2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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The Marines Special Day

Nov 10, 1775:

Birth of the U.S. Marine Corps

Marine Corps Birthday During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress passes a resolution stating that “two Battalions of Marines be raised” for service as landing forces for the recently formed Continental Navy. The resolution, drafted by future U.S. president John Adams and adopted in Philadelphia, created the Continental Marines and is now observed as the birth date of the United States Marine Corps.

Serving on land and at sea, the original U.S. Marines distinguished themselves in a number of important operations during the Revolutionary War. The first Marine landing on a hostile shore occurred when a force of Marines under Captain Samuel Nicholas captured New Province Island in the Bahamas from the British in March 1776. Nicholas was the first commissioned officer in the Continental Marines and is celebrated as the first Marine commandant. After American independence was achieved in 1783, the Continental Navy was demobilized and its Marines disbanded.

oil on canvas depiction of the Battle of Nassau

In the next decade, however, increasing conflict at sea with Revolutionary France led the U.S. Congress to establish formally the U.S. Navy in May 1798. Two months later, on July 11, President John Adams signed the bill establishing the U.S. Marine Corps as a permanent military force under the jurisdiction of the Department of Navy. U.S. Marines saw action in the so-called Quasi-War with France and then fought against the Barbary pirates of North Africa during the first years of the 19th century. Since then, Marines have participated in all the wars of the United States and in most cases were the first soldiers to fight. In all, Marines have executed more than 300 landings on foreign shores.

Sketch of Tun Tavern in the Revolutionary War,...

Today, there are more than 200,000 active-duty and reserve Marines, divided into three divisions stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Camp Pendleton, California; and Okinawa, Japan. Each division has one or more expeditionary units, ready to launch major operations anywhere in the world on two weeks’ notice. Marines expeditionary units are self-sufficient, with their own tanks, artillery, and air forces. The motto of the service is Semper Fidelis, meaning “Always Faithful” in Latin.

A big Happy Birthday and Semper Fi to all my jarhead brothers out there.-Bloggo

News Photos Of The Day- Dressing Collected Corpses As Dolls

Editor’s note: This post contains graphic images of dead bodies.

“Cemetery collector” with 29 bodies arrested

MOSCOWRussian police have arrested a man described by local media as the “cemetery collector” for digging up 29 corpses and dressing the remains in female clothing to display around his flat.   

Grainy police video images of the man’s cramped flat showed what look like several life-sized female dolls without faces, some with platinum blond wigs.

“During a search of his flat and garage, 29 self-made, life-size dolls dressed in the clothes of buried people were found,” a spokesman for police in Nizhny Novgorod, 400 km (250 miles) east of Moscow, said Tuesday.

“It was ascertained that he used mummified human bodies from graves to make them (the dolls).”

Police described the man, who was arrested following the desecration of graves in the area, as a local historian and an expert in the study of place names.

Media cited friends as saying they had never seen the dolls and that he was a learned, if eccentric, man.

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters.

AP

This undated video image provided by the Russian Interior Ministry’s branch in the Nizhny Novgorod region on Monday, Nov. 7, shows a suspect accused of vandalizing graves in the region of Nizhny Novgorod, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) east of Moscow. Police didn’t name the suspect, who  kept 29 mummified bodies at his apartment and dressed them up like dolls, but Russian media reports identified him as Anatoly Moskvin, a local historian.

Reuters

A still image taken from undated police footage shot inside the flat of Anatoly Moskvin and released to Reuters on November 8 shows books, clothes and dressed figures, reportedly mummified bodies desecrated from cemeteries. Russian police have arrested a man described by local media as the “cemetery collector” for digging up 29 corpses and dressing the remains in female clothing to display around his flat. Police discovered dolls and corpses dressed as dolls during the search.

Reuters

A still image taken from undated police footage shot inside the flat of Anatoly Moskvin and released to Reuters on November 8 shows books, clothes and dressed figures, reportedly mummified bodies desecrated from cemeteries.

Reuters

A still image taken from undated police footage shot inside the flat of Anatoly Moskvin and released to Reuters on November 8 shows books, clothes and dressed figures, reportedly mummified bodies desecrated from cemeteries.

Sarkozy Calls Netanyahu A Liar

Sarkozy tells Obama Netanyahu is a “liar”

By Yann Le Guernigou | Reuters

PARIS (Reuters) – French President Nicolas Sarkozy branded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a liar” in a private conversation with President Barack Obama that was accidentally broadcast to journalists during last week’s G20 summit in Cannes.

“I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama, unaware that the microphones in their meeting room had been switched on, enabling reporters in a separate location to listen in to a simultaneous translation.

“You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you,” Obama replied, according to the French interpreter.

President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prim...

The technical gaffe is likely to cause great embarrassment to all three leaders as they look to work together to intensify international pressure on Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

The conversation was not initially reported by the small group of journalists who overheard it because it was considered private and off-the-record. But the comments have since emerged on French websites and can be confirmed by Reuters.

White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to comment on the conversation when asked by reporters traveling with Obama to an event in Philadelphia.

Leaders arrival

Downing Street via Flickr

Obama’s apparent failure to defend Netanyahu is likely to be leapt on by his Republican foes, who are looking to unseat him in next year’s presidential election and have portrayed him as hostile to Israel, Washington’s closest ally in the region.

Pushing Netanyahu risks alienating Israel’s strong base of support among the U.S. public and in Congress.

Netanyahu’s office declined immediate comment.

Obama and Netanyahu have had a rocky relationship as U.S. efforts to broker a Middle East peace deal have foundered, with the U.S. president openly criticizing Jewish settlement building in the occupied Palestinian
territories.

It was unclear why exactly Sarkozy had criticized Netanyahu. However, European diplomats have largely blamed Israel for the breakdown in peace talks and have expressed anger over Netanyahu’s approval
of large-scale settlement building.

PALESTINIAN WORRIES

During their bilateral meeting on November 3, on the sidelines of the Cannes summit, Obama criticized Sarkozy’s surprise decision to vote in favor of a Palestinian request for membership of the U.N. cultural heritage agency UNESCO.

“I didn’t appreciate your way of presenting things over the Palestinian membership of UNESCO. It weakened us. You should have consulted us, but that is now behind us,” Obama was quoted as saying.

The October 31 UNESCO vote marked a success for the Palestinians in their broader thrust for recognition as a sovereign state in the U.N. system — a unilateral initiative fiercely opposed by Israel and the United States.

VIDEO…

As a result of the vote, Washington was compelled to halt its funding for UNESCO under a 1990s law that prohibits Washington from giving money to any U.N. body that grants membership to groups that do not have full, legal statehood.

Obama told Sarkozy that he was worried about the impact if Washington had to pull funding from other U.N. bodies such as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the IAEA nuclear watchdog if the Palestinians gained membership there.

“You have to pass the message along to the Palestinians that they must stop this immediately,” Obama said.

The day the conversation took place, the Palestinians announced that they would not seek membership of any other U.N. agency.

Sarkozy confirmed that France would not take any unilateral decisions when the U.N. Security Council discusses a Palestinian membership request, a debate expected later this month.

“I am with you on that,” Obama replied.

(Writing by Crispian Balmer)

The Straight Scoop On SEALs Bin Laden Operation

Correcting the ‘fairy tale’:
A SEAL’s account of how Osama bin Laden really died

The Daily Caller

Forget whatever you think you know about the night Osama bin Laden was killed. According to a former Navy SEAL who claims to have the
inside track, the mangled tales told of that historic night have only now been corrected.

A still of 2004 Osama bin Laden video

“It became obvious in the weeks evolving after the mission that the story that was getting put out there was not only untrue, but it was a really ugly farce of what did happen,” said Chuck Pfarrer, author of Seal Target Geronimo: The Inside Story of the Mission to Kill Osama Bin Laden.

In an extensive interview with The Daily Caller, Pfarrer gave a detailed account of why he believes the record needed to be corrected, and why he set out to share the personal stories of the warriors who penetrated
bin Laden’s long-secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

In August the New Yorker delivered a riveting blow-by-blow of the SEALs’ May 1, 2011 raid on bin Laden’s hideaway. In that account, later reported to lack contributions from the SEALs involved, readers are taken through a mission that began with a top-secret helicopter crashing and led to a bottom-up assault of the Abbottabad compound.

In this file photo, Soldiers from 2nd Battalio...

Freelancer Nicholas Schmidle wrote that the SEALs had shot and blasted their way up floor-by-floor, finally cornering the bewildered Al-Qaida leader:

“The Al Qaeda chief, who was wearing a tan shalwar kameez and a prayer cap on
his head, froze; he was unarmed. ‘There was never any question of detaining or
capturing him—it wasn’t a split-second decision. No one wanted detainees,’ the
special-operations officer told me. (The Administration maintains that had bin
Laden immediately surrendered he could have been taken alive.) Nine years, seven
months, and twenty days after September 11th, an American was a trigger pull
from ending bin Laden’s life. The first round, a 5.56-mm. bullet, struck bin
Laden in the chest. As he fell backward, the SEAL fired a second round into his
head, just above his left eye.”

Chuck Pfarrer rejects almost all of that story.

“The version of the 45-minute firefight, and the ground-up assault, and the cold-blooded murder on the third floor — that wasn’t the mission,” Pfarrer told TheDC.

“I had to try and figure out, well, look: Why is this story not what I’m
hearing? Why is it so off and how is it so off?” he recounted. “One of the
things I sort of determined was, OK, somebody was told ‘one of the insertion helicopters crashed.’ OK, well that got muddled to ‘a helicopter crashed on insertion.’”

Hamid Mir interviewing Osama bin Laden for Dai...

The helicopters, called “Stealth Hawks,” are inconspicuous machines
concealing cutting-edge technology. They entered the compound as planned, with “Razor 1″ disembarking its team of SEALs on the roof of the compound — not on the ground level. There was no crash landing. That wouldn’t occur until after bin Laden was dead.

Meanwhile, “Razor 2″ took up a hovering position so that its on-board snipers, some of whom had also participated in the sea rescue of
Maersk Alabama captain Richard Phillips, had a clear view of anyone fleeing the compound.

The SEALs then dropped down from the roof, immediately penetrated the third floor, and hastily encountered bin Laden in his room. He was not standing still.

“He dived across the king-size bed to get at the AKSU rifle he kept by the
headboard,” wrote Pfarrer in his book. It was at that moment, a mere 90 seconds after the SEALs first set foot on the roof, that two American bullets shattered bin Laden’s chest and head, killing a man who sought violence to the very end.

A policeman walks in front of the compound where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad

Photo By REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/REUTERS

President Obama stepped up to a podium in the East Room of the White House that night to announce bin Laden’s death. That rapid announcement, explained Pfarrer, posed a major threat to U.S. national security.

“There was a choice that night,” Pfarrer told TheDC. “There was a choice to keep the mission secret.” America, Pfarrer explained, could have left things alone for “weeks or months … even though there was evidence left on the ground there … and use the intelligence and finish off al-Qaida.”

But Obama’s announcement, he said, “rendered moot all of the intelligence that was gathered from the nexus of al-Qaida. The computer drives, the hard drives, the videocasettes, the CDs, the thumb drives, everything. Before that could even be looked through, the political decision was made to take credit for the operation.”

FILE - In this May 2, 2011 file photo taken by a local resident, the wreckage of a helicopter next to the wall of the compound where according to officials, Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in a fi

Photo By Mohammad Zubair, File

And in the days that followed, as politicians sought to thrust their
identities into the details of the bin Laden kill, the tale began to grow out of control, said Pfarrer.

“The president made a statement, and as far as that goes, that was fine, that was the mission statement,” he explained. “But, soon after … politicians began leaking information from every orifice. And it was like a game of Chinese telephone. These guys didn’t know what they were talking about. Very few of them had even seen the video feed.”

Pfarrer suggests that much of the misinformation was likely born out of
operational ignorance, even among those sitting in the White House.

“One of the things that happened was that there were only a handful of people who know about this mission,” he said. “On the civilian side, there were only a handful of people in the situation room who were watching the drone feed. They were looking at the roof of a building taken from a rotating aircraft at 35,000 feet.”

Aerial view of Osama bin Laden's compound in the pakistani city of Abbottabad made by the CIA.

“None of those guys, not a single one of them, had a background in special operations, with the exception of General Webb who was sitting there running a laptop,” Pfarrer went on. “No one knew or could even imagine what was going on inside the building. They didn’t know.”

“There was an alternative feed going to CIA headquarters where Leon Panetta sat there with the communications brevity codes [a guide sheet for the mission’s radio lingo] in his lap and a SEAL off-screen by his side to be able to tell him what was going on,” he said. “But these guys, none of them, really knew what they were looking at.”

As the media raised more questions, officials gave more answers.

Whether or not bin Laden resisted ultimately developed into a barrage of
murky official and unofficial explanations in the days following. And statements from as high as then-CIA Director Leon Panetta offered confirmation that the endeavor was a “kill mission.”

Pfarrer dismisses that assertion.

“An order to go in and murder someone in their house is not a lawful order,” explained Pfarrer, who maintains that bin Laden would have been captured had he surrendered. “Unlike the Germans in World War II, if you’re a petty officer, a chief petty officer, a naval officer, and you’re giving an order to murder somebody, that’s an unlawful order.”

Pfarrer also suggests some of the emerging claims were simply
self-aggrandizing “fairy tales.”

“The story they tried to tell — it’s preposterous. And the CIA tried to jump
in. About mid-June the CIA tried to jump into the car and drive the victory lap. There’s this whole stuff about the CIA guy joining the operation, the gallant interpreter — he couldn’t even fast rope!” exclaimed Pfarrer, referring to a technique for descending from an airborne helicopter.

“There’s this fairy tale about him walking out of the compound during the
operation to tell crowds of Pakistanis to go home and everything’s OK.”

Pfarrer tried to put this in perspective: “Do you mean that during the middle of this military operation at night, with hovering helicopters over this odd house in this neighborhood, that people came out of their houses to ask what’s going on, instead of [remaining] huddled in their basement?”

“And I think that there were so many of these leaks that were incorrect, the administration couldn’t walk them all back,” Pfarrer explained. “And so, in the middle of May, they froze everything.”

It was that freeze-out that left Chuck Pfarrer with nowhere to turn for the
real story but the SEALs themselves.

Seal Target Geronimo delivers an account of the night Osama bin Laden died with a level of detail unlike anything previously reported. Pfarrer bills the story as “absolutely factual.”

“That’s the other thing. I’m prepared for the White House to say, you know, ‘this is full of inaccuracies,’ et cetera,” offered Pfarrer. He told TheDC that in order to protect American interests, his book is “full of names that are made up, and it is full of bases that are not quite where they really should be.”

“But the timeline of my events,” he cautions, “and the manner in which it happened is 100 percent accurate. And they’ll know that.”

Follow Vince on Twitter

Read more stories from The Daily Caller

Correcting the ‘fairy tale’: A SEAL’s account of how Osama bin Laden really died

The Sky Is Falling- Not Really It’s Just A Test

Feds try to prevent War of the Worlds-style panic over national emergency alert

By    Story from ARSTECHNICA.COM
This Wednesday, November 9, at 2 pm eastern standard time, every TV broadcaster, cable channel, radio station, and satellite radio program from Puerto Rico to Missouri to American Samoa will be interrupted for 30 seconds by the federal government. Don’t panic—there’s no nuclear strike. But if there were a nuclear strike, this is how the feds would spread the word.
<img class="aligncenter" src="http://static.arstechnica.net/assets/2011/11/fcc-warning-4eb759f-intro-thumb-640xauto-27388.jpg&quot; alt="Feds try to prevent War of the Worlds-style panic over national emergency alert” width=”576″ height=”309″ />

Image courtesy of FCC   “Don’t panic, people.”

It’s the first-ever nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), which hopes to provide key information immediately to all Americans in the event of a truly national emergency. This national system will look and sound much like the current (and local) emergency warnings often seen on TV or heard on radio, but the scope is larger and it can be put under the direct control of the President. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Weather Service (NWS) will all coordinate the test, but it’s FEMA that actually transmits the alert code.

Emergency Alert System logo as published in th...

Concerned that such a test might alarm people, the agencies are going to extraordinary lengths to provide a heads-up. I first heard about the test in an e-mail newsletter from my city government, which told residents last week, “Do not be alarmed when an emergency message will take over the airways… this is only a test.” The test will display a warning message on TV screens, though as my city helpfully noted, “Due to some technical limitations, a visual message indicating that ‘this is a test’ may not pop up on every TV channel, especially where people use cable to receive their television stations.”

     The warning should look a lot like this message last year in Alaska

But not to worry! Though such warning messages might look terrifyingly real, they will eventually feature an audio message explaining that this is just a test. The government is still concerned that hearing-impaired users, in particular, might mistake the test for a real alert. The FCC has produced a series of brief ads to notify people about the test, and cable operators have taken to warning people about it on their monthly cable bills (which everyone reads, right?).

So what’s so special about November 9th at 2pm? FEMA has the answer. “November 9 is near the end of hurricane season and before the severe winter weather season begins in earnest,” says the agency, “The 2:00 PM EST broadcast time will minimize disruption during rush hours, while ensuring that the test occurs during working hours across the United States.”

Further reading

Related articles

Give to the Max Day in in Greater Washington, DC

casa

November 9th is Give to the Max
Day in Greater Washington

Thousands of area residents are going to show their support for area
nonprofits by simply pressing HERE to donate just $10.

If everyone donates $10.00 today that would help care for
our 400+ children for an entire year!

Lift up their voice ~ Lift up their life.
Advocate for over 450 abused and neglected children
to ensure that theirneeds do not go unheard.On November 9th, we can join together to help the 430 innocent child victims Greater Prince William CASA will serve this year.

Child play

i-on via Flickr

Why?

Give To CASA On This Day? We need your help to support the abused
and neglected children in our community. We need lift up a child that they
can have a safe and loving environment. CASA will provide a voice for
them and speak for them to receive the care they need.

What Amount Should I Give?

Any amount helps but we are asking for $10.00, think about it …. that’s
two cups of coffee from Starbucks, not even a lunch out. If everyone that
reads this gives $10.00 or more, we can provide an Advocate for each of
the abused and neglected children we help in our community.

child abuse

Southworth Sailor via Flickr

You have been reading some very disturbing stories of the terrible things happening to children in our community in our local paper. Most of the
often horrific physical or sexual abuse endured by the children will never
be in our newspapers in order to protect the children from being victimized
again by the publication of their pain, humiliation, and shame. We know,
you would save them from it if you could. We at CASA work to help insure
that it won’t happen again, BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Please do these three things:

1)     MARK THIS LINK- Put November 9th on your calendar and add this
giving link.

2)     BUILD THE BUZZ- Follow us on Facebook and help build the buzz.

3)     SPREAD THE WORD- Forward this email to your family and friends
along with a personal note as to why you believe in our work, and why
they should give to CASA of Greater Prince William on November 9th.

Please be a champion for the child victims of abuse. Help build the
momentum and lift up a Child’s Voice, A CHILD’S LIFE.

Sincerely,

Charlyn Hasson-Brown

Executive Director

www.casaofgpw.org

CASA logo

CASA of Greater Prince William
9384 – C Forestwood Lane,
Manassas, VA 20110 703.330.8145

This is a public service announcement from Bloggo Schloggo hoping for your support. I know this organization well and they provide a great service to children and their communities providing them a voice that they wouldn’t otherwise have. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates (for children) 

Pencils For Sculpture- Forget Drawing

Beyond Drawing: Creative Colored Pencil Art & Sculpture

From US Patent 19783 Combination of Lead-Penci...

From US Patent 19783 Combination of Lead-Pencil and Eraser by L. Lipman, March 1958.

artistic-colored-pencil-designs

From a very first look at these wonderfully detailed colored pencil sculptures by Jennifer Maestre, it should come as no surprise that her artwork was initially inspired by spiny sea urchins – beautiful be dangerous to the touch.

artistic-colored-pencil-artwork

For each sculpture, Jennifer hacks apart hundreds of colored pencils, cores them perpendicular to their length and turns them into beads, essentially, which she then meticulously stitches back together and slowly shapes into solid sculptures.

artistic-color-pencil-art-design

Though her beginnings were with creatures of the water, Jennifer quickly expanded her subject matter to cover other organic objects – from plants and flowers to house pets and more abstract animals.

artistic-color-pencil-sculptures

While some of her work has a planned form from the very beginning, other pieces morph and shift as they take shape into something completely unplanned but nonetheless compelling.

artistic-colored-pencils

While her work continues to evolve, this incredible artist has had dozens of exhibitions over the past decade and has also won numerous awards, pushing herself in new directions while exploring the limits of her unique approach.

From Dornob

Related articles

Image Of The Day- “Good and Evil”

Image

“Good and evil”
by Charles Oliver

goodandevil

"Good and Evil" by Charles Oliver


Click image to view full size…

For more art by the artist visit…

Charles Oliver Art – Contemporary Art
The Shenandoah Collection – Traditional Fine Art

Israel Sending Smoke Signals To Iran

Israel Sending Signals of Iranian Attack

(JERUSALEM) — An Israeli official said Wednesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to persuade his Cabinet to authorize a military strike against Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program — a discussion that comes as Israel successfully tests a missile believed capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to Iran.

It remained unclear whether Israel was genuinely poised to strike or if it was saber-rattling to prod the international community into taking a tougher line on Iran. Israeli leaders have long hinted at a military option, but they always seemed mindful of the practical difficulties, the likelihood of a furious counterstrike and the risk of regional mayhem. (See “Is Israel Again Weighing an Attack on Iran’s Nuclear Facilities?”)

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's Prime Minister, m...

The developments unfolded as the International Atomic Energy Agency is due to focus on the Iranian program at a meeting later this month. The West wants to set a deadline for Iran to start cooperating with an agency probe of suspicions that Tehran is secretly experimenting with components of a weapons program.

Israeli leaders have said they favor a diplomatic solution, but recent days
have seen a spate of Israeli media reports on a possible strike, accompanied by veiled threats from top politicians.

In a speech to parliament this week, Netanyahu said a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a “dire threat” to the world and “a grave, direct threat on us, too.”

His hawkish foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was dismissive of the
reports but added: “We are keeping all the options on the table.”

The government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing sensitive internal deliberations, told The Associated Press that the option is now being debated at the highest levels.

The official confirmed a report Wednesday in the Haaretz daily that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak both favor an attack, but do not yet have the support of a majority of Cabinet ministers. The official also said Israel’s top security chiefs, including the heads of the military and Mossad spy agency, oppose military action.

Two Israeli Defense Force-Air Force F-15I Ra'a...

It is generally understood that such a momentous decision would require a Cabinet decision. Israel’s 1981 destruction of Iraq’s nuclear reactor was
preceded by a Cabinet vote.

Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev refused to comment on the issue but did say there is a “decision-making process which has stood the test of time. … There have been precedents, and the process works.”

With most of its population concentrated in a narrow corridor of land along the Mediterranean, Israel’s homefront could be vulnerable to a
counterattack.

Iran’s military chief, Gen. Hasan Firouzabadi, said his country takes Israeli threats seriously and vowed fierce retaliation.

“We are fully prepared to use our proper equipment to punish any mistake so that it will cause a shock,” he said in comments posted on the website of the Guard, Iran’s most powerful military force.

Reflecting the mood in Israel, military expert Reuven Pedatzur wrote in
Haaretz that “if anyone can save Israel from catastrophe, it is the Israeli air force commander,” who might simply tell Netanyahu that an attack on Iran “cannot achieve its goals.”

Coat of arms of the Islamic Republic of Iran. ...

Several months ago, the newly retired head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan, caused a stir by warning publicly against attacking Iran, saying a strike would be “stupid” and would risk unleashing a region-wide war.

See “What Do Israel’s Leaders Really Think About Iran?”
See why Israel outlawed business with Iran.

Israel considers Iran to be its greatest threat, citing Tehran’s nuclear
program, its president’s repeated calls for destroying the Jewish state and
Iran’s support for the Hamas and Hezbollah militant groups. For years, Israeli leaders have implored the world community to impose tough economic sanctions to pressure the Iranians to dismantle their nuclear installations.

The key element now is time. Israeli estimates of when Iran might be able to produce a nuclear weapon have been fluid, with Dagan giving a 2015 date when he left office. But some reports have suggested officials consider the coming months critical.

The successful test Wednesday of an advanced long-range Israeli missile, along with word of a recent air force exercise, seemed to fit into that scenario.

Barak hailed the launch as “an impressive technological achievement and an important step in Israel’s rocket and space progress.” (See “The Worm in Iran’s Nuke Program: Made in Israel?”)

An Israeli defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity under
government policy, said the military tested a “rocket propulsion system” in a launch from the Palmachim base near Tel Aviv.

Further information about the test was censored by the military. Foreign
reports, however, said the military test-fired a long-range Jericho missile — capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and striking Iran.

Also Wednesday, military officials confirmed that the air force conducted a drill last week with Italian warplanes in Sardinia. Israeli warplanes were
joined by supply and logistics aircraft.

Map of Israel, the Palestinian territories (We...

There were no details on the purpose of the drill. Israeli TV stations ran an interview with one of the pilots who participated, identified only as Lt. Col. Yiftah, who said it allowed the air force to simulate longer-distance
missions.

“The advantage here,” he said, “is that we can fly in a very large area, much larger than we can in Israel.” He said there were “complicated flights with many planes.”

A military strike would hardly be unprecedented. Besides the 1981 strike,
Israeli warplanes destroyed a site in Syria in 2007 that the U.N. nuclear
watchdog deemed a secretly built nuclear reactor.

But attacking Iran would be a much more difficult task. It is a more distant
target, and Israeli warplanes would probably have to go over hostile airspace in Syria, Iraq or Saudi Arabia to reach it. Turkey could be an alternative — but its relations with Israel are fraught.

Iran’s nuclear facilities also are believed to be spread out across many
sites, buried deep underground.

The Iranian military is far more powerful than those of Syria or Iraq,
equipped with sophisticated anti-aircraft defense systems as well as powerful medium-range missiles capable of striking anywhere in Israel.

An Israeli attack would also likely spark retaliation from local Iranian
proxies, the Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip to Israel’s south and
Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon along Israel’s northern border. And it would reorder priorities in a region now consumed by the Arab Spring and the Palestinian issue.

Some have speculated that the United States — or even Britain — might be better poised to carry out a strike.

Iran denies it aims to produce a bomb, saying its nuclear program is meant only for energy. It has blamed Israel for disruptions in its nuclear program, including the mysterious deaths of Iranian nuclear scientists and a computer virus that wiped out some of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, a key component in nuclear fuel production.

Western powers, like Israel, do not believe Tehran and already have imposed four rounds of sanctions on the Iranian government in an effort to make it put its program, which can make both nuclear fuel or fissile warhead material, under international supervision.

Israel would like to see the United States and other powers “pressure Iran
more seriously … first with more sanctions, and if they don’t work, to go to
war with Iran,” said Eldad Pardo, an Iran expert at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

See “Is the Mossad Targeting Iran’s Nuclear Scientists?”
See “Can the U.S. Contain Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions?”

Associated Press writers Amy Teibel and Ian Deitch contributed to this report.