Israel Daily News Stream 03/18/2012

Iranian Atomic Urgency

American intelligence officials say there are gaps in what we know about Iran — and the Mossad agrees with us that Iran hasn’t decided to build a nuclear weapon. I prefer seeing a Mossad source confirming that. A lot of papers picked up on this NY Times piece:

Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, agrees with the American intelligence assessments, even while Israeli political leaders have been pushing for quick, aggressive action to block Iran from becoming what they describe as an existential threat to the Jewish state.

“Their people ask very hard questions, but Mossad does not disagree with the U.S. on the weapons program,” said one former senior American intelligence official, who, like others for this article, would speak only on the condition of anonymity about classified information. “There is not a lot of dispute between the U.S. and Israeli intelligence communities on the facts.”

India has issued arrest warrants for three Iranians involved in the recent attack at the Israeli embassy in New Delhi. More at the LA Times.

• Proving it was not a model for Iran, North Korea says it will move ahead with planned rocket launch.

Kim Jong-un, Ayatollah Khameini

• In an interview with Haaretz, Time magazine’s veteran political writer Joe Klein shares his thoughts on Israel, Iran, and — of course — how t hey’re impacting the presidential race.

• For more commentary/analysis, see Dore Gold and Tony Burman.

Arab Spring Winter

 Syrian security forces have threatened to raid one Palestinian refugee camp where Fatah has allegedly supported anti-regime protests. According to Maan News, several Fatah members in the Yarmuk refugee camp are already detained:

Yarmuk is not more precious than (Homs neighborhood) Baba Amro, and it will be raided if the demonstrations which Fatah movement organizes” continue, a security agent was quoted as saying.

Later in the weekend, Maan reported a massive explosion in that very refugee camp. Hmmmmmm.

• Twin car bombings rock Damascus — 27 killed. CNN quotes Free Syrian Army leaders blaming the regime. Later in the day, another car bomb blew up in Aleppo.

• Syrian army desertions are surging. According to Bloomberg News:

About 20,000 service personnel have left in less than a month, said the official, who cited Turkish intelligence reports and spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with government rules. The desertions are in addition to 40,000 military personnel who left before Feb. 20, the official said. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal yesterday said a seventh Syrian general has defected and is now in Turkey.

IDF to Haaretz: Syria and Iran are training Hezbollah to use advanced anti-aircraft weapons.

Tom Gross is fed up with The True Face of Human Rights at the UN.

• The irony noted by the Daily Telegraph about Asma Assad’s spendthrift online shopping is too good to ignore. It has to do with the fact that EU law prohibits its citizens from making “funds or economic resources available” to a list of sanctioned Syrian officials — most notably her husband, who is no. 1 on the list.

If Mrs Assad has retained her British citizenship, she would risk breaking the law by purchasing an asset for the benefit – whether direct or indirect – of her husband. Holding dual Syrian-British nationality would make no difference. Only if she has formally renounced her British citizenship – or if she could demonstrate that the items were exclusively for her benefit – would she be exempt from possible prosecution. Mrs Assad, who was born in London and lived in Britain until the age of 25, is not known to have renounced her British passport.

Rest O’ the Roundup

Anyone complaining to the New Yorker will just prove Paul Noth’s point. I think it’s a great cartoon.

 Cyprus gives Bibi a thumbs up.

 Pinkwashing in Seattle as LGBT leaders snub visiting Israeli gay leaders. (What’s pinkwashing?)

Israel discovers another offshore oil and gas field. The Times of Israel says the Gabriella field is just 24 km off the coast from Tel Aviv:

Three-dimensional seismic surveys proved the Gabriella site and the nearby Yitzhak area could potentially yield as much as 232.2 million barrels of oil, 128.4 million barrels from Gabriella alone, Globes reported. The Gabriella and Yitzhak licenses could also yield up to 1.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

 The American Journalism Review (via Romenesko) picks up on a burning question for journalists:

But whom should journalists inform first when they have a big story?their editors or the Internet? As reporters begin to grow more comfortable with social media, the question is being raised in newsrooms around the world.

The debate has spawned two opposing schools of thought: One group of news organizations is treating social media similarly to their print or online outlets, requiring that the tweets pass through an editorial checkpoint before being distributed. Another group is scrapping editorial oversight of Twitter altogether, allowing reporters to freely break news.

 (Image of money via Flickr/401K, passport via Flickr/King Chung Huang, Mrs. Assad via YouTube/Ahoova2, Kim Jong-un via YouTube/telegraphtv, Khameini via YouTube/Bloomberg)

For more, see Thursday’s Israel Daily News Stream.

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