Thursday, June 2, 2016

Iran's FM against Trump: Nuclear deal can't be renegotiated!

Arutz Sheva ^ | 2/6/16 | Ben Ariel 

Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Wednesday that the nuclear deal reached last year with world powers can't be renegotiated, despite Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's pledge to do so if elected.
Speaking after a lecture in Stockholm and quoted by The Associated Press (AP), Zarif said the deal "is not an Iran-U.S. agreement for the Republican front-runner or anybody else to renegotiate. It's an international understanding annexed to a Security Council resolution."
Trump has denounced the deal and said he would seek to renegotiate it if elected president. One of those times came during his speech at the AIPAC policy conference, where he declared that his number one number priority is to roll back the “disastrous” deal with Iran.
“This deal is catastrophic, for America, for Israel and for the whole Middle East,” he said at the time.
Trump’s son Eric said this week his father decided to launch his campaign due to the controversial deal.
Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton has said she supports the agreement to rein in Iran's nuclear program, which was endorsed by the UN Security Council, noted AP.
It's not possible "to renegotiate a text that is annexed" to such a resolution, Zarif said on Wednesday.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

How the Democratic Party Ruined Atlanta

Frontpage ^ | June 1, 2016 | John Perazzo 

Atlanta, Georgia has not been governed by a Republican mayor since 1879. Most significant is the fact that the city has been led exclusively by Democrats since the 1960s and early '70s, the period when the Democratic Party emphatically broke away from centrist liberals and fell predominantly under the sway of its far left wing, a course which it still follows to this day.
One of Atlanta's more important political figures during this Democratic era was its first African American mayor, Maynard Jackson, who held office for three (non-consecutive) four-year terms: 1974-78, 1978–82, and 1990–94. In May 1974, the newly elected Jackson stoked racial tensions in Atlanta when he undermined the authority of the incumbent (white) police chief, John Inman, by making him subservient to the newly appointed “Public Safety Commissioner,” the black activist Reginald Eaves. Eaves was a longtime friend of Jackson's and had no law-enforcement experience whatsoever. Corrupt to his core and possessing an unparalleled sense of shameless entitlement, Eaves openly and defiantly used public money to purchase extra options on his fully loaded city vehicle, stating: “If I can’t ride in a little bit of comfort, to hell with it.” He sparked further controversy when he appointed an ex-convict as his personal secretary and instituted a quota system that gave preference to African Americans for hirings and promotions within the police department. Eventually, in 1978, Mayor Jackson was forced to fire Eaves for the role the latter had played in a scandal where he had helped police officers cheat on promotions exams.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Pathetic excuses and endless stonewalls: The Clintons’ version of the truth


In her sworn testimony, Clinton aide and COS Cheryl Mills proved that Team Hillary won’t give up an ounce of truth without a fight. Mills’ excuse for Clinton’s failure to turn over her e-mails.... official government information: There was “a lot going on.” “The secretary was not only transitioning, there had been a — we had lost our first ambassador [in the Benghazi terrorist attack], and we were stepping through the sets of issues associated with that,” Mills said. Hmm. But then Clinton sat on the e-mails for two years, only handing them over after hackers revealed her secret setup. The record’s clear; Hillary “went home-brew” precisely to frustrate FOIA requests. Worse, Clinton and her inner circle all signed agreements promising to safeguard classified info — then winked as the private server put those secrets at risk. Mills’ testimony includied 40 “I don’t recalls” and 182 “I don’t knows” attorneys accompanying her objected to roughly 250 questions.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

John Kerry, the Islamic Republic’s New Lobbyist

Front Page Mag ^ | June 2, 2016 | Ari Lieberman 

Iran, the nation that has built a well-deserved reputation as the world’s premier state-sponsor of terrorism has a new lobbyist and he is none other than U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Since the Obama administration inked the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in January, Kerry has been busying himself with ensuring that European banks start doing business with the Iranians. Yes, you read that correctly. Not only has the United States and its European allies agreed to lift sanctions against the Islamic Republic, the administration is now encouraging the private banking sector to do the same. It appears however, that their intense lobbying efforts are being received with a healthy dose of skepticism.
HSBC’s chief legal officer, Stuart Levey confirmed that Kerry had requested that HSBC start opening its banking doors to the Iranians and transact business with them. Levey criticized Kerry’s misguided initiative noting that the U.S. still maintains other non-nuclear related sanctions against the Islamic Republic and that doing business with Iran runs the risk of running afoul of those sanctions. HSBC has had prior negative experience with the U.S. Treasury and Justice departments. In 2012, the bank was forced to fork over $1.9 billion to U.S. authorities to settle allegations involving money laundering for Mexican drug barons.
Levey also noted that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which controls large swaths of the Iranian economy, has been slapped with sanctions by both the U.S. and Europe because of the central role it plays in illicit regional and international activities. Doing business with Iran will almost certainly result in facilitating IRGC operations. Adding to the uncertainty, Iran has over the years developed a penchant for hiding money, engaging in shady deals and money laundering thus making it difficult, if not impossible for banking institutions to engage the
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Why Some of the Smartest Progressives I Know Will Vote for Trump over Hillary!

The Politico ^ | June 1, 2016 | Yves Smith 

Even on Wall Street, a powerful Sanders contingent so hates what Clinton stands for—the status quo—they’ll pull the lever for almost anyone else.

Why do progressives reject Hillary Clinton? The highly educated, high-income, finance-literate readers of my website, Naked Capitalism, don’t just overwhelmingly favor Bernie Sanders. They also say “Hell no!” to Hillary Clinton to the degree that many say they would even vote for Donald Trump over her.
And they don’t come by these views casually. Their conclusions are the result of careful study of her record and her policy proposals. They believe the country can no longer endure the status quo that Clinton represents—one of crushing inequality, and an economy that is literally killing off the less fortunate—and any change will be better. One reader writes:
“If Clinton is the nominee 9 out of 10 friends I polled will [do one of three things]:
A. Not vote for president in November. B. Vote for Trump. C. Write in Bernie as a protest vote.
"We are all fifty-somethings with money and college educations. Oh, and we are all registered Democrats.”
Or as another reader puts it:
“I don’t want to vote for Trump. I want to vote for Bernie. But I have reached the point where I feel like voting for Trump against Clinton would be doing my patriotic duty. … If the only way to escape a trap is to gnaw off my leg, I’d like to think I’d have the guts to do it.”
To be sure, not all of my Sanders-supporting readers would vote for Trump. But only a minority would ever vote for Clinton, and I'd guess that a lot of them would just stay home if she were the nominee. Many of my readers tend to be very progressive, and they have been driven even further in that direction by their sophisticated understanding of the inequities of Wall Street, especially in the run-up to and the aftermath of the financial crisis, when no senior executives went to jail, the biggest banks got bigger, and Hillary paid homage to Goldman Sachs. True progressives, as opposed to the Vichy Left, recognize that the Clintons only helped these inequities along. They recognize that, both in the 1990s and now, the Clintons do not and have never represented them. They believe the most powerful move they can take to foster change is to withhold their support.
Some of them also have very reasoned arguments for Trump. Hillary is a known evil. Trump is unknown. They'd rather bet on the unknown, since it will also send a big message to Team Dem that they can no longer abuse progressives. I personally know women in the demographic that is viewed as being solidly behind Hillary—older, professional women who live in major cities—who regard Trump as an acceptable cost of getting rid of the Clintons.
Who does Naked Capitalism represent? The site, which I describe as “fearless commentary on finance, economics, politics and power,” receives 1.3 million to 1.5 million page views a month and has amassed approximately 80 million readers since its launch in 2006. Its readership is disproportionately graduate school-educated, older, male and high income. Despite the overall predominance of male readers, many of the fiercest critics of Clinton in the commentariat are women, with handles like HotFlash, Katniss Everdeen, Martha r, Portia, Bev and Pat.
What they also object to is that the larger bloc of Sanders voters has been treated with abuse and contempt by the Clinton camp, despite the fact that their positions—such as strengthening Social Security and Medicare, stronger educational funding and higher minimum wages—have for decades polled by solid majorities or, at worst, ample pluralities in the electorate at large.
By contrast, the Democratic Party in the Clinton and Obama administrations has consistently embraced and implemented policies that strip workers of economic and legal rights to benefit investors and the elite professionals that serve them. Over time, the “neoliberal” economic order—which sees only good, never bad, in the relentless untrammeling of capital and the deregulation of markets—has created an unacceptable level of economic insecurity and distress for those outside the 1 percent and the elite professionals who serve them.
The result is that the U.S. economy is becoming lethal to the less fortunate, according to the New York Times, which reported this week that U.S. death rates have risen for the first time in a decade. The increase in death rates among less educated whites since 2001 is roughly the size of the AIDS epidemic. One cause, the opioid epidemic, resulted from Purdue Pharma overselling the effectiveness of reformulated OxyContin, then recommending higher dosages when it failed to work properly, which experts deemed a prescription for creating addicts, according to a number of lawsuits. This was permitted by the U.S. government, leading to thousands of unnecessary deaths. Despite President Barack Obama’s Panglossian claim that the economy is doing well, the spike in suicides to levels over those during the financial crisis belies that.
Yet the Clinton campaign is in such denial about this that it has become vitriolic in its verbal and tactical attacks on Sanders and his supporters—rather than recognizing that the stunning success of his campaign is proof of their abject policy failures. The message is clear: The Clintons believe, as Bill himself put it, that the true progressives have nowhere to go.
But in fact, they’ve been leaving. The Clinton and Obama administrations presided over the worst losses in congressional and state races in modern history in 1994, 2010 and 2012. And voter preferences were clear. Under Obama, it was the Blue Dog, Third Way Democrats who were turfed out, while candidates with strong stances on economic justice kept their seats. Similarly, as political scientist Tom Ferguson pointed out in a Roosevelt Institute paper, Obama’s loss of a Senate majority when Republican Scott Brown won in Massachusetts was the result of his focus on bailing out banks rather than aiding distressed homeowners (or forcing mortgage services to give modifications to borrowers who still had adequate income, as banks had done historically). The level of votes for Brown was strongly correlated with the amount of foreclosures in those particular districts.
True progressives know that the Clinton and Obama presidencies have brought inequality to Gilded Era, banana-republic levels. They know that Obama’s policies, which the Clintons embrace, have had all of the post-crisis income gains accrue to the top 1 percent. In addition, corporate profits have risen to nearly double the ratio to GDP that Warren Buffett deemed unsustainably high in the early 2000s. Unlike China, they’ve also ushered in an era of high unemployment and underemployment, as reflected in unheard-of low levels of labor force participation and unemployment among the young in a nominal expansion.
The Clintons’ dismal record, which Hillary cannot run away from, speaks for itself. And this is what makes many progressives I know unable to support her, even if she wins the nomination. Consider the reasons why they feel this way:
Social Security. Bill Clinton made a deal with Newt Gingrich to privatize Social Security, but Monica Lewinsky derailed his plans. Sanders has promised to strengthen Social Security. By contrast, Clinton wants to “preserve” it, which includes means-testing. That would put Social Security on a path to being a welfare program, not a universal safety net, making it vulnerable in the long run. Bill Clinton’s ending of welfare is an illustration of the regular pattern, dating back to England’s Poor Law of 1834, of gutting safety nets for the poor.
Climate change. Sanders calls for a full-bore, Marshall-Plan level commitment to reducing carbon output. Hillary talks about climate change but pushed for fracking in Europe while secretary of state. The Clintons remain firmly committed to fracking, which ruins water supplies and releases large amounts of methane.
Minimum wage. Inflation-adjusted minimum wage increases under Clinton were negligible—virtually identical to those under George H.W. Bush. Obama promised a minimum wage increase to $9.50 an hour and failed to act in the first four years of his presidency. Sanders wants to raise minimum wages to $15 an hour, while Clinton stands pat with the administration plan to increase wages to $12 an hour by 2020.
Trade deals. Bill Clinton ushered in NAFTA, which was touted as positive for growth and employment, and is now widely acknowledged to have cost nearly a million jobs. Even one of its chief promoters, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now deems it to have been a failure for American workers. Hillary consistently backed the Trans-Pacific Partnership until Sanders made an issue of it, and she’s recently returned to supporting it. The potential growth and income gains from this agreement and its European sister, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, are only marginally positive, while the loss of national sovereignty would be enormous. These agreements would enable foreign investors to challenge laws for labor, environmental and consumer protection, for threatening future profits.
Health care. Sanders wants single-payer, government-provided health care. Around the world, single payer has uncontestably demonstrated that it delivers better results overall at vastly lower cost. Obamacare took single payer off the table, instead rearranging the current costly, clumsy system while guaranteeing profits for health insurers and Big Pharma. Clinton at most has offered patches, but the pressure from Sanders has compelled her to suggest an early buy-in for Medicare.
That’s before we get to the Clintons’ loyalty to the Robert Rubin and neoliberal fetish of balanced budgets, which most economists say are not necessary. The recent European experience with austerity shows how disastrous that approach is, particularly in the wake of a financial crisis. Hillary’s hawkishness means an even greater commitment to military spending, so voters are assured to get more guns and less butter were she to become president.
The Sanders supporters I interact with also reject Hillary’s trickle-down feminism as a substitute for economic and social justice. Clinton is correct when she points out that there is a glass-ceiling issue for women. There are fewer female CEOs, billionaires and senators. Women in the elite don’t have it as good as men. But pray tell, what is having more women, or Hispanics or blacks, in top roles going to do for nurses and hospital orderlies, or the minority group members disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs like part-time fast food workers? Class mobility has become close to nonexistent in America. If you are born in one of the lower-income cohorts, you are almost certain to stay there.
As a woman who broke through an important glass ceiling on Wall Street—Christina Mohr, the first woman to become partner in mergers and acquisitions at Lazard—told a shocked group at Radcliffe seeking better career opportunities for women many years ago: “Nothing will change until women own the means of production.” And that sort of change comes from the bottom up.
Then there are questions of competence. Hillary has a résumé of glittering titles with disasters or at best thin accomplishments under each. Her vaunted co-presidency with Bill? After her first major project, health care reform, turned into such a debacle that it was impossible to broach the topic for a generation, she retreated into a more traditional first lady role. As New York senator, she accomplished less with a bigger name and from a more powerful state than Sanders did. As secretary of state, she participated and encouraged strategically pointless nation-breaking in Iraq and Syria. She bureaucratically outmaneuvered Obama, leading to U.S. intervention in Libya, which he has called the worst decision of his administration. And her plan to fob her domestic economic duties off on Bill comes off as an admission that she can’t handle being president on her own.
Mind you, these issues are all topics in the current debates. But what is as important, but not as obvious, is the way that most citizens have been stripped of legal and economic protections. As economist Michael Hudson put it, “Most inequality does not reflect differing levels of productivity, but distortions resulting from property rights or other special privileges." The Clinton era brought in weaker anti-trust enforcement, which allowed companies to accumulate more market share and with it, more ability to extract rents. Binding arbitration, which strips employees and consumers of their right to a day in court, has become widespread. Pensions, which used to be sacrosanct (and still are if you are a CEO), are regularly renegotiated. Banks got away with predatory servicing and wrongful foreclosures. Not only was the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement a “get out of liability almost free” card so large that it was tantamount to a second bailout, but banks were not required to fix their faulty servicing platforms, assuring that they’d revert to foreclosure abuses again when delinquencies rise. And let us not forget that senior bankers are a protected class, exempt from prosecution.
Finally, there is the stench of corruption, dating back to Hillary’s impossible—by any legitimate means—trick of parlaying $1,000 into $100,000 in a series of commodities trades in 1978. The Clintons and their backers seriously expect the rubes to believe that large financial firms happily forked over their hefty speaking fees purely out of interest in what they had to say, or that Middle Eastern and Taiwanese moneybags gave big bucks to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary was secretary of state out of their deep belief in the foundation’s lofty goals. Why has Hillary refused to release the transcripts of her Goldman speeches, wiped her server and foot-dragged on releasing allegedly personal emails?
The Sanders voters in Naked Capitalism’s active commentariat also explicitly reject lesser-evilism, the cudgel that has previously kept true lefties somewhat in line. They are willing to gamble, given that outsider presidents like Jimmy Carter and celebrity governors like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura didn’t get much done, that a Trump presidency represents an acceptable cost of inflicting punishment on the Democratic Party for 20 years of selling out ordinary Americans.
The Clintons, like the Bourbons before the French Revolution, have ensconced themselves in such a bubble of operative and media sycophancy that they’ve mistakenly viewed escalating distress and legitimate demands from citizens as mere noise. Sanders voters are taking their cue from Talleyrand, the statesman who navigated the Revolution and the turbulent 50 years that followed with remarkable success: “I have never abandoned a party before it abandoned itself.”
If my readers are representative, Clinton and the Democratic Party are about to have a long-overdue day of reckoning.



One for Two








Four Views




Kennedy & Obama










No Way!


More Laws