Internet security firm finds early ‘Stuxnet O.5’ version revealing espionage and sabotage virus released under George W Bush
Within three days of Australia taking the chair of the UN Security Council committees overseeing “Iran’s WMD proliferation activities”, Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced that Australia is to adopt severe economic sanctions against Iran that are “broadly aligned” with those already actioned by the US, Britain and European Union.
Thursday’s announcement is bitterly disappointing, for it draws to the fore a deep moral inconsistency in Australia’s recent nuclear dealings.
Simply put, Iran is alleged to have an active nuclear weapons programme, despite it having undertaken a number of international obligations - including the primary instrument of the nuclear regime, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
By contrast, Israel has never been a state party to the Treaty, and has possessed a nuclear weapons capability since the late 1960s, yet receives billions of dollars in funding from the US for its conventional weapons programmes a year. India - another liberal democracy - first acquired nuclear weapons in 1998 after it had signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty, yet later scored a nuclear technology transfer deal with the US in 2008, followed by related moves by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to open up uranium sales to India only last year.
Put another way: Iran is under a greater level of scrutiny for allegedly pursuing a nuclear weapons capability than either Israel or India have been for having a readily-deployable nuclear arsenal. As Australian National University researcher and former assistant secretary-general of the UN Ramesh Thakur pointed out last week, economic sanctions like those outlined by Bob Carr:
… cause death and destruction through structural violence - starvation, malnutrition, the spread of deadly diseases, curtailed access to medicines that can exceed the cleaner alternative of war. John Mueller and Karl Mueller argued in Foreign Affairs that sanctions caused more deaths in the 20th century than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.
On the evening of December 27, an Indian immigrant to America named Sunando Sen was pushed by a stranger onto the subway tracks in New York City and struck and killed by an oncoming train. Sen had called New York home for years, and after years of hard work and struggle had recently managed to achieve his lifelong goal of opening a small business of his own, a copy shop in Upper Manhattan.
His roommate, MD Khan expressed shock at the death of his friend, a soft spoken man who liked to stay up late watching comedy shows and listening to music: “He was so nice, gentle and quiet… It’s broken my heart.”
The following day, the NYPD announced the arrest of Erika Menendez, a 31-year-old woman who had been spotted on security footage fleeing the scene after Sen had been pushed. Upon being detained and taken to a 112th Precinct police station for questioning, Menendez confessed to Sen’s murder and revealed as her motivation a desire to commit violence against Muslims. As she told detectives:
“I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims… Ever since 2001 when they put down the Twin Towers, I’ve been beating them up.”
Sunando Sen was not a Muslim, but as a brown-skinned foreigner living in the United States, he was targeted and killed in an act of hate which is the by-product of an ongoing campaign of bigotry and demonisation against Muslims living in America.
Muslim-Americans, as well as Hindus, Sikhs and others who purportedly “look Muslim” have been humiliated, assaulted and in many cases murdered by individuals often galvanised to violence by politicians and media figures who have enthusiastically engaged in public hatemongering against the Muslim community in the country.
Anti-Muslim violence increases
The 9/11 attacks precipitated a surge in hate crimes, but even as the events themselves recede further into history, the level of hatred and violence directed at Muslim communities is paradoxically increasing. Within the past month, in New York alone, police have suspected racial hatred as being the motive behind several crimes.
This includes a string of murders specifically targeting Middle Eastern storekeepers in Brooklyn, the last of whom, a 78-year old Iranian immigrant named Rahmatollah Vahidipour, was shot to death while closing his boutique and whose lifeless body was then dragged to a backroom and covered over with merchandise from his store.
Within the same week as Vahidipour’s murder another Muslim man was viciously beaten by two men who preceded their attack by asking him whether he was “a Hindu or a Muslim”, while another man was stabbed several times outside of a mosque in a random attack by an assailant who screamed “I’m going to kill you Muslim”, while repeatedly plunging a knife into his victims’ body.
Far from being aberrations, these incidents are in line with national statistics which show anti-Muslim violence in America nearing record highs, a trend which comes in tandem with highly public campaigns against mosque construction as well as fear-mongering by politicians and media figures regarding alleged plots by Muslim-Americans to override the constitution and impose Islamic law on the country.
The US election cycle also saw Muslims used as convenient targets for politicians seeking office, with one example being incumbent Illinois House of Representatives Republican Joe Walsh who told a cheering crowd at a campaign rally that “Muslims are here trying to kill Americans everyday”, before making a baseless and highly incendiary claim that radical Islam had “infiltrated” the Chicago suburbs and that Muslims there were planning an attack that would “make 9/11 look like child’s play”.
While working the crowd into hysterics was a convenient campaign strategy for Walsh, just days later the Muslim community experienced the consequences of his rhetoric. A man opened fire on an Illinois mosque while it was packed with hundreds of congregants for Ramadan. The next day, another mosque was hit with an acid bomb thrown at a window while worshippers had gathered for night services.
Despite these attacks against Illinois Muslims in the wake of his statements, Walsh steadfastly refused to apologise for his rhetoric demonising the Muslim-Americans and instead doubled-down on his blanket accusations against them, a reflection of the mainstream acceptability of anti-Muslim rhetoric by political figures in the US today.
Indeed the use of Muslims as a punching bag by opportunistic politicians seeking a minority group to scapegoat has become a regular feature of American political life which shows no signs of abating, despite the “trickle-down” effect by which this bigotry is now manifesting itself in real violence against innocent Muslim-Americans on a regular basis.
Behind this hatemongering lies a deep cynicism, as leading anti-Muslim politicians such as Newt Gingrich who have warned of “stealth jihad” and other nefarious plots by Muslims in America were within recent years helping facilitate Sharia-compliant finance programmes in the country and who maintained notably cordial relations with prominent Muslim leaders.
With Muslim-bashing becoming politically fashionable in recent years, politicians such as Gingrich have markedly changed their tune and it has been to the detriment of Muslim-Americans, as well as to the general level of social cohesion and tolerance in the country.
In addition to political hatemongering, the past several years have seen a highly organised and well-funded group of anti-Muslim activists who have been sponsoring campaigns targeting Muslims across the country.
Leading figures in this movement such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer have led a crusade to vilify Muslims throughout the country and to exclude them from public life through campaigns of smears and hate-mongering which have cast Muslim-Americans as an insidious fifth column within the country.
Their views have gotten considerable popular attention, and thanks to a documented network of funders and media associates they have managed to bring their message to people across the United States.
In the past few months, a major controversy erupted when Geller’s anti-Muslim organisation sponsored the placement of Islamophobic advertisements at major subway stations in New York as well as in other cities across the country.
Some advertisements depicted pictures of the 9/11 attacks with verses from the Quran superimposed, while others called Muslims “savages” and implored people to “fight Jihad”. While the campaign has been challenged by many liberal commentators, including one infamous incident in which Egyptian-American activist Mona Eltahawy was arrested for attempting to cover a sign with pink spray paint, they continue to run across the country and to spread a message of indiscriminate, vitriolic hatred towards Muslim-Americans in a manner unlikely to be tolerated were it to pertain to any other minority group.
While correlation does not necessarily imply causation, the question must be asked - what effect do advertisements such as these have on the psyches’ of people such as Erika Menendez? Was Sunando Sen, a law-abiding, hardworking immigrant who had given his life to achieving the American dream and who was pushed to his death by a woman who “hated Muslims” a direct victim of this campaign of bigotry? That he lost his life on the same subway system which for months has played host to hateful, incendiary advertisements such as Geller’s is a tragic irony but is in many ways the natural result of a national culture of anti-Muslim bigotry that has become mainstream in both politics and popular culture.
The sad, inescapable truth is that Sen will likely not be the last victim of the accelerating phenomena of violence against Muslims in the United States - the only question today is how far into the darkness America must travel before it decides to take a stand against it.
Murtaza Hussain is a Toronto-based writer and analyst focused on issues related to Middle Eastern politics.
Follow him on Twitter: @MazMHussain
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.
Reading the text of a bill that was recently signed into law by US President Barack Obama would instill fear in the hearts of ordinary Americans. Apparently, barbarians coming from distant lands are at work. They are gathering at the US-Mexico border, cutting fences and ready to wreak havoc on an otherwise serene American landscape.
Never mind that crazed, armed to the teeth, homegrown American terrorists are killing children and terrorizing whole cities. It is the Iranian menace that we are meant to fear according to the new law. When compounded with the other imagined threats of Hezbollah and Hamas, all with sinister agendas, then the time is right for Americans to return to their homes, bolt their doors and squat in shelters awaiting further instructions, for evidently, “The Iranians are coming.”
It is as comical as it is untrue. But “The Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act”, which as of Dec. 28 is an official US law, is not meant to be amusing. It is riddled with half-truths, but mostly complete and utter lies.
Yes, Iran’s influence in Latin America is on the rise. However, by US standards, the expanding diplomatic ties, extending trade routes and such are considered a threat to be ‘countered’ or per Forbes magazine’s endless wisdom, ‘confronted.’
Language in politics can be very dangerous as it can misconstrue reality, turning fictitious scenarios into ‘facts’. Despite its faltering economy, the US continues to experience a sharp growth in its think tank industry – men and women whose sole purpose are to invent and push political agendas, which oftentimes belong to some foreign entity; in this case it is Israel. Ian Barman, Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council reflected that sentiment exactly in a recent article in Forbes.
Only in the past year, “policymakers in Washington have woken up to a new (Iranian) threat to U.S. security”, he wrote, citing an alleged Iranian assassination plot in Washington. According to Barman, that was the wake-up call leading to a “deeply worrisome” reality. In a moment of supposed level-headedness, he writes: “exactly how significant this threat is represents the subject of a new study released in late November by the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee. That report, entitled ‘A Line In The Sand’, documents the sinister synergies that have been created in recent years between Iran and Hezbollah on the one hand, and radical regional regimes and actors—from Venezuela to Mexican drug cartels—on the other.”
But according to Agency France Press, reporting on the new law on Dec. 29, “Washington has repeatedly stated it is closely monitoring Tehran’s activities in Latin America, though senior State Department and intelligence officials have indicated there is no apparent indication of illicit activities by Iran.”
Indeed, on the issue of Iran’s influence in Latin America there are two contradicting narratives. One that merely acknowledges Iranians growing diplomatic outreach in Latin America since 2005 and another that speaks of massive conspiracies involving Iran, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, drug cartels, and yes, even underground music piracy groups. The alleged conspiracy is not only far-fetched, it is purposely fabricated to further punish Iran, on behalf of Israel, for its nuclear program. The panic over Iran’s ‘infiltration’ of the US ‘neighborhood’ in Latin America, didn’t start a year ago (as alleged by Barman) but rather coincided with old Israeli-Western propaganda which pained Iran as a country ruled by religious fiends whose main hobby is to assemble bombs and threaten western civilization. When pro-Israeli think tank ‘experts’ began floating a scenario of ‘what if Iran and Hezbollah join forces with Mexico’s Los Zetas drug cartel’ a few years ago, the idea seemed too absurd to compel a rational response. Now it is actually written into the new bill turned law as if a matter of fact. (Sec. 2, Findings 12)
The bill doesn’t only lack reason, proper references and is dotted with a strange amalgam of politically-inspired accusations, it also relies on wholesale allegations of little, if any plausible foundation whatsoever: “Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies with a presence in Latin America have raised revenues through illicit activities, including drug and arms trafficking, counterfeiting, money laundering, forging travel documents, pirating software and music and providing haven and assistance to other terrorists transiting the region.” (Sec 2, Findings 8)
Of course, since the whole exercise is fueled by Israeli anxiety, Hamas also had to somehow be pulled in, if not indicted through the same inexplicable reasoning: “The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration concluded in 2008 that almost one-half of the foreign terrorist organizations in the world are linked to narcotics trade and trafficking, including Hezbollah and Hamas.” (Sec. 2, Findings 10)
US author and journalist, Belen Fernandez has been looking into this matter for years. In all of her writings on the topic she seemed to trace the very thread that unites the invented upheaval over Iran’s supposed takeover of the ‘Western Hemisphere.’ In an article entitled: “Distorting Iranian-Latin American Relations”, nearly two years ago, she wrote: “Iranian ‘penetration’ in Latin America has in recent years become a pet issue of Israeli Foreign Ministry officials and American neoconservative pundits, many of whom take offense at the perceived failure of the U.S. government to adequately appreciate the security threat posed by, for example, the inauguration of a weekly flight from Caracas to Tehran with a stop in Damascus.”
The issue for Israel and its US conduits is entirely political. Iran is indeed expanding its political and diplomatic outreach, but entirely through legal and official means, something that the US has failed to do since The Monroe Doctrine gave the US exclusive hegemony over Latin America starting in December 1823. But much has changed since then, especially in the last two decades when the US swung towards disastrous Middle East foreign policies, much to the pleasure of Israel. The suffering endured by Arabs and Muslims was the needed break for some Latin American countries to challenge US policies in their respective countries. This period was the era in which powerhouses like Brazil rose and popular governments took the helm. US policies in Latin America are not failing because of Iranians ‘sinister’ plans, but because of something entirely different.
Demeaning Latin America as a hapless region waiting for US saviors and pinning US political stocks on Iran might serve immediate Israeli purposes, but it will certainly contribute to the growing political delusion that permeates Washington. Alas, there are little indications that Washington politicians are anywhere near waking up from Israel’s overbearing spell. Just examine the author of the anti-Iran bill: Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina’s 3rd District. He is a ‘freshman’, but has massive ambitions. He joined the Congress in 2011 and quickly learned the ropes. He knows that in order to succeed on Capitol Hill, one must win favor with the pro-Israeli lobby. He sponsored the bill on January 3, just few days before Iranian President went on a major diplomatic tour in Latin America to expand his country’s international relations. That alone was unacceptable, for Latin America has long been designated as the US ‘backyard’, per the belittling perception of US mainstream media. The trip ignited the ire of Israel, which media and officials considered a travesty at a time that Tel Aviv was tirelessly working to isolate Iran. The bill was clearly a coordinated move, as its language indicates textbook Israeli hasbara.
Duncan might have been a novice, but he is quickly catching up. On May 20, he proudly posted a statement on his House of Representative page that sharply censures his own president’s remarks on Israel, while fully supporting the political stances of the leader of another country, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He decried Obama’s siding with the “Hamas-led government”, thus “undermined(ing) Israel’s position in the negotiation process.”
“President Obama’s statement that Israel should retreat to its impossible to defend 1967 borders breaks a promise to one of our strongest allies, threatens Israel’s security, and jeopardizes the future of democracy in the region,” he wrote. Of course, Duncan wholeheartedly agreed with Netanyahu’s right-wing policies. “(The Israeli) Prime Minister understands the hard reality of Israel’s precarious security situation and daily threats of terrorism. I agree with the Israeli Prime Minister that President Obama’s position is simply unrealistic.” He concluded with a very telling statement: “As a Christian, I ask Americans to continue lifting up the people of Israel with prayers for safety and the hope for a lasting peace.”
This strange attitude towards politics and American national security is the real threat, not Iranian embassies and water purification projects in some Latin American countries. But considering the rising religious zealotry, shrewd Israeli lobby and the numerous think tanks of catered wisdom, there is little space for pragmatic politics or sensible approach to anything that concerns Israel. Thus, Obama enacted the bill into law and funds have been secured to evaluate Iran’s growing ‘threats’ in ‘America’s backyard’ so that proper measures are taken to counter the frightening possibilities.
What Duncan doesn’t know however, is that Latin America is no longer hostage, neither to the whims of Washington, nor to his South Carolina’s 3rd District. And that the ‘Western Hemisphere’ is no longer defined by the confines of US foreign policies, which seem to be narrowing each year to meet Israeli expectations and not those of America.
The first is linguistic and quite simple. Say these words out loud: Iran’s civilian nuclear programme. Does that sound familiar? Do those words look normal on the page? Chances are the answer is “no”, because that’s not how the media, public officials or political candidates typically refer to Iran’s nuclear activities.
Iran has a civilian nuclear power programme, including a power plant at Beshehr that was founded with the encouragement and assistance of the Eisenhower administration in 1957 as part of its “Atoms for Peace” programme. Do we hear about that? No. Instead, all we hear about is “Iran’s nuclear programme”. Especially in context, the implied meaning of those three words is inescapable: That Iran is currently pursuing nuclear weapons.
Out of curiosity, I ran some Google searches. The results were striking.
“Iran’s disputed nuclear weapons program”: 4 hits
“Iran’s possible nuclear weapons program”: about 8,990 hits
“Iran’s civil nuclear program”: about 42,200 hits
“Iran’s civilian nuclear program”: about 199,000 hits
“Iran’s nuclear weapons program”: about 5,520,000 hits
“Iran’s nuclear program”: about 49 MILLION hits
Words matter, and this sloppiness is shaping American perceptions, priming the public for war."
Israel’s prime minister and defence minister ordered the country’s military to prepare for a strike against Iran’s nuclear installations two years ago, according to a television documentary.
But the order was not carried out after it met with strong opposition from two key security figures, the military chief of staff and head of the Mossad, claimed Uvda (Fact), broadcast yesterday."
Don’t be fooled. It’s not just campaign season braggadocio when Romney claims that he would be far tougher on Iran than the president by threatening “a credible military option”. He certainly is trying to appear tougher and stronger than Obama - he of the drone wars, the “kill list”, and bin Laden’s offing - but it’s no hollow threat.
The Republican nominee has surrounded himself with advisers who are committed to military action and regime change against Iran, the same people who brought us the Global War on Terror and the Iraq War.
Along with their colleagues in hawkish think-tanks, they have spent years priming the public to believe that Iran has an ongoing nuclear weapons programme, making ludicrous claims about “crazy” mullahs nuking Israel and the United States, pooh-poohing diplomacy - and getting ever shriller each time credible officials and analysts disagree.
Unlike with Iraq in 2002 and 2003, they have it easier today. Then, they and their mentors had to go on a sales roadshow, painting pictures of phantom WMDs to build up support for an invasion. Today, a large majority of Americans already believe that Iran is building nuclear weapons…
Obama has essentially loaded the gun and cocked it. But he has kept his finger off the trigger, pursuing diplomacy with the so-called P5+1 talks and rumoured future direct talks with the Iranians. The problem is: Romney’s guys want to shoot."
Western sanctions hitting import of medicines for diseases including multiple sclerosis and cancer, charity warns
The United States and Israel are set to launch a major military exercise in a show of unity aimed at Iran, despite friction between American and Israeli leaders over how to counter Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
The air defence drills, dubbed “Austere Challenge 2012,” will unfold later this month and last about three weeks, with 3,500 US troops and 1,000 Israeli forces taking part, officers said on Wednesday.
“This is the largest exercise in the history of the longstanding military relationship between the US and Israel,” said Lieutenant General Craig Franklin, 3rd Air Force Commander, who is overseeing the drill along with his Israeli counterpart, Brigadier General Nitzan Nuriel."
Anonymous asked: how does one get over an ex boyfriend? I'm literally going insane. its been more than a year since we broke up. he's with someone else now. and i cant stop thinking about him. what the fuck do i do?
Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy.
Leftists are not liberals.
Leftists are not liberals.
Leftists are not liberals.
Leftists are not liberals.
One of the worst things to happen to Islam is the Islamic revolution in Iran.
For all you undecided voters out there...
Take a look at Jill Stein in the Green Party… someone who has truly stood by her...
For the upcoming US elections, think about the way in which the American elites have been able to exclude a large and important amount of people...
Oh, snap.ROMNEY: Let's talk about the other big one --LEHRER (interrupting): No, let's not.