Earlier this year, the House approved in a bipartisan vote additional sanctions against Iran. McCaul said the purpose of the bill was to give Kerry “a better hand to play” in negotiations.
“When you go into negotiation, you need all the leverage you can get to play your best hand at the table,” McCaul said. “And yet, he does not want us to go down that road.”
McCaul questioned whether Iran was negotiating in good faith. He called Kerry “naive” to negotiate with a country that’s called for the “destruction of Israel and the West, including the United States.”
“Just last week, the president of Iran basically said the centrifuges will never stop spinning. I think that’s very insightful as to their intent,” he said.
The agreement between the U.S. and allies with Iran over their nuclear weapons program is “horrible,” Ret. Lt. Col. Allen West told “Fox & Friends.”
“It’s absolutely horrible,” West said Wednesday. “The Saudis have said this is bad, and they’re looking at working with Israel. The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that this was a disaster of a deal.”
“I don’t understand how he could say it improves the national security of the Gulf States, of Israel. And, definitely not ours,” West, a former Republican Congressman from Florida, said.
The U.S. and allies entered into a six-month interim agreement with Tehran in November that called for easing of sanctions in exchange for Iran limiting its nuclear activities. The deal was struck amid controversy among some lawmakers who wanted an increase in sanctions.
West suggested the desire to build a foreign policy legacy was the reason President Barack Obama supported the agreement with Iran.
“I think that the president is looking for some foreign policy success. There is no doubt that the reset button with Russia has been a failure,” he said. “There is no doubt that we see what is happening with Syria was a failure.”
“She was a fine secstate but not consequential,” Miller said.
Republicans continue to criticize the former first lady for her handling of the 2012 Benghazi attacks, but overall, experts from both parties agree her service was of little consequence, according to the magazine.
“Certainly, even many of her most ardent defenders recognize Hillary Clinton had no single accomplishment at the State Department to her name, no indelible peace sealed with her handshake, no war averted, no nuclear crisis defused,” writes Susan Glasser, editor of Politico Magazine.
“The Washington consensus is that she was enormously ineffective… [though] no one was quite sure whether she was ineffective because she wanted to avoid controversy or because she wasn’t trusted by the president to do anything,” Pletka told Politico.
McCain, appearing on CBS This Morningon Monday, called for increased sanctions as the best way to force Iran into complying with nuclear proliferation treaties.
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The agreement reached last month eases some sanctions against Iran. In return, Iran has promised to stop progress on its nuclear program, including the construction of the Arak research reactor, which could potentially yield bomb material. President Barack Obama has warned Iran that the sanctions will resume if the nuclear activities continue.
But McCain warned that the United States needs to be more careful and that Iran cannot be trusted.
Further, he said that there is no such thing as “good guys” or “bad guys” when it comes to Iraq’s leadership, because there is only one leader running the country.
“His name is the ayatollah,” McCain said. “He calls the shots. So it’s sort of like the [Russian Prime Minister Dmitry] Medvedev thing. We can work with Medvedev when we know he’s the puppet and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is the guy.”
And as a result of the agreement that was reached, with the ayatollah, McCain said, “all over the world, the United States’ credibility is at stake,” warning that the Iranian government has not told the truth in years when it comes to its nuclear capabilities.
“If you believe that the deal that’s been made is valid and allowing the centrifuges to continue to spin with a tacit agreement that Iran has the quote, ‘right to enrich,’ which is in violation of four U.N. Security Council agreements, then you may want to pursue this,” said McCain.
“And we will — when I say ‘we,’ — we, the critics, will say that after six months is elapsed, if there’s no deal, then we think increas(ing) sanctions are the most effective way to bring Iran around.”
However, giving Iran “a country that has cheated and lied throughout this whole process” [leeway] and to not say it is a country that is prohibited to enrich uranium “is a serious mistake and idea,” said McCain.
Further, McCain said, the United States is ignoring the regional conflict in Iran and the Middle East.
“Iran’s client, 5,000 Hezbollah, are killing Syrians as we speak,” he said. “Iranian arms are flowing into Syria, Iranian Revolutionary Guard is in Syria killing Syrians. We do nothing about that. Nothing.”
McCain also acknowledged that Iran is allowing inspectors into a nuclear plant, but it’s done that before.
“They have led inspectors in plants in the past, while other plants are being built and tunnels are being dug into mountains,” he said. “Don’t trust, but verify and the agreement is there.”
Israeli Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu on Sunday urged the United States and other world powers to demand that Iran change what he called its “genocidal” anti-Israel policy as part of negotiations with Tehran on a final nuclear deal.Cautioning the international community to “beware” of Iran’s intentions, Netanyahu underscored his deep skepticism over an interim deal reached with Iran last month in Geneva and insisted that any long-term accord must bring about the “termination of Iran’s military nuclear capability.”
Netanyahu, speaking via satellite link from Jerusalem, warned a foreign policy forum in Washington: “The jury is still out. Iran is perilously close to crossing the nuclear threshold.”
He spoke a day after U.S. President Barack Obama, addressing the same forum, defended diplomacy with Iran but sought to reassure Israelis with a pledge to step up sanctions or prepare for a potential military strike if Tehran fails to abide by the pact.
Netanyahu, who had denounced the Nov. 24 six-month interim deal as a “historic mistake,” avoided direct criticism of Obama’s engagement with Iran – just as he did during a visit to Israel by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week.
But the hawkish Israeli prime minister added a new twist to his pressure campaign, aimed a ensuring that world powers seek maximum concessions from Iran in the next round of negotiations.
“This is a regime committed to our destruction and I believe there must be an unequivocal demand to change its genocidal policy,” Netanyahu told a largely pro-Israel audience. “That is the minimal thing that the international community must do when it is negotiating with Iran.”
Netanyahu accused Iran of supplying thousands of rockets to anti-Israel Islamist groups he called Tehran’s “terrorist proxies,” including Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
However, Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, has steered clear of the Holocaust-denial rhetoric of his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in reaching out to the West. Rouhani has denied that Iran seeks a nuclear bomb, despite Israeli and Western suspicions to the contrary.
Speaking at the Brookings Institution’s annual Saban Forum on the Middle East, Netanyahu insisted that the U.S.-Israeli relationship is an “indispensable alliance,” but he also made clear that differences with Obama remain over Iran.
He said a diplomatic solution was preferable but that a credible military threat and tough sanctions were necessary for diplomacy to succeed.
Netanyahu said steps must be taken to prevent further erosion of existing sanctions and suggested that imposing further sanctions during the talks might lead to a “better deal.”
There is concern within the Obama administration that Netanyahu’s vocal criticism of the Geneva deal could add impetus to calls by pro-Israel U.S. lawmakers for new sanctions.
U.S. officials have appealed to Congress not to push for new punitive measures during negotiations, saying it could alienate both Iran and other countries involved in the talks by making Washington appear to be acting in bad faith.
Still, Israel’s fierce opposition to the Geneva deal has raised speculation – fueled by regular public hints from Netanyahu – that it might carry out long-threatened unilateral strikes against Iran.
In his remarks, Netanyahu reiterated his vow that Israel must have the ability to “defend itself by itself,” but he issued no direct threats.
While Israel is widely assumed to have the region’s only nuclear arsenal, many independent analysts believe it lacks the conventional clout to deliver lasting damage to the distant, dispersed and well-defended Iranian facilities.
The Israelis are also unlikely to go it alone as their most important foreign partner is engaged in diplomacy with Tehran.
The White House has been touting a “false narrative and premise” that al Qaeda is now on the run because Osama bin Laden is dead, he said.
“I personally see it spreading like a spider web, like a wildfire in Africa through the Middle East,” McCaul said.
McCaul also said that former aides to President George W. Bush tell him one of the biggest mistakes they made was agreeing to accords with North Korea, which ended up getting nuclear weapons anyway.
“I don’t want to see that same mistake happen in Iran,” McCaul said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The chairman of House Homeland Security Committee said the United States has been working on sanctions for a decade, and he is worried about the six-month interim deal that allows Iran to continue enriching uranium for non-military purposes.
“What I’m concerned about is that we have not dismantled their program and yet relieved the sanctions, which is a $7 billion economic aid to the country,” McCaul said.
“That sends to me a very cold, hard message that they are not intent of a civilian nuclear peaceful program, but getting a nuclear weapon,” McCaul told CNN.
McCaul is among a group of senators wanting to see a bill passed to add new sanctions at the end of the six-month deal if the Iranians renege. He said it would give President Barack Obama added leverage in negotiations.
Also appearing on the show was Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who disagrees with the idea of adding sanctions. He said he thinks the interim deal makes sense, but still expressed skepticism that a final agreement will ever be passed. He called Obama’s prediction of a “50-50 or worse” chance “optimistic.”
“You can have a peaceful nuclear energy program with no enrichment,” Schiff said, adding that Iran wants thousands of centrifuges only for the purpose of “fast breakout capability.”
“I wouldn’t begin the process by conceding anything on enrichment,” Schiff said. Now that they have it, Iran will never lose their bomb-making know-how, he said. The only way to stop them once they build a nuclear weapon is a repeated bombing campaign that might also involve boots on the ground, he said.
McCaul said that he would like to employ moderate Muslim leaders in the fight against Islamic extremism.
Schiff said the U.S. is better at fighting terror that it ever has been, but noted, “we’re never going to be 100 percent safe.”
Captain Yehonatan Cohen is noticeably different from other officers in the Israeli army. As a result of a severe disability, he is bound to a wheelchair and unable to move his hands.
He needs help with most day-to-day functions—including eating, drinking and bathing. With significantly impaired vision, he relies on others to read aloud to him. Cohen was born two months premature, and because oxygen was cut off from his brain at birth, he developed cerebral palsy—a condition that left him physically disabled.
Despite his physical limitations, Cohen’s exceptional intellect and determination have allowed him to succeed.
“My parents are people who didn’t give up on me along the way,” he says, joking that his use of the phrase “didn’t give up” may be an understatement. “They really taught me that I’m capable, and I grew up with that feeling.”
At his parents’ insistence—and driven by a deep desire to integrate into Israeli society—Cohen attended high school with non-disabled students and graduated with honors.
“When all of my friends received their orders to enlist, I decided that despite everything, I wanted to enlist too,” Cohen recalls, explaining his devotion to the IDF and the Jewish state. “The truth is that it’s something that’s been with me since childhood. We are a family that believes that the state of Israel is above everything. Before everything else, you have the state of Israel; this is something that was very important in our education and in the values of our family.”
Accompanied by his medical aide, Cohen approached an officer in the enlistment office but was immediately told that his condition would prevent him from serving.
Although the IDF exempted him from service, Cohen insisted the army accept him as a volunteer.
“That’s how the process of my enlistment began,” Cohen says of that first day in the IDF office.
Over the next year and a half, he wrote letters and made his case to officials throughout the IDF, speaking with some of the army’s most senior officers about his commitment to serve. He eventually met the head of the IDF’s manpower branch, who spoke with him about opportunities to enlist as a volunteer. After a long and determined struggle, Cohen finally fulfilled his dream and received the order to join the Israeli army.
Cohen earned a distinguished position in the Education Corps, where he became an adviser for Israeli teenagers about to start the army. He immediately connected with the role, realizing it would allow him to impart his passion to other people his age. Through presentations to groups of students, he helped hundreds of young Israelis understand why they should be motivated to serve in the IDF.
“There is the official requirement to serve,” Cohen explains, referring to the obligation of all Israelis to enlist in the army, “but there is another stage, another level, which is the privilege to serve.
“There are a lot of obligations in the state of Israel—paying taxes and stopping at a red light, for example—but here you have a privilege to come and say, ‘I am serving the state of Israel; I am serving the IDF,’ or, as I would say, ‘I contributed, I acted, and I didn’t leave the fate of my country in the hands of others.’”
These moving words became a central part of Cohen’s message to Israeli youth during his time as an adviser. Today those words still motivate him to serve and contribute as a full member of Israeli society.
Becoming a Leader
After nine months in the army, Cohen left for the officers’ course and returned to his unit as a lead adviser. Recognizing his talent for teaching, the IDF later promoted him to an elite intelligence role, where he taught Islamic history to soldiers.
After more than a year, Cohen left the army to earn a degree, but he stopped his studies in the middle and came back to the military.
“I had an enormous hunger to return to the IDF—a hunger that returns every time I find myself at a crossroads, and I tell myself, ‘Good, I want to leave the military because I’m a little tired.’ Suddenly, this hunger comes back.”
He returned to IDF Intelligence and after several promotions reached his current role as a senior officer in the spokesperson’s unit.
“Until today, every time I’m about to sign an extension of my service, I say, ‘OK, maybe it’s enough,’” he explains and laughs, but suddenly becomes very serious. “But, no, I had this hunger, and I continued.”
When asked if he has a message for others with disabilities, he doesn’t hesitate for a second: “I think that we disabled people have to try as much as we can to enter the so-called ‘normal’ society and try hard to continue the revolution that we are starting in Israel and all over the world. We are part of this society. Just keep going and keep fighting.”
Israel is so constantly subject to obscene double standards by the media that it reminds me of a touching scene from the movie Defiance, about Jewish partisans during the Holocaust, where the prayer leader begs of G-d, “Please, choose another people! We’ve run out of blood, so please choose another people.”
When incidents that portray the truth about Israel as the victim, they are often ignored by the media. This past week, two incidents that occurred in Jerusalem received zero mainstream media coverage, outside of the Israel/Jewish-related media. If the shoe had been on the other foot, there would have been wall-to-wall media coverage, United Nations condemnations and who knows what else.
At the holiest Jewish site in the world, Jews dared to sing Hanukkah songs and pray—and for this they were attacked by Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on Sunday. In Israel, which is often falsely condemned for “oppressing” Arabs, Jews were banned from praying at the site after the Muslims attacked them. There was no media coverage surrounding any of this—no calls from world leaders about this Palestinian Arab action creating a crisis for peace talks or being an obstacle to peace. Imagine what would have happened if Jews attacked Arabs while they were praying.
A 2-year-old toddler, Avigail Ben-Zion, sustained serious head injuries as a result of Arab terrorists throwing a three-pound rock through the window of the car her mother was driving in Jerusalem Thursday night. For that, there was a complete black wall of silence.
Both of these incidents occurred in Jerusalem—and there was literally not one foreign or international news organization that covered either of these stories. Imagine what would happen if Jewish teenagers threw rocks at Arab toddlers.
Jews pray, and Jews drive cars; they are attacked, and the media ignores it. Media ignoring these incidents is simply insane.
Bob Dylan wrote a song in 1983 called “Neighborhood Bully,” which is a perfect description of today. Here are some lyrics: “He’s criticized and condemned for being alive. We are supposed to turn a blind eye while millions of Israeli citizens are in danger. He’s not supposed to fight back, he’s supposed to have thick skin, he’s supposed to lay down and die when his door is kicked in. The neighborhood bully been driven out of every land—he’s wandered the earth an exiled man. Seen his family scattered, his people hounded and torn. He’s always on trial for just being born. He’s the neighborhood bully.”
Everything in Israel attracts undue media attention—except when Jews are harmed. A Zionist leader, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, had the answer when he wrote “Instead of Excessive Apology” in 1911: “We constantly and very loudly apologize. … Instead of turning our backs to the accusers, as there is nothing to apologize for, and nobody to apologize to, we swear again and again that it is not our fault. … Isn’t it long overdue to respond to all these and all future accusations, reproaches, suspicions, slanders and denunciations by simply folding our arms and loudly, clearly and calmly answer with the only argument that is understandable and accessible to this public: ‘Go to Hell’?”
Israel needs to act in its best interest always and regularly—and sometimes forget about negative publicity.
Source: CHARISMA MAGAZINE/ STANDING WITH ISRAEL.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent public relations agency.
The Labor Department reported the economy added 203,000 jobs in November, in line with the progress of recent months.
Overall, the economy should be stronger in 2014, permitting the Federal Reserve to ease back on monthly bond purchases and let longer term interest rates rise modestly.
These purchases of government securities lowered mortgage rates and made home buying easier. These have helped push up housing values — and stock prices, too. These have had their desired effect, and now new ways to stimulate the economy must be found.
The unemployment rate fell to 7.0 percent, mostly because furloughed government workers returned to their jobs.
With third-quarter GDP growth at 3.6 percent, businesses should be adding more jobs but much of that growth was from additions to business inventories as consumers remain tightfisted and goods stay on the shelves. Overall consumer demand contributed about 1 percentage point to growth, whereas inventories accounted for 1.7 percent.
Major apparel retailers report huge stocks of unsold goods entering the final weeks of holiday shopping.
More broadly, Black Friday weekend disappointed their expectations for stronger sales than last year. These indicate much slower fourth-quarter growth, as businesses slow purchases and retailers trim headcount more than usual in January.
Auto sales and rising home values remain a bright spot. With the uncertainty of new U.S. military activity in the Middle East and effects of another government shutdown receding, consumers’ confidence should strengthen through December and into the New Year.
Overall growth will be between 1 percent and 2 percent in the fourth quarter and then strengthen to 2.5 percent to 3 percent in 2014. However, hiring will likely continue at its present pace or improve only moderately. Good-paying full-time jobs will continue to be scarce.
Overall, jobs creation is well short of the 365,000 needed each month to reduce unemployment to 6 percent over a period of two or three years, but that would require GDP growth in the range of 4 percent to 5 percent. Over the last four years, the pace has been a paltry 2.3 percent.
Along with anticipated penalties for not covering all employees working more than 30 hours per week in 2015, these will cause employers to either reconfigure toward more part-time workers or to only cautiously add workers.
Strident anti-business campaigns targeting McDonald’s, Wal-Mart and other employers of lower-skilled workers add to pressures to substitute machines for workers or move to a more part-time economy in hospitality, retailing and other activities where wages are already subpar and job security nonexistent. All with lax immigration enforcement, these exacerbate income inequality.
The situation remains particularly tough for recent college graduates and older Americans, and many working age adults have quit looking for work. Adding part-timers who want full-time employment and discouraged adults, the unemployment rate becomes 13.2 percent.
Stronger growth is indeed possible. Four years into the Reagan recovery, following a recession that pushed up unemployment to higher levels than President Barack Obama faced, the economy was growing at a 4.9 percent pace and creating jobs at a breakneck pace.
Still, in this environment, the Federal Reserve’s low interest-rate policies and quantitative easing (monthly purchases of $85 billion of Treasury and government-agency securities) have done about as much good as can be expected.
With a bit stronger growth beginning in 2014, look for the Fed to begin easing back on bond purchases.
The trade deficits on oil and manufacturing with China subtract substantially from demand for U.S. goods, services and workers.
Even with the recent surge in domestic production, petroleum imports exceed exports by more than 6 million barrels a day, and will require lifting bans on offshore drilling to eliminate.
Currency manipulation and other forms of protectionism remain problems with China, Japan and Germany — America’s main competitors.
Addressing those problems could add nearly more than 4 million jobs directly and 7 million jobs with the usual secondary effects, all but eliminating unemployment and substantially reducing inequality.