Tag Archives: Iran

iCarly: In This Case, the I Stands For Iran

iCarly

If we’re going to have to deal with eMeg, then we also must contend with iCarly (and anyone with sons, daughters, nieces or nephews knows the reference).  Weeks into her brave transition from failed CEO and failed Presidential campaign surrogate into the bold new world of failed Seante candidate, Carly Fiorina has hit a snag in the form of her extremely dicey past:

Over the past dozen years, Hewlett-Packard has sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of printers and other products to Iran through a Middle East distributor, sidestepping a U.S. ban on trade with the country.

Now the person who headed HP for much of that time, Carly Fiorina, is ramping up to run for U.S. Senate. And questions are emerging about what Fiorina knew about HP’s growing presence in Iran during her six-year tenure at the Silicon Valley firm from 1999 to 2005 […]

Fiorina, a Republican who is gearing up to challenge three-term Democratic incumbent Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010, declined an interview request. But she issued a statement through her campaign spokeswoman saying that she was unaware of any sales to Iran during her time at the company.

“It is illegal for American companies to do business in Iran,” the spokeswoman, Beth Miller, wrote. “To her knowledge, during her tenure, HP never did business in Iran and fully complied with all U.S. sanctions and laws.”

iCarly’s stock response when questioned about her awful tenure at Hewlett-Packard is to say that she was unaware of the misdeeds and only aware of the deeds.  For someone running on her success as a go-go CEO, that’s a curious position to take, that she didn’t know about large chunks of HP’s business.  Especially when the evidence has been clear for years that HP products found their way into Iran, with their printers becoming “nearly ubiquitous there,” according to a Boston Globe report.  HP has finally gotten around to severing their relationship with a Dubai-based distributor which clearly funneled their products into Iran.  That distributor worked for HP throughout iCarly’s tenure.

This is fun:

One former federal trade enforcement official said HP’s dealings with the country are ripe for further investigation. If Fiorina or other HP employees based in the United States were aware that HP products were being resold to Iran, they could face fines or even prosecution for violating the trade embargo, said Mike Turner, former director of the Office of Trade Enforcement at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“If I was still sitting in my chair today,” said Turner, who retired as head of the enforcement agency two years ago, “I’d be looking at who at HP had knowledge of this and when did they develop that knowledge.”

I actually appreciate iCarly entering the race.  It would be so boring watching Chuck DeVore play the Washington Generals to Barbara Boxer’s Harlem Globetrotters.  iCarly will add a dash or two of corporate failure, espionage, illegal trade practices and possible indictment, all the while giving the state economy a stimulus by spending all her money in defeat.

CA-10: An Interview With Lt. Gov. John Garamendi

John Garamendi has been seeking votes in California for well over 30 years.  He first took a run for the Governor’s mansion in 1982, and was set to do so again in 2010 until the seat in CA-10 opened up, and he was inspired to return to Washington, where he served in the Clinton Administration in the Department of the Interior.  He has the most diverse record of anybody in the race, with stints at the federal level, the state legislature, and in two statewide offices, as the Insurance Commissioner and now Lieutenant Governor.  In our interview, we discussed health care, lessons learned from regulating insurance, No Child Left Behind, saving the NUMMI plant in Fremont (more on that from Garamendi here), and foreign policy in Iran.  I found Garamendi to come at issues in a very comprehensive and thoughtful way, and you can see this for yourself below.  A paraphrased transcript follows. (flip it)

DD: Thanks for talking with me today.

John Garamendi: My pleasure.

DD: So how’s it going out there on the campaign trail?

JG: It’s going very well.  Every day, I feel we’re moving along well.  You have everything being done that is normally done in these campaigns.  We have a strong volunteer grassroots organization committed to getting out the vote.  Phonebanking has started, we’ve hit about 30-40 thousand homes.  We’re walking in different communities.  We just had a meeting in Rossmore, with 300 people turning out.  So I think it’s going very well.

DD: Your last several campaigns have been statewide, with district-level campaigning being more retail, how are you finding it?

JG: To me, it’s exactly the same, only it’s done in a smaller area.  I’ve always believed strongly in retail politics.  The only difference is that after the event’s over, I don’t have to get on a Southwest Airlines plane.  We did an African-American church out in Fairfield over the weekend, same as any African-American church in Southern California or anywhere else.  It’s just easier for travel.

DD: OK, let’s hit some issues.  First off, health care.  August is this time where everyone’s making their feelings known about health care in their districts.  What are you hearing in yours?

JG: I am hearing a strong element for single payer, or Medicare for All.  As you may know, I’ve led that debate in this state for many, many years.  I’ve always found it the most efficient, most cost-effective way you can possibly do this.  Just send your premiums to the Medicare office.

So I hear a lot of individuals trending in that direction.  And some of the unions, the California Nurses Association, are also trending in that direction.  There is also a concern about the complexity of the legislation moving through Congress.  And people want to see at the very least a public option to compete with the insurance companies.  Also, with a lot of seniors, the drug issues concern them, both with fixing some of the issues with Medicare Part D and also maintaining what they like about Medicare.  So that’s the range.

DD: Would you vote for any bill that didn’t have at the least a public option that’s available from day one, without a trigger?

JG: Well, I’ve always been a strong voice for Medicare for All.  The fallback position is the public option.  That’s already a compromise.  And so the legislation had to have a public option, I can’t go any further away from that.  The other thing I want to express is that I understand insurance reform, which is a lot of this bill.  I was the main regulator for insurance companies in the largest state in the union.  So I bring a set of knowledge to this debate that not only doesn’t exist among my competitors, but doesn’t exist in Congress.

DD: Let’s talk about that.  Right now, insurance companies are regulated in the states, and so the regulations vary from one place to the next, and can be corrupted by local interests.  Do you support a federal role in insurance regulation?

JG: This is something that we have to figure out with insurance reform and with respect to financial regulation.  The regulatory mechanisms need some clarity.  It simply won’t work to write a law saying to the insurance companies, “Take all comers.”  They will not do it.  So you need a police force.  Someone to enforce that law.  Will that be federal, or based where it is now, at the state level?  That’s the kind of detail that must be worked out.  I mean, we’ve had auto insurance here in California that’s supposed to take all comers, and they find numerous ways to avoid that.  And of course, this is why I support Medicare for All.  You don’t have to worry about any of that.  But as long as we’re going with health insurance reform, I can add something to that process.

DD: What are the pluses and minuses of putting this in the hands of the Feds?

JG: If it’s a federal process, you’d have to set up a massive new federal bureaucracy.  In the positive sense.  But you have to have a police force, because otherwise, the insurers won’t do it.  That’s a major, expensive undertaking for the federal government.  There’s an advantage to the existing mechanism in that it already exists, like with Medicare or Medicaid.  However, you mentioned some of the problems with how the regulation changes depending on the state.  So both options have shortcomings.  Either way, if we have a bill based on insurance reform, it has to be dealt with.  And I’ve been dealing with these companies for eight years of my life.  I know how to do this.

DD: Medicare for All will apparently get a vote now.  Is that helpful?

JG: It’s enormously helpful.  It got pushed to the side of the debate for too long.  Medicare provides about 60% of the care in dollar terms already in this country, and it’s very popular.  If you bring the rest of the population in, on a per-person basis, the cost would decline dramatically.  The money in the private system is good enough to get this done and cover everybody.  And the other important thing is that Medicare allows individual choice of provider.  Whatever doctor you like, you can keep them.  Of course, we know that private insurance restricts your choice of doctor.  So this is the big lie in this debate, the idea that Medicare would have government telling you what doctor to pick.  That’s what happens right now.

DD: Let’s move on.  I noticed on your website you took a lot of time talking about the need to rebuild manufacturing.  We’re seeing this cash for clunkers program becoming very successful as an economic stimulus for the auto industry.  Is that the kind of incentive-based programs that we can use to bring back manufacturing to America?

JG: Not exactly.  The auto industry is not central, but it is important.  That’s why I’m trying to save the NUMMI plant.  1,200 businesses are direct suppliers to NUMMI.  The auto supply industry is one of the largest in America.  So cash for clunkers will help NUMMI.  But what I’m talking about with respect to manufacturing is an economic theory that I developed in the 1980s.  Basically, I figured that you need certain things to maintain the ability to lead as an economic power.  You need a world-class education system and a commitment to research and development.  Through both of those, you can create new things, with a high profit margin, whatever those things are, but new innovations that people find valuable.  Eventually, those new things become a commodity, and once that happens, like all commodities, it seeks the lowest-wage place to be made.  So those things get pushed off, and you have to create more new things, to keep feeding that engine.  So that’s what I’m talking about, high-end manufacturing.

DD: Couldn’t the NUMMI plant be retooled to serve as a place to manufacture those new things, be they innovations in solar or wind technology or new batteries?

JG: Well, we tried this a few years back.  I endorsed a bill in the legislature to provide a specific exemption for sales tax on manufacturing equipment to retool the NUMMI plant for hybrid vehicles.  And that probably would have been enough to keep NUMMI open.  But it didn’t pass.  Right now, what we’re doing is putting together a package for NUMMI of incentives that will hopefully keep them in California.  But it’s more complex than that.  This is like a divorce.  You have GM and Toyota fighting over who owns what widget on the line.  So there are legal issues in play now.  I think we can get it done, because that’s a very efficient plant, one of the most efficient in the country.  But we have to manage this divorce.

DD: Education is another issue you talk about a lot.  The Department of Education just put out this Race to the Top program to offer money to the states with good outcomes, but they are restricting the funds to states which incorporate student testing into teacher evaluations, and because California doesn’t do that, they don’t qualify.  What are your thoughts on that, and this larger divide between education reformers and groups resisting their reforms?

JG: My question about it is basically, what is the equation between the test and teacher evaluations? Are we talking about just the test score? In that case, do I get to choose the students? Because the students and their backgrounds are a contributing factor to their performance. So it’s a complex equation. There’s a socioeconomic element to it. And it’s very difficult to do to take everything into account. I don’t think that testing should be the sole measure of a teacher evaluation. There are multiple factors. My daughter’s a kindergarten teacher, and this year she got to school and there were a lot more kids in her class. So is that a factor? I think we need to evaluate teachers, but we must be fair.

DD: Do you support a reform like paying teachers more to go into poor-performing inner city areas?

JG: I’ve always supported reforms like that. I put up a bill in the 1980s to pay more to math and science teachers, to make sure we were attracting the best of them. And I support sending good teachers into the inner city. We have to pay our teachers better if we want to get the best outcomes.

DD: We are having such a tough time in California, what can the federal government do to alleviate some of the burden here where we are destroying our social safety net during a deep recession?

JG: Well, just to go back to education, one thing the federal government can do is fix No Child Left Behind. It was a great concept, but not good in detail. The reauthorization is coming up, and the Feds had better fund it. You can’t place a burden like that on the states and expect them to deliver. So funding, and some reform of the law, has to get done. I don’t think testing should be the only evaluation of students. There’s a place for it, but we’re building a nation of robots by teaching to the test. I have significant concerns about No Child Left Behind that need to be addressed.

DD: What about beyond that. Would you support a second stimulus focused on the states?

JG: I don’t know whether there will be a second stimulus. But the problem is pretty elemental. California is the 7th, 8th-wealthiest place on Earth. We have made a decision, and it was a decision, not to invest in education. We have plenty of money to fund it, but we made the decision not to. The leadership has refused to use that wealth in the greatest resource we have, and that’s our education system. It’s clear to me that the federal government cannot substitute for the effort that California must make for themselves. We need investment, coupled with serious reform, to break the gridlock. Voting to tax students by raising college rates is just insanity. And the regents and trustees refused to support legislation for an oil severance tax to fund higher education. I brought it to them, and they wouldn’t support it. We are the only oil producing state with no tax on the natural resources coming out of our ground. The oil companies have been able to take it for free for over a century. It’s madness.

So the federal government cannot substitute for California. But I’ll fight to bring money back to the state. First by funding No Child Left Behind. And also, there’s the issue of medical services. The formula for state participation in Medicaid in California is 50-50, an even split between the Feds and the state. In other big states, that ratio is different. In Illinois, New York, it’s more like 60-40, 70-30. Getting a better split in that formula represents a huge amount of money for California. And there are numerous formulas like that. So experience counts in understanding all that.

DD: OK, final question. On your website, I noticed very strong language supporting Israel, and also warning Iran not to continue with their alleged nuclear program. And you advocate for stopping shipments of refined oil to Iran if they refuse to cooperate. Now, I’m assuming that was written before the most recent uprising.

JG: It was, yes.

DD: Do you still believe, given the events over there, that it’s a good idea to stop refined oil shipments, when it may hurt not the regime, but the very people in the streets who are resisting it?

JG: There’s no doubt that the effect of an embargo would hit the economy and the people. That’s what it’s designed to do. I’ve thought long and hard about this, after watching the events take place, and I still believe in the concept. What you have over there is the current government’s legitimacy being questioned. Does that mean they are more willing to negotiate on the nuclear program, to bring something tangible to the people? We don’t know. So I think you have to pull together the interested groups, and that’s Europe, and Russia, Pakistan, the Arab states, they might be more interested than us. And you create a larger coalition to change the behavior of the government. The uprising actually helps in that regard. And like in any negotiation, you have to have a big stick. So I would not drop the embargo possibility. And again, all of this is down the road a piece. Now another big stick would be bombing their facilities, and I think there are some unadvisable consequences to that. So I’d rather use the other stick.

DD: Thanks so much for talking to me today.

JG: Thank you.

CA-10: An Interview With Adriel Hampton

We have less than 50 days until the special election in the 10th Congressional District to replace Ellen Tauscher, who resigned to take a job at the State Department.  The candidates include local members of the legislature, the state’s Lieutenant Governor, and several candidates with interesting resumes.  There’s even word that New Age guru and Oprah pal Marianne Williamson may get into the race, although she doesn’t have much time to make her decision.  The 2nd quarter fundraising totals revealed some interesting outcomes, and the campaign staffs have debated who has the most local support and the most endorsements.  There’s even a burgeoning controversy about Ellen Tauscher’s presence on Sen. Mark DeSaulnier’s mailers, which may violate the Hatch Act now that she works in the State Department.

We’ve heard a lot about strategies, funding and endorsements, but a little less so about where the candidates stand on the issues.  So I’m making an effort to interview all the Democratic candidates in the race, to discuss their views on the type of vexing problems that the country faces which they would be expected to deal with in Congress.  The first candidate to respond was Adriel Hampton, the former Political Editor at the San Francisco Examiner and an investigator in the SF City Attorney’s Office.  What follows is a paraphrased transcript of the interview I conducted last week.

DD: Thanks for taking some time to talk with me.

Adriel Hampton: Thank you for contacting me, this is great.

DD: How are things going with the campaign?

AH: Things are good.  I kind of feel on the razor’s edge here, where I could either do really well or crash out.  Obviously, (Anthony) Woods and I are the underdogs, while the elected officials are duking it out.  Woods focused on fundraising and did a pretty good job, while I focused on building a volunteer organization.  I’m working on voter ID in a distributed way using volunteers, and I’ve dropped 8,000 pieces of literature, half of it myself.  I have two little kids, and I’ve been canvassing basically every night after they go to sleep since April.  I got a designer in Los Angeles to deliver sharper literature, with a better printer, and I’m starting some targeted PAC fundraising among peace groups and progressive organizations.  I think Anthony and I are running a bit to the left of the field.  And then you have the possibility of Marianne Williamson getting in, and she has a major public profile as well as having worked with Kucinich in the past.  I think she takes votes from everybody a bit, but certainly (Assemblywoman Joan) Buchanan.

I’ve just been trying to build a consistent presence on the ground, through appearances and volunteer events.  The other campaigns have big staffs, especially (Lt. Gov. John) Garamendi.  (Sen. Mark) DeSaulnier has the Democratic club circuit down, and Garamendi is kind of running an air war.  But the poll he put out showed an 80% name ID and only 24% of the vote.  I’ve been campaigning everywhere, all over the district, and we’ll see how it goes.

DD: Let’s get into the issues.  I’ve been looking at your 12 ideas to change the nation, and right at the top is economic reform.  Could you talk about that a bit?

AH: Absolutely.  I got into this race to discuss economic issues and taking on Wall Street.  In fact, I was strongly considering running a primary against Ellen Tauscher, I have been critical of her since her vote to authorize the Iraq war.  Then I learned about how she was one of Wall Street’s biggest friends.  I’m running as an economic progressive.  A big problem with the Democratic Party is that they consistently fail everyday citizens on economic issues.  In many ways, they’re just as corporate as the other party.  I was active in the grassroots against the Bush bailout.  Obama brought in some of the same people responsible for taking us down that road with Wall Street.  I supported the stimulus, and the opportunity for New Deal-type spending, but I think we need to go further and break up the political power of Wall Street.

DD: You mention supporting credit unions.  How exactly would Congress be able to do that?

AH: I think we can favor them with an FDIC guarantee, promoting them as an alternative to the global banks.  During the financial crisis, the banks outside the big national firms tended to do better.  And so I think we should encourage that more local approach.

DD: There’s been a lot of talk recently about bankslaughter, this idea that we could add a new crime to hold bank managers personally responsible for behaving recklessly or in a negligent way.  Do you support bankslaughter?

AH: I would tone down the name to enact popular support!  But you know, when you see someone like Angelo Mozilo, he certainly engaged in what I would call a dereliction of duty.  I don’t have a problem with holding bankers personally responsible for failing to hold to certain consumer protections.  What I’ve seen is that the grassroots folks who are not necessarily active in politics are very receptive to this.  They want to see some accountability.  And I don’t want to harp on Obama entirely about these issues, he needs a progressive Congress as well to push this through, it’s not all on him.

DD: OK.  Another one of your 12 issues I read kind of surprised me, it was about conscience clauses.  As it turns out, there was a federal ruling recently saying that pharmacies must dispense the Plan B pill and cannot use their religious beliefs to deny women legal medical aid that they seek.  How you do respond to that?

AH: I am not for restricting access to the morning after pill or abortion information.  All I’m saying is that there has been a robust system of jurisprudence around reasonable exemptions.  You cannot fire disabled people because they cannot perform one task in a job, you have to make an exemption.  If a pharmacist doesn’t want to provide those pills, some other pharmacist can in their place.

DD: But some people live in rural areas where they have no other choice but one pharmacist for possibly hundreds of miles.  If that person doesn’t want to provide legal services, shouldn’t he find another job?

AH: Well, I’m for reasonable accommodation, not blocking access to health care.  I believe in allowing people to exercise their individual liberties as long as they don’t infringe on others.  I’m willing to talk about the nuance of issues like this, to see if we can come to an understanding.

DD: The biggest issue in Congress right now is health care.  Where do you stand?

AH: Well, I’m for single payer.  Pete Stark, up here in the Bay Area, decided to vote against that cap and trade bill because it was too weak, and conservatives now love him for it.  But I don’t think that should come into account, and I don’t think the grassroots should give up.  Some of my opponents say we should get what we can get, but we might lose the momentum for reform if we do that.  But I understand that we have to treat those millions of people who are suffering right now without health insurance.

DD: Let me ask you this, would you agree to refuse to sign any bill without a robust public option that is available immediately and can use Medicare bargaining rates to drive down costs?

AH: You know what, I would.  I would not vote for anything that didn’t severely change the insurance system.  I’m not a violent person, but the system is so violent right now that I feel the need to do violence to it.  And the same with war funding efforts without drawdowns and timelines, I couldn’t vote for that.  I know that the ads would kill me, defying the President.  But I think it’s important to talk about the issues, meeting as many people as I can, going right to them and explaining myself.  There have to be lines in the sand.  We have a radical right-wing party in this country that is almost insane.  And the Democrats are playing down the center.  We need some organizing from the left.  Just imagine someone like me, a regular guy, expressing the beliefs of Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee.  I’m not afraid of the word socialist in certain respects.  I think there’s a role for government in equalization, to provide an economic bulwark against death, disease, and poverty.  And I get that regular people in the insurance industry may suffer, but are they worth the struggle of 47 million uninsured?  At least we can start these debates on the left, I think it would result in a better outcome.

DD: Obviously at Calitics we’re focused on the budget issues.  What help do you think the federal government could provide to help get some systemic reform here?

AH: Well, I voted all No on May 19, because I didn’t see any serious reform efforts in there.  One benefit of the problems now in California, which are tragic, is that I hope people are waking up.  There’s such a right-wing influence in the media and the popular consciousness.  As it turns out, California’s taxes are not progressive.  I just think there’s a rage on the populist level that can be tapped by progressives.  Everyone in this race is a strong liberal, but I think I’m the only progressive, fighting for progressive taxation and labor rights.

DD: So what reforms can we get out of Congress?  Some want the Feds to provide loan guarantees to the states, or they can condition a second stimulus to real budget reform, or even take Medicaid out of a state/federal partnership and into the realm of a purely federal program to smooth out outcomes throughout the country.  Where do you fall?

AH: Probably along the lines of more extreme reforms.  I appreciate Calitics’ reporting on this.  The loan guarantees sound like a good idea.  I could live with centralized funding of Medicaid with local administration.  And I’m for carrots and sticks in any stimulus funding, the idea that if you bail out a state, they have to have additional guarantees.  Overall, I’m for structural reform.  One of my opponents, Sen. DeSaulnier, is pushing a Constitutional convention.  But we all need to stay on top of that.

DD: One final question, with respect to Iran.  You wrote in your 12 points to change the nation that “I will oppose, by any means necessary, Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon.”  Obviously, a lot has happened since you wrote that.  Are you revisiting this, and how can we engage with Iran now given the scenes of repression?

AH: Iran is one of the most difficult issues we have right now.  We shouldn’t forget the amazing turnout in their election, almost 85%.  What did we have for the special election, 25%?  We shouldn’t really be in the position of telling Iran what to do.  And you cannot give a state democracy, the people have to want it for themselves, things have to happen.  Military intervention in Iran right now would be terrible.  And we have to be careful, because the students over there are already being scapegoated as US puppets.  It’s also an open question whether Mousavi has clean hands, or if he’s just an outlet valve for the current system.  But I still believe we have to have negotiations.  I think Woods and I are the only two who said that at our last forum.  Garamendi was talking about banning the import of refined oil.  That would only hurt everyday people in Iran.  So I think we need diplomatic relations and a strategic dialogue.  I’m not happy about dealing with Ahmadienjad, but you have to play the hand you’re dealt.

DD: OK, thanks-

AH: Can I add one final issue?  I am the only candidate in the race who supports the full legalization of marijuana, I think Woods supports decriminalization.  We’re seeing a modern prohibition movement, and that leads to inefficient and dangerous outcomes.  We have a highly regulated alcohol industry, and I think we could do the same thing with marijuana.  I don’t smoke, but people like me, squares, need to say, “what is the policy benefit of continuing the drug war?”

DD: All right.  Thanks for your time.

AH: Great, thanks.

On Looking Deeper, Or, Things About Iran You Might Not Know


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It has been an amazing week in Iran, and you are no doubt seeing images that would have been unimaginable just a few weeks ago.

For most of us, Iran has been a country about which we know very little…which, obviously, makes it tough to put the limited news we’re getting into a proper context.

The goal of today’s conversation is to give you a bit more of an “insider look” at today’s news; and to do that we’ll describe some of the risks Iranian bloggers face as they go about their business, we’ll meet a blogging Iranian cleric, we’ll address the issue of what tools the Iranians use for Internet censorship and the companies that could potentially be helping it along, and then we’ll examine Internet traffic patterns into and out of Iran.

Finally, a few words about, of all things, how certain computer games might be useful as tools of revolution.

The first task for today…let’s talk about blogging:

It turns out that bloggers in Iran risk running afoul of the Press Law of 1986, which, in addition to requiring the licensing of media outlets, reads in part:

Article 6: The print media are permitted to publish news items except in cases when they violate Islamic principles and codes and public rights as outlined in this chapter…

…5. Encouraging and instigating individuals and groups to act against the security, dignity and interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran within or outside the country…

…7. Insulting Islam and its sanctities, or, offending the Leader of the Revolution and recognized religious authorities (senior Islamic jurisprudents);

  8. Publishing libel against officials, institutions, organizations and individuals in the country or insulting legal or real persons who are lawfully respected, even by means of pictures or caricatures; and

  9. Committing plagiarism or quoting articles from the deviant press, parties and groups which oppose Islam (inside and outside the country) in such a manner as to propagate such ideas (the limits of such offenses shall be defined by the executive by-law)…

… Article 25: If a person, through the press, expressly and overtly instigates and encourages people to commit crimes against the domestic security or foreign policies of the state, as specified in the public penal code, and should his/her action bear adverse consequences, he/she shall be prosecuted and condemned as an accomplice in that crime. However, if no evidence is found on such consequences he/she shall be subject to a decision of the religious judge according to Islamic penal code.

    Article 26: Whoever insults Islam and its sanctities through the press and his/her guilt amounts to apostasy, shall be sentenced as an apostate and should his/her offense fall short of apostasy he/she shall be subject to the Islamic penal code.

    Article 27: Should a publication insult the Leader or Council of Leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran or senior religious authorities (top Islamic jurisprudents), the license of the publication shall be revoked and its managing director and the writer of the insulting article shall be referred to competent courts for punishment.

(In Iran, the penalty for apostasy is death.)

Those bloggers who are not licensed can still be prosecuted under the Penal Code, as the OpenNet Initiative reports in an excellent article they’ve just posted on the subject.

In 2008 the Iranian parliament passed a law which provides for the death penalty for bloggers who engage in non-permitted activities, a situation faced today by Yaghub Mehrnahad, who publishes the Mehrnahad blog.

(Interestingly, this blog can be reached in Persian, but an attempt to access the same URL with Google Translate returns this message:

“You are not authorized to view this page

The Web server you are attempting to reach has a list of IP addresses that are not allowed to access the Web site, and the IP address of your browsing computer is  on this list.”

More about that later.)

There is also the risk of torture: a problem noted by the BBC at least as far back as 2005.

Ironically, Mohammad Ali Abtabi, a cleric and former Vice-President of Iran whom you may have recently seen on “The Daily Show” maintains a blog in which he does criticize Iranian society on a regular basis, including his assessment of the recent election as “a huge swindling“…which has now caused the authorities to place him under arrest.

So how does Iran manage to control Internet access?

What they aren’t doing is employing the simplest method possible: cutting off all access. This is presumably because of the negative impact on the Iranian economy that would be caused by business being unable to do what they need to do online.

There are several methods being employed, including a requirement that all Internet Service Providers in the country connect to the state-owned Data communication Company of Iran (DCI) for international access, that all ISPs put in place “filtering” and monitoring technologies, and that households be blocked from having access to high-speed Internet connections.

As of this writing the fastest Internet connection now available for an Iranian household is 128k, about double the speed of a dial-up connection…and as you might guess, not fast enough to allow Iranians to use such services as YouTube. A 6MB cable Internet connection, not uncommon in the US, would be roughly 50 times faster. Because of this the total capacity of Iran’s international Internet connections are roughly 12GB per second. Normal traffic is about 5GB per second, which, we are told, is about the same as a mid-size American city.

OpenNet reports that after an initial period of reliance upon foreign monitoring software, the government decided to create an “in-house” capability, and as a result there are locally developed software packages designed to allow access to the actual data packets in messages-meaning that authorities can read such things as e-mails and instant messages after they are sent and before they pass through the DCI “gateway”.

There has been a conversation regarding the role of Western equipment suppliers in all of this; and it is alleged that a Nokia/Siemens joint venture (Nokia/Siemens Networks) has sold to the Iranians equipment that is used to monitor the Internet use of Iranian citizens. The company denies this, however.

They also want you to know that the joint venture has been sold to a third party, and that, as their press release tells us: “providing people, wherever they are, with the ability to communicate ultimately benefits societies and brings greater prosperity”.

Another method of blocking access is to deny connections to certain sets of IP addresses, and this is why, presumably, I could not access the translated version of the “Mehrnahad” blog. This method would also allow the Iranians to block access to and from inside the country to sites like the BBC, Google, and Blogspot.

There is a way around “address blocking” which involves setting up “relays” and “bridges” that can be accessed by people in Iran-and this is something you yourself can do that can be of considerable benefit to Iranians trying to reach out to the rest of us.

The Iranian Government is also trying to locate and isolate those with Twitter accounts that are set to the Tehran time zone…and you can help make that process tougher by either setting up a Twitter account and setting the time zone to Tehran, or changing your existing account’s time zone.

The next few minutes are going to get a bit geeky, and for this I apologize in advance.

In order for your computer to use certain services that involve communicating with other computers the operating system utilizes a series of “ports” (this is all in the software, so don’t bother looking at the back of the machine to find them).

Some quick examples: the TCP/IP connection your computer is using to access the Internet is through Port 80 and the FTP service runs on Port 21.

There are two kinds of ports-TCP and UDP-and there is no reason to explain here why or how they differ.

There are thousands of ports, the ports used are usually specific to a particular service, and there are giant lists of assigned ports that everyone can access. A service can (and usually does) use more than one port for two-way communication with a computer, which is why the Federal Emergency Management Agency Information System uses TCP Port 1777 and UDP Port 1777.

The routing data that packets of information display as they travel through the Internet includes the port that the packet is seeking to access…and that data is accessible to all routers…and if you controlled the gateway through which all inbound and outbound Internet traffic was passing through you could block packets that seek to utilize certain ports.

Experts are suggesting that this is exactly what is happening today in Iran, with more than 80% of traffic bound for ports using the Adobe Flash Player being blocked, nearly 75% of the POP Service (e-mail) traffic being blocked, and roughly 70% of traffic bound for ports used by “proxy servers” being intercepted. (Proxy servers, by the way, are the same type of connections we discussed earlier that you can set up at home to help Iranians trying to reach the Internet.)

Voice over IP (VoIP), the Internet “telephone” service, is proving to be a troublesome issue for censors, as it has legitimate business purposes and is difficult to censor without either having someone listening on the other end of the line or installing a monitoring system worthy of the National Security Agency.

Interestingly, with the exception of the few hours immediately following the vote, the amount of Internet blockage, overall, seems to be fairly close to what it was just before the voting. However, the amount of “instability” has been highly variable, suggesting that certain blocks of IP addresses have been temporarily “withdrawn” from the Internet’s address structure, for want of a better term, and then once again made known to that same addressing infrastructure.

It is suggested that this may be because the Iranian Government has been able to institute a sufficient level of monitoring on those address blocks so as to make them comfortable with again allowing the users of those addresses access to the Internet.

In one of the oddest developments I’ve heard so far, there are reports that certain communications protocols used by some games are not being blocked. We will not go into specifics here, but it seems strange indeed that the video game your mother didn’t want you playing all day might actually be a tool for surreptitious communication.

And with all that said, let’s wrap it up for today.

Here’s what we’ve learned: it is indeed hazardous to be a blogger in Iran.

Despite the fact that it can get you tortured or get you the death penalty, there are those who take the risk-including a former Vice-President who now finds himself under arrest.

We can help Iranian citizens by installing software on our own computers that helps them obtain uncensored Internet access, and about 1/3 of that traffic is getting through.

The regime is not attempting to permanently shut down all Internet traffic-and in fact, that would be a cure that might be as bad as the disease.

The Iranian Government, instead, is developing and operating a sophisticated system of Internet blocking, but it is not perfect…and there are odd connections that could be used that most people would never think of as useful for the purpose.

Finally, a Western company is accused of selling equipment to Iran that could be used for Internet monitoring, but the company in question denies that the gear they sold Iran can perform the tasks the accusers say it can.

It is rare indeed to be able to see two revolutions taking place at the same time–but as you’re watching the news from the newest Iranian Revolution…keep an eye on the news of the Internet Revolution as well.

WARNING-Self-promotion ahead: I am competing for a Netroots Nation scholarship, and I was not selected in the first round of voting. There are two more chances to be selected…with an announcement due this week…so even if you’ve done so before, I still have to ask you to stop by the Democracy for America site and click on the “Add your support” link to offer your support for me again. Thanks for your patience, and we now return you to your regular programming.

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Who Pissed In Dana Rohrabacher’s Corn Flakes?

Dana Rohrabacher has been out front in yipping about the need for the President to rhetorically confront Iran, a stupid idea given our history in the region, and the opposite of what actual Iranian dissidents and experts like Shirin Ebadi, Trita Parsi and Akbar Ganji suggest.  As OC Progressive notes, he is undermining the protests and demonstrations by giving credence to the complaint of the ruling regime that foreign interests are intervening in their election.  By saber-rattling, like in the passage of a resolution in support of the protests and then wielding it as a club to criticize the President for not being belligerent enough, you just play into the hands of the regime.  And Rohrabacher and his colleagues never had this kind of commitment to human rights when it involved the systematic, needless torture of detainees at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.  In fact, Rohrabacher called those cruel, inhumane and degrading tactics fraternity hazing pranks – when Dick Cheney orders them.  When the Iranians or North Koreans order them, it’s a whole different ballgame.

But I have to step back and admire – and kind of marvel – at Rohrabacher’s comments yesterday about the Uighurs, a group of 18 Muslims held at Guantanamo for seven years without charges, despite having been proven to commit no acts of terrorism or crimes of any kind.  Several were released to Bermuda this week, amidst clamoring by many conservatives, in particular Newt Gingrich.  But Rohrabacher smacked the former House Speaker down pretty hard on this point, decrying him for raising needless fears.  It’s idiosyncratic, of course, because it’s Rohrabacher, and it mostly constitutes a conspiracy theory about the Chinese government.  But embedded in the madness are some true statements about Republican fearmongering and overhyping of threats.

ROHRABACHER: And also, right off the bat, I’d like to express my deep appreciation to the leader in Bermuda – it’s Premier Brown – for his courage to do what is morally right in this situation. He’s demonstrated, I think, the best of democracy. That’s what leadership is all about: being willing to take such tough stands. I’m sorry that our own leadership here at home, and even in my own party, seems lacking at this moment. […]

Much to my dismay, some pundits in the Republican party have fallen for this bait and are lumping the Uighurs in with Islamic extremists. The Bush administration did not help matters. It held Uighurs in Guantanamo as terrorists, and they did this, I believe, to appease the Chinese government in a pathetic attempt to gain its support at the beginning of the war against Iraq, and also to ensure China’s continued purchase of U.S. treasuries. Many, if not all, the negative allegations against the Uighurs, can be traced by to Communist Chinese intelligence, whose purpose is to snuff out a legitimate independence movement that challenges the Communist party bosses in Beijing.

No patriot, especially no Republican who considers themselves a Reagan Republican, should fall for this manipulation, which has us do the bidding of a dictatorship in Beijing.

In the hall of shame, of course, is our former speaker, Newt Gingrich. His positioning on this should be of no surprise – and is of no surprise – to those of who, during Newt’s leadership, were dismayed by his active support for Clinton-era trade policies with Communist China.

Video here.

Would that Rohrabacher would listen to his own words when saber-rattling against Iran.  That moment of clarity – all right, about 1/3 of a moment – ought to be repeated.

Stop House Resolution that will Start War with Iran

Thanks for working with us to oppose to the bill that seeks to impose a blockade on Iran, H.Con.Res. 362. As a result of your efforts and those of others, this dangerous resolution – which a House leadership aide predicted would pass through Congress like “a hot knife through butter” – remains stalled in committee. But the sponsors of the resolution continue to press for its passage.

This resolution calls for a naval blockade against Iran.  As Wikipedia explains, this is an act of war

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B…

It is the third part of the action portion of the resolution, after all of the “whereas” B.S. statements.  It says:

(3) demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program;

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/…

LOOK BELOW the fold to see if your rat-faced  California Congressman is supporting this resolution. Give them a call or e-mail  them to give them a piece of your mind.

 Mike Thompson (D 1st) 06/24/2008  

Dan Lungren (R 3rd) 07/24/2008  

Ellen Tauscher (D 10th) 07/30/2008  

Jackie Speier (D 12th) 07/10/2008  

Dennis Cardoza (D 18th) 07/15/2008  

George Radanovich (R 19th) 06/10/2008  

Jim Costa (D 20th) 06/03/2008  

Devin Nunes (R 21st) 06/24/2008  

Kevin McCarthy (R 22nd) 07/24/2008  

Elton Gallegly (R 24th) 07/15/2008  

David Dreier (R 26th) 06/10/2008  

Brad Sherman (D 27th) 06/05/2008  

Adam Schiff (D 29th) 06/04/2008  

Henry Waxman (D 30th) 06/03/2008  

Jane Harman (D 36th) 06/11/2008  

Ed Royce (R 40th) 06/03/2008  

Gary Miller (R 42nd) 06/10/2008  

Joe Baca (D 43rd) 06/03/2008  

Ken Calvert (R 44th) 07/10/2008  

Dana Rohrabacher (R 46th) 06/04/2008  

Loretta Sanchez (D 47th) 06/24/2008  

John Campbell (R 48th) 06/04/2008  

Darrell Issa (R 49th) 06/24/2008  

Brian Bilbray (R 50th) 06/04/2008  

Bob Filner (D 51st) 06/26/2008  

California Representatives Co-Sponsor Bill of Increased Sanctions On Iran (Bush War #3?)

(Fool me once… – promoted by Bob Brigham)

OPEN LETTER CONCERNING OUR CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES:  

Joe Baca (CD-43), Brian Bilbray (CD-50), Jane Harman (CD-36), Devin Nunes (CD-21), Dana Rohrabacher (CD-46), Loretta Sanchez (CD-47), Henry Waxman (CD-30), John Campbell (CD-48), Jim Costa (CD-20), David Dreier (CD-26), Darrell Issa (CD-49), Gary Miller (CD-42), George Radanovich (CD-19), Edward Royce (CA-40), Adam Schiff (CD-29), Brad Sherman (CD-27), Mike Thompson (CD-1)

It was with great disappointment that we learned that these California Congressional Representatives have chosen to co-sponsor the bill that could take our country into yet another war– H.Con. Res. 362 increasing sanctions against Iran (complete text below).

S.Res.580 is the related bill in the Senate, and, fortunately, neither of our senators is co-sponsoring this as yet.

Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles is extremely concerned that this “resolution” will be used by this president as his justification to bomb Iran. The language– “urges the President, in the strongest of terms, to immediately use his existing authority”– could easily be interpreted by BUSH to allow a pre-emptive strike. And there is NO limitation that disallows making war without Congressional action.

In addition, this resolution may be interpreted by the Israeli government as a signal of support for their unilateral actions (LA Times article today: Joint Chief Mullen warns US troops in danger if Israel attacks).

At a recent town hall, Congressman Sherman referred to the United Nations being involved, however, there is nothing in the bill about it. In fact, the only possible reference hinting at the UN is toward the bottom–“initiate an international effort.” There is no language REQUIRING United Nations approval of any actions taken unilaterally by team Bush.

At a MINIMUM, we would suggest that there be amendments both requiring United Nations approval as well as specific language restating the Congressional war powers granted in the constitution—“To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.” Pre-emptive strikes at the will of the executive are NOT a part of the powers of the president as stated in our constitution, and they should not be allowed to stand.

Congress bears much of the blame for what this president did with your Congressional resolution regarding Iraq. It is mind-boggling that we have another that Congress is again ready to hand this president. We saw what he did before, and the potential for this happening AGAIN is INCREDIBLY HIGH. Bush has shown his total disdain for the rule of law and the constitution, and few of you have been willing to hold him accountable through investigations into impeachment (we’d still be happy to see you on board that one).

The BEST Congress could do now is TRY to prevent him from taking any precipitous actions before November, when the Democrats actually have a chance of taking back the White House.

It has been suggested that this bill will be coming to the floor “under suspension” meaning that it will not even have a recorded vote. That’s what our Congress has come to.

NOTE: The complete co-sponsor list is at —

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/…

RELEVANT ARTICLES (+there are many more online):

Risk to U.S. troops seen if Israel strikes Iran

By Peter Spiegel, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer July 3, 2008

http://www.latimes.com/news/pr…

Iran: War or Privatization: All Out War or “Economic Conquest”?

by Michel Chossudovsky

http://www.globalresearch.ca/i…

Congressional Resolution Demands Bush Act on Iran

Monday 23 June 2008 by: Maya Schenwar and Matt Renner, t r u t h o u t | Report

http://www.truthout.org/articl…

HCON 362 IH

110th CONGRESS

2d Session

H . CON . RES . 362

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 22, 2008

Mr. ACKERMAN (for himself and Mr. PENCE) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

______________________________________

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

Expressing the sense of Congress regarding the threat posed to international peace, stability in the Middle East, and the vital national security interests of the United States by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and regional hegemony, and for other purposes.

Whereas Iran is a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), has foresworn the acquisition of nuclear weapons by ratification of the NPT, and is legally bound to declare and place all its nuclear activity under constant monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA);

Whereas for nearly 20 years, in clear contravention of its explicit obligations under the NPT, Iran operated a covert nuclear program until it was revealed by an Iranian opposition group in 2002;

Whereas the IAEA has confirmed such illicit covert nuclear activities as the importation of uranium hexafluoride, construction of a uranium enrichment facility, experimentation with plutonium, importation of centrifuge technology, construction of centrifuges, and importation of designs to convert highly enriched uranium gas into metal and shape it into the core of a nuclear weapon;

Whereas Iran continues to expand the number of centrifuges at its enrichment facility, as made evident by its announced intention to begin installation of 6,000 advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium, in defiance of binding United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding Iran suspend enrichment activities;

Whereas the November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate reported that Iran was secretly working on the design and manufacture of a nuclear warhead until at least 2003, but that Iran could have enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon as soon as late 2009;

Whereas an Iranian nuclear weapons capability would pose a grave threat to international peace and security by fundamentally altering and destabilizing the strategic balance in the Middle East, and severely undermining the global nonproliferation regime;

Whereas Iran’s overt sponsorship of several terrorist groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah, and its close ties to Syria raise the possibility that Iran would share its nuclear materials and technology with others;

Whereas Iran continues to develop ballistic missile technology and is pursuing the capability to field intercontinental ballistic missiles, a delivery system suited almost exclusively to nuclear weapons payloads;

Whereas Iranian leaders have repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, a major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, and a member of the United Nations;

Whereas the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany have offered, and continue to offer, to negotiate a significant package of economic, diplomatic, and security incentives if Iran complies with the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment;

Whereas Iran has consistently refused such offers;

Whereas as a result of Iran’s failure to comply with the mandates of the United Nations Security Council, taken under Chapter VII of the United Nations’ Charter, the international community has imposed limited sanctions over the past 2 years that have begun to have an impact on the Iranian economy;

Whereas Iran’s rapid development of its nuclear capabilities is outpacing the slow ratcheting up of economic and diplomatic sanctions;

Whereas Iran has used its banking system, including the Central Bank of Iran, to support its proliferation efforts and its assistance to terrorist groups, leading the Department of Treasury to designate 4 large Iranian banks proliferators and supporters of terrorism;

Whereas Iran’s support for Hezbollah has enabled that group to wage war against the Government and people of Lebanon, leading to its political domination of that country;

Whereas Iran’s support for Hamas has enabled it to illegally seize control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority, and to continuously bombard Israeli civilians with rockets and mortars;

Whereas Iran continues to provide training, weapons, and financial assistance to Shi’a militants inside of Iraq and antigovernment warlords in Afghanistan;

Whereas those Shi’a militant groups and Afghan warlords use Iranian training, weapons, and financing to attack American and allied forces trying to support the legitimate Governments of Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas Iran is further destabilizing the Middle East by underwriting a massive rearmament campaign by Syria;

Whereas through these efforts, Iran seeks to establish regional hegemony, threatens longstanding friends and allies of the United States in the Middle East, and endangers vital American national security interests; and

Whereas nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress–

(1) declares that preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, through all appropriate economic, political, and diplomatic means, is vital to the national security interests of the United States and must be dealt with urgently;

(2) urges the President, in the strongest of terms, to immediately use his existing authority to impose sanctions on–

(A) the Central Bank of Iran and any other Iranian bank engaged in proliferation activities or the support of terrorist groups;

(B) international banks which continue to conduct financial transactions with proscribed Iranian banks;

(C) energy companies that have invested $20,000,000 or more in the Iranian petroleum or natural gas sector in any given year since the enactment of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996; and

(D) all companies which continue to do business with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps;

(3) demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program; and

(4) urges the President to lead a sustained, serious, and forceful effort at regional diplomacy to support the legitimate governments in the region against Iranian efforts to destabilize them, to reassure our friends and allies that the United States supports them in their resistance to Iranian efforts at hegemony, and to make clear to the Government of Iran that the United States will protect America’s vital national security interests in the Middle East.


###

California Representatives Co-Sponsor Bill of Increased Sanctions On Iran (Bush War #3?)

OPEN LETTER CONCERNING OUR CALIFORNIA CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES:  

Joe Baca (CD-43), Brian Bilbray (CD-50), Jane Harman (CD-36), Devin Nunes (CD-21), Dana Rohrabacher (CD-46), Loretta Sanchez (CD-47), Henry Waxman (CD-30), John Campbell (CD-48), Jim Costa (CD-20), David Dreier (CD-26), Darrell Issa (CD-49), Gary Miller (CD-42), George Radanovich (CD-19), Edward Royce (CA-40), Adam Schiff (CD-29), Brad Sherman (CD-27), Mike Thompson (CD-1)

It was with great disappointment that we learned that these California Congressional Representatives have chosen to co-sponsor the bill that could take our country into yet another war– H.Con. Res. 362 increasing sanctions against Iran (complete text below).

S.Res.580 is the related bill in the Senate, and, fortunately, neither of our senators is co-sponsoring this as yet.

Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles is extremely concerned that this “resolution” will be used by this president as his justification to bomb Iran. The language– “urges the President, in the strongest of terms, to immediately use his existing authority”– could easily be interpreted by BUSH to allow a pre-emptive strike. And there is NO limitation that disallows making war without Congressional action.

In addition, this resolution may be interpreted by the Israeli government as a signal of support for their unilateral actions (LA Times article today: Joint Chief Mullen warns US troops in danger if Israel attacks).

At a recent town hall, Congressman Sherman referred to the United Nations being involved, however, there is nothing in the bill about it. In fact, the only possible reference hinting at the UN is toward the bottom–“initiate an international effort.” There is no language REQUIRING United Nations approval of any actions taken unilaterally by team Bush.

At a MINIMUM, we would suggest that there be amendments both requiring United Nations approval as well as specific language restating the Congressional war powers granted in the constitution—“To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water.” Pre-emptive strikes at the will of the executive are NOT a part of the powers of the president as stated in our constitution, and they should not be allowed to stand.

Congress bears much of the blame for what this president did with your Congressional resolution regarding Iraq. It is mind-boggling that we have another that Congress is again ready to hand this president. We saw what he did before, and the potential for this happening AGAIN is INCREDIBLY HIGH. Bush has shown his total disdain for the rule of law and the constitution, and few of you have been willing to hold him accountable through investigations into impeachment (we’d still be happy to see you on board that one).

The BEST Congress could do now is TRY to prevent him from taking any precipitous actions before November, when the Democrats actually have a chance of taking back the White House.

It has been suggested that this bill will be coming to the floor “under suspension” meaning that it will not even have a recorded vote. That’s what our Congress has come to.

NOTE: The complete co-sponsor list is at —

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/…

RELEVANT ARTICLES (+there are many more online):

Risk to U.S. troops seen if Israel strikes Iran

By Peter Spiegel, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer July 3, 2008

http://www.latimes.com/news/pr…

Iran: War or Privatization: All Out War or “Economic Conquest”?

by Michel Chossudovsky

http://www.globalresearch.ca/i…

Congressional Resolution Demands Bush Act on Iran

Monday 23 June 2008 by: Maya Schenwar and Matt Renner, t r u t h o u t | Report

http://www.truthout.org/articl…

HCON 362 IH

110th CONGRESS

2d Session

H . CON . RES . 362

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

May 22, 2008

Mr. ACKERMAN (for himself and Mr. PENCE) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

______________________________________

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

Expressing the sense of Congress regarding the threat posed to international peace, stability in the Middle East, and the vital national security interests of the United States by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and regional hegemony, and for other purposes.

Whereas Iran is a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), has foresworn the acquisition of nuclear weapons by ratification of the NPT, and is legally bound to declare and place all its nuclear activity under constant monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA);

Whereas for nearly 20 years, in clear contravention of its explicit obligations under the NPT, Iran operated a covert nuclear program until it was revealed by an Iranian opposition group in 2002;

Whereas the IAEA has confirmed such illicit covert nuclear activities as the importation of uranium hexafluoride, construction of a uranium enrichment facility, experimentation with plutonium, importation of centrifuge technology, construction of centrifuges, and importation of designs to convert highly enriched uranium gas into metal and shape it into the core of a nuclear weapon;

Whereas Iran continues to expand the number of centrifuges at its enrichment facility, as made evident by its announced intention to begin installation of 6,000 advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium, in defiance of binding United Nations Security Council resolutions demanding Iran suspend enrichment activities;

Whereas the November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate reported that Iran was secretly working on the design and manufacture of a nuclear warhead until at least 2003, but that Iran could have enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon as soon as late 2009;

Whereas an Iranian nuclear weapons capability would pose a grave threat to international peace and security by fundamentally altering and destabilizing the strategic balance in the Middle East, and severely undermining the global nonproliferation regime;

Whereas Iran’s overt sponsorship of several terrorist groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah, and its close ties to Syria raise the possibility that Iran would share its nuclear materials and technology with others;

Whereas Iran continues to develop ballistic missile technology and is pursuing the capability to field intercontinental ballistic missiles, a delivery system suited almost exclusively to nuclear weapons payloads;

Whereas Iranian leaders have repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, a major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, and a member of the United Nations;

Whereas the United States, Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany have offered, and continue to offer, to negotiate a significant package of economic, diplomatic, and security incentives if Iran complies with the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions demanding that Iran suspend uranium enrichment;

Whereas Iran has consistently refused such offers;

Whereas as a result of Iran’s failure to comply with the mandates of the United Nations Security Council, taken under Chapter VII of the United Nations’ Charter, the international community has imposed limited sanctions over the past 2 years that have begun to have an impact on the Iranian economy;

Whereas Iran’s rapid development of its nuclear capabilities is outpacing the slow ratcheting up of economic and diplomatic sanctions;

Whereas Iran has used its banking system, including the Central Bank of Iran, to support its proliferation efforts and its assistance to terrorist groups, leading the Department of Treasury to designate 4 large Iranian banks proliferators and supporters of terrorism;

Whereas Iran’s support for Hezbollah has enabled that group to wage war against the Government and people of Lebanon, leading to its political domination of that country;

Whereas Iran’s support for Hamas has enabled it to illegally seize control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority, and to continuously bombard Israeli civilians with rockets and mortars;

Whereas Iran continues to provide training, weapons, and financial assistance to Shi’a militants inside of Iraq and antigovernment warlords in Afghanistan;

Whereas those Shi’a militant groups and Afghan warlords use Iranian training, weapons, and financing to attack American and allied forces trying to support the legitimate Governments of Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas Iran is further destabilizing the Middle East by underwriting a massive rearmament campaign by Syria;

Whereas through these efforts, Iran seeks to establish regional hegemony, threatens longstanding friends and allies of the United States in the Middle East, and endangers vital American national security interests; and

Whereas nothing in this resolution shall be construed as an authorization of the use of force against Iran: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress–

(1) declares that preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, through all appropriate economic, political, and diplomatic means, is vital to the national security interests of the United States and must be dealt with urgently;

(2) urges the President, in the strongest of terms, to immediately use his existing authority to impose sanctions on–

(A) the Central Bank of Iran and any other Iranian bank engaged in proliferation activities or the support of terrorist groups;

(B) international banks which continue to conduct financial transactions with proscribed Iranian banks;

(C) energy companies that have invested $20,000,000 or more in the Iranian petroleum or natural gas sector in any given year since the enactment of the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996; and

(D) all companies which continue to do business with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps;

(3) demands that the President initiate an international effort to immediately and dramatically increase the economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on Iran to verifiably suspend its nuclear enrichment activities by, inter alia, prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran; and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials not involved in negotiating the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program; and

(4) urges the President to lead a sustained, serious, and forceful effort at regional diplomacy to support the legitimate governments in the region against Iranian efforts to destabilize them, to reassure our friends and allies that the United States supports them in their resistance to Iranian efforts at hegemony, and to make clear to the Government of Iran that the United States will protect America’s vital national security interests in the Middle East.


###

Proud Progressive Democrats and Independents Repudiate The Desert Sun Endorsement of Barack Obama

(Xposted from www.mydesert.com, the online edition of Palm Springs’ The Desert Sun)

Well, well, well.  Proud progressive Democrats and their Independent and Republican supporters in Riverside County, and especially in the Coachella Valley, repudiated The Desert Sun endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama in the California primary by giving Sen. Hillary Clinton approximately 67% of the vote.  State-wide, Clinton appears to have won 54% of the vote while Obama has won about 39%.  Shows how relevant The Desert Sun is to the Riverside County Democratic Party, to the California Democratic Party, and to our supporters amongst the Independents and Decline to States now.

The Democrats of Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, Coachella, La Quinta, and other Desert Cities gathered tonight in a Unity Rally at Dale’s Lost Highway to celebrate our common democratic and Democratic principles.  Fiscal responsibility, universal healthcare, education, withdrawal from the Iraq morass and occupation, economic recovery, human rights, equal rights, and more.

The Democratic Unity Rally was sponsored by Richard Oberhaus, campaign manager of the Greg Pettis for 80th Assembly District, Greg Rodriguez, activist for the Clinton for President campaign, and Rob Simmons, Palm Springs Airport Commission and activist for the Barack Obama for President campaign.  A conservative estimate of the attendance at the soiree would run about 200 given the steady to-and-fro of the enthusiastic crowd.

More below the flip…

The media took special note of the event with coverage by CBS Channel 2, Channel 3, and live coverage of NBC Channel 6 on the 11:00 News.  Of interest, The Desert Sun reporters were apparently absent.  Must have been a paparazzi sighting of Brittany or Brad and Angelina in the Desert that necessitated its attention.

Electeds in attendance included Ginny Foat, City Councilwoman in Palm Springs, Rick Hutcheson, City Councilman in Palm Springs, Greg Pettis, Mayor Pro-Temp of Cathedral City and Candidate for the 80th Assembly District to replace the termed out Bonnie Garcia (R-CA), and Paul Marchand, City Councilman of Cathedral City.  Pettis discussed the progress of his campaign and reveled in the number of community activists in attendance.  Foat discussed her admiration and support for Clinton and her pleasure at the tide of events for Clinton during the evening.  Marchand focused on the excitement in Cathedral City, especially amongst the Latino community, for the Democratic candidates, especially Clinton.  In fact, Rodriguez reported that Latinos appeared to be supporting Clinton over Obama by a 6:1 margin across the country!

In additon to Pettis, other Democratic candidates in attendance included Paul Clay, Candidate for the CA 45th Congressional District, and Dave Hunsicker, Candidate for the 45th Congressional District.  Amalia Deaztlan, manager of the Manuel Perez for the CA 80th Assembly District campaign, also attended.

Local Democratic activists who attended the Democratic Unity Rally included George Zander, Chair of the Desert Stonewall Democratic Club (DSD), Bob Silverman, Treasurer of DSD, James Reynolds, Recording Secretary of DSD, and Donald W. Grimm, Ph.D., Jono Hildner, Bob Mahlowitz, and Bill Post, members of the Steering Committee of DSD.  Silverman discussed his previous support for Rep. Dennis Kucinich for President and his present support for Clinton due to her consistent support of the LGBT community.

Zander discussed his efforts as poll watcher and some of the disarray at the Mizell Senior Center due to the overwhelming number of Democratic and Independent voters who registered their votes at the precinct(s).  Seems that the several counties were ill-prepared for the numbers of voters not only in Santa Clara County but also in Los Angeles and Riverside Counties as well.

Other local party activists attending the Unity Rally included Sandy Eldridge, Co-Chair of the Palm Springs Democratic Club (PSD), Lisa Arbaelaz, co-founder of the PSD, her friend, Armando, Ruth Debra, DSD member, her friends, Tracy Turner, Vets for Peace, Deaztlan, Campaign manager for the Manuel Perez for 80th Assembly District, and many, many more.  Eldridge articulated her excitement about and plans for PSD and the November general election.  Her theme was re the local Democratic clubs working together in order to defeat John McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Mitt Romney and those who support the ongoing, unending trampling of the U.S. Constitution, of the U.S. economy, of the Rights of the middle class and GLBT community, and of International Law.  Kudos to Eldridge and the PSD!

Bloggers in attendance included BluePalmSpringsBoyz, Fofitti, GRodriguez, and SeekTruth from www.mydesert.com, BlueBeaumontBoyz from www.Calitics.com, and others.  Observer discussed the advantages that Clinton has over Obama regarding electability and her consistent support of the Latino and LGBT communities.  SeekTruth and Fofitti discussed their concerns about the protection of our Right to Vote and the potential for voter fraud in the Republican-controlled election machinery in Riverside County. (BluePalmSpringsBoyz, Fofitti, SeekTruth and BlueBeaumontBoyz have endorsed Pettis for the 80th Assembly District.)

Union representatives in attendance included Chuck McDaniel, IBEW Local 440 and co-chair of the Desert Hot Springs Democratic Club, Tony Aidukas, Executive Committee of the SEIU United Healthcare Workers, and Juan Carlos Sanchez, Regional Political Organizer, Political Department of SEIU United Healthcare Workers.  McDaniel and Aidukas discussed the difficulty that they had in deciding for whom to vote following former-Senator John Edwards’ withdrawal from the race for the Democratic nomination.  Aidukas reported that two days following Edwards’ withdrawal, the SEIU UHW Executive Committee endorsed Obama for President.

At least one Republican attended tonight’s Democratic Unity Rally, Roger Williams.  (No, not that Roger Williams.)  Williams, heretofore a Mitt Romney supporter, reported that he recently removed Romney’s bumper sticker from his car and tonight obtained a Clinton bumper sticker as a replacement.

Obama activists attending the Unity Rally included Ed Grubman and his wife, Simmons, Debra, and many more.  Grubman and Simmons discussed Obama’s appeal to African-American and young voters and enjoyed each report of Obama’s successful run in Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, and Utah.

Clinton activists who celebrated her wins in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, and Tennesee, included Grimm, Oberhaus, Rodriguez, Bond Shands, and many, many more.  Rodriguez discussed Clinton’s appeal to women, Latinos, and the LGBT community.  As in previous caucus and primary states, women and Latinos went largely and overwhelmingly, respectively, to Clinton last night.  Rodriguez was particularly gratified by the surprising ease that Clinton had in such states as California, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennesee, states that as early as (Tuesday) morning were rated as toss-ups.

The delegate totals now appear to favor Clinton over Obama in both Pledged Delegates from the Democratic primaries and caucuses and the Super Delegates with Clinton now having 825 Delegates (632 Pledged Delegates and 193 Super Delegates) and Obama with 732 Delegates (626 Pledged, 106 Super Delegates).  The Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO will have a total of 4,049 convention delegates, and 2,025 needed for the Democratic nomination.

When the results of the California primary were posted on the big screen, a massive cheer arose from the Clinton camp.  Of note, those from the Obama and Clinton camp intermingled freely and provided support to each other’s members.  Many talked about a possible Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket that might be unbeatable in November.  Simmons discussed the possiblity of an Barack Obama-Mark Warner (D-VA), Barack Obama-Tim Kaine (D-VA), Barack Obama-Jim Webb (D-VA), or Barack Obama-Joe Biden (D-DE) ticket.  Rodriquez examined the possibility of a Hillary Clinton-Bill Richardson (D-NM) or Hillary Clinton-Ted Strickland (D-OH) ticket.

In any case, Democrats rallied and celebrated tonight the victories of Clinton and Obama.  Even more, Democrats and their supporters reveled in the thought that the disastrous Bush Administration is drawing to a well-deserved close, especially with Bush’s Dead-on-Arrival 2008 Budget.  How many days can you hold your breath?