Saturday, May 31, 2008

Iran Reply to Israel Strike 'Limitless'

TEHRAN, May 31--Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar on Saturday warned of any Israeli attempt to launch strike on Iran stressing that "Our response (to any strike) has no time or geographical limit."

"The Islamic Republic of Iran follows its legitimate goals wisely and authoritatively. The Zionist Regime has lost its vigor to the extent that can not tolerate even Iran's snap reactions because our answer has no time or geographical restriction," Najjar told the semi-official Fars News Agency on Saturday.He reiterated, "Any attack or aggression on Iran will be a foolish act, receiving a painful backlash. Iran's reaction to such a situation will entail grave regret for the enemy." "Iranian armed forces in any rank are prepared to give a due response. I, however, believe that the Zionist Regime has got feeble so much that it couldn't face Hizbollah (of Lebanon) either."
The Iranian top defense official referred to a three-day visit to Iran by his Syrian counterpart Hassan Turkmani and said Iran-Syria defense cooperation under present sensitive conditions will relieve security concerns over the Zionist Regime's constant threats and intimidations. "Tehran-Damascus defense relations will meet interests of the two countries and nations, while guaranteeing security of the Muslim and Arab nations and giving friendship messages to whole the Muslim and Arab states," the Minister boasted.He dwelt on the Syria-Israel indirect talks and their impacts on the Iran-Syria relations, especially in the defense domain, and said, "The Islamic Republic of Iran supports Syria in its drive to regain the Golan heights, considering it a success for the country." He said that however, he believes the Zionist regime of Israel has not the least sign of readiness to relinquish occupation of the Palestinian and Arab lands. He also ruled out claims that Iran had a role in the Iraq and Afghanistan insecurity.
"All these are efforts to cover up the US failure in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other regions. On the other hand, such claims are raised to pit regional states against Iran and justify the US false policies which have resulted in insecurity, tension and instability in the region and the world." "Iran has been the main factor of intra-Iraqi consensus following recent clashes in Basra and Sadr City and encouraged national reconciliation there. Iran considers Iraq stability in favor of regional stability," he declared. Somewhere in the interview, Najjar touched on the Iraq-US security deal and said, "It seems such deal will trample upon dignity and independence of the Iraqi nation. The Islamic Republic of Iran considers such pacts contrary to the national interests of countries and Islamic dignity of the regional nations."
To the end of the interview, Najjar ruled out "vain and unjustified" IAEA claims over Iran's missile capability and said, "Peaceful nature and non-diversion of our country's nuclear activity are two points which have repeatedly announced and approved by the international bodies and the IAEA especially.""Certain baseless allegations leveled against our country will merely end up in disgrace of international bodies," he added.

Iran's Defense Minister Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar says Iran will give crushing response to any aggression.

Pope Benedict XVI won't see Ahmadinejad

It's official from Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI will not be meeting any Heads of States among those participating at the FAO Conference in Rome between 3-5 June. (RAI TV)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Israel chooses a national bird

By BETH MARLOWE-Associated Press Writer-May 29, 2008

After a contest that ruffled a few feathers, Israel has chosen it's national bird.

At a ceremony in Jerusalem on Thursday, Israel's appropriately dovish President Shimon Peres announced that the hoopoe is now the ornithological symbol of the country.
But the hoopoe, identified by its long beak and red and black crest, was a relatively tame choice.
In a nationwide vote, more than 150,000 Israelis cast ballots for one of ten native birds, according to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, which launched the national campaign to get the public interested in protecting birds.
A few nominees caused a flap.
A bird listed on the ballot as the Yellow Tufted Sunbird had some Israelis wondering if it was the best choice for their national symbol. Why? Its more common name is the Palestinian Sunbird.
"You can understand that the name makes a big difference for Israelis," said Dan Alon, the director of the Israel Ornithological Society and a driving force behind the elections.
Patriotic Israelis deemed the Griffin Vulture too violent to represent the state, though left-wingers called it appropriate.
Other Israelis were reluctant to vote for the Barn Owl because some Arab cultures consider it bad luck. With more than a million people, Arabs make up nearly 20 percent of Israel's population.
The hoopoe and two other birds were in a close race to win the title, said Alon. He would not say which birds took second and third place.
Ornithologist Amir Balaban, who runs the Jerusalem Bird Observatory, described the hoopoe as a beautiful, native bird that is monogamous and takes good care of its children.
The public's vote counted for 75 percent of the decision, while a panel of Israeli poets, politicians and academics got 25 percent of the vote.
The election was timed to coincide with Israel's 60th birthday, and many agreed it was about time the country had a national bird.
"We're moving into our adulthood," Balaban said. "As an adult state we should be working on protecting our environment." (Source)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Iran to sue the US: FM official

ISNA - Tehran
Service: Foreign Policy

TEHRAN, May 28 (ISNA)-Iran is taking political measures to sue US in international legal organization, said the head of Iran’s foreign ministry for American affairs Ahmad Sobhani.

A few weeks ago a deadly bomb went off at a religious center in Shiraz which left a large number of people killed and injured.

Many Iranian officials including president and judiciary spokesman condemned the attack saying that those groups who made a terrorist attack in Shiraz, Iran’s southern city are linked to the US.

There are a number of undeniable documents confirming those who claimed the responsibility are the ones based in the US, Ahmad Sobhani said.

“This is Washington’s responsibility to confront terrorist groups working within the country.”

Iran which has lodged opposition against US through Swiss embassy is waiting for US reaction to presented evidence.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian official said Canada is now suffering from not having ties with Iran and added Iran will accept Canadian ambassador if the country reviews measures on Iran.

Meanwhile concerning Iran-Argentina ties, Sobhani said the one hundred-year old friendly ties were not received warmly by Zionist regime always intends to demolish peaceful relations.

Zionist regime charged Iran with involving in the 1994 attack on Argentina's main Jewish center.

The Iranian official also said all countries are fully aware that this was a big allegation against Iran.

End Item

Israel Bans SMS Spam

Israel's Parliament, the Knesset has approved a bill banning the sending of unsolicited SMSs to mobile phones with fines of up to NIS200,000 (US$61,000) per infraction. The bill also forbids unsolicited phone calls of a commercial nature - as well as email spam.

The new law comes into effect in six months time.
Rather than following an "opt-out" model where recipients have to explicitly say they do not want messages from a sender, the Israeli Parliament eventually opted for a complete ban, except where the recipient has had prior business dealings with the sender. Messages from charities are exempted - as are unsurprisingly, messages from polticians.
According to figures presented to the Knesset, at least 75% of telephone users have opted out of automated calls all ready.
One aspect of the new legislation which is unusual is that rather than leaving the matter to the police and prosecutors to pursue, private citizens can also sue for up to NIS1,000 (US$304) per SMS received without having to prove any loss or damage was caused - providing they can identify the sender.

"Virgin" moves to the Middle East

Virgin eyes Middle East expansion

The music industry scene is changing rapidly, with many people opting to download songs rather than buy CDs. With films too, many people are turning to download services. Where does that leave music franchise Virgin Mega Stores, whose revenues still relies heavily on the sale of CDs and DVDs?
Virgin Mega Stores Middle East believes people in the region will still want to buy CDs for at least the next 13 years. The company has just renewed its right to run the stores in the Middle East with Virgin Stores France for that period of time, with plans to further expand into untapped regions. The UAE is Virgin’s largest market in the Middle East, accounting for half of its turnover. And according to Nisreen Shocair, President of Virgin Mega Store Middle East, UAE residents have shown much more acceptance for the concept of Virgin, mainly because of the country’s demographic mix.

Untapped opportunities
Currently, Virgin has four stores in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi, and is looking at other emirates such as Sharjah as the potential location for future stores. As of now, nothing is confirmed, the reason being Virgin’s lack of feel for what is going on in these locations Shocair admits. 'We have big interest in expanding more in Abu Dhabi, but it has been difficult finding a big format store. It’s easy to find an 800sq metre store, but quite impossible to find a 2,000sq metre store, which is what we’re looking for. We’re also looking for the right client mix within a mall and when we find that our second store will find its way into Abu Dhabi,’ Shocair says. Dubai is the shopping capital of the UAE, if not the Middle East, and has plans to open many more shopping malls over the coming few years. But Shocair doesn’t expect to be in every one of them, as the company is trying to strike a balance between being located where the communities are and remaining a destination that people visit. However three stores are due to open within the next 18 months in the emirate. Virgin’s expansion plans include entering Bahrain, its seventh Middle Eastern country after the UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait and Qatar.

Adding curves
Those who visited Virgin Mega Store in the Mall of Emirates in Dubai recently would have seen a car inside the store. This is just one of the ways the company is trying to focus on the lucrative youth market. It also wants to attract more women into its stores, with design changes aimed at its female audience. 'An organisation run by women will end up having more curves. And we’ve certainly tried to add more curves in our stores in an attempt to catch female attention. To this end, a redesigning process took place recently, with fashion magazines and books that interest women moved to the front of the store, in addition to increasing the range in our virgin boutique,’ Shocair explains. In terms of concept, Virgin Mega Stores Middle East positions itself as an entertainment destination. However, when it comes to individual market sectors, Shocair claims they have no idea what Virgin’s share is in the overall gaming or books markets. And it’s the dealers that are to be blamed for that. 'In our deals within all the market sectors we have asked our partners to give us such data, but they still feel this is their own information, and they gain power by keeping it. There’s a fear that we might use this information against them, while the fact is that it would help us work together better,’ Shocair says.

Digital threats
Downloading music from the internet is an increasingly attractive choice, making it harder for music dealers and retailers to increase sales figures, but Virgin does not believe digital downloads will threaten its survival. 'We are lucky, we launched our concept in 2001 and could clearly see the future. We were dealing with a completely different industry and overnight things changed. We were fortunate that from day one we knew what we were dealing with, but the Middle East was not ready for the future. It’s hard to believe that in 2008 people in the region still want music cassettes. The problem is the old cars owned by a lot of people still have a cassette deck,' Shocair adds. Yet, Virgin is determined to capitalise on downloads with a new product offering that will be available in stores by the last quarter of 2008. Shocair told AME Info that Virgin will introduce 'cool format’ kiosks from which consumers can download music onto their memory stick or mobile phones. It hasn’t been decided yet whether this is going to be a paid or free service, but either way, this would definitely be Virgin’s access card to the youth market, enabling it to reach out to this group.

Tutu: Israel responsible for situation in Palestinian areas

Tutu should be at home sorting out the xenophobic massacres that are currently occuring in South Africa. Innocent people are being burnt alive or hacked or bludgeoned to death.

Gaza - Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu said Thursday that Israel bears responsibility for the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He slammed Israel's closure of the salient, and also criticized militants who fire rockets at the Jewish state.
Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, he told a news conference in Gaza City, "has affected all aspects of life, mainly hospitals and roads."
The former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, is leading a United Nations fact-finding mission to the Gaza Strip to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 19 Palestinian civilians during an Israeli attack in November 2006.
Israel said a technical fault caused the two shells to hit two houses in the northern Gaza Strip, as Israeli artillery was pounding areas from which militants regularly fire rockets.
Israel has imposed a blockade on the Strip since June last year, when the Islamic militant Hamas movement seized security control of the enclave by routing forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas.
Tutu, who met Tuesday Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, urged militnats to put a halt to the daily rocket fire.
"Peace cannot be achieved through guns, it can only be achieved through talks, therefore when enemies sit down together on one table, as happened in South Africa, all problems would be resolved," he said.
Israel refuses to negotiate with Hamas until the Islamist organization changes its charter to accept Israel's right to exist, something Hamas leaders have said they will never do. (EarthTimes)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Turkey's Code of Conduct for Women Sparks Controversy

By Dorian Jones Istanbul-28 May 2008 (Voice of America)

Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs, the Diyanet, has sparked a controversy in a declaration on how women should behave in public life. The Diyanet, which controls the Muslim faith in Turkey, has, as Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul, been sharply criticized by women's groups and supporters of the secular state.

In a website declaration, Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, the Diyanet, has given a long list of do's and don'ts on how women should behave in public life.
Among the most controversial are directives saying women should not wear perfume in public and that they should not be alone with men.
In the heart of Istanbul, there was general disbelief among women.
This response was typical
"It is really unbelievable, but nobody is listening to them, especially in big cities, nobody. But it is strange, they are going more crazy everyday, and [I] do not believe [anybody] will stop because of this declaration, because it is stupid."
The woman speaking was wearing a short-sleeve T-shirt, to cope with hot weather. But according to the Diyanet that too is forbidden. It says women should always cover up.
While the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party does not directly control the Diyanet, observers say its declaration will add to growing concerns among supporters of secularism about the direction the country is moving. The ruling party is facing closure by the country' s supreme court on charges of threatening the secular state.
The Diyanet's declaration, which has no legal authority, has once again revealed the deep polarization in Turkish society. Much of the religious press welcomed the measures, but the secular media strongly condemned them.
The Diyanet, which controls the Muslim faith in Turkey including the appointment of Imams, has in recent years been advocating progressive policies that include campaigning against the killing of women in the name of family honor.
Liz Amado of the Istanbul based Women for Women's rights fears the declaration is part of a worrying new trend,
"They do talk [about] girls education, they had to talk about honor killings," said Liz Amado. "But this past year we have been witnessing a more of a backlash in terms of approach and declarations against gender equality. Against things such as wearing perfume, [saying it] is sacrilegious or flirting is the same as adultery etcetera."
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan provoked anger from women's-rights groups when he repeatedly called for all married women to have at least three children.
According to observers, because the ruling party is facing closure, its leadership is increasingly courting its religious voter base. But such statements along with the Diyanet's declaration will probably only add to the deepening polarization in Turkish society.

Academic 'Boycott' Of Israelis Stirs Anger

Jewish physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg cancels plans to visit England in protest.

Members of the University and College Union in England said they would consider severing ties with Israeli universities at their annual conference Wednesday.
Tom Hickey, who teaches philosophy at the University of Brighton, says the motion highlighting the humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel is just shy of a full boycott, The Telegraph said. It is not a resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, Hickey said.
We are urging people to reflect on whether it is appropriate for them to maintain their links with Israeli institutions, he continued. Hickey will present the motion.
The eminent Jewish physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg said he canceled plans to visit England in protest of the measure.
For his part, Israeli Ambassador to England Ron Prosor said the move runs counter to academic principles.
Any call to an academic boycott on Israel is an act of folly since boycott stands as a contradiction of what academy symbolizes and represents, Prosor said. (c) UPI (Source)

'Beyond Fitna' to be posted on website in two days

A group of independent documentary writers will post the documentary 'Beyond Fitna' on the internet in response to the blasphemous anti-Islamic film, 'Fitna', produced and released by the Dutch legislator Geert Wilders.

Spokesman of the NGO Islam and Christianity Mohammad Karimi told Tuesday that the documentary was produced in response to the Dutch anti-Islamic sacrilegious video.

Karimi said that Iranian film will be posted on the following websites as of May 29:, and

He said that while honoring all divine religions, there are efforts to give a crushing response to all the anti-Islamic gestures of extremists in the West.

He said the documentary was made in three languages of English, Persian and Arabic under supervision of a team of religious experts and professional documentary writers. --IRNA

Archaeologists unearth remains of largest ancient Egyptian fortified city in northern Sinai

An ancient Egyptian inscription which was found in what archaeologists believe is the fortress town of Tharu in northern Sinai, is seen in this undated handout photo made available May 28, 2008. Photograph by : Reuters/Supreme Council of Antiquities/Handout

Cairo- May 28, 2008: Egypt's antiquities authority says archaeologists have unearthed 3,000-year-old remains of the largest ancient Egyptian fortified city while exploring an old military road in Sinai that once connected Egypt to Palestine.
Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said Wednesday that archaeologists unearthed relief of King Thutmose II (1516-1504 B.C.), thought to be the first such royal monument found in Sinai. It indicates that Thutmose II may have built a fort in the area.
A 500-by-250 meter mud brick fort with several four-meter-high towers dating to King Ramses II (1304-1237 B.C.) were unearthed in the same area, he said.
The ancient military road known as "Way of Horus" is close to present-day Rafah which borders the Gaza Strip. (IHT)

U.S. gift chronicles Israel relations


The U.S. National Archives gave Israel facsimile copies of presidential documents relating to the Jewish state. The collection, ranging from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937 to President George H. W. Bush in 1991, was delivered to Israel ahead of its 60th birthday celebrations earlier this month. It includes President Harry Truman's one-page, typed recognition of Israel on May 14, 1948. The earliest entry is 1937 greetings from Roosevelt to the United Palestine Appeal.
"The American people, ever zealous in the cause of human freedom, have watched with sympathetic interest the effort of the Jews to renew in Palestine the ties of their ancient homeland and to reestablish Jewish culture in the place where for centuries it flourished and whence it was carried to the far corners of the world," Roosevelt says in the letter to the precursor to what later became the United Jewish Appeal. Most of the documents are exchanges of thanks and support between leaders of both nations, but there are picayune offerings as well: U.S. Rep. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.), the future president, records observations during a 1951 trip to Israel.
"Ambassador said he had never seen such construction in any place. Especially malarial swamps been completely drained and a great deal of works done," Kennedy writes. "Soldiers tough, rugged, cocky." In 1967, Perry Kallison, a Texas supporter of President Lyndon Johnson, writes to the president ahead of an official visit by Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, and recalls a successful airlift of 75 Texas goats to Israel a few years earlier.
"These Angora goats did so well that another two hundred fifty Texas Angora goats were sent," Kallison writes.

Iran-Syria sign defence pact

TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran and its close ally Syria have signed a new defence cooperation pact, Iranian media reported on Wednesday, just a week after news broke that Israel had begun indirect peace talks with Damascus.

"The two countries pledge their mutual support regarding territorial independence and integrity in terms of international and regional authorities," the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

The accord, signed during a visit by Syrian Defence Minister Hassan Turkmani, also called for the withdrawal of "foreign and occupation forces, which are the source of insecurity and instability in the region."

Last Wednesday, Israel and Syria announced they had launched peace talks through Turkish mediators, after the last round of negotiations broke off in 2000 over the fate of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The United States, which has forces in Iraq and several oil-rich Gulf monarchies, has said it hopes the revival of the Israel-Syria peace track could help isolate archfoe Iran.

Syria has however rejected an Israeli demand that it breaks its three-decade alliance with Iran and end support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups as a condition for progress in the talks.

Iran does not recognise Israel and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has drawn international condemnation by saying the Jewish state should be wiped from the map. (Source)

German doctor arrested in Emirates for giving girls fake virginity

Sharjah, United Arab Emirates-Wed, 28 May 2008

Police in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) arrested Wednesday a German doctor of Arab descent for performing hymen reconstruction surgery and illegal abortions. Police investigation indicated that the 61-year-old gynaecologist carried out the surgery to restore broken hymen for about 1,000 dollars, according to a police statement.
The surgery known as hymenoplasty is illegal in many countries in the Middle East and the Gulf where women are required to prove their virginity when they get married.

The surgery is usually done under local anaesthetic. (The EarthTimes)

But how do we turn our backs on these women who in all likelihood could be killed by their fathers, brothers or husbands if it is found out that they are not virgins? Aren't doctors morally bound to help these women who could face certain death if they are discovered to be non-virgins?

European Parliament: Fresh viewpoints on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

External relations - 28-05-2008 - 13:54 (European Parl.)

Building confidence and trust among future leaders is crucial to ending the Israeli Palestinian conflict, concluded a meeting of young European, Israeli and Palestinian political leaders who worked together at the European Parliament from 25 to 28 May. This event on the relationships between identities and politics was hosted by EP President Hans-Gert Pöttering.

"The involvement of young political leaders is crucial for the transformation of present conflicts into future peace. This platform has enabled young leaders from both sides to exchange views and real life experiences, building the foundation for trust between future generations", says a joint message delivered to President Pöttering. "Building confidence and trust for future political leaders is essential", said the EP President, who wants to continue this dialogue between the three parties. "This could lead to a more fruitful outcome if we lead in the future", said Hussam Jubran for the Palestinian side. Israeli delegate Roy Shaposhnik, from Kadima, underlined that issues normally not raised have been discussed, such as options for Jerusalem. Jochem De Groot, European delegate pointed out the "immense amount of respect between parties". As part of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, this meeting enabled young political leaders to exchange political and individual experiences and establish interpersonal relationships in a neutral environment.
Several MEPs took part in the event, to discuss issues such as constructing identities and politicised regional identities in the EU, with examples from the Basque country, with Carlos Iturgaiz Angulo (EPP-ED), Belgium, with Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroek (ALDE), and Northern Ireland, with Bairbre de Brún (GUE/NGL). Michael Gahler (EPP-ED, DE) led a debate on "From hereditary enemies to pooled sovereignty - the EU integration experience as a model?"
Workshops were held on "Creative solutions for Jerusalem" and on "Identity and sovereignty - the question of Jerusalem", led by David Hammerstein Mintz (Greens/EFA, ES). President Pöttering organised the event using the €20 000 he received as winner of the Hallstein Prize, which he received in Frankfurt on 5 November 2007. The prize recognises work for European integration and is awarded by the City of Frankfurt, the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University and Dresdner Bank.

Iranian women to receive equal 'blood money' as men

28 May 2008-Iranian women who are injured or killed in car accidents will be entitled to the same insurance company compensation as men under new legislation. Rights activists say women face discrimination in the Islamic state. For example, compensation for the loss of a woman's life, "blood money," is half that paid for a man under Shariah law imposed since the 1979 Islamic revolution. This rule, which applies to physical injury as well, has also governed payments from insurance companies even though both sexes pay equal premiums. Judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said the legislature had recently voted for the proposed change, even though it must also be approved by a powerful constitutional watchdog controlled by conservative clerics. "Henceforth the payment of blood money and damage compensation will be equal in regard to women and men," Mr. Jamshidi said. (Source)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Iran: human rights situation in Canada is worrisome

Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mohammad Ali Hosseini, said on Monday that the Canadian government is responsible for gross violations of human rights.

Talking to reporters during his weekly press briefing, he added that the rights of the Canadian natives are exposed to violations of their human rights by the Canadian government for ages. He made the remarks in response to a question on recent allegations made by Canadian foreign minister on violation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Citing several UN documents on violation of human rights in Canada, he stressed that human rights situation of the Canadian natives is worrisome. He regretted that Ottawa has remained silent at daily massacre of innocent people in the occupied Palestinian territories and violation of legitimate rights of the Palestinian nation. Meanwhile, the country has rejected all resolutions so far issued by the international community to condemn Israel for its atrocities in the occupied lands, Hosseini noted. "We believe that the Canadian government, instead of putting the blame on others, accusing other countries and spending a lot of money for passing resolutions against those countries, must reduce pains of its own people," Hosseini added. --IRNA

Tehran calls for demolition of all nuclear weapons

Iran's envoy in the European bureau of the UN in Geneva said full demolition of the nuclear weapons is the only real guarantee for getting rid of the their danger.

Iran's Ambassador and permanent representative in the European bureau of the United Nations in Geneva Ali Reza Mo'ayyeri delivering a speech in the UN Disarmament Conference underlined importance of the body as the sole source for multilateral negotiations on disarmament in the world.He strongly criticized the lack of progress in the nuclear weapons disarmament and proposed that the conference take the issue as the most important priority in its agenda.Referring to the existence of the tactical nuclear forces, strategic and continuous renovation of the forces and presenting new military doctrines upon usage of the weapons, he reminded the danger of existing thousands of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the several countries as the biggest threat to the international community.He added upon article 6 of Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) countries have commitments which have never been fulfilled yet and they are ignoring the desire of the international community in this concern.Mo'ayyeri expressed concern about the recent efforts of a number of countries for a new interpretation of the article 6 of the NPT and added, "Iran will never accept such interpretations and called for all nuclear countries to fulfill their commitments immediately and without any conditions upon NPT.Underlining necessity of compiling non-proliferation convention of nuclear weapons, the Iranian envoy said, "In our view full demolition of nuclear weapons are the sole real guarantee for not using or threatening the use of such weapons and countries with nuclear arsenals should give security guarantees to non nuclear countries through a binding treaty."Referring to the conference agenda in the current year, the ambassador said, "The conference needs a comprehensive and balanced program to remove concern of the all members." --IRNA (Mathaba)

Iran: Film about Christ based on the Koran

Tehran, 27 May (AKI) - Iranian filmmaker, Nader Talebzadeh, says that he has made the first ever film about Jesus Christ based on the Koran, the Muslim holy book. In the film, entitled "Jesus, the Spirit of God", Christ does not end up on the cross and Judas is crucified instead. The film, which the director describes as "Christ as told by the Koran", took 10 years and five million dollars to make.
"It is the first time that the life of Jesus has been told from an Islamic point of view," said Talebzadeh in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI). "In the Koran, there are many elements of Jesus' life that are unique and obviously do not coincide with the version that has been told by Christian historiography. It is right that in the third millenium this version is also made known," he told AKI.

Talebzadeh put Judas on the cross instead of Christ "because according to the Koran, Jesus was never crucified and was not even killed."

"Various versions of our sacred book are dedicated to this fact and none of them talk about the crucifixion of Jesus."

As for who was crucified in Jesus' place, there are many version and I decided to use the version from Barnabas which talks about Judas on the cross in the place of the prophet," said the director referring to the Gospel of Barnabas. The director is convinced that his film tells "a truth that Christians refuse to accept." "With this obviously I absolutely don't want to call into question the fact that Jesus was a loved prophet," he said. "My aim was to offer the public our vision of this grand prophet which can be summarised in this way: Jesus is not the son of God, Jesus was not crucified, and Jesus ushered in the arrival of the Prophet Mohammed," said Talebzadeh. "All of these truths are based on two sources, the Koran and the Gospel of Barnabas."In Talebzadeh's film, the character of Jesus is played by Ahmad Soleymaninia. "I have identified with the character of Jesus since I was eight years old, when for the first time I saw Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper," said the actor in an interview with AKI. "Since then I grew my hair long and kept a beard like him."This is Ahmad's first time on the big screen. Up until recently, he worked in one of the Iranian nuclear plants. However he prefers not to talk about his experiences there. "I prefer to enrich my spirit and not uranium," he said.

UAE rejects Iranian stance on islands

Abu Dhabi-05.27.08
The United Arab Emirates protested on Tuesday against Iran's dismissal of a three-decade territorial dispute as a "misunderstanding", saying the Islamic Republic was occupying its islands in the strategic Gulf.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said on Sunday that there was no need for any mediation over the islands, saying if there was any "misunderstanding between the countries it will be resolved through bilateral talks".
The three islands -- the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa -- are controlled by non-Arab Iran but claimed by the UAE with broad Arab support.
"It seems the Iranian side does not want to understand," a UAE Foreign Ministry official said.
"There is no 'misunderstanding' between us but an actual occupation. There is no occupied land more sacred than any other. Occupation is occupation whether it is by Israel or Iran or any other country."
An Arab League summit in March pledged support for the UAE, calling for a peaceful resolution to the dispute in the Gulf, a crucial outlet for world crude oil supply, which it said would help improve relations between the Arab world and Iran.
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi told the summit the UAE should seek international arbitration in the dispute but there has been little progress toward resolving the dispute over the years.
The Iranian comments came after a delegation from the UAE's advisory Federal National Council asked Russia this month to persuade Iran to resolve the issue either through direct negotiations or international arbitration.
The UAE's official news agency, WAM, reported that Russia had responded positively to the suggestion.
Hosseini said ties between the UAE and Iran were at their best and the Islamic Republic was always ready for bilateral talks. (Source)

Iran sentence Kurdish teacher to death

May 27 2008 (IOL)

Tehran - Iran has sentenced to death a Kurdish teacher for membership in a "terrorist" group and possession of explosives, the judiciary spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday.

"Farzad Kamangar is accused of membership in a terrorist group and possession and carrying explosives. He was found guilty of 'Moharebeh' (being an enemy of god) and sentenced to death," Ali Reza Jamshidi told reporters.

He added that Kamangar along with two other unnamed people were also sentenced to a 10-year jail term for the possession of explosives.

"The defendants have lodged an appeal and the case is being reviewed at the supreme court," he said.

New York-based rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) had said in February that Kamangar had been sentenced to death for links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has fought a deadly insurgency against Turkey.

HRW called for the death sentence to be revoked and also alleged that Kamangar was tortured and subjected to an unfair trial.Tuesday's announcement was the first time Iran has confirmed the death sentence.According to rights groups, Kamangar, a teacher in the town of Kamyaran in Kordestan province, had been arrested in July 2006.Iran has been battling separatist rebels of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), which is linked to the PKK, in its western Kurdish-populated areas over the last years.In April a local court in Kordestan province upheld a death sentence for Kurdish activist, Hiva Botimar, convicted of having links with the PKK after the Supreme Court quashed the original hanging verdict.In December, Iran charged two Kurdish women rights activists with taking part in "terrorist" actions and belonging to PJAK.

New al-Qaeda video calls for nuclear strike

Dubai, 27 May (AKI ) - By Hamza Boccolini -

A new video called "Nuclear Terrorism" has been posted on the worldwide web calling for jihadists to use nuclear or chemical weapons to strike the west. A simple jihadi propaganda video or a dangerous message to a sleeper cell in the west? That is the question raised by the video and no-one has yet claimed responsibility for it.
"Strike civilians in the west without mercy using weapons of mass destruction" is one of the calls made in the 39-minute video. The question now being asked is whether the video is presenting a coded message or signalling an imminent terrorist attack. Before the video was posted on the Arab internet forum Ekhlas a banner headline appeared on the website that said: "Pray, pray, Allah is great. America is destroyed by a fatal jihadist nuclear strike."
Clicking on the banner gives the viewer access to a documentary which shows diverse images - from al-Qaeda speeches to western documentaries and other Islamist videos. The objective appears to be to incite followers of al-Qaeda to use weapons of mass destruction to strike the west, but there may be more to it. The video opens with two verses of the Koran that emphasise "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". It then says "Fight them until there is no more persecution and Allah is the only object of worship. If they desist, there will be no hostility, except against those who are dishonest." "Attack those who attack you. Fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him."
The documentary, filmed in Arabic, begins with images of a documentary distributed in November 2004 by the Italian news network, Rai News 24 entitled, The Hidden Massacre, in which US soldiers allegedly used chemical weapons against Iraqis in the city of Falluja. It also includes the voice of an Arab jihadist who appears to be giving a lesson to a group of people on the need to conduct attacks against the US and Europe.
"This is called terrorism, but we cannot stop aggression against our countries if we do not use these arms, as Russia and the US did when they were conducting their arms race. If you have them, we must also have them."Then a voice off camera invites mujahadeen or Muslim fighters to learn how to obtain these weapons of mass destruction and shows a document on the "rules for using weapons of mass destruction against the unbelievers" written by Saudi scholar Naser Bin Hamed al-Fahd. The document dated 21 May 2003 was written by one of the Saudi ulema or religious leaders close to the Salafite movement and to movements opposed to the Saudi royal family that support al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
"They kill our people and for this reason we should also strike them with weapons of mass destruction - doing so forms part of our response to their attacks," "In Jihad we cannot do to them everything they do to us, for example rape our women. But we can respond to weapons of mass destruction."
There are quantities of uranium on sale, and since the fall of the Soviet Union their nuclear weapons are available on the market. "The second point is in respect of chemical weapons. They can be used in one of the villages of European countries. This is called terrorism but all this cannot end if we don't conduct such an operation against them."We cannot stop the operations against our civilians conducted by Jews and Christians in our countries if we don't do the same thing."The problem is nuclear arms are very expensive, while chemical weapons are cheap. "The best weapons to use are bacteriological ones. This type of barbarous weapon is used by the international community."Why shouldn't we use them if the crusaders consider them an effective weapons?"

Monday, May 26, 2008

May 26, 1908: Mideast Oil Discovered — There Will Be Blood

By Randy Alfred 05.26.08

1908: A British company strikes oil in Persia (now Iran). It's the first big petroleum find in the Middle East, and it sets off a wave of exploration, extraction and exploitation that will change the region's -- and the world's -- history.
Englishman William D'Arcy had obtained a license to explore for oil in Persia in 1901. He sent explorer George Reynolds, who searched fruitlessly for seven years.
Fresh investment from the Burmah Oil Co. had rescued the expedition financially in 1904, but with no results and D'Arcy's personal fortune completely run out, he risked losing his two country houses and his London mansion. In Persia, staff was already being dismissed. Reynolds received orders from London for his last-chance well: Drill to 1,600 feet and then stop.
Why all the fuss? The automobile was in its infancy, and few people could foresee its future. How did an investor expect to get rich off an oil strike? Well -- and we really do mean well -- you could run an electric-power plant with oil, you could run factory machinery on oil and, perhaps most importantly, the world's powerful navies were converting their ships from coal to oil. Almost anything that had run on coal -- especially coal that heated water to create steam -- could run on oil.
Exactly 100 years ago today, the smell of sulfur hovered in the air at Masjid-i-Suleiman. That was a good sign for an experienced oil hand like Reynolds. At 4 in the morning, the drill reached 1,180 feet below the desert and struck oil. A huge gusher shot 75 feet into the air.
The site was so remote that it took five days before D'Arcy got word by telegram in England. "If this is true," he replied, "all our troubles are over." It was indeed true, and more wells hit oil elsewhere in Persia, including a huge one in September.
D'Arcy and Burmah reorganized their holdings in 1909 as the Anglo-Persian Oil Co. (which became the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. in 1935, British Petroleum in 1954 and BP in 2000.) Its initial public offering of stock shares sold out in 30 minutes in London. People stood five deep around the tellers' cages to buy shares in Glasgow. The race for oil accelerated throughout the Middle East.
At the instigation of First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, the British government became a majority (and at-first secret) shareholder of Anglo-Persian during World War I. Britain soon became a dominant power in Persian and later Iranian politics. British and American political operations in that nation shaped the developments that led to the Iranian revolution in 1979 and the current Middle Eastern power situation. (WIRED)

United States News Agency Launches Operations Through Web 2.0

United States News Agency publisher Joel Leyden

Great News...!

By Robin Rotfleisch
Israel News Agency

New York ----- May 26, 2008 ....... The United States News Agency, an on-line, non-profit, non-governmental news site has begun operations as it begins its search for both professional editors and reporters in the US.

"The Internet has thousands of sources for news but very few of them were created for the Web," said United States News Agency publisher Joel Leyden. Leyden has worked as a journalist, international media consultant and Internet SEO Web 2.0 pioneer for 25 years. He is credited for co-creating Israel's first commercial Website and for establishing Israel's first on-line, government accredited news organization, the Israel News Agency, in 1995.

"At first, we will recruit volunteers to edit and report both hard news and feature news stories coming from the 50 states. Wikipedia has proven that a volunteer effort can work. Where Wikipedia failed, is that they allow their users to edit anonymously, without even knowing who their user editors and administrators are and where they come from. That leads to political and personal agendas packed with often unchecked slander and libel."

Many prominent and ordinary citizens and organizations have been hurt through Wikipedia negligence including USA Today Senior Editor John Seigenthaler who was reported by Wikipedia as being behind the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert F. Kennedy.

Recently, Wikipedia through an expose by The New Yorker found out that one of their senior editors, Essjay, who claimed to be a tenured professor of religion at a private university and held a doctorate was actually an unemployed 24-year-old student who never finished college. Essjay was even hired by Wikia, which is funded by investors and Omidyar Network. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales even defended the fraud, stating that "EssJay has always been, and still is, a fantastic editor and trusted member of the community. He has been thoughtful and contrite about the entire matter, and I consider it settled.

The United States News Agency will enjoy full and complete transparency, accountability and objectivity as all news reports will first go through a professional, paid editorial board before being uploaded on-line."

Leyden says that the United States News Agency will become mostly professional in the coming months employing many of their volunteer editorial staff. At the same time, the USNA will keep on staff both a large core of volunteers and interns to keep operational costs low and reporting quality high and objective.

"The United States News Agency will use an abundance of Web 2.0 social networking tools including video and VOIP, encouraging our reporters to use their video phone cameras to file reports. We will employ RSS feeds, blogs, mobile Internet applications and all of the tools of Web 2.0 to make this happen. Unlike other news media outlets on the Net, we are not a news organization trying to adapt to the Internet but rather a news organization born from the Internet using search engine optimization (SEO) for all of our content. That may slightly change the English language, but not the substance of our news reports. USNA news and feature stories will be found and indexed quickly by all major search engines and placed in a high position. And that is what the consumer is seeking fast, objective and accurate news reporting that they can find in their homes, in their offices and on their telephones."

The United States News Agency has stated that they have entered talks with and look forward to professional associations with Google News, Twitter, DIGG,, Facebook, Yahoo, Friendster, MySpace, YouTube, Blogger, LinkedIn and other Web 2.0 applications and news aggregators in our efforts to provide accurate, real time local and global news reports."

Leyden says that the site will be user friendly There will be no annoying pop-up advertising banner ads or contextual advertising but rather clean static banners, free of animated Flash with regular links posted nearby in the same manner for which Google operates.

The United States News Agency will incorporate several news and feature departments dedicated to news, features, politics, security, sports, health, food, real estate, opinion, business, travel, nature, green, movies, multimedia, economy, music, entertainment, dating, cars, high schools, universities and employment.

The United States News Agency is seeking to hire professional editors and reporters who have at least 5 years experience in print, broadcast and or Internet journalism. They are also inviting investors and venture capital firms to contact them at

The United States News Agency was born this week as a Web 2.0 blog at: and advertising within Facebook. The news content site will be delivered from both from a blog and from a conventional Website to be located at

The United States News Agency is planning on opening news bureaus in New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles with overseas offices in London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Moscow, Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Japan, Kuwait, Iraq and China.

"The United States News Agency is being launched on Memorial Day in honor of the many men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend the United States and protect our basic democratic values," says Leyden. "The USNA is pro USA, pro democracy and pro Internet Web 2.0." (Source)

Six teen 'suicide bombers' arrested

Iraqi troops have arrested six teenage boys, four of whom are pictured here, on suspicion they were forcibly trained by Al-Qaeda to carry out suicide bombings, the interior ministry has said.(AFP/Marwan Ibrahim)

MOSUL, Iraq (AFP) - Iraqi troops on Monday arrested six teenage boys suspected of being forcibly trained by Al-Qaeda to carry out suicide bombings, the interior ministry said.
The boys were rounded up during a house-to-house search in the Sumer neighbourhood of Mosul, the capital of the northern Nineveh province where security forces have been carrying out a major sweep against jihadists.
Interior ministry spokesman Major General Abdul Kareem Khalaf said the six boys aged 15 to 18 were trained by a Saudi national suspected of being an Al-Qaeda operative, who is believed to have died in the military operations.
"They are all teenagers who were preparing to commit a wave of suicide bombings in Mosul," Khalaf said.
The teenagers were paraded before the press on Monday morning, a few hours after their arrest. Jackets filled with explosives were recovered from their hideout.
One of the boys said he was forced to join or risk his mother and sister being raped.
Defence ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari said on Sunday that the operations which began in Nineveh province on May 14 had resulted in the detention of some 1,030 suspects.
He said the ministry estimated that another 2,000 may have fled the US-backed Iraqi army offensive.

US scientist gives Israeli prize to Palestinians

By AMY TEIBEL Monday, May 26 2008

A Brown University professor said Monday that he is donating his share of a prestigious Israeli mathematics prize to advance the education of Palestinian students.

David Mumford said he would donate his $33,333 portion of the Wolf Prize to a Palestinian university and an Israeli group that tries to ease Israeli travel restrictions on Palestinian students. He said he believes freedom of movement is crucial to intellectual development.
"I feel strongly that mathematics is an international enterprise, and it's really grown up essentially in every country. ... It's really important that everyone have access to higher education, to the international community where mathematics is being carried on," Mumford told The Associated Press.
He received the award at a ceremony Sunday at Israel's parliament in recognition of his groundbreaking theoretical work in algebraic geometry.
The beneficiaries are Bir Zeit University, the West Bank's flagship university, and Gisha, an Israeli organization that works to protect the rights of Palestinian students in the Gaza Strip.
For several years, Israel - citing security considerations - has banned most Palestinians from leaving the Gaza Strip. This has forced hundreds of Palestinian students to abandon or postpone university studies outside the tiny seaside territory - even if they have full scholarships to schools in Europe or the U.S. or simply want to travel the 25 miles to Palestinian universities in the West Bank.
The contrast between what goes on in Israel and what goes on in the Palestinian areas is "striking," with Israelis able "to travel freely to meetings and graduate students going wherever they please," he said.
"It seems to me in the Palestinian areas, this isn't the case," he said. "I felt very much that it was really carrying out the spirit of Wolf's own wishes to further education in all the areas of Palestine."
The Israel-based foundation was established by Ricardo Wolf, a German-born inventor, diplomat and philanthropist who spent the last years of his life as Cuba's representative in Israel, where he died in 1981.
The foundation presents five or six annual prizes, often shared. Its motto is "to promote science and art for the benefit of mankind." Mumford shared his prize with two other mathematicians.
Ilan Pilo, chief executive of the Wolf Foundation, said the foundation "does not get involved in how prize winners use the money they receive."
Mumford said he did not characterize himself as a political person, but was motivated by his conviction that "higher education, access to mathematical knowledge, is something that should be shared and should be accessible to everyone."
He said he chose Bir Zeit after having visited there four years ago. He heard about Gisha through friends, he said.
"We are grateful to Professor Mumford for the recognition his gift expresses in the universality of the right to education and its importance for the future of both peoples, Israelis and Palestinians," Gisha said in a statement. "We hope that Professor Mumford's gesture will influence Israeli officials to remove the restrictions that prevent Palestinian students from exercising their right to freedom of movement and to access educational opportunities."
A Bir Zeit spokeswoman wasn't immediately available for comment. (The Bakersfield)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Was an Iranian nuclear facility just hit?

click to zoom

Fire in Iranian Factory Kills 30

TEHRAN (Reuters) - A fire at a pharmaceutical plant in Iran killed 30 people and injured 38 others on Sunday, the official IRNA news agency said.

Another news agency, Mehr, had earlier said 15 workers had died in the blaze at the factory near the city of Arak, 290 km (180 miles) southwest of the capital Tehran.

Provincial officials said the fire had destroyed most of the factory. Mehr said the cause had not yet been determined.

(Reporting by Hashem Kalantari and Hossein Jaseb; editing by Richard Williams)

***During a press conference by the representative office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran held in Washington DC, in mid-August 2002, the existence of a secret nuclear facility at Arak was revealed. It is located at the Qatran Workshop near the Qara-Chai river in the Khondaub / Khondab region, in Central Iran, 150 miles south of Tehran.
According to the National of Resistance of Iran, a front organization, named the Mesbah Energy Company, has been used to prevent unwanted disclosures. The headquarters of the Mesbah Energy Company are located in Tehran.

Iran Prez: Shiraz mosque bombers, US-Israel agents

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday evening said those responsible for the recent Shiraz mosque blast were agents of global arrogance and Israel.

He made the remarks in a message to a ceremony to commemorate the 40th day of martyrdom of a group of people who were killed in the mosque explosion on May 12, 2008. Twelve people died and more than 190 otherswounded in an explosion at the Seyed-ul Shohada mosque in a residential area of Shiraz, the capital of southern province of Fars on April 12. Referring to the enemies conspiracies against the Islamic Republic of Iran in the past three decades, the president stressed that the Iranian nation has witnessed all kinds of mischiefs including a series of assassinations of senior officials, border conflicts, US-backed imposed war on Iran (1980-1988), economic sanctions, cultural assault and making instrumental use of international circles such as the UN Security Council in the past 30 years. The investigation proved that the bombers were agents of the world arrogance and Israel, the Iranian president noted. In his message, President Ahmadinejad once again condoled with bereaved families of the victims and prayed for their patience. --IRNA

Israel sends planeload of aid to China for earthquake relief

May 25, 2008 08:07

JERUSALEM - Israel is sending disaster relief to China.Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel says a plane is on the way to southern China carrying clothing, medical supplies, generators and tents for victims of the May 12 earthquake.Mekel estimated the shipment was worth US$1.5 million and said it was due to arrive in China later today.According to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, "This is the minimum that the State of Israel can do in order to express the friendship between Israel and the Chinese people."The earthquake has left at least 62,664 people dead and an estimated five million homeless. (Metronews)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Iran: Protest against UAE claims on Persian Gulf

Stop bullying the UAE!
Abu Musa and the two Tunbs belong to the UAE!

Hundreds of Tehrani residents held a gathering in front of the United Arab Emirates embassy in Tehran, on Friday to protest against the recent moves by the UAE officials. (Mathaba)

The gathering was held in response to repetition of claims by the UAE on possession of the three Iranian islands in the Persian Gulf, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Mussa, and forging the name of the Persian Gulf.By chanting slogans such as 'Persian Gulf will remain Persian Gulf for ever' and 'Persian Gulf belongs to the Iranians', the ralliers showed their wrath towards the unfounded assertions by the UAE authorities.The Persian Gulf with its God-granted rich resources has been playing a decisive role in Iran's economic and social development in the past 1,400 years.The Persian Gulf is the world's third biggest gulf, after Mexican and Hudson gulfs. --IRNA

Read also my "Russia to mediate in UAE-Iran islands row" (link)

and "More on the Iranian occupation of three islands belonging to the UAE" (link)

Russia to mediate in UAE-Iran islands row

24 May 2008

DUBAI - The United Arab Emirates has sought Russian mediation with Iran to persuade it to discuss the status of three Gulf islands controlled by Tehran and claimed by the UAE, an Emirati official said Saturday.

The request was made during a just-concluded visit to Moscow by a delegation from the Federal National Council, a part-elected assembly which advises the government, said FNC speaker Abdul Aziz al-Ghurair.

'At the request of the FNC team, the Russian foreign ministry voiced readiness to mediate to convince Tehran, which has good relations with Moscow, to recognise that there is a problem between the UAE and Iran over the three islands,' the official WAM news agency quoted Ghurair as saying.

Ghurair, who led the delegation that returned home on Friday, said Sergey Mironov, chairman of Russia's Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, backed the UAE's claim to the strategic islands.

The oil-rich UAE, supported by other Arab states, has repeatedly proposed resolving the dispute through direct negotiations or international arbitration, but Iran has always refused.

Iran, then ruled by the pro-Western shah, gained control of Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa as British forces left the Gulf in 1971.

Iran took possession of Greater and Lesser Tunbs, while the only inhabited island -- Abu Musa -- was placed under joint administration under a deal with Sharjah, now part of the UAE.

But since then, the UAE says, the Iranians have taken control of all access to the island, installed an airport and military base there, as well as encouraged settlers to move in to change its demographic make-up.

The three islands lie roughly half-way between the Iranian port of Bandar-e Langeh and Dubai in the UAE.

The dispute has been a sore point in relations between the UAE and Iran despite wide-ranging links. The UAE is Tehran's top trade partner and an estimated 450,000 Iranians live in the country.

Read also my "The non-nuclear case against Iran: CEASE THE OCCUPATION of ABU MUSA!" (link)

Ayatollah Khatami: US statesmen are terrorists, nurture more terrorists


Substitute Friday Prayer Leader of Tehran (Ayatollah Khatami) said here Friday world nations realize standard bearers of campaign against terrorism, US statesmen, tell lies, as they, particularly President George W. Bush, are theorists, and nurture more terrorists.

The substitute Friday preacher of Tehran added in his first sermon, relying on grace of God and the severe efforts made by intelligence ministry officials, a plot hatched in Washington based on Bush's order to the CIA to launch sabotage operations in Iran, was revealed.

He added, "The Intelligence Ministry arrested the members of a network that had planted a bomb at a religious center in Shiraz and eliminated ground for their further terrorist moves."

Ayatollah Khatami pointed out that the group that has made the criminal move in Shiraz is comprised of non-believers and they keep insulting God, the Prophet (P) and the Infallible Imams (P) in their media.

This week's Friday preacher of Tehran added, "The Americans chose a laical group, strengthened and mobilized it to launch terrorist attacks in Iran, the first of which was launched at Seyyed ul-Shohada Hosseiniyeh of Shiraz."

Khatami said, "The pure blood of the martyrs at that religious gathering led the officials to arrest the terrorists and to dismantle their broader plots. "Referring to the nasty objectives pursued by that corrupt and apostate group throughout Iran, he said, "They (the terrorists) intended to take revenge of faith and religion and were planning for another bombing at Holy Shrine of Lady Ma'soumeh in Qom, one at Qom Seminary, and another one at Feyziyeh Theology School of that holy city.

"The Friday preacher reiterated, "They (the terrorists) wished to take revenge of a people that have not been influenced by three decades of our enemies' atheist propagation and were even planning to plant very strong bombs at this year's Tehran International Book Fair, that could have led to a huge catastrophe."Member of the Leadership Experts Assembly referred to the political objectives of the corrupt terrorist grouplet and their undercover supporters, adding, "Their (the terrorists') other targets for bombing included the Consular Office of Russia and the sea-bed oil pipelines at Iran's Gonaveh Port City, all of which were by grace of God revealed and dismantled." --IRNA

Friday, May 23, 2008

Egyptian Culture Minister: "I'd burn Israeli books myself if I found any in libraries in Egypt"!

Artist's impression of a manuscript storage room in the ancient Library of Alexandria. Source: Carl Sagan's Cosmos television program (1980).

Agence France Presse, May 24, 2008

CAIRO: Egyptian Culture Minister Faruq Hosni, a candidate to head the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has drawn fire for saying he was prepared to burn Israeli books. "I'd burn Israeli books myself if I found any in libraries in Egypt," Hosni said in Parliament on May 10 in reply to questioning from an opposition MP.

The comment, which Hosni admits making but which he says must be put into perspective, sparked an official protest from Israel's ambassador in Cairo, Shalom Cohen, to the Foreign Ministry.

And this week the Wiesenthal Center, a non-governmental organization that supports the Jewish state, wrote to UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura, saying that Hosni had now ruled himself out as a possible successor to head the Paris-based body.

The letter, from the Wiesenthal Center's director for international relations, Shimon Samuels, charged that Hosni's comment was "couched in the language and actions of Nazi 'Minister of Culture' Josef Goebbels." The letter added that "the sting in this tail is that literary pyromaniac Faruq Hosni is considered a serious candidate to replace (Matsuura) as Director-General of UNESCO."

In his defense, Hosni told AFP that he had only used "a popular expression to prove something exists," - to be specific, Israeli books in Egyptian libraries.

"A minister of culture cannot demand that a book be burnt, and that includes an Israeli book," he added, and pointed out he had spoken in favor of Israeli books being translated into Arabic during a televised debate on the subject.

Embracing the position of Egyptian intellectuals, who oppose any "cultural normalization" with Israel, Hosni said such links could only take place after a "just and global peace" in the Middle East.

"We cannot dance with them, sing together or watch a piece of theater when there are bloody attacks every day against the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," he said.

Thirty years ago in 1978 Egypt broke ranks with the rest of the Arab world and concluded the Camp David accord with Israel, leading to a peace treaty being signed the following year.

President Hosni Mubarak's regime has political, security and economic links with Israel, but does nothing to promote cultural cooperation between the two former foes.

Israeli works are rarely translated, and no Israeli-made film - even pacifist - is shown in Egypt where a total boycott is imposed on all artists and intellectuals from the Jewish state.

Ambassador Cohen told AFP: "To come out against cultural normalization is one thing, but to exude hate which goes counter to good political dialogue is unacceptable.

"I have informed the Egyptian Foreign Ministry of our astonishment at such a remark which only revives the somber memories of recent history," Cohen added.

Hosni has responded by saying that "I have nothing against the Jews," and by saying that he has worked to preserve the cultural heritage of Jews in Egypt by restoring synagogues "which were in a deplorable state."

There are now fewer than 100 Jews in Egypt, where 80,000 lived at the start of the 1950s. Israel encouraged them to immigrate, and many of those who initially stayed behind were recruited as intelligence operatives, making the community's position increasingly untenable.

Hosni, culture minister for the past 21 years and close to Mubarak, is slammed by Islamists in Egypt for being too liberal and also shunned by intellectuals hostile to the regime. (Daily Star)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ancient flint tools, animal remains found in Galilee cave

JERUSALEM (AP) — Archaeologists say bears and buffalo once roamed, and prehistoric men chipped flint into tools, in what later became the Holy Land, Israel's Antiquities Authority said Thursday.
They found the evidence in a huge cave in the Galilee in Israel's north.
Israel's Antiquities Authority released a statement saying the cave was discovered by accident. Workers were excavating for a sewage line when they came across it.
Experts date the cave to the Upper Paleolithic Period, which began 40,000 years ago. They found ancient flint tools used by early man, as well as remains of animals that are no longer in the region, including bears, buffalo and red deer.
The antiquities authority said it's the first cave with artifacts from that period to be found in more than 40 years.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Iran's Abused

All seven Bahá'ís who form a group that sees to the needs of the Bahá'í community of Iran have been arrested, six of them in early-morning raids on 14 May 2008 at their homes in Tehran. They are, seated from left, Behrouz Tavakkoli and Saeid Rezaie, and, standing, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, and Mahvash Sabet

May 22, 2008 WSJ

The mullahs in Tehran have repressed democrats, homosexuals, Kurds and women, among others in a long list. But spare a thought for Iran's 300,000-strong Bahai community.

Founded in 19th-century Persia as a modernist reform of Shia Islam, the Bahai stress the unity of humanity and world religions. So naturally their message of brotherly love is counter-revolutionary to Iran's theocrats. The Bahai's institutions have been destroyed, their members banned from universities and their cemeteries desecrated. Two hundred were killed in mass executions in the 1980s.
Then last week the Bahai leadership was arrested for "security" reasons. Iran's elastic "security laws" give the mullahs ample scope for suppressing any activity or group they deem undesirable. "Security" is just a pretext to clamp down on the Bahai, considered apostates by Tehran.
"This is a group that has acted against the country's interests and has links with foreigners, especially the Zionists," a government spokesman said Tuesday about the six arrested Bahai leaders. The location of the Bahai's religious center – in Haifa, Israel – presumably doesn't help.
The Bahais aren't alone. Under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, respect for the human rights of all Iranians has suffered. Many of the "crimes" persecuted by the Ahmadinejad zealots are lifestyle choices or of moral, rather than criminal, nature. Homosexuals are hanged and adulterers stoned to death. The world's second most prolific executioner after China, Iran leads in the killing of minors.
The brutalization of its own people suggests the kind of foreign policy a nuclear Iran might conduct. The atomic bomb would allow Tehran, already a global terror sponsor, to act abroad with almost as much impunity as it does against the Bahais at home.

Israel PM calls for naval blockade of Iran


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has urged the United States to impose a naval blockade on Iran to pressure it to stop its controversial nuclear programme, the Haaretz daily reported on Wednesday.

Olmert raised the issue during a meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday with US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the newspaper said.

"The present economic sanctions on Iran have exhausted themselves," Olmert was quoted as telling the California Democrat.

Asked about the report, Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev would say only: "We do not confirm this information."

Rafi Eitan, a member of Olmert's security cabinet, said he also favoured air travel restrictions against Iran.

"A blockade of maritime and air routes against Iran is a good possibility," Eitan, the minister in charge of pensioners' affairs, told public radio.

"There are voices we hear in Washington that indicate the military option remains open," he added.

Israel suspects, like Washington, that Tehran's nuclear programme is cover for a drive to develop an atomic bomb, something Iran strongly denies.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Churches are now ‘allowed’ in Qatar

Wednesday, 21 May, 2008

The establishment of churches in Qatar is permissible in the light of the Christian community’s presence here in large numbers and their need to perform their religious duties, says a report published in a local Arabic daily. Quoting an edict issued on this subject by Qatar’s well-known Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the report says that since Christian expatriates have come to this country in increasingly large numbers it is but natural that they should be allowed to have the facility to fulfil their spiritual needs. “Such an accommodation is in keeping with the principles of the Islamic Shari’ah which lays great stress on the overall good and the public interest in a Muslim country which includes a sizeable number of non-Muslims,” he added. However, Qaradawi added to his edict by stating that the position taken by him is not in line with the majority of the traditional schools of thought on Islamic jurisprudence. “It is only Imam Abu Hanifa of the 10th century who had espoused such a view,” he said. Qaradawi has issued the edict in response to a query from an expatriate living in Qatar on the Shari’ah point of view on participating in a tender to build a non-Islamic place of worship – a church. (Gulf Times)

Will the new Church have a steeple, a cross, a bell tower, any religious symbol? Or is it going to be like a mosque without minaret?

Hamas Has A Secret Weapon

May 20, 2008: Israel knows that Hamas has been stockpiling an arsenal of rockets in Gaza, and may be bringing in some with a range of up to 40 kilometers. Israeli intelligence officials believe Hamas currently has, in Gaza, several hundred factory made BM-21 rockets, each with a range of 20 kilometers. They also have some shorter range (six kilometers) B-12 rockets. These are not smuggled in much, because the locally made Kassam II has about the same range. However, the B-12 is more reliable (more reliable trajectory and fuze, so more are likely to land where aimed and explode.)

The B-12 is a 107mm, 42 pound, 107mm, 33 inch long, Russian designed rocket that is very popular with terrorists. This rocket has a range of about six kilometers and three pounds of explosives in its warhead. Normally fired, from a launcher, in salvoes of dozens at a time, when used individually, it is more accurate the closer it is to the target. This 107mm design has been copied by many nations, and is very popular with guerillas and terrorists because of its small size and portability.

The 122mm BM-21s weigh 150 pounds and are nine feet long. These have 45 pound warheads, but not much better accuracy than the 107mm model. However, these larger rockets have a maximum range of 20 kilometers. Again, because they are unguided, they are only effective if fired in salvos, or at large targets (like cities, or large military bases or industrial complexes.)

Most of the rockets fired are the homemade "Kassam" (or "Quassam", or "Quds") rockets. These began landing in Israel during late 2001. The Hamas Palestinian terrorist organization designed the first Kassam in late 2001. This was the Kassam I, and is a 60mm weapon, about 31 inches long, weighing twelve pounds and carrying a one pound explosive charge. Its range is about three kilometers, and it is unguided. You aimed it and hoped for the best. In early 2002, Hamas began firing these at Jewish settlements in Gaza, and into southern Israel as well. By 2003, larger versions were built. There was the Kassam II, which weighed 70 pounds, is 150mm in diameter and six feet long. It has a range of eight kilometers, and a 11-15 pound warhead. It wasn't until June, 2004, that one of these Kassam rockets actually killed an Israeli. By then, about 200 Kassams had been fired into southern Israel.

Later came the Kassam III, which is 6.7 feet long, 170mm in diameter, has a range of about ten kilometers, and a warhead of 22-44 pounds. This one weighs about 200 pounds. There are many variations in these designs, and larger rockets have apparently been used as well.

By the end of 2005, over 400 Kassams had been fired at Israeli targets. In the next six months, another 600 rockets were fired. About a third of them were the short range Kassam Is, fired at Israeli settlements in Gaza. The rest were larger Kassams fired into southern Israel.

About a thousand Kassams were fired into Israel during 2006. This doubled, to two thousand in 2007, and during the first four months of 2008, another 2,000 were fired. To date, over 7,000 Kassams have been fired, plus a few dozen factory made rockets and nearly a thousand mortar shells. For every 30-40 Kassams fired, an Israeli is killed or wounded. Until this year, for every 2-3 Kassams fired, a Palestinian is killed or wounded by Israeli military operations against the firing sites and workshops that build the rockets. For the last six months or so, the Israelis have been more precise in their retaliation, trying to limit Palestinian civilian casualties. For the Palestinians, causing Israeli civilian casualties is their main goal.

Hamas has concluded that suicide bombings, and similar terrorist attacks inside Israel are too difficult because of effective counter-terror attacks. But the rockets work, sort of. While they don't cause many Israeli casualties, Israeli counter-measures kill more Palestinians, which are useful for diplomatic and propaganda reasons. Dead women and children are particularly useful, which is why the rockets are often launched from residential neighborhoods, and young teenagers are encouraged to get involved with the rocket launching operations.

The Israelis believe that, if left alone, Hamas will have rockets with a range of 40 kilometers, within two years, if not already. The 20 and 40 kilometer rockets will only be used for a decisive battle, one Hamas feels it has a chance of winning. That's because the Israelis will most likely invade Gaza and destroy Hamas if such rockets are used in large numbers. Hamas has hopes that someday soon they will attacking in conjunction with Hizbollah (firing rockets into northern Israel), and Iran firing rockets into Tel Aviv. Or something like that. So far, most Hamas war plans appear to have been created more for their propaganda impact, than for their practicality.

So far, the war the Palestinians began in late 2000, has left 5,800 people dead, 82 percent of them Palestinians. (Source)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Rafsanjani: Ahmadinejad spreads poverty

TEHRAN (Reuters) -Mon May 19, 2008- An influential Iranian cleric has criticised President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in unusually blunt terms by saying his government was pursuing policies that were leading to "public impoverishment", newspapers said on Monday.
Former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a political rival of Ahmadinejad, called on the government to rein in populist spending policies largely blamed for fuelling inflation that is now running at more than 20 percent.
Ahmadinejad swept to power in 2005 vowing to spread Iran's oil wealth. Benefiting from soaring world oil prices, he has won applause by announcing big handouts at provincial rallies but ordinary Iranians now gripe about the price rises that followed.
Rafsanjani, head of a powerful arbitration body, has tended to criticise the government in indirect terms in the past but his latest criticism of Ahmadinejad's management used uncharacteristically straightforward language.
"Building Iran's economy cannot be possible by spreading public impoverishment," Rafsanjani was quoted on Monday as saying by the pro-reform Etemad-e Melli newspaper.
Rafsanjani, president in the 1990s, was beaten in the 2005 presidential election by Ahmadinejad. Rafsanjani is not expected to run again but his comments show that rival political camps are starting to stake out positions for the 2009 race.
His remarks reflect widespread public disillusionment with inflation and unemployment in the country, where over 15 million Iranians live in poverty according to official figures.

Iran calls Hezbollah and Hamas the most popular groups in the Middle East

TEHRAN, Iran, May 19, 2008: Iran says Hamas and Hezbollah are the most popular groups in the Middle East despite U.S. President George W. Bush's accusations that they destabilize the region.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini says Lebanon's Shiite Hezbollah group and the Palestinian militant Hamas are the most "noble and popular" groups. He spoke to reporters Monday in Tehran.
In a speech in Egypt a day earlier, Bush called Hezbollah "the enemy of a free Lebanon and all nations." He also accused Hamas of "attempting to undermine efforts at peace with acts of terror and violence."
Iran supports both Hezbollah and Hamas, which the U.S. considers terrorist groups. (IHT)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The sale of Egyptian natural gas to Israel is against Islam

"Any money gained from exporting gas to the Zionist enemy is haram"!

Flaming over gas
The campaign against the sale of natural gas to Israel is gathering momentum, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

Opposition to the export of Egyptian natural gas to Israel has gained momentum in recent weeks with the launch of a public campaign under the slogan "No to a Gas Setback". Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat, a former MP and cousin of former president Anwar El-Sadat -- the first Arab ruler to sign a peace treaty with Israel -- is now spokesman for the campaign which seeks to raise public awareness of the consequences of gas sales to Israel.
Two days after the natural gas began to be pumped to Egypt on 1 May, campaign members met to denounce the move, issuing a statement claiming that "the agreement signed in 2005 to supply Israel with Egyptian natural gas is illegal and unconstitutional".
The agreement was signed between the Israel Electricity Corporation and the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG), a joint venture led by investors that include business tycoon Hussein Salem from Egypt and Joseph Maiman from Israel. Under the agreement EMG is contracted to supply Israel annually with 1.7 billion cubic metres of Egyptian natural gas over 20 years. EMG constructed and operates the underwater pipeline that delivers natural gas to Israel and that began operations on 1 May, supplying gas to the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Ashdod. Israeli officials estimate that within a decade over 20 per cent of the electricity generated in Israel will be based on Egyptian natural gas.
News of the opening of the pipeline triggered sharp attacks in the People's Assembly. They were led by Muslim Brotherhood MPs who denounced the flow as a "scandal", especially at a time when Israel is besieging and murdering Palestinians. Opposition MPs, who claim that the gas is being sold at less than international prices, have demanded that the terms of the contract be made public.
El-Sadat believes that despite the strong attacks in parliament public awareness of the deal with Egypt remains week. The ultimate goal of the campaign, he says, is to "halt exports of Egyptian natural gas not only to Israel but to other countries."

"We are arguing that Egypt's reserves of natural gas are low. They are expected to be depleted within 20 years." The campaign, says El-Sadat, is therefore putting forward the case that the reserves Egypt possesses should be used exclusively to meet domestic demand.
Mobilising public support against gas sales to Israel will, El-Sadat reveals, be pursued on three fronts. The campaign organisers intend to pursue their aims through the established media, via the popular website Facebook, and in the process collect one million signatures, from both Egypt and other Arab countries, for a petition denouncing the deal. He also said the campaign was considering staging a public demonstration in March.
Campaign organisers say they have offered the government a grace period of one month, ending on 5 June, before they escalate any actions. "If the government insists on pursuing the deal the campaign will organise a series of sit-ins in front of the Ministry of Petroleum, EMG offices, the pipeline in Arish in Sinai and Egyptian embassies abroad," says El-Sadat.
In a conference on 7 May campaigners described the flow of Egyptian natural gas to Tel Aviv as a "precious present to Israel on its 60th anniversary".
Yehia El-Gamal, a professor of constitutional law, criticised the government for keeping parliament in the dark about the deal.
"This was an unconstitutional move, regardless of what officials say about the deal being between two private companies and the government playing no part in it."
El-Gamal argues that as a strategic commodity natural gas should not have been offered on a concessionary basis to private businessmen in the first place. He also questions the legality of fixing the price of gas exports to Israel for the next 20 years. He also alerted the government's attention to "the fact that businessman Hussein Salem had sold most of his shares in EMG to foreign investors even before it started pumping Egyptian gas to Israel".
Government estimates that Egypt's reserves of natural gas stand at 75 trillion cubic metres are entirely unfounded, says oil expert Ibrahim Zahran. "I have other international estimates that put Egypt's reserves at between 28 to 36 trillion cubic metres," says Zahran. "It is absurd for the government to supply Israel with subsidised gas while Egyptians get it at market prices," he says, adding that Egypt's own power stations desperately need every bit of natural gas they can get their hands on.
Joining forces with the campaign, on 9 May the Al-Azhar Clerics' Front (ACF) called on workers in the petroleum sector to oppose the deal. Led by Al-Azhar cleric Al-Agami El-Damanhouri, the Islamist grouping issued a statement saying, "the sale of Egyptian natural gas to Israel is against Islam" and urged workers in the oil sector to boycott gas exports.
"Any money gained from exporting gas to the Zionist enemy is haram," cautioned ACF, which then went on to call on the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar, Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, and the Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, to officially condemn gas sales to Israel. (Al-Ahram)
Read also: "Dorad, EMG sign $2 bln natural gas deal" (YNET)