Senate blocks vote on Iran deal; House members consider legal action over secret agreements

 

The Senate motion to end debate on the Iran nuclear deal failed on Thursday, denying the Senate an opportunity to exercise its voice over the agreement reached in July. Despite the bipartisan majority who oppose the deal, the procedural tactic of preventing the Senate from voting prevailed, a move that, according to Roll Call, the White House “badly” wanted to happen. On Wednesday, former Democratic Senator of Connecticut Joe Lieberman urged Senators to allow a vote to take place. He said, “It deserves a straight up or down vote.” After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared, “The issue before us is of immense consequence to our country. The American people are entitled to a real voice, and to know where their elected Senators stand.” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said, “There are going to be more votes. There will be other opportunities for people to change their mind next week, hopefully after they hear from their constituents.” The vote comes on the heels of a series of poll data that reflects growing opposition of Americans to the deal. More Americans disapprove of the deal than approve of it.

Furthermore, many of the members in the House of Representatives have expressed outrage that the White House has not submitted the two secret side agreements between the IAEA and Iran. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), therefore, is currently deliberating whether to bring legal action against the President of the United States. Many representatives do not believe that the administration has complied with the terms of the Corker-Cardin legislation that requires the president to submit all related documents. Speaker Boehner issued a press release on Thursday stating that the House will act to “[m]ake clear President Obama did not submit all the required documents for Congress and the American people to review as required.” Eugene Kontorovich, law professor at Northwestern University, published an article in The Washington Post making the case that a legal suit was possible due to a ruling from a D.C. Federal district court on Wednesday. He said the ruling provided an “opening for a congressional lawsuit challenging the [JCPOA]."

 

If her speech Wednesday at the Brookings Institution is any indication, Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy agenda will mark a break with her former boss, President Barack Obama, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Notably, the Democratic presidential candidate and former secretary of state advocated for confronting Iran more forcefully despite her announced support for the nuclear deal and promised a less adversarial approach to Israel. The Post noted that Clinton frequently “pointed to instances overseas where she would have taken a tougher stance than Obama.”

Clinton also pointedly noted that she was an early advocate of arming moderate Syrian rebels, and was against the decision not to retaliate against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after his regime’s chemical weapons attack on civilians two years ago, saying, “I do think that not being able to follow through on it cost us.”

Clinton suggested that as president, she would keep disagreements with Israel private and promised to invite Israel’s prime minister to Washington during her first month in office “to talk about all these issues and to set us on a course of close, frequent consultation.” However, she also used the speech to reiterate her support for the nuclear deal with Iran, which Israel opposes.

A synopsis of Clinton’s speech was published on the Brookings Institution website. Clinton listed “five pillars” of policy intended to counter Iran’s support of terror and “confront them across the board.” A video of this portion of Clinton’s talk is embedded below.

The pillars include an “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s military security;” defending the Persian Gulf and assuring Gulf allies that America will act if they are threatened; building coalitions across the Middle East to battle Iran’s proxies and to enforce embargoes of Iranian arms shipments; taking a strong stand against Iran’s humans rights abuses; and adopting a “comprehensive regional strategy that promotes stability and counters extremism.” (via TheTower.org)

 

Sesame seeds aren’t just little white specks on top of hamburger buns. Chock full of protein, iron, zinc and calcium, these nourishing, oil-rich seeds form the basis of Mideast cuisine staples becoming popular worldwide, such as tahini, hummus and halva. Yet even though sesame has been cultivated for some 5,500 years, the crop has traditionally been unprofitable because it is difficult to harvest and produces a low yield. Part of the problem is that a high percentage of sesame seeds are found to be unfit for human consumption. Recently, an Israeli agricultural researcher won an award for fine-tuning a way to enhance the yield, size and even the nutritional quality of sesame, using genetic markers to indicate which strains have the most potential. After meticulously screening and selectively breeding more than 100,000 sesame-seed variants of many different hues at his lab, Hebrew University Prof. Zvi Peleg developed an improved sesame cultivar with bigger seeds, more seeds per pod and better bioavailability of the nutrients in the seeds. He and his team are also working to make sesame pods that can be picked by machine rather than by hand. (via Israel21c)


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