( CNN) Here’s a look at the life of Rand Paul, US senator from Kentucky.
( CNN) Here’s a look at the life of Rand Paul, US senator from Kentucky.
Justin Vivian Bond’s’ The Bipolar Express’ at Joe’s Pub in New York begins as a sly celebration of dysfunction, and objective as a cleverly heartwarming Christmas pageant.”>
A cult figure with crossover appeal, Bond is a Tony-nominated musician who rose to acclaim as Kiki of the Kiki and Herb cabaret duo, which ran from the 90 s up until 2007 and enjoyed a revival series of indicates earlier this year.
Screen roles such as in the film Shortbus and the HBO web-turned-television series High Maintenance have followed. Bond has furthermore been a vocal and visible transgender activist. But the intimate stage is where Bond returns with regularity for expression and entertainment, as with the current run of The Bipolar Express .
A tale of two halves, the indicate begins as a sly and rollicking gala of dysfunction and coping abilities, and wraps up as a cleverly heartwarming Christmas pageantry of sorts.Through it all, Bonds engaging personality and quirky-yet-dignified stage presence infuse an eclectic set list of cover-ups, vacation standards and original compositions with signature charm.
The self-styled trans-genre musician awards the prove its unifying slogan early on by gamely announced today that glamour is resistance. For somebody who has specified a preferred honorific( Mx. in place of Mr. or Ms .), as well as an alternative pronoun( v in place of his or her) you might also say grammar is resistanceand who has thrown off the straitjacket of customary gender designations, Mx. Bond would seem to know a thing or two about bucking authority.( This review is written according to Mx. Bonds choice of honorifics .)
In particular, it is in recounting vs response to this friends suicide attemptIf you try that again, I will KILL you! and the friends marveling that anybody would care so much so as to react that way that exposes a lesson in the sense of isolation that can bring about such tragedies, and the need for solidarity as prevention.
Bond switchings gears from personal and political to straightforward nostalgia, exposing a fondness for the 70 s movie-of-the-week motif of the Girl in Trouble, quoting such titles as Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway and Maybe Ill Come Home in the Spring.
Recalling Sally Fields turn in the latter, and cleverly reenacting the freeze-framed final shot from the television movie, Bond covers the title way, originally performed by none other than Linda Ronstadt, with coy aplomb.
Finally, admonishing vself for having overlooked Christmas itself for much of an ostensibly winter- and holiday-themed performance, Bond enters the homestretch with a string of holiday tunes, including the self-penned Christmas Spells, which seeks to reconcile a spirit of tolerance and affection with the Christian vacation, as opposed to religion-justified bigotry.
Rickie Lee Joness Christmas in New Orleans and The Carpenters Merry Christmas Darling, follow. Pianist Matt Ray, violinist Claudia Chopek, and guitarist Nath Ann Carrera offer low-key and affable accompaniment throughout, and the latter joined Bond for two other holiday highlightings, Little Drummer Boy and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
It is this Little Drummer Boy duo that perhaps best captured the essence of The Bipolar Express.Carrera was along for the ride when Bond, in 2010, fully embraced vs trans identity, and in similarly genderqueer fashion was bedecked in a dramatic but simple black sleeveless dress at vs side as they sought to reenact, by their account, the dynamic between country legends Tammy Wynette and George Jones.
But, Bond pointed out, it didnt matter which of us is Tammy and which of us is George so long as they paid tribute. Living life to the beat of your own drumyour inner drummer person, be it boy or girl or both or neitherwould be the key.
The Zika virus continues to spread across the world, and medical researchers are understandably alarmed. There is strong evidence, increasing by the day, that the Zika virus is causing babies to be born with abnormally shrunken heads, called microcephaly. In the most horrific example to date, one baby was stillborn after the virus appeared to have destroyed most of its brain.
Although for most a Zika infection is comparatively harmless, pregnant women are at incredible danger from this virus. Naturally, people are wondering where Zika may head to next. Regrettably, a new analyse published in the journal PLOS Currents: Outbreaks has showcased just how much of the U.S. is a perfect home for this particular proliferating virus.
Zika is spread by mosquitoes of theAedesgenus particularly the species Aedes aegypti to all kinds of primates, including humans. Hence, wherever this mosquito can live and reproduce, the virus can spread. As it turns out, this mosquito is happy in humid, hot climates, which would explain why it has maintained its stronghold on much of South America for so long. This is represented by Brazil, where there have been at least 1.5 million cases of infection to date.
This also explains why instances have flared up in Hawaii, and why a previous analyze has predicted that humid countries like Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and the south of California are ripe for Zika virus outbreaks. This new study reinforces these findings, confirming that these southern states are likely to suffer from spikes in A. aegypti populations.
Using disease transmission simulations driven by changes in climate, the team of researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research( NCAR) determined that warm summer weather above the equator would encourage Zika-carrying mosquitos to spread further northwards. This coming summer is likely to be no exception, and the southern U.S. is likely to be swarming with Ae. aegypti by the time July swings around particularly Miami.
The most at-risk regions for Zika outbreaks in the United States in July. NCAR
Worryingly, major cities further north along the eastern seaboard, including New York City, will also probably ensure Ae. aegypti beginning to appear. This isnt just because of the summer weather, however: Big cities are likely to have a higher influx of people traveling in from countries already experiencing severe Zika outbreaks. When they arrive, the Zika cases will register as occurring in these big metropolises. Additionally, there is a chance they will spread the disease through sexuality.
Areas in the U.S. rife with poverty, featuring dilapidated houses, high occurrences of stagnant water, and poor sanitation, will likely present the most rapid spread of Ae. aegypti. Consequently, the most impoverished areas of the U.S ., particularly those in Florida, will be the most prone to Zika outbreaks. Fortunately, the authors note thatthanks to better illnes control and better overall infrastructure, outbreaks in the U.S. are likely to be far less severe than those insured across South America.
In any case, such studies and others like it will boost the U.S. governments attempt to stymy the spread of the virus the summer months by dedicating officers a forewarning of Zikas most likely transmission path. Even if the virus is transmitted here in the continental U.S ., a quick answer can reduce its impact, said Mary Hayden, a medical anthropologist at NCAR and co-author of the study, in a statement.
At the same time that a new President is stepping into the oval office to resulted the United States roughly 4000 other government workers are leaving their jobs.
Employers tend to categorize these people into policy or legal categories when they think about employ. However, what folks dont realise is that people in government are organizers and hustlers with deep industry knowledge with skills that are applicable across the tech industry.
Theyre people like Jotaka Eaddy, Head of Government affairs at Lend Up.
Eaddy is also a trained organizer and a political strategist that spearheaded the campaign that led to the landmark Supreme court decision ending the juvenile death penalty in the US( Roper Vs. Simmons ); coordinated the NAACP campaign to expand voting rights; worked at several tech companies providing pathways for people to improve their fiscal health; and finally used her abilities as anorganizer to bridge DC and Silicon Valley.
An attorney who isn’t afraid to hurl a punch still roams the courthouses of the city’s outer boroughs, racking up big wins for bad clients.”>
Last month he delivered a not guilty verdict for a client who had signed a confession to firing a. 9mm bullet into his girlfriends head.
Before that, it was a client arrested with a handgun hidden in a secret compartment of his car.
Most criminal lawyers work out plea deals on suits like this. But many of the customer who pay top dollar to Stephen G. Murphy, Esq ., who at 72 has become a Queens Boulevard legend, intend to face a jury of their peers and the chance of a maximum sentence.
After racking up a 60 -0 conviction record with one hung jury as a Queens prosecutor starting in 1970, he hung a defense shingle in 1972, constructing a stellar reputation for winning acquittals for bank robbers, mobsters, white-collar criminals, jammed-up policemen, drug dealers, smugglers, and killers.
Murphy boasts a 46 -2 homicide trial record and, he notes, one of the convicted guys signed a confession and left DNA at the murder scene.
With New Yorks historically low homicide rate today, juicy murder occurrences are harder to come by. Most murders are committed by people who employ Legal Aid lawyers, Murphy says. There have always been about 10 big assassinations a year committed by people who can afford an expensive lawyer to go to trial.
Murphy, a liberal Democrat and practising Catholic, attends mass every Sunday andafter decades roaming the barrooms of Queens Boulevard and Manhattans night spots like Elaines and P.J. Clarkes, these days limits himself to a glass of wine with a victory dinner.
I first satisfied Murphy encompassing the racially-fueled Howard Beach murder trial in 1987, when five white teens were charged with chasing several blacks down Cross Bay Boulevard with at-bats, calling them niggers. One black guy named Michael Griffith, 23, wound up killed by a speeding auto as he fled from the white mob onto the Belt Parkway.
The ugly incident and celebrated trial galvanized the city and the nation.
I covered that case for New York Newsday, in what seemed like an orderly by-the-book prosecution by special prosecutor Joe Hynes until Murphy stood from the defense table, a compact 5-foot-7 red-haired Irish welterweight packed into a sharp Armani suit who stalked across the courtroom well and began to scream at the top of his lungs inches from the prosecution witness, Timothy Grimes. Arms flailing, finger pointing, face as red as a stop sign, Murphy degraded the nature and veracity of Grimes with such ferocity that the witness stormed off the stand. Murphy stood his ground, feet planted, fists balled, warning, I hope you brought the knife you stabbed your girlfriend with because youre gonna need it with me.
The press and spectators sat spellbind. Judge Tomas Demakos hammered his gavel, ordering a recess. Then reproved an unfazed Murphy.
Throughout the trial Murphy delivered a James Cagney-caliber performance. Hynes objected, endlessly. The judge reproved him. The jury loved him. When the jurors returned with their verdicts for the five teens, only Murphys client, Michael Pirone, was acquitted.
Glad its over, Murphy said.
What few people knew was that after the reporters and Tv crews vanished, for several years after the trial, Murphy attended an annual memorial mass for Michael Griffith, donating generously to his memorial fund, and became friendly with his mother, Jean Griffith Sandiford.
Mr. Murphy did his job and did it exceptionally well for his client, Griffith Sandiford told me about Murphy. He was personally as disgusted as everyone else about the whole incident.
The Daily Beast caught the premiere screening of the shrouded-in-secrecy cinema in New York. Here’s what it’s all about–and what Moore had to say about it. “>
Late Monday night, Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore announced via Twitter that hed be screening a top-secret movie project Tuesday evening in New York. Accompanying the proclamation was an enforcing image of the Trump troikaIvanka, Don Jr ., and Ericgiving their best Children of the Corn satisfies The Skulls , intimating that this would be a takedown of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on a par with Fahrenheit 9/11 , his 2004 hit chore on George W. Bush. That cinema went on to gross an inconceivable $222 million worldwide, still the highest-grossing documentary ever, yet failed to tip the election in Democratic rival John Kerrys favor. Moore communicates to that far-left sliver that would never vote for Bush, even if there was an election on the moon, said Scott Reed, the former campaign director for Bob Dole, at the time.
Though titled Michael Moore in TrumpLand , the acclaimed documentarians big October surprise has precious little to do with Donald. Instead, the film offers a reasonably convincing lawsuit for why voters should make Hillary Clinton the first female POTUS.
What the country doesnt need is to be told that Trump is a crazy, dangerous sociopath[ and] sociopath, all of that, said Moore, introducing the films premiere screening at New York Citys IFC Center. He has written and produced that movie and it seems daily.
In the epoch of WikiLeaks, its pretty astonishing that Moore was able to keep his movie under wraps. Filming began 11 days ago, taking place over two nights at the historic Murphy Theatre in Wilmington, Ohioa city in a district where Trump received four times as many elections as Hillary in the primariesand the movie was locked at 7 a. m. Tuesday morning. It consists of Moore performing a one-man show in front of a diverse crowd of Hillary/ Trump/ undecided voters. And, with the exception of a fun little doomsday sketch envisaging what President Trumps first days in office might look likemass deportations, bombings along the Mexican border, nationwide stop-and-frisk, and a Roger Ailes-led Trump network airing 24/7 Moore spends the bulk of the film singing Hillarys kudoes whilst standing( or sitting) in front of a collecting of striking images of young Hillary.
Moore runnings through a lot of Hillarys greatest makes, from her 1969 commencement address at Wellesley to her fight for universal health-care as first lady to the unbelievable amount of sexism shes had to put up with over the course of her career. He jokes about how the bawl of Trumps advocates at his rallies is akin to a dinosaur death knellthe near-extinct being old, angry white menand how there are going to be internment camps for men under a President Hillary Clinton. And Moore, who comes off very loose and droll here, even presents a 1998 clip from his short-lived TV series The Awful Truth wherein Donald Trump not only compliments Hillary, calling her a good woman whos going to be married to our current president for a long time, but even kisses the butt of Moore.
If this all sounds a bit strange, it is appropriate to. During the Democratic primary, Moore, an avowed Bernie Sanders supporter, was very tough on Hillary. He branded her Wall Streets paid candidate while live-tweeting the Democratic debate, and back in 2008 said he was morally prohibited from voting for Hillary due to her initial subsistence of the Iraq War.
During the movies post-screening Q& A, when asked by The Daily Beast why hes changed his tune on Hillary dedicated his past charges levied against her, Moore deviated sharply from the films hagiographical script.
She has a very close relationship with[ Wall street ], said Moore. If youve read any of the Podesta emailsor her emailsyou can see that shes inclined to that The oppose will continue. The Bernie Revolution on Nov. 9 th is critical. If we just leave it up to her, she may tend to side with that which shes become used to.
I feel the same style about the Iraq War vote, he continued. I dont feel any less passion about her mistake. If I had my TV display like the one I used to have, I would try to do a segment where I get her to go around on an apology tour to the parents of those whove died in the war. If I were her, and if shes a person of conscience, I believe she owes that to at least a few parents.
Why Hillary, then a junior U.S. senator from New York, should have to go door-to-door apologizing for the Iraq War bearing in mind the fact that she was only one of 374 people in Congress to vote for the Iraq Resolutionwhich authorized the president to pursue military action against Iraqwasnt fully explained.
But Moores post-screening commentaries aside, TrumpLand s mission, should the American public choose to accept it when it drops-off on iTunes on Oct. 19, is to ensure that the orange one get nowhere near the nuclear codes.
One of my personal goalsmaybe I shouldnt say this out loudwas to depress the Trump vote. They may still vote for Trump, but they may not bring 10 people with them, said Moore. Our biggest foe on Election Day is get people out[ to the polls] who have given up.
Read more: www.thedailybeast.com
Rachel Einspahr of Colorado allegedly claimed a gunman was holding two kids captive as she demanded money from a teller. Police accuse her of knocking off the place so she could pay restitution for forgery. “>
A nanny is accused of using the children she was watching to rob a bank in order to pay for previous crimes.
Rachel Einspahr of Greely, Colorado was already facing charges on 30 counts of forgery, identity stealing, and felony theft when police say she drove a white SUV up to a drive-through tellers window at Colorado East Bank& Trust in Severance on Friday. Einspahr, 28, allegedly slipped the teller a note that said, Do not sound alarm. The human in the very back wants $100 s and $50 s no dye packs or trackers he has a gun on my kids.
Einspahr told a detective she needed the money to pay $15,000 up front as part of her restitution/ plea deal, according to an affidavit filed by police in tribunal.( She also faces identity theft charges in another city .)
Einspahr allegedly wrote company checks to herself while she worked as an office director for two local industries, the Greeley Tribune reports. She allegedly stole $11,561 from Benchmark Custom Homes and $21,385 from the Greeley Guest House between August 2014 and January 2015. Einspahr use the money in part to pay off a dental bills and a collecting bureau, the Tribune reports.
Reached by phone, the corporate office said the two companies are connected and they have no commentary at this time.
When police responded to the theft call, they didnt find a gunman on security footagebut they did insure Einspahrs vehicle and tracked it back to her house. Thats where she was watching a 7-year-old and an 20 -month-old during her stunt at the bank, in agreement with the affidavit. As a outcome, Einspahr has been charged with two countings of child abuse as well.
Police interviewed the older child, corroborated theyd driven through the bank drive-through earlier that day, the affidavit said. There was no human in the car, the child said.
Police say she eventually confessed to planning and carrying out the theft, after first taking the children to a gas station to buy them candy. Einspahr is expected in tribunal as early as Wednesday.
Read more: www.thedailybeast.com
Maine’s wingnut-in-chief says flat out he wants a fascist to be president after once comparing Obamacare to the Holocaust.”>
Maine Governor Paul LePage, who on Tuesday persisted on Donald Trump to indicate some authoritarian power, has a history of likening government agencies to the most notorious authoritarian of them all, Adolf Hitler.
Sometimes, I wonder that our Constitution is not only transgresses, but we need a Donald Trump to indicate some authoritarian power in our country and bring back the rule of law, ” LePage told Maine radio station WVOM on Tuesday. In an apparent self-contradiction, he called President obama an autocrat.
He only does it on his own, he dismisses Congress and every single day, we’re slipping into anarchy.
But before Trump, LePage disliked what he described as authoritarian rule.
We the people have been told there is no choice, LePage said of Affordable Care Act taxes in a 2012 radio address. You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapothe IRS.
The Gestapo, Nazi Germanys secret police force, were instrumental in the Holocaust, a fact LePage later acknowledged.
What I am trying to say is the Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, candidly, I would never want to see that recurred, he said in an interview the next week, without offering an apology. Perhaps the IRS is not quite as badyet They’re headed in that direction.”
So the IRS is headed in that direction? the interviewer asked. Theyre headed in the direction of killing a lot of people?
Yeah, LePage said of the IRSs alleged slaying plans.
Wait, are you serious? his incredulous interviewer asked.
Yeah, very serious, LePage said. You want to know why? Rationing. They ration health care in Canada. Thats why a lot of people in Canada come down the U.S.
Many of the Gestapos convicted assassinations occurred in concentration camps, rather than through government-funded health insurance programs.
LePage later offered a full apology, saying his statements were entailed as a cautionary tale against authoritarianism.
It was never my intent to insult or to be hurtful to anyone, but instead express what can happen by overreaching government, he said in statements to Jewish community leaders.
LePage has also condemned other Obama-backed actions as being near-fascistic overreaches.
Five girls in Northern California are battling to join the Boy scout. They should instead be proud of their own all-female organization.
I recollect annual whitewater rafting journeys, overnights in platform tents, and volunteering at local domestic abuse shelters. It was barely a giant slumber party of baking cookies and braiding our hair .
Throughout U.S. history, females have fought tooth-and-nail to beat down the doors of prohibited, male-exclusive spaces: Congress, the military, universities, McSorleys Old Ale House.
For me, championing these combats to break down roadblocks against female participation is a complete no-brainer.
As a proud feminist, there are very few scenarios in where I do not vocally support more opportunities and spaces for girls and women to participate and succeed alongside menbut the story of five young women in Northern California trying to join the Boy Scouts may be one of them.
Sisters Allie and Skyler Westover, along with Ella Jacobs, Daphne Mortenson, and Taylor Alcozer, serve in their own independent troop, the Unicorns, under the guidance of Danelle Jacobs( Ellas mother ).
But the five girlsages 10 to 13 in Santa Rosa, Californiaideally want to be part of Boy Scouts of America. This month, they formally submitted applications for membership and pleaded their example before the Redwood Empire Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle , the council forwarded the Unicorns application to the national organisation, but local Vice President Herb Williams advised, There is no provision for girls in Boy Scouts. Thats a fact. Its been a fact for 100 years.
The Unicorns make further efforts to scout with the sons has earned national attention and pity. It is hard not to empathize with their plightgrassroots efforts of girls wanting the opportunity to participate in the same activities that boys do, to explore the outdoors and become friends with fellow scouts, to demonstrate they can compete and beat their male equivalents. Whats not to like?
The problem with this version of the combat is that it grossly, and deleteriously, dedicates short shrift to all that the Girls Scouts donamely camp and teach daughters to be independent intellectuals and self-reliant adults.( It should be noted the Unicorns are their own independent troop , not at all affiliated to the Girl Scouts .)
Instead, time and again reports about the Unicorns feature snide, ignorant swipes that attain the Girl Scouts seem like delicate debutante training. The New York Times described the Unicorns as a contingency of girls who would rather be camping and tying knots than selling cookies.
Boston Universitys student newspaper, The Daily Free Press , published an editorial that appears to have been written by someone who was not a member of the Girl Scouts , nor ever spoke to someone who was: Girl Scouts in the United States seems to be an organization that restricts women to predictable undertakings, such as cooking casseroles or having pizza parties. Many Girl Scouts never even had the opportunity to go camping, hiking or rock climbing. Girls are rewarded for going shopping, while sons are rewarded for building fires.
I say this as a former Girl Scout who recollects annual whitewater rafting journeys, overnights in platform tents, and volunteering at local domestic abuse shelters. It was barely a giant slumber party of cooking cookies and braiding our hair.
Its been over a decade since I was a Girl Scout, and by all accounts, the organization has only grown more progressive, inclusive, and empowering of young women.
Now, surely, every troop in America is different. A colleague of mine said she felt uncomfortable as, what she described as, a tomboy in her troop in a small, conservative Upstate New York town.
Perhaps, the Unicorns felt their own inconvenience within the established troop in their hometown( Unicorns leader Danelle Jacobs did not respond to Daily Beast phone calls by the time of publication ). There’s nothing incorrect with Girl Scouts, said 10 -year-oldSkyler Westover, but they take naps and write letters during their sessions instead of running around doing outdoors things, the Chronicle reported.
But the Girl Scouts was ever meant to be a traditionally feminine, domestically restricted organization.
In fact, founder Juliette Low established the Girl Scouts after becoming friends with Boy Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell and wanting young woman to draw similar lessons of maturity and strength from scouting.
It is the aim of this organization to teach girls how to be happy, vigorous, resourceful girl children and how to become efficient, self-helpful girls, stated a 1918 informational article for the Girl Scouts in Albany, New Yorks State College News student paper. Virtually a century ago, before girls even had the right to vote in the U.S ., the Girl Scouts were working towards empowering young women.
And the Girl Scouts practice what they preached. While their male counterparts wasted a revolting quantity of energy on rooting out any perfume of homosexuality within their ranks, the Girl Scouts stimulated it explicit in their policy not to discriminate based on sex orientation and admitted a transgender 7-year-old girl in 2011.
This past year, the Girl Scouts returned $100,000 from a donor who was against the admittance of transgender members.
In the past 15 years, the Girl Scouts have faced multiple boycott from right-wing groups stemming from bizarre accusations that they are secretly pro-choice because the organization will suggest Democratic politicians, like Wendy Davis and Hillary Clinton, should be role model for girls.
Boys, if they want to learn how to tie slipknots and build flame, will do so in an atmosphere immersed in straight male Christianity, Kate Tuttle wrote in 2012 for The Atlantic.com . Girls, if they want to sell cookies and go camping, will soak up messages about empowerment, diversity, and social activism.
Moreover, it is not merely inaccurate to gloss over what being a Girl Scout actually necessitates. Painting the organization as an after-school spin-off of 1950 s-era Miss Porters carries an underlying sexism.
The assumptions that the Girl Scouts organization is more placid and tranquil than the Boy Scouts, simply because it involves the fairer sexuality, strengthens the false notion that women inevitably shall be divided into gentler or more domestic tasks when left to congregate on their own.
The Girl Scouts offers many of the same activities the Boy Scouts do, and to their credit, the Boy Scouts has programs that are open to both sexualities, including the Learning for Life program in which the Unicorns participate.
When you take those similarities into account along with the fact that the Girl Scouts has a far more progressive record, one wonders why the Unicorns or their parents would rather they join the Boy scout?
Its hard to think that this campaign is more than an effort at making a dramatic statementone that does more to miscast and undercut the Girl Scouts while elevating and glorifying the Boy scout without discussing their fraught, discriminatory history.
We know how to camp. We know how to start a fire. We want to be Boy Scouts, Westover told the Chronicle after the local Boy Scouts council declined to agree to admit them. Never acknowledged in the article is the fact that the Girl Scouts has previously include a provision providing that opportunity.
The five girls who make up the Unicorns are smart, ambitious, articulated, and resourceful. They will almost certainly fight many noble battles as they grow into strong women, but breaking into the Boy scout simply shouldnt be one of those battles.
Read more: www.thedailybeast.com
In 1748, as part of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, France regained Cape Breton from Great Britain. The island, off the coast of Nova Scotia, had passed back and forth between the two countries over the years, and previous treaties had been as binding as toilet paper. But as part of the 1748 treaty, Great Britain sent several British peers to Paris as a guarantee of the British king’s good faith in the latest agreement.
The transfer of Cape Breton was a rather insignificant provision of a largely forgotten treaty. But the implementation of the treaty was hugely important.
The dispatch of the British peers was the last incidence of an ancient and once-common tradition: the use of hostages as part of the negotiating process. If the British reneged on their promises, the French could simply throw the peers into chains (or worse), much as their Roman predecessors had turned well-treated hostages into prisoners of war in the case of non-compliance. After 1748, however, countries would no longer put the bodies of their citizens on the line in the service of international diplomacy.
The problem of trust continues to bedevil diplomatic negotiations. For instance, can one side trust the other to keep their discussions confidential, and, later, can the negotiators trust that the offers on the table are genuine? If, through a long and usually tedious process, the negotiators manage to establish some measure of trust in one another, an agreement may ensue. Then the issue becomes whether the signatories will abide by their promises. “Trust, but verify,” Ronald Reagan famously said about the Soviets and arms control treaties.
But there’s an equally challenging issue of trust involved in the sale of the agreement. The negotiating parties must ask their constituencies at home to trust that the deal, which is nothing but words on paper, will translate into concrete results. Hostages are no longer a guarantee of implementation. Instead, diplomats today can only offer more words.
In effect, they have to promise that promises will be kept.
And so it was with the Obama administration last July when it had to sell the nuclear deal with Iran to both Congress and the American people. It was not as if Iran sent a couple of high-ranking clerics to Washington, DC as surety for the deal. Nor could the United States point to anything specific that Iran did as an immediate result of signing the agreement. Everything was a promise: to dismantle 13,000 centrifuges, cap the enriching of uranium at low levels, and ship nearly 10,000 kilos of the radioactive material out of the country. If and only if Iran fulfilled these promises, the United States would lift nuclear-related sanctions and release tens of billions of dollars in frozen assets.
After a strenuous campaign by both the administration and civil society organizations in support of the nuclear deal, it squeaked through Congress despite the opposition of the Republican Party and a few renegade Democrats. Then came the waiting.
The administration was heavily invested in the deal as an example of how its kind of diplomacy could resolve problems that others (congressional hawks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) would have used military means to address. Essentially, the administration was gambling that Iran stood to gain much by the agreement and lose even more by reneging on it. Moreover, President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were betting that their counterparts in Iran could effectively handle their hardliners with the promise that the United States would keep to its side of the bargain.
Finally, last week, both sides kept their promises. On Implementation Day, Iran fulfilled its obligations under the agreement and the United States lifted non-nuclear sanctions. You might say that the Obama administration won the diplomatic equivalent of Powerball — and it looks as though the Rouhani administration in Iran chose the same numbers as well. The two lucky ticketholders will share the geopolitical jackpot (and who knows: maybe the payout will also include the next Nobel Peace Prize).
The first dividend checks arrived this week. As in 1748, they came in the form of bodies in motion. But this time it wasn’t hostages heading over as guarantors but, rather, sailors and prisoners released to their relieved families.
During the heyday of détente in the 1970s, the United States and Soviet Union negotiated a number of arms control treaties. Not everyone was thrilled with these diplomatic victories.
What would later become the neoconservative movement, initially a group of Cold War hawks who rallied around Democratic senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, objected to the failure of the Nixon administration to link human rights to its arms control initiatives. The objection wasn’t entirely fair — the Helsinki Accords, for instance, brought together human rights and security issues within the same framework. But the notion was born that negotiations with an adversary on only one narrow set of questions were somehow illegitimate.
The opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran certainly had their beefs with the substance of the agreement. But they also castigated the Obama administration for not addressing a range of non-nuclear issues, such as Iran’s missile program, its human rights records, its support of non-state actors like Hezbollah, and the very form of its government.
One of the more controversial attacks, however, concerned the handful of Americans that Iran had arrested, tried, and jailed, including Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian. As prominent deal critic Tom Cotton (R-AR) wrote in October:
The immediate release of Jason Rezaian and the three other American hostages should have been a precondition of any deal reached with Iran. Instead, President Obama prioritized reaching a deal for his own legacy over the health and safety of American citizens. The Iran nuclear deal put all our chips on the table in exchange for nothing. I fear Iran has little incentive to allow the release of Jason and his fellow hostages.
The Obama administration did not, however, abandon Rezaian and the others. As Robin Wright writes in The New Yorker, the administration opened up a second track of diplomacy alongside the nuclear negotiations to address the fate of the Americans locked up in Iran. The two initiatives were both linked and unlinked. This second discussion was made possible by the contacts already made on the nuclear issue. And yet, as Wright explains, they proceeded separately:
More than a year of informal discussions between [Wendy] Sherman and her counterpart, Majid Takht Ravanchi, the Iranian Foreign Ministry official in charge of American and European affairs, led to an agreement, in late 2014, that the issue should be handled separately — but officially — through a second channel. After debate within the administration, Obama approved the initiative. But it was so tightly held that most of the American team engaged in tortuous negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program were not told about it.
It was one thing for the deal’s critics to call into question the administration’s supposed insensitivity. They didn’t, after all, know anything about the secret negotiations. (And it wouldn’t have been the first time that administration critics talked authoritatively about something they knew nothing about.)
But it beggared the imagination that they would continue to criticize the administration afterthe release of the captives. Here’s Cotton again:
But in our elation over their safe return we must be careful not to forget the dangerous circumstances of their release. President Obama has appeased Iran’s terror-sponsoring ayatollahs, this time with a ‘prisoner’ swap to secure the overdue release of four innocent American hostages in return for which Iran gets seven lawfully convicted terrorists and criminals, fourteen terrorism prosecutions halted, $100 billion in sanctions relief, and an industrial-scale nuclear program — and Iran gets to keep Americans Siamak Namazi and Robert Levinson to extract future concessions. While we exult in the return of American hostages, one must also wonder how many more Americans will be taken hostage in the future as a result of President Obama’s shameful decision to negotiate with these terrorists.
The notion that Iran somehow got a better deal because it received seven detainees and the United States received only four is a criticism you might expect from a second-grader proud to show off newly learned arithmetic skills. How would Cotton have evaluated Israel’s exchange of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for one soldier, Gilad Shalit?
As for Cotton’s other assertions, they don’t even pass the acuity level of the average elementary school student. Iran gets sanctions relief worth at most $50 billion, not $100 billion — for the nuclear agreement. not the prisoner swap. And the agreement halts Iran’s nuclear program, not maintains it.
As for future hostages, Iran had a chance to hold on to 10 sailors whose boats had not only entered the country’s territorial waters last week, but also navigated close to a sensitive military installation. Contrary to initial reports, the boats were not in mechanical distress at the time of the mishap. And what did the nefarious Iranians do? Demand the lifting of more sanctions or the release of other Iranians in captivity?
No, Iran sent home the sailors within 24 hours — without anything required in exchange.
Cotton wasn’t the only person to make asinine comments. Donald Trump, in his inimitable way, argued that the releases should have taken place three-and-a-half years ago — before some of the detainees had even been seized. Then he tried to claim responsibility for the release because of his unrelenting anti-Iranian rhetoric. “I’ve been hitting them hard, and I think I might’ve had something to do with it,” he said.
If Iran has been paying any attention to Trump at all, I suspect that they are doing so for comic relief — or, like Britain, to debate whether to ever let him into the country.
The Winning Ticket
The future dividends from the nuclear deal’s payout are not entirely clear.
For Iran, the infusion of foreign capital — about $70 billion altogether, estimates economist Djavad Salehi-Isfahani — should lift the economy out of recession. But various structural impediments in the economy will restrict growth to a relatively modest 4-5 percent next year. Elections to the parliament and council of guardians are coming up at the end of next month, and conservatives are hoping to game the results by disqualifying as many reformers as possible before the candidate lists are finalized.
But even if the conservatives manage to block the reformers in the short term, the eventual turnaround of the Iranian economy will ultimately give an enormous boost to the larger political and economic agenda of the comparatively moderate president Hassan Rouhani. For those bent on regime change in Iran or the hobbling of its regional ambitions, the strengthening of the Rouhani faction is probably bad news. It means that a more open and flexible Iran, under its current system, will play an expanded role in the Middle East and globally. That’s not something that Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Islamic State, or Tom Cotton wants to see. But it’s a welcome development for most everyone else.
For the Obama administration, meanwhile, the successful implementation of the Iran deal represents an important victory for statecraft. It puts the critics of the administration on the defensive, struggling to come up with an alternative that produces something other than rhetorical effects. Some of the more ambitious members of the administration hope that the deal will provide regional dividends in the form of better prospects for a peace agreement in Syria, diminished hostility between Tehran and Riyadh, a united front against the Islamic State, reduced scope of activity for Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah, and greater chances for stability in Iraq.
It’s too soon to tell whether the Powerball winners will be able to enjoy these particular dividend checks. They should also be aware that many top lottery winners suffer from“sudden wealth syndrome,” which consists of financial mismanagement, thwarted hopes, and social isolation. Both winners should take care to husband their new political capital against the inevitable backlash.
During this brief interregnum between exalted expectations and dreary realism, let’s celebrate once again that rarest of things: good news in a perilous world.
Crossposted with Foreign Policy In Focus
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