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    Thursday
    Apr292010

    Worrying and ugly rise of the BNP online

    The most widely used and industry accepted means of analysing website popularity in terms of ranking based on internet traffic, is using the website www.alexa.com It could be viewed as the largest internet based poll, as it simply refers to website hits. Alexa is owned by Amazon and collects "cookies" from millions of websurfers from around the world. It is able to categorise these visitors by country as it recognises the physical location of IP addresses. I have just analysed the rankings of the 5 main political parties in the UK and was completely amazed by the results. Here is the ranking from page 1 for all UK websites http://www.alexa.com/topsites/countries/GB To be clear, in the UK, www.google.co.uk ranks as number 1, and www.facebook.com ranks as number 2 etc etc. The site with the highest combination of visitors and pageviews is ranked #1 in each country. The following figures are for each of the political parties (as of today) and reflect the ranking, from UK surfers, based on visitors and pageviews over the last 3 months.

    1) BNP                 761 http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/bnp.org.uk#

    2) Lib Dems         807 http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/libdems.org.uk#

    3) Conservatives  896 http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/conservatives.com#

    4) Labour            1066 http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/labour.org.uk#

    5) UKIP               2956 http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/ukip.org#

    One might have expected the traffic of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat websites to be broadly similar to each other. Even the UKIP ranking is not particularly surprising. However, the ranking of the BNP website as the most highly trafficked UK party political website is just incredible. None of the pollsters or political journalists in the UK have even started to understand that the BNP is attracting so much interest from British surfers ( in the comfort of their own homes.)

    It seems very likely to me that there are large numbers of Conservative voters who are so fed-up with the Labour Party's record of unrestrained immigration and all of its effects on UK society, that they want to hear something much more convincing than the Conservative policy to-date. It is clear from the disproportionate interest in the BNP website that the "Political correctness" of the Conservative Party is potentially losing a large number of votes. David Cameron has a huge opportunity in the next 8 days, unbeknown to the other parties, to try to woo and win back to the Conservative Party, this tacit and flirting interest in the BNP from British web-surfers/voters who would have voted Conservative in the past. This obviously has to be done with great sensitivity so as not to alienate voters in the centre of the political spectrum.

    This will put a clearer marker in the sand for the Conservative Party and will put the Labour and the Liberal Democrat parties on the backfoot and may attract 2-3% more support for the Conservative Party.

    Sunday
    Apr112010

    Iran Close to Nuclear Bomb production

    Iran had plenty to celebrate on its National Nuclear Day Friday, April 9. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled the new "third generation" centrifuge which he claimed was capable of six times the speed of the machines in current use in Natanz and there and then proclaimed Iran a nuclear power.
    He had three more reasons to crow: 
    1. Iran's first atomic reactor at the southern town of Bushehr began its main and final test at high temperatures after eight months of test runs. If all the components of the Russian-built 1000-megawatt plant work smoothly, the reactor will finally go into full operation in June or in August at the latest after years of delays. 
    Mahmoud Jafari, who heads the project, said all parts are working well and there is no reason why the plant should not start producing electricity before the end of this year. On March 18, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin also said Bushehr would go on stream this summer. 
    DEBKAfile's military sources report that the spent fuel rods from this reactor will soon be providing Iran with an easy and plentiful source of weapons-grade plutonium.

    2. So too will the Arak heavy water plant which Iran has been building secretly southeast of Tehran in violation of its Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations. Work there was discovered this week to have advanced by leaps and bounds and brought the project close to completion, against all estimates that the reactor would not be ready before 2015. 
    Our military and intelligence sources note that Arak and Boushehr will combine to provideIran with the large quantities of plutonium for nuclear warheads. This fissile material has advantages over enriched uranium in its accessibility from heavy water and light water reactors, its smaller size for a nuclear explosion, and its use in smaller and lighter nuclear warheads for delivery by smaller missiles.
    A former IAEA official, John Carlson, once warned that large light water reactors "of the sort Iran is building at Bushehr can produce 330 kilograms of near-weapons grade plutonium - enough to make more than 50 crude nuclear bombs." The process of separating plutonium from spent fuel "employs technology little more advanced," he said, "than that required for producing dairy products or pouring concrete."
    3.  Jafari also announced on the occasion of National Nuclear Day that Iran had uncovered in the central province of Yazd large new deposits of uranium ore plentiful enough to make Iranindependent of foreign imports for both its military and civilian needs.
    DEBKAfile's political sources add: These three breakthroughs on Iran's road to a nuclear weapon are radical enough to put Tehran in the driving seat in negotiations with the 5+1 Group (five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) over its illicit production of enriched uranium and their offer to process it outside Iran as a compromise gesture. 
    Iran has shown the world it no longer needs outside help for reprocessing uranium up to the critical 20 percent level, which is a short jump to weapons grade and the fissile core of a nuclear bomb. Tehran has made good use of every second allowed by the US-led world powers' lame efforts to dissuade it from its nuclear goals by means of partly-effective sanctions, attractive incentives and diplomatic engagement, a policy which gained momentum after Barack Obama became US president.  
    Even this week, he was still telling Tehran that the door to diplomacy still stood open.  

     

    Wednesday
    Mar312010

    Back to Biblical times on Passover-Why not?

     

    Noam Federman, Yehuda Glick detained on suspicion of planning to sacrifice young goats near Temple Mount. 'It's a shame and a disgrace that the police are trying to stop Jews from going up to the Temple Mount and offering a sacrifice,' Federman tells Ynet News

    Right-wing activists Yehuda Glick and Noam Federman were arrested Sunday on suspicion of planning to sacrifice young goats near the Temple Mount.

     

     

    Glick was detained near Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem's Old City and was taken in for questioning by the police. The young goat found in his possession was handed over to the Wildlife Supervision Department in the Agriculture Ministry. Federman was detained for questioning on suspicion of aiding Glick, and was later released.

    Shortly afterwards, Federman was arrested once again near Dung Gate in possession of another young goat.

    Before the second time he was detained, Federman told the media that the police had released him because they thought a sacrifice could be only be offered with a sheep.

    "I come here to observe the holiday mitzvot. It's a shame and a disgrace that the police are trying to stop Jews from going up to the Temple Mount and offering a sacrifice for the Passover holiday," he said.

    The police suspected that the two were planning to take the young goat from the Hurva synagogue towards the Temple Mount and create a provocation. A group of girls was also said to be making its way to the Mount with another young goat.

     

     

     

    Tuesday
    Feb022010

    Israel is vigilant on Northern Border

    Some of the thousands of extra reservists called up by the Israeli military are to be held ready in case of conflict on Israel's northern border with Lebanon, the scene of a long and costly battle two years ago.

    As Israeli troops invaded Gaza on Saturday night, the defence minister, Ehud Barak, warned that the military was monitoring the northern border.

    "While we are fighting in Gaza, we keep an open eye on the sensitive situation in our northern border," he said. "We hope the situation there will remain calm; nevertheless we are ready and alert to face any unwarranted development in that area."

    Last week, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, said he had put his forces on alert. Israel believes Hezbollah has rearmed itself, yet there has been no sign that the group is ready for another conflict. Since the summer of 2006, when Hezbollah and Israel fought a bloody conflict that claimed the lives of more than 1,000 Lebanese and more than 100 Israelis, the border has been quiet, with a UN monitoring force patrolling in southern Lebanon.

    Hezbollah is not seen to be in a strong enough position within Lebanon to launch another major confrontation. Parliamentary elections are due in May and few believe the movement would risk upsetting its position ahead of the ballot.

    Hamas's key backer in the region, Iran, has stepped up its rhetoric in response to the ground invasion and is coordinating with Syria to rally support for Palestinians. Ali Larijani, the speaker of Iran's parliament, said yesterday that Gaza would turn into a "graveyard" for Israelis.

    Iran's national security chief, Saeed Jalili, held talks in Beirut with Nasrallah, and on Saturday was in Damascus, meeting Hamas's exiled leader, Khaled Meshal.

    Iran supports Hamas's demand that the blockade of Gaza be lifted and border crossing points into Egypt be permanently opened. Diplomats say Tehran is encouraging Hamas to oppose the Egyptian idea that the borders can be opened only if there is a monitoring role for the Palestinian Authority (PA), which controls the West Bank and is recognised internationally as the legitimate Palestinian government.

    Iran and Syria support Hamas while all other Arab countries formally back the PA. But Egypt and Jordan, which have peace treaties with Israel, condemned the Gaza incursion yesterday.

    Since Israel's offensive began on 27 December, Iran has called for the wholesale support of the Muslim world and condemned the silence of western-backed Arab states. "The failure of some countries to move effectively regarding Israeli terrorism, as well as silence over this terrorism, will have negative effects on the status of these countries," Jalili warned, said the Syrian news agency Sana.

    Jalili underlined Iran's strategic link with Hezbollah and Syria by visiting the tomb of its military leader, Imad Mughniyeh, assassinated in Damascus last February in a killing blamed on Israel.

    Israeli officials claim Iran is the source of some of the longer-range rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel and smuggled across the Egyptian border during the six-month ceasefire that ended in mid-December. Iran routinely denies transferring weapons to Hamas. But the former president, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, said during Friday prayers: "The oppressed Palestinian people can stand up to Israel if they get political, [and] financial support, as well as weapons."

    Wednesday
    Dec162009

    Secret document exposes Iran's nuclear trigger

    The Times-(Catherine Philip) Confidential intelligence documents obtained by The Times show that Iran is working on testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb.

    The notes, from Iran's most sensitive military nuclear project, describe a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion. Foreign intelligence agencies date them to early 2007, four years after Iran was thought to have suspended its weapons programme.

    An Asian intelligence source last week confirmed to The Times that his country also believed that weapons work was being carried out as recently as 2007 - specifically, work on a neutron initiator.

    The technical document describes the use of a neutron source, uranium deuteride, which independent experts confirm has no possible civilian or military use other than in a nuclear weapon. Uranium deuteride is the material used in Pakistan's bomb, from where Iran obtained its blueprint.

    "Although Iran might claim that this work is for civil purposes, there is no civil application," said David Albright, a physicist and president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, which has 
    analysed hundreds of pages of documents related to the Iranian programme. "This is a very strong indicator of weapons work."

    The documents have been seen by intelligence agencies from several Western countries, including Britain. A senior source at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that they had been passed to the UN's nuclear watchdog.

    A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said yesterday: "We do not comment on intelligence, but our concerns about Iran's nuclear programme are clear. Obviously this document, if authentic, raises serious questions about Iran's intentions."

    Responding to The Times' findings, an Israeli government spokesperson said: "Israel is increasingly concerned about the state of the Iranian nuclear programme and the real intentions that may lie behind it."

    The revelation coincides with growing international concern about Iran's nuclear programme. Tehran insists that it wants to build a civilian nuclear industry to generate power, but critics suspect that the regime is intent on diverting the technology to build an atomic bomb.

    In September, Iran was forced to admit that it was constructing a secret uranium enrichment facility near the city of Qom. President Ahmadinejad then claimed that the wanted to build ten such sites. Over the weekend Manouchehr Mottaki, the Iranian Foreign Minister, said that Iran needed up to 15 nuclear power plants to meet its energy needs, despite the country's huge oil and gas reserves.

    Publication of the nuclear documents will increase pressure for tougher UN sanctions against Iran, which are due to be discussed this week. But the latest leaks in a long series of allegations against Iran will also be seized on by hawks in Israel and the US, who support a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities before the country can build its first warhead.

    Mark Fitzpatrick, senior fellow for non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said: "The most shattering conclusion is that, if this was an effort that began in 2007, it could be a casus belli. If Iran is working on weapons, it means there is no diplomatic solution."

    The Times had the documents, which were originally written in Farsi, translated into English and had the translation separately verified by two Farsi speakers. While much of the language is technical, it is clear that the Iranians are intent on concealing their nuclear military work behind legitimate civilian research.

    The fallout could be explosive, especially in Washington, where it is likely to invite questions about President Obama's groundbreaking outreach to Iran.  The papers provide the first evidence which suggests that Iran has pursued weapons studies after 2003 and may actively be doing so today - if the four-year plan continued as envisaged.

    A 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate concluded that weapons work was suspended in 2003 and officials said with "moderate confidence" that it had not resumed by mid-2007. Britain, Germany and France, however, believe that weapons work had already resumed by then.

    Western intelligence sources say that by 2003 Iran had already assembled the technical know-how it needed to build a bomb, but had yet to complete the necessary testing to be sure such a device would work. Iran also lacked sufficient fissile material to fuel a bomb and still does - although it is technically capable of producing weapons-grade uranium should its leaders take the political decision to do so.

    The documents detail a plan for tests to determine whether the device works - without detonating an explosion leaving traces of uranium detectable by the outside world. If such traces were found, they would be taken as 
    irreversible evidence of Iran's intention to become a nuclear-armed power.

    Experts say that, if the 2007 date is correct, the documents are the strongest indicator yet of a continuing nuclear weapons programme in Iran. Iran has long denied a military dimension to its nuclear programme, claiming its nuclear activities are solely focused on the production of energy for civilian use.

    Mr Fitzpatrick said: "Is this the smoking gun? That's the question people should be asking. It looks like the smoking gun. This is smoking uranium."

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