Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ahmadinejad is Jewish ??

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad revealed to have Jewish past
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's vitriolic attacks on the Jewish world hide an astonishing secret, evidence uncovered by The Daily Telegraph shows.

By Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat
Published: 7:30AM BST 03 Oct 2009
 Ahmadinejad showing papers during election. It shows that his family's previous name was Jewish
A photograph of the Iranian president holding up his identity card during elections in March 2008 clearly shows his family has Jewish roots.
A close-up of the document reveals he was previously known as Sabourjian – a Jewish name meaning cloth weaver.
The short note scrawled on the card suggests his family changed its name to Ahmadinejad when they converted to embrace Islam after his birth.
The Sabourjians traditionally hail from Aradan, Mr Ahmadinejad's birthplace, and the name derives from "weaver of the Sabour", the name for the Jewish Tallit shawl in Persia. The name is even on the list of reserved names for Iranian Jews compiled by Iran's Ministry of the Interior.
Experts last night suggested Mr Ahmadinejad's track record for hate-filled attacks on Jews could be an overcompensation to hide his past.
Ali Nourizadeh, of the Centre for Arab and Iranian Studies, said: "This aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad's background explains a lot about him.
"Every family that converts into a different religion takes a new identity by condemning their old faith.
"By making anti-Israeli statements he is trying to shed any suspicions about his Jewish connections. He feels vulnerable in a radical Shia society."
A London-based expert on Iranian Jewry said that "jian" ending to the name specifically showed the family had been practising Jews.
"He has changed his name for religious reasons, or at least his parents had," said the Iranian-born Jew living in London. "Sabourjian is well known Jewish name in Iran."
A spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London said it would not be drawn on Mr Ahmadinejad's background. "It's not something we'd talk about," said Ron Gidor, a spokesman.
The Iranian leader has not denied his name was changed when his family moved to Tehran in the 1950s. But he has never revealed what it was change from or directly addressed the reason for the switch.
Relatives have previously said a mixture of religious reasons and economic pressures forced his blacksmith father Ahmad to change when Mr Ahmadinejad was aged four.
The Iranian president grew up to be a qualified engineer with a doctorate in traffic management. He served in the Revolutionary Guards militia before going on to make his name in hardline politics in the capital.
During this year's presidential debate on television he was goaded to admit that his name had changed but he ignored the jibe.
However Mehdi Khazali, an internet blogger, who called for an investigation of Mr Ahmadinejad's roots was arrested this summer.
Mr Ahmadinejad has regularly levelled bitter criticism at Israel, questioned its right to exist and denied the Holocaust. British diplomats walked out of a UN meeting last month after the Iranian president denounced Israel's 'genocide, barbarism and racism.'
Benjamin Netanyahu made an impassioned denunciation of the Iranian leader at the same UN summit. "Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium," he said. "A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies the murder of six million Jews while promising to wipe out the State of Israel, the State of the Jews. What a disgrace. What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations."
Mr Ahmadinejad has been consistently outspoken about the Nazi attempt to wipe out the Jewish race. "They have created a myth today that they call the massacre of Jews and they consider it a principle above God, religions and the prophets," he declared at a conference on the holocaust staged in Tehran in 2006.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Report showing BBC bias in Middle East coverage to be scuttled

Well OK, we don't need a report to tell us the BBC is biased...
A legal bid to force publication of a BBC review of its Middle East coverage has been rejected in the High Court.
London lawyer Steven Sugar wanted the so-called Balen report, which was drawn up in 2004, to be revealed under the Freedom of Information Act.
But Mr Justice Irwin ruled that, as the material was held "for the purposes of journalism, art or literature", the corporation had no duty to disclose it.
He also ruled the BBC did not have to disclose information about expenditure.
The judgement followed requests for budget details of the BBC's news and sport coverage as well as programmes including EastEnders and Top Gear.
Public gaze
In 2004, senior news editor Malcolm Balen examined hundreds of hours of television and radio broadcasts to compile the 20,000-word report.
Mr Sugar, from Putney, south London, wanted it to be part of the debate about alleged anti-Israeli bias at the BBC.
If we are not able to pursue our journalism freely and have honest debate and analysis over how we are covering important issues, then how effectively we can serve the public will be diminished
BBC spokesman
He has argued that the Freedom of Information Act was badly drafted and prevented disclosure of material which should be publicly available.
But the BBC said the report was always intended as an internal review of programme content, to inform future output.
It has said it was vital for independent journalism that debates among its staff about how it covers stories do not have to be opened up to the public gaze.
In his judgment on the Steven Sugar case, the judge said he had taken account of the fact that the BBC was a public body under the Act which was publicly funded, adding that there was a public interest in accessing information about its activities.
But he also said there was a public interest in preserving the freedom of journalism as well as creative and artistic activity.
He told the court: "Different views may legitimately be taken about these questions, particularly at the margins or where the principles collide.
"The resolution is for Parliament, not for the courts or the tribunal. The resolution is contained within the proper meaning of the language of the statute."
Welcoming the ruling, a spokesman for the corporation said: "The BBC's position is that free and impartial journalism is vital to our viewers and listeners and is at the heart of public service broadcasting.
"If we are not able to pursue our journalism freely and have honest debate and analysis over how we are covering important issues, then how effectively we can serve the public will be diminished."
After initially being dismissed by the Information Commissioner, Mr Sugar's request to see the report gained the backing of the Information Tribunal.
The BBC's subsequent appeal against that decision was upheld by the High Court in 2007, backed by the Appeal Court the following year.
The High Court and Appeal Court supported the BBC, saying that the case fell outside the scope of the act and that the Information Tribunal had no jurisdiction.
However, the Law Lords ruled that the tribunal did have jurisdiction, and that the High Court must reconsider the case based on the other issues raised in the BBC's defence.

Gilad Shalit Tape

Gilad Shalit Tape, showing kidnapped Israeli soldier held by the Hamas. After identifying himself, giving his ID number and the names of his parents and siblings, Shalit reads from Newspaper "Falastin" of 14 September 2009 in Arabic, which he shows to verify the date, Shalit then mentions an incident in the past when his parents visited him on the Golan heights to help verify his identity and states that the "Mujahedin" of "el Qassam" are treating him well. He says he hopes that the Netanyahu government will not miss this opportunity to free him.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Iran agrees to inspection of Qom site and more talks

What it means is anyone's guess. A process with unclear goals has now reached another milestone on the way to the unclear goals. Iran says repeatedly that it will not agree to suspend its uranium enrichment activities as demanded in UN Security Council resolutions. It is not clear what there is to talk about in that case. Iran is willing to talk about getting more enriched uranium from another country, and presumably would be happy to get more Western aid, get the sanctions that are in place lifted etc. Are these talks about capitulation to Iran?
Ami Isseroff
U.S. and Allies Hold Nuclear Talks With Iran
Parties Agree to Second Meeting; IAEA Making Arrangments to Visit Enrichment Site
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 1, 2009 12:46 PM

GENEVA, Oct. 1 -- A senior U.S. diplomat held a rare bilateral meeting Thursday with his Iranian counterpart, and Iran agreed to further talks with six major powers on its nuclear program, officials said.
Iranian state television announced Thursday afternoon that Iran and the six countries -- meeting here for the first time in 15 months -- would hold a second conference before the end of the month.
Western diplomat sources said preparations were also underway for the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit Iran's newly disclosed uranium enrichment facility near Qom before the next meeting takes place.
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana confirmed that a second meeting would be held and said Iran plans to cooperate "completely and fully" with the IAEA on visiting the Qom site in the "next couple of weeks."
Iran had previously said it would allow an IAEA visit, but the logistics and timing had not been worked out. In a third agreement, Solana said that Iran would transfer some of the low-enriched uranium it has produced to other countries in order to be converted into higher-enriched uranium for use in a research reactor for medical purposes. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told The Washington Post last week that Western assistance on this issue would be a confidence-building step. Solana said it was significant -- and central to Western concerns -- that Iran had agreed to contribute some of its enriched uranium to this effort.
"This is only a start, and we shall need to see progress" on the steps necessary to instill confidence in Iran's program, Solana said. He called the deal on the research reactor "an agreement in principle."
In the first such high-level talks between Washington and Tehran in years, the chief U.S. negotiator, Undersecretary of State William J. Burns, had a private discussion with his Iranian counterpart, Saeed Jalili, State Department spokesman Robert Wood said. He said he could not immediately offer any additional details, but a Western diplomat said the meeting lasted 30 minutes and took place after the morning session, held in an 18th-century villa in the Geneva countryside, as other delegations gathered for lunch.
The morning session was devoted mostly to a restatement of positions, with the six powers saying a generous incentive was on the table if Iran would open its nuclear program to inspection and Iran countering that the discussion needed to be broadened to other issues, another Western diplomat said. He said Jalili brought up the nuclear issue in a general way in the context of addressing nonproliferation.
"We are hoping to get to the meat in the afternoon," the diplomat said.
Iranian state television also reported that Jalili told Solana at the talks that Iran would not give up its "certain rights" to pursue peaceful nuclear energy. But diplomats said they hoped the meeting would mark an important turning point in a seven-year stalemate over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"We are expecting the beginning of a serious process between Iran and the international community," a third diplomat said.
During the lunch -- a cold buffet of fish dishes and salads, accompanied by wine and coffee -- the diplomats gathered in the back garden of the Villa Le Saugy, admiring the beautiful views of the Swiss Alps and Lake Geneva as they mingled in small groups.
U.S. officials signaled Wednesday that they would seek a bilateral meeting with Iranian diplomats during the discussions. The talks between Iran and major powers were structured to allow for both group meetings and informal, bilateral sessions with Iran; a senior administration official said the latter would be "an opportunity to reinforce the main concerns we will be emphasizing in the meeting." He spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the diplomatic sensitivity ahead of the talks.
President Obama has sought to make engagement with the Islamic republic and other antagonistic nations a central part of his foreign policy, but until now Iran has spurned his efforts. Nevertheless, the talks could be the most substantial and in-depth conversation between the United States and Iran since relations were severed after the Iranian revolution 30 years ago. Burns, the chief U.S. negotiator, is a career diplomat who joined in similar major-power talks in July of last year, in the final months of the Bush administration, but was barely permitted to speak under rules set by the White House.
The senior administration official said Wednesday that "we are committed to meaningful negotiations to resolve what are growing international concerns about Iran's nuclear problem." But, he added, "this cannot be an open-ended process, more talks for the sake of talks," especially after the revelation last week that Iran has a second uranium-enrichment plant under construction. "We need to see practical steps and measurable results, and we need to see them starting quickly."
Until Wednesday, U.S. officials had said they had not decided whether a bilateral meeting with Iran was desirable. Wednesday's comments marked a distinct shift in tone, with the official emphasizing how the schedule provides the "opportunity" and "possibility" of such a meeting.
In what officials said was an unrelated development, the State Department announced that Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and his wife had been granted last-minute U.S. visas Wednesday morning. Mottaki, who came from the U.N. General Assembly to Washington to visit the Iranian Interests Section, held no meetings with U.S. officials during his brief stay. He is believed to be the first senior Iranian official to visit Washington since relations with the two countries were cut off.
"It's a coincidence," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said of the timing of the visit. "But if it leads in a constructive direction, we welcome it."
Mottaki said the atmosphere of the Geneva talks was "constructive," and he suggested that Iran was ready to "enhance" the discussions to the summit level, Bloomberg news service reported.
Jalili, the chief Iranian negotiator dispatched to Geneva, was expected to press for acceptance of an Iranian proposal that would move beyond the nuclear issue and launch talks on a broad range of areas, including Afghanistan and reform of the United Nations. Whereas U.S. officials want to narrow the discussion to nuclear weapons, the Iranians want to broaden the topics on the table in order to test areas of cooperation with the United States. In Tehran on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad told a cabinet session that "this meeting is a test to measure the extent of sincerity and commitment of some countries to law and justice," according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
U.S. officials believe that the revelation of the enrichment facility, hidden in an underground bunker near the holy city of Qom, has given them leverage heading into the talks. In a blow for Tehran, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Wednesday said Iran violated rules on timely disclosure. "Iran was supposed to inform us on the day it was decided to construct the facility. They have not done that," Mohamed ElBaradei said in an interview with CNN-India.
U.S. officials said they will demand that the IAEA be given unfettered access to the facility, as well as people and documents, within weeks. Ahmadinejad last week floated the idea of the United States supplying enriched uranium for medical research as a confidence-building proposal; U.S. officials said Wednesday that the proposal is being examined by the IAEA but that there is no chance the United States will provide such material to Iran.
The other countries at the talks are Britain, France, Russia, Germany and China, many of which are sending their top professional diplomats. As a sign of U.S. seriousness -- and the intense media interest -- a substantial team of White House and State Department officials, including three spokesmen, is accompanying Burns. The press attention also led the Swiss government to move the talks to the isolated Villa Le Saugy.
Another key player is Solana, the European foreign policy chief and the head interlocutor with the Iranians on behalf of the major powers. Solana, a nuclear specialist, earned a doctorate in physics from the University of Virginia in 1971 and has been intimately involved in the effort to open up Iran's nuclear program. Over the summer, however, he announced he would retire in October, and it is unclear who will fill his critical role.
Thursday's meeting is the culmination of a stop-and-go process that began in 2003 under the auspices of Britain, France and Germany, which feared that the United States and Iran were headed to an armed clash over the nuclear program. Tehran suspended its program for two years, but the deal with the Europeans fell apart and Iran restarted enrichment activities after Ahmadinejad became president.
In 2005, the United States, Russia and China joined the European countries in trying to press Iran with a combination of sticks and carrots. But Iran repeatedly said the carrots -- economic and political incentives -- were not good enough, and it shrugged off the sticks, which came in the form of three U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding that it halt enrichment activities.
The initial package of incentives offered by the six countries in 2006 included only a vague reference to Iran's security concerns because the Bush administration insisted that that section of the offer be largely gutted. By contrast, a revised package put forth in 2008 -- and reaffirmed by the Obama administration this year -- pledges to negotiate extensive security commitments, including supporting Iran in "playing an important and constructive role in international affairs."
The Obama administration, like the Bush administration, has also supported Solana's concept of a "freeze for a freeze," a six-week period for preliminary talks that blurs the lines between suspension and discussion. Under Solana's plan, talks could begin as long as the allies halt efforts to increase sanctions and Iran does not expand its nuclear program. Then formal negotiations would start as soon as Iran suspended enrichment. Bush drew a line at formal U.S. participation until Iran suspended enrichment, but Obama dropped that requirement.
In any case, the Iranians repeatedly insist that they will never suspend their enrichment activities. U.S. officials said Wednesday that they are open to other ideas for jump-starting serious negotiations, but suspension remains a goal.
Staff writer Karen DeYoung in Washington contributed to this report.

Egyptian book burning culture Czar vows to crush Israeli culture

Farouk Hosny has set out to destroy Israeli culture. Of course, this is contrary to the spirit of the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, if not the letter, but the Israeli government has been silent on this point. Hosny lost a bid to run UNESCO, because he threatened to burn all the Israeli books in the Alexandria library. Even the UN did not like the idea of a book burner as culture Czar.
Israel and Egypt each publish about 7,000 -8,000 books each year (Israeli statistics  Egyptian Statistics), but Egypt's population is over 10 times that of Israel, and Arabic books, unlike Hebrew ones, can be sold throughout the Arab world.
Farouk Hosni, who recently lost vote for UNESCO leadership, declares intention to launch 'culture war against tyranny, dwarf Israel vis-à-vis Egyptian culture'; Outraged minister blames racism, Jews for UN defeat
Roee Nahmias
Published:  09.26.09, 20:36 / Israel News
In an interview with Egyptian newspaper al-Masri al-Yaum, Hosni charged that he lost the UN vote because of "radicalism, racism, and the Jews," who he claied attacked him over his harsh views against cultural normalization vis-à-vis Israel.
Hosni used the interview to declare what he referred to a "culture war on tyranny," vowing to challenge Israel on all fronts, thereby dwarfing its status vis-à-vis Egypt.

"Israel's position prompted me to challenge it on a series of issues in order to dwarf Israel vis-à-vis Egypt and its culture he said. However, he clarified that he is declaring "a culture war against tyranny, rather than against the culture itself."

The Egyptian minister also accused America's UNESCO representative, as well as the envoys of Eastern European states, Japan, and the Jews for undermining his candidacy.
On Friday, United Arab Emirates newspaper al-Khalig published another interview with Hosni, where he stated that he is reverting to his traditional stance against normalization with Israel. The Egyptian minister softened his rhetoric ahead of the UN vote, ostensibly in a bid to boost his chances.

In previous interviews Hosni claimed that he received harsh emails that included "curses from Israelis and from the Israeli lobby, which controls the media."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Saudi Arabia Denies Green light for Israel attack on Iran

As expected, Saudi Arabia has denied the Daily Express report that they gave a green light to Israel to attack the Iranian Qom nuclear complex.
Saudi Arabia Dismisses "Daily Express" Report
Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- A Saudi official yesterday dismissed reports that Saudi Arabia had agreed to turn a blind eye to Israeli aircrafts flying through Saudi airspace in the event of Israel attacking Iran's recently announced new nuclear facility.
The Saudi official described the report published in the British "Daily Express" newspaper on Monday which claimed that the director of MI6 and the chief of Israeli Mossad had met with Saudi officials in London and concluded an agreement that Saudi Arabia would agree to turn a blind eye to Israeli aircraft using its airspace in the event of Israel attacking Iran's new nuclear facility as being "completely untrue and baseless."
The official source called for the Sunday Express to retract this report which has no basis in fact or reality.
Then again, they would have to deny it even if it was true, wouldn't they? So who knows?
Ami Isseroff

Where is J Street now that we need them to support the President?

Support the President: open letter to J Street and all peace loving Americans

Dear J-Street,
President Barack Obama has laid it on the line at the UN regarding Iranian violations of its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations. The Iranian nuclear program clearly constitutes a threat to world peace and to peace in the Middle East, and President Obama has rightly called on Iran to comply with the relevant Security Council Resolutions and to immediately (not according to a time table) open its clandestine Qom facility to IAEA inspections.

The President has taken a very brave stand on a matter that is vital for peace in the Middle East, for World Peace (we should always capitalize World Peace), for American interests and for Israel. Everyone who is pro-peace and pro-Israel should be standing with him. This is one issue where there is perfect commonality of interests between the United States, Israel, all other American allies in the Middle East and everyone who is really interested in peace.

The President needs our support. The United States is fighting a lonely and difficult battle against European apathy, Chinese cupidity, cynical, Machiavellian Russian geopolitical calculations and self-interested consultants and lobbyists like the American-Iranian Council.

For some reason, I have not gotten any e-mails from J Street urging me to support the President. Not a word! That's really odd, because just a few weeks ago, J Street was bombarding everyone in the Middle East with endless messages telling us "Support the President" "We've got your back Mr. Obama" - and praising Barack Obama's drive to engage Iran.

I didn't see any recent mention of the Iranian nuclear development issue at your Web site either. As I said, it is really strange.

Now that Barack Obama is really trying to do things to advance Middle East peace, J Street has fallen strangely silent. There are no more calls to support the President. No more messages impressing upon us the urgency of Middle East peace! Why are you silent? Let's hear it from J Street - "We've got your back, Mr. President."

You know, J Street, evidently you people are all rather busy, and I don't want to take up any more of your time, but something occurred to me. it's a funny thing. I checked your donor list. It seems you got a donation from the American Iranian Council. Of course, that couldn't possibly be the explanation for J Street's silence on this important issue, could it? I'm not implying anything here, just saying. If I were not a trusting person, I might get the wrong idea.

There must be a simple explanation for J Street's silence about Iranian nuclear weapons. Maybe J Street is just off for the holidays. As Jeremy Ben-Ami explained to the New York Times, J Street celebrates Buddhist Seders. Probably they are off observing Taleban Tashlich* and Shiite Sukkoth. I'm sure that must be the reason they are not out there cheering the President when he needs their support so badly.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Iranian Nukes and Muhammad Ali's Dukes

Why does Ahmadinejad seem to win every round? Is he really the greatest? Can he really float like a butterfly and sting like a bee?

US has a plan for Iran - or does it?

Here is what looks like a plan, but probably is not - US will pressure insurance companies about doing business with Iran. So other insurance companies will be formed or found instead, who will provide the services at higher rates. Not much is accomplished by half measures taken against a determined opponent.
U.S. Aims To Isolate Iran if Talks Fail
Sanctions Would Disrupt Global Trade Over Nuclear Issue
By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Obama administration is laying plans to cut Iran's economic links to the rest of the world if talks this week over the country's nuclear ambitions founder, according to officials and outside experts familiar with the plans.
While officials stress that they hope Iran will agree to open its nuclear program to inspection, they are prepared by year's end to make it increasingly difficult for Iranian companies to ship goods around the world. The administration is targeting, in particular, the insurance and reinsurance companies that underwrite the risk of such transactions.
Officials are also looking at ways to keep goods from reaching Iran by targeting companies that get around trading restrictions by sending shipments there through third parties in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Hong Kong; and other trading hubs.
The administration has limited options in unilaterally targeting Iran, largely because it wants to avoid measures so severe that they would undermine consensus among countries pressing the Iranian government. A military strike is also increasingly unpalatable because, officials said, it probably would only briefly delay any attempt by Iran to produce a nuclear weapon.
Whatever steps are taken, officials said, their goal would be to disrupt the Iranian economy across many sectors, particularly businesses that help support Iran's military and elite.
As a practical matter, the effort would build on efforts during the Bush administration that targeted leading Iranian banks and the key Iranian shipping line. In many cases, officials said that rather than impose new sanctions, they would need only to tighten enforcement of existing rules and regulations. Indeed, the key architect of President George W. Bush's effort, Treasury Undersecretary Stuart Levey, was retained by President Obama to ensure continuity in a possible squeeze on Iran.
In the case of the insurance industry, the administration would extend a prohibition against providing the "transfer of financial resources or services" to aid Iran's nuclear and missile programs, currently enshrined in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1737, to include insurance companies, export credits and the like.
Iran has raised tensions in the region with two days of missile tests, which were previously scheduled but came just days ahead of Thursday's meeting in Geneva between Iranian diplomats and representatives of major powers, including the United States. The administration is pressing for Iran to provide international inspectors immediate access to a second uranium-enrichment facility that was made public last week and to agree to serious talks to rein in its nuclear ambitions.
"Towards the end of the year, we'll be able to calculate how much progress" has been made in those talks, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Monday. "If they continue to fail to answer the questions, then obviously there will be implications and consequences to that, as well."
The administration has sought to display a united front with its partners in the talks -- Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. But Russia and China are especially wary of imposing more sanctions beyond those contained in three U.N. Security Council resolutions aiming at deterring Iran. Russian officials on Monday began backing off from statements made last week by President Dmitry Medvedev suggesting that Russian resistance to sanctions was weakening.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russian news agencies that the missile launches were "worrisome" but added, "I am convinced restraint is needed." Similarly, a Foreign Ministry source told Russian news agencies that Western powers needed to restrain themselves.
Both Russia and China have veto power on the U.N. Security Council, and reluctance by either to support additional sanctions would make it extremely difficult and time-consuming to erect additional international measures. But many European and Asian countries demand the cover of a U.N. resolution before taking economic action against another country. As a result, administration officials are focused on measures that they can argue are already authorized under existing resolutions.
"Ninety percent is enforcement," said Patrick Clawson, deputy director for research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "Ten percent is new rules. They have the mechanisms in place."
Already, Levey has pressured more than 80 banks around the world to cut their ties to Iran, saying that any cost-benefit analysis would show that the business is not worth the risk of unwittingly assisting groups such as the Revolutionary Guard Corps. The U.S. government has also backed the message with tough fines against some foreign banks. The Dutch bank ABN Amro in 2005 agreed to pay $80 million for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and Libya, and Lloyds this year paid a $350 million fine for secretly channeling Iranian and Sudanese money into the American banking system.
Insurance is the lifeblood of the shipping industry, but often insuring cargo consists of several layers. One critical aspect is reinsurance, in which an insurance company spreads the risk of a deal to dozens of other companies around the world. If the pool of potential reinsurers for Iranian goods shrinks because of international pressure, shipping would become increasingly difficult and costly for Iran.
Last year, as an example of the emerging strategy, the Treasury Department designated Iran's national maritime carrier, Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), as engaging in deceptive activities such as repeatedly changing its ships' names in an effort to shroud its involvement in illicit commerce and proliferation activities. The action essentially warned U.S. financial firms not to engage in any business with it or its subsidiaries. Officials expect the European Union to follow suit if talks with Iran fail to make progress this year, which would make it difficult for such companies as Lloyds or Munich Re to continue providing re-insurance for Iranian business.
Early this year, an IRISL-chartered ship, the Monchegorsk, was stopped at Cyprus carrying weaponry allegedly headed for Hezbollah -- an incident that U.S. officials said highlights the dangers of reputable financial firms dealing with Iranian entities.
Even so, the effort is not likely to produce instantaneous results.
"The idea of targeting insurance and reinsurance is a good one," said David F. Gordon, a former State Department official who is director of research at Eurasia Group, a political risk and consulting firm. "It is the only potential game-changer around. But I am not sure it will be enough to move the Iranians and do it in a timely fashion. The Iranians are very committed to the program."

Iran won't discuss nukes at nuke talks

Thumbing his nose at the West, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is about to score big again, humiliating the USA and earning the admiration of the US-haters in the Middle East. The US waited 9 or 10 months for "dialogue" with Iran about its nuclear program, but it seems the discussions that will open on Thursday will be about anything but that.
Last update - 14:34 29/09/2009       
Iran refuses to discuss nuclear 'rights' in talks with world powers
By News Agencies
Iran will not discuss issues related to its nuclear "rights" at its meeting with six world powers in Geneva on Thursday, the Islamic Republic's nuclear energy agency chief said on Tuesday.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, made clear this included a recently exposed uranium enrichment plant that has drawn Western condemnation.
"We are not going to discuss anything related to our nuclear rights, but we can discuss about disarmament, we can discuss about non-proliferation and other general issues," Salehi told reporters, three days before the crucial talks with world powers worried about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.
"The new site is part of our rights and there is no need to discuss [it]," he said, adding Tehran would not abandon its nuclear activities "even for a second."
State Press TV quoted the official as saying late Monday that Iran would soon inform the United Nations nuclear watchdog of a timetable for inspection of the nuclear plant.
"Yes, the inspectors will come and inspect," Salehi said, adding Tehran was in constant contact with the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"We are working out a timetable for the inspection and we will soon be writing a letter to them about the location of the facility and others," he said, without elaborating.
The exposure of a second nuclear fuel facility, under construction south of Tehran, added urgency to the rare meeting in Geneva on Thursday.
Iran conducted missile tests on Sunday and Monday, further ratcheting up the tension with Western powers.
U.S. President Barack Obama has demanded that Iran come clean on its disputed nuclear program and a White House spokesman on Monday urged "immediate unfettered access" to the new site.
Iran has rejected Western condemnation of the new facility, saying it is legal and open to investigation to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Press TV, Iran's English-language state television, said Salehi had noted that the plant was under construction within the framework of IAEA regulations, saying, "Iran has taken all the precautionary steps to safeguard its nuclear facilities."
Citing its interview with Salehi, Press TV added: "Iran says it will soon inform the International Atomic Energy Agency of a timetable for inspection of its recently announced nuclear facility."
"Salehi said that his country will try to resolve the issue both politically and technically with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) and the IAEA," Press TV said on its website.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the IAEA, told the BBC on Monday he had had a couple of meetings with IAEA inspectors and it was agreed they would be given access to the site "in the near future". He gave no date.
The United States and its Western allies have made clear they will focus on Iran's nuclear program at the Geneva meeting. Iran has offered wide-ranging security talks but says it will not discuss its nuclear "rights."
Israel, the U.S. and other Western nations suspect Iran is trying to develop a nuclear bomb capability. Iran, a major oil producer, says its nuclear work is solely for generating electricity.
"It is against our tenets, it is against our religion to produce, use, hold or have nuclear weapons or arsenal, how can we more clearly state our position, since 1974 we have been saying this," Press TV quoted Salehi as saying.
Iran parliament warns against foreign pressure
Also on Tuesday, Iranian lawmakers warned the U.S. and other world powers against further pressures over Tehran's disputed nuclear program, just days ahead of the key international meeting.
Iran's parliament lashed out at criticism over the previously unknown uranium enrichment facility, but did not elaborate on what action would be taken if the pressure continued.
"If the 5+1 repeats the past mistakes, the parliament will put other decisions on agenda," lawmakers said in a statement, referring to the five members of the Security Council and Germany.
Parliament's warning could refer to a bill awaiting ratification in parliament that calls on the government to speed up its uranium enrichment activities.

Upholding the traditions of Islam: Caning for drinking beer

Headline: Beer-Drinking Muslim Woman's Caning to Go Ahead.  The young lady drank beer and will be punished by caning. Her parents are law and order advocates:
Kartika's father, Shukarno Abdul Muttlib, 60, told The Associated Press that while the family had yet to be informed of the judge's latest decision, his daughter "accepts the punishment" and would like it to be carried out sooner rather than later.
"We obey the law," he said, adding that "it's a challenge ... (but) it's the way of my life."
Nothing like law abiding citizens and respect for tradition, is there? That's what keeps society together, as Shirley Jackson portrayed in the short story, The Lottery:

"They do say," Mr. Adams said to Old Man Warner, who stood next to him, "that over in the north village they're talking of giving up the lottery."

Old Man Warner snorted. "Pack of crazy fools," he said. "Listening to the young folks, nothing's good enough for them. Next thing you know, they'll be wanting to go back to living in caves, nobody work any more, live hat way for a while. Used to be a saying about 'Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.' First thing you know, we'd all be eating stewed chickweed and acorns. There's always been a lottery," he added petulantly. "Bad enough to see young Joe Summers up there joking with everybody."

"Some places have already quit lotteries." Mrs. Adams said.

"Nothing but trouble in that," Old Man Warner said stoutly. "Pack of young fools."

Where would we be without tradition?

Ami Isseroff


Monday, September 28, 2009

Report: Saudis give Israel green light to attack Iran nuclear site

This report from the Daily Express is reminiscent of another recent Sunday Times report that was quickly denied by the Saudis and Israelis. The new report states:
INTELLIGENCE chief Sir John Scarlett has been told that Saudi Arabia is ready to allow Israel to bomb Iran's new nuclear site.
The head of MI6 discussed the issue in London with Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Saudi officials after British intelligence officers helped to uncover the plant, in the side of a mountain near the ancient city of Qom.
The new report makes no sense. A green light to bomb a single site would not be very useful.
Ami Isseroff

Egypt: Death penalty for counterfeit virginity device?

Beware of cheap Chinese imitation virgins!
Egypt anger over virginity faking
By Magdi Abdelhadi
BBC Arab Affairs analyst 

Pre-marital sex carries a strong social stigma in many Arab societies
A leading Egyptian scholar has demanded that people caught importing a female virginity-faking device into the country should face the death penalty.
Abdul Mouti Bayoumi said supplying the item was akin to spreading vice in society, a crime punishable by death in Islamic Sharia law.
The device is said to release liquid imitating blood, allowing a female to feign virginity on her wedding night.
There is a stigma about pre-marital sex in some conservative Arab societies.
The contraption is seen as a cheap and simple alternative to hymen repair surgery, which is carried out in secret by some clinics in the Middle East.
It is produced in China and has already become available in other parts of the Arab world.
The device is reported to be on sale in Syria for $15.
Professor Bayoumi, a scholar at the prestigious al-Azhar University, said it undermined the moral deterrent of fornication, which he described as a crime and one of the cardinal sins in Islam.
Members of parliament in Egypt have also called for banning import of the item.