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October 9, 2012

On the campaign trail, September 2012

On the campaign trail, September 2012 – Wikinews, the free news source

On the campaign trail, September 2012

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The following is the eleventh in a monthly series chronicling the U.S. 2012 presidential election. It features original material compiled throughout the previous month after a brief mention of some of the month’s biggest stories.

In this month’s edition on the campaign trail: Wikinews chronicles three of the lesser-known speakers at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, a controversial pastor and write-in candidate talks to Wikinews about the unrest in the Middle East, and the ballot-qualified American Third Position Party (A3P) presidential nominee travels to Iran to meet President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Summary

September opened with the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. On the convention’s first night, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro delivered the keynote address, the first Hispanic-American to do so. He discussed the communitarian spirit of the United States and reflected on how his mother “fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone.” The speech was compared to Barack Obama’s keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and garnered speculation that he would seek higher political office. First Lady Michelle Obama also spoke that night, discussing her husband on a personal level. On the second day, a ruckus ensued as Democrats moved to re-include “God” and support of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in the party’s official platform after removal of the items drew criticism leading up to the convention. That night, women’s health advocate Sandra Fluke and Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren each spoke before former President Bill Clinton took the stage to deliver a lengthy, policy-filled speech. In it, Clinton defended Obama’s economic policies, arguing that no previous president, including himself, could have fostered complete recovery this soon in the same economic climate. He concluded that the election was ultimately a choice between the “winner-take-all, you’re-on-your-own society” of the Republicans and the “we’re-all-in-this-together society” of Obama. On the final night, Vice president Joe Biden spoke before President Obama addressed the convention to officially accept the party’s nomination. In his acceptance speech, Obama asked voters to allow his administration to “finish what we started”, arguing “it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over decades” and Republicans offer only policies that have previously failed.

Castro delivers the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Image: DemConvention2012.

Foreign policy emerged as a major campaign issue after the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya came under attack on September 11, resulting in the deaths of four Americans including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. Allegedly, the attacks were the result of protests against a YouTube video trailer for the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims, which the Obama administration condemned in the aftermath of the attacks. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized President Obama for the response, arguing he “was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt, instead of condemning their actions.” An Obama spokesman expressed “shock” at Romney’s response, accusing him of “launch[ing] a political attack”. Shortly thereafter, Romney also criticized Obama for being unable to find time to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Obama then had an hour-long phone conversation with Netanyahu. Later in the month, Netanyahu appeared before the United Nations General Assembly with a cartoon of a bomb, voiced his concerns that Iran would attain enough enriched uranium to make a bomb by the summer of 2013, and called on the world to act. Obama and Romney each spoke with Netanyahu. Each candidate expressed similar sentiment in favor of further sanctions against Iran.

In mid-September, Romney received negative publicity after the magazine Mother Jones released a video of a fundraiser at which Romney alleged, “there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what … [because they] are dependent upon government”. He then said his “job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.” Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan distanced himself from the remarks, which he labeled as “inelegant”. Obama remarked in response, “We don’t want an inside job in Washington, we want change in Washington…It can’t happen if you write off half the nation before you even took office.” The Romney campaign hoped to shift focus from the video to newly-emerged 1998 footage of Obama in which he advocates redistribution of wealth. Additionally, Romney released his 2011 tax returns, as promised earlier in the year. The returns showed he paid $1.95 million out of the $13.7 million he earned on investments. However, less positive news continued for the campaign as September came to a close. Paul Ryan received boos while discussing the proposed repeal of Obamacare during a speech before an AARP forum, which President Obama also addressed. Plus, Obama increased his lead in the polls with Gallup showing a six point Obama advantage, 50 percent to 44 percent in a September 26 poll, up from the 46 percent to 46 percent tie prior to the publication of the Romney video.

Nevertheless, Obama was not the only candidate rising in the polls at the end of September. Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, rose to six percent support in a late September Reason-Rupe poll, up from the 4.3 percent showing earlier in a JZ Analytics poll. The Johnson campaign also increased activity. With the presidential debates looming, the campaign filed suit against the Commission for Presidential Debates, alleging anti-trust practices for denying access to third party candidates. With many polls still excluding Johnson at the end of September, Obama led Romney 48.7 to 44.6 in the September 30 RealClearPolitics polling average.

Lesser-known DNC speakers discuss their experience

While San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, women’s health advocate Sandra Fluke, and Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren all formally introduced themselves to the national audience at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, they were not the only figures to do so. Small business owner Bill Butcher, firefighter Doug Stern, and mother Stacey Lihn were among the “everyday people” the party invited to address the convention and the nation. Wikinews reached out to these three to learn more about their DNC experience and the process of the convention.

Port City Brewing Company owner Bill Butcher.
Image: Bill Butcher.

Butcher, owner of Port City Brewing in Alexandria, Virginia, says he received the invitation after the Democratic Party found him online while searching for someone who had started a small business during the administration and benefited from its policies. Butcher was able to establish Port City Brewing after obtaining a loan through the SBA loan program, part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (The Stimulus).

In preparation for his speech, Butcher worked with Obama speechwriters and rehearsed the morning before. Though he admits to being nervous, he discovered that fellow speakers backstage felt similarly. To break the ice, Butcher opened his speech with a joke, apologizing to the audience for not handing out free beer. He then turned to policy, defending Obama as “a president who’s on my side … [who has] kept middle class taxes low…[and] has fought for small-business owners”. According to Butcher, the speech was received positively, even among his Republican friends, who felt it “cool” that their buddy had addressed the DNC.

Fire fighter Doug Stern.
Image: Doug Stern.

Like Butcher, Stern, a firefighter and member of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), also received bipartisan praise for his speech. As a union advocate for the repeal of Ohio SB 5, which limited the collective bargaining rights of Ohio‘s public employees, Stern feels the party selected him due to his visibility. Because he received word of the invitation just days before the event, Stern did not have much time to prepare. Rather, he viewed YouTube videos of Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Ronald Reagan to find the right style for delivery. Nevertheless, according to Stern, the best input came from his twelve-year-old son, who advised him that delivering a DNC speech was not such a big deal, since “you give speeches all the time.”

In the speech, Stern introduced himself as a former Republican, but held that as a member of the middle class and as a public employee, the “party left people like me.” He applauded the Obama administration for continuing federal grants to fire fighters, and characterized Obama as someone who “respects middle-class workers like me and my family.” Fellow fire fighters, including those of different political stripes, commended Stern on his remarks, and about a week after the speech, Stern met President Obama in Cincinnati, where he received congratulations. Despite the recognition from his peers and presidential praise, the reception of Stern’s son was paramount. While watching a line from the speech replayed on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the 12-year-old admitted to his father that despite his previous comments, speaking at the DNC was “pretty cool.”

Stacey Lihn with her daughter Zoe at the Democratic National Convention.
Image: Caleb Lihn.

Similarly, for Lihn, the night held a special significance due to her family. Lihn, a mother of two daughters one of whom, Zoe, suffers from a congenital heart defect, previously worked with the Obama campaign in March to produce a video documenting how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) had helped her family pay for her daughter’s medical expenses. Looking for someone to discuss health care reform at the convention, the video’s producer called Lihn and invited her to speak.

Like Butcher, she rehearsed her speech in the morning prior, finding this to be more emotional than the actual delivery itself. In the heartfelt speech delivered with her husband and daughter onstage, Lihn articulated her appreciation of Obamacare and the fear that the election of Mitt Romney and possible repeal of Obamacare would prevent needed care for her daughter. After the speech, Lihn embraced First Lady Michelle Obama in what she fondly recalls as “a genuine hug — mother to mother.” Others appreciated the speech as well. Ed Pilkington of The Guardian wrote that it was not only “one of the most moving moments of the Democratic national convention … [but] possibly of the entire 2012 presidential race”.

For Lihn, despite the acclaim, she was simply speaking as one of many: “Our story is but one of thousands and I knew that, standing up on stage speaking, that I was speaking for all of the parents who’ve walked in my shoes. I felt the strength of the many babies born with Zoe’s heart condition who weren’t as fortunate as she and passed away before the age of two. I support the ACA [Affordable Care Act] and will continue to do so for those whose voices cannot be heard.”

Wikinews interviews write-in candidate connected to Middle East turmoil

Pastor Terry Jones in March 2011.
Image: Mark Taylor.

Wikinews caught up with Dove World Outreach Center pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida. Jones, a write-in candidate for president, is best known for his anti-Islamic activism, which has sparked protests across the Muslim world.

Jones leads an anti-Islam march in Washington, DC.
Image: Mark Taylor.

Jones first gained notice in 2010, after threatening to burn a Koran at Ground Zero on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The announcement prompted protests in the Middle East, causing President Obama to request that Jones not partake in the activity. He obliged, but later burned a Koran in March 2011, leading to violent protests in Afghanistan including an attack on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Mazar-i-Sharif, which killed at least 30 people.

Recently, Jones has received mention for promoting the film Innocence of Muslims, whose trailer allegedly inflamed riots in Egypt and Libya on September 11 due to its portrayal of Muhammad. During the riots, the American embassies in the two nations were breached, leading to the deaths of four Americans in Libya, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Jones told The Daily Caller he had remained in contact with the film’s director Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was jailed September 28 on charges of violating probation. Jones’s involvement with the film has led to warrants for his arrest in Egypt, where authorities want to try him for insults to Islam, spreading lies, and harming national unity. Death is a possible penalty for such offenses. Nevertheless, Jones holds that Egypt “would definitely be better advised to put Muhammad on trial.”

With Wikinews, Jones discusses ballot access, the Innocence of Muslims, and how he would handle the riots in Egypt and Libya as president.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngIn which states have you attempted to gain ballot access?

Pastor Jones: Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Alabama, Oregon, Iowa, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wyoming

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat are your thoughts on the film trailer for the movie Innocence of Muslims? Should the filmmaker bear any responsibility for the anti-American protests across the Muslim world?

Pastor Jones: According to many Islamic experts that I have talked to, and the studies that I have done myself, the trailer is very accurate. Muhammad led a very perverted life and a very violent life. On his deathbed in 632, he gave the command to his followers to cleanse the Arabian Peninsula of all unbelievers. That is what Islam has been doing for the last fourteen hundred years, killing, murdering and raping anyone that dares to have a different opinion or follow a different religion.
Absolutely not. In fact, what we have done is we have again demonstrated that Islam in its roots, in its foundation is a violent religion. The Koran is a very violent book. It promotes violence. As I said, Muhammad led a very violent life. In the last ten years of his life he had seventy-eight raids on other villages where he killed innocent people, civilians. It was not even an act of war. It was simply genocide. It was simply the killing of anyone who disagreed with him. It is the time that America and the world stands up and sees the dangers of Islam, the dangers of radical Islam.
As far as we are concerned, as far as our efforts are concerned, we are going to continue to press forward. We are going to continue to raise an awareness of the dangers of radical Islam. The western world must stop appeasing Islam or Islam will continue its acts of terror.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWSSWikinews waves Right.pngWhat is your response to President Obama’s reaction to the protests and attacks on the U.S. embassies? Was Governor Romney’s criticism of that reaction appropriate? If you were president, how would you respond to the events?

Pastor Jones: President Obama is an absolute disaster. As president, he bears some of the responsibility for what is going on right now in the Islamic world. President Obama has shown himself to be pro-Islam, pro-Muslim Brotherhood. Since the Muslim Brotherhood has taken over in Egypt, situations for minorities and Christians have gotten much, much worse. We know that President Obama favors Islam. He appeases Islam. He has welcomed CAIR into the White House. CAIR is nothing more than a suit-and-tie terrorist organization. President Obama and his appeasing of Islam has only given them a green light, opened up the door for them to feel as though they can attack our embassies and feel that absolutely nothing will be done. Even now as he has spent $70,000 of American taxpayers’ money to run ads in Pakistan appeasing the Islamic radical community, he definitely bears a responsibility.
Governor Romney, or anyone’s criticism, of President Obama’s presidency concerning Islam, his economic policies, and many of his policies whether it is immigration or same-sex marriage are indeed justified.
If I were president, my response would be much harsher to the Islamic community. I believe that we should close our embassies in Muslim and Koran controlled countries immediately. We should pull our people out of those countries. We in the west must realize that Islam is not compatible with western society. It is not compatible with western thinking because Islam is missing the basic elements of a free western society. Those elements are freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Islam has continued to prove over and over and over again that it does not tolerate any criticism of Muhammad, the Koran, or Sharia. It has absolutely no tolerance of any other religion. Because of its past history and the past fruits of the religion, Islam and western society cannot coexist. This is why we should close all embassies in Koran and Islam controlled and dominated countries.

A3P nominee meets with the President of Iran

Filmmaker Merlin Miller, the presidential nominee of the American Third Position Party (A3P), attended a film festival in Tehran, Iran early in September, during which he spoke to an audience that included Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After the speech, Ahmadinejad invited Miller to a private meeting, which lasted about twenty minutes. This was the first time a U.S. presidential candidate met with Ahmadinejad, a controversial figure who has called for the dissolution of Israel, questioned the validity of the Holocaust, and spurred Iran’s nuclear program, which the U.S. and Israel allege is not for peaceful purposes.

Merlin Miller shakes hands with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Image: Merlin Miller.

In contrast to such allegations, Miller tells Wikinews that his impression of Ahmadinejad was as “a humble man who deeply cares about promoting truths and the best for his people — including peace.” During the meeting, he gave Ahmadinejad a copy of his 2001 film Jericho and his book Our Vision for America. According to Miller, Ahmadinejad wanted it to be communicated to the American people that “Globalists and Zionists falsely portray Iran, as they seek conflict between nations” and that Iran actually desires peace. Miller says that though Ahmadinejad probably did not know much about the specific A3P presidential campaign and platform, he was “aware of the how Zionist interests control our two major political parties” and “was intrigued that alternative voices in America are starting to challenge the injustices of our current political system and the propaganda of our mainstream media.”

The A3P, which was founded in 2010, is among those “alternative voices”. Its program calls for a tougher approach to crime, economic nationalism, higher education standards, environmentalism, strengthening of the family unit, a non-interventionist foreign policy, opposition to “third world” immigration, border security, and preservation of “white identity”.

Critics such as the Southern Poverty Law Center accuse the A3P of being a white supremacist organization, a charge that Miller denies. Miller appeared on Iran’s Press TV, and discussed the use of the term on his Wikipedia profile, which he claimed to have unsuccessfully attempted to change. He argued that the label likely stemmed from his “criticism of Zionism, of Jewish control of [the U.S.] media, [and] of [the U.S.] foreign policy, which is Israel first”.

Miller and the A3P have attained ballot access in Tennessee, New Jersey, and Colorado, and have additionally qualified for write-in status in Maryland and West Virginia.


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September 5, 2012

Effect of sanctions \’like war\’ says Iran\’s Ahmadinejad

Effect of sanctions ‘like war’ says Iran’s Ahmadinejad

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

File:Ahmadi nejad 2012 pakistan.jpg
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pictured this year in Pakistan
Image: Sinaf7798n.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran described the effect of European Union and United States sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program as “like war” Tuesday and said “[…]we are working to bypass them day and night.”

The comments, live on television, were the first time that senior Iranian sources have admitted that the sanctions are having any effect. They include financial restrictions and a ban by the European Union on the export of crude oil, from which the Iranian economy receives 80% of its foreign income. In its most recent monthly report, OPEC said exports of crude had fallen to their lowest level for two decades at 2.8 million barrels per day. The country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has described the dependency on oil as “a trap” dating from before Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979 and from which the country should free itself.

Among the steps Iran has taken to circumvent sanctions is the reflagging of tankers, first to Cyprus and Malta and, more recently, to Tuvalu and Tanzania to mask their origins and allow continued oil exports. In August, the shipping registries of Tuvalu and Tanzania agreed to de-register Iranian ships following pressure from U.S. lawmakers. Howard Berman, the senior Democratic Party politician on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, commented then: “Iran is learning the hard way that we will not relent in applying crippling sanctions on the regime, and others are learning that evading international sanctions is a losing strategy”.

Ahmadinejad predicted Tuesday that Iran would overcome the effects of sanctions while acknowledging that financial controls were affecting the ability of the country to supply basic needs.


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July 29, 2010

Ahmadinejad criticizes Paul the octopus

Ahmadinejad criticizes Paul the octopus – Wikinews, the free news source

Ahmadinejad criticizes Paul the octopus

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

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Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims Paul the octopus, who correctly guessed the outcomes of eight matches of the World Cup, is a sign of decay of Western culture.

Ahmadinejad said in a speech at a youth festival in Tehran, “Those who believe in this type of thing cannot be the leaders of the global nations that aspire, like Iran, to human perfection, basing themselves in the love of all sacred values.”

Paul the octopus President Ahmadinejad
Ahmadinejad accuses the octopus of spreading “western propaganda and superstition.”
Image: Jeff Swicord / José Cruz.

“We are after constructing Iran, but this does not mean viewing the matter from nationalist angle and singling out the Iranian race. Today the name of Iran is synonymous with prestige, justice seeking, monotheism, anti-despotism, and the entire blessed values that are dear for the world nations,” he continued.

An Irish journalist, Rory Fitzgerald, wrote a satirical piece in response to the president’s remarks. “A visibly shaken Paul spoke out earlier today saying: ‘As an octopus, I can claim some objectivity in my view [of] human affairs,’ ” Fitzgerald wrote.

Paul correctly predicted the outcome of Germany’s seven matches and picked Spain over the Netherlands for the World Cup final. The mollusk currently lives in a tank at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in Germany.


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  • “‘Psychic’ octopus backs Spain to win World Cup” — Wikinews, July 9, 2010

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  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Paul the octopus

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May 4, 2010

US criticizes Iran for remarks at nuclear conference

US criticizes Iran for remarks at nuclear conference

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

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United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has warned that Iran’s nuclear program is a threat to the world, shortly after Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused countries with nuclear capabilities of threatening those who were developing civilian nuclear technology.

The remarks by both came at a conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in New York. Ahmadinejad had criticized western nations, as well as Israel, in his speech, which prompted delegations from the US, France, and the United Kingdom to walk out. American officials said that Ahmadinejad’s remarks were indicative of Iran’s increased isolation by the international community.

Ahmadinejad had also been critical of nations with nuclear weapons for failing to disarm, saying that “production, stockpiling and qualitative improvement of nuclear armaments… now serves as a justification for the others to develop their own” and nuclear weapons were “a fire against humanity, rather than a weapon of defence. The possession of nuclear bombs is not a source of pride. Its possession is disgusting and shameful.”

US White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that it was “predictable” that Iran was continuing its silence on the treaty itself, which would see all signatories relinquish any access to nuclear weapons, through either disarmament or a pledge not to develop nuclear weapons. He also said that Iran was making “wild accusations” about the treaty, the guidelines of which which it has so far failed to follow. Iran continues to claim its nuclear program is for civilian purposes exclusively.

Clinton said in her speech that “Iran will do whatever it can to divert attention away from its own record in an attempt to evade accountability” and that “[Iran] has defied the UN Security Council and the IAEA and placed the future of the non-proliferation regime in jeopardy, and that is why it is facing increasing isolation and pressure from the international community.”



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April 24, 2010

Iranian president Ahmadinejad in Zimbabwe for trade fair

Iranian president Ahmadinejad in Zimbabwe for trade fair

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

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Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Image: Daniella Zalcman.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, is visiting Zimbabwe to sign trade agreements with the country and meet with Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe.

Ahmadinejad, in comments at the trade fair located in Bulawayo, said the amount of trade between the two nations should be increased. The Iranian president remarked that Zimbabwe and Iran made a friendship based on a principled stand against Western interference, and accused the West of seeking control over Zimbabwe’s natural resources.

Mugabe commented: “Because of the principled positions we have taken at both the domestic and international level, Zimbabwe and Iran have been unjustly vilified and punished by Western countries. Be also assured, comrade president, of Zimbabwe’s continuous support of Iran’s just cause on the nuclear issue.”

The US wants new UN sanctions against Iran, due to the latter’s refusal to stop its uranium enrichment, saying that it it is intended for nuclear weapons. Iranian authorities, however, insist the programme is only for peaceful purposes.

According to the The Sunday Telegraph, the trades will consist of Iran supplying oil to Zimbabwe, in exchange for the latter’s allowing Iran to obtain access to uranium deposits in the country. “Iran secured the exclusive uranium rights last month when minister of state for Presidential affairs, Didymus Mutasa visited Tehran. That is when the formal signing of the deal was made, away from the glare of the media,” a Zimbabwean government source stated, as quoted by the Telegraph.

Ahmadinejad’s visit brought another source of friction between Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said that Mugabe’s invitation sent the wrong message to the rest of the world as Zimbabwe was re-engaging the West and trying to rebuild its economy. MDC sources said Tsvangirai flew to South Africa on Thursday, the day on which Ahmadinejad arrived.

In a statement, the MDC remarked that “Ahmadinejad’s visit is not only an insult to the people of Zimbabwe, but an affront to democracy and to the oppressed people of Iran.”



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April 9, 2010

Iran tests new centrifuges

Iran tests new centrifuges – Wikinews, the free news source

Iran tests new centrifuges

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Friday, April 9, 2010

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Ali Akbar Salehi, Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, announced on Friday that Iran had successfully tested its third generation centrifuges. The new 200 millimeter diameter tubes are ten times as powerful as the ones operating in the Natanz uranium enrichment plant and are capable of spinning 900 times per second and producing 10 kilograms of UF6 in a year. The announcement came at a ceremony celebrating Iranian nuclear power. In attendance were President , Joint Armed Forces Chief of Staffs Major General Hassan Firouzabadi and Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Saeed Jalili.

Cquote1.svg If America makes a crazy move, its interests will be endangered by Iran’s allies around the globe. Cquote2.svg

—Ahmad Khatami

Despite Iran’s claims that it’s goals are for peaceful purposes only, Western powers, like the United States, remain alarmed at the nuclear program. This comes on the heels of an historic treaty signed by American president , who along with Russian president , pledged a systematic disarmament and draw down of nuclear warheads to a total of 1500 for each country, and laid out guidelines for the use of the remaining warheads. These guidelines did not rule out the option of nuclear weapons being used against Iran. The two leaders also agreed on greater co-operation to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions.

This has not dissuaded Iran. “If America makes a crazy move, its interests will be endangered by Iran’s allies around the globe,” said Ahmad Khatami, a cleric and member of Iran’s powerful Assembly of Experts. While Iran speaks of its allies around the globe, the United States and other Western powers, are now seeking help from China and Russia to urge the to impose a fourth set of sanctions against Tehran.


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November 30, 2009

Iran to build ten new uranium enrichment plants

Iran to build ten new uranium enrichment plants

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Monday, November 30, 2009

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Iran announced earlier today that it plans to build ten new uranium enrichment plants. Iranian media reported that the Cabinet approved the construction of the plants just two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) censured Iran for its nuclear activities.

The proposed facilities, reported to be similar to Iran’s main nuclear plant at Natanz, would vastly increase the nation’s capacity to produce enriched uranium. Iranian media quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying that Iran should get to the point where it can produce 250 to 300 tons of nuclear fuel each year.

“We should reach a position where we can produce from 250–300 tonnes of nuclear fuel a year. To do this we must employ new centrifuges with a higher speed,” he commented.

Ahmadinejad said the new Iranian-designed centrifuges used to enrich uranium will have higher speeds than those currently being used. He added that Iran “is not joking around with anyone” when it comes to defending its nuclear rights.

The announcement seems to make good on a warning earlier in the day that pressure on Iran would force it to reduce its cooperation with the IAEA. Parliament speaker Ali Larijani said western pressure may force parliament to review the country’s stance toward the UN nuclear agency.

Iranian Members of Parliament said that “we consider the behaviour of the IAEA to be that of double standards and political. We want it to give up this double standard which has tarnished its reputation.”

The five-plus-one group of nations working on the Iran nuclear issue — the US, France, Britain, Russia, China, and Germany — all voted Friday for the IAEA censure of Iran for defying international demands to freeze uranium enrichment and for secretly building a nuclear facility. The move appeared to take many officials in Tehran by surprise.

The tensions coincide with problems over an IAEA proposal to send Iran’s uranium abroad for enrichment, part of a plan to ease some concerns that Iran might be pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying that the programme is for civilian purposes only. The country has offered counter-proposals to the deal, but the IAEA has not accepted any of them.

An unnamed US official said that “if [the plant construction is] carried out, [it] would constitute yet another violation of Iran’s continuing obligation of suspension of all enrichment-related activities. There remains a fleeting opportunity for Iran to engage with the international community, if only it would make that choice.”



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September 22, 2009

Germany threatens to walk out of UN General Assembly if Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust

Germany threatens to walk out of UN General Assembly if Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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A spokesman for the German government has announced plans to walk out of the United Nations General Assembly if Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust in a speech he is due to give on Wednesday.

The spokesman said, “We will leave the hall if President Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust or makes anti-Semitic statements … we are making efforts toward a unified European position,” going on to request a “common response” from other European Union member nations. Gabriela Shalev, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, also encouraged a boycott of Ahmadinejad’s speech.

On Friday, Ahmadinejad gave a speech in which he called the Holocaust “a lie” and a “fairy tale”. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned the remarks, calling Ahmadinejad “a disgrace”.

Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany, where the Nazis carried out the Holocaust, a mass persecution and killing of Jews and other minorities, during World War II.



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July 15, 2009

Ahmedi of Iran’s PDKI discusses Kurdistan’s general strike and the democratic future of Iran

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

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Unrest in Iran following the 2009 Iranian presidential election has now continued for over a month. Despite the focus of international attention on continued demonstrations against the Ahmedinejad government, an ongoing press blackout means little of the news, which does arrive from Iran, comes from the provinces which are home to 74% of Iran’s population.

On July 13, unconfirmed reports began to emerge of a general strike in the four largely-Kurdish provinces in the north-west of Iran which make up Iranian Kurdistan. Videos showed empty, deserted streets and shuttered shops in Mahabad, Saghez and other Kordestani cities. The reports of the strike coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the murder of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (PDKI).

Loghman Ahmedi, a Kurdish exile and the PDKI’s representative to the United Kingdom, spoke with Wikinews.


Wikinews

It seems like often, discussion of the politics in Kurdistan, whether in Iran, Iraq or Turkey, is dominated by discussion of communist or guerilla groups like the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or the Communist Party of Iran. Do you think moderate, western-style democratic groups are shut out of the conversation in the international media, and if so, why? What is PDKI’s place in the conversation within Iranian Kurdistan?

Loghman Ahmedi Different organisations use different methods to raise awareness about issues they regard as important. Naturally, international media outlets give attention to more militant actions. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan is the oldest Kurdish political party in all four parts of Kurdistan and the most experienced political organisation in Iranian Kurdistan; we have in the past waged a guerrilla war against the Islamic Republic from 1979 to 1997, and although we are not rejecting armed struggle as a method, we think that there are other opportunities that are less costly in terms of human lives that are worth pursuing.

We have always believed that it is of strategic importance to engage in different forms of political protest that are less costly in terms of human lives; for example, in the form of general strikes and other forms civil disobedience – which we witnessed all over Iranian Kurdistan on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the assassination of the Kurdish leader Dr. Ghassemlou on July 13, 1989, by the Islamic Republic in Vienna.

The PDKI is the leading Kurdish political party in Iranian Kurdistan; in the first rounds of elections to the Majlis after the revolution, our party won an overwhelming majority of the votes in Iranian Kurdistan and our party leader at the time, Dr. Ghassemlou, was elected to the Council of Experts, which had the task of drafting the constitution, as the only secular member. During the past 63 years, and in particular during the past 30 years, we have shown that we act in the interest of our people and as a consequence of that our party is popular and respected by the Kurdish people. Thus, even though we think it is important that international media pays attention to the situation in Iranian Kurdistan, for us it is more important to engage in forms of political activity that are of long-term significance. It should also be mentioned that the general strike on July 13 did not receive any attention by international media for the simple reason that the Islamic Republic has created a North Korea-like situation in Iranian Kurdistan where not only international media cannot gain access to the region, but it is also difficult for the Kurds themselves to inform the outside world about their plight.

WNWhat’s the place of federalist liberal democracy in a post-theocratic Iran? Should it be concerned mostly with relieving ethnic tensions? Is overcentralization a fundamental problem of the Iranian state?

Loghman Ahmedi It is our firm belief that democracy and federalism will solve many of Iran’s internal and external problems. Iran’s destructive foreign policies are a reflection of the nature of the Islamic Republic, that is to say, its undemocratic nature. Iran’s ethnic and national diversity holds the key to democracy in Iran because this diversity can function as the best form of checks and balances to decentralize power in the country for the twin aim of safeguarding liberty and democracy internally and to turn Iran into a constructive regional and international member of the world community. A decentralized, federal and democratic Iran, unlike the Islamic Republic of today, will not export and support fundamentalism and terrorism. Given Iran’s lack of democratic traditions and a host of other factors, it is the country’s diversity that can be conducive to democracy.

WNWhy hasn’t the PDKI signed onto the Iran Solidarity group that was formed in Europe earlier this week?

Loghman Ahmedi To my knowledge, the organizers of this campaign have not approached our party. But our party has in different statements and actions expressed its solidarity with the brave people that are standing up against the regime. At the same time, I have to underline that it is important for us that our support and solidarity is not interpreted as support for the “reformist” faction of the regime. We support the political struggle for liberty and democracy in Iran. This should be differentiated from taking sides in the regime’s factional infighting between “conservatives” and “reformists”. Whatever their differences, these factions are all defenders of the Islamic system of government, which is antithetical to liberty and democracy.

WNYou first left Kurdistan over twenty years ago. Can you comment on how the situation for Iranian Kurds has changed since then?

Loghman Ahmedi During the past 30 years, cultural oppression and discrimination, deliberate state policies to keep Kurdistan in a state of economic underdevelopment, torture, executions, arbitrary imprisonment and “disappearances” of political activists and civilians have been part and parcel of the lives of the Kurds. So it would be more adequate to speak of continuity rather than change. Furthermore, what is new to the picture is the spread of narcotics among the Kurdish youth, which we believe is a deliberate policy by the regime to destroy the fabric of the Kurdish society and, hence, to prevent organized resistance in Kurdistan.

WNHow would you characterize the strike that’s underway in Iranian Kurdistan now? Is it closely tied to the movement against Ahmedinejad in the Persian cities of Iran, or is it more a purely Kurdish phenomenon?

Loghman Ahmedi The strike was mainly organized to mark the 20th anniversary of the assassination of the Kurdish leader and former General-Secretary of the PDKI, Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassmlou. Every year, since the assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou 20 years ago by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the PDKI has called on the Kurdish nation in Iranian Kurdistan to commemorate Dr. Ghassemlou and at the same time condemn the Islamic regime’s policies of assassination.

But it is at the same time an expression of solidarity and support for the people of Iran that stands up against the Islamic Republic and fights for freedom, democracy and equality.

WNWhat role should the Kurdish exile community take in the Iranian unrest – is it better to return now and join the strike against Ahmedinejad, or to give support from abroad? If the latter, how can the Kurdish diaspora best help the Kurdish people in Iran?

Loghman Ahmedi Returning to take part in protests would make them easy targets for the regime; the Kurdish diaspora should instead work to raise awareness about the situation in Kurdistan and Iran by, for example, demonstrating, writing letters to government officials in the countries they live in, and so on.

WNGiven the Iranian leadership’s past propensity for assassinations, do you think Mousavi, Karroubi et al are at personal risk in taking part in protests against Ahmedinejad?

Loghman Ahmedi To my knowledge, both Mousavi and Karroubi have indirectly made clear that they will not urge people to take to the streets if they don’t get permission from the regime, hence the possibility that they would take part in future demonstrations is unlikely.

I do not think that the regime will assassinate Mousavi or Karroubi; it would be strategically unwise. It would demonstrate that the regime’s own figures have turned against the Islamic Republic and assassinating any of them would turn them into martyrs and could be used by the peoples of Iran as a pretext to stage violent protests.

WNFinally, what’s the best strategy for the uprising against the Ahmedinejad? How can the Kurds win?

Loghman Ahmedi I firmly believe that the uprising is not only targeting Ahmedinejad but rather the regime as a whole. That is not to say that the protesters are homogeneous; different groups have different approaches to what should be done. However, it is imperative that all the different groups that are opposing the regime reach a consensus on a common strategy to bring about real democracy in Iran. For this to be possible, a multinational federal democracy must be recognized as the future model for Iran. Given this, an alliance could be created that can stage protests and other forms of political activity across the country rather than the major cities. In such a scenario, the regime will have greater difficulty to suppress the organized resistance of the peoples of Iran, as it did recently.


Sources

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.



This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Ahmadi of Iran’s PDKI discusses Kurdistan’s general strike and the democratic future of Iran

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Other stories from Iran
Location of Iran

A map showing the location of Iran

To write, edit, start or view other articles on Iran, see the Iran Portal

Ethnoreligious map of Iran

Unrest in Iran following the 2009 Iranian presidential election has now continued for over a month. Despite the focus of international attention on continued demonstrations against the Ahmedinejad government, an ongoing press blackout means little of the news, which does arrive from Iran, comes from the provinces which are home to 74% of Iran’s population.

On July 13, unconfirmed reports began to emerge of a general strike in the four largely-Kurdish provinces in the north-west of Iran which make up Iranian Kurdistan. Videos showed empty, deserted streets and shuttered shops in Mahabad, Saghez and other Kordestani cities. The reports of the strike coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the murder of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (PDKI).

Loghman Ahmadi, a Kurdish exile and the PDKI’s representative to the United Kingdom, spoke with Wikinews.


Wikinews

It seems like often, discussion of the politics in Kurdistan, whether in Iran, Iraq or Turkey, is dominated by discussion of communist or guerilla groups like the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) or the Communist Party of Iran. Do you think moderate, western-style democratic groups are shut out of the conversation in the international media, and if so, why? What is PDKI’s place in the conversation within Iranian Kurdistan?

Loghman Ahmedi Different organisations use different methods to raise awareness about issues they regard as important. Naturally, international media outlets give attention to more militant actions. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan is the oldest Kurdish political party in all four parts of Iranian Kurdistan and the most experienced political organisation in Iranian Kurdistan; we have in the past waged a guerrilla war against the Islamic Republic from 1979 to 1997, and although we are not rejecting armed struggle as a method, we think that there are other opportunities that are less costly in terms of human lives that are worth pursuing.

We have always believed that it is of strategic importance to engage in different forms of political protest that are less costly in terms of human lives; for example, in the form of general strikes and other forms civil disobedience – which we witnessed all over Iranian Kurdistan on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the assassination of the Kurdish leader Dr. Ghassemlou on July 13, 1989, by the Islamic Republic in Vienna.

The PDKI is the leading Kurdish political party in Iranian Kurdistan; in the first rounds of elections to the Majlis after the revolution, our party won an overwhelming majority of the votes in Iranian Kurdistan and our party leader at the time, Dr. Ghassemlou, was elected to the Council of Experts, which had the task of drafting the constitution, as the only secular member. During the past 63 years, and in particular during the past 30 years, we have shown that we act in the interest of our people and as a consequence of that our party is popular and respected by the Kurdish people. Thus, even though we think it is important that international media pays attention to the situation in Iranian Kurdistan, for us it is more important to engage in forms of political activity that are of long-term significance. It should also be mentioned that the general strike on July 13 did not receive any attention by international media for the simple reason that the Islamic Republic has created a North Korea-like situation in Iranian Kurdistan where not only international media cannot gain access to the region, but it is also difficult for the Kurds themselves to inform the outside world about their plight.

WNWhat’s the place of federalist liberal democracy in a post-theocratic Iran? Should it be concerned mostly with relieving ethnic tensions? Is overcentralization a fundamental problem of the Iranian state?

Loghman Ahmedi It is our firm belief that democracy and federalism will solve many of Iran’s internal and external problems. Iran’s destructive foreign policies are a reflection of the nature of the Islamic Republic, that is to say, its undemocratic nature. Iran’s ethnic and national diversity holds the key to democracy in Iran because this diversity can function as the best form of checks and balances to decentralize power in the country for the twin aim of safeguarding liberty and democracy internally and to turn Iran into a constructive regional and international member of the world community. A decentralized, federal and democratic Iran, unlike the Islamic Republic of today, will not export and support fundamentalism and terrorism. Given Iran’s lack of democratic traditions and a host of other factors, it is the country’s diversity that can be conducive to democracy.

WNWhy hasn’t the PDKI signed onto the Iran Solidarity group that was formed in Europe earlier this week?

Loghman Ahmedi To my knowledge, the organizers of this campaign have not approached our party. But our party has in different statements and actions expressed its solidarity with the brave people that are standing up against the regime. At the same time, I have to underline that it is important for us that our support and solidarity is not interpreted as support for the “reformist” faction of the regime. We support the political struggle for liberty and democracy in Iran. This should be differentiated from taking sides in the regime’s factional infighting between “conservatives” and “reformists”. Whatever their differences, these factions are all defenders of the Islamic system of government, which is antithetical to liberty and democracy.

WNYou first left Kurdistan over twenty years ago. Can you comment on how the situation for Iranian Kurds has changed since then?

Loghman Ahmedi During the past the 30 years, cultural oppression and discrimination, deliberate state policies to keep Kurdistan in a state of economic underdevelopment, torture, executions, arbitrary imprisonment and “disappearances” of political activists and civilians have been part and parcel of the lives of the Kurds. So it would be more adequate to speak of continuity rather than change. Furthermore, what is new to the picture is the spread of narcotics among the Kurdish youth, which we believe is a deliberate policy by the regime to destroy the fabric of the Kurdish society and, hence, to prevent organized resistance in Kurdistan.

WNHow would you characterize the strike that’s underway in Iranian Kurdistan now? Is it closely tied to the movement against Ahmedinejad in the Persian cities of Iran, or is it more a purely Kurdish phenomenon?

Loghman Ahmedi The strike was mainly organized to mark the 20th anniversary of the assassination of the Kurdish leader and former General-Secretary of the PDKI, Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassmlou. Every year, since the assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou 20 years ago by the Islamic Republic of Iran, the PDKI has called on the Kurdish nation in Iranian Kurdistan to commemorate Dr. Ghassemlou and at the same time condemn the Islamic regime’s policies of assassination.

But it is at the same time an expression of solidarity and support for the people of Iran that stands up against the Islamic Republic and fights for freedom, democracy and equality.

WNWhat role should the Kurdish exile community take in the Iranian unrest – is it better to return now and join the strike against Ahmedinejad, or to give support from abroad? If the latter, how can the Kurdish diaspora best help the Kurdish people in Iran?

Loghman Ahmedi Returning to take part in protests would make them easy targets for the regime; the Kurdish diaspora should instead work to raise awareness about the situation in Kurdistan and Iran by, for example, demonstrating, writing letters to government officials in the countries they live in, and so on.

WNGiven the Iranian leadership’s past propensity for assassinations, do you think Mousavi, Karroubi et al are at personal risk in taking part in protests against Ahmedinejad?

Loghman Ahmedi To my knowledge, both Mousavi and Karroubi have indirectly made clear that they will not urge people to take to the streets if they don’t get permission from the regime, hence the possibility that they would take part in future demonstrations is unlikely.

I do not think that the regime will assassinate Mousavi or Karroubi; it would be strategically unwise. It would demonstrate that the regime’s own figures have turned against the Islamic Republic and assassinating any of them would turn them into martyrs and could be used by the peoples of Iran as a pretext to stage violent protests.

WNFinally, what’s the best strategy for the uprising against the Ahmedinejad? How can the Kurds win?

Loghman Ahmedi I firmly believe that the uprising is not only targeting Ahmedinejad but rather the regime as a whole. That is not to say that the protesters are homogeneous; different groups have different approaches to what should be done. However, it is imperative that all the different groups that are opposing the regime reach a consensus on a common strategy to bring about real democracy in Iran. For this to be possible, a multinational federal democracy must be recognized as the future model for Iran. Given this, an alliance could be created that can stage protests and other forms of political activity across the country rather than the major cities. In such a scenario, the regime will have greater difficulty to suppress the organized resistance of the peoples of Iran, as it did recently.


Sources

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.
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