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Iran Warns Of Retaliation If U.S. Breaches Nuclear Deal

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Extending U.S. sanctions on Iran for 10 years would breach the Iranian nuclear agreement, Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Wednesday, warning that Tehran would retaliate if the sanctions are approved.

The U.S. House of Representatives re-authorized last week the Iran Sanctions Act, or ISA, for 10 years. The law was first adopted in 1996 to punish investments in Iran’s energy industry and deter Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The Iran measure will expire at the end of 2016 if it is not renewed. The House bill must still be passed by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama to become law.

Iran and world powers concluded the nuclear agreement, also known as JCPOA, last year. It imposed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in return for easing sanctions that have badly hurt its economy.

“The current U.S. government has breached the nuclear deal in many occasions,” Khamenei said, addressing a gathering of members of the Revolutionary Guards, according to his website.

“The latest is extension of sanctions for 10 years, that if it happens, would surely be against JCPOA, and the Islamic Republic would definitely react to it.”

The U.S. lawmakers passed the bill one week after Republican Donald Trump was elected U.S. president. Republicans in Congress unanimously opposed the agreement, along with about two dozen Democrats, and Trump has also criticized it.

Lawmakers from both parties said they hoped bipartisan support for a tough line against Iran would continue under the new president.

President-elect Trump once said during his campaign that he would “rip up” the agreement, drawing a harsh reaction from Khamenei, who said if that happens, Iran would “set fire” to the deal.

The House of Representatives also passed a bill last week that would block the sale of commercial aircraft by Boeing and Airbus to Iran.

The White House believes that the legislation would be a violation of the nuclear pact and has said Obama would veto the measure even if it did pass the Senate.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, editing by Larry King)

IMAGE: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei waves as he gives a speech on Iran’s late leader Khomeini’s death anniversary, in Tehran, Iran June 3, 2016. via REUTERS/Files

Ryan Is A Boehner ‘Mini-Me’ To Some Conservatives

By Simone Pathe, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)

WASHINGTON — Just weeks after Republicans won control of the House in 2010, John A. Boehner celebrated his 61st birthday with a cake with green frosting.

It was actually a double celebration. That same day, Nov. 17, 2010, he was elected speaker-designate by the Republican conference with unanimous support — a present he never enjoyed again.

That unified Republican vote included at least seven current members of the House Freedom Caucus.

Off Capitol Hill, where tea party activists had been rallying conservative voters to the polls weeks earlier, support for Boehner’s speakership was tepid.

“We were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at first,” Joe Miller, Alaska’s 2010 GOP Senate nominee, told CQ Roll Call last week. After losing the general election to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who waged a write-in campaign to win re-election, Miller continued his tea party activism, and he now hosts a daily talk radio show.

“On the fundamentals, (Boehner) appeared to be right,” Miller added.

In fact, some tea party supporters found the Ohio Republican to be the best of the available options.

“When John Boehner was elected speaker following the historic tea party wave of 2010, it was another major victory for the grass roots. We fought incredibly hard for Mr. Boehner to be the speaker, instead of the establishment Republicans’ big-spender, Rep. Pete Sessions,” California tea party activist Christina Botteri told Breitbart News in September.

Other tea party sympathizers just didn’t know much about Boehner, House leadership or how the process worked in Washington.

“I would have to say that because a lot of us had never been really active in GOP politics, we didn’t have an opinion back in 2010,” Randy Bishop, a Michigan-based host on Patriot Voice Radio, told CQ Roll Call.

Fast-forward to this fall. Conservative blogs have claimed victory over Boehner’s resignation. “Conservatives Inside and Outside the House Caused Boehner’s Downfall,” blared a Breitbart headline the day Boehner announced his resignation.

“As (tea party activists) became more engaged in the political process, and knowing more of what’s going on in Washington, obviously we started becoming very upset with Boehner,” Bishop explained.

Miller said Boehner’s rhetoric was fine at the beginning, “but his rhetoric did not match his actions.”

“Although as a person and as a political figure he has not changed, his political philosophy — attitudes about him have changed, ” Miller said, “and that’s largely the perception that he’s a compromiser.”

Wisconsin Rep. Paul D. Ryan, who officially joined the speaker’s race on Oct. 22, is being dogged by the same perception.

Before his name came up for speaker, Ryan, even more so than Boehner in 2010, had his admirers on the tea party right.

Former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin was an early supporter of Ryan’s budget plan, even suggesting that he’d make a good presidential candidate.

Leading up to the GOP presidential convention, the tea party had been expecting to be left out in the cold — until Mitt Romney added Ryan to his ticket.

“The Ryan pick gives the tea party a seat at the table, and that’s why I’m so encouraged,” tea party supporter Allan Olson the Christian Science Monitor in 2012.

Based on surveys of its supporters, the Tea Party Express called the Wisconsin Republican a “strong tea party choice” after Romney picked him for his No. 2.

“We have been polling our members for the last couple of months, and Paul Ryan, along with Senator Marco Rubio, have had the strongest support from Tea Party Express supporters across the country,” then-Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer wrote in a statement at the time.

“Ryan is a strong fiscal conservative, and he has used his Chairmanship of the House Budget Committee to address the serious financial woes facing the country,” Kremer continued.

Miller admired Ryan’s economic views and his willingness to take on Social Security.

“I certainly considered him an ally before — and he has done some good things,” Miller said.

Even Bishop, the talk radio show host from Michigan, was comfortable with Ryan back in 2012.

“When Romney picked Ryan in 2012 as his vice president, we were willing to vote for anybody but Obama,” Bishop said, admitting that he has a Romney-Ryan T-shirt in his closet.

Not that he’d be caught dead in it now. “Paul Ryan is a ‘Mini-Me’ of John Boehner,” Bishop said.

Other right-wing activists and political commentators shared that sentiment this week.

Ryan is “Boehner 2.0,” Laura Ingraham tweeted on Oct. 20.

Writing in Breitbart on Oct. 21, Neil Munro highlighted the areas where conservatives fear that Ryan would fall more in line with the Republican establishment and Democrats.

“But if he gets the job, he’ll likely push for goals that are very unpopular in the GOP’s base — passage of a trans-Pacific free trade treaty, a rollback of stiff jail sentences and a bill to increase the inflow of wage-cutting foreign labor. All three goals are top priorities for the Democratic Party and the GOP’s big donors,” Munro wrote.

Palin soured on Ryan as early as 2014, calling his budget a “joke” on her Facebook page. Meanwhile, her fellow Alaskan Miller pointed to recent votes Ryan has taken in Congress to explain the tea party’s disaffection with him these days.

“He was always championed as being an up-and-coming bright star — articulate, smart and willing to address the hard issues,” Miller said. His votes — most recently for a continuing resolution that funded Planned Parenthood — “badly tarnished him,” Miller added, calling Ryan “a tool of the establishment.”

So what does the tea party grass roots want to see in leadership?

Confrontation, Miller said. And not just to push their priorities on Capitol Hill. “We need that level of confrontation to embolden the base, too,” Miller said.

For his part, Miller has not yet ruled out running for office in Alaska again.

Photo: Paul Ryan is seen by some on the right as Boehner 2.0, as the broadcaster Laura Ingraham called him on Oct. 20. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Four More Votes Needed To Remove Confederate Flag From SC Capitol

As Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine victims of a racially motivated mass shooting last week, was laid to rest on Friday in Charleston, South Carolina, the Confederate battle flag — the symbol worn by shooter Dylann Storm Roof — continued to fly outside the South Carolina Capitol building in Columbia.

A growing number of Southern politicians and U.S. businesses have called for the flag’s removal following the killing of nine black parishioners of Emanuel AME Church on June 17 by Roof, a 21-year-old white man.

This week, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, joined the chorus of conservative officials changing their tune. “It’s time to move the flag from the Capitol grounds,” she said at a news conference. But the decision is ultimately not Haley’s.

Any measure to remove the flag from the South Carolina State House’s grounds requires a two-thirds supermajority in the state legislature, under the 2000 South Carolina Heritage Act.

Four more members of the South Carolina House of Representatives must commit to vote in favor of removing the flag in order for the state legislature to mandate its removal, according to polling data by The Post and Courier.

In the state Senate, 33 of 45 members (73 percent) have told The Post and Courier that they agree the flag should be taken down. Currently, 78 of 123 (63 percent) House representatives in South Carolina have said the flag should come down, just four representatives shy of the two-thirds majority needed for a bill to pass.

In both houses, every lawmaker who told The Post they were either undecided or would vote against removing the flag, as well as anyone who refused or neglected to answer the question, were Republicans.

State senators have introduced a bill to move the flag from its current location near the Confederate Soldier Monument outside the State House to the Confederate Relic Room at the State Museum. House representatives also introduced two bills that call for the flag to be removed. Discussion of the bills and a final vote are expected in coming weeks.

Photo: A sign urging South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to take down the Confederate flag is part of the sidewalk memorial at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church on June 20, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Florida House Passes Religious Exemption To Block Gay Adoptions

By Gray Rohrer, Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

TALLAHASSEE, Florida — The Florida House on Thursday approved $690 million in tax cuts and a bill allowing residents fleeing hurricanes to carry guns without a permit, but the bill attracting the most controversy allows private adoption agencies to reject gay couples if they have a religious or moral objection.

The vote for that measure (HB 7111) was 75-38, with most Democrats opposing the bill, calling it state-sponsored discrimination.

Representative David Richardson (D-Miami Beach), likened the measure to the struggle for civil rights for African-Americans in the 1960s, citing the sit-ins at the lunch counters of Greensboro, N.C., in 1960.

“If you’re open to the public, you’re open to the public,” said Richardson, the first openly gay member of the Legislature. “If the lunch counter’s open, it’s open for everyone.”

Republicans, however, countered that forcing religious adoption agencies to either go against their consciences or shut down would ultimately lead to less opportunities for children in need of foster parents. Also, gay couples can go to another of Florida’s 82 adoption agencies if they are refused, they argued.

Representative Scott Plakon (R-Longwood), suggested lawsuits were already being lined up to restrain religious adoption agencies from refusing gay couples.

“You may disagree with their beliefs, you may even think that they’re crazy, but they are their sincerely held beliefs,” said Representative Scott Plakon (R-Longwood).

Social conservative groups put pressure on Republican legislators after the House voted last month to strike down Florida’s ban on gay adoption. An appeals court struck down the provision in 2010 and the Florida Department of Children and Families doesn’t enforce the ban, but the statute has remained on Florida’s books.

The bill still needs to pass the Senate.

Most Democrats also objected to SB 290, which would allow residents under mandatory evacuation orders to carry firearms without a concealed weapons permit up to 48 hours after the order is given.

Representative Ed Narain (D-Tampa), said the bill would bring unintended consequences, especially for black males, similar to the “stand your ground” law.

“It’s the potential combination of these two (laws) that could mix and create a deadly scenario that none of us want to imagine or even consider,” Narain said.

But Republicans in favor of the bill said it was needed to protect property during hectic evacuation periods, especially firearms that aren’t protected through permits or licenses.

“What some people in this chamber don’t understand…is that you can’t get a permit or a license for a rifle or a shotgun,” said Representative Neil Combee (R-Polk City).

The bill passed 86-26 and now heads to Governor Rick Scott’s desk.

A bill garnering more bipartisan support was HB 7141, which cuts $690 million in taxes, mostly from cable, satellite, and phone bills. The cut to the communication services tax will save TV and phone users $470 million, with the average cable user spending $100 a month saving about $43 over 12 months. The cut is a top priority for Scott.

Although some Democrats bemoaned parts of the bill cutting sales taxes on gun club memberships and providing a sales tax holiday for some firearms and ammunition on July Fourth, the bill passed 112-3.

The Senate has advanced individual tax cut bills but because of the uncertainty surrounding the Medicaid budget that the chamber is waiting to pass its preferred tax-cutting measures.

Photo: Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program via Flickr