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Pope Should Never Speak off the Cuff
By Micah Halpern

Tuesday April 25, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There is a reason why the Pope does NOT traditionally speak off the cuff. But Pope Francis is different - he often speaks off the cuff and speaks from his heart --- and sometimes he mis-speaks. That can be a problem.

Most Popes in the recent past spoke only by reading prepared, vetted notes. They do not repeat themselves for fear that there may be a difference between the messages that can cause confusion.

An example of what can happen - did happen, when the Pope said that refugees today are living in concentration camps.

His exact words were: "I don't know if he managed to leave that concentration camp, because refugee camps, many of them, are of concentration because of the great number of people left there inside them."

The parallel is absurd. Nazis created work camps and death camps. They created murder camps where technology was created specifically in order to murder Jews.

Illegal immigrants and refugees cannot be portrayed as Jews in murder camps.

The Vatican is simply saying that the Pope spoke off the cuff. That is not an apology. That remark requires a real mea culpa. The Pope's comments must be explained in a proper moral and historical context.

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Iran's New Misssile
By Micah Halpern

Monday April 24, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iran is now outfitted with a cruise missile designed to strike ships. The new missile is called the Nassir.

The Iranian Defense Ministry tested the missile in February and the Nassir is now being sent to both ship and land batteries to augment defense against naval attacks.

What makes the Nassir unique and gives it value is neither range nor speed - it is the pride Iranian generals are feeling in their new weapon. The Nassir has counter jamming capabilities that will render it impervious to the counter defenses of the US fifth fleet.

When a missile is shot at a sophisticated target like an air craft carrier or a destroyer US counter measures are usually deployed, causing the smart bomb to miss its target and go off course or self destruct.

In the case of the Nassir - there is a counter to the counter -- and so the missile continues towards its target.

Until now it was just a question of how to better protect or hack the computer of the enemy. This missile re-codes after being hacked. It adjusts to the hack and overrides the override.

The technology of warfare has changed.

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Iranian Election
By Micah Halpern

Friday April 21, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Six candidates will be pitted against each other in the Iranian presidential election scheduled for May 19th.

The biggest news so far is that former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been barred from running for the presidency by the Council of Elders, the committee that vets - and then either approves or disapproves, each potential candidate.

The leading candidate in the race is now the incumbent, 68 year old Hassan Rouhani, the liberal leader who brought Iran out of the international doghouse.

Rouhani's biggest competition is Ibrahim Raisi who is 56 years old and a personal friend of the Grand Ayatollah. Raisi is a member of the Assembly of Experts which is the body that will select the next Grand Ayatollah.

Rounding out the list are are two reform candidates and two more conservative candidates.

But remember - this is Iran. Reform and conservative Iranians are a far cry from reform and conservative candidates of the Western world.

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Trump May Visit Saudi Arabia
By Micah Halpern

Thursday April 20, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

There is talk that President Trump will visit Saudi Arabia at the end of May.

With so many world leaders coming to visit President Trump in Washington, DC, this stop in Saudi Arabia will signify a very important step in cementing a partnership capable of taking on and confronting Iran, ISIS and al Qaeda.

The visit to Saudi Arabia will be an added stop in Trump's first international trip.

First stop will be Brussels for the NATO Summit on May 25th. May 26th through May 28th the president will be in Sicily for the Group of Seven Conference.

Because this is his first international diplomatic trip, Trump will be especially motivated to solve big international issues - like the diplomatic and security dilemmas he is now confronting.

Syria, Russia, Iran, ISIS and al Qaeda will be the essential questions. Trump will be sizing up his colleagues and deciding who to partner with in order to confront the huge issues that will define his presidency.

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Iran's Parade of the S-300
By Micah Halpern

Wednesday April 19, 2017

I've Been Thinking:

Iranian leadership just staged a huge military parade.

A highlight of the parade was a display of Iran’s new weapons - including their new S-300 Russian made anti-aircraft missile system.

The S-300 is a very capable weapon. It is a vast improvement over the Russian S-200 system that Iran has, up until now, relied on.

One of the purposes of the parade, in addition to reviving national pride, was to send out a message to Israel. The message was that Islam, and Iran in particular, intends to destroy Israel. There were floats that had pictures of Israeli flags being hit and destroyed by Muslim fists.

Israelis don't seem too concerned about the S-300s. That tells me that they already have a defense against the S-300 in place and ready to go.

That is a good sign.

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