Yet Mr. Netanyahu doesn’t want to get pushed too fast toward a peace process that could disrupt his fragile governing coalition. So he has refused to do two things Mr. Obama would have liked. He won’t say he favors a “two-state solution” to the Palestinian problem, which would imply accepting a Palestinian state with full powers, including power to raise an army. And he won’t agree to an outright settlement freeze; he said Sunday that he would allow existing settlements to expand. A standoff there. (more…)
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iranian security forces have arrested 104 “devil worshippers” and seized drugs and alcohol during a party in a southern city, a semi-official news agency reported Monday.
“Cutting (their own) skin and sucking up the blood was among the indecent behavior of the group,” Mehr News Agency quoted Colonel Abbas Hamedi of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the city of Shiraz as saying.
He said a Guards intelligence unit launched an investigation into the all-male group about one year ago, leading to their arrest Sunday evening.
“The group’s aim was to promote irreligious behavior,” Hamedi, adding they had posted footage of their parties on the Internet.
The Islamic Republic, which bans alcohol and narcotics, last year said it would launch a crackdown on “indecent Western-inspired movements” such as rappers and satanists.
The Obama administration and its defenders have dined for quite a while on blaming the Bush administration for the sundry problems plaguing the U.S. and the world. This is not the place to parse each criticism, but I do think things like this report from the National Security Network need better context. They write:
During the eight years of the Bush administration, unnecessary saber-rattling, coupled with a refusal to talk to Iran, did nothing to make America more secure. Indeed, Iran made enormous advances both in nuclear technology and regional prestige.
It’s important to recognize that there is very little chance the Obama administration is going to have any more success at convincing the Iranians to give up their nuclear program than the Bush administration did. That’s not because they’re not approaching the problem more constructively, but because the nature of the problem is such that it may not be amenable to “solving” at a cost that would be acceptable to most Americans.
TEHRAN, April 9 (Reuters) – Iran is now running 7,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges, a senior official said on Thursday, an announcement likely to increase Western concerns about the Islamic Republic’s disputed nuclear plans.
America’s porous southern border is an entry point for more than Mexican cartels and their illegal drugs – the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah has been smuggling drugs and people into the U.S. as well.
Hezbollah has long been involved in narcotics and human trafficking in South America, and is now using the same routes into the U.S. that the Mexican cartels use for smuggling, according to an exclusive report in The Washington Times.
The group relies on “the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers, and transportation experts as the drug cartels,” said Michael Braun, who recently retired as assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“They work together. They rely on the same shadow facilitators. One way or another, they are all connected,” he said.
Hezbollah, which fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006, funds its operations in part from a large Lebanese Muslim diaspora, and some of that funding comes from criminal enterprises.