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By Edward Cody
PARIS, Sept. 24 — An Iranian exile group said Thursday that it has identified two previously unknown sites in and near Tehran where it says Iranian scientists are researching and trying to manufacture detonators for nuclear weapons.
The allegation, from the Paris-based Mujaheddin-e Khalq, or MEK, was designed to reinforce the exiles’ long-standing contention that the Iranian government, despite repeated denials, has an active program to develop a nuclear arsenal under the aegis of the Defense Ministry and the Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The announcement was timed to coincide with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s appearance at the U.N. General Assembly and with intensified pressure from the United States and other major powers for Iran to allow full inspection of its nuclear-related facilities by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
There was no way to confirm the authenticity of Thursday’s allegation. But previous MEK information has given Western intelligence agencies tips about some Iranian nuclear activities or provided details about research sites.
Mehdi Abrishamchi, an MEK activist, said that as far as he knew, no Western governments were aware of the existence of the two sites.
As did Ahmadinejad in interviews Wednesday, Iran repeatedly has denied a desire to acquire nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is for peaceful energy use. According to statements from Iranian officials, activities connected to making nuclear weapons were halted several years ago.
But Abrishamchi said the two sites house programs designed to research and produce high-explosive detonators for atomic bombs.
The information came from “dozens of sources at different levels of the Iranian regime’s various organs” and was cross-checked with dozens more, he said in a statement.
Abrishamchi, a senior member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an MEK-run umbrella group, said the two sites were part of a complex known as METFAZ — the Farsi acronym for Research Center for Explosion and Impact — that apparently has been in operation for several years under the command of the Defense Ministry.
The first site, a research and administrative facility in eastern Tehran, was bought by the Defense Ministry under the name of Massoud Sadighi Divani, a senior ministry official, Abrishamchi said. Inside, scientists carry out computer simulations and other experiments to reach an effective design for high-explosive impact and penetration devices that could serve to detonate a nuclear weapon, he said.
The second site, about 20 miles to the east, is used to manufacture parts needed to construct the detonators, he said. Lying within a military zone with restricted access, it is surrounded by high concrete walls and includes tunnels dug into a nearby hill, he added.
Abrishamchi said the two sites basically continue work that was being done at Shian, a facility that was razed by Iranian authorities after being denounced by the MEK in 2003. He called on the International Atomic Energy Agency to try to inspect the sites as quickly as possible.
Biblical patriarch ID’d in hieroglyphs, depiction of cow linked to pharoah’s dream
Egyptian coins carrying the name of Joseph, the biblical patriarch whose arrival in Egypt as a slave eventually provided salvation for his family during decades of drought across the Middle East, have been discovered in a cache of antique items shelved in boxes in a museum, according to a new report.
The report from the Middle East Media Research Institute said the coins with Joseph’s name and image were found in a pile of unsorted artifacts that had been stored at the Museum of Egypt.
The newspaper said the discovery countered claims by some historians that coins were not used for trade in Egypt at the time the Bible records Joseph and the Jews migrated there.
Those historians have argued that trade was done by barter.
But researchers told the newspaper the minting dates of the coins in the cache have been matched to the period in which Joseph was recorded to be in Egypt.
“A thorough examination revealed that the coins bore the year in which they were minted and their value, or effigies of the pharaohs [who ruled] at the time of their minting. Some of the coins are from the time when Joseph lived in Egypt, and bear his name and portrait,” said the newspaper report.
The report carried an explanation of the discovery by a team involving researcher Sa’id Muhammad Thabet:
“Studies by Dr. Thabet’s team have revealed that what most archeologists took for a kind of charm, and others took for an ornament or adornment, is actually a coin. Several [facts led them to this conclusion]: first, [the fact that] many such coins have been found at various [archeological sites], and also [the fact that] they are round or oval in shape, and have two faces: one with an inscription, called the inscribed face, and one with an image, called the engraved face – just like the coins we use today,” said the report.
The newspaper called the find “unprecedented” and said, “The researchers discovered the coins when they sifted through thousands of small archeological artifacts stored in [the vaults of] the Museum of Egypt.”
The Egyptian newspaper noted that the Quran indicates clearly “that coins were used in Egypt in the time of Joseph.”
The report continued, “Research team head Dr. Sa’id Muhammad Thabet said that during his archeological research on the Prophet Joseph, he had discovered in the vaults of the [Egyptian] Antiquities Authority and of the National Museum many charms from various eras before and after the period of Joseph, including one that bore his effigy as the minister of the treasury in the Egyptian pharaoh’s court…”
The report continued, “According to Dr. Thabet, his studies are based on publications about the Third Dynasty, one of which states that the Egyptian coin of the time was called a deben and was worth one-fourth of a gram of gold. This coin is mentioned in a letter by a man named Thot-Nehet, a royal inspector of the Nile bridges. In letters to his son, he mentioned leasing lands in return for deben-coins and agricultural produce.”
The report explained that other texts from the Third, Sixth and Twelfth Dynasties also talk about coins.
“The archeological finding is also based on the fact that the inscribed face bore the name of Egypt, a date, and a value, while the engraved face bore the name and image of one of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs or gods, or else a symbol connected with these. Another telling fact is that the coins come in different sizes and are made of different materials, including ivory, precious stones, copper, silver, gold, etc.” the newspaper reported.
The museum research uncovered 500 of the coins “carelessly” stored in boxes.
One even had the image of a cow “symbolizing Pharaoh‘s dream about the seven fat cows and seven lean cows, and the seven green stalks of grain and seven dry talks of grain,” the report said.
“Joseph’s name appears twice on this coin, written in hieroglyphs: once the original name, Joseph, and once his Egyptian name, Saba Sabani, which was given to him by Pharaoh when he became treasurer. There is also an image of Joseph, who was part of the Egyptian administration at the time,” the report said.
ICE is expanding in much of Antarctica, contrary to the widespread public belief that global warming is melting the continental ice cap.
The results of ice-core drilling and sea ice monitoring indicate there is no large-scale melting of ice over most of Antarctica, although experts are concerned at ice losses on the continent’s western coast.
Antarctica has 90 per cent of the Earth’s ice and 80 per cent of its fresh water, The Australian reports. Extensive melting of Antarctic ice sheets would be required to raise sea levels substantially, and ice is melting in parts of west Antarctica. The destabilisation of the Wilkins ice shelf generated international headlines this month.
However, the picture is very different in east Antarctica, which includes the territory claimed by Australia.
East Antarctica is four times the size of west Antarctica and parts of it are cooling. The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report prepared for last week’s meeting of Antarctic Treaty nations in Washington noted the South Pole had shown “significant cooling in recent decades”.
Australian Antarctic Division glaciology program head Ian Allison said sea ice losses in west Antarctica over the past 30 years had been more than offset by increases in the Ross Sea region, just one sector of east Antarctica.
“Sea ice conditions have remained stable in Antarctica generally,” Dr Allison said.
The melting of sea ice – fast ice and pack ice – does not cause sea levels to rise because the ice is in the water. Sea levels may rise with losses from freshwater ice sheets on the polar caps. In Antarctica, these losses are in the form of icebergs calved from ice shelves formed by glacial movements on the mainland.
Last week, federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett said experts predicted sea level rises of up to 6m from Antarctic melting by 2100, but the worst case scenario foreshadowed by the SCAR report was a 1.25m rise.
Mr Garrett insisted global warming was causing ice losses throughout Antarctica. “I don’t think there’s any doubt it is contributing to what we’ve seen both on the Wilkins shelf and more generally in Antarctica,” he said.
Dr Allison said there was not any evidence of significant change in the mass of ice shelves in east Antarctica nor any indication that its ice cap was melting. “The only significant calvings in Antarctica have been in the west,” he said. And he cautioned that calvings of the magnitude seen recently in west Antarctica might not be unusual.
“Ice shelves in general have episodic carvings and there can be large icebergs breaking off – I’m talking 100km or 200km long – every 10 or 20 or 50 years.”
Ice core drilling in the fast ice off Australia’s Davis Station in East Antarctica by the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Co-Operative Research Centre shows that last year, the ice had a maximum thickness of 1.89m, its densest in 10 years. The average thickness of the ice at Davis since the 1950s is 1.67m.
A paper to be published soon by the British Antarctic Survey in the journal Geophysical Research Letters is expected to confirm that over the past 30 years, the area of sea ice around the continent has expanded.
By Mayra Cuevas-Nazario
For nearly 20 years Jennifer Schuett has held onto every memory of the night she was abducted from her bedroom, raped and left for dead.
Investigators were never able to identify a suspect, but new DNA testing may change that.
CNN normally does not identify victims of sexual assaults. But Schuett wants to go public with her story– and her name– to increase the chances of finding and prosecuting her attacker.
“It’s not about me anymore,” she explained. “It’s about all the little girls that go to sleep at night. I know there are so many girls out there who have been raped and hurt. You have to fight back.”
For that, Schuett, 27, is relying on her voice, her memory and advances in DNA testing.
“I remember everything; I’ve always wanted to remember everything, so I can find the person that did this,” Schuett told CNN during a phone interview. “If I had blocked this out of my memory, the investigation wouldn’t have come this far. I’m a fighter.”
Schuett says she was alone in her bed when a man came creeping in through the window. She remembers waking up in a stranger’s arms as he carried her across a dark parking lot.
“When I opened my eyes, his face was the first thing I saw and he covered my face and mouth,” she said. “He ran with me to his car. He told me he was an undercover cop and that he knew my family. He seemed calm — not nervous, not aggressive.”
After they left the parking lot, he drove her through the streets of Dickinson, Texas, pulling into a mechanic shop next to her elementary school.
“Watch the moon. The moon will change colors and that is when your mom will come to get you,” she recalled him saying. “Oh, it looks like she is not coming.”
Schuett said he drove her to an overgrown field next to the school and raped her.
“He had a knife to my throat and touched my face and offered me Reese’s pieces,” she said. “I was scared but I knew I couldn’t be fast enough to get away. Cars would drive by but I couldn’t get away to get help.”
Craters may hold evidence of Earth‘s history, and frozen ices at their floors could be valuable resources for lunar explorers.
There, 239,000 miles away in the permanently shadowed crater floors, “daytime” temperatures never rise above minus 396.67 degrees Fahrenheit, according to preliminary results from NASA‘s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
That’s potentially good news for human lunar exploration efforts.
Ices of water, methane, or ammonia from ancient comet collisions would be well-preserved at the bottom of these lunar freezers. Such ices could be valuable resources that human lunar explorers could use. And they would help answer questions about the arrival of such “volatiles” to the Earth-moon system – evidence that Earth’s geological processes have largely erased from its own surface.
“This is an exciting time for LRO,” says Richard Vondrak, who heads the solar-system exploration division at the Goddard Space Flight Institute in Greenbelt, Md.
The measurement is one of several initial intriguing results unveiled Sept. 17 during a briefing at Goddard. Launched in June, the orbiter officially began its mapping mission this week, orbiting the moon some 30 miles above the surface.
But during the LRO’s commissioning phase, which ended Tuesday, part of the craft’s highly elliptical orbit brought it much closer – within about 19 miles of the surface at the south pole region. Lunar-exploration planners have identified this area as the prime place to land US astronauts to begin exploring the moon, if the Obama administration and Congress give the nod.
The orbiter also has beamed back evidence that water or other hydrogen-bearing ices appear in more places than previous missions have suggested, largely because the orbiter’s instruments are more capable. In fact, evidence for ices is showing up not just on the floors of permanently shadowed craters. It’s also showing up beneath the moonscape between the craters.
Advanced System Could Alter Strategic Decisions in Region
By Howard Schneider
ASHKELON, Israel — As it pushes for international action against Iran‘s nuclear program, Israel is steadily assembling one of the world’s most advanced missile defense systems, a multi-layered collection of weapons meant to guard against a variety of threats, including the shorter-range Grads used to strike Israeli towns like this one and intercontinental rockets.
The effort, partly financed by the United States and incorporating advanced American radar and other technology, has been progressing quietly for two decades. But Israeli defense and other analysts say it has now reached a level of maturity that could begin changing the nature of strategic decisions in the region. Centered on the Arrow 2 antimissile system, which has been deployed, the project is being extended to include a longer-range Arrow 3, the David’s Sling interceptor designed to hit lower- and slower-flying cruise missiles, and the Iron Dome system intended to destroy Grads, Katyushas, Qassams and other shorter-range projectiles fired from the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon.
With the Arrow system in operation and the Iron Dome due for deployment next year, Israel “has something to stabilize the situation: the knowledge that an attack will fail,” said Uzi Rubin, a private defense consultant who ran Israel’s missile shield program in the 1990s. Iran, he said, now cannot be assured of a successful first strike against Israel, while groups such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon may find one of their favored tactics undermined.
Advances in Iran’s rocket technology, coupled with its nuclear program, are chief concerns of the United States and Europe, as well as of Israel and other Middle Eastern countries. Alongside diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to curb its nuclear research, missile defense programs have been designed with that country in mind.
The Obama administration decided this week to scrap a Bush-era plan to deploy a longer-range-missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, and said it would move toward a more intermediate system that better matches its assessment of Iran’s capabilities.
In Israel, the issue is considered a top foreign policy priority. There have been varying Israeli assessments about Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon: The head of the Mossad intelligence agency told a parliament committee over the summer that Iran may be five years away from acquiring an atom bomb, but the head of military intelligence has said it could happen by the end of this year.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, sees Iran’s program as an imminent danger. It “is something that threatens Israel and threatens the region and threatens the peace of the world,” he said during a recent visit to Germany. “There is not much time.”
A recent unannounced trip by Netanyahu to Russia was thought by some Israeli analysts to be linked to the broad set of issues regarding Iran, including Russia’s possible sale of advanced antiaircraft missiles to Tehran and the likelihood that Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if the United States and Europe cannot find another solution.
But the steady growth of Israel’s missile defenses sheds a different light on the country’s military doctrine and sense of vulnerability.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said this week that he did not consider Iran’s nuclear program an “existential issue” because “Israel is strong.” Part of that strength lies in its nuclear capabilities — never acknowledged but widely presumed to exist — and part in the assumption that the United States would stand behind Israel if it came under attack. But it also rests in the calculation that enough of the country’s air bases and other military facilities would survive a first strike to retaliate effectively.
The sort of deterrence — guaranteed retaliation — that the United States and then-Soviet Union once achieved by deploying nuclear warheads in submarines and keeping bombers aloft is what Israel is striving for through its antimissile systems.
Iran “is radical, but radical does not mean irrational,” Rubin, the defense consultant, said. “They want to change the world, not commit suicide.”
Israel’s program had its origins in the 1980s and grew out of concern about Syria’s suspected acquisition of chemical weapons. It took on added urgency in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when nearly 40 Iraqi Scud missiles hit the Tel Aviv area.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
What the European wind energy industry now wants is to expand – offshore. Ocean winds are a stronger and more predictable form of energy than the ones on land, and the industry is pushing a $57 billion investment to allow broad-winged turbines to spin at sea.
Offshore wind is “absolutely” a significant new resource, argues Walt Patterson, an associate at Chatham House and author of “Keeping the Lights On,” adding that “the big question mark is not sticking the stuff in the ocean, but how to get the electricity ashore.”
A report released in Stockholm Monday by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) argues that offshore turbines could provide 10 percent of Europe’s energy by 2020 – avoiding some 200 tons of C02 emissions.
Currently, 11 sets of the wind-powered turbines are circling off Europe’s shores, with 21 under construction, mostly in Great Britain. At the moment they only contribute about .02 percent of Europe’s electricity needs.
EU energy czar Andris Piebalgs backed the EWEA’s ambitious plans to harness ocean winds, saying in Stockholm that the European commission is “committed to doing everything we can to support offshore wind developers and make sure their… projects come to fruition.”
The EWEA Stockholm wind conference, called “Oceans of Opportunity,” comes at a time when Europe is focusing on climate control and job creation. Offshore turbines are also seen as a solution to complaints from Europeans who do not want the gargantuan turbines in their backyards.
Complaints and hurdles
But people also have complaints about turbines at sea. Complaints that the turbines ruin ocean views have slowed US efforts to get a project started off the coast of Massachusetts. The US has virtually no offshore wind energy, though the Obama administration has started to work on the issue.
There are also economic limitations, since electricity produced by offshore turbines is more expensive to deliver to consumers. There are also maintenance concerns involving storms at sea and corrosion from salt water. Mr. Patterson says the biggest hurdle is making the power deliverable.
“It’s a chicken and egg question, really,” says Patterson. “If you are the industry, do you wait for the cables to be laid on the ocean floor, or do you build the fields and then hope they are laid?”
The industry was boosted by a recent EU law requiring that 20 percent of Europe’s energy be obtained fromrenewable sources by 2020. Some 15 European states are planning offshore projects, according to the EWEA report. “There is huge developer interest in offshore wind power,” Arthuros Zervos, president of EWEA, said in a statement Monday. “The scale of planned projects is far greater than most people realize.”
Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported on Monday that Germany is about to begin construction of a wind farm 12 miles off its Baltic coast that German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee said would produce 12,000 megawatts of electricity, bringing Germany “closer to our goal of producing 25,000 megawatts offshore by 2030.”
This week the American electric giant GE, which produces nearly a quarter of the turbines for wind power worldwide, said it will enter the offshore market for the first time.
The Financial Times reported Monday that GE is expected to invest “hundreds of millions” in developing offshore turbines. The FT reported that GE “is also buying ScanWind, a small Norwegian-Swedish turbine company for 18 million, giving it access to new turbine technology, tested in harsh conditions on the coast of Norway.”
The EWEA in Stockholm presented data asserting that all of Europe’s energy needs could one day be met by eight fields of turbines roughly the size of 10,000 square kilometers, off the coasts of EU states.
Groundbreaking report talks about Planned Parenthood
There were headlines all across the country when an undercover sting operation caught a worker at an abortion business in Idaho gleefully accepting a donation designated to provide an abortion for a black child.
The exchange went like this:
Actor: I want to specify that abortion to help a minority group, would that be possible?
Planned Parenthood: Absolutely.
Actor: Like the black community for example?
Planned Parenthood: Certainly.
Actor: The abortion – I can give money specifically for a black baby, that would be the purpose?
Planned Parenthood: Absolutely. If you wanted to designate that your gift be used to help an African-American woman in need, then we would certainly make sure that the gift was earmarked for that purpose.
Actor: Great, because I really faced trouble with affirmative action, and I don’t want my kids to be disadvantaged against black kids. I just had a baby; I want to put it in his name.
Planned Parenthood: Yes, absolutely.
Actor: And we don’t, you know we just think, the less black kids out there the better.
Planned Parenthood: (Laughs) Understandable, understandable.
Now there’s a groundbreaking new report called “Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America”that explains such sentiments are common in America.
Here’s how MovieGuide describes “Maafa 21,” which sets out to prove an astonishingly evil, though little-known, agenda of Planned Parenthood in America:
“Maafa 21″ is a very carefully reasoned, well-produced exposé of the abortion industry, racism and eugenics. It traces the abortion industry back to its eugenics roots. It provesthrough innumerable sources that the founders of Planned Parenthood and other parts of the abortion movement were interested in killing off the black race in America and elsewhere. “Maafa 21″ exposes some of the most powerful leaders of the socialist and humanist movements of the 20th Century as racists, on a par with Adolf Hitler, but much more clever. The argument is presented so well that it is irrefutable. The filmmakers calculate abortion has reduced the black population in the United States by about 25 percent!
“If this movie gets wide circulation among the African-American community, it should bring an end to Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry,” the assessment continued.
The “Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America,” DVD explains how blacks were “stolen from their homes, locked in chains and taken across an ocean.”
Then for 200 years, their blood and sweat helped build the richest and most powerful nation in the world.
“But when slavery ended, their welcome was over. America’s wealthy elite had decided it was time for them to disappear and they were not particular about how it might be done,” the DVD presents.
It documents that the eugenics plan still is being carried out across America.
A top Russian official confirmed the existence of a contract for the supply of MiG-31 fighter jets to Syria but said work on the planes had been frozen, the daily Kommersant reported on Thursday.
“Consultations on this contract are now ongoing, so its future is unclear.”
Kommersant reported in May that Russia had halted work on the modernisation of the fighter jets at the Sokol aviation plant in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod.
But Russia’s state arms exporter has dismissed such reports as rumours.
The 400-500 million-dollar (280-350 million-euro) contract for the delivery of eight MiG-31s fighter jets was inked in early 2007, according to Kommersant.
It cited sources close to the arms exporter in May saying the supplies of the planes had been frozen under pressure from Israel over fears the weapon sales could offset the balance of power in the region.
According to a a government official cited by Kommersant, the contract had been suspended after Damascus could no longer afford the planes.
In 2005, Moscow forgave 70 percent of Syria’s total debt of 13.4 billion dollars.
United Aircraft chief Federov nevertheless told the paper the Russian planemaker was counting on completing contracts, as production at its factories has slumped amid the global financial crisis.
“Negotiations are ongoing, I hope that in the end the contracts will be realized. We put a lot of hope in it stabilizing the situation in Nizhny Novgorod,” he was quoted as saying.