Posts tagged ‘eu’

News of the Week (or a few days before)

The news of the week comes in two different parts, and I think that they both are distressing.

The high court of Maryland held up a law which has banned all gay marriages there. They didn’t, however, say lawmakers cannot repeal the decree if they want. In other words, neither the ban nor gay marriage is unconstitutional there. This nonetheless comes as a setback for anyone trying to legalize it; I fear that repealing the law will not happen for several more years at this rate.

Also, the EU rejected a plea from their parliament asking to cancel the ban of all liquids on flights coming into or leaving from Europe. They claim that the liquids can still pose a threat in the hands of some mythical terrorists (these people, apparently, somehow are able to blow up a plane with the liquids but cannot, of course, simply carry them on in the smaller containers allowed). The problem as I see it lies in the fact that the only known terororists ever considering using a liquid explosive were foiled without such a ban, and instead they were caught using only police and detective work (note that I thought there were older attempts, but I can’t seem to find them again; I recall that they also had planned to use liquids and they, too, were stopped by police work instead. I think this had been in the ’90’s sometime, but it’s honestly just a gut feeling.). However, the EU’s Commission decided that lifting the ban would still “lower its guard” and instead they require “the full range” of (useless and impotent) measures in place. These rules are so stupid; I wish someone there would just tell them they’re being irrational.

A bad news day

To get it out of the way, 32 people were killed today by a gunman at Virginia Tech. No one seems to have any more details yet, and I really can’t speculate on anything here.

The Democrats have tied military funding to a withdrawal of troops in 2008, though Bush plans to veto this bill. Expectations are that the Democrats will then try to tie such funding to measurable progress in Iraq itself. This seems unlikely to happen, however, because six Iraqi cabinet members resigned in protest of Prime Minister Al-Maliki’s close ties to the United States. These resignations were called for by Moqtada Al-Sadr, who also organized rallies in Baghdad in protest of the current government. This is a pretty big blow to Mr. Al-Maliki, but the government is expected to remain intact.

The European Union has reproached Russia for its heavy-handed crackdown on protesters, which ostensibly included beating reporters and passers-by, as well as arresting chess legend Garry Kasparov. I’ve caught bits of Russia becoming more USSR-like, but this has brought the issue to a head. President Putin has been locking down the country slowly but surely, with the latest move to pass laws of questionable constitutionality restricting the rights of protestors. Russia is gearing up for an election, and I honestly don’t know how these measures will affect it.

Finally, some good news for a change: the former Duke lacrosse players have been found wholly innocent of raping a stripper at a party. Unfortunately, they have already been found guilty in the eyes of the media, have received death threats, and can no longer safely return to Duke. Can anyone at Duke comment on how the student body has perceived these events?

Can anyone explain Iran?

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency released an independent report stating that Iran was not, in fact, developing nuclear weapons. This report corroborates almost everything Iran has said about its nuclear programme since 2003. However, the US is claiming that the report is wrong, and Iran is developing nuclear weapons, even though I haven’t seen a shred of evidence for it. Iran is now engaging in talks with the IAEA about their nuclear facilities at Isfahan, and everyone seems to hope that Iran will stop its nuclear programme. Under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968, every country, including Iran, has a right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes (see Article IV). And yet, no one seems to want them to do this.

I could understand this anxiety if Iran had recently been trying to be an aggressive, dangerous country, but try as I might, I can’t seem to dig up anything that bad on them. Certainly, they’re not a shining utopia. But still, they don’t seem that bad. When the current government came to power in 1979, they took a bunch of Americans hostage for a year, but that was because the United States was initiating a covert CIA project called Operation Ajax to stop that same revolution and keep the Shah in power. I’d say this is mean, but justifiable. When another country is having a revolution, don’t go sticking your nose in their business, or else you might get in trouble. For several years after that, Irani gunboats shot at US warships, partly because the US was violating their waterspace (is that a word?). In response, we shot down their civilian aircraft (though we later apologized). Again, this isn’t particularly great, but I can understand why Iran might want to shoot at the ships in their waters, especially after Iran Air flight 655. During the 1980’s, Iran was an ally, albeit an unpopular one, in the Iran/Contra scandal (they don’t like Israel and had some Israeli hostages, but the US was the country doing all the illegal things). Again, they were an ally in the Gulf War.

I honestly can’t find anything particularly aggressive or bad that Iran has done since the current government came to power. The only thing I don’t like is that they seem to hate Israel, but even that is justifiable (after all, Israel can be considered an unjust occupation of a Palestinian state). Why are the US and EU so distrustful of Iran that they are trying, against all evidence, to keep Iran from exercising what everyone acknowledges is an inalienable right to peaceful nuclear power? Any insight is welcome.