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Friday, February 15, 2013
Excerpts: Iran again caught in lie. Eurozone recession. Syrian shell hits Turkey, Arabs accuse Tehran of interference. UN nuclear talks with Iran fail. In defense of Obama’s drone war. Fertility rates in the Muslim world going bust February 15, 2013

+++SOURCE: The Independent via Egypt Daily News 15 Feb.’13:?Iran’s new
stealth fighter jet is caught out by bloggers in ‘faked’ Photoshop image
blunder?, by Adam Sherwin
SUBJECT: Iran again caught in lie
QUOTE: ?Iran dismissed the doubts as ‘enemy propaganda’ ?
TEXT: The image of Iran’s new stealth fighter patrolling the skies was
designed to induce awe among the country’s enemies. But Iran’s claim to
military superiority crumbled after bloggers discovered that the jet had
actually been superimposed upon snowy mountain peaks using Photoshop.

Experts had already expressed doubts over the Qaher-313, Iran’s second
domestically-produced plane, unveiled this month at a special ceremony
attended by President Ahmadinejad.

The jet, said to combine the features of the US F-35 and the F-22 fighters,
could not fly because it was too small and made of plastic, critics claimed.
Lacking rivets and bolts, the plane was a miniature model or a working
prototype at best, aviation experts said.

So the Khouz News website published an image of the Qaher-313 in majestic
flight, soaring over a mountain peak.

Iranian bloggers however spotted that the image of the plane was identical
to that issued at the February 2 unveiling in Tehran. The angle of the
plane, the reflection of the light and shadows were the same.

All that had changed was that the image had apparently been superimposed on
to a background of Iran's Mount Damavand, taken from the stock image site,
PickyWallpapers.com and slightly lightened.

Ahmad Vahidi, Iran’s Defence Minister, had claimed that the plane could fly
low to avoid radar, carry a weapons payload and was constructed of
“high-tech materials?.

However the “faked? flight shot confirmed the view of sceptics such as David
Cenciotti, who writes for the Aviationist blog.

Analysing the initial image released by Iran he said the cockpit appeared to
be too small to accommodate a human pilot, and was filled with controls “of
a type you expect to find on small private planes?.

The plane appeared to be “nothing more than a large mock-up model made out
of plastic?, lacking “the characteristic rivets (and) bolts all aircraft,
including stealthy ones, feature.?

Mr Cenciotti said: “The air intakes are extremely small whereas the engine
section lacks any kind of nozzle: engine afterburners could melt the entire
jet.?

Aviation magazine Flight International said that the poor-quality footage
released by Iran of the aircraft in flight was most likely of a
remote-controlled plane fashioned to resemble the Qaher-313.

John Reed, military and defence expert at Foreign Policy magazine, said:
“It's seriously unlikely that such an aircraft has room to carry the
avionics, radars, electronic countermeasures, heat masking gear, and, most
importantly for a fighter, the weapons that make modern stealth jets
effective.?

Iran dismissed the doubts as “enemy propaganda.? But the publication of the
photo on Khouz News, a website focusing on news from the southwest province
of Khuzestan, suggests the regime is primarily seeking to impress an
internal audience with “evidence? of scientific advancement.

Although the Islamic Republic may be no closer to building the perfect
stealth fighter, it is getting better at using Photoshop. Previously Iran
was caught out when the authorities digitally added a fourth missile to a
2008 picture of a missile test.

Claims that Iran successfully sent a monkey into space this month were
questioned when two different animals were featured in the pictures released
by state media.

Last year Iran claimed to have built the Koker 1, the world’s first
vertically launching drone. After closer examination of the photos, pilot
and blogger Gary Mortimer concluded that the design bore a striking
similarity to a vehicle which had been built and launched by a team from
Chiba University, Japan, in 2008

+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 15 Feb.’13:?Eurozone recession deepens sharply?,
Agence France Presse
SUBJECT: Eurozone recession
QUOTE:? The recession in the 17-nation eurozone deepened sharply in the
fourth quarter of 2012?
FULL TEXT:BRUSSELS – The recession in the 17-nation eurozone deepened
sharply in the fourth quarter of 2012 as the debt crisis continued to sap
growth and confidence as jobs are lost, with the outlook remaining uncertain
and weak, official data showed on Thursday.

The eurozone economy shrank 0.6 percent from the three months to September
when it dropped 0.1 percent.

In the second quarter of 2012, the eurozone economy had contracted 0.2
percent on a sequential basis, meaning the recession has now lasted three
quarters.

Analysts said the latest figures were worse-than-expected, with the major
economies also now dragged down, including Germany, the bloc’s powerhouse.

Data so far in 2013 suggested the situation was stabilising, they said, but
the outlook remained weak and hostage to key risks, such as the political
uncertainty in Italy and Germany ahead of elections.

Compared with output in the fourth quarter of 2011, the eurozone economy
contracted 0.9 percent, according Eurostat agency figures.

For the wider 27-member European Union, output fell 0.5 percent compared
with third quarter 2012 when the bloc had eked out growth of just 0.1
percent to narrowly avoid being in recession, as defined as two consecutive
quarterly negative figures.

Compared with fourth quarter 2011, the EU economy shrank 0.6 percent.

Eurostat said that for 2012 as a whole, the eurozone economy contracted 0.5
percent and the EU 0.3 percent.

Analysts said the figures painted a bleak picture, noting that Germany
shrank 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the third when it
managed growth of 0.2 percent.

France was down 0.3 percent, Italy slumped 0.9 percent, Spain shrank 0.7
percent and non-euro Britain was down 0.3 percent as the Olympics’ boost
faded. – AFP

+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon)115 Feb.’13:?Report: Turkey Fires Back after
Syrian Shell Hits?, Agence France Presse

SUBJECT: Syrian shell hits Turkey

QUOTE:?Turkey has systematically retaliated to every cross-border shelling?

FULL TEXT: Turkish artillery struck back after a shell fired from
neighboring Syria ploughed into Turkish territory without causing any
casualties, the state-run news agency reported.

The shell fell near the town of Yayladag in Hatay province near the border
with Syria and Turkish forces retaliated immediately, Anatolia said.

Since Syrian fire killed five Turks on October 3[‘12], Turkey has
systematically retaliated to every cross-border shelling.

On Monday[11 Feb,], 14 people were killed when a minibus packed with
explosives blew up in a buffer zone between Syria's and Turkey's border.

One-time allies Turkey and Syria fell out after Ankara joined Arab and
Western countries in pressing Syrian President Bashar Assad to halt his
violent crackdown on the popular uprising that erupted in March 2011 and has
now turned into a civil war.

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 15 Feb.’13:?Arabs accuse Tehran of attempting to
interfere in Bahrain, Syria?, Reuters
“GCC states say Iran dodging agenda of talks with 6 powers?
SUBJECT: Arabs accuse Tehran of interference
QUOTE:?Tehran also says it regards the Gulf as its geo-political backyard
and that it has a legitimate right to enhance its interests their?
ABU DHABI — Arab Gulf governments dismissed as “interference? an Iranian
suggestion that unrest in Syria and Bahrain be discussed at nuclear talks
between world powers and Iran, accusing Tehran of trying to dodge the main
agenda. The secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said the
bloc “categorically rejected? Iran’s proposal, saying it was further
evidence of Iranian meddling in the region, the Bahraini news agency BNA
reported on Thursday.

“This confirms Iran’s clear interference in the domestic affairs of Arab
countries, and its continuous efforts to destabilise the security of some of
these Arab countries,? Abdulatif Al Zayani was quoted by BNA as saying.

Arab popular uprisings since 2011 have kindled increased strife between
Shiite and Sunni Muslims that Sunni-ruled Gulf states with restive Shiite
communities blame on incitement from regional Shiite power Iran, which
denies the accusation.

The GCC is a US-allied, political and economic bloc comprising Saudi Arabia,
Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.

The GCC is not represented at the intermittent and so far inconclusive talks
six world powers are conducting with Iran to try to get it to rein in its
disputed nuclear energy programme.

BNA further quoted Zayani as accusing Iran of trying to manipulate the
negotiations “by mixing political cards? and continuing “procrastination and
non-seriousness on reaching a final solution to alleviate regional and
international fears regarding its controversial nuclear programme?.

Zayani, according to BNA, urged the six powers to “reject these provocative
Iranian attempts?.

Disputes over agenda

Western diplomats have accused Iran in the past of avoiding the main point
of the negotiations by trying to have the agenda widened to cover general
security and economic issues.

The next negotiating session is to be held in Kazakhstan on February 26. The
West fears Iran is pursuing the means to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says
it seeks only civilian atomic energy.

The semi-official Iranian news agency Mehr said on Tuesday [12 Feb.] Tehran
had proposed including Bahrain — which is grappling with unrest by majority
Shiites — and Syria — where an increasingly sectarian civil war is raging —
in the talks with world powers.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran has proposed as a suggestion to Western
countries that the crisis in Syria and Bahrain be among the issues discussed
in negotiations in Kazakhstan,? Mehr quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas
Araghchi as saying.

Bahrain had summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires over the statement, BNA said.

The GCC routinely accuses Iran of interfering in the region, primarily in
Bahrain where the Sunni-dominated government has been struggling since 2011
to suppress pro-democracy agitation led mainly by the kingdom’s Shiites.

Iran denies trying to stir trouble in Bahrain or to subvert any of its other
wealthy Gulf Arab neighbours. Tehran also says it regards the Gulf as its
geo-political backyard and that it has a legitimate right to advance its
interests there

+++SOURCE: Jordan Times 15 Feb.’13:?UN nuclear talks with Iran fail, no new
meeting set?, Reuters
SUBJECT:UN nuclear talks with Iran fail
QUOTE:?failing to produce even a small signal of hope for big power
diplomacy aimed at averting a war?
VIENNA — UN inspectors returned on Thursday[14 Feb.] from talks in Tehran
with no deal on reviving a nuclear investigation and no date for a new
meeting, failing to produce even a small signal of hope for big power
diplomacy aimed at averting a war.

“Despite its many commitments to do so, Iran has not negotiated in good
faith,? said a Western diplomat accredited to the United Nations’
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna who was not at the
talks. “It appears that we now have to ask ourselves if this is still the
right tactic.?

The deadlock is a chilling signal for a wider effort by six world powers to
get Iran to curb activity that they believe could give it the capacity to
build nuclear bombs — something Israel has suggested it will prevent by
force if necessary.

Further alarming its foes, Iran said this week it was installing advanced
machines to refine uranium — a step that could significantly speed up its
accumulation of material that the West fears could be used to develop a
nuclear weapon.

A diplomatic source confirmed on Thursday[14 Feb.] that the IAEA, which
regularly inspects Iranian nuclear facilities, had seen a small number of
new-style centrifuges at Iran’s main enrichment plant at Natanz, positioned
to be installed.

The UN watchdog has been trying since January last year to negotiate a
framework with Iran that would let inspectors resume a long-stalled inquiry
into suspected atom bomb research by the Islamic republic.

But Wednesday’s [13 Feb.] meeting in Tehran “could not finalise the
document? on the inquiry, chief UN inspector Herman Nackaerts told
reporters on his return to Vienna.

He said no date had been set for more talks, adding: “Time is needed to
reflect on the way forward.?

The United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany are due to
meet Iran for separate talks in Kazakhstan on February 26 to tackle a
decade-old row that has already produced four rounds of UN sanctions against
Iran.

But the Islamic republic, which denies any military dimension to its work
and is asking for acknowledgement that it is entitled to produce nuclear
fuel for peaceful purposes, is heading for a presidential election in June.

Clock ticking

That fact alone makes it hard for any official to be seen to make
concessions to foreign powers, especially ones that suit Iran’s enemies, the
United States and Israel, widely assumed to be the Middle East’s only
nuclear-armed power.

“On behalf of the Iranian nation, I say that whoever thinks that the Iranian
nation would surrender to pressure is making a huge mistake and will take
his wish to the grave,? the outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said on
Thursday[14 Feb.], according to state television.

Yet while talks go nowhere, the diplomatic clock is ticking.

Iran is expanding a stockpile of higher-grade 20 per cent enriched uranium
ever closer to levels where a critical mass of weapons-grade material would
be only a short step away — something that Israel says would be a “red line?
for action.

Washington has also warned, in less direct terms, that it will do what it
takes to prevent Iran getting the bomb. Late last year it set a March
deadline for Iran to start cooperating with the IAEA’s investigation,
warning Tehran that it might otherwise be referred to the UN Security
Council.

Iran’s nuclear programme was first reported to the Council by the IAEA’s
35-nation board in 2006, and Iran was then punished with UN sanctions, as
well as stricter US and European measures to strangle its vital oil exports.

Tehran says intelligence information pointing to nuclear weapons research in
Iran is forged and baseless.

Some diplomats and analysts say Iran is merely using the talks with the IAEA
for leverage in the separate negotiations with world powers which, unlike
the IAEA, have the power to ease sanctions.

The IAEA’s immediate priority had been to visit the Parchin military base
southeast of Tehran. It suspects explosives tests relevant to nuclear
weapons may have taken place there, perhaps a decade ago, and then been
concealed. Tehran denies the accusation.

+++SOURCE: Washington Post 15 Feb.’13:In defense of Obama’s drone war?, by
Charles Krauthammer
SUBJECT: Obama’s drone war
QUOTE: “the case for Obamas drone war is strong. Pity that his Justice
Department couldn’t make it.?
FULL TEXT::The nation’s vexation over the morality and legality of President
Obama’s drone war has produced a salutary but hopelessly confused debate.
Three categories of questions are being asked. They must be separated to be
clearly understood.

1. By what right does the president order the killing by drone of enemies
abroad? What criteria justify assassination?

A potent, but crash-prone, weapon in the counterterrorism war: As Predator
drone missions have escalated from Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, so have the
number of accidents. Since January 2011, five Predators have crashed while
trying to return to the base.

With his “kill list,? Obama follows in Bush and Cheney’s footsteps.

Commander in brief

Answer: (a) imminent threat, under the doctrine of self-defense, and (b)
affiliation with al-Qaeda, under the laws of war.

Imminent threat is obvious. If we know a freelance jihadist cell in Yemen is
actively plotting an attack, we don’t have to wait until after the fact.
Elementary self-defense justifies attacking first.

Al-Qaeda is a different matter. We are in a mutual state of war. Osama bin
Laden issued his fatwa declaring war on the United States in 1996; we
reciprocated three days after 9/11 with Congress’s Authorization for Use of
Military Force — against al-Qaeda and those who harbor and abet it. (Such
resolutions are the contemporary equivalent of a declaration of war, as
evidenced in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq War.)

Regarding al-Qaeda, therefore, imminence is not required. Its members are
legitimate targets, day or night, awake or asleep. Nothing new here. In
World War II, we bombed German and Japanese barracks without hesitation.

Unfortunately, Obama’s Justice Department memos justifying the drone attacks
are hopelessly muddled. They imply that the sole justification for drone
attack is imminent threat — and whereas al-Qaeda is plotting all the time,
an al-Qaeda honcho sleeping in his bed is therefore a legitimate target.

Nonsense. Slippery nonsense. It gives the impression of an administration
making up criteria to fit the president’s kill list. No need to confuse
categories. A sleeping Anwar al-Awlaki could lawfully be snuffed not because
of imminence but because he was self-declared al-Qaeda and thus an enemy
combatant as defined by congressional resolution and the laws of war.

2. But Awlaki was no ordinary enemy. He was a U.S. citizen. By what right
does the president order the killing by drone of an American? Where’s the
due process?

Answer: Once you take up arms against the United States, you become an enemy
combatant, thereby forfeiting the privileges of citizenship and the
protections of the Constitution, including due process. You retain only the
protection of the laws of war — no more and no less than those of your
foreign comrades-in-arms. (Indeed, David French, senior counsel at the
American Center for Law and Justice, suggests stripping such traitors of
their citizenship, thereby formalizing their extra-constitutional status.)

Lincoln steadfastly refused to recognize the Confederacy as a separate
nation. The soldiers that his Union Army confronted at Antietam were
American citizens (in rebellion) — killed without due process. Nor did the
Americans storming German bunkers at Normandy inquire before firing whether
there were any German Americans among them — to be excused for gentler
treatment while the other Germans were mowed down.

3. Who has the authority to decide life-and-death targeting?

In war, the ultimate authority is always the commander in chief and those in
the lawful chain of command to whom he has delegated such authority.

This looks troubling. Obama sitting alone in the Oval Office deciding which
individuals to kill. But how is that different from Lyndon Johnson sitting
in his office choosing bombing targets in North Vietnam?

Moreover, we firebombed entire cities in World War II. Who chose? Commanders
under the ultimate authority of the president. No judicial review, no
outside legislative committee, no secret court, no authority above the
president.

Okay, you say. But today’s war is entirely different: no front line, no end
in sight.

So what? It’s the jihadists who decided to make the world a battlefield and
to wage war in perpetuity. Until they abandon the field, what choice do we
have but to carry the fight to them?

We have our principles and precedents for lawful warmaking, and a growing
body of case law for the more vexing complexities of the present war — for
example, the treatment of suspected terrorists apprehended on U.S. soil. The
courts having granted them varying degrees of habeas corpus protection, it
is clear that termination by drone (a measure far more severe than
detention) would be forbidden — unless Congress and the courts decide
otherwise, which, short of a Taliban invasion from New Brunswick, is
inconceivable.

Now, for those who believe that the war on terror is not war but law
enforcement, (a) I concede that they will find the foregoing analysis to be
useless and (b) I assert that they are living on a different and distant
planet.

For us earthlings, on the other hand, the case for Obama’s drone war is
strong. Pity that his Justice Department couldn’t make it.

+++SOURCE:The Weekly Standard 14 Feb. 14 ’13 :?Cold Open? by Jonathan V.Last
SUBJECT: ’fertility rates in the Muslim world going bust’
QUOTE:?demographics show us that actually the world we think we know is
shifting beneath our feet?

FULL TEXT:
Obviously I spend too much time thinking about demographics. (Don't forget
to pick up your copy What to Expect When No One’s Expecting!) But that's
because there's so much interesting research going on in the field.

Example #5,742 is that, despite what many people believe, fertility rates in
the Muslim world have been going bust, too. David Goldman has beenfollowing
this beat for years and last year AEI's superstar demographer (and all
around Big Brain) Nick Eberstadt published a study on the phenomenon.

Some of Eberstadt's findings might shock you.

Iran's fertility rate declined by more than 70 percent between 1975 and
2005. Its level is comparable with the New England states, the region in
America with the lowest fertility.

A woman in Oman today has 5.6 fewer babies than a woman in Oman 30 years
ago.

Algeria, Bangladesh, and Morocco all have fertility levels corresponding to
the state of Texas, while Indonesia's is almost identical to Arkansas's.

Lebanon's fertility level is lower than New York State's.

There are two key takeaways to Eberstadt's study. The first is that
fertility rates in the Muslim world aren’t just falling—they're falling
faster than everywhere else. Over the last 30 years, the average country has
seen its fertility rate decline by 33 percent. But during that period,
Muslim countries have seen their fertility rates drop by 41 percent. That's
an amazingly fast collapse.

If you want to be really blown away, consider this: Over the last 30 years,
Iran’s fertility rate has collapsed in basically the same way that China's
did between 1960 and 1980, when that country began its program of pushing
people to have fewer and fewer children.

The second deep point is that fertility declines in the Muslim world appear
to be driven neither by income, nor by literacy, nor by contraceptive use.
The big driver is "ideal" fertility—which means, basically, that Muslim
women are just deciding, as an objective matter, that they want many fewer
children.

Once again, demographics show us that the world we think we know is actually
shifting beneath our feet.

==========
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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