In Toronto, on Monday October 18, 2004, the Iran Canada Business Council (ICBC) held its annual general meeting and seminar entitled, "The Bilateral Relationship and its Impact on Your Business with Iran". Founded in 1992, the goals of the organization are two fold:
* To promote and support trade and investment between Iran and Canada.
* To serve as an advisory body to the Canadian government on matters related to trade and economic relations with Iran.
In Iran, on Monday October 18, 2004, news reports, inside and outside of the country, began to circulate an article about a thirteen year-old Iranian girl, Zhila Izadi, who has been sentenced to death by stoning, upon discovery that she was carrying the child of her fifteen year-old brother. Izadi is currently in prison, and her brother, also in prison, has received one hundred and fifty lashes as his punishment.
The Iran Canada Business Council is quite concerned that strained Iran-Canada relations, due in part to the tragic killing of Canadian photojournalist, Zahra Kazemi, will be bad for business, but they need not worry. When everything in our world is measured by dollars and cents, it has become increasingly difficult to situate the abstract and, at times, ambiguous notion of human rights as the new bottom line.
Even as the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to accelerate the number of arrests, executions, tortures, amputations, stoning, and other atrocities and injustices, on May 29, 2004, the World Bank awarded it with two loans totaling 369 million dollars. As justification for granting the loans, the World Bank asserted that they were awarded to help the people of Iran: "In many countries we have enfranchised civil societies," the Bank's president, James D. Wolfensohn said at a luncheon, "Should we stop doing that and wait until we had perfect countries before we lend?" Wolfensohn continued by professing: "The easiest thing for me, for the World Bank, would be to say, just wait until these countries are democratic, but that is impractical. The bank is not the United Nations. Its goal is economic development. Sometimes this must go hand in hand with democratic development." This is an argument that is repeatedly invoked; the suggestion being that somehow the personal status laws of women in Iran will shift dramatically because French car manufacturer, Renault, decided to open up a plant in Tehran, or that the barbarous act of stoning will halt because the French oil conglomerate, TOTAL, won a 1.2 billion dollar bid to extract Iranian natural gas in the southern Pars region of the Persian Gulf.
However absurd the argument, organizations, such as the Iran Canada Business Council and UK Trade and Investment, have no need to be concerned and can rest assured that no action will be taken by the international community in this regard. In fact, quite the opposite has been happening. The commonwealth countries, along with the EU, for the past decade, have been heavily pursuing trade with Iran with no checks or balances.
Unfortunately the tragedy of Atefeh Rajabi and Zhila Izadi, are not anomalies in Iran, and however ambiguous or contested the notion of universal human rights has become, there is nothing abstract about a sixteen year-old girl's lifeless body hanging from a crane.
The Bush administration said publicly Wednesday it does not endorse a plan by three European allies to offer Iran incentives to suspend its enrichment of uranium, a key step in producing nuclear weapons.
"Our view is that it's a European proposal, that it's for them to describe, for them to make," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. "We haven't bought on, signed or endorsed it, but we know they are going to do it."
Britain, France and Germany plan to try to induce Iran to halt its nuclear program Thursday in Tehran. European diplomats say they will offer fuel and opportunities for trade with the European Union.
The U.S. view remains that Iran has shown no sign of cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the situation should be taken up by the U.N. Security Council, Boucher said.
Over the years, Iran has acquired technology to develop a nuclear weapons program, and that is cause for concern, the spokesman said.
The European strategy was taken up at the State Department last Friday at a meeting that included officials from eight nations - the United States, Russia, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Italy.
Angola, Azerbaijan, Chad, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Nigeria, Russia, Sudan, Venezuela and Yemen scored very low in clean government practices, said Transparency International chairman Peter Eigen in releasing 2004's Corruption Perceptions Index.
"In these countries, public contracting in the oil sector is plagued by revenues vanishing into the pockets of western oil executives, middlemen and local officials," he said.
Eigen said oil companies could help stamp out corruption by publishing details of the fees, royalties and other payments made to governments and state oil companies.
Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon told lawmakers that military chiefs had concluded the level of risk to British soldiers was acceptable. The soldiers are moving from the relatively peaceful south to a zone where Sunni insurgents have been carrying out daily attacks on U.S. troops and Iraqis....
An armored battlegroup of 850 soldiers from the First Battalion Black Watch — complete with medics, signalers and engineers — will be redeployed for a "limited and specific period of time, lasting weeks rather than months" to relieve U.S. troops, Hoon said.
U.S. military commanders asked on Oct. 10 whether Britain would send a unit currently stationed in southern Iraq to the U.S.-controlled sector farther north.Thank you, Tony Blair!
British ministers said the move would free up American forces to intensify their attacks on insurgents as the coalition tries to stabilize Iraq ahead of elections in January.
15:18 The Minister for Integration Tsipi Livny estimates that the remarks made by the president of Knesset on Ariel Sharon, according to which it is not faithful to Eretz Israel and the principles of Likoud by supporting the plan of disengagement, constitute the beginning of the fall of the government. (Guysen.Israël.News)
14:46 Close to Adei AD, in the area of Shvout Rahel, a group of about thirty Palestinians tried to remove two Jewish teenagers who walked in the sector. One of the two teenagers managed to escape and alert in time the police force which intervened immediately, releasing the second walker. (Guysen.Israël.News)
14:23 Explosion on the axis of Philadelphia: the Palestinians actuated a load with the passage of a patrol of Tsahal. It seems that a soldier was seriously wounded. (Guysen.Israël.News)
13:54 Palestinian outburst in Goush Katif: terrorists fired an anti-tank missile on a school bus of transport, close to Morag, lack little their target, and opened fire on workmen working with the construction of the fence near this same locality, without making of casualty. (Guysen.Israël.News)
13:41 Tsahal challenged with the dam Kalandiya, in the north of Jerusalem, a suspect Palestinian vêtu of a coat, and carrying a knife and a bottle of acid. It admitted preparing to stab a soldier and to pour corrosive liquid to him. (Guysen.Israël.News)
The connection with Britain's Al-Qaeda network was uncovered in a series of wide-ranging investigations by MI5 and Scotland Yard's Special Branch.Disturbing news indeed. Robert also points out that More manmade punctures in US Airways jets have been found and French interrogators extract chilling details of Al Qaeda terrorist training in the Himalayas from a failed butcher jihadi.
It is believed the terrorist suspects may have been taking advantage of military training as well as gaining access to bases and weapons.
Patrick Mercer, the Tory homeland security spokesman and a former army officer, said Al-Qaeda terrorists could use TA passes to penetrate security at key MoD establishments such as the permanent joint headquarters at Northwood in Greater London.
"This could have very serious security implications. Clearly in the war against terror you need to know who your friends are. The last thing we want is the enemy masquerading as our own people," Mercer said.
The TA has about 41,000 members and comprises a substantial portion of the 102,000-strong British Army and has 329 centres throughout the country.
The transcripts are said to give a rare insight into how the networks of people prepared to join the Islamist jihad against the West function. Brigitte told investigators the camp where he was trained in the use of explosives, small arms and terrorism tactics was a sophisticated three-tiered mountain complex close to the Indo-Pakistani border. He was grouped with foreign recruits, including American and British citizens of Pakistani origin. "There were between 2,000 and 3,000 mujahideens," Brigitte told French anti-terror judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere. "I remember it was very impressive because we gathered every morning and shouted Allah Akbar. What was more, the site was imposing since one could see the outline of the Himalayas." The camp was run by Lashkar e Taiba (LET). Brigitte said LET was filled with soldiers from the Pakistan Army who worked to sabotage efforts by the West to fight bin Laden and his allies.The tactics pioneered by Arab Al Qaeda fighters against our troops in Iraq are not only spreading to Israel, where Palestinians seriously wounded an Israeli soldier with an IED, but also to Afghanistan, where an IED attack has wounded three US soldiers, one critically.
One week ago Clark County was just another county in Ohio. Then came a campaign to pair Guardian readers with its undecided voters and suddenly the world knew its name. G2's editor, Ian Katz, looks back on seven days of email spleen, air-mailed letters, media frenzy and dodgy dentistry and asks: were we right?
So far, so bad. The email onslaught was pretty unpleasant and inconvenient for the 53 Guardian colleagues whose addresses were targeted by the rightwing spammers - several of us received more than 700 mails - but by and large they were the sort of missives that left you feeling relieved you were not on the same side of the argument (indeed, any argument) as the sender. The same could be said of the news this week that Rush Limbaugh had devoted virtually all of one of his three-hour shows to our Clark County project. But a much smaller number of responses demanded to be taken more seriously. Some of them, a trifle portentously, questioned whether something such as the Clark County project is an appropriate thing for a newspaper to be doing at all. Others, a small but increasing number of Democrats among them, suggested that our campaign could be dangerously counterproductive. Americans don't like being told what to do, the argument went. If a load of foreigners write telling the voters of Clark County to vote Kerry, they are liable to do precisely the opposite. Or, as Sharon Manitta, spokeswoman in Britain for Democrats Abroad, put it with preternatural confidence: "This will certainly garner more votes for George Bush." Yikes.
It's not as if we didn't consider the possibility that our project might have precisely the opposite effect to that intended. The feature introducing the project included notes of caution from Manitta's colleague, Rachelle Valladares, and a University of Columbia professor. It's just that we didn't believe it. For one thing, it seemed unlikely that our campaign would ever reach a scale that would have any real impact on the election, one way or another. For another, it seemed spectacularly patronising to suggest that the people of Clark County would be so volatile that they would vote one way simply because an individual several thousand miles away had suggested they do the opposite.But it didn't seem spectacularly patronising to suggest to individuals "several thousand miles away" whom they should vote for? What hypocrisy.
Yasser Arafat told an interviewer recently that he wants to be remembered like Nelson Mandela, and that he would retire from his current position as president of no state only when the Palestinian state is established.Mickey Mouse and Mandela
For Yasser Arafat to be like Nelson Mandela, day will have to turn to night, and night to day, the Messiah would have to arrive and ice cream be given out free, Madonna would have to become Esther and the Seven Dwarfs giants and camels would need to fly.
Ali is appalled by the terrorists, but not surprised. "We are at war and the enemy is fighting back, so why be surprised about that?" he asks. "Iran, some in Saudi Arabia, all the Islamist groups, and the former Baathists, of course, naturally are funding the fighting. They want to terrorize us before the elections, so things are going to get worse before then. But when terrorists see that the people demand democracy, they will feel they have lost. Many will leave."Liberation Online
Ali is more worried about the Americans, given John Kerry's talk of setting an announced timetable for the removal of U.S. troops, and he is dismayed by U.S. commentators and career bureaucrats who say that democracy in Iraq is impossible. "What they really are saying is that we are barbarians. There is some racism in that. They despise Islam and think it cannot reform itself or lead to reform. They think we are so ignorant we need a dictator.
But look at what happened in Najaf when the US chased out al Sadr. The media said the people were angry, but they were only angry with al Sadr. They demonstrated against al Sadr and for the [interim] government. There was very little news on that."
Despite the high tempo of terrorist bombings, Ali sees public satisfaction over the growing role of the Iraqi police and national guard, and he thinks it was right in 2003 to disband the old Iraqi army. Even now there is concern about infiltration by old Baathist elements who, for example, alert terrorists when recruits are lined up outside police stations and thereby vulnerable to attack. Ali also believes that some former Baathists work as interpreters for U.S. media and help to color their stories.
Ali wants to answer those who, like Warren Rodgers on CNN, refer to terrorists merely as 'fighters' or 'militants.' "That helps the terrorists," he says.