Lawmakers warn administration: "We will act decisively" if bad deal reached with Iran


Lawmakers on Wednesday issued a statement warning the White House that they would aim to increase sanctions on Tehran if the administration fails to agree to what Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) described as a “good deal” as the deadline to reach an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program draws closer. The senators, who last year coauthored bipartisan legislation that would have locked in sanctions should negotiations fail, demanded “a good deal [that] will dismantle, not just stall, Iran’s illicit nuclear program and prevent Iran from ever becoming a threshold nuclear weapons state.” Earlier this month the State Department had been pressed on congressional support for a deal, with veteran Associated Press reporter Matt Lee declaring that literally no members of Congress - "none of them, even Democrats, even lawmakers from the President’s own party, are supportive of the way" the deal is reportedly shaping up. On Wednesday, CNN reported Sen. Kirk as saying “Iran will use a weak deal as cover to get nuclear weapons.” Senator Lindsey Graham on Wednesday doubled down on comments he had made the day before at a conference held by the Israeli American Council, tweeting that if the deal reached in Vienna “is a bad deal, I will kill it." Mark Dubowitz, the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told reporters on a conference call organized by The Israel Project on Wednesday that Congress could be credited with “designing many of the toughest sanctions that forced Iran to the negotiating table” and suggested that the administration have Congress “play a role in helping to design and oversee a post-agreement sanctions architecture that preserves key sanctions leverage to enforce an agreement while providing a sanctions relief pathway for Iran to secure the deal.” In recent weeks, observers have expressed concerns that a double dynamic appears to be forming in which Iranian leverage has increased - the Iranians have continued to enrich and stockpile uranium, providing them with more assets to trade away - even as the international sanctions regime that the U.S. relies on for leverage has eroded.


A new Israeli study says obesity can play a major role in triggering and prolonging autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s Disease and multiple sclerosis, in which the immune system attacks its own body rather than predatory invaders. A study published recently in Autoimmunity Reviews by Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld, the Laura Schwarz-Kipp Chair for Research of Autoimmune Diseases at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and Head of Zabludowicz Center for Autoimmune Diseases at Chaim Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, shows that obesity leads to a breakdown of the body’s protective self-tolerance, creating the optimal environment for autoimmune diseases, and generates a pro-inflammatory environment likely to worsen the disease’s progression and hinder its treatment. “We’ve been aware of a long list of causes of autoimmune disorders — infections, smoking, pesticides, lack of vitamins, and so forth. But in last five years, a new factor has emerged that cannot be ignored: obesity,” said Prof. Shoenfeld. “According to the World Health Organization, approximately 35% of the global community is overweight or obese, and more than ten autoimmune diseases are known to be associated with increased weight. So it’s critical to investigate obesity’s involvement in the pathology of such diseases.” In addition to their own research, Prof. Shoenfeld and his team from Tel Hashomer hospital conducted a systematic review of 329 studies from around the world on the relationship between obesity, adipokines (compounds secreted by fat tissue and involved in numerous physiological functions, including the immune response), and immune-related conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, type-1 diabetes, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriatic arthritis, and Hashimoto thyroiditis. “According to our study and the clinical and experimental data reviewed, the involvement of adipokines in the pathogenesis of these autoimmune diseases is clear,” said Prof. Shoenfeld. “We were able to detail the metabolic and immunological activities of the main adipokines featured in the development and prognosis of several immune-related conditions.” Moreover, the scientists looked at Vitamin D deficiency and how it relates to these diseases. Prof. Shoenfeld conducted a study on mouse populations with multiple sclerosis given a Mediterranean diet rich in unsaturated fats. He found that Vitamin D deficiency was also a result of obesity and, once corrected, alleviated paralysis and kidney deterioration associated with the disorder. It also improved the prognosis and survival of the mice. “Modern life makes us all prone to Vitamin D deficiency,” said Prof. Shoenfeld. “We live in labs, offices, and cars. When Vitamin D is secreted in fat tissue, it is not released into the body, which needs Vitamin D to function properly. Since Vitamin D supplements are very cheap and have no side effects, they are an ideal compound that should be prescribed to anyone at risk of a compromised immune system.” (via Israel21c)

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