A is for August and Advocacy … in support of the #IranDeal

August is when members of Congress are supposed to be meeting with their constituents to discuss issues before them.  If you get a chance to attend such a meeting, please express your support for the Iran Deal and ask for your Senator’s and Congressman’s support.

As of the date of this post, there are 32 days remaining before Congress must take action on the Iran Deal before them.  Even if you don’t get a chance to attend a meeting, you can always pick up your phone and call their offices:

Senator Harry ReidTwitter
202-224-3542 (DC) / 702-388-5020 (LV) /
775-686-5750 (Reno) / 775-882-7343 (Carson)

Senator Dean HellerTwitter
202-224-6244 (DC) / 702-388-6605 (LV) /
775-686-5770 (Reno) / 775-738-2001 (Elko)

Representative Dina Titus (CD1) … Twitter
202-225-5965 (DC) / 702-220-9823 (LV)

Representative Mark Amodei (CD2) … Twitter
202-225-6155 (DC) / 775-686-5760 (Reno)

Representative Joe Heck (CD3) … Twitter
202-225-3252 (DC) / 702-387-4941 (LV)

Representative Cresent Hardy (CD4) … Twitter
(202) 225-9894 (DC)

The U.S. + Five world powers have reached a deal with Iran to stop its potential path to a nuclear weapon. The deal is supported by over 60 nuclear security experts, more than 100 American ambassadors, 75% of Democrats, and 54% of all Americans.But the architects of the Iraq War are fighting to kill the deal. John Bolton says, 'Preemptive military action is now inescapable' and Bill Kristol says, 'Airstrikes to set back the Iranian nuclear weapons program are preferable to this deal.'Opponents are pressuring Congress by spending over $40 million to put the U.S. on a path to war with Iran. But millions of dollars can't drown out millions of voices.Americans have added more than 700,000 petition signatures and more than 100,000 calls to Congress to defend the deal. Members of Congress have less than 60 days to decide whether or not to veto the deal. Now is the time to flood their offices and town hall meetings.

Visit 60daystostopawar.com to find events near you or to call your member of Congress. Tell them: A vote against the Iran deal is a vote for war.

Resources:

Advertisements

Has Senator Heller Committed Seditious Conspiracy Along Side 46 Other Senators?

Heller 3I awoke this morning to hear that 47 U.S. Senators had signed a letter to the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran basically telling them (1) not to trust our nation’s President to negotiate an agreement as to Iran’s nuclear program, (2) that no matter what might be negotiated, and (3) come 2017 when a new President (presumably Republican) takes office, well, he’ll just scrap that agreement.  Nevada’s Senator Dean Heller was on of those 47 signatures.  News flash Senator Heller, the President of the United States is NOT the lone Emperor of the World!

Here’s Senator Heller’s tweet:

HellerTweet03

Here’s the letter from 47 imbecilic Senators who  don’t understand the U.S. Constitution and the roles different parts of our government play, who have no rudimentary understanding of our obligations under international law and who appear to have colluded to commit seditious conspiracy to undermine the government the swore to faithfully serve:

Javad ZarifAh … but the story doesn’t end with the mere issuance of that letter.  Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Javad Zarif, responded that to the letter signed by the 47 Senators, “in our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history. This indicates that like Netanyahu, who considers peace as an existential threat, some are opposed to any agreement, regardless of its content.”

Zarif was astonished that 47 members of our US Senate, some of whom have held those positions for decades, believe it to be appropriate to write to leaders of another country expressing opposition their own president and administration. Zarif also challenged the lawmakers’ threats, dismissing the letter as a mere “propaganda ploy with no legal value.”  He went further explaining, “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”

Foreign Minister Zarif added that “I should bring one important point to the attention of the authors and that is, the world is not the United States, and the conduct of inter-state relations is governed by international law, and not by US domestic law. The authors may not fully understand that in international law, governments represent the entirety of their respective states, are responsible for the conduct of foreign affairs, are required to fulfil the obligations they undertake with other states and may not invoke their internal law as justification for failure to perform their international obligations.”

Iranian Foreign Minister added that “change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor in a possible agreement about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.” He continued “I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with ‘the stroke of a pen,’ as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.” He emphasized that if the current negotiation with the 5+1 results in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Zarif expressed hope that his comments “may enrich the knowledge of the authors to recognize that according to international law, Congress may not ‘modify the terms of the agreement at any time’ as they claim, and if Congress adopts any measure to impede its implementation, it will have committed a material breach of US obligations.”

The Foreign Minister also informed the authors that majority of US international agreements in recent decades are in fact what the signatories describe as “mere executive agreements” and not treaties ratified by the Senate. He reminded them that “their letter in fact undermines the credibility of thousands of such ‘mere executive agreements’ that have been or will be entered into by the US with various other governments.”

Zarif concluded by stating that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has entered these negotiations in good faith and with the political will to reach an agreement, and it is imperative for our counterparts to prove similar good faith and political will in order to make an agreement possible.”

President Obama also condemned the action of the 47 Senators saying, “I think it’s somewhat ironic to see some members for Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It’s an unusual coalition.”

As far as I’m concerned, I truly hope the Attorney General introduces each and every one of those 47 Senators with reality by charging them with blatant violation of the Logan Act, which ironically is a law passed by the US Congress and signed by President John Adams.  The Logan Act is a U.S. federal law that forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with or interfering with negotiations with foreign governments. It was passed in 1799 and last amended in 1994. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony, punishable under federal law with fines, as well as the possibility of imprisonment of up to three years.  Clearly, the US Constitution does NOT delegate the responsibility for negotiation agreements or treaties to the US Congress.  Foreign affairs is clearly the responsibility of the executive, the President of the United States of America.

This is the second incident the GOP has orchestrated to embarrass the President of the United States and undermine his authority.  When is the President going to finally unleash the Attorney General of the United States to put an end to the seditious conspiracies being concocted against the better interests of these United States?

Exposing Secret Trade Pacts

These deals endanger our democracy — and the safety of our citizens.

By Ron Carver

Ron Carver

NAFTA. CAFTA-DR. TPP. TTIP.

That numbing spoonful of alphabet soup represents four so-called free trade pacts that benefit global capital at the expense of everyone else.

The North American Free Trade Agreement came first, and NAFTA will soon mark its 20thanniversary. The Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement, known officially as CAFTA-DR, went into effect a decade later.

DonkeyHotey / Flickr

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are in the works now. President Barack Obama wants Congress to grant him “fast track” authority to expedite these deals.

Thanks to firm opposition by progressive and tea-partying activists and legislative gridlock, it’s looking like his administration won’t get this power.

Are you one of the hundreds of thousands of manufacturing workers who lost their jobs when U.S. factories moved to Mexico or China? If so, you’re probably more aware of these deals than most Americans.

But all of us should care. You may not believe trade agreements affect you — but they do, profoundly. They also endanger our democracy.

A few cases making their way through shadowy World Bank and UN tribunals should help everyone see what’s dangerous about these deals.

Do you care about the environment and clean water? El Salvador did, and instituted a moratorium on new mining operations after a popular uproar. People there are living with the consequences of gold mining, including the contamination of more than 90 percent of El Salvador’s surface water by cyanide and arsenic.

However, citing the CAFTA-DR trade agreement, a Canadian mining company called Pacific Rim Mining Corporation brought a case before the World Bank’s “investor-state” tribunal. Pacific Rim claims El Salvador has no right to restrict mining on its own soil or to require that disputes be resolved in its own courts.

Never mind that the proposed mine is located by a river supplying two-thirds of El Salvador with drinking water. Or that Canada wasn’t even a party to the CAFTA-DR accord. Pacific Rim simply moved its Cayman Islands office to Reno, Nevada. Then, it declared it had jurisdiction under that pact. When that ploy failed, Pacific Rim cited an obsolete law that has since been rejected and replaced.

Philip Morris took a similarly low road when it tried to stop Australia from requiring tobacco companies to sell cigarettes in plain brown paper packages — minus the cowboys and camels.

After unearthing an old Australian accord with Hong Kong that allows dispute resolution before tribunals, the tobacco titan shifted some investments to Hong Kong. Then it claimed to be an investor there and filed a complaint through its Hong Kong office.

Phillip Morris is now trying to force Australia to abandon its public health initiative or pony up billions to cover the loss of future profits.

Even U.S. regulations are vulnerable.  Apotex, a Canadian drug manufacturer, is suing the United States government for $520 million.  Why?  FDA inspectors temporarily cut off the company’s U.S.-bound exports a few years ago due to manufacturing woes.  Apotex now claims that enforcing U.S. drug safety regulations threatens its potential profits and violates NAFTA’s terms.

How can this be?

Our leaders sell trade deals to the public as a means of building our economy by boosting exports. They don’t talk about big business’s desire to topple national regulations and laws that protect public health, labor rights, and the environment.

That’s because the negotiations are held in secret.

Well, they aren’t entirely secret. The corporations who benefit are invited to participate. After Congress made a stink, its members were finally briefed on the ongoing talks as long as they promise not to divulge anything.

The rest of us are kept in the dark.

And those fast-track votes Obama wants on the TPP and TIPP? They’d deny Congress a chance to add or delete provisions along the lines of the ones companies are using to challenge consumer-protecting laws in El Salvador, Australia, and right here in the United States.

It’s time we demand that trade deals be negotiated in the light of day. To paraphrase a Civil Rights movement’s anthem: “We’ve got the light of freedom — let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”


Ron Carver is an Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow. IPS-dc.org.  TPP graphic compliments of DonkeyHotey / Flickr.  Distributed via
OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

In the News—What I’ve Been Reading

Dean Baker | Economists and Future Living Standards

Dean Baker, Op-Ed: At this point everyone has heard the story of how Social Security and Medicare are going to bankrupt our children. There is a whole industry dedicated to promoting the idea that our kids risk having much lower standards of living than their parents or grandparents because of these programs. This story is routinely repeated in various forms by politicians and columnists who decry the fact that we don’t care enough for our children and that the elderly have too much political power. The remarkable part of this story is that there is no conceivable way that it is true and every economist knows it.

Monsanto Protection Act Proves Corporations More Powerful than US Government

Anthony Gucciardi, News Analysis: It’s called the Monsanto Protection Act among activists and concerned citizens who have been following the developments on the issue, and it consists of a legislative ‘rider’ inside (Farmer Assurance Provision, Sec. 735) a majority-wise unrelated Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill. You may already be aware of what this rider consists of, but in case not you will likely be blown away by the tenacity of Monsanto lobbyist goons.

Monsanto’s Death Grip on Your Food

Fritz Kreiss, News Report: Monsanto has yet another case pending in the court system, this time before the U.S. Supreme Court on the exclusivity of its genetically modified seed patents. Narrowly at issue is whether Monsanto retains patent rights on soybeans that have been replanted after showing up in generic stocks rather than being sold specifically as seeds, or whether those patent rights are “exhausted” after the initial planting. But more broadly the case also raises implications regarding control of the food supply and the patenting of life—questions that current patent laws are ill-equipped to meaningfully address.

My Food Fight: IBD vs. Monsanto

Dhruv Shah and Fritz Kreiss, News Report: “1 in every 250 persons in the UK are affected by inflammatory bowel diseases. Two years ago, I was diagnosed with a type of inflammatory bowel disease called Ulcerative Colitis. It affects up to 120,000 people in the UK, that’s about 1 in 500 and between 6,000 and 12,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.(i) For me it meant that I had to keep running to the bathroom up to 25 times a day. My large bowel at the worst of times would produce bloody mucus and I would have severe cramps. Due to the toxins created by the inflammation it also meant that I would be severely nauseous and could not hold down liquids, let alone food.”

Ten Years Later, U.S. has Left Iraq with Mass Displacement and Epidemic of Birth Defects, Cancers

Amy Goodman, Video Interview: In part two of our interview, Al Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail discusses how the U.S. invasion of Iraq has left behind a legacy of cancer and birth defects suspected of being caused by the U.S. military’s extensive use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus. Jamail has also reported on the refugee crisis of more than one million displaced Iraqis still inside the country, who are struggling to survive without government aid, a majority of them living in Baghdad.

Right To Heal: Iraqi Civilians Join U.S. Veterans in New Effort to Recover from War’s Devastation

Amy Goodman, Video Interview: On the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, we look at how U.S. military veterans and Iraqi civilians have come together to launch “The Right to Heal” campaign for those who continue to struggle with the war’s aftermath. The video interview features U.S. Army Sgt. Maggie Martin, who was part of the invading force in March 2003 and is now director of organizing for Iraq Veterans Against the War. Also Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, joins the conversation and describes how the condition of women has deteriorated in Iraq.

Back to Work Budget is Defeated, But the Struggle Will Continue

Isaiah J. Poole, Op-Ed: The Congressional Progressive Caucus Back to Work Budget, as expected, did not prevail on the floor of the House of Representatives today. It went down to defeat, 84-327. In fact, it did not even win support from a majority of Democrats. But it did win a dramatic outpouring of support from ordinary Americans, which was demonstrated when one of the sponsors of the Back to Work Budget, Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., held a stack of papers representing the more than 102,000 people who signed our petition calling for a “yes” vote for the budget and a “no” vote on the Republican budget of Rep. Paul Ryan, D-Wis.

The Plague of Wall Street Banking

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, Op-Ed: The economic news this week highlights what happens when governments are unable to confront the root cause of the financial collapse—the risky speculation and securities fraud of the big banks. What happens? They blame the people, cut their benefits, tax their savings and demand they work harder for less money. In the U.S. there have been no criminal prosecutions for securities fraud in the big banks. Just as the Justice Department has made it clear that the big banks are too big to jail because doing so jeopardizes the stability of the banking system; financial fraud investigator Bill Black points out that the SEC cannot institute fines that are too big for the same reason.

Dumb Wars, Now and Forever

Robert Scheer, Op-Ed: Yes, a majority of Americans, 53 percent according to this week’s Gallup poll, think it was “a mistake sending troops to fight in Iraq” 10 years ago. But the lessons of our folly will likely not stick for long. The memories fade as we now see in that same Gallup poll with perceptions of the Vietnam War. A majority of Americans ages 18-29 believe sending U.S. troops to Vietnam was “not a mistake.” By contrast, 70 percent of those 50 and older, the generation with contemporary knowledge of the war, think it was.

SOPAC Expedites New Seabed Mining Legislation for Lockheed Martin

Arnie Saiki, News Report: Currently, U.S. military contractor Lockheed Martin is negotiating with Fiji’s Bainimarama administration to fast-track and sponsor new legislation that would allow the private U.S.-based transnational titan to delve into experimental deep seabed mining. Because the U.S. has not ratified the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), U.S. industries cannot engage in deep seabed mining in international waters, outside of a country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Sabotaging the Conversation about Guns

The NRA’s antics could hinder global efforts to reduce weapons sales to terrorists and regimes that abuse human rights.

— by Don Kraus

Don Kraus

Does NRA stand for “No Rational Argument”? In response to the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the gun group’s CEO called for an armed cop in every school and a national database to track the mentally ill. Wayne LaPierre’s widely broadcast proposal prompted the New York Daily News to ask whether this list “should include the paranoid, delusional man himself?”

But this is far from a laughing matter. When it comes to gun violence within the United States and around the entire world, the NRA makes our planet a much more dangerous place for our children and families by using lies, misinformation, and political arm-twisting to support easier access to assault weapons and ammunition.

In the days and weeks to come, debates will rage within the United States on how we can best address the 30 mass shootings that, since 1999, have left over 260 people dead and many more permanently disabled. The NRA will work hard to derail attempts in statehouses and in the nation’s Capitol to tighten controls on the assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. But in New York, there’s another debate brewing where the NRA will also attempt to play the role of spoiler: the upcoming negotiations at the United Nations to establish a worldwide Arms Trade Treaty. The gun group’s antics could impact the lives of millions around the world.

imageIn March, negotiators will meet at the UN for a final round of talks to hammer out a set of common global standards on how countries import, export, and transfer conventional weapons. Every year, 12 billion bullets are produced worldwide. That’s enough to kill nearly everyone on the planet twice. Yet, bananas have stricter international trade regulations than weapons and ammunition.

The Arms Trade Treaty is a common-sense measure that would make it more difficult for weapons to be sold on the black market and halt the flow of weapons to dangerous regimes. This treaty, if enacted, would stop the irresponsible transfer of ammunition and arms to nations that support terrorists and to countries where there is a high risk of weapons being used to violate human rights, like in Syria and Bahrain.

The UN resolution that authorized the treaty talks made sure that the agreement only dealt with international sales and reserved “the exclusive right of (individual nations) to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership.”

Despite this assurance, the NRA’s LaPierre has gone on record saying the Arms Trade Treaty will threaten Americans’ rights to bear arms. Even a senior research fellow from the very conservative Heritage Foundation, Ted Bromund, has debunked this big lie.

“I don’t think that the ATT is a gun confiscation measure for a variety of reasons,” Bromund said. “First, because I don’t regard that as within the bounds of possibility in the United States and secondly, because that is not what the text says.”

But facts have never gotten in the way of those determined to use controversy and fabrication to undermine civil debate. Take Bradlee Dean, a heavy metal drummer, ordained minister, and a columnist for the arch-right publication World Net Daily. He has called the Sandy Hook shootings part of a government plot to win support for the Arms Trade Treaty. As “evidence” he notes that the shootings happened “just days after Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) sent out an alert that the UN was set to pass the final version of the Small Arms Treaty, supported by Obama the day after the election.”

While it would be easy to dismiss Dean as delusional and LaPierre as paranoid, their tactics and goals undermine efforts to protect children and families at home and abroad.

Our nation is clearly ready for a healthy debate on our relationship with guns. The question is, are we prepared to stand together to discredit those who deploy lies and fear to sabotage the conversation?


Don Kraus is the president and CEO of GlobalSolutions.org, a groundbreaking movement of Americans who support a cooperative and responsible U.S. role in the world. Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)