Category - Unproven Stories

Saudis Said to Aid Israeli Plan to Bomb Iran

Exclusive: As the Obama administration is rushing to complete a nuclear agreement with Iran and reduce regional tensions, the Israeli media is reporting on a deal with Saudi Arabia to let Israeli warplanes transit Saudi airspace en route to bombing Iran, reports Robert Parry.

Consortium News, By Robert Parry, February 25

According to an Israeli media report, Saudi Arabia has agreed to let Israeli warplanes fly over Saudi territory to save fuel while attacking Iranian nuclear sites, the latest indication of how the two former enemies have developed a behind-the-scenes alliance that is reshaping geopolitics in the Middle East.

“The Saudi authorities are completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran,” a European official in Brussels told Israel’s Channel 2 in a report broadcast on Tuesday and described in other Israeli media outlets.

Riyadh’s only condition was that Israel make some progress in peace talks with the Palestinians, a stipulation that may be mostly cosmetic so the Saudis can save face with other Arab states without really interfering with an Israeli flyover to strike Iran.

Disclosure of this Israeli-Saudi military cooperation comes as the United States and five other world powers rush to finish an agreement with Iran to curtail but not eliminate its nuclear program, which Iran says is only for civilian purposes. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to appear before the U.S. Congress on March 3 to undercut President Barack Obama’s negotiations.

The reported Saudi permission for Israeli warplanes to take a shorter route to bomb Iran also suggests that Netanyahu may be laying the groundwork for his own plans to attack the Iranian nuclear sites if the international negotiations are successful. Netanyahu has denounced a possible deal as an “existential threat” to Israel.

Amazon Prime only $72 tomorrow only, new subscribers only

OK, I wouldn’t post this, but nymole wanted anything, so here goes…
Usually Amazon Prime is $99/year, but tomorrow they are having a special sale for new members only.  If you don’t already have it, now’s the time.
Even $72 for a year sounds expensive, but it works out to $6/month, $3/mo less than Netflix.  I think it is well worth it.  Not only do you get free instant video of commercial-free movies and tv shows, just like Netflix, but you also get free 2-day shipping on any Prime items you buy from Amazon, and Amazon usually sells stuff cheaper than just about anywhere else.
When you sign up, order a Roku streaming media player in order to watch those shows (and many others).  Once you start using it, you’ll wonder if you really need to pay that big cable bill every month.

The Red Line and the Rat Line

Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels    h/t Michael Collins

LRB – …Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya?

The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal.   more at the link

US Hege-Money Threatened By Vlad-the-Invader’s Russin into Ukraine

Hege-Money: Hege-money, (“leadership” and “rule”) is an indirect form of government, and of imperial dominance in which the hege-money-lender (lending institutions) subordinate states by the power of money, rather than by the threat of force.

This is an extrapolation of the behaviour of two sets of Powers. It considers the hidden agendas on both sides, and because it is both explanatory and tries to project the possible motives, it is speculation.

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Ig Nobel prize for discovery that dung beetles navigate by the stars

The 2013 Ig Nobels also recognised work on opera-loving mice, walking on water, and predicting when cows will sit down.

The Guardian, By Alok Jha, September 12

Stargazing dung beetles, mice that survive for longer after heart surgery when they listen to opera, and whether or not you could walk on water on other planets – all of them are serious scientific questions that researchers sweated over for years. On Thursday, their hard work was honoured with possibly one of the most sought-after nods from their scientific peers: an Ig Nobel prize.

This is the 23rd year of the awards – a spoof of the even more prestigious Nobel prizes, which will be announced next month. The 10 prizes, organised by the humour magazine Annals of Improbable Research and awarded at Harvard University, honour achievements that “first make people laugh, and then make them think”.

The joint astronomy and biology prize went to Eric Warrant’s team at the University of Lund for their discovery that dung beetles navigate using the stars.
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Should We Be Taking This Syrias?

actor rpgIt may, in fact, not be the Assad government using chemical weapons. It may actually be the rebels:

Carla del Ponte told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof”.

However, she said her panel had not yet seen evidence of government forces using chemical weapons.

This all sounds suspiciously, or eerily, depending on your point of view, like the Hans Blik/Scott Ritter warnings that Saddam Hussein possessed no chemical or biological weapons and that there was no evidence he was even trying to obtain them. In the building drumbeat towards committing war with Syria, including Israeli airstrikes over the weekend, a lone dissenter of not unsubstantial authority and credibility steps forward to try to thwart the onset of war.

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Rumors of Explosion at Fordow

Reza Khalili reported earlier this week in WorldNet Daily, two names not known for reliability, that an explosion had occurred at Iran’s Fordow enrichment plant. Today a few more possible confirmations are emerging, but so far they are weak.

Richard Silverstein

Die Welt

My bottom line as of this moment, subject to change: Unlikely, but not impossible.

I’m collecting links on a forum thread at Nuclear Diner. Feel free to participate. You do have to register, just like you do here, because spammers are everywhere.

Or join in here.

Today’s Scary Syria/Iran Nuke Story

Today’s bit of fearmongering over Iran’s nuclear program takes us to Syria, and a report in the Financial Times.

Nuclear experts have raised concerns about the security of up to 50 tonnes of unenriched uranium in Syria, amid fears that civil war could put the stockpile at risk.

The nuclear experts concerned being the duo of ISIS’ David Albright and IISS’ Mark Fitzpatrick, both of whom have spent years making scary Iran stories out of scraps of information leaked to them from Israel and insider pals at the IAEA. They’re talking about  hypothetical raw uranium (in that there’s no evidence whatsoever that it actually exists) which would have eventually have been needed to power the Al-Kibar reactor (if that’s what it was) bombed by the Israelis in 2007.

David Albright, the head of the US-based Institute for Science and International  Security think-tank, and a leading expert on the Iranian nuclear programme,  said there were legitimate concerns about a uranium stockpile in Syria.

“There are real worries about what has happened to the uranium that Syria was  planning to put into the Al-Kibar reactor shortly before the reactor was  destroyed in 2007,” he said. “There’s no question that, as Syria gets engulfed  in civil war, the whereabouts of this uranium is worrying governments. There is  evidence to suggest this issue has been raised by one government directly with  the IAEA.”

An IAEA inspection team visited the destroyed Al-Kibar site in May 2008 and  only found traces of uranium. This merely added to the mystery of where the 50  tonnes of uranium, if it exists, might be. Such a stockpile would be enough,  according to experts, to provide weapons grade fuel for five atomic devices.

Some government officials have raised concerns that Iran, which is closely  allied to the Syrian regime and urgently needs uranium for its nuclear  programme, might be trying to seize such a stockpile.

These officials’ fears have been triggered by signs of movement at what they  allege is a secret uranium conversion facility that the Syrian regime built at  the town of Marj al-Sultan near Damascus.

Which government officials from which government? We don’t know for sure — but I’m sure we can guess.

Whether the uranium is at the site is unclear, the officials conceded. But  they said: “Syria is almost certainly in possession of good quality uranium of  the type that Iran has been trying to acquire on the international market for  years. It would certainly be possible to transfer this from Syria to Iran by  air.”

Were that to happen – and Iran were to attempt to build another secret  uranium plant – such a stockpile could be a “vital resource”, the officials  argued, and possibly be used to build a bomb.

The country from which these officials hails is secret, but starts with “I” and ends in “srael”.

Evidence for this scary story about hypothetical uranium involved Albright’s favorite prop – satellite photos.

Mr Albright has acquired his own satellite pictures of the Marj al-Sultan  site and said these showed that the Syrian authorities have built defensive  trenches around the facility. The photographs also appeared to show evidence of  damage normally associated with military attacks.

“You could draw the conclusion that there may be something at this site that  the Syrian authorities are keen to defend from opposition forces,” Mr Albright  said. “It would be interesting to know what it is.”

Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies  think-tank said: “It has always been a mystery where the fuel was coming from  for Al-Kibar. There is reason to believe there is uranium in Syria and that  would be of value to Iran.”

However, Albright and Fitzpatrick should spend less time with their Israeli handlers and more time reading the news. The whole Marj al-Sultan area including the military base there, about 15km from Damascus, was overrun by the rebels back in November.

Biden Is Ideal To Lead Gun Control Push

The Washington Post today has a report that gives me some hope to balance my cynicism over Obama being serious about gun control.

President Obama on Monday began the first serious push of his administration to attempt to reduce gun violence, directing Cabinet members to formulate a set of proposals that could include reinstating a ban on assault rifles.

The effort will be led by Vice President Biden, according to two people outside the government who have spoken to senior administration officials since Friday…The tentative steps ended a paralyzing debate within the administration over how hard to pursue gun-control legislation, which has been a politically perilous issue for many Democrats. There were signs Monday, however, that such fear was abating on the Democratic side of the aisle.

…Obama, who has appeared shaken by the Sandy Hook shootings, met Monday with Biden, who advocated for stricter gun-control measures during his years in the Senate. The president also spoke Monday with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “to begin looking at ways the country can respond to the tragedy in Newtown,” according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Others involved in the new effort include White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler; Biden’s chief counsel, Cynthia C. Hogan; and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, who traveled with Obama to Connecticut on Sunday to address a memorial service for the Sandy Hook victims.

I hope this is true. The NRA and other gun lobbyists have even less leverage over a second-term Biden than they do over Obama. After this term, Biden is done with elected office and won’t care if the lobby hates him. Despite being a gun owner himself, he already has an “F” rating from the NRA from his time as a senator and as a nominee; having backed an assault gun ban, closing the gun show and private sales loopholes that let 40% of all firearms in the US be sold without any kind of background check, and against the bill that prohibited liability lawsuits against gun manufacturers for the carnage their products cause. He is a veteran at crafting crime bills, including the Biden Crime Act and the Violence Against Women Act. To my mind, Joe Biden is the ideal person to lead a White House task force on gun control.

Update: BBC News.

US President Barack Obama wants to reinstate an assault weapons ban in the wake of the mass killings in Newtown, Connecticut, his spokesman says.

Jay Carney said the president was “actively supportive” of a Democratic senator’s plan to introduce a bill on the first day of the next Congress.

Mr Obama would also consider curbs on high-capacity ammunition and loopholes, Mr Carney said.

Great, “support” will help but it isn’t enough. Now let’s see some legislation proposed and loudly backed, please!

NYT Report: Assad Fires Scuds At Rebels

The New York Times has run a report by Michael Gordon, one of the foremost catapulters of Bush propaganda in the lead up to the Iraq war, which quotes anonymous US officials who claim the Assad regime has fired more than half a dozen Scud missiles at rebel fighters over the last few days.

I’m seeing a fair bit of healthy scepticism from some analysts and reporters on my Twitter feed though – based on the logic that if this were actually happening we wouldn’t be hearing about it from officially unofficial US figures, but rather hearing about it from the various rebel groups themselves in every media outlet worldwide they could access. For me, at least, Michael Gordon quoting un-named apparatchiks does not qualify as an ironclad story – not even close – and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more and harder evidence and for official statements from people with actual names.

If true, as the NYT notes, “the move represents a significant escalation in the fighting”. If not, it would represent a serious escalation in US propaganda which has seen anonymous officials recently turn a fairly innocuous intercepted communication about moving some chemical weapons into edge-of-intervention brinkmanship in which Assad has been accused of being about to unleash WMD on his own people at any second and that accusation used as a causus belli. I suspect the beating of war drums is coming from State rather than the Pentagon, where they seem to appreciate the military reality that any intervention by the US in Syria will rapidly take on the size and scope of the Iraqi war and occupation.