Iran Archives

Shire Network News #147

Shire Network News #147 has been released. The feature interview is with Dr. Rusty Shackleford, proprietor and founder of the My Pet Jawa Blog. Using just his computer and an Internet connection he stumbled on what looks like a possible campaign scandal. His first post on this broke the story to the world.

Rusty explains to us exactly what astroturfing and sockpuppetry are and the steps he and his team of web sleuths went through to do the job the Main Stream Media won’t do for you.

Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network News asking you to "Consider This!"

Iranian President, Genocidal Maniac, and all-around fun guy Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently said he was ready to debate the men running for US President.  Oh, now that’s something I think we’d all like to see, for the comedic value if nothing else.  It’s not that we could actually believe any answer Ahmadinejad gave, it’s just that it would be funny enough to watch him try to say things he thinks we would believe. 

So I’m going to take a peek into my crystal ball, and sift through what would be, from the home office in Camillus, NY, the Top 9 Answers Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Would Give During A Presidential Debate.

9 – No, Mr. Gibson, I don’t know what the Bush Doctrine is.  Is it a Baptist thing?

8 – When I talked about wiping Israel off the map, I was speaking metaphorically.  Somewhat like "killing all Jews in Europe" used to be.

7 – Actually, I just wanted to wipe Israel off my whiteboard.

6 – True, we do not have any homosexuals in Iran.  We also don’t have thieves, murderers, extortionists, or genocidal maniacs.

5 – No, I haven’t been ignoring the letters from the United Nations.  They’re in my "To Do Real Soon Now" pile on the kitchen table.

4 – I refuse to answer on the ground that it may make me sound like a raving lunatic.

3 – Did I say "Sharia Law".  I’m sorry, I meant Jude Law, the actor.  I loved him as Lemony Snicket.

2 – I want to thank Mr. Anderson Cooper for the interview he had with me, and would love to evade, shift blame, and give further "no comments" anytime he wants.

And the #1 Answer Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Would Give During A Presidential Debate:

I agree with everything Mr. Obama has just said.

Consider that.

Trusting Iran

The United Nations continues to get stonewalled by Iran, and intends to commit the situation to further study.  In the meantime, there’s good evidence that Iran’s nuclear program is more than just for "peaceful purposes".

Iran is continuing to stall on UN investigation into its disputed nuclear programme, refusing to provide access to documentation, individuals or sites which could reveal the true nature of its activities, the UN atomic watchdog said Monday.

Furthermore, the Islamic republic is defying international demands to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make the fissile material for an atomic bomb, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

The United States warned Iran could now face possible new sanctions in the wake of the IAEA’s findings.

The agency complained that it was making little headway in its investigation into allegations that Tehran had, in the past, been involved in studies to make a nuclear warhead.

The IAEA "regrettably has not been able to make any substantive progress on the alleged studies and other associated key remaining issues which remain of serious concern," said the restricted report, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.

Read the rest of this entry

Iranian Christians; Good News and Bad News

First the good news:

"We’ve got confirmed reports of groups of Muslim convert believers doubling in size in the last six months," Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA, said.

Paul Marshall, a senior fellow at the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, agreed. Marshall said Iran has been experiencing a youth backlash against Islam, Middle East Newsline reported.

"There are indications that with the deep unpopularity of the regime that people are turning away from Islam," Marshall said in an interview with the U.S. television network Fox.

Now the bad news:

On May 11, Moeller said, at least eight people were arrested in Shiraz on charges of abandoning the Islamic faith. Such a crime was punishable by up to life in prison.

One suspected organizer of Christian activity in Shiraz was identified as Mojtaba Hussein. The 21-year-old Hussein, believed to have organized house churches, remained in prison after his colleagues were released.

"He [Hussein] may not be willing to give up the names of other Muslim converts," Moeller said. "He may not be willing to recant his faith himself."

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has proposed a law that would impose capital punishment on any Muslim who leaves his faith. Christian activists said many young Muslims, dismayed by the abuses of the Islamic regime, have been interested in Christianity and other religions.

"Seeing Muslims converting to Christianity is directly threatening to an Islamic regime," Moeller said.

The irony, of course, as demonstrated here, is that the bad news is helping the good news come about.  But then, that’s the paradox of persecution.  No one wishes persecution on those Christians, and we pray for its end, but at the same time that persecution is opening the eyes of many. 

Jesus asked in Gethsemane that, if there was any way other than suffering and dying to redeem mankind, He’d prefer that, but ultimately  "may your will be done".  I think that should be our prayer for Iranian Christians; please let this persecution pass, but may Your will be done. 

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UN Rises From Its Slumber

…to, of course condemn Israel.  But first, some background.

ASHKELON, Israel (AP) – Residents of this beachside city are still coming to terms with being on the front lines of Israel’s battle against Hamas militants.

A dozen long-range rockets slammed into Ashkelon over the weekend, marking a significant turning point in the conflict and compelling Israel to strike back hard.

"Until yesterday, I never would have believed that I would see the things I saw," said Rachel Shimoni, 66, as she stood amid shards of glass, blown out of the front window of her clothing store. "All of a sudden, the reality has changed."

Palestinian militants fire rockets nearly daily at Sderot and other Israeli border towns near Gaza. But by reaching Ashkelon, a city of 120,000 people about 11 miles north of Gaza, Hamas raised the stakes considerably. It is one of the largest cities in southern Israel, home to Mediterranean beaches, a college and strategic installations like an electric plant and a water purification plant.

Gaza militants have managed to hit the outskirts of Ashkelon in rare instances in the past, but the latest fighting was the first time they’ve been able to do it on a regular basis.

The intent is clear; Sderot is small potatoes, so with the help of Iranian rockets, the Palestinians have upped the ante and can now fire at a larger population center. 

Rockets have been raining down in souther Israel for 2 years, and when does the UN start the loud condemnations?  On the very day when Israel returns fire.

GAZA (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for using "excessive" force in the Gaza Strip and demanded a halt to its offensive after troops killed 61 people on the bloodiest day for Palestinians since the 1980s.

Addressing an emergency session of the Security Council in New York after four days of fighting in which 96 Palestinians have been killed, many of them civilians,

And, oh yeah, …

Ban also called on Gaza’s Islamist militants to stop firing rockets.

But that call didn’t come until Israel defended itself.  Odd, that.  But now, what should this august body do?

Diplomats said the Security Council was unlikely to adopt a Libyan resolution that condemns Israel’s killing of civilians but makes no mention of the Palestinian rocket fire.

Can you say "blind spot"?

The United States, Israel’s closest ally and a veto-wielding member of the Council, made clear its understanding of the Israeli position, while regretting loss of life on both sides.

"There is a clear distinction between terrorist rocket attacks that target civilians and action in self-defense," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

European diplomats said they believed the world body should at least make some comment on bloodshed which some say jeopardizes the new U.S.-backed peace talks between Israel and Abbas, who holds sway now only in the occupied West Bank.

The UN once again demonstrates the term "self-parody" as they consider the possibility that they should make some comments on the bloodshed, again, after 2 years of rocket fire from Gaza.  Good morning, fellas, hope the noise of the bombs didn’t disturb your slumber.

And speaking of self-parody…

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said: "If Israeli aggression continues, it will bury the peace process."

Yes, well, it depends on your definition of "peace".  For the Arab world, and apparently for the UN as well, "peace" simply means bombing Israel with impunity.  It is this sort of inaction and selective action that has convinced me that the UN is utterly broken. 

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Tipping Point in Iran

All that negotiation and all those harshly worded reports from the UN have brought us to this point.

Iran has installed 3,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium – enough to begin industrial-scale production of nuclear fuel and build a warhead within a year, the UN’s nuclear watchdog reported last night.

The report by Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will intensify US and European pressure for tighter sanctions and increase speculation of a potential military conflict.

The installation of 3,000 fully-functioning centrifuges at Iran’s enrichment plant at Natanz is a “red line” drawn by the US across which Washington had said it would not let Iran pass. When spinning at full speed they are capable of producing sufficient weapons-grade uranium (enriched to over 90% purity) for a nuclear weapon within a year.

The IAEA says the uranium being produced is only fuel grade (enriched to 4%) but the confirmation that Iran has reached the 3,000 centrifuge benchmark brings closer a moment of truth for the Bush administration, when it will have to choose between taking military action or abandoning its red line, and accepting Iran’s technical mastery of uranium enrichment.

Those who wish to avoid war at any cost are seeing the fruits of their, er, labor. Given their behavior up to this point, why do we think they’ll change their minds after another resolution or IAEA report? If you want to complain that Bush is driving us to war, the reality of who is doing the driving may come as a surprise to you. Not that it should, but I’m sure it will.

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Ain’t No Pleasing Them

Sanctions — so the story goes with the anti-war Left — should’ve been allowed to work in Iraq, and the invasion should have been a last resort. OK, let’s put aside for the moment that the sanctions weren’t working, were instead enriching Hussein, and were being actively undermined by our “allies” France and Russia. Let’s just focus on sanctions in and of themselves. You’d think that installing sanctions on organizations that the US has labelled terror groups would meet with approval by this crowd.

You’d think wrong.

Several Democratic presidential candidates, though not front-runner Hillary Clinton, said they were worried the White House had begun a march to war.

“I am deeply concerned that once again the president is opting for military action as a first resort,” said Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd, a long-shot Democratic candidate.

How much of a long-shot do you have to be to require labelling sanctions “military action”? How desperate must you be to find something, anything, to complain about that you stoop to this level?

Perhaps as desperate as a Russian President.

It is the first time the United States has sought to take such punitive measures against another country’s military. Russia and some other U.S. allies believe dialogue rather than more punishment or military action is the way forward.

“Why should we make the situation worse, corner it, threatening new sanctions?” Putin said in Lisbon.

Sure, because dialogue has made things so much better already, with Iran utterly ignoring the sense of the international community. They know they’ll at least have France and Russia on their side, eh?

What military options there are must be considered, as a last resort, because to not consider them does two things. First, it catches us off guard if we turn out to need it and have not prepared for it. Second, it shows that, during such dialogue, we are serious about what we are saying. Any country not willing to back up its words with actions, and to prepare for those actions should they become necessary, will simply not be listened to by any rogue state. Instead, said rogue state will simply keep the international community at the “bargaining table” until such time as they’ve done what they wanted anyway.

Which is the course this is taking already. Iran has showed no signs whatsoever that diplomacy is working on them. Think it’ll be easier to bargain with an Iran backed by a nuclear bomb? But in the meantime, the anti-war Left is whining about sanctions being put in place. I’ll bet if this was a Democrat doing it, they’d be extolling the diplomatic process.

UPDATE: The Captain points to another article on the subject that finds more whining against sanctions.

Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) said in a statement yesterday that Bush’s action “not only echoes the chest-pounding rhetoric which preceded the invasion of Iraq in 2002, but also raises the specter of an intensified effort to make the case for an invasion of Iran.”

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Our Standing In The World

Democrats have bemoaned the (alleged) loss of standing with the world that the US has suffered supposedly due to the war in Iraq. I guess before that, everyone just loved us, and since then we’ve lost the support of our allies. Well, the good news is, those Democrats can stop their worrying; France likes us again.

Sometimes it’s not the message, but the messenger who delivers it. After spending much of this decade going head to head with the US over its invasion of Iraq due to nuclear weapons suspicions, France seems to be joining American bellicosity when it comes to those same suspicions about Iran. On French radio on Sunday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that it is time to “prepare ourselves for the worst” and indicated that he was talking about a possible war with Iran.

The remarks are simply the most recent indication that France under new President Nicolas Sarkozy is turning its back on the almost reflexive anti-US stance of his predecessor Jacques Chirac.

Democrats who have cited our “standing” as a reason to oppose Bush will now start supporting him, right? Well, no, of course it couldn’t be that easy.

On Monday, the UN’s head nuclear watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei blasted Kouchner, saying that diplomacy is still the best route and warned against “hyping” the issue.

“There are rules on how to use force,” ElBaradei said “and I would hope that everybody would have gotten the lesson after the Iraq situation, where 700,000 innocent civilians have lost their lives on the suspicion that a country has nuclear weapons.”

Of course, the UN is still jittery. Yes, there are rules on how to use force, which, incidentally, we followed, and still we “lost standing”. Sorry, I don’t exert too much worry on what others might think of us even if we follow the rules. I want diplomacy to work, make no mistake. But I also want enemies to know that there will be a price if they continue to threaten us and our allies. That’s all that Kouchner was saying; nothing’s off the table.

Kouchner also indicated that the European Union might begin looking into imposing its own sanctions against Iran, should the UN continue to be unable to strengthen those currently in place.

Because we all know how well UN sanctions worked on Iraq. Exhibit A is:

China and Russia — both of which wield vetoes on the UN Security Council — have been reluctant to take a harder line against Iran, which is widely suspected of trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Anyway, it looks like the world is starting to see things our way again, albeit slowly. Democrats should be sleeping better tonight.

Either that or the whole “standing” issue was just a smoke screen, as long as the “world” though the way they did. I’m kinda leaning that way.

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Shire Network News #102

Shire Network News #102 has been released. The feature interview is with Reut Cohen, a student at UC Irvine, who documents anti-Semitism on campus. Click here for the show notes, links, and ways to listen to the show; directly from the web site, by downloading the mp3 file, or by subscribing with your podcatcher of choice.

Below is the text of my commentary segment.

Hi, this is Doug Payton for Shire Network New, asking you to “Consider This”.

This is a Blogosphere News Roundup; a BNR on SNN. My own little version of the Blog News segment but missing the wonderfully funky segue music.

First up is a new movie from Brian De Palma, entitled “Redacted”, which attempts to paint all US soldiers in a bad light by highlighting, in gory detail, the rape of girl and the murder of her family by 5 soldiers. De Palma calls this “the reality of what is happening in Iraq”.

This incident is horrifying, no doubt about that. But isn’t calling that “the reality” sort of like looking closely at an ant hill in my 1-acre yard and thus, by extension, condemning my house since it must be overrun by ants? De Palma blames the US for this atrocity, which may be fair enough, but he also blames the US for the beheadings by al Qaeda. Heads, it’s our fault. Tails, the fault is ours. After all, if only we weren’t in Iraq, all these al Qaeda types would instead be sipping lemonade by the pool, and their new motto would be “Live and Let Live”. And if you believe that, I’ve got a couple of towers in downtown Manhatten I’d like to sell you.

De Palma’s next film will declare that the continent of Africa is devoid of people after filming 100 square yards of Saharan real estate. Working title: “The Bonfire of the Insanities”.

Next up, Senator Hillary Clinton was found to have taken campaign money from a man of questionable ethics. Hmm, fugitive raises money for a Clinton. Eh, never mind, no real news there.

But speaking of the US presidential campaign, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama picked up a key endorsement on Wednesday; the late Fidel Castro. Fidel, from beyond the grave, said that a Clinton/Obama ticket would be “invincible”. Castro should know something about invincibility; not even his death can keep him from writing editorials. (Yes, yes, I know Castro’s death has not been confirmed, but really; a Communist leader who took ill and has not been seen in months? These guys need to get an original script. I hear Brian De Palma has just come into some free time.)

In Sydney, Australia, thousands of Christians protested and set on fire the building where the religious art competition, the Blake prize, was showing off their entries. Among them was a statue of the Virgin Mary in a burqa, and a holographic image that morphed between Jesus and Osama bin Laden, which enrage Christians to the point of rioting. Heh, yeah, right, you knew better than that. Oh, the art exhibits do indeed exist. It’s just that the worst things that happened were a few tut-tuts from a number of folks including Prime Minister John Howard, and some angry phone calls. Hey fellas, I’ve got some Danish cartoons I’d like to enter in your contest. You’re open to all religions, right? Right?

It’s been 2 years since hurricane Katrina blew through New Orleans. The flood waters rose, the levees were broken, people were driven from their homes, and now President Bush is visiting there. I believe that according to my reading of the book of Exodus, locusts should be next.

And finally, from the news site The Australian comes this headline: “A nuclear-armed Iran would not be good”. Indeed. A sworn enemy of the West with one of the most powerful weapons on the face of the Earth could ruin your whole afternoon. I wonder if, 2 years ago, there might have been an article headlined, “Bad Storm Hit New Orleans”.

All yours, Brian.

The Iran Hostage Crisis

Mark Steyn wonders

How do you feel about the American hostages in Iran?

No, not the guys back in the Seventies, the ones being held right now.

What? You haven’t heard about them?

Odd that, isn’t it?

Very much so, especially since we’re planning on negotiating with them regarding their nuclear program. Read the whole thing.

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Quick Takes

A couple short items for Monday morning.

* Heard a caller on “Bill Bennett’s Morning in America” talk about an idea for a bumper sticker. “If you liked The Killing Fields, you’ll love The Killing Dunes.” And I would ask Democrats, if you didn’t like the former, why would you want to do something to allow the latter?

* “Iran to invest in $4 billion Venezuela oil JV” Just what we need; an Iranian foothold in the western hemisphere.

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