Friday, September 28, 2012

US plan for Egypt aid hits roadblock

The chairwoman of the US House committee blocks US government's move to transfer $450m in assistance to Egypt.

Last Modified: 29 Sep 2012 00:47

Recently, demonstrators breached the US embassy in Cairo to protest an anti-Islam video [AFP]
The chairwoman of the US House committee that oversees foreign aid is blocking $450m in assistance to Egypt.
Representative Kay Granger, a Republican, said on Friday that the State Department had notified Congress of plans to transfer the money to the new government of President Mohamed Morsi, a move that Granger said she would stop.
"This proposal comes to Congress at a point when the US-Egypt relationship has never been under more scrutiny, and rightly so," the chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations said in a statement.
"I am not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance and I cannot support it at this time ... I have placed a hold on these funds."
Granger's action reflects unease among some US politicians over the new government that has taken the reins in
Egypt after a pro-democracy uprising overthrew longtime US ally Hosni Mubarak last year.

The relationship between the US and Egypt has been rocky since the revolution. Egypt's government also angered Washington when it cracked down on numerous democracy advocates and groups, including three US-funded non-governmental organisations, earlier this year.
More recently, demonstrators breached the US embassy in Cairo to protest an anti-Islam video, and some in Congress have called for cutting off aid.
US support
The Obama administration has nevertheless vowed to push forward with its aid package for Cairo, a point reinforced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week when she met Morsi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
The US provides Egypt with $1.55bn annually - $250m in economic aid and $1.3bn in military aid. The cash transfer came from money that had already been appropriated.
The Obama administration has argued that it is essential to buttress Egypt, the most populous Arab country and the first to sign a peace agreement with US ally Israel.
Egypt has requested a $4.8bn loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a move the US supports. Other countries are slowly making good on promises of assistance.
Saudi Arabia in June transferred $1.5bn as direct budget support, approved $430m in project aid and pledged a $750m credit line to import oil products. Qatar has also promised $2bn in support.
A senior State Department official said the US remains committed to a democratic transition in Egypt and still sees support for economic growth as a vital way to protect peace and security.
The official, speaking anonymously to the Associated Press, said the administration would work with Congress in the next days and weeks to make the case that the budget is in US interests.
Last December, Congress made foreign assistance to Egypt, including the military financing, contingent on a determination that the government "is supporting the transition to civilian government including holding free and fair elections; implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association, and religion and due process of law". 

Romney’s energy policy is ‘running into political winds of the wrong kind’

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) joins Jennifer Granholm in “The War Room” to talk about energy policy in Colorado.
“Mitt Romney comes to Colorado this summer and says that he would let the production tax credit expire because somehow we’re weighting the scales on the side of renewables,” Udall says. “He’s just flat-out wrong. His policy would ruin our wind industry.”

Libyan President Speech at UN General Assembly

PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Address to UN General Assembly



Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Afghan President Hamid Karzai addressed the United Nations General Assembly meeting.
13 minutes | 26 Views

AP Interview: Ahmadinejad Pushes New World Order

NEW YORK September 26, 2012, 01:03 am ET
NEW YORK (AP) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that a new world order needs to emerge, away from years of what he called American bullying and domination.
Ahmadinejad spoke to The Associated Press in a wide-ranging interview on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly — his last as president of Iran. He was to address the assembly Wednesday morning.
The Iranian leader also discussed solutions for the Syrian civil war, dismissed the question of Iran's nuclear ambition and claimed that despite Western sanctions his country is better off than it was when he took office in 2005.
"God willing, a new order will come together and we'll do away with everything that distances us," Ahmadinejad said, speaking through a translator. "I do believe the system of empires has reached the end of the road. The world can no longer see an emperor commanding it."
"Now even elementary school kids throughout the world have understood that the United States government is following an international policy of bullying," he said.
President Barack Obama warned Iran earlier Tuesday that time is running out to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program. In a speech to the General Assembly, Obama said the United States could not tolerate an Iran with atomic weapons.
Ahmadinejad would not respond directly to the president's remarks, saying he did not want to influence the U.S. presidential election in November.
But he argued that the international outcry over Iran's nuclear enrichment program was just an excuse by the West to dominate his country. He claimed that the United States has never accepted Iran's choice of government after the 1979 Islamic revolution.
"Everyone is aware the nuclear issue is the imposition of the will of the United States," he said. "I see the nuclear issue as a non-issue. It has become a form of one-upmanship."
Ahmadinejad said he favored more dialogue, even though negotiations with world powers remain stalled after three rounds of high-level meetings since April.
He said some world leaders have suggested to him that Iran would be better off holding nuclear talks only with the United States.
"Of course I am not dismissing such talks," he said, asked if he were open to discussions with the winner of the American presidential election.
Israeli leaders, however, are still openly contemplating military action again Iranian nuclear facilities, dismissing diplomacy as a dead end. Israel and many in the West suspect that Iran is seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, and cite its failure to cooperate fully with nuclear inspectors. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.
Ahmadinejad also proposed forming a new group of 10 or 11 countries to work to end the 18-month Syrian civil war. Representatives of the nations in the Middle East and elsewhere would meet in New York "very soon," he said.
Critics have accused Tehran of giving support to Syrian President Bashar Assad in carrying out massacres and other human rights violations in an attempt to crush the uprising against his rule. Activists say nearly 30,000 people have died.
He said the so-called contact group hopes to get the Syrian government and opposition to sit across from each other.
"I will do everything in my power to create stability, peace and understanding in Syria," Ahmadinejad said.
Earlier this month, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi announced the formation of a four-member contact group with Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. But Saudi Arabia so far has not participated.
He denied Iranian involvement in plotting attacks on Israelis abroad, despite arrests and accusations by police in various countries. He also vehemently disputed the U.S. claim that Iranian agents played a role in a foiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States last year.
Ahmadinejad will leave office next June after serving two four-year terms. He threw out numbers and statistics during the interview to show that Iran's economy and the lives of average Iranians have improved under his watch. Since his 2005 election, he claimed, Iran went from being the world's 22nd-largest economy to the 17th-largest; non-petroleum related exports increased sevenfold; and the basic production of goods has doubled. Median income increased by $4,000, he said.
"Today's conditions in Iran are completely different to where they were seven years ago in the economy, in technical achievement, in scientific know-how," Ahmadinejad said. "All of these achievements, though, have been reached under conditions in which we were brought under heavy sanctions."
Iran has called for the U.S. and its European allies to ease the sanctions that have hit its critical oil exports and left it blackballed from key international banking networks.
Ahmadinejad said he had no knowledge of the whereabouts of Robert Levinson, a private investigator and former FBI agent who vanished in Iran five years ago. He said he directed Iranian intelligence services two years ago to work with their counterparts in the U.S. to locate him.
"And if any help there is that I can bring to bear, I would be happy to do so," he said.
He also claimed never to have heard of Amir Hekmati, a former U.S. Marine who is imprisoned on espionage charges in Iran. Hekmati was arrested while visiting his grandmothers in Iran in August 2011, and his family has been using Ahmadinejad's visit to New York to plead for his release.
Associated Press writers Maria Sanminiatelli and Christopher Chester contributed to this story.

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks about establishing a "clear red line" with regards to Iran's nuclear program, he apparently means that literally.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Iran's president ranges far in interview: talks Israel, slams homosexuality

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:36 PM EDT, Tue September 25, 2012


  • Ahmadinejad sits down for an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan
  • During the sometimes contentious conversation, he talks about the Holocaust, Syria
  • Ahmadinejad also discusses an anti-Islam film and Osama bin Laden
  • Iran's president is to address the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday
Watch "Piers Morgan Tonight" at 9 p.m. ET on CNN to see his interview with former President Bill Clinton.
New York (CNN) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made clear what he meant when he said Israel should be "wiped off" the map and touched on everything from the Holocaust to homosexuality in a wide-ranging interview that aired Monday on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."
The president, speaking through a translator, also said what his country would do if attacked by Israel, and he slammed an anti-Islam film that has triggered protests in the Muslim world.
"If a group comes and occupies the United States of America, destroys homes while women and children are in those homes, incarcerate the youth of America, impose five different wars on many neighbors, and always threaten others, what would you do? What would you say? Would you help it? ... Or would you help the people of the United States?" Ahmadinejad asked in response to whether Israel should be "wiped off" the face of the map, as he once said.
"So when we say 'to be wiped,' we say for occupation to be wiped off from this world. For war-seeking to (be) wiped off and eradicated, the killing of women and children to be eradicated. And we propose the way. We propose the path. The path is to recognize the right of the Palestinians to self-governance."

When asked whether he believes in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ahmadinejad declined to comment.
"I cannot express an opinion. That is their prerogative," Ahmadinejad said. "But the people of Palestine must be allowed by everyone, and helped by everyone, to allow them, to give them the right to choose for themselves."
In New York this week to visit the United Nations, Ahmadinejad spoke at a meeting on the rule of law Monday and is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with the Iranian president over the weekend and warned him of the "potentially harmful consequences of inflammatory rhetoric," according to a U.N. statement.
During his speech Monday, Ahmadinejad accused "some members of the Security Council with veto rights" of having "chosen silence with regard to the nuclear warheads of a fake regime, while at the same time they impede scientific progress of other nations."
Though he didn't name the countries, he was clearly talking about the United States, Israel and his own country.
Some world powers, particularly Western nations, suspect that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
When asked by CNN's Morgan what Iran would do if Israel were to attack it, Ahmadinejad said, "Any nation has the right and will indeed defend herself."
"But my question is this: Why should the world be managed in such a way that an individual can allow himself to threaten a rich and deeply rooted historical, ancient country such as Iran? A great country, such as Iran, based on an excuse of his own fabrication. ... Another country can say, 'I am guessing that country B is doing activity X, therefore I will attack that country' ... can this be ... a successful formula for the management of the world?"
Again there, the president was likely referring to Iran's disputed nuclear program.
Asked whether he feared a war or military conflict with Israel was imminent, Ahmadinejad said: "The Zionists are very much, very adventuresome, very much seeking to fabricate things, and I think they see themselves at the end of the line and I do firmly believe that they seek to create new opportunities for themselves and their adventurous behaviors."
Among other topics the president touched on in the interview taped in New York over the weekend were:
Anti-Islam film

Ahmadinejad denounced the film, "Innocence of Muslims," that portrays the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and killer. The online video has led to a wave of global unrest.
"Fundamentally, first of all, any action that is provocative, offends the religious thoughts and feelings of any people, we condemn," he said.
"Likewise, we condemn any type of extremism. Of course, what took place was ugly. Offending the Holy Prophet is quite ugly. This has very little or nothing to do with freedom and freedom of speech. This is the weakness of and the abuse of freedom, and in many places it is a crime. It shouldn't take place, and I do hope the day will come in which politicians will not seek to offend those whom others hold holy," Ahmadinejad said.
"We also believe that this must also be resolved in a humane atmosphere, in a participatory environment, and we do not like anyone losing their lives or being killed for any reason, anywhere in the world."
The privately produced film sparked protests against the United States, where it was made. While most of the demonstrations have been peaceful, some were marred by violence that has left more than two dozen people dead -- among them U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that reportedly followed a demonstration against the film.
When asked by Morgan whether he thought protesters should stop threatening U.S. staff abroad, Ahmadinejad said he cannot say what other people or nations should do, but that he believes "extremism gives birth to following and subsequent extremists."
A long-time supporter of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Ahmadinejad told CNN's Morgan the crisis in Syria must be resolved through dialogue, and without outside interference.
He condemned the violence, which has left more than 26,000 people dead since March 2011, according to opposition activists.
"We must all say enough of this violence, right now," Ahmadinejad said, adding that he is working to organize a group to bring the two sides together.
"We do believe that freedom, the right to choose, the right to vote, respect and justice is the fundamental right of all people. All people must obtain these rights. No one has the right to restrict a people and nation, but we believe as a friend of nations, we must help the nations around the world to obtain these rights through peaceful paths, though peaceful actions."
The Holocaust
The conversation was contentious at times, particularly when the topic turned to the Nazi Germany extermination of the Jews last century. Ahmadinejad has long questioned the existence of the Holocaust.
"I pass no judgment about historic events. I defend the human freedoms. Whatever event has taken place throughout history, or hasn't taken place, I cannot judge that. Why should I judge that? I say researchers and scholars must be free to conduct research and analysis about any historical event," the Iranian president said.

"I'm sorry. Let me ask you this. Do you believe that anyone is giving birth through homosexuality? Homosexuality ceases procreation. Who has said that if you like or believe in doing something ugly, and others do not accept your behavior, that they're denying your freedom?" he asked Morgan.
"Proper education must be given ... the education system must be revamped. The political system must be revamped. And these must be also reformed, revamped along the way. But if you, if a group recognizes an ugly behavior or ugly deed as legitimate, you must not expect other countries or other groups to give it the same recognition."

When asked how he would feel if one of his children dated a Jew, Ahmadinejad replied, "I would have to see who that Jewish man or woman would be. I see love amongst people as completely acceptable. There are many Jews living in Iran with whom we are very close. There are ... some Muslims that marry into Jewish families or marry Christians."
"I -- we have no such problems," he added.
"Of course, I think none of us should represent the whole population of the United States, but we believe that color, religion, native tongue, ethnic background shouldn't create differences or distances between people, nor should it be the sole reason to bring people closer together. It has always been like this."
Osama bin Laden
Ahmadinejad also discussed his reaction to Osama bin Laden's death last year by American Navy Seals under President Barack Obama.
"I would have been happier to see a transparent trial, a formal trial, and find out the root causes of all of the events of the last few years," the Iranian president said.

GOP Senate Candidate Akin: ‘Free Enterprise’ Means Being Allowed To Deny Equal Pay To Women

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) has struggled with a well-established woman problem in his Senate campaign, ever since he claimed women could not get pregnant from “legitimate rape.” After he said his opponent, incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), was not “ladylike,” her campaignreleased a video of Akin suggesting that businesses should be allowed to pay women less than men.
When a man asked him why he voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Akin said he didn’t support the idea that “government should be telling people what you pay and what you don’t pay.”
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Why do you think it is okay for a woman to be paid less for doing the same work as a man?
AKIN: Well, first of all, the premise of your question is that I’m making that particular distinction. I believe in free enterprise. I don’t think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don’t pay. I think it’s about freedom. If someone what’s to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that’s fine, however it wants to work. So, the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble.

Published on Sep 28, 2012 by 
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Why do you think it is okay for a woman to be paid less for doing the same work as a man?

AKIN: Well, first of all, the premise of your question is that I'm making that particular distinction. I believe in free enterprise. I don't think the government should be telling people what you pay and what you don't pay. I think it's about freedom. If someone wants to hire somebody and they agree on a salary, that's fine, however it wants to work. So, the government sticking its nose into all kinds of things has gotten us into huge trouble

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill President Obama signed into law and eases the burden on women to prove paycheck discrimination. Akin, along with all but three House Republicans, voted against the bill. Republicans blocked another pay equity bill, the Paycheck Fairness Act, earlier this summer; it would create larger penalties for employers who pay women less than men and strengthen protections for women who sue for equal pay.

Sarah Silverman: Want to vote this year? Get nana a gun(UPDATED)

Her step-by-step guide to voter ID laws in your state VIDEO

FRIDAY, SEP 21, 2012 01:31 PM EDT

Published on Sep 21, 2012 by
"Sarah Silverman isn't taking the voter ID laws complicating the 2012 election lightly. After all, who's going to look out for black people, poor people, old people and students if not America's potty-mouthed comedic sweetheart? Making it illegal to vote without a photo ID is supposed to prevent voter fraud, but as Sarah points out in this NSFW PSA, some politicians like Rep. Mike Turza (R-PA) really want voter ID laws in place to prevent certain demographics from voting (for Barack Obama)...".* Ana Kasparian, Cenk Uygur, and comedian Jimmy Dore break it down on The Young Turks.

Sarah Silverman Voter Id Laws

Sarah Silverman isn't taking the voter ID laws complicating the 2012 election lightly. After all, who's going to look out for black people, poor people, old people and students if not America's potty-mouthed comedic sweetheart?
Making it illegal to vote without a photo ID is supposed to prevent voter fraud, but as Sarah points out in this NSFW PSA, some politicians like Rep. Mike Turzai (R-PA) really want voter ID laws in place to prevent certain demographics from voting (for Barack Obama). Also, what exactly is all this "voter fraud" we're supposed to be so afraid of?
"Oh yeah, all that crazy 'voter fraud' that's going around. There's so much 'fraud' around that free, anonymous civil right," she jokes.
If that weren't enough, Sarah points out that U.S. Veteran photo ID cards, social security cards and student IDs are not accepted under the laws, but you can use gun permit IDs. You just can't make this stuff up.
Watch Sarah's PSA above and go to for more information.

no photo no voto

Will you be voting in PA, IN, FL, TN, MI, SD, ID, LA, KS, NH, or GA? Then as of right now, you need a valid photo ID to vote this year.

know before you go

gotta vote!

5 things you should know
about voter id laws

  1. These are not bipartisan efforts. They are initiated by Republicans, passed by Republicans, and signed into law by Republicans. The State House Majority Leader in PA asserted that these voter restrictions would allow Mitt Romney to win the state.
  2. The voters most likely to be burdened by these new voting restrictions are Democrats. Consider which voters don't have ID. Among seniors and young voters, 18% don't have valid ID. Among African Americans, 25% don't have valid ID.
  3. Restrictions on voting, like poll taxes and "literacy" tests, have a long history. They are used by one party to prevent supporters of another party from voting.
  4. If someone were trying to steal an election, in person voter fraud, where a voter pretends to be someone they are not at the polls, is the last method anyone would chose. Absentee ballot stuffing is much easier. But more Republicans vote by absentee ballot. So no new restrictions on absentee voting.
  5. The Brennan Center has estimated that as many as 3.2 million citizens could find it harder to vote because of new voter ID laws.

if you're on twitter and care about voting rights