It is clear that Iran’s former firebrand-in-chief Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president from 2005-2013, is attempting a political comeback.
First were the well-timed media profiles of visitors making the pilgrimage to his home in Tehran’s Narmak neighborhood seeking favors; next, the Iranian press accounts of Ahmadinejad’s opportunistic trips to Iran’s provinces; then rumors from spokespeople that he intends to run for the presidency in 2017; and now a public letter to the president of the United States seeking the repatriation of $2 billion of assets frozen in the US.
But will all of these efforts and publicity help him succeed in reclaiming the presidency, and winning the mandate of the Islamic Republic’s hardliners?
An Iran poll survey suggests that the former president now trails incumbent Hassan Rouhani by just eight percentage points in a head-to-head match-up, compared with 27 points in May 2015. But the numbers don’t tell the whole story – indeed, Ahmadinejad faces an uphill battle in regaining the regime imprimatur due to heavy political baggage.
Ahmadinejad was the Supreme Leader’s darling when he began his reign in 2005. It is believed that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei quietly supported Ahmadinejad while his influential son Mojtaba openly endorsed him in 2005, all in the midst of a run-off between Ahmadinejad’s campaign and that of the moderate former president Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
But as early as 2008, the bloom was beginning to come off the rose, with reports circulating that Khamenei was disappointed with Ahmadinejad’s economic policies, which “had led to steep inflation in basic necessities, from food to property values.”
Then came his hotly contested reelection in 2009, which saw the Supreme Leader publicly bless Ahmadinejad’s purported victory during a dispute between his camp and that of his challenger Mir Hossein Mousavi. But at the same time, the cracks in the relationship continued to grow, with the Supreme Leader having to publicly chastise Ahmadinejad for his accusations of corruption against his opponents during live televised debates, saying “[o]ne doesn’t like to see a nominee, for the sake of proving himself, seeking to negate somebody else.”
Ahmadinejad soon fell even deeper out of favor. In 2011 he fired his intelligence minister, accusing him of being a spy who disseminated information to the Supreme Leader on his chief of staff – and preferred successor – Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. This led to Khamenei having to reinstate the intelligence chief, prompting Ahmadinejad to begin his “great sulk” – not appearing in public or participating in cabinet meetings for two weeks.
The mullahcracy in Tehran long had its eye on Mashaei, whom it suspected of attempting to undermine their religious authority.
Throughout the rest of his presidency, a fifth clerical column routinely targeted Ahmadinejad’s allies – in 2011 he saw at least 25 lieutenants arrested and accused of “black magic.” According to media reports, one arrested supporter was dubbed by a conservative daily as a “man with special skills in metaphysics and connections with unknown worlds” and was “accused of summoning a genie, who caused his interrogator to have a heart attack.”
By the 2013 presidential campaign season, the former president was considered damaged goods. In a final political rebuke, rumors ran rampant in Tehran that Ahmadinejad would face 74 lashes or six months in jail after he illegally accompanied Mashaei to register as a candidate. In the end his loyal confidante Mashaei was barred from running for the presidency.
Even after Ahmadinejad left office his record continued to haunt the halls of power in Tehran.
His first vice president, Mohammad Reza Rahimi, was sentenced to five years in prison and forced to pay a $300,000 fine on undisclosed embezzlement charges; Hamid Baqaei, Ahmadinejad’s vice president for executive affairs, was arrested in 2015 on unspecified grounds; his ally and billionaire Babak Zanjani was sentenced to death for fraud and economic crimes in profiting off of sanctions imposed on Iran; current regime officials have called for Ahmadinejad himself to stand trial for mismanagement of the country; and the most recent “pay slip-gate” furor over the inflated salaries of the heads of state-owned companies seems to have begun during his reign.
Finally, let’s not forget the power of the Guardian Council. There is a precedent for a former president being prohibited from running for the presidency again: in 2013, the Guardian Council thwarted former president Rafsanjani’s ambitions for a third term, suggesting that Rafsanjani was too old. His battles – like Ahmadinejad’s – with the Supreme Leader have become legendary.
Ahmadinejad could find himself sharing a similar fate.
So, while Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is once again entering the political limelight, his record and reputation precede him. His list of enemies is long, but will memories of his reign be short with the lack of economic improvement in the aftermath of the Rouhani administration’s nuclear deal? Only time will tell.
Turkish tank units have entered Syria as part of a military operation backed by Turkish and US-led coalition warplanes to clear the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group from the Syrian border town of Jarablus, according to Turkish state media.
Turkish special forces had crossed the border and entered Jarablus early on Wednesday, officials said.
“The operation, which began at around 4am local time (01:00 GMT), is aimed at clearing the Turkish borders of terrorist groups, helping to enhance border security and supporting the territorial integrity of Syria,” Anadolu Agency quoted Turkish officials as saying.
Turkish media said the operation involved artillery and rocket shelling as well as warplanes, before the ground forces, including heavy armoured vehicles, entered Syria towards noon.
So far, Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters backed by Turkey have captured four villages and total of 46 ISIL fighters have been killed in the operation, Dogan news agency said on Wednesday.
Turkish daily Hurriyet reported that Turkish tanks in Syrian territories blocked ISIL’s support routes and Turkish fighter jets along with coalition jets pounded ISIL vehicles headed from the al-Bab region to support ISIL fighters in the Jarablus area.
Meanwhile some 5,000 FSA fighters, including groups from the Sultan Murat Brigade, Sukur al-Jeber, Sham Front and Feylek al-Sham, were reportedly advancing toward central Jarablus.
PYD and ISIL targeted
The operation is targeting ISIL and Syrian Kurdish fighters in northern Syria to end attacks on Turkey’s border, President Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in the capital Ankara on Wednesday.
“At 4:00 this morning, operations started in the north of Syria against terror groups which constantly threaten our country, like Daesh [the Arabic acronym for ISIL] and the PYD [the Syrian Kurdish group],” he said in a speech in Ankara.
Turkey had pledged on Monday to “completely cleanse” ISIL fighters from its border region after a suicide bomber suspected of links to the group killed 54 people at a Kurdish wedding in the southeastern city of Gaziantep.
Turkey is also concerned about the growing influence of Syrian Kurdish groups along its border, where they have captured large expanses of territory since the start of the Syrian war in 2011.
Turkey sees them as tied to the PKK, which has been waging an armed campaign mainly in the country’s southeast.
“It is hard to conduct this operation without the green light from Moscow, Tehran, Damascus and Washington,” Metin Gurcan, security analyst, told Al Jazeera from Istanbul.
“The open objective in this operation is that Turkey is trying to create an ISIL-free humanitarian zone by clearing Jarablus for possible flow of refugees,” he said.
“The covert objective is another one. The PYD’s recent advances alarmed Ankara. Turkey aims to deny the PYD’s objective of connecting cantons it controls and creating monolithic Kurdish entity.”
The military operation against ISIL comes as Syrian rebels, backed by Turkey, also say they are in the final stages of preparing an assault from Turkish territory on Jarablus, aiming to pre-empt a potential attempt by Syrian Kurdish forces of PYD to take it.
The PYD, a critical part of the US-backed campaign against ISIL, took near-complete control of Hasaka city on Tuesday.
The group already controls chunks of northern Syria where Kurdish groups have established de facto autonomy since the start of the Syria war – a development that has alarmed Turkey.
Turkey’s army and international coalition forces on Wednesday started an operation to drive Islamic State jihadists out of a key Syrian border town, a statement from the Turkish prime minister’s office said.
“The Turkish Armed Forces and the International Coalition Air Forces have launched a military operation aimed at clearing the district of Jarablus of the province of Aleppo from the terrorist organisation Daesh,” it added, using an Arabic acronym for IS group.
The state-run news agency Anadolu said the operation began at around 4 am local time (0100 GMT).
Turkish F-16 jets dropped bombs on IS targets in Jarablus — the first such assault since a November crisis with Russia sparked by the downing of one of Moscow’s warplanes by the Turkish air force, the private NTV television reported.
Security sources quoted by Turkish television said a small contingent of special forces travelled a few kilometres into Syria to secure the area before a possible operation.
Broadcaster CNN-Turk reported that Turkish artillery hit 63 targets in Syria.
Several mortar rounds from IS-held Jarablus hit the Turkish border town of Karkamis on Tuesday, prompting the army to pound the jihadist positions on Syrian soil with artillery strikes.
Official Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/216865
The U.S. Marine Corps is testing a pocket-sized drone that can deliver live video feeds from three cameras and is small enough that it’s almost invisible from the ground.
The Black Hornet PD-100 can stay aloft for 25 minutes and has a range of 1.6 km (1 mile). That means Marines can use it for surveillance far beyond their current position.
It can fly missions guided by GPS yet fits in a pocket. The cable hanging out the back in this image is an antenna, not a cord for power or data.
The three cameras can be used to send live video or take pictures. One camera points ahead, one directly down and one at 45 degrees to the ground.
The tests took place in California recently during an exercise called MIX-16, held to evaluate new technologies and how they might be used by the Marines.
The Black Hornet has already been used in Afghanistan by the British military, and the U.K. Ministry of Defence was sufficiently impressed to make it an ongoing part of the country’s military kit.
It’s made by Norway’s Prox Dynamics, and the Norwegian Special Forces have ordered a version with night-flying capability. The drone is also used by a handful of other countries.
During her speech at the United Nations, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Department of Justice is launching a global police force in order to combat “violent extremism” in the United States.
A proposal such as this, with all of its various implications of an overreach of power, should be front-page news everywhere, but unfortunately, not many noticed. And that’s a concern to constitutional attorney KrisAnne Hall who released a video to make the rallying call.
“Something happened yesterday that I’m afraid will go completely unnoticed,” Hall began. “Yesterday, the Department of Justice, several cities within the United States, several municipalities, linked up with the United Nations to form a global police initiative. It is called the Strong Cities Network.”
“This is such an attack on our Constitution. This is such an attack on the sovereignty of our states,” she added. “This will eliminate the rights of the people as we know them under a constitutional republic.”
Hall warns that this initiative will be the vehicle used to usher in the UN arms treaty and the UN controlling America. She says it will bypass Congress and the treaty process, and will be implemented on the local level “so people will never even notice.”
Helping her get this message out is noted fighter against the Islamization of America, Pamela Geller. In her latest piece for Breitbart, she sends out a similar warning:
The groundwork is being laid for federal and international interference down to the local level. “The Strong Cities Network,” Lynch declared, “will serve as a vital tool to strengthen capacity-building and improve collaboration” – i.e., local dependence on federal and international authorities.
Lynch made the global (that is, United Nations) involvement clear when she added: “As we continue to counter a range of domestic and global terror threats, this innovative platform will enable cities to learn from one another, to develop best practices and to build social cohesion and community resilience here at home and around the world.”
Geller notes the oddity that the Strong Cities Network wasn’t announced at an appropriate national venue, such as the White House or FBI headquarters but “ominously” before the UN. It didn’t help that the DoJ press release accompanying the announcement read, “While many cities and local authorities are developing innovative responses to address this challenge, no systematic efforts are in place to share experiences, pool resources and build a community of cities to inspire local action on a global scale.”
Geller writes: “This amounts to nothing less than the overriding of American laws, up to and including the United States Constitution, in favor of United Nations laws that would henceforth be implemented in the United States itself – without any consultation of Congress at all.”
Making sure her battle cry isn’t misconstrued as yet another conspiracy theory, Geller points to Lynch’s own words from her speech:
“As we continue to counter a range of domestic and global terror threats, this innovative platform will enable cities to learn from one another, to develop best practices and to build social cohesion and community resilience here at home and around the world.”
And just to be sure, Geller adds additional quotes from the DoJ press release:
“[The Strong Cities Network] will strengthen strategic planning and practices to address violent extremism in all its forms by fostering collaboration among cities, municipalities and other sub-national authorities.”
Read more of Geller’s piece here, and watch Hall’s in-depth commentary below:
UNITED NATIONS CALLS FOR FEDERALIZATION OF U.S. LAW ENFORCEMENT TO BE ‘BEEFED UP,’ COVER ALL OF AMERICA
“The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has provided oversight and recommendations for improvement of police services in a number of cities with consent decrees. This is one of the most effective ways to reduce discrimination in law enforcement and it needs to be beefed up and increased to cover as many of the 18,000-plus local law enforcement jurisdictions.”
That was United Nations Rapporteur Maina Kai on July 27, a representative of the U.N. Human Rights Council, who on the tail-end of touring the U.S., endorsed a little-known and yet highly controversial practice by the Justice Department to effect a federal takeover of local police and corrections departments.
THE CONSENT DECREES ARE ALREADY BEING IMPLEMENTED IN NEWARK, NEW JERSEY; MIAMI, FLORIDA; LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA; FERGUSON, MISSOURI; CHICAGO, ILLINOIS; AND OTHER MUNICIPALITIES.
Here’s how it works: the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice files a lawsuit in federal court against a city, county, or state, alleging constitutional and civil rights violations by the police or at a corrections facility. It is done under 42 U.S.C. § 14141, a section of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, granting the attorney general the power to prosecute law enforcement misconduct. The municipality then simply agrees to the judicial finding — without contest — and the result is a wide-reaching federal court order that imposes onerous regulations on local police.
The federal court orders are designed to undo Rudy Giuliani-style policing tactics that were effective at reducing crime in big cities in the 1990s and 2000s.
IN SHORT, THE MUCH-FEARED NATIONALIZATION OF LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS IS ALREADY BEING INITIATED BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. AND SOMEHOW NOBODY NOTICED.
FEDERAL REQUIREMENTS INCLUDE HOW SEARCHES ARE CONDUCTED, WHAT CONSTITUTES LEGITIMATE USE OF FORCE, THE MANDATORY USE OF ON-BODY CAMERAS BY THE POLICE, AND SO FORTH. THE AGREEMENTS IMPOSE YEARS-LONG COMPLIANCE REVIEW REGIMES, IMPLEMENTATION DEADLINES, AND REGULAR REVIEWS BY FEDERAL BUREAUCRATS. THIS MAKES LOCAL POLICE DIRECTLY ANSWERABLE TO THE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION AT THE DOJ.
One example includes a 77-page March 30 consent decree between the department and the City of Newark, New Jersey, that resulted from a 2011 investigation, a 2014 series of findings by the Civil Rights Division, and then finally a federal lawsuit alleging police misconduct in the U.S. District Court in the District of New Jersey.
The original complaint alleged that the Newark Police Department (NPD) “has engaged in a pattern or practice of constitutional violations in its stop and arrest practices, responses to individuals’ exercise of their rights under the First Amendment, uses of force, and theft by officers. The investigation also revealed that the pattern or practice of constitutional violations stems in part from deficiencies in NPD’s systems that are designed to prevent and detect misconduct, including its systems for reviewing force and investigating complaints regarding officer conduct.”
The city of Newark, via the consent decree, agreed to the allegations and to implement a “comprehensive and agency-wide policies and procedures that are consistent with and incorporate all substantive requirements of this agreement,” including rules on stops, searches, use of force, etc. The city has two years to implement, with the full agreement lasting five years. Meaning — even if the political parties change power in the city of Newark, the new mayor and city council would still be required to implement the court order.
THESE CONSENT DECREES ARE IN ESSENCE REGULATIONS. THAT, IS, WITHOUT THE NICETIES OF ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES REQUIREMENTS, PUBLIC COMMENTS, OR EVEN ANY CONGRESSIONAL OVERSIGHT.
Remarkably, congressional offices contacted by this author were generally unaware of the regulation of local policing via DOJ consent decrees with cities — even though the agreements have been implemented for years. Not a single hearing or word of protest has occurred on this topic.
The lack of oversight is pathetic enough — but to make matters even worse, this could actually be the first step in a new wide-ranging body of federal rules on local police.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development regulation “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) actually originated as a consent decree in 2009 against Westchester County, New York, requiring affordable housing units to be built in the county. Afterward, Republican Robert Astorino was elected county executive and yet was still required to implement the court order.
Westchester became the basis for AFFH, where every city and county in the country that accepts any part of $3 billion of annual community development block grants to 1,200 recipient cities and counties now has to comply with HUD’s dictates on zoning along racial and income guidelines.
So far this week, we have seen the most dangerous volcano in Mexico erupt, and three major volcanoes in Indonesia all erupted within the space of just 72 hours. Mexico and Indonesia are both considered to be part of “the Ring of Fire”, and all along the perimeter of the Pacific Ocean volcanoes are starting to go off like firecrackers right now. According to Volcano Discovery, 25 volcanoes in areas that are considered to be within the Ring of Fire have erupted recently. Our planet appears to have entered a time of increased seismic activity, and those the follow my work regularly know that this is a theme that I revisit repeatedly. Sadly, most Americans are not paying too much attention to this increase in seismic activity, but the truth is that it has very serious implications for the west coast of the United States.
It didn’t make a big splash in the mainstream media in the United States, but this week Mt. Popocatepetl erupted and coated homes and vehicles in Mexico City with a thick layer of volcanic dust. And now some scientists are becoming concerned that this recent activity may be building up to “a major disastrous eruption”…
Residents of Mexico City woke this morning to find ash coating cars and buildings after the Popocatepetl volcano belched out another toxic cloud.
The volcano is considered one of the world’s most dangerous due to its proximity to the city with more than nine million inhabitants.
Around 25 million people live within 62 miles of the crater of the 5,426-metre magma mount, who could also be affected.
There are fears the peak is building towards a major disastrous eruption after activity increased over the past few years, although, it has been periodically erupting since 1994.
There is a very good reason why Mt. Popocatepetl is considered to be the most dangerous volcano in Mexico. If there ever is “a major disastrous eruption”, millions upon millions of people will be directly affected and it will bring Mexico’s economy to a screeching halt. The following comes from one of my previous articles…
Popocatepetl is an Aztec word that can be translated as “smoking mountain”, and more than 25 million people live within range of this extraordinarily dangerous mountain. Experts tell us that during the time of the Aztecs, entire cities were completely buried in super-heated mud from this volcano. In fact, the super-heated mud was so deep that it buried entire pyramids. In the event of a full-blown eruption, Mexico City’s 18 million residents probably wouldn’t be buried in super-heated mud, but it would still be absolutely devastating for Mexico’s largest city.
Meanwhile, the nation of Indonesia has been rocked by three significant volcanic eruptions in just a three day period…
Giant clouds of ash engulfed the skies as Mount Sinabung became the third volcano to erupt in Indonesia, in the space of just three days.
Mount Rinjani on Lombok island near Bali erupted on Monday, with the Sinabung volcano on Sumatra island and Mount Gamalama in the Moluccas chain of islands following suit late yesterday.
There are approximately 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia, but this is still very unusual even for them.
But of even greater concern for Indonesia (and for the rest of the planet) is the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that shook Mount Tambora on July 31st. Back in 1815, an eruption at Mount Tambora was the largest that has ever been recorded, and there are concerns that this recent very large earthquake may be a sign that another mega-eruption is on the way.
If you are not familiar with the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, it was truly a historic event. More than 70,000 people died from the immediate blast, and the climate of the entire planet was cooled substantially for years afterwards. The following description of that eruption comes from Wikipedia…
After a large magma chamber inside the mountain filled over the course of several decades, volcanic activity reached a historic climax in the eruption of 10 April 1815. This eruption had a volcanic explosivity index (VEI) of 7, the only unambiguously confirmed VEI-7 eruption since the Lake Taupo eruption in about AD 180. (The 946 eruption of Paektu Mountain might also have been VEI-7.)
With an estimated ejecta volume of 160 km3 (38 cu mi), Tambora’s 1815 outburst is the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history. The explosion was heard on Sumatra, more than 2,000 km (1,200 mi) away. Heavy volcanic ash falls were observed as far away as Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, and the Maluku Islands.
The following year became known as “the year without a summer” because the global climate cooled down so dramatically. There were crop failures all across the northern hemisphere, and as a result the world experienced the worst famine of the 19th century.
Someday, there will be another eruption of that magnitude at Mount Tambora or elsewhere along the Ring of Fire, and the world will experience another horrifying famine.
It is just a matter of time.
And let us not forget that the entire west coast of the United States also sits along the Ring of Fire. In my novel and in my new book I warn about the coming eruption of Mt. Rainier. But that is certainly not the only volcano on the west coast that we need to be concerned about. In recent months there has also been increased seismic activity at Mt. Hood and at Mt. St. Helens.
We have been very fortunate not to have had any major volcanic eruptions in the continental United States since the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980, but scientists assure us that we are well overdue for the next one.
In addition, the Yellowstone supervolcano may not be considered to be directly along the Ring of Fire, but it has also been exhibiting very strange behavior this year as well. When it finally erupts, all of our lives are going to change in a single moment.
So there are definitely some big reasons why we should be concerned about all of these volcanoes that are currently erupting around the world. It may not be tomorrow, but eventually Americans are going to see firsthand how a major volcanic eruption can permanently alter their lives.