John Hayward reports: “News of a verdict in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court initially came early Sunday, but court spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei did not specify the judgment,” reports Rezaian’s paper, the Washington Post. “In a state TV report late Sunday, Ejei said definitively that Rezaian was found guilty.”
“The judge who heard the case is known for handing down harsh sentences, and Rezaian potentially faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years. It is not even known if Rezaian himself has been informed of the conviction.”
The Iranians have not specified what Rezaian is guilty of or what his sentence will be. The “trial” wrapped up two months ago. Rezaian has already been imprisoned in Iran for 14 months. He has now been held hostage longer than the Americans seized in Tehran under President Jimmy Carter, a milestone Rezaian passed over the weekend.
“The judge who heard the case is known for handing down harsh sentences, and Rezaian potentially faces a sentence of 10 to 20 years,” the Post ominously notes. “It is not even known if Rezaian himself has been informed of the conviction.” His Iranian lawyer also appeared to be unaware of the conviction.
“Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this case, but never more so than with this indefensible decision by a Revolutionary Court to convict an innocent journalist of serious crimes after a proceeding that unfolded in secret, with no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing,” said Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron in a statement. Read the rest of this entry »
Obama may end up being the only person in the world to sign his much-wanted deal, in effect making a treaty with himself.
Amir Taheri writes: Sometime this week, President Obama is scheduled to sign an executive order to meet the Oct. 15 “adoption day” he has set for the nuclear deal he says he has made with Iran. According to the president’s timetable the next step would be “the start day of implementation,” fixed for Dec. 15.
“The Iranians have signed nothing and have no plans for doing so. The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has not even been discussed at the Islamic Republic’s Council of Ministers.”
But as things now stand, Obama may end up being the only person in the world to sign his much-wanted deal, in effect making a treaty with himself.
“Nor has the Tehran government bothered to even provide an official Persian translation of the 159-page text.”
The Iranians have signed nothing and have no plans for doing so. The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has not even been discussed at the Islamic Republic’s Council of Ministers. Nor has the Tehran government bothered to even provide an official Persian translation of the 159-page text.
The Islamic Majlis, the ersatz parliament, is examining an unofficial text and is due to express its views at an unspecified date in a document “running into more than 1,000 pages,” according to Mohsen Zakani, who heads the “examining committee.”
“The changes we seek would require substantial rewriting of the text,” he adds enigmatically.
Nor have Britain, China, Germany, France and Russia, who were involved in the so-called P5+1 talks that produced the JCPOA, deemed it necessary to provide the Obama “deal” with any legal basis of their own. Obama’s partners have simply decided that the deal he is promoting is really about lifting sanctions against Iran and nothing else.
So they have started doing just that without bothering about JCPOA’s other provisions. Britain has lifted the ban on 22 Iranian banks and companies blacklisted because of alleged involvement in deals linked to the nuclear issue.
“Nor have Britain, China, Germany, France and Russia, who were involved in the so-called P5+1 talks that produced the JCPOA, deemed it necessary to provide the Obama ‘deal’ with any legal basis of their own.”
German trade with Iran has risen by 33 percent, making it the Islamic Republic’s third-largest partner after China.
China has signed preliminary accords to help Iran build five more nuclear reactors. Russia has started delivering S300 anti-aircraft missile systems and is engaged in talks to sell Sukhoi planes to the Islamic Republic.
“Obama’s partners have simply decided that the deal he is promoting is really about lifting sanctions against Iran and nothing else.”
France has sent its foreign minister and a 100-man delegation to negotiate big business deals, including projects to double Iran’s crude oil exports.
Other nations have also interpreted JCPOA as a green light for dropping sanctions. Indian trade with Iran has risen by 17 percent, and New Delhi is negotiating massive investment in a rail-and-sea hub in the Iranian port of Chah-Bahar on the Gulf of Oman. With help from Austrian, Turkish and United Arab Emirates banks, the many b Read the rest of this entry »
Henry Kissinger long ago recognized the problem: a talented vote-getter, surrounded by lawyers, who is overly risk-averse.
Niall Ferguson writes: Even before becoming Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissingerunderstood how hard it was to make foreign policy in Washington. There “is no such thing as an American foreign policy,” Mr. Kissinger wrote in 1968. There is only “a series of moves that have produced a certain result” that they “may not have been planned to produce.” It is “research and intelligence organizations,” he added, that “attempt to give a rationality and consistency” which “it simply does not have.”
“It is clear that the president’s strategy is failing disastrously. Since 2010, total fatalities from armed conflict in the world have increased by a factor of close to four, according to data from the International Institute of Strategic Studies. Total fatalities due to terrorism have risen nearly sixfold…”
Two distinctively American pathologies explained the fundamental absence of coherent strategic thinking. First, the person at the top was selected for other skills. “The typical political leader of the contemporary managerial society,” noted Mr. Kissinger, “is a man with a strong will, a high capacity to get himself elected, but no very great conception of what he is going to do when he gets into office.”
Second, the government was full of people trained as lawyers. In making foreign policy, Mr. Kissinger once remarked, “you have to know what history is relevant.” But lawyers were “the single most important group in Government,” he said, and their principal drawback was “a deficiency in history.” This was a long-standing prejudice of his. “The clever lawyers who run our government,” he thundered in a 1956 letter to a friend, have weakened the nation by instilling a “quest for minimum risk which is our most outstanding characteristic.”
“Nearly all this violence is concentrated in a swath of territory stretching from North Africa through the Middle East to Afghanistan and Pakistan. And there is every reason to expect the violence to escalate as the Sunni powers of the region seek to prevent Iran from establishing itself as the post-American hegemony.”
Let’s see, now. A great campaigner. A bunch of lawyers. And a “quest for minimum risk.” What is it about this combination that sounds familiar?
I have spent much of the past seven years trying to work out what Barack Obama’s strategy for the United States truly is. For much of his presidency, as a distinguished general once remarked to me about the commander in chief’s strategy, “we had to infer it from speeches.”
“Today the U.S. faces three strategic challenges: the maelstrom in the Muslim world, the machinations of a weak but ruthless Russia, and the ambition of a still-growing China. The president’s responses to all three look woefully inadequate.”
At first, I assumed that the strategy was simply not to be like his predecessor—an approach that was not altogether unreasonable, given the errors of the Bush administration in Iraq and the resulting public disillusionment. I read Mr. Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech—with its Quran quotes and its promise of “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world”—as simply the manifesto of the Anti-Bush.
“Those who know the Obama White House’s inner workings wonder why this president, who came into office with next to no experience of foreign policy, has made so little effort to hire strategic expertise.”
But what that meant in practice was not entirely clear. Precipitate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq, but a time-limited surge in Afghanistan. A “reset” with Russia, but seeming indifference to Europe. Read the rest of this entry »
Inconveniently, Sanctions Relief Provision Conflicts with Federal Statutes that were Signed into Law by President Obama.
Some senior U.S. officials involved in the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal have privately concluded that a key sanctions relief provision – a concession to Iran that will open the doors to tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-backed commerce with the Islamic regime – conflicts with existing federal statutes and cannot be implemented without violating those laws, Fox News has learned.
“What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction.”
At issue is a passage tucked away in ancillary paperwork attached to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the Iran nuclear deal is formally known. Specifically, Section 5.1.2 of Annex II provides that in exchange for Iranian compliance with the terms of the deal, the U.S. “shall…license non-U.S. entities that are owned or controlled by a U.S. person to engage in activities with Iran that are consistent with this JCPOA.”
In short, this means that foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent companies will, under certain conditions, be allowed to do business with Iran. The problem is that the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act (ITRA), signed into law by President Obama in August 2012, was explicit in closing the so-called “foreign sub” loophole.
“Additional executive orders and statutes signed by President Obama, such as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, have reaffirmed that all prior federal statutes relating to sanctions on Iran shall remain in full effect.”
Indeed, ITRA also stipulated, in Section 218, that when it comes to doing business with Iran, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. parent firms shall in all cases be treated exactly the same as U.S. firms: namely, what is prohibited for U.S. parent firms has to be prohibited for foreign subsidiaries, and what is allowed for foreign subsidiaries has to be allowed for U.S. parent firms.
What’s more, ITRA contains language, in Section 605, requiring that the terms spelled out in Section 218 shall remain in effect until the president of the United States certifies two things to Congress: first, that Iran has been removed from the State Department’s list of nations that sponsor terrorism, and second, that Iran has ceased the pursuit, acquisition, and development of weapons of mass destruction. Read the rest of this entry »
…Can you imagine GQ ever writing this about any Democrat, much less Obama?…(read more)
Source: Weasel Zippers
Bonus Smear, via @HollywoodLife
‘My perception is that the risk that a disgruntled student might bring a gun into the classroom and start shooting at me’
Source: The Daily Caller
John Hayward reports: Details are still trickling out about the incident, but the good news is that Spencer Stone, the United States airman who teamed up with two friends to tackle a jihadi gunman on a train bound for Paris in August, is reportedly in stable condition after suffering multiple stab wounds in Sacramento.
ABC News reports word from Defense Department officials that Stone was “apparently protecting a friend” when he was stabbed. A reporter for ABC News in Sacramento said she was told Stone was “leaving a downtown bar when a fight ensued.” The attack reported occurred at roughly 12:45 AM local time.
Stone was awarded a Purple Heart and for the stabbing wound he sustained in the course of subduing heavily armed gunman Ayout El-Khazzani aboard a French train in August, thwarting what could have been an incredibly bloody massacre. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON — Kristina Peterson and Siobhan Hughes report: House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is expected to win House Republicans’ internal election Thursday to be the next speaker. Then his high-stakes audition begins.
The California Republican will have three weeks to try to tame the conservative opposition threatening to block his Oct. 29 election on the House floor. The timing is tough. Congress this month could consider a rush of contentious legislation—including a possible two-year budget deal and a debt-ceiling increase—likely to spark some GOP opposition.
Conservatives have made clear they will be weighing how Mr. McCarthy acts as they decide whether to stage an insurrection on the House floor. On Wednesday, the House Freedom Caucus, a group of about 40 conservatives, said at least 30 of its members would vote for Rep. Daniel Webster (R., Fla.) as speaker on Thursday and later on the House floor, unless Mr. McCarthy pledges to overhaul how the chamber is run.
“Whoever wins tomorrow has three weeks to make those changes,” Rep. Raul Labrador (R., Idaho) said Wednesday. This week’s vote, he said, “won’t settle anything.”
Mr. McCarthy, expected to easily win a majority of votes in the House Republicans’ secret-ballot election on Thursday, faces a higher hurdle at month’s end. To be elected speaker, a candidate must win a majority of all votes cast for individuals on the House floor, and almost all Democrats are expected to vote for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) as speaker.
Mr. McCarthy therefore can only afford to lose 28 Republicans, assuming all members vote, excluding departing Speaker John Boehner. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) is also running for speaker. If no one wins a majority, the House repeats the roll-call vote.
“You’re much more likely to get some changes in how things operate in this place when people are trying to get votes,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio.), chairman of the Freedom Caucus. Read the rest of this entry »
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has pulled out of the race for House Speaker, NBC News confirmed Thursday.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy has pulled out of the race for House Speaker, throwing further doubt on congressional leadership ahead of crucial budget negotiations, NBC News confirmed Thursday.
House Republicans said that the party’s leadership election would be pushed to a later date. The California Republican had been considered the frontrunner to replace John Boehner after he surprisingly announced he would leave at the end of October….
Elliot Smilowitz reports: Media kingpin Matt Drudge on Tuesday railed against Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s health and her politics, saying he was worried the nation would end up “with Hillary’s brain in the Oval Office in a jar.”
Drudge slammed the media for propping up Clinton’s candidacy.
The media mogul cited Clinton’s hypothyroidism as cause for concern. Read the rest of this entry »
Greg Sargent reports: Speaking at a rally in Iowa, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recalled speaking with parents of victims of gun violence and condemned opposition to gun control laws. (Reuters)
When Hillary Clinton rolled out a series of new gun control proposals this week, one of the most newsworthy and controversial ideas she put forth was a vow to use executive action as president to fix the background check system if Congress refused to act.
But the Obama administration has already taken a long, internal look at the same executive-action proposal Clinton has promised to undertake, and has doubts over whether it can be made to work in practical terms, according to current and former senior administration officials.
The administration is still looking at this idea, in the wake of Obama’s announcement after the Oregon shooting that he has directed officials to “scrub” current laws for further actions the executive branch can take against gun violence, those officials say.
But the administration studied the same proposal in 2013 after the Newtown shooting, in the run-up to its release of a number of other executive actions on guns, and decided against including this particular idea out of concerns about its workability, the officials confirm.
The Clinton campaign has pointed to her vow to use executive action to begin closing the long-discussed private seller loophole — which allows for sales conducted by private sellers to proceed without a background check — as proof of her commitment to acting on gun violence. As a Clinton spokesperson put it: “Her willingness to pursue reforms by executive action if necessary is proof of how urgent a priority this is to her.”
But it turns out that this proposal may be harder to actually implement than it might seem. Read the rest of this entry »
This is one of the more insightful essays from a non-conservative writer about conservative gun owners we’ve seen all year. A refreshing sight. It’s unfortunate that the irrational, anti-democratic, reactionary urge for massive government control by the increasingly radical anti-gun left–and the increasingly irritable impatience of the strident pro-gun right (of which I proudly belong) predictably leaves little room for any hope of mutual respect. Sophia Raday’s article is a step in the right direction, exposing and addressing the false accusation of heartlessness. For this alone, conservatives should be grateful.
Perhaps Raday unnecessarily mythologizes the protective instincts of conservative gun owners. And needlessly refers to Hollywood stereotypes about Good and Evil that trivialize the subject. But her main points are well-reasoned, and valid. I’d prefer the word ‘realist‘, than pessimist, myself. But these are minor disagreements. Maybe pessimist is the right word. To her credit, Sophia Raday’s effort hints at an under-explored potential for honest dialogue between opposing camps.
Parting question: does a person actually have to be married to a member of the opposing camp, in order to reach these conclusions, and this level of understanding? I hope not!
Sophia Raday writes:
“How can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer?” President Barack Obama asked on Friday.
I can answer that question. I’m in the progressive camp, but I’m married to my political opposite, a Republican police officer and soldier. We’ve had eighteen years to compare notes on many political issues, and out of all those arguments, I have gained an understanding and a measure of respect for the conservative worldview.
When something as horrible as the shooting in Oregon happens, progressives want to pull some shred of meaning from it. So let’s do something already, we say, in increasingly exasperated and angry tones. Let’s learn. Let’s change things. But we might be more effective in getting something done about mass shootings if we actually understood the opposition. Researchers studying conflict and extremism believe you can get a lot further in negotiation with an adversary if you acknowledge what is sacred to them. And believe it or not, gun-rights advocates—at least by virtue of their politics—are not heartless.
It must be understood that gun-rights advocates, like many conservatives, tell a very different story about the world than we progressives do. In their narrative, the earth is an inherently dangerous, often hostile, and definitely competitive place. Unlike us, they do not take as given that deep down, all people are basically good. They believe there is evil in the world, that there will always be evil in the world and that evil must be consistently and stalwartly confronted. In their story, it’s up to every one of the good people to stand up against malice. Otherwise, evil gets the upper hand. So, when a mass shooting occurs, their view of American society as overly permissive, and therefore an insufficient bulwark against ever-threatening evil, is only confirmed.
Liberals scratch their heads at the NRA member’s passion for firearms. People like Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin—whose post-Sandy Hook letter refusing to enforce any additional gun regulations is now going viral—seem like callous monsters to us. We find it odd and twisted to be so attached, so passionate about an amalgamation of metal and explosives whose raison d’tre is destruction. What we don’t get is that for conservatives, and Second Amendment defenders especially, the supreme virtue is self-reliance. The unconscious story underlying much conservative thought is a tale of good versus evil. Think of movies such as the Dark Knight, or Braveheart, or Star Wars. The virtuous individual must draw on his own talent and courage to defeat evil within and without. Read the rest of this entry »