Category Archives: International Arena

Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes to face death penalty

Colorado shooting suspect James Holmes appears dazed in court

By Jason Sickles, Yahoo! | The Lookout

James Holmes in first court appearance

CENTENNIAL, Colo.–James Holmes, the suspect in the Colorado theater massacre, appeared in a Colorado courtroom on Monday shortly after 11:30 a.m. ET. A judge advised Holmes of his Miranda rights, and that there was probable cause to continue to hold him without bond on suspicion of first-degree murder.

Holmes, who was transported from from a holding cell to the courtroom via an underground tunnel, appeared dazed: his brow furrowed, his eyes opening and closing often. His hair was dyed red. His hands and feet were shackled. He did not speak.

Seated in a jury box next public defender Tamara Brady, Holmes never looked in the direction of a gallery that included about two dozen victims and victims advocates.

The preliminary hearing lasted for about 11 minutes. Holmes’ next court appearance is July 30.

A decision on whether to seek the death penalty could be weeks or months away, District Attorney Carol Chambers told reporters as she entered the courthouse.

“It will be a conversation we have with the victims before we make that decision,” Chambers said.

He could also face additional counts of aggravated assault and weapons violations stemming from the mass shooting that killed 12 and injured 58 people at an Aurora, Colo., screening of “Dark Knight Rises.” The rampage is among the worst mass shootings in modern-day American history.

Holmes, clad in full body armor, surrendered to officers in a parking lot behind the cinema. He did not resist arrest, but investigators have since described the former medical student as uncooperative.

Authorities and news reports have portrayed the native Californian as smart and shy, but no motive for the shooting spree has surfaced.

Federal investigators were dispatched to assist local authorities with the investigation, but officials have indicated justice will be sought in a state courtroom.

Colorado has a death penalty, but only one inmate has been executed since 1977. Three inmates are currently on death row, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

“If James Holmes isn’t executed,” former Denver prosecutor Craig Silverman told Reuters, “Colorado may as well throw away its death penalty law.”

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/colorado-shooting-suspect-james-holmes-appear-court-monday-111006043.html

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71 victims makes the Colorado theater shooting largest in U.S. history

I feel I need to get something off of my chest. This is tragic in many ways. 12 people are dead, countless others are hurt and to state that this is senseless is not enough.I don’t understand how each year a new and much bigger killing spree occurs. It’s as if there is a conscious effort to outdo its predecessor.

This reality is truly frightening.

Since this event is fairly recent, speculations are going to come forth as to why this happened and how can we prevent it from happening again. It is on this matter that I felt compelled to share my opinion. I just watched a vlog on youtube, where this gentleman expressed his love for the right to bare arms, and that it is everyone’s responsibility to protect themselves. He was zealous especially with regards to those that have a family, himself included. He went on to say that the shooter, James Holmes, was probably not loved and there in ‘lies’ the reason why he felt the need to commit such an atrocity.

I replied to his post and explained that he was being dismissive, that we don’t know why this happened and the circumstances which drove James to do what he did. I went on to point out that he needed to take a closer look at the culture that he has grown up in.

America is at the fore front of many global conflicts. If they do not start the wars, they are usually there to lend a ‘helping’ hand. Is it just me, or does anyone else see this correlation? If a society breathes and sleeps violence as a means to solve problems, why wouldn’t its citizens feel justified in employing similar methods?

I just don’t feel like seeing a bunch of analysts and so-called professionals,who have nothing credible to say, pointing fingers at the same old things, music, video games and movies.

My prayers and my thoughts will be with those that have been pained and wronged in all of this. I hope for once, a real discussion is had and a new and true solution is found.

Cheers,

Luis


Egypt has a new president…Mohammed Morsi

Islamist Morsi elected Egypt’s president

By MAGGIE MICHAEL and SARAH EL DEEB | Associated Press

CAIRO (AP) — Islamist Mohammed Morsi was declared the winner Sunday in Egypt’s first free presidential election in history, closing the tumultuous first phase of a democratic transition and opening a new struggle with the still-dominant military rulers who recently stripped the presidency of most of its powers.

In Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the uprising that ousted autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, joyous supporters of Morsi’sMuslim Brotherhood wept and kneeled on the ground in prayer when they heard the announcement on live television. They danced, set off fireworks and released doves in the air with Morsi’s picture attached in celebrations not seen in the square since Mubarak was forced out on Feb. 11, 2011.

Many are looking now to see whether Morsi will try to take on the military and wrestle back the powers they took from his office just one week ago. Thousands vowed to remain in Tahrir to demand that the ruling generals reverse their decision.

In his first televised speech, the 60-year old U.S.-trained engineer called on Egyptians to unite and tried to reassure minority Christians, who mostly backed Morsi’s rivalAhmed Shafiq because they feared Islamic rule.

He said he carries “a message of peace” to the world and pledged to preserve Egypt’s international accords, a reference to the peace deal with Israel.

He also paid tribute to nearly 900 protesters killed in last year’s uprising.

“I wouldn’t have been here between your hands as the first elected president without … the blood, the tears, and sacrifices of the martyrs,” he said.

In the lengthy and redundant speech, Morsi appeared to be struggling to compose his sentences. Wearing a blue suit and tie, he looked stiff and uncomfortable and did not smile throughout as he read from a paper. He was non-confrontational and did not mention the last-minute power grab by the ruling military, instead praising the armed forces.

The White House congratulated Morsi and urged him to advance national unity as he forms a new government. White House press secretary Jay Carney said Morsi’s victory is a milestone in Egypt’s transition to democracy after decades of authoritarian rule under Mubarak. The Obama administration had expressed no public preference in the presidential race.

Left on the sidelines of the political drama are the liberal and secular youth groups that drove the uprising against Mubarak, left to wonder whether Egypt has taken a step towards becoming an Islamist state. Some grudgingly supported Morsi in the face of Shafiq, who was Mubarak’s last prime minister, while others boycotted the vote.

Morsi will now have to reassure them that he represents the whole country, not just Islamists, and will face enormous challenges after security and the economy badly deteriorated in the transition period.

Pro-democracy leader Mohammed ElBaradei urged unity after the results were announced.

“It is time we work all as Egyptians as part of a national consensus to build Egypt that is based on freedom and social justice,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

The elections left the nation deeply polarized with one side backing Shafiq, who promised to provide stability and prevent Egypt from becoming a theocracy. Because of his military career, many saw him as the military’s preferred candidate.

In the other camp are those eager for democratic change and backers of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood who were persecuted, jailed and banned under Mubarak but now find themselves one of the two most powerful groups in Egypt.

The other power center is the ruling military council that took power after the uprising and is headed by Mubarak’s defense minister of 20 years.

Just one week ago, at the moment polls were closing in the presidential runoff, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued constitutional amendments that stripped the president’s office of most of its major powers. The ruling generals made themselves the final arbiters over the most pressing issues still complicating the transition— such as writing the constitution, legislating, passing the state budget— and granted military police broad powers to detain civilians.

“I am happy the Brotherhood won because now the revolution will continue on the street against both of them, the Brotherhood and the SCAF,” said Lobna Darwish, an activist who has boycotted the elections.

Also, a few days before that constitutional declaration, a court dissolved the freely elected parliament, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, leaving the military now in charge of legislating.

Brotherhood members and experts said the results were used a bargaining chip between the generals and the Brotherhood over the parameters of what appears to be a new power-sharing agreement. The country’s new constitution is not written and the authorities of the president are not clear.

This is the first time modern Egypt will be headed by an Islamist and by a freely elected civilian. The country’s last four presidents over the past six decades have all came from the ranks of the military.

“Congratulations because this means the end of the Mubarak state,” said Shady el-Ghazali Harb, a prominent activist who was among the leaders of the protests in January and February last year.

The results of the elections were delayed for four days amid accusations of manipulation and foul play by both sides, raising political tensions in Egypt to a fever pitch.

The delay plunged the country into nerve-wrecking anticipation and pushed tensions to a fever pitch. Parallel mass rallies by Shafiq and Morsi supporters were held in different parts of Cairo and cut-throat media attacks by supporters of both swarmed TV shows. In the hours before the announcement of the winner, the fear of new violence was palpable.

Heavy security was deployed around the country, especially outside state institutions, in anticipation of possible violence. Workers were sent home early from jobs, jewelry stores closed for fear of looting and many were stocking up on food and forming long lines at cash machines in case new troubles began.

Morsi narrowly defeated Shafiq with 51.7 percent of the vote versus 48.3, by a margin of only 800,000 votes, the election commission said. Turnout was 51 percent.

Farouk Sultan, the head of the commission, described the elections as “an important phase in the end of building our nascent democratic experience.”

Sultan went to pains to explain the more than 400 complaints presented by the two candidates challenging counting procedures and alleging attempts of rigging. It appeared to be an attempt to discredit claims that the election commission was biased in favor of Shafiq, the candidate perceived as backed by the military rulers.

The country is deeply divided between supporters of the Brotherhood, liberals and leftists who also decided to back them as a way to stand up to the military, and other secular forces that fear the domination of the Brotherhood, and grew critical of it in the past year. The small margin of victory for Morsi also sets him for a strong opposition from supporters of Shafiq, viewed as a representative of the old regime.

Naguib Sawiris, a Coptic Christian business tycoon who joined a liberal bloc in voicing opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood a day before the results were announced, said he expects the new president to send a reassuring message to Egypt’s Christian minority who represent around 10 percent of the population of 85 million.

“There are fears of imposing an Islamic state … where Christians don’t have same rights,” Sawiris told the private TV station CBC. Morsi “is required to prove the opposite. … We don’t want speeches or promises but in the coming period, it is about taking action. … He was not our choice but we are accepting it is a democratic choice.”

Hamdeen Sabahi, a leftist presidential candidate who came in a surprising third place in the first round of elections, asked Morsi to live up to his pledges to form a national coalition government and appoint presidential aides from different groups “that express the largest national consensus.”

Khaled Abdel-Hamid, a leading leftist politician, said Morsi must fight to get his powers back or he will lose any popular support he may have garnered.

“If he fights to get his power back, we will support him. But if he doesn’t fight back, then he is settling for siding with the military,” he said.

http://news.yahoo.com/islamist-morsi-elected-egypts-president-205842917.html


Is Mubarak Dying?

Confusion Over Mubarak Adds to Tension in Egypt 

By  and 

CAIRO — Egyptian officials maintained a conspicuous silence about former President Hosni Mubarak’s health on Wednesday, a day after the state news agency reported that his condition was so grave that he had to be transferred from the prison where he is serving a life sentence to a military hospital.

Officials said that Mr. Mubarak’s health deteriorated rapidly on Tuesday, and that he went into cardiac arrest and suffered a stroke before his transfer.

After those reports, his lawyers andEgypt’s ruling military generals said Mr. Mubarak was in critical condition, but alive. On Wednesday, security officials said that Mr. Mubarak was alive and breathing on his own. They described his condition as nearly stable.

The former president’s health has been a source of constant speculation and suspicion since his imprisonment. Mr. Mubarak has had health problems for years, but the flood of reports and scares in recent weeks led many Egyptians to believe that the military rulers, determined to move Mr. Mubarak out of a notorious prison, were using those accounts to prepare the public for such a move.

Low ranking security officers, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, speculated that the previous night’s reports that Mr. Mubarak was on the edge of death were part of a scheme to transport him out of Egypt for care. Indeed, many Egyptians on Wednesday wondered if the state news agency reports of his near death were all a morbid hoax.

Security outside the hospital where Mr. Mubarak was said to be staying was light for a facility housing the former head of state. Civilians came and went freely through a side door of the hospital on Wednesday, and two people leaving the grounds said they noticed no change in the hospital’s operations or security.

Mr. Mubarak had been in a prison medical ward since the beginning of the month, when he was given a life sentence in connection with the killings of demonstrators during the 18 days of protests that ended his rule.

The news of his failing health spread quickly through Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the uprising, where tens of thousands of people were protesting the military council governing Egypt. In recent days, the generals had moved to seize the kind of uncontested authority that the former president wielded during his nearly three decades in power.

The confusion over Mr. Mubarak’s health injected new volatility into the country’s growing political and constitutional crisis, even as the two candidates to replace Mr. Mubarak as president both declared themselves the winners of the weekend’s election.

Analysts marveled that Mr. Mubarak had lost consciousness at the climactic moment of the struggle over the future of the system he had defined for so long, and just two days after the vote to choose his successor.

“It is very Shakespearean,” said Diaa Rashwan, an analyst at Al Ahram Center, a state-financed research institute. “To himself, he is eternal. There can be nobody after him. He does not want to hear the name of his successor.”

On Monday, Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader, said he had won Egypt’s first competitive presidential election, beating Ahmed Shafik, Mr. Mubarak’s last prime minister, with 52 percent of the vote.

The votes were counted publicly at the polling stations, and Egyptian state news media reported the same count as the Brotherhood. Official vote results are expected to be announced this week, but on Tuesday, Mr. Shafik disputed several of the tallies, including those reported in the state news media, that forecast Mr. Morsi as the winner.

A spokesman for Mr. Shafik, Ahmad Sarhan, said without explanation that he had won with 51.5 percent of the vote. But that announcement seemed another tactic in a battle that began before voters went to the polls.

Last week, the generals dissolved Parliament, which was dominated by the Brotherhood, saying the move was justified because of a decision by a court of judges appointed by Mr. Mubarak. The generals also proceeded to issue their own interim constitution, entrenching their power while all but eviscerating the authority of the new president.

The interim constitution also provided the generals and the Mubarak-appointed judiciary with broad sway over the drafting of Egypt’s next permanent constitution.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/world/middleeast/official-silence-surrounds-mubaraks-condition-in-egypt-hospital.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp


Egypt’s democratic up hill battle

Top contenders fight to stay in Egypt election

Yasmine Saleh and Dina Zayed | Reuters

CAIRO (Reuters) – Three top contenders for Egypt’s presidency were scrambling to stay in the election race on Sunday after the authorities disqualified them on technical grounds, prompting one to say that a “major crisis” threatened the landmark vote.

The election is seen as the last step to democracy after more than a year of unstable army rule since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown by a street revolt. The generals are due to hand power to the new president by July 1 but the latest drama saw new accusations they were trying to prolong their influence.

Mubarak’s former spy chief Omar Suleiman drew an outcry from opponents of the old regime when he entered the race last week, only to be told late on Saturday that he had failed to secure enough signatures in one province to run.

Two leading Islamist candidates were also disqualified, one because he has a criminal record – dating from what was widely seen as a political trial under Mubarak – and the other because his mother had taken U.S. citizenship, state media said.

All three have 48 hours to appeal to the state election committeeagainst their exclusion. If their elimination is confirmed, it would redraw the electoral map just weeks before the vote gets under way in May.

“We will not give up our right to enter the presidential race,” said Murad Muhammed Ali, campaign manager for the Muslim Brotherhood‘s Khairat al-Shater, one of the three.

“There is an attempt by the old Mubarak regime to hijack the last stage of this transitional period and reproduce the old system of governance.”

The disqualifications add to the drama of a transition marked by spasms of violence and bitter political rivalries between Islamists, secular-minded reformists and remnants of the Mubarak order.

Shater, who became an immediate frontrunner after joining the election race in late March, was disqualified due to past criminal convictions. Brotherhood members were often jailed for their political activities under Mubarak, who excluded the movement from formal politics.

Anticipating Shater’s disqualification, the Brotherhood, which now dominates parliament following free elections held in the wake of Mubarak’s removal, had nominated Mohamed Mursi, head of its political party, as a reserve candidate.

VIOLATION

A lawyer for Salafi preacher Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, the most hardline of the various Islamists running for the post, said there would be a “a major crisis” now that his client was barred from the race.

On Friday, his supporters besieged the headquarters of the election commission, forcing it to evacuate the premises and suspend its work. Abu Ismail said the accusation that his mother held U.S. citizenship was fabricated by his political opponents.

“The presidential committee has violated all the rules of law,” Abu Ismail said in remarks published on his Facebook page. “If the official decision is to violate the constitution, they should be able to deal with the consequences.”

Military police and state security were guarding the headquarters of the election committee in Cairo on Sunday, state media reported.

Farouk Sultan, head of the presidential election commission, told Reuters a total of 10 of the 23 candidates had been disqualified.

Frontrunners still in the race include Amr Moussa, a former Arab League Secretary General and Egyptian foreign minister, and Abdul Moneim Abol Fotouh, who was expelled from the Brotherhood last year when he mounted his own presidential campaign.

In an interview with Reuters on Saturday, before his exclusion was announced, Suleiman said the domination of politics by the Brotherhood would hold the country back. But he said if he became president, the party could serve in his government and would be a vital part of Egyptian political life.

Suleiman, 74, said he was running for office in response to public demands for a counterweight to Islamist influence.

“This is why they sought me, as a balance between Islamists and civilian forces,” said Suleiman.

He describes himself as a devout Muslim but said that Egyptians fear their country is being turned into a theocracy.

The Brotherhood, in addition to dominating parliament, chairs an assembly that was formed to write a new constitution before a court suspended its activities last week. Liberal groups had walked out of the assembly, saying it failed to reflect Egypt’s diversity.

“Many people felt that the state is going to the Muslim Brotherhood – in parliament, in government and now the presidency,” Suleiman said, while conceding that the Brotherhood was “a very important segment of Egyptian society.”

 http://news.yahoo.com/top-contenders-fight-stay-egypt-election-162709675.html

Israel Iran War

Israel asks U.S. for arms that could aid Iran strike

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel has asked the United States for advanced “bunker-buster” bombs and refueling planes that could improve its ability to attack Iran’s underground nuclear sites, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

“Such a request was made” around the time of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s visit to Washington this week, the official said, confirming media reports.

But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue, played down as “unrealistic” reports that the United States would condition supplying the hardware on Israel promising not to attack Iran this year.

Netanyahu told Obama at a White House meeting on Monday that Israel had not yet decided on military action against Iran, sources close to the talks said.

Netanyahu has hinted that Israel could resort to force should Tehran – which denies suspicions that it is covertly trying to develop atomic bombs – continue to defy big powers’ diplomatic pressure to curb its nuclear program.

The risk of an Israeli-Iranian war troubles President Barack Obama, who is up for re-election in November and has cautioned against kindling more Middle East upheaval. A Gulf conflict could send oil prices rocketing upwards.

A front-page article in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv on Thursday said Obama had told Netanyahu that Washington would supply Israel with upgraded military equipment in return for assurances that there would be no attack on Iran in 2012.

Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal but its conventional firepower may not be enough to deliver lasting damage to Iran’s distant, dispersed and well-fortified facilities, many experts say.

Israel has limited stocks of older, smaller bunker-busters and a small fleet of refueling planes, all supplied by Washington.

Western powers suspect Iran’s uranium enrichment program is aimed at stockpiling fissile material for nuclear weapons. Iran says it is strictly for civilian energy uses.

http://news.yahoo.com/israel-asks-u-arms-could-aid-iran-strike-091024021.html

 


United Nations, Iran and the Atomic Bomb

Top U.N. inspectors in Iran talks on atom bomb accusations

By Parisa Hafezi | Reuters

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Senior U.N. inspectors arrived in Iran on Monday to push for transparency about its disputed nuclear program and several European states halted purchases of Iranian oil as part of Western moves to pile pressure on a defiant Tehran.

Iran denies Western accusations that it is covertly seeking the means to build nuclear weapons and has again vowed no nuclear retreat in recent weeks, but also voiced willingness to resume negotiations with world powers without preconditions.

The five-member International Atomic Energy Agency team, led by chief IAEA inspector Herman Nackaerts, planned two days of meetings in another attempt to get answers from Iran regarding intelligence suggesting its declared civilian nuclear energy program is a facade for researching ways to make atom bombs.

Nackaerts said on departure from Vienna that he wanted “concrete results” from the talks. His delegation was expected to seek, among other things, to question Iranian nuclear scientists and visit the Parchin military base believed to have been used for high-explosive tests relevant to nuclear warheads.

But Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi dampened speculation about increased IAEA access when he told the student news agency ISNA that the agency officials would not be going to any nuclear sites. “No. Their work has just begun,” Salehi said.

DIPLOMATIC IMPACT

Diplomats doubted that the talks would bring a breakthrough.

“I believe most are rather skeptical concerning the outcome because, well, Iran had a chance at the last meeting and didn’t seize it,” a senior Western official said, referring to the last trip by the senior IAEA team to Tehran at the end of January.

Referring to last week’s announcements by Iran of new nuclear advances, he said: “They send out the wrong signals that Iran is really willing to cooperate… We will wait and see what will come out of this meeting but we should be prepared that Iran might try some technical steps … to appear cooperative without really providing the necessary cooperation.”

The outcome of the discussions will have diplomatic repercussions because it could either deepen a stand-off that has stoked fears of war or provide scope to reduce tensions.

In a sign of Iranian concern about possible, last-resort air strikes by arch-enemies Israel or the United States, Tehran on Monday began a four-day military exercise in protecting its nuclear sites, according to Iranian media.

“(It) will practice coordination between the Revolutionary Guards and regular army and air defense units in establishing a defense umbrella over our vital centers, particularly nuclear facilities,” the labor news agency ILNA said.

The European Union enraged Tehran last month when it decided to slap a boycott on its oil from July 1. On Monday, the European Commission said Belgium, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands had already stopped buying Iranian oil, while Greece, Spain and Italy were cutting back on their purchases.

In retaliation for oil sanctions, Iran, the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter, has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, conduit for a third of the world’s seaborne oil, and the United States signaled it would use force to keep it open.

On Sunday, Iran’s oil ministry announced a retaliatory halt in oil sales to French and British companies, although that step will be largely symbolic as those firms had already greatly reduced purchases of Iranian crude.

The spiking tension over Iran’s nuclear activity, which Iranian officials say is solely for electricity generation, has put upward pressure on oil prices.

Deputy Oil Minister Ahmad Qalebani suggested the Western crackdown would backfire, saying that in targeting Iranian oil the West had achieved only a surge in crude prices from $103 a barrel to $120, “and it will reach $150”.

In remarks carried by the official news agency IRNA on Monday, Qalebani also said that if other EU states continued “their hostile behavior towards Iran, we will cut our oil exports to those countries … Fortunately demand for Iran’s crude has not decreased. Instead it has increased.”

But the EU could cope with an abrupt halt by Iran of its oil exports as buyers of Iranian oil are already adjusting to the EU’s forthcoming ban on Iranian shipments, an International Energy Agency (IEA) official said on Monday.

China, in rare criticism of one of its major oil suppliers, rebuked Iran over the move to bar sales to Britain and France.

“We have consistently upheld dialogue and negotiation as the way to resolve disputes between countries, and do not approve of exerting pressure or using confrontation to resolve issues,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a news briefing when asked about the matter.

China buys around 20 percent of total Iranian oil exports.

Debt-ridden Greece is most exposed to Iranian crude disruption among EU countries. [ID:nL5E8DJ088]

MILITARY ACTION?

Iran says its nuclear program is wholly peaceful but its refusal to curb uranium enrichment, which can have both civilian and military ends, while shifting a key part of it to a remote mountain bunker protected from air strikes and continuing to restrict IAEA access, has raised suspicions. [ID:nL5E8D33E6]

The United States and Israel have not ruled out using force against Iran if diplomacy and sanctions fail to rein it in, and there has been intense public discussion in Israel about whether it should attack Iran to stop it “weaponizing” enrichment.

The top U.S. military officer said on Sunday that a military strike would be premature as it remained unclear whether Tehran would put its nuclear capabilities to developing a bomb, saying he believed the Tehran government was a “rational actor”. [ID:nL2E8DJ0IG]

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong said using force would be the wrong answer. “Attacking Iran militarily would only worsen the confrontation and lead to further upheaval in the region,” he said.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor, who also holds the intelligence portfolio, said the sanctions regime had been toughened to the point of causing “hysteria” in Iran.

“All this shows the pressure which this regime is under, but they have not yet decided to shut down their nuclear effort, so the struggle is on,” Meridor told reporters in Jerusalem. “I think there is a chance of success (for sanctions) if it they are done with determination, persistence and leadership.”

The West has expressed some optimism at the prospect of new talks with Tehran, particularly after it sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last week promising to bring “new initiatives” to the table with six world powers without stating preconditions. [ID:nL2E8DH6UT]

“In these negotiations, we are looking for a way out of Iran’s current nuclear issue so that both sides win,” Iranian TV quoted Foreign Minister Salehi as saying on Sunday. The last round of talks collapsed in January last year.

Oil is a pillar part of Iran’s export revenues and an important lifeline for its increasingly isolated economy. Tehran has little refining capacity and must import about 40 percent of its gasoline needs for domestic consumption.

Tighter sanctions, combined with high inflation, have squeezed the ability of working-class Iranians to feed themselves and their families, and this uncertainty will cloud a parliamentary election on March 2.

“Everything’s become so expensive in the past few weeks,” said Marjan Hamidi, a shopper in Tehran. “But my husband’s income stays the same. How am I going to live like this?”

(Additional reporting by Ramin Mostafavi in Tehran, Susan Cornwell in Washington, Fredrik Dahl in Vienna and Crispian Balmer in Jerusalem; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/iran-halts-oil-sales-uk-france-eve-talks-030432361.html