Saturday, June 25, 2022

From Ian:

Under the Biden Administration's Watch, Iran Sanctions are Violated with Impunity
The Biden administration's weak leadership -- to hold accountable those who are violating Iran sanctions -- is likely a critical reason the Iranian regime is flamboyantly ignoring the US and forging ahead -- soon, most likely, to become a nuclear state.

Presumably to take even further advantage of the Biden administration's weak leadership, the Iranian regime is also signing long-term agreements with its oil clients to permanently insulate its economy from the US sanctions.

The ruling mullahs are now producing more oil and selling it at levels close to the pre-sanctions era to countries such as China, which desperately needs more oil, while the Biden administration has cut off US oil exploration.

One of its terms [of the deal recently signed between China and Iran] is that China will invest nearly $400 billion in Iran's oil, gas and petrochemicals industries. In return, China will have priority to bid on any new project in Iran that is linked to these sectors. China will also receive a 12% discount and can delay payments by up to two years. China will also be able to pay in any currency it chooses. It is also estimated that, in total, China will receive discounts of nearly 32%.

The Biden administration must impose drastic economic sanctions on Iran's energy and financial sectors: that would threaten the ruling clerics' hold on power, forcing the leadership to recalculate its priorities. The US must hold those who violate the sanctions strictly accountable, and make clear to the ruling mullahs that if they continue advancing their nuclear program, military options are on the table.

Pierre Rehov: Sudan: The Genocide No One Talks About
Civilian institutions are concerned that Sudan's new puppet government is simply a cover for the return of Bashir and that, although he is in prison, he is behind every development in the Sudanese government.

This, apparently, is also the conviction of El Nur. He notes with distress that the massacres organized by the Janjaweed and the Rapid Intervention Forces have not seen any let up. Daily peaceful demonstrations in Khartoum and the rest of the country are interrupted by the police and state militias, who fire live ammunition at the crowds, while raids are conducted throughout Sudan. Homes are burned. Villagers are forced into the desert without food or water. Summary executions take place. Women and children are crushed by cars. Students are mown down by bullets.

To this day, although the American government has scrupulously honored its part of the agreement, the Sudanese authorities have been careful not to respect the slightest paragraph.

In northern Sudan, mercenaries from the Wagner Group, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, have, with the apparent complicity of the regime, taken over the main gold mines of Al-Ibediyya. Day and night, extracting this gold is carried out by "free" Sudanese whose symbolic salary is close to slavery. Where does this gold go? No one is sure, but reportedly it could be feeding the coffers of Moscow and perhaps those of its ally, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, Iran.

Last month, the Biden administration suspended all aid to Sudan, including that linked to its normalization agreement with Israel, and informed Jerusalem that no support should be given to the Khartoum government until there are democratic elections.
Bennett: I won't rule out sitting under Netanyahu in future
The 24th Knesset may disperse as early as Monday evening, exactly a week after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s dramatic announcement to that effect.

While there are still a number of parliamentary hurdles to clear, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Friday that the negotiations to form an alternate government led by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu had been exhausted, leaving elections as the only remaining option.

Bennett’s political future is unclear. He met with his longtime political partner Shaked on Friday for the first time since Monday’s announcement, which he made while she was on an official visit to Morocco. The two are set to meet again on Sunday, presumably to discuss their political future.

In interviews on all three major television news outlets aired on Saturday evening, Bennett said that he would not announce his plans for the future until the Knesset officially disperses, but that his decision will be based on whether his remaining in politics would or would not contribute to healing the schism between Israel’s different sectors.

Candidate for Colorado State House criticized for old anti-Semitic tweets
A Democratic candidate running to represent District 6 in the Colorado State House drew condemnation from local Jewish leaders after news of her past tweets mirroring anti-Semitic rhetoric emerged.

Candidate Elisabeth Epps’s Twitter posts were first reported on June 10 by Intermountain Jewish News. Screenshots of the controversial tweets were posted on social media earlier this week by the watchdog group

Epps serves as executive director of the Colorado Freedom Fund, a nonprofit organization that helps bail out individuals who cannot afford the cost of a bond in Colorado.

Her tweets, some of which invoked anti-Semitic tropes about Jews and money, were shared on Epps’s personal Twitter account @elisabeth, which is now set to private mode.

“Rebecca and Benjamin. Hmmm. #POTUS starts out #SOTU low-key reminding you that Israel is constituent #1,” Epps wrote in one tweet. Subscribe to The JNS Daily Syndicate by email and never miss our top stories

In another, she wrote: “We are just right for old bigoted Jewish billionaires with Alzheimer’s tho! We’re their grandkids age!”

“I want to be a Jewish lawyer billionaire pro-sports team owner when I grow up. 1 down, 3 to go,” stated another of Epps’ tweets.

2 dead, 21 hurt in Oslo terror attack near gay bar; suspect of Iranian descent held
Two people were killed and at least 21 others wounded in shootings near bars in central Oslo early Saturday that police were treating as a “terrorist attack.”

Police said a suspect had been arrested following the shootings, which occurred around 1:00 a.m. (2300 GMT Friday) in three locations, including a gay bar, close together in the center of the Norwegian capital.

“The police are investigating the events as a terrorist attack,” police said in a statement.

Police said the suspect arrested was a Norwegian national of Iranian descent.

The man was known to domestic intelligence services and had previous brushes with the law for minor infractions like knife and drug possession, police told a press conference, without naming the suspect.

A Pride march that was due to take place in the capital on Saturday afternoon was called off following the violence in the normally tranquil city.

“All events linked to Oslo Pride have been canceled” following “clear” recommendations by police, the organizers wrote on Facebook.

Police said two people had died and 21 were wounded, including 10 seriously in the attacks, and said two weapons had been seized. Advertisement

“Now everything indicates that there was only one person who committed this act,” police official Tore Barstad earlier told a press briefing.
Norway raises terror alert to highest level after deadly mass shooting near gay bar
Olav Roenneberg, a journalist from Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, said he witnessed the shooting.

“I saw a man arrive at the site with a bag. He picked up a weapon and started shooting,” Roenneberg told NRK. “First I thought it was an air gun. Then the glass of the bar next door was shattered and I understood I had to run for cover.”

Another witness, Marcus Nybakken, 46, said he saw a lot of people running and screaming and thought it was a fist fight.

“But then I heard that it was a shooting and that there was someone shooting with a submachine gun,” Nybakken told Norwegian broadcaster TV2.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in a Facebook post that “the shooting outside London Pub in Oslo tonight was a cruel and deeply shocking attack on innocent people.”

He said that while the motive was unclear, the shooting had caused fear and grief in the LGBTQ community.

“We all stand by you,” Gahr Støre wrote.

Iran-US Nuclear Talks to Resume ‘In the Coming Days,’ Tehran and EU Say
Iran’s indirect talks with the United States on reviving the 2015 nuclear pact will resume soon, the Iranian foreign minister said on Saturday amid a push by the European Union’s top diplomat to break a months-long impasse in the negotiations.

“We are prepared to resume talks in the coming days. What is important for Iran is to fully receive the economic benefits of the 2015 accord,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said, adding that he had held a “long but positive meeting” with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

The pact appeared close to being revived in March when the EU – which is coordinating negotiations – invited foreign ministers representing the accord’s parties to Vienna to finalize an agreement after 11 months of indirect talks between Tehran and President Joe Biden’s administration.

But the talks have since been bogged down, chiefly over Tehran’s insistence that Washington remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), its elite security force, from the US Foreign Terrorist Organization list.

“We are expected to resume talks in the coming days and break the impasse. It has been three months and we need to accelerate the work. I am very happy about the decision that has been made in Tehran and Washington,” Borrell told a televised news conference in Tehran.

Two officials, one Iranian and one European, told Reuters ahead of Borrell’s trip that “two issues including one on sanctions remained to be resolved,” comments that Iran’s Foreign Ministry has neither confirmed nor denied.

“We agreed on resumption of negotiations between Iran and US in the coming days, facilitated by my team, to solve the last outstanding issues,” Borrell tweeted, without specifying the venue.

“And the coming days mean coming days. I mean, quickly, immediately.”

Iran vows to press ahead with nuclear development until West ends ‘illegal behavior’
The head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council vowed on Saturday to push ahead with nuclear development until the West ends its “illegal behavior,” the Reuters news agency reported, citing Iranian state media.

“Iran’s retaliatory actions in the nuclear sector are merely legal and rational responses to US unilateralism and European inaction and will continue as long as the West’s illegal practices are not changed,” Ali Shamkhani said in a meeting with top EU diplomat Josep Borrell.

He added that Iran would reject any agreement that doesn’t include guarantees from the US and Europe or provide the Islamic Republic with economic benefits.

Borrell tweeted that he and Shamkhani had an “important meeting” aimed at bringing the nuclear deal “back on track,” without elaborating further.

The EU diplomat met Shamkhani while visiting Tehran as part of efforts to revive stalled nuclear talks.

Talks on reviving the Iran nuclear deal, which have been stalled for three months, are expected to resume within days, Borrell said earlier Saturday.

Russia Spreads Fake Images of Anti-Russian Stickers at Auschwitz Museum
The Auschwitz-Birkenau museum in Poland said on Friday that it was the target of propaganda spread by Russian state agencies in order to bolster the Kremlin narrative of the Ukrainian government’s “Nazi” ties or character.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials repeatedly claimed the invasion of Ukraine was aimed at “denazifying” the neighboring country.

The museum said that social media posts falsely claim to show anti-Russian stickers placed around the memorial at the former site of the Auschwitz death camp site in southern Poland, an area under German occupation during World War II.

“Russia and Russians,” the stickers appearing in fake images say, “the only gas you and your country deserve is Zykon B,” in a reference to the gas used in the mass murder of Jews and others at the death camp, which operated during 1940-1945.

The images were tweeted by official Russian sites, including the Russian Arms Control Delegation in Vienna, and retweeted by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the apparent intention of portraying Russians as targets of Western bigotry.

The Auschwitz Museum said no such stickers were found at the places depicted in the images, and that security cameras did not capture anyone affixing anything to the locations.
Home of Assassinated Jewish German Politician Remade as Art Installation Upon 100th Anniversary of His Murder
The country home of Germany’s first and only Jewish foreign minister is being reinvented into an art installation to mark 100 years since his assassination by far-right extremists in Berlin.

Oxford University’s Jewish Country Houses Project and UrKultur, an international arts consultancy firm, have commissioned a new artwork in the house, known as Schloss Freienwalde, by British-German painter Sophie von Hellermann. The estate was owned by Walther Rathenau, a former foreign minister of the Weimar Republic.

“Using her characteristic loose and lively brush strokes, von Hellermann is painting both on canvases, as well as directly onto the walls bringing some of the lost spirit back to the Schloss,” said urKultur. “Contemporary photographs give a strong sense of the Schloss interior during Rathenau’s lifetime. Starting from these images, von Hellermann’s work will hint towards both the life once lived there and a possible future.”

The installation will open to the public on Saturday, and a partnering show at the gallery Wentrup in Berlin opens in July.

Rathenau published a number of writings on the nation state, economy, war and revolution, including “Of Things to Come” in 1917. On June 24, 1922, only three months after becoming foreign minister, he was assassinated in Berlin on his way to work by far-right extremists, becoming “a martyred icon of German democracy,” urKultur explained. His assassins later committed suicide but the man who helped them escape the scene of the killing, Ernst Techow, was tried in court and convicted.

Rathenau acquired and restored Schloss Freienwalde, a former Prussian royal palace outside of Berlin, in 1909. It is now a museum dedicated to his life.

On Friday, the 100th year anniversary of Rathenau’s murder, the German Embassy in Canada paid tribute to his memory, writing in a Twitter post, “It’s 100 years later but the dangers of right-wing extremism and terror are still vital in Germany and the world. With various projects … we continue our work against right-wing extremism, fascism, racism and antisemitism.”
Judge okays $1.2 billion settlement for Surfside collapse victims
A judge in Florida approved a $1.2 billion settlement just hours before the one-year anniversary of the residential tower collapse in Surfside on June 24, which killed 98 people.

The victims’ families and residents who were injured from the building’s collapse will share $1 billion dollars in compensation from nearly two dozen defendants, including a company that managed safety at the tower.

Condo owners will split an estimated $96 million in proceeds from the sale of the land where the Champlain Towers South stood. A Dubai developer is reportedly in talks to purchase the land for a new project.

Another $100 million will go to legal fees for the dozens of lawyers involved in the case.

While Miami Judge Michael Hanzman said this was the most complicated case he had seen in his 35-year career, he called the outcome “remarkable.”

No victims or their families chose to opt out of the settlement, and Hanzman said the decision avoided the need for a trial that could have lasted a decade.

Family members of the 98 victims gathered Thursday night to mark the moment at 1:22 a.m. when the building began to collapse last year. First lady Jill Biden was scheduled to speak at a public memorial event on the site on Friday.
Victims of Surfside collapse remembered at site where tower once stood
A year ago in the middle of the night, a 12-story oceanfront condo building in Surfside, Florida, came down with a thunderous roar, leaving a giant pile of rubble and claiming 98 lives — one of the deadliest structure collapses in US history.

The names of each victim were read aloud during a ceremony Friday to mark the somber anniversary, attended by political figures, first responders and family members of those who died at Champlain Towers South on June 24, 2021.

“Exactly 365 days ago, my house imploded, my home collapsed with everything and everyone inside but… I am alive, and I have the chance to rediscover something that motivates me to smile again, to fight, to be a whole person,” said Raquel Oliveira, whose husband and 5-year-old son died in the collapse.

“Let’s not give up on justice, love, gratitude, forgiveness. Let’s not give up life. We have not come this far just to come this far,” she added.

The disaster was the largest non-hurricane emergency response in Florida history. It drew rescue crews from across the US and as far away as Israel to help local teams dig through the pile and search for victims. Representatives of the Israel Defense Force’s Home Front Command attended the ceremony.

They were honored Friday for their difficult work.

“Your dedication and selflessness were on display for the entire world,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “Thank you for your heroic efforts.”

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