Let Us Talk

September 30, 2009

Iran — What Should The World Do?

Middle East 9 09

World powers put pressure on Iran ahead of crucial nuclear talks scheduled for Thursday, amid growing concern about the covert build up of Tehran’s nuclear program.  Iran has insisted for years that it has a right to civilian nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and to make enriched fuel for power plants — although its first Russian built and long delayed nuclear plant is still not online. Iranian officials underscored that their nuclear “rights” (uranium enrichment which the UN Security Council wants suspended) were not negotiable.

But its announcement last week of the ongoing construction of another uranium enrichment plant, underground near the Shi’ite holy city of Qom, prompted stern warnings from western capitals led by Washington and concern from some Arab states.

Arab states from the Gulf have joined talks with the six Western nations preparing to negotiate with Iran over its nuclear program. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Envoys from the Arab states are said to have met at the United Nations headquarters in New York over the weekend with the five permanent powers (P5) in the UN Security Council plus Germany who want guarantees from Tehran on the civilian nature of its nuclear ambitions.  The ‘P5-plus-one’ group is set to meet with Iran on Thursday, October 1 in Geneva.

“It will be in the best interests of everybody that this situation stays under control,” said Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, following the disclosure of a secret Iranian nuclear site under development near the holy city of Qom. “The new facility is being looked at by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and it seems there will be positive co-operation with Iran for inspecting this site.”

Jeffrey Feltman, the US assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, spoke of “ongoing consultation with our Gulf friends about what is our policy toward Iran and how we are going to address the October 1 dialogue with Iran.  There’s a profound concern on their part that we do not try anything that could be construed as trading their interests for our interests.”

Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated he has no objection to Gulf countries directly joining the talks.

Gulf States, fearing the encroachment of Iranian power throughout the region, have urged the country’s leadership to comply with international demands regarding the development of its nuclear program.

“Nuclear weapons is a tough issue, but it’s hard to know whether all this is just talk,” Dr. Ghanim A-Najjar, a political scientist at Kuwait University, told The Media Line. “Nuclear weapons are not a joke and I don’t think Iran will go that far. They don’t have the ability; the technology is not available to them.”

Dr. A-Najjar argued that recent efforts by Gulf States to explore nuclear power were in direct response to Iran’s nuclear development. “The Gulf States want to put pressure on Iran with threats of their own nuclear energy plans.”

“But I don’t see how Gulf States can be serious about nuclear development,” he added. “There’s a big step between saying we want nuclear power to actually having it and I don’t think the Gulf States are capable of this kind of development.”

Dr. Stephen Steinbeiser, Resident Director of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, argued that there was more concern over Iran’s overall influence in the region than the potential of a nuclear armed Iran.

“People are definitely interested in Iran, if one day it’s proven that Iran has nuclear weapons the balance of power in the Middle East really squeezes Arabs out of the middle between Iran and Israel. That’s something that makes people pause and people are starting to question just how powerful Arab states really are.”

“The Israelis have a very palpable fear of Iran,” he said. “Yemenis don’t have that but there’s a concern about the influence that Iran is presumed to yield.”

“People here are less interested in these negotiations than in what is perceived to be Iranian interference in the northern rebellion,” he said, referring to an ongoing military conflict between Yemen’s central government and a Houthi-led rebellion in the country’s North. “You never hear it in the mainstream media but locally people feel that the northern rebels are receiving Iranian support and that this is not so much a war against rebels but a war against Iranian intrusion.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said this week that Moscow would like to see “substantial progress” on the nuclear program in Geneva, days after President Dmitry Medvedev signaled he might endorse sanctions against Iran.

This is a strong indication of a change in Russia’s position and that probably has something to do with the US attempts to reset the relationship with Russia. 

China has an important import/export relationship with Iran — will they put pressure on Iran now that Russia seems willing to do so? 

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September 29, 2009

Bill Maher On Jay Leno: Emails — Mark Foley vs Gov Mark Sanford

In June 2009 Governor Mark Sanford, Republican from South Carolina, admitted that he had conducted an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina who he had gone to visit in Argentina three times during the past year.  “I have been unfaithful to my wife . . . I developed a relationship with what started as a dear dear friend,” said Sanford.

He said that he had met Maria Belen Shapur roughly eight years ago and that it had become romantic within the last year.

In September 2006 Mark Foley, Republican Congressman from Florida, sent sexually explicit email and instant messages to a 16 year old male congressional page from Monroe, Louisiana as well as to other congressional pages.

This is sad but funny.  Watch Bill and Jay read some of the emails.

September 23, 2009

Important Facts About Healthcare Reform

Benefits of Healthcare Reform:

So what does reform mean for you? In short, it means stable, quality, affordable care that you can depend on when you need it.

Here are five ways that health care reform will help lower costs, improve quality and bring stability to your health care.

  1. You & Your Doctor Make Decisions
    Health Care Reform Means You and Doctor Will Make Health Care Decisions
     
  2. Stable Coverage If You Have a Pre-Existing Condition or Get Sick
    Health Care Reform Means Stable Coverage for You and Your Family if You Have a Pre-Existing Condition or Get Sick.
     
  3. Lowers Cost & Caps Out-of-Pocket Expenses
    Health Care Reform Lowers Costs, Caps Out-of-Pocket Expenses and Eliminates Limits on Annual or Lifetime Care.
     
  4. Focuses on Preventive Care
    Health Care Reform Focuses on Preventive Care to Fend Off Illnesses and Save Costs.
     
  5. Relief to Employers
    Health Care Reform Provides Relief to Employers.

For more information go to: http://www.factsaboutreform.org/index.html

September 21, 2009

Watch President Obama’s Healthcare Plan In 4 Minutes!!!

The details President Obama outlines in this video are those that every American needs to know. No matter your political party or whether or not you have insurance, his plan for health care security and stability matters to all of us.

Millions of American citizens cannot get health insurance — and 14,000 are losing their insurance every day. If we do nothing, half of Americans under the age of 65 will lose their health insurance at some point in the next ten years.

That’s not right. Plain and simple. For Americans with insurance as well as those without it, inaction is not an option.  In America, no one should go broke because they get sick.

Bottom line — health insurance reform will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance, coverage for those who don’t, and will lower the cost of health care for our families, our businesses, and our government.

As the President says, now is the time to deliver the change we need on health care.

Please pass on this information to your family, friends and social networks.

Please take four minutes and watch this video.

September 17, 2009

9/17/09: President Obama FIRED UP About Healthcare Reform at the University of Maryland in College Park

President Barack Obama continued his nationwide health care reform tour today by paying a visit to the University of Maryland.  As during then Senator Obama’s campaign, many in attendance arrived at the crack of dawn to hear the President’s speech. Students from the University of Maryland and other universities expressed an overwhelming amount of support for President Obama which was evidenced by the mass wave of supporters who gave a standing ovation before the President had even arrived to make his speech. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley described Obama’s health care reform speech as historic and the students in attendance showed a tremendous amount of support for Obama’s clarification of his position.

President Obama spoke to those in attendance in an effort to clarify how his proposed policies would have an effect on young adults. During his speech, he said, “More than one-third of all young adults have trouble paying their medical debts. In the United States, nobody should go broke because they get sick. The time has finally come to provide affordable, accessible, quality healthcare to every single American.”

Obama touched on familiar themes in this address, including a call for the public option, or a government-run health insurance plan. The public option has been the most contentious point of the health care debate and it would force private insurers to lower costs and be more competitive while Republicans blast it as a government takeover of health care.

The president also pointed to the “unprecedented” coalition of doctors, nurses and hospitals that have backed the Democratic health care overhaul.

“It was good to have a campaign-like rally outside of a campaign,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, who attended the event. Ulman said Obama struck a chord that had been echoed during the campaign trail — fixing health care won’t be easy, but it must get done.

September 14, 2009

9/13/09: President Obama on 60 Minutes Re: Healthcare

September 11, 2009

Healthcare: Senator Edward (Teddy) Kennedy’s Letter To President Obama

Please read the Honorable Edward Kennedy’s letter to President Obama below.  The letter was delivered to our President after Senator Kennedy died.  Senator Kennedy said it all in his letter.

Let’s get this bill signed for Uncle Teddy.  It’s simple, click on the link below, plug in your zip code and the list of all your elected officials that you should call will pop up with their phone number.  Call each of your elected official’s office and simply say, “I am calling to express my support for President Obama’s healthcare reform plan” or something like that.  They’ll ask for your zip code – that’s it.  They won’t ask for any personal information — and if they do you don’t have to share it.  They are logging calls to keep count of  support for healthcare reform- you can also call more than once. 

When I worked in news and we got calls because a story impacted the public in some profound way each call was calculated as 100 people because they figure for every call they receive from the public 100 people were thinking of making that call.   We are trying to get 5,000 individual calls to every elected official.  Please call and encourage your friends to call as well…please.  Pass this information on.  Let’s get this done.

Let’s be able to look back one year from now and marvel at our tremendous accomplishment.  

Democracy is not a spectator sport – we all have to participate for it to work. Please participate today.

Let’s do this for the late and great Senator Edward M. Kennedy.  Click the link below.

Add your voice: Ask your representatives to support my plan for real health reform in 2009.

 

Edward M. Kennedy

May 12, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me – and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me-and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles – there always have been – and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat – that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will – yes, we will – fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign- and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend- and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,

Ted

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