2015-08-05 / Political Page

Meng Gives 1st ‘No’ To Iran Nuke Treaty

Congresswoman Grace Meng became the first lawmaker in Congress to make a decision on supporting President Obama’s treaty with Iran or rejecting it. The Flushing lawmaker announced her decision last week: she rejected it.

Meng, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and its Subcommittee on the Middle East, last Thursday (July 30) issued the following statement opposing the nuclear deal with Iran.

“I strongly believe the world could and should have a better deal than set forth in the joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which I will therefore oppose,” Meng declared.

The Queens lawmaker also issued the following statement:

“While I will continue to study the finer points of the deal, they will not be dispositive for me. I believe the inspection procedures set forth are flawed – leading nuclear expert assert that, pursuant to these procedures, inspectors would not necessarily know whether Iran is manufacturing uranium components for a nuclear weapon. This is unacceptable. Furthermore I am deeply concerned that almost all of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure would remain intact; this leads me to believe Iran would simply resume its pursuit of a nuclear weapon at the conclusion of the deal in a decade’s time. Finally, the immediate sanctions relief provided Iran in the deal would incentivize the funding of terrorism and lessen Iran’s interest in restraining its nuclear ambitions over the long term.

Meng concluded, “I commend President Obama and Secretary Kerry for their efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but the deal before us now is simply too dangerous for the American people. I have every confidence a better deal can be realized.”

While Meng turned down President Obama’s proposed nuclear treaty, there haven’t been many clues about what other Congress and Senators are thinking.

The most outspoken opposition to the treaty has come from Israel, whose Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, blasted it as being a death sentence for his country.

Israel’s position, it is expected, will be a major influence on lawmakers that have long supported the beleaguered nation, and this poses a problem for President Obama’s support for the treaty.

Among the other New York lawmakers who have been watched closely for clues about which way he’ll swing on the treaty is US Senator Charles Schumer. When he’s been asked which way he’s leaning, he’s answered several times that he’s still studying it because it’s so complicated.

But Schumer is also wrestling with another problem – recently he set his sights on getting elected by the Senate as Majority Leader, which is due to become vacant.

The question of Schumer is: how does his decision on the treaty impact his chances of getting elected Senate Majority Leader? Obviously he’s in a very sensitive position and is being watched by friends and foes as he considers his next strategic move.

CAN TRUMP OUT-TALK NINE GOP PROS? Will Donald Trump, the millionaire TV talk show host who rose to fame shouting “You’re fired” once a week, be able to handle nine other Republican pols without a script tomorrow night in the first TV debate of this presidential season?

Trump has been getting by, giving windbag answers on the campaign trail, without any interference, but we don’t think his style is suited for the debate format. First off he will have to deal with the debate director, who will be warning “time’s up,” or “answer the question,” even if he gives a smashing answer with the crowd cheering, until the applause stops.

Then nine other guys on stage will each have to give an answer, during which every other participant will have to cool his heels while everyone answers the same question. And when you figure in rebuttals, there’s no telling how long each debater will be standing quietly while everyone, in turn, will answer the same question.

And with professional talkers, like Senator Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who make a living by debating on the Senate floor for hours at a time, they’ll surely find a way to squeeze in a little more time.

In the first debate, to be held tomorrow evening at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena, from 9 to 11 pm, the 10 participants will be chosen from a field of 12, depending on how well they’ve been faring in opinion polls.

Besides Trump, Paul, Cruz and Rubio, the others are: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who announced his candidacy last week.

Besides this main group, which will be in the debate at the Quicken Loans Arena, there were seven other announced candidates scheduled to appear in another event yesterday (Aug. 4) from 5 to 6 pm on the Fox News Channel.

Surprisingly, Trump led all the vote-getters in several polls, bypassing the original leader, Jeb Bush. Rand Paul was higher up on the list.

Trump, who manages to stick out in a crowd no matter where he is, will probably achieve the same distinction with this group of experts on many fields and also fluent speakers. This could put Trump at a disadvantage or might reveal him in a different light.

ADDABBO HAILS ‘DISABILITIES ACT’ ON 25TH: The forward-looking law that “has helped to open many doors for disabled men, women and children” throughout the United States was hailed last Tuesday by state Senator Joseph Addabbo Jr. as it celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Addabbo (D–Howard Beach) called on the nation to celebrate the 25th birthday of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which has “provided them with great opportunities to work toward reaching their highest personal potential.”

Addabbo explained that the ADA is a sweeping civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability, and requires that reasonable accommodations be made to ensure that Americans with both mental and physical disabilities are able to fully participate in society… and helps to ensure fair treatment of disabled individuals in the workplace, and with regard to a variety of public accommodations.”

The lawmaker explained, “Whether it means providing adequate wheelchair accessibility in restrooms and recreational venues, better transportation and educational options for the disabled, or helping to ensure people with disabilities the opportunity to succeed in the labor force, the ADA has made a significant positive difference in all of our lives.”

Addabbo noted that the legislature took a number of positive steps to mark this special year. For one thing, $2 million was allocated in the budget “to provide assistance to elderly caregivers of people with developmental disabilities, and aid to 4,201 schools serving blind, hearing impaired and severely physically disabled students was increased by $2.2 million.”

Addabbo also noted that Gov. Cuomo had signed two bills into law to mark the ADA’s 25th anniversary – “one to better assist military families with developmentally disabled family members, and another to codify protections for people with disabilities who are refused access to places of public accommodation, including hotels, restaurants, hospitals, retail stores, and entertainment venues.”

The lawmaker summed up, “We are continuing to make steady progress in fully integrating disabled people into our society, and in providing necessary services for the most vulnerable children and adults with disabilities.”

TOP DEMS FILE BILLS TO PROTECT INTERNS AGAINST SEXUAL HARASSMENT, DISCRIMINATION: Three top Democrats in the House of Representatives have introduced three bills that would make it illegal for public and private sector employers to discriminate, sexually harass, and retaliate against interns.

The three bill sponsors are Congressmembers Grace Meng (Flushing), Elijah Cummings (So. Carolina) and Bobby Scott (Virginia). They explained that presently there are no laws or safeguards that protect unpaid interns against sexual harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin, age, handicapping condition or other factors.

The legislation applies nationally to interns working in government positions and in private industry. The title “intern” is defined as “someone who performs uncompensated voluntary service in an agency to earn credit awarded by an educational institution or to learn a trade or occupation.”

It would protect unpaid interns who work at federal agencies, in Congress, and with states and private sector entities.

The proposed bills extend workplace protections against discrimination and harassment to unpaid interns and closes loopholes that permit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin as prohibited by several existing laws.

Meng (Flushing) stated: “Internships can be a wonderful opportunity to learn and gain valuable real world experience, and more and more businesses, organizations, and government entities consider it a prerequisite to full employment.

“But interns, most of whom are high school and college students, are not afforded the same federal workplace protections that cover employees. That is blatantly unfair and this loophole in the law must be changed. Nobody – from a junior intern to a senior executive – deserves to be harassed, discriminated or retaliated against at work. A negative experience like this can be devastating to young interns as they start their careers, and these types of incidents can have terrible impacts on their futures. From the halls of Congress to corporate board rooms, an equal and hostile free work environment must be ensured for all.”

Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee on Oversight and Government Reform, stated: “It is unacceptable that employees and interns working right next to each other have different levels of protection against abuse. There should be no legal grey area when we are talking about preventing sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.”

Scott, the ranking Democrat on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, stated: “Internships are often the first real entry into a profession and onto a workpath. The Unpaid Intern Protection Act would ensure that interns in the workplace are free from discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or disability as prohibited by the Civil Rights Act. This bill would extend these workplace protections to unpaid interns whose status under current law, lacks the protections provided by civil rights laws.”

The lawmakers noted that several legal cases have been dismissed because courts have concluded that unpaid interns are not “employees” covered by existing law.

MALONEY CALLS FOR END TO KILLINGS: Following the most recent deadly, senseless shooting, this one in a movie theater in Lafayette, Louisiana, where two victims were shot dead, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D–Queens/Manhattan declared resolutely, “This has got to stop.”

Summarizing the shootings – two dead and nine wounded – after a gunman opened fire in the crowded movie theater, Maloney stated, “There are too many families who again today will struggle to comprehend how such horrors could have happened. They join the many thousands who suffer silently as Congress does nothing to stop the swelling of their ranks. They’ll listen to the politicians preach of the heroism of those who risked their own lives to save others, but they won’t see similar courage from enough leaders in Washington or in the State Houses.”

KOO’S COMMENT ON RENAMING STREET IN HONOR OF SLAIN YOUNG ACCIDENT VICTIM: Councilmember Peter Koo (D–Flushing) commenting on the City Council’s naming a Flushing intersection in honor of three-year-old Allison Hope Liao, who was killed in a car accident last October 6, cited “the subsequent relentless advocacy” by her parents, Amy Tam and Hsi-Pei Liao, which served as the inspiration for various citywide safety campaigns, including parts of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative.

Koo, noting that the City Council voted to rename the northeast corridor of Cherry and Main Streets in memory of Allison Liao, stated:

“Allison Liao was a bright and boisterous young girl with limitless potential who had her whole life ahead of her. While her senseless death was devastating to our community, it has also spurred impassioned awareness campaigns on driver safety across the city. As drivers pass Allison Hope Liao Way, it is our hope that they recall her parents’ poignant question: ‘Is it worth it?’

“If you’re in a hurry and running late; if you are impatient because of traffic; if you want to send a text, or make a phone call; if you are distracted for any reason while behind the wheel, is it worth the life of Allison Liao? We all know the answer to these questions. And now we have Allison Hope Liao Way to remind us all of the fragility of life, and of the deadly consequences that can occur behind the wheel.”

Koo said the parents of Allison Liao released the following statement: “We are deeply grateful for Councilman Koo’s assistance in the street conaming, and more importantly, for his continued support of Vision Zero and other street safety initiatives.”

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