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France questions 'failed' Korean nuclear test
The Times ^ | October 11, 2006 | Devika Bhat

Posted on 10/11/2006 2:32:08 PM PDT by MadIvan

The French Defence Minister has cast doubts over the success of North Korea’s claimed nuclear test, saying that it produced an explosion so small that if indeed it was nuclear, it had been a failure.

Michele Alliot-Marie said that although experts had not yet determined the precise cause of the explosion, French, American and other scientists had detected that it was of "relatively limited size."

"In any case, if this was a nuclear explosion, it would be a case of a failed explosion," she said.

Mme Alliot-Marie’s comments were the strongest yet from a senior Western policy-makers to suggest that the Korean test had been a failure, a theory which appears to be gaining credence.

But they contradicted the findings of Russian authorities, who have said that the blast had a destructive power of between 5,000-15,000 tons of TNT – as much as the force of the Hiroshima bomb.

Xavier Clement of France’s Atomic Energy Commission said that he could not explain how the Russians had come up with such a figure. "It’s a hypothesis, not shared by us and other countries who also possess this type of high-precision analysis," he said.

"If it turns out to have been a nuclear test, it’s clear that the weakness of the energy release corresponds to an explosion that fell short of what could have been expected.

"What’s important is to determine is whether this was chemical or nuclear. It’s possible that we never will."

Nonetheless, uncertainty about the tests did little to ease tensions between Pyongyang and the international community, with North Korea today warning that increased pressure from the United States would be regarded as a "declaration of war" to which it would respond with physical measures.

Pyongyang’s announcement echoed comments made earlier by Kim Yong Nam, the regime's second in charge, threatening that North Korea will carry out further nuclear tests if the US pursued a "hostile attitude".

"If the US keeps pestering us and increases pressure, we will regard as a declaration of war and will take a series of physical corresponding measures," North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement – the first official word from the regime since Monday's announcement of the test.

"We were compelled to prove that we have nuclear weapons to prevent the increasing threat of war by the US and protect our sovereignty and survival. We are ready for both dialogue and confrontation.

However, the statement added: "Even though we conducted the nuclear test because of the US, we still remain committed to realising the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and negotiations."

Separately, Kim Yong Nam, the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and second only to Kim Jong Il, said in an interview that how North Korea acted would depend on Washington's response.

"The issue of future nuclear tests is linked to US policy toward our country," Mr Kim told Japan's Kyodo news agency today, when asked whether Pyongyang would conduct any more nuclear tests. "If the United States continues to take a hostile attitude and apply pressure on us in various forms, we will have no choice but to take physical steps to deal with that."

He also suggested that Pyongyang was ready to return to stalled six-party talks, if sanctions against the reclusive regime were lifted.

Japan today imposed its own fresh sanctions on North Korea, prohibiting ships from entering Japanese ports and imposing a total ban on imports from the impoverished nation. North Korean nationals are also prohibited from entering Japan, with limited exceptions, the Cabinet Office said in a statement.

Tokyo has already halted food aid and imposed limited financial sanctions on Pyongyang after it test-fired seven missiles into waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula in July.

"Japan is in gravest danger, if we consider that North Korea has advanced both its missile and nuclear capabilities," Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister, said after the decision was announced. "We cannot tolerate North Korea’s actions if we are to protect Japanese lives and property. These measures were taken to protect the peace."

The UN Security Council is debating a draft resolution, put forward by the US, proposing a series of sanctions against Pyongyang. The proposals include stopping trade in any materials which could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction, cargo inspections for goods going in and out of the country, and, in a measure targeted at the country's tiny elite, a ban on luxury goods.

But although there is international agreement that Pyongyang needs to be punished for its actions, hopes for a tough, swift response have been stifled by the difficulty in finding consensus over exactly what that response should be.

As the US and Japan called for tough punishment, South Korea said it would not abandon its policy of engagement with its totalitarian neighbour. Leaders in Seoul appeared to have accepted that they will have to live with a nuclear North Korea — at least until Washington can be persuaded to engage in direct talks with the isolated Stalinist state.

The Beijing Government described Pyongyang’s actions as "brazen" and spoke of the "negative impact" the test had had on its relations with North Korea. But in New York, where the diplomatic aftershocks of the test are being negotiated, profound differences among the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council were becoming ever more apparent.

China’s Ambassador to the UN, Wang Guangya, said that it supported punitive actions. But he said that these must be "constructive, appropriate but prudent". And China balked at the idea of giving any UN resolution teeth, a sign that it would not tolerate anything that would destabilise the region by toppling the North Korean Government, causing chaos on its doorstep and a likely refugee exodus.

China is Pyongyang’s economic lifeline, providing up to 90 per cent of its oil and 80 per cent of consumer goods in a nation so poor that it cannot feed its 23 million people without foreign donations. Experts said that for sanctions to have a real effect, the key lay with Beijing and to what extent it was willing to squeeze its impoverished ally.

But diplomats have said that China opposed US plans for international inspections of all cargo going in an out of North Korea. Beijing also wants any sanctions focussed only on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, and does not want any reference to enforcement under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Russia broadly endorsed the Chinese position.

Even if Pyongyang’s test was a failure, the country’s nuclear programme is unlikely to be derailed, and the explosion may even aid bomb makers looking to improve on their technique, experts warned.

Two main sources of scientific evidence are needed to confirm that a blast is nuclear. One is the shockwave sent back by ground detectors, and the other is fallout - radioactive particles or gases - that often escape from an underground test site, even if the tunnel or shaft is sealed tight.

But North Korea’s blast was so tiny that the seismic wave is almost indistinguishable from routine subterranean background noise, according to experts. That means it will take a long time to root out any tell-tale spikes that could confirm the blast was nuclear, and not a stockpile of TNT blown up as a hoax.

Only Russia has described the blast as a full-fledged nuclear event, while the Norwegian institute of seismology Norsar described it as a "medium-sized bomb" measuring between one and 10 kilotonnes. Other national monitors have put it at even less than one kilotonne, with one figure as little as 200 tonnes.

Such low yields are in theory feasible with a nuclear warhead, but they are traditionally reserved for established members of the nuclear club, which have mastered arts of miniaturisation.

"The easiest size of weapon to build is 10 to 20 kilotonnes. It’s harder to build one that’s smaller, and it’s harder to build one that’s larger," said James Acton of Vertic, an independent British watchdog that carries out research into the verification of international treaties.

"It seems to me technically unlikely and politically unlikely that North Korea would have tried to do anything other in its first test than in the 10-20 kilotonne range. If it was a nuclear test and the yield was less than a kilotonne, it seems to me the evidence is that this test was a fizzle; it was a partially unsuccessful test."

One theory among experts is that North Korea used plutonium rather than uranium to make its bomb, given the plutonium-making reactor and fuel rods known to be in its possession.

Uranium bombs are relatively easy to make while plutonium bombs are more complicated, entailing a small ball of plutonium that, like the centre of an onion, is swathed by conventional explosives.

These explosives compress the plutonium and fire a neutron into the mass to initiate a chain reaction. But the explosives must be "very, very carefully shaped," and the detonation must be precisely timed to ensure that the neutron is fired at the right time, said Mr Acton.

He added that whatever the case, North Korea’s nuclear programme would not be fundamentally damaged by possible failure. "They will almost certainly have gained information from this test which will have enabled them to build a better weapon next time around," he said.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: andtheyknowfailure; brix; france; nodong; northkorea; nukes; ronery
North Korea may have done the geopolitical equivalent of stuffing a rolled up sock in their underpants.

Regards, Ivan

1 posted on 10/11/2006 2:32:09 PM PDT by MadIvan
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To: Mrs Ivan; odds; DCPatriot; Deetes; Barset; fanfan; LadyofShalott; Tolik; mtngrl@vrwc; ...

Ping!


2 posted on 10/11/2006 2:32:35 PM PDT by MadIvan (I aim to misbehave.)
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To: MadIvan

I have no more confidence in france then I do in North Korea.
Both lead by dirtbags without a clue. Both antiAmerican.


3 posted on 10/11/2006 2:34:24 PM PDT by Joe Boucher (an enemy of islam)
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To: MadIvan

France, experts on small failed explosions.


4 posted on 10/11/2006 2:35:33 PM PDT by truth_seeker
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To: MadIvan

France positioning to cast their veto if the UNSC actions have any hope of working. Damn them!


5 posted on 10/11/2006 2:35:47 PM PDT by NonValueAdded (Treaty Fetishism: "[The] belief that a piece of paper will alter the behavior of thugs." R. Lowry.)
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To: MadIvan

And trust me, if there's anyone who knows about military failures, it's the French.


6 posted on 10/11/2006 2:36:25 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: MadIvan

Announcing the intention to detonate a nuclear device and then not succeeding in achieving more than a large conventional explosion, it seems to us, is the difference between rape and attempted rape. Both are heinous. One is just not a completed act.

On Wednesday, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said, "If the U.S. keeps pestering us and increases pressure, we will regard it as a declaration of war and will take a series of physical corresponding measures," according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

If their test was not sucessful I am not surprised.

But that doesn't make me feel any safer about the regime either.


7 posted on 10/11/2006 2:36:30 PM PDT by John Carey
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To: Joe Boucher

We should believe France's statement...

...for what other country has more experience in failure?

:-P


8 posted on 10/11/2006 2:37:12 PM PDT by gogogodzilla (I criticize everyone... and then breathe some radioactive fire and stomp on things.)
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To: MadIvan

Gosh darn it, at first glance the headline looked like
'France questions failed KORAN nuclear test'...


9 posted on 10/11/2006 2:39:37 PM PDT by rfp1234 (I've had it up to my keyster with these leaks!!! - - - Ronald Reagan)
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To: MadIvan
Leaders in Seoul appeared to have accepted that they will have to live with a nuclear North Korea — at least until Washington can be persuaded to engage in direct talks with the isolated Stalinist state.

Yeah, umm, what the heck does Washington have to do with anything? Everybody make nice with each other so we can go home, please?

The real translation is: We long for the day when the United States will again go back to bribing North Korea into acting like civilized people.
10 posted on 10/11/2006 2:41:07 PM PDT by kingu (No, I don't use sarcasm tags - it confuses people.)
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To: truth_seeker
Maybe the French know something.
Could some French missiles to Iraq have gone through Iran to KFR?

=========== French missiles FIRST given to Iraq to be USED Against US and Coalition Heroes =========

French missiles found by the Poles, and to protect France, blown up.

Froggies said they did not say "2003". LOL. Decide for yourself.


Iraqi missiles given to, and now located in, Syria:


11 posted on 10/11/2006 2:41:10 PM PDT by Diogenesis (Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum)
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To: MadIvan

North Korea may have done the geopolitical equivalent of stuffing a rolled up sock in their underpants.



And worse yet, putting it in the back...


12 posted on 10/11/2006 2:41:27 PM PDT by Paloma_55 (I may be a hateful bigot, but I still love you)
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To: gogogodzilla
...for what other country has more experience in failure?

And for their rather extensive knowledge of nuclear weapons, as well as the third largest stockpile of nuclear arms on the planet.
13 posted on 10/11/2006 2:42:16 PM PDT by kingu (No, I don't use sarcasm tags - it confuses people.)
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To: MadIvan

France is now asking NK for permission to retract the surrender they issued immediately after the explosion.


14 posted on 10/11/2006 2:42:54 PM PDT by Buck W. (If you push something hard enough, it will fall over.)
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To: MadIvan
Everyone has to get on the same page. There was an explosion. North Korea claimed it was nuclear. Regardless of size, the North Korean claim should be accepted and North Korea dealt with harshly and quickly.
15 posted on 10/11/2006 2:43:35 PM PDT by backtothestreets
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To: MadIvan

The more I hear about the NK nuke, the more I am convinced that all they did was surround a quantity of fissionable material with several tons of conventional explosives in hopes that it would work like the real thing. Maybe that's how their schools over there teach it.


16 posted on 10/11/2006 2:45:35 PM PDT by Lekker 1 (("...the world will be...eleven degrees colder by the year 2000" -- K. Watt, Earth Day, 1970)
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To: backtothestreets

You're right. We aren't gonna do anything about it so what difference does it make? We are going to beg a resolution from the UN and the Chicoms. It is disheartening.


17 posted on 10/11/2006 2:48:26 PM PDT by daisyann
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To: MadIvan
compress the plutonium and fire a neutron into the mass

Aha! So that's how they do it!

18 posted on 10/11/2006 2:53:15 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the law of the excluded middle)
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To: MadIvan
I wish we were half the bastard the world believes us to be....

Then perhaps we would blow the little North Korean prick to hell, assassinate Chavez, Castro, Assad, al Sadr and the current Iranian chief prick --- then sit back in wonder, denying everything.

Semper Fi
19 posted on 10/11/2006 2:58:28 PM PDT by river rat (You may turn the other cheek, but I prefer to look into my enemy's vacant dead eyes.)
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To: river rat
If the United States was that much of a bastard, I suggest the terrorists and rogue regimes would be keeping their mouths shut.

Regards, Ivan

20 posted on 10/11/2006 3:00:26 PM PDT by MadIvan (I aim to misbehave.)
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To: MadIvan

And maybe they lit the bomb and it went off. I will always error on the side of assuming where there is smoke there is fire.

Frogs, do not like to admit to one of thier allies are caught misbehaving, as in North Korea.
Ops4


21 posted on 10/11/2006 3:03:06 PM PDT by OPS4 (Ops4 God Bless America!)
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To: RightWhale

Meanwhile back in Pyonpyang a ronery dear leader wonders aloud what else he needs to do to get attention.


22 posted on 10/11/2006 3:03:42 PM PDT by EQAndyBuzz
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To: MadIvan

OK. Saddam behaved like he also had nukes. Its still not clear if he knowingly bluffed, or indeed suffered a grandeur delusion, or his WMDs are well hidden away. But it really does not matter. We can't afford to make a rogue state to use a nuke threat or nuke bluff as a deterrent. NK is long overdue for a regime change.

Even in the height of the USSR power soviets were passing around NK magazines (in Russian) for a good laugh. Surreal, isn't it?


23 posted on 10/11/2006 3:15:49 PM PDT by Tolik
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To: MadIvan
it produced an explosion so small that if indeed it was nuclear, it had been a failure

Unless it is intended for use with the "no-dong" missile

24 posted on 10/11/2006 3:22:31 PM PDT by Tai_Chung
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To: MadIvan
["What’s important is to determine is whether this was chemical or nuclear. It’s possible that we never will."]


Since the seismic activity allows us to pinpoint the exact location of the explosion, why don't we just send in a military blitzkrieg to take over that one spot and have our experts determine which it was? If it WAS nuclear, then there is justification to declare them a hostile state and deal with them appropriately and other nations have no credibility to complain. If it wasn't nuclear, then we will have exposed them as frauds and the squawking little dictator will forever be a laughingstock.

What am I thinking? That would be a PRACTICAL solution to the problem.
25 posted on 10/11/2006 3:24:03 PM PDT by spinestein (Please do not make illegal copies of this tag line.)
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To: MadIvan

"To ensure THE neutron is fired"? How 'bout them physics! LOL.


26 posted on 10/11/2006 3:24:07 PM PDT by 2harddrive (...House a TOTAL Loss.....)
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To: MadIvan

Well, the French are experts in nuclear tests! :-P


27 posted on 10/11/2006 3:36:33 PM PDT by Irish_Thatcherite (A vote for Bertie Ahern is a vote for Gerry Adams!|What if I lecture Americans about America?)
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To: dfwgator

"And trust me, if there's anyone who knows about military failures, it's the French."


You are so right!!!!French expertise in Chanel No.5 bombs!


28 posted on 10/11/2006 3:38:50 PM PDT by SeeSalt
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To: SeeSalt
Copy of Lil' Kim's IQ results...


29 posted on 10/11/2006 4:06:46 PM PDT by Colonial Warrior (Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.)
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To: 2harddrive

It's in the accuracy. The neutron must be fired through the center of the mass within a millimeter.


30 posted on 10/11/2006 4:21:15 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the law of the excluded middle)
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To: MadIvan
China balked at the idea of giving any UN resolution teeth, a sign that it would not tolerate anything that would destabilise the region by toppling the North Korean Government, causing chaos on its doorstep and a likely refugee exodus.

Why aren't South Korea and Russia also worried about a refugee exodus?

31 posted on 10/11/2006 4:24:53 PM PDT by fso301
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To: MadIvan

Yes, and the geopolitical er-"orientation" of the French is ambiguous enough for me to wonder how your average Frenchman would react to seeing someone with a rolled up sock stuck in his pants. For all we know, France might decide to end sanctions against North Korea just to give them a sporting chance.


32 posted on 10/11/2006 4:32:37 PM PDT by dr_who_2
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To: daisyann

The White House is set to procure a dictionary of harsh language, and will then issue a harsher statement to North Korea ... after receiving UN approval of course.


33 posted on 10/11/2006 4:54:14 PM PDT by backtothestreets
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To: MadIvan; Paul Ross; DarkWaters; Carl/NewsMax; ntrulock

It is interesting to me that almost no one in the mainstream wants to "go there" regarding the possibility that the blast was actually larger than seismic measurements indicated, and that P-wave decoupling was used to acheive that exact effect. The reason this is a "don't go there" notion is because during the Test Ban Treaty debates of yore, the ideas of concealment and cheating by the enemies of the West were held up by the usual suspects as "right wing paranoia." There is a lot more riding on this whole thing than the DPRK's nuclear status. What is really riding on it is whether or not the naive utopian dream of nuclear disarmament gets discredited or not.


34 posted on 10/11/2006 4:58:44 PM PDT by GOP_1900AD (Stomping on "PC," destroying the Left, and smoking out faux "conservatives" - Take Back The GOP!)
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To: MadIvan

ROFL or need nuke viagra LOL!


35 posted on 10/11/2006 5:21:41 PM PDT by SevenofNine ("Step aside Jefe"=Det Lennie Briscoe)
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To: MadIvan

LOL!!


36 posted on 10/11/2006 5:22:14 PM PDT by Suzy Quzy ("When Cabals Go Kabooms"....upcoming book on Mary McCarthy's Coup-Plotters.)
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To: MadIvan
The US needs to agree to bilateral talks immediately! That way we sit across the table from them and laugh:

"Do you call that a Nuke?"!

37 posted on 10/11/2006 5:29:36 PM PDT by kcar (The UN Sucks)
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To: MadIvan
This may be true, but it's their intent that matters. If left alone, they will develop a nuclear weapon, and they will sell that technology.
38 posted on 10/11/2006 5:29:41 PM PDT by NewLand (Always Remember September 11, 2001)
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To: MadIvan
The proposals include stopping trade in any materials which could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction, cargo inspections for goods going in and out of the country, and, in a measure targeted at the country's tiny elite, a ban on luxury goods.

Unbelievable! This should have already been done, yet China and Russia find it too harsh. I guess anything that does not damage the US is too harsh.

39 posted on 10/11/2006 6:11:51 PM PDT by Colorado Doug
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To: truth_seeker
France, experts on small failed explosions.

When it comes to nuclear stuff France knows what they're talking about. They're the leaders in the field.

40 posted on 10/11/2006 6:17:22 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist
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To: daisyann; backtothestreets
You're right. We aren't gonna do anything about it so what difference does it make? We are going to beg a resolution from the UN and the Chicoms. It is disheartening.

I am getting so sick and tired of our good trading partners trying to step on our toes, every chance they get. China is Lucy to us as Charlie Brown with the football. I think we should start to play the game the same way that they do. Taiwan needs a good military buildup, doesn't it? A reactor too! For peaceful purposes like Iran, of course. Maybe some of new Europe should have high end nukes?

41 posted on 10/11/2006 6:25:16 PM PDT by Colorado Doug
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To: Extremely Extreme Extremist

"When it comes to nuclear stuff France knows what they're talking about. They're the leaders in the field."

Pardon my lame attempt at humor at the expense of the French.

They have a high percent of electricity from nuclear plants.

We could well imitate them, in this regard. I would vote for a Governor or a President advocating nuclear power plants.


42 posted on 10/11/2006 6:25:21 PM PDT by truth_seeker
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To: Colorado Doug

I blame the quality of leaders we keep electing, spineless at home, and doubly spineless abroad. They are more likely to get tough with our citizens then our enemies. Crazy times!


43 posted on 10/11/2006 7:26:37 PM PDT by backtothestreets
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To: MadIvan
Kim il's got some issues:
44 posted on 10/11/2006 8:04:58 PM PDT by Tulsa Ramjet ("If not now, when?" "Because it's judgment that defeats us.")
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To: Diogenesis
Fascinating.

But not surprising...

45 posted on 10/13/2006 8:43:28 AM PDT by Paul Ross (We cannot be for lawful ordinances and for an alien conspiracy at one and the same moment.-Cicero)
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