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ZarCom Media Webletter No.53 -15 August 2010
Please find for your Information and Analysis the selected version of the ZarCom Media Webletter high-lighted news.
Antiwar by Ray McGovern, August 13, 2010
… I guess I was naïve in thinking that The Atlantic and its American-Israeli writer Jeffrey Goldberg might shy away from arguing for yet another war — this one with Iran — while the cauldrons are still boiling in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s worth remembering how Goldberg helped to make the case for the U.S. invasion of Iraq. For instance, on Oct. 3, 2002, as America’s war fever was building, Goldberg wrote in Slate, the online magazine:"The [Bush] administration is planning … to launch what many people would undoubtedly call a short-sighted and inexcusable act of aggression. In five years, however, I believe that the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality."Looking back on Goldberg’s commentaries at the time, it’s also a reminder of how many U.S. publications that are considered centrist or even liberal were bending over backward to get in line with that coming invasion. Even earlier, on March 25, 2002, Goldberg filled the pages of The New Yorker with a mammoth 17,000-word story hyping Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s ties to terrorism and glossing over the ambiguities regarding the gassing of civilians in the Kurdish city of Halabja during the Iran-Iraq war. Goldberg’s magnum opus, entitled "The Great Terror," earned him high marks from other neocons and essentially "made" Goldberg’s career. The story was also made to order, so to speak, for President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney…. On Wednesday, Goldberg swatted away softball questions from MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell, who joined in a friendly chat about whether the U.S. or Israel or both should opt for what Mitchell described as a "military response" to the "Iranian nuclear threat," and when. Goldberg claimed that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sees the challenge from Iran as being on a par with the Holocaust, believing that Iran is bent on the destruction of Israel with its 6 million people."Are you persuaded that Israel would take action against Iran unilaterally?" asked Mitchell. "Yes, I am; I am," Goldberg responded. Goldberg added that he believes that President Barack Obama is not prepared to live with a nuclear Iran but that it remains an open question whether he would take military action to prevent that eventuality. Goldberg said Obama "probably" would not. And that being the case, Goldberg thought Netanyahu would be inclined to unleash Israeli forces unilaterally and absorb any damage this might do to bilateral relations with Washington….
My Cat Bird Seat- 11. Aug, 2010 By Rami G. Khouri (source: Daily Star (Lebanon)
… Recently, I returned from a 10-day trip to Iran that was primarily a touristic visit for me and my wife…. I sought firsthand appreciation of Iran that went beyond the American- and Israeli-influenced Western media’s heavy focus on Iran as an irresponsible international menace. I suspected that beneath the story of a nuclear standoff with the West was a deeper tale of a nation, a culture, history, identity and human values that could only be appreciated on the spot. … when I read reports that US President Barack Obama had briefed journalists on Wednesday about US-Iranian issues, especially the possibility of resuming nuclear negotiations, I juxtaposed that against the realities and sentiments I encountered in Iran a few weeks ago. The balance sheet was mixed. My main conclusion is that the Iranian-American tensions and their ramifications will not be resolved mainly through technical negotiations that reflect cost-benefit analyses by both sides. Rather, they will be resolved when both sides achieve their bottom line national interests, but also sufficiently understand their common intangible fears and occasional irrational manias, which relate to power on the US side and dignity and respect on the Iranian side…. Two important intangibles need to be addressed for any talks to succeed, as Obama’s briefing reminded us. The first is the arrogance of the United States, which insists on being both a negotiator in the dispute, the lead party that threatens and sanctions Iran, and the detached judge and reference point that determines if Iran has met the international demands made of it. As long as the US maintains these untenable simultaneous roles, the chances of a negotiated agreement remain virtually zero… The Iranian sense of history is not about past grandeur only; it is also heavily defined by a sense of being betrayed and exploited by many Western powers in the modern era, especially on nuclear issues. Iran – like Turkey and Israel, but unlike Egypt and Saudi Arabia – insists on safeguarding its national interests and will not play by the deceitful double-standard rules set in London, Paris, Moscow, Washington and, more recently, Tel Aviv. This is mainly a demand for dignity and respect, intangibles that are largely missing from the American-Israeli diplomatic lexicon, which is more anchored in power… I suspect that this can be achieved, though, if the second requirement for a successful negotiation is addressed seriously: a restoration of Western and Security Council confidence in Iran’s declarations about its nuclear industry. If Iran is not hiding a secret nuclear weapons program, it should not hesitate to provide all the answers to the questions posed to it by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Yet Tehran’s position is that it will not provide such answers in an atmosphere of threats, sanctions and wild assumptions of its nuclear guilt and deviousness by the US-Israel-led camp…
… For the Obama administration, the prospect of a nuclearized Iran is dismal to contemplate— it would create major new national-security challenges and crush the president’s dream of ending nuclear proliferation. But the view from Jerusalem is still more dire: a nuclearized Iran represents, among other things, a threat to Israel’s very existence. In the gap between Washington’s and Jerusalem’s views of Iran lies the question: who, if anyone, will stop Iran before it goes nuclear, and how? As Washington and Jerusalem study each other intensely, here’s an inside look at the strategic calculations on both sides—and at how, if things remain on the current course, an Israeli air strike will unfold….
Moscow Times 12 August 2010 Reuters
…LUKoil has resumed gasoline sales into Iran in partnership with China's state-run firm Zhuhai Zhenrong, even as the United States urges the international community to be tough with Tehran. LUKoil, which has the largest U.S. presence among Russian firms, halted shipments in April as UN sanctions on Iran loomed.Sources familiar with the company's activities said at the time that LUKoil traders had received verbal direction from senior management to halt sales to Iran.But LUKoil's trading arm, Litasco, and China's Zhenrong discharged a 250,000-barrel gasoline cargo at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas last week, industry sources said.Geneva-based Litasco was expected to ship a second cargo of the motor fuel to Bandar Abbas later this week, traders said.A LUKoil spokesman declined to give details, saying only that "one-off deliveries have taken place within the framework of previously signed contracts."…
THE ISRAELI-KURDISH RELATIONS
Since 1930: Israel and Barzanis were collaborating to liquidate Iraq
… According to Professor Sabar,the 16th century Kurdish rabbi Samuel Adoni was also named «Barzani» which meant that he was a native of Barzan town. He founded a well known dynasty of the Barzani rabbis represented by the female rabbi A. Barzani (17th century.) According to the Israeli scholar, it is unlikely that Masud Barzani belonged to this dynasty since Barzani is a common Kurdish surname, besides there are few Jews left in this area of Iraq. The Jewish historian from Istanbul Rifat Bali also notes that the whole issue about the possibly Jewish origin of Masud Barzani is part of the broader theory spread lately in the Turkish conservative, nationalist and Islamist circles, and very popular with the Turkish public. According to him, «the Islamists claim that Israel wants to use the ‘Kurdish card’ and establish a new Jewish state from the Nile to the Euphrates including the Kurdish regions in Northern Iraq and South-Eastern Turkey; this is coincident with the traditional Turkish fears about the plans to dismember Turkey.»...
Time By JOANNA KAKISSIS / ATHENS Joanna Kakissis / Athens – Sat Aug 7, 4:15 am ET
… It's the height of tourist season in Greece and the country needs all the visitors it can get. Struggling under massive debt and squeezed by sweeping spending cuts, Greeks are relying on the tourist trade to help give its economy a much-needed bump. So the last thing they need right now is a terrorist group threatening to turn Greece into a "war zone." But when the Sect of Revolutionaries recently warned that "tourists should learn that Greece is no longer a safe haven of capitalism," keeping the country crippled was clearly one of their goals…."This is the first time we have ever had a terror organization in Greece saying they plan to target innocent bystanders and even tourists," says Mary Bossis, a security expert and professor at the University of Piraeus. "It's a change in mentality that's very troubling."… Little is known about Sect of Revolutionaries, a relatively new group that emerged last year, a few weeks after a police officer in Exarcheia shot and killed 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. The officer claimed he had fired warning shots to scare the boy and his friends to stop them from throwing rocks and bottles at police. But eyewitnesses said the youths had only exchanged verbal insults with police. The shooting outraged the Greeks and led to rioting, which energized extremists…. In its July 27 proclamation, Sect of Revolutionaries said Giolias was the first of several prominent journalists and publishers it plans to attack for, they claim, promoting corrupt interests. The group says it will also target police, public prosecutors and prison staff. The police have received many requests for protection, says spokesman Thanassis Kokkalakis, adding that authorities are still investigating leads on the group and aren't yet ready to make any arrests….
By MATTI FRIEDMAN, Associated Press Writer Matti Friedman, Associated Press Writer – Sat Aug 14, 2:03 pm ET
…– With tensions mounting along their shared border, Israel's military says Hezbollah is moving fighters and weapons into the villages of south Lebanon, building up a secret network of arms warehouses, bunkers and command posts in preparation for war.The Israeli military has begun releasing detailed information about what it calls Hezbollah's new border deployment, four years after a cross-border raid by its guerrillas triggered a 34-day war.Hezbollah, which is armed by Iran and Syria and is more powerful than the Lebanese military, stayed out of the Aug. 3 fight. But its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, threatened that he would intervene next time. He has also said that if war breaks out again his forces will fire rockets into Tel Aviv.Neither side has signaled that another war is imminent, but the Israelis' unusual openness about what they claim to know of Hezbollah's preparations seems to have two goals: to show the reach of their intelligence, and to stake their claim that if another war breaks out and many civilians die, it will be because Hezbollah placed its armaments and fighters in their midst.Israel's military says Hezbollah has changed strategy since the last war, moving most of its fighters and weapons from wooded rural areas into villages. It says the aim is to avoid detection and use to civilians for cover if war erupts.The military says all of this exists under the nose of 12,000 international peacekeepers who, by their own count, conduct up to 340 patrols a day in south Lebanon but are hobbled by a hostile population and rules preventing them from searching private property…. One of its southernmost buildings, a white structure housing mentally handicapped children, is a Hezbollah lookout post, the officer said. Several guerrilla command posts are in civilian buildings in the center of Aita al-Shaab, she said, with several dozen fighters able to move among houses through underground tunnels. The military would not allow her name to be used because of the sensitivity of her job…. The officer said the guerrillas now have 5,000 fighters operating in the buffer zone between the border and the Litani River — a strip ranging from 5 kilometers to 30 kilometers (3 miles to 18 miles) wide — which is supposed to be free of militant activity under the 2006 cease-fire. In late 2009, Nasrallah said Hezbollah's rocket arsenal stood at 30,000. Israel says it's now about 40,000. Israel's intelligence probably comes from surveillance flights over Lebanese territory, spy satellites and Lebanese agents. But the military provides no proof of its claims, saying that could compromise its sources, and the peacekeeping force says it sees no evidence of new military infrastructure. Hezbollah officials did not respond to requests for comment on Israel's accusations….
*PALESTINE/ ISRAEL archive
Christian Science Monitor By Robert Marquand, Staff writer / June 8, 2010
… Israel’s raid of a “Freedom Flotilla” of activists that ended with nine deaths brought a global firestorm of protest, dimmed the chances for a peace deal, and threatened Israel’s relations with Turkey, its closest ally in the region…. Both sides immediately claimed the protection of international law, with Israel citing legal justification for effectively extending its naval blockade into international waters where the flotilla was heading for Gaza. Yet for most Western governments, with the exception of the United States, the question is not so much the legality or illegality of Israel’s action. Rather, European countries from Germany to Britain are focusing on the broader legal context of Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and the suffering of civilians there…. Indeed, living conditions in Gaza are so bad that by some readings of international law, the legality of the flotilla attack is a moot point. “There is a clear link between conditions in Gaza and international law that is relevant this week,” says Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association in London. “At the heart of humanitarian law, the laws of war, and human rights law is a need to ensure that civilians are protected and do not disproportionately suffer from the actions of a state. “Right now, every objective assessment is that Gazans are suffering. The elephant in the room in flotilla-attack legal debates is the blockade. The real need is a focus on the legality of the conditions of people in Gaza.”… Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the US, told Fox News that the flotilla raid was “perfectly legal, perfectly humane,” and that “Israel acted in accord with international law.... Any state has the right to protect itself, certainly from a terrorist threat such as Hamas, including on the open seas.”
TIME By HILLARY BRENHOUSE Hillary Brenhouse – Sat Aug 14, 2:50 am ET
… Last month former Jerusalem city councilor Anat Hoffman, a brightly colored prayer shawl draped about her neck like a scarf, took a stand. Backed by a band of dancing, chanting, clapping women and the mound of stones that is Judaism's most revered shrine, the Western Wall, or Kotel, she cradled a heavy Torah scroll. In moments, a YouTube video testifies, the Israeli police were there, pleading with her to abandon the holy book. When she refused, they made attempts to pry it from her arms."It's mine, it's mine!" she yelps over and again in the footage of the scuffle. Hoffman was still gripping onto the scroll when she was jostled into the backseat of the van that would take her to the police station. The women continued to sing even after the car had pulled away. Twenty years ago, Women of the Wall, the religious activist group of which Hoffman is chairwoman, petitioned Israel's Supreme Court for the right to worship freely at the Kotel, in the manner of Orthodox Jewish men. They asked, in other words, for authorization to pray as a group, their voices raised, while wearing prayer shawls and reading from the Torah. Meeting in supplication at the start of every Hebrew month, they were - and still are - assailed with curses and hard objects, hurled across the partition that separates ladies and men at the site. Customarily, women at the Kotel pray individually and in silence…. In the early years of the State, the Chief Rabbinate was in the hands of Orthodox Zionist parties that prioritized the building of Israel and felt a connection with secular Jews. But in recent years that movement has focused almost exclusively on settlement building in the West Bank, allowing religious power to shift to the more liturgically rigid ultra-Orthodox. Thirty years ago, ultra-Orthodox parties held five of the 120 seats in the Knesset, Israel's legislature. As of the 2009 elections, they hold sixteen. "Narrow-minded parties have become the kingmakers," says Rabbi Steven Wernick, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. "And the more the Haredim [ultra-Orthodox] consolidate power, the less pluralism and liberal expressions of Judaism are allowed to be expressed in the Israeli religious landscape."…
AP By BECKY BOHRER, Associated Press Writer Becky Bohrer, Associated Press Writer – 10 August 2010
… A plane carrying former Sen. Ted Stevens and ex-NASA chief Sean O'Keefe crashed into a remote mountainside in Alaska, killing the longtime senator and at least four others, authorities said Tuesday…. The crash was a stunning event in a state where Stevens became the most beloved political figure in Alaska history during his 40 years in the Senate, earning a reputation as a tireless advocate for projects that brought billions of federal dollars to the state. He was 86."Last night, Alaska lost a hero and I lost a dear friend," Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a statement. "His entire life was dedicated to public service from his days as a pilot in World War II to his four decades of service in the United States Senate. He truly was the greatest of the Greatest Generation."… Stevens was appointed to the Senate in 1968 and served longer than any other Republican in history. He was revered as a relentless advocate for Alaska's economic interests… The Stevens crash is the latest in a long line of aviation accidents to claim political figures over the years in the U.S., including Pennsylvania Sen. John Heinz in 1991, South Dakota Gov. George Mickelson in 1993, Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan in 2000 and Minnesota Sen. Paul Wellstone in 2002. O'Keefe, 54, was NASA administrator for three tumultuous years. He was deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget when President George W. Bush asked him in late 2001 to head NASA and help bring soaring space station costs under control…. O'Keefe's most controversial action at NASA was when he decided to cancel one last repair mission by astronauts to the Hubble Space Telescope. He said the mission was too risky. His successor overturned the decision. The Hubble mission was carried out last year. O'Keefe left NASA in 2005 to become chancellor of Louisiana State University. He is now the CEO of defense contractor EADS North America and oversees the bid for the hotly contested Air Force refueling jet contract. The contract competition, which pits EADS against rival plane maker Boeing Co., is for a piece of what could eventually be $100 billion worth of work replacing the military's fleet of aging tankers.
…The explosive that was World War One had been long in the stockpiling; the spark was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. (Click here to view film footage of Ferdinand arriving at Sarajevo's Town Hall on 28 June 1914.)… Austria-Hungary's reaction to the death of their heir (who was in any case not greatly beloved by the Emperor, Franz Josef, or his government) was three weeks in coming. Arguing that the Serbian government was implicated in the machinations of the Black Hand (whether she was or not remains unclear, but it appears unlikely), the Austro-Hungarians opted to take the opportunity to stamp its authority upon the Serbians, crushing the nationalist movement there and cementing Austria-Hungary's influence in the Balkans….Austria-Hungary's expectation was that Serbia would reject the remarkably severe terms of the ultimatum, thereby giving her a pretext for launching a limited war against Serbia. However, Serbia had long had Slavic ties with Russia, an altogether different proposition for Austria-Hungary. Whilst not really expecting that Russia would be drawn into the dispute to any great extent other than through words of diplomatic protest, the Austro-Hungarian government sought assurances from her ally, Germany, that she would come to her aid should the unthinkable happen and Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary. Germany readily agreed, even encouraged Austria-Hungary's warlike stance.
NPR by Scott Hensley 01:35 pm August 12, 2010
… Here's a scientific rowback for the ages. Only weeks after publishing a piece that speculated on a biblical account of a feverish woman cured of influenza by Jesus, the editor of Virology Journal has retracted the paper and apologized for ever running it… Here's what happened. A commenter on the journal article questioned the paper, based on passages from the New Testament, saying "it is unclear how this case report meets any of the normal standards of a scientific article or the minimal standards of any journal other than someone actually paid to have it published."… The journal's top editor, Tulane's Dr. Robert Garry, first defended the paper, saying in a comment that it had been read and reviewed by two experts before publication.But then Garry apparently had second thoughts. In a subsequent comment, he wrote:As Editor-in-Chief of Virology Journal I wish to apologize for the publication of the article entitled ''Influenza or not influenza: Analysis of a case of high fever that happened 2000 years ago in Biblical time”, which clearly does not provide the type of robust supporting data required for a case report and does not meet the high standards expected of a peer-reviewed scientific journal. He acknowledged that the article didn't "meet thresholds for balance," adding, "the article will be retracted."… The idea for the article was to spark medical debate, though not quite of this sort, Hon conceded:[T] here was no absolute right or wrong answer, and the article was only meant for thought provocation. Neither was it meant to be a debate on the concept of miracles. My only focus at the time of writing was "what had caused the fever and debilitation" that was cured by Jesus….
NPR by The Associated Press August 13 2010
…Floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat: From smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Iowa and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It's not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way.The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization says — although those scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming.The experts now see an urgent need for better ways to forecast extreme events like Russia's heat wave and wildfires and the record deluge devastating Pakistan. They'll discuss such tools in meetings this month and next in Europe and America, under United Nations, U.S. and British government sponsorship."There is no time to waste," because societies must be equipped to deal with global warming, says British government climatologist Peter Stott.He said modelers of climate systems are "very keen" to develop supercomputer modeling that would enable more detailed linking of cause and effect as a warming world shifts jet streams and other atmospheric currents. Those changes can wreak weather havoc.The U.N.'s network of climate scientists — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — has long predicted that rising global temperatures would produce more frequent and intense heat waves, and more intense rainfalls. In its latest assessment, in 2007, the Nobel Prize-winning panel went beyond that. It said these trends "have already been observed," in an increase in heat waves since 1950, for example….
Bernama August 14, 2010 11:37 AM
… Al-Manar and NBN television said they had selected the series to show during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but had "decided to stop airing it ... to prevent any attempt to use it in a negative way." The series "sheds light on the great personality of God's prophet Eissa Bin Mariam (Jesus son of Mary) and his divine message which reflects with all glorification and lordliness through his life, his suffering, his passion and sacrifices," the stations said in a joint statement. Jesus is a revered prophet in Islam, but Muslims do not accept the Christian beliefs that he was the son of God and was killed on the cross and resurrected. The Koran says God saved Jesus from crucifixion and lifted him up to the heavens…. Bishop Bechara Rai, president of the Episcopal Commission for Mass Media in Lebanon, said Christians had objected to "distorted" events in the series about Christ. "We have noticed that the events that we briefly saw in the 17 episodes given to us from the two stations ... were fully wrong, or partially wrong or distorted and were inconsistent with the Bible recognised by the Church," Rai told Reuters….