....LMB: "The Report"....

January 28, 2003

January 27th has come and gone.

It was The Day. The day of the UN weapons inspectors preliminary report about their work in Iraq.

Not surprisingly, we were treated to a bevy of contradictory statements. Headlines screamed that Iraq was not cooperating, while other reports claimed just the opposite. Various governmental officials claimed that the inspections were useless, or that they were going to give proof that they were useless, or that they were going to give proof that Iraq had weapons, or that we should give the inspections several more weeks, or that we should give the inspectors every opportunity to succeed.

Well, fuck all that. Let's look at the report itself.

We've got two options: the full text of Hans Blix's statement to the UN, or a Guardian article which quotes and analyzes key portions of Blix's statement. Both are pretty worthwhile reads, if you actually want to know what's going on.

Blix claims that there are two types of cooperation that they need from Iraq, Cooperation on Process and Cooperation on Substance. He states that Iraq has "cooperated rather well" with regard to the first, and implies that they are not doing as well on the second. The first is about giving the inspectors access to any part of the country they want. The second is about Iraq actively bringing information and evidence to the attention of the inspectors. And c'mon, this is Saddam Hussein's regime we're talking about. How much out of their way did we expect them to go to help deprive them of weaponry?

But onto the weapons.

Blix says that:

- as of 1988, Iraq had 6500 "chemical bombs," and these have not been accounted for. These bombs could theoretically have contained "about 1000 tons" of chemical agent. But, as a Guardian analyst points out, these bombs would not be very useful without an air force with which to drop them.
- Iraq claims that it destroyed all of its VX gas in 1991, the inspectors are still trying to verify whether or not that is true.
- Blix mentions finding a "laboratory quantity" of thiodiglycol an ingredient in mustard gas. No word whether this chemical can be used for other purposes, or whether its presence is a clear indication of attempts to create mustard gas.
- Iraq has rebuilt a chemical plant, but it is capable of manufacturing many types of chemicals. The inspectors are still deciding whether or not to let it remain or have it dismantled.
- Iraq has a few SCUD missiles. The analysts estimate Iraq has between 2 and 20 of these.
- Iraq may or may not have anthrax.
- Iraq has some missile production capability. They have two types of rockets, the most advanaced of which could travel about 183 kilometers (about 113 miles. For reference, it is about 9670 km/6009 miles from New York City to Baghdad).
- there is no evidence that Iraq has nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons programs.

And that's about it.

I can't say that this report makes me particularly nervous about Iraq's threat to myself living here in the United States. I certainly don't like the sound of Iraq potentially having all that, but I'm not really scared about it. If I lived within 100 miles of the Iraqi border, I might. But as I've been saying all along, if Saddam Hussein makes the slightest aggressive move towards any of his neighbors, the US would bomb the hell out of him, with full UN approval. Is this report, or Iraq's lack of cooperation, enought to justify a war on the country that might kill tens of thousands of people? That's your call.

Just for the fun of it, let's link to information about the United States' nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons capabilities.

Posted by Jake at 02:46 PM

Just a stupid note:
Until very recently, conventional explosives were considered 'chemical weapons.' I wonder how many of those 6500 weapons fall into this category.

Posted by: jeremy at January 28, 2003 03:14 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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