Sunday, October 17, 2004

In Short

Some late news.

There was much talk on the blogs about the 'leaks' that the US is holding up major assaults until after the election, some suggesting that it will help the insurgents to prepare. I was suspicious, however, and proved right - another attack on Fallujah rolled on, with zero media presence, and with a laughable excuse - that the city refused to hand over Zarqawi, altough its representatives denied knowing of his presence there and - they know the dark irony - compared Zarqawi-in-Fallujah claims zo WMD claims.

I will acknowledge here that Kerry's promise to not keep US troops in Iraq permanently is a real difference from Bush, even if it might not mean much of a difference in practice (i.e., Kerry would stay for years to come, Bush would have to decide to give up his plans because of the insurgency in years to come).

Juan Cole finally took the Vice Presidential TV debate as ocassion to criticise Kerry/Edwards on Israel/Palestine.

Also on Juan Cole's blog, a plea to write to Iranian officials for people arrested in the recent crackdown on journalists - the apparently all-out victory of the conservatives over the reformers in Iran is another, often forgotten sad result of the Iraq war.

And the final Iraq story, also through Juan Cole, is that the Baathist Mukhabarat is re-emerging in all its extralegal awfulness and manipulativeness. Allawi apparently uses it to attack Iran-backed SCIRI (the same SCIRI US propaganda whitewashed when its centrew, Najaf, was the focus of the conflict with Sadr).

In Germany, the leader of the Christian Democrats (CDU), Angela Merkel, gave up her plan to start a signature collection against Turkey's EU membership - after there was strong opposition within the party and outrage outside. (I note that ex-chanchellor Helmut Kohl, an old CDU douchebag who probably isn't any more enthusiastic than French President Jacques Chirac, was present when his son married a Turkish woman in Turkey, after the son reportedly waited years for his fathers' approval.)

In Korea, after six months of operation, the new KTX high-speed trains exceed revenue projections of 2 billion won/day (2.087; equal to roughly 1.8 million dollars/day or 1.45 million euros/day) and carried 13.06 million passengers, more than the busiest French TGV route but much less than the Tokaido Shinkansen in Japan. They plan to triple that number in five years when remaining sections of the Seoul-Busan high-speed line are commissioned, might be a challenge. The plan is to repay investments by 2015, but even a pessimistic scenario I just calculated through has them achieving zero debt and pure profit by 2040. An example to follow. (BTW, next year, Taiwan opens its high-speed line without some important, delayed elements - notably city connections at both ends.)

Further Transatlantic Views analysis later.


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