Looks like John Bolton was right. I’ve always suspected that Iran was much further along than most of the pundits admitted publicly, and that they may even already possess one nuclear weapon, if not more. Having said that, the fact that Iran is much further along than previously thought shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. It is, after all, the sort technological ambush that the West should have expected from a nation like Iran, a regime all too often determined to see to it that a proxy remain busy doing much of its dirty work …
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz – “New intelligence information obtained by Israel and four Western countries indicates that Iran has made greater progress on developing nuclear weapons than the West had previously realized, according to Western diplomats and Israeli officials who are closely involved in efforts to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb.
A Western diplomat who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to discuss intelligence information said the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Israel agree on that assessment.
According to the source, this assessment began to take shape in February, when Iran refused to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to visit the base at Parchin, where it is believed Iran is carrying out part of the research and development of its military nuclear program. Visits of IAEA inspectors in Iran, and especially revelations of information the Iranians had been trying to hide, intensified suspicions that Tehran was developing nuclear weapons at a faster pace than it had previously seemed.
Last month Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards has established a new team of 60 nuclear scientists to develop Iran’s military nuclear program at the Lavizan base near Tehran. In 2006, IAEA inspectors visited that base, which belongs to the Guards’ missile development agency.
The Daily Telegraph based its report on information from the Iranian opposition group Mujahideen al-Khalq. Members of the group told the paper that the work of the Iranian scientists in the ‘weapons group’ is at an advanced facility involved warheads and detonators.
An American think tank called the Institute for Science and International Security released a satellite photo of the Parchin base showing, according to Western intelligence, that Iran is developing nuclear weapons there. Taken on July 25 and released on August 1, the picture shows that the Iranians have completed what the American think tank called ‘cleanup’ of the site where the base was.
According to researchers at the institute, the photos they received show that the Iranians have bulldozed a number of structures at the base and leveled the surrounding land, which the institute’s staff suspect was done to erase evidence of nuclear activity at the site.” Read more.
Flashback: Hundreds of North Korean Nuclear and Missile Experts Working in More Than 10 Locations Across Iran – “Hundreds of North Korean nuclear and missile experts have been collaborating with their Iranian counterparts in more than 10 locations across the Islamic state, a diplomatic source said Sunday. The revelation lends credence to long-held suspicions that North Korea was helping Iran with a secret nuclear and missile program… North Korea has long been suspected of being behind nuclear and missile proliferation in Iran, Syria, Myanmar and Pakistan.” Read more.
Flashback: German Media: North Korea May Have Already Tested Nuclear Warheads For Iran (Google Translation) – “The ‘Welt am Sonntag’ reported, citing Western security circles, some intelligence agencies assumed that the government in Pyongyang had conducted at least one of these [nuclear] tests for Iran. This would mean that Tehran [bomb] has been built with North Korean help, and ignited a nuclear warhead… The longtime director of the Policy Planning Staff in the German Defense Ministry, Hans Rühle, writes in the ‘Welt am Sonntag’ that ‘… North Korea has actually conducted a nuclear test in 2010, at least for Iran.’” Read more.
By Laura MacInnis, Reuters – “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – One of U.S. President Barack Obama’s closest aides was paid $100,000 by a company doing business with Iran just before joining the White House staff, the Washington Post reported on Monday, raising awkward election-year questions for the Democrat trying to get tough with Tehran.
White House senior adviser David Plouffe received the speaking fee from Africa’s biggest wireless phone operator, MTN Group, for two speeches he made in Nigeria in December 2010, the company and administration officials confirmed.
Plouffe listed it with many others on his official financial disclosures after he joined the White House in January 2011. An MTN subsidiary is a major shareholder in Irancell, a major government-connected telecommunications operator in Iran.
While there has been no suggestion that Plouffe violated any law or regulation, the appearance has already exposed the White House to attack from Republican opponents.
Plouffe managed Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and has been an important behind-the-scenes player in the 2012 race, where White House efforts to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon have been under fire by Republican contender Mitt Romney.
It is typical for Washington insiders to collect lucrative speaking fees between and after their government assignments. But Republicans said MTN’s work in Iran through Irancell made the Nigeria speeches bad choices.
‘Today’s story raises serious questions,’ said Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. ‘David Plouffe may be the biggest loophole in the international community’s sanctions against Iran.’” Read more.
Family Of Hillary Clinton’s Closest Aide Huma Abedin Promoted Muslim Brotherhood Views – “Reflecting an apparent systemic failure, steadily burgeoning evidence … indicates that one of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s closest aides, Huma Abedin, despite Ms. Clinton’s protestation, was inadequately vetted for either family or personal ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Diligent, open source investigation has already uncovered and documented numerous alarming connections. One can reasonably infer that a serious, formal congressional investigation of the overall extent of Muslim Brotherhood influence operations –as requested by Representatives Bachmann, Gohmert, Franks, Westmoreland, and Rooney — might yield even more disturbing findings.” Read more.
Italy: Standard And Poor’s Downgrades 15 Of Italy’s Largest Banks, Prime Minister Warns Of Eurozone Breakup
The credit ratings agency said today that Italy’s recession could potentially be deeper and more prolonged than previously thought.
It said problem assets are mounting and that many banks have reduced provisions for loan losses, making them more vulnerable.
The ratings of UniCredit SpA and Intesa Sanpaolo SpA were confirmed by S&P. Banca Carige SpA, Banca Popolare dell’Alto Adige and Unione di Banche Italiane, among others, also saw their ratings reduced.
S&P lowered its rating on 34 banks in February, citing the country’s financial vulnerability and expectations of lower earnings.
The move came as Italian prime minister Mario Monti gave an interview claiming that the nation needs moral support from Germany, but not its cash.
Mr Monti told German magazine Der Spiegel he was concerned about growing anti-euro, anti-German and anti-European Union sentiment in the parliament in Rome.” Read more.
Italian PM Warns Of Euro Breakup – “The big news this morning is coming from an interview Italy’s Mario Monti gave to German magazine Der Spiegel, in which he warned that growing Italian resentment against Germany risks the break up of not just the eurozone but the European Union itself. He said the eurozone tensions ‘bear the traits of a psychological dissolution of Europe,’ adding that Europe ‘must work hard to contain it.’ Asked about a strengthening in resentment between the allegedly profligate southern European nations and the bloc’s thrifty northern members, Monti told Der Spiegel ‘it is very alarming, and we have to fight against it.’” Read more.
Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff – “The Palestinians will renew their bid to upgrade their status at the United Nations next month, their foreign minister said on Saturday, a move which could strengthen their statehood claims as talks with Israel remain stalled.
Palestinians are listed as a U.N. observer ‘entity’ with no voting rights. They will ask to be made a non-member observer state at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 27, Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Such status, akin to the Vatican’s, would be an indirect recognition of their claims on statehood in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. It would allow them to join a number of U.N. agencies, as well as the International Criminal Court.
Malki said President Mahmoud Abbas would make the status request in a speech and the Palestinians would then lobby for support among U.N. member states, many of which are sympathetic to the campaign and regard the West Bank settlements as illegal.
‘When we are sure we have won absolute support from the largest possible number of states, we will be ready to request that the General Assembly vote on such a draft resolution,’ Malki said.
Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosor told Israel Radio on Sunday morning the Palestinians have a ‘guaranteed majority’ in the 193-member General Assembly — enough to bestow non-member observer status, which the envoy predicted would be used ‘to hurt us [Israel]‘ in various international forums.” Read more.
If Barack Hussein Obama is on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Qaeda in Syria, then why wouldn’t the UN be? …
By Joseph Klein, FrontPage Magazine – “A day after Kofi Annan, the Joint Special Envoy for the UN and the League of Arab States for the Syrian Crisis, announced his decision to resign in frustration over the failure of the United Nations Security Council to pass a strong resolution that would enforce compliance with his six-point Syrian peace plan, Arab League members led by Saudi Arabia and Qatar went to the UN General Assembly for a symbolic vote on a resolution strongly condemning the Assad regime. The resolution said nothing about al Qaeda and other Islamist jihadists who are hijacking the armed opposition and committing their own atrocities.
The final draft resolution passed on August 3rd, with 133 in favor, 31 abstaining and 12 against. In order to secure more votes in favor of the resolution, the measure’s Arab League sponsors had to water down its text. They agreed to remove a demand that President Assad resign. They also agreed to water down a call for other nations to impose sanctions on Syria. Without such dilution, the resolution would most likely have failed to gain a supporting majority.
Nevertheless, the final resolution text retained its focus of condemnation on the Syrian regime. It called out the ‘the increasing use by the Syrian authorities of heavy weapons, including indiscriminate shelling from tanks and helicopters, in population centres and the failure to withdraw its troops and the heavy weapons to their barracks…’
After reciting a long litany of ‘widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities and pro-government militias,’ the resolution made only a glancing reference to possible ‘human rights abuses by armed opposition groups.’ While condemning all violence, ‘irrespective of where it comes from,’ the resolution said that it was up to the Read more…
Tunisia: New Draft Constitution Diminishes Women To Inferior Status, Imposes Prison For ‘Blasphemy’ Against Islam
By Alice Fordham, The National – “TUNIS // Tunisian politicians have provoked outrage by debating draft laws that would impose prison sentences for vaguely defined acts of blasphemy and approving wording in the country’s new constitution that says women are ‘complementary’ to men.
The clash between the Islamist-dominated interim government and those who fear that rights and freedoms are being eroded is the latest struggle in the battle to redefine Tunisia’s political and cultural landscape after the 23-year rule of former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was deposed last year.
‘Bad day at the Commission of Rights and Freedoms,’ read a note posted last week on the Facebook page of Selma Mabrouk, a member of the centrist Ettakatol party and the parliamentary committee tasked with drafting a new constitution. The ruling, she said, ‘seems to break completely with the idea of equality of the sexes’.
The panel approved an article to the new constitution under the principle that a woman is a ‘complement with the man in the family and an associate to the man in the development of the country’, according to Ms Mabrouk’s August 1 Facebook post.
The wording was passed by a 12-8 vote, with 9 of those in favour coming from Ennahda, the moderate Islamist political party. Its passage does not mean that the formulation has become law. The article must must be approved by another parliamentary committee and the entire new constitution put to a public referendum.
Though not the final word, the ruling drew widespread criticism.
Writing on the Nawaat website, which describes itself as an independent, collective blog, Wafa Ben Hassine, a Tunisian-American activist, said: ‘By defining women as ‘complementary’, we rob from the potential of Tunisian women – both within society and within themselves.’
Ennahda prompted further concerns last week when it introduced a draft law that would criminalise offenses against ‘sacred values’.” Read more.
Flashback: Tunisia: Radical Islamists Hold Anti-Semitic March In Central Tunisia, ‘Jews, Jews, The Army Of Mohammed Is Back’ – “Thousands of Salafist Muslims marched on Kairouan in Central Tunisia, as part of the extremist Islamic movement’s annual assembly. The exclusively male attendees, many of whom were dressed in Afghan military uniform or waving Salafist black flags, marched through the city and raised a banner over the minaret of its mosque, the oldest in Africa… Organisers of the Salafist assembly had instructed marchers to remain ‘calm’ and not to talk to reporters. Many participants however defied their request not to chant slogans, reciting ‘We are all the children of Osama (bin Laden)’ and ‘Jews, Jews, the army of Mohammed is back’.” Read more.
Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) attacked an army detachment, touching off gunbattles in the southern province of Maguindanao, the army and police said.
At least one soldier was wounded as sporadic fighting raged into daybreak, said provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Marcelo Pintac.
The rebels had cut down electrical relay posts before dawn, plunging several towns into darkness.
The fighting raised fears it could lead to large displacements of villagers, said regional military spokesman Colonel Prudencio Asto, and forced schools to suspend classes for the day.
‘We are on defensive posture now and we will take care of the communities and the people,’ he said, adding that commuters were also advised to avoid passing along highways where fighting could spill over.
The BIFF is headed by Ameril Umbrakato, a Saudi Arabian-educated guerrilla who splintered from the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which had entered into peace talks with Manila.
Umbrakato had boasted of having about 5,000 armed fighters, though military officials believe he only has a few hundred under his command.
Umbrakato is known to be a Muslim hardliner and he has accused his former comrades of betraying the rebellion’s ultimate goal of an independent Islamic state in the troubled south.
The government has said it hopes to sign a peace deal with the MILF by the end of the year, but had asked the MILF leadership to help contain Umbrakato’s forces.
The Muslim insurgency began in the early 1970s and the fighting has killed some 150,000 people as well as plunged large parts of the south into deep poverty.” Source – Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
So far 147 thousand chickens, ducks and pigs have been reported dead and 150 tons of clam in two fishery farms in North Jeolla province have reportedly perished en masse.
The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the fisheries damage alone is estimated at around 350 thousand dollars.
Claims for compensation are filing in at government offices and private insurance firms and damage is expected to grow.
In response, the Ministry has called on local governments to actively help farmers minimize the damage.
Also the authorities are taking measures to fight the spread of red tide that’s spreading across South Gyeongsang and South Jeolla Province.” Source – Arirang.
The fish include adult and juvenile salmon and trout, eels, minnow and stoneloach.
The investigation to locate the source of the pollution has been continuing since Friday last when a member of the public alerted the Inland Fisheries Ireland.
Last year the Dee and Glyde Fishing Development Association launched a new project at Dunleer to increase salmon spawning on the east coast of Irealnd.
Salmon stocks in the country are low and this project creates spawning beds using rock and gravel, oxygenating deflectors and removal of silt and weeds.
The project was launched by Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd at Dunleer.
Louth Leader have provided funding for the project. This was the third phase of the project and Louth Leader gave a further €26,000 euro towards it. The Dee and Glyde Fishing Development Association spent a number of years working on this project.” Source – Dundalk Democrat.
US: Hundreds Of Thousands Of Fish Dying All Across The Midwest, ‘It’s Something I’ve Never Seen In My Career’
About 40,000 shovelnose sturgeon were killed in Iowa last week as water temperatures reached 97 degrees. Nebraska fishery officials said they’ve seen thousands of dead sturgeon, catfish, carp, and other species in the Lower Platte River, including the endangered pallid sturgeon. And biologists in Illinois said the hot weather has killed tens of thousands of large- and smallmouth bass and channel catfish and is threatening the population of the greater redhorse fish, a state-endangered species.
So many fish died in one Illinois lake that the carcasses clogged an intake screen near a power plant, lowering water levels to the point that the station had to shut down one of its generators.
‘It’s something I’ve never seen in my career, and I’ve been here for more than 17 years,’ said Mark Flammang, a fisheries biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. ‘I think what we’re mainly dealing with here are the extremely low flows and this unparalleled heat.’
The fish are victims of one of the driest and warmest summers in history. The federal U.S. Drought Monitor shows nearly two-thirds of the lower 48 states are experiencing some form of drought, and the Department of Agriculture has declared more than half of the nation’s counties – nearly 1,600 in 32 states – as natural disaster areas. More than 3,000 heat records were broken over the last month.
Iowa DNR officials said the sturgeon found dead in the Des Moines River were worth nearly $10 million, a high value based in part on their highly sought eggs, which are used for caviar. The fish are valued at more than $110 a pound.
Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute, said the sturgeon kills don’t appear to have reduced the supply enough to hurt regional caviar suppliers.
Flammang said weekend rain improved some of Iowa’s rivers and lakes, but temperatures were rising again and straining a sturgeon population that develops health problems when water temperatures climb into the 80s.
‘Those fish have been in these rivers for thousands of thousands of years, and they’re accustomed to all sorts of weather conditions,’ he said. ‘But sometimes, you have conditions occur that are outside their realm of tolerance.’
In Illinois, heat and lack of rain has dried up a large swath of Aux Sable Creek, the state’s largest habitat for the endangered greater redhorse, a large bottom-feeding fish, said Dan Stephenson, a biologist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
‘We’re talking hundreds of thousands (killed), maybe millions by now,’ Stephenson said. ‘If you’re only talking about game fish, it’s probably in the thousands. But for all fish, it’s probably in the millions if you look statewide.’” Read more.