Monthly Archives: December 2008

Alexander Calder: The Paris Years, 1926-1933

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[Portrait of Jimmy Durante, 1926. Photo courtesy of the Calder Foundation]

My wife and I went to see “Alexander Calder: The Paris Years, 1926-1933” at the Whitney Museum. I have been fascinated with Calder’s work for many years and have seen his mobiles and stabiles in a variety of museums. His circus (part of the Whitney’s permanent collection) is always a joy to see but the most intriguing pieces for me at this exhibition were his wire sculptures, especially the portraits.

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[Portrait of Joan Miro, 1930. Photo courtesy of the Calder Foundation]

If you are unfamiliar with the artist, here is a bio:

Alexander Calder was born in 1898, the second child of artist parents—his father was a sculptor and his mother a painter. Because his father, Alexander Stirling Calder, received public commissions, the family traversed the country throughout Calder’s childhood. Calder was encouraged to create, and from the age of eight he always had his own workshop wherever the family lived. For Christmas in 1909, Calder presented his parents with two of his first sculptures, a tiny dog and duck cut from a brass sheet and bent into formation. The duck is kinetic—it rocks back and forth when tapped. Even at age eleven, his facility in handling materials was apparent.

Despite his talents, Calder did not originally set out to become an artist. He instead enrolled at the Stevens Institute of Technology after high school and graduated in 1919 with an engineering degree. Calder worked for several years after graduation at various jobs, including as a hydraulics engineer and automotive engineer, timekeeper in a logging camp, and fireman in a ship’s boiler room. While serving in the latter occupation, on a ship from New York bound for San Francisco, Calder awoke on the deck to see both a brilliant sunrise and a scintillating full moon; each was visible on opposite horizons (the ship then lay off the Guatemalan coast). The experience made a lasting impression on Calder: he would refer to it throughout his life.

Calder committed to becoming an artist shortly thereafter, and in 1923 he moved to New York and enrolled at the Art Students League. He also took a job illustrating for the National Police Gazette, which sent him to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to sketch circus scenes for two weeks in 1925. The circus became a lifelong interest of Calder’s, and after moving to Paris in 1926, he created his Cirque Calder, a complex and unique body of art. The assemblage included diminutive performers, animals, and props he had observed at the Ringling Brothers Circus. Fashioned from wire, leather, cloth, and other found materials, Cirque Calder was designed to be manipulated manually by Calder. Every piece was small enough to be packed into a large trunk, enabling the artist to carry it with him and hold performances anywhere. Its first performance was held in Paris for an audience of friends and peers, and soon Calder was presenting the circus in both Paris and New York to much success. Calder’s renderings of his circus often lasted about two hours and were quite elaborate. Indeed, the Cirque Calder predated performance art by forty years.

Calder found he enjoyed working with wire for his circus: he soon began to sculpt from this material portraits of his friends and public figures of the day. Word traveled about the inventive artist, and in 1928 Calder was given his first solo gallery show at the Weyhe Gallery in New York. The show at Weyhe was soon followed by others in New York, as well as in Paris and Berlin: as a result, Calder spent much time crossing the ocean by boat. He met Louisa James (a grandniece of writer Henry James) on one of these steamer journeys and the two were married in January 1931. He also became friendly with many prominent artists and intellectuals of the early twentieth century at this time, including Joan Miró, Fernand Léger, James Johnson Sweeney, and Marcel Duchamp.

[more here]

About the exhibition:

When Alexander “Sandy” Calder (1898–1976), arrived in Paris in 1926, he aspired to be a painter; when he left in 1933, he had evolved into the artist we know today: an international figure and defining force in twentieth-century sculpture. In these seven years Calder’s fluid, animating drawn line transformed from two dimensions to three, from ink and paint to wire, and his radical innovations included openform wire caricature portraits, a bestiary of wire animals, his beloved and critically important miniature Circus (1926–31), abstract and figurative sculptures, and his paradigm-shifting “mobiles.”

This is short video of the Cirque du Calder:

Part II is here.

I know a few readers of this blog are interested in the Spanish Civil War. Calder designed a mercury fountain commissioned by the Spanish Republic for the 1937 World Exhibition in Paris. The artwork is a memorial to the siege of Almadén by the forces of General Franco. At that time, Almadén supplied 60% of the world’s mercury. The fountain is located at the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona. Calder also supported Spanish Refugee Aid.

More on Operation Cast Lead

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Round up from around the web:

Ben Cohen (ZWord): Gaza and ANSWER

Contentious Centrist: Loads of posts here, here, here and here.

Elder of Ziyon: Protests don’t reflect reality and Why would Israel bomb a university? Here’s Why!

Terry Glavin: The Debasement of Language: “Israeli Genocide”

Jeffrey Goldberg (The Atlantic): A Fatah Friend Writes: I’m Supporting the Israeli Air Force

Yossi Klein Halevi (TNR): Why Gaza Matters

Eric Lee (Labourstart): The Left, Israel and “Holocaust” in Gaza

Noah Pollak (Contentions): The Cycle of Cease-Fires

Michael Totten: What Would a Proportionate Response Look Like?

Random Thoughts: Gaza Round Up 3.5

Sultan Knish: The Gaza Picture Show and The Terrorists are Always the Victim

Much more at ZWord.

RIP: Samuel Huntington and Freddie Hubbard

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Political Scientist Samuel Huntington, author of The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Political Order in Changing Societies, The Soldier and the State and many other influential books has died at the age of 81. Robert Kaplan writing in Atlantic (Dec 2001) notes:

The Soldier and the State constituted a warning: America’s liberal society, Huntington argued, required the protection of a professional military establishment steeped in conservative realism. In order to keep the peace, military leaders had to take for granted—and anticipate—the “irrationality, weakness, and evil in human nature.” Liberals were good at reform, not at national security. “Magnificently varied and creative when limited to domestic issues,” Huntington wrote, “liberalism faltered when applied to foreign policy and defense.” Foreign policy, he explained, is not about the relationship among individuals living under the rule of law but about the relationship among states and other groups operating in a largely lawless realm. The Soldier and the State concluded with a rousing defense of West Point, which, Huntington wrote, “embodies the military ideal at its best … a bit of Sparta in the midst of Babylon.”

The subject that Huntington has more recently put on the map is the “clash of civilizations” that is occurring as Western, Islamic, and Asian systems of thought and government collide. His argument is more subtle than it is usually given credit for, but some of the main points can be summarized.

• The fact that the world is modernizing does not mean that it is Westernizing. The impact of urbanization and mass communications, coupled with poverty and ethnic divisions, will not lead to peoples’ everywhere thinking as we do.

• Asia, despite its ups and downs, is expanding militarily and economically. Islam is exploding demographically. The West may be declining in relative influence.

• Culture-consciousness is getting stronger, not weaker, and states or peoples may band together because of cultural similarities rather than because of ideological ones, as in the past.

• The Western belief that parliamentary democracy and free markets are suitable for everyone will bring the West into conflict with civilizations—notably, Islam and the Chinese—that think differently.

• In a multi-polar world based loosely on civilizations rather than on ideologies, Americans must reaffirm their Western identity.

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon highlight the tragic relevance not just of Huntington’s ideas about a clash of civilizations but of his entire life’s work. Since the 1950s he has argued that American society requires military and intelligence services that think in the most tragic, pessimistic terms. He has worried for decades about how American security has mostly been the result of sheer luck—the luck of geography—and may one day have to be truly earned. He has written that liberalism thrives only when security can be taken for granted—and that in the future we may not have that luxury. And he has warned that the West may one day have to fight for its most cherished values and, indeed, physical survival against extremists from other cultures who despise our country and who will embroil us in a civilizational war that is real, even if political leaders and polite punditry must call it by another name. While others who hold such views have found both happiness and favor working among like-minded thinkers in the worlds of the corporation, the military, and the intelligence services, Huntington has deliberately remained in the liberal bastion of Ivy League academia, to fight for his ideas on that lonely but vital front.

You can read the entire article here.

The exceptional jazz trumpeter and composer Freddie Hubbard passed away this week as well. He was 70. Hubbard’s oeuvre, from bebop to fusion, is incredibly diverse and reflects the changes in jazz from the late 1950s, through the 1960s and into the 1970s. The following is from Jazztrumpetsolos.com:

Freddie played mellophone and then trumpet in his school band, studying at the Jordan Conservatory with the principal trumpeter of the local symphony. He worked as a teenager with Wes and Monk Montgomery, and eventually founded his own first band, the Jazz Contemporaries, with bassist Larry Ridley and saxophonist James Spaulding. Moving to New York in 1958 at the age of 20, he quickly astonished fans and critics alike with the depth and maturity of his playing working with veteran jazz artists Philly Joe Jones (1958-59, 1961), Sonny Rollins (1959), Slide Hampton (1959-60), J.J. Johnson (1960), Eric Dolphy, his room-mate for 18 months, and Quincy Jones, with whom he toured Europe (1960-61). He was barely 22 when he recorded Open Sesame, his solo debut, in June 1960. That album, featuring Hank Mobley, McCoy Tyner, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones, set the stage for one of the more meteoric careers in jazz.

Within the next 10 months, Hubbard recorded his second album, Goin’ Up, with the same personnel as his first, and a third, Hub Cap, with Julian Priester and Jimmy Heath. Four months later, in August 1961, he made what many consider his masterpiece, Ready For Freddie, which was also his first Blue Note collaboration with Wayne Shorter. That same year, he joined Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers (replacing Lee Morgan). Freddie had quickly established himself as an important new voice in jazz. While earning a reputation as a hard-blowing young lion, he had developed his own sound, distancing himself from the early influence of Clifford Brown and Miles Davis and won Down Beat’s “New Star” award on trumpet.

He remained with Blakey until 1966, leaving to form his own small groups, which over the next few years featured Kenny Barron and Louis Hayes. Throughout the 60s he also played in bands led by others, including Max Roach and Herbie Hancock. Hubbard was a significant presence on Herbie Hancock’s Blue Note recordings beginning with the pianist’s debut as a leader, Takin’ Off, and continuing on Empyrean Isles and Maiden Voyage. He was also featured on four classic 60s sessions: Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, Oliver Nelson’s Blues And The Abstract Truth, Eric Dolphy’s Out To Lunch!, and John Coltrane’s Ascension during that time.

Freddie achieved his greatest popular success in the 1970s with a series of crossover albums on CTI Records. Although his early 70s jazz albums Red Clay, First Light and Straight Life were particularly well received (First Light won a Grammy Award), this period saw Hubbard emulating Herbie Hancock and moving into jazz fusions. However, he sounded much more at ease in the hard bop context of his 1977 tour with the V.S.O.P. quintet, the band which retraced an earlier quintet led by Miles Davis and brought together ex-Davis sidemen Hancock, Hayes, Wayne Shorter and Ron Carter, with Hubbard taking the Davis role.

Freddie Hubbard “Bird Like”

“Red Clay”:

Better Late than Never: Israel Pounds Hamas in Gaza

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[Israeli air strike in Rafah, AFP photo]

Over the past three days at least 100 rockets have been launched by Hamas and other terrorist organizations into southern Israel. This is not a recent development. Thousands of rockets have fallen on Israel in the past eight years. Israel finally responded by leveling Hamas’ headquarters and other targets across Gaza.

60 warplanes struck more than 50 locations in the first few minutes of “Operation Cast Lead”, the largest Israeli military operation in Gaza since the 1967 War. In addition to attacking Hamas personnel and facilities including rocket launching sites, political offices, a police station, weapons warehouse, and radio station, the Israeli Air Force bombed tunnels along the Philadelphi Route, near the Israeli-Egyptian border. To conclude the operation, the military has mobilized over 6,500 reservists and may be preparing for a ground assault. David Hazony (Contentions) writes:

After a devastating set of aerial blows, Israeli tanks are now gathering at the border, and Barak is talking about calling up reserves. It is way too early to tell, but it is starting to look less like payback or deterrence, and more like the beginnings of a prolongued operation aimed at toppling the Hamas regime.

Rather than considering how they would respond in a similar situation, officials from the Philippines, Turkey, France, Russia and many other countries have condemned Israel. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband urged a “ceasefire and immediate halt to all violence”. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay decried Israel’s use of “disproportionate” force while UN undersecretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes opined [h/t Cinnamon Stillwell]:

The Israeli reaction is not justified by those rocket attacks, even though it’s caused by those rocket attacks.

Say what? Ami Isseroff ‘s (ZioNation) post “Gaza: Rights Versus Wisdom” is worth quoting at length:

Since the breakdown of the so-called truce, which was never very quiet in the best weaks, the United Nations, the European Union and the United States did nothing other than to bemoan the mythical humanitarian crisis in Gaza and call on Israel to send more supplies. The supplies were sent, both before and after the breakdown of the truce. Israel has maneuvered itself into a unique legal situation, where it is forced by world opinion and twisted juridical rulings to supply its declared enemy with war materiel. Building materials were used to construct bunkers. Cash released by Israel was used to pay the salaries of rocket launching crews and to purchase weapons smuggled in through the tunnels beneath the Rafah crossing. No country could remain forever silent and non-reactive in the face of the continued provocation.

The real issue in Gaza has nothing to do with Shalit or with sieges or rocket fire. The stakes are much bigger. The Hamas has been steadily and successfully pursuing a rather single minded program: to establish itself as the Palestinian government and supplant the Fatah, thereby voiding the concessions made by Palestinians in the Oslo process, without reversing any of the Israeli concessions. Once installed in Gaza and the West Bank and recognized as a “legitimate government” and “peace partner,” Hamas will use these territories to establish an official or unofficial Islamic state, and use it to launch terror attacks against Israel, as well as to foment subversion in Jordan and Egypt. These goals are to be reached by continuously “pushing the envelope” – establishing increasingly intolerable conditions as the status quo, accepted and approved by the entire world, in which Israel must acquiesce. In Lebanon, Hezbollah has a similar strategy vis-a-vis what is left of the Lebanese government, and is well on its way to implementing it.

Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement succinctly articulating what many Americans think about the situation:

Israel has a right, indeed a duty, to defend itself in response to the hundreds of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza over the past week. No government in the world would sit by and allow its citizens to be subjected to this kind of indiscriminate bombardment. The loss of innocent life is a terrible tragedy, and the blame for that tragedy lies with Hamas.

Why is this so difficult to grasp?

Predictably, Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal blamed Israel for the escalation of hostilities and called on Palestinians to launch a Third Intifada. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh asserted, “Palestine has never witnessed an uglier massacre.” One wonders, uglier than Jenin and “Al Nakba“?

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran issued a religious decree on state television to Muslims around the world, ordering them to defend Palestinians against Israel’s attacks on Gaza. Large protest rallies have occurred throughout the Middle East in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In Mosul, Iraq, a suicide bomber detonated himself in the midst of an anti-Israel demonstration.

Further Reading:

Check out Elder of Ziyon’s Gaza reference articles here.

Small Wars Journal roundup here.

Support Iranian Trade Unionists!

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[H/t to A.L., LabourStart and TUC]

From International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran:

According to various reports from Iran, including statements issued by The Coordinating Committee to Form Workers’ Organization, Mr. Mohsen Hakimi, a member of the aforementioned committee and a member of the Iranian Writers’ Association, was arrested by the plain-cloths security agents near midnight on December 22, 2008.

Also, Mr. Bijan Amiri, who is an auto worker and a member of workers’ mountain-climbing board, was arrested on December 22, 2008 in Iran Khodro factory by the security forces. Mr. Hakimi was arrested at Mr. Amiri’s residence the same night after he had gone for a visit along with his wife to Amiri’s residence following the news of Mr. Amiri’s arrest. Security forces brought back Mr. Amiri back to his home that night, and then they searched the house and arrested Mr. Hakimi as well without any arrest warrants. Mr. Hakimi protested against these actions but nevertheless he was taken to an unknown location along with Mr. Amiri. After going to the court, their families have been told to come back in a week to find out about the charges as they are being investigated and interrogated at this time. Mohsen Hakimi had been arrested a number of times before as the result of his labour activities. (Latest update: According to Hakimi’s lawyer, Mr. Mohammad Sharif, Hakimi has been transferred to the section 209 of the Evin Prison).

We condemn this repressive act of the Iranian government and demand Mohsen Hakimi’s and Bijan Amiri’s immediate and unconditional release.

Send protest letters to:

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President
Islamic Republic of Iran
Palestine Avenue, Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: dr-ahmadinejad@president.ir

Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
Leader of the Islamic Republic
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Islamic Republic Street -
Shahid Keshvar Doust Street,
Tehran
Islamic Republic of Iran
E-mail: info@leader.ir
Fax: +98-21 649 5880

From the TUC website:

The TUC has today (Tuesday) joined Amnesty International in a campaign to defend Iranian teacher and union activist Farzad Kamangar, who has been sentenced to death for his political and union activities in Iran. The case against his sentence has also been backed by global teacher union federation Education International (EI).

Farzad Kamangar was arrested in Tehran around July 2006 and was sentenced to death on 25 February 2008, after being convicted of ‘moharebeh’ (or enmity towards God). This is a charge usually only levelled against those accused of taking up arms against the state. The trial took place in secret, lasted only a few minutes, and failed to meet Iranian and international standards of fairness.

When the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Committee on Freedom of Association considered Farzad Kamangar’s case earlier this year, they called for his sentence to be overturned immediately, and for claims that he had been tortured to be fully investigated.

The Committee said: ‘The Committee urges the Government to immediately stay the execution of Farzad Kamangar’s death sentence, annul his conviction and secure his release from detention.

‘It also requests the Government to undertake an independent inquiry into the allegations of torture inflicted upon Mr Kamangar during his detention and, if proven true, to compensate him for any damages suffered as a result of the said treatment.’

The TUC is urging union members in the UK to protest by sending a message to the leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khamenei and the Head of the Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘Iran’s record on the repression of union members is making it a pariah state. However, in spite of such violent oppression from the state, trade unionism in Iran continues to grow because of the bravery of people like Farzad Kamangar

‘The TUC and British union members will continue to show solidarity with our colleagues in Iran who are routinely sacked, imprisoned and tortured simply for doing what unionist members all over the world should be free to do.’

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- For more information and to take action, go to www.tuc.org.uk/urgentactionirankamangar

Around the Web

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Airforce Amazons: Understanding Pearl Harbor

Contentious Centrist on José Saramago’s Monsters

Elder of Ziyon on Those Hamas Scientists

Flesh is Grass: Israel, Falk and the UN Today

Terry Glavin: In Afghanistan, a Ray of Hope

Marko Attila Hoare (Greater Surbiton) on the recent Greek riots

Ami Isseroff (ZioNation): The War Between Islamism and the Rest of the World

Oliver Kamm on Noam Chomsky (Overrated)

Martin in the Margins: The Arab World Needs a Secular Not an Islamic Renaissance

Sultan Knish: Eight Lessons for Modern Day Israel from Chanukah

Negative and Positive Content of Political Beliefs

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Gabriel Noah Brahm’s review in the recent Democratiya had me thinking about the following question, are political beliefs/ideologies defined primarily by their positive content or by their opposition(s)?

Here is the relevant section:

Somewhere along the line, the idea took hold that, to be an intellectual, you have to be against it, whatever it is. The intellectual is the negator. Affirmation is not in his or her vocabulary. It was not always so…. [but] For those of us who entered adulthood in the 1960s, to be an intellectual was to be in opposition. [Elshtain, Jean Bethke. Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, New York: Basic Books, 2003.].

Brahm adds:

That is—so long as ‘it’ refers to American power or anything else regarded as ‘white,’ ‘Western’ or ‘male.’ When, on the other hand ‘it’ refers to something non-white, non-Western, non-male, affirmation is nearly all the intellectual can find in his (or her) vocabulary. In an age of so-called ‘multiculturalism,’ the reverse of Elshtain’s point is equally apposite. It forms the other half of the stupid discursive equation that prevents some—particularly on the ‘left’—from seeing the threats that people like Amis, Hitchens and Bernard-Henri Levy see clearly.

The intellectual historian George Nash describes a similar process at work among American conservative intellectuals in the post-WWII era. These conservatives were united in their opposition to New Deal policies. However, the various schools of conservative thought–traditionalists, libertarians and anti-Communists–lacked a common vision of what they stood for.

After the collapse of the Vital Center, many conservative intellectuals adopted a perspective similar to Whittaker Chambers, where the line from liberal Democrat to democratic socialist to revolutionary communist was a straight one with little deviation or distinction. Similarly, in the post WWII era, just about any anti-Communist regime, no matter how unsavory, was supported by most of these conservative intellectuals. So is this situation of the intellectual as negator really unique to those Brahm terms the “post-left”?

I discussed this matter a few times with Bob specifically regarding the anarcho-left. When I was still involved in the movement there seemed so much more emphasis on what we were against, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic, etc. Much less emphasis was placed on what we stood for, a libertarian social revolution and a classless society. This is not unique to anarchists. In the United States, various Marxist/Leninist/Maoist/Trotskyist groups took a similar approach, emphasizing opposition to capitalism and anti-imperialism and downplaying their support for a dictatorship of the proletariat.*

I always thought this was a major problem. I argued people were more likely to support ideologies, organizations, and movements with a positive program than a mostly negative one. Yet recent research conducted by neuroscientists suggests human beings are more animated by feelings of opposition and disgust than by notions of solidarity. To provide one example, Psychologist Mark Lepper showed ten Republican partisans and ten Democratic partisans images of John Kerry and President George W. Bush. When partisans viewed their favored candidate, brain scans revealed no exceptional behavior. When either viewed the object of their indignation, Lepper observed a flurry of activity in two areas of the brain concerned with emotional regulation, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex. Partisans also displayed increased activity in the temporal pole and insula. Both are areas of the brain associated with negative emotions that are activated when partisans viewed a photo of the opposing candidate. Shankar Vedantham, writing on the results of the study notes, “Although it seems paradoxical that people would want to make themselves feel poorly…partisans have a strong interest in feeling poorly about the candidate they are not going to vote for as that cements their belief that they are doing the right thing.” Simply stated, we seem more likely to act (and react) in opposition to those we stand against than rally in support of those we stand with.

[*One fairly obvious reason for this approach is the lack of popular support for communism or anarchism among most Americans.]

U.S. Treasury Seizes Property Linked to Iran’s Bank Melli

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[h/t Global Security Newswire]

The U.S. Justice Department seized a share of a Manhattan building held by Assa Corporation, a suspected financial supporter of Iran’s nuclear program:

Assa Corp. is a front company that for nearly 20 years has used a complicated system to redirect rental profits from its 40-percent stake in 650 Fifth Ave. to Iranian state-owned Bank Melli, officials in the Treasury and Justice departments wrote in court documents (Glenn Kessler, Washington Post, Dec. 18).

The State Department accused Bank Melli in a statement of underwriting acquisitions for Iranian ballistic missile and atomic programs that could support nuclear weapons development, Agence France-Presse reported. The bank also provides credit lines, opens accounts and conducts transactions for entities engaged in proliferation operations, the statement said (Agence France-Presse/Google News, Dec. 17).

Tehran has insisted its nuclear efforts are strictly peaceful.

U.S. law requires the Iranian government and any affiliate to obtain special approval from Washington before conducting business in the United States, the Post reported.

“This scheme to use a front company set up by Bank Melli — a known proliferator — to funnel money from the United States to Iran is yet another example of Iran’s duplicity,” Treasury Department Undersecretary Stuart Levey said.

Assa lawyer Peter Livingston said the charge was incorrect although he had not seen the court documents.

“It’s a mistake on the part of the government,” he said. “We don’t believe this is accurate at all” (Kessler, Washington Post).

Meanwhile, Israel warned that Iran would “not hesitate” to use a nuclear bomb to attempt an attack on the United States, the Associated Press reported.

[read it all here]

More on Bank Melli from the U.S. Department of the Treasury:

Bank Melli provides financial services, including opening letters of credit and maintaining accounts, for Iranian front companies and entities engaged in proliferation activities. Further, Bank Melli has facilitated the purchase of sensitive materials utilized by Iran’s nuclear and missile industries, and has handled transactions for other designated Iranian entities, including Bank Sepah, Defense Industries Organization, and the Shahid Hammat Industrial Group.

Bank Melli has been designated as a proliferator by the United States and the European Union for its role in Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1803 calls on all member states to exercise vigilance with regard to activities between financial institutions in their countries and all Iranian banks, particularly Bank Melli.

Further, Bank Melli provides banking services to Iran’s military vanguard, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Qods Force, which is a branch of the IRGC that has been designated under Executive Order 13224 for providing support to terrorist groups, including the Taliban, Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command.

Bank Melli created ASSA CORP. as a vehicle to hold Bank Melli’s interest in a building located at 650 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York, whose construction had been financed, in part, by a Bank Melli loan. ASSA CORP. co-owns the building through a partnership formed with the Alavi Foundation of New York, called 650 Fifth Avenue Company.

UPDATE [via AP]:

The president of a foundation that co-owns a Manhattan building allegedly linked to a bank accused of supporting Iran’s nuclear program was arrested Friday.

Farshid Jahedi, 54, the president of the Alavi Foundation, was charged with obstruction of justice after he tried on Thursday to throw away documents responsive to a subpoena he received one day earlier, federal prosecutors said.

An FBI complaint against Jahedi said he was warned not to destroy documents requested by a grand jury. It said he disobeyed the order when he went home to Ardsley, N.Y., where he dumped papers in a public trash can.

New York, Nepotism, and Caroline Kennedy

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I am frankly nauseated that Caroline Kennedy may be our (New York’s) next senator. Maybe I should not be so upset. After all, if Democrats can elect a president with no executive experience, why not appoint a senator who lacks legislative experience?

Roland Dodds (But I am a Liberal!) expresses opinions quite close to my own:

There are few things that disgust me like the reverence many Americans hold for the Kennedy household. I see nothing inherently wrong with claiming JFK was a good President (an average President in my assessment), or that liberals may feel Bobby Kennedy would have been an excellent president if he were not assassinated (an unscientific conjecture, but I am willing to let it slide), but to extend this benevolence to anyone associated with the family’s lineage is the most appalling form of nepotism Democrats readily participate in.

We have yet another Kennedy (this time it’s Caroline) looking to capitalize on her namesake, and she looks posed to take Clinton’s senate seat when she departs to be Obama’s Secretary of State.

The fact that she is even being considered for the position over qualified civil servants should disgust any American, but that doesn’t begin to repulse me. Forget that she has little experience doing anything of significance (let alone legislative experience), and that she has only been heavily involved in a number of duties that revolve around glorifying the family’s name (like standing as President of the JFK library). I can also excuse the reason she was brought into the political center stage: the Obama campaign wanted to incorporate the populace’s romanticism of America’s Camelot into electoral victory for their candidate. A shrewd but wretched political move, but so goes an American election.

Ross Douhat (The Atlantic) notes:

Caroline Kennedy is no doubt more prepared – in terms of her base of knowledge about national politics, her comfort with the ways of Washington, etc. – to be a United States Senator than Sarah Palin was to be Vice President. But if you consider where the two women started and stack their subsequent accomplishments against one another, Palin’s Alaskan career is roughly six times more impressive than Kennedy’s years as a high-minded Manhattan socialite and custodian of her family’s good name. That doesn’t mean that McCain was wise to pick Palin as his running mate. But if you think he wasn’t, then you should definitely hope that the Democratic Party of New York hunts a little longer through its ranks before handing a Senate seat to the editor of The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Eric Trager (Contentions) suggests city councilman John Liu is a better pick for the position:

Having represented parts of northeast Queens since 2002, Liu would be an intriguing choice for a number of reasons. First, as chair of the City Council’s Committee on Transportation, Liu would bring appropriate experience for working with the incoming Obama administration on improving domestic infrastructure. Second, Liu has demonstrated laudable political independence. In October, he was among the minority of councilmen who voted against extending term limits for city offices, including his own. Finally, having emigrated from Taiwan when he was five years old, Liu would be the first Asian-American to serve in a statewide office. His appointment would therefore widen political opportunities for one of New York’s largest – and often overlooked – minority groups.

Most importantly, putting Liu on the “short list” of possible Senate replacements would delay plans for the next Kennedy coronation. It would force Governor Paterson to choose between a respected councilman who has been hard at work serving his constituents for the past six years, and a presidential daughter who has conspicuously dropped “Schlossberg” from her last name.

Councilman Liu is an excellent choice. He had my respect when I was living in Queens and it has only increased over time. I really appreciated the way he stood up to Mayor Bloomberg and many of his fellow council members regarding term limits.

If you happen to live in New York (even if you don’t) and would like to express your opinion contact Governor Patterson:

Phone (518) 474-8390

To email the governor click here.