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Enough Already About Security For Sochi

By Scott Antel | The Moscow Times | February 3, 2014

We are receiving an almost daily bombardment of security warnings about the Sochi Olympics from the U.S. State Department, various U.S. military agencies and members of Congress. Many of them are appealing for a larger U.S. role to help protect the Games and those attending.

Security, of course, must be the highest priority at such a high-profile event. But it should not be taken to the level of repetitive “scare mongering,” particularly when it comes from parties with prominent commercial ties to the military–industrial complex.

This same cast of characters protest too much, and they do it every time someone else tries to host a party. We saw it at Athens 2004, where primarily U.S. and Israeli defense industry interests stirred up such post 9/11 paranoia to drive attendees away and blow the budget by several billion in last minute security equipment expenditure.

It was less at Beijing 2008 because the Chinese had it well under control and gave short shrift to anyone suggesting otherwise.

During the London Games in 2012, U.S. alarm over security and organizational matters prior to the Games tried British patience. When presidential candidate Mitt Romney raised his “grave concerns” about the Games during a visit, even quality English broadsheets branded him “Mitt the Twit” on their front pages.

These security concerns always come from interested parties connected with the “war machine” who seem to think that only U.S. security apparatus and hardware can save the world from evildoers. They forget the fact that the last terrorist attack on an Olympic site in the past 40 years was at Atlanta 1996.

But in this week’s and next week’s newspapers, when you read even more about security concerns in Sochi, check the background of those speaking and recall former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower’s prophetic warning about the military-­industrial complex.

We have heard enough about security concerns for the Games. Thank you, everyone gets it.

February 4, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

Can Right and Left Rally Against Walmart?

337112_protest against Wal-Mart

By Ralph Nader | November 28, 2013

One of the most profitable corporations in America is having a holiday food drive. Sounds good — it’s the least Corporate America can do for those struggling to make ends meet while big companies rake in record profits and give so little back. But wait… there’s a catch. The food drive is for the company’s own underpaid, poverty-stricken workers. You really can’t make this stuff up.

Last week, it was reported that a Walmart store in Canton, Ohio is asking for food donations for its own employees. Photos of the food donation bins circulated online showing signs that read: “Please donate food items here so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.” (That’s if they even have a chance to — Walmart stores are open on Thanksgiving and are beginning their “Black Friday” deals at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on the holiday shopping madness.)

Walmart is America’s largest employer with a workforce consisting of 1.3 million “associates.” The company made nearly $17 billion in profit last year. So why can’t Walmart afford to pay its own store workers enough for them to enjoy a holiday meal with their families? The answer is Walmart doesn’t really care about its workers.

If the Walmart food donation drive doesn’t get you properly steamed, then consider that Walmart CEO, Mike Duke, makes approximately $11,000 an hour — he took home about $20.7 million last year, plus ample benefits. Still not mad? It has also recently been reported that Duke has a retirement package worth more than $113 million! That is 6,200 times larger than the average 401k savings of a non-executive level Walmart employee! (Check out this recent report which charts other massive CEO pensions in relation to those of average workers)

One final fact to really get your dander up — The Walton family, heirs to the Walmart fortune, have accumulated more financial wealth than the entire bottom 40 percent of the population of the United States or 313 million Americans. That’s six Waltons worth a combined $102.7 billion!

No matter what one’s political leanings may be, the problem of massive income inequality and insatiable corporate greed is worsening year-by-year as CEO salaries rise, overall corporate profits soar and worker salaries stagnate. Liberal or conservative–all Americans should be outraged by this trend.

I recently wrote to conservative anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist to bring both sides of the political spectrum together on this troubling issue. In the past, Mr. Norquist and I have backed popular, reasonable policies, such as putting the full text of government contracts online, rolling back corporate welfare and opposing the civil liberties restrictive Patriot Act. As someone who claims to care about taxpayer protection, the issue of poverty-level wages and their major effect on taxpayers should be an important issue for Mr. Norquist.

Here’s why — low wages at the 10 largest fast food chains cost taxpayers $3.8 billion per year. Fifty-two percent of families of fast food workers have to rely on government assistance. McDonald’s’ “McResource” help line goes so far as to advise workers who cannot make ends meet from their poverty-level wages to sign up for government food stamps and home heating assistance. Is it fair that taxpayers have to shell out $1.2 billion a year to subsidize McDonald’s paying its workers while the fast food giant rakes in $5.5 billion in profit?

Walmart is even worse — according to a study from the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce study, a single Walmart Supercenter store in Wisconsin can cost taxpayers upwards of $1.75 million in public assistance programs. If taxpayers have to cover over $1 million for just one 300-employee superstore, consider how much Walmart is costing taxpayers each year at their 4,135 stores in the United States. According to the 2012 “Walmart Associate Benefits Book”, which is distributed to employees, the company also advises its workers about getting on public assistance. Is this a fair or reasonable burden on taxpayers as Walmart reports $17 billion in profits?

Over the past five years, Walmart has had enough excess funds to buy back billions in its own stock. Walmart reportedly spent $7.6 billion last year buying back its shares. These funds are enough to raise the salaries of the lowest paid workers by $5.83 an hour. Catherine Ruetschlin, policy analyst at Demos, stated in a recent release: “These share repurchases benefit an increasingly narrow group of people, including the six Walton family heirs. But buybacks do not improve the fundamentals of the firm. If the funds were used to raise the pay of Walmart’s 825,000 low paid workers, it would not harm the retailer’s competitive ability and would add no cost to the consumer.”

(See the recent report from Demos titled: “A Higher Wage is Possible”)

The quickest way to lessen reliance on food stamp, EITC and Medicaid outlays is to raise the federal minimum wage. Raising the wage has the backing of 80 percent of Americans, 69 percent of Republicans, and even writers from The National Review and The American Conservative magazines. So why isn’t there more rage from the other end of the political spectrum? Even Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney supported raising the minimum wage to keep up with inflation — at least until Mitt Romney flip-flopped on the issue during the 2012 election.

The support of Grover Norquist and the Congressional followers of his no-tax pledge would be a significant boost for 30 million struggling workers who make less today than workers made in 1968, inflation adjusted. With a doubling in both worker productivity and the cost of living, there is no excuse for such a decline in their livelihoods.

Mr. Norquist, join this fight to protect taxpayers. Underpaid workers (who are also taxpayers) and their families need your support.

November 27, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Religous students found guilty of being Pakistani

By Charles Davis | False Dichotomy | November 21, 2013

When a man shot up a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last year, Barack Obama announced how “deeply saddened” he was that such an attack “took place at a house of worship.” His Republican challenger for the presidency, Mitt Romney, likewise expressed his disgust at “a senseless act of violence . . . that should never befall any house of worship.”

At the time, that was grotesquely funny because, by that point, Barack Obama had himself committed numerous acts of senseless violence against houses of worship. And, being the commander-in-chief of a military fighting a war in Afghanistan and Pakistan that he dramatically expanded upon taking office, he has continued to bomb religious institutions ever since.

As Reuters reported on Wednesday:

A suspected U.S. drone fired on an Islamic seminary in Pakistan’s northwestern region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa early on Thursday, killing at least five people, police said. […]

Fareed Khan, a police officer, said the unmanned aircraft fired at least three rockets at the madrassa in the Hangu district, killing two teachers and three students just before sunrise on Thursday.

Now, and this is important: an anonymous official did say a potentially bad person was potentially seen at that madrassa a few days earlier (potentially), so Barack Obama can sleep soundly at night knowing he authorized the killing of a few people who were probably familiar with that bad guy…

Meanwhile Reuters continues:

The attack took place a day after Pakistan’s foreign policy chief Sartaj Aziz was quoted as saying that the United States had promised not to conduct drone strikes while the government tries to engage the Taliban in peace talks.

The United States has not commented on Aziz’s remarks.

I’m really pretty sure that it has.

November 21, 2013 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Threat to Nuke Tehran

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | October 26, 2013

When the largest donor to Republican political organizations urges the U.S. military to detonate a nuclear bomb in an Iranian desert with the explicit warning that “the next one is in the middle of Tehran,” you might expect that major American political figures and large U.S. media outlets would strongly denounce such genocidal blackmail.

After all, Tehran has a population of more than eight million people with millions more living in the suburbs. So, this threat to exterminate Tehran’s inhabitants from casino mogul Sheldon Adelson would be comparable to someone nuking an empty space in the United States as a warning that if Americans didn’t capitulate to some demand, a nuclear bomb would be dropped on New York City, the site of Adelson’s ugly threat.

The fact that the scattered outrage over Adelson’s remarks on Oct. 22 was mostly limited to the Internet and included no denunciations from prominent U.S. politicians, including leading Republicans who have benefited from Adelson’s largesse, suggests that many Muslims and especially Iranians are right to suspect that they are the object of obscene prejudice in some American power circles.

Indeed, HuffingtonPost published a vociferous defense of Adelson’s comments by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who organized the event at Yeshiva University where Adelson spoke. Boteach, who has been hailed as the “most famous Rabbi in America,” treated Adelson’s nuke threat as innocent hyperbole only underscoring how aggressively the world should treat Iran.

Instead of apologizing for letting Adelson go unchallenged as he mused about murdering millions of Iranians, Boteach expressed outrage over the few expressions of outrage about Adelson’s plan.

I found the reaction to his statement illuminating as to the double standards that are often employed on matters relating to Israel,” wrote Boteach, who then reprised the infamous false translation of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supposedly saying “that Israel must be wiped off the map.”

Boteach then added to the false quote the assumption that if Israel ceased to exist as a Jewish state, that would require “the murder of the six million Jews who live there [as] the precondition of such erasure.” However, there is the other possibility that Israel/Palestine could become like the United States, a country that has no official religion but that respects all religions.

To lay out only the two extremes – that Israel must be officially a Jewish state (with non-Jews made second-class citizens or stateless people) as one option and the other that all the Jews must be murdered – invites either apartheid or genocide.

Boteach also misrepresented recent comments by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei about destroying Tel Aviv and Haifa. The rabbi left out the context of Khamenei’s remark: the threat was predicated on Israel having first militarily attacked Iran. In other words, Khamenei was saying that if Israel destroyed Iranian cities, Iran had the right to retaliate against Israeli cities.

Israel’s Rogue Nuke Arsenal

But one thing that Iran has never threatened to do is to drop a nuclear bomb on Israel. First, Iran doesn’t have a nuclear bomb; has foresworn any interest in building one; has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allowing in inspectors; and has offered to accept even more intrusive inspections in exchange for removal of economic sanctions.

By contrast, Israel possesses one of the world’s most sophisticated nuclear arsenals, albeit one that is undeclared and existing outside international inspections since Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. I’ve also been told that Israel’s military contingency plan for possibly attacking Iran’s hardened nuclear sites includes use of low-yield nuclear weapons.

So, loose talk from a prominent American Zionist about the value of the United States launching a ballistic nuclear strike from Nebraska targeting an Iranian desert with the explicit follow-up threat that the next nuke would obliterate Iran’s capital could be read by the Iranians as a real possibility, especially considering Adelson’s close ties to prominent Republicans.

The fact that such a discussion was held in New York City with no meaningful repercussions for Adelson could be read further as a message to Iran that it might well need a nuclear deterrence to protect itself from such terroristic blackmail.

Boteach’s HuffingtonPost commentary also focused only on the part of Adelson’s remark about dropping a nuclear bomb in an unpopulated area of Iran, where only “a couple of rattlesnakes, and scorpions, or whatever” would be killed.

Treating the idea like some kind of humanitarian gesture, not a genocidal extortion threat, Boteach wrote, “Sheldon’s glib comments about nuking rattle snakes seemed to rattle many of the bloggers who were at our event even more than Ahmadinejad’s threats.”

But what made Adelson’s remark even more stunning than his idea of a demonstration nuclear attack in the desert was the follow-up warning: “Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development.”

At that point, the audience at Yeshiva University interrupted Adelson with applause.

The obvious problem with this kind of blackmail threat, of course, is that it requires the extortionist to follow through if the other side doesn’t capitulate. To be credible, you have to back up the warning – “you want to be wiped out?” – by actually wiping the other side out.

Republican Influence

If Adelson were simply an eccentric old billionaire spouting threats of genocide at some university forum in New York City, that would be bad enough. But Adelson is an important behind-the-scenes figure in the Republican Party.

Nearly singlehandedly, Adelson kept afloat the 2012 presidential campaign of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and then threw his vast financial resources behind the Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who accompanied Adelson on a high-profile trip to Israel that was designed to highlight tensions between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Romney’s warm reception in Israel was seen as effectively an endorsement of his candidacy by Netanyahu, who has rattled many of his own military sabers at Iran. While in Israel, Romney delivered a belligerent speech suggesting that he, as U.S. president, would happily support an Israeli war against Iran.

Romney told an audience of Israelis and some wealthy pro-Israel Americans that he is prepared to employ “any and all measures” to stop Iran from gaining a nuclear weapons “capability,” a vague concept that arguably already exists.

Romney’s speech in Jerusalem was accompanied by a comment from his top foreign policy adviser Dan Senor seeming to endorse an Israeli unilateral strike against Iran. “If Israel has to take action on its own,” Senor said, “the governor would respect that decision.”

Romney said, “today, the regime in Iran is five years closer to developing nuclear weapons capability. Preventing that outcome must be our highest national security priority. … We must not delude ourselves into thinking that containment is an option. We must lead the effort to prevent Iran from building and possessing nuclear weapons capability.

“We should employ any and all measures to dissuade the Iranian regime from its nuclear course, and it is our fervent hope that diplomatic and economic measures will do so. In the final analysis, of course, no option should be excluded.”

By elevating Iran’s achievement of a nuclear weapons “capability” to America’s “highest national security priority” and vowing to “employ any and all measures” to prevent that eventuality, Romney was essentially threatening war against Iran under the current circumstances. In that, he went beyond the vague language used by President Obama, who himself has sounded belligerent with his phrasing about “all options on the table” to stop Iran if it moves to build a nuclear weapon.

However, the nuance was significant, since U.S. intelligence agencies – and even their Israeli counterparts – have concluded that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear weapon even as it makes progress in a nuclear program that Iranian leaders say is for peaceful purposes only. Still, those lessons from a peaceful nuclear program arguably can give a country a nuclear weapons “capability.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “US/Israel: Iran NOT Building Nukes.”]

Though Romney lost the 2012 election, his point of view is common among pro-Israel hawks in Congress and throughout Official Washington’s think-tank and media communities. Adelson also wields real influence because he, along with his wife Miriam, has poured a fortune into the U.S. political process, calculated at $92.8 million to outside political groups during the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

And, it is his kind of crazy talk, not uncommon among extreme Zionists, that makes any political settlement of the Middle East disputes next to impossible.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

October 26, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Israel Lobby’s War on America’s Middle East Oil Dependence

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | October 26, 2012

A couple of days ago, I wrote about an article in The National Interest magazine by a visiting fellow at a pro-Israel think tank that argued that the United Arab Emirates may be violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act by its funding of ostensibly environmental anti-drilling films. As might be expected, Susan Schmidt’s piece entitled “Lobbying through the Silver Screen” appears to be part of a broader campaign by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies to end America’s energy dependence on Israel’s recalcitrant neighbors.

On October 15, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) website published an op-ed piece by FDD senior fellow John Hannah tellingly entitled “How Oil Dependence Undermines America’s Effort to Stop the Iranian Bomb.” Citing the neocon-mentored Mitt Romney campaign promise of achieving “North American energy independence,” Hannah goes on to argue that dependence on Middle East oil not only endangers U.S. economic security but also serves as a constraint on its strategic freedom of movement in the region. “Concerns about oil prices,” claims Hannah, “have often badly distorted U.S. policy toward the Middle East.” As the title of his piece suggests, however, the “distortion” that most troubles the FDD is how this energy dependence makes Washington think twice before doing Israel’s bidding in the region:

The most acute example is the effort to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions. U.S. policymakers have long known that the most effective step we could take against the mullahs is to cut off Iran’s oil sales and starve them of the enormous revenues they need to keep their repressive regime afloat. Yet for years, first President Bush and then President Obama fiercely resisted sanctioning the Islamic Republic’s petroleum sector. The reason? Because they quite legitimately feared that removing Iranian crude from the market would disrupt global supplies and trigger a devastating price shock. Only in late 2011, with Iran rapidly approaching the nuclear threshold, did Congress finally steamroll the administration by forcing through legislation that targeted Iranian oil.

Even then, implementation of the sanctions was watered down. The administration was given a six-month grace period to assess the possible impact that sanctions would have on the global oil market. And rather than demanding that customers of Iranian oil end their purchases entirely, countries were granted waivers from U.S. sanctions if they only “significantly reduced” their buy — which in practice required them to cut back between 15 and 20 percent. While the U.S. effort, together with complimentary EU sanctions, have no doubt had a major effect on Iran’s economy — reducing its oil exports by as much as 50 percent — a full embargo would have been far more impactful and the obvious course of action for Washington to pursue if not for the countervailing concern about oil markets. In the meantime, the Iranian regime continues to pocket perhaps $3 billion per month from the million or so barrels of oil that it still exports daily, all the while pressing ahead with its nuclear program.

America doesn’t have a higher national security priority than stopping the world’s most dangerous regime from going nuclear. And yet the sad reality is that our dependence on oil has for years, and to our great peril, systematically deterred us from fully deploying the most powerful tool in our arsenal — all-out sanctions on Iran’s petroleum sector — for resolving the crisis peacefully. Not surprisingly, that underlying logic applies in spades when it comes to any discussion about the possible use of force against Iran, where predictions of oil spiking to an economy-crippling $200 per barrel are commonplace.

The fact that our oil vulnerability has put such severe constraints on our freedom-of-maneuver to address the most pressing national security threat we face is deeply troubling.

Fortunately, there is a solution to the think tank’s concerns about U.S. “freedom” to address what it and other pro-Israel groups have worked so hard to convince Americans is their latest “most pressing national security threat.” As Hannah points out, “the United States is experiencing an oil and gas boom that promises to transform our energy landscape in very fundamental ways”:

Thanks to American ingenuity and technology, U.S. production is poised to increase dramatically over the next decade, after years of steep decline. As Governor Romney has correctly emphasized, through close cooperation with democratic allies in Canada and Mexico, the goal of energy self-sufficiency for North America may well be within reach — an unthinkable prospect just a few years ago, and one whose benefits in terms of job creation and economic growth could be quite profound.

Presumably more important — at least from a pro-Israel perspective — than the “potential economic windfall” for Americans is, as Hannah puts it, “how we can best exploit the coming energy boom to really enhance U.S. national security.” For him, enhancing U.S. security seems to be synonymous with going to war with Iran — notwithstanding the view of more objective analysts that this would seriously, if not fatally, exacerbate American insecurity. Nevertheless, according to the FDD fellow, the major obstacle to this supposedly security-enhancing military action are fears that it would lead to rocketing oil prices. To remove this problematic impediment in the way of another war for Israel, Hannah proposes:

It seems that what really needs to be part of the mix is a viable, bipartisan, market-driven strategy for reducing the monopoly that oil has over our transportation sector. If a sensible way could be found to begin moving some significant portion of U.S. cars and trucks to run on cheaper, domestically produced alternative fuels — natural gas, methanol, electric — it would largely eliminate the sword of Damocles that Middle Eastern tyrannies like Iran now hold over the West’s economic wellbeing and its strategic decision-making. That would put us on the path toward true energy independence, and restore to the United States a degree of flexibility, leverage, and strength to pursue its interests and values abroad, especially in the Middle East, that we have not known for at least a generation.

While acknowledging the difficulty of the task ahead, Hannah is cautiously optimistic:

Perhaps once the upcoming election is over, a new administration will be prepared to look seriously at developing a bipartisan, comprehensive energy strategy that both fully exploits America’s new oil and gas bonanza while taking meaningful steps to reduce our vulnerability to extortion by hostile, repressive dictatorships in unstable parts of the world.

And as luck would have it, there is already “one place that a new president should definitely look to mobilize ideas as well as political support.” Explains the FDD fellow:

Securing America’s Future Energy (an organization that I’m proud to advise), […] has brought together an extraordinary group of American business and military leaders to highlight both the economic as well as national security dangers posed by our dependence on oil, and to recommend possible solutions. Co-chaired by Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx and General P.X. Kelley, former commandant of the Marine Corps, the group includes such luminaries as General Jack Keane, former vice chief of the Army; Admiral Dennis Blair, former director of national intelligence; David Steiner, CEO of Waste Management; Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines; and John Lehman, former undersecretary of the Navy.

So there you have it. America’s energy dependence on the Jewish state’s regional rivals may soon by a thing of the past thanks to the ingenuity of the new environmentally-friendly Israel lobby.

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Obama Justice Department Set to Overrule any State that Legalizes Marijuana

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | October 24, 2012

Depending on the outcome of initiatives in three states, a confrontation awaits between the U.S. Department of Justice and advocates for legalizing marijuana.

On November 6, voters in Colorado, Washington and Oregon will decide whether to legalize and tax marijuana sales. If one or more of the measures passes, and President Barack Obama is reelected, expect the Justice Department to take action to stop any state from decriminalizing the popular herb.

In an outtake in a recent interview with “60 Minutes,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole proclaimed that the federal government is prepared to stop any “dangers” associated with state-sanctioned recreational pot.

“We’re going to take a look at whether or not there are dangers to the community from the sale of marijuana and we’re going to go after those dangers,” Cole told the television news magazine.

A crackdown on drug legalization would follow other efforts by the Obama administration to shutdown medical marijuana dispensaries operating within state law in California and elsewhere.

If Mitt Romney wins the presidential election, he would probably take the same position as Obama, having stated that marijuana is a “gateway drug” and that he would fight legalization “tooth and nail.”

To Learn More:

Justice Department Official: State Votes on Legalizing Marijuana Has No Effect on Federal Enforcement Plans (by Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters)

Oakland Sues Obama Administration over Loss of Tax Revenue Due to Medical Marijuana Crackdown(by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Obama Administration Steps Up Attack on Legal Marijuana with Threat to Growers (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on Obama Justice Department Set to Overrule any State that Legalizes Marijuana

The Constant Countdown: Never-Ending Hype, Hysteria, and Hyperbole about Iran’s Nuclear Program

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | October 21, 2012

On Monday evening, the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will focus primarily on foreign policy.  Needless to say, the issue of the Iranian nuclear program will feature prominently.  While both the Democratic and Republicantickets are quick to employ bellicose rhetoric and myriad falsehoods regarding the issue, a quick review of the candidates’ stated positions shows a slight difference between the two parties.

Taking into account the conclusions of U.S., European and Israeli intelligence agencies, President Obama explained earlier this year that “our assessment, which is shared by the Israelis, is that Iran does not yet have a nuclear weapon and is not yet in a position to obtain a nuclear weapon without us having a pretty long lead time in which we will know that they are making that attempt.”

Vice President Joe Biden made the same point during his debate with Romney running mate Paul Ryan.  “The Israelis and the United States,” he said, “our military and intelligence communities are absolutely the same exact place in terms of how close the Iranians are to getting a nuclear weapon. They are a good way away. There is no difference between our view and theirs.”  Biden went on: “There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know we’ll know if they start the process of building a weapon.”

Meanwhile, both Republican candidates have repeated the claims that Iran is now closer than ever to having a nuclear weapon.  On October 11, 2012, Paul Ryan declared during the vice presidential debate, “When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material — nuclear material to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They’re racing toward a nuclear weapon. They’re four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.”

Five days later, on October 16, 2012, Mitt Romney repeated that formulation, warning the town hall debate audience in Hempstead, Long Island, “We have Iran four years closer to a nuclear bomb.”

This talking point will surely be repeated on Monday in Boca Raton.

It should also be remembered when the Israeli Prime Minister stood before the Knesset and declared:

“Iran is in the initial stages of an effort to acquire non-conventional capability in general, and nuclear capability in particular. Our assessment is that Iran today has the appropriate manpower and sufficient resources to acquire nuclear arms within 10 years. Together with others in the international community, we are monitoring Iran’s nuclear activity. They are not concealing the fact that the possibility that Iran will possess nuclear weapons is worrisome, and this is one of the reasons that we must take advantage of the window of opportunity and advance toward peace.”

That address was given in January 1993 by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.  Just as Iran didn’t have nuclear weapons ten years later, it still doesn’t as 2013 approaches.

It has been nearly two years (22 months, really) since I published “The Phantom Menace: Fantasies, Falsehoods, and Fear-Mongering about Iran’s Nuclear Program,” a timeline of constant U.S., Israeli, and European assertions regarding the supposed inevitability and immediacy of a nuclear-armed Iran – hysterical allegations that have been made repeatedly for the past thirty years, none of which has ever come true.

Subsequently, over fifty updates – cataloging new alarmist claims and predictions – have been added to the original piece (they can be read here) and a more extensive follow-up was posted in November 2011.

With a renewed spate of relentless warmongering, regurgitated propaganda by U.S. and Israeli officials, and endless talk of red lines, deadlines, end zones, zones of immunity, windows of opportunity and points of no return, it’s time for another update.

So, culled from the last eleven months, this never-ending saga continues:

Following a lengthy and thoroughlyoverhyped IAEA report on the Iranian nuclear program in November 2011, the media was filled with howls of imminent Iranian atomic bombs and the need to carry out an illegal, unprovoked military attack on Iran.

A Washington Post opinion piece by members of the hawkish Bipartisan Policy Center on November 7, 2011 claimed that, “if it chooses, Iran could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear device in just 62 days using its existing stockpiles and current enrichment capability,” but also stated the timeline could be even shorter.  “Once Iran acquires more than 150 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent — which could happen by early 2013 if Iran’s announced plans are realized,” Stephen Rademaker and Blaise Misztal wrote, “it would need only 12 days to produce enough fissile material for a bomb.”

On November 8, 2011, Simon Henderson of the AIPAC-affiliated Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) suggested “the IAEA report should serve to shift the public debate from whether Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, to how to stop it,” while career mouthpiece for the Israeli government Jeffrey Goldberg, wrote in Bloomberg View that the report offered “further proof that the Iranian regime is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.”

A November 9, 2011 editorial in The Guardian noted that, as usual, the latest “flurry of leaks” about the Iranian nuclear program “tend[s] to suggest, without being able to absolutely prove, that Tehran is working to acquire nuclear weapons capacity.”  Undaunted by this absence of evidence, the British paper concluded that, not only is it “time to drop the pretence that Iran can be deflected from its nuclear path,” but that “[i]t really is time for Iran to drop the pretence that it is not on that path.”

Furthermore, editorials in both the The New York Times (“The Truth About Iran“) and The Washington Post (“Running Out of Time“) endorsed the IAEA’s insinuations without the slightest hint of skepticism or scrutiny.  The Times claimed that without “a new round of even tougher sanctions…Iran will keep pushing its nuclear program forward,” while the Post, drawing conclusions that are actually rejected by the IAEA itself, stated the latest report “ought to end serious debate about whether Tehran’s program is for peaceful purposes,” and warned that “the danger is growing, not diminishing,” suggesting Iran is “at least a year or more away from completing” a bomb.

The same day, November 9, 2011, analysts for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments stated, “Iran might have both the technology and material to build a nuclear bomb in a matter of months” and recommended that “Obama should take out Iran’s nuclear program…before it’s too late.”

Columnist Carlo Strenger, also writing on November 9, 2011 in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, claimed that the IAEA report “confirmed Israel’s and the Western World’s fears: there can be no reasonable doubt that Iran is working actively towards the atomic bomb.”   Even Ha’aretz‘s most rational and articulate commentator Gideon Levy fell for the hype, lamenting in his column, “Iran will apparently have an atom bomb, and that is very bad news.”

On November 10, 2011, a Ha’aretz editorial declared, “The [latest IAEA] report clearly shows that Iran carried out tests which cannot be interpreted in any way other than as signaling an intent to develop nuclear weapons,” while t he same day, The Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece by then-GOP nomination hopeful Mitt Romney (though certainly written by the war-crazy cabal known as his “foreign policy team“) which stated, “Iran is making rapid headway toward its goal of obtaining nuclear weapons.”

Also on November 10, 2011, former Director of Policy Planning in the Obama State Department and current Princeton University professor Anne-Marie Slaughter opined that the IAEA report “affirms what western governments already know or believe: that for all the sanctions and diplomacy, Iran continues to make steady progress toward producing a nuclear weapon.”

On November 11, 2011, contributing columnist for The New York Times Magazine and ForeignPolicy.com James Traub lamented, “Neither Bush nor Obama has stopped Iran from pursuing a goal to which Iranian leaders are single-mindedly dedicated,” adding that “Iran has been seeking for years to develop a nuclear warhead and is continuing to do so.”  Traub continued: “Iran is still enriching uranium and is now estimated to have enough to produce four bombs.”

The Wall Street Journal published its own editorial on November 14, 2011, claiming that the new IAEA report “lays to rest the fantasies that an Iranian bomb is many years off” and insisted that “[t]he serious choice now before the Administration is between military strikes and more of the same. As the IAEA report makes painfully clear, more of the same means a nuclear Iran, possibly within a year.”

In truth, as acknowledged by Greg Thielmann and Benjamin Loehrke in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:

Most analysts familiar with the report agree that there “is nothing in the report that was not previously known by the governments of the major powers” — a nuclear Iran is “neither imminent nor inevitable.” While it is clear that Iran’s continuing research on nuclear weapons is a serious concern for international security, there “has been no smoking gun when it comes to Iran’s nuclear weapons intentions.”

Nevertheless, Jerusalem-based right-wing conspiracy theory website DEBKAfile released a new prediction in mid-November 2011. “According to the briefing given to a closed meeting of Jewish leaders in New York…the window of opportunity for stopping Iran attaining a nuclear weapon is closing fast” and “will shut down altogether after late March 2012,” the report said.  Why?  Because “intelligence reaching US President Barak Obama is that by April, Iran will already have five nuclear bombs or warheads and military action then would generate a dangerous level of radioactive contamination across the Gulf region, the main source of the world’s energy.”

On November 20, 2011, CNN aired an interview in which Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Fareed Zakaria that Iran would reach a “zone of immunity” within six to nine months, at which point its nuclear infrastructure would be redundant, dispersed and protected enough to be invulnerable to an attack.  Misunderstanding Barak’s allegation, Israeli media outlet Ha’aretz ran the alarming headline “Iran less than a year away from producing nuclear weapon” in anticipation of the broadcast.

Two days later, during a CNN debate between Republican presidential candidates sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute and The Heritage Foundation, two neoconservative bellwether organizations, AEI’s Danielle Pletka stated that “Iran is probably less than a year away from getting a nuclear weapon” before asking whether anything short of a military assault “could stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

On December 19, 2011, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, when asked by CBS News anchor Scott Pelley whether “Iran can have a nuclear weapon in 2012,” replied, “It would probably be about a year before they can do it. Perhaps a little less,” but added a “proviso” that, “if they have a hidden facility somewhere in Iran that may be enriching fuel,” the timeline to developing a nuclear weapon would be “on a faster track.”  The Pentagon quickly walked back the assertion.

On December 31, 2011, The Wall Street Journal quoted Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti telling reporters, “There is strong concern on the advancement of Iran’s nuclear program reaching a point of nonreturn and the strategy, which Italy agrees with, is the urgency to strengthen instruments of pressure on Iran.”

In the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, Matthew Kroenig, a former defense and Iran policy strategist for U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, published a call for the United States to launch an unprovoked and wholly illegal attack on Iran, citing Institute for Science and International Security “estimates that Iran could now produce its first nuclear weapon within six months of deciding to do so.”

On January 4 and January 6, 2012, Reuters reporter Fredrik Dahl wrote that “Western experts give different estimates of how quickly Iran could assemble a nuclear weapon if it decides to do so – ranging from as little as six months to a year or more.”

On January 8, 2012, Defense Secretary Panetta told Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation that the United States will take all necessary measures to make sure Iran “cannot continue to do what they’re doing,” adding, “Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability. And that’s what concerns us.”

On January 9, 2012, David Sanger of The New York Times noted, “Already Iran has produced enough fuel to manufacture about four weapons, but only if the fuel goes through further enrichment, nuclear experts say.”

The following day, January 10, 2012, the Times of London claimed that a recent Israeli security report revealed “Israel is preparing for Iran to become a nuclear power and has accepted it may happen within a year.”

On January 11, 2012, Senators Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman issued a joint press release that stated, “Despite the increased sanctions put in place over the last several years, the American people should have no illusions: time is now quickly running out to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.”  The statement called upon Congress to officially rule out “containment” as a policy option “should economic and diplomatic pressure fail to force Iran to abandon its pursuit of acquiring nuclear weapons.”

On January 12, 2012, retired U.S. General Barry McCaffrey delivered a briefing to senior executives and producers at NBC News in which he determined that Iran “will not under any circumstances actually be deterred from going nuclear” and predicted that it “will achieve initial nuclear capability within 36 months.”  He also concluded that, not only will Iran instigate a major war against the United States, it will acquire “a nuclear capability of dozens of weapons within 60 months with the missile and fighter delivery systems required to strike targets in Israel, the GCC states, and regional US military forces.”

On January 13, 2012, Fox News contributor Liz Cheney asserted on Fox and Friends that Iran (which she accidentally called “Iraq”) was merely “months, not years, away” from enriching enough uranium needed for a nuclear weapon.

On January 16, 2012, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal published a dazzlingly Orientalist and bloodthirsty article entitled “The Intrigues of Persia,” which praised the then-recent murder of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, claiming – without providing evidence, of course – he “was engaged in building a nuclear bomb in violation of four binding U.N. Security Council resolutions.”  The piece also described the Iranian government as an “evil regime” and insisted “the mullahs…are building a bomb,” the success of which is now “closer than ever.”

A blockbuster article by Ronen Bergman, senior political and military analyst for the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, published in The New York Times on January 25, 2012, quotes Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon (who is also Minister of Strategic Affairs) as saying, “Our policy is that in one way or another, Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped. It is a matter of months before the Iranians will be able to attain military nuclear capability.”  Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak tells Bergman that “no more than one year remains to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weaponry.”

Bergman also writes, “According to latest intelligence, Iran now has some 10,000 functioning centrifuges, and they have streamlined the enrichment process. Iran today has five tons of low-grade fissile material, enough, when converted to high-grade material, to make about five to six bombs,” and adds, “It is believed that Iran’s nuclear scientists estimate that it will take them nine months, from the moment they are given the order, to assemble their first explosive device and another six months to be able to reduce it to the dimensions of a payload for their Shahab-3 missiles, which are capable of reaching Israel.”

Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, stated on January 25, 2012, “Never has it been so clear Iran is seeking to build a nuclear weapon. Now is the time to act. Tomorrow is too late. The stakes are too high. The price of inaction is too great.”  Prosor also declared that “Tehran’s efforts to enrich uranium to 20 percent-levels at its reactor in Qom could serve no other plausible aim other than to develop an atomic bomb,” despite the fact that such enrichment is known to be used in the creation of medical isotopes that treat cancer patients.

On January 26, 2012, Reuters reporter Frederik Dahl wrote, “The IAEA issued a detailed report in November that laid bare a trove of intelligence suggesting Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability,” and added that “some experts say” Iran “could have the potential to build at least one nuclear device as early as next year.”

On the January 29, 2012 edition of 60 Minutes, Defense Secretary Panetta again addressed the Iranian nuclear program.  “The consensus is that, if they decided to do it, it would probably take them about a year to be able to produce a bomb,” he said, “and then possibly another one to two years in order to put it on a deliverable vehicle of some sort in order to deliver that weapon.”

At the same time, Israeli military chief Benny Gantz said he had “no doubt” Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons and Defense Minister Barak warned, “We must not waste time on this matter; the Iranians continue to advance, identifying every crack and squeezing through. Time is urgently running out.”

On February 2, 2012, Director of Israeli Military Intelligence Major General Aviv Kochavi told a panel at the Herzliya Conference that “Iran is vigorously pursing military nuclear capabilities and today the intelligence community agrees with Israel on that” and assessed that “Iran has enough nuclear material for four bombs.”  Kochavi said, “We have conclusive evidence that they are after nuclear weapons,” adding, “When Khamenei gives the order to produce the first nuclear weapon – it will be done, we believe, within one year.”

On February 17, 2012, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom announced on MSNBC, “Everyone now knows most of the world, if not all the world, knows the Iranians are trying to develop a nuclear bomb. It’s out of the question. They have all the proof. Everyone knows the security and intelligence of the western world knows very well the Iranians are developing a nuclear bomb, and they should be stopped.”

On February 23, 2012, The Los Angeles Times‘ Ken Dilanian wrote that, although “U.S. intelligence agencies don’t believe Iran is actively trying to build an atomic bomb,” David Albright’s Institute for Science and International Security estimates Iran “could enrich uranium to sufficient purity to make a bomb in as little as six months, should it decide to do so.”  The article also states that “Albright and many other experts believe that if it decides to proceed, the country has the scientific knowledge to design and build a crude working bomb in as little as a year” and that it would take three years “for Iran to build a warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.”

On March 5, 2012, David Albright’s Institute for Science and International Security released a report claiming that “Iran is already capable of making weapon-grade uranium and a crude nuclear explosive device” and cataloging the different routes Iran might take to obtain a nuclear weapon by 2015.

On March 6, 2012, Mark Fitzpatrick, Director of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Programme at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies wrote that “Iran already is nuclear capable” and “has everything it needs to be able to manufacture a nuclear weapon. All it would take is a political decision and time.”

The next day, on March 7, 2012, Israeli Prime Minister was interviewed on Fox News by Greta van Susteren, who asked “What’s the timeline? How much time do we have?”  Netanyahu replied, “Every day that passes makes it closer and closer.”  When van Susteren pressed, “Is it weeks, months, or years?,” the Israeli leader declared, “It was a lot further away 15 years ago when I started talking about it. It was a lot further away 10 years ago. It was a lot further away five years. It was a lot further away five months ago. They are getting there, and they are getting very, very close.”

On March 18, 2012, an Associated Press report noted Israeli concerns that the Iranian nuclear program may be allowed “to reach the point where there is enough enriched weapons grade material that a bomb could quickly be assembled, within a year.”

Five days later, on March 23, 2012, AP published a “Special Report” that laid bare the hysteria over the Iran nuclear program.  “The United States, European allies and even Israel generally agree on three things about Iran’s nuclear program: Tehran does not have a bomb, has not decided to build one, and is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead,” AP stated plainly.  “Those conclusions, drawn from extensive interviews with current and former U.S. and European officials with access to intelligence on Iran, contrast starkly with the heated debate surrounding a possible Israeli strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities.”

Nevertheless, on April 5, 2012, Ehud Barak told Fareed Zakaria on CNN that, with regard to the goal of stopping Iran’s “nuclear military program,” Israel has “limited time. We don’t have to make a decision next week and we cannot wait years.”

On May 7, 2012, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird stated in an interview with CBC that Iran could “very quickly” produce a nuclear weapons if it so desired.  After compiling “all the ingredients” for a bomb, Baird suggested, “they could certainly dash to the end which could be done in as few as nine or as many as 18 months.”

On May 10, 2012, career warmonger Marc Theissen insisted that “Iran is determined to obtain a nuclear weapon” and claimed that “made more progress toward this goal in the past three years under Obama than it has in the three decades since the Iranian Revolution.”  He condemned the incumbent administration’s handling of the Iranian nuclear issue, claiming, “Before Obama took office, Iran needed months to make a dash to a bomb. Today, it could make that dash in a matter of weeks.” Theissen concluded that “the Iranian regime has developed a rapid nuclear weapons breakout capability on President Obama’s watch” and that “Iran is closer than ever to building a nuclear bomb.”

On May 25, 2012, David Albright and his staff at ISIS calculated that Iran had already stockpiled enough 3.5% low enriched uranium that “if further enriched to weapon grade” could “make over five nuclear weapons.”

In the May/June 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, USC professor Jacques E. C. Hymans pointed out that despite the “underlying assumption” that, unless challenged violently, Iran will soon acquired nuclear weapons, “there is another possibility.”  Hymans explains, “The Iranians had to work for 25 years just to start accumulating uranium enriched to 20 percent, which is not even weapons grade. The slow pace of Iranian nuclear progress to date strongly suggests that Iran could still need a very long time to actually build a bomb — or could even ultimately fail to do so.”

A veritable who’s-who of warmongering neocons including Elliott Abrams, Matthew Kroenig and Ray Takeyh published a monograph in June 2012 entitled, “Iran: The Nuclear Challenge,” which states, “Nongovernment experts believe that if Iran made the decision to enrich to a higher level today, it could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one bomb in four months. The same experts estimate that by the end of 2012 the time might be as little as one month…Extrapolating from these estimates leads to public estimates that it would take Iran about a year to produce such a nuclear weapon if it decided to do so.”

On June 15, 2012, David Albright and crew were back with a new assessment of Iran’s breakout capabilities, reporting that “Iran will have enough [19.75% low enriched uranium] by early next year, if further enriched to weapon-grade in a breakout, for a nuclear weapon,” but adding that “it could have enough…for a nuclear weapon by the end of 2012.”  Albright also concludes, “Production of enough for a second nuclear weapon would take many additional months,” estimating Iran “would have enough for a second weapon in about October 2013. By November 2015, Iran would have enough for three to almost five nuclear weapons.”

In late June 2012, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was quoted by Foreign Policy as saying, “In my judgment…if nothing will be done about it, within several years Iran will turn nuclear.”

On July 13, 2012, the British press quoted Sir John Sawers, the head of MI6, Britain’s international espionage agency, as telling a gathering of civil servants that without risks taken by his intelligence operatives, “you’d have Iran as a nuclear weapons state in 2008, rather than still being two years away in 2012.”

On August 3, 2012, RAND policy analyst Alireza Nader stated the obvious: “According to the U.S. intelligence community, the Iranian leadership hasn’t even made the decision to weaponize their program.  They’ve been creating the technical know-how and the infrastructure, but they haven’t made that decision, and there is much more time than the Israelis portray there to be. I don’t think an Iranian nuclear weapons capability is inevitable or imminent.”

On August 5, 2012, Israeli daily Ynet reported that Netanyahu estimates that “Iran is a few months away from becoming nuclear,” quoting the Prime Minister as predicting, “The time frame isn’t measured in days or weeks, but not in years either.”

On August 24, 2012, The Los Angeles Times stated, “At its current pace, by next year Iran may be able produce enough fuel for a bomb within two months,” according to timeline favorite David Albright.  The report continues, “Fairly soon after that, as Iran continues to add to its centrifuge capacity, the time will be reduced to one month, he said in an interview.  ‘You will see much shorter breakout times coming into play early next year or late this year,’ he said, referring to the time Iran would need should it choose to rush to build a nuclear weapon. ‘You have this growing enrichment capability that starts to get the breakout down to an order of a month.'”

On September 4, 2012, former director of the CIA Michael Hayden told Ha’aretz, ““While it is probably true that the so-called ‘window’ regarding effective action is closing, there is still some time, as real decisions are to be made in 2013 or 2014.”

On September 7, 2012, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers revealed that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu believes that if Iranian leaders “decide to do the dash” for nuclear weapons, it could take a s little as “four weeks to eight weeks” for Iran to acquire an atomic bomb.  Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence analysts believe it would “take a little longer than that,” Rogers said. “But the problem is nobody really knows for sure.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, speaking on CBS‘ “This Morning” on September 11, 2012, said that, were Iran to make the decision to develop a nuclear weapon, the U.S. would have “roughly about a year right now” to take action to halt such a process. “A little more than a year. And so…we think we will have the opportunity once we know that they’ve made that decision, take the action necessary to stop [them],” Panetta revealed, adding that the U.S. has “pretty good intelligence” on Iran. “We know generally what they’re up to,” he said. “And so we keep a close track on them.”

The same day, Associated Press reported, according to unnamed “diplomats,” that the IAEA “has received new and significant intelligence over the past month that Iran has moved further toward the ability to build a nuclear weapon.”

In mid-September 2012, a bipartisan report spearheaded by William Luers, Austin Long, Thomas Pickering and Colin Kahl and endorsed by over thirty former government officials and security experts, including General Anthony Zinni, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Brent Scowcroft, Dick Armitage, Leslie Gelb, Admiral James Fallon, Admiral Joe Sestak, Anne Marie Slaughter, Chuck Hagel, Paul Volcker, Lee Hamilton, Zbigniew Brezinski, Nicholas Burns, and Joe Cirincione, determined, “Conservatively, it would take Iran a year or more to build a military-grade weapon, with at least two years or more required to create a nuclear warhead that would be reliably deliverable by a missile.”

On September 14, 2012, deputy speaker of the Knesset Danny Danon wrote an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times advocating an illegal military attack on Iran, claiming that Iran is “developing its nuclear program at an alarming rate.”

On a September 16, 2012 Sunday morning panel, ABC News reporter Brian Ross claimed that Iran was “four to six weeks away” from acquiring a nuclear weapon, “if they made the decision to do it.” Ross justified his assessment by adding, “That’s some of the intelligence.”  In response, Christiane Amanpour countered, “That has been so vastly disproved. Others say that it could be a year. So, this is a guessing game that has gone on for years.”

The same day, former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk said on Face the Nation that, while “Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon,” there is only “perhaps six months” before it achieves that capability, leading him to predict that “2013 is going to be a year in which we’re going to have a military confrontation with Iran.”

Also that day, September 16, 2012, Prime Minister Netanyahu appeared on CNN, warning that Iran “moving very rapidly to completing the enrichment of the uranium that they need to produce a nuclear bomb. In six months or so they’ll be 90 percent of the way there.”

On September 24, 2012, Israeli UN representative Ron Prosor issued a condemnatory statement about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which read, in part, “Three thousand years of Jewish history illustrate the clear danger of ignoring fanatics like Iran’s president, especially as he inches closer to acquiring nuclear weapons.”

On September 25, 2012, PBS correspondent Margaret Warner remarked that Iran has “so much uranium they can break out in a matter of weeks or months and make a weapon.”

On September 26, 2012, Iran attack enthusiast John Bolton opined, “Tehran is perilously close to achieving nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles for worldwide delivery,” stating that the nuclear program is “far too advanced” to be stopped by anything other than a military assault. “And because the world’s intelligence on Iran is imperfect,” Bolton added, “Iran may be even closer to a nuclear bomb than we think.”

The next day, September 27, 2012, Benjamin Netanyahu descended upon the United Nations General Assembly, cartoon bomb diagram in tow.  He bellowed that Iran is “70 percent of the way” to stockpiling enough enriched uranium needed for a nuclear bomb.  “And by next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage. From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.”

On October 2, 2012, Reuters‘ Frederik Dahl posted an extensive run-down of current assessments regarding the Iranian nuclear program.  “Iran already has enough low-enriched uranium for several atomic bombs if refined to a high degree but it may still be a few years away from being able to build a nuclear-armed missile if it decided to go down that path,” he begins.

“I still think that we are talking about several years…before Iran could develop a nuclear weapon and certainly before they could have a deliverable nuclear weapon,” said Shannon Kile, head of the Nuclear Weapons Project of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Greg Jones, a senior researcher at the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and world-class Iran hysteric, claimed that “Iran could refine uranium for a nuclear weapon in 10 weeks and produce the required non-nuclear components in six months or less, he said, adding this could be done simultaneously.”

An anonymous Israeli official told Reuters reporter Dan Williams, “Once Iran gets its first device, no matter how rudimentary, it’s a nuclear power and a nuclear menace. With that said, we have always noted that, from this threshold, it would take Iran another two years or so to make a deployable warhead.”

On October 4, 2012, IISS‘ Mark Fitzpatrick wrote in Canada’s Global Brief that “Iran continues to move closer to a virtual weapons status,” suggesting that “by mid-2013, Iran will have enough low-enriched uranium (LEU), if further enriched, for perhaps six weapons.”  He also noted, “As of late summer 2012, Iran was still several months away from being able to make a successful dash for nuclear weapons. Producing missile-deliverable weapons would take longer.”  Nevertheless, “As Iran’s stockpile of enrichment uranium increases,” Fitzpatrick hedged, “the timelines shorten.”

On October 8, 2012, David Albright issued a new report which found that it would take “at least two to four months” for Iran to enrich enough weapons-grade uranium to produce a single nuclear bomb, while Mitt Romney delivered a foreign policy stump speech at the Virginia Military Institute, in which he declared, “Iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability. It has never posed a greater danger to our friends, our allies, and to us.”

On October 11, 2012, Oxford Analytica, a global corporate and governmental consulting firm, reported that Iran had already acquired enough “enriched uranium nuclear fuel to get breakout capability but the extra steps to produce a weapon [would] take months.”

The fever-pitched predictions over just how imminent and inevitable an Iranian nuclear weapon will surely continue unabated, regardless of how many decades Iranian leaders consistently deny such intentions or how many IAEA reports affirm Iran has never diverted any nuclear material to a weapons program or even had a weapons program in the first place.

It is no wonder that a Zogby poll from late February 2012 found that 78% of Americans “believe Iran is actively pursuing nuclear weapons production.” Quite simply, in our current debate, facts just don’t matter.

October 21, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Comments Off on The Constant Countdown: Never-Ending Hype, Hysteria, and Hyperbole about Iran’s Nuclear Program

Zionist Jews biggest donors to presidential bids of Obama, Romney

Press TV – October 20, 2012

Zionist Jews are the biggest donors that finance the US presidential election campaign of both the Democratic President Barack Obama as well as his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

The leading declared financier of US election campaigns in 2012 is casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who has so far donated $34.2 million to Republican Political Action Committees that support Romney’s publicity bid to win enough votes to move to the White House, the Associated Press reported Friday.

A staunch supporter of Israel, says the report, “he also is a contributor to the Republican Jewish Coalition, which spent $920,000 since 2002 backing bills aimed at pressuring Iran and enhancing US security cooperation with Israel.”

In Israel, meanwhile, Adelson owns the widely circulated, pro-Benjamin Netanyahu free daily paper Israel Hayom.

Worth an estimated $25 billion, Adelson oversees the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which runs casino and resort interests in Las Vegas, Singapore, and Pennsylvania, and Sands China Ltd., a bunch of casinos operating in China’s Macau territory.

According to the report, the wealthy Jewish donors and others are financing this year’s US presidential election, on track to cost a whopping $2 billion, with funding of individual Democratic and Republican campaigns as well as independent, “super” political action committees working on the campaigns’ behalf.

In exchange for their financial support, these pro-Israeli donors can gain major influence, says the report. They are often invited to state dinners at the White House and other events with the US president.

These financiers may also be consulted on policy making, particularly if it impacts their financial interests. And the ranks of ambassadors, advisory panels, and other government jobs traditionally are filled with those who have made generous donations during the election campaign, the report adds.

The largest donor to Democratic Political Action Committees that support Obama’s reelection campaign is Hollywood film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, who has so far given nearly $2.6 million for the cause.

Other major Jewish donors that support Democratic organizations and Obama’s reelection bid are: Irwin Jacobs, founder and ex-chairman of Qualcomm, contributing $2.122 million so far; Fred Eychaner, founder of newspaper publisher Newsweb Corp, contributing $2.07 million so far; Jon Stryker, a Michigan Philanthropist, contributing $2.07 so far; and Steve Mostyn, a Houston attorney, who has so far contributed just over $2 million.

Other big Jewish donors that gave huge sums of money to Republican organization and Mitt Romney’s election campaign are: Bob Perry, a Houston real estate tycoon who has so far given $17.3 million; Harold Simmons, owner of a Dallas-based Contran Corp. who has so far given $16.5 million; Robert Rowling, head of Dallas-based TRT Holdings who has so far donated $4.1 million, and Industrialist William Koch, so far donating $4 million.

October 20, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Study: Venezuela’s Chavez 4th Most Popular President in the Americas

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | September 24th 2012

Mérida – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is the 4th most popular president in the Americas, according to a new study of presidential approval ratings in the region.

The study, by Mexican polling firm Consulta Mitofsky, gives President Chavez a “high” approval rating of 64%, gaining 6 percentage points since the firm’s last study and jumping up the table of presidential popularity levels.

The findings come less than two weeks before Chavez seeks re-election on October 7 against right-wing opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski.

According to the study, which measured the approval ratings of 20 leaders in the Americas by compiling public opinion polls from their respective countries, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa is the most popular president in the Americas with an “outstanding” approval rating of 80%.

“Rafael Correa repeats his first place with 80% (a point less than his previous evaluation), maintaining the approval with which his presidency began almost five years ago,” the ‘Approval of Leaders: America and the World’ report stated.

He is followed by Maurico Funes of El Salvador and Guatemalan president Otto Perez, on 72% and 69% respectively.

Chavez and Correa are joined at the top of the popularity table by other presidents considered left or centre left, with Brazil’s Dilma Roussef on 5th with 62% approval, and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega on 7th place with a popularity of 59%.

Meanwhile, two months ahead of his re-election bid against Republican rival Mitt Romney, US President Barack Obama placed 10th in the study, receiving a “medium” approval rating of 49%. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was classed on a “very low” popularity of 37%, putting him down on 16th place.

The study highlights a north-south divide, with South American presidents enjoying an average approval of 50%, against 44% for leaders from the North of the hemisphere.

Many rightist presidents have dropped in popularity since the earlier 2012 study by Consulta Mitofsky, and find themselves on the bottom half of the table. Colombian president Juan Manual Santos still figures on the top half of the table with 54% approval, yet has dropped 13 percentage points and has lost his “high” approval rating.

Furthermore, Mexico’s Felipe Calderon placed 11th (46%), while Paraguayan President Federico Franco and Chilean President Sebastian Piñera share 17th place on 36%. Franco was came to power through an “institutional coup” in June by the Paraguayan Senate, and is less popular than deposed leftist president Fernando Lugo, who had 44% popularity in August 2011.

However, the findings aren’t all good news for South America’s “pink tide” governments, with 12th, 13th, and 14th places going to Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez (43%), Bolivia’s Evo Morales (41%) and Peru’s Ollanta Humala (40%) respectively.

The last places in the poll are occupied by the presidents of Honduras and Costa Rica, on approval ratings of 14% and 13%. The full study in Spanish can be accessed here.

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Study: Venezuela’s Chavez 4th Most Popular President in the Americas

Iran Coverage Offers Confusion Over Clarity

By Peter Hart – FAIR – 09/10/2012

On NBC‘s Meet the Press (9/9/12), Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and host David Gregory had a discussion about the failures of the Obama administration’s foreign policy that included this:

ROMNEY: The president has not drawn us further away from a nuclear Iran. And in fact Iran is closer to having a weapon, closer to having nuclear capability, than when he took office.  This is the greatest failure, in my opinion, of his foreign policy.  He ran for office saying he was going to meet with Ahmadinejad.  He was going to meet with Castro, Kim Jong Il.  All the world’s worst actors, without precondition, he’d meet with them in his first year.

GREGORY: President Bush said that he would stop Iran from going nuclear.  So did President Obama.  Neither one were able to achieve that.  Correct?

ROMNEY:  President Obama had a policy of engagement with Ahmadinejad.  That policy has not worked and we’re closer to a nuclear weapon as a result of that.

Set aside the talk about the U.S. having a “policy of engagement” with Iran–we have a policy of sanctions. The real question is what Gregory is talking about when he talks about Iran “going nuclear,” and how Bush and Obama failed “to achieve that.”

In this context, “going nuclear” would seem to refer to producing a nuclear weapon, which nobody claims Iran has done. Gregory has mislead viewers on this before: “Iran: Will talks push that country to give up its nuclear weapons program?” he declared a few years back (10/4/09).

There is as yet no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. What we know now is that the country has a nuclear energy program, and some countries demand to know more about that program, based on the theory that Iran is hiding something. Perhaps they are, but no evidence to that effect exists.

But it is common for media to start the Iran conversation based on the assumption that there’s a weapon being built. You could see that in Bill Keller’s column in the New York Times today (9/10/12). “Negotiations aimed at preventing the dreaded Persian Bomb have resumed their desultory course,” he explained to readers–before posing what I think Keller believes is a provocative question:  “Can we live with a nuclear Iran?”

Keller believes his column is adding something novel to the debate over Iran:

The prevailing view now is that a nuclear Iran cannot be safely contained. On this point both President Obama and Mitt Romney agree.

Keller then goes on: “Let’s assume, for starters, that Iran’s theocrats are determined to acquire nuclear weapons.” The rest of the column consists mostly of a “theoretical exercise” where Keller ends up opposing pre-emptive war in favor of allowing Iran to enrich uranium so long as it doesn’t pursue a weapons program. Then we could “gradually relaxes sanctions and brings this wayward country into the community of more-or-less civilized nations.”

It’s a strange argument, given that Iran says that’s what it’s doing, and the inspectors that are supposed to monitor Iran’s nuclear program are already reporting that there is no evidence any of the country’s uranium is being diverted for a weapons program. It sure doesn’t seem as if sanctions relief is right around the corner.

A truly novel media approach that Keller–or any other columnist–might want to try: Assume, for the sake of novelty, that Iran is not pursuing a weapons program. Then take every fact of the Iran showdown–the sanctions, the threats from various Israeli government officials that a military attack could be imminent–and try to reconcile them with the assumption that Iran is not developing the weapons that are the focus of so much controversy.

It’s much more difficult to rationalize U.S. policy if one explores this “theoretical exercise.” Which is likely why pundits like Keller go a different route.

September 10, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Obama Has Been Speechless on Minimum Wage

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | September 4, 2012

The impoverishment of politics in the Age of Obama has been nothing short of amazing. This president has so suppressed every vestigial remnant of progressivism in the political discourse, that the most fundamental bread and butter issues have become taboo. I’m talking about raising the federal minimum wage, which has been stuck at $7.25 an hour since 2007, the year before the bottom fell out of the economy.

A new study shows that the Great Recession was most destructive of decent-paying jobs, the middle tier where working people earned between about $14 and $21 an hour. That’s where sixty percent of job losses occurred between 2008 and 2010, and most of those jobs have not come back. Instead, the greatest increase in jobs has come in the low-wage sector, with a median pay from $7.69 – just above the federal minimum – to $13.83 an hour. The lowest wage sector now accounts for almost 60 percent of job growth, with traditionally bad-paying jobs in food preparation and retail sales leading the way.

High unemployment, on top of the disappearance of living wage jobs. You would think that in an election year, the party that is most identified with working people and folks that need to find work would be screaming at the top of their lungs: Raise the minimum wage! But, you will hear little or nothing of that from the Democratic convention festivities in Charlotte.

It’s not that the delegates are unaware of the crying need for a higher minimum wage. The Democratic platform – for what its worth – declares that “we will raise the minimum wage, and index it to inflation.” However, it doesn’t say how much, or when. And that’s in deference to the party’s standard bearer, who has not said anything meaningful about the minimum wage since he was campaigning for president in 2008. Back then, Obama promised to work to raise the minimum to $9.50 by 2011. Then he got elected, and we heard nothing more about it.

When the president is mum on an issue, then the party faithful put themselves on mute. There are bills in the House and the Senate to raise the minimum wage – the best one is sponsored by Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., calling for an immediate $10 an hour minimum, tied to inflation. But, there’s no chance of these bills going anywhere without the cooperation of Democratic leadership. Ralph Nader and others have beseeched party leaders to break the silence, but they don’t dare raise the issue for fear of embarrassing their President.

Apologists for Obama will claim that pushing for a $10 minimum wage indexed to inflation – or any significant raise – would hurt his chances for re-election. But the poll numbers show differently, with huge public support for an increase, including among lots of Republicans. Even Mitt Romney says he supports linking the minimum wage to inflation – just not right now. Obama has effectively been saying “no, not now” to underpaid workers for almost four years. So, why in the hell is labor getting ready to spend tens of millions of dollars to re-elect him, instead of building a movement that will force politicians to do the right thing?

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

September 5, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Comments Off on Obama Has Been Speechless on Minimum Wage

FP 50 Inadvertently Reveals Israel’s Dominance of GOP

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | August 31, 2012

Foreign Policy magazine has compiled a list of the 50 Republicans who have the greatest influence on the GOP’s foreign policy. “Politics is mostly about people — and nowhere is that more true than when it comes to foreign policy,” explains Foreign Policy in its introduction. With the U.S. presidential election looming, the magazine offers “to peel back the curtain on this rarefied part of the Establishment” to better inform American voters about “the advisers who will determine the country’s course in the world” in the event that they elect Mitt Romney. The FP 50, it says, are “all GOP partisans” from the different “ideological traditions” — namely, realism, neoconservatism, and “even” isolationism — that are “currently fighting for the soul of their party’s foreign policy.” A cursory look at the list, however, shows that a far more influential ideological tradition — Zionism — holds sway over the Republican Party.

Although only about 20% of American Jews supported the GOP in 2008, the FP 50 features as many as 20 Jewish partisans of Israel, including Weekly Standard editor William Kristol (#2), Brookings Institution senior fellow Robert Kagan (#4), and casino mogul and mega-donor Sheldon Adelson (#9) who make its top 10 most powerful Republicans on foreign policy. Also at number 8 is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the stridently pro-Israel chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, whose maternal grandfather was a “pillar” of Cuba’s Jewish community who helped found several synagogues there. More importantly, several of the most passionate Israel partisans are close advisors to the Romney team, including Kagan, Dan Senor (#13), Dov Zakheim (#27), Eliot Cohen (#29), and Elliott Abrams (#35).

Moreover, the careers of many of the non-Jewish individuals on Foreign Policy’s list have been inextricably linked to their staunch support of the Jewish state. Topping the FP 50 is Senator John McCain who not only continues the family tradition of covering up Israel’s deliberate June 8, 1967 attack on the USS Liberty but invariably leads the call — in unison with Senator Joe Lieberman — for U.S. intervention in countries surrounding the Jewish state. At number 26 is Senator Mark Kirk, “the Israel lobby’s favorite senator” whose office this year served as a conduit for an Israeli initiative to redefine Palestinian refugees out of existence. And coming in in 46th place is John Hagee, the founder and chairman of Christians United for Israel, which, as FP points out, “has done more than just about any other organization to make Israel a defining foreign-policy issue for evangelical Christians in the United States.”

Indeed, out of the 50 Republicans who have the greatest influence on the GOP’s foreign policy, Congressman Ron Paul — who, along with his son, Senator Rand Paul, is ranked #25 — appears to be one of the very few who could be relied upon to put U.S. interests ahead of Israel’s. Yet Foreign Policy, a division of the pro-Israel Washington Post, never explicitly refers to the decisive — and potentially catastrophic — influence Tel Aviv would have over a Romney administration. However, those familiar with the operations of the Israel lobby know that, as the magazine puts it, “the relentless lobbying and insider machinations of surprisingly few people can often end up defining the foreign policy of entire administrations.”

August 31, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on FP 50 Inadvertently Reveals Israel’s Dominance of GOP