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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 21, 2007 / 3 Adar 5767

Thoughts on the last indispensable nation on Earth

By James Lileks


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | An asteroid is heading for Earth. A big one. It's called "Apophis,'' which might be Greek for "uh oh,'' and it will come "uncomfortably close'' to Earth on April 13, 2036. (It's a Sunday.)


The odds are 1 in 45,000 that the rock will strike the planet, throwing up sufficient dust to cause a massive drop in temperatures, thereby curing global warming. Hmm: Perhaps "Apophis'' is Greek for "repairman,'' and the technical term for this celestial event is "service call.''


Based on the movies, we all know how to deal with asteroids: Build a vessel that looks like the shuttle, but not so dorky. Fly it to the asteroid using those special rockets that make whooshing sounds in the vacuum of the universe. Land, preferably using the matchless skills of a grizzled character actor who hasn't piloted a spacecraft in 12 years but darn it, he's the best there is. Nuke the rock; roll the credits.


The modern version, alas, is a little more complicated. A group of scientists who brought Apophis to our attention wants to bring in the United Nations to ``adopt procedures for assessing asteroid threats and deciding if and when to take action.''


Feel safer? It's like putting the agency formerly known as the INS in charge of fighting off a Martian invasion. They'd wear the first wave down with paperwork, but then it would be death-ray city.


Yes, there's nothing like sending the world's most elephantine and unresponsive bureaucracy to address a complex, life-and-death scientific issue. If the U.N. had been responsible for going to the moon, it would have cost $6 trillion, with half the money going to the Zambian Rocket Works and other fronts for bribes and graft. Liftoff would have lasted three months as the General Assembly debated a resolution to include the phrase "Zionism is racism'' between "5'' and "4'' on the final countdown.


It's worse today. The Subcommittee in Charge of Trying to Change the Subject From Darfur would no doubt spend a year drafting a strongly worded letter to the asteroid, noting that it had the right to its trajectory. However, any catastrophic, life-extinguishing impact would result in severe consequences, including but not limited to additional resolutions declaring the airborne debris to be "non grata'' and unprotected by diplomatic immunity.


If the Looming Apophis Threat proves one thing, it's this: The United States is still the indispensable nation. Yes, yes, it's pathetic, using the threat of human extinction for jingoistic chest-pounding, but unfortunately it's true.


Whom would you trust? Russia or China might figure out a way to eliminate an asteroid on its own, but you suspect there'd be a price; Russia would demand the right to steer one small chunk onto Chechnya, and China would wait until the last second and then casually remark that Taiwan was now officially part of the Mainland government; any questions? BLOW IT UP! WHATEVER! BLOW IT UP!


The United States, on the other hand, would ask nothing but some astronauts from other countries to make it look like an international effort. Americans would love to see the spaceship staffed by Right Stuff guys, complete with taunting messages painted on the bomb, and a guy from Brooklyn who launches the nukes and sneers, "Flatbush Avenue sends its regards, pal.'' But we'd probably be inclusive, just to play nice.


When it comes down to the crunch, people still want a U.S.A. capable of doing the right thing. The world may dream of an America unable to stir itself because it's so very, very sorry about Abu Ghraib, but let a tyrant rise in the backyard and people wonder what the devil is keeping the Yanks.


And what thanks would we get? Six months after the U.S.-led mission destroyed the killer asteroid, everyone would joke about the extra fuel needed to get those fat Americans into orbit. Le Monde would run a cartoon with President Bush smiling at the fragments in the sky: "Ah, reminds me of Iraq!''


One possible solution involves parking an object near Apophis, using gravity to nudge the rock onto a different course. Now, that sounds like a United Nations approach: nonviolent persuasion. And if Apophis falls in the ocean and manages only to inundate Tel Aviv? As some in the U.N. might shrug: One stone; one bird.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2006, James Lileks

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