Posts Tagged ‘Iran’

Arrested for dancing

Threatening the very structure of society. Not.

Police in Iran have arrested six young people and shown them on state television for posting a video online of them dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit song Happy.

The song has sparked similar videos all over the world. But in Iran, some see the trend as promoting the spread of Western culture.

And women are banned from dancing in public or appearing outside without the hijab in the Islamic Republic. The young people claimed they had been encouraged to perform by a film producer who wanted to make a movie, and that he, not they, posted the short clip online.

Tehran police chief Hossein Sajedinia confirmed on state television late on Tuesday that the three men and three women were detained over the video.

State television also aired pictures of the video with the women’s faces blurred and then showed the six with their backs turned to camera.

On Twitter, Williams himself said: “It’s beyond sad these kids were arrested for trying to spread happiness.”

Theran: time for a new approach.

Tehran: time for a new approach.

Wellthisiswhatithink says: Once again, the authorities in Tehran show themselves absolutely tone deaf to what will make them look idiotic in the wider world.

Our view? In essence, the young people of Iran will not tolerate these restrictions on their freedom much longer. And an increasingly urbane and west-facing leadership in Iran will bend rather than break and lose power in another popular rebellion.

Iran is unquestionably the most influential anti-Western state in the eternally fractious Middle East. And the current Western stance on Iran boils down to, in effect, widespread sanctions and continual sabre-rattling. But all stick and no carrot only ever serves to create obduracy and stubborn resistance.

We are no apologists for a government that has been brutally cruel and treated civil rights with contempt, let alone fomented terrorist acts elsewhere and made the Syrian conflict even worse than it was going to be anyway. But if we do not seek to befriend – at least to establish mutual respect and courteous dialogue – towards the new regime in Tehran then others – notably the Chinese and new assertive Russians – will. At this point in time, we should be doing everything we can to engage the current Iranian leadership and bring the pariah state in from the cold. Perhaps the Obama team are actively engaged behind the scenes, perhaps not, but we frankly do not see the type of will-power and dramatic seizing of the day that was evidenced by Gorbachev and Reagan, for example, or Nixon going to China. Obama in Tehran? We’d like to see that.

As Churchill once remarked, jaw-jaw is always better than war-war.

Note: for a discussion of the conspiracy theories emerging following the shooting down of Malaysian Flight MH17 shot down over Ukraine, go here.

The blogosphere and the environs of youTube and elsewhere is beginning to explode with theories as to what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. In particular, this radar track is genuinely peculiar.

One of the comments left on the YouTube page is also distressing and chilling.

It was shot down plain and simple. As soon as the trailing “boogie” let it’s “birds fly” and received that it got a confirmed hit, it turned off it’s APX-72 IFF Transponder and POOF! Disappeared.

<—– retired US military tactical air controller

Of course, we don’t know if this poster is a retired US military tactical air controller, but speculation that the plane was shot down is certainly widespread.

Malaysia-Airlines-Boeing-777-APHere is an article which argues the plane was shot down by a missile, perhaps from North Korea, which is testing missiles at the moment, and as this article rather scarily reveals, has actually caused China to complain to PRNK of danger to their flights within the last little while.

It would certainly not be the first time a civilian airliner has been downed in error. Even the most highly trained personnel can make terrible mistakes.

156 men, 53 women, 57 kids aged 2 to 12, and 8 babies aged 2 or less were on board when Iranian civilian Flight 655 departed Bandar Abbas Airport for Dubai.

156 men, 53 women, 57 kids aged 2 to 12, and 8 babies aged 2 or less were on board when Iranian civilian Flight 655 departed Bandar Abbas Airport for Dubai.

Iran Air Flight 655 was a civilian passenger flight from Tehran to Dubai that was shot down by the United States Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes on 3 July 1988.

The attack took place in Iranian airspace, over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, and on the flight’s usual flight path.

The aircraft, an Airbus A300 B2-203, was destroyed by SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles fired from the Vincennes.

All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crew, died. This attack ranks ninth among the deadliest disasters in aviation history, the incident retains the highest death toll of any aviation incident in the Indian Ocean and the highest death toll of any incident involving an Airbus A300 anywhere in the world. The Vincennes had entered Iranian territorial waters after one of its helicopters drew warning fire from Iranian speedboats operating within Iranian territorial limits.

According to the Iranian government, Vincennes negligently shot down the civilian aircraft: the airliner was making IFF squawks in Mode III (not Mode II used by Iranian military planes), a signal that identified it as a civilian craft, and operators of Vincennes mistook for Mode II.

According to the United States Government, the crew incorrectly identified the Iranian Airbus A300 as an attacking F-14 Tomcat fighter (a plane made in the United States and operated at that time by only two forces worldwide, the United States Navy and the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force). The Vincennes was signalling warnings on a military channel which the civilian plane could not technically receive. Hence, the airliner was unable to respond to several requests for it to change course.

The event generated a great deal of controversy and criticism of the United States. Some analysts have blamed U.S. military commanders and the captain of Vincennes for reckless and aggressive behavior in a tense and dangerous environment.

In 1996, the United States and Iran reached “an agreement in full and final settlement of all disputes, differences, claims, counterclaims” relating to the incident at the International Court of Justice. As part of the settlement, the United States agreed to pay US$61.8 million, an average of $213,103.45 per passenger, in compensation to the families of the Iranian victims. However, the United States has never admitted responsibility, nor apologized to Iran.

As of February 2014, Iran Air was still using flight number IR655 on the Tehran–Dubai route as a memorial to the victims, contrary to the informal convention amongst many other airlines that discontinue flight numbers associated with tragedies.

The destruction of KAL 007 plunged the Cold War to even greater freezing depths.

The destruction of KAL 007 plunged the Cold War to even greater freezing depths.

Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (also known as KAL007 and KE007) was a scheduledKorean Air Lines flight from New York City to Seoul via Anchorage.

On September 1, 1983, it was shot down by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor near Moneron Island, west of Sakhalin Island, in the Sea of Japan. The interceptor’s pilot was Major Gennadi Osipovich.

All 269 passengers and crew aboard were killed, including Lawrence McDonald, a sitting member of the United States Congress.

The aircraft was en route from Anchorage to Seoul when it flew through prohibited Soviet airspace around the time of a separate U.S.reconnaissance mission.

The Soviet Union initially denied knowledge of the incident, but later admitted the shootdown, claiming that the aircraft was on a spy mission. The Politburo said it was a deliberate provocation by the United States to test the Soviet Union’s military preparedness, or even to provoke a war. The White House accused the Soviet Union of obstructing search and rescue operations. The Soviet military suppressed evidence sought by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) investigation, notably the flight data recorders, which were eventually released eight years later after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The incident was one of the tensest moments of the Cold War and resulted in an escalation of anti-Soviet sentiment, particularly in the United States. The opposing points of view on the incident were never fully resolved. Consequently, several groups continue to dispute official reports and offer alternative theories of the event. The subsequent release of KAL 007 flight transcripts and flight recorders by the Russian Federation has clarified some details.

As a result of the incident, the United States altered tracking procedures for aircraft departing Alaska.

Various witnesses claimed to have seen "something" approaching TWA 800 before it exploded - theories range from a naval missile to a UFO.

Various witnesses claimed to have seen “something” approaching TWA 800 before it exploded – theories range from a naval missile to a UFO.

In 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed 12 minutes after taking off from John F. Kennedy airport — killing 230 people.

After a four-year investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded defective wiring caused a spark which ignited the plane’s fuel supply.

However, that explanation contradicts the hundreds of FBI witnesses who say they saw a streak of light rise up towards the plane, where a fireball emerged.

These reports have caused some to believe the aircraft was actually shot down by a missile.

Who would shoot down a civilian plane over the US? Apart from terorrists wielding a ground-to-air missile, (unlikely, in retrospect, because no claim of having perpetrated the event was made) one of the prevailing theories is that the US military mistakenly hit it during Navy training sessions, which were scheduled off the Long Island coast on the same day. Other anomalies surrounding the event include explosive residues on the plane’s remnants, claims that the FBI tampered with evidence, and discrepancies between the radar data and the official theory.

And in 2009, Air France Flight 447 inexplicably dropped out of the sky and plunged into the Atlantic Ocean — sending 228 people to their watery graves. There was no mayday call, and no one was aware the plane went down until hours later, when the pilots failed to make their planned contact with air traffic control. The “self-flying” jet was supposed to be among the safest aircraft in history, and it seemed unfathomable for it to just disappear.

Air France 447 - it took two years to find the plane, and to this day people wonder what really happened.

Air France 447 – it took two years to find the plane, and to this day people wonder what really happened.

It was incredibly difficult to piece together the cause of the disaster — wreckage was strewn about the ocean floor.

The investigation seemed hopeless when the black boxes weren’t found after 30 days, when the boxes’ locator beacons stopped transmitting.
Still, French authorities continued to search. Two years later, in 2011, a private team was hired for the job, and they found the missing debris field within a week.
The French Navy was able to recover the black boxes as well as more than 100 bodies.It was officially determined the jet went down because of pilot error after the autopilot disengaged. Although the larger mystery was finally solved, many still wonder how experienced pilots (there were three on board) lost control of the aircraft in a seemingly manageable situation.Coming back to today, much speculation has focused on the rapid and total disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370. One possible explanation is that if a small terrorist bomb had been placed to both disable the pilots and destroy key controls at the front of the aircraft at the same time, the rest of the plane could have plunged virtually intact to the ocean floor.A small bomb designed to wreak maximum damage is not unknown in the Asian region, which has its own share of fanatics.

Philippine Airlines Flight 434 (PAL434, PR434) was the route designator of a flight from Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Pasay City, in the Philippines, to New Tokyo International Airport (now Narita International Airport), near Tokyo, Japan, with one stop at Mactan-Cebu International Airport, Cebu, in the Philippines.

On December 11, 1994 the Boeing 747-283B, tail number EI-BWF, was flying on the second leg of the route, from Cebu to Tokyo, when a bomb planted by terrorist Ramzi Yousef exploded, killing one passenger and damaging vital control systems. It was a part of the much larger plan, the ultimately unsuccessful Bojinka terrorist attacks, which were intended to destroy 11 airliners.

57-year-old Captain Eduardo “Ed” Reyes, an experienced veteran pilot, was able to land the aircraft, saving the plane and all the remaining passengers and crew. The flight crew also consisted of First Officer Jaime Herrera and Systems Engineer Dexter Comendador.

Authorities later discovered that a passenger on the aircraft’s preceding leg was Ramzi Yousef. He was later convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Yousef boarded the flight under the fake Italian name “Armaldo Forlani”, an incorrect spelling of the name of the Italian legislator Arnaldo Forlani.

Yousef boarded the aircraft for the Manila to Cebu leg of the flight. After the plane was airborne, he went into the lavatory with his dopp kit in hand and took off his shoes to get out the batteries, wiring, and spark source hidden in the heel (below a level where metal detectors in use at the time could detect anything). Yousef removed an altered Casio digital watch from his wrist to be used as a timer, unpacked the remaining materials from his dopp kit, and assembled his bomb. He set the timer for four hours later, which was approximately the time at which the plane would be far out over the ocean en route to Tokyo, put the entire bomb back into his dopp kit, and returned to his current seat.

After asking a flight attendant for permission to move to seat 26K, saying he could get a better view from that seat, Yousef moved to that seat and tucked the assembled bomb into the life vest pocket under that seat. He exited the aircraft in Cebu. Philippine domestic flight attendant Maria dela Cruz noticed that Yousef had switched seats during the course of the Manila to Cebu flight and got off the plane in Cebu with the rest of the domestic flight crew, but did not pass the information along to the international flight crew that boarded at Cebu for the trip to Tokyo. 25 other passengers also got off the plane at Cebu, where 256 more passengers and a new cabin crew boarded the plane for the final leg of the flight to Tokyo.

After a 38-minute delay the flight took off with a total of 273 passengers on board and 24-year old Haruki Ikegami (池上春樹 Ikegami Haruki), a Japanese industrial sewing machine maker returning from a business trip to Cebu, occupying 26K. Four hours after Yousef planted his bomb, the device exploded underneath Ikegami, killing him and injuring an additional 10 passengers in adjacent seats in front of and behind seat 26K. The blast blew a hole in the floor, and the cabin’s rapid expansion from the explosion severed several control cables in the ceiling, which controlled the plane’s right aileron, as well as cables that connected to both the pilot and first officer’s steering controls. Fortunately, this particular 747, formerly operated by Scandinavian Airlines, had a different seating configuration and seat 26K was two rows forward of the centre fuel tank so that the hole in the floor punched through to the cargo hold instead and spared the plane from a fiery explosion that would surely have destroyed it.

The bomb’s orientation, positioned front-to-back and upward angled from horizontal, caused the blast to expand vertically and lengthwise. This configuration meant that Ikegami’s body absorbed most of the blast force and the plane’s outer structure was spared. The lower half of his body fell into the cargo hold and ten passengers sitting in the seats in front of and behind Ikegami were also injured; one needed urgent medical care. The bomb tore out a two square foot (0.2 m2) portion of the cabin floor, revealing the cargo hold underneath, but the fuselage of the plane stayed intact. Additionally, the 38-minute delay in takeoff from Cebu meant the plane was not as far out to sea as anticipated, which contributed to the captain’s options available for an emergency landing.

So. Shot down? By a plane? Or a missile? or destroyed by a carefully placed bomb.

One thing is for certain, it may be some time yet before we know. We may never know.

Despite the curiosity of the radar track video, our bet is on a bomb. After all, bombs on planes in flight can be utterly destructive, as we know from Pan Am flight 103.

Flight 103, you will recall, was a flight from Frankfurt to Detroit via London and New York City that was destroyed by a terrorist bomb on Wednesday, 21 December 1988, killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew on board. Large sections of the aircraft crashed into Lockerbie, in Scotland, killing 11 more people on the ground.

One thing is for sure, we need transparency, and we’re not currently getting it.

I am always being asked – usually very grumpily – why I fulminate on matters outside the borders of Australia by people who obviously believe that none of us have the right to speak truth (OK, I will concede, “our version of the truth”) to citizens of other countries.

And my stock response is, “Because I believe countries are artificial constructions, and I don’t think national boundaries should prevent the free flow of opinion, as we are all, first Citizens of the Wor4ld, not citizens of wherever we happen to live …” which always produces howls of derision from those who originally asked why I dared to say what I think, and murmurs of approval from anyone else.

And one day, recently, a very nice person in another forum where I post links to the blog – Linked In – kindly remarked that she thought I “am the bravest person posting in Linked In – I know it’s scary, but you keep raising important issues.”

I should warn you, everyone, one comment like that can keep me spouting off for a year or more.

Anyhow, here’s your real answer, Dear Reader. You just seem to be an amazingly international person … so I try and include content (or opinion) from all over the world, providing I think the content is important, or I can think of anything relevant to add to it.

How funny that orange is my favourite colour …

As I have explained many times, by far the most regular readers of my blog are Americans, who read my blog more than three times as much as my fellow Aussies.

From a country as saturated as media as it is, I consider this a great compliment, as it implies they think someone this far away has something relevant to say to them.

Either that or they’re masochists and they just love to hate me.

Whatever their reasons, I am grateful for the continual support from the good ol’ US of A. And the next biggest bunch of readers are from my old homeland in the UK, who also out poll the Aussies. This is perhaps understandable as once, deep – deep – in the last Millenium, I had something of a public profile in the Old Dart, but it is humbling and heart-warming to know that after 25 years as an Aussie they are still remotely concerned about what I think.

Either that, or my articles on sausages strike a chord.

Looking at the map, the sheer reach of blogging in the Internet age becomes clear. My words – or yours, if I have been re-blogging something – reach into almost every corner of the planet, which is something I find really quite awe-inspiring. Places I shall presumably never visit nevertheless know a little of me, virtually, at least. And whilst I recognise that the Internet can be something of a curate’s egg as far as information gathering goes – after all, how do you judge whether what you read is valid, true, biased, or … what? – it is without any doubt a remarkable step forward for the free and unsupervised dissemination of information.

Or at least, the attempted dissemination.

The Great Firewall of China has me blocked, for example. Which is quite bizarre, as I have visited China a number of times, I like the country and its people, and I wish both well as they continue their great strides onto the world stage. Or maybe I am blocked because all of WordPress is, just in case. But I think it’s me, because before my friends over there started reporting that they couldn’t read my work, fully six of them had done so. Mine was a star that shone very momentarily over the Oldest of Old Kingdoms. Hong Kong, however, can read me, and does. How curious.

I think it’s totally brilliant – totes brill as Fruit of One’s Loins would have it –  that WordPress provide one with these stats, partly out of my sheer fascination in trawling them, but also because if one covers a topic concerning, say Sri Lanka, then one can track the sudden up-tick of interest from that country as the story crawls its way from computer to computer. They also tell you what search terms most often bring people to one’s pages, and yes, Dear Reader, the top one on mine is still “tits”, and long may it be so.

(Stick tits into the search box at the top left on this site and you’ll see why.)

Interesting anomalies occur all the time. Sweden delivers about double the hits that I get from their neighbours Norway and Finland. I really am curious as to why – presumably it is a matter of population, internet access, English language skills and stuff like that. But I also wonder if it is because I post semi-regularly on the cases of Bradley Manning, the provider and founder of Wikileaks, respectively, and Assange is assuredly of interest in Sweden for various reasons.

What is also interesting is the very few countries that are not represented on the map at all, as they indicate with clarity where some of the poorest nations of the world are. Sub-saharan and central Africa especially. Or where internet access is simply impossible.

I see you there, little singular net surfing person, I see you, shakin’ dat mouse.

A whole bunch of places, although the list is getting smaller the longer the blog stays up, have recorded just one hit on the blog in the last 11 months.

One little idle, solitary flick of a finger, one man or woman, who I see in my mind’s eye, hunched over their laptop or desktop in the dark, screen glowing, hungrily gobbling up my profound thoughts on Angela Merkel, President Obama, the food we will be eating in 40 years, vaginal surgery, the mauling of the English language, the weather in Australia (and climate change generally) or – whatever.

I do hope you will drop by again, my solitary visitor from Djibouti, Lesotho, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Samoa, Togo, Aruba, Dominica, Lichtenstein, the Federated States of Micronesia, Angola, Haiti, Guadeloupe, Kyrgyzstan, the Solomon Islands, and last but by no means least, Vatican City.

Your voices need to be heard, and very often, I suspect, they need to be heard much more than mine does.

Then again, you could just be searching for tits, in which case, welcome aboard.

Post scriptum: I nearly forgot to mention that this is also my four hundred and oneth blog in a little over a year, and I could not have done it without all the feedback, positive and negative, so thanks very much! WordPress has stopped sending me little “gee up”  messages as I pass each milestone, which is a bit sad, really. They’ve obviously decided I am hooked. All gee up messages, therefore, gratefully received.

Olympic athletes from America and Iran remind us what international relations should be about. People. Individual people, writ large.

And good on them.

 

I award them both the Gold Medal for Sanity

Stephen "Yolly" Yolland:

I warmly applaud this article by Emily, which I consider to be both timely and wise. The prospect of another war with Israel in the south for tragic little Lebanon, already so pressed by the situation in Syria on their border, is simply too horrible.

We must learn Emily’s core understanding – violence begets violence. When will the leaders in the Mid East remember Churchill’s famous adage “Jaw-jaw is always better than war-war”? We are talking about violence, which could, if it embroils Israel, Iran, Syria and Lebanon – a true regional conflict – cause not just hundreds or thousands of casualties, but cost hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of innocent lives. And as Emily so presciently points out, we seem to be sleep-walking into it.

War will continue until men refuse to fight

I know some will accuse me of being naive, but it’s what I believe. http://www.cafepress.com/yolly.431431252

Originally posted on Emily L. Hauser - In My Head:

“Lebanon? That’s so 80s.”

We learned on Friday that America and Israel have concluded that the bomber in last week’s bloody attack in the Bulgarian city of Burgas was an operative working with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, under orders from Iran “to avenge assassinations targeting its nuclear scientists” (such as Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, killed in January when an assassin bombed his car in Tehran).

In the meantime, we’ve also learned that the New York police have found evidence linking Iran or its proxies to nine other plots against Israeli or Jewish targets around the world. According to former Israeli National Security Adviser Uzi Arad, this should not surprise us – and Israel is “to a large extent, the initiators.”

We hit [senior Hezbollah leader] Imad Mughniye [in 2008], and, mainly, we’re leading a struggle against Iran. We’re not a passive side. And the other side is the defending, deterring, and attacking…

View original 572 more words

Some time ago – a disgracefully long time ago, actually – I promised to nick some good thoughts sourced from around the internet, and post them here regularly, with my own commentary. The idea is simple: there are cleverer people than me around, but I am clever enough to spot stuff that deserves sharing. So I am sorry I have taken so long to come up with entry #2: my excuse is that I have been very busy posting on all sorts of other important topics.

My “steal” today stretches back into the past, to say something that is still utterly relevant to our world in 2012.”Only the wisest and the stupidest of men never change.” Confucius

A statue of Confucius, located in Hunan, China on the shore of the Dongting.

Confucius was responsible for a lot of good sense; for example, he espoused the well-known principle “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself”, an early version of the Golden Rule.

But he was also primarily responsible for instituting and codifying a love of authority that has, viewed from an historical perspective, condemned Chinese society to a limiting, claustrophobic respect for those in charge.

To this day, Confucian respect for those in charge – within a family, at a workplace level, in local government, and nationally – slows China’s development into anything resembling a pluralist society while simultaneously making it possible for the centralised Governmental system to drive their economy with little regard for human rights as the West would recognise them. It also encourages a ruling kleptocracy and lack of innovation.

But in this quotation, Confucius offers us a balancing thought we should all dwell on.

Rigidity of opinion is a common failing worldwide. And at its most extreme, it morphs into the horrors of civil war, inter-national conflict, racism, homophobia, colonial exploitation and many more nasties.

As I have grown older, I realise more and more that those things that I once saw as lay down misère* are rarely as certain as I once thought. As John Lennon once wisely said, “The more I see, the less I know for sure.” This is not an argument for some wishy-washy relativism, where nothing is certain, and excuses can be made for any opinion in the search for unity. No, it is merely a belated recognition, in my case, that there are not only two sides to most stories, but often many more than two.

Sadly, when rigid thinking is exhibited in politicians, it is often applauded. Politicians who evidence little or no doubt in their public prognostications are often called “strong” or “effective leaders”. They present with such certainty that we are often happy to delegate to them any need to think critically, while we busy ourselves with “getting on with life”. The problem, of course, arises when the “conviction politician” implements his or her convictions, and we all discover – too late, usually – that their much-lauded convictions were actually sheer nonsense.

The only substitute for this pattern of behaviour, which societies of all types and all eras repeat endlessly, is to consciously up our own level of interest. To read between the lines, and behind the front page, to educate ourselves, to criticise constructively and to demand answers to reasonable questions.

Some years ago, I called into Melbourne talk-back radio station 3AW, to the then Australian Prime Minister, arch-conservative John Howard. The second Iraq invasion was about to get underway, and I called him to point out that a leaked report from his own Chiefs of the Australian Defence Force had said that an inevitable result of any such invasion would be very high civilian casualties.

Howard brushed off my comment grumpily, simply saying “Well, that’s not my point of view.” I started to protest, seeking to point out that the advice came from his own advisers, and surely it was a relevant factor in his decision-making. The right-wing radio host sniffily cut me off, muttering “The Prime Minister has answered your question.”

To date, Iraqi civilian casualties of the war and the chaos that ensued thereafter are in excess of half a million people.

Half a million entirely innocent, civilian casualties. Men, women, and children. Young, and old. And still counting. Howard’s biography, written years later, virtually ignores the issue.

I am not so foolish as to think that if Howard had listened to me then that benighted war and those casualties could have been avoided.

But I do believe that if Howard, Blair, Cheney, Bush et al had not been so insanely gung ho – indeed, had they heeded Cheney’s own opinion from a decade earlier that a full-blown invasion of  Iraq would be a quagmire from which we would not know how to extract ourselves, and which would provoke a military and social cataclysm – then better planning might have been in place to deal with the immediate post-invasion chaos.

Around the world, millions of ordinary people feared exactly what eventuated. Their “folk wisdom” was better than the faux wisdom of the political leaders, relying, as they were, on tainted advice and their own self-confidence. If they had not been so damned obsessed with their own “convictions”, they might have been a deal more pragmatic, and many lives might not have been needlessly sacrificed – not to mention the Allied troops that have died or been horribly injured.

So perhaps, as Socrates said, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

And why does such modesty in thinking matter?

Because simply put, as George Santayana noted, in his Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

For example, the way things are going, an attack on Syria or Iran (or both) are both live policy options for the West. Faced with such a nightmare scenario, the regimes in Damascus and Teheran become ever more brutal and belligerant. Their obduracy is met with yet more sabre rattling.

And so it goes, and so it goes.When will we ever learn?


*Misere
or misère (French for “destitution”; equivalent terms in other languages include bettel, contrabola, devole, null, pobre) is a bid in various card games, and the player who bids misere undertakes to win no tricks or as few as possible. This does not allow sufficient variety to constitute a game in its own right, but it is the basis of such trick-avoidance games as Hearts.

A Misere bid usually indicates an extremely poor hand, hence the name. An Open or Lay Down Misere is a bid where the player is so sure of losing every trick that they undertake to do so with their cards placed face-up on the table. Consequently, ‘Lay Down Misere’ is Australian gambling slang for a “dead cert”; a predicted easy victory.

Libetarian blog “Cut DC” reports Infowars arguing that the US are provoking Iran to act against American interests, like a big bully who keeps pushing and taunting a small kid until the diminutive target is filled with rage.  Just one weak act of defiance and the bully smashes the little boy with his seemingly justified fists. Then, he takes the victim’s lunch.  US weapons of aggression are indeed in Iran’s backyard, as if China were to provoke the US with an incident off the Virginia Beach Coast. 

Is the US bullying Iran into a war?

Is the US bullying Iran into a war?

US Sends Aircraft Carrier Through Strait Of Hormuz During Iranian Wargames

US debated “false flag” attack on American assets

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
Thursday, December 29th, 2011

The US has provocatively sent one of its biggest warships through the Strait of Hormuz amidst Iranian wargames taking place in the region shortly after warning Iran that any closure of the key oil choke point would not be tolerated.


“A US aircraft carrier entered a zone near the Strait of Hormuz being used by the Iranian navy for wargames, an Iranian official said Thursday amid rising tensions over the key oil-transit channel,” reports YNet News.

“US officials announced Wednesday that the ship and its accompanying battle group moved through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow stretch at the entrance to the Gulf that is the world’s most important choke point for oil shipments.”

The appearance of the warship, named as the USS John C. Stennis, half-way through Iran’s 10 day wargame exercise in the region, arrives following a warning that the US would not tolerate Iran closing the Strait of Hormuz, a threat Iran has repeatedly made over the last few weeks.

As we previously reported, aside from the Stennis and its fleet of smaller battleships, the the USS Abraham Lincoln is also on its way to the US 5th fleet, as well as the USS Carl Vinson.

The presence of US warships in the region amidst escalating tensions serves as a reminder that the Bush administration once debated staging a false flag wherein fake Iranian patrol boats would be used to attack a US ship as a means of creating a pretext for war.

In January 2008, the US government announced that it had been “moments” away from opening fire on a group of Iranian patrol boats in the Strait of Hormuz after the boats allegedly broadcast a warning that they were about to attack a US vessel.

The US claimed the Iranian boats had broadcast the message, “I am coming at you. You will explode in a couple of minutes,” and that the order to fire was aborted only at the last minute as the patrol boats pulled back.

Iran later produced a video proving that the patrol boats never displayed any kind of threatening behavior. The New York Times subsequently reported that the alleged tape containing the attack threat had no background ambient noise and did not come from an Iranian ship, but from another unnamed ship in the region.

According to Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh, the incident led to a discussion in Vice-President Dick Cheney’s office about how to start a war with Iran by launching a “false flag” attack at sea.

(A false flag attack is when you pretend to be someone you dislike, and attack yourself, using that as a pretext for war. Hitler did it with Poland. Various conspiracy theorists argue that certain terrorist attacks on the West have fallen into this category, and that these will increase in frequency in 2012.)

The January Strait of Hormuz incident taught Cheney and other administration insiders that, “If you get the right incident, the American public will support it”. Hersh said: “There were a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build, we in ‘our shipyard’, – build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives”.

The plan was rejected because it would have cost American lives, but the potential for a similar scenario to arise in the Strait of Hormuz, whether real or manufactured, remains a very real threat, especially given the amount of US warships that are either already in the region or on their way to the Strait.

A confrontation in the Strait of Hormuz would send oil prices skyrocketing and create global economic instability. Any closure of the Strait would make the current financial crisis look like a walk in the park.

Of course, the US is not alone in its belligerance. As Ynet News also reports:

“So far, Iran and the United States have limited themselves to rhetoric and naval maneuvers. But analysts and the oil market are watching the situation carefully, fearing a spark that could ignite open confrontation between the longtime foes.

The United States had proposed a military hotline between Tehran and Washington to defuse any “miscalculations” that could occur as their navies brush against each other. But Iran in September rejected that offer.”

One has to ask why Iran would reject such an eminently sensible idea, and this  is, in itself, an indication of how toxic the relationship has become. And as we have previously commented, the ongoing chaos in Syria also threatens to embroil the entire region in a massive and complex conflict, dragging in Iran and Lebanon as a minimum, that would make the current mess in Afghanistan look like a sideshow.

We should remember that, until the populist Islamic revolution, Iran was a secular, West-leaning country – albeit run by a fascist bunch of thugs. American and British inability to persaude the Shah to liberalise his regime duly translated into the extremism that has characterised Iranian politics ever since – and yet, the green shoots of democracy and secular society still thrive there despite current Iranian Government persecution of intellectuals, dissidents and minorities such as homsexuals. And as I have argued before, if we cannot persaude the Assad regime in Syria to move aside peacefully, the incoming forces there will be similarly intransigent despite the essentially secular nature of that society.

It is something akin to watching a train wreck in slow motion, but the frame speed may well be about to increase.

Is it not sad that there seems to be such an inevitability surrounding the coming conflict? The people of the world can reasonably ask, why are our leaders, on all sides, so fearfully incompetent and incapable of preventing these nightmare scenarios from eventuating?

What use is the United Nations?

And where are the men and women of vision who can cut through the Gordian knot, and prevent a disaster that has the potential to cost millions of lives, and destabilise the world economy for a generation?

Is the only thing preventing all-out conflict now a cold calculation by Obama that, so soon after Iraq and with Afghanistan bleeding the US, stumbling into open war would cruel his chances for re-election? Then again, could that be a reason for the military-industrial complex in America to provoke a war, delivering the White House to some Republican puppet? Who is actually in charge in Washington?

I hope and pray I am wrong, but I fear I am not. Nothing would make me happier than to look back twelve months from now and laugh at my foolish worries.

Happy New Year, everyone?

Remember, what happened to Troy Davis could happen to anyone.

Remember, what happened to Troy Davis could happen to anyone.

In the bleak hours since Troy Davis was killed for a crime he did not commit, more facts continue to emerge about the farcical state of the legal processes that condemned him to death. Apart from the fact that courts repeatedly refused to allow new evidence to be submitted on Davis’s behalf – in other words, the truth does not matter, merely the upholding of whatever legal morass is in power at the time – more evidence of the unreliability of the witnesses that were originally produced is coming out.

A member of Davis’ legal team from the Washington law firm Arnold & Porter said there was too much doubt about the eyewitness testimony at the 1991 trial to let Davis be convicted.

In a telephone interview the lawyer confirmed that the eyewitnesses included an man who initially said he could not recognize the shooter except for the clothes he was wearing; a woman who initially said she could not put a face with the shooter; a woman who said she recognized Davis in the dark from more than 120 feet away; and a man who was looking through his car’s tinted windows and said he was only 60 percent sure he could identify Davis.

“You can’t execute someone based on that kind of testimony,” the defnece team member said. “It’s unconscionable.” Nevertheless, just before 11pm on Wednesday night, the state, in our name, injected Davis with poison and killed him. His last words were to again plead his innocence directly to the family of the police officer he was wrongly accused of killing, and to pray for the souls of those about to end his life. It may strike you that these were hardly the actions of a callous murderer with nothing left to lose.

But even worse, Jennifer Dysart, an expert on the problems associated with eyewitness testimony, said she had planned to testify at Monday’s clemency hearing, but the parole board ended Davis’ presentation before she could give her presentation.

In an interview today, Dysart said numerous studies show that eyewitness testimony is unreliable and the procedures used by Savannah police in the Davis investigation would not be allowed today.

“Even if the parole board didn’t believe the recantations, there were significant problems with all the eyewitness testimony,” she said “Nothing reliable should come from that testimony. I wish the board had heard my presentation.”

Let’s just make that clear. The Parole Board simply refused to hear expert testimony, when a man’s life was at stake, and after over a million signatures requesting clemency had been collected.

I would like to suggest my readers also visit Emily Hauser’s blog, which initially alerted me to this case. Her musings after the sentence was carried out, and her suggestions for how people can maintain their rage and make a difference, are touching and well worth reading. Head to http://emilylhauserinmyhead.wordpress.com/2011/09/22/dear-readers-veteran-and-new/

It is also worth considering, I believe, how the efforts of warm-hearted people like Emily turned this case into a cause celebre that has swept the world in recent weeks. It is both a reflection of the new power associated with the Internet, and the importance of the little people, the ordinary individuals, who are prepared to stand up, perhaps for the first time, and say “Not In My Name”. In this case, it proved to be fruitless, but in other cases it will not. In the long term, we may trace major changes to the sad date of 21st Septemeber. In any event, the sheer outpouring of compassion and understanding in itself gives Troy’s dreadful sacrifice meaning. He has left the world a better place, bitter though the price was which he had to pay.

This will, except in terms of the most dramatic news coming to light, be my last post on this case. I am grateful for the very many messages of support sent to me personally, and much more grateful for those who weighed in to campaign on Troy’s behalf. It is clear to anyone except those with an emotional, legal or practical investment in seeing Troy Davis killed that a terrible, terrible wrong has been done. All we can do know is work, uncreasingly, to prevent more injustices from occuring, in America and elsewhere. In Iran a couple of days ago a 17 year old was hanged publicly for stabbing to death a much larger man who he had claimed attacked him over a raod rage incident. In China there is ample evidence that people are executed for minor crimes in order to harvest their body parts.

Until the cancer of the death penalty is removed, everywhere, the anger endures, and the fight goes on.

And last but not least: remember that if they can kill Troy Davis when the evidence against him was clearly totally flawed, when more than one million people including law enforcement officers, Presidents, politicians, churchmen and many more pleaded with them not to, then they can frame and kill you, too.

Yes, you. Or your mother, or your father. Or your husband, wife, brother or sister. Or your child.