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The Blanche Report: The Plant, The Stork & The Rabbi

For the month of September, Blanche will be writing on Sundays and Tuesdays. Back to our regular scheduled programming in October. L’affaire Syria gets stranger by the minute. Let us first say that this is a very complicated matter. Now pretend you are an Israeli politician watching  Obama’s 11th-hour turnaround on striking Syria — a decision he took alone, after he had sent his Secretary of State John Kerry to speak out passionately and urgently in favor of military action. Confused anyone?

But there is a much bigger issue looming – the ever-deeper perception of Obama’s America in the Middle East as weak, hesitant and confused — most especially in the view of the region’s most radical forces, notably including Bashar Assad, Hezbollah, and Iran. That is not good news. It gets worse.

The president has set a precedent, in seeking an authorization from Congress that he had no legal requirement to seek — and that Congress was not loudly demanding — that may complicate, delay or even rule out credible action to thwart a challenge that dwarfs Assad’s chemical weapons capability: Iran’s drive to nuclear weapons. Pretty ugly and getting uglier. Maybe if Obama went golfing he’d have some kind of revelation on the ninth hole.

Remember the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan? The one where Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) both hid and then lied about the monumental radiation disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant? Well, it appears that those in charge did not change their ways, although there was a changing of the guard.

Radiation levels in the nuclear plant are 18 times higher than previously thought. The incident is believed to be the fourth major leak from storage tanks at Fukushima since 2011. The best line is this one: TEPCO said it is confident it can provide safety for workers dealing with the problem. Just be happy you’re not one of those workers in about five years. The Sochi Olympics, scheduled for February 2014 are quickly approaching.  In case you didn’t know, Putin has made the Olympics his personal, pet project. He is determined to use them to show the world that Russia is powerful and prosperous, and has spared no expense to make sure the games are a success. So far they have spent – ready? – $51 billion and they are far from finished. Of course the money is coming from the government so the limit is endless. One of the reasons that the costs are so high is that the entire infrastructure and every single  Olympic venue had to be built from scratch.

What people may be shocked to see there is the intense security. Chechnya is close by and has a history of nasty attacks in Russia. Guards with assault rifles and German shepherds are patrolling the sports venues in groups, trying to keep a low profile. Not sure how exactly how that’s done with a vicious dog in one hand and a machine gun in the other.

How nuts things are in Egypt? We’ll tell you. About 280 miles south of Cairo, a man noticed a stork near his home had an electronic device attached to its wing. Worried it might be some sort of spying device, the man took the bird  to his local police department. Officers there weren’t sure what to make of the device either, and held the bird overnight until it could be inspected by veterinary specialists. Sounds like a good joke so far, eh?

Turns out the device was a wildlife tracker installed by French scientists to study the habits of migrating birds. Paranoid anyone?

In case you were wondering – or not wondering –  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is no longer the chief rabbi of England. The new chief rabbi of Britain is Ephraim Mirvis, originally from South Africa. Prince Charles was in attendance, along with many Archbishops and other dignitaries for the changing of the guard.

Noted broadcaster David Frost passed away today. We remember him for his very candid interviews with Richard Nixon. For us, he was the first hard core interviewer on television.

We’ll talk…

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