By Dialogo February 11, 2013 The United States took a number of actions on January 7 to tighten sanctions on Iran’s access to its oil revenues and further expose the Iranian government’s continued abuse of human rights. Key provisions of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 (TRA) that went into effect that day, expand the scope of sanctionable transactions with the Central Bank of Iran and designated Iranian financial institutions by restricting Iran’s ability to use oil revenue held in foreign financial institutions as well as preventing repatriation of those funds to Iran. The U.S. Department of the Treasury, in consultation with the U.S. Department of State, also designated one individual and four entities for their involvement in the Iranian government’s censorship activities. These censorship activities restrict the free flow of information in Iran and punish Iranian citizens who are attempting to exercise freedom of assembly and expression. “Our policy is clear – so long as Iran continues to fail to address the concerns of the international community about its nuclear program, the U.S. will impose tighter sanctions and intensify the economic pressure against the Iranian regime,” said Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. “We will also target those in Iran who are responsible for human rights abuses, especially those who deny the Iranian people their basic freedoms of expression, assembly and speech.” January 7 marked 180 days since President Obama signed the TRA. Section 504 of the TRA amends existing sanctions in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA) that target the Central Bank of Iran, designated Iranian financial institutions and Iran’s energy sector. At the 180-day mark, section 504 narrowed the exception for countries that have significantly reduced their purchases of Iranian crude oil so that the exception now only applies to financial transactions that facilitate bilateral trade between the country granted the exception and Iran. For the exception to apply to a financial transaction, funds owed to Iran as a result of such bilateral trade will now have to be credited to an account located in the country granted the exception and may not be repatriated to Iran. This provision will significantly increase economic pressure on Iran by restricting Iran’s repatriation of oil revenue. In addition to effectively “locking up” Iranian oil revenue overseas, this provision sharply restricts Iran’s use of this revenue for bilateral trade and severely limits Iran’s ability to move funds across jurisdictions.
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York In the opening minutes of Kristina Borjesson’s devastating new documentary on the fate of TWA Flight 800, one of the eyewitnesses who saw the crash unfold points to the horizon and tells the camera, “All of a sudden I see something rise up from those trees over there!”As many Long Islanders will never forget, the sun had barely set that perfect July day and the twilight sky was clear. The jet airliner had just taken off from JFK International Airport with 230 people on board headed for Paris when it suddenly exploded 10 miles off East Moriches.Now, on the 17th anniversary of the July 17, 1996 tragedy, one of America’s most controversial aviation investigations takes the spotlight at the Stony Brook Film Festival.“With the festival being less than 20 miles from the memorial site [on Fire Island at Smith Point], I felt we were the perfect venue for this film,” says Alan Inkles, founder and director of the film festival now in its 18th year. He saw an early version of TWA Flight 800 in the spring, calling it both personal and universal at the same time. “I was extremely taken by both the subject matter and its exceptional work as a film,” he says.“We feel that this is very much a Long Island story,” says Borjesson, an Emmy Award-winning journalist, who wrote, directed and co-produced the film. “There are a lot of eyewitnesses who live on Long Island, and we felt it was appropriate to have a screening where everybody there could see it, and it would get attention.”As she tells the Long Island Press, almost a hundred people, all unrelated and in different locations along the South Shore, saw the entire incident, from the moment streaks of light shot from the surface and intersected the jetliner to when the plane burst into a fireball and plummeted into the Atlantic Ocean.The government’s official explanation is that one of the fuel tanks onboard caught fire when an electrical wire supposedly short-circuited. But as six former members of the investigation’s team who finally broke their silence to appear in public reveal in this emotionally riveting film, that explanation just doesn’t fly—and they hope it never will again.This documentary premieres July 17 on the EPIX cable network, a joint venture of Viacom, MGM and Lionsgate, available through Verizon FiOS and the DISH Network. It will get its Festival premiere screening on July 20 at 3 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with Borjesson and Tom Stalcup, a physicist in Massachusetts who devoted his life to unlocking the truth about what happened after seeing an animation of the crash that the CIA had produced which he found unscientific and unbelievable. Jeff Sagansky, a former president of CBS Broadcasting, where Borjesson once worked, is executive producer.After TWA Flight 800 exploded off Fire Island, investigators collected its damaged parts from the ocean floor and reassembled the Boeing 747 in a hangar at Calverton Airport in Riverhead. (Photos courtesy EPIX)“This is the first documentary on TWA Flight 800 that deals strictly with firsthand sources, people who handled the evidence, with the exception of Tom,” she says. Among the key members of the original investigation team who came forward to speak in this documentary are Hank Hughes, senior accident investigator for TWA now retired; Bob Young, chief accident investigator for TWA now retired; and James Speer, the Air Line Pilot Association’s representative/investigator, also retired. “They’re experts and they know what they’re talking about,” Borjesson says.EVIDENCE TAMPERINGAs reports of this documentary’s forensic assertions started to trickle out to the media in the weeks leading up to the premiere, James Kallstrom, the retired head of the FBI’s New York office, and others have started pushing back, hard.Kallstrom had become the public face of the 1996 inquiry once the FBI declared it a “criminal investigation” and took it over from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which routinely handles domestic aviation accidents. In the documentary, the civilian investigators say they found holes in parts of the fuselage that FBI agents wouldn’t let them photograph as well as traces of nitrates on parts of the plane that the bureau wouldn’t let them test independently. They reported agents were hammering parts of the plane flat and changing evidence tags on debris. Just as tellingly, Speer found that an underwater video taken of the recovery effort was expurgated and he was rebuffed when he asked to see the original version, which would have helped investigators reconstruct the timeline of the crash.Now back in the media glare, Kallstrom has tried a multi-pronged approach. He said the evidence cited in the documentary was recycled and discredited—a false claim as the documentary makes unmistakably clear—and he questioned the investigators’ motives.“If they were so committed…why did they wait until they retired?” he asked news outlets.“They didn’t wait,” counters Borjesson adamantly. “They spoke up. And Jim Speer…almost got himself kicked off the investigation twice…. After TWA Flight 800, Hank was relegated to [investigating] minor accidents. He was punished for what he did. Kallstrom doesn’t mention that!”Ironically, the night of the crash, Borjesson, whose husband is French, had gone to bed early after sending her 11-year-old son off on an Air France flight to Paris to see his relatives. She’d just finished wrapping up a show for CBS Reports on Fidel Castro and went home exhausted.She was woken up out of a deep sleep by a phone call at 9 p.m.“My neighbor says, ‘Was that your son’s plane that just went down?’” Borjesson recalls. “And for a minute, I felt what those victims’ family members were feeling. I will never forget that feeling.”Her son’s plane had departed five minutes behind Flight 800. The next day when she went to work, she was assigned to cover the TWA crash, launching her on the long, turbulent journey that will bring her to Stony Brook later this month to reveal what her years of investigative journalism have found.In one scene of the new documentary, shot inside the Cradle of Aviation Museum, two retired aviation accident investigators join physicist Tom Stalcup to air their doubts.Once the FBI took over the inquiry, they wouldn’t let the NTSB investigators interview the eyewitnesses as they normally would have in a typical airline crash follow-up. And the media, from the New York Times to NBC News, swallowed what officials were pushing: that the witnesses “were not credible.”“You have high-ranking sources [in the government] giving you the inside scoop,” Borjesson says of her former colleagues in the Fourth Estate. “But the inside scoop is bullet points of their agenda…. All these high-level people are just telling you what they want you to think because they already have an outcome in mind.”For her film, which cost about $500,000 to make, Borjesson wanted to question William Perry, who was Secretary of Defense in 1996, because “we think the Secretary of Defense has knowledge that is pertinent to this event.” He declined to participate, as did the man who appointed him to the post, President Bill Clinton.Over the years some people have speculated that what the witnesses saw were missiles possibly fired by Navy vessels. The documentary will not go there.Borjesson said her collaborator, Tom Stalcup, “doesn’t want to go one millimeter further than the evidence, the math and the facts will take him.”And that’s why she would not use the word “missile” in her documentary.“We call them ‘objects’ for a reason,” Borjesson says. “We want the official investigation reopened so they can be identified.”With that goal in mind, the investigators cited in the film have filed a petition for reconsideration with the NTSB, as well as another lawsuit against the CIA. Stalcup had obtained heavily redacted documents from the CIA in his lawsuit filed several years ago, which shows CIA analysts taking the eyewitness reports and apparently concocting a scenario to explain that hundreds of people on Long Island did not see what they said they saw.Now everyone can judge for themselves—something the NTSB may be dreading.The Stony Brook Film Festival will show a mix of new independent features, documentaries and short films at the Staller Center from July 18 to July 27. Besides TWA Flight 800, other domestic and foreign films will be premiered and indie filmmaker Christine Vachon, whose feature Boys Don’t Cry won an Academy Award for actress Hilary Swank, will be presented with a career achievement award. Vachon has recently joined the Stony Brook Southampton Arts faculty. For more info, call 631-632-2787 or visit www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com.
Hooker Deer Drag owners Steve and Roberta Huster will be featured on a Discovery Channel show Tuesday.SUNMAN, Ind. – Hooker Deer Drag will be a featured on the Discovery Channel’s ‘Billy Bob’s Gags to Riches’ tonight at 10 p.m.Steve Huster invented and received a design patent for the product that allows hunters to drag and load deer with ease.He and his wife, Roberta, were at a trade show in Pennsylvania last February when Discovery Channel producers approached them about the show.“I was very hesitant about it because it was pitched to us as this is a show about Jonah White, who sells the Billy Bob teeth,” Roberta recalled.White is now the CEO of a multi-million dollar gag-gift empire and uses the show to help find new products to add to the Billy Bob line.The couple was concerned about appearing on reality television as other shows may look to humiliate guests.“They said it is nothing like that,” Roberta continued. “We think you have something great we love your slogan and if nothing else you will get great publicity out of it and over one million people will see the show.”Will the Husters make a deal with Jonah White? You’ll have to watch the show to find out.“We had to sign a confidentiality agreement,” Roberta explained.Steve added “and we are not exactly sure what is going to be on there either!”
INDUSTRIAL Supply Guyana (ISG) has come on board in support of the upcoming International Drag race event called 1320 Heat.The 1320 Heat drag racing event is being run off by the Guyana Motor Racing and Sports Club (GMR&SC) with the club proclaiming that this will be its largest event of that kind.In a release, the club stated that “ISG has been on board for a lot of our circuit racing events and their venture into this international Drag race meet is welcome.”“We feel that companies such as ISG are not often given the recognition that they deserve and we want to say thank you to the management of the company”“Industrial Supply of Guyana Inc. became a subsidiary of MACORP on the 1st March, 2003 and is the Sole Distributor of National Petroleum products,” the release stated.“We at GMR&SC look forward to more fruitful partnerships with ISG especially given the popularity of its Ultra Lubricants,” the release concluded.Apart from ISG, the other event sponsors are DEL CO ICE, R. Kissoon Contracting, Deryck Jaisingh Trucking Service and Machinery Rentals, Mohamed’s Enterprise, BM Soat, Prem Electrical, E-Networks, Trans-Pacific Auto Sales, Cyril’s Taxi, Blue Spring Water, Choke Gas Station, Miracle Optical, Tropical Shipping and Hand-in-Hand.Adults’ tickets for the August 25 event are $2 000 while children’s tickets are $1000.