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Iran Offer for Nuclear EU-Led Talks Accepted

By James G. Neuger and Patrick Donahue - Tue Mar 06 15:54:00 GMT 2012

The European Union offered to restart negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, seeking a “full settlement” of the clash that has pushed up oil prices and raised the specter of war in the Middle East.

In a statement on behalf of China, France, Germany, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S., EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Saeed Jalili, Iran’s nuclear envoy, to meet her to seek an accord in which Iran would clarify questions about its nuclear program. Ashton responded in a letter to an Iranian overture last month to restart talks.

The renewed prospect of negotiations to dial back concerns about Iran’s program came hours after U.S. President Barack Obama called for more time to let diplomacy and sanctions solve the standoff. Obama spoke yesterday following talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is in Washington to seek support for a more aggressive approach to Iran.

“Our overall goal remains a comprehensive negotiated, long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” Ashton said in the letter, released today in Brussels. The EU (BKIR) envoy said she didn’t want a “repeat” of Istanbul, where talks with Iran broke down in January 2011.



Russia to Monitor U.S. Presidential Polls

18:41 05/03/2012
MOSCOW, March 5 (RIA Novosti)

Russia is preparing to launch a distant monitoring system to observe the U.S. presidential elections in November, the country's chief election official said on Monday.

"The scheme will be up and running by the end of the summer, when we will be working closely with our comrades from public organizations," Vladimir Churov, head of the Central Election Commission, told a news conference in Moscow.

That system will analyze official data and activists' reports from each state, Churov said.

"I believe we will reveal significant shortcomings in the electoral system of our friends from the American continent in addition to the already existing ones," Churov said.



The Republican Party Declares War On Women

Diane Roberts
guardian.co.uk, Monday 5 March 2012 11.51 EST

Republicans and their Tea Party shock troops say they want to "take America back". Progressives think they mean back to the 1950s, back to when men were men, women were ladies, and black folks only got into the White House by the back door. But Republicans are thinking big: they actually want to take us back to the Middle Ages, back to the "good old days" of sexual repression, regulation and punishment.

Forget the economy: this election is becoming a referendum on women's bodies, since it's women (according to the Republicans' Book of Holy Misogyny) who like to have sex without wanting to get pregnant, and, if they do get pregnant, might want to have an abortion; women who demand, as former Senator Rick Santorum says, a "license to do things in the sexual realm that is [sic] counter to how things are supposed to be."

You know, "sluts".

Republicans in Congress have launched a dubious investigation of Planned Parenthood, the century-old women's health organization, and tried to take away its funding. The Senate narrowly defeated an amendment that would have allowed employers to deny insurance coverage for anything the employer found morally or religiously objectionable: contraception, certainly, but perhaps also lung cancer treatment ("you should have stopped smoking", HIV/Aids testing ("homosexuality is an abomination", and pre-natal care for single women ("nice girls get themselves a husband before they get themselves a baby".



AIPAC, Israel, and the Hypocritical Claim of Backing a Two-State Solution

by Peter Beinart Mar 5, 2012 4:45 AM EST

It was a big weekend for Israel conferences. In Washington, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) held its annual policy conference. At Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a 27-year-old student from the Gaza Strip named Ahmed Moor organized a conference on the “one-state solution”: the idea that the Jewish state of Israel should be replaced with one ostensibly secular, binational state encompassing Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

Barack Obama attended the AIPAC conference, along with dozens if not hundreds of members of Congress. Moor’s conference, by contrast, was a political leper. Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown urged Harvard to cancel it. Prominent Harvard donors reportedly threatened to cancel gifts. Harvard’s president expressed her “deep concern” about the event; the Kennedy School’s dean declared himself “deeply disappointed.”

What makes the AIPAC conference so laudable and its Kennedy School cousin so revolting? On the surface, the answer is obvious: AIPAC believes in two states, while Moor’s allies believe in one. Sounds like a reasonable distinction, especially if you—like me—believe in a democratic Jewish state alongside a democratic Palestinian one. And indeed, on its homepage, AIPAC endorses something similar: “a negotiated two-state solution—a Jewish state of Israel and a demilitarized Palestinian state.”

But the closer you look, the blurrier the distinction between the two conferences becomes. According to David Ellwood, the Kennedy School’s dean, not all the speakers at Moor’s conference actually support one state. And a peek at the AIPAC roster suggests that not all its speakers support two states. On Tuesday morning, for instance, AIPAC will hear from Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, who declared last November, “All the people that live in the West Bank are Israelis. There are not Palestinians. There is no Palestinian. This is Israeli land.” Certainly sounds like a one-state perspective to me.



Banned! AIPAC Bars AlterNet From Covering Its Big Conference

March 4, 2012 |

On Super Tuesday, the three top contenders for the Republican presidential nomination will not spend the morning campaigning for votes in the 10 states holding primaries and caucuses that day. Instead, they will address a conference of some 13,000 Israel-boosters at the Washington Convention Center in the nation's capital. Supporters of Israeli's hawkish foreign policy and its occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza strip will likely find much to admire in an address to be delivered by Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, who has been banging the war drums for a strike on Iran. U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to address the conference on Sunday morning.

But even though this event will take place in Washington, DC, where I am based, and even though I cover the presidential election for AlterNet, I will not be there. And neither will our world affairs editor, Alex Kane. Why? Because the sponsoring organization, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, denied AlterNet the press credentials we would need to cover the event.

AIPAC is within its rights to ban AlterNet from covering its policy conference. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of association. But what has me flummoxed is the fact that AIPAC press representatives decline to give us a reason. So far, the only correspondence I have received from an AIPAC representative is the following terse e-mail from Sarah Coppersmith of the Scott Circle Public Relations Group, which is handling the credentialing process for AIPAC:

Thank you for your interest in attending this year’s AIPAC Policy Conference as a member of the press. However, press credentials for the conference will not be issued to you. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused.



AIPAC Confab Starts With Sparring Over Obama

March 4, 2012

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Former Republican and Democratic officials sparred at the AIPAC policy conference over President Obama's commitment to protecting Israel.

Liz Cheney, a deputy assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs in the George W. Bush administration, and Jane Harman, a former congresswoman from California who for years was the top Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, were among the participants in a panel Sunday on the Middle East that opened the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington.

Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Harman kept circling back to the threat of Iran and sparred over whether Obama would stand by Israel as tensions with Iran intensified.

Cheney said "everyone in the room understands" that Obama has made statements "more focused on containing Israeli actions than they have been on containing Iran." Harman countered that "this administration has done more than any in history to help Israel protect itself," citing unprecedented levels of defense assistance and close cooperation on missile defense.



Anti-Ahmadinejad Faction Wins Big in Iran Elections

Source: NEWSER

(Newser) – In a battle of conservative hardliners versus conservative hardliners in Iran's elections on Friday, the winners were ... the conservative hardliners.

But in this case, it is the conservatives opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who appear to have come out on top, taking upward of 80% of the seats in Iran's parliamentary elections, according to one anti-Ahmadinejad hardliner. Ahmadinejad's defeat was so thorough that even his sister, running in her family's home region, lost her bid (which one analyst saw as a "possible sign of fraud.".


Read more: http://www.newser.com/story/141005/anti-ahmadinejad-faction-wins-big-in-iran-elections.html

Likud Politicians Mock Obama AIPAC Speech

By Marc Israel Sellem

Israeli reactions to US President Barack Obama's speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington on Sunday were divided along party lines.

Deputy Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) criticized Obama for saying that too much bluster played into Iranian hands and suggesting that it led to higher gas prices.

"There is a saying that it's easier to watch a fire from far away," Kara said. "We are facing an existential threat, not the US. If Israel doesn't bluster, the US will also be in danger, because Iran's missiles will reach them too. Israel is doing everything possible to keep the world safe, and it's unfortunate that the White House doesn't see things the way we see them here.".

Likud MK Danny Danon mocked Obama's promises to protect Israel's security. He said history had proven that Israel can rely only on itself.



Guest Lineups For The Sunday TV News Shows

Guest lineups for the Sunday TV talk shows:

ABC's "This Week" — Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich; David Axelrod, adviser to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Gingrich; Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, head of the Democratic National Committee; House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

CBS'"Face the Nation" — Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, Gingrich.

CNN's "State of the Union" — Gingrich, Paul; Reps. Mike Rogers. R-Mich., and C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, D-Md.

"Fox News Sunday" — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum; Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Daylight: New Film Blasts Obama's Israel Record

Posted By Josh Rogin Friday, March 2, 2012 - 5:30 PM Share

One day before the AIPAC conference kicks off in Washington, an anti-Obama pro-Israel group is widening its criticism of President Barack Obama's record on Israel -- while the White House defends its treatment of the relationship.

The trailer for a new 30-minute video, entitled "Daylight: The Story of Obama and Israel," cuts together clips of Obama quotes and outside commentary to put forth the narrative that Obama has made statements and taken actions as president that have put him out of step with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters.

"We believe that that the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines," Obama is shown saying, a reference to his May, 2011 speech, where he for the first time explicitly defined U.S. policy as supporting the 1967 borders with agreed swaps as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

"He didn't quite have a full grasp of what the full region looks like," conservative journalist Lee Smith is shown saying in the video. "This is not how you treat an ally."


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