Archive | July 15th, 2015

The Financial Attack on Greece Where Do We Go From Here?

NOVANEWS
shutterstock_261320075

The major financial problem tearing economies apart over the past century has lain more with official inter-governmental debt than with private-sector debt. That is why the global economy today faces a similar breakdown to 1929-31, when it became apparent that the volume of official inter-government debts could not be paid. The Versailles Treaty had imposed impossibly high reparations demands on Germany, and the United States imposed equally destructive demands on the Allies to use their reparations receipts to pay World War I arms debts to the U.S. Government.1

Legal procedures are well established to cope with corporate and personal bankruptcy. Courts write down personal and business debts either under “debtor in control” procedures or foreclosure, and creditors take a loss on loans gone bad. Personal bankruptcy permits individuals to make a fresh start with a Clean Slate.

It is much harder to write down debts owed to or guaranteed by governments. U.S. student loan debt cannot be written off, but remains to prevent graduates from earning enough take-home pay (after debt service and FICA Social Security tax withholding is taken out of their paychecks) to get married, start families and buy homes of their own. Only the banks get bailed out, now that they have become in effect the economy’s central planners.

Most of all, there is no legal framework for writing down debts owed to the IMF, the European Central Bank (ECB), or to European and American creditor governments. Since the 1960s entire nations have been subjected to austerity and economic shrinkage that makes it less and less possible to extricate themselves from debt. Governments are unforgiving, and the IMF and ECB act on behalf of banks and bondholders – and are ideologically captured by anti-labor, anti-government financial warriors.

The result is not the “free market economy” it pretends to be, nor is it the rule of economically rational law. A genuine market economy would recognize financial reality and writes down debts in keeping with the ability to be paid, inter-government debt overrides markets and refuses to acknowledge the need for a Clean Slate. Today’s guiding theory – backed by monetarist junk economics – is that debts of any size can be paid, simply by reducing labor’s wages and living standards plus selling off a nation’s public domain – its land, oil and gas reserves, minerals and water distribution, roads and transport systems, power plants and sewage systems, and public infrastructure of all forms.

Imposed by the monopoly of inter-governmental financial institutions – the IMF, ECB, U.S. Treasury, and so forth – creditor financial leverage has become the 21st century’s new mode of warfare. It is as devastating as military war in its effect on population: rising suicide rates, shorter lifespans, and emigration of the age-cohort that always have been the major casualties of war: young adults. Instead of being drafted into the army to fight foreign foes, they are driven from their homes to find work abroad. What used to be a rural exodus from the land to the cities from the 17th century onward is now a “debtor exodus” from countries whose governments owe unpayably high sums to creditor governments and to the banks and bondholders on whose behalf they impose their policy.

While pushing the world economy into a state of war internationally, high finance also is waging a class war against labor – and ultimately against governments and thus against democracy. The ECB’s policy has been brutal toward Greece this year: “If you do not re-elect a right-wing party or coalition, we will destroy your banking system. If you do not sell off your public domain to buyers we will make life even harder for you.”

No wonder Greek Finance Minister Janis Varoufakis called the Troika’s negotiating position “financial terrorism.” Their idea of “negotiation” is surrender. They are unyielding. Official creditor institutions threaten to isolate, sanction and destroy entire economies, including their industry as well as labor. It transforms the 19th-century class war into a purely destructive meltdown.

That is the great difference between today and 1929-31. Then, the world’s leading governments finally recognized that debts could not be paid and suspended German reparations and Inter-Ally debts. Today’s situation is using the unpayability of debts as leverage as class war.

The immediate political aim of this financial warfare in Greece is to replace its elected government (supported by a remarkable July 5 referendum vote of 61 to 39) with foreign creditor control by “technocrats,” that is, bank lobbyists, factotums and former Goldman Sachs managers. The long-term aim is to impose a war against labor – in the form of austerity – and against the power of governments to determine their own tax policy, financial policy and public regulatory policy.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. Here is what is needed. (I outlined my proposals in a presentation before the Brussels Parliament on July 3,2 following an earlier advocacy at The Delphi Initiative in Greece, convened by Left Syriza the preceding week.3)

 

A declaration reaffirming the rights of sovereign nations

Sovereign nations have a right to put their own growth ahead of foreign creditors. No nation should be obliged to impose chronic depression and unemployment or polarize the distribution of wealth and income in order to pay debts.

Every nation has the right to the key criteria of nationhood: the rights to issue its own money, to levy taxes, and to write its laws, including those governing relations between creditors and debtors, especially the terms of bankruptcy and debt forgiveness.

Economic logic dictates what was recognized by the end of the 1920s: When debts reach the level that they disturb basic economic balance and derange society, they should be annulled. Another way of saying this is that the volume of debt – and its carrying charges – must be brought within the reasonable ability to pay.

Rejecting the “hard money” (really a “hard creditor”) position of anti-German, anti-labor economists Bertil Ohlin and Jacques Rueff, Keynes argued that creditors had an obligation to explain to Germany just how they would enable it to pay its reparations.4He meant at that time specifically that France, Britain and other recipients of reparations should specify just what German exports they would agree to buy. But today, creditors define a nation’s ability to pay not in terms of how it can earn the money to pay, but rather what public domain assets it can sell off in what is a national bankruptcy proceeding. Debtor countries are to let their public infrastructure be sold off to rent-extractors to create what a neofeudal tollbooth economy.

Under international law, no nation is legally obliged to do this. And under the moral definition of nationhood, they should not be forced to do so. Their right to resist this is what makes them sovereign, after all.

 

An international forum to adjudicate the ability (or inability) to pay debts

What is needed to put this basic principle into practice is creation of a new international forum to adjudicate how much debt can reasonably be paid – and how much should be annulled. In 1929 the Young Plan (which replaced the Dawes Plan to deal more rationally with German reparations) called for creation of such an institution – what became the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in 1931 to stop the economic destruction of Germany by bringing its reparations back within the ability to pay.

The BIS no longer can play such a role, because it has become the main meeting place for the world’s central banks, and as such has adopted the hardline “all debts must be paid” position that it originally was intended to oppose.

Likewise the IMF no longer can play this position. It is hopelessly political. Despite its technical staff ruling in 2010-11 that Greece’s foreign debts could not be paid and hence needed to be written off, its heads – first Dominique Strauss-Kahn and then Lagarde – acted in blatant conflict of interest to support the French bankers demands for payment in full, and U.S. demands by President Obama and Wall Street lobbyist Tim Geithner to insist that there be no writedown at all. That was the price for French bank support for Strauss-Kahn’s intended bid for the French presidency, and recently for Lagarde’s support. Given the U.S. veto power by Wall Street and the insistence that right-wing anti-labor ideologues (usually French) be appointed head of the IMF, a new organization representing the kind of economic logic outlined by Keynes, Harold Moulton and others in the 1920s is necessary.

Creation of such an institution should be a leading plank of Euro-left politics.

 

A Law of Fraudulent Conveyance, applicable to governments

The private sector has long had laws that prevent money-lenders from lending a borrower more funds than the debtor can reasonably be expected to pay back in the normal course of business. If a lender advances, say, $10,000 as a mortgage loan against a house worth more (say, $100,000), and then insists that the debtor pay or lose his home, the courts may assume that the loan was made with this aim in mind, and annul the debt.

Likewise, if a company is raided by borrowers loading it down with high-interest junk bonds, and then seize its pension funds and sell off assets to pay their debts, the company under attack can sue under fraudulent conveyance rules. They did so in the 1980s.

This lend-to-foreclose ploy is the game that the Troika have played with Greece. They lent its government money that the IMF economists explained quite clearly in 2010-11 (and reaffirmed this year just before the Greek referendum) could not be paid. But the ECB then came in and said, “Sell off your infrastructure, sell your ports, your gas rights in the Aegean, and entire islands, to get the money to pay what the IMF and ECB have paid French, German and other bondholders on your behalf (while saving U.S. investment banks and hedge funds from losing their bets that Greek debts would indeed be paid).

Application of this principle requires an international court to rule on the point at which debt service becomes intrusive, and write down debts accordingly.

No such set of institutions exists today.

 

Creation of Treasuries as national central banks to monetize deficit spending

Central banks today only lend money to banks, for the purpose of loading economies down with debt. The irrational demand by bankers to prevent a public option from creating credit on its own computer keyboards (the same way that banks create loans and deposits) is designed simply to create a private monopoly to extract economic rent n the form of interest, fees, and finally to foreclose on defaulting creditors – all guaranteed by “taxpayers.”

The European Central Bank is not suited for this duty. First of all, it is based on the ideology that public money creation is inflationary. The reality is that central bank money creation has just financed the greatest inflation of modern history – asset price inflation of the real estate market by junk mortgages, inflation of stock prices by junk bond issues, and central bank Quantitative Easing to create the fastest and largest bond market rally in history. The post-1980 experience with central banks has removed any moral or economic logic in their behavior as lobbyists for commercial banks, defenders of their special privileges, deregulator of financial crime, and extremist right-wing blockers of a public option in banking to bring basic services in line with actual costs. In short, if commercial banking systems in nearly every country have become de-industrialized and perverse, their enablers have become central banks.

The remedy is to replace these central banks with what preceded them: national Treasuries, whose proper function is to monetize government spending into the economy. The basic principle at work should be that any economy’s monetary and credit needs should be met by public spending and monetization, not by commercial banks creating interest-bearing credit to finance the transfer of assets (e.g., real estate mortgages, corporate buyouts and raids, arbitrage and casino-capitalist gambles).

 

Summary

Every nation has a right to defend itself against attack – financial attack just as overt military attack. That is part of the principle of self-determination.

Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and other debtor countries have been under the same mode of attack as that of the IMF and its austerity doctrine that bankrupted Latin America from the 1970s onward. International law needs to be updated to recognize that finance has become the modern-day mode of warfare. Its objectives are the same: acquisition of land, raw materials and monopolies.

A byproduct of this warfare has been to make today’s financial network so dysfunctional that nations need a financial Clean Slate. The most successful one in modern times was Germany’s Economic Miracle – the post-World War II Allied Monetary Reform. All domestic German debts were annulled, except employer wage debts to their labor force, and basic working balances. Later, in 1953, its international debts were written down. The logic prompting both these acts needs to be re-applied today.

With specific regard to Greece, Syriza’s leaders have said that they want to save Europe. First of all, from the eurozone’s destructive economic irrationality in not having a real central bank. This defect was deliberately built into the eurozone, to enforce a monopoly of commercial banks and bondholders powerful enough to gain control of governments, overruling democratic politics and referendums.

Eurozone rules – the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties – aimed at blocking governments from running budget deficits in a way that spend money into the economy to revive employment. The new aim is only to rescue bondholders and banks from making bad loans and even fraudulent loans, bailing them out at public expense. Economies are obliged to turn to commercial banks for loans to obtain the money that any economy needs to grow. this principle needs to be rejected on grounds that it violates a basic sovereign right of governments and economic democracy.

Once an economy is fiscally crippled by (1) not having a central bank to finance government spending, and (2) by limiting government budget deficits to just 3% of GDP, the economy must shrink. A shrinking economy will mean fewer tax revenues, and hence deeper government budget deficits and rising government debt.

The ultimate killer is for the ECB, IMF and EC to demand that governments pay their debts by privatizing public infrastructure, natural resources, land and other assets in the public domain. To compound this demand, the Troika have blocked Greece from selling to the highest bidder, if that turns out to be Gazprom or another Russian company. Financial politics thus has become militarized as part of NATO New Cold War politics. Debtor economies are directed to sell to euro-kleptocrats – on terms financed by banks, so that interest charges on the deal absorb all the profits, leaving governments without much income tax.

1 This is the theme of my Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire (1972, new ed., 2002).

4 I summarize this debate between Keynes and his antagonists in Trade, Development and Foreign Debt (new ed. ISLET 2009), chapter 16.

Posted in GreeceComments Off on The Financial Attack on Greece Where Do We Go From Here?

West to Teach Iran How to Block Nazi Nuclear Sabotage

NOVANEWS
West to Teach Iran How to Block Israeli Nuclear Sabotage: Zionist Media
West to Teach Iran How to Block NAZI Nuclear Sabotage: Zionist Media
“Disturbing” details of the Iran nuclear deal signed Tuesday continue to come to light, revealing why critics are more concerned than ever, Zio-NAZI National News claimed.

One particularly interesting detail: Tucked away near the very end of the deal’s massive text is a section entitled “Nuclear Safety, Safeguards and Security,” which stipulates that the West will train Iran to thwart sabotage against its nuclear facilities.

According to text, Iran will learn how to secure its controversial and covert nuclear program from all threats thanks to training by the “E3/EU+3,” another designation for the P5+1 countries consisting of the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China, as well as the EU.

The section seemingly begins benignly enough, with a clause saying that “E3/EU+3 parties, and possibly other states, as appropriate, are prepared to cooperate with Iran to establish a Nuclear Safety Centre in Iran, engage in workshops and training events in Iran.”

But then things take a turn, with the same world powers obligating to “co-operation in the form of training courses and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to prevent, protect and respond to nuclear security threats to nuclear facilities and systems as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.”

Leaving no doubts about the intentions, the text then promises “co-operation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage.”

Iran has frequently claimed to have thwarted sabotage attempts against its nuclear facilities, and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) head Ali Akbar Salehi claimed last August that the West and the Zionist regime were seeking to sabotage Iran’s nuclear industry.

The most effective attempt against Iran’s nuclear program which significantly set it back was a 2010 cyber-attack known as the “Stuxnet virus.” The cyber-attack wrought havoc by taking the Iran’s reactors out of commission.

In December 2013, Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency claimed NAZI regime and Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime were teaming up to launch an updated version of the virus.

Moshe Ya’alon (NAZI War Minister) in May 2012 indirectly hinted that NAZI regime may have been behind a computer virus that followed Stuxnet and was launched against Iran, known as the “Flame” malware.

 

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, IranComments Off on West to Teach Iran How to Block Nazi Nuclear Sabotage

Shocking Footage Shows ISIS Child’s Executioner Shoots Victims

NOVANEWS
Look, How Next Generation of ISIS working
Shocking Footage Shows ISIS Child’s Executioner Shoot Victims
Shocking Footage Shows Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ISIS Child’s Executioner Shoot Victims
Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ISIS child executioner ignores prisoners’ pleas to spare them… then shoots them in the head without hesitating: Shocking footage shows how “Islamic State’s evil” has spread to the next generation.

Harrowing new footage has emerged of a young boy executing prisoners on the banks of the Tigris River, amid one of the biggest massacres ever committed by Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ISIS terrorists.

Filmed during the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ISIS killing spree in Tikrit last year, the young boy is seen shooting at least two men in the head after adults have dragged the prisoners before him.

Ignoring prisoners’ pleas for mercy, the child grasps a pistol with both hands as he pulls the trigger. The men’s limp bodies are then cast into the water, which soon flows red with blood.

Images of the child executioner are just a small part of a graphic 22minute-long video released by the terrorists at the weekend.

It was recorded during the Speicher massacre last year – an atrocity which left an estimated 1,700 martyred cadets and ranks among the worst to have occurred in Iraq over the past decade.

A group of Iraqi military cadets beg for their lives moments before being killed and thrown into the river

ISIS has released new footage showing hundreds of people being killed during the infamous Speicher massacre

ISIS has released new footage showing hundreds of people being killed during the infamous Speicher massacre

Posted in IraqComments Off on Shocking Footage Shows ISIS Child’s Executioner Shoots Victims

Oklahoma Republicans Compare Food-Stamp Recipients To Animals

NOVANEWS
About 604,000 people receive SNAP benefits in Oklahoma, mostly the elderly, disabled and children.

oklahoma-gopOKLAHOMA CITY  — The Oklahoma Republican Party is being criticized for a Facebook post comparing food-stamp recipients to feeding animals in national parks.

The message posted Monday on the party’s official Facebook page says 46 million Americans participate in the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program, or SNAP, commonly referred to as food stamps.

The post then says the National Park Service encourages people not to feed animals because they “will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.” The post concludes: “Thus ends today’s lesson in irony.”

Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Randy Brogdon didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

About 604,000 people receive SNAP benefits in Oklahoma, mostly the elderly, disabled and children.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services called the post “shameful.”

Posted in USAComments Off on Oklahoma Republicans Compare Food-Stamp Recipients To Animals

500 People Have Been Shot And Killed By Police In The U.S. So Far In 2015

NOVANEWS
The number of people shot and killed so far this year tracked by The Post easily exceeds the figures reported by the FBI for any single year since 1976

Missouri

Police officers in the United States have shot and killed at least 500 people so far in 2015, according to a Washington Post analysis.

The 500th gun death at the hands of police officers came Thursday night in Boulder Creek, Calif., after officers were dispatched to a home on reports of a family fight. Police officials told local media that when they arrived, they encountered a man with two firearms whom they shot and killed.

It was one of four fatal police shootings that occurred on Thursday — the others were in Chicago, Phoenix and Parowan, Utah.

The 500th fatal police shooting comes amid a particularly deadly stretch — at least two people have been shot and killed by police every single day so far this month. At least 31 people were shot and killed by police officers during the first week of July, making it the deadliest such week of the year so far. On Tuesday, officers across the country shot and killed eight people, the most police shootings that have occurred on any single day in 2015.

Posted in USAComments Off on 500 People Have Been Shot And Killed By Police In The U.S. So Far In 2015

Police Tase Alabama Teen 3 Times While She Was Having A Seizure

NOVANEWS

They Then Tased Her Mother

“At the hospital, police made jokes about the teenager and threatened to have her committed to a mental hospital.”
Taser.jpg

A lawsuit filed this month by an Etowah County woman alleges that police officers from Rainbow City repeatedly fired Tasers at her and her teenage daughter at a concert while the daughter was suffering from grand mal seizures.

The 32-page lawsuit, filed July 9 in U.S. District Court, accuses at least five Rainbow City officers and three Gadsden officers who were allegedly handling security for a Jan. 16 hip-hop concert of excessive force, torture “and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” It also names Rainbow City Police Chief Greg Carroll and Center Stage, the entertainment venue where the suit alleges the incident took place.

The woman and her daughter seek damages for pain, emotional distress, medical expenses, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

Gregory Harp, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the lawsuit speaks for itself.

“A Taser was used three times on a child’s chest, during a medical emergency, while she was pinned to the ground by officers,” he said. “Other officers present at the scene failed to intervene.  Her mother was knocked to the ground, handcuffed, and then she herself Tased and arrested.”

Gadsden City Attorney Lee Roberts said he had no comment as he has not seen the suit. A message left for Center Stage was not returned. Rainbow City Attorney Jim Turnbach said he had not seen the lawsuit, but said it would be “vigorously defended.”

According to the lawsuit, the incident happened at a Jan. 16 concert for hip-hop artist Kevin Gates at Center Stage. Earlier that day, the teenager suffered a grand mal seizure at her high school and was treated there but not taken to a hospital.

The suit states that the teenager, as the result of an accident, suffers from a medical condition that brings on the seizures causing her to lose consciousness, experience muscle contractions and “sometimes exhibit loud vocalizations caused by the forceful exhalation of air from her lungs.” Grand mal seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Posted in USAComments Off on Police Tase Alabama Teen 3 Times While She Was Having A Seizure

Latest Snowden Leak Devastating To Defenders Of NSA

NOVANEWS
The agency collected and stored intimate chats, photos, and emails belonging to innocent Americans—and secured them so poorly that reporters can now browse them at will.

Consider the latest leak sourced to Edward Snowden from the perspective of his detractors. The National Security Agency’s defenders would have us believe that Snowden is a thief and a criminal at best, and perhaps a traitorous Russian spy. In their telling, the NSA carries out its mission lawfully, honorably, and without unduly compromising the privacy of innocents. For that reason, they regard Snowden’s actions as a wrongheaded slur campaign premised on lies and exaggerations.

But their narrative now contradicts itself. The Washington Post’s latest article drawing on Snowden’s leaked cache of documents includes files “described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained” that “tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.”

The article goes on to describe how exactly the privacy of these innocents was violated. The NSA collected “medical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque. Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam …”

Have you ever emailed a photograph of your child in the bathtub, or yourself flexing for the camera or modeling lingerie? If so, it could be your photo in theWashington Post newsroom right now, where it may or may not be secure going forward. In one case, a woman whose private communications were collected by the NSA found herself contacted by a reporter who’d read her correspondence.

Snowden defenders see these leaked files as necessary to proving that the NSA does, in fact, massively violate the private lives of American citizens by collecting and storing content—not “just” metadata—when they communicate digitally. They’ll point out that Snowden turned these files over to journalists who promised to protect the privacy of affected individuals and followed through on that oath.

 

 

Posted in USAComments Off on Latest Snowden Leak Devastating To Defenders Of NSA

Historic Iran Nuclear Deal Struck

NOVANEWS
Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr
“This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction,” President Barack Obama said in early morning remarks from the White House that were carried live on Iranian state television. “We should seize it.”

From left to right, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz pose for a group picture at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria Tuesday, July 14, 2015.

After long, fractious negotiations, world powers and Iran struck a historic deal Tuesday to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in relief from international sanctions — an agreement aimed at averting the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and another U.S. military intervention in the Middle East.

The accord marks a dramatic break from decades of animosity between the United States and Iran, countries that alternatively call each other the “leading state sponsor of terrorism” and the “the Great Satan.”

“This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction,” President Barack Obama said in early morning remarks from the White House that were carried live on Iranian state television. “We should seize it.”

In Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said “a new chapter” has begun in his nation’s relations with the world. He maintained that Iran had never sought to build a bomb, an assertion the U.S. and its partners have long disputed.

Beyond the hopeful proclamations from the U.S., Iran and other parties to the talks, there is deep skepticism of the deal among U.S. lawmakers and Iranian hardliners. Obama’s most pressing task will be holding off efforts by Congress to levy new sanctions on Iran or block his ability to suspend existing ones.

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi regime Iran have also expressed concern over the deal. And NAZI regime, which sees Iran as an existential threat, strongly opposes leaving the Islamic republic with nuclear infrastructure in place.

Benjamin NAZIyahu, who has furiously lobbied against a deal, called the agreement a “bad mistake of historic proportions.”

The nearly 100-page accord announced Tuesday aims to keep Iran from producing enough material for an atomic weapon for at least 10 years and impose new provisions for inspections of Iranian facilities, including military sites.

The deal was finalized after more than two weeks of furious diplomacy in Vienna. Negotiators blew through three self-imposed deadlines, with top American and Iranian diplomats both threatening at points to walk away from the talks.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who did most of the bargaining with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said persistence paid off. “Believe me, had we been willing to settle for a lesser deal we would have finished this negation a long time ago,” he told reporters.

The economic benefits for Iran are potentially massive. It stands to receive more than $100 billion in assets frozen overseas, and an end to a European oil embargo and various financial restrictions on Iranian banks.

The breakthrough came after several key compromises.

Iran agreed to the continuation of a U.N. arms embargo on the country for up to five more years, though it could end earlier if the International Atomic Energy Agency definitively clears Iran of any current work on nuclear weapons. A similar condition was put on U.N. restrictions on the transfer of ballistic missile technology to Tehran, which could last for up to eight more years, according to diplomats.

Washington had sought to maintain the ban on Iran importing and exporting weapons, concerned that an Islamic Republic flush with cash from sanctions relief would expand its military assistance for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and other forces opposing America’s Mideast allies such as Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Iranian leaders, backed by Russia and China, insisted the embargo had to end as their forces combat regional scourges such as the Islamic State.

Another significant agreement will allow U.N. inspectors to press for visits to Iranian military sites as part of their monitoring duties, something the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had long vowed to oppose. However, access isn’t guaranteed and could be delayed, a condition that critics of the deal are sure to seize on.

Under the accord, Tehran would have the right to challenge U.N requests, and an arbitration board composed of Iran and the six world powers would then decide on the issue. The IAEA also wants the access to complete its long-stymied investigation of past weapons work by Iran, and the U.S. says Iranian cooperation is needed for all economic sanctions to be lifted.

IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said Tuesday his agency and Iran had signed a “roadmap” to resolve outstanding concerns, hopefully by mid-December.

The deal didn’t come together easily, as tempers flared and voices were raised during debates over several of the most contentious matters. The mood soured particularly last week after Iran dug in its heels on several points and Kerry threatened to abandon the effort, according to diplomats involved in the talks. They weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the private diplomacy and demanded anonymity.

But by Monday, the remaining gaps were bridged in a meeting that started with Kerry, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Zarif joined later joined the meeting, and shortly thereafter, the ministers emerged and told aides they had an accord.

The deal comes after nearly a decade of international, intercontinental diplomacy that until recently was defined by failure. Breaks in the talks sometimes lasted for months, and Iran’s nascent nuclear program expanded into one that Western intelligence agencies saw as only a couple of months away from weapons capacity. The U.S. and Nazi regime both threatened possible military responses.

The United States joined the negotiations in 2008, and U.S. and Iranian officials met together secretly four years later in Oman to see if diplomatic progress was possible. But the process remained essentially stalemated until summer 2013, when Rouhani was elected president and declared his country ready for serious compromise.

More secret U.S.-Iranian discussions followed, culminating in a face-to-face meeting between Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the United Nations in September 2013 and a telephone conversation between Rouhani and President Barack Obama. That conversation marked the two countries’ highest diplomatic exchange since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the ensuing hostage crisis at the American embassy in Tehran.

Kerry and Zarif took the lead in the negotiations. Two months later, in Geneva, Iran and the six powers announced an interim agreement that temporarily curbed Tehran’s nuclear program and unfroze some Iranian assets while setting the stage for Tuesday’s comprehensive accord.

It took time to get the final deal, however. The talks missed deadlines for the pact in July 2014 and November 2014, leading to long extensions. Finally, in early April, negotiators reached framework deal in Lausanne, Switzerland, setting up the last push for the historic agreement.

The disputes are likely to continue, however. In a foreshadowing of the public relations battle ahead, Iranian state TV released a fact sheet of elements it claimed were in the final agreement — a highly selective list that highlighted Iranian gains and minimized its concessions.

Among them was an assertion that all sanctions-related U.N. resolutions will be lifted at once. While a new U.N. resolution will revoke previous sanctions, it will also re-impose restrictions in a number of categories.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Historic Iran Nuclear Deal Struck

Bernie Sanders Stance On I$raHell Is More Of The Same Ole, Same Ole

NOVANEWS
The Vermont senator’s fans have been circulating a 20-year-old speech in which he blatantly objects to attacks on Israel, but his current views are harder to pin down.

WASHINGTON — Bernie Sanders is often perceived as an “alternative” to presidential candidates more concerned with pleasing their Wall Street donors than voters. But when it comes to his stance on Israel and Palestine, the independent senator from Vermont, who is running for president as a Democrat, begins to look less decisively different than the rest of the pack.

Sanders made headlines in August, when a dialogue with pro-Palestine human rights activists at a Vermont town hall boiled over into frustration after Sanders chided Israel for its actions rather than condemning its many war crimes. The interaction occurred near the end of Israel’s brutal assault on the people of Gaza last summer, during which Israeli soldiers deliberately targeted hospitals and U.N. shelters and killed thousands of civilians. Last July, Sanders joined the rest of the U.S. Senate by unanimously voting to support Israel’s actions.

The conversation was captured on video and widely circulated. Writing in April for Bustle, Chris Tognottisummarized the breakdown in communication:

“Basically, as Sanders explained his view — he claimed that Israel ‘overreacted’ and wrongly bombed U.N. facilities, but the country was also faced with Hamas-fired rockets shot from populated areas — he was met with an angry interruption. Before you know it, he was yelling ‘shut up,’ and a woman in the back of the room was yelling ‘F**k Israel!’ It was ugly.”

Philip Weiss, of Mondoweiss, reported that Sanders “brings ISIS out of nowhere into the discussion” in a strained attempt to defend the militarism of the state of Israel — militarism supported by billions in U.S. aid annually.

Watch presidential candidate Bernie Sanders lose his cool when a women questions him on Israel:

Since then, protesters have continued to pressure Sanders on his stance on Israel, including at last summer’s climate march:

Recently Sanders’ supporters have pointed to a video of a 1988 appearance by Sanders during which he called Israel’s attacks on Palestinians “reprehensible.” Alternet staffer Zaid Jilani summarized the video earlier this month:

“He also offered criticism of extremist rhetoric in Arab countries that were calling for the destruction of Israel, which is fairly boilerplate for American politicians. But it got more interesting when reporters asked Sanders what concrete steps the United States should take.

‘The United States of America is pouring billions of dollars into arms and into other types of aid in the Middle East. Has the United States of America used its clout, the tremendous clout that it has by providing all kinds of aid to the Middle East, to demand that these countries sit down and talk about a reasonable settlement which will guarantee Israel’s sovereignty, which must be guaranteed, but will begin to deal with the rights of Palestinian refugees,’ said Sanders.”

Yet when it comes to more recent statements, journalists describe Sanders as difficult to pin down on foreign policy issues, including Israel. Josh Nathan-Kazis, writing in June for Forward, noted that “a search of the Congressional Record reveals very few statements about Israel by Sanders on the floor of the House or the Senate,” but “in February 2015, Sanders was the first Senator to announce that he would skip Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress.”

Nathan-Kazis reports that Sanders does have limited ties to AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying group that’s trying to drive the U.S. to war with Iran:

“In Vermont, a small group of AIPAC-linked Jewish activists do have Sanders’ ear on Israel-related matters. Yoram Samets, a Burlington businessman and a member of AIPAC’s national council, said that he has been in touch with Sanders for the past decade, but that Sanders does not sign any AIPAC-backed letters. His Vermont colleague Senator Patrick Leahy does not, either.”

But Sanders’ campaign refused to respond to any of the reporter’s attempts to clarify the senator’s position. Instead, he quotes Aaron Keyak, a Democratic political consultant: “When I see Senator Bernie Sanders, I see someone who is a typical pro-Israel Jewish Democrat.”

Until Sanders makes newer statements, voters must assume that all major 2016 candidates support Israel’s occupation of Palestine and Israel’s apartheid policies, with third parties representing the only real alternative.

Posted in USAComments Off on Bernie Sanders Stance On I$raHell Is More Of The Same Ole, Same Ole

The Biggest Threat To America? Other Americans

NOVANEWS
Russia, ISIS, yadda yadda. The biggest existential threat to Americans is other Americans—specifically, the ones armed to the teeth.

What do you think a mother would say is the greater threat to her child: Russia or guns?

I couldn’t help but ask myself that question on Friday when I heard the testimony of General Joseph Dunford, President Obama’s nominee to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before the Senate Armed Services Committee. When Dunford was asked what was the greatest threat to the United States, he responded by ranking them in this order: Russia, China, North Korea, and ISIS.

Now, Dunford is undoubtedly correct when it comes to the global threats facing us, and those are the threats it’s his job to assess. But from a day-to-day perspective, our greatest threat, and I’d submit the more pressing one, is our fellow Americans. We kill far more of each other on a daily basis than any foreign actor has come close to doing in recent years.

Here are some numbers for you to consider:

1. Gun Violence: Every day 30-plus Americans are murdered with guns. We are talking over 10,000 Americans killed each year by gun violence. And every single day, including today, five children or teens are murdered by someone using guns; that is 11 times more often than children are killed by gun violence in other “high income” nations.

In fact, far more Americans were killed by gun violence in 2013 alone (33,636) than all the Americans killed on U.S. soil by terrorists in the last 14 years, and that’s including 9/11. (2,977 Americans were killed on 9/11 and only 48 have been killed since by terrorism on U.S. soil.)

Far more Americans have been killed by gun violence in 2013 alone (33,636) than all the Americans killed on U.S. soil by terrorists in the last 14 years, and that’s including 9/11.

2. Other Gun-Related Deaths: Apart from gun violence, another20,000 Americans use guns to commit suicide each year. (Suicides involving firearms are fatal 85 percent of the time in contrast to about a 3 percent fatality rate when using pills.) When you combine the above numbers with the 560 people accidentally killed by guns on an annual basis, that comes out to more than 32,000 Americans who die each year by firearms. These numbers really brought it home for me: Between 2000 and 2010, 335,609 people died from guns in our country; that’s more than the entire population of St. Louis, Missouri. (318,000.)

3. Driving Under the Influence: Each day nearly 30 people are killed in auto accidents that involved an alcohol-impaired driver. In 2013 alone, 200 children 14 and younger were killed in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers.

4. Domestic violence: Each day, three women are killed by their husband, boyfriend, or a person with whom they had been in a relationship. In fact, a study found that alarmingly, at least one-third of all women murdered in the United States in recent years were killed by their current or past male partners.

These killers of Americans are all distinct. There’s no one remedy that will reduce the deaths in all these cases. But there is one killer that truly jumps out as the greatest existential threat to Americans: Deaths involving guns.

Now I know that many on the right are preparing to regurgitate their tired talking point that this is a push to grab their guns. They are wrong. I fully support that the Second Amendment guarantees them the personal right to own firearms as recognized in the seminal 2008 Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller.(Amazing how many on the right applaud the Supreme Court when it renders decisions they like such asHeller but literally want to abolish the Supreme Court as we know it after the recent gay marriage ruling)

But how can we sit idly by as so many of our fellow Americans are killed by guns? It is as if we have collectively decided that these deaths are acceptable loses. Even after mass shootings nothing seems to change, generally due to political considerations.

 

Posted in USAComments Off on The Biggest Threat To America? Other Americans

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk

KEEP SHOAH UP AND RUNNING