Gun fights south of Tripoli between rebel militias and forces still loyal to the late Libyan despot Moammar Gadhafi left several dead and dozens wounded over the weekend, according to news reports. And it is not over yet.

 

Republicans in the South Caorlina Fox/Twitter Presidential debate loudly booed the Golden Rule in the context of foreign policy January 16.  The occasion for booing was a comment by Texas Congressman Ron Paul about respecting the sovereignty of other nations when it comes to bombings.

The latest revelations from WikiLeaks confirm Monsanto’s continuing efforts to influence governments worldwide to rule in its favor and punish those who won’t.

A cable written in 2007 and released recently by WikiLeaks confirmed the company’s important influence at the very highest levels of the U.S. government. Authored by Craig Stapleton, a friend and business partner of then-president George Bush, the cable outlined a response to resistance from various members of the European Union to adopting GM (genetically modified) crops. At issue specifically was France’s move to ban Monsanto’s GM corn variety:
 
 

JBS CEO Art Thompson's weekly video news update for January 16-22, 2012.

Iranian officials are accusing the U.S. and Israeli governments of assassinating another senior nuclear scientist in Tehran, using a car-bomb terrorist attack as part of the expanding covert war against Iran. American authorities denied the allegations and condemned the violence, but a spokesman for the Israeli military left room for speculation.

 

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a television audience January 8 that while Iran may be laying the groundwork for nuclear weapons, it is not yet far enough in the process to build any yet. Appearing on a pre-recorded segment of the CBS program Face the Nation, “Panetta cautioned against a unilateral strike by Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities, saying the action could trigger Iranian retaliation against U.S. forces in the region,” reported the Associated Press.

Panetta insisted that the best course of action is continued economic and diplomatic pressure on the country. “We have common cause here” with Israel, Panetta said. “And the better approach is for us to work together.”

Meanwhile, reported CNN, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed on January 9 that Iran has begun uranium enrichment at a facility in the northern part of the country. “The IAEA can confirm that Iran has started the production of uranium enriched up to 20 percent” at Fordo, in the mountains of Iran’s Qom province, said an IAEA spokesman. The spokesman assured that “all nuclear material in the facility remains under the agency’s containment and surveillance.”
 

On January 3, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation imposing sanctions on Belarus. The Belarus Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2011 was passed by Congress in December in response to a litany of alleged human rights abuses on the part of the former Soviet Republic.

The text of the act enumerates several causes of the congressional effort to punish Belarus:

The Government of Belarus has engaged in a pattern of clear and uncorrected violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Government of Belarus has engaged in a pattern of clear and uncorrected violations of basic principles of democratic governance, including through a series of fundamentally flawed presidential and parliamentary elections undermining the legitimacy of executive and legislative authority in that country.

The Government of Belarus has subjected thousands of pro-democratic political activists to harassment, beatings, and jailings, particularly as a result of their attempts to peacefully exercise their right to freedom of assembly and association.

A veteran in uniform who spoke out in favor of GOP presidential contender Ron Paul and his foreign-policy views after the Iowa Republican caucus could face discipline for potentially having violated military regulations, according to Defense Department officials. But the soldier has already gained a tremendous following online among Paul’s enthusiastic supporters.

After caucusing for the top-tier candidate Rep. Paul (R-Texas), Cpl. Jesse Thorsen spoke to CNN about why he supported the 12-term Congressman’s bid for the Republican nomination. The veteran of the Afghanistan war also called for peace and warned against starting more wars overseas before being abruptly cut off, apparently because of technical problems.

“I’m really excited about a lot of his ideas — especially when it comes to bringing the soldiers home,” the 28-year-old corporal told the CNN interviewer about Dr. Paul before the video feed dropped. “I’ve been serving for 10 years now and all 10 years of those have been during wartime. I’d like to see a little peacetime army and I think he has the right idea.”

U.S. sanctions on Iran are “acts of war.” The Iranian government, which views the sanctions, along with assassinations of its nuclear scientists and belligerent rhetoric from Washington, as precursors to “regime change,” is seeking to obtain nuclear weapons “as a deterrent to foreign intervention.” War could occur at any moment, and the only way to avert it with any certainty is for “Western powers [to] imagine how the situation looks from Tehran.”

This may sound like a Ron Paul stump speech. But in fact, it is the essence of a recent Bloomberg article by Vali Nasr, a Middle East expert with contacts in the government of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni. Nasr’s piece, says Robert Wright of the Atlantic, vindicates the Texas Republican’s “sheer conjecture” about Iran’s interpretation of Western actions as “acts of war.”

Paul’s “conjecture,” of course, was based on a simple understanding of human nature. If Oceania routinely threatens Eastasia and begins punishing it, the Eastasian people and their government are not going to sit idly by and allow their country to be destroyed. They will fight back. Then Oceania will escalate the conflict further, Eastasia will respond in kind, and so on, until a full-scale war is under way.
 

U.S. President Barack Obama signed legislation this week imposing tough sanctions on Iran’s relatively unique state-owned central bank, prompting a steep drop in the value of the Iranian rial. He also added a controversial “signing statement” indicating that he would violate the law if it interfered with his agenda and purported authority.

Passed as part of the hugely unpopular (for several other, unrelated provisions) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the sanctions will eventually freeze any institution that does business with Iran’s monetary authority out of the American economy. And about half of all Iranian oil sales are currently processed through the Islamic Republic’s central bank — one of the few remaining in the world that is entirely government owned after Libya's was recently replaced. 

But in a signing statement released on the White House website, Obama said that while he approved of the bill overall, he signed it despite serious reservations about some sections — especially those related to terror-war and detainment regulations. But the anti-Iran segment was also criticized in the statement.
 

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