UFO tracks Iranian missiles

[I never thought that I would post a UFO story here, but, check-out the video on the site below.  Un-freakin-believeable!]

UFO tracks Iranian missiles

By VINCE SOODIN

A UFO appears to streak through the sky in this astonishing video of the Iranians test firing a controversial missile.

The mystery object zooms unseen through Iran’s airspace — before splitting a cloud in two as the film focuses in on the soaring rocket.

A UFO expert today described the unknown craft — which appears to be tracking the weapon — as “phenomenal”.

Iran launched two short-range missiles last Saturday — angering the West and Israel.

A US report on Fox News revealed the UFO in footage of the second launch.

The video shows the Shahab-3 rocket soaring into the sky.

But after 38 seconds a nearby cloud is mysteriously torn in two by a flying object travelling at speed.

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Nick Pope, a respected former UFO analyst for the Ministry of Defence, examined the remarkable footage.

He hinted that whatever ripped through the cloud was not man made.

He said: “One theory is that it’s a secret American drone. At any time there are prototype aircraft and drones being operated that won’t be shown in public for years.

“Stealth aircraft flew for many years before their existence was acknowledged.

“But the speed and acceleration seems phenomenal. I’m not convinced we’ve got anything capable of such manoeuvres.”

Confronting terrorism

Confronting terrorism

THE resurfacing of Baitullah’s successor, Hakimullah, with Waliur Rehman his alleged rival right beside him, certainly casts serious doubts on official claims that these leaders had been killed. But a more pertinent issue arises on the strategy to deal with the Taliban and other extremist groups perpetrating terrorism in Pakistan. Clearly, the militaristic approach cannot work in isolation. Even when the military clears one area of terrorists, they simply re-emerge elsewhere, where the writ of the state is weak. Interestingly, there are also rumours that most of the Al-Qaeda leaders and the Taliban linked to them, have either died or moved out into other Muslim lands, primarily Arab. So in many ways the Taliban structures have become decentralised and functionally autonomous. In such a situation, the military’s strategy of surrounding the militants in FATA, using covert means to disrupt them from within and using positive financial lures was a more comprehensive and viable approach. Now the US is determined to undermine this and compel the military into launching a full scale, conventional military action into FATA which will have serious repercussions for the country – including impacting our security on the Eastern border with a presently belligerent India. To make matters worse, Interior Minister Malik has declared that we will fight till we have rid the country of the last Taliban. Such ridiculous declarations make little sense since when will we know there are no more Taliban in Pakistan? Can we devise a way to read people’s minds or see what is in their hearts? The only way we can ensure the end of extremist militancy and terrorism is to bring the marginalised people into the mainstream, to ensure security for the ordinary people and to give them access to speedy justice. Otherwise we will continue to see the backlash of a singularly punitive approach in the form of acts of terror across the country.

The suicide bombing of the WFP office in Islamabad reflects this fallout of a military approach where operation areas are not sealed off – which they cannot realistically be in one’s own country. If this is the result of Taliban on the run, it is a result we cannot afford to tolerate. If the war on terror is against non state actors, then the peace must also be made with non state actors – but from a position of state strength which requires assertion of the writ of the state. This does not simply imply the use of force, but through all the economic, political and social tools available to the state. Wherever peace has come, it has come through this route, including in Northern Ireland. Of course, it should also be remembered that the rising tide of terrorism in Pakistan is directly related to the Pakistani state’s increasing submission to US diktat.

The CIA Wants to Control Everything, Even the Weather Watchers

C.I.A. Climate Center Irks Barrasso

By John M. Broder

PhotoBrendan Smialowski for The New York Times “This is reinventing the wheel,” said Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, referring to a new C.I.A. climate center.

Senator John Barrasso, a conservative freshman Republican from Wyoming, said on Tuesday that he would try to stop the Central Intelligence Agency from opening a new climate change center by choking off its funding.

“The C.I.A. is responsible for gathering foreign intelligence information for the United States,” Mr. Barrasso said in announcing an amendment to a 2010 spending bill to block any money being spent by the agency on the new office. “I don’t believe creating a center on climate change is going to prevent terrorist attacks.”

The agency announced late last month that it was creating a Center on Climate Change and National Security to look at how droughts, rising seas, mass migrations and competition for resources could affect the nation’s military and economic priorities.

In a press release, the agency said it did not intend to duplicate scientific work done by other government and private institutions. Rather, the agency said, the new unit would advise policymakers as they negotiate and verify international environmental agreements, including whatever emerges from the 192-nation global warming talks in Copenhagen in December.

“Decision makers need information and analysis on the effects climate change can have on security,” said Leon Panetta, the C.I.A. director. “The C.I.A. is well positioned to deliver that intelligence.”

The small center will be led by specialists from the agency’s intelligence bureau and its directorate of science and technology. It will compile and distribute satellite imagery and other information that can help policy makers and scientists inside and outside of government understand global environmental phenomena.

Climate change is a relatively new area of study for the American intelligence community. The National Intelligence Council, which produces government-wide intelligence analyses, completed its first assessment of the national security implications of climate change just last year.

The unclassified report concluded that climate change would have significant geopolitical impacts around the world and would contribute to a host of problems, including poverty, environmental degradation and the weakening of national governments.

The assessment warned that the storms, droughts and food shortages that might result from a warming planet in coming decades would create numerous relief emergencies and put added strains on the American military.

Senator Barrasso said the intelligence community had enough challenges without taking on global warming.

“Is this climate change center going to make demands on the current C.I.A. bureaucracy?” Mr. Barrasso said in his press statement. “Will someone sitting in a dark room watching satellite video of northern Afghanistan now be sitting in a dark room watching polar ice caps?”

“This is reinventing the wheel,” he added. “We need to let the agencies tasked with monitoring climate change do their job. These agencies can provide the C.I.A. with any information they need.”

The Story of Pat Tillman

[Accident, or execution?  I am pretty sure this book from a major publisher will ask that question.]

Where Men Win Glory

An exploration of the life and death of football star and US Army enlistee Pat Tillman.

By Erik Spanberg

Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman By Jon Krakauer Doubleday 383 pp., $27.95

Many Americans who watched the 9/11 attacks from afar insisted their lives would never be the same after that day, that they could never go back to the way things were before Al Qaeda killed 3,000 people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Few, if any, lived up to that vow with the conviction of Pat Tillman.

An outstanding defensive back on a lousy NFL team, in 2002 Tillman chose enlistment in the US Army over a $3.6 million contract. He became an Army ranger with his brother, Kevin. They saw limited action in Iraq and later went to Afghanistan.

It was in remote Khost Province, near the Pakistani border, where Pat Tillman died in April 2004, the victim of friendly fire. Those details alone would make Tillman’s story ideal for Jon Krakauer, whose nonfiction bestsellers include “Into the Wild” and “Into Thin Air.” What happened after Tillman’s death, combined with a soldier’s story that is at once unique and universal, provides a perfect foundation for exploring the response of the United States to 9/11. Add Tillman’s rugged intellectual curiosity and independence, as well as his penchant for testing the outer limits of his physical endurance, and you have the perfect protagonist.

In Where Men Win Glory, Krakauer weaves Tillman’s story into the larger American war on terror, with predictable but no less disturbing conclusions. Krakauer reveals how political and military leaders let Tillman’s family – and the rest of the nation – believe his death came at the hands of the Taliban, not his own platoon. Tillman died just as the first reports on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal were breaking and as bloody fighting raged in Fallujah, where the burned corpses of four American contractors were dragged through the streets. Tillman’s death, Krakauer asserts, offered a handy diversion.

His argument is convincing in many respects. A year after Tillman’s death, Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) presided over a congressional hearing on the subsequent bungled military inquiries. He closed the hearing by saying, “What we have is a very clear, deliberate abuse intentionally done. Why is it so hard to find out who did it?”

Top military brass rushed through a Silver Star commendation for Tillman immediately after he died, part of a public-relations offensive aimed at making the former NFL player a poster child for the American military campaigns. It was an effort Tillman himself would have abhorred: He told a fellow soldier on an earlier occasion that he feared dying in action and being paraded through the streets as a justification for war.

Krakauer reports that a US military leader in Afghanistan ordered Tillman’s uniform burned before it could be examined for forensic evidence, much to the chagrin of the coroner who conducted Tillman’s autopsy at Dover Air Force Base. Relentless prodding from Tillman’s mother led to multiple investigations of her son’s death. Those inquiries, as well as extensive interviews by the author, allow Krakauer to piece together what happened in Khost Province. If anything, the author delays his account of the friendly fire episode for too long, waiting until the end of the book to explain those events in detail. (To cite but one of many examples, a digression on the 2000 presidential election and subsequent court battle over Florida votes does little to further Tillman’s tale.)

When Krakauer delves into the mission that led to Tillman’s death and the aftermath, it makes for gripping, heartbreaking reading. In between an opening sequence set in the moments before Tillman was shot and the denouement hundreds of pages later, Krakauer alternates between explorations of Tillman’s childhood and football career and the foreign policy entanglements of the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It’s a hit-and-miss approach. Krakauer is helped by his own extensive legwork, including interviews with Tillman’s wife, fellow soldiers, college friends, and some of his coaches and former teammates. Krakauer also gained access to Tillman’s journals, a mixed blessing that provides crucial insight but sometimes leads to excessive detail and rumination. Accounts of the spin-doctoring attached to the rescue of Jessica Lynch in Iraq and political machinations in Afghanistan and Pakistan also could benefit from judicious editing. Tillman is an interesting character, a man who defies easy jock stereotypes. He’s bound by a relentless personal code of honor. Money doesn’t motivate him, and taking the easy way out is never a consideration.

Soon after Tillman finished his stint in Iraq, several NFL teams put out feelers through Tillman’s agent to help him secure an early discharge from the military and return to football. Tillman declined the offer. He deplored much about the culture of the military, as well as the political calculations behind the war in Iraq, yet insisted on fulfilling his enlistment.

Krakauer demonstrates determination of his own. Two trips to Afghanistan allowed the author to get a sense of the land and the battle on the ground, lending the descriptions of the people and the harrowing topography invaluable authenticity. At the same time, Krakauer seems to have faltered on a few key points in telling the history of the mujahideen, as Dexter Filkins, the ace New York Times war correspondent, recently pointed out in a review of the book.

On another occasion, in detailing Tillman’s college football career, Krakauer has him playing in the Rose Bowl in Anaheim. The Rose Bowl, as any college football fan knows, is in Pasadena.

Still, these are minor quibbles in a book that goes a long way toward explaining the fog of war in the trenches and beyond. It is a fitting tribute to Tillman, a voracious reader who questioned everything. The shame is that Tillman and Krakauer never met; if Tillman had lived, it would have been fascinating to hear him relate his experiences and opinions in collaboration with a writer like Krakauer or on his own.

Erik Spanberg is a freelance writer in Charlotte, N.C.

Afghan Taliban say they pose no threat to the West

Afghan Taliban say they pose no threat to the West

By Sayed Salahuddin

KABUL (Reuters) – The Afghan Taliban pose no threat to the West but will continue their fight against occupying foreign forces, they said on Wednesday, the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion that removed them from power.

U.S.-led forces with the help of Afghan groups overthrew the Taliban government during a five week battle which started on October 7, 2001, after the militants refused to hand over al Qaeda leaders wanted by Washington for the September 11 attacks on America.

“We had and have no plan of harming countries of the world, including those in Europe … our goal is the independence of the country and the building of an Islamic state,” the Taliban said in a statement on the group’s website http://www.shahamat.org.

“Still, if you (NATO and U.S. troops) want to colonize the country of proud and pious Afghans under the baseless pretext of a war on terror, then you should know that our patience will only increase and that we are ready for a long war.”

U.S. President Barack Obama has said defeating the militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a top foreign policy priority and is evaluating whether to send thousands of extra troops to the country as requested by the commander of NATO and U.S. forces.

In a review of the war in Afghanistan submitted to the Pentagon last month, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, in charge of all foreign forces, said defeating the insurgents would likely result in failure unless more troops were sent.

There are currently more than 100,000 foreign troops in the country, roughly two-thirds of who are Americans.

SAFE HAVEN

The Taliban statement comes at a time when Western officials warn that deserting Afghanistan could mean a return to power for the Taliban and the country could once again become a safe haven for al Qaeda militants, who could use it as a base to plan future attacks on Western countries.

The Taliban have made a comeback in recent years, spreading their attacks to previously secure areas. The growing insecurity has further added to the frustration of ordinary Afghans with the West and President Hamid Karzai’s government, in power since the Taliban’s ouster.

Since 2001, each year, several thousand Afghans, many of them civilians, have been killed in Afghanistan, with Taliban and al Qaeda leaders still at large despite the rising number of foreign troops.

In the statement, the Taliban said the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan for its refusal to hand over al Qaeda leaders, was hasty and unjustified. Washington had not given leaders of the movement any proof to show the involvement of al Qaeda in the September 11 attacks, it said.

Washington was using the so-called war on terror in Afghanistan and in Iraq as part of its expansionist goals in the Middle East, central and southeast Asia, it said.

It recalled the defeat of British forces in the 19th century and the fate of the former Soviet Union in the 1980s in Afghanistan as a lesson to those nations who have troops in the country.

Qari Mohammad Yousuf, a spokesman for the Taliban, said the withdrawal of foreign troops was the only solution to a conflict that has grown in intensity and has pushed some European nations to refuse to send their soldiers into battle zones or to speak about a timetable to withdraw from the country.

Some 1,500 foreign troops have also died in Afghanistan since the Taliban‘s ouster causing many nations to question the presence of its soldiers in the country and whether stability can ever be achieved eight years after the overthrow of the militants.

(Editing by Sugita Katyal)

Jews Say No

Dear Friends,
Jews Say No is circulating the following letter and hope you will sign it. We’d like to get as many signatures over the next 24 hours and then try to get it placed as a letter or piece in one of the Jewish (and maybe international) newspapers. We hope you agree with us that it is critical for our voices to be heard!

Please email us at (jewssayno@gmail.com) if we can add your name.

Thank-you,

Nicholas Abramson
Elly Bulkin
Nina Felshin
Sherry Gorelick
Jane Hirschmann
Carol Horwitz
Alan Levine
Helaine Meisler
Gail Miller
Carol Munter
Donna Nevel
Ray Wofsky
Dorothy Zellner


Jews Say No


Letter to American Jews

The primary author of the recently released UN Report on Gaza, the internationally respected jurist Richard Goldstone, has been attacked by establishment voices within the Jewish community.  When those within a community try to “excommunicate” and dishonor a truth-teller, it is our obligation and responsibility to speak out vehemently on their behalf and on behalf of the truth they bring.

By all accounts, Judge Goldstone, who has a deep connection to Israel, approached his task with no pre-conceptions about what he and his team would find as they investigated the circumstances and aftermath of the Israeli attack on Gaza.  Goldstone is a former South African constitutional law court judge who also served as a prosecutor of the Yugoslav and Rwandan war crimes tribunals. His credentials for this task are impeccable.

For following where the truth led him and releasing a report detailing human rights abuses and violations of international law by Israel, as well as Hamas, Judge Goldstone should be applauded for his honesty and integrity. Instead, he and the report have been viciously and relentlessly attacked by many within the Jewish community.

When it comes to Israel, hard-core censorship and intimidation by those claiming to speak in the name of the Jewish people have been the order of the day. Our saying, “Three Jews–four opinions,” reflects the traditional Jewish encouragement to argue and debate. But the reality, sadly, is that diverse opinions are welcome–except when it comes to Israel.

We must hold the Israeli government and the Jewish establishment accountable for attempting to vilify a truth-teller and for suppressing the truth about Israeli government crimes against the Palestinian people.  We call upon each and every one of us to speak out at every opportunity–at our community centers, synagogues, in our homes, in the street, wherever we go.

We must demand that the truth be heard and that those claiming to speak in our name stop manipulating truths that have been well-documented for years, long before the Goldstone report.  We are also appalled by the Obama Administration’s reaction to the report. We call for a fair and impartial investigation of the report’s allegations by non-military institutions in Israel. Failing that, we call for an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Let us begin the New Year in the pursuit of justice.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Best Leader America and Israel Could Buy for the Palestinians

Mahmoud Abbas’ chronic submissiveness

By Amira Hass
In a single phone call to his man in Geneva, Mahmoud Abbas has demonstrated his disregard for popular action, and his lack of faith in its accumulative power and the place of mass movements in processes of change.

For nine months, thousands of people – Palestinians, their supporters abroad and Israeli anti-occupation activists – toiled to ensure that the legacy of Israel’s military offensive against Gaza would not be consigned to the garbage bin of occupying nations obsessed with their feelings of superiority.

Thanks to the Goldstone report, even in Israel voices began to stammer about the need for an independent inquiry into the assault. But shortly after Abbas was visited by the American consul-general on Thursday, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization got on the phone to instruct his representative on the United Nations Human Rights Council to ask his colleagues to postpone the vote on the adoption of the report’s conclusions.

Heavy American pressure and the resumption of peace negotiations were the reasons for Abbas’ move, it was said. Palestinian spokespeople spun various versions over the weekend in an attempt to make the move kosher, explaining that it was not a cancelation but a six-month postponement that Abbas was seeking.

Will the American and European representatives in Geneva support the adoption of the report in six months’ time? Will Israel heed international law in the coming months, stop building in the settlements and announce immediate negotiations on their dismantlement and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the occupied territories? Is this what adoption of the report would have endangered? Of course not.

A great deal of political folly and short-sightedness was bared by that phone call, on the eve of Hamas’s celebration of its victory in securing the release of 20 female prisoners. Precisely on that day, Abbas put Gaza in the headlines within the context of the PLO’s defeatism and of spitting in the face of the victims of the attack – that is how they felt in Gaza and elsewhere.

Abbas confirmed in fact that Hamas is the real national leadership, and gave ammunition to those who claim that its path – the path of armed struggle – yields results that negotiations do not.

This was not an isolated gaffe, but a pattern that has endured since the PLO leadership concocted, together with naive Norwegians and shrewd Israeli lawyers, the Oslo Accords. Disregard for, and lack of interest in the knowledge and experience accumulated in the inhabitants of the occupied territories’ prolonged popular struggle led to the first errors: the absence of an explicit statement that the aim was the establishment of a state within defined borders, not insisting on a construction freeze in the settlements, forgetting about the prisoners, endorsing the Area C arrangement, etc.

The chronic submissiveness is always explained by a desire to “make progress.” But for the PLO and Fatah, progress is the very continued existence of the Palestinian Authority, which is now functioning more than ever before as a subcontractor for the IDF, the Shin Bet security service and the Civil Administration.

This is a leadership that has been convinced that armed struggle – certainly in the face of Israeli military superiority – cannot bring independence. And indeed, the disastrous repercussions of the Second Intifada are proof of this position. This is a leadership that believes in negotiation as a strategic path to obtaining a state and integration in the world that the United States is shaping.

But in such a world there is personal gain that accrues from chronic submissiveness – benefits enjoyed by the leaders and their immediate circles. This personal gain shapes the tactics.

Is the choice really only between negotiations and armed-struggle theater, the way the Palestinian leadership makes it out to be? No.

The true choice is between negotiations as part of a popular struggle anchored in the language of the universal culture of equality and rights, and negotiations between business partners with the junior partner submissively expressing his gratitude to the senior partner for his generosity.