International Solidarity Movement | January 8, 2010
The Israeli army has abducted another young man from the northern West Bank village of Burqa. Muhammad Samir, 21 years old, was stopped outside the village by soldiers as he returned from his workplace in Tulkarem and arrested. Arrests and military invasions have surged this past month in Burqa, with Samir becoming the 22nd person taken since the beginning of December.
Samir was returning from his work at the Tulkarem offices of the Palestinian Authority at 10am yesterday morning when he was stopped at a flying checkpoint between Burqa and the neighbouring village of Bisaia. Upon checking his ID he was immediately place under arrest by soldiers. He was released from prison just two years ago, serving a two-year sentence from the age of 17.
The wave of arrests, primarily carried out in night raids on the village, have robbed Burqa of 22 young men in the past month alone. The village’s 4,000 residents sleep uneasily now, unknowing of who may be taken the next time the military comes. It is the standard story in hundreds of cases of its kind: young men, generally aged 16 or 17 and in their last year of school, arrested and charged with throwing stones at military jeeps when they enter the village.
International solidarity activists have initiated a nightly vigil in Burqa, joining local residents in keeping watch until the early hours of the morning in the hopes of documenting and de-escalating the violence of the night raids. During the invasions soldiers enter either by jeep or on foot, surrounding the homes of wanted people and preventing residents from leaving their home. Residents report extreme violence at the hands of the soldiers during invasions, with shots fired as the family is usually forced in to the bathroom for several hours and their home torn apart by soldiers, searching for weapons or other incriminating possessions.
Burqa has long been a target for Israeli Occupation Forces and its residents are no strangers to the senseless violence meted out by soldiers. The village itself became a training ground for Israeli soldiers preparing for battle in the 2006 war with Hezbollah, the village’s topography resembling that of southern Lebanon. Residents recall almost nightly invasions during the period, with soldiers storming the homes of families who were forced out in to the street, handcuffed and ID’d, only to be informed that they were participating in an Israeli military training exercise.
Atop the mountain overlooking Burqa sits Homesh, an Israeli settlement built on the village’s lands and evacuated by the military in 2005 as part of Ariel Sharon’s disengagement from 4 West Bank settlements and the 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza. Not that Burqa’s farmers have been permitted to recommence work on their lands – the area was declared a military zone following the settlement’s original evacuation, and so it has remained.
Nor has the evacuation of settlers from Homesh been maintained in the years following the disengagement. A campaign of reclamation, spearheaded by the extremist “Homesh First” organisation, has been growing ever since and has ensured a significant settler presence still active in the area. Despite the military’s repeated attempts to disperse the settlers, nothing has successfully prevented the Homesh First supporters from attempting to repopulate the area, particularly during Jewish religious holidays when settlers converge in their thousands on the site. Thus Burqa farmers’ goal of land reclamation is not just borne of the legitimate desire for vital lands to be returned to their legal owners, but also out of a real fear of resettlement of the site by ideological Israeli settlers.
Farmers of Burqa continue live under constant threat of violence at the hands of the settlers, vengeful in their attempts to lay claim to the stolen land. Over 5000 fertile dunums remain inaccessible to the Palestinian population. For the last two years the village has co-ordinated an annual trip to the contested area, re-planting and cultivating 95 dunums of land. Settlers have descended each time on the area soon after to destroy the farmers’ work, uprooting trees and destroying new wells built for irrigation. 25 dunums of the original 95 remain.
Part 12 of a series recounting the findings of South African jurist Richard Goldstone’s UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict.
Bethlehem – Ma’an – In the late morning of 7 January 2009, one year ago today, Israeli tanks moved onto a small piece of agricultural land in front of the of the house of Khalid Abd Rabbo and his wife Kawthar, on the ground floor of a four-story building in the eastern part of Izbat Abd Rabbo, a neighborhood east of Jabaliya inhabited primarily by members of their extended family.
Speaking to Richard Goldstone’s UN inquiry, Khalid recounted: “On January 7 at 12:50pm the Israeli army bulldozed our garden and the Israeli tanks were positioned in front of our house. They started yelling at us through the speakers and asked us to leave the house.”
Moments earlier, at 12:30pm, megaphone messages telling all residents to leave were heard across the neighborhood. According to one witness’s recollection, a radio message was also broadcast by Israeli forces around 12:30pm announcing that there would be a temporary cessation of shooting between 1 and 4pm that day, during which time residents of the area were asked to walk to central Jabaliya.
“Of course this happened when Israel had declared [a] ceasefire for four hours, January 7 from 1:00-4:00pm, and that was a truce back then and that’s when wounded civilians could be rescued, and in spite of all of that, in spite of all of this declaration, the Israeli army was there right in front of our house not attempting to move,” Khalid said.
Responding to the messages, Khalid, his wife Kawthar, their three daughters, nine-year-old Souad, five-year-old Samar, and three-year-old Amal, and his mother Hajja Souad stepped out of the house, all of them carrying white flags. Less than 10 meters from the door was a tank, turned toward their house. Two soldiers were sitting on top of it having a snack. It was 12:50pm.
“So we stood by our entrance and holding flags, white flags. The tanks were seven meters away from our house.”
The family stood still, waiting for orders from the soldiers, but none was given. “[W]e were by the entrance holding white flags and waiting for them to tell us what we should do, whether to go back inside the house or move to somewhere else. They did not say anything to us. There were two soldiers sitting on top of the tank. One of them was eating chips. The other one was eating chocolate. We were looking at them like what are we supposed to do, where should we go, but no reaction from them whatsoever.”
Without warning, a third soldier emerged from inside the tank and started shooting at the three girls and then also at their grandmother. Several bullets hit Souad in the chest, Amal in the stomach and Samar in the back. Hajja Souad was hit in the lower back and in the left arm.
“They starting shooting at the children with no reason, no reason, with no explanation, no pretext,” Khalid said. “My daughter, three years old, [her] stomach was, hit and her intestines were coming out. So really I was amazed at how could a soldier be firing at my daughter? So I carried my daughter, three years old. She could hardly breathe. Like I said, her stomach was wounded.
“My other daughter was also wounded in her chest. So I took both of them, Samar and Amal, inside the house. My wife and my mother and my other daughter Suad were still outside. All of a sudden my wife joined me carrying Suad. She was wounded also. Her chest was wounded by many bullets. My mother, 60 years old, she was carrying the white flag and she was wounded on her forearm and also in her stomach.”
Khalid and Kawthar carried their three daughters and mother back inside the house. There, they and the family members who had stayed inside tried to call for help by mobile phone. They also shouted for help and a neighbor, Sameeh Al-Sheikh, an ambulance driver who had his ambulance parked next to his house.
Sameeh put on his ambulance uniform and asked his son to put on a fluorescent jacket. They got in the ambulance, had driven a few meters from their house, when Israeli soldiers ordered them to halt and get out of the vehicle. Sameeh protested, saying he had heard cries for help from the family and intended to bring the wounded to hospital. The soldiers ordered him and his son to undress and then redress. They then ordered them to abandon the ambulance and to walk toward Jabaliya.
“So we were all inside the house and we started calling the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross], the ambulances, anybody to come and rescue us but nobody came and all of a sudden we heard an ambulance but all of a sudden nothing, silence. But later, we saw that the Israeli soldiers asked the ambulance drivers to come out of the car, to undress, and they bulldozed the ambulance with the tank.”
Not like before , when civilians were safe
Khalid’s family decided to stay inside the house, all gathered on the ground floor, as they had done safely during previous Israeli incursions into the neighborhood.
According to Khalid: “Our house, or our area rather, was subjected to many incursions and each and every time the army would invade the area, would come into our houses, but no harm was done to civilians or to children. Last time, that is before the last war on Gaza, that was on January 3, 2008, the Israeli army came in our house and stayed three days and destroyed many things inside the house but left without harming the civilians or the children. Now during the last war that is on January 7, 2009, actually the ground war had already started and we heard that Israel had declared war on Hamas.
“We are civilians. We have nothing to do with Hamas and we were used to have the Israeli army come into our area,” Khalid recalled in his testimony to Richard Goldstone’s UN inquiry. “So I thought this time we could stay in our houses. We had nothing to do with Hamas. We did not pose any danger to Hamas. The war, the ground war, started on Gaza and as of the first half hour approximately on January 4, the Israeli army controlled the whole area. There was no resistance in the area. It’s an area nearby the Israeli border. Of course we were inside the houses. We were surprised because the war went on for four days while we were still inside our houses.”
On 7 January 2009, however, when Amal and Souad died of their wounds, the family decided that they had to make an attempt to walk to Jabaliya. They would take Samar, the dead bodies of Amal and Souad, and their grandmother to hospital.
“My mother, 60 years old, was also dying. I was helpless. I didn’t know what to do for my children. There was my daughter dying in front of me. So I carried her and left the house even if I had to die myself because I couldn’t take it anymore. So I carried my daughter and left the house again so that the soldier, he might as just well kill my daughter and kill myself because I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t let my children die in front of me.”
Khalid explained: “From 12:50 until 2:50 we were stuck inside the house. Once again, like I said, I went out to the soldier. They were there, three of them, and there was a Merkava tank positioned in front of the house. I was carrying Samar, even if I had to die, and I was surprised because the third soldier looked at me and two minutes later he went inside the tank and then he came out and he moved his hand just, you know, telling me you can go ahead. So I immediately went back home inside the house and told them we’re going to die anyway. So we don’t want to die inside the house. Let’s die outside the house. Let’s move.
“Although inside the house there [were] more than 25 children, my brothers, my sisters, my dad, my mom. So we had to bring children’s mattress to put my mom on top of the mattress because she was very tired. I carried my daughter Suad, three years old. She was dead… While we were moving, every ten meters they were shooting, once above our heads and the other time by our feet. “
Khaled and Kawthar, as well as other family members and neighbors, carried the girls on their shoulders. Hajja Souad was carried by family and neighbors on a bed. Samar was transferred to Ash-Shifa Hospital and then, through Egypt, to Belgium, where she was still is in hospital at the time of writing.
“So we were trying to move and every now and then we would fall down. We walked for almost a kilometer and a half until we reached the edge of Jabaliya downtown. Of course, we reached the Kamal Idwan Hospital and they confirmed that the three of them were martyred…surprisingly enough they told me that Samar, no, she had survived and she was moved to Ash-Shiffa Hospital. I took the bodies of my two daughters in order to bury them. We didn’t have any time. This was an outrageous war and the Israeli army was moving around. So we had to bury them, Amal and Suad, and wait until they would bring Samar because we thought and we knew that Samar was going to die. “
According to her parents, Samar suffered a spinal injury and will remain paraplegic for the rest of her life. “Samar, of course, and with God’s will, Samar survived, survived so that she would be the witness before the world for the atrocities,” Khalid said. “Samar survived, paralyzed. She can move only her arms. She can speak but the rest is paralyzed. She can speak for herself and she can tell her tragedy.”
According to Khalid, “I haven’t seen [Samar] since the events. My tragedy is still going on. It’s not over. So what crime did I commit? I have always been a peace-loving person. I’m for peace. I’ve always supported peace and despite [all that] happened to me I’m asking the world please, please help us live in peace. The Israeli army knows that, that I’ve never been a terrorist.
“… why did it happen to me, why did they come to my house, kill my children without having committed any crime. What did I do?
“There was no war. It was cold-blooded murder of children. That was not just accidental. No, the soldier even chuckled, like I said. I know that Israel has a very sophisticated technology and that every operation it carries out is actually filmed and I’m asking Israel please broadcast the film of the killing of my children. Did you see my children carrying any rockets?”
No home to return to
When Khalid returned to his home on 18 January 2009, his house, as most houses in that part of Izbat Abd Rabbo, had been demolished. He drew the UN fact-finding mission’s attention to an anti-tank mine under the rubble of a neighbor’s house.
He added: “I call upon the international community and ask the international community why my children were cold-bloodedly killed? Why were they fired on? My mother, 60, she was hit in her chest; my daughter Suad, eight years, in her chest; Samar, four years, in the chest; Amal, three years, in the chest, and this is despite the fact that they are all different sizes, all the targeting was at the chest.
“This was execution. This was utter execution and I’m asking the world what crime did my children commit? What danger did they pose for the Israeli army? I myself was there. Why didn’t they fire at me? Why didn’t they kill me and not let me see my children die in front of my eyes. My children, until now, I cannot get myself to realize there I was looking at them while they were dying.”
Goldstone’s team found Khalid and Kawthar Abd Rabbo to be credible and reliable witnesses. “It has no reason to doubt the veracity of the main elements of their testimony.” The mission also reviewed several sworn statements they and other eyewitnesses gave to NGOs about the incident and found them to be consistent with the account it received, according to the report.
Goldstone’s report notes that, in general, Izbat Abd Rabbo and the nearby areas of Jabal Al-Kashef and Jabal Al-Rayes saw some of the most intense combat during the military operations.
No perceived danger
The testimony of Khalid and Kawthar Abd Rabbo, however, shows that Israeli forces were not engaged in combat or fearing an attack at the time of the incident, the report states. Two soldiers were sitting on the tank in front of the family house and having a snack. “They clearly did not perceive any danger from the house, its occupants or the surroundings.
“Moreover, when the family, consisting of a man, a young and an elderly woman, and three small girls, some of them waving white flags, stepped out of the house, they stood still for several minutes waiting for instructions from the soldiers.”
“The Israeli soldiers could, therefore, not reasonably have perceived any threat from the group. Indeed, the fact that the gunfire was directed at the three girls and, subsequently, at the elderly woman, and not at the young adult couple, can be seen as further corroborating the finding that there was no reasonable ground for the soldier shooting to assume that any of the members of the group were directly participating in the hostilities,” Goldstone’s report states, finding “that the soldier deliberately directed lethal fire at Souad, Samar and Amal Abd Rabbo and at their grandmother, Hajja Souad Abd Rabbo.”
Goldstone’s report further states, that by preventing Sameeh Al-Sheikh from taking the wounded to the nearest hospital in his ambulance, Israeli forces deliberately aggravated the consequences of the shooting.
“The Mission recalls that the soldiers had forced Sameeh Al-Sheikh and his son to get out of the ambulance, undress and then redress. They therefore knew that they did not constitute a threat. Instead of allowing them to take the gravely wounded Samar Abd Rabbo to hospital, the soldiers forced Sameeh al-Sheikh and his son to abandon the ambulance and to walk towards Jabaliya.
Instructions given to Israeli forces: Low threshold for lethal force
The team found in the above incidents that “Israeli forces repeatedly opened fire on civilians who were not taking part in the hostilities and who posed no threat to them.” From that finding, the report extrapolated that the “incidents indicate that the instructions given to the Israeli armed forces moving into Gaza provided for a low threshold for the use of lethal fire against the civilian population.”
Goldstone found strong corroboration of this trend in the testimonies of Israeli soldiers collected by the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, and in the Protocol of the Rabin Academy’s “Fighters’ Talk.” These testimonies suggest in particular that the instructions given to the soldiers conveyed two “policies.” Both are an expression of the aim to eliminate as far as possible any risk to the lives of Israeli soldiers.
The first policy could be summarized, in the words of one of the soldiers: “if we see something suspect and shoot, better hit an innocent than hesitate to target an enemy.”
Another soldier attributed the following instructions to his battalion commander: “If you are not sure – shoot. If there is doubt then there is no doubt.” The first soldier summarized the briefing from the battalion commander as follows “the enemy was hiding behind civilian population. […] if we suspect someone, we should not give him the benefit of the doubt. Eventually, this could be an enemy, even if it’s some old woman approaching the house. It could be an old woman carrying an explosive charge.”
A third soldier explained “you don’t only shoot when threatened. The assumption is that you constantly feel threatened, so anything there threatens you, and you shoot. No one actually said ‘shoot regardless’ or ‘shoot anything that moves.’ But we were not ordered
to open fire only if there was a real threat.”
The report notes that some soldiers stated that they agreed with the instructions to “shoot in case of doubt.” One of them explained his profound discomfort with the policy and of how he and his comrades had attempted to question their commander after a clearly harmless man was shot. While they disagreed about the legitimacy and morality of the policy, they had little doubt about the terms of the instructions: each soldier and commander on the ground had to exercise judgment, but the policy was to shoot in case of doubt.
The second policy clearly emerging from the soldiers’ testimonies is explained by one of the soldiers as follows: “One of the things in this procedure [the outpost procedure, which is being applied in areas held by the Israeli armed forces after the Gaza ground invasion] is setting red lines. It means that whoever crosses this limit is shot, no questions asked. […] Shoot to kill.”
A soldier recounted one incident of the red-line policy: A family is ordered to leave their house. For reasons that remain unclear, probably a misunderstanding, the mother and two children turn left instead of right after having walked between 100 and 200 meters from their house. They thereby cross a “red line” established by the Israeli unit (of whose existence the mother and children could have no knowledge). An Israeli marksman on the roof of the house they had just left opened fire on the woman and her two children, killing them. As the soldier speaking at the Rabin Academy’s “Fighters’ Talk” a month later observes, “from our perspective, he [the marksman] did his job according to the orders he was given.”
Investigators also read testimony from soldiers who recounted cases in which, although a civilian had come within a distance from them which would have required opening fire under the rules imparted to them, they decided not to shoot because they did not consider the civilian a threat to them.
Legal findings: Direct assaults on civilians
According to Goldstone, the fundamental principles applicable to these incidents – cornerstones of both treaty-based and customary international humanitarian law – are that “the parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants”452 and that “the civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack.”
Israel refers to the principle of distinction as “the first core principle of the Law of Armed Conflict.” It further states that “the IDF’s [Israeli army’s] emphasis on compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict was also directly incorporated into the rules of engagement for the Gaza Operation.” The principle of distinction was reportedly incorporated in the following terms: “Strikes shall be directed against military objectives and combatants only. It is absolutely prohibited to intentionally strike civilians or civilian objects (in contrast to incidental proportional harm).”
In reviewing the above incidents the mission found in every case that the Israeli armed forces carried out direct intentional strikes against civilians. In none of the cases reviewed were there any grounds which could have reasonably induced the Israeli armed forces to assume that the civilians attacked were in fact taking a direct part in the hostilities.
The team therefore finds that Israeli forces violated the prohibition under customary international law and reflected in article 51 (2) of Additional Protocol, that the civilian population as such will not be the object of attacks. This finding applies to the attacks on Amal, Souad, Samar, and Hajja Souad Abd Rabbo.
Not only are civilians not to be the object of attacks, they are also “entitled in all circumstances, to respect for their persons … protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof” (Fourth Geneva Convention, art. 27). Fundamental guarantees set out in article 75 of Additional Protocol I include the absolute prohibition “at any time and in any place” of “violence to the life, health, or physical or mental well-being of persons”. According to the facts presented to the mission, these provisions have been violated.
“The State of Israel would be responsible under international law for these internationally wrongful actions carried out by its agents,” the report states. “From the facts ascertained, the Mission finds that the conduct of the Israeli armed forces in these cases would constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention in respect of willful killings and willfully causing great suffering to protected persons456 and as such give rise to individual criminal responsibility.
“The Mission also finds that the direct targeting and arbitrary killing of Palestinian civilians is a violation by the Israeli armed forces of the right to life as provided in article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“In most of the cases examined above, the Mission finds that the Israeli armed forces denied the medical emergency services access to the wounded civilians. …
“The Mission recalls that article 10 (2) of Additional Protocol I provides that ‘In all circumstances [the wounded] shall be treated humanely and shall receive, to the fullest extent practicable and with the least possible delay, the medical care and attention required by their condition. …’ This provision enjoys customary international law status. The Mission is mindful that ‘the obligation to protect and care for the wounded … is an obligation of means.’
“It applies whenever circumstances permit. However, “each party to the conflict must use its best efforts to provide protection and care for the wounded, the report states, including permitting humanitarian organizations to provide for their protection and care.
“The facts ascertained by the Mission establish that in the incidents investigated the Israeli armed forces did not use their best efforts to provide humanitarian organizations access to the wounded. On the contrary, the facts indicate that, while the circumstances permitted giving access, the Israeli armed forces arbitrarily withheld it,” according to Goldstone’s final report.
“On this basis, the Mission finds a violation of the obligation under customary international law to treat the wounded humanely,” the report states. The conduct of the Israeli armed forces amounted to violations of the right to life where it resulted in death, and to a violation of the right to physical integrity, and to cruel and inhuman treatment in other cases, which constitutes a violation of articles 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
By M. Idrees | Pulse Media | January 7, 2010
It has been a year since Israel’s savage assault on Gaza that killed more than 1400 civilians. For the duration of the attack the BBC did not have a single man or a woman inside Gaza to cover it. This would be understandable if there weren’t any means available to get a journalist into Gaza. But this was not the case. The BBC, unlike channels such as Al Jazeera International, appeared content to comply with Israeli demands to keep clear. Worse, its journalists parroted Israeli claims about the rationales and the consequences of the assault. Just as the British government provided tacit support for the assault, so the BBC assisted it by giving Israeli officials ample time to rationalize the atrocities. If this were not bad enough, the BBC then took the reprehensible step of refusing to run a Disasters and Emergencies Commission (DEC) appeal for the victims in Gaza.
When months latter it finally came to acknowledge that its coverage had indeed been biased, it claimed it was… too pro-Palestinian!
A week back we published a letter that friend of PULSE Anne Key had sent to the BBC complaining about the excessive deference with which it treats Israeli spokesmen. She has since received a reply in which, among the usual platitudes, the BBC editor writes: ‘We have given air-time to representatives from across the political spectrum and our correspondents are equally vigorous in their questioning of interviewees regardless of whether they are Israeli or Palestinian’. But the question was not whether the BBC gives airtime; it is rather the proportion of the airtime each side receives.
As the Glasgow University Media Group has shown in ironclad figures, the Israeli side receives a disproportionately higher amount of time. If the BBC questions these assertions, then it should present alternative figures which prove otherwise.
By Art Levine, t r u t h o u t | News Analysis | January 6, 2010
(Photo: Matthew Strmiska; Edited: Jared Rodriguez)
The pro-nuclear Department of Energy is set this month to offer the first of nearly $20 billion in loan guarantees to a nuclear industry that hasn’t built a plant since the 1970s or raised any money to do so in years. But although the industry is seeking to cash in on global warming concerns with $100 billion in proposed loan guarantees, environmentalists, scientists and federal investigators are warning that lax oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of the nation’s aging 104 nuclear plants has led to near-meltdowns along with other health and safety failings since Three Mile Island – including what some critics say is a flawed federal health study apparently designed to conceal cancer risks near nuclear plants.
All that is joined by the dangers and risks posed by at least 30 tons yearly of radioactive, cancer-causing, nuclear waste produced at each 1,000 megawatt plant; projected costs of $12 billion to $25 billion for any new plants (built largely through taxpayer support).
For instance, a meltdown of the two reactors at Indian Point, dubbed “Chernobyl on the Hudson,” could quickly kill nearly 50,000 people with radiation poisoning in a 50-mile radius and cause over 500,000 cancer deaths within six years, according to research by the Union of Concerned Scientists and other experts.
“Nothing’s changed,” said Paul Gunter, director of Reactor Oversight for the Beyond Nuclear reform group, about nuclear plants. “They’re still dirty, dangerous and expensive.”
But such concerns stand in sharp contrast to a wave of positive PR about the nuclear industry as the “clean air energy” solution to global warming, driven by ads, campaign donations and lobbying – and abetted by media outlets too often willing to accept industry and Nuclear Regulatory Commission spin at face value.
Even so, there’s little reason to have confidence in the NRC’s ability to protect the public or successfully monitor the current nuclear plants, let alone any new ones. In fact, with the bulk of its funding coming from nuclear utility industry fees, the agency appears to be literally asleep at the wheel, allowing everything from near meltdowns in a Toledo plant to ignoring internal reports of rent-a-cops at vulnerable nuclear plants sleeping on the job – until the negative publicity became too overwhelming. Ultimately, the agency gave that Exelon company a mild $65,000 fine last year. Meanwhile, researchers for the Project on Government Oversight and Union of Concerned Scientists found that the utility, the Wackenhut Security Firm and the NRC all knew well before the scandal broke publicly that guards were sleeping on the job at the Peach Bottom facility in Pennsylvania.
As one researcher pointed out in 2008 testimony, “Neither Wackenhut nor Exelon nor NRC acted upon the security allegations to correct the problem.”
The NRC’s coziness with industry extends to some of its own commissioners. As its own inspector general reported, before a Bush-appointed commissioner left in mid-2007, he made decisions that could benefit financially three firms he was negotiating with for jobs – including a ruling that apparently helped loosen regulatory requirements for an emergency cooling system in a Westinghouse plant.
Obama’s latest proposed appointee to the agency isn’t necessarily any less pro-industry. As Mother Jones reported about Peter Magwood: “Both before and after his time in government, he has worked as an enthusiastic advocate for nuclear interests in the private sector-including for at least one company likely to have business before the NRC in the near future.”
Indeed, there are few limits, no matter how absurd, to how far the NRC is willing to go to cut the industry plenty of slack, no matter how dangerous to the public. Take the case of the noncombustible foam that the agency ordered nuclear plants to buy in the late 1990s as a sealant to help prevent the spread of fire from room to room in a plant. It turned out that there was a small problem with this well-meaning plan: the brand of silicone foam bought by most of the nuclear power companies turned out to be, well, combustible. So, did the NRC then promptly order the dangerous, potentially life-threatening foam removed? No, of course not: it just revised its regulations to drop the phrase and requirement of “noncombustibility” for the foam.
Paul Gunter, then with the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, found himself in the Kafkaesque position of having to argue in regulatory comments against the logical insanity of dropping the word “noncombustible” in requirements for fire-preventing foam. In bold letters, he wrote, “NRC PROPOSED ACTION INCREASES THE RISK OF A NUCLEAR ACCIDENT RESULTING FROM THE REDUCTION OF DEFENSE-IN-DEPTH OF FIRE PROTECTION SYSTEMS….” He then attempted to reason with the NRC, noting, “the material in question is designated as a fire-barrier seal.” He and other critics did not prevail, and the NRC continues to allow nuclear companies to buy combustible foam as fire prevention sealants. “The shit burns, it’s combustible and it leaves charring,” Gunter now pointed out, asking, reasonably, how it could possibly meet fire protection standards.
The NRC also uses technicalities in other ways to advance industry interests. As Beyond Nuclear and other critics point out, there’s an important reason that so little is known about the dangers of radiation for those living near nuclear plants in America: there’s very little well-designed research that has been done on the issue.
There are some exceptions: a Massachusetts Department of Public Health study in the late 1980s, though, found a 400 percent increase in leukemia for those living downwind from the Pilgrim plant, and a recent German government study found that children under five living less than five kilometers from a nuclear plant had twice the risk of contracting leukemia of those living more than five kilometers away.
Yet, one of the most influential American studies on the topic was released in 1990 by the National Cancer Institute at the behest of the NRC – and it found, by studying the overall cancer incidence of those living in surrounding counties, nuclear power plants posed no apparent radiation risk for those living in the area. Yet, while hailed by the nuclear industry and the NRC, scientific and medical critics of nuclear power had strong doubts about the study’s design and its failure to measure the impact on those living nearby.
As The New York Times reported:
But Daryl Kimball, associate director for policy of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a national organization of medical professionals concerned with nuclear war and other dangers from nuclear power, said the study ”raises more questions than it answers.”
Mr. Kimball said the study diluted the risks of exposure to radiation from nuclear plants by examining entire counties instead of areas where people were directly exposed to radiation. He cited the Fernald weapons plant near Cincinnati, where over 500,000 pounds of uranium were released into the atmosphere. This uranium may have fallen on only a small area, he said, but the study includes all the people in the surrounding counties.
Because of questions about conflict of interest and research integrity, Beyond Nuclear, among others, is asking the NRC to take a hands-off position in commissioning a new academic study. “The NRC receives about 90 percent of its funding from nuclear power reactor licensing fees,” said Cindy Folkers, radiation and health specialist with Beyond Nuclear. “As such, NRC clearly stands to gain from more reactor construction. Therefore, it should not be doing cancer studies or directly hiring people to conduct such studies. This is a flagrant conflict-of-interest and puts a scientifically rigorous, non-biased study at great risk.”
In response, a spokesperson for the NRC said the agency is using a peer-review panel of experts drawn from the National Cancer Institute and other agencies to oversee the research. “The panel will provide comments on the proposed methodology before the study is done, and it will review the study’s results, ensuring a scientifically sound project that uses the latest available data,” spokesman Scott Burnell said in an emailed response.
Yet, despite all these problems, a seemingly benign “solution for global warming” – nuclear energy – has boundless, if simplistic, appeal, even if it could take years to build and threatens public health and safety, while undermining genuine renewable energy with billions devoted to nuclear bailouts.
Still, the pro-nuclear pitch is especially welcomed by media outlets when it advances the seemingly fresh story line of environmentalists embracing nuclear power, as delivered by the likes of ex-Greenpeace activist Patrick Moore, whose financial ties to a Nuclear Energy Institute front group are rarely disclosed.
For instance, as the Center for Media and Democracy has noted, Moore has recently placed op-eds extolling nuclear power in such reputable publications as The Philadelphia Inquirer, while being paid by the front organization The Clean and Safe Energy Industry Coalition (CASE). This flack outfit, nominally headed by former Gov. and EPA Director Christine Todd Whitman, was actually established by the PR firm Hill and Knowlton at the behest of the Nuclear Energy Institute.
Moore recently outlined the selling points that the nuclear industry – and its allies in Congress – are promoting to sprinkle eco-friendly fairy dust around the grim nuclear industry that Wall Street and private investors won’t touch:
Old Foes Welcome Clean Fuel Rising demand for emission-free energy is spurring a nuclear rebirth.
By Patrick Moore
Nuclear energy, a prime source of electricity for Pennsylvania, is finally getting the respect it deserves.
It’s not hard to see why: America’s power needs continue to grow, and meeting them without harming the environment calls for every available nonpolluting energy source.
Nuclear energy is the most dependable and cost-effective such option.
It isn’t the only solution, of course. Wind, geothermal, and other renewable energy sources will likely become a bigger part of Pennsylvania’s energy portfolio, and America’s. But nuclear energy will be expected to shoulder the biggest load.
Because nuclear energy is virtually emissions-free, America’s 104 nuclear reactors already account for nearly 75 percent of the country’s clean energy, and 93 percent of Pennsylvania’s.
Nuclear energy has maintained a strong record of safety, reliability, and efficiency for decades, and Americans increasingly appreciate its environmental and economic benefits. A recent Gallup poll showed that 59 percent of Americans support using nuclear energy to meet the country’s energy needs. Support is even higher in Pennsylvania, reaching 82 percent of residents polled last year for the Pennsylvania Energy Alliance.
Unfortunately for Moore and fellow spinmeisters, nuclear energy isn’t the clean, harmless, renewable resource it’s portrayed here and by nuclear propaganda. The “clean air energy” meme comes complete with lovely images of the nuclear icon surrounded by leaves and flowers, or as in the Nuclear Energy Institute’s web site, features a happy family cavorting in a flowery green field. In fact, as Greenpeace, among others, has pointed out:
Let’s be blunt here. This isn’t just misleading. This isn’t just misinformation. This is a lie.
Nuclear energy is not clean energy. One need only look at the environmental destruction caused by uranium mining. In his book ‘Wollaston: People Resisting Genocide’, Miles Goldstick details the damage brought to the lives of the people living around the uranium mines in Canada’s Saskatchewan province. The accumulation of radioactive isotopes in edible plants. The lead, arsenic, uranium and radium found downstream from the mines. The spills that J.A. Keily, then Vice President of Production and Engineering for Gulf Minerals Rabbit Lake, described in 1980 as “probably too numerous to count.”
These are stories found wherever uranium mining takes place. The ruined lives, the contamination, the cover-ups, and the deception. And that’s before we even consider what happens to the waste produced by generating nuclear energy.
[...] Most critically, nuclear power-generated electricity is so much more expensive for consumers and businesses to use than renewables and conservation combined. That means that a new 1,000 megawatt nuclear plant would rob electricity users of $256 million they could have used for everything from making individual purchases to hiring more workers, according to John A. “Skip” Laitner, the director of economic and social analysis for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). “Energy-related sectors don’t support anywhere near the jobs that other sectors of the economy do,” he pointed out. “So going the nuclear route is a net loss to the economy” – except, of course, for the extra spending on hospitals and doctors to treat those residents near nuclear plants and mining facilities who develop cancers or birth defects.
Moreover, as Dr. Helen Caldicott and other experts have noted, “Large amounts of the now-banned chlorofluorocarbon gas (CFC) are emitted during the enrichment of uranium. CFC gas is not only 10,000 to 20,000 times more efficient as an atmospheric heat trapper (‘greenhouse gas’) than CO2, but it is a classic ‘pollutant’ and a potent destroyer of the ozone layer.”
In fact, it is the mining of uranium, followed by its “enrichment” – using carbon-polluting, complex ultracentrifuges or gaseous diffusion processes – to separate it into fissionable U-235 isotopes that are the dark truths about nuclear power hidden among the greenery of the industry’s propaganda. As Greenpeace pointed out:
Nuclear fuel production – the mining, milling and enriching of uranium – is one of the nuclear industry’s dirty secrets. Very little attention is paid to it by industry propagandists and pro-nuclear politicians and for very good reason. It’s dirty, dangerous, incredibly damaging to the environment and endangers the health of those people unfortunate enough to live close to uranium mines.
To hear some supporters of nuclear energy talk, you’d think the whole process of generating electricity begins with the throwing of a reactor’s “on” switch. But there’s a long story before we even get that far. It’s also a long, sad story that often goes untold in the wider media.
Pick any uranium mine around the world and it will invariably be surrounded by stories of pollution, contamination and the exploitation of local communities. Niger, Namibia, Brazil, Canada, Kazakhstan.
And Australia. The country’s “Environment Minister Peter Garrett has formally approved the new Four Mile uranium mine in South Australia, saying it poses no environmental risks.”
The article goes on to chronicle ten major spills of radioactive materials in Australia in the last decade at that mine.
In fact, the true dangers of this uranium mining and enrichment are becoming tragically and increasingly apparent - and will doubtless spread as more plants could get built worldwide. All this adds to the ongoing, unsolved problem of finding a safe repository in the United States for radioactive waste from nuclear plants still kept at their sites, now that long-delayed plans to use Yucca Mountain in Nevada have finally fallen apart.
As Greenpeace asked, “Delays in the construction and opening of Yucca Mountain have been seen as a large obstacle to the expansion of nuclear power in the US. With no viable plan for the safe disposal of nuclear waste in the country how can the go ahead for further nuclear reactors be given?”
Moreover, whether in Native-American reservations here or in Niger villages abroad, indigenous, impoverished people live near or work in uranium mines to supply nuclear plants, and suffer the consequences in cancers, birth defects and leukemia.
It’s a cruel irony that the poisonous levels of radiation in the uranium waste found in Niger villages comes from mining by the French nuclear company AREVA; their trouble-plagued plants and behind-schedule production are somehow seen as a role model for America’s proposed next generation of nuclear plants – and slated to be supported by US taxpayer-backed loan guarantees.
As Greenpeace asked recently, in awarding the 2009 “Blind Eye” Award:
For many of us, some of the electricity we use every day comes from nuclear power stations. Those reactors are fuelled with uranium. Do you know where that uranium comes from?
Does it come from Namibia where uranium mining has made the traditional lifestyles of the Topnaar Nama people ‘impossible to maintain’. Does it come from Caetite in Brazil where the drinking water has been contaminated with uranium? Does it come from Australia or Canada where there native peoples’ ways of life are threatened? Does it come from Niger whose streets where children play are contaminated with radiation?
January 7, 2010 | Gilad Atzmon
In English they call it the “Iron Dome” in Hebrew they call it the “Iron Kipa” which could also be translated as ‘Iron Skullcap’ or even ‘Iron Yarmulka’*. Seemingly the Israelis love to mix iron with God.
The Iron Dome, Kipa or Yarmulka is the new Israeli guided missile system. It is there to stop rain of rockets from falling over Sderot, Ashkelon or Tel Aviv. According to Haaretz, “the defense establishment this week successfully intercepted a barrage of rockets for the first time using the newly developed Iron Dome system”.
The new Israeli invention uses small guided missiles to blow up Katyusha-style rockets. Israel plans to station the first working unit outside the Gaza Strip next year.
I can only praise the Israelis and their scientists for their creative imagination and their survival instincts. It is possible that this ‘Iron Dome’ is exactly what we need in order to turn Israel and Zionism into history once and for all.
The tactic is very simple indeed: while mortar shells cost just a few dollars, guided missiles cost many thousands more. While Palestinian mortar barrages can be launched from every corner in occupied Palestine, Israel will have to deploy its newly invented Iron Kipa over its borders and around its towns. Every home-made Palestinian mortar shell or Qassam Rocket could easily exhaust the Israeli economy and the military’s human resources. Moreover, from now on, thanks to the Iron Kipa, the war with the Palestinian resistance can take place in the sky rather than in Palestinian cities and villages.
But there is one more hidden implication entangled with the new kosher defense system. If the Israelis do possess the means to protect themselves from Palestinian mortars and any ballistic capacity, then Israel cannot justify its occupation of the West Bank any more. Haaretz has described it in very clear words. “Iron Dome’s success” says the Israeli paper, “could improve the prospects of Israel eventually ceding the West Bank land to the Palestinians, as Israeli officials have said that any withdrawals should be conditional on the deployment of a reliable defense against rocket attacks.”
It seems as if the Israelis are really excelling in shooting themselves in the foot. Don’t ever under estimate the Zionist brilliance and Israeli innovation in particular. Once again the Israeli engineers proved that they know how to transform the Kipa into Iron and vice versa.
*Yarmulka – a skullcap worn by religious Jews (especially at prayer)
By Joharah Baker | January 6, 2010
Just say the word Starbucks and I literally cringe. And it’s not because they make such awful coffee. It’s their political stance towards Palestine that makes the idea of putting even one cent into their coffers almost sacrilegious. Starbucks has long been high on the list of products to be boycotted by Palestinians and their supporters. Starbuck’s chairman, Howard Shultz is a very articulate, self-proclaimed “active Zionist” who makes no secret of his position on supporting all that is Israel. While Starbucks refutes the claim that it directly funds the Israeli army and settlements, there is enough evidence that it gives its fair share of moral and financial support to the state, reportedly giving $1.5 billion annually to Israel. In 1998, Shultz was honored by the Jerusalem Fund of Aish HaTorah with “The Israel 50th Anniversary Friend of Zion Tribute Award” for his services to Israel in “playing a key role in promoting close alliance between the United States and Israel”. In short, it is no secret where Starbucks’ loyalties lie when it comes to supporting Israel.
For us Palestinians, Starbucks is only a problem outside of our country. Even Israel doesn’t have a Starbucks, which means boycotting it here is a moot point. We, however, face a much more difficult dilemma represented in the deluge of Israeli products that flood our markets, including – shamefully so – those made in Israeli settlements.
At this point, let me just say one thing. I have my fair share of criticisms of how the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is conducting itself. However, one recent move by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is nothing short of commendable. He has launched a campaign to once and for all rid Palestinian markets of settlement products, even going as far as throwing a heap of settlement products in Salfit into a huge bonfire and watching them go up in flames. His position is twofold – settlements, their inhabitants and their products are all illegal under international law and their halt is one of the Palestinians’ unwavering demands. Secondly, it is inconceivable and really unacceptable for Palestinians to demand that the world boycott settlement products if they themselves do not live up to their own standards.
He’s right, of course. It is completely unacceptable and frankly, downright disgraceful, that Palestinians would market settlement products. Israeli products coming from factories inside the Green Line are bad enough, but that is a tougher hurdle to jump given the Palestinian economy’s heavy dependency on Israel’s market. This is especially true in Jerusalem where there is a ban on Palestinian-made products. Anyone who “illegally” brings in Palestinian products including pharmaceuticals can be fined thousands of shekels.
But there is no excuse for settlement products: period. In the UK, there is a large boycott and divestment movement against Israeli settlement products, which are innocuously labeled as “produced in Israel” in British supermarkets. Pressure has been exerted on the supermarkets to change the label to “Made in the West Bank” so as to differentiate between those illegally produced in settlements and those produced in Israel and so that the consumer could make an informed choice whether to buy those made in settlements. Products such as Avaha Dead Sea Products, Eden Spring Water and Keter Plastics are all found in Palestinian markets as well as abroad. In Berlin, a swanky Ahava shop can be found just across from the Kempinski Hotel on the upscale Kurfürstendamm Avenue. The untrained rookie would think nothing of entering the beautifully lit store with appealing bottles of face cream and Dead Sea mud guaranteed to rejuvenate your skin and restore its youthful glow. Ahava’s US market is even larger, with its own website catering to US customers. What people may not know is that Avaha’s factory is in the settlement of Mitzpe Shalem in the northern Dead Sea area of the occupied West Bank, which is thus, off-limits to Palestinians.
L’Oreal is another example of why we should choose carefully when we go shopping. The French cosmetics manufacturer has come under increasing fire from pro-Palestinian groups for their huge involvement in Israel. L’Oreal Israel’s factory is built in what is now known as Migdal Haemek, a Jewish settlement town that was built on the ethnically cleansed Palestinian town of Al Mujaydil in 1952. The original inhabitants of Al Mujaydil were expelled from their homes and have not been allowed to return since. Palestinians even today are not allowed to buy land, rent or live in what was once a Palestinian village and is now the home to one of the biggest makeup companies in the world.
Palestinians in the occupied territories are under so many pressures, it is almost unfair to ask them to completely boycott Israeli products, especially since their foreign alternative is so much more expensive. The most that can be asked of them is to look for a suitable Palestinian alternative such as Juneidi dairy products, made in Hebron. For those living abroad there is really no excuse for buying any kind of Israeli products, originating from settlements or otherwise. There are enough alternatives for them to choose from. However, even Palestinians here are morally obligated to draw an indelible line where settlements are concerned. For one, we would be literally shooting ourselves in the foot if we help to finance the maintenance of settlements on Palestinian land. Secondly, that same foot will not give us anything to stand on in terms of demanding that others boycott settlements.
Besides, how can one slather on Ahava cream knowing that it is produced on land that is Palestinian, that it goes to support an occupation from which we suffer daily and that the company and people behind it support a system of apartheid where Palestinians are not allowed access to land and natural resources that are rightfully theirs?
In short, all it takes is to think of the horrors of Gaza, of the separation wall that separates Palestinians from each other and from their beloved Jerusalem or of the daily injustices meted out by the Israeli occupation, to turn away from that green Starbucks logo or to put down that tube of lipstick that is tainted with the color of oppression.
Regarding policy towards Iran, the American national interest would be best served by avoiding any involvement, if only because comments from the White House will be seen as outside interference, strengthening the hands of the conservatives. But there are many in the United States who do not see it quite that way, hoping to tighten the screws on the rulers in Tehran. They have been exploiting the so-called deadline of the year’s end for Iran and the US to enter into meaningful negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program. To be sure, many of those who are pushing hardest for sanctions are really only interested in war and regime change with sanctions as a first step establishing an irreversible course of action based on conflict rather than diplomacy.
Parallel with developments in the political arena, attempts to demonize Iran in the media appear to constitute a growth industry. False articles about Iran poison the foreign policy discourse because they create a dangerous narrative, that Tehran’s rulers are irredeemably evil and completely unwilling to compromise. In intelligence circles this is called disinformation. Nowhere is this barrage of disinformation more evident than in the media empire controlled by Rupert Murdoch, which includes the Wall Street Journal, the Times newspapers in Britain, and Fox television. Murdoch’s media marched in lockstep as a virtual propaganda mill in the lead-up to the Iraq war. Murdoch himself is much esteemed by Israel and by Jewish organizations and he has been outspoken in his approval of Israeli policies, including the devastation of Gaza one year ago. He has received numerous awards in Israel and the US for his support of Israel, most recently in November when he was given the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Humanitarian Laureate Award. In March 2009 he received the National Human Relations award from the American Jewish Committee. Murdoch is generally believed to be extremely close to Tel Aviv’s intelligence service Mossad and some of the stories featured in the media he controls would appear to be disinformation supporting Israeli government positions.
Over the past month there has been a spate of stories demonizing Iran, often based on evidence that most would regard as dubious. A December 14th article in the Times of London called “Secret document exposes Iran’s nuclear trigger” detailed how “confidential intelligence documents obtained by The Times show that Iran is working on testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb.” The article was attacked by Gareth Porter and myself based on informed sources suggesting that the document the article relied on was a forgery. The document in question, alleged to be “from Iran’s most sensitive military nuclear project,” was of unknown provenance and US intelligence agencies do not believe it to be genuine. Times leader writer and columnist Oliver Kamm in turn unloaded on Porter and me as “Lindberghians,” sleazily insinuating in my case that I was an anti-Semite, while failing to address our legitimate suspicions about the document. In passing he also trashed Antiwar.com, inaccurately calling it isolationist, and described Ron Paul somewhat bizarrely as “Republican presidential nominee of insanitary political lineage and, ahem, highly imaginative schemes for monetary policy.” Kamm is a former merchant banker whose understanding of foreign policy apparently derives from his ability to make money in the bizarre financial services world that prevailed prior to the 2008 meltdown. His neoconish credentials and somewhat bizarre worldview have been examined by Justin Raimondo.
Other stories relating to the alleged threat posed by Iran have appeared recently in the Times. On December 21st appeared “North Korea weapons aircraft ‘was heading to Iran.’” The Times conceded that the destination of the flight was a mystery but relied on its sister paper the Wall Street Journal as the source for the story. The Times then adds its own analysis, “From Iran the weapons could have been passed on to militants in Lebanon or Gaza.” So the story about a plane that turned out to be registered in Georgia and carrying North Korean weapons becomes a story about Iran with no real hard evidence of Tehran’s involvement. Since the account of the arms shipment first surfaced it has vanished without a trace, suggesting that many other media outlets did not find it credible. But some readers were convinced by it. The story attracted a comment by one Daniel Evans who wrote “North Korea and Iran are targeting Israeli civilians to be killed by Hamas and Hezbollah. All in order to facilitate Iran’s nuclear annihilation of Israel and USA. Full scale war is the appropriate response.”
On December 31st, the Times featured an article “Peter Moore freed after US hands over Iraqi insurgent.” The story was about a British contractor who had been held by an Iraqi group for 31 months. So what does it have to do with Iran? According to the Times the extremist Shia group that allegedly held Moore is “allied to Iran,” adding “there were unconfirmed reports that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard was involved in the kidnapping operation and that the hostages were smuggled into Iran…held in two prisons run by al-Quds, which specializes in foreign operations.” But both the British Foreign office and no less than General David Petraeus have both said that the alleged Iranian involvement is only speculation. Unfortunately, true or false the story resonates, convincing some that Iran is outside the pale. In a comment on the article posted on Times Online, one Daniel Case wrote “I think it is time to go into Iran and change the regime. I would love to see the religious nutters at The Hague charged with crimes against humanity. Let them all rot in jail.”
Also on New Year’s Eve, another Murdoch paper, the New York Post, featured an editorial by Ralph Peters, “O’s day of reckoning,” calling on President Obama to take action against Iran over the expiry of the end-of-year negotiating deadline. He cites, inter alia, the Iranian “…attempt to import more than 1,300 tons of make-a-nuke uranium ore from Kazakhstan” and refers to the government in Tehran as “turbaned tyrants” and “authentic fanatics.” The uranium ore story had surfaced the day before based on an intelligence report that was prepared by a country that “could not be identified because of the confidential nature of the information.” Both Iran and Kazakhstan have denied that any sale was being discussed and the media outrage is again derived from one anonymous report of unknown reliability. Is it a coincidence that the story should surface at a time when there are increasing demands for Obama to do something about Iran?
Bogus stories about Iran have a long history in the Murdoch media empire, most particularly in the Times. In April 2009, the newspaper reported that Israel was planning a massive attack on Iran’s nuclear sites “within days of being given the go-ahead by its new government.” The article, light on content and heavy on innuendo, undoubtedly was intended to alarm new president Obama to force him to panic and take action against Iran to forestall an Israeli strike. A month earlier, the Times reported that Iran was supplying the Taliban in Afghanistan with surface to air missiles that could destroy helicopters. The story was denied by the US and British defense departments and turned out to be untrue, but it left behind the impression that Iran was assisting attacks on allied forces in Afghanistan. Such a highly emotional story line, which might be reduced to “they are killing our soldiers,” was used subsequently by Senator Joseph Lieberman and others in the US Congress to justify harsh sanctions against Iran.
In July 2008, the Times claimed that Iran might be developing germ warfare agents because of the reported purchase of 215 wild monkeys from a Tanzanian dealer for drug testing at the Razi Vaccine and Serum Institute in Tehran. It is unfortunately true that many countries continue to test drugs on primates but testing drugs does not necessarily equate to germ warfare. The story was never corroborated.
A September 2007 story on the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor included a somewhat implausible account of how Israeli commandoes had seized nuclear material from the site before it was bombed. The story was unique to the Times and appears to be untrue, almost certainly coming from an Israeli government source. If Israel had actually seized any compromising material, it would have show it to the world’s media to bolster its case against Damascus. The story also provided the opportunity to throw punches at Iran, claiming that Iran, Syria, and North Korea constitute a new “axis of evil” and quoting a source at the neocon Washington Institute of Near East Policy who described Syria as a “client” of Iran.
In April 2007, the Times featured a shocking article claiming that Iran was assisting al-Qaeda in Iraq to enable it to stage a “Nagasaki or Hiroshima size attack” against a western target, possibly using a dirty bomb. Most intelligence sources considered the story to be highly implausible, bordering on ridiculous. A month earlier the Times described the defection of Iranian former Revolutionary Guard General Ali Reza Asgari. Per the Times, Azgari was the “father of Hezbollah” and was carrying documents proving Iran’s links to terrorists. In reality, Azgari was a 43-year-old businessman snatched off an Istanbul street in a joint CIA Turkish operation. He had been out of the Iranian government for several years, had no documents, and had not been in Lebanon since 1989.
Two Times articles in August and September 2006 described how Iran was seeking to buy uranium from the Congo and also attempting to obtain ballistic missiles from criminal members of the security services in the Ukraine that would be capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Neither article was ever independently corroborated. The original source of the uranium story appears to have been a memo leaked from the Pentagon’s Office of the Undersecretary for Defense Policy headed by Eric Edelman, who succeeded Doug Feith.
I am not suggesting for a moment that the Times and other Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers don’t do some good reporting, and I would note in particular their exemplary coverage of the Sibel Edmonds story [editor's comment - Hmmm I wonder why that might be?]. But I would warn that the conjunction of Middle East issues, most particularly the “Iranian threat,” and the newspaper’s editorial slant in favor of Israel and interventionism invite caution. If a breaking story relates to Iran and appears first in the Times it is probably not completely true and might be completely false, a shaky foundation for building a case for war.
Popular Technology | January 1, 2010
2009 was another year of global cooling, which saw numerous low temperature and high snowfall records smashed. The Dutch canals froze over for the first time in 12 years, record cold came to Al Gore’s home town and ironically a blizzard dumped snow on the Copenhagen convention where world leaders met to try and stop global warming. It was so cold that even the BBC was forced to ask, what happened to global warming? As Climategate would reveal, IPCC scientists had been hard at work hiding evidence of global cooling. Yet the observational evidence cannot be ignored.
“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.”
- Kevin Trenberth, Lead Author IPCC (2001, 2007)
2009 – Record cold wind chills of -50 C recorded overnight in Saskatchewan (Canadian Press, January 4, 2009)2009 – Coldest start to the New Year for seven years (The Daily Telegraph, UK, January 5, 2009)2009 – Forget warming, greenhouse gases may trigger ice age (The Times of India, January 5, 2009)2009 – London colder than Antarctica (The Daily Telegraph, UK, January 5, 2009)2009 – Poor burn books to stay warm in chilly India, 55 dead (Reuters, January 5, 2009)2009 – Cold streak breaks 1892 record, Saskatoon experiences 24 consecutive days of -25 C (The StarPhoenix, January 6, 2009)2009 – Record cold weather payouts triggered as temperature hits -11C (The Times, UK, January 6, 2009)2009 – Record-breaking cold -37 in Moose Jaw, Canada (The Moose Jaw Times Herald, Canada, January 6, 2009)2009 – NCDC’s own graphic shows decadal cooling trend (Watts Up With That?, January 6, 2009)2009 – Global Warming is Really Global Cooling (Right Side News, January 6, 2009)2009 – Schools remain closed amid freeze (BBC, January 7, 2009)2009 – Seven freeze to death in Europe’s coldest winter night (AFP, January 7, 2009)2009 – Spokane, Wash., residents cope with record snow (Fox News, January 7, 2009)2009 – 12 deaths blamed on snow, cold across Europe (Associated Press, January 7, 2009)2009 – Deadly cold, heavy snow grip Europe (National Post, January 8, 2009)2009 – Extreme Alaska cold 60 below grounds planes, disables cars (CNS News, January 8, 2009)2009 – Minn. sled race canceled because of heavy snow (USA Today, January 8, 2009)2009 – Temperature in Germany Falls to Minus 34.6 Degrees (Spiegel Online, January 8, 2009)2009 – Record snow takes toll on Great Falls plowing budget, crews (Montana News Network, January 9, 2009)2009 – Life At Negative 78 Degrees In Alaska (NPR, January 9, 2009)2009 – Britain in grip of longest cold snap for 10 years (The Daily Telegraph, January 10, 2009)2009 – Polar Sea Ice Changes are Having a Net Cooling Effect on the Climate (Watts Up With That?, January 10, 2009)2009 – Slovenia with record low temperature -49 (Montenegrin News Agency, January 11, 2009)2009 – Earth on the Brink of an Ice Age (Pravda, Russia, January 11, 2009)2009 – Frosty Hong Kong shivers through coldest spell for 16 years (The Earth Times, January 12, 2009)2009 – ND gets blizzard on top of December’s record snow (Fox News, January 12, 2009)2009 – Global Cooling Headed Our Way (Newsmax, January 13, 2009)2009 – Record cold hits eastern ND (The Daily News, January 13, 2009)2009 – Sharp cold wave shocks upper Midwest, temps to -36 (Associated Press, January 13, 2009)2009 – Bismarck reports day snow record 5.4 inches (KXNet, January 14, 2009)2009 – Biting cold hits Northeast, keeps even skiers home (ABC News, January 14, 2009)2009 – Coldest night in 5 years sinks into state (KAAL-TV Minnesota, January 14, 2009)2009 – Flint’s 95-year-old record low falls as 19 below zero hits city (The Flint Journal, January 14, 2009)2009 – Shocking cold wave drops temps to 40 below zero (Associated Press, January 14, 2009)2009 – Two-day deep freeze bringing coldest temps in several years (Daily Times Herald, January 14, 2009)2009 – Coldest Temperatures In 5 Years Paralyze Minn. (WCCO-TV Minnesota, January 15, 2009)2009 – D.C. Sees Coldest Weather in 5 Years (WJLA-TV Washington D.C., January 15, 2009)2009 – Dutch canals freeze over for the first time in 12 years (The New York Times, January 15, 2009)2009 – On the Brink of Climatic Disaster: the Coming Ice Age (The John Birch Society, January 15, 2009)2009 – Swallow survives coldest spell for 20 years as Britain braced for 80mph winds (The Daily Telegraph, UK, January 15, 2009)2009 – The Ice Age Cometh: Experts Warn of Global Cooling (Business & Media Institute, January 15, 2009)2009 – Americans suffer record cold as temperatures plunge to -40C (Daily Mail, UK, January 16, 2009)2009 – Arctic front freezes US, Canada in record cold snap (AFP, January 16, 2009)2009 – Heavy snow causes 6,000 traffic accidents, 24 deaths in Moscow (RIA Novosti, January 16, 2009)2009 – Iowa Endures Record-Breaking Cold (KCRG-TV Iowa, January 16, 2009)2009 – Mercury hits 27 below; 2nd coldest ever in Galesburg (Galesburg Register-Mail, January 16, 2009)2009 – Record-breaking cold chills Western Massachusetts (The Republican, January 16, 2009)2009 – Cold snaps 124-year-old record in Fredericton, Canada (The Daily Gleaner, January 17, 2009)2009 – Record Cold Chills North Country, New York (North Country Gazette, January 17, 2009)2009 – Record cold in Detroit as deep freeze continues (Associated Press, January 17, 2009)2009 – Thailand temperatures are coldest in a decade (The Jakarta Post, January 17, 2009)2009 – Low temperature ties 1951 record in Hawaii (The Maui News, January 20, 2009)2009 – Oceans are cooling according to NASA (The Baltimore Weather Examiner, January 21, 2009)2009 – Frigid temps are coldest in a decade (Independent Herald, January 22, 2009)2009 – Shanghai reports coldest winter for 18 years (Xinhua, January 24, 2009)2009 – UAE mountain covered in rare snow (AFP, January 25, 2009)2009 – This January is 18th coldest in 139 years in Western New York (The Buffalo News, January 27, 2009)2009 – 8 found dead in Michigan cold since Jan. 17 (The Chicago Tribune, January 28, 2009)2009 – Two Fairfield, Illinois businesses collapse under snow, ice (Evansville Courier & Press, January 28, 2009)2009 – Ice storm cuts power to 870,000 in Midwest (Reuters, January 28, 2009)2009 – Docks Collapse Under Weight of Snow, Sleet and Ice (Ozarks First, January 29, 2009)2009 – Global Cooling Under-reported (Science & Public Policy Institute, January 29, 2009)2009 – Snow Storm Sweeps Northeast From Texas; at Least 23 Are Dead (The New York Times, January 29, 2009)2009 – World is getting colder (The Washington Times, January 30, 2009)2009 – January One of Coldest in Decade (The Washington Post, February 1, 2009)2009 – Saginaw Michigan breaks 1947 snowfall record for a calendar year (The Saginaw News, February 2, 2009)2009 – Heaviest Snow in 18 Years Brings Much of Europe to a Halt (Fox News, February 2, 2009)2009 – 75 inches of January snow sets Juneau record (Anchorage Daily News, February 3, 2009)2009 – Arctic Sea Ice Increases at Record Rate (Watts Up With That?, February 3, 2009)2009 – Slippery Slope: Ice Age Cometh in Five Years (NewsMax, February 3, 2009)2009 – Snow chaos as coldest winter for years hits Britain (The Australian, February 3, 2009)2009 – Mt. LeConte Lodge records coldest temp in more than 20 years (WVLT-TV Tennessee, February 4, 2009)2009 – Recent cold snap in Mount Airy, NC shatters 1982 record (Mount Airy News, February 4, 2009)2009 – Coldest Temperatures In 20 Years! (WCTV Florida, February 5, 2009)2009 – Six die in snow roof collapse in Morocco (afrol News, February 5, 2009)2009 – Coldest Dublin winter for 18 years, says Met office (The Irish Times, February 6, 2009)2009 – Hamilton, Ontario Canada broke a 28-year record low temperature (The Hamilton Sectator, February 6, 2009)2009 – Ice, snow collapse several Anna, Illinois buildings (The Southern, February 6, 2009)2009 – Vail, Colorado set record for January snow (Vail Daily, February 6, 2009)2009 – Bristol endures its coldest weather in 20 years (Bristol Evening Post, UK, February 7, 2009)2009 – Record Low Temperatures in Western Cuba (Cuba News Headlines, February 8, 2009)2009 – Record-breaking cold -50°F temperature reached in Maine (NOAA, February 10, 2009)2009 – Snow storms force German motorists to sleep in cars (The Earth Times, February 11, 2009)2009 – Snowstorms wreak havoc in the Balkans (The Earth Times, February 19, 2009)2009 – Little ice age may be on the way (Lincolnshire Echo, UK, February 20, 2009)2009 – GUINEA: Record cold snap destroys crops, kills hundreds of animals (Reuters, February 20, 2009)2009 – Ice Age or global warming? (Reuters, February 24th, 2009)2009 – ‘Snow bomb’ brings record snowfall across New Brunswick (CBC News, February 24, 2009)2009 – Snowiest Winter Ever Recorded in North Dakota (Watts Up With That?, February 27, 2009)2009 – Global Cooling Continues (The Hearland Institute, March 1, 2009)2009 – Joy in NYC: Kids get first snow day in five years (USA Today, March 2, 2009)2009 – Providence sets record; Coventry tops RI for snowfall (The Providence Journal, March 2, 2009)2009 – Record breaking snowfall in Milwaukee (WKOW-TV Wisconsin, March 2, 2009)2009 – Coldest winter in UK for 13 years (BBC, March 3, 2009)2009 – Ferocious storm dumps heavy snow on East Coast (ABC News, March 3, 2009)2009 – Lynchburg Virginia breaks 84-year cold record (Lynchburg News and Advance, March 3, 2009)2009 – 84-year-old cold temperature record falls in Baltimore (Baltimore Sun, March 3, 2009)2009 – Senators Debate Global Warming Policy Despite Global Cooling Evidence (CNSNews, March 4, 2009)2009 – Cuba’s winter among its coldest (Miami Herald, March 5, 2009)2009 – Late snowfalls in Britain bring chaos to roads and rail (The Earth Times, March 5, 2009)2009 – Lake Superior is freezing over (Watts Up With That?, March 7, 2009)2009 – Blizzard blasts northern Plains, upper Midwest (USA Today, March 10, 2009)2009 – It wasn’t just cold, it was record cold in Yakima, Washington (Yakima Herald Republic, March 12, 2009)2009 – Record-brrrrrrrrreaking cold -34.8 C in Regina, Canada (CBC News, March 12, 2009)2009 – Edmonton Canada bests all time record low by -12 degrees (Watts Up With That?, March 15, 2009)2009 – Snowy 1st Day Of Spring For Some Northeast Towns (Associated Press, March 20, 2009)2009 – Shocker: ‘Global warming’ simply no longer happening (WorldNetDaily, March 22, 2009)2009 – New Report Predicts “New Global Ice Age” (Reuters, March 23, 2009)2009 – Blizzard Punishes Several States (The New York Times, March 24, 2009)2009 – Crashes injure 15 as blizzard blasts Colo., Wyo. (USA Today, March 26, 2009)2009 – Blizzard Hits Southern Plains (The New York Times, March 27, 2009)2009 – Southwest, central N.D. hit by blizzard conditions (USA Today, March 30, 2009)2009 – Spokane records snowiest winter ever (The Seattle Times, March 30, 2009)2009 – Coldest day since 1953 (The Cairns Post, Australia, March 31, 2009)2009 – Late March Snowfall Breaks Bismarck, North Dakota, Record (Associated Content, March 31, 2009)2009 – 3,500 cows died in blizzard (Amarillo Globe-News, April 2, 2009)2009 – RSS MSU: 0.06 °C month-on-month cooling (The Reference Frame, April 3, 2009)2009 – A rare April blizzard warning issued in Forest City Iowa (Britt News Tribune, April 4, 2009)2009 – Satellite Data Shows Arctic Cooling in February and March (Watts Up With That?, April 4, 2009)2009 – All-time Snow Records Tumbling Again for the Second Straight Year (Watts Up With That?, April 5, 2009)2009 – Spring snowstorm keeps some western schools closed (Omaha World-Herald, April 6, 2009)2009 – GISS: March 2009 was the coolest March in this century (The Reference Frame, April 14, 2009)2009 – Disaster panel mulls record Kotzebue snow (Juneau Empire, April 17, 2009)2009 – Global Warming Strikes Again: Up To 36 Inches Of Snow In Colorado (KXNet, April 17, 2009)2009 – Record snowfall (102 inches) a concern in Kotzebue, Alaska (Siku News, April 17, 2009)2009 – Colorado Hit With 41 Inches Of Snow – Record Snowfall With More On The Way (The Post Chronicle, April 18, 2009)2009 – Revealed: Antarctic ice growing, not shrinking (The Australian, April 18, 2009)2009 – Scientists baffled by Quiet Sun… ice age coming? (MINA, April 22, 2009)2009 – The Next Ice Age (American Thinker, April 22, 2009)2009 – Global Cooling Earth’s Little-Known Threat (CBN News, April 25, 2009)2009 – New Australian continent wide low temperature record set for April (Watts Up With That?, April 29, 2009)2009 – Scientists Expect Global Cooling to Start Soon (Russia-IC, April 29, 2009)2009 – Australian Ski Resort has it’s earliest start to the season in the resort’s 45-year history (ABC News, Australia, April 30, 2009)2009 – Melbourne shivers through coldest April in 60 years (Herald Sun, Australia, April 30, 2009)2009 – RSS MSU: 2nd coldest April since 1999 (The Reference Frame, May 2, 2009)2009 – Sun Oddly Quiet – Hints at Next “Little Ice Age”? (National Geographic, May 4, 2009)2009 – Quiet Sun May Trigger Global Cooling (Fox News, May 5, 2009)2009 – NOAA: April Temperatures Slightly Cooler Than Average for U.S. (NOAA, May 8, 2009)2009 – Snow in Saudi Arabia in May? (Watts Up With That?, May 12, 2009)2009 – Pouring cold water on global warming (The Belfast Telegraph, UK, May 13, 2009)2009 – The Coming Ice Age (American Thinker, May 13, 2009)2009 – Geologist forecasts global cooling (ABC, Australia, May 15, 2009)2009 – Summer haze has a cooling effect in southeastern United States, says new study (University of California Berkeley, May 18, 2009)2009 – Weekend snow sets record in International Falls (Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 18, 2009)2009 – Another record-setting cold morning in Austin breaks 109 year old record (The Austin American-Statesman, May 19, 2009)2009 – Baltimore Morning cold breaks record (The Baltimore Sun, May 19, 2009)2009 – Record cold on the coast of South Carolina (The State, May 19, 2009)2009 – Record cold hits Far North breaks 113 year record in the Cooktown region (The Cairns Post, Australia, May 23, 2009)2009 – Canada Has a Frigid May after a Cold Winter (Watts Up With That?, May 27, 2009)2009 – Cooler decades ahead, researcher says (SitNews, May 28, 2009)2009 – Still More on Diminished Solar Activity and Global Cooling (Dakota Voice, May 30, 3009)2009 – Red Centre shivers in record cold (ABC News, Australia, June 1, 2009)2009 – Record cold in May and more chill to come (TVNZ, New Zealand, June 3, 2009)2009 – Isn’t this June? Snow sticking around on Pikes Peak (The Gazette, June 5, 2009)2009 – RSS Global Temperature Anomaly also down in May, halving the April value (Watts Up With That?, June 5, 2009)2009 – UAH global temperature anomaly for May – down again, near zero (Watts Up With That?, June 5, 2009)2009 – Snow falls in western ND, in June, first time in 60 years (KXNet, June 6, 2009)2009 – Alberta, Saskatchewan get snow in June (National Post, Canada, June 7, 2009)2009 – Canada frosts the most widespread in recent memory (Reuters, June 9, 2009)2009 – Abominable as snow hits Britain (Daily Star, UK, June 8, 2009)2009 – Cold weather record set in Flathead (Montana’s News Station, June 9, 2009)2009 – Canadian Wheat Output May Fall on Dry, Cool Weather (Bloomberg, June 11, 2009)2009 – Coldest day for 43 years (The Australian, June 13, 2009)2009 – Crops under stress as temperatures fall (The Daily Telegraph, UK, June 13, 2009)2009 – Ocean waters off British Columbia coldest in half century (Chinook Observer, June 23, 2009)2009 – First Ever Ice Wine in Brazil (Watts Up With That?, June 16, 2009)2009 – Earth on the Brink of an Ice Age (DC Weather Examiner, June 29, 2009)2009 – July Opens with Near-Record Cold (WTMJ-TV Wisconsin, July 1, 2009)2009 – Global Cooling: Bad News For Global Warming Alarmists (Right Side News, July 6, 2009)2009 – Frost in July hits P.E.I. (CBC News, July 8, 2009)2009 – Chicago has its coolest July 8 in 118 years (The Chicago Tribune, July 9, 2009)2009 – RSS Global Temperature for June 09, also down (Watts Up With That?, July 10, 2009)2009 – Cooler weather bringing the “luck of the Irish” to the USA (Watts Up With That?, July 11, 2009)2009 – Record Cold in Regina and Estevan Canada: Beats 92-Year-Old Record Low (CKOM-AM Canada, July 11, 2009)2009 – Global Cooling Chills Summer 2009 (National Review Online, July 13, 2009)2009 – NYC fails to reach 85°F in June – first time since 1916 (Watts Up With That?, July 13, 2009)2009 – Record cold in Portland Maine in July (Watts Up With That?, July 13, 2009)2009 – 113-Year Record Cold in Pittsburgh, 27 in MI (AccuWeather, July 14, 2009)2009 – July 2009; Coldest on Record So Far (Discover Moose Jaw, July 16, 2009)2009 – West Michigan record cold (Grand Rapids Weather Examiner, July 18, 2009)2009 – Record low temperatures across Mississippi, this morning (Jackson Weather Examiner, July 19, 2009)2009 – Cold front brings Alabama record lows (Tuscaloosa News, July 21, 2009)2009 – Coldest July 21 In Nashville, Tennessee Since 1877 (The Post Chronicle, July 22, 2009)2009 – Historic snow event in South America (Watts Up With That?, July 23, 2009)2009 – Worry about global cooling, not warming (Kennebec Journal, July 23, 2009)2009 – Cool summer disappoints tourists, delays crops (Associated Press, July 25, 2009)2009 – Global cooling hits Al Gore’s home (The Daily Telegraph, UK, July 25, 2009)2009 – So where’s that global cooling alert? (The Globe and Mail, Canada, July 27, 2009)2009 – Record setting cool weather hits Denver and brings snow to the mountains (Denver Weather Examiner, July 30, 2009)2009 – Rochester records second-coldest July (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, July 31, 2009)2009 – Antarctic air flow brings record snow fall to the Falkland Islands (MercoPress, August 1, 2009)2009 – Coldest July ever for Grand Rapids, Michigan (Grand Rapids Weather Examiner, August 1, 2009)2009 – Coldest July on Record for Huntington, West Virginia (WOWK-TV West Virginia, August 1, 2009)2009 – Coolest July Ever for Fort Wayne, Indiana (Indiana’s NewsCenter, August 1, 2009)2009 – July was coldest on record for International Falls, Minnesota (KQDS-TV Minnesota, August 1, 2009)2009 – That was the coldest July in Dubuque, Iowa Ever (Dubuque Telegraph Herald, August 1, 2009)2009 – Media blames record cold on nature, warming on man (Energy Publisher, August 3, 2009)2009 – Global cooling blamed as bikini record attempt falls flat (National Post, Canada, August 4, 2009)2009 – July 2009 coldest in 33 years, weather service says (The Patriot-News, August 4, 2009)2009 – July sets record for cold 1,100 new low temperatures set (Ravenna Record Courier, August 4, 2009)2009 – Scientific evidence now points to global cooling, contrary to U.N. alarmism (The Washington Examiner, August 4, 2009)2009 – July ranks in the top three for coldest (WLUC-TV Michigan, August 6, 2009)2009 – NOAA: July Temperature Below-Average for the U.S. (NOAA, August 10, 2009)2009 – Falling Temperatures Confound Alarmists (The Heartland Institute, September 1, 2009)2009 – Record-setting cold weekend (The Daily Journal, September 3, 2009)2009 – UAH: global temperature down in August by .181°C, SH sees biggest drop of 0.4°C (Watts Up With That?, September 4, 2009)2009 – Record snowfall for Cardrona, New Zealand (Otago Daily Times, September 7, 2009)2009 – NOAA: Summer Temperature Below Average for U.S. (NOAA, September 10, 2009)2009 – Svensmark: “global warming stopped and a cooling is beginning” (Watts Up With That?, September 10, 2009)2009 – Scientists see signs of global cooling (Belfast Telegraph, UK, September 21, 2009)2009 – Planet Cooling Down Amid Global Warming Madness (NewsMax, September 23, 2009)2009 – U.S. Northeast May Have Coldest Winter in a Decade (Bloomberg, September 28, 2009)2009 – Forecast: A cooling trend on climate change (Canada Free Press, September 29, 2009)2009 – NASA: Cosmic rays up 19% since last peak – new record high could lead to cooling (Watts Up With That?, September 29, 2009)2009 – Storm brought record cold in six areas in Utah (Deseret News, October 1, 2009)2009 – Cold spell brings record low temperatures to Southern California (Los Angeles Times, October 6, 2009)2009 – October off to record cold start in Grand Junction, Colorado (Grand Junction Sentinel, October 6, 2009)2009 – Shocker! Ice melt lowest in 30 years (WorldNetDaily, October 8, 2009)2009 – What happened to global warming? (BBC, October 9, 2009)2009 – Biggest news you’ve never heard: Earth isn’t warming (The Christian Science Monitor, October 10, 2009)2009 – It was cold enough to break a record (Gillette News Record, October 10, 2009)2009 – Record cold kills NL playoff game (Daily Mail, Charleston, October 10, 2009)2009 – Record cold temperatures greet fans as Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies prepare for Game 3 (The Express Times, October 10, 2009)2009 – Record snowfall, cold hit Central Nebraska (Grand Island Independent, October 10, 2009)2009 – Denver breaks 104 year old cold temperature record as Arctic chill sets in (Denver Weather Examiner, October 11, 2009)2009 – B.C. Interior hit with record-breaking cold snap (CTV British Columbia, October 12, 2009)2009 – Bellingham, Washington sets cold record (Bellingham Herald, October 12, 2009)2009 – Early winter arrival with record lows and snow in Baltimore (Baltimore Weather Examiner, October 12, 2009)2009 – Kalispell, Montana hits new cold record (Daily Inter Lake, October 12, 2009)2009 – Iowa sees record cold (Chicago Tribune, October 12, 2009)2009 – Record cold, early snow grip Prairies on Thanksgiving (CBC News, October 12, 2009)2009 – Record cold hits Wenatchee, Washington; snow on the way (The Wenatchee World Online, October 12, 2009)2009 – Three Decades Of Global Cooling (Investors Business Daily, October 12, 2009)2009 – Winter hits Calgary roads after record cold (Calgary Herald, October 12, 2009)2009 – Good snow spells a record year for New Zealand ski fields (Reuters, October 13, 2009)2009 – Monday snowfall breaks record in Southern Minnesota (Austin Herald, October 13, 2009)2009 – Record cold, snow hits central Canada (Times of the Internet, October 13, 2009)2009 – Western Montana towns report coldest temperatures ever for Oct. 12 (The Missoulian, October 13, 2009)2009 – Austria gets record October snow (Radio Netherlands, October 14, 2009)2009 – Central Europe hit by heavy snow, high winds (Reuters, October 14, 2009)2009 – Early start to winter ≈20% of USA is covered in snow already (Watts Up With That?, October 14, 2009)2009 – October Cold Snap Sets 82-Year Record in Chicago (WBBM-TV Chicago, October 14, 2009)2009 – Record-setting cold in Laurel, Montana (Laurel Outlook, October 14, 2009)2009 – Whatever happened to global warming? (Daily Mail, UK, October 14, 2009)2009 – European cold snap kills 4 in Poland, cuts power (Reuters, October 15, 2009)2009 – Record cold day ties 1874 record in Baltimore (Baltimore Weather Examiner, October 15, 2009)2009 – Earliest snow on record blankets Poconos, Penn State (Philadelphia Inquirer, October 16, 2009)2009 – Record-Breaking Early Snowfall In New York, New Jersey (The Huffington Post, October 16, 2009)2009 – Friday coldest Oct. 16 in DC in 138 years (The Washington Examiner, October 17, 2009)2009 – October bringing record cold to Topeka, Kansas (Topeka Capital Journal, October 17, 2009)2009 – Record snow at Penn State cancels tailgating on Homecoming Weekend (Baltimore Weather Examiner, October 17, 2009)2009 – A cold start to fall: over 4500 new snowfall, low temp, and lowest max temp records set in the USA this last week (Watts Up With That?, October 18, 2009)2009 – There’s a global cooling trend (StandardNet, October 19, 2009)2009 – Study: model in good agreement with satellite temperature data – suggest cooling (Watts Up With That?, October 20, 2009)2009 – Cold start to fall continues, 252 more low temperature records set in the USA this week (Watts Up With That?, October 23, 2009)2009 – Snow sets October record (Omaha World-Herald, October 23, 2009)2009 – The “cold war” hits home – October in like a lion, out like a fridge (Watts Up With That?, October 25, 2009)2009 – Russian research forecasts global cooling (WorldNetDaily, October 27, 2009)2009 – Global cooling welcomed here (Caymanian Compass, October 28, 2009)2009 – North Platte, NE Breaks All-Time Snow Record (AccuWeather, November 2, 2009)2009 – Coldest October in 64 years (The Dominion Post, New Zealand, November 3, 2009)2009 – Record cold and rain: October 2009 climate statistics for Baltimore (Baltimore Weather Examiner, November 3, 2009)2009 – October’s significant chill – take your pick on descriptors (Watts Up With That?, November 5, 2009)2009 – October 2009 3rd Coldest for US in 115 Years (Watts Up With That?, November 7, 2009)2009 – Beware global cooling (Business Day, November 9, 2009)2009 – Beijing’s Heaviest Snow in 54 Years Strands Thousands (Bloomberg, November 12, 2009)2009 – Coldest November day in Delhi in five years (The Times of India, November 12, 2009)2009 – Record snow turns Hebei’s capital into wonderland (Global Times, China, November 12, 2009)2009 – Roof collapse kills three children as snow blankets north China (Earthtimes, November 12, 2009)2009 – Chinese schools collapse in snow (BBC, November 13, 2009)2009 – Italian ski resorts killing it with record snow (Ski Channel, November 17, 2009)2009 – A Week in Alaska: -46 Degrees, 186 MPH Winds (AccuWeather, November 17, 2009)2009 – North-central China staggers under early snow; 40 die, 9,000 buildings collapse (Associated Press, November 18, 2009)2009 – Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out (Der Spiegel, November 19, 2009)2009 – Hong Kong shivers in coldest November in more than 120 years (The Earth Times, November 19, 2009)2009 – Whistler blows away November snowfall record (CBC News, November 19, 2009)2009 – Often Alaska’s coldest spot, Bettles is setting records (Anchorage Daily News, November 22, 2009)2009 – Hiding evidence of global cooling (The Washington Times, November 24, 2009)2009 – Snow on the French Riviera???? (CNN iReport, November 24, 2009)2009 – Record snowfall on Mount Washington (Courier Islander, Canada, November 25, 2009)2009 – The global-cooling cover-up (The Washington Times, November 27, 2009)2009 – Denying the global-cooling cover-up (The Washington Times, December 1, 2009)2009 – Whistler-Blackcomb sets November snow record (The Vancouver Sun, December 1, 2009)2009 – Earliest snow on record for Houston and New Orleans (Baltimore Weather Examiner, December 4, 2009)2009 – Houston gets earliest snowfall on record (Associated Press, December 4, 2009)2009 – Record breaking snowfall from Houston, Texas to Grand Rapids, Michigan (Denver Weather Examiner, December 5, 2009)2009 – Albertans break electricity demand record; cold, dark part of reason (Winnipeg Free Press, December 7, 2009)2009 – Arizona Buckles Down for Rare Blizzard (CBS News, December 7, 2009)2009 – Newfoundland digs out from record snow (UPI, December 7, 2009)2009 – St. John’s gets record snowfall (CBC News, December 7, 2009)2009 – Blizzard dumps record snow on Siouxland (Sioux City Journal, December 8, 2009)2009 – Early-season blizzard blamed for 4 deaths (UPI, December 8, 2009)2009 – Record cold hits Sacramento (The Sacramento Bee, December 8, 2009)2009 – Blizzard Paralyzes Much of Midwest (The New York Times, December 9, 2009)2009 – Enormous winter storm over US (TVNZ, December 9, 2009)2009 – Epic blizzard wreaks havoc: Blizzard forces school and road closures throughout Midwest (Akron Headlines Examiner, December 9, 2009)2009 – Record cold temperatures chill Santa Cruz County (Santa Cruz Sentinel, December 9, 2009)2009 – Sledding on cafeteria trays for first college snow day on record (WKOW-TV Wisconsin, December 9, 2009)2009 – Southwest La. snowfall earliest on record (Jennings Daily News, December 9, 2009)2009 – Storm dumps record snowfall in Carson, Nevada (Nevada Appeal, December 9, 2009)2009 – State of Wisconsin shut down by Dec 09 blizzard, National Guard put on alert (Madison Political Buzz Examiner, December 9, 2009)2009 – Massive Storms Cause Blizzard Conditions, 17 Deaths (ABC News, December 10, 2009)2009 – Midwest & Great Lakes blizzard reached the intensity of a category 2 hurricane (Jackson Weather Examiner, December 10, 2009)2009 – 3rd day of record cold at Sea-Tac (The Seattle Times, December 11, 2009)2009 – Yes, the last decade saw global cooling, not warming (American Thinker, December 12, 2009)2009 – Edmonton breaks weather record for coldest December 13 (National Post, Canada, December 13, 2009)2009 – Greenhouse roofs collapse under heavy snow (KSL-TV Utah, December 13, 2009)2009 – Lots of new cold and snow records in the USA this past week (Watts Up With That?, December 13, 2009)2009 – Record setting cold grips Southwest Saskatchewan (Southwest Booster, December 13, 2009)2009 – Extreme cold in Prairies; snowstorms in B.C. (National Post, Canada, December 14, 2009)2009 – Midwest, Northeast dig out from brutal winter storm (USA Today, December 14, 2009)2009 – Blizzard Dumps Snow on Copenhagen as Leaders Battle Warming (Bloomberg, December 17, 2009)2009 – Record cold, snow envelop Japan Sea coast (The Japan Times, December 18, 2009)2009 – Record snow continues to fall as deadly East Coast storm lingers (CNN, December 19, 2009)2009 – A winter’s worth of snow in 24 hours (The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 20, 2009)2009 – 2nd highest three-day snowfall in history hits Valdez (Juneau Empire, December 20, 2009)2009 – Blizzard-like storm pounds East; 5 deaths are reported (The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 20, 2009)2009 – Passengers grounded as U.S. digs out from record snowfall (Toronto Star, December 20, 2009)2009 – Record setting winter storm wallops the East Coast (Natural Disasters Examiner, December 20, 2009)2009 – Record snowfall totals for Rhode Island (Providence Headlines Examiner, December 20, 2009)2009 – Snow plays role in Georgetown roof collapse (December 20, 2009)2009 – D.C. Blizzard Makes for a Rotten Time for U.S. Climate Attendees in Denmark (The New York Times, December 21, 2009)2009 – D.C. digs out from record snowstorm (The Washington Times, December 21, 2009)2009 – Guard Responds to Record Northeast Snowfall (U.S. Department of Defense)2009 – Health Ministry: 27 people froze to death in Ukraine due to current cold wave (Kyiv Post, Ukraine, December 21, 2009)2009 – Long Island Sees Record Snowfall (Long Island Press, December 21, 2009)2009 – Over 50% of the USA is now covered in snow (Watts Up With That?, December 21, 2009)2009 – Three freeze to death in Austria (Austrian Times, December 21, 2009)2009 – Three people freeze to death in Bosnia (B92 Serbia, December 21, 2009)2009 – Washington area digs out from record-setting snowfall (The Washington Post, December 21, 2009)2009 – Elderly, Disabled Trapped by Record Snow (WJLA-TV Washington D.C., December 22, 2009)2009 – European weather deaths pass 100 (The Guardian, UK, December 22, 2009)2009 – Record cold conditions kill nine people in Czech Republic (Radio Prague, December 21, 2009)2009 – Record snowfall blankets Moscow (Voice of Russian, December 22, 2009)2009 – Winter freeze kills 79 in Poland (AFP, December 22, 2009)2009 – 50 years of cooling predicted (Canada Free Press, December 23, 2009)2009 – Big freeze brings misery and death to Europe (BBC, December 23, 2009)2009 – Heavy Snow Causes Part of VA School’s Roof to Collapse (WHSV-TV Virginia, December 23, 2009)2009 – Snowfall breaks record at JFK, blankets NE Queens (New York Post, December 23, 2009)2009 – Big freeze death toll rises to 17 (Daily Star, UK, December 24, 2009)2009 – Blizzard freezes Christmas cheer (UPI, December 25, 2009)2009 – Dallas-area snow is record for Christmas Eve (Dallas Morning News, December 25, 2009)2009 – Deadly Cold Across Europe and Russia (NASA, December 25, 2009)2009 – Holiday snowstorm hits much of central U.S. (CNN, December 25, 2009)2009 – Nearly two thirds of the continental USA gets a white Christmas (Watts Up With That?, December 25, 2009)2009 – Rare blizzard strikes West Texas (The Houston Chronicle, December 25, 2009)2009 – White Christmas is one for the record books, KC (The Kansas City Star, December 25, 2009)2009 – Whiteout Christmas: Blizzard whips through N.D. (Bismarck Tribune, December 25, 2009)2009 – Christmas blizzard shuts down state (Rapid City Journal, December 26, 2009)2009 – Duluth, International Falls set Christmas snow records (KQDS-TV Minnesota, December 26, 2009)2009 – Satellite measurements show our quiet sun is cooling the upper thermosphere (Watts Up With That?, December 26, 2009)2009 – 877 new snowfall records set or tied in the USA in the last week (Watts Up With That?, December 27, 2009)2009 – Peoria breaks snowfall record (Peoria Journal Star, December 27, 2009)2009 – Record snowfall hits region (St. Cloud Times, December 27, 2009)2009 – Storm smashes snowfall records (Sioux City Journal, December 27, 2009)2009 – December 2009 blizzard caused snow emergency (Green Bay Press Gazette, December 28, 2009)2009 – Heavy Snow Leads To Roof Collapse (KETV Nebraska, December 28, 2009)2009 – Record Levels Of Snowfall Hit City (The St. Petersburg Times, Russia, December 28, 2009)2009 – 4 more die of cold in UP; toll reaches 18 (United News of India, December 29, 2009)2009 – Blizzard halts weekend mail delivery (Times Record News, December 29, 2009)2009 – Carlsbad receives record-setting snowfall (Carlsbad Current Argus, December 29, 2009)2009 – Minot sets December snowfall record (Minot Daily News, December 29, 2009)2009 – Record snow falls in Dallas / Fort Worth area (Coastal Carolina Weather Examiner, December 29, 2009)2009 – Blizzard blasts region with ‘Whiteout’ Christmas (The Chadron Record, December 30, 2009)2009 – Christmas Eve blizzard claims 3 lives in county (The Tuttle Times, December 30, 2009)2009 – Record snow lures thousands to Mount Washington (Times Colonist, Canada, December 30, 2009)2009 – Six killed as Big New Year Freeze takes deadly grip of Britain (Daily Mail, UK, December 30, 2009)2009 – Snowfall breaks December record (Topeka Capital Journal, December 30, 2009)2009 – Snowstorm squelches climate change protest (The Salt Lake Tribune, December 30, 2009)2009 – Weight of Snow Causes Barn Collapse (Nobles County Review, December 30, 2009)2009 – Bitter cold kills 13 in Aila-hit Dakope (The Daily Star, Bangladesh, December 31, 2009)2009 – Heaviest snowfall in Moscow in last 20 years (Voice of Russia, December 31, 2009)2009 – Coldest December since 1981 (BBC, January 3, 2010)2009 – December in top 5 for coldest ever (KHAS-TV Nebraska, January 3, 2010)2009 – Denver records seventh coldest December in history (Denver Weather Examiner, January 3, 2010)Source Count: 375Resources:Global Cooling in 2008
Abdallah Abu Rahmah, The Electronic Intifada, 7 January 2010
To all our friends,
I mark the beginning of the new decade imprisoned in a military detention camp. Nevertheless, from within the occupation′s holding cell I meet the New Year with determination and hope.
I know that Israel’s military campaign to imprison the leadership of the Palestinian popular struggle shows that our nonviolent struggle is effective. The occupation is threatened by our growing movement and is therefore trying to shut us down. What Israel’s leaders do not understand is that popular struggle cannot be stopped by our imprisonment.
Whether we are confined in the open-air prison that Gaza has been transformed into, in military prisons in the West Bank, or in our own villages surrounded by the apartheid wall, arrests and persecution do not weaken us. They only strengthen our commitment to turning 2010 into a year of liberation through unarmed grassroots resistance to the occupation.
The price I and many others pay in freedom does not deter us. I wish that my two young daughters and baby son would not have to pay this price together with me. But for my son and daughters, for their future, we must continue our struggle for freedom.
This year, the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee will expand on the achievements of 2009, a year in which you amplified our popular demonstrations in Palestine with international boycott campaigns and international legal actions under universal jurisdiction.
In my village, Bilin, Israeli tycoon, Lev Leviev and Africa-Israel, the corporation he controls, are implicated in illegal construction of settlements on our stolen land, as well as the lands of many other Palestinian villages and cities. Adalah-NY is leading an international campaign to show Leviev that war crimes have their price.
Our village has sued two Canadian companies for their role in the construction and marketing of new settlement units on village land cut off by Israel’s Apartheid Wall. The legal proceedings in this precedent-setting case began in the Canadian courts last summer and are ongoing.
Bilin has become the graveyard of Israeli real estate empires. One after another, these companies are approaching bankruptcy as the costs of building on stolen Palestinian land are driven higher than the profits.
Unlike Israel, we have no nuclear weapons or army, but we do not need them. The justness of our cause earns us your support. No army, no prison and no wall can stop us.
Abdallah Abu Rahmah
From the Ofer Military Detention Camp
Abdallah is a schoolteacher and nonviolent activist from Bilin. He is currently being held in an Israeli prison after he was arrested on International Human Rights Day, at 2am on 10 December 2009, by Israeli occupation forces.
By Gordon Duff | Veterans Today | January 5, 2010
Who says Al Qaeda takes credit for a bombing? Rita Katz. Who gets us bin Laden tapes? Rita Katz. Who gets us prettymuch all information telling us Muslims are bad? Rita Katz? Rita Katz is the Director of Site Intelligence, primary source for intelligence used by news services, Homeland Security, the FBI and CIA. What is her qualification? She served in the Israeli Defense Force. She has a college degree and most investigative journalists believe the Mossad “helps” her with her information. We find no evidence of any qualification whatsoever of any kind. A bartender has more intelligence gathering experience.
Nobody verifies her claims. SITE says Al Qaeda did it, it hits the papers. SITE says Israel didn’t do it, that hits the papers too. What does SITE really do? They check the internet for “information,” almost invariably information that Israel wants reported and it is sold as news, seen on American TV, reported in our papers and passed around the internet almost as though it were actually true. Amazing.
Do we know if the information reported comes from a teenager in Seattle or a terror cell in Jakarta? No, of course not, we don’t have a clue. Can you imagine buying information on Islamic terrorism from an Israeli whose father was executed as a spy by Arabs?
It is quite likely that everything you think you know about terror attacks such as the one in Detroit or whether Osama bin Laden is alive or dead comes from Rita Katz. Does she make it all up? We don’t know, nobody knows, nobody checks, they simply buy it, print it, say it comes from Site Intelligence and simply forget to tell us that this is not only a highly biased organization but also an extremely amateur one also.
Is any of this her fault, Ritas? No. She is herself, selling her work. The blame is not Site Intelligence, it is the people who pass on the information under misleading circumstances.
Imagine if a paper carried a story like this:
Reports that Al Qaeda was responsible for bombing the mosque and train station were given to us by an Israeli woman who says she found it on the internet.
This is fair. Everyone should be able to earn a living and information that comes from Israel could be without bias but the chances aren’t very good. In fact, any news organization, and most use this service, that fails to indicate that the sources they use are “rumored” to be a foreign intelligence service with a long history of lying beyond human measure, is not to be taken seriously.
Can we prove that SITE Intelligence is the Mossad? No. Would a reasonable person assume it is? Yes.
Would a reasonable person believe anything from this source involving Islam or the Middle East? No, they would not.
SITE’s primary claim to fame other than bin Laden videos with odd technical faults is their close relationship with Blackwater. Blackwater has found SITE useful. Blackwater no longer exists as they had to change their name because of utter lack of credibility.
What can be learned by examining where our news comes from? Perhaps we could start being realistic and begin seeing much of our own news as the childish propaganda it really is.
Propaganda does two things:
1. It makes up phony reasons to justify acts of barbaric cruelty or insane greed.
2. It blames people for things they didn’t do because the people doing the blaming really did it themselves. We call these things “false flag/USS Liberty” incidents.
Next time you see dancing Palestinians and someone tells you they are celebrating a terror attack, it is more likely they are attending a birthday party. This is what we have learned, perhaps this is what we had best remember.
From an AFP article on Site Intelligence:
Rita Katz and S.I.T.E. are set to release yet another “Al-Qaeda” tape
Despite a massive manhunt by the world’s intelligence agencies, OBL seems to evade their combined efforts, staying on the run. But he still has time to drop into his recording studio and cook up a fresh tape for the likes of Rita Katz and her outfit called S.I.T.E. SITE is staffed by TWO people, Katz and a Josh Devon.
WASHINGTON (AFP) The head of the al-Qaeda network Osama bin Laden is expected to release a taped message on Iraq, a group monitoring extremist online forums said Thursday. The 56-minute tape by the hunted militant is addressed to Iraq and an extremist organization based there, the Islamic State of Iraq, said the US-based SITE monitoring institute, citing announcements on “jihadist forums.”
It said the release was “impending” but did not say whether the message was an audio or video tape. Despite a massive manhunt and a 25-million-dollar bounty on his head, he has evaded capture and has regularly taunted the United States and its allies through warnings issued on video and audio cassettes.
Source: ME Times
Yes, despite a massive manhunt by the world’s intelligence agencies, OBL seems to evade their combined efforts, staying on the run. But he still has time to drop into his recording studio and cook up a fresh tape for the likes of Rita Katz and her outfit called S.I.T.E. SITE is staffed by TWO people, Katz and a Josh Devon.
Yet these two individuals manage to do what the ENTIRE combined assets of the world’s Western intelligence can’t:
Be the first to obtain fresh video and audio tapes from aL-Qaeda with Bin Laden making threats and issuing various other comments. If OBL appears a bit “stiff” in the latest release, that’s because he is real stiff, as in dead.
How is it that a Jewish owned group like S.I.T.E. can outperform the world’s best and brightest in the intelligence field and be the first to know that a group like al-Qaeda is getting ready to release another tape?
How is it possible that Rita Katz and S.I.T.E. can work this magic? Maybe looking at Katz’s background will help:
Rita Katz is Director and co-founder of the SITE Institute. Born in Iraq, her father was tried and executed as an Israeli spy, whereupon her family moved to Israel [the move has been described as both an escape and an emigration in different sources]. She received a degree from the Middle Eastern Studies program at Tel Aviv University, and is fluent in Hebrew and Arabic. She emigrated to the US in 1997.
Katz was called as a witness in the trial, but the government didn’t claim she was a terrorism expert. During the trial it was discovered that Katz herself had worked in violation of her visa agreement when she first arrived in America in 1997.
She also admitted to receiving more than $130,000 for her work as an FBI consultant on the case.
Nablus – Ma’an – Twenty-eight homes and agricultural buildings were issued demolition orders by Israeli military personnel on Wednesday, all located on the outskirts of Aqraba village southeast of Nablus, a Palestinian official said.
Ghassan Doughlas, who holds the Palestinian Authority’s settlement portfolio for the northern West Bank, said Israeli forces gave the farmers only 48 hours to evacuate their houses, clear out their farms and sheds before the orders were implemented.
Dozens of Palestinian farmers and their families live in the area, about five kilometers from the Gittit settlement and three kilometers from the Mekhora settlement, raising sheep and cattle as well as planting crops. The crops help sustain the local community, Doughlas said.
“Israeli forces issued this decision to protect the settlers only without taking into consideration the families who will be rendered homeless,” Doughlas added.
Among the families who received orders to evacuate their buildings were Zaid Mahmud Qassem Beni Manna, Hani Jameel Abdullah Beni Jaber, and Feras Khalil Beni Jaber.
By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett | New York Times | January 5, 2010
THE Islamic Republic of Iran is not about to implode. Nevertheless, the misguided idea that it may do so is becoming enshrined as conventional wisdom in Washington.
For President Obama, this misconception provides a bit of cover; it helps obscure his failure to follow up on his campaign promises about engaging Iran with any serious, strategically grounded proposals. Meanwhile, those who have never supported diplomatic engagement with Iran are now pushing the idea that the Tehran government might collapse to support their arguments for military strikes against Iranian nuclear targets and adopting “regime change” as the ultimate goal of America’s Iran policy.
Let’s start with the most recent events. On Dec. 27, large crowds poured into the streets of cities across Iran to commemorate the Shiite holy day of Ashura; this coincided with mourning observances for a revered cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who had died a week earlier. Protesters used the occasion to gather in Tehran and elsewhere, setting off clashes with security forces.
Important events, no doubt. But assertions that the Islamic Republic is now imploding in the fashion of the shah’s regime in 1979 do not hold up to even the most minimal scrutiny. Antigovernment Iranian Web sites claim there were “tens of thousands” of Ashura protesters; others in Iran say there were 2,000 to 4,000. Whichever estimate is more accurate, one thing we do know is that much of Iranian society was upset by the protesters using a sacred day to make a political statement.
Vastly more Iranians took to the streets on Dec. 30, in demonstrations organized by the government to show support for the Islamic Republic (one Web site that opposed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election in June estimated the crowds at one million people). Photographs and video clips lend considerable plausibility to this estimate — meaning this was possibly the largest crowd in the streets of Tehran since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s funeral in 1989. In its wake, even President Ahmadinejad’s principal challenger in last June’s presidential election, Mir Hossein Mousavi, felt compelled to acknowledge the “unacceptable radicalism” of some Ashura protesters.
The focus in the West on the antigovernment demonstrations has blinded many to an inconvenient but inescapable truth: the Iranians who used Ashura to make a political protest do not represent anything close to a majority. Those who talk so confidently about an “opposition” in Iran as the vanguard for a new revolution should be made to answer three tough questions: First, what does this opposition want? Second, who leads it? Third, through what process will this opposition displace the government in Tehran?
In the case of the 1979 revolutionaries, the answers to these questions were clear. They wanted to oust the American-backed regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and to replace it with an Islamic republic. Everyone knew who led the revolution: Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who despite living in exile in Paris could mobilize huge crowds in Iran simply by sending cassette tapes into the country. While supporters disagreed about the revolution’s long-term agenda, Khomeini’s ideas were well known from his writings and public statements. After the shah’s departure, Khomeini returned to Iran with a draft constitution for the new political order in hand. As a result, the basic structure of the Islamic Republic was set up remarkably quickly.
Beyond expressing inchoate discontent, what does the current “opposition” want? It is no longer championing Mr. Mousavi’s presidential candidacy; Mr. Mousavi himself has now redefined his agenda as “national reconciliation.” Some protesters seem to want expanded personal freedoms and interaction with the rest of the world, but have no comprehensive agenda. Others — who have received considerable Western press coverage — have taken to calling for the Islamic Republic’s replacement with an (ostensibly secular) “Iranian Republic.” But University of Maryland polling after the election and popular reaction to the Ashura protests suggest that most Iranians are unmoved, if not repelled, by calls for the Islamic Republic’s abolition.
With Mr. Mousavi increasingly marginalized, who else might lead this supposed revolution? Surely not Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former president who became a leading figure in the protests after last summer’s election. Yes, he is an accomplished political actor, is considered a “founding father” of the state and heads the Assembly of Experts, a body that can replace the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader. But Mr. Rafsanjani lost his 2005 bid to regain the presidency in a landslide to Mr. Ahmadinejad, and has shown no inclination to spur the masses to bring down the system he helped create.
Nor will Mohammad Khatami, the reformist elected president in 1997, lead the charge; in 1999, at the height of his popularity, he publicly disowned widespread student demonstrations protesting the closing of a newspaper that had supported his administration… Full article