UPDATE: Our other Mohammed cartoons:
A Right to Blasphemy (Feb. 5, 2006)
Western Dhimmitude (Feb. 7, 2006)
Must-See TV (Feb. 9, 2006)
Overboard (Feb. 13, 2006)
Flimflammable (Feb. 16, 2006)
Toonophobia (Feb. 21, 2006)
Life and Limb (Mar. 2, 2006)
From the International Herald Tribune: In Arab countries, rage growing over cartoons .
A long-running controversy over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by a Danish newspaper boiled over in the past few days as a boycott brought sales of some Danish products to a halt in Arab countries across the Middle East, while Danish interests came under attack.
A diverse group of Muslim activists has stirred a consumer uproar in one of Denmark's fastest-growing packaged-foods markets in a case pitting freedom of the press against religious sensitivity, and which is playing out in the arenas of diplomacy and global trade. ...
The controversy has been simmering since September, when the Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad, including one that shows him wearing a turban in the shape of a bomb with a lit fuse. Islam strictly forbids depictions of the prophet.
Flemming Rose, the newspaper's culture editor, said the works were not intended to offend and were in keeping with a tradition of satirical cartoons.
"These were not directed against Muslims, but against people in cultural life in Europe who are submitting themselves to self-censorship when dealing with Islam," he said by telephone Monday.
Muslim groups in Denmark, and then across the Middle East, demanded apologies from the newspaper and the Danish government.
Late Monday, the newspaper issued an apology. "The drawings are not against the Danish law but have indisputably insulted many Muslims, for which we shall apologize," the newspaper's statement said, according to Reuters.
The Danish authorities have expressed regret but have refused to take action. "We have freedom of the press, and the government can't get involved in these kinds of matters," said Bay, the Danish consul. [Emphasis added]
Even Bill Clinton weighed in, calling the cartoons "appalling" and comparing them to anti-Semitism.
Zombie has posted a Mohammed Image Archive.
For a detailed account of the controversy, see Robert Spencer's Thou Shalt Not Draw from December.
As for the Piglet reference: Perils Before Swine.
(Some links found via Little Green Footballs.)
UPDATE I -- Feb. 1: Michelle Malkin has an excellent, up-to-date overview of the Mohammed cartoon issue: Fight the bullies of Islam.
Something very important is happening in Denmark -- a showdown over freedom, tolerance, and their wolfish menaces in religious clothing. So, please, turn off "American Idol," put down the Game Boy for a moment, and pay attention. This does affect you.
-- Face of Muhammed has the original newspaper article (via Thomas Glahn)
-- The Belmont Club: I Am Spartacus
-- More European newspapers are printing the controversial cartoons in a show of solidarity with Denmark, including publications in France, Germany, Spain and Italy (via LGF)
-- And Robert Spencer suggests that if you value your freedom, politely write your local paper and ask them to reprint the cartoons.
UPDATE III: The AP has an overview of the European papers: Papers Republish Controversial Cartoons.
French and German newspapers republished caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday in what they called a defense of freedom of expression, sparking fresh anger from Muslims.
The drawings have divided opinion within Europe and the Middle East since a Danish newspaper first printed them in September. Islamic tradition bars any depiction of the prophet to prevent idolatry. ...
France Soir, which is owned by an Egyptian magnate and has struggled to attract readers, justified its decision.
"The appearance of the 12 drawings in the Danish press provoked emotions in the Muslim world because the representation of Allah and his prophet is forbidden. But because no religious dogma can impose itself on a democratic and secular society, France Soir is publishing the incriminating caricatures," the paper said.
UPDATE IV: Charles Johnson notes that the above link about Spanish and Italian newspapers also mentions that the French editor was fired for publishing the cartoons.
But late on Wednesday its owner, Raymond Lakah, said he had removed managing editor Jacques Lefranc "as a powerful sign of respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual".
Mr Lakah said: "We express our regrets to the Muslim community and all people who were shocked by the publication."
The president of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), Dalil Boubakeur, had described France Soir's publication as an act of "real provocation towards the millions of Muslims living in France".
Other papers stood by their publication. In Berlin, Die Welt argued there was a right to blaspheme in the West, and asked whether Islam was capable of coping with satire.
"The protests from Muslims would be taken more seriously if they were less hypocritical," it wrote in an editorial.
UPDATE V -- Feb. 2: Piglet strikes again.
UPDATE VI: Lots of new information from Michelle Malkin who notes that The New York Sun printed some of the cartoons, as well as a paper in Jordan. Will any other US papers?
The cartoons are not a manifestation of anti-Islamic prejudice: criticism of Muhammad or even of Islam is not equivalent to anti-Semitism. Islam is not a race; the problems with it are not the product of fear mongering and fiction, but of ideology and facts -- facts that have been stressed repeatedly by Muslims around the world, when they commit violence in the name of Islam and justify that violence by its teachings.
UPDATE VII -- Feb. 3: From the Counterterrorism Blog: Fabricated cartoons worsened Danish controversy (via Tom Pechinski).
And Michelle Malkin has more on the latest:
In Their Own Words (must see photos)
The Mohammad Cartoons Blogburst
The State Dept Takes Sides in The Cartoons Wars (it's not the free-speech side)
The Cowardly American Media (Video Added) (CNN not showing the cartoons)
UPDATE VIII: Here is the Wikipedia entry: Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy.
Cuba and the United States are keeping the verbal blows flying in a diplomatic row that communist President Fidel Castro says is aimed at unravelling their limited, tense bilateral ties.
After the United States began scrolling human rights messages last week across the top of the US Interests Section, Castro condemned the "provocation" and organized a march of more than one million people to protest.
The towering red-lettered rolling message scroll on the US Interests Section building displays texts such as quotes from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and sayings by civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.
It also flashes brief news items which US officials say are a bid to subvert strict censorship in Cuba's state media.
Be sure to check out Babalu Blog for the latest on this issue. Here are some of Val Prieto's recent posts:
The News Ticker, Flags and One Pissed Off Dictator (UPDATED
The Great Wall of Havana (Updated)
Because truth cant be refuted (Updated)
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
From CNN: Google to censor itself in China.
Internet search engine Google has rolled out a China-based version of its popular Web site -- one that bows to Beijing's censorship laws and will edit the content of its results.
Google.cn -- the Chinese language version of the search portal -- debuted Wednesday with the company acknowledging the balancing act it was attempting to perform.
"In order to operate from China, we have removed some content from the search results available on Google.cn, in response to local law, regulation or policy," a Google statement said.
"While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission."
Google said it intends to report to users when information is removed from search results. The company says it does the same thing in response to local laws in Germany, France and the United States.
Prior to Wednesday's debut in China, Google operated the Chinese-language version of the search engine through a link on its U.S. Web site, Google.com.
Previously, the Beijing government blocked the results of search requests that violated its regulations. The new Google site will self-censor based on Chinese law.
Little Green Footballs recently posted an example of the results of this self-censorship:
Pajamas Media has extensive coverage of the topic: China Syndrome.
UPDATE -- Jan. 30: Paul Boutin discovers that Google's Chinese filter only works if you spell correctly (via Tom Pechinski).
ďThe elections results amount to a de facto declaration of war by the Palestinian people against the state of Israel. Itís imperative our nation redouble its commitment to the state of Israel and cautiously evaluate any future assistance to a Palestinian regime governed by terrorists,Ē said Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C.
"Hamas is a terrorist organization, which means they believe it is their right to murder women, children and innocent civilians to achieve their goals. It is unrealistic, unwise and even immoral to ask Israel to sit down with a government that contains people who have such beliefs," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.
Hamas' charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and leaders said they had no plans to change it. But the group risks economic devastation resulting
Former President Carter said Thursday the Palestinian elections were "completely honest, completely fair, completely safe and without violence."
Carter, who led an international observer team from the National Democratic Institute, also said he hoped that the Hamas Islamic group would act responsibly now that it appears to have been elected to power in Palestinian elections.
"My hope is that as Hamas assumes a major role in the next government, whatever that might be, it will take a position on international standards of responsibility," he told a news conference in Jerusalem.
Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu told the Likud faction in the Knesset Thursday, "Before our very eyes, Hamastan has been established, the step-child of Iran and the Taliban. It's in firing range of our airport, our highways and cities. This has to be a day of soul searching because the writing was on the wall. The policy of giving land for free gave a prize to terror and a winning card for Hamas.
UPDATE II -- Jan. 28: From CNN: Hamas leader: 'Palestinian army' possible.
A leader of the militant group Hamas promised reforms and indicated the possibility of a Palestinian army in the wake of the historic elections that swept his party into power this week.
The comments by Khaled Mashaal, based in Damascus, Syria, come after Israeli and U.S. leaders indicated that little progress was possible unless Hamas denounces violence and disarms.
Mashaal said Hamas will not consider disarming, but would instead form an army to defend the Palestinian people
"If you do not like our militancy, we are ready to unify the Palestinian arms ... and create an army, just like any other country," Mashaal said.
UPDATE III -- Feb. 2: This is just sickening. From CNN: Jimmy Carter: Give Hamas a chance.
Hamas deserves to be recognized by the international community, and despite the group's militant history, there is a chance the soon-to-be Palestinian leaders could turn away from violence, former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday.
Carter, who monitored last week's Palestinian elections in which Hamas handily toppled the ruling Fatah, added that the United States should not cut off aid to the Palestinian people, but rather funnel it through third parties like the U.N.
The 2005 Jewish & Israeli Blog Awards are in the final round. Cox & Forkum is up against some heavy-hitters in two categories:
Thanks to everyone who has been voting for us.
The cartoon below is from a year ago but seems more relevant today with this news: The terrorist group Hamas vowed not to disarm or negotiate with the Jewish state if it enters the Palestinian parliament after the election.
Prime Minister-elect Stephen Harper pledged to carry out his campaign promises quickly to cut taxes, get tough on crime and repair strained ties with Washington after his Conservative Party won national elections in Canada.
That may be easier said than done. The Conservatives' winning margin was too narrow to rule with a majority, a situation that will make it hard for them to get legislation through the divided House of Commons.
Monday's vote showed that Canadians are weary of the Liberal Party's broken promises and corruption scandals. They were willing to give Harper a chance to govern despite concerns that some of his social views are extreme.
This cartoon is kind of a follow up to this cartoon: Ditched.
From CNN: Kerry assails 'incompetent' White House.
Sen. John Kerry took up top GOP political strategist Karl Rove's call to make national security a central issue in the 2006 midterm elections, vowing Sunday, "I want to have that debate every single day."
The Massachusetts Democrat, who lost to Bush in the 2004 presidential election, argued Republicans are vulnerable to a Democratic resurgence in Congress, partly because Hurricane Katrina "stripped away the veneer of competence" of the Bush administration.
Kerry's comments to ABC's "This Week" came two days after Rove -- whom President Bush called the "architect" of his 2004 victory -- told a group of fellow Republicans that Democrats are "wrong" on national security.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
From AFP: UN nuclear agency still divided over Iran.
Europe and the United States are struggling to get Russia and China on board to crack down on Iran at a UN meeting next month over a nuclear program the West fears hides secret atomic weapons work, diplomats have told AFP.
While some move by the International Atomic Energy Agency seems certain when the UN watchdog agency meets here February 2, it remains unclear how much of a deadline it will be for Iran.
A diplomat close to the IAEA said key Iranian trade partner Russia wanted to split the action into two parts, "with a nominal referral in February but giving Iran one month to deliver on demands to suspend nuclear fuel work and to cooperate" with IAEA inspections.
The IAEA is to hold another meeting, a regularly scheduled one, on March 6.
A Western diplomat said European Union negotiators Britain, France and Germany as well as the United States "rejected this idea outright," even if other diplomats said a compromise in the Russian direction was possible.
"The United States doesn't want to wait anymore," said a non-aligned diplomat.
The EU negotiating trio and the United States, "are trying to sell" China and Russia on a tough resolution at the IAEA board of governors meeting to send Iran before the Security Council for possible sanctions, said a second Western diplomat, who like others interviewed asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
China, a major recipient of Iranian oil, and Russia want to give diplomacy more time in a crisis which escalated when Tehran earlier this month announced it was resuming nuclear fuel work that can also make atom bomb material.
"The Russians need cooperation with Iran to deal with their soft underbelly," non-proliferation expert Gary Samore said Sunday about the Muslim states of central Asia.
IAEA director Mohamed ElBardei has already given Iran until March to comply with a report on its cooperation that he is to file at the board meeting that month, diplomats said.
Part II of our Shire Network News podcast interview is now online. Host Tom Paine elicits such topics as Iraqi mass graves, leftist cartoonists, "talking heads," and which of our own cartoons are our favorites (see them here and here). Be sure to check out John's caricature of Tom at the link above. (For Part I of the interview click here.)
From FoxNews: Germany: Diplomacy Can Solve Iran Crisis.
Germany's foreign minister said in comments broadcast Thursday that European efforts to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council did not mean abandoning attempts to reach a diplomatic solution.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator, meanwhile, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that his country is ready to compromise with the West over its nuclear program. ...
Europe, backed by the United States, on Wednesday rejected Iran's request for talks, raising international pressure on Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment. ...
The quick dismissal of Iran's request for a ministerial-level meeting with French, British and German negotiators focused attention on the next step: the U.S. and European push to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose economic and political sanctions.
Russia and China, which have veto power on the council, appeared to remain the greatest obstacles. Both nations are opposed to sanctioning a country with which they have strong economic and strategic ties. In recent days, they have expressed reluctance even to the idea of referral.
Even if there were consensus on sanctions, the five permanent Security Council members would be faced with a dilemma. Placing an embargo on Iran's oil exports would hurt Tehran, which earns most of its revenues from energy sales, but also roil world crude markets, spiking prices upward. [Emphasis added]
This is a recent cover we designed and illustrated for The Intellectual Activist magazine. The cover story was partly based on the widely circulated editorial by Robert Tracinski, An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State .
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin met with President Bush recently, so the cover seemed timely. From KATC: Nagin: Bush focused on promise to rebuild.
Nagin says Bush was disappointed that Congress reallocated about one-point-four (b) billion in proposed levee money for other Katrina projects. But the president promised to push to get the money back.
And from The Times-Picayune: Nagin backpedals, apologizes; Katrina's wrath not God's will, he says.
Faced with howls of protest, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin apologized Tuesday for claiming that a vengeful God smote New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina because of heavenly disapproval of America's involvement in Iraq and of rampant violence within urban black communities.
Nagin also offered a less sweeping apology for his remarks about the city's future demographics in the aftermath of the storm and subsequent catastrophic flood. His comments came in a speech, delivered on Martin Luther King Day with City Hall as a backdrop, in which the mayor said God intended New Orleans to rise again as a "chocolate city," which he defined as a "black-majority city."
From The New York Sun: Senator Likens House to Slavery, Drawing Rebukes From Some.
Martin Luther King Jr. fought four decades ago to free black Americans from the legacy of slavery. Yesterday, Senator Clinton compared the Republican leadership of the current House of Representatives to the very idea the civil rights leader dedicated his life to fighting.
"When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run - it has been run like a plantation," she said. "You know what I'm talking about."
Mrs. Clinton, who was addressing a packed house at the Reverend Al Sharpton's annual Martin Luther King Day event at Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem, continued: "It has been run in a way so that nobody with a contrary point of view has had a chance to present legislation, to make an argument, to be heard. The Senate's not that bad, but it's been difficult. It's been difficult."
Later in the afternoon, Mrs. Clinton's press secretary, Philippe Reines, declined to comment on the senator's allusion to slavery, but he said she was simply discussing "a top-down system that is fundamentally at odds with how the people's House should operate."
Mrs. Clinton's reference to one of the darkest periods of American history drew applause, but some national political observers said yesterday that they doubt the comparison of mainstream politicians to slave owners will help the senator win broad-based support as she tests the political waters for a possible presidential campaign.
"The use of the term plantation is foolish, and my guess is that she will live to regret this," a University of Virginia political analyst, Larry Sabato, said. "She's playing the race card."
UPDATE I: Michelle Malkin has an extensive round-up of links on the topic.
UPDATE II: From CNN: Clinton's 'plantation' remark draws fire.
"It's definitely using the race card. It definitely has racist connotations. She knows it," [New York, Rep. Peter ] King said. "She knew the audience. She knew what she was trying to say, and it was wrong. And she should be ashamed."
However, the host of the event where Clinton made her remarks Monday, activist Al Sharpton, disagreed with the criticism.
"I absolutely defend her saying it because I said it through the '04 elections," he said.
UPDATE III -- Jan. 18: Michelle Malkin has still more.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday in Moscow, the latest stop on her tour of several world capitals.† The two pledged to work together on various issues, amid signs her relationship with the Russian leader will not be as close as the one that Mr. Putin had with her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder.
Angela Merkel arrived in Moscow saying she wanted to preserve the "strategic partnership" that Germany has developed with Russia in recent years.
The two leaders spent several hours together in the Kremlin discussing a range of issues, most importantly how to deal with Iran's nuclear program.† U.S. and European officials say Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies.
Western countries have moved a step closer to referring Iran to the United Nations Security Council after Tehran resumed work on its nuclear program last week.
Russia has opposed such a move, in part because it has long supplied Iran with nuclear technology that both countries say is only for peaceful purposes.
President Putin told Chancellor Merkel there is still time to reach a compromise with Iran.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
From FoxNews: Pakistanis Protest U.S. Airstrike.
Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader was invited to dinner marking an Islamic holiday at the Pakistani border village struck by a purported CIA airstrike, but he did not show up, intelligence officials said Sunday, as Islamic groups demonstrated across the country in protest of the 17 people killed in the missile strike.
The two Pakistani officials told The Associated Press that this could explain why Friday's predawn attack missed its apparent target, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Usama bin Laden's top lieutenant.
Al-Zawahiri sent some aides to the dinner instead and investigators were trying to determine whether they had been in any of the three houses that were destroyed in the missile strike that killed at least 17 people, one of the officials said.
The new details emerged as Islamic groups held nationwide protests and anger mounted over the attack that Pakistan says killed innocent civilians while al-Zawahiri as not even there. ...
In a speech shown Sunday on state-run Pakistan Television, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf did not address the Damadola strike directly, but he warned his countrymen not to harbor militants, saying it would only increase violence inside Pakistan.
"If we keep sheltering foreign terrorists here ... our future will not be good. Remember what I say," Musharraf said in the speech, which was made Saturday in the northwestern town of Sawabi.
Survivors in Damadola denied militants were there, but some news reports quoted unidentified Pakistani officials as saying up to 11 extremists were believed among the dead.
UPDATE -- Jan. 17: From CNN: Source: Egyptians killed in strike; Clerics 'had invited 10 to 12 foreign militants to dinner'.
Some of the foreigners killed in last Friday's U.S. airstrike in the remote Pakistani village of Damadola were of Egyptian origin, according to a knowledgeable source.
U.S. officials have said "very solid" intelligence indicated that senior al Qaeda members were expected to attend a dinner celebrating the end of the Muslim holiday of Eid and that Osama Bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, could very well be among them.
Although these officials believe a number of "significant" al Qaeda figures were killed in the attack, there is no evidence so far that al-Zawahiri was among them. Pakistani officials have said he apparently was not there.
Posted by Forkum at 03:58 PM
John and I are interviewed in the latest Shire Network News podcast, which is hosted by Australian-based New Zealander Tom Paine of Silent Running. We thoroughly enjoyed our conversation with Tom, which covered topics ranging from the rarity of right-leaning editorial cartoonists to John's love of crazy donkeys. In fact, we went on for so long he'll be posting the second part of the interview next week. The radio-show-like podcast regularly features biting, insightful (and occasionally R-rated) commentary from Tom and other bloggers such as Laurence Simon.
From FoxNews: Dems Slam Alito's Alumni Group.
In one of several interrogations on Wednesday, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., demanded to know if Alito had read a 1983 essay stating: "People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns, blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic. The physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports. And homosexuals are demanding the government vouchsafe them the right to bear children."
The essay, entitled "In Defense of Elitism," was printed in Prospect, a magazine published by a now-defunct alumni organization to which Alito wrote he had once belonged. ...
Alito denied to the senators that he knew anything about the "anti-women and anti-black" leanings of CAP's leadership and denounced such thinking.
"I disavow them. I deplore them. They represent things that I have always stood against and I can't express too strongly," Alito responded to questioning.
"I disagree with all of that. I would never endorse it. I never have endorsed it. Had I thought that that's what this organization stood for I would never associate myself with it in any way," Alito told Kennedy after the senator read aloud excerpts from the 1983 essay, further defending himself by reminding Kennedy of his humble background as the son of immigrants.
He added that he purposely avoided affiliation with Princeton's infamous "eating clubs," which have an elitist reputation and did not admit women during Alito's undergraduate years.
From FoxNews: Off Hot Seat, Alito Cools His Jets.
The Right Place notes that Sen. Kennedy was quoting a satire piece when criticizing Judge Alito.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy belongs to a social club for Harvard students and alumni that was evicted from campus nearly 20 years ago after refusing to allow female members.
According to the online membership directory of the Owl Club, the Massachusetts Democrat updated his personal information -- including the address of his home, which is in his wife's name -- on Sept. 7.
The club has long been reviled on campus as "sexist" and "elitist" and, in 1984, was booted from the university for violating federal anti-discrimination laws, authored by Mr. Kennedy.
UPDATE III -- Jan. 17: You can't make this stuff up. From AP: Kennedy Severs Ties to Harvard Club.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, who criticized Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito's past membership in a controversial Princeton University alumni club, severed his ties Tuesday with a former Harvard college social club that bans women members.
In the first round of voting, which ends Jan. 19th, we are nominated for the Best Jewish Humor Blog -- click here to vote and please vote no more than once every three days as the rules specify. Some of the humor blogs we frequent are also in the running, so be sure to visit: The Dry Bones Blog, This Blog is Full of Crap, Aaron's cc and Protein Wisdom.
We are also a nominee in the Best Overall Blog category, but voting does not begin until Jan. 24th during the second round.
Our thanks to the JIB Awards organizers, to those who nominated us, and to everyone who has voted for us. We're honored to be in such good company.
Below one of our Israel-related cartoon (from November):
Charles Johnson and the readers of his blog, Little Green Footballs, have chosen a winner for the 2005 Robert Fisk Idiotarian of the Year Award. For the fourth straight year, we've drawn the winner, and you can see the full illustration here: The Envelope, Please...
In the presence of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, Iran on Tuesday unsealed uranium enrichment equipment that the U.N. agency had blocked from use because the Islamic republic was in violation of nuclear non-proliferation rules.
The return to its nuclear program at the plant in Natanz angered U.S. and European officials who say Iran is resuming nuclear research that they believe is part of an effort to build nuclear weapons.
Iran's move is a "serious escalation" of its nuclear standoff with the West, and if it continues to defy world opinion, the U.N. Security Council will have no choice but to impose sanctions, said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. ...
Elsewhere in Washington on Tuesday, analysts following Iran's nuclear weapons intentions contended that Tehran never observed a "freeze" in its effort to gain a nuclear bomb and that Tuesday's move will put it even closer to its goal than previously known.
Strategic Policy Consulting chief Alireza Jafarzadeh, a FOX News contributor, alleged that Iran has manufactured as many as 5,000 centrifuges during the two-year timeframe that it claimed its activity was suspended. Jafarzadeh, an Iranian opposition activist who was responsible for exposing the Natanz facility in 2002, said he believes Tehran had pre-positioned these centrifuges for installation at Natanz before the "official" restart announced Tuesday and thus is much closer to weapons production than previously believed.
If Iran chooses to install these centrifuges, "it would put Iran only months away from having a nuclear bomb," he told a news conference held by the Iran Policy Committee. ...
The U.N.'s top nuclear watchdog at the IAEA told Sky News last week that he is losing his patience with Iran. Mohamed ElBaradei makes his next report in March, and administration officials say by that time it will be clear if Russia and China will support sanctions. [Emphasis added]
And Laurence Simon notes that the setting of the cartoon should have been Israel.
Thus, even as Iran announced plans to break the IAEA seals on the centrifuges of its Natanz uranium enrichment facility, Austrian Chancellor (and temporary president of the European Union) Wolfgang SchŁssel warned that it would be premature to discuss sanctions. Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, added that "every effort must be made to convince the Iranians to return to the previous situation, to negotiations." Mr. Solana's idea of getting tough with the Iranians is apparently to beg them to show up for lunch. ...
Even Mr. Steinmeier's suggestion that Iran has violated the Paris Accord falls short. The IAEA resolution that formalized that agreement stated explicitly that Iran's decision to suspend nuclear activities was a "voluntary," "confidence-building" and "non-legally binding" measure. Put another way, the standards to which the Europeans have so far held Iran are so weak that Iran cannot even be fairly accused of violating them.
All this time the Bush Administration has played a conspicuously low-key role, noting Iran's repeated violations of its nuclear nonproliferation obligations while voting with the majority in IAEA resolutions. "You've got the lead," Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told the German newsweekly Der Spiegel last fall, referring to the E3. "Well, lead!" Whatever else one might say about this U.S. deference to Europe, the Administration can hardly be accused of bullying its way to some preferred "neo-con" solution, as it was accused in the run-up to the Iraq War.
From The Los Angeles Times: Evangelical Leaders Criticize Pat Robertson.
Evangelical leaders said Friday that they were embarrassed and incensed by televangelist Pat Robertson's assertion that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who had suffered a massive stroke, was stricken by God as punishment for ceding the Gaza Strip and a portion of the West Bank to Palestinians last summer.
Officials of conservative Christian churches and organizations suggested that Robertson was losing religious and political influence as a result of his remarks on Sharon and other recent controversial comments.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
From AP: DeLay Gives Up Bid to Reclaim House Post.
Rep. Tom DeLay, the defiant face of a conservative revolution in Congress, stepped down as House majority leader on Saturday under pressure from Republicans staggered by an election-year corruption scandal.
From AP: White House Criticizes Pat Robertson.
The White House sharply criticized Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson on Friday for suggesting that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke was divine punishment for "dividing God's land."
From The New Zealand Herald: Bear hug squeezes nerves of European neighbours.
A fight over natural gas prices between Russia and Ukraine has given the European Union a rude New Year's warning about energy dependency and opened up worrying questions about its relationship with Moscow. ... The dispute seemed to have been settled, thanks to a complex deal by which Ukraine will pay more for its imports of Russian gas but not the immediate quadrupling that Moscow had demanded.
That demand was widely seen by analysts as a punishment after the Ukrainian people swept aside the country's pro-Russian leadership and installed a Western-leaning president, Viktor Yushchenko, in the 2004 "Orange Revolution."
Mingled with relief in European capitals at the resolution of this crisis is the shuddering realisation that, little by little, Europe has allowed itself to become dependent on an authoritarian country, creating a "Saudi-style" relationship in which shortcomings on democracy and human rights are overlooked in exchange for vital energy supplies. ...
Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung warned: "Today Ukraine is the victim, but no one can say that it will not also spread to Western Europe." ...
The French conservative daily Le Figaro blasted the EU for "handling Moscow with kid gloves, in the anxiety of preserving its strategic partnership with its main energy supplier."
"The Russians have acted in a very brutal manner, obviously not caring about or underestimating the impact on their image as chair of the G8," said French analyst Arnaud Dubien of the Institute for International and Strategic Relations in Paris, referring to the Group of Eight presidency that Russian assumed at the start of the year.
"For them, there's nothing shocking about what they did, which says a lot about the way they see things." ...
On present trends, imports will account for 70 per cent of EU gas supplies by 2020 -- and Russia, through its state monopoly, Gazprom, which controls a third of global reserves, is likely to be the key provider.
From the Investor's Business Daily editorial page: Putin's Pipe Dream.
The temporary cutoff of gas to Ukraine by Putin's Russia is just the latest proof that the days of the czars and Russia's imperial ambitions may not be over. There's still a bear in the woods.
Earlier this year, former KGB Col. Vladimir Putin addressed the Russian parliament and told the captive (no pun intended) audience that the "demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest political catastrophe of the century." If he has a favorite song, it must be "Those Were the Days." ...
"This year Russia has become a different country," said Putin's top economic adviser, Andrei Illarionov, before he resigned late last month. "It is no longer a democratic country. It is no longer a free country."
From AP via The News Tribure: Boliviaís president-elect denounces free markets.
Bolivian President-elect Evo Morales, fresh from a visit with Fidel Castro, launched a world tour Tuesday by joining with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez in a denunciation of free-market economics -- a sign of the growing relationship among the three leftist leaders.
Notably, the tour includes stops in Spain, France, Belgium, South Africa, China and Brazil -- but not Washington. Moralesí spokesman says he was not invited.
Morales said he and Chavez were uniting in a "fight against neoliberalism and imperialism."
From AP via Forbes: Morales Aligns Himself With Castro, Chavez.
Chavez said the two leaders would discuss the nationalization of Bolivia's oil and gas resources -- a campaign issue for Morales. Morales has said the country's natural gas reserves have been "looted," current contracts must be re-negotiated and national resources placed under state ownership. He also has said he would not take over foreign oil and gas companies operating in Bolivia. ...
Morales, who vowed during his campaign to be Washington's "nightmare," is willing to visit the U.S. but hasn't been invited, his spokesman, Alex Contreras, said.
To see more Newsmaker Caricatures by John Cox, click here.
UPDATE -- Jan. 12: Iran Press News e-mailed a translation of an Iranian news agency article stating that Evo Morales plans to visit Iran.
FARS, the regime-run news agency reports that the president-elect of Bolivia, Evo Morales, plans to continue his trip around the world by visiting several other countries such as the Islamic Republic of Iran. On Wednesday, Carlos Villegas, an economic adviser to Morales, in an interview in Beijing said: "The president-elect of Bolivia has decided to also visit India and Iran in order to further strengthen present ties."
In response to a question regarding the possible reaction of Washington to Morales' trip to Tehran, Villegas said: "The Bolivian government has been democratically elected and makes its decisions based on its specific and individual aims and not for the pleasure of other countries."
Morales who will officially be inaugurated on January 22nd began his trip on Tuesday, January 3rd and has so far traveled to Venezuela, Spain, Belgium, Holland, France and China.
Republican Senator Mitch McConnell agrees with President Bush that whoever leaked the details about a domestic spying program has "breached our national security and endangered Americans." And he says the Justice Department should "go after" that person.
But Democrat Charles Schumer says the leaker could just be a "whistleblower" trying to expose illegal activity.
Schumer tells "Fox News Sunday" that "there are differences between felons and whistleblowers."
The Justice Department is looking into how The New York Times found out about President Bush's secret program of surveillance, inside the U-S, done without warrants. Bush defends the program as part of the fight against terrorism, and says it will continue.
If [NYT reporter James] Risen's good leak/ bad leak spin sounds familiar, that's because Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was plying it this weekend on Fox News Sunday. Asked about the Justice Department criminal investigation into the NYT/NSA leaks, Schumer sputtered: "There are differences between felons and whistleblowers, and we ought to wait until the investigation occurs to decide what happened."
Schumer, as I've noted previously, has some nerve pontificating about secrets and disclosures. Guess he puts his former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee staffers, Katie Barge and Lauren Weiner, in the noble "whistleblower" category. (I checked with the US Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C., last week, by the way, and the investigation into Barge and Weiner's involvement in illegally obtaining a credit report on Maryland's lieutenant governor Michael S. Steele is still ongoing.)
Contrary to the one-armed Democrat plumbers' wishes, you can't just selectively plug the leaks you don't like and let the other half flood freely. The law regarding disclosures of classified information does not grant an exception based on leakers' motives. See U.S. Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 37, Section 798. Nope, no Bush Derangement Syndrome exemptions there.
This cartoon was originally posted in April 2005.
From FoxNews: Abbas Warns of Possible Election Delay.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Monday he will delay Jan. 25 parliamentary elections if Israel bars Jerusalem Arabs from voting, the first time he has indicated he would postpone the balloting.
Senior members of the ruling Fatah party had urged Abbas to delay the elections, reflecting growing fears that the Islamic group Hamas will deal the movement a stinging blow in the polls. ...
Israeli officials say no decision has been made about whether to allow Jerusalem's 200,000 Palestinians take part in the election.
In the past, they voted in a virtual absentee ballot system, because Israel says interim peace accords ban such political activity in Jerusalem.
A new factor is the participation of Hamas for the first time. Israel objects, noting Hamas responsibility for dozens of deadly suicide bombings and its charter calling for Israel's destruction.
Israeli officials say they oppose allowing voting in Jerusalem, which would appear as a step to legitimize Hamas. However, they also don't want to be blamed for sabotaging the election and are looking for a compromise.
Talk of a delay come amid a rash of chaos in the Gaza Strip, including a brief armed takeover of several government buildings Monday. The violence has threatened to weaken Abbas and benefit Hamas, which is running on a campaign pledging clean government and law and order. Abbas is on a tour of Gulf Arab countries. ...
In new violence, about 200 Palestinian police, shooting into the air, briefly took over several government buildings Monday in Gaza to protest the Palestinian Authority's failure to impose law and order.
Police have been powerless to halt the violence that has gripped Gaza since Israel withdrew from the area in September. Last week, an officer was killed in a shootout between two rival families.
From Houston Chronicle: Pivotal Year Ahead in Iraq.
Preliminary election results showed religious Shiite factions were taking most of the votes but would probably have to form a governing coalition with the Kurds in the north and other groups. Whether the minority Sunnis -- whose members dominated Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule and joined the anti-U.S. insurgency -- will feel they have a stake in the new Iraq remains to be seen. ...
The political rhetoric in Washington from such Democrats as Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania to pull most U.S. troops out of Iraq by the middle of 2006 seemed to cool in the days after Iraq's election. ...
"A quick pullout would leave a vacuum that Iran would be all too happy to fill," said James Phillips, a Middle East expert with the Heritage Foundation. "The Iraqis who are supporting a democratic government would be completely demoralized. It could lead to a very quick unraveling of national cohesion."
The likely result of a swift U.S. departure would be a Kurdish ministate in northern Iraq, a Shiite theocracy in the south and anarchy in the so-called Sunni triangle around Baghdad, analysts said.
From Strategy Page: It's All About the Shia, Stupid!.
Within Iraq, there are many Shia factions. The more determined ones (and there are more than one) are willing to use terror and violence to establish a religious dictatorship in Iraq. But they are only factions (mainly the Badr and Sadr groups). Iraq, as a whole, is not tolerant of more dictatorship. Iraqis have seen what a religious dictatorship has done to Iran, donít want Iranians telling them what to do, and donít want another Sunni Arab dictator either.
Establishing a working democracy in Iraq is a messy business. There are many factions, and some of them are willing to terrorize and kill to get their way. Americans have a hard time accepting that sort of behavior as normal, but itís normal in Iraq.
From The Charleston (WV) Gazette: Danger: Balkanizing Iraq.
After Shiite religious parties swept the recent parliamentary election in Iraq, crushing secular candidates backed by Washington, several observers warned that the shattered nation may sink into civil war between minority Sunni Muslims, majority Shiite Muslims and Kurds. ...
Perhaps these alarms are exaggerated. We certainly hope so. The entire world is hoping that a workable democracy can grow in Iraq. It will be supremely tragic if President Bush's invasion merely replaced a cruel dictator with a cruel theocracy -- or, worse, loosed religio-ethnic groups to fight each other savagely.