Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Fwd: America's Wilderness Years









America's Wilderness Years

Posted By Victor Davis Hanson On November 11, 2013

Help! Is there anybody out there?!

Most two-term presidents leave some sort of legacy. Ronald Reagan won the Cold War. George W. Bush prevented another 9/11, and constructed an anti-terrorism protocol that even his critical successor embraced and often expanded.

Even our one-term presidents have achieved something. JFK got Soviet missiles out of Cuba. LBJ oversaw passage of civil rights legislation. Jerry Ford restored integrity to the White House. Jimmy Carter finally issued the Carter Doctrine to stop Soviet expansionism at the Persian Gulf. George H.W. Bush won the first Persian Gulf War and got Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

And even our impeached or abdicated presidents at least left some positive legacies. Richard Nixon went to China and enacted d├ętente. Bill Clinton through compromise balanced the budget and incurred budget surpluses.

But Barack Obama?

The economy is anemic. We have never seen unemployment dip below 7% in the last five years [1]. Real jobless rates that include those who have given up on working are perhaps double the official figures. By 2017 the national debt will have doubled. The stimulus did not lead to a "summer of recovery." [2]

Near zero interest rates, vast expansions in the money supply, and huge increases in federal redistributive payouts have not jump-started anything — except to end entirely the cherished American idea of receiving a modest interest rate on lifelong passbook savings accounts. The middle class has been squeezed as never before, lacking the administration's romance of the poor and its crony-capitalism connections of the rich.

Even with new taxes on top incomes, the end of the war in Iraq, sequestration, and a supposed recovery, the 2013 annual deficit will still near $700 billion — a bragging point for Obama, given that this is the first year of his administration that we did not borrow over $1 trillion. To the degree that Obama has made headway — the sequestration forcing cuts and reducing the 2013 budget deficit somewhat, or gas and oil production soaring on private lands — success has come despite his opposition, not because of his advocacy.

Not since Richard Nixon have we seen such a record of scandal. The disclosures of wrong-doing and cover-ups now come so often that they become mind-numbing — Fast and Furious, Benghazi, and the IRS, AP, NSA, and ACA messes. After the president's flips and flops over Syria, confusion about Egypt, and leading from behind in Libya, no one believes him — which is why also that no one was surprised at home about the untruth about Obamacare. In such a context, misdeeds like the Pigford payouts or Solyndra do not even raise an eyebrow.

Foreign policy is likewise in shambles. No one in the administration brags of "leading from behind" in Libya, or of "reset" with Russia, or of "red lines" and "game changers" in Syria. On most foreign policy issues, Obama is to the left of the current French socialist government. A Nobel Peace Prize laureate's legacy is trying to bypass the UN about Syria, exceeding the UN mandate in Libya, and now ignoring it with Iran.

I know of no major Democrat figure who claims a foreign policy success for this administration — unless estrangement from Israel, or the courting of Islamists in Turkey and Egypt, or open mic promises [3] to go easy on Russia after the election count. The irony is that the more the Obama administration has courted our enemies — Venezuela, the Islamist Middle East, Iran — the more they have disliked us, as our appeasement earned contempt rather than appreciation of magnanimity. There is no longer an American-led West. Germany is becoming the world's fiscal arbitrator, France the Western bulwark against radical Islam, Japan the impediment to Chinese expansionism, Israel and the Persian Gulf the last chance to stop an Iranian bomb [4].

The Obama cabinet is the weakest in modern memory. Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress. By his polarizing rhetoric ("my people," "cowards," etc.), he has helped to set back racial relations a generation. Kathleen Sebelius [5] oversaw the most disastrous rollout of a federal program of the modern era. Chuck Hagel is becoming irrelevant at Defense.

John Kerry at State will be known for his promise of an "unbelievably small" [6] bombing campaign to come against Syria — that in itself was explained by Obama as a non-pinprick. Hillary Clinton had declared Assad a "reformer," scoffed off Benghazi as "what difference does it make?" and tried to parlay "Bush did it" into a foreign policy.

Steven Chu proved a sort of idiot-savant at Energy, reminding us that Nobel Prize winners can lack even an iota of common sense [7]. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's chief task was finding ways to grant election-time amnesties without being caught at it, while inventing adolescent euphemisms [8] for terrorism.

The less said about the quotes about a peaceful and secular Islamism from James Clapper [9] and John Brennan [10] the better. Citigroup's Peter Orszag [11] and Jack Lew [12] were refutations of the Obama promises to end the revolving door between big money and big government.

Lisa Jackson at EPA quietly left, after fabricating a fake email identity of "Richard Windsor." [13] Press Secretary Jay Carney has made Ron Ziegler's tenure appear veracious in comparison. Thomas Perez and Hilda Solis at Labor saw their job as the promotion of unionism at all costs.

Obama, the self-described constitutional lawyer, has done more to endanger personal liberty and the rule of law than any president since FDR put Japanese-American citizens into camps. Associated Press reporters were monitored. The NSA tapped personal communications. The IRS went after Obama's opponents [14]. An innocent video maker was jailed on trumped-up charges of parole violations after being falsely accused by the president and the secretary of State of inciting the Benghazi attacks. When a law was deemed inconvenient, Obama simply either overrode or ignored it, whether Obamacare's employer mandate or federal border enforcement statutes.

The president's "signature" legislation was supposed to be Obamacare, a federal takeover of health care only dreamed of by past liberal presidents, but pushed through on a strictly partisan vote by the charisma of Barack Obama. The problem with the more than 2,000 pages of Obamacare — frontloaded two years ago with freebies — was not just that its web-based delivery system was inoperative, but that its entire concept of supposedly supplying superior insurance to more people at less cost was fiscally impossible, while its central assumption that young healthy people would be willing to pay more for health care that they would rarely use to subsidize older people who would pay less for more coverage was ridiculous.

Is there an Obama legacy?

In a way, yes. He has mesmerized the media in a manner entirely unknown in past presidencies. No matter the scandal or policy failure, it will be almost impossible for Obama's popularity to dip much below 40%. Yet even more importantly than hypnotizing a once-free press into a Ministry of Truth [15], Obama has redefined the scope and purpose of federal redistributive entitlements, turning them into the political means of creating a permanent dependent constituency.

For the Democratic Party, Obama has been a disaster [16], discrediting the professed liberal commitment to socialized medicine [17], civil liberties [18], lead-from-behind foreign policy, Keynesian economics, and an open transparent government skeptical of Wall Street big money [19] and federal overreach. He also managed to pass almost no new initiatives with large Democratic majorities in the House and Senate in his first two years of governance, before losing the former in 2010 and perhaps the latter in 2014.

Obama has been compared to almost every out-of-his-league figure in mythology (Phaethon at the reins of his father's out-of-control sun chariot, Icarus flying too high on frail waxen wings, Narcissus transfixed at a reflecting pool of his own image), cinema (Chauncey Gardiner of Being There [20], or Bill McKay of The Candidate), or literature (Shakespeare's Hamlet or Orwell's pigs prancing on two legs). In that regard, the Obama presidency, to paraphrase Hillary Clinton, requires a suspension of disbelief, and a "what difference does it make?" at each new unfolding scandal.

His tenure will be known as the Wilderness Years — nothing gained, much lost.

(Artwork created using a modified Shutterstock.com [21] image.)

Article printed from Works and Days: http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson

URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/victordavishanson/americas-wilderness-years/

URLs in this post:

[1] dip below 7% in the last five years: http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2012/07/06/less-than-expected/2/

[2] "summer of recovery.": http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/11/08/obama-pivots-to-economy-for-20th-time

[3] open mic promises: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Czo5Vf8KZs

[4] to stop an Iranian bomb: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/netanyahu-bad-deal-very-very-bad-deal_766449.html

[5] Kathleen Sebelius: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/11/08/sebelius-on-run/?cmpid=washexam

[6] "unbelievably small": http://www.nationalreview.com/article/358052/unbelievably-small-and-incredibly-unpersuasive-rich-lowry

[7] of common sense: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/73138.html

[8] adolescent euphemisms: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tim-graham/2009/03/19/obama-speak-homeland-security-secretary-replaces-terrorism-term-man-caus

[9] James Clapper: http://hotair.com/archives/2011/02/10/u-s-director-of-national-intelligence-the-muslim-brotherhood-is-largely-secular/

[10] John Brennan: http://yidwithlid.blogspot.com/2010/08/counter-terror-advisor-brennan-changes.html

[11] Peter Orszag: http://money.cnn.com/2010/12/09/news/companies/citi_orszag/

[12] Jack Lew: http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2013/06/04/another-obama-appointee-cayman-trust/

[13] "Richard Windsor.": http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/350268/richard-windsor-lives-eliana-johnson

[14] went after Obama's opponents: http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/177702/

[15] a Ministry of Truth: http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2010/07/20/how-the-wright-free-zone-was-built/

[16] has been a disaster: http://minx.cc/?post=320370

[17] to socialized medicine: http://www.mediaite.com/online/obama-burns-media-supporters-with-apology/

[18] civil liberties: http://twitchy.com/2013/06/19/ich-bin-ein-snoop-obama-greeted-with-hilarious-yes-we-scan-signs-in-berlin-pics/

[19] Wall Street big money: http://clockworkconservative.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/president-goldman-sachs-or-who-owns-obama/

[20] Being There: http://pjmedia.com/rogerlsimon/2013/10/27/impeach-for-cluelessness/

[21] Shutterstock.com: http://www.shutterstock.com

 



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Fwd: Obamacare Will Be Repealed Well In Advance Of The 2014 Elections




 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevenhayward/2013/11/11/obamacare-will-be-repealed-well-in-advance-of-the-2014-elections/

Obamacare Will Be Repealed Well In Advance Of The 2014 Elections

 

By Steven Hayward

 

November 11, 2013

Prediction: even if HealthCare.gov is fixed by the end of the month (unlikely), Obamacare is going to be repealed well in advance of next year's election.  And if the website continues to fail, the push for repeal—from endangered Democrats—will occur very rapidly.  The website is a sideshow: the real action is the number of people and businesses who are losing their health plans or having to pay a lot more.  Fixing the website will only delay the inevitable.

It is important to remember why it was so important for Obama to promise repeatedly that "if you like your health insurance/doctor, you can keep your health insurance/doctor."  Cast your mind back to the ignominious collapse of Hillarycare in 1994.  Hillarycare came out of the box in September 1993 to high public support according to the early polls.  This was not a surprise.  Opinion polls for decades have shown a large majority of Americans support the general idea of universal health coverage.  But Hillarycare came apart as the bureaucratic details came out, the most important one being that you couldn't be sure you'd be able to keep your doctors or select specialists of your choice.  The Clintons refused to consider a compromise, but even with large Democratic Senate and House majorities the bill was so dead it was never brought up for a vote.

Remember "Harry and Louise"?  Obama did, which is why he portrayed Obamacare as simply expanding coverage to the uninsured, and improving coverage for the underinsured while leaving the already insured undisturbed.  But the redistributive arithmetic of Obamacare's architecture could never add up, which is what the bureaucrats knew early on—as early as 2010 according to many documents that have leaked.  The wonder is that Obama's political team didn't see this coming and prepare a pre-emptive strategy for dealing with the inevitable exposure of the duplicity at the heart of Obamacare's logic.  Now that people are losing their insurance and finding that they may not be able to keep their doctor after all, Obamacare has become the domestic policy equivalent of the Iraq War: a protracted fiasco that is proving fatal to a president's credibility and approval rating.  The only thing missing is calling in FEMA to help fix this Category-5 political disaster.

Senate Democrats endangered for re-election will lead the charge for repeal perhaps as soon as January, after they get an earful over the Christmas break.  They'll call it "reform," and clothe it in calls for delaying the individual mandate and allowing people and businesses to keep their existing health insurance policies.  But it is probably too late to go back in many cases.  With the political damage guaranteed to continue, the momentum toward repeal will be unstoppable.  Democrats will not want to face the voters next November with the albatross of Obamacare.

The politics of the repeal effort will be a game theorist's dream.  Tea Party Republicans will resist "reforms" to Obamacare in favor of complete repeal.  Democrats will try to turn the tables and set up Republicans as obstacles to reform, hoping to inoculate themselves prospectively from mayhem at the polls next November. The House might want to insist that the Senate go first; after all, it was the Senate version of the bill that the House had to swallow after Scott Brown's election in January 2010.  The House can rightly insist that the Senate needs to clean up the mess they made.  Obama may well give Capitol Hill Democrats a pass on a repeal vote, and veto any bill that emerges.  He'll never face the voters again.

This wouldn't be the first time that a health care entitlement was repealed.  The same thing happened in the late 1980s with catastrophic coverage for seniors.  Because seniors were made to pay for their benefits under that scheme, the uproar forced Congress to repeal the measure barely a year after it went into effect.  Obamacare looks to be on the same political trajectory, and for the same reason.  Obamacare represents the crisis of big government; the limits of administrative government have finally been breached.  For the first time ever, some polls are showing a majority of Americans doubting the goal of universal health coverage.

The hazard of the moment is that a compromise "reform" that drops the mandate and attempts to restore the insurance status quo ante could leave us with an unfunded expansion of Medicaid and a badly disrupted private insurance market.  Republicans should avoid both the political traps and a new fiscal time bomb by being ready with a serious replacement policy, based on the premium support tax credit ideas that John McCain advocated (poorly) in 2008.  While anxious liberals are in dismay, they should recognize that Obamacare may well have achieved its chief purpose of making universal or at least greatly expanded health coverage a fixture of American social policy.  The cost to liberalism may prove fatal, however.



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Fwd: Senator: US Soldiers Being Killed by Terror Groups Backed With US Money










http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/senator-us-soldiers-killed-terror-groups-backed-us/story?id=20660114


Senator: US Soldiers Being Killed by Terror Groups Backed With US Money

Nov. 11, 2013

By BRIAN ROSS
Is US Money Funding Terror in Afghanistan?


The United States has paid more than $150 million to companies in
Afghanistan that are accused of helping to finance terrorist attacks on
American soldiers and facilities, according to the Special Inspector General
for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

"It's like the United States government subsidizing the Taliban, al Qaeda,
the Haqqani network, those groups that are trying to shoot and kill our
soldiers," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., a member of the Senate's Armed
Services and Foreign Relations committees, in an interview to be broadcast
tonight on ABC News' "World News with Diane Sawyer".

A list of 43 companies in Afghanistan was compiled by the Special Inspector
General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) using data from both
classified Pentagon investigative reports and Commerce Department lists of
terror-connected companies.

Among them is a road construction company the U.S. says is partly owned by a
leader of the brutal Haqqani network, which was blamed for an
attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul that claimed 16 lives in 2011.

The cover letter of a classified investigation by the U.S. Army said there
was evidence of a direct role of both the company and its owners "in the
facilitation and operation of the Haqqani Network" and that "approximately
$1-2 million per month flow[s] to Haqqani Network to finance its
activities."

A representative of the company said it denies any ties to terrorists and is
contesting its inclusion on the U.S. government lists. The representative
suggested it might be a case of mistaken identity.

But despite the broader findings, the Pentagon has resisted permanently
blocking the companies from getting more U.S. contracts because, its lawyers
say, it would violate the "due process" of the companies which would not be
able to see the classified information that details their alleged ties to
terror groups.

"The reason they've given us is that it's not fair to these contractors that
the evidence that we've presented, and this is evidence collected by the
United States government, is classified," John Sopko, Special Inspector
General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), told ABC News. "That's the
absurdity of it. We can probably attack them via drone on Monday and we'll
issue them a contract on Tuesday."

Sopko, along with U.S. commanders in the field and members of Congress have
all urged the Pentagon to take action, but to no avail.

Sen. Shaheen was one of a bipartisan group of Senators that sent a letter to
the Army in late 2012 "expressing concern" about a backlog at the Army's
Suspension and Debarment office, noting the 43 cases involving alleged
terrorist groups.

"We believe that these 43 cases deserve special attention from the Army due
to the nature of their allegations," the letter said, according to a copy
posted on the website for Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

The Pentagon had arranged for ABC News to interview Lt. Gen. William
Phillips of Army acquisition about the concerns, but later canceled, his
staff saying "they will be declining an interview for some time in the
foreseeable future."

When ABC News appeared at the Pentagon office that handles the debarment of
contracts, the officer in charge said he was not allowed to answer questions
without permission.

"Well, there are certain regulations that have to be followed, due process
regulations," he began, presumably referring to the contract debarment
process. "That gets into things that I cannot discuss. In fact, I'm not
allowed to talk to you unless I have the permission of the Army so I'll have
to end this interview at this time."

In a statement to ABC News, the Army said it has "extensive vendor vetting
procedures to prevent the awarding of contracts to such vendors." It said
most of the 43 companies were not awarded any new contracts "as a result of
measures currently in place."

"The army takes seriously any allegations of improper contractor activities
and has vigorous processes to ensure that those with whom we do business are
not supporting the insurgency or otherwise opposing U.S. and collation
forces in Afghanistan" the statement said.

Inspector General Sopko says the Army needs to permanently block the
companies from receiving any more U.S. taxpayer money, given the seriousness
of the information.

"I am a former prosecutor, I've seen the information and it made my hair
stand on end," Sopko told ABC News.

In a quarterly report to Congress last July Sopko wrote, "I am deeply
troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists
and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot
prevent these same people from receiving a government contract."

"I feel such a position is not only legally wrong, it is contrary to good
public policy and contrary to our national security goals in Afghanistan,"
he said.



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Fwd: We're About to Lose Net Neutrality — And the Internet as We Know It

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Fwd: NO. 1 SONG IN ENGLAND/A must see









This may be the number 1 song in England, but it's an absolute fact of what's going on here in the U.S. and in Canada!

Bet Parliament & our Congress love this!!!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=wq_lhlIn1e0

 

 

 

 

 



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Fwd: Motorola Seeks Patent for Mic Tattooed to Throat; Could Light Up When Person Lies







Wow!!!.. Washington DC will shine brighter than the sun.  LMAO


http://cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-hollingsworth/motorola-seeks-patent-mic-tattooed-throat-could-light-when-person

 

Motorola Seeks Patent for Mic Tattooed to Throat; Could Light Up When Person Lies

November 11, 2013 - 2:40 PM


By Barbara Hollingsworth

Subscribe to Barbara Hollingsworth RSS

Motorola has applied for a patent for a tiny microphone that is tattooed to users' throats. (AP graphic)

(CNSNEWS.com) –  First there were Google Glasses, which allow wearers to view a tiny computer hidden in a futuristic-style headset without having to pick up a smartphone.

Google-owned Motorola has also applied for a patent for a tiny wireless microphone tattooed to users' throats that can be programmed to light up when they are lying.

Motorola Mobility, Inc. of Libertyville, Ill. filed the patent application for an "electronic skin tattoo capable of being applied to a throat region of a body. The electronic skin tattoo can include an embedded microphone, a transceiver for enabling wireless communication with the MCD (mobile communication device), and a power supply configured to receive signals from a personal area network associated with the MCD."

The tattoo mics, which will come with a micro signal processor that screens out other noises, will be powered by either rechargeable batteries or a miniature solar panel, according to the application, which was filed in May of 2012 and published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) on Nov. 7th.

A controller "can be configured to execute programs or instructions to enable communicative coupling of the electronic tattoo to external electronic devices such as a smartphone, a gaming device, a tablet computer, [or] a wearable computer," according to the patent application.

Woman wearing Google Glasses (AP photo)

Additional nano-circuitry will make them capable of "analog-to-digital conversion" and "data compression" as well.

But that's not the only potential application of the tattooed mic as imagined by its creators. The gizmo could also be programmed to light up whenever the user says a certain word or pattern of words:

"It is also contemplated that the display may be instructed by the processor to illuminate visually upon the electronic skin tattoo meeting a criteria, recognizing a voice pattern, or surpassing a frequency threshold. That is a certain word can be spoken that will enable the display to illuminate when the electronic skin tattoo senses the pattern or frequency corresponding to the spoken word or utterance."

Or whenever the user is not telling the truth:

"Optionally, the electronic skin tattoo can further include a galvanic skin response detector to detect skin resistance of a user. It is contemplated that a user that may be nervous or engaging in speaking falsehoods may exhibit different galvanic skin response than a more confident, truth telling individual."

Motorola spokeswoman Danielle McNally declined to answer any questions about potential abuse of the device or when throat mics might be commercially available. "We won't be providing any comments on the filing. Thank you," she said in a text message to CNSNews.com.

 



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Fwd: Obama and Economic Suicide......same suicidal behavior that is destroying Europe's prosperity








 

 

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Costly and erratic "renewable" energy sources: Obama is leading us like lemmings into the same suicidal behavior that is destroying Europe's prosperity

Obama and Economic Suicide

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 By Dennis Avery  Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Churchville, VA—President Obama is demanding, by Executive Order, what congress will not give him by vote. With winter approaching and the "ObamaCare" mess hanging over his shoulder, he is now ordering the U.S. economy to hitch itself to more and more of the costly and erratic "renewable" energy sources. These have already bankrupted Spain and are about to bankrupt Great Britain and Germany.

Spain, Britain, and Germany are already years further down the road to the "renewable" blackouts President Obama now demands for America. Spain is already broke, and Britain is heading for mass energy poverty for its people. German industries meanwhile threaten to flee their country in favor of markets where they can get electricity that competes with coal in China and India.

In Britain, the government's Energy Act demands the nation produce 30 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, up from the current government share of 12 percent. The target for 2050 is a whopping 80 percent! The high cost of building nuclear reactors has ruled out that option; the EU is demanding that coal be phased ou. Britain has big shale gas deposits, but the country has not approved fracking for the gas.

The only new power source the UK has left itself is thousands of huge, barge-mounted wind turbines in the turbulent North Sea! These sea-going windmills cost more to build and vastly more to maintain than land-based turbines—and could quadruple England's future electric bills. British chemical plants are already starting to shut down, even as London newspapers predict fuel poverty (spending more than 10 percent of income for heat) for nearly half the population.

Germany's Angela Merkel impulsively announced the end of German nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima tidal wave. Now Germany is burning more coal than ever, despite a national goal of getting 80 percent of its energy from renewable fuels, cutting greenhouse emissions by 80 percent and slashing electric usage by 25 percent.

Even without the hoped-for reduction in human CO2 emissions, the world has gotten no warmer since 1998, and today's temperatures are little different from those of a century ago. The President nevertheless still believes what Greenpeace told him back when he was a community organizer—CO2 is the all-time threat to the planet.

Meanwhile, China demands that rich nations kick in $100 billion per year for energy subsidies in the poor countries that are not warming. India blames the industrial countries for the global non-warming and demands they "solve" it.

Even the International Panel on Climate Change is now admitting that the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age were global climate shifts, not unlike the Modern Warming. More and more evidence points to a long, natural solar cycle that we are still struggling to understand. The Antarctic ice expanded between 1979 and 2012 on both land and sea, and never mind the warming predicted for both poles. Even the Arctic has cooled sharply in the past few years, after a 30-year warming. This supports the Russian claim of a 70-year Arctic warming/cooling cycle. Worldwide, sea levels are rising no faster and droughts have not increased.

Most interesting of all, the IPCC says in its new report that the reduced trend in the earth's warming has been due to "volcanic eruptions." It is true that volcanic eruptions can darken the sky and reduce the solar heat that reaches the earth. Moreover, at the same time they add to the CO2 concentration in the air.

You ask which major volcanoes erupted during the 1998–2012 period? The reality is none. Meanwhile, the modest eruption of an Icelandic volcano in 2010 released more CO2 than was prevented by all of the ultra-costly human efforts to limit CO2 emissions.

With no recent warming, what new evidence do we have about CO2 being the world's big problem? Again, the answer seems to be "none." President Obama is leading us like lemmings into the same suicidal behavior that is destroying Europe's prosperity—with no apparent impact on the CO2 in the earth's atmosphere. Why the economic suicide, Mr. President?

 

 

 



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Fwd: [New post] British troops deployed to save Kenyan elephants from illegal slaughter trade that is funding Islamic terrorist attacks





BareNakedIslam posted: "Al Shabaab, a group linked to Al Qaeda, is said to be funding their training and attacks by selling elephant and rhino horns on the Somalian black market - a trade worth £12billion a year. In the past year, 60 wardens and 38,000 elephants have been killed"

New post on BARE NAKED ISLAM

British troops deployed to save Kenyan elephants from illegal slaughter trade that is funding Islamic terrorist attacks

by BareNakedIslam

Al Shabaab, a group linked to Al Qaeda, is said to be funding their training and attacks by selling elephant and rhino horns on the Somalian black market - a trade worth £12billion a year. In the past year, 60 wardens and 38,000 elephants have been killed by illegal poachers. UK Daily Mail (h/t TROP)  In an initiative […]

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BareNakedIslam | November 12, 2013 at 1:22 pm | URL: http://wp.me/p276zM-Znc

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Fwd: Assets of the Ayatollah $95 Billion dollars








 

1.  And these are the people with whom we are trying to negotiate an arms treaty ?
 
 http://www.reuters.com/investigates/iran/#article/part1
 
Khamenei controls massive financial empire built on property seizures

o    By Steve Stecklow, Babak Dehghanpisheh and Yeganeh Torbati

o    Filed November 11, 2013 SUPREME LEADER: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shown at a 2009 clerical gathering, oversees an organization called Setad that has assets estimated at about $95 billion. REUTERS/Khamenei.ir/Handout

Part 1: A Reuters investigation details a key to the supreme leader's power: a little-known organization created to help the poor that morphed into a business juggernaut worth tens of billions of dollars.

The 82-year-old Iranian woman keeps the documents that upended her life in an old suitcase near her bed. She removes them carefully and peers at the tiny Persian script.

There's the court order authorizing the takeover of her children's three Tehran apartments in a multi-story building the family had owned for years. There's the letter announcing the sale of one of the units. And there's the notice demanding she pay rent on her own apartment on the top floor.

Pari Vahdat-e-Hagh ultimately lost her property. It was taken by an organization that is controlled by the most powerful man in Iran: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. She now lives alone in a cramped, three-room apartment in Europe, thousands of miles from Tehran.

The Persian name of the organization that hounded her for years is "Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam" – Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam. The name refers to an edict signed by the Islamic Republic's first leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, shortly before his death in 1989. His order spawned a new entity to manage and sell properties abandoned in the chaotic years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Setad has become one of the most powerful organizations in Iran, though many Iranians, and the wider world, know very little about it. In the past six years, it has morphed into a business juggernaut that now holds stakes in nearly every sector of Iranian industry, including finance, oil, telecommunications, the production of birth-control pills and even ostrich farming.

The organization's total worth is difficult to pinpoint because of the secrecy of its accounts. But Setad's holdings of real estate, corporate stakes and other assets total about $95 billion, Reuters has calculated. That estimate is based on an analysis of statements by Setad officials, data from the Tehran Stock Exchange and company websites, and information from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Just one person controls that economic empire – Khamenei. As Iran's top cleric, he has the final say on all governmental matters. His purview includes his nation's controversial nuclear program, which was the subject of intense negotiations between Iranian and international diplomats in Geneva that ended Sunday without an agreement. It is Khamenei who will set Iran's course in the nuclear talks and other recent efforts by the new president, Hassan Rouhani, to improve relations with Washington.

Related Item

3.   

Minority report: Why Baha'is face persecution in Iran

The supreme leader's acolytes praise his spartan lifestyle, and point to his modest wardrobe and a threadbare carpet in his Tehran home. Reuters found no evidence that Khamenei is tapping Setad to enrich himself.

But Setad has empowered him. Through Setad, Khamenei has at his disposal financial resources whose value rivals the holdings of the shah, the Western-backed monarch who was overthrown in 1979.

How Setad came into those assets also mirrors how the deposed monarchy obtained much of its fortune - by confiscating real estate. A six-month Reuters investigation has found that Setad built its empire on the systematic seizure of thousands of properties belonging to ordinary Iranians: members of religious minorities like Vahdat-e-Hagh, who is Baha'i, as well as Shi'ite Muslims, business people and Iranians living abroad.

Setad has amassed a giant portfolio of real estate by claiming in Iranian courts, sometimes falsely, that the properties are abandoned. The organization now holds a court-ordered monopoly on taking property in the name of the supreme leader, and regularly sells the seized properties at auction or seeks to extract payments from the original owners.

The supreme leader also oversaw the creation of a body of legal rulings and executive orders that enabled and safeguarded Setad's asset acquisitions. "No supervisory organization can question its property," said Naghi Mahmoudi, an Iranian lawyer who left Iran in 2010 and now lives in Germany.

Khamenei's grip on Iran's politics and its military forces has been apparent for years. The investigation into Setad shows that there is a third dimension to his power: economic might. The revenue stream generated by Setad helps explain why Khamenei has not only held on for 24 years but also in some ways has more control than even his revered predecessor. Setad gives him the financial means to operate independently of parliament and the national budget, insulating him from Iran's messy factional infighting.

Washington has acknowledged Setad's importance. In June, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Setad and some of its corporate holdings, calling the organization "a massive network of front companies hiding assets on behalf of … Iran's leadership." The companies generate billions of dollars in revenue a year, the department stated, but it did not offer a detailed accounting.

The Iranian president's office and the foreign ministry didn't respond to requests for comment. Iran's embassy in the United Arab Emirates issued a statement calling Reuters' findings "scattered and disparate" and said that "none has any basis." It didn't elaborate.

Setad's director general of public relations, Hamid Vaezi, said by email in response to a detailed description of this series that the information presented is "far from realities and is not correct." He didn't go into specifics.

In a subsequent message, he said Setad disputes the Treasury's allegations and is "in the process of retaining U.S. counsel to address this matter." He added: "This communication puts you on notice that any action by your organization could prejudice our dispute in the United States and harm our position for which we hold you responsible."

When Khomeini, the first supreme leader, set in motion the creation of Setad, it was only supposed to manage and sell properties "without owners" and direct much of the proceeds to charity. Setad was to use the funds to assist war veterans, war widows "and the downtrodden." According to one of its co-founders, Setad was to operate for no more than two years.

Setad has built schools, roads and health clinics, and provided electricity and water in rural and impoverished areas. It has assisted entrepreneurs in development projects. But philanthropy is just a small part of Setad's overall operations.

Under Khamenei's control, Setad began acquiring property for itself, and kept much of the funds rather than simply redistributing them. With those revenues, the organization also helps to fund the ultimate seat of power in Iran, the Beite Rahbar, or Leader's House, according to a former Setad employee and other people familiar with the matter. The first supreme leader, Khomeini, had a small staff. To run the country today, Khamenei employs about 500 people in his administrative offices, many recruited from the military and security services.

A complete picture of Setad's spending and income isn't possible. Its books are off limits even to Iran's legislative branch. In 2008, the Iranian Parliament voted to prohibit itself from monitoring organizations that the supreme leader controls, except with his permission.

But Reuters has put together the fullest account yet of the organization's holdings. They include:


Explore real estate
auctioned by Setad

Reuters identified 286 properties Setad listed for sale in May. The 242 that included price and type of property are shown below.

Hover over a circle for details, including location and excerpts from the original ads.

o    Type

o    Price

AgriculturalCommercialLeisureMixed UseResidential

Advertisements listed through auction aggregation sites www.ariatender.com and www.namatender.com. Prices are converted at the Central Bank of Iran's official rate in May:
$1 = 12,260 rials.

* A giant property portfolio

The head of Setad's real-estate division said at a ceremony in 2008 that the unit was worth about $52 billion. The value of Iran's currency has plunged since then, while property values have soared. The property portfolio has also changed, so its current value is hard to establish.

Setad regularly conducts large auctions of its real estate - at least 59 to date, according to a review of Iranian newspaper advertisements and auction websites. One recent auction took place in May, when nearly 300 properties went on the block - including houses, stores, tracts of farmland and even a spa-and-pool complex in Tehran. The required opening bids totaled about $88 million, based on the official exchange rate that month.

* An investment unit worth tens of billions of dollars

In June, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Setad and 37 companies it controls over the organization's alleged role in "assisting the Iranian Government's circumvention of U.S. and international sanctions." The Treasury also said Setad played a role in "generating revenue for the Iranian leadership," and that one of its investment companies alone was worth about $40 billion in late 2010.

But the June action covered just part of Setad's corporate holdings. According to a Treasury spokesman, sanctions only apply to subsidiaries if the targeted entity "owns 50 percent or more of a company."

In practice, Setad controls many businesses in which it holds very small stakes. Reuters identified at least 24 public companies in which Setad - or a company it invested in - held less than 50 percent. Those holdings that are publicly traded are worth more than $3.4 billion, Reuters calculated. That figure includes about $3 billion Setad paid in 2009 for a stake in Iran's largest telecommunications firm.

Reuters also identified 14 companies Setad has invested in - directly or through other companies - that couldn't be valued because they are not publicly traded.

All told, Reuters was able to identify about $95 billion in property and corporate assets controlled by Setad. That amount is roughly 40 percent bigger than the country's total oil exports last year. It also surpasses independent historians' estimates of the late shah's wealth.

After toppling the monarchy, the Islamic Republic filed suit in the United States against the shah and his wife, Farah Pahlavi, claiming they had stolen $35 billion in Iranian funds, according to court records. In today's dollars, that sum would be worth about $79 billion. The suit was dismissed.

Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Studies program at Stanford University who wrote a biography of the shah published in 2011, told Reuters he believes the estimate of the shah's fortune was "extremely exaggerated." He said the monarch led a truly opulent lifestyle - including owning an automobile collection that may have included 120 fancy vehicles. But, he wrote in the biography: "Those most likely to know estimate the Shah's fortune to be close to a billion dollars." With inflation, that would equal about $3 billion in today's money, a fraction of the worth of Setad's holdings.

"How can a government that claims to be an Islamic government allow this to happen?" Heideh Katirai, Iranian exile whose family property was seized by Setad

PROTECTION FEES

Setad officials have offered two justifications for their property activities: that the assets were acquired legitimately, and part of the profits go to charity.

In an interview in April with the Iranian reformist newspaper Shargh, Ali Ashraf Afkhami, who was identified as the head of Tadbir Economic Development Group - the main unit that handles Setad's financial investments - called the organization a "custodian" of "property without owners," and suggested that none had been confiscated. He also described the way Setad had accumulated its real estate as nothing unusual.

"Imagine that a property or piece of land has been left behind by someone after their death without any heirs or, for example, property that has been freed by customs but remains without an owner," he said. "These properties must be managed somehow. If the lack of ownership is confirmed through the order of the court, then the property is given to Setad."

"Like I said," he added, "everywhere in the world systems have been created to take control of property or pieces of land that have no owners and the profits are put toward activities for the public good."

Charities have played an important role in the Islamic Republic. Setad controls a charity. Other charitable trusts, known as "bonyads," served as a vital safety net during and after the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War, assisting disabled veterans, widows and orphans, and the poor.

According to the son of one slain soldier, Bonyad Shahid (Martyrs Foundation) provided his and other families' accommodation, wages and household items. A list of current veteran services on its website includes discount airplane tickets, technical training and the installation of wheelchair lifts on vehicles.

Setad, however, is a much broader operation than these foundations. It's unclear how much of its revenue goes to philanthropy. Iranians whose properties have been seized by Setad, as well as lawyers who have handled such cases, dispute the argument that the organization is acting in the public interest. They described to Reuters what amounts to a methodical moneymaking scheme in which Setad obtains court orders under false pretenses to seize properties, and later pressures owners to buy them back or pay huge fees to recover them.

"The people who request the confiscation … introduce themselves as on the side of the Islamic Republic, and try to portray the person whose property they want confiscated as a bad person, someone who is against the revolution, someone who was tied to the old regime," said Hossein Raeesi, a human-rights attorney who practiced in Iran for 20 years and handled some property confiscation cases. "The atmosphere there is not fair."

Ross K. Reghabi, an Iranian lawyer in Beverly Hills, California, said the only hope to recover anything is to pay off well-connected agents in Iran. "By the time you pay off everybody, it comes to 50 percent" of the property's value, said Reghabi, who says he has handled 11 property confiscation cases involving Setad.

An Iranian Shi'ite Muslim businessman now living abroad, who asked to remain anonymous because he still travels to Iran, said he attempted two years ago to sell a piece of land near Tehran that his family had long owned. Local authorities informed him that he needed a "no objection letter" from Setad.

The businessman said he visited Setad's local office and was required to pay a bribe of several hundred dollars to the clerks to locate his file and expedite the process. He said he then was told he had to pay a fee, because Setad had "protected" his family's land from squatters for decades. He would be assessed between 2 percent and 2.5 percent of the property's value for every year.

Setad sent an appraiser to determine the property's current worth. The appraisal came in at $90,000. The protection fee, he said, totaled $50,000.

The businessman said he balked, arguing there was no evidence Setad had done anything to protect the land. He said the Setad representatives wouldn't budge on the amount but offered to facilitate the transaction by selling the land itself to recover its fee. He said he hired a lawyer who advised him to pay the fee, which he reluctantly did last year.

This was not the only encounter the businessman's family has had with Setad. He said his sister, who lives in Tehran, recently told him that Setad representatives had gone door-to-door at her apartment complex, demanding occupants show the deeds for their units.

Several other Iranians whose family properties were taken over by Setad described in interviews how men showed up and threatened to use violence if the owners didn't leave the premises at once. One man said he had been told how an elderly family member had stood by distraught as workmen carried out all of the furniture from her home.

According to this account, she sat down on a carpet, refused to move and pleaded, "What can I do? Where can I go?"

"Then they reached down, lifted her up on the carpet and took her out."

"BEHIND THE DOORS"

Several Iranian foundations, such as Bonyad Mostazafan (The Foundation of the Oppressed), also have been granted legal authority to confiscate certain properties. Those organizations generally are open about the practice, listing their names and logos in real-estate advertisements. Setad's role in confiscations is more hidden.

Neither Setad's logo nor its full name appear in newspaper advertisements listing upcoming auctions. Instead, the organization uses a vague title that doesn't make clear the seller is connected to Setad. A call by a reporter to one of the phone numbers listed in an advertisement in May for property in the northeastern city of Mashhad was greeted by a recording that said: "You have reached Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam."

Many of the newspaper ads found by Reuters also referred readers to a website for further information. That site doesn't contain Setad's proper name either. Internet website ownership records show that the site, which lists auctions for many types of confiscated goods - including boats, motorcycles, flat-screen televisions, automobiles and even fertilizer - is registered to an office in Tehran. When a reporter called it, the person who answered confirmed it was Setad's office.

Some of the properties under Setad's control were confiscated from religious minorities, including members of the Baha'i faith, a religion founded in Iran that is seen as heretical by the Islamic Republic. Baha'is are a persecuted religious group in Iran, with some followers blocked from jobs and universities. Baha'i shops and cemeteries also have been vandalized.

Figures compiled by the United Nations office of the Baha'i International Community, a non-governmental organization, show that Setad was occupying 73 properties seized from its members as of 2003, the most recent data available. The real estate was then worth about $11 million.

That figure captured only a fraction of the value of Baha'i properties taken by Setad. Not on the list were several that belonged to a Baha'i named Aminullah Katirai. According to his daughter, Heideh Katirai, who now lives in Toronto, Setad has been pursuing her family's property for more than two decades.

Her father owned a house and land around the city of Hamedan in northwest Iran, she said. In the early 1990s, Setad confiscated about 750 hectares (1,853 acres) - the family's entire land holdings in the area. Court records documenting the property seizures that were reviewed by Reuters claim Katirai had collaborated with the prior government of the shah. Katirai's daughter says her father never had any ties to the shah's government.

He tried to appeal to government authorities: He wrote a letter to a parliamentary commission in 1993 stating he was being targeted solely because of his religion. In a response seen by Reuters, a commission representative cited Article 13 of Iran's constitution, which says that only Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians are recognized as religious minorities and have the right to practice their religion within the limits of the law. "The Baha'i faith is not among religion minorities," a translation of the letter stated. The commission refused to consider his case.

Setad did not stop there. According to his daughter, Setad representatives showed up several years later at a three-story building her family had owned in central Tehran for 44 years. At the time, Katirai lived on the ground floor, and the upper floors were rented out.

According to his daughter, the Setad representatives claimed the building's owner had left the country and had abandoned it. Katirai told the Setad representatives repeatedly that he owned the building. They left, but Setad soon began court proceedings to take it over.

In 2008, Katirai died. For the past five years, Setad has been trying to evict the tenants, including Katirai's son, producing court notices and threatening fines. "Each corner of that house is a memory for us," said Katirai's daughter. "I took my kids there every Friday to see the family."

"What has my family done to deserve this kind of treatment?" she asked. "We know that Islam is a religion of peace. But how can a government that claims to be an Islamic government allow this to happen?"

Mohammad Nayyeri, a lawyer who worked in Iran until 2010 and now lives in Britain, said he handled a case involving Setad in which a Muslim man's house had been confiscated in part based on rumors that he had converted to the Baha'i faith and had ties with the monarchy.

The man - Nayyeri declined to name him because he still has family in Iran - relocated to the United States soon after the 1979 revolution. The new government seized the man's home, in a wealthy Tehran neighborhood.

"The Baha'i rumor was one of the triggers of this," Nayyeri said. "They found that this house is empty and the owner had left the country so they came and seized the place." Around 1990, the property was given to Setad, which sold it at auction.

NEW HEIGHTS: A builder at work on a high rise in north Tehran in 2010. Property prices have soared in Iran's capital in recent years. REUTERS/Stringer

Nayyeri said that in 2008, the owner's son contacted him. By then, the man had died. The son - who told the lawyer his father had never converted to the Baha'i faith and had no ties to the monarchy - wanted to clear his name and try to recover the house.

Nayyeri said he lodged a complaint against Setad and the current owner and successfully challenged the original confiscation. He ultimately obtained a judicial order that the property be returned to the son.

But Setad refused to give it back unless the son offered a "khoms," a religious payment mandated under Islamic law, Nayyeri said. It totaled $50,000 - 20 percent of the property's assessed value. According to the lawyer, the son had no choice, and paid it.

Reghabi, the Iranian lawyer based in California, said he, too, won a number of property seizure cases involving Setad. But he said no case was simple - the hurdles involved not only untangling a property's ownership and challenging decades-old court decrees, but also identifying and paying off people with connections to the key decision maker.

"The real stuff is what goes on behind the doors," he said. "You have to find the right person."

Reghabi said his clients were responsible for paying the various fees, which were all "subject to negotiation" and could reach millions of dollars.

He added that he always advised clients whose properties had been sold by Setad to try to recover some of the sale proceeds in cash. "That is my advice to them – don't try and be stupid and get your property back."

"COME AND KILL ME"

"This was my property and my family's property that was built with the blood of myself and my husband." Pari Vahdat-e-Hagh, 82, whose Tehran apartment building was seized

The case of Vahdat-e-Hagh, who is Baha'i, involved several Iranian organizations over the years, but none was more relentless than Setad, she said.

She said her troubles began in 1981 when her husband, Hussein, began working for a company called Asan Gas that had been set up in part to assist unemployed members of the faith.

In September 1981, he was arrested and imprisoned in Tehran. According to Vahdat-e-Hagh, after five months, a cleric from a court sentenced him to death, with no chance to appeal. He was executed in February 1982.

"He was shot with nine bullets," she said, her voice cracking.

To protest her husband's execution, she began writing letters to senior government officials, including Khamenei, then Iran's president. In 1985, she said, she was jailed for three months.

Her protests continued, including a call to Khamenei's office. "I kept begging them to tape my voice, to take my message to Khamenei," she said. Instead, she said, the clerk recorded the conversation and turned the tape over to the intelligence ministry.

The widow's account of what happened next is supported by legal notices and official correspondence seen by Reuters.

A court later ordered the confiscation of her family's apartments in an affluent area of north Tehran. Her children were out of the country at the time and the court order accused them of proselytizing the Baha'i faith abroad, she said.

Two Iranian foundations pressed Vahdat-e-Hagh to turn over her properties to them. She refused, and both eventually dropped the matter, she said.

Then, in November 1991, Setad entered the picture. Another court authorized it to confiscate the family's properties in Tehran and the southern city of Shiraz.

According to Vahdat-e-Hagh, Setad representatives came to her apartment and threatened to beat her if she did not leave. "One even had his fist balled up one time to punch me," she said. "I told them, 'You can come and kill me.'"

CAPITAL VIEW: Setad has sold or managed hundreds of seized properties in Tehran, seen here in 2010. REUTERS/Stringer

In January 1992, Setad wrote to the property registry office requesting that the names of Vahdat-e-Hagh's children be removed from the deeds to their apartments. A year later, Setad sent a letter to Vahdat-e-Hagh offering to sell her one of the units.

Setad ultimately sold the apartment to an official from Tehran's revolutionary court, she said, who flipped it within a month for a quick profit. Setad later sold three more apartments that belonged to her two other children and late husband.

In the fall of 1993, Vahdat-e-Hagh quietly left Iran, telling only a few friends and relatives. It took six years before Setad authorities realized she was no longer living in her apartment, which she had been renting out.

In a letter in November 1999, Setad offered to sell her own apartment to her at a discount. She refused. It then demanded she pay rent on the unit. She refused again. The organization eventually sold it.

Vahdat-e-Hagh said she later telephoned the new buyer. "This was my property and my family's property that was built with the blood of myself and my husband," she said she told the man. She said he offered her some money, which out of principle she refused.

Today, the building appears to be vacant, except for a business on a lower level. Merchants in the neighborhood said the property's present ownership isn't clear and the building may be under the control of an Islamic organization.

On the top floor, where Vahdat-e-Hagh once lived, most of the windows are broken.

(Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in Ankara)

Next, Part 2:  National Champion: How Setad became a corporate giant

Leave a comment on our Facebook page or tweet us @SpecialReports. You can also send us an email at investigations@thomsonreuters.com.

Minority report: Why Baha'is face persecution in Iran

By Babak Dehghanpisheh

The Islamic Republic's 34-year rule has hurt many religious and political groups in Iran, but one community has borne an especially heavy burden: the Baha'is, a religious minority viewed as heretics by some Muslims.

Dozens of Baha'is were killed or jailed in the years immediately following the Islamic revolution in 1979. Billions of dollars worth of land, houses, shops and other Baha'i belongings were seized in subsequent years by various Iranian organizations, including Setad, the organization overseen by Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The United Nations office of the Baha'i International Community, a non-governmental organization, estimates that more than 2,000 homes, shops, orchards and other properties were seized from its members in Iran up to 2003, the most recent figure available. The property was then worth about $10 billion.

PROTEST: Photos of Baha'i religious leaders who have been arrested in Iran. Protesters arranged them on Brazil's Copacabana Beach in 2011. REUTERS/Stringer

"It's really one of the most obvious cases of state persecution," Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, said about the treatment of Baha'is in Iran at a United Nations conference in Geneva this year. "It's basically state persecution, systematic and covering all areas of state activities, the various systems from family law provisions to schooling, education, security."

One reason clerics in Iran have targeted the group with such zeal is the fact devout Muslims see the Baha'i faith as heresy and an insult to the teachings of Islam. The religion started in 1844 in the southern city of Shiraz when a man named Bab announced the coming of a messenger of God. In 1863, one of Bab's followers named Baha'ullah declared himself to be the messenger and began preaching a message of unity among faiths. His followers were attacked and he spent years in exile, dying in the city of Acre, in what was then Palestine, in 1892.

During most of the 20th century, the monarchs ruling Iran tolerated Baha'is, though there were periodic arrests and attacks against members of the community, according to historians.

After the Islamic revolution, the group was targeted again. While Jews and Christians were recognized as religious minorities in the new constitution, Baha'is were not. Hundreds of Baha'is were expelled from universities or had their businesses attacked or their properties confiscated, members of the community say.

The Iranian government did not respond to a request for comment.

The Baha'i International Community estimates there are 300,000 Baha'is left in Iran. In late July, Khamenei issued an edict stating that Iranians should avoid all dealings with Baha'is, according to Iran's Tasnim news agency.

An Iranian lawyer who represented more than half a dozen Baha'i clients in recent cases involving confiscated property says he was called in for questioning by intelligence agents last year and threatened. The lawyer, who is Muslim and spoke on condition he not be named, told Reuters he had to stop accepting Baha'i clients.

"The government has set up a system where Baha'is are not allowed to build up financial strength," said the lawyer.

 



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