President Ahmadinejad’s interview with Britain’s Channel 4
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says some Western countries are using Iran’s nuclear program as a pretext to put pressure on the Islamic Republic.
In an interview with Britain’s Channel 4, Ahmadinejad said that Iran opposes the expansionist policies being pursued by certain Western countries, adding that this was the real reason behind their animosity towards Iran.
“Some Western countries are using Iran’s peaceful nuclear program as a pretext for imposing sanctions and [passing] resolutions against the Iranian nation,” IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying on Thursday.
“It would be better if they were brave enough to openly declare that they are against the Iranian nation because it is an obstacle to their expansionist policies in the world,” the Iranian president said.
He noted that Tehran had voluntarily offered to buy nuclear fuel from the West to provide them with an opportunity to cooperate with Iran.
“Based on the [IAEA] regulation they are obliged to provide Iran with nuclear fuel without setting any preconditions,” Ahmadinejad added.
Article III of the IAEA Statute clearly states that the agency, if requested to do so, should act as “an intermediary for the purposes of securing the performance of services or the supplying of materials, equipment, or facilities by one member of the Agency for another.”
He noted that the West is setting “political conditions” for a nuclear swap deal with Iran.
By Sherwood Ross | December 25, 2009
If Iraq war spending helped plunge the U.S. economy into its worst slump since the Depression, what does President Obama think his escalation of the Afghan war will do to it?
Besides forcing taxpayers to cough up fresh billions to enable the Pentagon to chase down a few hundred Taliban fighters, the Afghan war is liable to continue to inflate oil prices—and this means more than the ongoing swindle of motorists at the pump.
Higher oil prices also slow the global economy, causing our trading partners to buy fewer Made-in-USA goods, thus reducing demand for our products and leading to layoffs.
Spending money on war also siphons billions of dollars from truly productive uses.
“Today, no serious economist holds the view that war is good for the economy,” write Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard government finance expert Linda Bilmes in their book “The Three Trillion Dollar War: the True Cost of The Iraq Conflict.”
Referring to Iraq, they write, “The question is not whether the economy has been weakened by the war. The question is only by how much.” They note, “Oil prices started to soar just as the war began, and the longer it has dragged on, the higher prices have gone.”
Even so, by their estimate, (a word they stress,) the increased price of oil attributed to the war comes “to somewhat in excess of $1.6 trillion.” Not only consumers but State and local governments “have had to cut back other spending to pay the higher prices of oil imports.”
The co-authors reason, “Government money spent in Iraq does not stimulate the economy in the way that the same amounts spent at home would.” A thousand dollars spent to hire a Nepalese worker to perform services in Iraq does not directly increase the income of Americans, Stiglitz and Bilmes point out. Ditto for Afghanistan—and Pakistan, friends.
By contrast, the same thousand dollars spent on university research in the U.S. directly boosts the U.S. economy, then ripples out as the university researchers spend their money on goods and services, many of them made in America.
“The money spent on Iraq could have been spent on schools, roads, or research. These investments yield high returns. It could also have been spent more productively within the Department of Veterans Affairs, in its teaching and research programs, or in expanding medical facilities such as mental health clinics….Expenditures on the Iraq war have no benefits of this kind.” And by fiscal year 2010, the Center For Defense Information reports, the cost of the Afghan fighting will total $739 billion on the cost of Iraq fighting $2.337 trillion. Imagine the good those dollars would have done spent at home!
Bilmes and Stiglitz say by the end of last year, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq hiked U.S. indebtedness by $900 billion and just the debt from military spending (excluding veterans’ benefits) will exceed $2 trillion.
Today, the Pentagon sponge not only causes the U.S. to borrow billions from China and others but it is also putting American entrepreneurs out of business. “As the private sector competes for funds with the government, private investment gets crowded out…As a result, output is lower.”
The co-authors add that the crowding out causes a loss in investment in our economy by $1.2 trillion and “the forgone output” (unbuilt homes, etc.) could be as high as $5trillion.
Another expense the Pentagon doesn’t talk about is the waste involved when it doles out no-bid contracts to favored insiders such as KBR. Nearly all of the top 10 war machine contractors are said to land the majority of contracts without competing bidders. What a kick in the teeth to capitalist free enterprise!
Have your stocks suffered? U.S. economist Robert Wescott, Stiglitz and Bilmes write, estimated in the years immediately following the beginning of the Iraq war that “the value of the stock market was some $4 trillion less than would have been predicted on the basis of past performance.”
Why? Because, “Uncertainties caused by the war, the resulting turmoil in the Middle East, and soaring oil prices dampened prices from what they ‘normally’ would have been. This decrease in corporate wealth implies that consumption was lower than it otherwise would have been, again weakening the economy.”
Back in 2007, Democrats on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee issued a report on the two wars estimating their cost from 2002 to 2008 at $1.6 trillion. They put the cost to an American family of four at $20,900. That’s a whopping sum—but given all the indirect ways the wars have crippled the U.S. economy, probably a gross undercount.
President Obama’s expansion of the Afghan war into Pakistan has engulfed much of the Middle East in bloodshed that is, sad to say, of America’s making. And pouring more U.S. treasure into Pakistan will only further weaken the U.S. economy. This writer believes the American people—who want only what President Eisenhower’s slogan, “Peace and Prosperity,” once promised them—are going to pay dearly for a widening war the majority of them reject. And it may also bring economic catastrophe our way, courtesy of the “military-industrial complex” of which Eisenhower warned.
Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based public relations counselor who formerly worked for major dailies and wire services. Reach him at email@example.com
“Regarding Al Manar it’s personal for Israel. The reason is that Al Manar did to the Israeli government propaganda machine during and following the July 2006 war what Hezbollah fighters did to Israeli troops. Al Manar kicked butt. That station must be made to disappear. The plan is to stop the 15-20 million daily viewers of Al Manar from receiving its transmission as well as to intimidate all the other Middle East TV channels that are suspected of moving toward the growing “Culture of Resistance spreading in the Middle East from Lebanon.” — A Washington DC observer of how Israel controls the US Congress 12/9/09.
Franklin Lamb – Beirut – December 25, 2009
Lebanon is a small country, approximately 0.7% the size of Connecticut with a population a bit more than 1% of America’s. But according to the four public US ‘Terrorist’ and Watch lists and at least seven supposedly secret US ‘T lists’ there are more Lebanese ‘terrorists’ and ‘inciters’ on the loose per square meter of planet Earth than any other nationality. Way more than say Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan or Pakistan could reasonably hope to muster. Increasingly these ‘terrorists and inciters’ work is claimed by some in the US Congress to be done via satellite TV channels. Such is the thesis of Congressman Gus Bilirakis, the ‘author’ of the 122nd US Congressional anti-Arab, anti-Muslim initiative in the past decade now known as the “Terrorist TV” Bill which passed the House on 12/08/09 and is now before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
A Fresh Lobby Front man
Veteran Congressional staffers sometimes identify the following four general groupings of supporters of Israel in Congress:
• Jewish members who care a lot about Israel and some of whom may or may not be ardent Zionists but who generally, but not always, put Israel’s concerns first;
• Evangelical Christians, who are eager to advance end-times, believe in Biblical prophecy and that Armageddon is rapidly approaching and strongly supports Israel over Arabs and Muslims in the Holy land conflict.
• Ultra Zionists with elements of racist feelings towards Arabs and Muslims
• Members who normally don’t favor Israelis much over Arabs or Muslims in their normal lives but who are regularly collared by the Israel lobby and who get the message and want to keep their congressional seats and add to their generous $100,000 –plus yearly pensions and are willing to ‘go along to get along’ and generally will do AIPAC’s bidding.
Gus Bilirakis, Reagan Republican from Florida’s 9th District is from this latter category. Filling the seat his late father Michael held since 1983, “Congressman Gus” as he prefers to be known back home, has the reputation of being a nice, affable fellow who does not claim to know much about the Middle East or foreign affairs. Hard to stereotype as being a fanatic supporter of Israel, gross Islamophobe or Arab basher, Bilirakis basically wants to get along by going along. AIPAC likes him because he appears ‘regular American’ and not too ‘neurotically pro Israel.’ as one of his District office interns explained, adding that “our boss is ordinary, folksy, and just wants to help the simple people.” Certainly he appears to fit the recent AIPAC mode shift of lining up more conservative members of Congress to do Israel’s bidding and to pull back a bit from the type casted “Liberal Jewish establishment” stereotype. By selecting Gus to introduce H.R. 2278, AIPAC and friends scored a public relations bonus.
Gus told his District’s Bay 9 News TV station on 12/9/09 that:
“My legislation will provide the United States with critical baseline information to combat media outlets that serve as vehicles for violent anti-American incitement,” said Bilirakis, who is a member of the House Committees on Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security. “Given the danger such incitement and radicalization poses to Americans both at home and aboard, it is crucial that these tools of terror be distinguished from reputable news outlets.
“We already spend too much on foreign aid to countries that take our money with one hand and slap us with the other. This legislation will help us ratchet down foreign aid to countries who take this approach.”
Bilirakis’ reputed suspicion towards ‘foreigners’ may be part of his general conservatism. The American Conservative Union Chairman, David Keene, noted during an award ceremony in May of 2009 that Gus scored “way higher than the 80% necessary to win ACU’s top award during the second session of the 110th Congress. In a short space of time, Congressman Bilirakis has already shown he is someone grass roots conservatives in Florida and elsewhere who love Israel will be turning to for future leadership.”
The Washington DC based “U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation” a pro Middle East Peace advocacy group saw things differently and gave Gus a -4 rating on its just released Congressional Report Card for the 111th Congress, which was barely above the worst rating assigned to any member of Congress, earned by Illeana Ros-Lehtinen (who represents Florida’s 18th District including the Florida everglades opposite Havana, Cuba, about which she likes to joke, “on a clear day I can see Havana and keep an eye on the Castro boys”, reminding some of Sarah Palin learning about foreign affairs by watching Russia from her bob sled), who kept her position from the 110th on the groups ‘Hall of Shame’ with a -5 score. Gus calls Ileana ‘my main Middle East tutor’.
How HR 2286 Can Save America from ‘Terrorists and Inciters’
The ‘TV Terrorist” bill passed on a House roll call vote, while, as is the norm, an eager AIPAC staffer in the front row of the House Visitor’s Gallery with clip board and pen in hand, peered down on the Floor keeping tabs on how the Members voted. As is the Congressional practice with ‘Israel Bills’ or Psych-War Resolutions Israel wants passed, the vote on H.R. 2278 was held under a suspension of the rules to cut debate short and pass it quickly with the needed two-thirds majority. This fast track is normally used for relatively minor items like honoring “butterfly watchers day”, “national be kind to fat stray cats day” etc. The totals were 395 Ayes, 3 Nays, 36 Present/Not Voting- a slightly above average tally when AIPAC sends a legislative request ‘up the Hill.’
H.R. 2278 is what some employees in Congress call “a sleeper bill”. Legislation that is quickly and quietly passed, without much public notice, but which is very powerful in its effect. The language of the Bill, while far over-broad, and many first Semester law students would no doubt hammer it on Constitutional Law grounds, and some lawyers think a case brought under this law would be nearly impossible to prosecute, this legislation, if it passes the Senate, will de jure establish that “It shall be the policy of the United States of America to designate as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) any satellite provider in the Middle East (including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen) that knowingly and willingly contracts with entities designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order No. 13224, to broadcast their channels, or to consider implementing other punitive measures against satellite providers that transmit anti-American declarations (read criticize US support for Israeli crimes) or incite violence against Americans.
Bilirakis’ bill also requires that state-sponsorship of anti-American incitement to violence be taken into account when determining the level of assistance to, and frequency and nature of relations with, all states (Ed: such as Lebanon whose hoped for millions in US aid could be stopped) and urges “all governments and private investors who own shares in satellite companies or otherwise influence decisions about satellite transmissions to oppose transmissions of telecasts by… al-Manar … or any other Specially Designated Global Terrorist owned and operated stations that openly incite their audiences to commit acts of terrorism or violence against the United States and its citizens.”
The Bill also provides that beginning 6 months after the date of the enactment of the new law and annually thereafter, the President must prepare a report on anti-American incitement to violence in the Middle East including a description of all media outlets in the Middle East for program and news broadcast scrutiny.
Congressional sources report that the political goal is to stop the 10-15 million daily viewers of Al Manar from receiving its transmission as well as to intimidate other Middle East TV channels that are suspected of moving toward the growing “Culture of Resistance’ in the Middle East.
More than 600 Middle East TV channels risk being closed down among the 19 target Countries listed in H.R. 2278. Some of the most strident criticism of America comes from Israeli colonists and extremist Rabbi’s in occupied Palestine.
MEMRI as Congressional Staff
Part of the job description of all Congressional staff employees who works on legislation includes doing research in support of proposed legislation or to demonstrate to the Member who employs them the need for a new law. This system by and large works in the US Congress except for the Middle East. This area of inquiry is hands off for all but ardent supporters of Israel.
One Congressional staffer who recently retired after 28 years working on the hill, noted on 12/13/09:
“It used to be that Congressional staffers actually did research and wrote recommendations for their bosses around here. Those days are long gone when it comes to Middle East issues. The Israel lobby handles all that now. If staffers want to be heard on Middle East issues from Iran to Palestine, they are discouraged. If they persist they run the risk of being targeted for unemployment by AIPAC and their bosses may cut them loose rather than confront the Lobby. In essence Israel is saying to Congressional staffers, “Listen up! We know best and will handle Congressional Middle East legislation. Just get out of the kitchen, leave this to us and busy yourselves elsewhere.”
Those who demonstrated to Congress the urgent need for a “TV Terrorism” law included the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
This was confirmed by the office of Congressman Gus Bilirakis and indeed the Congressman himself noted that ‘research’ provided by MEMRI helped to establish the need for the new legislation.
MEMRI supplied the video excerpted from Al Manar and cited by the sponsors as ‘evidence’ of incitement against Americans by the station and its satellite provider because it broadcasts the speeches of Hezbollah leaders on special occasions, as does virtually every other TV news channel in the Middle East that transmit at least portions of the speeches which are popular across the region. In fact all the video shows is spliced together excerpts from two speeches Hassan Nasrallah gave and two by his deputy Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Naim Qassim. They contain no incitement against Americans but rather criticism of Israel and of US support for Israel that can be heard any day of the week in all 50 States in the US.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) describes itself as a “free media monitoring service.” Based in Washington DC with half a dozen offices set up in countries including China, Tokyo, Germany, England, Italy and Israel, MEMRI was founded in 1998 by Yigal Carmon, a former colonel in Israeli military intelligence and its first three employees were also veterans of Israeli intelligence. Following 9/11 and George W. Bush’s executive order 13222 and the unleashing of the War on Terrorism, MEMRI shed much of its earlier pretense of being objective and became stridently anti-Arab and anti-Muslim.
Increasingly, MEMRI’s work has been criticized on three grounds: that their work is biased; that they choose articles to translate selectively so as to give an unrepresentative view of the media they are reporting on; and that their translations are frequently inaccurate.
The Middle East editor for the UK Guardian newspaper, Brian Whitaker has been one of the most outspoken critics of MEMRI, writing:
“My problem with MEMRI is that it poses as a research institute when it’s basically a propaganda operation, “to further the political agenda of Israel.”
Several critics have accused MEMRI of selectivity. They state that MEMRI consistently picks for translation and dissemination the most extreme views, which portray the Arab and Muslim world in a negative light, while ignoring moderate views that are often found in the same media outlets.
Juan Cole, Professor of Modern Middle East History at the University of Michigan reported that MEMRI
“cleverly cherry-picks the vast Arabic press, which serves 300 million people, for the most extreme and objectionable articles and editorials.”
Laila Lalami, writing in The Nation stated that MEMRI
“consistently picks the most violent, hateful rubbish it can find, translates it and distributes it in e-mail newsletters to media and members of Congress in Washington”.
Professor Norman Finkelstein, in a June 2007 interview with In Focus newspaper explained that MEMRI “uses the same sort of propaganda techniques as the Nazis… it’s a reliable assumption that anything MEMRI translates from the Middle East is going to be unreliable.”
In 2007, CNN correspondent Atika Shubert and Arabic translators accused MEMRI of mistranslating portions of a Palestinian children’s television program. MEMRI translates one caller as saying ‘We will annihilate the Jews,”‘ said Shubert. “But, according to several Arabic speakers used by CNN, the caller actually says ‘The Jews are killing us.” According to one CNN source, “Put bluntly, MEMRI is a hate group”.
Working with MEMRI, as its Al Manar specialist, Avi Jorisch senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies published ‘research’ in 2004 entitled “Beacon of Hatred-Inside Al Manar”, funded by the Israel advocacy ‘think tank’, Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), with the assistance of Dennis Ross. Jorisch proudly admits he had the political goal of getting the Bush administration declare Al-Manar a “Terrorist organization.” One of Jorisch consistent worries is “that al-Manar broadcasts may contain coded communications — a way for Hezbollah’s terrorist “generals” to command terrorist “troops” in the field, for example sleeper cells in the United States and elsewhere.”
During its 2008 annual Conference, Jorisch was honored in a private reception arranged by MEMRI and AIPAC, and given a champagne toast while being introduced “as the man who put Al Manar on the Terrorism list.” As recently as 11/4/09, writing in the Wall Street Journal, Jorisch accused Iran of using the UN to skirt sanctions and various other ‘terrorist’ acts relating to importing “foodstuffs, textiles and medicine” which could help it create a nuclear weapon.
Jorisch’s campaign against Al Manar is designed to show that it is anti-Semite, but he repeatedly misunderstood the context of some of his ‘proof’ including the phrase, “Jerusalem we are coming”, which he claimed to have heard on Al Manar.
Jorisch and MEMRI claim this language shows a threat against the Jewish state and therefore is anti-Semitic. In fact, the phrase “Jerusalem, we are coming” comes from the classic song of the Lebanese Christian singer Fairouz, whose, “Jerusalem, we are coming”, extols religious unity, worshiping in Jerusalem by all religions, and Jerusalem as a city of peace. Viewers in Lebanon and the Middle East and fans of Fairouz everywhere know this song which is in no way anti-Semitic and it’s been played on hundreds of TV and radios stations including many in Israel.
With the 22 State member Arab League and the 57 member International Organization of the Islamic Conference condemning the House bill, and the Lebanese Foreign Ministry planning to summon US Ambassador Michele Sisson to discuss the matter, late word is that John Kerry, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman may actually hold hearings on the Bill. If so it will be a major setback for AIPAC and friends. Will Al Manar actually be invited to present testimony? Debate AIPAC?
By Philip Weiss | December 25, 2009
I’m doing something good this Christmas; I’m reading the Goldstone Report. It’s amazing. I never did read it through. It’s the greatest work by a Jewish writer since Norman Mailer left town. No it’s not literary, but it’s a fervent effort to give dignity to the lives of Palestinian civilians gunned down in their homes because Israeli soldiers were pursuing a policy of frightening the population and “communicating” with bullets.
I see now why the Goldstone report will resonate for a long time. Because it’s overwhelming. Because its findings are inarguable– or so far uncontested. Because it’s been nullified by the Israel lobby, and this offends the world, when civilians are wantonly murdered and there is zero accountability.
15 civilians killed when a mosque is hit by a missile; Israel denies it hit the mosque. 22 huddled civilians killed when a house is blown up. Israel says it was going for a weapons storage facility next door, and apologizes; but it never went after any other house in the neighborhood and had plenty of time to do so, so Goldstone dismisses the explanation. 35 civilians killed when mortars are lobbed into the street outside a UN school, where hundreds have gathered. Israel says it got a “well known” Hamas fighter. And gives the name of a boy, 13 years old.
And here, on Christmas Eve, is Christopher Dickey in Newsweek, imagining Jesus in Israel/Palestine.
the truth rarely sets anyone free, as proved most recently by the fact-filled United Nations report by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, which was dissed by Washington and dismissed by Israel….
No, I don’t know what Jesus would do, but I know what Obama should do. He can embrace the most important finding of the Goldstone report, which is essentially a call for Israel and Hamas to embrace a process of truth and reconciliation similar to the process that helped to heal the wounds of apartheid. (Thus far, the State Department has been claiming the report is actually an obstacle to peace.)
Press TV | December 25, 2009
Former ISI chief Asad Durrani says private US contractors such as Xe (formerly known as Blackwater) and other intelligence agents may be behind the assassination of civilians across Pakistan.
In an exclusive interview with Press TV, Durrani said on Friday that the local militants led by Hakimullah Mehsud primarily target the government and military instillations.
Arguing against the local militants involvements in civilian assassinations, Durrani added that the militants consider Islamabad as a close ally of the US in the so-called ‘war on terror’ and that they have been launching retaliatory attacks against the government targets, particularly since the Pakistani army launched a major offensive against their stronghold in South Waziristan.
Durrani said that he doubted the notorious militants groups were behind a recent surge in attacks on civilian targets across the country.
The former head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) claimed that certain theories were circulating among Pakistani intellectuals suggesting that the foreign agents or private US contractors could have been orchestrating assassinations on the civilian targets in the nuclear-armed country.
According to Durrani, these attacks were being carried out to encourage Islamabad to be more involved in war against the militants.
Pakistan has experienced a wave of violence over the past two years. Nearly 3,000 people have been killed in bomb attacks and other terrorist operations across the country.