David Pryce-Jones at National Review: "It is painful to observe the U.S. being outmaneuvered in the Middle East. Iran used to be one of the pillars on which the American position in the region rested. Now Russia has taken over that pillar. The fanaticism of the mullahs and the cold-power mania of Vladimir Putin form a coalition sweeping from strength to strength.
"Syria is not intrinsically a valuable asset, but Iran would have it as a territorial base from which to control Iraq and Lebanon, and to menace Israel. Russia would have a permanent naval and military facility on the Mediterranean, capable of expansion ...
"The suggestion that Assad might hand his weapons of mass destruction over to international inspectors is inane. To remove the material would take thousands of soldiers over a number of years. Verification is impossible. ... Seizing on this childish proposition to hand the weapons over as though it were serious, Putin has the initiative over Obama. ... Assad will be able to resort to lethal gas as often as he needs to stay in power."
Kerry steps in it
Satirist Andy Borowitz: "Secretary of State John Kerry said today that he was 'shocked and flabbergasted' that the Russians heeded his suggestion about Syria's chemical weapons, telling reporters, 'After four decades in public life, this is the first time someone has taken me seriously. Whether as a senator, a presidential candidate or secretary of state, I've devoted countless hours to thunderous and droning speeches that people have consistently tuned out,' he said. 'So naturally, to be listened to all of a sudden came as something of a shock' ...
"At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney welcomed the Russians' engagement in the Syria crisis, but warned that 'further actions based on John Kerry's remarks will not be tolerated. We ask the Russians to be constructive participants in this process,' he said. 'And taking John Kerry seriously is a clear violation of international norms.' "
Killing with chemicals
Deacon Keith Fournier at Catholic Online: "The intentional ingestion of RU 486 constitutes a chemical attack on human life in the mother's womb. RU486 is lethal. Its sole purpose is to cause the death of the human life within the mother. It also brings with it serious risks to the mother's own health. ...
"We must speak for human embryonic life as we speak for all human life. We must expose the evil of chemical weapons wherever they are used, beginning with the real war on women -- and on children -- the use of chemical weapons on the womb. Rush [Limbaugh]is right. RU 486 IS a chemical weapon."
No help for the poor
At Gawker: "In a new poll [by the Pew Research Center] the vast majority of Americans say that in the five years since the recession, the government has 'done not much or nothing at all to help poor people [and] middle-class people.' Guess what? They're right!
"You don't have to ask how people feel on this issue. All you have to do is look at the data, such as: 'Last year, the richest 10 percent received more than half of all income -- 50.5 percent, or the largest share since such record-keeping began in 1917.' It is not simply an opinion dearly held by most Americans that the government has not done much to help the poor and middle class since the recession. It is a fact."
Jellyfish taking over
Andrew Sullivan at The Dish mentions Tim Flannery's warning at NewYorkBooks that, thanks to climate change and human meddling, jellyfish are taking over the oceans:
"From the Arctic to the equator and on to the Antarctic, jellyfish plagues ... are on the increase. Even sober scientists are now talking of the jellification of the oceans. ... Off southern Africa, jellyfish have become so abundant that they have formed a sort of curtain of death, "a stingy-slimy killing field," as ["Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean" author Lisa-ann] Gershwin puts it, that covers over 30,000 square miles. The curtain is formed of jelly extruded by the creatures, and it includes stinging cells.
"The region once supported a fabulously rich fishery yielding a million tons annually of fish, mainly anchovies. In 2006 the total fish biomass was estimated at just 3.9 million tons, while the jellyfish biomass was 13 million tons. So great is their density that jellyfish are now blocking vacuum pumps used by local diamond miners to suck up sediments from the sea floor."opinion_commentary
Greg Victor (firstname.lastname@example.org).