Brazil becomes first South American Nuclear Player

Our is that Nucular?

A new centrifuge facility was formally opened on Friday at the Resende nuclear plant in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

The Brazilian government says its technology is some of the most advanced in the world.

The official opening follows lengthy negotiations with the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the IAEA.

They claim the type of centrifuge in use at Resende will be 25 times more efficient than facilities in France or the United States.

Fire up the F-117s! Brazil might send their super-effecient centrifuges to, Venezuela… who might then send them to Iran! Who might send them to North Korea and China and Russia and Syria and and and…

Or maybe they’re just doing it to supplement their energy requirements. Naw… that’d be too simple.

New International News services

Right now, if you’re looking for news services with a truly global reach, there are only two. The BBC and CNN.

Next year, there will be at least one more, and if you speak French, you’ll have one in that language as well.

The French channel will emanate from France. It will be called CFII, (Canal Francaise Information International?) the French International News Network in English…

This project has been in the works for a long time.

From 2003:

By the end of 2004, the 24-hour news and information station, 100% financed by the state, will hit the airwaves not only in French but also possibly in English and Arabic.

Well, it’s the end of 2005 now.. but apparently the project is still on, and slated to start up next year

Their future rival, the BBC, reports:

The new network will be owned by commercial network TF1 and the state-funded company France Televisions.

The government has given initial funding of 30m euros (£23m) for this year, and allocated another 65m euros (£44m) for next year.

Employing around 240 staff, it will produce programmes initially beamed to Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

CFII will broadcast news around the clock in French, with a four-hour slot of programmes in English. There are plans to add programmes in Arabic and Spanish in due course.

The second source for International news will be from a name you already know well.

Aljazeera will launch a full, English-language, international network next year.

The Observer has an excellent article on what that means… and why AJ is wooing big name journalists and talking heads from the other big guns.

Among those attracted to the promise of foreign bureaus and nearly limitless resources is Dave Marash, a former Nightline correspondent and onetime anchor of WCBS New York, who is negotiating a job in the Washington bureau, according to sources close to the journalist. David Frost, the veteran BBC journalist and the first to interview Richard Nixon after Watergate, signed on earlier this summer. Former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel had a meeting with a representative from Al Jazeera International in Washington this fall, according sources close to Mr. Koppel. But nothing came of it.

But really, who would watch all this news? And what would make it any different, well, in AlJazeeras’ case:

Rebecca Lipkin, a former London-based Nightline producer, joined Al Jazeera International earlier this year as the executive producer for programming out of the London bureau.
… “If you told somebody at one of the networks that you want to put 20 minutes on the air about Central Asia, they would say you’re crazy,” she said. “I think this network would say, ‘Well, let’s think about this.’”

That means… at least to me, instead of hearing the same headlines, and talking points, from the same context of the networks host country over and over… we might actually hear about the World from its’ own perspective. And that is valuable. That is what an International news channel should be.

At least AJ is honest about who their targeting:

“We’re trying to reach educated decision-makers and young people,” said Mr. Parsons. “We would love to have an audience that regards us as their first source of balanced and impartial news. Beyond that, we’ll always be an interesting alternative source.”

I, for one, would love to see both these channels. If anything more voices telling slightly different stories is the best you can hope for to be able to make your own informed decisions. That said, I’m most excited to see AlJazeera. The perspective of the Middle East and Africa are totally un-represented in Western Media, and I would hope that this channel would shine a light into the day-to-day happenings of these regions.

AlJazeera may be viewed as “the enemy” by some… it may even be the target of bombings… but one thing is for sure, in the Arab world, it is a free and outspoken voice for reform. The Saudi government boycotts it, other repressive governments in the region try to ignore it. But they can’t, not when 50 million people watch it every day. I would like to hear that voice here as well.

Reaction inside and outisde, to French riots

I’ve been surfing a lot this evening looking at various reactions and opinions on the current events in France.

There is a ton of it out there, and plenty of theories on what’s going on and why its’ happening.

First… on the Academic side… Global Guerrillas calls this another front in Open Source Warfare:

Here’s some more brainstorming on this important question: Will the violence continue? Probably, despite indications that it has subsided. The open source war is moving under its own momentum now (the participants in Paris are likely just dead tired and the collective thinking of the community was to rest). …. The only solution… will be the broad use of the military to restore order. …. The use of the military, when taken, will shut down the insurgency for now. However, the presence of troops in the banlieue will be a source of provocation that will continue to fuel future efforts.

I suspect that at some point during this future conflict, France will come to rely upon empowered, local Islamic militias to maintain order in the banlieue. However, the ceding of authority to those militias will be exactly the type of autonomy that this was about in the first place. France will have fragmented.

Next an account from an eyewitness (thus a French citizen).. translated to English here.

Why did the Minister of the Interrior make a point of saying that these events took place following an attempted theft? Doubtless, he wanted to play on the fantastic and disastrous idea that people have of the “suburbs,” an idea that he himself helps to spread. …. Throughout these events the agents of the State have acted as if they were in a civil war.
In an egalitarian society this would have been unthinkable. When the Minister of the Interior sets the example by lying, one sees no reason why his subordinates should not follow suit. So a police officer goes an the radio and says that no tear gas was used against the mosque, that in fact it was the demonstrators who used “pepper spray grenades”, and that this is what stung some peoples’ eyes. Just like his boss knew full well that there had been no theft, this cop was fully aware of what we all learnt later on, namely that they were in fact tear gas grenades from the police that were used.

They got to see the children running scared while their mothers, trying to protect them, were called “whores” and chased down the stairs by the Mr Sarkozy’s soldiers.

The CRS, the afore mentioned “Mr Sarkozy’s soldiers” are a truly frightening lot. I had the opportunity to see them once when I was in Courseilles-Sur-Mer on the day-before-DDay celebrations in 2003. They were there to guard the French Prime Minister from planned protests and other dignitaries. I have seen policemen with machine guns. I have seen soldiers in combat gear… But these CRS are what I would imagine Nazi SS troops to have looked like. They ride in black buses. They march with tall black boots. And when you lift your camera to take a picture (like I did) they simply wag their finger at you.

And finally… another perspective. A different one. And it’s in French this time, so I will attempt to translate. If you see any glaring errors in my translation please point them out. I will do my best to reflect the correct tone of the comments as I read them.

I’ll provide the French source… and then my translation:

Que le gouvernement de la France, les autorités les plus hautes seraient responsables de tout cela ? Et puis quoi encore ! ? Responsable de quoi ? Si des voyous meurent électrocutés, tant mieux ! On ne va pas se plaindre ! Il faut se plaindre qu’une femme handicapée ait été brûlée vive par des voyous, qu’un homme ait été tué en plein jour par un gang d’hyènes, plutôt !

That the government of France, that those at the highest level of authoriy could be responsible for all this? What then? Responsible for what? If some [derogatory slang for– “youths”?] die of electrocution, all the better! We won’t complain! We should instead be complaining that a disabled woman was burned alive by the youths, that a man was even killed in broad daylight by a gang of hyenas [obbvious African connotation here]!

Il y a des Français pauvres. Il y a des Catholiques, des Protestants, des Orthodoxes, des Juifs, des Musulmans pauvres en France. Est-ce qu’ils tuent tous des femmes handicapées en tentant de les brûler vives ? … Non. Ils souffrent en silence, ils tentent de survivre, ils tentent de travailler, ils tentent de vivre en personnes respectueuses de la loi civile comme de la loi religieuse, s’ils ont une religion.

There are poor French people. There are Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jew and Musim poor in France. Do they kill disabled women by burning them alive? No, they suffer in silence, they try to survive, work and live as people respectfl of civil law, as they do under religious law, if they have a religion.

Alors comment définir ces nouveaux barbares qui haussent la tête un peu trop ces jours-ci ? Eh bien c’est très simple : ce ne sont ni des Français, ni des hommes religieux ou non, ni des citoyens éduqués ou non. Ce sont des animaux et il faut les traiter comme tels. Ils se sont rabaissés eux-mêmes au rang animal qu’on s’évertue à leur faire abandonner en vain. Ils préfèrent vendre de la drogue, constituer des gangs que de travailler ou que de tenter de travailler. Ils préfèrent brûler des voitures que d’aller en usine en fabriquer sur les chaînes de montage. Ils préfèrent tuer que d’aider les leurs à vivre. Ils n’ont pas de raison de se révolter : ils sont mauvais. Ils font le mal en connaissance de cause, d’une manière bestiale et grégaire. Ces nouveaux barbares défigurent les cités qu’ils habitent et y propagent le mal. Il faut les en extirper et nous en débarrasser une bonne fois pour toutes. Les autres habitants de ces cités pourront respirer tranquillement demain.

So how do we define these new barbarians that are rearing their heads a little too high these days? Well, it’s quite simple… they are neither French, nor men of religion, and no, their not educated citizens either. They are animals and they must be treated as such. They have lowered themselves to the status of animal… and its’ on us [???] to force them to abandon it in vain… They prefer dealing drugs, and mixing with gangs rather than workin or even thinking of working. They would rather burn cars than go to a factory to work on the assembly line. They prefer killing to helping their own to live. They have no reason to revote, they’re rotten. They have agretiously and brutally failed to undertand their cause. These new barbarians are disfiguring the cities in which they live and they breed violence. They must be eradicated and we must do it for the betterment of all [??]. The other inhabitants of these cities will be able to breathe easier tomorrow.

Ok, I think you get the idea.. and my brain hurts.

Plenty to think about there. Comments encouraged and welcomed. Whatever you think is the cause, or the cure, it seems that what is happening today in France may be only a sign of things to come if *something* does not change.

Political Inertia is killing the UN.. and a Hockey Analogy

If you frequent my site you may have been somewhat surprised at the lack of coverage of the UN Super-Summit this past week. I have talked a little about it here but that was before the Summit began.

The reason I have not is because there isn’t much to report. And frankly, I’m disappointed about that.

There was a chance at this summit to really make a difference. To really change the whole direction of the UN. To really improve how the UN operates.

That simply hasn’t happened. The Document that World Leaders will sign is largely toothless. It calls for very little change from the status quo.

The reason? Let’s call it political inertia.

The most powerful countries in the world… Russia, China, the US, UK, France… have no interest in change that would affect their status.

What’s more, those countries with the poorest of human rights records are defining the rules for the rest of us to follow. How is that constructive? How will that make this world better.

I am deeply troubled that the UN has completely blown the only short-term chance it had to really start to change.

After today, all those leaders will go back to their respective countries and it will be business as usual. Why? Because politicans are afraid of change. Because even when their own rhetoric says otherwise… when it comes down to brass tacks… they’d rather keep the good thing that they have going.

Forgive me, for I am Canadian and I will now invoke the Hockey Analogy.

The UN and World leaders are like the NHLPA two years ago. They are on top of the world. No one can touch them… they’re getting richer off each other and off the owners… the owners being us. We The People Of The United Nations.

So the question becomes… when will the Owners of the UN finally say enough is enough and lockout the political players until they are ready to take a realistic and fair deal. It’s time the world sign a new contract with their political leaders, because it is clear that on our current path, we are running this League of United Nations into the ground.

Oil pipelines coming back online

The Oil Drum is reporting that capacity is flowing back into the previously shutdown pipelines across the souther US. This includes refined goods like gas and heating oil.

Theoretically, this should mean that gas prices should stop their incredible climb of the past week… do you believe they will?

Here’s my completely unscientific, utterly pessimistic prediction.

The Canadian average will be $2/L by for Boxing Day. It is currently sitting around $1.16.

The US Average wil be $3.25/Gal…. it currently stands at 2.61

And for comparison sake.. the average prices in Europe, in August, were around 1.07 Euros /Litre… that works out to about 1.61/L Canadian or $3/Gal in the States. (I believe I heard reports of 1.90 in France and Belgium since Katrina).

Since Katrina, prices in the UK have it the mark of 1 pound/L … or about $CAD2.25/L , $3.50 US/Gal

Just a little perspective for your Labour Day Monday morning.


This morning the Oil drum is also pointing to a report in the Washington Post that reports on the status of refineries in and around the Gulf Coast. Many are already back or coming back online soon but up to 4 could be shutdown for many months and take 5% of the US’s refining capacity with it.