Tag Archive: Nuclear program of Iran

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“[T]he administration has shown a dangerous naivety regarding who it is dealing with,” Ed Royce said in a statement. (AP Photo)

GOP to Obama: See, we told you Iran would cheat

Top Republicans in Congress criticized the administration’s strategy in Iran on Monday, saying recent actions prove President Obama made a mistake in securing a nuclear deal with a country that cannot be trusted.

Over the weekend, Iran tested a long-range ballistic missile, prompting some to wonder if it had already broken the newly-signed nuclear deal. Iran also announced the conviction of American reporter Jason Rezaian, who has been held in an Iranian jail for more than a year.

Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., said these moves demonstrate that the Obama administration has failed in its negotiations with Iran.

“[T]he administration has shown a dangerous naivety regarding who it is dealing with,” Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement. “The administration didn’t get Jason released when it had the leverage of the nuclear agreement. It must redouble efforts to get Jason and the other imprisoned Americans home now.”


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US says missile test by Iran ‘likely’ violated UN resolution

Regime is banned from developing long-range ballistic weapons; official says Tehran not in breach of nuclear deal

October 13, 2015, 5:40 am 9
Screen capture of an the launch of a new Iranian missile, named Imad, October 11, 2015. (YouTube/PressTV News Videos)

Screen capture of an the launch of a new Iranian missile, named Imad, October 11, 2015. (YouTube/PressTV News Videos)

Iran over the weekend “likely” violated a UN Security Council resolution which prohibits the Islamic Republic from carrying out any military activity related to the use of ballistic missiles, a US official said Monday.

Based on information gathered by the White House so far, the Iranian regime appeared to have violated the international body’s Resolution 1929 when it recently conducted testing on a new, long-range, surface-to-surface ballistic missile, the official told US news outlet CNN.

Nevertheless, the US believes the Islamic Republic’s illegal activity does not breach the terms of a landmark nuclear accord between Iran, the US and five other major world powers.

The official indicated that the July agreement did not place restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities, as it was aimed at blocking the regime from acquiring nuclear weapons.


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Iran Emad ballistic missile with high precision guidance and control systems till reach its target

US Suspects Iran of Violating UN Resolution by Missile Test

© Photo: Youtube/ ali javid

08:04 13.10.2015(updated 09:15 13.10.2015)

The test-fire of a new long-range ballistic missile by Iran likely represents violation of a UN resolution, an official from US President Obama administration told CNN.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Sunday, Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said that the country test-fired a new surface-to-surface Emad (Pillar) missile. According to Dehghan, the rocket, indigenously designed and manufactured, represents “the first Iran’s long-range missile that can be directed and controlled till it strikes the target.”



Published on Jan 13, 2014

January 12, 2014 MSNBC News


White House Punishes More Firms Over Iran Sanctions

WASHINGTON — Under pressure from Congress to demonstrate that it is not easing up on sanctions on Iran’s oil sector or on its nuclear and missile programs, the Obama administration on Thursday announced an expanded list of companies and individuals that it said it would target to block their trading activities around the world.

Among the newly penalized companies is a Singapore-based firm called Mid Oil Asia, which is accused of helping the National Iranian Tanker Company make payments for services through money transfers that made no mention of the vessels that were aided, or their Iranian ownership. Another Singapore company, Singa Tankers, is accused of helping Iran make “urgent payments.” The location of both companies is notable because Singapore often prides itself on running a carefully regulated shipping and banking system.

Five companies are accused of helping Iran’s nuclear and missile program, including an Iranian firm, the Eyvaz Technic Manufacturing Company, that the United States said had procured some of the most sensitive and hard-to-build components for Iran’s nuclear centrifuges. The centrifuges are the machines that, spinning at supersonic speeds, enrich uranium; over the years the United States has sought to undermine the effort with sanctions, faulty parts and cyberattacks.

Another firm is accused of helping Iran obtain components for its heavy-water reactor facility, which officials fear will ultimately give Iran another pathway to a bomb capability, using plutonium.

The administration’s announcement of its enforcement actions appeared to be timed to set the stage for a Senate Banking Committee hearing on the Iran nuclear talks and the United States sanctions policy on Thursday morning.

Wendy R. Sherman, the senior State Department official who led the American delegation at the nuclear talks with Iran, and David S. Cohen, the senior Treasury Department official who oversees the enforcement of sanctions on Iran, testified to the panel.

The aim of the interim agreement that was reached last month in Geneva is to freeze much of Iran’s nuclear program for six months so that international negotiators can pursue a more comprehensive accord.

That interim agreement, however, has not yet formally gone into effect. Ms. Sherman said that the precise start date was being taken up in technical talks, but that the agreement should start to take effect in the next several weeks.

The interim agreement can also be extended for an additional six months by mutual consent if negotiators need more time to pursue a follow-on agreement.

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Clock ticking on Iran talks, possible further U.S. sanctions

By Tom Cohen, CNN
updated 4:39 PM EST, Mon January 13, 2014
Watch this video

  • NEW: President Obama says “now is not the time for new sanctions”
  • Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief starting January 20
  • Talks will continue on a broader deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons
  • A bipartisan proposal in Congress calls for imposing new conditional sanctions on Iran

Washington (CNN) — The clock is ticking on an interim nuclear deal with Iran, as well as efforts in Congress to pass new sanctions for greater leverage in global negotiations on a comprehensive accord.

Sunday’s announcement that a six-month interim agreement formally begins on January 20 means that Iran must dismantle or freeze some of its nuclear program and open it to more international inspections in return for limited relief from crippling international sanctions.

Assuming all goes as planned, further negotiations between Iran and the United States, France, Russia, China, Great Britain and Germany will seek a broader agreement intended to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, pro-Israel members of Congress are seeking additional sanctions against Iran that would take effect if the talks break down.

Israel considers Iran’s potential nuclear capability an existential threat, and has made clear it would attack militarily if it believed Tehran could develop such weapons of mass destruction.

The question is whether the steps Iran is taking under the interim deal will blunt or bolster the congressional push for more sanctions.

President Barack Obama warns that approving new sanctions legislation now would undermine the talks, and he has promised to veto such a measure if it came to his desk.

“Now is not time for new sanctions,” Obama told reporters on Monday.

He warned the continuing negotiations with Iran would be “difficult” and “challenging,” adding that “ultimately this is how diplomacy should work.”

A bipartisan proposal that would impose new U.S. sanctions — but put off implementing them to allow time for negotiations to continue — has the support of 59 Senators so far, a senior Senate aide told CNN last week.

According to the aide, the informal count for the measure introduced by Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Republican Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois surpasses 75 votes — more than enough for the Democratic-led Senate to override the promised presidential veto.

It takes a two-thirds majority of both the House and Senate to approve a law over a president’s objection. The GOP-led House would have a much easier time of reaching that threshold.

The Obama administration argues the six-month interim deal includes sufficient safeguards in the form of new compliance verification by the U.N. nuclear energy watchdog — the International Atomic Energy Agency — to make further sanctions unnecessary at this time.

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Iran’s nuclear scale down begins Jan. 20

U.S. hails implementation of Iran deal

Businesses benefit from Iran’s nuclear accord


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Wars and Rumors of War

World News – Politics  :   Costs of War – Security

Iran’s newest nuclear facility struck by ‘saboteurs’

Saboteurs have struck Iran’s newest and most sensitive nuclear facility by blowing up its power supply cables, the head of the country’s atomic energy program disclosed.

Iran's newest nuclear facility struck by 'saboteurs'

Fereydoun Abbasi, the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, disclosed the incident during a speech in Vienna to the 155 members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Photo: AP
David Blair

By David Blair

This announcement offered a rare glimpse of a long-running campaign to sabotage Iran’s critical nuclear installations, believed to be a key priority of Western and Israeli intelligence agencies.

The Fordow plant, located inside a bunker dug into a mountainside, became the latest target on Aug 17 when an explosion severed its electricity cables, running from the nearby city of Qom.

Fereydoun Abbasi, the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, disclosed the incident during a speech in Vienna to the 155 members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He noted that IAEA inspectors visited Fordow the day after the explosion and insinuated that they might have been responsible.

“During the early hours of next morning, an Agency inspector requested to conduct an unannounced inspection. Does this visit have any connection to that detonation?” asked Mr Abbasi. “Who, other than the IAEA inspectors, can have access to the complex in such a short term to report and record failures?”

Mr Abbasi added: “Terrorists and saboteurs might have intruded the Agency and might be making decisions covertly.”

Five Iranian nuclear scientists are known to have been assassinated since 2007. Mr Abbasi was himself wounded when a motorcyclist attached a bomb to his car in Tehran in November 2010, on the same day as another scientist was killed by this method.

The Fordow enrichment plant, buried beneath about 260ft of rock and earth, was built in secret from 2006 onwards. But Western intelligence discovered its construction, allowing President Barack Obama to reveal the installation’s existence in 2009. Fordow is Iran’s most valuable plant because its location in a hollowed out mountainside could render it immune to air attack.

The IAEA says that 696 centrifuges are being used to enrich uranium inside Fordow, with another 1,444 installed but not yet operational. If these machines lost their power supply, they would be severely damaged, said Mark Fitzpatrick, the head of non-proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

“If there was no power source to keep them spinning, and if they stopped, as they slowed down they would crash,” he said.

But IAEA inspectors visited Fordow the day after the incident, on Aug 18. Their report on Iran’s nuclear programme, released on Aug 30, does not mention any damage to the centrifuges.

This suggests that Fordow must have a backup electricity system. It would, in any case, be an extraordinary oversight for an installation of this sensitivity to lack an independent power supply and rely on a normal grid connection.

The development of Fordow may not be progressing as rapidly as Iran might have hoped. While the total number of centrifuges installed in the plant has tripled since February, the number of operational machines has remained constant for the last seven months at 696.

Mr Fitzpatrick noted that the electricity supply for Iran’s other enrichment plant at Natanz had been singled out for sabotage, with one power surge destroying 50 centrifuges. It was “entirely conceivable” that Fordow could be encountering the same attention, he said.

The CIA is understood to have begun a sabotage campaign, code-named “Olympic Games”, under the Bush administration. The most successful intervention was the Stuxnet computer virus, which makes centrifuges spin out of control and tear themselves to pieces. This was infiltrated into Natanz in 2009 and briefly forced all enrichment to be halted for emergency repairs. This virus alone probably delayed Iran’s nuclear ambitions by up to a year.

Politics, Legislation and Economy News

World News :  Politics / War  and Rumors of War

US-Israeli Relations in Crisis? No!

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is surrounded by security guards as he gestures during a visit to a kindergarten on the first day of school in Jerusalem Aug. 27, 2012. (photo by REUTERS/Gali Tibbon)
By: Alon Pinkas posted on Wednesday, Sep 5, 2012

First, there was “a crisis.” Then, there was “the worst crisis in US-Israel relations ever.” Now, a mere 36 hours later, the “crisis recedes.

An alien with nothing better to do but to scan the Israeli media in the last 10 days would be compelled to report to the Council of Sages of his home planet that it seems that two countries, the United States and Israel are on the brink of “a major crisis.” If that alien neglected to do his reading on US-Israel relations in the last 40 years and rely only on his media survey, he should be excused for reporting back that these two countries are in the midst of a full-scale nasty diplomatic conflict over an issue called Iran.

Furthermore, the perplexed alien briefed the Council that he witnessed a strange form of humanoid diplomacy, certainly between two self-proclaimed “unshakeable allies”: The entire “crisis” takes place in the media. Do they not converse with each other? He was asked. Not the leaders, from what I gather, he replied.

In fact, he reported, something strange is happening. The president of the United States, a superpower on that particular planet, is providing unprecedented military, technological and diplomatic assistance to the small country, Israel. Yet the leader of Israel persists in treating that American president as hostile, quietly accusing him of not caring and sacrificing Israel’s security and almost openly endorsing his rival for the presidency.

Our alien was reassigned to desk duty. His report just didn’t make sense to the Council.

The alliance between the United States and Israel is underlined by a vision, shared values, common interests (even if they require redefinition since the end of the Cold War) and a comparable worldview. Differences in policy emphasis or nuance in the peace process always existed, but the foundations have been further consolidated in the last four decades.

Therefore, before calling something a crisis, it’s worth looking at all its attributes and dimensions.

A crisis in relations between two countries as close as the US and Israel usually contains some or all of the following ingredients: A fundamental disagreement over the nature of a problem; a dissimilar threat perception relating to the issue at hand; A different interpretation of cause and effect and the timeline and dynamics of the issue; A divergence over the desired policy or set of policies required to adequately address the issue.

On the issue of curbing or reversing altogether Iran’s nuclear program perhaps just one of these ingredients exists: The different interpretation of “Cause and Effect”. Specifically this relates not to the substance, but to the timetable delineating the point where you credibly threaten and eventually may carry out a limited – but powerful – military strike.

Israel thinks that it may have to strike alone and if so, it has to be done in the next three-four months otherwise nuclear facilities would become both diffused and impenetrable. The US believes that mid-2013 is just as good. The different perspective relates of course to each country’s respective military capabilities. While Israel can delay and inflict limited damage, but must do it soon, the US is equipped to demolish Iran’s nuclear facilities at almost any point in time, yet adopts a more multilateral approach.

On every other facet of the Iranian nuclear issue, the US and Israel have almost identical principles and strategic interests, namely that Iran should not possess nuclear capability; A mutual understanding that diplomacy must be exhausted, sanctions allowed time to work, an international coalition and legitimacy need to be assembled.

But in such an alliance there is one other factor: the personal relationship between the leaders. The discreetness and intimacy of their discourse and the respect they have for one another. Political Science academic orthodoxy usually attributes less importance to personal relationships, since nation-states operate primarily on the basis of advancing national interests. In this respect a warm relationship is a bonus, a cool one is but a limited disadvantage.

But in a unique relationship, such as the one that exists between Israel and the US, a cordial, trust-based affinity between the president and the prime minister is a force multiplier. It also projects power and compliments Israel’s deterrence.

When relations were based on trust, like the cases of Clinton-Rabin, George W. Bush-Sharon and George W. Bush-Olmert, agendas were advanced and cooperation reigned. When it wasn’t, like in George H.W. Bush and Shamir, Clinton and Netanyahu and Obama-Netanyahu, confusion and miscalculation define everything.

So what are we to make of the current disagreement? Is it a crisis as was the 1956 Israeli-Egyptian war? Is it similar to the 1975 Ford administration “Reassessment” of relations, in the context of the post-1973 war Israeli-Egyptian interim agreements? Is it the 1991 George Bush 41/James Baker – Shamir settlements and loan guarantees rift?

Not really. Look at the evidence.

Is there a crisis between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta? No.

Is there a crisis between Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the Israeli chief of the General Staff, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs? No.

Is there a crisis between Tamir Pardo, the head of the Mossad, and David Petraeus, the CIA director? No.

Is there a crisis, beyond differences of opinion and style, between Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? No.

Is there a crisis between the President of Israel, Shimon Peres and any of the above protagonists? No.

Is there a crisis between the leaderships of both parties in Congress and chairmen of relevant committees and any of the above? No.

Are there significant gaps in how they all interpret the Iranian threat? No.

So through a simple process of empirically based elimination we can isolate “The Crisis.” It goes by the name of Benjamin Netanyahu, aka the prime minister of Israel.

More specifically, his sour, dour, toxic, at times acrimonious and definitely devoid-of-trust relationship with President Barack Obama going back to May 2009 when the two met in Washington and the downhill pattern was regretfully established.

Netanyahu, even when he makes valid and salient points and raises compelling issues suffers from a serious credibility-deficit because he never “played ball” and because he never really bothered to understand and approach Obama. He is then looked at suspiciously when he demands that Obama set red lines on an Iran strike as if A) Obama works for him and B) foreign policy is a commodities futures market in which an American president can declare now his position 18 months down the road.

This is a serious deficiency that affects relations. But it is surely not a crisis.

Ambassador Alon Pinkas was Israel’s consul general in New York, adviser to Shimon Peres and chief of staff to Ehud Barak and Shlomo Ben Ami. He is currently a fellow at the Israel Policy Forum (IPF).

Politics, Legislation and  Economy

Russia blasts US over unilateral sanctions on Iran

File photo shows Iranian oil tankers.

File photo shows Iranian oil tankers.
Mon Aug 13, 2012 11:29PM GMT

Those in Washington should take into account that our bilateral relations will suffer seriously if Russian operators… come under the effects of the American restrictions.”

Russian Foreign Ministry

Russia has lashed out at the United States over illegal unilateral sanctions imposed against Iran, calling the measures “overt blackmail” and a “crude contradiction of international law.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday that the sanctions would harm Moscow-Washington relations.

“Those in Washington should take into account that our bilateral relations will suffer seriously if Russian operators… come under the effects of the American restrictions,” the ministry said.

“We are talking about restrictive measures not only against Iran but also affecting foreign companies and individuals working with it, including in the hydrocarbon extraction and transport, petrochemicals, finance and insurance industries,” the statement read.

“We consider efforts to… impose internal American legislation on the entire world completely unacceptable,” it said.

The statement refers to the measures, approved by the US Congress on August 1, which seek to punish banks, insurance companies, and shippers that help Tehran sell its oil.

The new US sanctions build on Iranian crude sanctions, signed into law by US President Barack Obama, penalize other countries for buying or selling Iran’s oil. The sanctions took effect on June 28.

Russia also reiterated that unilateral sanctions are counterproductive.

The “constant increase of pressure on Tehran” undermines diplomatic efforts over Iran’s nuclear energy program.

The illegal US sanctions are meant to pile up pressure on Iran over its nuclear energy program, which Washington, Tel Aviv, and some of their allies claim may include a military aspect.

Iran refutes the allegation and holds that, as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it is entitled to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.


More than half Iran parliament backs Hormuz closure bill

Friday, 20 July 2012

A heavy Western naval presence in the Gulf and surrounding area is a big impediment to any attempt to block the Strait of Hormuz through which 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil exports passes. (AFP)

A heavy Western naval presence in the Gulf and surrounding area is a big impediment to any attempt to block the Strait of Hormuz through which 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil exports passes. (AFP)

By Reuters

Just over half of Iran’s parliament has backed a draft law to block the Strait of Hormuz, a lawmaker said on Friday, threatening to close the Gulf to oil tankers in retaliation against European sanctions on Iranian crude.

The assembly has little say in defense and foreign policy, where Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has the last word, but the law would lend political support to any decision to close the strait — a threat that Iran’s foreign minister recently played down.

Lawmaker Javad Karimi Qodoosi said 150 of parliament’s 290 members had signed the bill, describing the strait as “the world’s lock” to which Iran holds the key.

“If the sanctions continue, the countries that have imposed sanctions have no right to cross the Strait of Hormuz without harm,” the Iranian Students’ News Agency quoted Qodoosi as saying.

A heavy Western naval presence in the Gulf and surrounding area is a big impediment to any attempt to block the vital shipping route through which 40 percent of the world’s seaborne oil exports passes. Qodoosi dismissed this obstacle.

“From a military standpoint, the power to close the Strait of Hormuz is 100 percent there … if we close the Strait of Hormuz, no country will be able to open it.”

Iranian threats to close the shipping channel have multiplied in response to sanctions placed on its crude exports by Western powers. The European Union banned imports from July 1 and non-EU Turkey has slashed purchases.

The sanctions were imposed over Iran’s nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at creating an atomic weapon and Tehran says is for peaceful energy purposes.

Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi told Reuters earlier this month Iran was unlikely to follow through on the treat to close the strait.

“Probably those who have suggested this idea have in mind that if Iran is denied access to the Persian Gulf for whatever reason … then Iran will probably react appropriately … But I don’t think such a time will ever come,” he said.

Iran Points 1000 Missiles At U.S. Bases In The Middle East: There Will Be War And We Will Win, Says Republican Guard

Before It’s News

“>June 30, 2012 – TEHRAN – Just days after the breakdown of talks with the West over Iran’s nuclear program, the deputy chief commander of the Revolutionary Guards announced that there soon will be war – and that Allah will ensure his forces are victorious. The last round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany) ended in Moscow last week without any agreement on Iran’s illicit nuclear program.

Gen. Hossein Salami, in a televised interview, boasted that, “Iran has complete control of all the enemy’s interests around the world and is on a path to reach equivalency with world powers.” The commander emphasized that Iran’s nuclear program is irreversible, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Salami said war is inevitable, and the Iranian forces are ready. “The current sanctions will only help Iran with its progress, and the Iranian ballistic missiles can target the enemy’s moving carriers with 100 percent accuracy,” he warned the West.

“The Guards’ operational plan includes a radius of deterrence in the region in which all interests of the enemy have been identified, and in case of war, those interests will be attacked.” Guards’ commanders have stated previously that all U.S. bases in the region are targeted with missiles and will be attacked should America strike Iran. Salami said Iranian ballistic missiles can travel at several times the speed of sound and cannot easily be tracked and destroyed.

“Our defense inventory is so great that at times our brothers in the Guards face limitations with space.” The Revolutionary Guards have more than 1,000 ballistic missiles capable of reaching all U.S. bases in the region, all of Israel and some capitals in Europe. In collaboration with China and North Korea, they are also working on intercontinental ballistic missiles. Salami said the Guards are on high alert, adding, “Our forces in relation to our internal security will complete their mission with all of their capability.” –WND

Politics and Legislation

DHS Hacks Xbox, Sibel Ungagged, Knockout Gas – New World Next Week

Published on Apr 12, 2012 by

Welcome to http://NewWorldNextWeek.com — the video series from Corbett Report and Media Monarchy that covers some of the most important developments in open source intelligence news. This week:

Story #1: DHS/Navy Award Contract to Hack Gaming Systems
Spy Games – Homeland Security Is Trying to Hack Into Your Xbox
Feds Want Way to Hack Xboxes and Wiis for Evidence
“R & D Effort for the Development and Delivery of Computer Forensic Tools for Analyzing Network Traffic and Stored Data Created During the Use of Video Game Systems”
Background: Full Spectrum Information Warfare – Information Operation Roadmap
Flashback: PlayStation Network Hack Leaves Credit Card Info at Risk

Story #2: FBI Efforts Keep Whistleblower’s Book Unpublished
FBI Attempts to Hold Sibel Edmonds’ Book Hostage
Flashback: A Patriot Silenced, Unjustly Fired but Fighting Back to Help Keep America Safe

Story #3: Future Riots ‘May Be’ Controlled With Chemicals
Background: Sunshine Project – Online Clearinghouse of US ‘Non-Lethal’ Weapons Documents
Video: Alex Jones Loses It Over ‘Robot Helicopters with Airborne Ebola’
Television Tropes and Idioms – Knockout Gas

Bonus: Food World Order on Corbett Report Radio

Visit http://NewWorldNextWeek.com to get previous episodes in various
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subscribing to the feeds from Corbett Report http://ur1.ca/39obd and
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Previous Episode: ICC vs. Palestine, Orwell’s Emails, Water Wars

White House to Delay Implementation of Key Anti-Discrimination Order

By Igor Volsky

After months of dodging questions about the progress of an executive order prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in federal contracting, the White House won’t issue the directive, but will instead study whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees require employment protections, ThinkProgress has learned. The news comes after White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett held a meeting with LGBT advocates to discuss the matter.

Existing studies suggest that 11 to 16 million additional employees would have gained protections as a result of the measure, since many “federal contractors do not currently have those policies, and they employ millions of workers.” Among them are Jarrod Scarbrough and Les Sewell, a gay couple who attended Monday’s Easter Egg Roll at the White House to ask Obama to sign the order. “Jarrod works for a company that the government contracts through, and we live in New Mexico — we’re actually protected, we don’t have to worry too much about being discriminated against. However, in June we’re moving to Florida where that protection, we’ll no longer have that,” Sewell explained during an appearance on MSNBC. “Without this administrative action, Jarrod could lose his job and then where would this family be?”….

Read Full Article Here

The Iran Conundrum

Posted by Juan Cole

Negotiators for Iran, the U.S., Britain, China, France, Russia, and Germany are to meet in Turkey this Friday, face to face, for the first time in more than a year.  There are small signs of possible future compromise on both sides when it comes to Iran’s nuclear program (and a semi-public demand from Washington that could be an instant deal-breaker).  Looking at the big picture, though, there’s a remarkable amount we simply don’t know about Washington’s highly militarized policy toward Iran.

Every now and then, like a flash of lightning in a dark sky, some corner of it — and its enormity and longevity — is illuminated.  For example, in 2008, the New Yorker’s indefatigable Seymour Hersh reported that the previous year Congress had granted a Bush administration request for up to $400 million “to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran,” including “cross-border” operations from Iraq.  Just recently, Hersh offered a window into another little part of the U.S. program: the way, starting in 2005, the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command spent years secretly training members of M.E.K., an Iranian opposition-group-cum-cult that’s on the State Department’s terror list, at a Department of Energy site in the Nevada desert.

Similarly, from time to time, we get glimpses of the U.S. basing and naval build-up in the Persian Gulf, which is massive and ongoing.  As for the skies over Iran, last year the Iranians suddenly announced that they had acquired — downed, they claimed (though this was later denied by the Americans) — an advanced U.S. spy drone, the RQ-170 Sentinel.  Indeed, they had the photos to prove it.  Until then, there had been no publicity about American drones flying over Iranian territory and initially the U.S. military claimed that the plane had simply strayed off course while patrolling the Afghan border…..

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Uranium Double-Standard: The U.S., Kazakhstan and Iran

Allen Ruff and Steve Horn, News Analysis:

Iran’s alleged “nuclear threat” has taken center stage among diplomats, military men, and politicians in Washington, Tel Aviv, and the West at-large. Despite the fact that investigative journalists Seymour Hersh, Gareth Porter and others have meticulously documented the fact that Iran, in fact, poses no nuclear threat at all, the Obama Administration and the U.S. Congress have laid down multiple rounds of harsh sanctions as a means to “deter” Iran from reaching its “nuclear capacity.” …

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U.S., Latin America Growing More Distant, Warns Think Tank

Jim Lobe, News Analysis:

“Relations between the United States and Latin America have ‘grown more distant’ in importance part due to the latter’s persistent disagreement with U.S. policies on immigration, drugs, and Cuba, according to a new report released here Wednesday on the eve of this year’s Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia.”

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Ashton: Iran nuclear talks ‘constructive and useful’

From Ivan Watson, CNN
Iran's top national security official Saeed Jalili with European Union's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on April 14, 2012.
Iran’s top national security official Saeed Jalili with European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on April 14, 2012.

Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) — After months of tension and frustration, key world powers and Iran sounded more optimistic Saturday after “constructive and useful” talks about Tehran’s intentions for its nuclear program.

“We have agreed that the nonproliferation treaty forms a key basis for what must be serious engagement to ensure all the obligations under the treaty are met by Iran while fully respecting Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said following the meeting with Iran’s top negotiator, Saeed Jalili.

Ashton said Saturday’s meeting in Istanbul was a basis to establish a “sustained process of serious dialogue.”

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Global Oil and Gas Pipelines Market Expected to Total $60.29bn in 2012

by Staff Writers
London, UK (SPX) Mar 15, 2012

File image.

Visiongain’s: The Oil and Gas Pipelines Market Analysis 2012-2022 report calculates the global oil and gas pipelines market to be worth $60.29bn in 2012.

The growth in the oil and gas pipelines expenditure will be fuelled by the emerging countries of China, Brazil and Venezuela as well as some mature markets such as Canada and Russia.

The overall spending on the oil and gas pipelines systems will depend on the future oil price developments, the level of natural gas demand and the expansion of unconventional oil and gas activity.

Demand for energy is expected to rise significantly during the forecast period 2012-2022, despite the fact that in the short run the growth will be hampered by the Euro-zone crisis and declining economic growth in emerging countries.

Though the industry will be faced with the restraints of a weak global economy, political instability in certain parts of the world and the expansion of LNG infrastructure, the oil and gas pipelines market is likely to provide substantial opportunities for potential investors.

This report offers an examination of the oil and gas market over the next decade, providing detailed market forecasts for the leading 30 national markets, offering in-depth analysis of the opportunities and challenges facing companies in the oil and gas pipelines market throughout the world.

Visiongain’s The Oil and Gas Pipelines Market Analysis 2012-2022 report details the prospects for this dynamic energy sector with detailed forecasts from 2012-2022. The report also describes the most important technological changes within the oil and gas pipelines industry and assesses their importance for the growth of the market over the long-term.

The various drivers and restraints of the market are evaluated in order to provide readers with specific insights into the future direction of the oil and gas pipelines market. The report includes 202 tables, charts and graphs quantifying and forecasting the market in detail.

In addition, the report offers profiles of 32 of the leading companies involved in the oil and gas pipelines business. The report will be valuable to those already involved in the oil and gas pipelines market or to those wishing to enter this important market in the future.

Related Links
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com

8 Ways to De-Corporatize Your Money

Michael Shuman, Op-Ed:

“Forget Internet deals; shop local and independent. Support second-hand markets by buying used, and barter and trade services when you can. Look for goods grown and made nearby.Research your purchases carefully: That organic Dagoba chocolate bar is owned by industry bad-boy Hershey. Want to give money to Coca-Cola? Buy Odwalla juice. Easy company screening at Green America’s Responsible Shopper website.”

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Why Good Factory Jobs Go Begging

Froma Harrop, Op-Ed:

“Long before the economic meltdown, many Americans harbored prejudices against manufacturing. They’d rather sit in a cubicle for eight hours than work with their hands at better pay. Whether a CEO or factory hand, we respond to rewards and punishments. In recent decades, our economy has piled rewards on executives and punishments on ordinary workers. Even those who know the cleaned-up truth of modern manufacturing may not qualify for modern manufacturing jobs.”

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We don’t need the banks anymore! Greek town develops bartering system without euro

As Greece wonders whether its debt crisis will eventually spell its exit from the euro, one town in the center of the country, Volos, has formed an alternative local currency.

It works through a bartering system or exchange of goods.

The BBC’s Mark Lowen reports.

Wars and Rumors of War

Russia Expecting Attack on Iran by Summer
Russia Planning Troops Deployment On Iran’s Northern Border

By F. Michael Maloof

The Russian military anticipates that an attack will occur on Iran by the summer and has developed an action plan to move Russian troops through neighboring Georgia to stage in Armenia, which borders on the Islamic republic, according to informed Russian sources.

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The Irrationality of the Case against Iran’s Nuclear Program
“The Stupidest Idea I Ever Heard”

By Gary Leupp

President Obama has informed the Iranians they have one “last chance” to avoid attack. They must suspend higher uranium enrichment, close down the Fordow enrichment facility, and “surrender” their stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 per cent purity. Iranian officials respond matter-of-factly that such demands are “irrational.” (Some Israeli officials, eager to build the case for attack, are reportedlydelighted with the Iranian response.)

Seasoned U.S. analysts seem to agree with the Iranian assessment. Stephen M Walt writes in Foreign Policy, “For the life of me, I can’t figure out what the Obama administration is thinking about Iran… I’m puzzled.” Gary Sick, writing for CNN, predicts dire consequences of an attack on Iran and seems to question its wisdom. So why is Obama being so confrontational? So irrational?

The president as usual tries to position himself in the middle, chiding Republican opponents for “loose talk” about war while assuring Israeli prime minister Netanyahu that the U.S. will move in “lock step” with Israel. But what is the logic of offering Iran a “last chance” to stop doing what it is legally entitled to do? The only logic I can see here–and it is a perverse form–resides in the assumption that as the bombs start to fall Washington will be able to say, “We were patient, we went that last mile, and gave them their opportunity, but they defied the international community and so we (or Israel) had to attack.” It is 2003 all over again.

Recall that Obama was elected in large part due to his opposition to the war in Iraq. In a 2002 speech he declared that he opposed “the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.” But he never really denounced the campaign of lies, or expressed moral indignation at the hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, the uprooting of millions, the spread of ethnic and sectarian conflicts following the U.S. attack Rather, he saw the war as a “strategic blunder.” Still, he was widely regarded as the “anti-war” candidate…..

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Other People’s Blood

By Thomas L. Knapp

The usual suspects are at it again — doing their damnedest to escalate a war they have no intention of either fighting in or paying for themselves, and to involve you in it.

US Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (of the “Connecticut for Lieberman” Party, in which the ordering of names conveys his boundless sense of personal entitlement) visited Turkey this week for a photo opp with officers of the “Free Syrian Army” and to grandstand for further US intervention in Syria’s year-long “civil” war.

I put the “civil” in scare quotes, because normally civil wars are mostly internal affairs. The Syrian “uprising” appears to have been both instigated and funded by Washington from the git-go, through front “non-governmental organizations” funded by the American neoconservative (and very governmental) “National Endowment for Democracy.”

While Bashar al-Assad’s “National Popular Front” regime — centered around the fascist Ba’ath Party, with some lapdog “opposition” parties permitted to participate as long as they don’t actually, um, oppose — is certainly a poster child for bad government (but I repeat myself!), there’s little reason to believe that the “uprising” enjoys strong popular support or that, if successful, it will eventuate in anything significantly better for the Syrian people.

McCain/Lieberman’s busking for US intervention isn’t about freedom, democracy or human rights. It’s about the external turf and internal stature spats over which the overgrown street gangs we call “governments” perpetually obsess.

Quoth Lieberman: “How many world leaders have to be deceived by Assad for us to realize that we cannot rely on his word, that he will only respond to power — the same kind of power that he is brutally using against his own people.”….

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Still No Charges Months After SWAT Raid On Gibson Guitars


Articles of Interest

A naval commander for the 99% stands trial


Consider the story of Leah Bolger, the latest American hero up on trial:

She is a young female artist in the Midwest. She joins the Navy at 22, is made commander and serves two decades as an anti-submarine warfare specialist. After retiring she joins Veterans for Peace and becomes the organization’s first female president. Then, in October of 2011, she commits the crime of interrupting a public congressional hearing of the Super Committee to deliver a message from the 99 percent: End the wars and tax the rich to fix the deficit.

Because of her 45-second transgression, Commander Bolger now faces a court trial this Thursday morning, April 12, where she could receive a maximum jail sentence of six months. Bolger, 54, intends to plead guilty and use her court appearance to draw the connection between America’s deficit debacle and the three-quarters-of-a-trillion-dollar defense budget we, as voting taxpayers, spend as a base-mark for failed and unending military ventures overseas.

Bolger has no illusions about what Americans are up against: a corporate-run military machine that she says “is so big and complicated and intertwined with the government and Congress and the media that I don’t know where you can start unraveling the knot.” But one place to begin is with the Occupy movement, which she says has placed too little emphasis on ending America’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

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US may disclose missile defense data to Russia

by Staff Writers
Moscow (IANS) Mar 13, 2012

illustration only

The US has said it is willing to disclose classified information to Russia on the missile defence shield to be deployed in Europe, a move that a military analyst said could solve the impasse over the American programme.

The plans to share unspecified “secret data” on the missile defence shield with Russia were first voiced late last week by Bradley Roberts, US deputy assistant defense secretary.

Pentagon spokeswoman April Cunningham confirmed this information for a Kommersant newspaper article published Monday.

It is not yet clear exactly which data may be disclosed to Russia, which has for years strongly opposed American plans to deploy a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe, including Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic.

The White House insists the programme is aimed against a potential threat from rogue states such as Iran and North Korea but Russia says its own missiles will also fall under the shield, destroying the nuclear balance that existed since the Cold War.

In November, news leaked that the White House was in secret talks with Russia about providing it with information on the velocity burnout of the modified version of the SM-3 rocket, which is to become the staple interceptor rocket of the US missile shield by 2020. However, the US administration denied at the time that it proposed to disclose the data on the rocket’s crucial parameter to Moscow.

“If they are really going to disclose data on (rocket) speed, that’ll be the decisive argument” for Russia, said Alexander Khramchikhin, a researcher with the Moscow-based Institute for Political and Military Analysis think-tank.

Speed of interceptor rockets is the only thing the Russian military needs to know to determine whether the US missile shield really poses a risk to Russian rockets, Khramchikhin said by phone Monday.

The move would be unprecedented but not impossible, though the upcoming US presidential campaign is likely to hurt these plans, said Khramchikhin. Republican opponents of incumbent President Barack Obama, who is planning to seek reelection, have repeatedly accused him of being too soft in his dealings with Russia.

Russian officials have not commented on the proposal as of Monday.

Russian-American talks on the missile defence shield failed to progress last year, with both sides refusing to make any significant concessions. However, the matter is to be taken up again in May at an international conference in Moscow organized by the Russian Defence Ministry and a NATO summit in Chicago later the same month.

Source: Indo-Asia News Service

Filmmaker Robert Greenwald Tells Truthout How the Koch Brothers Endanger Democracy and Our Health

By Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview

Robert GreenwaldFilmmaker Robert Greenwald. (Photo: Brave New Films) BuzzFlash at Truthout first got to know Robert Greenwald when he and Earl Katz, who is now chair of Public Interest Pictures, were trying to get a film about the theft of the 2000 presidential election, “Unprecedented,” off the ground. That was over a decade ago.

Since that time, Greenwald went on to form the extraordinarily innovative Brave New Films. Brave New Films has been a leading user of social media to disseminate progressive video clips and documentaries. Most recently, Greenwald launched the distribution of “Koch Brothers Exposed,” a DVD that features the best of Brave New Films’ videos, revealing the dark side of the Koch family empire. Receive it, shipped directly from Truthout, with a one-time donation to Truthout of $30 or a monthly gift of $15 or more.

Mark Karlin: First, congratulations. Another extraordinary film showing the importance of documenting public issues of vital importance. Indeed, how far your use of film for the public good has come. I remember talking with you a decade ago, when your first steps were still uncertain, but now you have built a thriving and vital progressive studio for the Internet age. How have you felt making the transition from a Sunset Boulevard Hollywood director and producer to a creator of advocacy and documentary films and Internet clips?

Robert Greenwald: All change and transitions are challenging and filled with tensions and excitement. The opportunity to work each day on the most profound issues that affect each and every one of us is a constant source of great tension. How to tell the story in the way that will have the most impact; how to structure the film so that it can reach the most people emotionally, and then, intellectually; how to take a complicated issue and make it compelling, as well as activating – these are things that keep me awake at night and have me jumping out of bed at dawn.

Mark Karlin: Now to “Koch Brothers Exposed.” The father of David and Charles Koch, Fred, was – as mentioned in the DVD – one of the founders of the John Birch Society. It appears to me that when you connect the dots of the nefarious Koch brothers’ activity – what ties their political initiatives together – they are pretty much following the John Birch Society ideology (although they claim they are libertarians). Is that something that you would agree with?…..

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