cue the lightning bolts

the only question that matters: is it true?

Iran has signed the NPT. As a signatory to the NPT, Iran may rightfully, legally, use nuclear technology for peaceful energy purposes. Iran has submitted to and passed repeated IAEA inspections. The US intelligence community (NIE) does not consider Iran a nuclear threat. Israel refuses to sign the NPT. Israel has an estimated several hundred undeclared nuclear weapons. Russia and China have warned that an attack on Iran will have global consequences. That's the situation in a nutshell. Where to next, people? Where to?

Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? - Galatians 4:16


corruption continued

follow up from a couple of stories covered yesterday

1. Barak cancels Spain trip after UNIFIL row

Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak cancelled a visit to Spain next week amid alleged disagreements between the two nations over the command of UNIFIL.

Barak was scheduled to meet Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and Defense Minister Carme Chacon during his two-day visit which had been scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

The visit will no longer take place due to "agenda reasons," a Spanish foreign ministry spokesman told AFP on Friday.

The Israeli embassy in Spain said in a statement that Barak had cancelled his visit "due to an unexpected trip" that he must make to the United States "in the coming days."

This change in his schedule "has no relation with the reports in various media on the change of command at the head of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon," it added.

Israel has asked Italy to try to remain at the head of the 13,000-strong UNIFIL force for at least another six months, rather than handing over to Spain as planned, a senior Israeli official told AFP in Israel on Thursday.

Asked about the affair on Friday, Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega denied there was any dispute with Israel and she referred journalists to the "clarifying press release" issued by the Israeli embassy.

She said Barak told Moratinos in a telephone conversation that Israel was "very pleased with the work of Spanish forces" that are taking part in UNIFIL and would be "very happy" to see them take charge of the forces.

source: now lebanon

2. the Blue Baron: how the Tories rely on Ashcroft

Should David Cameron walk into Downing Street next year as prime minister, he will owe his sucess in significant measure to one man.

Baron Ashcroft of Chichester, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, has not only masterminded the Tories' enormously successful strategy in the country's most marginal seats, he has largely paid for it all as well.

But as his party is on the verge of a return to government, the worry in Conservative circles is that their biggest supporter may also be their biggest liability as he await the results of an official inquiry into the eligibility of his donations.

By law, a British political party can only accept a donation from someone registered to vote in the country or from a company carrying on business in the UK. But Michael Ashcroft – despite his peerage and tireless work for the party – does not appear to be registered to vote and the enquiry is now investigating whether his company Bearwood Corporate Services Ltd was eligible to give money either.

The nightmare scenario for him is that the Electoral Commission could conclude that the millions of pounds given to the party were not permissible.

read more @ independent


3. Europe leaders incensed by David Cameron's letter

Leaders of three of the most powerful states in Europe have strongly criticised David Cameron at the EU summit over a Conservative attempt to scupper the Lisbon treaty.

Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and José Luiz Rodríguez Zapatero are understood to have privately criticised the Tory leader after he sent a handwritten letter to the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, who has been refusing to sign the treaty. The letter was seen as an attempt to influence the Czech Republic, which is the only country not to have ratified the treaty.

Senior British sources familiar with thinking at the highest levels of the EU say the French, German and Spanish leaders all raised questions about Cameron's letter.

It is understood that Cameron encouraged the Czech president to delay ratification of the Lisbon pact by setting out Tory policy to hold a referendum in Britain on the treaty if it had not yet been ratified by all member states.

read more @ guardian

4. pretending that public opinion has anything to do with who gets to lead, when all of these decisions are worked out in back rooms

LONDON - Tony Blair's stance on the Iraq war, torture, relations with Bush and the euro may have blighted his chances of becoming the EU president.

The questions are key to discussions about whether he should take the new role of European Council president when the job comes into force under the Lisbon Treaty, expected to become law by December.

On Iraq, Blair put Britain's ties with the United States above those with its European partners France and Germany, who strongly opposed the conflict.

"Iraq was a big mistake, and that distracted him from developing as a European leader and thinking about the future of the EU," said Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform.

A poll out Friday showed that fewer than a third of Britons even want Blair -- who as premier gave unpopular backing to then US president Bush on the Iraq war -- to assume the role.

Britain's newspapers are busy dissecting whether Blair would be the right man to become the first EU president, with many saying the war in Iraq had blotted his CV.

The Independent said in its editorial Monday that Blair, prime minister from 1997 to 2007, "would be the wrong person to represent the EU".

read more @ middle east online

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