Iran to review woman’s stoning verdict

AP – This undated image made available by Amnesty International in London, Thursday July 8, 2010, shows Sakineh …


TEHRAN, Iran – The lawyer for an Iranian widow sentenced to be stoned to death for an adultery conviction expressed cautious optimism Saturday after Iran said it will review the decision, which has drawn international condemnation.

Human rights activists and other officials, however, warned that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, could still be hanged.

The outcry over the death sentence is the latest thorn in Iran’s relationship with the international community, with the United States, Britain and international human rights groups urging Tehran to stay the execution.

Stoning was widely imposed in the years following the 1979 Islamic revolution, and even though Iran’s judiciary still regularly hands down such sentences, they are often converted to other punishments. The last known stoning was carried out in 2007, although the government rarely confirms that such punishments have been meted out.

British media reported late Thursday that the stoning would not occur, citing the Iranian embassy in London.

Mohammed Javad Larijani of Iran’s human rights council told the state news agency late Friday that the “review and appeal of the verdict is on the agenda,” though he maintained it was not due to outside pressure.

“The hue and cry that the West has launched over this case will not affect our judges,” he said. “The implementation of Islamic regulations like stoning and the headscarf have always been faced with their impudently hostility and opposition.”

He added that converting sentences of stoning to alternative punishments has been common over the past years.

Ashtiani’s lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, said he was optimistic the review would bring an end to his client’s suffering after years of living “with the nightmare of death by stoning.”

Amnesty International, however, warned Ashtiani should not be executed by some other method, noting that three people sentenced to stoning last year were instead hanged.

“A mere change of the method of execution would not address the injustice faced by Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director in a statement Friday.

Human Rights Watch, one of several groups publicizing Ashtiani’s case, said she was first convicted in May 2006 of having an “illicit relationship” with two men following the death of her husband — for which a court in Tabriz, in northwestern Iran, sentenced her to 99 lashes.

But later that year she was also convicted of adultery, despite having retracted a confession which she claims was made under duress.

Mostafaei said the trial had not been fair because Ashtiani had no access to her lawyer during the trial.

“I entered the case after the verdict was issued,” he said, insisting that Ashtiani had never confessed to adultery and there were no witnesses.

In its report Friday, the state news agency added that Western media, specifically BBC and Radio Free Europe’s Farsi services, had launched a propaganda campaign over the case.

Opponents of the Iranian government held a protest outside the Iranian Embassy in London on Sunday to condemn the death sentence. Several celebrities, including Lindsay Lohan, also have taken up her cause.

The last confirmed stoning death was carried out against Jafar Kiani, a man convicted of adultery in northern Iran.

Iran’s judiciary did not elaborate on how the stoning was carried out. Under Islamic rulings, a man is usually buried up to his waist, while a woman is buried up to her chest with her hands also buried. Those carrying out the verdict then throw stones until the condemned dies.

Ashtiani’s stoning was approved by the country’s Supreme Court, but the law could allow the judiciary to order another trial or appeal for a pardon from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters.

Financial Overhaul Provision to Promote Diversity Hiring in Federal Agencies Stirs Backlash

In this Oct. 28, 2009 file photo, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. , is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP)

Fox News

In the financial overhaul bill that is on the cusp of becoming law, House Democrats have included a largely overlooked provision that would create diversity czars to promote racial and gender hiring in federal agencies — a move that has sparked concerns about racial quotas, government waste and charges that Democrats are attempting to politicize the Federal Reserve.

The bill would establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at each federal financial services agency to “ensure equal employment opportunity and the racial, ethnic and gender diversity” of the work force and senior management.

The diversity czars would also aim to “increase the participation of minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the programs and contracts” of each agency and conduct “an assessment” of those goals.

Each diversity czar would be a presidential appointee who must be confirmed by the Senate and have power “comparable to that of other senior level staff,” the bill says.

In an editorial, The Wall Street Journal accused Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., author of the provision, of trying to politicize the Federal Reserve.

“The Waters provision will also give Congress and the White House a new and powerful lever to influence the operation of the 12 regional Fed banks,” the newspaper wrote. “Accusations of racial or gender indifference, much less outright bias, are politically deadly.”

“With the threat of such an accusation in their holster, the Waters czars will have enormous clout to influence Fed governance and regulatory decisions, perhaps including monetary policy,” the newspaper added.

Waters’ office did not respond to a request for comment but the lawmaker vigorously defended the provision in a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal, saying the newspaper’s critical editorial was “filled with misrepresentations, unsupported conclusions and outright distortions.”

“Nothing in the bill mandates lending to minorities or women,” she wrote, denying charges that the provision would politicize the Fed or allocate credit by race and gender. “The provision does not even mention lending. The offices will only be responsible for employment, management and business activities of the agencies.”

“What this legislation will do is help address an indisputable problem, the lack of diversity in financial services,” she said, arguing that studies show the “discrimination that women and minorities face compared to white men of similar educational background and age.”

Waters cited the Treasury Department where minorities make up 17.2 percent of employees at senior pay levels and a recent Government Accountability Office report that shows the lack of diversity within the financial services industry has barely improved at the management level from 1993 to 2008.

“The provision is designed to broaden and improve the work force of these agencies and expand opportunities for our nation’s small businesses – including minority-and women-owned businesses – to participate in programs and contracts instead of continuing to rely on the same ‘old boy’ network and handful of Wall Street firms responsible for the crisis in the financial markets.”

The provision remained in the legislation during a conference committee between House and Senate negotiators. The House approved the final version of the bill late last month but the Senate delayed its vote until after the July Fourth holiday.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said the bill should be sent back to conference stripped of this provision, citing concerns about racial quotas and costs.

“The chief concern is that you’re moving from a situation where discrimination is prohibited, which is well and good and that is established law, to a situation where there are quotas in the workplace,” she told, contending that the law would extend the provisions to contractors and subcontractors – a situation that could lead to quotas in the private sector. “And those are two very, very different things.”

The law would create at least 20 new offices and up to 29 if every Treasury agency is required to create a minority office, she said.

“It would probably cost a million or over” to operate on an annual basis for each office, she said.

Furchtgott-Roth also noted that the Cabinet-level department all have similar offices in place and questioned why more is needed.

“This is a very serious concern,” she said. “We have a deficit of over a trillion dollars. Every American knows that we need to cut the deficit and not only is this a waste of money
but it implies that the existing offices we have are a waste of money.”

The NAACP’s Second-Class Citizens

By Kevin Jackson

Back in May, the NAACP finally spoke out about an incident where two SEIU members were accused of assaulting a black man, Kenneth Gladney, who was vending Gadsden flags at a conservative rally.

Gateway Pundit provides this transcript:

Back in the day, we used to call someone like that, and I want to remind you, uh, when this incident occurred, I was really struck by a front page picture of this guy, which we called, a Negro, I mean that we call him a Negro in the fact that he works for not for our people but against our people. In the old days, we call him an Uncle Tom. I just gotta say that. Here it is, the day after a young brother, a young man, I didn’t mean to call him a brother, but on the front page of the Post Dispatch, ironically, he’s sitting in a wheelchair, being kissed on the forehead, by a European. Now just imagine that as a poster child picture, not working for our people.

The group that is supposed to represent all “colored people” calls a black Conservative an “Uncle Tom.” And their representative apparently is not aware that the NAACP was originally called the National Negro Committee, before deciding to include all “colored” people.

In the Gladney attack, ironically one of Gladney’s attackers was white. One can only conjecture that the “new and improved” NAACP will protect Liberal “colored people,” and selected whites — those instrumental in giving beatdowns to “Negros.”

On the night of the incident, Gladney was working to provide for his family selling Gadsden flags at an event. Of all the people these two could have selected at what the Left would deem a racist event, the thugs avoided the hundreds (crowd estimates were 1000) of white folks and found the only black person.

Gladney was not adorned in red, white, and blue, nor was his appearance overtly patriotic. He looked and acted like a “vendor.” Nevertheless, the two SEIU hooligans, both at least fifty pounds heavier than Gladney, singled him out for their attack. His attackers made it perfectly clear that they represented the union, and apparently Gladney didn’t have his union card.

So a black man was attacked for no reason, and while on the job, yet there was no outcry in the black community, no Sharpton visit, no Jackson press conference, and we now know the NAACP’s stance on the issue.

Gone are the days when the National Negro Committee-turned-NAACP actually stood for Republican ideals and truly represented the interest of blacks and other “colored people.” As on June 18, 1935 in Murray v Pearson, Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston successfully argued the landmark case to open the University of Maryland School of Law. This was back when the NAACP truly cared about educating blacks.

This type of event is where the NAACP could regain credibility and show that it represents all people, however they showcase exactly who and what they are — an organization who condones thuggery.

The speaker mentioned that Gladney was being “kissed on the forehead, by a European.” I’d like to know who is kissing the NAACP on the forehead. What exactly have they accomplished for black people in the modern day?

The worst neighborhoods in America. The worst schools. The highest crime rates. The most people on welfare, per capita. Highest teenage pregnancy per capita. Highest high school dropout rates per capita. Lowest home ownership per capita. Lowest business ownership per capita.

The NAACP couldn’t do worse for blacks if it had been founded by Confederate Civil War veterans. And in the Gladney incident, the NAACP proved that they are no better than the KKK.

Like the NAACP has its second-class citizens-black Conservatives. Nevertheless, given the effectiveness of the NAACP in dealing effectively with black issues, I suggest that black Conservatives avoid the “help” that the NAACP provides, and enjoy being second-class citizens. Just try to avoid the occasional beatdowns.

Tea Party Darling Angle Hits Back at Reid

FILE: Tea Party favorite, Sharron Angle is running against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada for a U.S. Senate seat


HENDERSON, Nev. — Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle on Friday denounced Majority Leader Harry Reid as a “desperate man” who was distorting her conservative record while ignoring a state that leads the nation in joblessness, foreclosures and bankruptcies.

A day after President Obama delivered a mocking indictment of her candidacy at a rally in Las Vegas, Angle accused the president and Reid of pushing billions of dollars in stimulus spending while Nevada struggles with “an economy that is a disaster.”

She called for repeal of the health care overhaul, lower taxes and disbanding federal agencies, including the Education Department, that she said had responsibilities that can be handled at the state level.

“I hold him personally responsible for what is happening in our nation,” Angle said, referring to Reid, who is seeking a fifth term.

“Why would you believe anything he puts on television?” said Angle, who’s faced a barrage of negative TV ads since winning the June 8 primary. “This man has been waterboarding our economy.”

Angle’s remarks come a day after Obama depicted Angle as a fringe candidate who would privatize Social Security and Medicare. Referring to Angle, Obama said “she favors an approach that’s even more extreme than the Republicans we got in Washington. That’s saying something.”

Angle said Obama came to the state but failed, like Reid, to recognize its problems. “This is not a bright new day,” she said.

She told reporters her positions are “very much in the mainstream.”

The event attended by 250 Republicans amounted to a cheerleading session for Angle and other GOP candidates, but there was obvious concern for party unity and finances in a state where Democrats hold a significant registration edge. During a bruising Senate primary, the campaign of Angle’s chief rival, Sue Lowden, questioned whether Angle could win in November.

“We don’t need the fight inside our own house,” warned Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

Angle told the crowd, “I need your help and I need a unified party.”

There were conspicuous absences at the biannual event, including Rep. Dean Heller, state Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio and Lowden, a former state GOP chair
who was long considered the favorite for the Senate nomination. State Republican Chairman Mark Amodei said he was unaware of any friction related to appearances by Angle or Steele, who has faced calls for his resignation since he criticized Obama’s handling of the Afghanistan war and suggested that it can’t be won.

The Nevada race has become a fierce competition between dueling narratives: Angle sees Reid as responsible for the state’s reeling economy and a facilitator of runaway Washington spending, while Reid’s campaign has stamped Angle as a loopy extremist whose proposals place her far out of the mainstream.

New ads appeared on TV from two independent groups Friday. Patriot Majority, funded largely by labor unions, lances Angle for her statement that it would not be her job as senator to create jobs. Angle has said she would work to create a business-friendly environment where companies grow and expand their payrolls. “Just another bad idea from Sharron Angle,” a narrator says.

Americans for New Leadership, a political committee formed this week, is running an ad that defends Angle and calls Reid’s ads “a lie.” The Nevada-based group hasn’t filed federal records yet disclosing the source of its funding. Its website says it backs candidates who support limited government.

Green Schemes benefits Democratic ‘friends and family’ program members

File under Green Schemes:

Abound Solar received a $400 million grant to ramp up production of cadmium telluride photovoltaic panels. Here’s a coincidence: Russ Kanjorski, nephew of Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Paul Kanjorski, is a marketing executive at Abound, which got a $3 million federal grant in 2008. He previously had been a principal of Cornerstone Technologies, which got $9.2 million in earmarks from Kanjorski and then went bankrupt.

The channeling of taxpayer dollars to as part of the Democratic Friends and Family Program via the “renewable energy” charade continues apace.

To add insult to injury, Abound is a Spanish owned company that is teetering a bit as the Spaniards wise up and realize their solar ventures have been fiscally disastrous and they begin to wean themselves away from the delusions that led them to the path of fiscal Armageddon. Who better to keep Abound afloat than US taxpayers? So our money is going to help bailout a Spanish company.

But the Kanjorski “de facto” earmarks is just the tip of the non-melting iceberg. A lot of this type of “fringe” benefit is under the radar screen of the liberal media.

Here are but two other examples.

Solyndra is (and maybe will soon be “was”) a green company that was showered with 535 million dollars of Department of Energy loan guarantees last year (the first such guarantee the Department had issued in years). Steven Chu, Obama’s handpicked energy guru (with zero experience in the real world), could not wait to send the dollars flowing, issuing the guarantee before he even hit the three month mark as Cabinet Secretary. He hailed it, as did Joe Biden, as a miracle in the making. Barack Obama toured the factory and hailed it as “leading the way towards a brighter and more prosperous future”

How is that working out?

Solyndra canceled an initial public offering because its auditor said its operating losses and negative cash flow raised doubts about its ability to continue as a going concern.

Well maybe it was prosperous for executives and suppliers but not for the company and certainly not for the taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars.

One of the biggest investors in the company was Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser – a big bundler for the Obama-Biden campaign. Not to worry for Mr. Kaiser. The administration is looking to extend hundreds of millions of dollars in additional loans (our money) to the venture. Needless to say, where is the major media that was so busy reporting on the Bridge to Nowhere (and that has also been conspicuously silent in the billions of dollars Robert Byrd sent to West Virginia to raise monuments to himself). Throwing good money after bad doesn’t really matter when the money is Other People’s Money and you are providing a return on investment for a big campaign donor out of the public purse.

The worm turns further.

Cabinet Secretary Chu also appointed a venture capitalist, Jonathan Silver, to oversee the loan guarantee program. He had formerly been a managing partner at a venture capital fund, Core Capital Partners-located in Washington, D.C.

A digression: funny how these “shops” are opening up in Washington and not, say, Silicon Valley. Willie Sutton, the legendary bank robber, had an apt aphorism when people asked him why he robbed banks: because that is where the money was. Venture capitalist and crony capitalists agree.

Oh, one of Silver’s colleagues at the D.C.-based venture capital fund was Tom Wheeler, another Obama-Biden campaign bundler.

Anyone care to wager that Core Capital investments will benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars?

Now that would be a good investment-but not nearly as good as campaign dollars to the Cook County cavaliers.

See also this Barron’s article and my column “Cheap Natural Gas and its Democratic Enemies” for further examples of pay and play politics and green schemes.

Border police bait & switch


President Obama is suing Arizona for hav ing its cops identify and round up illegal aliens — even though he’s also deputizing them to do the same thing.

That’s right: Under a little-known federal program called ICE 287(g), the administration has continued to enlist at least eight Arizona state law-enforcement agencies to carry out the procedures at issue in the new Arizona law, which goes into effect July 29.

The program dates to a 1995 law signed by President Bill Clinton, which allows US immigration officials to train local law-enforcement officers and authorize them to ID and detain illegals. After 9/11, the Homeland Security Department entered into official partnership agreements with various police departments, allowing them to search federal databases for illegals.
Napolitano: As governor, OK’d police work on illegals. –
Napolitano: As governor, OK’d police work on illegals.

The program spread across the country, including to Arizona. It now involves 71 state and local police agencies. Indeed, Homeland Security has even conscripted Arizona state troopers to help it enforce federal immigration rules. Obama’s Homeland Security chief, Janet Napolitano, OK’d that agreement and another deal with a second state law-enforcement agency when she was Arizona’s governor.

All told, the feds have deputized 1,100-plus cops in 26 states to round up illegals — including officers in the liberal bastions of New Jersey, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Maryland and Massachusetts.

And the program has continued virtually unabated in the Obama years — despite calls by the ACLU and Hispanic groups to shut it down. The ACLU complains the program promotes an “anti-immigrant agenda” and encourages “racial profiling and civil-rights abuses” — the very same complaints Obama’s been making about the Arizona law.

Which, presumably, is why the president didn’t mention federal 287(g) program in his immigration “reform” speech, in which he scolded Arizona for its “divisive” and “ill-conceived” crackdown on increasingly violent illegal immigrants pouring across the border. “Laws like Arizona’s put huge pressures on local law enforcement to enforce rules that ultimately are unenforceable,” Obama complained.

“Unenforceable”? Hardly. Just since 2006, more than 110,000 illegal immigrants have been ID’d and rounded up for deportation under the extremely successful federal-state partnership, which is finally putting a dent in the backlog of criminal aliens in the United States.

Last year, one out of every five immigration-related arrests in the country was made by local police.

In its lawsuit against Arizona, the administration argues the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over immigration and border security. Yet it’s farming out that role to state and local police under 287(g).

And Gov. Jan Brewer says she signed the Arizona statute to help enforce federal law, not to supplant it. In fact, the state’s new training video prepping cops for the new crackdown advises them to turn over any illegals they nab to either ICE agents or “the local 287(g)-certified officer.”

Local cops across the country are already directly involved in federal border security — the Obama administration just prefers not to acknowledge it. Its rhetoric and legal filings utterly ignore what it’s doing with its other hand, raising even greater suspicion that its opposition to Arizona’s new law is pure politics designed to energize the Democratic base ahead of November’s elections.

If Arizona’s law usurps federal authority, what about those 71 agreements the feds have made with state and local police under 287(g)? Are they unconstitutional, too?

Perhaps this hypocritical administration should look into suing itself.

First rig sails away over drilling ban

WASHINGTON — Diamond Offshore announced Friday that its Ocean Endeavor drilling rig will leave the Gulf of Mexico and move to Egyptian waters immediately — making it the first to abandon the United States in the wake of the BP oil spill and a ban on deep-water drilling.

And the Ocean Endeavor’s exodus probably won’t be the last, according to oil industry officials and Gulf Coast leaders who warn that other companies eager to find work for the now-idled rigs are considering moving them outside the U.S.

Devon Energy Corp. had been leasing the Endeavor to drill in the same region of the Gulf as BP’s leaking Macondo well, which has been gushing crude since a lethal blowout April 20.

But Diamond announced Friday it will lease the rig through June 30, 2011, to Cairo-based Burullus Gas Co., which plans to send the Endeavor to Egyptian waters immediately.

Devon is one of three companies that has cited the deep-water drilling ban in trying to ease out of contracts to lease Diamond rigs. Diamond, a drilling company, said it expects to make about $100 million from the deal, including a $31 million early termination fee it recovered from Devon.

Larry Dickerson, CEO of Houston-based Diamond, signaled that other of his company’s rigs could be relocated, too.

“As a result of the uncertainties surrounding the offshore drilling moratorium, we are actively seeking international opportunities to keep our rigs fully employed,” Dickerson said. “We greatly regret the loss of U.S. jobs that will result from this rig relocation.”

It was unclear how many U.S. jobs could leave with the Ocean Endeavor, but typically more than 100 workers are on the rig at any given time, doing everything from drilling to cooking meals. Onshore, a network of businesses supplies the rigs with groceries, equipment, uniforms and drilling materials.

“It’s not unusual for an energy service company to have 1,000 vendors that they buy from or purchase services from,” noted Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands. As a result, Brady said, the economic damage from the moratorium stretches far and wide.
Fearing for investment

Brady and other oil-patch lawmakers have been pressing President Barack Obama to end the six-month moratorium he imposed on 33 deep-water projects May 27 after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig that was drilling a well for BP.

Obama said the ban was needed to allow time for new safety standards to be implemented and a commission to investigate the cause of the April 20 blowout at BP’s Macondo well.

Although the administration on Thursday lost its second bid to keep the ban in place while it appeals a federal court’s decision to strike down the moratorium, federal regulators plan to try again with a revised version soon.

Dan Pickering, a financial analyst with Tudor, Pickering Holt & Co. Securities, said the legal uncertainties surrounding the ban – and the administration’s plan to issue a new, revised moratorium – ensure that no companies will resume deep-water drilling in U.S. waters anytime soon.

“Are you really going to spend $5 million … getting ready to drill a well that someone would then probably block you from drilling?” Pickering said.
Lawmakers complain

Pickering added that prospects are high that a dozen rigs ultimately could leave the Gulf of Mexico because of the ban.

Brady said the rig owners are searching for revenue – even if it means relocating to get it.

“There are two types of rigs in the deep-water Gulf today: those that are leaving the country and those that want to, because with this moratorium hanging over their heads, they simply can’t go back to work,” Brady said. “I’m afraid this is the first of many rigs and many American jobs to leave the Gulf.”

Once the rigs relocate, it could be a minimum of five to 10 years before they return, predicted Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land.

“We cannot afford to lose these jobs or the energy they provide,” Olson said. “President Obama should allow this moratorium to remain lifted and let Americans get back to work.”

During trading Friday, Diamond Offshore stock fell 86 cents – or 1.32 percent – to close at $64.40. It has fallen 29 percent from its closing price of $91.20 on April 20, the day the Deepwater Horizon exploded.

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