Ahmadinejad’s Economic Savvy

September 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

‘He’s giving back half of the 60 billion dollars in savings directly to the people in monthly deposits. So every Iranian, man woman and child, is eligible to receive the equivalent of 40 dollars a month.’

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

2011-08-26T105634Z_682489454_GM1E78Q1GTX01_RTRMADP_3_IRAN-PALESTINIANS-AHMADINEJAD

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waves to worshippers before speaking at Friday prayers on Jerusalem Day in Tehran August 26, 2011.

REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

From the White House to London’s House of Commons and beyond…few Westerners have anything nice to say about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But there’s one group that has glowing words of praise for Iran’s President – and it’s based not in Tehran, but in Washington.

The International Monetary Fund’s latest report paints a pretty picture of Iran’s economy.

It says growth has hit 3.2%, and will accelerate still further.

Inflation has dropped from 25% to 12% in just two years.

And Tehran has managed to do what every major oil exporter can only dream of accomplishing: It’s slashed subsidies on gas to recoup 60 billion dollars in annual revenue. That one-sixth of Iran’s entire GDP.

Why is this happening? And how can it be despite years of economic sanctions?

What in the world is going on?

Some say the IMF’s numbers can’t be right.

But we have no reason to doubt their work. The fund reasserted this week that its projections were independent of the government.

The real story here is that Iran has actually begun implementing some economic reforms. For decades now, Iranian leaders have tried to wean its people off cheap oil – oil that is subsidized by the government.

Cheap oil that has no connection to real market prices is not sustainable. Iran knows it, and so does every country from Saudi Arabia to Venezuela. But in the same way that any talk of tax increases here in America is considered heresy, people in oil-rich countries believe as an article of faith that they deserve cheap oil.

So how did Iran finally cut out the freebies?

The backstory is a complex game of chess between Ahmadinejad and someone much more powerful – the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

One theory goes like this: The Ayatollah thought cutting subsidies would make Ahmadinejad deeply unpopular. An ensuing revolt would then remove the one man who’s come to challenge the Supreme Leader’s power.

Another theory is that Ahmadinejad felt confident enough to go ahead with the reforms because he’s crushed the opposition Green Movement.

Either way, he’s played a smart hand. He’s giving back half of the 60 billion dollars in savings directly to the people in monthly deposits.

So every Iranian, man woman and child, is eligible to receive the equivalent of 40 dollars a month.

That kind of money won’t make any difference to Tehran’s upper classes.

But that’s not Ahmadinejad’s constituency.

On the other hand if you’re poor, if you have many children, and if you make sure the whole family signs up for the deposits, you’ll probably be saying “Thanks, Mr. President”.

The key thing to note here is that President Ahmadinejad had no choice, and neither did the Ayatollah.

Iran could not afford the subsidies anymore. Its economy is highly dysfunctional with many massive distortions and subsidies. And Washington’s recent targeted sanctions are beginning to bite.

It is now harder than ever before for Iran to do business with the world. Most of the major international traders of refined petroleum have stopped dealing with Iran. Tehran now has to rely on much costlier overland shipments for its exports.

And it is now almost impossible to conduct dollar-denominated transactions with Iran. So we were left with the bizarre case last month of China resorting to the barter system to pay Iran for 20 billion dollars worth of oil.

The IMF has a point. Iran is implementing some needed reforms and as a result its economy is doing better. The irony is that it’s happening – in some part – because of our sanctions. Talk about unintended consequences.

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Timeline of Events in Strauss-Kahn Case

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

NEW YORK (Reuters) – International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is being held in a prison in New York on charges that he attempted to rape a maid at a New York hotel on Saturday.
Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have denied the charges.

The scandal has appeared to wreck his hopes of running for president of France and has prompted calls for new leadership of the IMF which oversees the world economy.

Here is a timeline of events:

FRIDAY AFTERNOON – Strauss-Kahn checked into a $3,000 a night suite at the luxury Sofitel hotel in midtown Manhattan, which a law enforcement source said he was paying a discounted rate of $800.
The suite has a foyer, a conference room, a living room and a bedroom. The 30-storey hotel has an Art Deco restaurant and bar called Gaby, which the website (www.sofitel.com) says serves “French flair in a glamorous setting.’’

The hotel is near Times Square, Broadway theaters, Fifth Avenue shopping and Central Park.

SATURDAY ABOUT 12:00 P.M. EDT (1600 GMT) – A 32-year-old maid entered Strauss-Kahn’s suite, room 2806, which she apparently thought was unoccupied.

Following routine procedure, the maid announced herself when she entered the suite, and left the front door to the suite unlocked and ajar, a law enforcement said. She entered the living room and saw nobody. Then she opened the door to the bedroom, where she saw Strauss Kahn, naked. She apologized and said she would come back later, and started to leave the room.

Strauss-Kahn allegedly ran after the maid and, according to the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors, shut the door of his hotel room, preventing her from leaving. He grabbed the victim’s chest without consent, attempted to remove her pantyhose, and forcibly grabbed the victim’s vaginal area. His penis made contact with the victim’s mouth twice through the use of force, prosecutors said.
The woman fled and reported the incident to her supervisor who called police. Strauss-Kahn left the hotel, leaving behind his mobile phone.

An ambulance was called to the hotel and the woman was taken to a hospital where she was treated and released.

SATURDAY, 12.28 P.M. – Strauss-Kahn checked out of the Sofitel hotel, according to court papers filed by his lawyers with the New York State Supreme Court on Wednesday.

SATURDAY, 12.45 P.M. – Strauss-Kahn “proceeded to a previously scheduled lunch a few blocks away’’ from the Sofitel hotel, according to the court papers.

SATURDAY, about 1:30 P.M. – Security staff at the Sofitel called police to report the alleged sexual assault, a law enforcement source told Reuters. The first police units arrived at the hotel at 1:45 pm, the source said.

SATURDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – “Strauss-Kahn was driven to John F. Kennedy International Airport to catch an Air France flight to Paris, which was scheduled to depart at 4:40 p.m. A seat for Mr. Strauss-Kahn had been reserved on that particular flight approximately one week in advance,’’ court papers filed by defense lawyers said.

SATURDAY, about 3.30 P.M. – Strauss-Kahn called the hotel to ask about his missing mobile phone.

Police were still at the hotel and asked the staff member speaking to Strauss-Kahn to tell him an urgent effort would be made to return the phone. Strauss-Kahn told the hotel staff member to bring the phone to him at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

SATURDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – Strauss-Kahn boarded Air France flight 23 for Paris at New York’s JFK airport and was seated in the first class section. He had been due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Europe on Sunday and attend meetings on the region’s debt crisis on Monday.

SATURDAY about 4:40 P.M. – Police from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages the bridges, tunnels and airports in the area, boarded the flight minutes before it was due to depart and detained Strauss-Kahn. He was not handcuffed.

The Port Authority police turned him over to New York Police Department detectives from the Midtown South Precinct, which covers the area of Manhattan where the Sofitel hotel is located. They handcuffed him.

Strauss-Kahn made no statements and requested a lawyer. He was taken to the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit in the Harlem neighborhood, where he was kept in a room reserved for questioning. He made no statements and declined any food. The Special Victims Unit investigates sex crimes.

SATURDAY NIGHT/SUNDAY MORNING, TIME UNKNOWN – The consul general of France met with Strauss-Kahn under the regular rules of consular protection for all French citizens detained abroad, said Marie-Laure Charrier, a spokeswoman for the French consulate in New York.

SUNDAY 1:15 A.M. – Brafman told Reuters in an email that the IMF chief would plead not guilty.

Brafman is a high-profile criminal lawyer who was part of Michael Jackson’s legal team that successfully defended the pop singer against child molestation charges in 2005. Brafman also won an acquittal on weapons and bribery charges for rap mogul Sean “P. Diddy’’ Combs.

SUNDAY 2:15 A.M. – Strauss-Kahn was arrested and charged with a criminal sexual act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment. Strauss-Kahn spent the night at the Special Victims Unit, which is on the second floor of a red brick and concrete building, sleeping in a chair with his feet propped up in another chair.

SUNDAY MORNING, TIME UNKNOWN – Strauss-Kahn ate a breakfast of home fries, scrambled eggs and toast brought in from an outside diner, a law enforcement said.

SUNDAY 11 A.M. – Strauss-Kahn’s wife, French television personality Anne Sinclair, said in a statement: “I do not believe for a single second the accusations leveled against my husband … I do not doubt his innocence will be established.’’

SUNDAY 1 P.M. – Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, Brafman and William Taylor, arrived and spent half an hour with their client. Brafman again said Strauss-Kahn would plead not guilty.

SUNDAY 2 P.M. – Sofitel New York manager Jorge Tito said in a statement sent by property owner Accor in Paris that the maid who made the allegations had worked for the hotel for three years and was “completely satisfactory in terms of her work and behavior.’’

SUNDAY 3.30 P.M. – Brafman and Taylor arrived and spent 45 minutes with Strauss-Kahn.

SUNDAY 3.50 P.M. – The maid arrived at the Special Victims Unit in a van and shielded by police with a white sheet from photographers. She spent 40 minutes there. She identified Strauss-Kahn in a lineup, a NYPD spokesman said. “It was a standard lineup — six people,’’ he said.

SUNDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – Strauss-Kahn ate a ham and cheese sandwich with mustard and drinks a bottle of water, a law enforcement source said.

SUNDAY 10.30 P.M. – Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers told reporters on the steps of Manhattan Criminal Court that his court appearance had been postponed so he could undergo a “scientific and forensic’’ examination that had been requested by investigators. Taylor said Strauss-Kahn was “tired but fine.’’

SUNDAY 11 P.M. – A handcuffed Strauss-Kahn, wearing black pants, a blue dress shirt and a black overcoat, was escorted from the Special Victims Unit by detectives. He was taken to Kings County Hospital in the New York City borough of Brooklyn where he was examined by forensic technicians who specialize in investigating sexual assault cases.

MONDAY about 3.30 A.M – Strauss-Kahn’s mug shot was taken at the Manhattan Criminal Court building detention center, best known as “The Tombs,’’ where he spent the night. The photo showed him looking haggard, his eyes downcast and his shirt collar open.

MONDAY 10.50 A.M. – Strauss-Kahn entered Manhattan Criminal Court for his hearing. Before his appearance, other defendants appeared before the judge in the media-packed courtroom on charges including drug possession, criminal trespassing and delinquency.

Strauss-Kahn appeared to be dressed in the same clothes he was wearing on Sunday and looked tired and grim.

MONDAY 12 P.M – Strauss-Kahn was denied bail. He is due to reappear in court on May 20.

MONDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – Strauss-Kahn was transferred to Rikers Island jail and held in protective custody in an 11 foot by 13 foot cell, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Correction said.

TUESDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – At Strauss-Kahn’s request, the French consul general visited him at Rikers Island jail, a consul spokesman said.

WEDNESDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – The French consul general again visited Strauss-Kahn, a consul spokesman said.

WEDNESDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers lodged an appeal seeking bail with the New York State Supreme Court. They want him released on bail of $1 million in cash and placed under 24-hour home detention with electronic monitoring, according to the court papers. A bail hearing is due to be held on Thursday. It is unclear whether Strauss-Kahn will attend.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, Edith Honan and Basil Katz in New York and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Paul Simao)

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Timeline of Events in Strauss-Kahn Case

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

NEW YORK (Reuters) – International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn is being held in a prison in New York on charges that he attempted to rape a maid at a New York hotel on Saturday.
Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have denied the charges.

The scandal has appeared to wreck his hopes of running for president of France and has prompted calls for new leadership of the IMF which oversees the world economy.

Here is a timeline of events:

FRIDAY AFTERNOON – Strauss-Kahn checked into a $3,000 a night suite at the luxury Sofitel hotel in midtown Manhattan, which a law enforcement source said he was paying a discounted rate of $800.
The suite has a foyer, a conference room, a living room and a bedroom. The 30-storey hotel has an Art Deco restaurant and bar called Gaby, which the website (www.sofitel.com) says serves “French flair in a glamorous setting.’’

The hotel is near Times Square, Broadway theaters, Fifth Avenue shopping and Central Park.

SATURDAY ABOUT 12:00 P.M. EDT (1600 GMT) – A 32-year-old maid entered Strauss-Kahn’s suite, room 2806, which she apparently thought was unoccupied.

Following routine procedure, the maid announced herself when she entered the suite, and left the front door to the suite unlocked and ajar, a law enforcement said. She entered the living room and saw nobody. Then she opened the door to the bedroom, where she saw Strauss Kahn, naked. She apologized and said she would come back later, and started to leave the room.

Strauss-Kahn allegedly ran after the maid and, according to the criminal complaint filed by prosecutors, shut the door of his hotel room, preventing her from leaving. He grabbed the victim’s chest without consent, attempted to remove her pantyhose, and forcibly grabbed the victim’s vaginal area. His penis made contact with the victim’s mouth twice through the use of force, prosecutors said.
The woman fled and reported the incident to her supervisor who called police. Strauss-Kahn left the hotel, leaving behind his mobile phone.

An ambulance was called to the hotel and the woman was taken to a hospital where she was treated and released.

SATURDAY, 12.28 P.M. – Strauss-Kahn checked out of the Sofitel hotel, according to court papers filed by his lawyers with the New York State Supreme Court on Wednesday.

SATURDAY, 12.45 P.M. – Strauss-Kahn “proceeded to a previously scheduled lunch a few blocks away’’ from the Sofitel hotel, according to the court papers.

SATURDAY, about 1:30 P.M. – Security staff at the Sofitel called police to report the alleged sexual assault, a law enforcement source told Reuters. The first police units arrived at the hotel at 1:45 pm, the source said.

SATURDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – “Strauss-Kahn was driven to John F. Kennedy International Airport to catch an Air France flight to Paris, which was scheduled to depart at 4:40 p.m. A seat for Mr. Strauss-Kahn had been reserved on that particular flight approximately one week in advance,’’ court papers filed by defense lawyers said.

SATURDAY, about 3.30 P.M. – Strauss-Kahn called the hotel to ask about his missing mobile phone.

Police were still at the hotel and asked the staff member speaking to Strauss-Kahn to tell him an urgent effort would be made to return the phone. Strauss-Kahn told the hotel staff member to bring the phone to him at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

SATURDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – Strauss-Kahn boarded Air France flight 23 for Paris at New York’s JFK airport and was seated in the first class section. He had been due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Europe on Sunday and attend meetings on the region’s debt crisis on Monday.

SATURDAY about 4:40 P.M. – Police from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages the bridges, tunnels and airports in the area, boarded the flight minutes before it was due to depart and detained Strauss-Kahn. He was not handcuffed.

The Port Authority police turned him over to New York Police Department detectives from the Midtown South Precinct, which covers the area of Manhattan where the Sofitel hotel is located. They handcuffed him.

Strauss-Kahn made no statements and requested a lawyer. He was taken to the NYPD’s Special Victims Unit in the Harlem neighborhood, where he was kept in a room reserved for questioning. He made no statements and declined any food. The Special Victims Unit investigates sex crimes.

SATURDAY NIGHT/SUNDAY MORNING, TIME UNKNOWN – The consul general of France met with Strauss-Kahn under the regular rules of consular protection for all French citizens detained abroad, said Marie-Laure Charrier, a spokeswoman for the French consulate in New York.

SUNDAY 1:15 A.M. – Brafman told Reuters in an email that the IMF chief would plead not guilty.

Brafman is a high-profile criminal lawyer who was part of Michael Jackson’s legal team that successfully defended the pop singer against child molestation charges in 2005. Brafman also won an acquittal on weapons and bribery charges for rap mogul Sean “P. Diddy’’ Combs.

SUNDAY 2:15 A.M. – Strauss-Kahn was arrested and charged with a criminal sexual act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment. Strauss-Kahn spent the night at the Special Victims Unit, which is on the second floor of a red brick and concrete building, sleeping in a chair with his feet propped up in another chair.

SUNDAY MORNING, TIME UNKNOWN – Strauss-Kahn ate a breakfast of home fries, scrambled eggs and toast brought in from an outside diner, a law enforcement said.

SUNDAY 11 A.M. – Strauss-Kahn’s wife, French television personality Anne Sinclair, said in a statement: “I do not believe for a single second the accusations leveled against my husband … I do not doubt his innocence will be established.’’

SUNDAY 1 P.M. – Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, Brafman and William Taylor, arrived and spent half an hour with their client. Brafman again said Strauss-Kahn would plead not guilty.

SUNDAY 2 P.M. – Sofitel New York manager Jorge Tito said in a statement sent by property owner Accor in Paris that the maid who made the allegations had worked for the hotel for three years and was “completely satisfactory in terms of her work and behavior.’’

SUNDAY 3.30 P.M. – Brafman and Taylor arrived and spent 45 minutes with Strauss-Kahn.

SUNDAY 3.50 P.M. – The maid arrived at the Special Victims Unit in a van and shielded by police with a white sheet from photographers. She spent 40 minutes there. She identified Strauss-Kahn in a lineup, a NYPD spokesman said. “It was a standard lineup — six people,’’ he said.

SUNDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – Strauss-Kahn ate a ham and cheese sandwich with mustard and drinks a bottle of water, a law enforcement source said.

SUNDAY 10.30 P.M. – Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers told reporters on the steps of Manhattan Criminal Court that his court appearance had been postponed so he could undergo a “scientific and forensic’’ examination that had been requested by investigators. Taylor said Strauss-Kahn was “tired but fine.’’

SUNDAY 11 P.M. – A handcuffed Strauss-Kahn, wearing black pants, a blue dress shirt and a black overcoat, was escorted from the Special Victims Unit by detectives. He was taken to Kings County Hospital in the New York City borough of Brooklyn where he was examined by forensic technicians who specialize in investigating sexual assault cases.

MONDAY about 3.30 A.M – Strauss-Kahn’s mug shot was taken at the Manhattan Criminal Court building detention center, best known as “The Tombs,’’ where he spent the night. The photo showed him looking haggard, his eyes downcast and his shirt collar open.

MONDAY 10.50 A.M. – Strauss-Kahn entered Manhattan Criminal Court for his hearing. Before his appearance, other defendants appeared before the judge in the media-packed courtroom on charges including drug possession, criminal trespassing and delinquency.

Strauss-Kahn appeared to be dressed in the same clothes he was wearing on Sunday and looked tired and grim.

MONDAY 12 P.M – Strauss-Kahn was denied bail. He is due to reappear in court on May 20.

MONDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – Strauss-Kahn was transferred to Rikers Island jail and held in protective custody in an 11 foot by 13 foot cell, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Correction said.

TUESDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – At Strauss-Kahn’s request, the French consul general visited him at Rikers Island jail, a consul spokesman said.

WEDNESDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – The French consul general again visited Strauss-Kahn, a consul spokesman said.

WEDNESDAY, TIME UNKNOWN – Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers lodged an appeal seeking bail with the New York State Supreme Court. They want him released on bail of $1 million in cash and placed under 24-hour home detention with electronic monitoring, according to the court papers. A bail hearing is due to be held on Thursday. It is unclear whether Strauss-Kahn will attend.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, Edith Honan and Basil Katz in New York and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Paul Simao)

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