ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey was holding a suspicious shipment bound for Venezuela from Iran because it contained lab equipment capable of producing explosives, a customs official said Tuesday.
Suleyman Tosun, a customs official at the Mediterranean port of Mersin, said military experts were asked to examine the material, which was seized last month, and decide whether to let the shipment to go to Venezuela.
Authorities detected the equipment during a search of 22 containers labeled “tractor parts,” Tosun said. They were brought to Mersin by trucks from neighboring Iran, he said. Turkey’s Interior Ministry said an investigation was under way.
“Experts from Turkey’s Atomic Institute determined there were no traces of radioactive material, but said the equipment was enough to set up an explosives lab,” Tosun said. “We have asked the military to send experts to determine whether to resume the shipment.”
In view of that, this news item is particularly foolish, if it’s true, Obama May Use Chavez as First Test for Talking With Adversaries (h/t Maggie)
Venezuela may provide a useful first test for Obama’s pledge to engage rather than isolate antagonists. While President Hugo Chavez is one of Washington’s noisiest critics, frayed relations would likely be easier to mend than those with nations such as Iran and Cuba, whose leaders are even more hostile toward the U.S.
Some Obama advisers privately suggest the president-elect might reach out to Chavez, proposing cooperation on a few issues of mutual interest — drug enforcement, energy, poverty — while asking Brazil and other neighbors to encourage the Venezuelan leader to negotiate in good faith in the interest of regional harmony.
The “mutual interests” are diametrically opposite when it comes to drug enforcement and energy, and Chavez is doing his darnest in keeping his people poor.
Maria sends The real story of Israel’s Gaza operation
I GUESS UKRANIANS, and Europeans in general, would be applauded by the world’s intelligentsia if they started lobbing “homemade rockets” at, say, Belgorod, considering Russia’s strangling by cutting off a vital resource, gas, precisely during a severe cold wave across the continent, no?
Capgras Syndrome? That’s the delusion, named for the French shrink Jean Marie Joseph Capgras, that “a close relative or friend has been replaced by an impostor, an exact double, despite recognition of familiarity in appearance and behavior.” (See here for more.) How could Obama, who promised Change, assemble an administration virtually indistinguishable from that of Bill Clinton? How could he add insult to injury by asking Bob Gates, George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense, to stay on? How could he pick Lawrence Summers as his top economic advisor? Didn’t Obama know that Summers had trespassed on one of the most sacrosanct of prohibitions by offering an independent thought touching on what David Stove called “the intellectual capacity of women”? How dare he?
Also from Maggie, Transition purgatory
Dozens of national-security and regional experts who worked intensively as volunteers on policy teams for the Obama campaign — writing talking points, doing debate prep, checking facts, following RUMINT, and rebutting opposition attacks — have grown anxious and quiet as they await word on what jobs they might (or might not) be offered in the new administration.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid yielded to Republican threats and agreed on Monday not to immediately seat fellow Democrat Al Franken, whose razor-close victory in Minnesota faces legal challenges.
Senate Republicans had planned to disrupt the opening of the new Congress on Tuesday by blocking Franken’s swearing-in.
And in another ugly fight, Senate Democrats vowed to block, at least for now, the seating of fellow party member Roland Burris whose appointment by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich carries a whiff of political scandal.
A whiff? Very understated, that!
Last but not least, my latest post, Bolivia Launches State-Run Media…which will be sponsored by Iran and Venezuela.