Flying the national flag usually signifies a display of pride or patriotism. But in Iran today, it may represent something much more sinister.
Sources and blog postings from inside Iran say that what seem to be simple flagpoles popping up all over Tehran and other large Iranian cities are actually clandestine electronic antennas, which use high-frequency waves to jam communications and block ordinary citizens from Internet, TV and radio signals. Some Iranians think the electronic emissions also may be hazardous to humans’ health.
Tehran residents and communication experts report an increase in jamming has coincided with the strategic placement of the towering metal flagpoles, as the government continues its ongoing campaign to block some 500 TV channels and 200 radio stations from outside Iran deemed too Western-oriented.
“Ever since 2009, the telecommunications masts have increased 10- to 15-fold. It’s not clear where these masts are, but many in Tehran, including myself, believe that these tall flagpoles recently placed around the perimeter of the city are jammers,” said Shahin, a 32-year-old Tehran-based blogger. The flagpoles are present in other large Iranian cities but are most prevalent in the capital, Shahin said.
“The regime fears the Internet and satellites coming into the country more than they do the opposition forces living here,” he added. “That’s how we know they would do anything in their power, including risking our health, to protect their existence.”
Saturday, December 01, 2012
On this day in 1862 President Abraham Lincoln delivered his state of the union address. Here's the final paragraph. "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present...fellow citizens, we cannot escape history...The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union...In giving freedom to the slave, we ensure freedom to the free--honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of earth."
is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong
man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face
is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs,
who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without
error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who
knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a
worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high
achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while
daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and
timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
- Teddy Roosevelt
Friday, November 30, 2012
Iran is increasingly worried about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime’s fate and is distraught that the regime is not taking recommendations from the Islamic republic to keep its power, an Iranian report obtained by a Western diplomatic source said.
Iranian forces in Syria are increasingly burdened due to the Syrian regime leaders not following their advices as the situation in the conflict-torn country becomes more chaotic, the report, which was obtained by an embassy of a Western country in Tehran, said.
The report, however, did not mention details explaining the Iranian recommendations given to the Syrian regime.
But the report revealed that Tehran was disappointed by the corruption within the Syrian armed forces as large amounts of Iranian funds were transferred to personal bank accounts of senior Syrian officers.
The report stated that Iran will continue its support for President Assad until Iran’s presidential elections on June 2013.
Tehran mulls the possibility of a civil war breaking out in Syria post-Assad regime collapse, which can later destabilize Iran itself before the presidential elections.
In conclusion, the report said Iran decided not to increase its support for Syria due to the deteriorating economic situation in the Islamic republic and Assad regime’s unlikely survival in the long term.
“Iran is trying to find other solutions so that Hezbollah would be able to get Iran’s support even after the fall of Bashar al-Assad’s regime,” the report said, adding “Iran is now establishing some connections with Syrian opposition’s figures without the knowledge of the Syrian regime as it doesn’t want to give the impression that it has abandoned Assad regime.”
The report says Iran believes the Syrian regime’s collapse is inevitable without the Islamic republic’s support.
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
This past summer, as the Syrian economy began to unravel and the military pressed hard against an armed rebellion, a Syrian government plane ferried what flight records describe as more than 200 tons of “bank notes” from Moscow.
The records of overflight requests were obtained by ProPublica. The flights occurred during a period of escalating violence in a conflict that has left tens of thousands of people dead since fighting broke out in March 2011.
The regime of Bashar al-Assad is increasingly in need of cash to stay afloat and continue financing the military’s efforts to crush the uprising. U.S. and European sanctions, including a ban on minting Syrian currency, have damaged the country’s economy. As a result, Syria lost access to an Austrian bank that had printed its bank notes....
Endemic violence, targeted attacks and threats against journalists in Pakistan have contributed to a ranking of 151 out of 179 countries worldwide on the 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index issued by Reporters without Borders on Wednesday, reported Journalism Pakistan.
Journalists in Pakistan are victims of target killings and are under constant threat from the Taliban and other terrorist groups contributing to its fast growing reputation as one of the “world’s deadliest country for journalists.”
So much so that the press release from Reporters without Border stated, “Pakistan (151) was the world’s deadliest country for journalists for the second year running.”
Such is the security situation in Pakistan, that it was sandwiched between Afghanistan (150) and Iraq (152).
Somalia, a country that has been at war for 20 years, was ranked at 164, proving to be an incredibly dangerous location for members of the press.
Iran, well-known for its persecution of the media, was ranked at 175 on the index.
India was ranked 131 on the index.
Monday, November 26, 2012
More than half the remaining Isaf bases in Afghanistan have been handed over to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) as the Nato-led coalition reduces its troop numbers, according to an Isaf spokesperson.
Around 250 bases out of 400 have been entrusted to the local forces with more expected to be transferred in the future, Gen. Gunter Katz said in a Kabul press conference on Monday.
The handover primarily refers to the physical structure of the base and not necessarily the weapons and equipment used to defend the bases.
"Of handing over bases to the Afghans, I would be very cautious in saying [it includes] all the equipment. It's basically just what's been used to run the infrastructure – this doesn't include weapons or stuff like this," Katz said....
Sunday, November 25, 2012
NEW DELHI: As Fajr V rockets rained down on Israel from battleground Gaza for a week, many Indian defense planners were keeping a close watch on the performance of Israel's Iron Dome, which is probably the only deterrent to these homegrown short-range missiles.
Several months ago, the military scientists in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had suggested that India look at a joint development programme with Israeli firms to develop an Indian version of Iron Dome, which is touted as the most effective system against short-range missiles such as Fajr V rockets. The Indian scientists believe Israel's plight has several parallels to its threat from Pakistan as well as the vulnerability of its cities from terrorists....
At the signing ceremony of the cooperation agreement between Vietnam and Sweden on making unmanned aircraft (UAV) held by VASA on November 20, Professor Nguyen Duc Cuong, VASA President, stressed the important role of the UAV in the field of defense and security, search and rescue, protection and management of forests.
"Vietnam and Sweden will cooperate to manufacture medium-range unmanned aircraft called Magic Eye 1,” he said.
Magic Eye 1 weighs 40 kg, with operating time up to 6 hours, maximum flying speed of 200 km per hour, and the radio communication radius of 100 to 200 km.
Under the plan, the collaborative project will be divided into three phases. In the first phase, Sweden will give fund to Vietnam to manufacture two Magic Eye 1's. They will provide Vietnam with equipment, technology transfer, design and send experts to Vietnam.
In the second stage, the two sides will cooperate to develop avionics. In the final stage, they will manufacture UAVs for exports.
According to experts, the need for UAV in Vietnam is very large. This product can perform various tasks such as mapping, surveying, planning, border patrol, search and rescue.
Compared to remote sensing satellites, UAVs have several advantages such as having cheaper price, being able to take high-resolution photos, and the UAV technology is updated timely and easy.
-bth: the US has no monopoloy on this technology
North Korea tried to ship materials suitable for uranium enrichment or missile development to Myanmar via China this year, in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution, The Asahi Shimbun has learned.
The shipment included about 50 metal pipes and 15 high-specification aluminum alloy bars, at least some of them offering the high strength needed in centrifuges for a nuclear weapons program.
Japan seized the items aboard a cargo vessel docked at Tokyo Port on Aug. 22, a raid which took place at the request of the United States, sources told The Asahi Shimbun.
Authorities concluded that the shipment originated in North Korea because the bars were found to be inscribed "DPRK," although investigators were unable to confirm the origin from cargo documents or from the ship's crew, the sources said.
Japan, the United States and South Korea believe Myanmar has abandoned its one-time nuclear weapons ambitions. This makes officials suspect that the aluminum alloy may have been intended for use in building missiles instead.
A South Korean government source said Myanmar may have been trying to develop short-range missiles in the event of border disputes with its neighbors.
The United States is among nations now easing sanctions against Myanmar and supporting its move toward democracy. On Nov. 19, Barack Obama, the first serving U.S. president to visit Myanmar, met with President Thein Sein in Yangon and requested that he sever military ties with North Korea.
The revelation of apparent continued links could hamper international reconciliation. And Pyongyang has complained of U.S. pressure on Myanmar to end relations.
It will also likely cause international criticism of Myanmar and China, which have both denied violating the U.N. ban on North Korean exports of weapons and related materials.
The cargo was to have been delivered to Soe Ming Htike, a Yangon-based construction company, which the U.S. government believes is a front for Myanmar's military procurement....
-bth: what I don't understand is what border threat does Myanmar face that would justify such expenditure and risk?
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards has floated the idea of creating a vast oil spill in the Strait of Hormuz to block the vital shipping lane, Erich Follath of Der Spiegel reports.
The "top secret" plan, reportedly obtained by Western intelligence officials, would be aimed at forcing the West to join Iran in a large-scale cleanup that would potentially require a temporary suspension of the biting sanctions against Tehran.
Previously Iran has threatened to disrupt or close the waterway if its nuclear sites are attack by Israel and/or the United States....
KHARTOUM, Sudan — A Sudanese official says a military factory in the capital which Khartoum claims was bombed by Israel will be relocated away from residential areas.
Khartoum governor Abdul Rahman al-Khedr was quoted Sunday by the official SUNA news agency as saying authorities have located a new site and began steps to move the factory. He said the alleged strike will not weaken Sudan’s resolve to be militarily self-sufficient....
-bth: guess they are anticipating more untimely explosions.
raq will emerge as the world's fastest growing economy in 2012 and 2013, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML)
The Wall Street bank's data shows that among all the major economies it tracks, Iraq will be the only country that will post double-digit-growth in 2012 - clocking a 10.5% improvement in GDP this year.China will emerge as the world's second fastest-growing economy this year, with 7.7% GDP growth. Meanwhile, the ten most important emerging markets will only grow at 5.5% this year, weighed down by problems in OECD economies, BAML data shows.
Iraq will post a slightly lower but still impressive 8.2% growth in 2013, beating China once again (which is forecast to grow 8.2% next year), to emerge as the fastest growing economy again, according to BAML calculations.The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has a slightly lower forecast for Iraq of 8.5% in 2012 and 8.2% in 2013, but expects even greater growth over the next few years."We expect Iraq's economy to grow by a robust 9% on average during 2013-17, driven primarily by rising oil production," says the EIU. "Bouts of violence, especially in central areas around Baghdad, will continue to disrupt the economy, but improvements overall in the security situation should aid economic activity in some of Iraq's more ethnically and religiously homogenous southern and western provinces, leading to increased wholesale and retail trade."The private sector is also expected to chip in with oil companies driving growth and boosting infrastructure development, housing, transportation and communications.
The pace of Iraq's revival in the coming decades depends very heavily on the oil sector: how quickly production and export are increased and how the resulting revenues are managed and spent, says the International Energy Agency....
--bth: things you don't read in the press in the US.