President Hassan Rouhani, 68, won a landslide victory in the presidential election on May 19. More than 40 million Iranians voted on that day. That puts turnout above 70 percent.
The president is the second-most powerful figure within Iran’s political system that oversees a vast state bureaucracy employing more than 2 million people. He is charged with naming Cabinet members and other officials to key posts and plays a significant role in shaping both domestic and foreign policy. The president has important sway over domestic affairs and serves as the face of Iran to the world but is subordinate to the supreme leader chosen by a clerical panel. As supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei remains the ultimate arbiter in the political system, and approves any significant decisions and changes sought by the executive power.
Rouhani has been a stalwart of the Islamic Republic since the Shah regime was overthrown. He has held a number of top positions in the armed forces and was deputy war commander during the eight-year Iran-Iraq conflict, and was secretary of the Supreme National Security Council for 16 years.
The May 19 vote was largely a referendum on the president’s relatively moderate policies, which paved the way for the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that won Iran relief from some sanctions in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program. Rouhani will now have a bigger mandate to push through his reforms, to put an end to extremism, to build bridges with the outside world, and to get the economy back on track. He campaigned on the promise of a more open, prosperous and internationally integrated economic model, openly criticizing hardliners and Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard – the message supported Iran’s young and increasingly urban population.
The second term to-do list includes fixing the banking system crippled by bad property loans, expanding the private sector and formalizing human rights and freedom of information.
On May 24, when Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi opens the second round of her signature 21st Century Panglong peace conference, a high-stakes initiative to end decades of debilitating and divisive civil war, the outcomes and upshots will be pivotal to her democratically elected administration.
The meeting will aim to draw on the unifying symbolism of the original Panglong conference held by Suu Kyi’s national founder father, Aung San, who signed an agreement with ethnic Shan, Kachin and Chin representatives on February 12, 1947 at the small Shan state market town of Panglong. The agreement paved the way for the declaration of independence from British colonial rule the following year.
Despite the historic parallels and Suu Kyi’s strong political clout, few observers believe the upcoming meeting will meaningfully advance national reconciliation without a significant change in tack. Suu Kyi’s insistence
US President’s speech gives a green-light to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East to carry on torturing and oppressing minorities.
It was crude stuff. President Trump called on 55 Muslim leaders assembled in Riyadh to drive out terrorism from their countries. He identified Iran as a despotic state and came near to calling for regime change, though Iran held a presidential election generally regarded as fair only two days previously.
He denounced Hezbollah and lined up the US squarely on the side of the Sunni against the Shia in the sectarian proxy war that is tearing apart the Middle East.
The impact of US presidential visits and speeches abroad are generally over-rated and turn out to have far less influence than was claimed at the time.
Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo in 2009 about the conflicts in the region was more sophisticated than anything Mr Trump said in Riyadh, but it turned out to denote no new departures in US policy. The same may turn out to be true of Mr Trump’s address.
Families of the victims and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks have asked the Department of Justice to open “an immediate national security investigation” into a “massive Saudi-funded foreign agent offensive” to “delude Congress” into “shield[ing] the Kingdom from any inquiry into the involvement of its agents in supporting the September 11th attacks.”
The complaint marks what is perhaps the most frontal public assault on Saudi influence peddling in Washington since 1981, when pro-Israel critics blasted Riyadh’s successful campaign to win congressional approval for its controversial purchase of AWACS surveillance planes.
The families’ complaint targets Saudi Arabia’s lavishly funded attempts to water down the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA). Passed into law last fall, against opposition from the Obama administration, the act gives Americans the right to sue foreign governments that provide “material support” to terrorist groups.
The complaint asserts that after the law passed, “the Kingdom went on a foreign agent spending spree, hiring . . . more than 100 foreign agents to work on its behalf to wage an assault on JASTA.
Mueller, 72, was appointed FBI Director by President George W. Bush in 2001 and served until 2013, when Comey took over. The DOJ has confirmed he will resign from his private law firm to avoid any conflicts of interest. In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, as the U.S. was ramping up security, he joined then-Deputy Attorney General Comey in threatening to resign if the White House overruled a Justice Department opinion that domestic wiretapping without a warrant was unconstitutional.
Mueller is rumored to be bringing along Jim Quarles, who worked on Watergate, and Aaron Zebley, his (and Comey’s) former Chief of Staff at the FBI.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously recused himself from any involvement in the Russia investigation due to is role as a prominent campaign adviser and surrogate.
Mueller’s appointment aims to quell the wave of criticism that President Donald Trump and his administration have faced since Trump fired FBI Director James Comey last week in the middle of the FBI’s intensifying investigation into contacts between Trump campaign associates and Russian officials. That criticism swelled on Tuesday evening as excerpts of a memo Comey wrote in February surfaced, in which Comey writes Trump asked him to drop the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Incumbent has won a landslide victory over ‘conservative’ Raisi, with a high turnout ensuring the country remains open to the world
In the perennial electoral battle between principlists (conservatives) and reformists, Iranian reformists have once again won handsomely.
Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani was reelected in a landslide on Saturday – with at least 56.88 percent of the votes according to the latest count at time of publishing and a projected vote share of 20 million votes (he got 18.6 million in 2013).
In the end, as predicted, it was all about turnout; over 70% in the main cities, with around 78% in Qom – the religious heart of Shi’ism. A low turnout would have benefitted hardliners and their reliable...
Julian Assange has been vindicated because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted. Her obsession with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but exposed the Swedish state’s collusion with the United States in its crimes of war and “rendition”.
Had Assange not sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he would have been on his way to the kind of American torture pit Chelsea Manning had to endure.
This prospect was obscured by the grim farce played out in Sweden. “It’s a laughing stock,” said James Catlin, one of Assange’s Australian lawyers. “It is as if they make it up as they go along”.
It may have seemed that way, but there was always...
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on the cover of an Indian magazine in 2002, when he was the Chief Minister of the Indian province of Gujarat. During his reign in Gujarat, a civil-war like situation erupted, which seriously segregated the province’s society. It brought Hindus into a state of trance and excitement and provided them with the fake-security of the collective. Alas, wealth and civilization are created by an intense focus on value-addition, not from the short-term escapist excitement of mobs expressed through riots and rape. Destructive endeavors are a major vulnerability of poor societies, given their irrationality and lack of foresight and planning, and their short-sighted focus on high time-preference, pleasure-centered activities.
Modi, a major world-traveler, who has run around quite a bit to please foreign governments and win the support of identity-lacking non-resident Indians, is no longer going abroad with the same abandon. Historically and even today, whatever gained approval in the West is what Indians have looked up to.
Senior Tories confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the phrasing indicates that the government intends to introduce huge restrictions on what people can post, share and publish online.
The plans will allow Britain to become “the global leader in the regulation of the use of personal data and the internet”, the manifesto claims.
It comes just soon after the Investigatory Powers Act came into law. That legislation allowed the government to force internet companies to keep records on their customers’ browsing histories, as well as giving ministers the power to break apps like WhatsApp so that messages can be read.
The government now appears to be launching a similarly radical change in the way that social networks and internet companies work. While much of the internet is currently controlled by private businesses like Google and Facebook, Theresa May intends to allow government to decide what is and isn’t published, the manifesto suggests.
With public attention focused on other things, the United States has been deploying new and more sophisticated weaponry in space. Step by step the Earth’s orbit is becoming primed for war.
On May 7, the X-37B landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida after a 718 days mission in space. All in all, there have been four missions since 2010, each lasting longer than the previous one. Launched atop Atlas 5 rockets, the vehicles land like airplanes. The twin reusable vehicles, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle program, have amassed 2,086 cumulative days in space. The payloads and activities are largely classified. It is widely believed that the space planes are used for military purposes or are a weapon of some sort.
This X-37B carried at least two payloads on its latest voyage. The military revealed before the ship took off that it was carrying an experimental electric propulsion thruster to be tested in orbit and a pallet to expose sample materials to the space environment.
It is not too late for someone to fill Trump in on this shameful episode, on the chance he may wish to show more courage than former presidents and warn the Israelis that this kind of thing will not be tolerated while he is president.
A new book by Philip Nelson titled: Remember the Liberty: Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas, is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand what actually happened to the Liberty and to contemplate the implications.
As I wrote in the book’s Foreword: Even today, scandalously few Americans have heard of the deliberate Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, because the cowardly U.S. political, military, and media establishments have managed to hide what happened. No one “important” wanted to challenge Israel’s lame “oops-mistake” excuse. Intercepted Israeli communications show beyond doubt it was no “mistake.”
It had been, from the start, a cruel wait and see game. Lacking logic and consistency, the Swedish effort to extradite Julian Assange from the United Kingdom, not for formal charges but the pretext of questioning him over sexual assault and rape, collapsed on Friday.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Marianne Ny and Chief Prosecutor Ingrid Isgren, in a press conference in Stockholm, were doing their best not to have Assange have the last, grizzly laugh. Abandoning the investigation had been a logistical matter, as they had been unable to serve the Australian with allegations during an interview at the Ecuadorean embassy in November 2016.
It is worth pointing out that getting that interview had been a point of persistent refusal and stonewalling from the Swedish prosecutor’s office. Communications had also been repeatedly made by the WikiLeaks legal team that they were open to a video interview from the start.
Ny’s text, relayed to the Stockholm District Court, claimed in dryer language that it was “no longer possible to continue the preliminary investigation pursuant to Chapter 23, Section 4, second paragraph, of the Code of Judicial Procedure.” Keeping in mind
“the facts and circumstances of the case, executing the decision to extradite him to Sweden is not expected to be possible in the foreseeable future.”
When pressed about the issue of whether the US still had a thick and clumsy hand in matters, denial followed. At no point had figures in Washington applied pressure to the case. But Isgren and Ny did claim that an email from a figure claiming to work for the FBI was received in March inquiring about Assange, though both claimed it insufficiently clear to draw any conclusions from.
You say that you want facts – facts and more facts, before you can commit. Before you finally decide to become part of something: a political party, a movement or another human being. You already have plenty of them: an avalanche, a tsunami of facts. “In fact”, your life is overflowing with facts. Most of them are brought directly to your living room or bedrEditoom, or to your office; they shine from the liquid crystals of your computer monitors, and from increasingly flat and sleek television screens.
There is really no need to travel, is there? There is no need to “get dirty”. Without leaving your chair or couch, you can even get some basic science of Newton, Einstein or Leonardo da Vinci. You can experience, second-hand of course, but in the safety and comfort of your home, the most extreme misery of Haitian or Jamaican slums. You can be shown a battleground, you can see the most exotic and most ‘forbidden’ women being made love to by someone else, and you can get inside royal palaces.
The Syrian army is on the way to liberate the ISIS besieged city of some 100,000 and garrison of Deir Ezzor in the east of the country. The U.S. has trained a few thousand “New Syrian Army” insurgents in Jordan and is reportedly prepared to march these and its own forces from Jordan through the east-Syrian desert all the way up to Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. About a year ago it occupied the al-Tanf (al-Tanaf) border station which consists of only a few buildings in the mid of the desert. The station between Syria and Iraq near the Jordan border triangle was previously held by a small ISIS group.
A U.S. move from the south up towards the Euphrates would cut...
Big Pharma and the CDC Can’t be Trusted When It Comes to Vaccines
Last Thursday, May 9, 2017, the Duluth News-Tribune re-published, on their Opinion Page/Other View, an editorial previously published in The Free Press of Mankato, MN. The title of the DNT was “Not Learning from our Errors” and the Free Press title was “Debunked vaccine fear taking toll on Minnesota”.
Also last week a Duluth Reader reader from Tower, MN wrote a letter to the editor criticizing a recent Duty to Warn article of mine that could (and should) undermine the confidence that people have in the vaccine industry and the clinics and physicians who follow the so-called “scientific consensus” on the CDC’s, FDA’s and AAP’s vaccine mandates (and presumably for the rapid... Read More
According to the Constitution, indirect elections would be held, but Parliamentarians are demanding “Direct Elections now!”
The denounce made by Joesley Batista and his brother Wesley—owners of the JBS meat processing company—, which was made public last Wednesday (17) on newspaper O Globo, opened up a very real possibility of impeachment or even resignation for putschist President Michel Temer.
In one of the recordings that was released, Temer herd from Joesley that the businessman was paying former deputy Eduardo Cunha and political operator Lúcio Funaro an... Read More
Continuing the probe into the Wanna Decryptor outbreak, during which that worm paralyzed nearly a quarter million computers worldwide, this second article retraces the hijacking of the EternalBlue exploit (which is vulnerable to WannCry) from the NSA’s vault of cyber-weapons by the team called the Shadow Breakers, who issued repeated warnings about the flaw in older Microsoft systems
In a recent post, the Shadow Breakers explain that they had issued monthly warnings about the EternalBlue problem starting in February, giving Microsoft sufficient time to create a temporary fix, or... Read More