GoddardsJournal | December 11, 2011
Studies cited in order presented:
National Academy of Sciences Low-Dose Radiation Report
Data tables used, 12D-1 and 12D-2:
How to scale that data to unique exposure scenarios, Annex 12D, Example 1:
15-country study of nuclear-worker cancer risk
Table 5 shown is from Part II of the study
Chromosomal translocations are associated with cancer
Boffetta et al. (2007) more chromoHarm entails more cancer
Bhatti et al. (2010) meta-analysis of chromosomal damage
Alarmist corporate media coverage of the “threat” from Iran is everywhere, thanks to a Senate appearance yesterday by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
But Clapper said very little in his remarks that would justify the propagandistic coverage we’re seeing. His main point was that Iran could launch attacks if it felt threatened. It is hard to see how this is particularly surprising. Clapper pointed to the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington D.C. as evidence that Iran seems more eager to assert itself, perhaps even inside the United States. But there were many people who raised serious questions about that rather implausible scenario (which involved hiring a Mexican drug gang to carry out the assassination).
As the Wall Street Journal reported (one of the few corporate outlets I saw pushing back against the official alarmism):
There is still widespread doubt that an alleged plot to kill the Saudi ambassador was authorized at the highest levels in Tehran, said Karim Sadjadpour, a Middle East analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“If that’s the only data point, I think it’s a stretch to conclude that the regime is now looking to commit acts of terror on U.S. soil,” he said.
That kind of caution was in short supply on the network newscasts. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams (1/31/12) announced:
Iran’s threat. Not just the nuclear program. Tonight, U.S. intelligence warns Iran may be prepared to strike on American soil.
Williams called Clapper’s testimony a “chilling new assessment about the scope of the threat from Iran.” As correspondent Andrea Mitchell explained, “Experts warn that the U.S. is even more vulnerable than Israel if Iran retaliates or launches a pre-emptive bomb plot…. Soft U.S. targets like embassies throughout the Persian Gulf, and 90,000 American troops in Afghanistan, next door to Iran.”
It wasn’t until the end of Mitchell’s report that any notes of caution were sounded:
Still, intelligence officials told the Senate today they don’t think Iran has taken the final step, deciding to build a bomb. But Israel does think Iran has crossed that red line, and U.S. officials say if attacked, Iran would not hesitate to retaliate against both Israel and the U.S.
So Iran is a substantial threat, though then again it might not even be developing the weapons the U.S. and Israel claim are in the works. And really, the “threat” seems mostly that Iran might be ready to respond to an attack on its country–something virtually any country in the world would do.
But for sheer propaganda value, ABC World News‘ January 31 broadcast would be tough to top.
First, start with alarming graphic:
Then Pentagon correspondent Martha Raddatz announced, “The saber rattling from Iran has been constant.”
Match that with threatening B-roll footage from the enemy country. Weapons on display at a military parade, for instance:
Iran “may be more ready than ever to launch terror attacks in the United States,” Raddatz explained. Cue footage of apparently menacing soldiers:
Don’t forget to show the enemy county’s leader (or, rather, a close approximation) meeting with other Official Enemies. Like this:
And why not one more, while reminding viewers that such figures “have little love for the U.S.”:
It’s important to remember, amidst all this hoopla, that it is U.S. military officials and the president who have regularly threatened that “no options” are “off the table” in dealing with Iran. That is code for using nuclear weapons–and Barack Obama’s latest repetition of that apocalyptic threat got a standing ovation from Congress.
It is hard to argue honestly that the real escalation is coming from the Iranian side. But that’s what propaganda is for.
Beirut – A USAID initiative which is ostensibly geared toward rehabilitating schools and improving education in Lebanon is raising suspicions that it will act as little more than a cover for collecting intelligence.
On 20 December 2010, the Lebanese government under Saad Hariri and the US Ambassador to Lebanon, Maura Connelly, signed a memorandum of understanding between the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Lebanon and the Lebanese education ministry. The memorandum was billed as a means of supporting the rehabilitation of public schools and enhance teachers’ skills as part of a project known as D-RASATI (“my studies” in Arabic), funded by a US$75 million grant over five years.
The stated aim of this project is to improve public education by addressing four areas: repairing and equipping schools, improving the qualifications of teachers in subjects taught in English, engaging Lebanese students in extracurricular activities, and motivating parents and the community to be more involved in the schools their children attend.
According to the memorandum, USAID reserves contractual power with the partner implementing the project, while selection of the latter is exclusively dependent on USAID. Those partners include the American University of Beirut, AMIDEAST, the Cooperative Housing Foundation, the International Orthodox Christian Charities, and the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.
The formulas adopted in implementing the project, which the education ministry in the current government consented to, has raised suspicion among observers and educators.
Skeptics say that representatives from the ministry were absent from “talks” with teachers that preceded the training sessions, which are expected to take place soon. They also question how interviews conducted by “non-Lebanese foreign nationals whose affiliations [are not known]” were used.
Sources close to the project’s implementation claim that audio recordings with teachers include inquiries about issues unrelated to the goals of the project. One participant asked: “What does enhancing teachers’ skills and evaluating their need for educational training have to do for example with whether they are attached to their community or resentful of it, whether they like to travel and to what country, and if this person or that person is their relative?”
This participant later continued, saying: “We sensed an intelligence gathering approach that went beyond the text of the agreement and the instructions of the Education Minister Hassan Diab who assured us he did not agree to collecting this kind of information.”
This approach led many of the teachers to boycott the evaluation test conducted for those targeted by the training courses.
Training the teachers was not the only source of concern. So was the detailed “intelligence” report distributed to schools in order to determine their repair needs as well as what resources are necessary to provide extracurricular activities. Last year’s summer camps raised questions over the geographical distribution of participating public schools as there was a clear focus on Dahiyeh (the southern suburbs of Beirut) and South Lebanon.
A number of teachers active in union work went even further in their skepticism and analysis asking: “Who protects the individual and legal rights of teachers and guarantees that their personal data, which belongs to them, won’t be used for political as opposed to educational purposes? Did the education ministry outsource its authority to the private sector and allow a foreign country to run amok in public schools as they wished without consulting teachers or asking for the opinion of their representatives in associations and trade unions? And is education such a neutral issue in the first place so as to allow the US to interfere in the Lebanese educational system, transfer its technical expertise to teachers and participate in evaluating them when this role is supposed to be the responsibility of local educational bodies and watchdog agencies? Is this project part of a US diplomatic campaign to improve its image and promote its policies in the region especially now that USAID is not a charity that provides grants and assistance? What if one of the long-term goals of the project is to change the educational curriculum?”
The teachers are demanding that the project’s parameters should at least be well defined and its goals clear and transparent.
Many of these critics realize that strengthening public education requires a political decision. Neither USAID, nor any other project can achieve this goal. The Lebanese state needs to make this decision by using a strategy which includes political and sectarian contracting with teachers, ending government subsidies of free private schools, and developing a national curricula every five years.
The funds allocated, according to these observers, whether from the US or other sources, disappear in the process, especially since the implementing partners are for-profit organizations.
Al-Akhbar spoke to Diab and the Director General of Education, Fadi Yarak, who is also the head of the coordination committee – the primary comptroller in the education ministry – to inquire whether the implementing partner of the project is adhering to the laws, standards, and mechanisms of the ministry.
Diab asserts that these concerns are misplaced even though he heard conversations over the summer about collecting data. He says he gave strict instructions banning the use of any personal information outside the scope of the project. “Practically, that is how things are. No one is taking data of this kind as far as we know,” he said firmly.
The audio recordings and iris print technology rumored to have been used in interviews with teachers are, according to the minister, unconfirmed.
Diab is dismayed that some would think this project may lead to changing the educational curricula. According to Diab, the curricula are not even part of the text of the agreement. The curricula are set exclusively by the Center for Educational Research and Development.
The minister adds that “the project is implemented through a grant, not a loan, and there is a difference between the two.”
When asked about the teachers’ boycott of the language evaluation test, he answered: “I don’t know. There might be issues other than the data, such as the teachers’ fear of the test due to their lack of proficiency.”
Yarak confirms in his interview with Al-Akhbar that the training material for principals takes into consideration legal standards in the education ministry and its various bodies, especially the Faculty of Education at the Lebanese University and the Educational Center for Research and Development.
He adds that it is not the first time there has been cooperation with foreign parties to train teachers. The French and the British preceded the Americans and there were similar projects in coordination with them.
While the director general points out that the training targets 6,000 teachers, he reassures us that the evaluation tests are not related to the teachers’ employment status, that is, they will not affect their professional standing. It merely measures their level of competence to determine the number of training hours they need. That is why participation is mandatory and not by choice.
Yarak seems confident that the issue of data management will be under control as long as the planning is carried out by the education ministry and the implementation of the project is overseen by a monitoring committee. The committee is under the leadership of the education minister in addition to the director general, the head of the Educational Center for Research and Development, the director of the secretariat for the development of the educational sector, and the principal adviser to the education minister.
Intelligence Gathering in Public Schools
Pedagogical commentators have recently noticed many attempts to infiltrate Lebanese public schools through various extracurricular activities. Upon examining their goals, it becomes clear that the common denominator among these projects is to collect personal data about the students and their parents and community.
A civil society association organized an educational contest in the schools throughout South Lebanon. It was noticeable that it included detailed questions having to do with the nature of their parents’ work.
Critics also note the insistence of one well-established private university on promoting itself in the high schools of Nabatieh, a town in southern Lebanon, by providing public school students with tempting, though illogical, offers given their parents’ financial inability to send them to this university.
It is also noteworthy that an international organization distributed cameras to 20 students in south Lebanon asking them to take pictures of scenes that stand out in their milieu. On the surface, this project might seem educational, serving students and teachers alike but observers say, “there is an intelligence gathering background to it.”
We have long supported a comprehensive approach to U.S.-Iranian realignment as the only way to put U.S.-Iranian relations on a more productive trajectory. But we do not understand how anyone can think that the Islamic Republic of Iran—any more than the People’s Republic of China—would negotiate its internal political transformation with the United States.
Yet this is precisely what Trita Parsi argues in his new book, A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy With Iran, blending distorted treatments of both Iranian politics and Obama’s Iran policy into a deeply misleading and agenda-driven account. In the aftermath of the Islamic Republic’s 2009 presidential election (which Parsi assured us, and continues to assure his readers, was “fraudulent”), Parsi was one of the most publicly prominent voices calling on the Obama Administration to take a “tactical pause” from diplomacy (which had not yet commenced). He advocated for such a pause because, he told large numbers of television viewers and Op Ed readers, the Islamic Republic was on the verge of collapse.
Well, here we are, almost three years later. The Islamic Republic is still here. Parsi, for his part, has returned to advocating U.S. engagement with Iran—but only if the Islamic Republic’s internal politics and “human rights situation” are a central part of the agenda. And the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), the advocacy group headed by Parsi, tells us on its website that the goal of U.S. engagement should be “a world in which the United States and a democratic Iran”—no mention of the Islamic Republic—“enjoy peaceful, cooperative relations.”
Make no mistake: this is neoconservatism without guns, effectively indistinguishable from the position of Michael Ledeen, who parts from other neoconservatives to side with Parsi and NIAC in opposing military action against Iran, but is ideologically committed to regime change there.
In a war-fevered environment, a book like Parsi’s can make a difference. Recall, in this regard, the impact just a decade ago of Ken Pollack’s The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq, which helped to legitimate Democratic support for George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq—and which was dead wrong, analytically and empirically, in all of its major arguments. To be sure, Parsi’s book is not written as a case for war against Iran, something that Parsi says he does not want. But, like Pollack, Parsi advances baseless evidence and agenda-driven analysis. And, in the same way that Pollack’s work helped pave the way for invading Iraq, Parsi’s book—by reinforcing conventional wisdom about Iranian politics and Obama’s Iran policy and counseling bad policy, raises the risk of another disastrous war in the Middle East.
Because Pollack, like Parsi, is not considered a neoconservative hawk, his book did not get the critical scrutiny it should have before the U.S. went to war. Although we like Trita Parsi personally, we are compelled to say what we think is so fundamentally wrong and dangerous about his book. Therefore, we have just published an extended review of A Single Roll of the Dice in Boston Review. Our essay, entitled “The Soft Side of Regime Change: Trita Parsi’s A Single Roll of the Dice”, is available online, by clicking here. We would encourage those interested in posting comments to also do so directly on the Boston Review site; there is a place to do so at the bottom of our article.
- Iran’s Soft Power Strategy: Why Iran Does Not Want A Nuclear Weapon (disquietreservations.blogspot.com)
Sri Lanka has lashed out at the recent US-backed sanctions targeting the Iranian energy sector, stressing that the bans will inflict heavy losses on the country’s economy.
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said Tuesday that the island’s only oil refinery is designed to work with Iranian light crude and any disruption to oil imports from Iran deals a blow to Colombo.
He also noted that by imposing an embargo on the Iranian oil industry, the US and its Western allies “are not punishing Iran, but us… the small countries.”
On December 31, 2011, US President Barack Obama signed into law new sanctions which seek to penalize countries importing Iran’s oil or doing transaction with the country’s central bank.
In their latest meeting in Brussels on January 23, EU foreign ministers also imposed new sanctions on Iran which include a ban on purchasing oil from the country, a freeze on the assets of Iran’s Central Bank within the EU, and a ban on the sale of diamonds, gold and other precious metals to Iran.
The United States, Israel and some of their allies accuse Tehran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program and have used this pretext to impose four rounds of international embargos and a series of unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
Iran has refuted the allegations, arguing that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Tehran has a right to use nuclear technology for peaceful use.
President Obama thinks killing people around the globe with drones is as cool as singing Al Green at the Apollo. In a live Web interview, Obama assured his audience that the U.S. unmanned drone force – now thought to number in the thousands and ranging from deadly Predators and Reapers to aircraft the size of small birds – was “kept on a very tight leash.” So, here we have a secret weapons program that violates other countries’ airspace and kills their citizens at will – and even kills American citizens without charge or trial – and Obama thinks that all he is obligated to do is give assurances that the weapons are on a “tight leash.”
The issue is not whether the American commander-in-chief has made sure that the drones are under his control, but that the United States is waging a terroristic war against at least four nations – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and possibly more – with not the slightest justification under international law.
The people of Iraq, who know a great deal about the effects of drones, are trying to figure out what their sovereignty and independence actually means when the U.S. State Department can fly drones above their cities as a safeguard to U.S. diplomatic installations. The question raised by Iraqis is not, Does Obama have those drones under tight controls, but Why is a foreign power, whose military was supposed to have left Iraq, flying aircraft in their skies? A New York Times article on Monday reported that the Iraqis’ were angry. But Obama dismissed their complaints as much ado about nothing; the article, he said was “a little bit overwritten.” I suppose Obama thinks he’s being cool, like breaking briefly into song at a Harlem fundraiser. But there is nothing cool about violating the territorial integrity of other countries – including nations like Iraq that Obama constantly describes as a U.S. ally.
Obama was too cool to let the U.S. Congress sweat him over the six-month aerial war waged by the United States and its NATO allies against the sovereign nation of Libya, at the conclusion of which Libya’s leader was murdered by U.S.-supported thugs. Obama apparently thought it was cool to stick a knife up Col. Gaddafi’s butt. The First Black President’s drones are busy over Somalia, whose government the U.S. and its African puppet allies overthrew in 2006, precipitating a humanitarian catastrophe that has only worsened as the U.S. war continues. All of Yemen is a killing zone for U.S. drones.
When the U.S. president arrogates to himself the right to bomb and kill at will, with no respect for national boundaries and sovereign rights, he makes himself an outlaw. So, I guess Obama is cool like Jesse James.
With his huge expansion of the drone terror wars and passage of preventive detention, Barack Obama has surpassed George Bush in lawlessness. But most Americans, especially African Americans, cannot imagine that Obama represents a danger to them. If George Bush had had thousands of drones that could fly up the hallway of an apartment building, ring the bell and assassinate whoever answered the door, Black folks would have been terrified. But, they’re not scared of Obama, because he…is oh so cool.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
- Obama concedes use of drones in Iraq (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- ‘US commits extrajudicial killings’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Obama Admits U.S. Drone Program Exists, But It’s Definitely Just for Special Terrorist Occasions (reason.com)
After interrogating him at a Police station in occupied Jerusalem, on Tuesday, the Israeli Police issued an order forcing Palestinian activist and intellectual, Rasem Obeidat, to remain in his residential area in Jerusalem for seven months. He will not be allowed out of Jerusalem, and will only be allowed into certain areas in the city.
The Police handed Obeidat a map detailing the areas he will be allowed to enter in Jerusalem for the duration of this order.
Obeidat was repeatedly imprisoned by Israel for his political activities and writings. He is active in many areas, mainly: social issues, the occupation, the issue of the detainees imprisoned by Israel, and in defending the Palestinian rights in the city.
He stated that preventing him from entering the West Bank, and forcing him out of several parts of Jerusalem, is a direct violation to the Freedom of Movement guaranteed by all international laws and regulations. Obeidat added that this order specifically violates the Fourth Article of the Geneva Convention of 1949.
He also stated that this order is unjust, and aims at targeting Palestinian political and social figures in the city, the same way Israel targets religious figures and all intellectuals, adding that this decision does not only target him personally, but also targets his family, as he heads the Vocational Rehabilitation Program at the YMCA in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem.
Obeidat was arrested in 1985 for his political activities with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and was imprisoned for two years.
He was also imprisoned for 17 months (June, 7, 2005 – October 9, 2006) for his social and political activities. He is married and a father of four; the oldest is 17 years old.
Obeidat said that the European Union, the Quartet Committee, and all related international groups, must impose sanctions on Israel for its ongoing attacks and violations against the Palestinian people.
Two weeks ago, the Israeli Army and Police broke into the Red Cross headquarters in Jerusalem, and kidnapped Palestinian Legislator, Mohammad Totah, and former Jerusalem Minister, Khaled Abu Arafa.
Two days ago, the police raided an Islamic Club in Silwan, in occupied East Jerusalem, and shut down the Silwan Charitable Society under claims of supporting the Palestinian resistance.
- Speaker Of Palestine Parliament Receives Six Months Administrative Detention (alethonews.wordpress.com)
AL-KHALIL — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) decided on Tuesday to knock out the sole electricity generation station in a village in Al-Khalil.
Local sources said that the IOA informed the inhabitants of Minaizel village to the east of Yatta town south of Al-Khalil that the solar energy station would be demolished.
Ratib Al-Jabour, the coordinator of the popular committees in Yatta, told Quds Press that a team of the Israeli civil administration handed down the decision.
He pointed out that the solar power project was financed by the Spanish government a few years ago.
Jabour said that 40 Palestinian families in the small village would be deprived of power in the event the IOA carried out its threat, adding that the demolition would take the village back to the “stone age”.
The activist further noted that the IOA served a demolition notice to a citizen in the same village that his home would be razed at the pretext that it was built without permit.
31 January 2012 | Palestine Solidarity Project
On Tuesday, January 31st, 2012, Beit Ommar villagers demonstrated near Route 60 at the entrance of the village to commemorate the one year anniversary of the murder of Yousef Ikhlayl, a 17-year-old Beit Ommar youth who was murdered by Israeli settlers on January 28th, 2011. The demonstration was organized by the Popular Committee in Beit Ommar and was supported by the Palestine Solidarity Project, the Popular Committee in Yatta, and several other Palestinian organizations.
As the demonstrators approached Route 60 at the entrance of the village, dozens of Israeli soldiers blocked their path and attacked the gathering with tear gas, sound bombs, and beatings. Israeli Forces used wooden clubs to strike at activists, and four demonstrators were injured. Yousef Abu Maria had his nose broken, Emad Abu Hashem was hit in the forehead with a club, Ahmad Abu Hashem was hit in the head with a soldier’s rifle butt, and Jamil Shuhada, an Executive Committee member for the PLO, was beaten with clubs and rifle butts.
The demonstrators remembered Yousef’s murder with the following demands:
- Try the murderers of Yousef Ikhlayl (the settlers came from Bat Ayn, one of five Israeli settlements built on land stolen from Beit Ommar villagers. To date, no settler has been arrested, let alone investigated, for Yousef’s murder.)
- Dismantle the Bay Ayn settlement
- Open the closed military roads around Beit Ommar which prevent farmers from reaching and cultivating their lands.
- Free all Palestinian political prisoners.
- Remove the Israeli military watchtower and checkpoint at the entrance of Beit Ommar and allow area residents freedom of movement.
- Demanding justice for Yousef, a quiet boy killed by Israeli settlers (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Beit Ommar (whatisawthere.wordpress.com)
- Settlers torch cars in Beit Ummar (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israeli army arrests Popular Committee official in Beit Ummar early dawn raid (alethonews.wordpress.com)