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July 1, 2016 / 25 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘New Jersey’

Menendez Dismembers Iran Deal, Suggests More Robust Deal

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) doubled down on his position that the Nuclear Iran deal negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and his American team of negotiators, along with the U.S. partners in the P5+1, is a bad one that should not go into effect.

Menendez did that by holding a highly-publicized address at 1:00 p.m. E.T., on Thursday, Aug. 18, from the Seton Hall School of Diplomacy and International Relations in South Orange, New Jersey.

During this address, Menendez meticulously explained why he will not vote for the Agreement and why he will vote to override the President’s veto.

When he completed his analysis, it was hard to understand how anyone could say the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is something any country except Iran would support.

AN OIL-RICH NATION DOES NOT NEED NUCLEAR ENERGY

The over-arching question, as Menendez put it, is why Iran, which has one of the world’s largest reserves of oil reserves, needs nuclear power for domestic energy. Given this vast reserve, there is no peaceful use of nuclear energy at all, and therefore no legitimate reason for Iran to have any right to enrichment.

Given Iran’s lack of a peaceful need for nuclear energy coupled with that nation’s repeated acts of “deceit, deception and delay” to evade United Nations Security Council Resolutions and thereby approach being a nuclear weapon state, it is indeed hard to make the argument for this Agreement.

Menendez spoke for nearly a full hour. He explained why Iran does not need nuclear energy and he reminded his audience of Iran’s repeated evasions of inspections.

EVERY RED LINE WAS ERASED

The New Jersey Senator also described the many ways in which the JCPOA falls far short of so many absolute red lines and guarantees made by the U.S. administration during the course of the negotiations.

♦  The original goal was to “fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons capability,” a “roll-back your infrastructure and we’ll roll-back our sanctions.”

Instead, Menendez explained, the JCPOA is the equivalent of “an alarm bell should they decide to violate their commitments, and a system for inspections to verify their compliance.”

♦ When Menendez asked Secretary of State Kerry about dismantling Arak, Iran’s plutonium reactor, Kerry said: “They will either dismantle it or we will destroy it.”

Arak will not be dismantled, merely “redesigned.”

♦ The original position was that Iran’s underground Fordow facility would be closed because a peaceful civilian nuclear program would not need to be underground.

Fordow will not be dismantled, merely “repurposed.”

♦ Iran was supposed to “come absolutely clean about their weaponization activities at Parchin and agree to promise anytime anywhere inspections.”

Iran will not be required to disclose the possible military dimensions of their nuclear program at Parchin.

Menendez said that over the course of the negotiations, the original goal of preventing nuclear proliferation instead become merely one of “managing or containing” nuclear proliferation.

Just as alarming is that during the course of the deal under its current terms, Iran is allowed to continue its research and development. By the end of the term of the Agreement, Iran will be in a better position – meaning further along on its path to nuclear weapons capability – than it was before the deal was adopted.

“The deal enshrines for Iran, and in fact commits the international community to assisting Iran in developing an industrial-scale nuclear power program, complete with industrial scale enrichment,” Menendez explained.

In addition, the terms of the JCPOA ensure that the EU and the U.S. will not reintroduce or reimpose the sanctions lifted under this deal. That’s because, if sanctions are reintroduced or reimposed, that will “relieve Iran from its commitments in part or in whole.” There will be no incentive for any party to this agreement to find any violations, as that would erase any progress that was made.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Meet the 16 Democratic Senators Who Can Scuttle ObamaDeal

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Opponents to the agreement with Iran are lacking approximately nine Democratic senators to override a Presidential veto of its rejection, but the truth that is an opposition victory might have limited meaning.

Congress cannot strike down the agreement, which was made along with five other Western powers. All it can do is block President Obama’s agreement to lift U.S. sanctions.

Doing so would be very significant, both politically for President Obama and the Democratic party as well as for American’s relations with the other P5+1 countries and Iran.

There are seven undecided Democratic senators, according to a tally by the Washington Post’s Amber Phillips.

If all of them turn against President Obama, it will be easier to convince a couple of others whose positions are not yet known.

The seven undecided Democrats, acceding to Phillips, are:

Michael Bennet of Colorado;

Ben Cardin of Maryland;

Bob Casey of Pennsylvania;

Joe Donnelly of Indiana;

Tim Kaine of Virginia;

Bill Nelson of Pennsylvania;

and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Cardin is one of the most important of the undecided. He attends Baltimore’s largest and wealthiest modern Orthodox Beth Tfiloh Congregation, which is highly pro-Israel.

He told NPR this week:

Israel’s security issues are of major concern. We don’t want to see an arms race in the Middle East, so it is a factor. And it’s a factor that I’m sure we will carefully consider.

Earlier in the week, Cardin told Bloomberg:

There is no trust when it comes to Iran. In our deliberations we need to ensure the negotiations resulted in a comprehensive, long-lasting, and verifiable outcome that also provides for snap-back of sanctions should Iran deviate from its commitments.

The nine Democratic Senators whose positions are not known are:

Cory Booker of New Jersey;

Maria Cantwell of Washington;

Claire McCaskill of Missouri;

Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota’

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota;

Barbara Mikulski of Maryland;

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington;

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan; and

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.

One of the most pivotal of the “unknowns” is McCaskill. She stated this week:

Preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon is paramount to our national security, and if this agreement accomplishes that goal, it will make the world a safer place for America and our allies. I plan to spend the coming weeks taking a hard look at the agreement’s details to ensure that it will result in a verifiable way to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.”

Phillip’s tally shows 43 senators “leaning” to vote against ObamaDeal, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, and only 26 are in favor or are leaning in favor.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Fourth Brooklyn Man Charged in ISIS Recruiting Plot

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

A fourth Brooklyn man was named in a revised indictment submitted Monday on charges of providing material support and conspiracy to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Daesh, or ISIS) terror organization.

Dilkhayot Kasimov, 26, is expected to be arraigned Wednesday in Brooklyn federal court on charges of collecting $1,600 from multiple individuals to help send one of two Brooklyn men to Syria to join the group.

Both were arrested earlier this year, along with a third who worked together with Kasimov. All four are Uzbekistani nationals. Kasimov’s protege, Akhror Saidakhmetov, was caught in February at JFK International Airport just before boarding a flight to Turkey, where he expected to cross the border into Syria.

Kasimov allegedly encouraged others to participate in violent jihad through the use of electronic messages, according to prosecutors. He worked together with Abror Habibov, who owned cell phone kiosks, and who allegedly also helped in facilitating the travel of foreign fighters to Syria.

Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev had allegedly also planned to travel to Syria to fight with ISIS.

The three defendants picked up in February have already pleaded not guilty in March at a hearing in Brooklyn federal court to charges of conspiracy.

All four are being held at a detention center in New Jersey, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Authority.

Hana Levi Julian

Biggest Democratic Foe of Obama on Iran Indicted

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) was indicted on Wednesday, April 1. The 61-year old senator has been in public life for more than 40 years.

Menendez was indicted on corruption charges which accuse the senator of actions taken on behalf of a wealthy campaign donor in exchange for expensive vacations and gifts.

The indictment charges Menendez with conspiracy with his friend and donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, eight counts of bribery and other charges, including making false statements.

The indictment states that Menendez made overtures to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which claimed Melgen overbilled the government by nearly $9 million. It also claims that Menendez intervened two other times by making inquiries on behalf of Melgen and his friends.

In exchange for taking these actions on behalf of Melgen, Menendez allegedly accepted, among other things, free flights on Melgen’s private jet and vacations at Melgen’s resort home in the Dominican Republic, as well as campaign contributions and contributions to the senator’s legal defense fund.

Menendez said the charges against him are “outrageous.” He claimed that all the claims against him were trumped up by political enemies.

“I’m confident that at the end of the day, I will be vindicated, and they will be exposed,” Menendez said.

However, the senator will step down from his position as ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It is from that seat that the New Jersey senator has proven to be particularly irksome to this administration, as Menendez has pushed hard for increased sanctions against Iran throughout the current negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear power program.

Most congressional Democrats have been in lock-step with U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, but Senator Menendez has pushed back hard against the administration’s insistence on pursuing an agreement with a wily adversary few believe will ever follow the terms of any deal.

Menendez also opposed Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. The senator is Cuban American.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

US Army Vet Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ on Trying to Join ISIS

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Turkish authorities caught a U.S. Armed Forces veteran this past January as he was allegedly attempting to join Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terror group, or ISIS.

U.S. federal authorities say U.S. Air Force veteran and New Jersey native Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, 47, flew to Turkey from Egypt in January, but was denied entry to the country. Instead, they say Turkey sent Pugh back to Egypt, who then deported the veteran to the U.S.

(Given the skill and speed with which Turkish authorities caught this suspect, one wonders how three Islamic schoolgirls from the UK managed to sneak through the country into Syria to become Daesh “brides.”)

Pugh was arrested January 10 in Turkey and on January 16 in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and has been held in custody since that time, the Wall Street Journal reported. The alleged wannabe terrorist was formally charged by the federal grand jury with attempting to provide material support to ISIS and obstruction of justice. On Wednesday he pleaded “not guilty” in a New York federal court room, CNN reported.

If found guilty, Pugh could be sentenced to a maximum of 35 years in prison.

According to a post on the blog of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Pugh’s Face­book pro­file included mul­ti­ple anti-Semitic and anti-Israel posts as well as posts sup­port­ing Hamas.

One of the posts written by Pugh in July 2014 stated in part, “All the evil done by the Jews came from within them­selves. On the day of Judg­ment full respon­si­bil­ity of the starv­ing, tor­ture, jail­ing and killing of inno­cent Mus­lims will rest upon there (sic) shoul­ders. Allah must really hate them to give the rope to hang them­selves.” He also posted an image with text stat­ing, “Most Jews do not like to admit it, but our G-d is Lucifer.”

In August 2014, he shared an image that ref­er­enced blood libel accu­sa­tions, depict­ing Israel’s Prime Min­is­ter Binyamin Netanyahu slit­ting the throats of sleep­ing children. Pugh also posted sev­eral car­toons equat­ing Jews, Israelis or Zion­ists to Nazis, as well as numerous images claim­ing to depict Israeli war crimes.

Under questioning while being held in Egypt prior to deportation to the U.S. Pugh claimed he had traveled to Turkey to seek employment, denying he had intended to go to Syria, according to the criminal complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court.

However, a search of the suspect’s laptop by federal agents turned up a map of Turkish-Syrian border crossing points, and some 180 jihadist propaganda videos – including a number showing ISIS prisoners being executed. Also found on his laptop was a letter addressed to “My Misha,” whicch stated, “I will use the talents and skills given to me by Allah to establish and defend the Islamic States.”

That Pugh refers to ‘Islamic States’ in the plural form is, in fact, quite chilling: Daesh has indeed spread its influence and its forces from Iraq and Syria into a number of other countries, including Yemen, Nigeria and Libya. Pockets of terrorist cells have also been found in the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, Lebanon, France, Belgium, and Denmark.

Pugh was charged with “obstruction of justice” in response to the suspect’s intentional damage and removal of memory chips from four thumb drives in order to stymie law enforcement officials in their attempts to access data, authorities said. According to the criminal complaint, Pugh was also asked why he had a photo of a machine gun on his cell phone. He replied that he had “no particular reason other than simply liking the photograph.”

But Pugh’s history did not begin with his flight to the Turkish-Syrian border; actually he has been on the “watch list” for more than 10 years. Quoting the criminal complaint, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pugh converted to Islam and then started ramping up his radical sympathies after moving to San Antonio in 1998.

The FBI received a first tip from a co-worker while Pugh was working as a mechanic for American Airlines in 2001, when he was saying he sympathized with Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and supported the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Africa. By 2002, the FBI heard that Pugh had expressed interest in traveling to Chechnya to fight the jihad (Islamic holy war.)

Pugh had already worked as an Air Force mechanic from 1986 to 1990, and was assigned to various bases around the world, according to the U.S. Air Force. He lived abroad for some 18 months, including in Egypt and Jordan, prior to his arrest, according to the criminal complaint. But following his discharge, Pugh had trouble holding down a steady job.

At some point from 2009 to 2010, he worked as an Army contractor for a five month period in Iraq.

Earlier this year, he was fired again, this time from a gig as an airplane mechanic for a firm “based in the Middle East.”

Last Friday, three Brooklyn men also pleaded “not guilty” in Brooklyn federal court to charges of conspiring to aid the ISIS terrorist organization.

Over the past 18 months “dozens” of Americans have faced criminal charges relating to ISIS. FBI director James Comey said at a news briefing last month that his agency has active cases open “in every single state” in connection with the ISIS terror organization.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Preventing Americans from joining ISIS has become a priority for federal law-enforcement officials, but they have been unable to find a singular profile of the type of American who is inspired by the militant group’s propaganda.”

Due to the lack of a hat, a tip of the keyboard will have to do for kudos to WSJ journalists Dion Nissenbaum and Nicole Hong for being able to compose and type that last with a (presumed) straight face.

Hana Levi Julian

Snow Cripples the Big White Apple [video]

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

New York turned white Tuesday morning as the “storm of the century” threatens to cause heavy damage, flooding and death.

Fear of the storm was enough for public officials to call on people to leave work early and stay off the highways.

Trains and buses were packed like sardine cans. The subway system, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge were shut down at 11 p.m.

Major and secondary roads were declared off-limits from New Jersey to Massachusetts so that emergency vehicles will have access to plow away snowdrifts, which will be piled higher than usual because of gale-force winds that are accompanying the blizzard.

The forecast is for up to 30 inches of snow to cover New York, followed by freezing weather that will leave citizens snow-bound for up to a few days.

Emergencies have been declared from New Jersey to New England, and Boston also has suspended public and private transport.

Snowfall to the south, in Pennsylvania and Maryland, was less than predicted.

Hurricane-force winds of up to 75 MPH are forecast for New England, which will be buried even deeper than New York.

Following is the warning from New York:

Locations: New York City, and southern Westchester County in southeast New York.

Hazard types: Heavy snow and blowing snow, with blizzard conditions.

Accumulations: snow accumulation of 14 to 20 inches.

Snowfall rates, up to 2 inches per hour into this morning.

Winds: north 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph.

Visibilities: one quarter mile or less at times.

Temperatures: in the lower 20s.

Timing: heaviest snow and strongest winds into this morning.

Impacts: Life-threatening conditions….. Strong winds may down power lines and tree limbs.

 


Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Northeastern United States Gears Up for Epic Blizzard

Monday, January 26th, 2015

Forecasters are predicting another “epic” blizzard that could top the one that buried New York and surrounds last winter.

The “potentially historic” snowstorm could dump up to three feet of snow along a swathe from New Jersey as far as southern Maine, according to the National Weather Service.

New Yorkers were out in force as early as Sunday to stock up on essentials, such as candles, matches, snow shovels, rock salt to melt the expected ice on their sidewalks and extra food supplies.

The blizzard warning was issued as early as this weekend, with shoppers already out in force to scour the store shelves in a 250-mile stretch along the northeastern United States. “Milk, cereal, snacks for the kids, orange juice – in general I made sure we had enough food to last through the storm for the next two or three days,” Brooklynite Shlomit Belilos told JewishPress.com late Sunday night.

Heavy snow, gale-force winds and widespread coastal flooding is predicted in New York starting sometime late Monday afternoon or early evening and continuing on into Tuesday. Snow is expected to fall at a rate of up to two inches per hour at some points.

“This could be a storm the likes of which we have never seen before,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said gravely at a news conference held Sunday. Holding up a list of the Big Apple’s Top Ten Snowstorms, de Blasio said the predicted blizzard could make the list, which dates back to 1872.

“Don’t underestimate this storm,” he warned. “Prepare for the worst,” he advised New Yorkers, telling them to plan to leave work early today (Monday, Jan. 26.) Forecasters predict that New York City could be buried under snow drifts as high as 26 inches or more.

More than 1,700 flights are expected to cancel departures and arrivals at airports along the Eastern Coast. Airlines have already prepared to shut down operations at major airports, according to the FlightAware tracking site.

Philadelphia could see between 14 to 18 inches, and Boston is expected to get between 18 to 24 inches of snow, with up to three feet west of Beantown.

Wind gusts of 75 miles per hour or more are possible for coastal areas of Massachusetts, bringing with them coastal flooding, and up to 50 mph winds further inland.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/northeastern-united-states-gears-up-for-epic-blizzard/2015/01/26/

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