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April 28, 2015 / 9 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Those ‘United States’ Determine Their Own Sanctions Against Iran

Monday, April 13th, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have the right to negotiate a nuclear deal on behalf of the country with Iran — but that doesn’t mean individual states won’t have a say in the matter.

The Executive Branch in America’s government is about to find out just how much power can be wielded by individual states when they are of a mind.

Some two dozen states have already enacted measures of their own, punishing companies operating in certain sectors of the Iranian economy. For instance, public pension funds worth billions of dollars in assets have been ordered to divest from the firms, and some have been barred from public contracts.

A specific example is Becton Dickinson and Co., a U.S. medical supplies company that sells to Iran legally under current federal regulations. In 2013 and 2014, Michigan divested $45 million from the company. Oddly, the company seemed completely unaware of the loss until contacted by reporters for a comment on the matter. It then issued a statement saying its trade with Iran is authorized by the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control, which oversees federal sanctions.

More than a dozen states have implemented regulations that do not allow their restrictions to expire until and unless Iran is no longer designated to be a supporter of terrorism, and/or if all U.S. federal sanctions against the Islamic Republic are lifted. These conditions will be difficult to meet, to say the least.

In Kansas and Mississippi, state governments are reportedly considering additional sanctions to target Tehran.

“Our investment sanctions are not tied in any way to President Obama’s negotiations with the Iranians,” Florida GOP State Senator Don Gaetz told Reuters.

“They would have to change their behavior dramatically and we would not be necessarily guided by President Obama or any other president’s opinion about the Iranians,” Gaetz said. The state senator sponsored legislation in 2007 that punished companies with investments in Iran’s energy sector.

At least a dozen states contacted by the news agency said they were not considering changing their sanctions against Iran even in the event a deal negotiated with Iran were to be signed. Some said they would need to adjust their legislation to accommodate the divestment policies vis a vis the new federal status if a deal were signed.

In all of the states, the divestment measures had bipartisan support and typically were signed into law by Republican and Democratic governors alike.

Hillary Clinton’s Video Launch: ‘I’m Running for President’

Monday, April 13th, 2015

It’s a new day in America; or at least, that’s what Hillary Clinton’s campaign managers would like U.S. voters to believe in a launch video aimed square at Middle America.

Americans have been busy, with many “getting ready” to do things in their lives, as the narrator explains. The camera has been busy too, filming all of them, but gracefully swings its way towards Hillary Clinton.

In a voice-over that runs while she is filmed chatting with the workers in a factory and others at a bare table in a “middle America” luncheonette, Clinton cheerfully chimes in, “I’m getting ready to do something too.”

Her hair is carefully coiffed, yes, but the camera work is equally careful too, with the photographer making sure to soften the focus. Clinton comes across as a main player — but a kinder and gentler one, with fewer harsh wrinkles and angles and no loud colors in her makeup to interfere with the message. She wears a cobalt coat over a sky blue turtleneck sweater with soft white earrings and her makeup is very, very understated – so much so, in fact, that one might even wonder whether she is wearing any makeup at all.

This is intentional: Clinton almost manages to look like the women in the luncheonette around her. Almost, but not quite. The casual elegance in her hair styling and assertive body language make it clear she is not.

And then she explains why, in a stand-up shot while wearing a sleek navy blue jacket over a brightly contrasting tomato-colored shell peeking from beneath, her hair more sharply styled in a chic conservative wave blown back from her face, with understated makeup enhanced just a bit more. The camera’s focus is sharper now, the softness dispensed with.

“I’m running for president.”

Everyday Americans need a champion, Clinton explains in the campaign launch video that depicts the lives and dreams of Middle America, young America, older America, gay America, single, married and family America. All-America.

“I want to be that champion, so you can do more than just get by.”

“I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I’m hitting the road to earn your vote… When families are strong, America is strong.”

The message is concise, the editing is tight and the photography faultless. Clearly, Hillary Clinton has her tech team’s ducks all in a row.

The only problem now is her track record.

Obama Rolls Red Carpet for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Run

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama appears to be rolling out the red carpet for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to launch her campaign for the presidency on the Democratic ticket in 2016.

Obama told reporters in Panama during a news conference at the Summit of the Americas on Saturday, “I think she would be an excellent president.”

The former first lady was a “formidable candidate” against him when they were both running for the Democratic nomination in 2008, he noted. The president added that Clinton will have strong messages to deliver if she decides to run.

Which she has.

Media have already been informed the official campaign announcement is to be made some time today (Sunday, April 12) with the release of an online video via social media – a “new type of campaign launch,” as Fox News noted – to be followed with a handful of small-group events in Iowa.

On Saturday, Clinton’s campaign team circulated a memo entitled “We Are Hillary For America” to her supporters listing guiding principles. The memo explains the aim of the campaign is to “give every family, every small business, and every American a path to lasting prosperity by electing Hillary Clinton the next President of the United States. This campaign is not about Hillary Clinton and not about us – it’s about the everyday Americans who are trying to build a better life for themselves and their families,” the memo reads.

It ends by telling supporters, “We are guided by Hillary’s bedrock values of hard work, service, fairness, and faith in the American Dream.”

That last is a statement that will undoubtedly face intense scrutiny from countless op-ed writers, bloggers and other columnists who have long memories of Clinton’s track record in other arenas.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is also expected to announce his intention to run for the GOP nomination next week, most probably on Monday.

Obama’s Jewish Support Sinks to 50 Percent

Sunday, April 12th, 2015

Jewish voters’ support for President Barack Obama has sunk from 61 percent in January to only 50 percent in March, according to a new Gallup poll.

The gap between approval of the president by Jews and by the national average has narrowed to only 8 percentage points for the first three months and 4 points for the last month.

The emerging deal with Iran and President Obama’s attacks and affronts to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are the reasons for the drop in support among Jews.

Among Orthodox Jews, defined as those who attend synagogue at least once a week, the approval rating is only 34 percent.  Support among Jews who do not have a college degree was only 39 percent compared with 62 percent among those with a higher education degree.

Jewish women approve of President Obama by 11 percentage points more than men over the past 15 months, while the national average is only 6 percent points between women and men.

The question is whether President Obama’s drooping popularity among Jews will be translated into support for a Republican presidential candidate at the polls.

If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic candidate, Jewish support for her is expected to rise sharply.

Republicans should not jump for joy too soon, author Josh Zeitz told Politico.

“As was the case then, today, most American Jews cast their votes as concerned American liberals and moderates, not as foreign proxies for the Israeli government,” he said.

Zeitz added:

But that doesn’t stop the GOP from hoping.

There’s always a place for tradition. Every year during Passover, Jews open the door in expectation of the Prophet Elijah, who will someday herald the coming of the Messiah. And every four years, the pundits await the great Jewish embrace of the Republican Party.

As it was said then, so it is said now: Next year in New Hampshire.

Netanyahu Heats Up Mimouna Celebration

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Israelis heading to Mimouna celebrations around the country may have had to fight the weather to get there but at least in one city many thought it was well worth the battle.

One of the “hottest” celebrations was held at the northern coastal town of Or Akiva, where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah made their annual appearance.

Speaking to the gathering, Netanyahu told party goers it is “time to unite the country.” Among the promises he made to celebrants were vows to lower housing prices and the cost of living. “We promised to do it, and this will be our first task,” he said, “after putting together a coalition.” Another essential priority, he added, was the need to ensure the nation’s security – another promise he vowed to keep.

In the Diaspora, the Sabbath was observed automatically as the “eighth day” of Passover, as the holiday is always observed outside the Land of Israel; but in Israel, only seven days of the holiday are observed. This year in Israel, however, the Sabbath was observed as a “de facto” eighth day, since Passover ended just as the start of the Sabbath began, at sunset on Friday — leaving no time for rabbis to buy back the chametz and allow for the return of kitchens to pre-Passover status.

Rahm Beats Jesus in Chicago

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Rahm Emanuel was reelected mayor of Chicago, beating out his primary opponent Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

After failing to secure a majority in the first election against four other opponents in February, the city ran a run-off election between Emanuel and Garcia.

Emanuel received approximately 56 percent to Garcia’s 44 percent in the runoff.

Emanuel is Chicago’s 55th mayor, and its first Jewish mayor.

Emanuel was President Obama’s Chief of Staff in his first term until 2010.

Obama Finally Forced to Admit Iran’s Nuclear Breakout Time ‘Zero’ in 13 Years

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

It took a lot of pressure and many more speeches and harangues by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu than anyone probably wanted to hear, but at the end of the day, it paid off:

U.S. President Barack Obama was finally forced on Tuesday to admit the truth: In 13 years – if not fewer – Iran’s breakout time to an atomic bomb will be zero.

That means the world will have practically no warning whatsoever as to when Iran actually reaches its nuclear weapons capability – if it has not already done so by then, without telling anyone.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Obama told NPR News that for the first decade following the new deal reached last week with world powers led by the United States in Lausanne, Switzerland, Tehran will be capped at 300 kilograms of enriched uranium. The president insisted this was not enough to convert to a cache of weapons-grade fuel.

But then the president said this:

What is a more relevant fear would be that in Year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point, the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.

By then, restrictions on Iran’s enriched uranium stockpiles will have been eased for the two years prior – in Years 11 and 12 – which means there will already have been two years in which to gather enriched nuclear fuel.

The admission confirms just one of a long list of concerns that Israel’s prime minister had underlined to the U.S. Congress – and to the rest of the world – in his repeated explanations of why “an even greater danger” exists that Iran could “get to the bomb by keeping [this] deal.”

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz on Monday issued a government statement outlining “the irresponsible concessions given to Iran” in the agreement. The document also showed “how dangerous the framework is for Israel, the region and the world.”

Among the changes demanded by Israel to the current agreement between Iran and world powers prior to the June 30 final deadline (which the United States has ignored):

  • Bar further Iranian research and development on advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges;
  • Significantly reduce the number of centrifuges available to Iran for it to reactivate in violation of the deal;
  • Close down the Fordow underground enrichment facility;
  • Require Iranian compliance in detailing previous nuclear activities with potential military dimensions;
  • Ship Iran’s stockpile of lower-enriched uranium out of the country;
  • Ensure “anywhere-anytime” spot inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The document (click here for the PDF file) also made clear – as has Netanyahu, repeatedly in statements to the media – that the current agreement “ignores the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program to Israel.” The prime minister emphasized that a “better deal” can and must be reached with Iran, “an enemy of the United States whose regime, even during the negotiations, continued to conduct aggression in the region and to call for the destruction of Israel.”

The document pointedly calls attention to the fact that under the current agreement:

  • Not a single nuclear facility will be shut down;
  • Iran is allowed to continued advanced uranium centrifuge enrichment research and development;
  • Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile program development is altogether ignored;
  • Sanctions that could be used to regulate Iran’s compliance are instead removed.

Included in the document are 10 questions aimed at those who negotiated this deal and support its passage into law:

1. Why are sanctions that took years to put in place being removed immediately (as the Iranians claim)? This removes the international community’s primary leverage at the outset of the agreement, and make Iranian compliance less likely.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-finally-forced-to-admit-irans-nuclear-breakout-time-zero-in-13-years/2015/04/07/

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