News Releases

An End to Open Internet?

The Wall Street Journal is reporting: “Regulators are proposing new rules on Internet traffic that would allow broadband providers to charge companies a premium for access to their fastest lanes.

“The Federal Communications Commission plans to put forth its rules on Thursday. The proposal marks the FCC’s third attempt at enforcing ‘net neutrality’ — the concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.”

JESSICA GONZALEZ, jgonzalez at nhmc.org, @nhmc
Gonzalez is executive vice president and general counsel at National Hispanic Media Coalition. The group released a statement which reads, “NHMC has long-opposed paid Internet fastlanes because they would be out of reach for non-profits, independent creators and small businesses who have thrived under fair rules of the road. There are countless stories of Latinos and other people of color — who have long faced marginalization from and discrimination in the traditional media system — using the Internet to organize, produce news and entertainment content, and make a living. Allowing large corporations to pay more for better access to Internet users by definition creates a system devoid of equity. Everyone who uses the Internet should be incredibly concerned with this course of action and should raise their voices to encourage the FCC to change course.”

AMALIA DELONEY, amalia at mediajustice.org, @guatemalia
Deloney is policy director at the Center for Media Justice. She said today, “The core of the Open Internet has always been the principle of non discrimination — a commitment to treating all content equally and providing a platform that truly benefits everyone. If today’s reports are accurate, then the FCC is moving away from a democratic standard to one in which big companies can pay more for the access they want. While these companies increase their profits, our communities will face a heightened level of discrimination–where pay-to-play lanes prevent us from telling our own stories accurately, advocating online for our communities, earning a living, and advancing our education. Standards like ‘commercial reasonableness’ will never serve the public interest, instead it allows corporations to pay more, for better access, creating an Internet that is separate and unequal.”

MICHAEL COPPS via Todd O’Boyle, TOBoyle at commoncause.org
A former FCC commissioner, Copps is now a special adviser to Common Cause. Regarding the FCC announcement, he said today, “If true, this proposal is a huge step backwards and just must be stopped. If the Commissioner subverts the Open Internet, it is an insult to both citizens and to the promise of the Net.”

CRAIG AARON via Tim Karr, tkarr at freepress.net
Aaron is the President and CEO of Free Press. “With this proposal, the FCC is aiding and abetting the largest ISPs in their efforts to destroy the open Internet. Giving ISPs the green light to implement pay-for-priority schemes will be a disaster for startups, nonprofits and everyday Internet users who cannot afford these unnecessary tolls. These users will all be pushed onto the Internet dirt road, while deep pocketed Internet companies enjoy the benefits of the newly created fast lanes.

“This is not Net Neutrality. It’s an insult to those who care about preserving the open Internet to pretend otherwise. The FCC had an opportunity to reverse its failures and pursue real Net Neutrality by reclassifying broadband under the law. Instead, in a moment of political cowardice and extreme shortsightedness, it has chosen this convoluted path that won’t protect Internet users.

“This approach is almost certain to be rejected by the courts…The court clearly told the FCC that if it wishes to ensure Internet users can send and receive information free from ISP interference, then the FCC has to classify ISPs as telecom carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.

“The FCC apparently doesn’t realize the dangerous incentives these rules would create. The routing of data on the Internet is a zero-sum game. Unless there is continual congestion, no website would pay for priority treatment. This means the FCC’s proposed rules will actually produce a strong incentive for ISPs to create congestion through artificial scarcity. Not only would this outcome run counter to the FCC’s broader goals, it actually undermines the so-called Section 706 legal basis for these rules.”

TPP Myths

MARTIN KHOR, mkhor at igc.org, @South_Centre
Khor is the executive director of South Centre. He writes the column “Global Trends” for the Daily Star. Two of his recent columns are “Obama and the TPPA” and “Obama’s Visit and the TPPA” in which he writes, “Of concern is that the Congress will only pass the TPPA [Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement] if it has a clause disciplining countries that are ‘currency manipulators.’ …

“A major problem with this Congress’ proposal is how ‘currency manipulators’ are defined. Many developing countries consider the U.S. itself to be a manipulator because the trillions of dollars it has placed in the banking system through its easy-money policy has depressed the value of the dollar to remain at low levels and raised the country’s export competitiveness.

“But that’s not how the Americans define manipulation. Fred Bergsten of the Peterson Institute, a main intellectual force behind the Congress move, proposes three tests to determine a currency manipulator: the country possess excessive official foreign currency assets (more than six months of import value); it has acquired significant additional amounts of official foreign assets, implying substantial intervention, over a recent period of six months; and it has a substantial current account surplus. …

“Bergsten’s ideas are extreme, but they [were] cited by Congressman [Sander] Levin when he made his proposal.

“Can the TPPA countries agree to having a currency manipulation chapter in the agreement? If so, the TPPA will contain a very dangerous element and it will also set a dangerous precedent for other future agreements.”

LORI WALLACH, lwallach at citizen.org, @PCGTW
Wallach is director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. The organization released a statement to reporters covering Obama’s trip to Asia which reads, “Obama arrives in Asia without trade authority and with TPP partners Japan and Malaysia aware that the U.S Congress, which has exclusive constitutional authority over trade policy, is increasingly skeptical about the TPP. January 2014 legislation to enact Fast Track authority was dead on arrival in the U.S. House of Representatives. Already in late 2013,180 House members had announced they would never authorize the Fast Track process again; more announced opposition when the bill was submitted. …

“The TPP’s actual terms undercut the false, but conveniently scary, dichotomy posed as a choice between using TPP to impose ‘our’ rules internationally or living with rules set by China. This argument presumes the TPP to represent ‘our’ rules, but in fact many of the TPP’s terms reflect the narrow special interests of the 600 official U.S. corporate trade advisors that have shaped them. TPP investment rules would promote more U.S. job offshoring and further gut the U.S. manufacturing base that is essential for our national security and domestic infrastructure. TPP procurement rules would ban Buy American policies that reinvest our tax dollars to create economic growth and jobs at home. TPP service sector rules would raise our energy prices and undermine our energy independence and financial stability. TPP drug and copyright terms would raise health care costs and thwart innovation.”

FIFA RAHMAN, fifarahman at hotmail.com, @fifarahman
Rahman is policy manager at the Malaysian AIDS Council. She said today, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a plurilateral trade agreement involving 12 countries, which among other things contains TRIPS+ [Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights] provisions that will reduce access to affordable medicines. In Guatemala, for example, it was found that TRIPS+ had resulted in a large variance in prices of similar medications, and that several lower-cost generic medicines had been removed entirely from the market. In Jordan, it was found that the delay in entry of generics due to TRIPS+ provisions in their Jordan-U.S. free trade agreement had resulted in the government paying an extra USD$18 million per year. …

“In the second half of last year, Malaysia (along with three other countries) was offered a differential treatment package based on income status. This means that Malaysia will be exempted from the TRIPS+ provisions until it reaches high GNI per capita status.

“The major myth is that the differential treatment given to Malaysia on intellectual property based on income level makes it a better deal. Despite Malaysia approaching high GNI per capita, in reality the rich-poor disparity is one of the highest in Southeast Asia so people will not be able to afford medications.”

MARGARET FLOWERS, M.D., mdpnhp at gmail.com, @MFlowers8
KEVIN ZEESE, kbzeese at gmail.com, @KBZeese
Flowers served as congressional fellow for Physicians for a National Health Program. Zeese, a lawyer, is an organizer with PopularResistance.org and its campaign Flush the TPP. Flowers and Zeese are now co-directors of It’s Our Economy and co-hosts of “Clearing the FOG” on WeActRadio. They wrote the piece, “Senator Wyden Starts Round II As He Pushes TPP Fast Track” in which they wrote, “China may actually have a better economic plan than the US, judging by the last decade of economic performance. Maybe the US should reconsider its neoliberal approach of corporate welfare for big business and treating social services as profit centers for Wall Street. For example, there is no question that turning health care into a commodity, with massive subsidies to the insurance industry and for pharmaceutical research, is the most expensive and least efficient approach to providing health care. There is no doubt that simply improving and expanding Medicare to everyone would have provided better quality health care to all Americans. But that would difficult to achieve under an agreement such as the TPP.

“What if China is right that some state owned enterprises, especially for public services, is the better approach? The evidence supports that approach for health care. Why should Wyden be pushing a trade agreement that will destroy excellent ‘state owned’ health care systems as in Japan, Australia and New Zealand and force the failed model of corporate healthcare on nations?”

Consequences of Border Security: ‘Deadly Force’, Native Surveillance

The New York Times reported: “After six years of steep declines across the Southwest, illegal crossings have soared in South Texas while remaining low elsewhere. The Border Patrol made more than 90,700 apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley in the past six months, a 69 percent increase over last year.

“The migrants are no longer primarily Mexican laborers. Instead they are Central Americans, including many families with small children and youngsters without their parents, who risk a danger-filled journey across Mexico. Driven out by deepening poverty but also by rampant gang violence, increasing numbers of migrants caught here seek asylum, setting off lengthy legal procedures to determine whether they qualify.”

TODD MILLER, toddmemomiller at gmail.com, @memomiller
Miller is the author of Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security. He just wrote the piece “They Are Watching You: The National Security State and the U.S.-Mexican Border“.

“On the gate at the entrance to her house, Tohono O’odham member Ofelia Rivas has put up a sign stating that the Border Patrol can’t enter without a warrant. It may be a fine sentiment, reflecting a right embodied in the U.S. Constitution, but in the eyes of the ‘law,’ it’s ancient history. Only a mile from the international boundary, her house is well within the 25-mile zone in which the Border Patrol can enter anyone’s property without a warrant. These powers make the CBP a super-force in comparison to the local law enforcement outfits it collaborates with. Although CBP can enter property warrantlessly, it still needs a warrant to enter somebody’s dwelling. In the small community where Rivas lives, known as Ali Jegk, the agents have overstepped even its extra-constitutional bounds with ‘home invasions’. …

“Americans may increasingly wonder whether NSA agents are scouring their meta-data, reading their personal emails, and the like. In the borderlands no imagination is necessary. The surveillance apparatus is in your face. The high-powered cameras are pointed at you; the drones are above you; you’re stopped regularly at checkpoints and interrogated. …

“At the Border Security Expo, Mark Borkowski, assistant commissioner for the Border Patrol’s Office of Technology, Innovation, and Acquisition, isn’t talking about any of this. He’s certainly not talking about the deaths and abuses along the border, or the firestorm of criticism about the Border Patrol’s use of deadly force. (Agents have shot and killed at least 42 people since 2005.) He is talking, instead, about humdrum things, about procurement and efficiency, as he paces the conference hall, just as he’s done for years. He is talking about the inefficient way crews in Washington D.C. de-iced the wings of his plane before it took off for Phoenix. That is the lesson he wants to drum in about border technology: efficiency.”

28 Years After Chernobyl: ‘Ecological Collapse’?

This Friday, April 26th, is the 28th anniversary of the nuclear reactor explosion at Chernobyl, Ukraine.

LINDA GUNTER, linda at beyondnuclear.org
Gunter is founder and international specialist of Beyond Nuclear. The organization recently released the piece, “Chernobyl No ‘Eden’ Say Beyond Nuclear Experts” which states, “A newly published study has uncovered alarming indications of biological loss and ecological collapse in the area around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor that exploded in Ukraine on April 26, 1986.

“Nuclear boosters have long claimed that the superficial appearance of teeming wildlife in the approximately 1,000 square mile Chernobyl exclusion zone indicates an Eden-like outcome. But the study observed a frightening halt to organic decay and the disappearance of important microbes that indicate the steady advance of a potential ‘silent spring.’…

“‘Highly Reduced Mass Loss Rates and Increased Litter Layer in Radioactively Contaminated Areas,’ published in Oecologia, March 4, 2014, by Mousseau, Milinevsky, Kenney‑Hunt and Møller, found that the natural cycle of decay of organic materials around Chernobyl is largely dependent on microbial communities which have been significantly reduced in these radioactively contaminated zones.”

Ukraine Agreement: ‘Propaganda’ and Low Expectations?

BBC reports: “Russia, the U.S. and the European Union have said that all sides have agreed to steps to “de-escalate” the crisis in Ukraine. …

“Following the Geneva talks, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said there was agreement that all illegal military formations in Ukraine must be dissolved, and that everyone occupying buildings must be disarmed and leave them.”

MIKHAIL BEZNOSOV, [in Ukraine] mikhailb at u.arizona.edu, skype: mikhailb1966
Head of the governing board of the East-Ukrainian Society for International Studies, Beznosov is now an associate professor in sociology at Kharkiv National University. He received his PhD in political science from the University of Arizona, where he continues to be an adjunct professor. He said today, “The proposed plan is the only option to resolve the crisis in its current state. I am still skeptical though, that this is going to release the tensions in the short run. The problem is that Kiev authorities do not control all neo-Nazi or radical nationalist groups who refused to disarm when the government officials demanded disarming. It is also not clear how the disarming will be accepted now by the protesters in Eastern Ukraine, when they saw that this did not work previously with their main adversaries. The other problem is that many of those radical nationalist (neo-Nazi) fighters, who acted for several months in Kiev and now are being used to suppress the protest in the east and the south of Ukraine, were co-opted into the newly formed National Guard of Ukraine and other semi-legal armed ‘militias.’ I do not really see how these problems will be resolved at this point, but with the political will that the three major players put into pressuring the Kiev authorities, perhaps, it can be done eventually.”

Regarding the BBC report where “Mr. Kerry said the extent of the crisis had been highlighted in recent days by the ‘grotesque’ sending of notices to Jews in eastern Ukraine, demanding that they identify themselves as Jewish,” Beznosov said, “I think that this is the typical example when the information is not confirmed but used at such a serious forum. Now we can see the attempt to attach the ‘anti-Semitic’ label to anti-fascist protesters in eastern Ukraine, when in reality the anti-Semitism is a part of the ideology of such groups as ‘Right Sector’ or the political party ‘Svoboda,’ that represent the spectrum of political forces fighting against the protesters in the east and the south of Ukraine.”

JOHN QUIGLEY, quigley.2 at osu.edu
Professor emeritus of international law at Ohio State University, Quigley dealt with the Crimea issue following the breakup of the USSR, at the request of the U.S. Department of State, which was working through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on the issue. Today, he said, “It is a move in the right direction if Mr. Kerry is agreeing to forego new sanctions on Russia. Those sanctions would not have served a purpose in any event.”

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999) and Tackling America’s Toughest Questions (2009). He said today, “Ukraine did not commit itself to constitutional reform and it was very cleverly and deviously drafted language. So no agreement upon this issue. It says nothing about Ukraine staying out of NATO; and it is not a good sign that this was not a joint [media] conference by Lavrov and Kerry.

“Kerry’s allegations [about East Ukraine anti-Semitism] sound like propaganda to me given…all the anti-Semitic statements coming out of Kiev and the warning by the [Ukrainian Chabad Chief] Rabbi Reuven Azman of Kiev [for Jews to leave Ukraine].

“So it does not sound to me as if Kerry is proceeding in good faith here, which is a bad sign.

“Even if they have agreed upon what Lavrov said they agreed upon, how are they going to get the people on the ground on either side to comply?”

STEPHEN COHEN, sfc1 at nyu.edu
Cohen is professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University. His books include Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War. He was interviewed on Democracy Now! this morning.

KC Shooting Suspect: A Long History of ‘Bigotry’

Reuters reports: “A man suspected of killing three people when he opened fire at two Kansas City-area Jewish centers on Sunday afternoon has been formally identified and is expected to face federal hate crimes charges as well as state charges, authorities said on Monday.”

LEONARD ZESKIND, DEVIN BURGHART, dburghart at irehr.org
Zeskind is the president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream. In a statement, he said, “Many of those on IREHR’s boards, including myself, have had past dealings with Frazier Glenn Miller and the effect of this alleged shooter’s racism, anti-Semitism and anti-gay bigotry. Whatever name Mr. Miller goes by today, we remember him from the heavily armed para-military organization he created in North Carolina. We remember the bravery of those from the now-defunct North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence organization who faced Miller down in the 1980s. And we praise the good common sense of the voters in southwest Missouri who did not vote for him when he ran for office in the recent past, and we condemn those who did vote for this raving bigot.”

Burghart is the vice president of IREHR and co-author of Guns & Gavels: Common Law Courts, Militias & White Supremacy. He said today, “The shooting in Overland Park is a tragic reminder that violent racism and anti-Semitism have yet to die, and will live long after Glenn Miller is gone. Those ideas, and the white nationalist groups that keep them alive, must be closely monitored by organizations like the IREHR and others. We must work together to actively oppose them and to build lasting barriers against bigotry. In doing so, we must always strive to promote a truly democratic, multi-racial, inter-faith society for the common good of all.”

Abuja Bombing Sign of Escalating ‘War’ in Nigeria

The Wall Street Journal reports: “A rush-hour bomb blast on Monday at a bus station on the outskirts of Abuja killed at least 71 people, an attack that is likely to raise fresh concerns about security in the Nigerian capital as it prepares to play host to a meeting of leading international investors, entrepreneurs and politicians.”

JAMES E. JENNINGS, jimjennings@earthlink.net,
Jennings is president of Conscience International and executive director of U.S. Academics for Peace. He said today, “With the April 14 blast in Abuja that killed 71 civilians, Nigeria’s war with Boko Haram terrorists is obviously heating up. It appears that, following President Goodluck Jonathan’s recent order for 5,000 troops to move into the area with large numbers of checkpoints, Boko Haram has shifted its attacks to the capital of Abuja.

“Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with the largest economy and two insurgency movements. Although the long-running insurgency in the northeast has been neglected by most Western media, three states there have become incredibly vicious killing fields.

“A Conscience International medical team was in Nigeria during an attack on March 25 that killed 70 unarmed villagers in Borno and Benue. That massacre followed an earlier attack on three villages in Kaduna March 14 that left 119 dead and 250 houses burned. After interviewing wounded victims of some of the attacks, our response is to increase medical aid and begin building houses for some of the thousands of displaced villagers.”

UN Climate Change Report Calls for Immediate Action

The Washington Post reported: “At a meeting in Berlin, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Sunday released a report that found that nations still have a chance to fulfill the goal but must aggressively turn away from relying largely on fossil fuels such as coal for energy and replace them with cleaner energy sources such as solar and wind power. To reach their target of 3.6 degrees (2 degrees Celsius) over preindustrial levels, nations must work together to lower emissions ‘by 40 to 70 percent’ of what they were in 2010, the report said.”

MICHAEL DORSEY, mkdorsey at professordorsey.com, @GreenHejira
Dorsey is the interim director of the energy and environment program at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and former director of Dartmouth’s Climate Justice Research Project. He said today, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report summarizes the best available science on current and expected impacts of climate change from increased concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases. The new IPCC report shows that work to limit climate change must begin now. The costs of avoiding disruptive climate changes are likely to be high and the already disadvantaged will continue to suffer the most. If governments take steps to reduce carbon pollution rapidly and immediately, the overall economic damage could be halved. The IPCC report confirms that climate change is happening and that no continent, country, or region is immune from this unfolding climate catastrophe.”

JANET REDMAN, (508) 340-0464, janet at ips-dc.org
Redman is director of the Climate Policy Program at the Institute for Policy Studies. She said today, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report find definitively that greenhouse gas emissions are rising, and our addiction to fossil fuels is to blame.

“Climate pollution has not only continued to increase, but has done so more rapidly in the last 10 years than was previously thought. It’s more critical than ever that we divest from the fossil fuel industry, and invest in 100% clean, renewable energy for all.”

OSCAR REYES, 34 644-139-190, oscar at ips-dc.org, @_oscar_reyes
Reyes is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He added, “The big picture here is that economic growth at all costs is already threatening people’s lives and livelihoods… Climate change is here, now, and real, with millions of people already feeling the impacts of a warming world.

“World leaders — especially those from developed countries with the most resources at their disposal — are gambling with our future every day as they continue to support dirty energy and refuse to take serious action on climate change.”

GM: Nader Points to Systematic Safety Regulation Failure

RALPH NADER, GARY RUSKIN, ruskin at corporatepolicy.org, @garyruskin
RENA STEINZOR, rstein at law.umaryland.edu

Noted public interest activist and corporate critic Nader recently wrote the piece, “Carnage is a Corporate Tradition” in USA Today.

Nader also joined Rena Steinzor, president of the Center for Progressive Reform, and Gary Ruskin, director at the Center for Corporate Policy, to call on the Congressional Judiciary Committees to enact legislation to create criminal liability for product safety failures. Their letter states: “Revealingly, nearly ten years before this recall, in November 2004, General Motors initiated an engineering inquiry to examine whether a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt ‘can be keyed off with knee while driving.’ In March, 2005 the Cobalt Project Engineering Manager closed this inquiry ‘with no action’ because the ‘lead-time for all solutions is too long,’ and the ‘tooling cost and piece price are too high’ and that ‘[n]one of the solutions seems to fully countermeasure the possibility of the key being turned (ignition turned off) during driving.’ The Project Engineering Manager’s ‘directive’ concludes that ‘none of the solutions represent an acceptable business case.’

“It is clear that this tragedy was mostly preventable if General Motors had properly warned NHTSA and the public at the outset of its documented suspicion of an engineering defect in its cars. …

“The General Motors ignition switch defect is the latest example of a grievous tradition in the history of multinational corporations: the failure to warn U.S. regulators of deadly product defects. This tradition includes, among many other tragedies, the Dalkon Shield, Ford Firestone tires, cigarettes, asbestos, Guidant heart defibrillators, Bayer’s Trasylol, Ford Pintos and Playtex Super-absorbent tampons, to name a few. In March, an FBI investigation revealed that Toyota misled the public about one cause of unintended acceleration in some of its cars, and tried to hide a second cause from NHTSA. …

“The failure to warn is a problem that potentially afflicts most manufacturers, not merely the auto industry. Only a systematic solution will fix this systematic problem. A good solution must be broad in scope. The best solution lies in establishing incentives to strongly predispose corporate officials to promptly disclose product dangers to regulators and the public.”

CLARENCE DITLOW, cmdiii at autosafety.org
Executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, Ditlow said today: “We dispute GM’s claims that its safe to drive the vehicle with just the key in the ignition since rough road conditions can also shut off the ignition.” See the group’s statement: “Consumer Advisory On Gm Ignition Switch Recalled Vehicles.” [PDF]

The group has also states: “NHTSA [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] has sat on a defect petition since November 2013 on a deadly algorithm defect that can cause airbag non-deployment in Chevrolet Impalas with Advanced Airbag Systems approved for compliance with FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) 208 on June 12, 2000. …

Ditlow says: “The Center is deeply troubled that NHTSA once again may have missed an advanced airbag like it did with the Cobalt. The Center is even more troubled that once again NHTSA has kept whatever it is doing secret behind closed doors even though there is a specific legal requirement for NHTSA to make its activities public.

“From calendar year 2000, when GM could have introduced advanced airbag vehicles with the flawed algorithm, just through 2010, there were 143 frontal impact fatalities in model year 2000 to 2010 Chevrolet Impalas where the airbags failed to deploy with 98 of the fatalities being occupants who were lap/shoulder belted.”

Is U.S. Iran Policy “Viable”?

The Guardian reports: “Iran defended its nomination for ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday, after hawks in the U.S. Senate passed legislation to ban the official from entering the country over his alleged role in the 1979 hostage crisis.

“The dispute over Hamid Aboutalebi, Tehran’s pick as its envoy to the UN in New York, threatens to derail talks over Iran’s nuclear program, which are entering a critical phase in Vienna.

“Aboutalebi, a close political adviser to the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, has served as Iran’s ambassador to Belgium, Italy, Australia and the European Union. …

“Press secretary Jay Carney said: ‘We’ve informed the government of Iran that this potential selection is not viable.’ The language was the closest the administration has come to ruling out Aboutalebi being allowed into the country to fulfill a UN role.

“Legislation authored by Republican senator Ted Cruz easily passed the Senate on Monday, after it received the backing of Democratic hawks such as Chuck Schumer. Cruz, a standard-bearer of the right wing of the GOP, called Iran’s nomination a ‘deliberate and unambiguous insult to the United States.’”

REBECCA GRIFFIN, rgriffin at peaceactionwest.org,
Griffin is the political director of Peace Action West. She has written a series of pieces critical of congressional moves on Iran including “Congress is Making it Easier to Go to War with Iran.”

JAMES E. JENNINGS, jimjennings at earthlink.net,
Jennings is president of Conscience International and executive director of U.S. Academics for Peace. He organized a delegation of U.S. academics who visited Iran earlier this year for talks with political, academic and religious leaders.

He said today: “For the U.S. Senate to veto Iran’s choice of UN ambassador is an exercise in hubris and a violation of the spirit of the UN Charter. … Obama should use his executive prerogative and order the State Department to issue the visa anyway. …

“Which outcome does the United States want — negotiations with Iran or a continuation of the 35-year diplomatic impasse? And who is driving U.S. foreign policy going forward — the White House and State Department or Ted Cruz and the hardliners in Congress?”

Jennings said at the conclusion of their visit to Iran: “This is a moment of rare opportunity for both the U.S. and Iran. It would help greatly if both nations can manage to reject the hardliners, avoid paranoia, reduce tensions, and concentrate on future economic development. Iran’s political leadership is moderate and ready to reach an agreement. They are capable and enlightened. The proposals Iran has made to the P5+1 negotiators are eminently reasonable. Even so, everyone admits that time is limited, and that progress on an overall agreement is critical.”

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