Tag: Iran

Dispelling the Iranian Bomb Myth

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bleating  on Sunday’s talk shows about Iran being months away from having a nuclear weapon, there is no hard evidence that Iran is even seeking to build one. I’ve written three articles since January dispelling this myth, yet here we are again. The right wing war hawks and Bibi are at it propagate this fairy tail. Even Israel’s own intelligence community has agreed with the International Atomic Energy Agency and U.S. defense and intelligence officials who have said that they believe that Iran has not made a decision on whether to acquire nuclear weapons. So once more here are the facts from historian of the modern Middle East and South Asia Juan Cole:

click here 1. ..] Netanyahu’s own Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, who admitted that [Iran has not decided to initiate a nuclear weapons program. Israel’s chief of staff, Benny Gantz, has also admitted that Iran has not decided to build a bomb.

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=propecia-finasteride-mg 2.  It is often argued that Iran does not need nuclear power. But it uses some petroleum for power generation, and Iranians are driving more and more. [..] Iran’s energy exports provide a crucial financial cushion, allowing the country to remain independent. Other oil giants, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are also building nuclear power plants. There is nothing illogical or unusual about Iran going in this direction.

source link 3. It is alleged that Iran has threatened to annihilate Israel. It has done no such thing. Iran has a ‘no first strike’ policy, repeatedly enunciated by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has expressed the hope that the ‘Zionist regime over Jerusalem” would ‘vanish from the page of time.’ But he didn’t threaten to roll tanks or missiles against Israel, and compared his hopes for the collapse of Zionism to the collapse of Communism in Russia. [..]

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=acquistare-vardenafil-online-sicuro-Sicilia 4. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has given a formal ruling or fatwa against nuclear weapons.

I skipped to 6

key buy levitra cheap 6. No, the International Atomic Energy Agency, on inspecting Iran, did not alleged evidence for bomb-making. It certified that no uranium has been diverted to a weapons program.

The last time that Iran launched a war of aggression was in 1826 when it attacked Russia over disputed territory. Iran, like the United States is a signatory of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Israel is not.

Mr. Netanyahu has been beating this drum since 1992. Iran is no closer now than it was then to having, or wanting, nuclear weapons. Yet, he and the right wing war hawks who took us into the Iraq misadventure, would have the world believe this fantasy. Pushing for another war in the Middle East would have very seriously negative consequences for the entire world.

SBC Settles with NYS Regulator

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

No agreement is perfect but the settlement that was reached Tuesday afternoon with the New York Department of Financial Services over Standard Charter Bank’s illicit money laundering with Iran and other countries under sanctions was better than most. In particular, http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=acquistare-levitra-Lombardia SBC’s admission that the “the conduct at issue involved transactions of at least $250 billion.” The fine of $340 million was larger than the $250 million SBC offered but smaller than either the $700 million to $1 billion that SBC might have had to pay if the case had gone to a hearing on Wednesday and large because of the multi-billion dollar transaction admission. So the agreement is being touted as a victory for Benjamin M. Lawsky and his 10-month old agency, the New York Department of Financial Services which took on the bank without the Federal agencies who have been negotiating with SBC.

farmacia viagra generico 100 mg a Bologna Yves Smith at naked capitalism has the statement from Mr. Lawsky:

subaction showcomments canadian propecia optional from online drugstore STATEMENT FROM BENJAMIN M. LAWSKY, SUPERINTENDENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES, REGARDING STANDARD CHARTERED BANK

   Benjamin M. Lawsky, New York Superintendent of Financial Services, issued the following statement today.

   “The New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) and Standard Chartered Bank (“Bank”) have reached an agreement to settle the matters raised in the DFS Order dated August 6, 2012. The parties have agreed that the conduct at issue involved transactions of at least $250 billion.

   “The settlement also includes the following terms:

       

  • The Bank shall pay a civil penalty of $340 million to the New York State Department of Financial Services.
  • The Bank shall install a monitor for a term of at least two years who will report directly to DFS and who will evaluate the money-laundering risk controls in the New York branch and implementation of appropriate corrective measures. In addition, DFS examiners shall be placed on site at the Bank.
  • The Bank shall permanently install personnel within its New York branch to oversee and audit any offshore money-laundering due diligence and monitoring undertaken by the Bank.

   “The hearing scheduled for August 15, 2012 is adjourned.

   “We will continue to work with our federal and state partners on this matter.”

This settlement is only with the New York regulator and it includes the transfers with Libya, Mynmar and the Sudan.

While this could have been better, Mr. Lawsky did get the bank to concede that the transfer did indeed involve the $250 billion which resulted in a larger settlement. SBC still must deal with the federal regulators based on the concession with NYDF. As click here David Dayen at FDL sees it this put a whole new slant on those talks:

In addition, this does not end the legal trouble for Standard Chartered. This only resolves the issues with the New York Department of Financial Services. Federal regulators (including Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the Justice Department) as well as the Manhattan District Attorney must now enter into their negotiations, and if they cannot get as much as the DFS, it will be completely embarrassing. This could cost Standard Chartered at least double this initial figure.

Meanwhile over at the SEC, Wells Fargo walks away from mortgage investment case with a $6.5 million fine and no admission of wrongdoing as usual. Wells Fargo earned $16 billion last year.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has spent nearly four years building cases against the nation’s biggest banks for their role in the mortgage mess.The agency has filed civil actions against Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.

But in recent months, the agency has struggled to bring big cases as it pursued a second round of investigations focused on the banks’ failure to disclose the dangers of mortgage securities. The Wells Fargo case comes just days after Goldman Sachs revealed that the S.E.C. had closed an investigation into a 2006 mortgage deal without pursuing charges. [..]

The action also cited Shawn McMurtry, a former vice president and broker at the bank, over his role in selling the deals. Under the settlement, Mr. McMurtry agreed to a $25,000 fine and six-month suspension from the securities industry.

I’m sure Mr. McMurtry can afford it.

Clear and Plain and Coming Through Fine

Israeli decision to strike Iran is almost final . . .

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have “almost finally” decided on an Israeli strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities this fall, and a final decision will be taken “soon.”

Militarily, an Israeli strike would prompt missile attacks on Israel, attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah from the south and the north, and upheaval on the Arab street, in the leadership’s assessment.  Diplomatically, an Israeli strike would prompt a confrontation with the US, global protests, international isolation for Israel, delegitimization, and a situation in which Israel was seen as the aggressor. But Israel’s two key leaders believe that if Iran got the bomb, Israel would be defeated and humiliated diplomatically, and would become a liability to the US.

Netanyahu is convinced that thwarting Iran amounts to thwarting a plan to destroy the Jewish people.  He considers Iran’s spiritual leader to be acting rationally in order to achieve “fanatical” goals.

So Netanyahu has formulated a foolproof plan to foil Khamenei.  He’s going to act fanatically in order to achieve rational goals.  That’ll show those stupid Persians who’s rational and who isn’t.    

It looks like this is going to go down.  Bebe’s precious bodily fluids are bubbling and foaming with excitement . . .    

Dr. Strangelove, smirk,

That idiot is going to attack Iran, and the shit’s going to hit the fan everywhere.

The “Rule of Lawsky”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

acquistare viagra generico 50 mg pagamento online a Genova Yves Smith at naked capitalism and Marcy Wheeler at emptywheel have been following the latest banking scandal with a certain amount of “glee” as New York Superintendent of Financial Services, Benjamin Lawsky, Federal regulators (mainly Treasury and the Federal Reserve) and Mr. Lawsky’s target, the British bank, Standard Charter, all do the “Rule of Law” waltz in the media.

The “dance” so far has resulted in a flurry of furious responses to Mr. Lawsky’s charges that the Standard Charter Bank (SCB) laundered billions of dollars for Iran hiding the transaction from federal investigators for 10 years.

These are the latest developments over the last few days since the story broke:

First from Yves where she confesses her enjoyment of the “dust up” and the latest counter by SCB to sue Mr. Lawsky:

The lead story in the Financial Times on SCB is so obviously barmy that I’m astonished that the pink paper would give it prominent play. The headline: StanChart seeks advice over countersuit. Even floating this as an course of action reeks either of desperation to create positive news hooks or delusion:

   The bank’s legal advisers believe “there is a case” for claiming reputational damage, according to two people close to the situation, although StanChart is conscious of the delicacy of taking an aggressive stance towards its regulators.

The whole “delicacy” part is code for this having odds of close to zero of happening, so this looks like yet more spin.

The damage was done by the threat to yank the license and access to dollar clearing services, not the “rogue institution” label in the order. And as we’ve written in earlier posts, despite the spinmeister’s efforts to contend otherwise, Lawsky has cited violations of New York law that appear to let him get there, in addition to the charge under the Federal laws on transfers to Iran.

Yves notes that the likelihood of this lawsuit going forward is “zero” since the risk of losing in a NY civil court and the exposure of any other damning evidence that the superintendent has would be a disaster for SCB.

She also highlighted a comment made by Frank Partnoy, former derivatives salesman, now law professor, who noted:

   Indeed, the order puts the bank’s senior attorneys and compliance officers at the heart of the wire stripping scheme, even when outside counsel advised otherwise. As early as 1995, soon after President Bill Clinton announced economic sanctions against Iran, the bank’s general counsel allegedly “embraced a framework for regulatory evasion”. He allegedly strategised about how to avoid scrutiny by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control, known as OFAC, and instructed employees that a memorandum describing the plan to avoid regulatory compliance was “highly confidential & MUST NOT be sent to the US”….

   As recent debacles at Barclays, HSBC and now Standard Chartered demonstrate, employees of big global banks increasingly lack a moral compass. Some general counsels and compliance officers do provide ethical guidance. But many are facilitators or loophole instructors, there to show employees the best way to avoid the law. Not even mafia lawyers go that far; unlike many bankers, mobsters understand the value of an impartial consigliere who will tell them when to stop.

If silly civil lawsuits weren’t enough, the original Reuters’ article, the source of Marcy Wheeler’s original post, was edited to exclude the orders of magnitude of the fraud:

The Reuters article was a pretty damning picture of how the Get Out of Jail Free industry works.

And then, the most damning parts of the article disappeared (Update from Briinhild: the full story is back up). As Yves discovered later in the day yesterday, Reuters pulled those paragraphs of the story that described this whole process.

Yves then posted that Reuters was running interference for elite corruption by scrubbing the article clean of the damning parts and posted original Reuters’ article:

Now I decided to go have a look myself. Being on the vampire shift, I didn’t go looking until mid afternoon. And guess what, the story that was now at that URL was not the same story. Yes, there was a story on Standard Chartered. But the version that Marcy worked from was apparently the original, released at 00:28 AM, titled “U.S. regulators irate at NY action against StanChart.” I’ve loaded that version in a Word and put it up at ScribD, and am embedding it below. It’s 1766 words. Be sure to download it if you are interested in this topic.

Apparently, as was pointed out by an emptywheel reader, Briinhild, Marcy and Yves must have embarrassed Reuters because they reposted the original article later that day.

The latest today from Yves, this “plot thickens” as Federal regulators try to “leash and collar” Superintendent Lawsky:

Today, the Wall Street Journal reported that, “Regulators Seek Unity in U.K. Bank Talks.”

If you read the article, a more accurate headline would be “Federal regulators desperate to get in front of Lawsky mob and call it a parade.” All the article says is the mucho unhappy and very much outflanked Federal regulators have gotten a meeting with Lawsky. Just look at the disconnect between the PR in the first paragraph and the actual state of play in the second:


   U.S. authorities are forming a group with New York’s top financial regulator to negotiate a settlement with Standard Chartered over allegations it illegally hid financial dealings with Iran.

   The U.S. Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, U.S. Department of Justice and Manhattan district attorney’s office are scrambling to reach an understanding with the New York State Department of Financial Services over the ground rules for negotiations with the U.K.’s fifth-largest bank by assets, according to people familiar with the talks.

This is hysterical. “Ground rules for negotiations”? Lawsky does not need the permission of Geithner et. al. to negotiate with Standard Chartered. As long as Lawsky has Cuomo’s backing, he has all the leverage here. And three independent sources told me as of today that Cuomo was fully behind Lawsky. That means he is likely to remain free to operate as he sees fit. It’s a given that if the White House had any real sway over Cuomo and saw fit to intervene, they would have done so by now. There is no downside to Lawsky in going through the motions of seeing if there is a way for him to proceed and have the Feds save a bit of face.

Let me stress again: Lawsky has all the cards, and he must know that.

Yves also cites this article from Bloomberg:

   New York’s financial-services regulator has grounds to shut Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) in the state even if he accepts the firm’s argument that it illegally laundered only a fraction of the $250 billion he claims.

   As the state’s top banking regulator, Benjamin Lawsky has power to act in his discretion against any financial institution he deems untrustworthy, according to the charter of his year-old department.

   Penalties he could impose include fines and the revocation of the bank’s license to operate in the state…

   Even if Standard Chartered’s position is legally sound, the order’s disclosure of internal e-mails suggesting a conspiracy to hide the identity of Iranian clients from regulators has given Lawsky grounds to act when the two sides face off at an administrative hearing Aug. 15, according to experts on both sides of the Atlantic.

   “I don’t care whether it is a half of one percent that weren’t right,” said Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission,…

   “There are going to be more that weren’t right…The e-mails are really outrageous. I think Lawsky has uncovered something that probably has a much deeper depth.”…

   Neil Barofsky, who oversaw the U.S. Troubled Asset Relief Program and criticized the U.S. Treasury Department in his book, Bailout, objected to the criticism heaped on Lawsky.

   “This is not Lawsky getting ahead of other regulators,” said Barofsky. “This is Lawsky doing his job.”…

   “Willful non-compliance is very serious,” said Tariq Mirza, a former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. official now with Grant Thornton. “If those allegations can be substantiated, regulators throw the book at institutions.”

Another article from the International Business Times that speculates what SBC’s sentence would be if it were an individual found guilty of these crimes:

Under New York state statutes against those two crimes, a defendant found guilty could be sentenced to a penalty of between eight-and-one-third and 25 years. The attorney noted that “it seems likely that a maximum sentence would be given because of the extent of criminality alleged in this case.” And if the judge really wanted to throw the book at them, the attorney explained, they could consider every instance where Standard Chartered Bank engaged in alleged illegal conduct, no doubt hundreds of them, as a “discrete act of criminality” rather than “one criminal transaction.”

Federal involvement would make the possible prison term even stiffer, with the appropriate federal money-laundering statute carrying a penalty of “roughly 15 to 19 years,” and a racketeering conviction “punishable by up to 20 years” in Club Fed.

(emphasis mine)

Wouldn’t that be a delightful sight?

As Yves notes in her discussion of these news articles, there is a lot of spin or, as with the case of a New York Times article, misinformation:

There is also an article at the New York Times on Lawsky which comes close to being a hatchet job. It does not look as if the Times made any effort to get to anyone in Lawsky’s camp (by contrast, I know of at least one reporter working on a profile who says everyone who Lawsky has worked with him is extremely complimentary). It also has sources that are spinning (one might say misrepresenting) the genesis. It acknowledges that Lawsky discussed his findings and theories, so it undermines the “blindsided claim. We were told three months ago, with the Fed; the article says April, so this is pretty close to the same time frame and sounds like the same meeting. [..]

(emphasis mine)

The traditional MSM is going to do a lot of the work for federal regulators by sniping at Mr. Lawsky and painting him as a “rogue” and “over-stepping his authority”. It’s bloggers like Marcy Wheeler and Yves Smith that sort out the facts from the hype and innuendo. The ladies rock.

As Yves requested, if you live in New York and support what Mr. Lawsky is doing, especially since the New York Times is taking shots at him now, drop him a note using this form.

Thanks and a h/t to naked capitalism reader Bryan Sean McKown for the title.

Sleeping with the Enemy

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The LIBOR scandal continues to rattle the banking industry revealing the fraud that has gone unchecked by regulators in the US and Europe. The latest scandal that is now rocking international banking involves billions of dollars that were laundered by the British bank, Standard Charter, for Iran:

Standard Chartered bank ran a rogue unit that schemed with Iran’s government to hide more than $250bn (£160bn) in illegal transactions for nearly a decade, according to a scathing report by New York regulators that may put intense pressure on the management of the UK-based bank.

According to the report filed by the New York state department of financial services (NYSDFS), when warned by a US colleague about dealings with Iran, a Standard Chartered executive caustically replied: “You f—ing Americans. Who are you to tell us, the rest of the world, that we’re not going to deal with Iranians.” [..]

The 27-page report claims that Standard Chartered bankers helped Iranian clients skirt US financial sanctions against their country for nearly a decade.

Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of the NYSDFS, said a Standard Chartered subsidiary in New York had also sought to do business with other US-sanctioned countries, including Libya, Burma and Sudan.

It is the latest blow to the reputation of the City, already criticised in Washington following the HSBC money-laundering debacle and JP Morgan’s multibillion-dollar trading losses at its London office. [..]

The New York regulator has provided emails between members of Standard Chartered staff. In one the head of the US operations warned, among others, the executive director of risk in London, that the dealings with Iran could cause “very serious or even catastrophic reputational damage” to the group.

The email, dated October 2006, warned: “There is equally importantly potential of risk of subjecting management in US and London (e.g. you and I) and elsewhere to personal reputational damages and/or serious criminal liability.” It was this memo that provoked the response about “you f—ing Americans”.

But it wasn’t the Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve that dropped the bomb with these charges, it was  Benjamin Lawsky, the New York Superintendent of Financial Services. Yves Smith at naked capitalism asked yesterday, “where were the Feds?

The lack of action by everyone ex the lowly New York banking supervisor is mighty troubling. The evidence presented in Lawsky’s filing is compelling; he clearly has not gone off half cocked. Why has he pressed forward and announced this on his own? The Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence has supposedly been all over terrorist finance; the consultants to that effort typically have very high level security clearances and top level access (one colleague who worked on this effort in the Paulson Treasury could get the former ECB chief Trichet on the phone). For them not to have pursued it anywhere as aggressively as a vastly less well resourced state banking regulator, particularly when Iran is now the designated Foreign Enemy #1, does not pass the smell test.

At a minimum, this lack of sufficient inquisitiveness on behalf of the Feds would the bank snookered them by being terribly forthcoming (as in it was responding only to specific inquiries, and then as narrowly as possible). But it raises the more troubling specter that Federal regulators (oh, and the US Department of Justice) wanted to keep this all quiet so as not to lead to embarrassing headlines. Although there is nothing in the filing to point to failure to act by the New York Fed, which was presumably the lead party in the 2003 sanctions against SCB (indeed, it says specifically that SCB deceived Federal regulators), the flip side is there would be only downside to Lawsky in doing anything that would make Fed or Treasury think he was trying to make then look bad.

There was a huge furor in the UK over who among the banking regulators knew what when on the Libor scandal. If our Congresscritters are at all worth their salt, they ought to be putting Geithner and the relevant folks at the New York Fed under the hot lights. We’ll see soon enough how the Fed and Treasury play this. If they don’t launch parallel actions pronto, it will be a damning sign as to where they think their, and perhaps most importantly, Geithner’s, interests lie.

At emptywheel, Mary Wheeler, wondered as well why the Superintendent of Financial Services is policing our Iran sanctions?

Normally, we’d see accusations like SFS released today from Treasury’s OFAC (Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence), perhaps (for charges as scandalous as these) in conjunction with the NY DA and/or a US Attorney. And yet OFAC has had these materials in hand for 2 years, and has done nothing.

In fact, we have a pretty good idea what OFAC’s action would look like, because earlier this year it sanctioned ING for actions that were similar in type, albeit larger in number (20,000 versus 60,000) and far larger in dollar amount ($1.6 billion involving Cuba versus $250 billion involving Iran). Both banks were doctoring fields in SWIFT forms to hide the source or destination of their transfers. [..]

My wildarsed guess, in this case, is that we have an understanding with our allies that they’ll allow us to require the rest of the world to comply with our sanctions so long as it doesn’t affect that country’s businesses. That is, I suspect countries like Britain are happy to comply with our sanctions so long as British banks don’t lose competitive advantages as a result. Of course, these sanctions are different that-say-our stupid Cuba sanctions in that the UK is as enthusiastic about sanctioning Iran into docility as the US is, and this scheme is all about retaining lucrative business with Iran.

But we may never learn what reason that is, because that would make things uncomfortable for the entities that claim there is rule of law for banks while they ensure that usually is not the case.

But no matter, the Feds are now upset with Lawsky who had the cajones to do what they were obviously trying to cover up. Barry Ritholtz at Economonitor points out that Lawsky has virtually declared the Treasury and Federal reserve as “too corrupt” to handle this:

   “Pursuant to the statutory powers vested in him by the People of the State of New York . . . [and] extensive investigation included the review of more than 30,000 pages of documents, including internal SCB (Standard Chartered Bank) e-mails that describe willful and egregious violations of law.

  For almost ten years, SCB schemed with the Government of Iran and hid from regulators roughly 60,000 secret transactions, involving at least $250 billion, and reaping SCB hundreds of millions of dollars in fees. SCB’s actions left the U.S. financial system vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins and corrupt regimes, and deprived law enforcement investigators of crucial information used to track all manner of criminal activity.

   –NYS Department of Financial Services

Benjamin Lawsky, head of the New York State Department of Financial Services, has declared that the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve is “too corrupt” to be involved in NY’s actions against money launderers and Iran sponsors at Standard Chartered bank.

At least, that corruption is what was implied by his actions (note those are my words, not his). Lawsky refused to give Tim Geithner or Ben Bernanke or anyone else at Treasury or the Fed any advance notice of pending legal/regulatory actions. Sorry, Treasury, he seemed to be saying, but your track records preceded you. [..]

This Treasury Department, like the one that preceded it, along with Congress and the White House, have proven themselves to be utterly incapable of overseeing the banking industry. Rather than adhere to this betrayal of the public trust, Mr. Lawsky decided to do something amazing: He actually followed the law. The rest of the regulatory sector should take note.

Have a read of the paragraph at the top of this page to see how prosecution of banking felons and their crony capitalist allies is supposed to be done.

We live in the Banana Republic formerly known as the United States. Its time to turn this nation back into a Democracy . . .

Let’s hope that Mr. Lawsky doesn’t cave to pressure like NY State Attorney General Eric Scneiderman did.

Ahmadinejad Dealt Blow in Iranian Elections

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

While all eyes were on France, the ouster of Nicholas Sarkozy and a rejection of austerity, Iran has been conducting its first elections since the 2009 elections that reinstalled Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. This was the second round of voting for seats in the Parliament elections that were held in March. It has dealt a blow to Ahmadinejad and his supporters with a shift to more conservative backers of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The rift between Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah began with dispute over the choice of the national security chief. The voting has left the Ayatollah firmly in charge:

With the bulk of seats decided in Iran’s parliamentary elections, it appeared on Sunday that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has gained the ironclad majority he needed not just to bring the country’s president to heel, but to eliminate the position entirely.

Ayatollah Khamenei has jousted repeatedly with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – as well as the two previous presidents – so the supreme leader secured this majority at Mr. Ahmadinejad’s expense.

The ayatollah will seek “to eliminate the post of president,” said Aliakbar Mousavi Khoeini, a former reformist member of the Parliament now living in exile in the United States.

“If they can get that, they will not hold the next presidential election; instead, Parliament will chose a prime minister,” he said. “Then Khamenei will essentially have everything he does approved and pushed through Parliament by his allies.”

Ayatollah Khamenei suggested last October that Iran would be better off governed under a parliamentary system in which the prime minister was chosen from members of the 290-seat Parliament. Under Iran’s byzantine electoral system, most reformist candidates were barred from running in last Friday’s election, essentially creating a contest between the two main hard-liner camps.

With 90 percent of the districts counted, Ayatollah Khamenei’s allies had won about 75 percent of the 200 seats in those districts, according to Press TV, Iran’s state-financed satellite channel, quoting the Interior Ministry.

Khamesian said Ahmadinejad was gradually fading from Iran’s political scene but could still stir up conflict with parliament.

“Ahmadinejad is the losing party. So, he will try to create tensions in the hope of getting concessions,” he said.

The outgoing parliament and Ahmadinejad are at loggerheads over how quickly to slash food and energy subsidies. The president favors dramatic cuts to boost Iran’s ailing economy by reducing the massive drain on the state budget from the subsidies.

The government implemented a first phase of slashing subsidies in December 2010. Gasoline prices quadrupled and bread prices tripled after the cuts came into effect. Prices have also increased in recent months, partly as a result of sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, as well as news that the government is considering ending subsidies altogether.

Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, one of Ahmadinejad’s opponents, said the parliament won’t allow him to quickly end the remaining subsidies because it would cause wild inflation and public dissatisfaction.

(Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, now out of favor with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suffered more setbacks in a run-off parliamentary election seen as a pointer for next year’s presidential race, results showed on Saturday.

The authorities hailed the outcome as a resounding triumph for Iran as it prepares for nuclear negotiations with the West.

Results announced by the Interior Ministry showed the United Principalist Front, closely linked with Khamenei and critical of Ahmadinejad, leading Friday’s vote, but with the hardline Resistance Front of the Islamic Revolution close behind.

The allegiance of the Resistance Front is tricky to fathom. It also backs Khamenei, but some members have served under Ahmadinejad. Some still support the president, others dislike his chief of staff, accused of trying to undermine Iran’s theocratic system.

At the heart of this election were Iran’s nuclear energy program and continued subsidies for food and energy which have been cut, and along with Western sanctions, have resulted in drastic increases in the price of gas and bread:

“The vote is support for the ruling system as it faces the U.S. and its allies over the nuclear program … The vote also means that tensions will increase between Ahmadinejad and his opponents in the incoming parliament,” political analyst Ali Reza Khamesian said.

Khamesian said Ahmadinejad was gradually fading from Iran’s political scene but could still stir up conflict with parliament.

“Ahmadinejad is the losing party. So, he will try to create tensions in the hope of getting concessions,” he said.

The outgoing parliament and Ahmadinejad are at loggerheads over how quickly to slash food and energy subsidies. The president favors dramatic cuts to boost Iran’s ailing economy by reducing the massive drain on the state budget from the subsidies.

The government implemented a first phase of slashing subsidies in December 2010. Gasoline prices quadrupled and bread prices tripled after the cuts came into effect. Prices have also increased in recent months, partly as a result of sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program, as well as news that the government is considering ending subsidies altogether.

Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, one of Ahmadinejad’s opponents, said the parliament won’t allow him to quickly end the remaining subsidies because it would cause wild inflation and public dissatisfaction.

It’s difficult to tell how this will effect talks about Iran’s nuclear energy program but it will hopefully cool the the saber rattling rhetoric, letting saner voices prevail. We can hope.

The Humanitarian War

Watch  The Humanitarian War.    Curveball strikes again.  It’s the same damned playbook.

“Responsibility 2 Protect” is the witty handmaiden of imperial power, and it’s easy for liberals to text.

RU4 R2P?

Gaddafi got in the way of Empire!    Gaddafi wanted an African Union, independent banking.  We wanted AFRICOM (and light, sweet crude).  Bang, bang.  You’re dead.  “We came, we saw, he died.  Ha, ha.”  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, R2P is slick and sleazy.  Most liberals not only fell for it, they continue claiming bragging rights!  Don’t tell that to Obama supporters, unless you want to be labeled a purity troll and hear inept comparisons to taking out Dillinger.  That’s how these hypo-criticals roll.

When the media claimed Gaddafi was handing out boner pills so his soldiers could rape more effectively, you had to be an idiot not to still smell the bullshit from the Iraqi incubator story.

This is not a momentary lapse of reason, but simple alternation, resulting in a continuous lapse of reason: conduct wars that liberals like, then conduct wars conservatives like, and so on.   Vilification of the victims is “a cakewalk” with threshold public support.  

Now a majority of Americans want to go to war with Iran, if they try to get nukes, which I’m certain we will assure ourselves is true, despite any lack of evidence.  We have informants we trust in MEK.  Ask Howard Dean!  Yee-argh!

I’m looking forward to the shoot-out in the bathtub.  I’ve never seen modern, nuclear-powered aircraft carriers sink.  Besides, killing a million (more) Iranians, a massive land war in Asia, sky-rocketing oil prices, and some heavy duty military spending are just what we need to get this economy rolling (faster, downhill, backwards, with no brakes).

Maybe the commies have us in their mind rays, and are just paying us back for their collapse.  Nah, we’re just that stupid.

Update:

Libya is fucked up, just like Iraq.

Iran, Israel and “The Bomb”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

President Obama assured influential leaders attending American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last week that the Unites States has Israel’s back fighting efforts made  to delegitimize the state. But how will America be positioned against Iran’s potential nuclear threat to Israel? The Up with Chris Hayes panel Rula Jebreal (@rulajebreal), contributing writer at Newsweek; Jeremy Ben-Ami (@jeremybenami), founder & president of J Street; Leila Hilal, Middle East analyst at the New America Foundation; and Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder & president of The Israel Project discuss the contentious relationship between Israel and Iran.

The discussion that took place on Up with Chris went a long way to dispelling some myths about Iran’s nuclear energy program and the rhetoric of its alleged quest for a nuclear weapon. Chris Hayes pointed out early that “the big contest” was over whether President Obama would say “nuclear Iran” or “the capability for a nuclear weapon” in his speech to AIPAC, he went with the later. That did not stop the panelists continued false equation with a “nuclear Iran” and an Iran with a nuclear weapon. There is gaping difference between the two. “Capability” has become the code word for “the bomb”. The reality is that capability can also mean peaceful uses for nuclear energy that includes electricity and medical research.

No one, not even Hayes, mentioned that the ruling Ayatollahs have condemned nuclear weapons, as well as, chemical/biological weapons, based on religious and moral grounds. Nor did anyone mention that Iran has signed the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel has not nor has Israel ever allowed inspection of its nuclear facilities by the IAEA and no one has dared demand it.

It was, however, good that Rula Jebreal the misstatements by Jennifer Mizrahi, founder of The Israel Project about Iran’s cooperation with inspections. Middle East analyst Leila Hilal and Mr. Hayes joined Ms. Jebeal had to correct her hyperbolic statements that the Iranians are “different” and not “rational actors” and stop her racist generalization of the Iranians. Ms. Hilal rightfully noted that there is conflation of Islamists saying that Hamas and the Iranians, because they’re Muslims, are going to act to attack Israel. In fact, it’s not Hamas or Iran but the Islamic Jihad and the Palestinian Resistance that has been calling for Israel’s destruction and, however lightly, it was mentioned that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has become isolated from the ruling Ayatollahs and increasingly unpopular with Iranians.

It was Jeremy Ben-Ami, founder & president of J Street who made the best observation that the premise of Iran dropping an atomic bomb on Israel, then be wiped out itself, is ridiculous on its face. Yet, here we are with the President of the United States saying that while he wants diplomacy to work but still saying that he has “Israel’s back” and talking about “nuclear capabilty” while Benjamin Netanyahu continues to threaten bombing Iran and right wing US politicians demand it.

The discussion held by Chis Hayes was a step in the right direction to dispel myths and blatant lies and put the facts and reality on the table. The conversation still has a long way to go.

Hurtling Towards a War with Iran

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

In his annual speech to AIPAC, President Obama said:



“Already, there is too much loose talk of war. Over the last few weeks, such talk has only benefited the Iranian government, by driving up the price of oil, which they depend on to fund their nuclear program. For the sake of Israel’s security, America’s security, and the peace and security of the world, now is not the time for bluster; now is the time to let our increased pressure sink in, and to sustain the broad international coalition we have built. Now is the time to heed that timeless advice from Teddy Roosevelt: speak softly, carry a big stick. And as we do, rest assured that the Iranian government will know our resolve – that our coordination with Israel will continue.”

If there is “too much loose talk of war”, perhaps President Obama needs to stop threatening to start one with Iran. The only ones who are driving up the price of oil with loose talk are Obama and the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. The president needs to stop perpetuating lies that his own national security advisors have said are not true and of which there is no evidence:

“A nuclear-armed Iran is completely counter to Israel’s security interests. But it is also counter to the national security interests of the United States. Indeed, the entire world has an interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. A nuclear-armed Iran would thoroughly undermine the non-proliferation regime that we have done so much to build. There are risks that an Iranian nuclear weapon could fall into the hands of a terrorist organization. It is almost certain that others in the region would feel compelled to get their own nuclear weapon, triggering an arms race in one of the most volatile regions in the world. It would embolden a regime that has brutalized its own people, and it would embolden Iran’s proxies, who have carried out terrorist attacks from the Levant to southwest Asia.”

Iran, like the United States signed and ratified the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

And this statement certainly doesn’t sound like Obama was backing away from banging the drum for a war:

“Iran’s leaders should know that I do not have a policy of containment,” he said. “I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And as I’ve made clear time and again during the course of my presidency, I will not hesitate to use force when it is necessary to defend the United States and its interests.”

Just how legal an attack, or even the threat of one, on Iran would be is discussed on this article by Glenn Greenwald at Salon:

Regardless of how one wants to rationalize these threats of an offensive military attack – they’re necessary to persuade the Israelis not to attack, they’re necessary to gain leverage with Iran, etc. – the U.N. Charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory, explicitly prohibits not just a military attack on another nation, but also the issuance of threats of such an attack. From Chapter II, paragraph 4:

   All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

Does this matter at all? Should we even pretend to care in any way what the U.N. Charter prohibits and whether the U.S. Government’s threats to attack Iran directly violate its core provisions? I’m not asking this simple question rhetorically but rather to hear the answer.

The UN was of little concern to George W. Bush; it’s no wonder it’s of little concern for Barack H. Obama

So what are Iran’s leaders saying? From Juan Cole:

“A week and a half ago, Khamenei gave a major foreign policy speech in which he said,

The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons. There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.

There is no evidence that Iran is trying to even develop a nuclear weapon. Getting into another war in the Middle East is not in the best interests of the US, Israel or the rest of the world.

Barack are you listening?

WWL Radio #143 NOAM CHOMSKY 3rd Interview!



Listen to Noam Chomsky and Diane Gee live on WWL Radio Friday, March 2nd at 6pm ET!



Listen live by clicking the link icon below:

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PhotobucketMuch has happened since we last spoke with Noam Chomsky in April of last year!  Then, we pondered the Arab Spring, and now the seeds of that revolutionary mindset has spread the the US and manifested in the Occupy Movement.

The possibility of intervention and attack of Syria and Iran have ramped to new heights.

And?  The silly season of electoral politics is in full fetid bloom.  

I have so much I want to mine his brilliant mind about, and only an hour in which to do it!  

I hold Noam near and dear to my heart as a friend and am, as always, honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with him on WWL Radio.

The call in number is 646-929-1264 to join the conversation!

Tip: In order to comment in the show’s companion chat, you must create a BTR account, its free and only takes seconds. Chat is monitored during the show, so make yourself heard.

Miss the show? The podcasts are available at the link above, or at the Wild Wild Left

Join Wild Wild Left Radio every Friday at 6pm ET, with Hostess and Producer Diane Gee to guide you through Current Events taken from a Wildly Left Prospective….  



WWL Radio: Bringing you controversial, cutting edge, revolutionary, “out there where the buses don’t run” LEFT perspective since January of 2009!

The Pentagon, the Media and a War with Iran

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Over that last few weeks with the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been much hype over Iran and its nuclear capability and threats from Israel of military intervention. Despite all the intelligence and statements from the ruling Ayatollahs that Iran is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons, the US government and pundits continue to push the meme in the media that Iran must not be allowed to continue to develop nuclear “capabilities.” Much of this sounds very familiar hearkening back to the lies of 2003’s run up to the war in Iraq. The major media is banging out the message that a war with Iran is inevitable and have failed to disclose to the public the relationship of some of its guests to government agencies or their guests own self interests for monetary gain should there be a war.  As Talking Points Media points out the talk of a war with Iran has reached “fever pitch”:

The tone in reporting on a potential military conflict with Iran has entered a new phase in recent weeks, with the saber rattling seemingly reaching a fever pitch.

From the New York Times recently reporting on how Israel would carry out a strike against Iran, to pundits casually throwing around the words “bomb Iran,” to presidential candidates trying to out-tough each other on a daily basis, the prospect of a potential military conflict with Iran is increasingly discussed less in terms of “if” but of “when.”

Glen Greenwald at Salon focused on the relationship of NBC News with retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey whose reliability has come into question:

In 2009, The New York Times‘ David Barstow won the Pulitzer Prize for his twopart series on the use by television networks of retired Generals posing as objective “analysts” at exactly the same time they were participating – unbeknownst to viewers – in a Pentagon propaganda program. Many were also plagued by undisclosed conflicts of interest whereby they had financial stakes in many of the policies they were pushing on-air. One of the prime offenders was Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who was not only a member of the Pentagon’s propaganda program, but also, according to Barstow’s second stand-alone article, had his own “Military-Industrial-Media Complex,” deeply invested in many of the very war policies he pushed and advocated while posing as an NBC “analyst”:

   Through seven years of war an exclusive club has quietly flourished at the intersection of network news and wartime commerce. Its members, mostly retired generals, have had a foot in both camps as influential network military analysts and defense industry rainmakers. It is a deeply opaque world, a place of privileged access to senior government officials, where war commentary can fit hand in glove with undisclosed commercial interests and network executives are sometimes oblivious to possible conflicts of interest.

   Few illustrate the submerged complexities of this world better than Barry McCaffrey. . . . General McCaffrey has immersed himself in businesses that have grown with the fight against terrorism. . . .

   Many retired officers hold a perch in the world of military contracting, but General McCaffrey is among a select few who also command platforms in the news media and as government advisers on military matters. These overlapping roles offer them an array of opportunities to advance policy goals as well as business objectives. But with their business ties left undisclosed, it can be difficult for policy makers and the public to fully understand their interests.

   On NBC and in other public forums, General McCaffrey has consistently advocated wartime policies and spending priorities that are in line with his corporate interests. But those interests are not described to NBC’s viewers. He is held out as a dispassionate expert, not someone who helps companies win contracts related to the wars he discusses on television.

Not exactly an unbiased reliable source nor especially coherent:

Among the many attributes one might attribute to McCaffrey and his report, incoherence is near the top of the list. He does, as I noted, make statements suggesting imminent military conflict, including his claim that “there is a significant probability of Iranian escalation in the coming 90 days” and “they are likely to further escalate,” along with the title of his first page: “Creeping toward war.” But as several emailers point out, he also tacks onto the end of the discussion on the first page the assessment of “15% probability of major military action in the coming 90 days.” The document is devoted to making military conflict appear quite likely, though he places a relatively low percentage on “major military action in the coming 90 days.”

Knowing all this, NBC News still calls McCaffrey an analyst, gives him an unchallenged platform and beats the drums of another unnecessary war.

Khameini’s position on nukes

When you lay seige to a nation, making wild accusations about their intent to build and use nuclear weapons (all without providing the slightest evidence, even admitting that none of it is true!), you should listen to what the victim has to say on the subject before threatening them with nuclear annihilation.  I’m pretty sure Obama will NOT be supplying a point-by-point rebuttal.

Anyway, Khameini addresses some key issues on the nukyoolar question:

The Supreme Leader’s View of Nuclear Energy

Good and evil use of knowledge

If advanced knowledge were at the disposal of a perfect and moral nation, it would be a source of blessings. If modern weapons were at the disposal of a wise and perfect nation, they would not pose any dangers. The situation will always be like this. They produce atomic bombs – just as what the Americans did at the end of the Second World War and the tragedy that they caused for the people of Japan. Similarly, the nuclear disaster in one of the Soviet Union’s nuclear power plants led to the death of a large number of people. If something bad comes out of nuclear technology, it is all because of the unrestrained power of the superpowers. If the power of the arrogant US government is restricted in the world, nuclear threats will decrease automatically.

The word atom is associated with the progress of human knowledge, but unfortunately it is equally associated with the most hideous event in history and the greatest genocide and misuse of the scientific achievements of humanity. Although many countries have taken action to manufacture and stockpile nuclear weapons – which in itself can be considered a preface to committing crimes and is a serious threat to global peace – there is only one government that has committed a nuclear crime so far. Only the government of the United States of America has waged an atomic war against the oppressed people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in an unfair and inhumane war.

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