Iran would shut down roughly two-thirds of the 19,000 centrifuges producing uranium that could be used to fuel a bomb and agree not to enrich uranium over 3.67 percent (a much lower level than is required for a bomb) for at least 15 years. The core of the reactor at Arak, which officials feared could produce plutonium, another key ingredient for making a weapon, would be dismantled and replaced, with the spent fuel shipped out of Iran.
Mr. Obama, speaking at the White House, insisted he was not relying on trust to ensure Iran’s compliance but on “the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program.”
There is good reason for skepticism about Iran’s intentions. Although it pledged not to acquire nuclear weapons when it ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1970, it pursued a secret uranium enrichment program for two decades. By November 2013, when serious negotiations with the major powers began, Iran was enriching uranium at a level close to bomb-grade.
However, Iran has honored an interim agreement with the major powers, in place since January 2014, by curbing enrichment and other major activities.
By opening a dialogue between Iran and America, the negotiations have begun to ease more than 30 years of enmity. Over the long run, an agreement could make the Middle East safer and offer a path for Iran, the leading Shiite country, to rejoin the international community.
I’m guessing Dakinikat had another rough night at work last night. She will probably put up a post later this afternoon.
For now, I thought I’d post an open thread to celebrate a very important birthday. Our beloved JJ turned one year older today, but I’m not going to ask her the number. I just know she’s much younger than I am.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JJ!!!
Have a wonderful day!
And now, a few quick headlines.
Guardian Editorial, The Guardian view on Hillary Clinton: hammering the glass ceiling (again).
Washington Blade, Meet the gay couple in Clinton campaign video.
I liked this piece by Greg Sargent, What Hillary Clinton’s campaign announcement video tells us.
Look who’s talking: Mitt Romney says “Hillary Clinton is just not trustworthy.” (CBS Local Washington)
The New York Times: Marco Rubio Announces Presidential Bid.
Ugh. The Guardian again, Walter Scott shooting: officer laughs about adrenaline rush in recording.
What else is happening?
I’m running late again! My schedule is just upside down now and DST just double whammed me on the same weekend I started my late night work. Still getting used to the weird hours. I also wanted to spend some time on the negotiations with Iran over its nuke program so I had to catch up with the news. I’m glad BB’s post was so good because I can see you’ve spent a lot of time commenting on what’s going on in Indiana with its so-called “religious freedom” bill.
Obviously, there are going to be several sides to the “deal” depending on your views and their connections to US/Israel policy. So, I thought I’d highlight a few. Max Fisher–writing for VOX–says the deal is “astonishingly good.”
When Aaron Stein was studying nuclear non-proliferation at Middlebury College’s Monterey graduate program, the students would sometimes construct what they thought would be the best possible nuclear inspection and monitoring regimes.
Years later, Stein is now a Middle East and nuclear proliferation expert with the Royal United Services Institute. And he says the Iran nuclear framework agreement, announced on Thursday, look an awful lot like those ideal hypotheticals he’d put together in grad school.
“When I was doing my non-proliferation training at Monterey, this is the type of inspection regime that we would dream up in our heads,” he said. “We would hope that this would be the way to actually verify all enrichment programs, but thought that would never be feasible.
“If these are the parameters by which the [final agreement] will be signed, then this is an excellent deal,” Stein concluded.
The framework nuclear deal establishes only the very basics; negotiators will continue to meet to try to turn them into a complete, detailed agreement by the end of June. Still, the terms in the framework, unveiled to the world after a series of late- and all-night sessions, are remarkably detailed and almost astoundingly favorable to the United States.
Like many observers, I doubted in recent months that Iran and world powers would ever reach this stage; the setbacks and delays had simply been too many. Now, here we are, and the terms are far better than expected. There are a number of details still to be worked out, including one very big unresolved issue that could potentially sink everything. This is not over. But if this framework does indeed become a full nuclear deal in July, it would be a huge success and a great deal.
According to Reuters, Iranians were celebrating in the street as the deal was announced yesterday. The country has been living under harsh embargoes which have obviously hurt ordinary people.
Iranians celebrated in the streets after negotiators reached a framework for a nuclear accord and U.S. President Barack Obama hailed an “historic understanding”, but senior global diplomats cautioned that hard work lies ahead to strike a final deal.
The tentative agreement, struck on Thursday after eight days of talks in Switzerland, clears the way for a settlement to allay Western fears that Iran could build an atomic bomb, with economic sanctions on Tehran being lifted in return.
It marks the most significant step toward rapprochement between Washington and Tehran since the 1979 Iranian revolution and could bring an end to decades of Iran’s international isolation.
But the deal still requires experts to work out difficult details before a self-imposed June deadline and diplomats said it could collapse at any time before then.
The backlash from likely Republican presidential contenders to thepotential nuclear deal with Iran trumpeted Thursday by President Barack Obama came swift and hard. A more optimistic response came from likely 2016 Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said the deal — aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear capabilities — “will only legitimize those activities.”
“Nothing in the deal described by the administration this afternoon would justify lifting U.S. and international sanctions, which were the product of many years of bipartisan effort,” Bush said. “I cannot stand behind such a flawed agreement.”
Clinton, meanwhile, held up the tentative agreement as an “important step” in preventing a nuclear Iran.
“Getting the rest of the way to a final deal by June won’t be easy, but it is absolutely crucial. I know well that the devil is always in the details in this kind of negotiation,” Clinton said in a statement. “The onus is on Iran and the bar must be set high. It can never be permitted to acquire a nuclear weapon.”
But the former secretary of state allowed leeway for herself in case things go awry in the coming months, stating, “There is much to do and much more to say in the months ahead, but for now diplomacy deserves a chance to succeed.”
The rest of the Republican field, however, coalesced around rejecting the deal.
Making his first trek to Iowa as an announced presidential candidate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz contended the President must bring Congress into the process.
“The very first step for any deal, good or bad, should be submitting it to Congress, and the President making the case both to Congress and to the American people why this advances the national security interests of the United States,” Cruz told reporters after a town hall in Cedar Rapids. “Now everything President Obama has said up to this date has suggested that he is going to do everything he can to circumvent Congress.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described the early details of the agreement as “very troubling” and said “this attempt to spin diplomatic failure as a success is just the latest example of this administration’s farcical approach to Iran.”
Obama pushed to quiet skeptics of the framework during his remarks in the White House Rose Garden Thursday, asking, “Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?”
As Mr. Obama stepped into the Rose Garden to announce what he called a historic understanding, he seemed both relieved that it had come together and combative with those in Congress who would tear it apart. While its provisions must be translated into writing by June 30, he presented it as a breakthrough that would, if made final, make the world a safer place, the kind of legacy any president would like to leave. “This has been a long time coming,” he said.
Mr. Obama cited the same John F. Kennedy quote he referenced earlier in the week when visiting a new institute dedicated to the former president’s brother, Senator Edward M. Kennedy: “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” The sense of celebration was captured by aides standing nearby in the Colonnade who exchanged fist bumps at the end of the president’s remarks.
But Mr. Obama will have a hard time convincing a skeptical Congress, where Republicans and many Democrats are deeply concerned that he has grown so desperate to reach a deal that he is trading away American and Israeli security. As he tries to reach finality with Iran, he will have to fend off legislative efforts, joined even by some of his friends, to force a tougher posture.
THE “KEY parameters” for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program released Thursday fall well short of the goals originally set by the Obama administration. None of Iran’s nuclear facilities — including the Fordow center buried under a mountain — will be closed. Not one of the country’s 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran’s existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be “reduced” but not necessarily shipped out of the country. In effect, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, though some of it will be mothballed for 10 years. When the accord lapses, the Islamic republic will instantly become a threshold nuclear state.
That’s a long way from the standard set by President Obama in 2012 when he declared that “the deal we’ll accept” with Iran “is that they end their nuclear program” and “abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place.” Those resolutions call for Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium. Instead, under the agreement announced Thursday, enrichment will continue with 5,000 centrifuges for a decade, and all restraints on it will end in 15 years.
Mr. Obama argued forcefully — and sometimes combatively — Thursday that the United States and its partners had obtained “a good deal” and that it was preferable to the alternatives, which he described as a nearly inevitable slide toward war. He also said he welcomed a “robust debate.” We hope that, as that debate goes forward, the president and his aides will respond substantively to legitimate questions, rather than claim, as Mr. Obama did, that the “inevitable critics” who “sound off” prefer “the risk of another war in the Middle East.”
The proposed accord will provide Iran a huge economic boost that will allow it to wage more aggressively the wars it is already fighting or sponsoring across the region. Whether that concession is worthwhile will depend in part on details that have yet to be agreed upon, or at least publicly explained. For example, the guidance released by the White House is vague in saying that U.S. and European Union sanctions “will be suspended after” international inspectors have “verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear related steps.”
“I just came from a meeting of the Israeli cabinet. We discussed the proposed framework for a deal with Iran.
The cabinet is united in strongly opposing the proposed deal.
This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the State of Israel.
The deal would not shut down a single nuclear facility in Iran, would not destroy a single centrifuge in Iran and will not stop R&D on Iran’s advanced centrifuges.
On the contrary. The deal would legitimize Iran’s illegal nuclear program. It would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure. A vast nuclear infrastructure remains in place.
The deal would lift sanctions almost immediately and this at the very time that Iran is stepping up its aggression and terror in the region and beyond the region.
In a few years, the deal would remove the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, enabling Iran to have a massive enrichment capacity that it could use to produce many nuclear bombs within a matter of months.
The deal would greatly bolster Iran’s economy. It would give Iran thereby tremendous means to propel its aggression and terrorism throughout the Middle East.
Such a deal does not block Iran’s path to the bomb.
Is he the little boy that has cried wolf too often?
Anyway, I hope you’ll read up on the situation since it stands to be one of the biggest foreign policy agreements for quite some time.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Good Morning Sky Dancers!
I can’t believe I slept until 10:15AM ET! That would have been 11:00 before the time changed on Sunday.
This is an open thread for anyone who wants to post links or comments. I’ll have a real morning post up as soon as I possibly can. And don’t forget we’ll have a live blog tonight to discuss the election results.
See you soon in a very late Tuesday Reads post!
Just because I feel like it, I’m going to avoid the depressing news today and give you a mixture of stories that interested me.
By now everyone knows about the 15- or 16-year-old boy who on Sunday flew from California to Hawaii in the wheel well of a Boeing 767 jet and survived.
It turns out he ran away from home after some kind of argument, climbed over a fence at San Jose Mineta International Airport, and hid in the wheel well of the first plane he saw. Authorities are trying to figure out how he evaded multiple layers of security and how he survived a trip that could have killed him.
“He got very lucky that he got to go to Maui but he was not targeting Maui as a destination,” Simon said.
The boy is also lucky to be alive, given that wheel-well stowaways rarely surviving flight conditions. At 38,000 feet, the percentage of oxygen is a fraction of that at sea level, and the temperature ranges from minus-50 to minus-85 degrees….
The plane landed in Hawaii. About an hour later, at 10:20 a.m. Hawaii time, crews were startled by the teen coming out of the wheel well, Maui Airports District Manager Marvin Moniz said.
“He was weak. He hung from the wheel valve and then he fell to the ground and regained some strength,” Moniz said.
He passed out in the air and didn’t regain consciousness until an hour after the plane landed in Hawaii, Simon said. When he came to, he climbed out of the wheel well and was immediately seen by airport personnel who escorted him inside where he was interviewed by the FBI, Simon said.
It was not immediately clear how the boy stayed alive in the unpressurized space, where temperatures at cruising altitude can fall well below zero and the air is too thin for humans to stay conscious. An FAA study of stowaways found that some survive by going into a hibernation-like state.
According to Simon, the boy doesn’t have any memories of the flight. Some experts are questioning whether the story is even true.
News of the incident was met with suspicion and scrutiny. Most wheel-well stowaways don’t survive, falling victim to frigid temperatures and lack of oxygen. The chances of survival of a wheel-well stowaway on a commercial aircraft are about 24 percent, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute.
ABC News aviation consultant John Nance is skeptical that the teen could have survived the 2,300-mile flight in the wheel well without an oxygen source.
“I just don’t believe it,” Nance said.
Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, said in order to survive inside a wheel well during a flight, the body has to fall into a hibernation-like state, with the heart only beating a couple times a minute.
“It’s near impossible, almost miraculous, and maybe there’s more to the story,” Besser said.
Besides, how did this kid manage to evade security, including “multiple layers of security, including wide-ranging video surveillance, German shepherds and Segway-riding police officers?” Back to the Daily Mail:
San Jose International Airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes says airport employees monitor security video feeds from throughout the 1,050-acre airport around the clock. However, she said no one noticed images of an unidentified person walking on the airport ramp and approaching Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 in the dark until security agents reviewed the footage after the plane had landed in Hawaii and the boy had been found.
The airport, in the heart of Silicon Valley, is surrounded by fences, although some sections do not have barbed wire and could easily be scaled.
The boy found his way onto the tarmac during the night, ‘under the cover of darkness,’ Barnes said.
Hours later, surveillance video at Kahului Airport showed the boy getting out of the wheel well after landing, according to a statement from Hawaii’s Department of Transportation.
The boy isn’t being charged with a crime, and will be returned to his parents, where he’ll have a quite a story to tell. I guess we’ll learn more in the next few days.
Yesterday’s Boston Marathon came off without a hitch, and an American won the men’s race for the first time in more than 30 years. The New York Daily News reports: American Meb Keflezighi wins Boston Marathon a year after bombing.
With the names of the murdered written on his runner’s bib, American Meb Keflezighi raced to victory Monday in the Boston Marathon, becoming a living symbol of resilience from the dark days of terror.
Keflezighi, 38, a member of the New York Athletic Club, said his triumph was fueled by a city that refused to buckle in the face of hate.
“It was not about me. It was about Boston Strong,” said Keflezighi, who broke down in tears as he became the first American in 31 years to win the race. “When the bomb exploded, every day since I’ve wanted to come back and win it.”
The Eritrea-born Keflezighi, who became an American citizen in 1998, crossed the finish line to chants of “U-S-A!” a mere 11 seconds in front of Kenya’s Wilson Chebet. He won the elite men’s race with a time of 2:08:37, a personal best and the second-fastest for an American man at Boston.
“When the Red Sox won (the World Series) and put the trophy right there,” he said, pointing to the Boylston St. finish line, “I wanted to win it for the people of Boston.”
Keflezighi came to the U.S. with his parents when he was 12 years old. He attended public schools in San Diego, where he first started running. He graduated from UCLA, where he won multiple championships and awards. He won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics, and in 2009 he became the first American man to win the New York City Marathon since 1982.
In the women’s race, 2013 winner Rita Jeptoo won again, setting a course record of 2:18:57–also a personal best. Jeptoo is from Kenya.
I guess this next story is a little bit depressing, but it’s mostly ridiculous. From UPI: Majority of Americans doubt the Big Bang theory.
In a new national poll on America’s scientific acumen, more than half of respondents said they were “not too confident” or “not at all confident” that “the universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang.”
The poll was conducted by GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications.
Scientists were apparently dismayed by this news, which arrives only a few weeks after astrophysicists located the first hard evidence of cosmic inflation.
But when compared to results from other science knowledge surveys, 51 percent isn’t too shameful — or surprising.
Other polls on America’s scientific beliefs have arrived at similar findings. The “Science and Engineering Indicators” survey — which the National Science Foundation has conducted every year since the early 1980s — has consistently found only about a third of Americans believe that “the universe began with a huge explosion.”
Okay, maybe the notion of a giant explosion setting the universe in motion is a little surprising. But it’s certainly more believable than the biblical explanation that a godly being created the universe in seven days by making pronouncements like “Let there be light!”
Now an example of what some people are willing to believe: Has the Loch Ness Monster been spotted on Apple Maps?
Members of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club claim they have studied an image seen on Apple’s global satellite map application that shows the allegedly 100-foot-long creature, CNet .com reports, citing London’s Daily Mail. They say if you zoom in on Apple images from space you can even see the monster’s giant flippers.
News of the sighting has fans of Nessie — as she’s affectionately called — buzzing because there hasn’t been a Loch Ness sighting in 18 months. Legend has it she’s been cruising the area of Loch, just south of Dores, Scotland, for some 90 years, but so far, there’s no definitive proof she exists.
Nessie’s fan club devotees say they have ruled out all other possibilities for the grainy image, including a floating log or a giant seal. But one skeptic, deep-sea biologist Andrew David Thaler, debunks the theory on his websiteSouthernFriedScience.com, saying that the image shows the wake of a boat.
I have a few more interesting science stories for you.
From National Geographic: The Tragic Story of How Einstein’s Brain Was Stolen and Wasn’t Even Special.
My headline may be a bit misleading. Albert Einstein, the Nobel prize-winning physicist who gave the world the theory of relativity, E = mc2, and the law of the photoelectric effect, obviously had a special brain. So special that when he died in Princeton Hospital, on April 17, 1955, the pathologist on call, Thomas Harvey, stole it.
Einstein didn’t want his brain or body to be studied; he didn’t want to be worshipped. “He had left behind specific instructions regarding his remains: cremate them, and scatter the ashes secretly in order to discourage idolaters,” writes Brian Burrell in his 2005 book, Postcards from the Brain Museum.
But Harvey took the brain anyway, without permission from Einstein or his family. “When the fact came to light a few days later, Harvey managed to solicit a reluctant and retroactive blessing from Einstein’s son, Hans Albert, with the now-familiar stipulation that any investigation would be conducted solely in the interest of science,” Burrell writes.
This story is so weird that there is no way I can do it justice with excerpts. You need to read the whole thing. Just to whet your appetite, I’ll tell you that Beat writer William Burroughs makes a cameo appearance. The comments are interesting too.
I just love this story; it’s the kind of thing I dreamed would happen to me when I was a kid: 9-year-old Michigan Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth near Home.
“I was walking down at the creek last summer. I felt something that I stepped on so I picked it up and everybody in the neighborhood thought it was pretty cool,” Philip Stoll told CNN on Friday….
“It felt weird,” he said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I had to see what it was. I pulled it out and brought it to my mom.”
Stoll…took the six-peaked, 8-inch foreign object to his Windsor Township house and washed it in his kitchen sink to get a better look. Mom Heidi Stoll was also brought in for consultation.
“I didn’t even think that it could have been a tooth until I started checking online for some kind of match,” she said. “We saw a picture of a Mastodon tooth and said ‘there it is.'”
The Stoll family eventually reached out to James Harding, a herpetologist – an expert on reptiles and amphibians, at nearby Michigan State, who confirmed their suspicions.
“This is indeed a mastodon tooth,” Professor Harding verified in an email, CNN reports. “Apparently (it is) the upper surface, broken off at the roots.”
Wow, that is one lucky kid! Philip told CNN he has dreamed of becoming a paleontologist when he grows up.
Did you hear about how the Smithsonian acquired a nearly-complete skeleton of a Tyranosaurus Rex and had it delivered from Montana by FedEx? From the Guardian: Rare T rex bones arrive at Smithsonian Museum after cross-country journey.
For the first time since its dinosaur hall opened in 1911, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will have a nearly complete T rex skeleton. FedEx delivered the dinosaur bones in a truck carrying 16 carefully packed crates.
The T rex, discovered in 1988 on federal land in Montana, is about 80-85% complete. It’s one of about half a dozen nearly complete T rex skeletons that have been uncovered. This specimen could become the most prominent with its new home in one of the world’s most-visited museums. About 7 million people visit the natural history museum each year, and it offers free admission.
Like the mastodon tooth that Philip Stoll found, this skeleton was discovered by amateurs.
Kathy Wankel, a Montana rancher who discovered the bones in 1998 during a camping trip, said she was proud to see the specimen in a national museum. Initially, Wankel spotted about 3 inches of bone sticking out of the ground, and she and her husband dug out a small arm bone.
“We were so thrilled we had found a bone; we called that a mega find,” she said at the museum. “But I think now this is a mega find.”
Paleontologists from the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont., excavated the fossil, and it’s been housed there for the past 25 years. At the Smithsonian, the skeleton will be mounted upright for the first time.
Those are my offbeat offerings for today. What stories have you been following? Please feel free to post real news in the comments.
There has been a massive explosion in New York City’s East Harlem. Two buildings have collapsed, killing at least two people and injuring 17 others. This story is still breaking. The latest from The New York Daily News:
A loud explosion inside a five-story building on Park Ave. at E. 116th St. sent “people flying out the window,” killing two women, injuring 17 and leaving two buildings in rubble Wednesday morning, according to the Fire Department and witnesses.
“For weeks we’ve been smelling gas,” said Ashley Rivera, 21, holding back tears. “We saw people flying out of the window. … Those are my neighbors.”
A law enforcement source told the Daily News the cause appeared to be a gas explosion. Mayor de Blasio was on his way to the scene.
Dramatic photos at the link. More photos from around the ‘net:
This is an open thread. What else is happening?
So, I’ m thinking we need some kind of new thread. The morning one is getting rather full. Thought I’d share a few things I’ve been thinking about today and encourage you to do the same.
First, if you are in town, please come to my favorite Rap Star’s debut! Actually, she’s my neighbor too. This is 91 year old Laura Swinney, the sage of Poland Avenue. She is doing her thing at Siberia. One of the things that always amazes me about this city is the interesting people I meet. This is especially true of the local women. I have met a mistress of Humprey Bogart and one of the original Rockettes. Gives me some hope.
So, it’s an open thread with an open mind.
What’s on yours?
So, I gotta lot of grievances … GUN NUTSSSSSSSssss!! This stuff should be UNACCEPTABLE!!! I’m tired of reading that no charges are filed and it’s an “accidental shooting”. You fucking leave an unlocked and loaded gun around the house with children you freaking deserve to be locked up for life!
Right Wing Religious Extremists! Women are not your property or the state’s property! Hating on GLBT is not a religious statement! It’s Freaking Bigotry!
A lot of poor people work and still don’t have enough to eat or have access to healthcare. Look at the Walmart Heirs! They are the lazy bums!! Poor people and unemployed people are not the ones that scam our country out of money!
Okay, that should get things going … air your grievance!!!