Daily Archives: October 16, 2013

James Blitz

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a press conference after two days of nuclear talks in Geneva.

Iran and world powers are still a long way from agreeing a deal to allay global fears about the Iranian nuclear programme. But something has started to happen at this week’s negotiations in Geneva that may significantly improve the chances of a pact.

For the first time, the US and the west have started to explore what the “end state” of the Iranian programme should be – in other words what kind of nuclear facilities the US and its allies will allow Iran to retain over the very long term. 

♦ Martin Wolf argues that the US debt ceiling should be abolished: “It is the legislative equivalent of a nuclear bomb aimed by the US at itself, with the rest of the world within its blast radius. What must never be used should not exist.”
♦ They dare not utter them in public, but officials at agencies have contingency plans in case there is a default on US debts.
♦ Gary Wills, author of Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, compares the Tea Party to the Confederate states in 1861: “Just as the Old South compelled the national party to shelter its extremism, today’s Tea Party leaders make Republicans toe their line.”
♦ Federalists in Europe fear that anti-EU parties are putting aside their differences to launch an assault on Brussels in next year’s elections.
♦ In China, posters touting Communist values have been replaced with drawings espousing pre-Communist traditions – an attempt to redefine the state as a Confucian, family-centric nation.
♦ Since August, Egyptian police have caught more than 800 Syrians before they managed to escape Egyptian waters. Some have volunteered for deportation at their own expense, rather than remain in the prisons, but some still think the risk of a clandestine voyage to Europe is a better bet.
♦ Two Canadians describe their brutal experience of being beaten and crammed into a cell in an Egyptian prison.