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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

How the US taxpayer may subsidize the purchase of Boeing jets by Iran

If you're an American taxpayer, you may be subsidizing the purchase of Boeing jets by Iran through the Export-Import Bank.
The Ex-Im bank provides government loan guarantees to a handful of major corporations — coincidentally, major political donors — that allow them to sell goods to foreign countries without worrying about whether or not they’ll actually get paid.  If a country should fail in its obligations, Uncle Sam will make the debts good.  The American taxpayer ends up on the hook for the cost of expanding corporate business in suspect nations with wobbly economies.  Yet the small number of corporations who benefit from the Ex-Im bank are all quite wealthy, and capable of obtaining loan guarantees privately through insurance.  The taxpayer is made to do what the market is ready to do just because it saves these corporations money.
One country where the Ex-Im bank has not operated in recent years is Iran.  This is because of the American sanctions that will be rejected as a part of approving the Iran Deal.  The Congressional Research Service has recently published a document detailing the ways in which the Ex-Im bank will be freed to undertake loan guarantees with Iran.  The CRS piece was written by one of their research specialists in foreign policy legislation, Dianne Rennack.  The complete report can be viewed at the end of this post.
According to the report, restrictions on the Ex-Im bank working with Iran are going to be released by the repeal of a number of executive orders (E.O.).  E.O. 13590 prohibits the Ex-Im bank from entering into relationships with individuals named personally in the sanctions, such as Qassem Suleimani, the head of Iran’s unconventional warfare program.  The Iran deal will repeal this order.
E.O. 13622 authorizes sanctions on foreign financial organizations associated with Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism.  That will also be repealed under the deal.
E.O. 13628 freezes money and property owned by named human rights violators.  Under the deal, their property will be returned to them, and loan guarantees from the Ex-Im bank will also become available to them.
Finally, the repeal of E.O. 13645 will allow loan guarantees related to Iran’s oil industry.  Petroleum companies will be able to fund their operations in Iran without worrying about whether Iran will pay them, because the American taxpayer will.
Iran has announced that is planning to buy 80 to 90 Boeing and Airbus aircraft every year. Boeing is one of the corporations that benefits from the Ex-Im bank, and it has held the threat of moving its business offshore over the head of the Congress during debates about the bank.  Humanitarian safety concerns about Iran’s aging aircraft have already impelled the United States to waive restrictions on sales of repair parts for older aircraft.  The Senate might permit Iran being allowed to buy new commercial aircraft on the same basis.  Having those aircraft financed not by Iran but by the American taxpayer, however, will remain controversial.
 And those of you who voted for President Soetro have something else of which you can be ashamed.

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Black enough but not American enough

Get the full story here (Hat Tip: Jack W).

If you hadn't figured it out yet (and don't follow me on Twitter), I'm in Boston again. Yesterday was travel day....

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Shirley Temper 'rescues' her brother from the IDF, Papa is proud

Do you all remember Shirley Temper (real name Ahed Tamimi, and yes, from that Tamimi clan)? On Friday, Shirley and her mother attacked yet another IDF soldier to prevent them from arresting her little brother for throwing stones at soldiers.
The opening shots show a partially-masked soldier with a rifle in his hand running after the boy, Muhammad Tamimi, across an empty brown hillside filled with rocks and a few scattered olive trees.

The soldier catches Muhammad from behind and places him in a choke-hold. Muhammad screams and begins crying. The soldier pushes Muhammad onto a rock and lies on top of him, as a young female activist with a gas mask in one hand tries to pull the boy away.

The soldier pushes her back and tells her to leave the boy alone. Muhammad’s left arm can be seen in a cast.

The soldier calls out for reinforcements as he holds one arm around the boy’s neck and keeps his other hand on his gun. Within a minute, Muhammad’s sister, Ahed, 14, and mother arrive, along with other women and children.

Screaming, they hit the soldier, unmask him, and try to pull the boy away. They succeed just as a second soldier arrives. One of them throws a stun grenade at the Palestinians. Both soldiers, however, walk away without arresting Muhammad.

The IDF said the incident occurred during violent clashes between its soldiers and Palestinians in which rocks were thrown at security forces. It said that an attempt was made to arrest Muhammad after he was identified as one of the stone throwers.

The IDF said that during the execution of the arrest, a number of Palestinians, including women and children, acted in a violent and provocative manner. It said that a commander decided not to carry out the arrest as a result of this.
Papa Tamimi has told the Jerusalem Post that he's proud of his brood
"We have the right to resist. Our children are doing their duty and must be strong," Bassem Tamimi told The Jerusalem Post, when asked how he feels about his children's participation in West Bank protests against soldiers. He noted, however, that they are not against the soldiers, but against the occupation. 
"There is no safe place to be," he tells the Post, making no distinction between soldiers, settlers or Jewish extremists . "Because a lot of time they target houses, and there is fire on the houses." He gives the example of the Dawabshe family who were the victims of an arson attack on their home in Duma in July, which killed a Palestinian toddler and his father. The attack was allegedly perpetrated by Jewish terrorists.
It's actually far more likely that the attack was perpetrated by a rival 'Palestinian' clan but because our government is afraid to come out and say it, so is everyone else and we continue to be slandered.
Responding to comments made by right-wing Israeli politicians and activists on the heels of Friday's incident, that IDF soldiers should open fire immediately if they are attacked, Bassem Tamimi claims that it makes no difference if they are attacked or not: "they will open fire anyway," he asserts. 
That's a libel. 

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Matisyahu says he felt threatened in Spain

American reggae singer Matisyahu says that he felt threatened last week while playing at a fair in Spain. This is from the first link.
“People were standing on each other’s shoulders with flags giving me the middle finger,” Matisyahu tells The Daily Beast in an interview. “It was intense. It was not peaceful. It was like ‘Fuck you, Matisyahu.’ I’ve never had the experience of anything like that, as a Jew or anything in my life.”
Matisyahu performed at the Rototom Sunsplash festival after a public backlash prompted organizers to rescind their initial insistence that he sign a statement in support of Palestinian statehood as a prerequisite for his appearance.
Such nice people, those BDS'ers.... 

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Time to say good-bye

Looks like I will miss this.... But if you're in New York, please be there (Hat Tip: Leah P).

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Small world syndrome

One of my neighbors just came by for something and invited us to a Kiddush (celebration) at his synagogue tomorrow morning. The Kiddush is to celebrate 45 years (on the Jewish calendar) since he was released from being a hostage at Dawson's field in Jordan.

More here.

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IAEA: Iran may have built extension to Parchin

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that Iran may have built an extension to its Parchin nuclear weapons testing facility since May, making it impossible to determine how far along Iran was in nuclear weapons research before entering into its farcical deal with the P 5+1 (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).

The confidential IAEA report, obtained by Reuters, said:
"Since (our) previous report (in May), at a particular location at the Parchin site, the agency has continued to observe, through satellite imagery, the presence of vehicles, equipment, and probable construction materials. In addition, a small extension to an existing building" appeared to have been built.
The changes were first observed last month, a senior diplomat familiar with the Iran file said.
The IAEA says any activities Iran has undertaken at Parchin since U.N. inspectors last visited in 2005 could jeopardize its ability to verify Western intelligence suggesting Tehran carried out tests there relevant to nuclear bomb detonations more than a decade ago. Iran has dismissed the intelligence as "fabricated".

"We cannot know or speculate what's in the (extended) building ... It's something we will technically clarify over the course of the year," the senior diplomat said. The report said the extended building was not the one that some countries suspect has housed the controversial experiments.
"It’s funny that the IAEA claims there has been a small extension to a building ... Iran doesn't need to ask for the IAEA's permission to do construction work on its sites," Reza Najafi, Iran's envoy to the agency, was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.

I can't even say what I'd like to say about this. Certainly not in any forum that is likely to be widely dispersed.

Messiah should be arriving soon. It's the only solution.

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Unbelievable: Senate may not even vote on Obama's sellout to a nuclear-armed Iran

It's come to this: Thanks to Mr. Congeniality, Senator Bob Corker (R-Tn), President Hussein Obama's sellout and endorsement of a nuclear armed Iran may never even come to a vote in the Senate. This is Jonathan Tobin.
With only two Senate Democrats announcing their opposition (Chuck Schumer and Robert Menendez), there now appears to be a chance that the White House will be able to orchestrate a filibuster of the bill if at least three more Democrats join a unanimous Republican caucus. That will make a mockery of the approval process that Congress has been going through. If it does, the blame will belong to a president who has not hesitated to use inflammatory rhetoric and heavy-handed tactics to stop Congress from interfering with a policy of appeasement of Iran. But Obama didn’t do it alone. He could never have succeeded had he not had the unwitting help of Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. Without Corker’s foolish belief in working with the White House and pusillanimous unwillingness to push for an approval process in line with the Constitution’s provisions about foreign treaties, the administration might never have been able to get away with sneaking through the most important foreign policy decision in a generation.
The Tennessee Republican didn’t get much cooperation from the administration. However, he did listen to a lot of his Democratic colleagues who were unhappy about confronting Obama but wanted to preserve some sort of Congressional oversight on the Iran negotiations. Thus, hoping to maintain the bipartisan consensus on Iran, Corker shifted the emphasis in the Senate away from a bill that would toughen sanctions against Iran that had been proposed by Menendez and Illinois Republican Mark Kirk. Instead, Corker’s attention was focused on something else: something that would compel the administration to present any deal with Iran for a Congressional vote.
Thus was born the Corker-Menendez bill that would be renamed Corker-Cardin after Menendez was forced out as ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee and replaced by Senator Ben Cardin. Considering that the administration had openly said that it did feel compelled to present any agreement with Iran for Congressional approval, some sort of response was required. But the only thing Corker could get Corker and other Democrats to sign on to was a bill on an Iran nuclear deal that would provide for a simple up and down vote in both the House and the Senate.
What was wrong with that? The Constitution explicitly states that foreign treaties must be presented to the Senate where they must get a two-thirds vote to be approved. The impetus for this high bar was the thought that treaties ought to be a matter of national consensus since they involve the security of the nation and their impact will be felt beyond the current Congress or the incumbent president.
Corker’s bill turned that approval process upside down. Instead of 67 votes to pass a deal that would give Iran Western approval for becoming a nuclear threshold state and a nuclear power once the deal expired in 10 to 15 years, all Obama would now need was 34 votes in the Senate or one-third plus one vote in the House.
It can be argued that Democrats would never have gone along with a bill that would have designated the Iran deal as a treaty as it should have been. The administration knows that there is no legal argument for not designating the deal as a treaty. As Secretary of State John Kerry admitted in his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the only reason they didn’t present it as a treaty is because it is too hard to pass a treaty.
Corker is flummoxed by this prospect, telling the New York Times that he cannot imagine that a Senate will do it.
“Ninety-eight senators voted to give themselves the right to vote on this,” he said. “Surely they are not going to deny themselves a final vote on the deal.” …
“To block a vote on the deal would be a fascinating turn of events at a minimum,” Mr. Corker said.
Fascinating isn’t quite the word I’d use for such a turn of events. A better description of what is happening is that a tough-minded administration has run rings around an inept Corker. Did he really trust liberal Democrats who promised that they wanted a vote? If so, he is clearly not smart enough to be left in the position of influence he has been given. Far from his accommodating attitude rebuilding the consensus on Iran that Obama has been busy destroying, Corker’s willingness to bend over backwards has facilitated Obama’s disastrous policy.
A filibuster will enable the president to say that Congress never defeated his Iran deal. That’s something that he would have been denied if he had been forced to veto the bill. Even a complete end run by the administration around congress where no vote at all would have been held would have been preferable to a successful Iran deal filibuster. Then opponents would have been able to point to the extra-legal way the president was sneaking his treaty with Iran through. A failed effort to designate the deal as a treaty would also at least have set the record straight about Obama’s disregard for the Constitution. But now Obama can say the deal was reviewed and in a sense passed. This will strengthen his efforts to undermine existing sanctions and make it harder for the deal to overturn it in the future once he leaves office.
For that he can thank Corker.
By the way, if you're wondering how this pea brain became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee... the party was looking for an ideological conservative. Maybe the party ought to be looking for some intelligence before worrying about ideology?

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Iran to pay for its own 'nuclear inspections'?

With the IAEA looking for money to pay for inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, the US State Department suggested on Wednesday another source of payment aside from the American taxpayer: Iran itself.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the Department of State, declined to answer multiple questions about how international inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites would be paid for by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is requesting at least $10 million to carry out the work.
The United States will likely fund some portion of the cost, and Kirby left open the possibility that Iran could also foot some of the bill.
The matter has been the subject of much speculation in recent days after it came to light that Iran would be permitted to inspect its own nuclear sites, raising the possibility that Iran could continue to hide nuclear weapons work.
“I don’t have any specific funding contributions to speak to today in terms of amount,” Kirby told reporters. “We’re still working our way through that. I do want to add that we have every intention to continue to contribute to the IAEA for the purpose of this—doing this very important work of the verification of Iran’s nuclear-related commitments.”
“I won’t speak for Iran,” Kirby added. “I don’t know what, if any, commitments Iran has or will engender under this, but we’ve—as we noted in the statement, we’re committed to working with all the member states to ensure that the IAEA has the resources that it needs.”
When pressed to explain whether the United States would pay for Iran to inspect its own nuclear sites or press the Iranian government to foot the bill, Kirby demurred.
“Honestly don’t have a specific answer for you in that regard,” Kirby told reporters. “I mean, again, we’re going to contribute—continue to contribute to the IAEA and their funding needs specifically as it relates to this deal. And it’s not just us; we want other member states to do it as well.”
“I’ll let Iran speak for itself in terms of what, if any, contributions it plans to make,” he added.
“But I don’t know that I would characterize the funding resources applied to IAEA and their need to do this work as sort of then paying for any efforts done by Iranian officials to meet compliance.”
Matthew Lee, a reporter for the Associated Press, continued to question Kirby on the issue.
“Well, I mean, someone’s got to pay for it,” Lee said. “They’re not going to work for free, whoever they are, whether they’re Iranians or they’re from Djibouti.”
“Well, I’m assuming many of them are government—work for the government of Iran,” Kirby responded.
 What could go wrong?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

ICYMI this says it all: J Street elects Muslim of Pakistani descent as President

After this one, let no one say that J Street is pro-Israel: J Street U has elected a Muslim of Pakistani descent as its President.
At its “Summer Leadership Institute” in Washington this week, J Street U elected Amna Farooqi, a senior at the University of Maryland who is of Pakistani descent, Haaretz reported. Farooqi co-wrote a blog post for the Times of Israel in March on Hillel President Eric Fingerhut’s decision to withdraw from a commitment to speak a the J Street National Conference.
Approximately 120 J Street U student leaders attended the four-day gathering, according to Haaretz, and J Street U says it has 4,000 active participants on 75 college campuses in the United States.
A native of suburban Washington, D.C., Farooqi grew up in a “fairly religious Muslim home” with “a lot of Jewish friends,” Haaretz reported.
But “growing up in a household sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, the Palestine-Israel conflict was always the elephant in the room,” she said in a video filmed at the J Street conference last March. “This conflict evoked a level of anger and emotion in me, and I needed to learn more. Everything I was learning about the conflict made me not want to be pro-Israel. … As someone who wanted to contribute to ending this conflict I knew I needed to understand all sides.”
Pro-Israel anyone? Their  heads are so open their brains have fallen out.

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