Uncertainties abound, particularly in the House, where the
imprimatur of the Republican leadership does not guarantee approval by rebellious rank and file, and where vocal factions in both parties are opposed to anything that could entangle the nation in another messy conflict in the Middle East.
Mr. Obama is now headed to Sweden and Russia, where he will try to shore up an international
coalition to punish Syria for a chemical weapons attack and will probably encounter some of the same debates that are cleaving the Capitol.
“This is not the time for armchair
isolationism,” said Secretary of State John Kerry, who answered sharp questions and defended the administration’s strategy for Syria in nearly four hours of sometimes sharp exchanges before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Any strike, it says, should be “tailored” to only
deter Syria from using chemical weapons again and to cripple its capacity to do so.
The cleanup efforts to date, critics said, were
grandiose but ultimately ill-conceived public works projects begun as a knee-jerk reaction by the government’s powerful central ministries to deflect public criticism and to protect the clubby and insular nuclear power industry from oversight by outsiders.
This will include the plan to stop the influx of groundwater into the reactor buildings by sealing them off behind a mile-long
subterranean wall of ground frozen by liquid coolant.
In view of that, some experts dismiss the current cleanup plans as just a way of defending the
status quo by convincing the public that the damage can be undone, and that more drastic steps, like paying more compensation to displaced residents or permanently shutting the nation’s other nuclear power plants, are unnecessary.
The problem Jewish leaders are trying to tackle is deeper than the perennial lament about
ostentatious bar mitzvah parties, revived last month with a YouTube video from Dallas of a bar mitzvah boy hoofing it with Vegas-style showgirls.
Their concern is that they have built up the bar mitzvah worship service as the
pinnacle, putting children through a lot of time and effort geared to preparing them for a daylong event.
“We don’t touch this lightly, because the ritual is so deeply
embedded in American religious culture.”