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Iran Warns US Against Crossing "Red Line" on Syria

By DEBKAfile, Reuters & The Times of Israel

Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of staff of Iran's armed forces said Sunday: "America knows the limitation of the red line of the Syrian front and any crossing of Syria's red line will have severe consequences for the White House." This statement reacted to statements by Western officials regarding a possible military intervention in Syria, said the Fars news agency.

Syria warned over the weekend that any Western-led attack on its regime will "set the Middle East ablaze." The threat, made by Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi, was aired on Syrian state TV shortly after President Barack Obama ordered the Sixth Fleet to keep the USS Mahan in Mediterranean waters instead of letting it return to its home port in Norfolk, Virginia.

Three other U.S. destroyers are currently deployed in the Mediterranean Sea -- the USS Gravely, the USS Barry and the USS Ramage. The decision to extend the fourth destroyer's deployment followed last week's purported chemical weapon attack by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces on rebel-held suburbs east of Damascus, which left more than 1,000 civilians dead.

The Syrian government has denied using unconventional weapons against civilians, claiming that attack was launched by the rebels.

A U.S. attack will result in a "ball of fire that would burn not only Syria but the whole Middle East," Zoabi said in a TV interview, adding Syria's regional retaliation "won't be a picnic." The Syrian minister further stressed that "the American pressure will not help, it is a waste of time, and Syria will not stop its fight against terror. ... The use of chemical weapons by the opposition shows their confusion."

Syria's state-run TV channel aired footage of chemical weapons' stockpiles allegedly captured by the Syrian army in tunnels dug by rebel groups in the Jubar neighborhood in Damascus. Free Syrian Army Commander Brig. Gen. Salim Idris denied the report, saying, "We do not have such weapons and we have proof that the regime was involved in the heinous crime in the Damascus suburbs."

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani acknowledged Saturday, for the first time, that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, and called for the international community to prevent their use. Rouhani stopped short of saying who he thought had used the arms, but Iran's Foreign Ministry on Saturday said the evidence pointed to rebels. Tehran has previously accused Syrian rebels of being behind what it called suspected chemical attacks.

"Many of the innocent people of Syria have been injured and martyred by chemical agents and this is unfortunate," Rouhani was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students' News Agency ."We completely and strongly condemn the use of chemical weapons, because the Islamic Republic of Iran is itself a victim of chemical weapons," he said, referring to the chemical weapons attacks Iran had suffered by Iraqi forces during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. "The Islamic republic gives notice to the international community to use all its might to prevent the use of these weapons anywhere in the world, especially in Syria," he said. With the specter of an American attack in Syria looming, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday drew attention to the partners of the embattled Syrian leader, Bashar Assad: Iran and the Lebanese terrorist militia Hizbullah.

"Assad's regime isn't acting alone," Netanyahu told journalists after a meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. "Iran, and Iran's proxy, Hizbullah, are there on the ground playing an active role assisting Syria. In fact, Assad's regime has become a full Iranian client and Syria has become Iran's testing ground... Now the whole world is watching," Netanyahu said, "Iran is watching and it wants to see what will be the reaction to the use of chemical weapons."

The prime minister went on to compare the Syria use of chemical weapons to Iran's alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons: "What is happening in Syria, simply demonstrates what will happen if Iran gets even deadlier weapons."

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that last week's alleged gas attack wasn't the first time the Assad regime had used such weapons. Ya'alon said Israel would not intervene in Syria's ongoing civil war. Referring to the lines in the lines in the sand previously drawn by his government, he said: "We won't allow the transfer of quality weapons to Hizbullah and other terror groups, we won't allow the transfer of chemical weapons and we'll respond to any action that hurts our sovereignty."

At the end of the day, the defense minister said, "we have do defend ourselves on our own, and do so responsibly and thoughtfully. We don't expect foreign armies to do it for us.

"There are a lot of events occurring in our region, especially the use of nonconventional weapons by a nonconventional regime, a move that caused the tragic death of hundreds of innocent civilians," Ya'alon said. "This is not the first time the regime in Syria, supported by Iran and Hizbullah, [is] using unconventional weapons."

Only 60% of Israelis Have Gas Masks

By The Times of Israel

As the prospect of a US-led Western military intervention into the Syrian civil war dominated Israeli headlines on Sunday, a new report revealed that, due to budget constraints, some 40% of Israeli citizens do not possess government-supplied gas masks to protect them from a potential chemical weapon attack.

The post office said Sunday that requests have jumped fourfold in the last few days, likely the result of the news out of Syria. Only 60% of Israelis currently have gas masks, a Home Front Command official told Channel 2. "We're not 100% ready, of course," he reportedly said. "There is no 100% defense… but every person should be equipped."

In May, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced a new $350 million initiative to equip every Israeli with a gas mask. However, official said that the shortfall was due to a "question of budget."

Despite the lack of gas masks, the official went on to say that Israel is more prepared that ever before for the case of a chemical weapons attack. "We are prepared for any scenario," he said, adding that Home Front Command forces are "continually learning and training" for such a scenario.

Since the reports of a mass chemical gas attack outside Damascus surfaced last week, debate has raged in the US and Europe about possible military intervention. Israel is said to be preparing for the possibility that, in response to an American attack, Syria might retaliate against targets in Israel. Syria is reported to have an arsenal of at least 100,000 missiles, some of which can target any area in the country.

Fatah Stresses: We're Not Giving Up 'Right of Return'


If anyone had any doubts about what Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas meant when he met last week with members of the Israeli leftist party Meretz, an official statement from his Fatah party on Sunday made things clear.

After Thursday's meeting, members of Meretz said that Abbas had reassured them that if a peace agreement is reached with Israel, it would bring an end to his people's demands of the Jewish state. "I know your concerns, but guarantee that at the conclusion of successful negotiations, we undertake to end all the demands. We will not ask to return to Yafo, Akko and Tzfat," he reportedly said.

Members of Meretz said that Abbas told them a "fair agreement" will end the conflict with Israel and that a "peace agreement with Israel will be final and binding." He did not, however, specify what is meant by a fair peace agreement and did not commit to the fact that the PA would give up its demand for the "right of return", which would see millions of Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 and their descendants flood Israel.

On Sunday, Abbas chaired a meeting of the Central Committee of the Fatah movement, at the conclusion of which Fatah spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said in a statement that "the main goal of the negotiations with Israel is to establish an independent Palestinian state within the [pre-]1967 borders with its capital Al-Quds (Jerusalem -ed.), and the return of refugees in accordance with resolutions by international legitimate institutions and the Arab Peace Initiative."

Abu Rudeineh stressed that "all issues related to the permanent status agreement are on the negotiating table, within the time frame of the nine months that was agreed upon with the U.S. government." He added that the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria "is an obstacle to reaching a just peace based on the rights of the Palestinian people that cannot be canceled."

Nixon in '73: Jews Must Realize They're Americans First

By YnetNews
This past week additional tapes from the Nixon White House were released and on them – as with previous tapes – the late American president can be heard making anti-Semitic and racist statements.

For example, in a conversation with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, on the eve of the 1973 US-Soviet summit, Nixon expressed concern that US Jews would try to steer the talks to the topic of Russian Jewry. "If they torpedo this summit — and it might go down for other reasons — I'm gonna put the blame on them, and I'm going to do it publicly at 9 o'clock at night before 80 million people," Nixon said. Kissinger replied, "I agree completely. They brought it on themselves."

Nixon continued, "I won't mind one goddamn but to have a little anti-Semitism if it's on that issue. They put the Jewish interest above America's interest and it's about goddamn time that the Jew in America realizes he's an American first and a Jew second."

A day earlier, in another conversation, Nixon came out against the pressure that American Jews were exerting in order to help their brethren in the Soviet Union. "Some of the Jews picket can raise hell, but the American people are not going to let them destroy our foreign policy — never!"

In yet another conversation, Nixon yelled, "Goddamn his Jewish soul!" in regard to his advisor, Leonard Garment. When he heard that comedian Danny Kaye was scheduled to perform at a White House event, Nixon is heard repeatedly saying, "He's Jewish!"

The blacks, too, came under Nixon's scathing tongue, "Blacks can't run it (Jamaica). Nowhere, and they won't be able to for a hundred years, and maybe not for a thousand. … Do you know, maybe one black country that's well run?"

Israeli `Web Prophet' Maps the Past to Predict the Future

By The Times of Israel

Prophecy may still be restricted to those qualified to appear in the Bible, but modern technology has given us the next best thing – the ability to make a very accurate educated guess about what may happen in the future. Work in that area is being led by Dr. Kira Radinsky, an Israeli web technology researcher, and for her accomplishments,

Radinsky has been added to a prestigious list of top technology figures under 35 years of age, recently published by an official publication of MIT. And at 26, Radinsky, who was educated at the Haifa Technion and did her research work at Microsoft, is one of the younger people on the list – meaning that she is likely to achieve a lot more before she's done.

The "35 Under 35" list has been published by the MIT Technology Review Magazine since 1999, and it showcases the people expected to have an important impact on the future based on their work. A panel of judges reviews researchers' work – hundreds apply for the list each year – and determines which researchers are doing work that will most significantly affect the world in the coming decades. Among previous winners have been Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and chief Apple designer Jonathan Ive.

Radinsky, along with her partner Eric Horvitz, co-director at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington, developed software that parses the web, seeking patterns — in news and historical archive sites for hints on patterns that have led to outbreaks of disease, deaths, and riots in the past – and comparing those patterns to current conditions. It's a very sophisticated form of data mining, enabling deep analysis of disparate events and seeing how they repeat themselves time after time.

A paper published by Radinksy and Horvitz provides a good example: In 2012, Cuba suffered a major outbreak of cholera, its first in 130 years. Authorities there were totally unprepared to deal with the situation; according to news reports, doctors had declared states of emergency in numerous areas (although there was little official comment from the Cuban government).

But the software designed by Radinsky and Horovitz, their paper said, specifically pointed to the likelihood of a major cholera outbreak in the country. 2011 was a dry year for Cuba, but by mid-2012, rain returned to the country, with the above-average rainy season culminating with Hurricane Sandy in October of that year. The summer rains, and especially Sandy, caused major flooding in some parts of the country, and as the flooding increased, the cholera infection rates rose, the paper said.

While the events – drought, flooding, and cholera – seemed random, the software determined that it should have been expected. Searching 150 years of news reports and historical archives, the software determined a specific correlation between a drought state followed by major flooding, and a subsequent cholera outbreak, especially prominent in poor countries, where flood control was often substandard or non-existent. Weather researchers had long suspected a correlation between flooding and cholera, but it took the "prophecy software" designed by Radinsky and Horovitz to figure it out.

In another cholera example, the system would have predicted a major outbreak of cholera in Bangladesh in 1991, giving medical officials several days to prepare for it, the paper said. Not that the system is foolproof, the paper noted – but it has shown an accuracy rate of between 70% and 80%. That would be better than the 50/50 rate most of us can boast, and could help determine trends and events in many spheres. In fact, Radinksy has started her own business, called SalesPredict, which combines big data and predictive analytics to help businesses better qualify their leads.

Radinsky began studying at the Technion at age 15, and completed three degrees at the Faculty of Computer Science under the supervision of Prof. Shaul Markovitch. "Kira is a brilliant researcher gifted with unique skills which support her inclusion on this list," said Markovitch. "Kira possesses intense intellect, creativity and curiosity – a rare combination typical of outstanding inventors. In her doctoral study, she tackled a problem that seemed to be unsolvable with the tools currently available – the development of algorithms capable of accurately predicting global events through the use of vast reservoirs of web-based information sources. Her boldness for taking on such a problem and scientific competence that demonstrated her successful solution is what brought her to be included on this list."

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