrial Revolution that’s resulted in the global life expectancy rising from 26 years in 1750 to 69 years in 2009. This is in spite of the fact that Earth’s population increased from 760 million to 6.8 billion and incomes (in real dollars) rose from $640 to $7,300 during the same period. …
If the globe were truly turning into a great heap of exploited waste, you would expect natural resources to become more expensive as the cost of extracting rises and scarcity becomes the norm. But natural commodities are cheaper today than ever. The real price of almost all natural resources – from iron to salt to coal – is cheaper today in than 50 or 500 years ago. In Britain, artificial light is 20,000 times cheaper per man hour worked than it was in 1300.
On a global scale, with only a few exceptions like China, air and water is cleaner than ever. Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged. In advanced countries, lead pollution declined by almost 100 percent, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 50 percent; ozone and nitrogen dioxide declined as well.
A car today emits less pollution cruising at full speed than a parked car did in 1970.
In the America of 1900, about 25% of all deaths were from contaminated drinking water. Today, hardly anyone here dies from this scourge. The Pope seems oblivious to the fact that the richer the nation is, the cleaner its environment.
Despite the masses wading around in the Pope’s seas of “filth,” and despite a world population of 7.3 billion, the poorer countries’ incomes have surged since 1975; since 1981, the number of Earth’s people in extreme poverty fell by an amazing 1 billion, even as the population increased by more than 1.5 billion.
But if there is one environmental issue that most exercises the Supreme Pontiff, it is global warming. “A very solid scientific consensus,” he writes, “indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events.”
Well, the warming over “recent decades” apparently does not include the last two decades, because over the past 18 years no net increase in global temperature has been recorded, despite the atmosphere’s CO2 content rising by 8 percent. Both the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica have this year posted record high ice packs.
The Pope’s letter seems quite concerned about the poor of Africa experiencing crop failures as a result of global CO2 emissions. But the opposite appears to be true: CO2 is plant food, and the rising CO2 levels are helping to water and green the continent.
According to a 2007 study in the science journal Geology, Africa is currently “experiencing an unusually prolonged period of stable, wet conditions in comparison to previous centuries of the past millennium. … The patterns and variability of 20th century rainfall in central Africa have been unusually conducive to human welfare in the context of the past 1400 years.”
If the trends of higher CO2 concentrations continue, and political strife abates, Africa, far from being a ruined land of desiccated drought, could well become the breadbasket of the world. All it needs from the West is fertilizer and genetically hardened crop strains that resist insect damage.
“Praised be” … Mankind, which has so rapidly improved his lot and that of his Earthly home.
Obama, through his lackey John Kerry, continues to woo the hellish regime of the Iranian Ayatollahs. He longs for a “deal” at any cost.
He is doing everything possible to help them become a nuclear-armed power.
This really is, without exaggeration, the worst threat, the gravest danger, the world as a whole has ever faced. The threat of the imposition of world control by Communist Russia was grave, but the Russians were not willing to die in massive numbers when a retaliation to their attack descended on them. The Muslim Iranians “love death”, and reckon that Muslims would be happy to die and go to their brothel in the sky; and that, however heavy the retaliation, there would still be a lot of Muslims left alive to dominate – perhaps exclusively occupy – this world.
Either Obama does not realize that he is putting the world in extremest danger, or he must want what the Ayatollahs want.
What is that? The destruction of Israel, certainly,and he’s cool with that. But he cannot believe that Israel is the Iranians’ only target. They continue to scream “Death to America!” loud and clear while the charade of “negotiations” for the “deal” is in progress. He must be cool with that too. Do his P5+1 claques feel the same way? Seems so.
Their latest move is to HELP Iran get “the bomb”.
George Jahn writes at AP:
Western powers are offering Tehran high-tech reactors under a proposed nuclear agreement, a confidential document says, but a defiant speech by Iran’s supreme leader less than a week before a negotiating deadline casts doubt on whether he’s willing to make the necessary concessions to seal a deal. …
Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday rejected a long-term freeze on nuclear research and supported the idea of barring international inspectors from military sites. Khamenei, in comments broadcast on Iranian state television, also said Iran would sign a final deal only if all economic sanctions on the country were first lifted. The preliminary deal calls for sanctions to be lifted gradually after an agreement is finalized.
Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed Khamenei’s remarks, saying Wednesday they were [only] for “domestic political consumption”. …
In another sign the Islamic Republic may be toughening its stance, Iran’s Guardian Council on Wednesday enacted legislation banning access to military sites and scientists, according to state TV. …
The West has held out the prospect of providing Iran peaceful nuclear technology in the nearly decade-long effort to reduce Tehran’s ability to make nuclear weapons. But the scope of the help now being offered in the draft displeases U.S. congressional critics who say Washington is giving away too much.
“These continued concessions only emboldened Iran’s leaders to press for more,” Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement. “The way these negotiations are moving, it is increasingly difficult to see the administration striking a meaningful, lasting agreement that would be acceptable to Congress.” …
[A draft annex] entitled Civil Nuclear Cooperation, promises to supply Iran with light-water nuclear reactors instead of its nearly completed heavy-water facility at Arak, which could produce enough plutonium for several bombs a year if completed as planned. …
Outlining plans to modify that heavy-water reactor, the draft, dated June 19, offers to “establish an international partnership” to rebuild it into a less proliferation-prone facility while leaving Iran in “the leadership role as the project owner and manager.”
The eight-page draft also promises “arrangements for the assured supply and removal of nuclear fuel for each reactor provided,” and offers help in the “construction and effective operation” of the reactors and related hardware. It offers cooperation with Iran in the fields of nuclear safety, nuclear medicine, research, nuclear waste removal and other peaceful applications. …
[But] because isotope production uses the same technology as enrichment and can be quickly re-engineered, the compromise has been criticized by congressional opponents of the proposed deal.
Scott Johnson comments at PowerLine:
This is no longer a deal to stop the Iranian nuclear program. It’s a deal to let the Iranians perfect their nuclear program with international assistance and under international protection. …
Some country in the P5+1 will be helping the Iranians develop next-generation centrifuges in a facility impenetrable to American and Israeli bombs. Conversely, any country that wants to sabotage that development will be unable to do so, because the program will be protected and maintained by a major power.
As the centrifuges are being developed they’ll be spinning non-nuclear elements, but once they’re perfected the Iranians will be able to use them to enrich uranium. The international community will literally be investing in helping Iran achieve a zero breakout.
A couple of obvious points. First, it means the P5+1 will be actively providing the Iranians with the tools to break out while a deal is in place. The Iranians will already have 300kg of 3.67% uranium on hand, and they’ll be able to scale up production as they need because the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] lets them keep 5,000 centrifuges enriching uranium at Natanz and lets them keep another 10,000 centrifuges in storage available to be installed. They can bring low enriched material to Fordow and quickly enrich it to weapons-grade levels in the next-generation centrifuges they’ll have developed with P5+1 assistance. Second – again – it means that the P5+1 will be actively ensuring that Iran will have the technology to go nuclear at will the instant the deal expires. The technology the Iranians learn to develop at Fordow will be applied on a mass scale.
To that end, the draft, entitled Civil Nuclear Cooperation, promises to supply Iran with light-water nuclear reactors instead of its nearly completed heavy-water facility at Arak … [and] offers to “establish an international partnership” to rebuild it into a less proliferation-prone facility while leaving Iran in “the leadership role as the project owner and manager.”
Light-water reactors are significantly more proliferation-resistant than heavy-water reactors (in fact there’s no reason to build a heavy water reactor – of the type that the Iranians have been working on – unless you want to produce plutonium for a nuclear weapon). But even LWRs are not proliferation proof, and a plutonium bomb isn’t the only concern.
Imagine that 15 years from now the Iranians have built a dozen LWRs with help from a P5+1 nation. One concern is indeed that they’ll kick out inspectors, keep the spent fuel, and start reprocessing on the way to creating a plutonium bomb. But a more subtle concern is that they will use the existence of the LWRs as a pretext for industrial-scale uranium enrichment – because they’ll say they need the uranium fuel for their plutonium plants – which can serve as a cover for breaking out with a uranium bomb. The P5+1 would be actively providing the Iranians with diplomatic leverage to use against the P5+1 in the future.
We stand on the opposite side of the Great Political Divide (freedom v socialism) from Britain’s Guardian newspaper. But it covers the news better, and provides more useful information, than most of its competitors.
We quote from an extract it has taken from a book titled, The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen.
The story of yesterday’s post was about the US government controlling our uses of the internet. Today’s story is about international controls on this last zone of freedom; and how a country could build a virtual wall round itself to cut itself off from the global internet – and then enforce extreme censorship within its own “walled garden”.
Each state will attempt to regulate the internet, and shape it in its own image. The majority of the world’s internet users encounter some form of censorship – also known by the euphemism “filtering” – but what that actually looks like depends on a country’s policies and its technological infrastructure. …
In some countries, there are several entry points for internet connectivity, and a handful of private telecommunications companies control them (with some regulation). In others, there is only one entry point, a nationalised internet service provider (ISP), through which all traffic flows. Filtering is relatively easy in the latter case, and more difficult in the former.
When technologists began to notice states regulating and projecting influence online, some warned against a “Balkanisation of the internet”, whereby national filtering and other restrictions would transform what was once the global internet into a connected series of nation-state networks. The web would fracture and fragment, and soon there would be a “Russian internet” and an “American internet” and so on, all coexisting and sometimes overlapping but, in important ways, separate. Information would largely flow within countries but not across them, due to filtering, language or even just user preference. The process would at first be barely perceptible to users, but it would fossilise over time and ultimately remake the internet.
It’s very likely that some version of the above scenario will occur, but the degree to which it does will greatly be determined by what happens in the next decade with newly connected states – which path they choose, whom they emulate and work together with.
The first stage of the process, aggressive and distinctive filtering, is under way. China is the world’s most active and enthusiastic filterer of information. Entire platforms that are hugely popular elsewhere in the world – Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter – are blocked by the Chinese government.
On the Chinese internet, you would be unable to find information about politically sensitive topics such as the Tiananmen Square protests, embarrassing information about the Chinese political leadership, the Tibetan rights movement and the Dalai Lama, or content related to human rights, political reform or sovereignty issues. …
China’s leadership doesn’t hesitate to defend its policies. In a white paper released in 2010, the government calls the internet “a crystallisation of human wisdom” but states that China’s “laws and regulations clearly prohibit the spread of information that contains contents subverting state power, undermining national unity or infringing upon national honour and interests.”
The next stage for many states will be collective editing, states forming communities of interest to edit the web together, based on shared values or geopolitics.
For “edit” read “censor”. States’ governments will decide what values it shares with other states’ governments.
For larger states, collaborations will legitimise their filtering efforts and deflect some unwanted attention (the “look, others are doing it too” excuse). For smaller states, alliances along these lines will be a low-cost way to curry favour with bigger players and gain technical skills that they might lack at home.
Collective editing may start with basic cultural agreements and shared antipathies among states, such as what religious minorities they dislike, how they view other parts of the world or what their cultural perspective is …
Larger states are less likely to band together than smaller ones – they already have the technical capabilities – so it will be a fleet of smaller states, pooling their resources, that will find this method useful. If some member countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), an association of former Soviet states, became fed up with Moscow’s insistence on standardising the Russian language across the region, they could join together to censor all Russian-language content from their national internets and thus limit their citizens’ exposure to Russia.
Ideology and religious morals are likely to be the strongest drivers of these collaborations. Imagine if a group of deeply conservative Sunni-majority countries – say, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria and Mauritania – formed an online alliance and decided to build a “Sunni web”. While technically this Sunni web would still be part of the larger internet, it would become the main source of information, news, history and activity for citizens living in these countries.
For years, the development and spread of the internet was highly determined by its English-only language standard, but the continued implementation of internationalised domain names (IDN), which allow people to use and access domain names written in non-Roman alphabet characters, is changing this. The creation of a Sunni web – indeed, all nationalised internets – becomes more likely if its users can access a version of the internet in their own language and script.
Within the Sunni web, the internet could be sharia-complicit: e-commerce and e-banking would look different, since no one would be allowed to charge interest; religious police might monitor online speech, working together with domestic law enforcement to report violations; websites with gay or lesbian content would be uniformly blocked; women’s movements online might somehow be curtailed; and ethnic and religious minority groups might find themselves closely monitored, restricted or even excluded. …
There will be some instances where autocratic and democratic nations edit the web together. Such a collaboration will typically happen when a weaker democracy is in a neighbourhood of stronger autocratic states that coerce it to make the same geopolitical compromises online that it makes in the physical world.
For example, Mongolia is a young democracy with an open internet, sandwiched between Russia and China – two large countries with their own unique and restrictive internet policies. … Seeking to please its neighbours [and so] preserve its own physical and virtual sovereignty, Mongolia might find it necessary to abide by a Chinese or Russian mandate and filter internet content associated with hot-button issues.
What started as the world wide web will begin to look more like the world itself, full of internal divisions and divergent interests.
And full of tyranny.
Some form of visa requirement will emerge on the internet. … Citizen engagement, international business operations and investigative reporting will all be seriously affected. …
Under conditions like these, the world will see its first Internet asylum seeker. A dissident who can’t live freely under an autocratic Internet and is refused access to other states’ Internets will choose to seek physical asylum in another country to gain virtual freedom on its Internet. … Virtual asylum will not work, however, if the ultimate escalation occurs: the creation of an alternative domain name system (DNS), or even aggressive and ubiquitous tampering with it to advance state interests.
Today, the internet as we know it uses the DNS to match computers and devices to relevant data sources, translating IP addresses (numbers) into readable names, with .edu, .com, .net suffixes, and vice versa. No government has yet achieved an alternative system, but if one succeeded in doing so, it would effectively unplug its population from the global internet and instead offer only a closed, national intranet. In technical terms, this would entail creating a censored gateway between a given country and the rest of the world, so that a human proxy could facilitate external data transmissions when absolutely necessary – for matters involving state resources, for instance.
It’s the most extreme version of what technologists call a walled garden. On the internet, a walled garden refers to a browsing environment that controls a user’s access to information and services online. … For the full effect of disconnection, the government would also instruct the routers to fail to advertise the IP addresses of websites – unlike DNS names, IP addresses are immutably tied to the sites themselves – which would have the effect of putting those websites on a very distant island, utterly unreachable. Whatever content existed on this national network would circulate only internally, trapped like a cluster of bubbles in a computer screen saver, and any attempts to reach users on this network from the outside would meet a hard stop. With the flip of a switch, an entire country would simply disappear from the internet.
This is not as crazy as it sounds. It was first reported in 2011 that the Iranian government’s plan to build a “halal internet” was under way, and the regime’s December 2012 launch of Mehr, its own version of YouTube with “government-approved videos”, demonstrated that it was serious about the project. Details of the plan remained hazy but, according to Iranian government officials, in the first phase the national “clean” internet would exist in tandem with the global internet for Iranians (heavily censored as it is), then it would come to replace the global internet altogether. The government and affiliated institutions would provide the content for the national intranet, either gathering it from the global web and scrubbing it, or creating it manually. All activity on the network would be closely monitored. Iran’s head of economic affairs told the country’s state-run news agency that they hoped their halal internet would come to replace the web in other Muslim countries, too – at least those with Farsi speakers. Pakistan has pledged to build something similar. …
How exactly the state intends to proceed with this project is unclear both technically and politically. How would it avoid enraging the sizable chunk of its population that has access to the internet? Some believe it would be impossible to fully disconnect Iran from the global internet because of its broad economic reliance on external connections. Others speculate that, if it wasn’t able to build an alternative root system, Iran could pioneer a dual-internet model that other repressive states would want to follow. Whichever route Iran chooses, if it is successful in this endeavour, its halal internet would surpass the “great firewall of China” as the single most extreme version of information censorship in history. It would change the internet as we know it.
As the Guardian puts it (not necessarily implying disapproval): the net is closing in.
When all the news is depressing or fearful, it’s great to have a good laugh. Even if the laugh is a trifle hysterical.
We laughed that sort of laugh at this story from the Washington Free Beacon:
The National Science Foundation has committed $10 million to build robots that will act as “personal trainers” for children, in an effort to influence their behavior and eating habits.
The government has spent $2.15 million so far for the five-year project, which is being led by Yale University. The project, “Robots Helping Kids,” will ultimately “deploy” robots into homes and schools to teach English as a second language, and encourage kids to exercise.
The project will develop a “new breed of sophisticated socially assistive’ robots, designed to help children learn to read, appreciate physical fitness, overcome cognitive disabilities, and perform physical exercises”, according to a news release by Yale University …
“Just like a good personal trainer, we want the robots to be able to guide the child toward a behavior that we desire,” said Brian Scassellati, a computer science professor at Yale and principal investigator for the study. “What we want to do is move these robots out of the laboratory and into schools and homes and clinics, places where we can directly help children on a day-to-day basis,” he said. …
“The need for this technology is driven by critical societal problems that require sustained, personalized support that supplements the efforts of educators, parents, and clinicians,” the [NSA providers of] the grant said.
Scassellati envisions the robots influencing nearly every aspect of children’s lives.
“We want them to help children learn language, we want to help them learn better eating habits, we want them to learn new social or cognitive skills through their interactions with these robots,” he said. …
Social skills with robots. Interaction with robots who must therefore, presumably, also have social skills. This truly is a brave new world!
Of course kids will probably love having a robot as a pet and companion. Better than a doll or a stuffed bear!
But will the robot be sending info back to a mad professor or the state? We guess so. “He didn’t eat his salad today.” “She quarreled with a classmate.”
The kids will be in the constant presence of a spy. Nurturing a serpent in their little bosoms.
The project is seeking to create robots that could be personal companions to children for up to a year. Scassellati said he wants to “build a healthy relationship of trust and respect between the child and the robot.”
Respectful robots! They may spy on you, but they’ll do it respectfully.
“At the end of five years we’d like to have robots that can guide a child toward long-term educational goals, be customized for the particular needs of that child, and basically grow and develop with the child,” he said. “We want the robot to be the equivalent of a good personal trainer.”
The NSF has allotted $10 million for the study through 2017. The grant is one of the highest amounts the agency dispenses.
The University of Southern California, MIT, Stanford, and Tufts University are listed as partners for the project. Willow Garage, a personal robotics company, is also participating in the research. …
We bet they are. Most lucratively.
Scassellati said the robots would “not replace” humans, but provide additional attention and guidance for children. The research is focusing on both “regularly developing children and those with social or cognitive deficits.” Some of Scassellati’s prior research has focused on how robots can help kids with Autism.
Did you think the do-good factor, the “help” because “we care” factor would be missing? The state always exercises totalitarian control only for your own good.
“If we’re successful in this, we think we can make a real difference in the lives of children,” he said.
We don’t doubt it for a moment. The personal robot scheme will serve the government’s indoctrination purposes much better even than compulsory pre-kindergarten schooling could. Now the state will be with you 24/7. You’ll have no secrets from it. It’ll be in bed with you, at the table with you, in the bathroom with you, at school with you. And it will be fun! This is how you’ll come to love Big Brother.
“And we think that we can produce some of the most interesting, the most engaging, and the most competent social robots that we’ve ever seen.”
You could make them pretty too, Brian. The things could have the look of this or that Hollywood star, for instance.
Considering the official prurience of the state these days, they will very likely be programmed to teach the kids practical sex. No holds barred, of course. (Sado-masochism is strongly advised by state-supported institutions right now.)
Loads of fun for the next generation coming up! Who said that the age of American vision ended with the close of its space exploration?
And – parents – note that the interesting, engaging, competent companion of your kid will not need feeding. It won’t consume the teeniest bite of the arugula, kale, broccoli, coarse bread and dandelion tea that it will prescribe for you and yours.
Brace yourselves for its constant (respectful) criticism though. It will be there to keep you in line too. Can’t risk your preferences or bad influence of any sort undoing its good work.
Fifteen of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee members have received $180.8 million in EPA grants since 2000. One CASAC panelist (Ed Avol of USC) received $51.7 million!
Repeat: $51.7 million dollars. Whatever did the man do to deserve that much tax-payers’ money? What unique skill has he acquired and uses to the enormous benefit of America or all mankind?
Read on to find out.
This is from Townhall, by Paul Driessen:
The Obama Environmental Protection Agency recently slashed the maximum allowable sulfur content in gasoline from 30 parts per million to 10 ppm. The agency claims its new “Tier 3” rule will bring $7 billion to $19 billion in annual health benefits by 2030. “These standards are a win for public health, a win for our environment and a win for our pocketbooks,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy insists.
Note that name. She is one of the most dangerous sub-tyrants in the Obama administration.
It’s all hokum. Like almost everything else emanating from EPA these days, the gasoline regulations are a case study in how America’s economy, jobs, living standards, health and welfare are being pummeled by secretive, deceptive, and indeed fraudulent and corrupt government practices.
Since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, America’s cars have eliminated some 99% of pollutants that once came out of tailpipes, notes air quality expert Joel Schwartz. Since 2004, under Tier 2 rules, refiners have reduced sulfur in gasoline from an average of 300 ppm to 30 ppm – a 90% drop, on top of pre-2004 reductions. In addition, because newer cars start out cleaner and stay cleaner throughout their lives, fleet turnover is reducing emissions by 8 to10 percent per year, steadily improving air quality.
The net result, says a 2012 Environ International study, is that ground-level ozone concentrations will fall even more dramatically by 2022. Volatile organic pollutants will plummet by 62%, carbon monoxide by 51% and nitrous oxides by 80% – beyond reductions already achieved between 1970 and 2004.
EPA (which once promised to be ultra-transparent) claims its rules will add less than a penny per gallon to gasoline prices; but it won’t say how it arrived at that estimate. Industry sources say the Tier 3 rules will require $10 billion in upfront capital expenditures, an additional $2.4 billion in annual compliance expenses, significant increases in refinery energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, an extra 5-9 cents per gallon in manufacturing costs, which will certainly hit consumers at the pump.
But regardless of their ultimate cost, the rules will reduce monthly ozone levels by just 1.2 parts per billion during rush hour, says Environ. That’s equivalent to 12 cents out of $100 million or 1.2 seconds out of 32,000 years. These minuscule improvements could not even have been measured by equipment existing a couple decades ago.
Their contribution to improved human health will be essentially zero.
Not so, say the EPA, Sierra Club and American Lung Association (ALA). The rules will reduce asthma in “the children,” they insist. However, asthma incidences have been increasing, while air pollution has declined – demonstrating that the pollution-asthma connection is a red herring. The disease is caused by allergies, a failure to expose young children to sufficient allergens to cause their immune systems to build resistance to airborne allergens, and lack of sufficient exercise to keep lungs robust. Not surprisingly, a Southern California study found no association between asthma hospitalizations and air pollution levels.
Moreover, EPA paid the ALA $20 million between 2001 and 2010. No wonder it echoes agency claims about air quality and lung problems. The payments continue today, while EPA also funnels millions to various environmentalist pressure groups – and even to “independent” EPA scientific review panels – that likewise rubber stamp too many EPA pollution claims, studies and regulatory actions.
As Ron Arnold recently reported in The Washington Examiner, 15 of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee members have received $180.8 million in EPA grants since 2000. One CASAC panelist (Ed Avol of USC) received $51.7 million!
The seven CASAC executive committee members pocketed $80.2 million. Imagine Big Oil paying that kind of cash to an advisory group, and calling it “independent.” The news media, government and environmentalists would have a field day with that one.
The Clean Air Act, Information Quality Act, Executive Order 12866 and other laws require that agencies assess both the costs and benefits of proposed regulations, adopt them only if their benefits justify their costs, and even determine whether a regulation is worth implementing at all. However, EPA and other agencies systematically violate these rules, routinely inflate the alleged benefits of their rules, and habitually minimize or even ignore their energy, economic, health and social costs.
Reporting on a hearing held by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Arnold noted that CASAC members say they weren’t even aware that they are obligated to advise EPA on both benefits and costs. Former EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Jeff Holmstead testified, “As far as I know, CASAC never fulfilled this requirement as it relates to the ozone standard or any other” rule.
Former CASAC chairman Dr. Roger McClellan told Rep. Smith he did not think the panel “ever advised EPA to take account of the role of socioeconomic factors, unemployment or other risk factors” adversely affecting people’s health. Another former CASAC member testified that the advisory committee was not even “allowed to discuss any of the adverse consequences” associated with new rulemakings.
EPA regulations impose countless billions of dollars in annual impacts on the US economy, according to studies by the Heritage Foundation, Competitive Enterprise Institute and Government Accountability Office. Estimates of total compliance costs for all federal regulations range to nearly $2 trillion per year. Some may bring benefits, but many or most also inflict significant harm on human health.
They mean millions of layoffs, far fewer jobs created, and steadily declining quality of life for millions of Americans, who cannot heat and cool their homes properly, pay the rent and mortgage, or save for retirement. …
In another example, EPA justifies its onerous carbon dioxide regulations by asserting that Earth’s climate is highly sensitive to C02, hypothesizing every conceivable carbon cost, and imputing huge monetized damages from hydrocarbon use and CO2 emissions ($36/ton of CO2 emitted). It completely ignores even the most obvious and enormous job, health and welfare benefits of using fossil fuels; even the benefits of higher carbon dioxide levels for food crops, forests and grasslands; and even the harmful effects that these regulations are having on energy prices and reliability, and thus people’s jobs, health and welfare.
The EPA, ALA and CASAC likewise insist that new Mercury and Air Toxic Standards for coal-fired power plants will bring huge health benefits. However, the mercury risks were hugely overblown, the proclaimed dangers from fine particulates were contradicted by EPA’s own illegal experiments on human subjects – and the agency never assessed the health and welfare damage that the MATS rules will impose by causing the loss of 200,000 jobs and 23,000 megawatts of reliable, affordable electricity by 2015.
So who is Ed Avol, and what did he do to earn $51.7 million of your money?
He is Professor of Clinical Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, specializing in “respiratory health, air pollution and the public health impacts of traffic”.
Here he is.
And what did he do?
He rubber-stamped the tyrannous rulings of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Citoyons – is this not cause, and is it not time, to rebel?
China landed an unmanned spacecraft on the moon on Saturday [December 13, 2013], state media reported, in the first such “soft-landing” since 1976, joining the United States and the former Soviet Union in managing to accomplish such a feat.
The Chang’e 3, a probe named after a lunar goddess in traditional Chinese mythology, is carrying the solar-powered Yutu, or Jade Rabbit buggy, which will dig and conduct geological surveys.
China has been increasingly ambitious in developing its space programs, for military, commercial and scientific purposes. …
“The dream for lunar exploration once again lights up the China Dream,” Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.
China dreams of “becoming a major global economic and political power”.
In its most recent manned space mission in June, three astronauts spent 15 days in orbit and docked with an experimental space laboratory, part of Beijing’s quest to build a working space station by 2020.
The official Xinhua news service reported that the spacecraft had touched down in the Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, after hovering over the surface for several minutes seeking an appropriate place to land. …
The Bay of Rainbows was selected because it has yet to be studied, has ample sunlight and is convenient for remote communications with Earth, Xinhua said. …
For more than a decade, China has been modernizing its economy and developing in areas long dominated by the West particularly the United States. …
China is also developing its own satellite system to rival the U.S. GPS [Global Positioning] system and has sold satellites to other countries.
And further reports:
Iran said on Saturday [December 14, 2013] it had sent a second live monkey into space and brought it back safely, the latest demonstration of the country’s missile capabilities, state news agency IRNA reported.
“President Hassan Rouhani … congratulated Iranian scientists and experts on successfully sending a second living creature into space,” the news agency said.
Iran said it launched its first monkey to space in January.
Rouhani used Twitter to mark the latest event, a demonstration of rocket power that is likely to cause concern in the West and among some Gulf states, which are worried about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. …
The West worries that long-range ballistic technology used to propel Iranian satellites into orbit could be put to use dispatching nuclear warheads to a target. …
In contrast to these developments, America is using the National Aeronautic Space Administration (NASA) to make Muslims feel good about their – non-existent – scientific achievements, on instructions from President Obama, as its “foremost” mission, we recall.
ABC news reported on July 6, 2010:
The White House and NASA today defended comments by National Aeronautic Space Administration administrator Charles Bolden about reaching out to the Muslim world – comments that conservatives criticized as undermining NASA’s mission.
A few days ago, in Cairo, Bolden told Al Jazeera that when he became the NASA administrator, President Obama charged him with three things: “One, he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and engineering — science, math and engineering.” …
The Washington Examiner’s Byron York interviewed former NASA administrator Michael Griffin … who called Bolden’s stated charge for NASA a “perversion of NASA’s purpose.”
“NASA was chartered by the 1958 Space Act to develop the arts and sciences of flight in the atmosphere and in space and to go where those technologies will allow us to go,” Griffin said “That’s what NASA does for the country. It is a perversion of NASA’s purpose to conduct activities in order to make the Muslim world feel good about its contributions to science and mathematics.” Griffin made clear he was criticizing the policy, not Bolden, whom he praised. …
Commentator Charles Krauthammer called Bolden’s comments “a new height of fatuousness. NASA was established to get America into space and to keep us there. This idea of ‘to feel good about your past scientific achievements’ is the worst kind of group therapy, psycho-babble, imperial condescension and adolescent diplomacy.”
The humbling of America is a large part of Obama’s agenda, and he is spectacularly succeeding in it.
He dreams his adolescent dreams in a private Bay of Rainbows all his own.
There is a formula for a nation’s success and happiness: have children and a free market economy.
Other nations may hate you and envy you; attack you with words, sanctions, terrorism, and rockets; but still you will thrive, prosper, innovate, and grow.
Caroline Glick writes:
A lot has changed since the 1990s. Twenty years after Yitzhak Rabin shook Yasser Arafat’s hand on the White House lawn and so officially ushered in Israel’s Age of Terror, most Israelis don’t really care what the Europeans or the Arabs think of us.
The Europeans prattle on about Israeli racism, and threaten to put yellow stars or some other nasty mark on Israeli goods. They ban Israeli books from their libraries in Scotland. They boycott Israeli universities, professors and students in England. In Italy they hold rallies for convicted mass murderer Marwan Barghouti at their national Senate. And in France they butcher Jewish children.
And then the likes of Catherine Ashton [EU Representative for Foreign Affairs] expect us to care what they think about us.
Well, we don’t.
… The Europeans and the Americans and their Israeli followers miss the fact that the easiest way to build a secure and peaceful world is not by wooing terrorists. The best way to achieve these goals is by accepting the world as it is. This is what the Israeli people has done. True, we needed to have our fantasies blown away in suicide bombings before we reconciled ourselves to this simple truth. But life has been better, happier and more secure since we did.
The “international community’s” inability to accept that sober-minded contentment is better than pipe dream fantasies has caused leftist writers in Israel, Europe and the US alike to express mystification at a recent survey carried out by the OECD, which ranks Israelis among the happiest people in the world. The ranking made no sense to commentators.
Israelis work harder than other members of the OECD. We complain more than other members of the OECD. We don’t have “peace.” And yet, we are among the happiest people in the OECD.
What gives? For decades before we embarked on the phony peace process, Israel was a model socialist state. We had paralyzing tax rates and failed government industries that crowded private entrepreneurship out of the market. Monopolies ran every sector and provided shoddy goods and horrible services at astronomical prices. The Histadrut labor union owned most of the economy along with the government and in every sector, Histadrut commissars ensured that anyone with an ounce of initiative was subject to unending abuse. …
Just about the time we began extricating ourselves from our socialist straitjacket, we were also recognizing that the peace thing wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be. And at that point we began to understand that happiness and success aren’t about what other people give you – money, treaties, a phone line after a five-year wait. Happiness and success are about what you accomplish.
We think that statement bears repeating: Happiness and success are about what you accomplish.
At that point, sometime between 1996 and 2000, Israelis began creating large families and embracing the free market.
Today, with an average of three children per family, Israelis are the fecund outliers of the industrial world. … There is a direct correlation between children and human happiness. This is why fruitful Israelis have the lowest suicide rate in the industrial world.
When you have children, you have a future. And when you have a future, you work hard to secure it, and have a generally optimistic outlook. …
Israelis are also happy because we see that we can build the future we want for our families and our country even without another glitzy signing ceremony at the White House every six months. Our country is getting stronger and more livable every day. And we know it.
Those on the international stage that share our view that life is about more than pieces of paper signed with Arab anti-Semites recognize what is happening. For them Israel is not “that shi**y little country.” It’s “The Little Engine that Could.”
Take the Chinese. Last July China signed a deal with Israel to build an inland port in Eilat and a 180- km. freight railway to connect Eilat to Israel’s Mediterranean ports in Ashdod and Haifa. The purpose of the project is to build an alternative to the Suez Canal, in Israel. The Chinese look at the region, and they see that Egypt is a failed state that can’t even afford its wheat imports. The future of shipping along the Suez Canal is in doubt with riots in Port Said and Suez occurring on a regular basis.
On the other hand, Israel is a stable, prosperous, successful democracy that keeps moving from strength to strength. When the freight line is completed, as far as the global economy is concerned, Israel will become the most strategically important country in the region.
Then there is our newfound energy wealth. Israel became energy independent on March 30, when the Tamar offshore gas field began pumping natural gas to Israel. In two to three years, when the Leviathan gas field comes online, Israel will become one of the most important producers of natural gas in the world.
Moreover, in 2017, Israel will likely begin extracting commercial quantities of oil from its massive oil shale deposits …
Geologists assess that the field alone contains some 250 billion barrels of oil, giving Israel oil parity with Saudi Arabia. Chinese, Russian and Australian firms are lining up to sign contracts with Israeli energy companies. International analysts assess that Israel’s emergence as an energy power will have a stabilizing impact on the global economy and international security. Israel can end Asia’s oil and gas hunger. It can reduce European dependence on Russia. It will remove OPEC’s ability to dictate world oil prices through supply manipulation.
Israel’s discovery of its energy riches couldn’t have come at a more propitious time. Had Israel discovered its oil and gas 65 or even 20 years ago, we wouldn’t have had the economic maturity to manage our resources responsibly. But now, with our free market, our hi-tech sector and our entrepreneurial culture, we can develop and manage our resources wisely and successfully.
At 65, Israel is becoming a mature, responsible, prosperous and powerful player in the international arena. The only thing we need to ensure that we enjoy the fruits of our labors is security. And the one thing we can do to squander it all is place our hopes in “peace.”
And so we won’t, ever again.