About that Iranian nuclear threat

AP has a big, exclusive story based on a graph of a simulation leaked by they’re-not-saying-who from they’re-not-saying-where. This is Proof the Iranians are working on a big bad nuke.

Glenn Greenwald seems to be getting exasperated at the silliness of such setups:

even if one assumes that this graph is something other than a fraud, the very idea that computer simulations constitute “evidence” that Iran is working toward a nuclear weapon is self-evidently inane.

Well, yes, there is that.

But there’s one even bigger piece of evidence suggesting that the Iranians aren’t doing much, and for some reason that’s not being mentioned. They have a border with a huge and powerful country. Russia has zero reason to want powerful Islamic fundamentalists right on its southern border who might encourage friction in other Central Asian majority-Islamic countries.

If the Iranians were really that close to useful nukes, you can bet your Sunday bonnet the Russians would be making noise about it and/or doing something about it.

Crossposted from Acid Test

Wednesday Reads: Big Bombs, Priestly Horrors and Nuns a Plenty

Good Morning!

It’s Wednesday, and I am going to post two articles that I think show a positive side to the Obama Presidency…this does not mean in any way I have softened to the man, but you gotta give credit when it is due.

First off, this week Obama announced the new mortgage refinance plan HARP…which I think is nothing more than a scam…like the HAMP mess. But yesterday, Obama explained how he is going to help all those college students graduating with an enormous debt of student loans. Obama acts to ease burden of student loans | Reuters

President Barack Obama is taking steps to ease the burden of student loans, the White House said on Tuesday, potentially helping millions of cash-strapped college graduates in a tough economy.

Obama plans to accelerate a plan to cap student loan payments at 10 percent of income, bringing it forward to start in 2012 instead of 2014.

“Steps like these won’t take the place of the bold action we need from Congress to boost our economy and create jobs, but they will make a difference,” he said in a statement.

Yeah, now that seems like a logical way to help with the loan payments…they should also make the loans due 2 years after graduation, instead of 6 months. In this horrible economy and with such high unemployment and no jobs to be found, 6 months is not enough time for graduates to get fully employed in their field. They should also cut the interest out completely…but that would be asking for too much. If only the people who have student loans where banks…

Oops, I’ve wandered a bit and started complaining…let me get back to the praise. Obama has officially dismantled the last B53 Nuclear Bomb, which was retired from the US arsenal back in 1997.  Biggest US nuclear bomb dismantled in Texas | World news | guardian.co.uk

B53 nuclear bomb

The United States’ last B53 nuclear bomb has been dismantled at the Pantex Plant just outside Amarillo. Photograph: AP

The last of the nation’s biggest nuclear bombs, a Cold War relic 600 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, has been dismantled in what one energy official called a milestone in President Barack Obama’s mission to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Workers in Texas separated the roughly 300lb (136kg) of high explosives inside from the special nuclear material – uranium – known as the pit.

The work was done outside of public view for security reasons, but explosives from a bomb taken apart earlier were detonated as officials and reporters watched from less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) away.

These nukes were put into service in 1962, as part of the defense arsenal during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The bomb is the size of a mini van, and according to scientist Hans Kristensen, the B53’s size compensated for their lack of accuracy.

Of course, Obama is the King of the Drone…but that is a topic for another day…right now I’ll give him a pat on the back for at least getting the B53 “de-nuked.”

I’m going to switch gears and move on to some news about the Catholic Church abuse investigation in England.  Vatican sexual abuse inquiry into Ealing Abbey given short shrift | World news | The Guardian

One campaigner said the announcement was a public relations exercise akin to ‘putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank’

Pope Benedict

Pope Benedict has set a May 2012 deadline for the completion of a progress report into the abuse of children at Ealing Abbey but campaigner say it is unlikely to be met. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

Alleged victims of sexual abuse have reacted coolly to the news of a Vatican investigation into a London abbey, and have called for inquiries into other Roman Catholic institutions where children are claimed to have been mistreated.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome has ordered an “apostolic visitation” to uncover the scale of abuse at Ealing abbey, where monks and lay teachers have been accused of mistreating children at a neighbouring school, St Benedict’s, over decades.

It is the first inquiry of its kind into sexual abuse in Britain. Father David Pearce, a priest at Ealing abbey, was jailed in 2009.

Groups supporting alleged victims have questioned the effectiveness and integrity of an internal inquiry, especially given that its findings will remain secret.

The abuse is said to have occurred from the 60’s to 2009…that is absolutely appalling…and completely inexcusable.

Anne Lawrence of Ministry and Clerical Sexual Abuse Survivors, said although the Ealing inquiry showed the Catholic hierarchy was beginning to understand the concept of institutional responsibility, there were other schools and other places that warranted investigation. There were, she alleged, “more than 20 schools where there was systematic abuse and we would like to see inquiries into all of them”.

There is one case, St. William’s in Yorkshire,  involving more than 150 victims of sexual and physical abuse, at one school alone. As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, the actions of the Vatican when it comes to protecting and covering up abuse…years and years of abuse, should be prosecuted to the fullest. The matter in Kansas City is directly connected to the Catholic Diocese, so the prosecutors are including the Vatican in the law suit. The situation at St. Williams is unlike Kansas City, in that it involves the De La Salle Brotherhood…an order of Catholic lay-teachers, that are not part of the Diocese.

Keeping with the Catholic theme a bit longer, this article at Jezebel got my attention. Why Would Anyone Become a Nun?

In Great Britain, more young women are getting thee to the nunnery — and not the way Shakespeare meant it. In recent years, the motherland has seen an upswing in new, younger entrants into religious orders. The Anglican Church has been ordaining women into the priesthood since 1971, and Anglican priests are allowed to marry. Why would a woman opt to forsake the possibility of a family or traditional service in the name of religious service when an alternative is available?

The BBC reports that the number of young women in training to be nuns — also called “formation” — is small, but growing, and that most of those who choose a life of faith are doing so at a younger age. While becoming the Bride of Christ is hardly as common among young women as, say, earning a marketing degree or chopping all of your hair off after a breakup, it’s gaining in popularity. The last five years has also seen a dramatic increase in the proportion of new nuns under the age of 40; in 2006, 42% of entrants were 39 or younger, and now it’s 70%.

The article discusses the differences between the Anglican Church, which does allow women to be ordained as priest, who are free to marry…and the Catholic Church, who ordains only male priest that are supposed to remain celibate. (Cough…Cough.)

There may be younger nuns in England, but over here in the states, the sisterhood is slowly becoming extinct. (I must say I like the description below of one of the reasons this is so.)

The sisterhood isn’t faring as well stateside. There are about 60,000 Catholic nuns in the US, down from more than 179,000 in 1965 and 101,000 in 1991. Part of this may be due to what professionals refer to as “high-level fuckery” in the Church; for example, in early 2010, an Arizona nun was excommunicated after recommending a first trimester abortion to a woman with a life-threatening condition. Justice for Sister Margaret McBride was swift; she was out of the church within months. In contrast, as The Daily Beast pointed out, it’s taken years for the Church to take action in many cases of priests who have abused children. Meanwhile, the church has launched an investigation of all American nuns, to quell what the cardinal that ordered the investigation called “a certain secular mentality that has spread in these religious families, and perhaps also a certain feminist spirit.” Congregations of nuns have been ordered to turn over financial records to the Vatican and answer exhaustive questionnaires about their practices and philosophies. (The Catholic Church doesn’t ordain women. In 1992, they finally got around to apologizing for the crappy way they treated Galileo, so it’s probably fair to guess that lady Catholic priests are probably not going to be ordained in our lifetime.)

But this story does end with an interesting observation:

Perhaps young women who opt to become nuns when priesthood is offered as an alternative aren’t interested in the power and visibility of the priesthood. Perhaps they’re simply interested in living communally with like-minded women and pursuing their common religious interest without distraction.

If something similar existed for female atheists — a quiet single sex residence for devotion to reading, study, gardening, hanging out with your friends, running charity marathons, and singing — the waiting list would be years long.

Hmmmm….that actually sounds like a great idea. Who is up for it?

Let’s end this morning reads with a cartoon from 10/26 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Main Street


Ha, that is awesome!

What are you all reading this lovely fall morning? The comments have been kind of quiet lately…let us know what you are blogging about today.