Congress Calls on Obama for Action Against Iran

Monday, 12 Apr 2010 01:40 AM

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Insider Report

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Congress Calls on Obama for Action Against Iran
2. Study: Democratic Districts Got More Stimulus Money
3. Charles Rangel Facing Challenge From Familiar Name
4. 756 Things Blamed on Global Warming
5. Democrats Running Scared Over Two Special Elections
6. We Heard: Jeb Bush, Gloria Estefan, John McCain
 

1. Congress Calls on Obama for Action Against Iran

A letter to President Barack Obama from two unlikely congressional allies urging strong action against Iran has gained wide support on both sides of the aisle.

The letter was originally signed by Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana and circulated in late March.

The letter to the president begins, “We are writing you out of our concern that Iran is growing ever closer to nuclear weapons capability, a fact demanding immediate action on the part of the United States . . .

“Iran’s nuclear weapons program represents a severe threat to American national interests. Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons could lead to the proliferation of these weapons throughout the Middle East and beyond, destabilizing the global non-proliferation regime and greatly increasing the likelihood of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists . . .

“It would undercut prospects for peace between Israel and her neighbors, with emboldened Iranian surrogates enjoying the strategic backing of an Iranian nuclear umbrella. And it would pose an existential threat to the State of Israel . . .

“Mr. President, you have stated this issue is a priority for your administration. You have attempted to engage the Iranian regime for over a year. You have gone to the United Nations Security Council in an effort to impose tough new sanctions on Iran. But time is not on our side . . .

“Accordingly, we urge you today to reaffirm boldly and unambiguously that the U.S. can and will prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. We call on you to fulfill your June 2008 pledge that you would do ‘everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.’

“Certainly, one way to begin would be to reverse the practice under which the U.S. government has awarded at least $107 billion over the past decade in federal contracts to companies investing in or doing business in Iran. We urge you to join with those allies who are prepared for action to immediately impose crippling sanctions on Iran . . .

“We can do this by imposing punishing measures on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, rocking Iran’s banking system, and dramatically impacting Iran’s ability to import or refine petroleum.”

In December, the House approved a measure enabling Obama to ban foreign firms that supply Iran with refined petroleum from doing business in the U.S. The Senate passed its own version of sanctions targeting Iran’s energy sector on Jan. 28.

But as the Insider Report disclosed two weeks ago, Democratic leaders have not taken steps to reconcile slight differences in the House and Senate bills, reportedly because the Obama administration has asked them to hold off so he can maintain “flexibility” in dealing with other countries in confronting Iran.

The letter from Reps. Jackson and Pence concludes: “We urge you to move rapidly to implement your existing authority on Iran and the legislation we send you, and to galvanize the international community for immediate, devastating steps. The hour is late. Now is the time for action.”

The letter quickly gained support from other members of Congress, and by April 1, 76 Democrats and 138 Republicans had signed on to the letter.

“The broad, bipartisan backing reflects a clear-eyed, rock-ribbed commitment in Congress to do what is necessary now to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability,” Rep. Jackson told The Hill newspaper.

Another letter with bipartisan congressional support was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month, stressing the importance of American-Israeli relations.

“We are writing to reaffirm our commitment to the unbreakable bond that exists between our country and the State of Israel and to express to you our deep concern over recent tension,” the letter begins.

Referring to the announcement during Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to Israel that Israel would build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, the signees state: “We are reassured that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s commitment to put in place new procedures will ensure that such surprises, however unintended, will not recur.”

The letter, dated March 19, was signed by three Democrats — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland; Howard Berman of California, chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs; and Gary Ackerman of New York, chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.

Three Republicans also signed the letter: Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, the ranking Republican member on the Committee on Foreign Affairs; and Dan Burton of Indiana, ranking Republican member on the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.

The letter to Clinton declares: “We are concerned that the highly publicized tensions in the relationship will not advance the interests the U.S. and Israel share. Above all, we must remain focused on the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear weapons program to Middle East peace and stability.”

Editor's Note:



2. Study: Democratic Districts Got More Stimulus Money

A new study reveals that congressional districts represented by a Democrat have received significantly more money from the $787 billion stimulus bill than those with a Republican representative.

The study by Veronique de Rugy, senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, found that on average Democratic districts got 1 1/2 times as many awards as Republican districts in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Those Democratic districts received about 2 1/2 times more stimulus dollars than Republican districts, $122 billion to $46 billion.

And Democratic districts also received larger awards on average than did Republican districts — $471 million for a Democratic district and $260 million for one represented by a Republican, de Rugy points out in an article for National Review.

But the study found no correlation between stimulus spending and unemployment.

“We should expect the government to invest more money in districts with higher unemployment rates,” de Rugy writes, but the study “suggests that unemployment is not the factor leading the awards.”

Surprisingly, the total number of jobs claimed as created or saved overall by the stimulus actually declined from the previous quarter, dropping from about 634,000 to roughly 597,000.

“To sum it up,” de Rugy notes, “it’s a lot of money for jobs that are disappearing, and the money isn’t going to high-unemployment districts, probably because politics gets in the way.”

Editor's Note:



3. Charles Rangel Facing Challenge From Familiar Name

Back in 1970, New York State Assemblyman Charles Rangel won the U.S. House seat that had been held by Adam Clayton Powell for more than 25 years. Now, 40 years later, Rep. Rangel is facing a challenge in the Democratic primary — from Powell’s son.

Adam Clayton Powell IV, a New York State Assemblyman, said he would announce his candidacy at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 116th Street in Manhattan, known as the “lucky corner” where Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia traditionally ended his campaign, Elizabeth Benjamin reports in the New York Daily News.

“Charles Rangel has a legacy. He spent 40 years in Congress and he delivered for this community,” said Powell, who ran unsuccessfully against Rangel in 1994.

“But people are saying maybe it’s time to turn the page. It’s time for new leadership.”

Rangel relinquished his position as chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means in March after the House Ethics Committee found he had broken gift rules by accepting a corporate-sponsored trip to the Caribbean.

When Rangel won his seat in 1970, primary opponent Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was also embroiled in an ethics controversy.

On March 25, Adam Clayton Powell IV — who has a half-brother named Adam Clayton Powell III — was found guilty of driving while impaired.

Three other candidates have also announced they will seek Rangel’s House seat, including his former aide Vince Morgan.

Editor's Note:



4. 756 Things Blamed on Global Warming

What does cannibalism, the extinction of possums, kidney stones, a shortage of truffles and the crash of an Air France jet have in common? They have all been linked in one way or another to global warming.

“Hardly a day goes by that the media don’t blame something on global warming,” an editorial in Investor’s Business Daily observes.

“The British-based science watchdog, Number Watch, wondered just how many and went to the trouble of documenting them. It has kept on its Web site a near-comprehensive set of links to a long list of things attributed by either scientific research or the media to global warming . . .

“In perusing the list one thing will become clear: just how much the fear of global warming has come to taint both science and news reporting on the issue.”

The list compiled by Number Watch includes 756 items linked to global warming.

For example, an increase in the number of cats and kittens being brought to animal shelters in the U.S. has been attributed by a national adoption organization to “an extended cat breeding season thanks to the world’s warming temperatures,” the LiveScience Web site reported.

And the governor of Tokyo said last year that the 2016 Olympics could be the last ever. “Global warming is getting worse,” he said in remarks reported by Reuters. “We have to come up with measures without which Olympic Games could not last long.”

Among the items on the list: acne, alligators in Britain’s Thames River, brain-eating amoebas, childhood insomnia, the risk of an asteroid strike, attacks from killer jellyfish, the death of the Loch Ness monster, killer cornflakes, the extinction of salmon, and a change in the tilt of the Earth’s axis.

Also on the list: frogs with extra heads, frostbite, witchcraft executions, traffic jams, UFO sightings, a walrus stampede, an invasion of king crabs, indigestion, short-nosed dogs, and nuclear war.

Editor's Note:



5. Democrats Running Scared Over Two Special Elections

Party leaders are increasingly concerned that two longtime Democratic House seats could fall into Republican hands in two special elections next month — delivering a blow similar to Scott Brown’s capture of Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts.

In Hawaii, Rep. Neil Abercrombie — who was first elected in 1990 — resigned on Feb. 26 to run for governor, creating the need for an all-party special election on May 22.

And in Pennsylvania, the Feb. 8 death of Rep. John Murtha, after more than 35 years in the House, has led to a special election on May 18.

The two elections “have raised alarm bells among top party officials who fear that a pair of defeats in the Democratic-held seats could amount to a Massachusetts Senate sequel, overshadowing President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan and reinforcing a narrative that the Democratic Party is on track for severe losses in November,” Politico.com observed.

In Hawaii, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is concerned that the two top Democratic candidates, former Rep. Ed Case and state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, will split the party vote and enable Republican Charles Djou, a city councilman in Honolulu, to win the seat.

The DNCC is reportedly working hard to bolster Case’s campaign in the belief he would be the stronger candidate against Djou. But Hawaii’s two Democratic senators, Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, have both endorsed Hanabusa.

In Pennsylvania, the Democratic nominee, former Murtha District Director Mark Critz, “is uniquely vulnerable to being painted as a political insider at a time when that is no asset,” according to Politico.

Polls show Critz with only a narrow lead over Republican businessman Tim Burns in a district that voted for John McCain in 2008.

One Democratic strategist told Politico that the Democrats’ performance in the two races “will be viewed as wins or losses on healthcare and this administration, whether they are or they aren’t.”

Editor's Note:



6. We Heard . . .

THAT former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been selected by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to serve on the board of his philanthropic foundation.

Bush and Bloomberg share an interest in education reform, which both have implemented while in office.

Bush and Bloomberg co-authored an August 2006 Op-Ed piece in The Washington Post calling for changes in the No Child Left Behind Act.

They also appeared together at a November 2007 education-themed event hosted by the Manhattan Institute.

Bloomberg gave $254 million to 1,300 charities last year.

THAT singer Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio will host President Barack Obama at a fundraiser at their Miami Beach home on April 15.

The $30,400-a-couple cocktail reception is the Estefans’ first political fundraiser and will benefit the Democratic National Committee.

Cuban-born Gloria performed at the White House in October, and in September Obama appointed Emilio to a commission to study the feasibility of a National Museum of the American Latino, The Miami Herald reported.

Gloria also performed at the inaugural activities for President George W. Bush in 2005.

THAT Sen. John McCain is the top tweeter in Congress — he claims to have 1,741,000 followers on the social-networking site Twitter.

The Arizona Republican is one of about 200 members of Congress who now tweet on a variety of topics, according to BusinessWeek.

McCain — who said during his 2008 presidential campaign that he didn’t use e-mail and was just learning to go online — has more than 46 times as many followers on Twitter as the next most popular member, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri.

“I love it,” McCain said. “It’s so interactive.”

Editor's Note:



Editor's Notes:

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