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Purveyor's Journal
Purveyor's Journal
April 16, 2012

Iran Nuclear Diplomats Look to Talks in May as Netanyahu Criticizes Timing

Diplomats face a battle against time and precedent as they look toward the next round of talks with Iran on its nuclear program.

The negotiators broke a 15-month stalemate after 10 hours of “constructive” talks in Istanbul on April 14 and agreed to reconvene in Baghdad May 23. Squeezed by U.S. and European Union sanctions, as well as Israeli and American talk of a military strike to prevent it from acquiring atomic weapons, Iran dropped upfront demands and the talks focused almost exclusively on its nuclear program, according to two Western diplomats involved in the negotiations.

The talks risk a repeat of previous failures, with tensions contributing to a jump in Brent crude prices this year. In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday criticized the outcome as giving Iran more time to continue enriching uranium, the process capable of producing fuel for a nuclear bomb.

“The real challenge will come in the ensuing rounds of talks, where these principles of engagement will have to translate into concrete steps,” Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council and author of a new book, “A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran,” said in an interview. “This applies to the West as well, whose ability to lift sanctions will be as instrumental for keeping diplomacy alive as Iran’s willingness to curb its enrichment activities.”



April 14, 2012

Guest Lineups For The Sunday TV News Shows

ABC's "This Week" — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Geithner; Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.; Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

CBS'"Face the Nation" — Geithner; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

CNN's "State of the Union" — Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee; Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.

"Fox News Sunday" — Ed Gillespie, adviser to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney; David Axelrod, adviser to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.

April 13, 2012

Irving Moskowitz, Controversial Backer Of Israeli Settlements, Gives $1 Million To Anti-Obama PAC

WASHINGTON -- Even in the era of unbridled campaign contributions, Irving Moskowitz's $1 million donation in February to American Crossroads, the Karl Rove-linked super PAC, is eye-catching.

A retired physician who made a fortune purchasing hospitals and running bingo and casino operations in the economically depressed California town of Hawaiian Gardens, Moskowitz is well-known to those who follow the Israel-Palestine conflict. His contributions to far-right Jewish settler groups, questionable archaeological projects and widespread land purchases in East Jerusalem and the West Bank have routinely inflamed the region over the past four decades and, according to many familiar with the conflict, made him a key obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

Now, at age 83, Moskowitz has turned his money on the American political realm in a more prominent fashion than ever before, funding "birther" groups that question the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's U.S. citizenship and others that stoke fears about the president's alleged ties to "radical Islam."

Although he has funded Republican politicians and organizations in the past, his $1 million donation to American Crossroads is his biggest contribution to U.S. electoral politics to date. Moskowitz did not respond to requests for comment from The Huffington Post. American Crossroads told HuffPost that it does not comment on its donors.



April 13, 2012

Exclusive: Iran Ships "Off Radar" As Tehran Conceals Oil Sales

By Christopher Johnson and Peg Mackey

LONDON | Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:23am EDT

(Reuters) - Iran is concealing the destination of its oil sales by disabling tracking systems aboard its tanker fleet, making it difficult to assess how much crude Tehran is exporting as it seeks to counter Western sanctions aimed at cutting its oil revenues.

Most of Iran's 39-strong fleet of tankers is now "off-radar" after Tehran ordered captains in the National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) to switch off the black box transponders that are used in the shipping industry to monitor vessel movements, oil industry, trading and shipping sources said.

"Iran, helped by its customers, is trying to obfuscate as much as possible," said a senior executive at a national oil company that has done business with Iran.

And Iran may have countered a reported reduction in its oil sales in March by offering big discounts in the form of free freight, finance and insurance and generous credit terms, the sources said.



April 13, 2012

Iranians Decry Double Standard Before Nuclear Talks

By Ladane Nasseri - Thu Apr 12 20:01:00 GMT 2012

For nations seeking to restrict Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology, Vida Asgari has a question: if others can do it, why not us?

“Why should only powerful countries have it?” said Asgari, a 44-year-old sales assistant in a Tehran bookshop. “If it’s peaceful, it’s our right and we should stand up for it.”

The charge of double standards is echoed across a range of Iranian opinion as the Islamic republic’s leaders prepare for nuclear talks with the U.S. and other world powers. It’s voiced by domestic critics of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as well as his supporters, and used by some to justify the development of nuclear weapons capability as well as power plants.

The negotiations, starting in Istanbul tomorrow, take place amid threats by Israel and the U.S. to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. The U.S. and allies accuse Iran of secretly developing the capacity to make an atomic bomb, while Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful. Curbs imposed by Western nations on oil purchases from Iran have helped push crude prices up 12 percent this year.



April 13, 2012

US Consumer Sentiment Falls Below Forecasts In April, UMich Says

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The preliminary reading for US consumer sentiment in April declined to 75.7 from a final March level of 76.2, according to a gauge released Friday by the University of Michigan/Thomson Reuters.

Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a mid-April reading of 76.4.

While higher stock prices and employment gains have cheered consumers this year, gas prices are up, and conditions in Europe remain a concern.



April 12, 2012

Obama Disappoints Gay Groups By Refusing To Ban Discrimination Against Gay Federal Contractors

By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, April 12, 4:36 PM

WASHINGTON — The White House says President Barack Obama does not plan to issue a ban on discrimination against gay federal contractors sought by gay rights groups. The decision disappoints a constituency that has been an important source of support for him.

White House press secretary Jay Carney says Obama is committed to gay rights and would support legislation that would protect gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors.

But he ruled out a special presidential order that would accomplish the same thing now. Gay rights groups say that Congress won’t act to pass such a law and that the White House should step in with an executive order.

Carney denies the White House is trying to avoid a politically sensitive issue in this election year.



April 12, 2012

With West Focused On Iran, Netanyahu Moves To Expand Israeli Settlements

By Ben Lynfield, Correspondent / April 12, 2012

Ulpana Outpost, West Bank

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is moving to expand Israeli settlements in the West Bank at a time when international attention is focused elsewhere, with President Obama gearing up for reelection and the West targeting Iran's nuclear program.

Last week, the Netanyahu government took a variety of steps that, taken together, amount to a significant strengthening of Israel's hold in the West Bank, the biblically resonant territory occupied in 1967, which Palestinians claim as the heartland for their future state.

For Netanyahu, who heads a right-wing coalition with a strong pro-settler contingent, it was a delicate dance of one small step back and six larger steps forward for settlements.

On April 4, the prime minister backed the evacuation of a house illegally occupied by settlers in the flashpoint city of Hebron, endorsing his attorney general's position that there was no legal argument for approving the settler takeover. That angered some among his hard-line constituency, including Danny Dayan, head of the Yesha Council that represents 300,000 settlers. ''It is intolerable that Jews cannot exercise their property rights simply because they are Jews,'' Dayan says.



April 12, 2012

Clinton Ignores Hold, Approves Humanitarian Aid for West Bank and Gaza

OK, here’s a somewhat better story on a pretty depressing day. The chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, tried to put a hold on foreign aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. It was a manifestation of the same old AIPAC-driven politics, where the US acts punitively toward one side in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The tradition in this area is that if a US Representative puts a hold on funds, the executive branch honors it. But Hillary Clinton decided to ignore the hold, which has Ros-Lehtinen up in arms.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is allowing U.S. funds to flow to the West Bank and Gaza despite a hold by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., a rare display of executive-branch authority that angered the key lawmaker concerned about protecting her congressional oversight role.

A State Department official said that a letter was delivered on Tuesday to key members of Congress informing them of Clinton’s decision to move forward with the $147 million package of the fiscal year 2011 economic support funds for the Palestinian people, despite Ros-Lehtinen’s hold. Administrations generally do not disburse funding over the objections of lawmakers on relevant committees.


April 12, 2012

Web Piracy Bills ‘Dead’ in U.S. From Lobbying, Dodd Says

Source: Bloomberg

By Eric Engleman - Apr 12, 2012

Hollywood-backed legislation to fight online piracy, shelved this year after an Internet protest led by Google Inc. (GOOG) and Wikipedia, is “dead,” said the head of the trade group for the largest movie studios.

The Stop Online Piracy Act, known as SOPA, is “history,” Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Washington-based Motion Picture Association of America, said in an interview for “Conversations with Judy Woodruff” on Bloomberg Television set to air this weekend. “It’s gone. In my view, it’s dead.”

The organization representing studios including Walt Disney Co. (DIS) and Viacom Inc. (VIAB)’s Paramount Pictures had built bipartisan backing for the bill in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate through late last year. The bills would have given government and copyright holders more tools to crack down on non-U.S. websites that offer pirated content.

Congress shelved the legislation in January after Google and Wikipedia led an Internet protest against the bills, saying the measures would promote online censorship, disrupt the Web’s architecture and harm their ability to innovate.

Read more: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-04-11/web-piracy-bills-dead-in-u-dot-s-dot-from-lobbying-dodd-says

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