A new study casts serious doubt on Israel's ability to destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities — and warns of the repercussions of an Israeli attack.
The study is detailed in a 114-page paper by two senior scholars at Washington's Center for Strategic & International Studies: Anthony Cordesman, former national security adviser to Sen. John McCain, and Abdullah Toukan, who was an adviser to the late King Hussein of Jordan.
"Their conclusion: Chances of a strong success — defined by how much of Iran's uranium enrichment program is destroyed or the number of years the attack delays Iran's acquisition of material sufficient to build a nuclear bomb — seem dubious," the Jewish publication Forward reports, "while the risks of the undertaking and its harsh military and destabilizing geopolitical consequences seem overwhelming."
A recent poll by Tel Aviv University's Center for Iranian Studies found that half of all Israelis favor an immediate Israeli attack on Iran. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently said in a meeting with members of his Likud Party, discussing who will eliminate Iran's threat to Israel: "It is us or no one."
But the study by Cordesman and Toukan points out a number of difficulties Israel would face: Even a successful attack on the three sites could prove futile if Iran maintains secret facilities for uranium enrichment, as is suspected.
As for the repercussions of an Israeli attack, Iran and its Shiite allies in neighboring countries would launch retaliatory attacks against Israel, American military forces in Iraq, and Western interests in the region, the authors warn.
These attacks would include ballistic missiles — including some with chemical, biological and radiological warheads — targeting "Tel Aviv, Israeli military and civilian centers, and Israeli suspected nuclear weapons sites," the authors note, adding that Israeli's air defenses would not be able to cope with the tens of thousands of missiles.
Forward concludes, "Such a heavy military and strategic price, weighed against the real possibility that an Israeli strike will not significantly set back Iran's nuclear abilities, make an Israeli attack unlikely."
2. Pennsylvania Democrats Hesitant to Back Specter
Now that Sen. Arlen Specter has switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party, he could face an uphill battle in convincing rank-and-file Democrats in Pennsylvania to back his re-election effort.
"Voters have to get to a comfort level with him as a Democrat that does not exist yet," Allegheny County Democratic Committee Chairman James Burn told Politico.
"If the primary were tomorrow and there were one or two other formidable contenders in the race, I wouldn't say with any certainty that he would win."
Stephanie Singer, a Democratic ward leader in Philadelphia, attended a recent Q&A session with Specter and said she wasn't "won over" by the senator, according to Politico.
She said she hopes that President Barack Obama and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell "got something good in return" for their endorsement of Specter, "because I don't want him to be my senator."
"On the other hand, with their strong endorsement behind him, I also don't want to see millions wasted on a Senate primary, when there are so many other good uses for Democratic partisan money."
At the moment, Specter's only announced opponent for the Democratic nomination in 2010 is Pittsburgh-area state Rep. William Kortz. But Philadelphia-area Rep. Joe Sestak — a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral — is said to be considering a run as well.
"I love Joe Sestak. I think he's a wonderful guy, but I still don't want him running against Sen. Specter," said Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman Marcel Groen.
Specter campaign manager Chris Nicholas said the senator is expected to increase his travel to events around the state in June, and has scheduled an address to several hundred local Democratic committee members at a convention in Pittsburgh on June 5.
3. Global Warming Skeptic May Get French Ministry Post
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has reportedly decided to appoint France's most outspoken global warming skeptic to head the nation's super-ministry of industry and innovation.
Dr. Claude Allegre, a former believer in manmade global warming, reversed his views in recent years and mocked climate change alarmist Al Gore's Nobel Prize as "a political gimmick."
Allegre is a former French Socialist Party leader, a member of both the French Academy of Sciences and the United States National Academy of Sciences, and the recipient of numerous scientific awards.
Twenty years ago he became one of the first scientists to warn about manmade global warming, but he now argues that the cause of climate change is "unknown."
Allegre's appointment to the high post "would send political earthquakes through Europe and the rest of the world," Climate Depot's Web site observes.
His possible appointment has drawn strong protests from environmentalists, according to the Financial Times.
Putting Allegre in charge of scientific research would be tantamount to "giving the finger" to scientists, Nicolas Hulot, France's best-known environmental activist, told the Times.
Allegre has been harsh in his attacks on global warming alarmists. "The ecology of helpless protesting has become a very lucrative business for some people," he told a French publication. He also criticized the "nonsense" in Gore's 2006 documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," calling it "scandalous" and "all politics."
Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe, Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and Capitol Hill's leading global warming skeptic, has said in a speech on the Senate floor: "I find it ironic that a free market conservative capitalist in the U.S. Senate and a French socialist scientist both apparently agree that sound science is not what is driving this debate, but greed by those who would use this issue to line their own pockets."
4. Ad Age: E-mail Marketing Is 'Rock Star' During Recession
"It's likely the least sexy tool in your marketing arsenal, but it could be the one that delivers real results." That's how Advertising Age launches into a report on e-mail marketing, saying it has emerged as a cost-effective "recession darling" for direct marketers who are hungry for results.
"The economy has energized this channel," Ryan Deutsch, vice president for strategic services and market development at StrongMail, told the trade publication.
"It's become the rock star of direct marketing in a lot of these retail organizations because it's the most cost-effective and most trackable."
A study by Shop.org found that 30 percent of retailers are spending less than originally planned on their Web businesses overall, and 24 percent are spending more.
But only 4 percent of retailers say budget cuts will affect e-mail marketing.
And as for those planning to increase spending, "e-mail marketing will be the beneficiary at 65 percent of retailers," Ad Age disclosed.
Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org, said e-mail is "not sexy, but it delivers results, and it's focusing on existing customers."
"It's not about sending more e-mail; it's about more-targeted and more-relevant e-mail."
Spending on e-mail has been on the rise, experts told Ad Age, because optimizing e-mail lists and upgrading to new technologies can be accomplished quickly and offers a solid return on investment.
"Because of the economy and how efficient e-mail is, it's definitely taken precedence over other projects that were longer term," said Deutsch.
"Dollars go into the e-mail channel [and companies] know that in four to 12 weeks they'll see a return."
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5. Republicans Battling Hispanic Flight
Republicans are sounding the alarm on an increasingly urgent national challenge — attracting more Hispanic voters.
GOP presidential candidate John McCain collected only 31 percent of the Latino vote last year, a significant drop from the 44 percent of Hispanics who voted for George W. Bush four years earlier, and the poor showing hurt McCain in much of the West and Southwest and in Florida.
What's more, Latinos are a growing demographic in the U.S. Hispanic voters represented 7.4 percent of the electorate in 2008, up from 5.4 percent in 2000.
"The demographics are there in black and white," former Rep. Henry Bonilla, a Texas Republican, told Politico. "If we don't figure out a way to open our party up to more Hispanic voters, nothing else we do will matter."
Republican attacks on illegal immigration are seen by many Latinos as attacks on immigration in general, Politico observed.
A majority of new U.S. immigrants are Hispanics from Mexico and Central and South America.
In the last election cycle "you had some very high-profile Republicans that were almost anti-Hispanic, not anti-illegal immigration," said Republican media consultant Frank Guerra.
And a recent survey found that only 8 percent of Latino voters believe the GOP has more concern for their community than do the Democrats.
President Barack Obama's nomination of a Hispanic, Sonia Sotomayor, to the Supreme Court will likely bolster the Democrats' hold on the Latino vote.
Republicans are just beginning efforts to confront the challenges. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has consulted with Hispanic leaders about forming a political action committee aimed at recruiting and backing Hispanic Republican candidates.
Some Republicans believe the GOP can make some headway in the Latino community if President Barack Obama continues to defer action on the immigration reform he promised to pursue during the campaign.
Obama recently said he can't move forward with the type of comprehensive immigration reform bill he wants until voters are convinced that the borders can be secured — an enforcement-first position that he criticized during the campaign.
Republicans say the shift is a sign that Obama is uncertain how to move forward on immigration.
6. Canada Rated Poorly on Healthcare
The Canadian public healthcare system ranks 23rd in quality and other factors among 32 nations with government-sponsored care, a new report reveals.
The second annual Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index has been compiled by the Health Consumer Powerhouse (HCP), a research organization headquartered in Belgium. It assesses patients' rights and information, waiting times for treatment, outcomes, the range and reach of services provided, and access to pharmaceuticals, with 1,000 points as a perfect score.
The Netherlands was tops with 824 points, followed by Austria with 813 points, Luxembourg (795), Denmark (794), and Germany (769).
Canada's score was just 549 points.
One factor hurting Canada's ranking is wait time, according to the HCP — patients can wait three months or more for treatment, while they can receive the same quality care in Germany, France or the Netherlands in two weeks.
The report also noted that Canada is one of the highest per capita spenders on healthcare, but on a scale that measures healthcare results compared to the number of dollars spent, Canada ranks dead last.
The analysis was co-sponsored by the Frontier Centre of Public Policy, "which says the Canadian system is in some respects held hostage by vested interests, such as public sector unions," The Metro newspaper in Canada reported.
Some of these groups attach themselves to one method of service delivery, while most European countries have a variety of service providers, both private and public, but all paid for by the government.