TIME Iran

Lawyer For U.S. Journalist Jailed in Iran Says He Should Be Freed After Nuclear Deal

Jason Rezaian, who works for the Washington Post, has been detained for a year

TEHRAN, Iran — The lawyer of detained Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian said Tuesday her client should be freed in the wake of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Iranian media reported.

Both the semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agencies quoted Rezaian’s defense lawyer, Leila Ahsan, as saying Iran’s new penal code also meant the Iranian-American journalist should be freed. Ahsan did not elaborate, but new laws in Iran bar those on trial for charges other than murder from being in detention for more than a year before a verdict.

Rezaian, held for more than a year, reportedly faces up to 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted in his closed-door trial in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court on charges that include espionage and distributing propaganda against the Islamic Republic.

Ahsan, in her comment to the news agencies, said the deal of Iran’s contested nuclear program, reached July 14 in Vienna, meant Rezaian should be freed.

“Regarding the circumstances of the Vienna deal, we have called for an acquittal for my client to be issued as soon as possible,” Ahsan reportedly told Fars, without elaborating. She reiterated earlier comments that she expected the next hearing in Rezaian’s case to be the last before a verdict is announced.

Ahsan could not be immediately reached for comment by The Associated Press.

Rezaian’s wife, Yeganeh Salehi, a journalist for The National newspaper in the United Arab Emirates capital of Abu Dhabi, and two photographers were detained along with him on July 22, 2014, in Tehran. All except Rezaian were later released. Salehi reportedly has been blocked from traveling outside of Iran.

U.S. officials, the Post and rights groups repeatedly have criticized Rezaian’s trial.

TIME Turkey

An Explosion Has Shut Down the Iran-Turkey Natural Gas Pipeline

The fire was quickly brought under control

(ANKARA, Turkey) — Turkey’s energy minister says an explosion on a natural gas pipeline between Iran and Turkey caused a large fire and shut down the flow of gas.

Taner Yildiz said Tuesday the explosion was in Agri province, some 15 kilometers from the Iranian border, and he suggested Kurdish rebels were to blame. He said the fire was quickly brought under control.

The attack late Monday comes amid a spike in violence in recent weeks. Turkey last week launched raids against Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq — at the same time that it began cracking down on the Islamic State group — ending a fragile cease-fire with the Kurds.

The Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, has attacked pipelines in the past as part of its armed campaign for autonomy.

TIME mike huckabee

President Obama Says GOP Criticism ‘Ridiculous’

President Barack Obama aggressively pushed back against Republican criticism of a deal his Administration helped negotiate to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran’s hands, telling reporters traveling with him to Ethiopia that the GOP presidential hopefuls who hope to succeed him were using “ridiculous” and “ad hominem” attacks to avoid a serious debate rooted in substance.

During a news conference in Addis Ababa, Obama was asked about remarks made a day earlier by Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas Governor who compared the deal to the Holocaust. Obama used the question to level broader criticism of the jockeying happening inside the Republican Party that is still in the early days of a search for a 2016 nominee.

“I have not yet heard a factual argument on the other side that holds up to scrutiny,” Obama said of his GOP critics. “There is a reason why 99 percent of the world thinks this is a good deal. It’s because it’s a good deal.”

The Republican candidates looking to follow him into the White House do not share his analysis. For instance, Huckabee said the proposed deal gives too much trust to Iran and betrays Israel, musing to the conservative Breitbart News that Obama was ready to “take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.”

The oven remark was a clear reference to the Holocaust, when Nazis murdered millions of European Jews in concentration camps. Iranian leaders often use strong anti-Israel rhetoric, promising “death to Israel,” though few analysts think the country is actually preparing to engage in a genocide.

Obama, whose great uncle helped to liberate part of the Buchenwald camp in Germany, took offense to Huckabee’s rhetoric and said it matched up with other statements he has heard from Republicans. Obama said it “would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad.”

“We’re creating a culture that is not conducive to good policy or good politics. The American people deserve better. Certainly, presidential debates deserve better,” Obama said, speaking broadly about a crowded Republican field that has been marked by daily oneupmanship. “In 18 months, I’m turning over the keys. I want to make sure I’m turning over the keys to somebody who is serious about the serious problems that the country faces and the world faces.”

Obama has long shown an impatience with the political showmanship, especially when it comes to foreign policy. The President said his would-be-replacements should take time to more carefully study the issues before jumping forward with criticism to motivate the party’s base.

“We have robust debates. We look at the facts. There are going to be disagreements but we just don’t fling out ad hominem attacks like that because it doesn’t help inform the American people,” Obama chided.

Speaking in Des Moines, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton joined Obama in criticizing Huckabee’s rhetoric.

“Comments like these are offensive and have no place in our political dialogue,” Clinton said. “I am disappointed and I’m really offended personally.” The former Secretary of State said there is space for candidates to disagree on the details of the deal, but said Huckabee’s rhetoric “steps over the line” and deserved to be repudiated.

For his part, Huckabee was not backing off. From his campaign headquarters in Little Rock, Ark., Huckabee released a statement that doubled-down on his earlier rhetoric after hearing Obama’s criticism.

“What’s ridiculous and sad is that President Obama does not take the Iran threats seriously. For decades, Iranian leaders have pledged to ‘destroy,’ ‘annihilate,’ and ‘wipe Israel off the map’ with a ‘big Holocaust,’” Huckabee said. His statement to reporters included links to Iranian leaders’ comments using that rhetoric.

Huckabee pledged he would never allow that to happen. “I will stand with our ally Israel to prevent the terrorists in Tehran from achieving their own stated goal of another Holocaust,” he added. In a follow-up email to supporters, Huckabee asked them to sign a petition urging Congress to skip its summer break and stay in Washington to “fulfill your constitutional duty and KILL the dangerous Obama-Kerry nuclear deal with the Iranians.”

There was no real downside for Huckabee to continue his line of criticism. The former Baptist pastor is a favorite among the evangelical wing of the GOP and he is a frequent guide to the region, taking paying guests on tours of Biblical sites. Republicans—especially those voters who pick the party’s nominee—overwhelmingly support Israel and are more than willing to listen to criticism of anything Obama backs.

Republicans have been almost unified in their opposition to the deal with Iran, which was negotiated by world powers China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States.

Under the deal, Iran will get relief from sanctions and regain access to international oil markets, which will bring it a windfall of about $100 billion. In exchange, Iran must dispose of most of its low-enriched uranium, stop efforts to produce or acquire more nuclear fuel and consent to inspections. The deal is expected to block Iran from obtaining the technology needed to build a nuclear weapon for at least a decade.

With additional reporting by Sam Frizell.

TIME Television

Watch John Oliver Demand an End to Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws

Oliver believes that they have done "way more harm than good"

On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver drew attention to the fact that U.S. President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 46 non-violent drug offenders, a move that John Oliver considers “the criminal justice version of Top Chef: Last Chance Kitchen” without the risk of “disappointing Padma with your risotto.”

The prisoners were all incarcerated under mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which require typically harsh sentences regardless of the context of each crime. Oliver believes that these laws are remnants of the war on drugs put in place by the Bush and Reagan administrations and, according to Oliver, they are responsible for the explosion in the U.S. prison population with non-violent drug offenders stuck in prison for decades with no chance of parole.

As an example, Oliver showed a clip from the documentary The House I Live In, featuring a prisoner who was sentenced to life in prison without a chance of parole for carrying three ounces of methamphetamine. In Oliver’s terminology, they were treating the prisoner like “season five Walter White when he was barely season one Jesse Pinkman.” Another prisoner was a non-violent first-time offender who sold a small amount of marijuana to an undercover agent and was slapped with a 55-year sentence without parole for selling a drug which is now legal in four states and, according to Oliver, “has the side effect of making episodes of Frasier slightly funnier.”

Oliver believes that these mandatory minimum sentencing laws have done “way more harm than good,” especially because they tend to affect black and Hispanic populations the most. Additionally, many mandatory minimum sentences have been changed, but those changes have not been applied retroactively, something Oliver finds abhorrent.

TIME Election 2016

Backlash After Mike Huckabee Says Iran Deal Is Like Leading Israel to ‘Door of the Oven’

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Huckabee speaks to 42nd annual meeting of American Legislative Exchange Council in San Diego
Mike Blake—Reuters U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee speaks to the 42nd annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council on July 23, 2015

The former Arkansas Governor said trusting the Iranian government would be "naive"

Comments on the pending deal between the U.S. and Iran by Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee have sparked controversy after he compared the deal to “marching [Israel] to the door of the oven.”

Huckabee’s comments to the conservative website Breitbart, an apparent reference to the Holocaust that would seem to equate U.S. President Barack Obama with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, immediately drew criticism from across the aisle, the BBC reports.

U.S. Representative for Florida and head of the Democratic National Committee Deborah Wasserman-Schultz called for an apology for what she called “cavalier analogies” to Nazi death camps. The National Jewish Democratic Council echoed that call, saying in a statement, “Republicans have fallen over themselves to speak out against Donald Trump’s outrageous rhetoric on immigration and veterans. Will they now do the same and speak out against this unacceptable attack against President Obama that smears the memory of Holocaust victims … or will they stand by in silence and implicit approval?”

Huckabee’s camp, however, chose to support his stance, highlighting the remarks in a tweet on Sunday:

Congress has until Sept. 17 to vote on the deal, which would trade nuclear proliferation limits for loosened economic sanctions.

[BBC]

TIME Innovation

How Marijuana Can Help Mend Broken Bones

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Can marijuana help broken bones heal?

By Judah Ari Gross in the Times of Israel

2. Parking spaces make it harder to build affordable housing.

By Joseph Stromberg in Vox

3. A decade ago, the west didn’t take a similar deal with Iran, and paid with a decade of regional chaos.

By Gareth Evans at Project Syndicate

4. Want better police relations with the community? Let teenagers train the cops.

By Brentin Mock in CityLab

5. Could today’s militias dividing Iraq and Syria become the peacekeepers of a future truce?

By Barbara F. Walter in Political Violence at a Glance

 

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

John Kerry Pushes Back Against Critics of Iran Nuclear Deal

This may be the biggest foreign policy vote in more than a decade

(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State John Kerry bluntly challenged critics of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran on Thursday, calling it “fantasy, plain and simple,” to think the United States failed to hold out for a better deal at the bargaining table.

“Let me underscore, the alternative to the deal we’ve reached isn’t what we’re seeing ads for on TV,” he said at the first public hearing on the controversial deal to lift economic and other sanctions in exchange for concessions of the Islamic state’s nuclear program. He was referring commercials aired by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee urging lawmakers to reject the deal.

“It isn’t a better deal, some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He spoke as Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee and other Republicans spoke scornfully of the administration’s claim that the only alternative to the deal that was reached was a war with Iran.

“You’ve been fleeced,” Corker, the committee chairman, said as Kerry sat nearby at the witness table — although he later sought to soften his criticism by saying, “we’ve been fleeced.” He said he was depressed after hearing the secretary of state and other administration officials make the same claim Wednesday in a closed-door briefing for lawmakers.

“You guys have been bamboozled,” added Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, who said the agreement wouldn’t permit testing at Iran’s Parchin military complex.

Kerry was joined by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who sat across the table from Iranian negotiators in the talks, and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, whose agency enforces many of the sanctions that have squeezed Iran’s economy in recent years as part of a strategy to force Tehran to the bargaining table.

The hearing marked a new phase of a bruising struggle that will lead to what will arguably be the biggest foreign policy vote in more than a decade.

The deal will take effect unless Congress blocks it, and Republicans in control of the House and Senate have made clear they intend to try to do so in September.

Obama has vowed to veto any such bill. That would lead to a vote to override his veto, and the administration is searching for 34 votes in the Senate or 146 in the House, enough to assure the veto sticks.

Democrats and allied independents control 46 seats in the Senate.

The hearing unfolded as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., demanded the administration immediately turn over the text of side agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency. “The law is clear,” he said in remarks on the Senate floor.

Administration officials say that in the past, such agreements have not been made available. They also say U.S. officials are available to provide information about them in classified meetings.

The committee hearing turned contentious at times, particularly including when Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., asked Kerry a tough question — and Corker interjected an answer. “You want to answer, senator?” Kerry said tartly to the chairman, who had said that Iran would be allowed to develop ballistic missiles.

Moniz also sought to parry Republican charges, including the claim that Kerry had failed to achieve a goal of assuring inspections “anywhere, anytime” to see if Iran is cheating on the deal.

“Like Secretary Kerry, I did say the words ‘anytime, anywhere,’ and I am very pleased that yesterday a member of your caucus acknowledged, however, that the full sentence was “anytime, anywhere in the sense of a well-defined process with a well-defined end time.”

In his testimony, Kerry read aloud from statements by past Israeli intelligence officials who praised the agreement, and said he expects Saudi Arabia will ultimately back the deal.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been an outspoken critic of the agreement, saying it would set Iran, which denies his country’s right to exist, on a path toward obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Kerry said that when the negotiations began, experts calculated that it would take Iran only two to three months to produce enough material for a bomb, the so-called breakout time.

“If the deal is rejected, we return immediately to this reality, except that the diplomatic support we have been steadily accumulating in recent years would disappear overnight,” he said.

The United Nations Security Council has already voted to lift the international sanctions in place, effectively accepting the deal that the United States and other powers have struck with Iran. As a result, administration officials say the United States would be left trying to enforce more limited sanctions, without the support of other nations that backed the earlier steps.

“President Obama has made it crystal clear we will never accept a nuclear-armed Iran,” Kerry said. “He is the only president who has developed a weapon capable of guaranteeing that. And he has not only developed it, he has deployed it.”

That appeared to be a reference to a bunker buster bomb, the “Massive Ordnance Penetrator.”

_____

Associated Press writers Donna Cassata and Matthew Lee contributed to this story.

TIME New York

Thousands Protest U.S.-Iran Deal in Times Square

George Pataki
Frank Franklin II— AP Supporters line Seventh Avenue during the Stop Iran protest in New York City on July 22, 2015

"That is not the way democracy should operate"

(NEW YORK) — Thousands of protesters packed into Times Square Wednesday evening to demand that Congress vote down the proposed U.S. deal with Iran.

As the crowd loomed behind police barricades, chants of “Kill the deal!” could be heard for blocks. The event, billed as the “Stop Iran Rally” consisted mainly of pro-Israel supporters, though organizers said it represents Americans of all faiths and political convictions.

The group is asking Congress to reject the deal under which the U.S. would agree to lift economic sanctions against Iran in return for measures to prevent the country from building nuclear weapons.

President Barack Obama has said the U.S. considers Iran an adversary whose activities will be closely monitored.

At the rally, Alan Dershowitz, a prominent Jewish attorney, said he was “opposing the deal as a liberal Democrat.” He said he believed democracy was “ignored” because the Obama administration negotiated the deal without congressional input.

“That is not the way democracy should operate,” he told the crowd.

In a statement Wednesday, Rep. Peter King, a former chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said he attended a classified briefing with Secretary of State John Kerry and “is still convinced that this is a bad deal for America.”

“It was entirely wrong and arrogant for the Obama administration to submit the deal to the U.N. before Congress voted on it,” he said. “It is definitely my intention to vote no on this deal with Iran.”

Desiree Soper of Long Island said she was drawn to the protest because she wanted to voice her opposition.

“I don’t trust Iran,” she said. “They’ll find loopholes.”

Demonstrators also took note that U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer did not attend the protest, prompting chants of “Where is Chuck?” from the crowd.

Schumer was in Washington Wednesday evening. He said in a statement that he has read the agreement and is waiting to speak with experts from both sides before deciding how to vote on the proposal.

Organizers estimated about 10,000 people attended the event.

TIME Syria

Leader of al-Qaeda Offshoot Khorasan Killed in U.S. Air Strike in Syria

Muhsin al-Fadhli is seen in an undated photo provided by the U.S. State Department
Reuters Muhsin al-Fadhli is seen in an undated photo provided by the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C.

Muhsin al-Fadhli was killed while traveling close to the Turkish border

A Pentagon spokesperson has confirmed that a U.S. air strike in Syria earlier this month killed a top leader of al-Qaeda splinter group Khorasan who had rare advanced knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

On July 8, Muhsin al-Fadhli was traveling near Sarmada, a town in northwestern Syria close to the Turkish border, when a U.S. drone targeted and struck his vehicle. The BBC reports that he had previously evaded a similar attempt on his life last September.

Though the bloody rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) has prompted American counterterrorism efforts to pivot away from al-Qaeda, al-Fadhli, a former confidant of Osama bin Laden, had remained a major target. A 2012 U.S. State Department report recognized him as “al-Qaida’s senior facilitator and financier in Iran” and a ringleader in the 2002 terrorist attack on a French oil tanker off the Yemeni coast.

At the time of his death, security officials had identified him as the leader of Khorasan, a Syria-based cabal of senior al-Qaeda members believed to possibly “pose as much of a danger as the [ISIS],” as National Intelligence Director James Clapper said last September. As ISIS conducted its public campaign of gruesome theatrics, al-Qaeda kept something of a low profile, purposely disassociating itself from what President Barack Obama had dubbed “junior varsity” jihadism. Despite ISIS’s rising profile, it is the elusive al-Qaeda leadership that possesses the organization and experience to execute a terrorist attack on Western soil, the New York Times reports.

Al-Fadhli was a seasoned jihadist. He was just 20 years old in 2001, but was already sufficiently elevated in al-Qaeda’s ranks to learn in advance of the planned assault on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

Accordingly, his death comes as a symbolic if not insurmountable blow to the group’s leadership.

“[Al-Fadhli] is certainly one of the most capable of the al-Qaeda core members,” Congressman Adam Schiff, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, told the Times last year, following a botched attempt on the extremist’s life. “His loss would be significant, but as we’ve seen before, any decapitation is only a short-term gain. The hydra will grow another head.”

TIME North Korea

North Korea Not Interested in Iran-Style Nuclear Deal With U.S.

North Korea doesn't want to be "a plaything to be put on the negotiating table"

North Korea will not negotiate an Iran-style nuclear deal with the U.S. and other world powers, officials said Tuesday.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry released a statement saying the country is not interested in discussing looser sanctions in return for ending its nuclear program, Reuters reports.

“We are clearly a nuclear power and nuclear powers have their own interests,” an unidentified spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry said. He went on to say that the isolated country is not interested in becoming “a plaything to be put on the negotiating table.”

“It is not logical to compare our situation with the Iranian nuclear agreement because we are always subjected to provocative U.S. military hostilities, including massive joint military exercises and a grave nuclear threat,” the official said. “We do not have any interest at all on dialogue for unilaterally freezing or giving up our nukes.”

The statement was made in response to the historic deal the U.S. and five other countries struck with Iran last week to ease sanctions in exchange for reduced Iranian nuclear capability. Like Iran prior to the deal, North Korea is sanctioned by the U.S., United Nations, European Union and various other countries for continuing to obtain and develop materials for nuclear weapons.

 

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