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Obama hails Iran’s release of hostages for 7 prisoners and sanction relief as ‘historic progress’ (a Sunday open thread)

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By Doug Powers  •  January 17, 2016 10:40 AM

**Written by Doug Powers

Sunday open thread time! A few things to get it rolling…

First off, from the “With Friends Like These…” department:

Given the events of the past few days including Iran using detained U.S. sailors to score propaganda points, reporting these developments as a “new era of international relations” seems to be a bit of pro-Obama oversell:

The United States and Iran moved into a new era of international relations Saturday, with the implementation of a landmark agreement on Iran’s nuclear program on a drama-filled day that also saw the release of imprisoned Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and four other Americans.

U.S. and European officials lifted the harshest economic sanctions against Tehran after the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog certified that the Islamic republic had fully complied with promises to curtail key parts of its nuclear program. Hours before diplomats in the Austrian capital hailed the official activation of the nuclear deal, Iran confirmed the release of Rezaian and the other American detainees, set free in exchange for U.S. clemency offered to seven Iranians charged or imprisoned for sanctions violations and the dismissal of outstanding charges against 14 Iranians outside the United States.

To sweeten the deal with Tehran, the Obama admin will not impose new sanctions planned in response to Iran violating old sanctions by conducting a prohibited missile test. Sanctions against a regime that obviously doesn’t respect sanction provisions might have been considered futile anyway.

Iran’s president declared it a victory and the White House is of course patting itself on the back:

The release of Pastor Saeed Abedini, Jason Rezaian and the others is a good thing, but there are many who won’t consider trading prisoners and making other concessions to get a state sponsor of terrorism to release unjustly imprisoned hostages to be “historic progress.” One person’s “progress” is another’s “ransom demand.”

*****

Kim Jong-un would like sanctions lifted against North Korea and wants his own version of the US/Iran nuclear agreement. If he’s been paying attention, Kim’s first step toward that goal will be to take some people with U.S. citizenship hostage.

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There’s another Democrat debate tonight, but Sanders’ refusal to take aim where it would hurt his opponent the most (emails, preaching about a GOP “war on women” and sexism while having aided and abetted her husband by managing “bimbo eruptions,” etc) means Hillary’s nomination is all but a done deal — unless she’s indicted.

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Almost everybody knows the kind of thing Ted Cruz was referring to when he talked about “New York values” at the GOP debate, but in critical response, Donald Trump swung for the fences so hard he might have struck out and dislocated his shoulders in the process:

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Trump didn’t let up on Cruz this morning (via @JimGeraghty):

“I don’t think Ted Cruz has a great chance, to be honest with you,” Trump said this morning to ABC News ‘George Stephanopoulos. “Look, the truth is, he’s a nasty guy. He was so nice to me. I mean, I knew it. I was watching. I kept saying, ‘Come on Ted. Let’s go, okay.’ But he’s a nasty guy. Nobody likes him. Nobody in Congress likes him. Nobody likes him anywhere once they get to know him.

Congress has an 11 percent approval rating, so the last person who will object to Trump claiming “nobody in Congress likes Ted Cruz” is Ted Cruz.

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Hillary Clinton thinks a flat tax would be too unfair:

What’s more fair than everybody paying the same percentage? It’s almost like Hillary’s not really concerned about being truly “fair.”

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New details in the back story continues to show that Sean Penn’s “interview” with El Chapo quickly turned to el crapo. Just how badly was it for Penn?

The transcripts published Wednesday by the newspaper Milenio — and confirmed as authentic by a federal official — showed that Guzman’s main concern was getting face-to-face get-togethers with Del Castillo, and that he didn’t even really know who Sean Penn was.

Penn has acknowledged he tagged along for the Oct. 2 meeting at a mountain hideout originally set up by Del Castillo.

One of the world’s most notorious drug kingpins wasn’t familiar with the guy who played Jeff Spicoli? Amazing.

Have a good Sunday all!

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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