Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Paul Blocks Sanctions Bill Against Iran

Demanding Congress make it clear that the U.S. is not declaring war on Iran, Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., successfully blocked an effort to impose tougher sanctions on the foreign country’s financial system.

The bill would give President Obama the power to require U.S. firms disclose any relationship to Iranian activities and penalize parent companies whose subsidiaries have ties to the country. It sailed through the Republican-controlled House and has bipartisan support in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

But Paul wants Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nv., to allow a vote on his amendment, which clarifies nothing “shall be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of use of force” against Iran.

“Before sending our young men and women into combat, we should have a mature and thoughtful debate over the ramifications of and over the authorization of war and over the motives of the war,” Paul said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “I urge that we not begin a new war without a full debate, without a vote, without careful consideration of the ramifications of a third or even a fourth war in this past decade.”

Check out Paul’s full speech below:

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Democrats Pounce McConnell for Mentioning Iran War Resolution, Military Force

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nv., advised lawmakers to be cautious about publicly discussing a possible war with Iran after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suggested the Senate should consider a resolution to would allow President Obama to use military force to prevent the Middle Eastern country from getting nuclear weapons.

McConnell said publicly he doubts sanctions alone will deter Iran from abandoning their nuclear weapons program and added it might be time for the Senate to “consider” a non-binding measure authorizing the use of force.

The Republican leader said Iran has been a “state sponsor of terrorism” and that if it begins to enrich uranium at weapons-grade levels then “the United States will use military force to end that program.”

In an interview with reporters, Reid quickly pushed back against the suggestion.

From Politico:

“These are things that have to be done very, very cautiously,” Reid told reporters Tuesday. “We have problems around this world that are so significant. We have North Korea, we have Iran, we have a situation with Syria, we have problems now in Egypt. So let’s just stop throwing the word ‘war’ around so casually.”

McConnell has emphasized that he was not endorsing U.S. participation in a war with Iran, but that hasn’t kept Democratic lawmakers from pouncing on the GOP leader’s comments in recent days.

In a Twitter message to constituents, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Mn., emphasized diplomacy and called out McConnell by name.

Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Young Joining Congressional Delegation to Middle East

Joining a congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-In., announced he will be going to the Middle East as the U.S. deals with increased tensions with Iran and regional instability.

The group of lawmakers are being led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-VA, and the trip will focus on Iran and its nuclear weapons program, which strained relations between Washington and Tehran.

The delegation is scheduled to visit France, but the group will also swing through Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates in the coming week.

“Iran’s continued efforts to develop nuclear weapons is extremely concerning and poses one of the biggest threats to our national security in coming months and years,” Young said in a news release. “I’m honored and excited to join the Majority Leader on this trip. I look forward to expanding my knowledge of the region, and Iran in particular, and plan to continue working on this issue through the Armed Services Committee when we return. Even as we’ve finished military actions in Iraq, we must continue to ensure that we aren’t ignoring other threats in the Middle East.”

Last week, the Obama administration put new sanctions on Iran as part of the president’s 2012 defense authorization bill due to the country’snuclear development. The president and members of his cabinet have been encouraging international leaders to support the measure.

Local News Politics

Muhammad Ali Asks Iran to Release Hikers

Boxing Champ Muhammad Ali is asking Iran to release two American hikers held since 2009 on spy chares.

Ali, arguably the most prominent US Muslim, released the letter he wrote to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the Associated Press Wednesday.

The February 1st letter asks Khamenei to release Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who were arrested while hiking in northern Iraq near the Iranian border.

A third hiker, Sarah Shoud was released on bail in September, shortly after Ali first wrote to Khamenei. Ali’s letter asks Khamenei as a brother in Islam to show the same mercy and compassion for the two men.

Ali founded his center for world peace in Louisville, where he grew up and launched a boxing career that included three world heavyweight titles.

Arts and Humanities Local News

Grawemeyer Goes to Writer on Middle East Diplomacy

Today, the University of Louisville announced the recipient of the 2010 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

world order trita parsiTrita Parsi is president of the National Iranian American Council and wrote Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States. He receives the award for the ideas in his book about achieving Middle East peace.

Parsi says it can be reached through comprehensive diplomacy that works to improve relations between Iran and Israel.

“The entire arena has come to be defined by the rivalry between the United States and Israel vis a vis Iran,” Parsi says. “So, as a result, unless you have a comprehensive approach to the region you will most likely repeat the failures of the past in which we were trying to resolve every conflict in separation of the others.”

Parsi characterizes the rivalry between Iran and Israel as a quest for regional power rather then one based on ideology, even though both have purposely focused on ideology.

“Both Iran and Israel have seemed to have the Treacherous Alliance Coverpreference of casting this as ideological because of their calculation,” he says, “an erroneous calculation in my view, but nevertheless, the calculation that that is the best way for them to strengthen their position.”

Parsi conducted extensive interviews with dozens of officials of the three countries and illustrated instances when the U.S. did not pursue prospects for compromise. This happened, he says, because of flawed assumptions his book highlights.

“The critical contribution was to show that this is a strategic conflict that has a solution and it rejected the idea that this is an ideologically driven contestation that inevitably will lead to conflict,” he says.

Last year, Parsi’s book won an award from the Council on Foreign Relations.

Each year, the Grawemeyer Foundation at U of L gives awards for ideas improving world order, outstanding works in music composition, psychology, education and religion.

State of Affairs

One Woman's Story of Captivity in Iran

Thursday, September 10, 2009
One Woman’s Story of Captivity in Iran
In December of 2006, Dr. Haleh Eshandairi went to Iran to visit her elderly mother. On December 30, she was on her way to the airport to catch a flight back to Washington, when her taxi was stopped and she was robbed of her baggage, including Iranian and American passports. What followed in the days afterward as she attempted to replace her documents and make her way home is incomprehensible to most of us. She ended up serving 105 days in an Iranian prison and returned home in September of 2007. Join us on Thursday when talk with Dr. Esfandiari.

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Local News

Dozens Rally For Peace In Iran

Iran-005Several dozen Iranians and local residents of all nationalities filled Thomas Merton Square in downtown Louisville for a peace vigil today.

Dressed mostly in green, the group waved flags and held signs in support of a fair presidential election and an end to the violent crackdown on demonstrators in Iran.

Kamran Djavid says the massive protests in his home country have been brewing for years.

“Iranians are better than the government they have and they don’t appreciate being labeled terrorists and so forth,” he says. “Actually, if it was up to them, they’d be one of the most progressive peoples in the world.”

Djavid says he’s pleased with the media coverage of the Iranian protest and the outpouring of support he’s seen locally. He says there’s ample support for more vigils in Louisville, but he’s not sure when, or if, they will happen.

Local News State of Affairs

Iran/U.S. Diplomacy

Friday, February 13, 2009
Iran/U.S. Diplomacy
To them we are the “Great Satan” and to us they are one of the “Axis of Evil”. Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran have been practically non-existent. Now with the new US president and elections looming on the horizon for Iran, many hope a new dialogue between the two countries can begin. Join us on Friday when we discussion the issue of Iran/US diplomacy and call us with your questions.

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Local News

Iranians For Peace Push For Negotiations

On Wednesday the Iranians for Peace organization will send a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to meet with Iranian leaders. One of the people behind the letter lives in Louisville.

Louisvillian Haleh Karimi is on the board of directors of Iranians for Peace. She says the tensions between Iran and the United States are caused by misinformation on all levels, from government leaders and politicians to citizens. The IFP’s letter, she says, aims to clear up any misunderstandings.

“By providing true facts maybe we can open up the channels for some possibility of dialogues between these two nations and hopefully peace between these two nations and the Middle East as a whole,” she says.

Karimi says it’s up to citizens of Iran and the United States to push for diplomacy and peace between the two nations.