Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nuclear Terrorism

On November 20 Micheal Levi held a short talk following the publication of his book On Nuclear Terrorism (Harvard). This lecture was published as a podcast both by CFR as well as by UChannel.

The talk, and apparently the book, focuses on the use by terrorists of nuclear explosives. This means not is included the use of a regular device to spread nuclear contamination, but rather any effort to bring about a nuclear explosion as a terrorist act. Author Michael Levi has tried to start thinking like a terrorist and thus made an inventory what is needed to achieve such a feat. The subsequent question is, naturally, how such can be prevented.

As a careful positive bottom-line, it is stated that no matter how easy it may seem for terrorists to bring about nuclear explosion, it is harder in practice. And no matter how impossible it is for authorities to thwart the possible attempt with a 100% certainty, enough barriers can be mounted on the way, to limit the chances of success. Every attempt faltering at some stage, is a thwarted attempt. Even though these days all knowledge and materials are seemingly available, Levi claims, it is still quite a lot of work to bring it all together, which means the terrorist has a long way to go and when one focuses on each step in the way and increase the likelihood of capture or failure during that process, authorities can practically prevent nuclear terrorism.

More UChannel (aka University Channel podcast):
Attack Iran (or not),
Israel, Iran, terrorism,
Less Safe, Less Free (Losing the War on Terror),
The Greatest Threat to Zionism,
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

More CFR podcast:
CFR podcast,
Sari Nusseibeh.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

No more primiaries in America - Economist

The system is broken. The Economist speaks with Tova Andrea Wang, an elections expert with The Century Foundation. Ms Wang would like to create a system that enfranchises as many Americans as possible, not simply the voters in "two little overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly rural states". Iowa and New Hampshire are dictating the pace.

Somehow the change is already taking place, by having all the primaries together on February 5th. Still, if some primaries take place before the rest, the advantage shifts to certain candidates. In addition, she voices a concern that election success implies mainly the success at rallying money. Reform plans are circulating, but eventually the states decide when the primaries take place. Michigan has made a case in point by deciding only at the very last moment when the caucus would occur.

On a side note, I wonder, again, why The Economist, publishes these podcast shortly before an election result? The miss out on the actuality of the moment. In this case, Romney won in Michigan, where everybody expected McCain. They run the risk of making redundant statements. Nevertheless. These podcasts by The Economist have managed to capture my attention and shed some light on the otherwise rather incomprehensible voting system in the US. The podcasts are short, come out with a pleasant frequency - I will keep up with them and can recommend anybody to do so.

More from the Economist and about the 2008 elections:
The Economist in New Hampshire,
A biography for Barack Obama and one for Hillary Clinton,
The Economist podcast,
Bush - Clinton - Bush - Clinton (UC Podcast),
Religiousness of American Presidents (UC Podcast).

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Go for a walk with Open Source

Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies has a podcast called Open Source. This podcast claims to be not a podcast with a web community, but rather a web community that produces a podcast. After listening to two issues, I have yet to feel the community, but in any case there is a good quality podcast. I have to thank the blog Open Culture, for guiding me to Open Source.

Open Culture directed me to listen to the second part of the three installments long conversation with Harold Bloom. In this part Bloom eloquently laments the demise of literature and its study. "They are teaching Harry Potter these days," he cries out. And what is wrong with Harry Potter he underlines with declaring that he has read in one of the books Harry 'stretches his legs' and explaining that this cannot replace 'goes for a walk' - J. K. Rowling therefore cannot write. She is one of many, so it is in his eyes.

Before that I listened to the last show containing a conversation with Anthony Barnett about 2008. Barnett is chosen on account of his, by Open Source admired, e-zine openDemocracy. A historical perspective is taken on 2008 and Barnett explains what the world's situation is today and where we are heading. In his mind we are living in changing times, where most notably the US are losing their supremacy and will have to start sharing the world's leadership with Europe and China, possibly also India. The decline of the US's power is entirely blamed on the failed policies of George Bush.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button