Washington’s most senior military officer this week sought Israeli assurances that the Middle Eastern nation is not planning an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities that the United States and its allies fear could be stepping stones to atomic arms, according to a public radio report cited by Agence France-Presse on Wednesday.
U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey spoke on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and on Wednesday with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon. Israeli General Staff head Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz sat in on the latter discussion.
Dempsey was visiting Israel to ensure Yaalon “is not flip-flopping on the Americans and changing his mind about an independent Israeli strike on Iran,” a senior Israeli defense insider told al-Monitor last week.
After meeting with Dempsey, Netanyahu said the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran eclipses all other dangers from Israel’s neighbors, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Tuesday.
“We will work together so that doesn’t happen,” Netanyahu said.
President Obama has sought to curb Iran’s suspected pursuit of a nuclear-weapon capability through economic pressure and diplomatic engagement, but also has refused to rule out employing direct force against Tehran’s activities. Netanyahu has more heavily emphasized the possibility of an armed offensive against Tehran, which insists its atomic ambitions are purely peaceful.
In a news report published last week, Israel’s finance minister said Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities could potentially be leveled with “a few hours of airstrikes.”
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The conventional wisdom is already emerging that Donald Trump opened last night's debate well, but that he faded badly down the stretch. And most viewers apparently witnessed it. "The early Nielsen data confirms that viewership stayed high the entire time. Contrary to some speculation, there was not a big drop-off after the first hour of the 98-minute debate." Final data is still being tallied, but "Monday's face-off may well have been the most-watched debate in American history. CNN and other cable news channels saw big increases over past election years. So did some of the broadcast networks."
As Congress continues to bicker on riders to a continuing resolution, federal agencies have started working with the Office of Management and Budget to prepare for a government shutdown, which will occur if no continuing resolution is passed by 11:59 p.m. on Friday night. The OMB held a call with agencies on Sept. 23, one that is required one week before a possible shutdown. The government last shut down for 16 days in 2013, and multiple shutdowns have been narrowly avoided since then. It is expected that Congress will reach a deal before the clock strikes midnight, but until it does, preparations will continue.
President Obama's Clean Power Plan, a large pillar of his efforts to leave a lasting environmental legacy, "goes before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit today." The plan "imposes the first national limits on carbon pollution from power plants." A number of consolidated cases finds 27 states challenging this plan, which was blocked by the Supreme Court in February pending decisions from lower courts. The states will argue that the government doesn't have the right to impose restrictions requiring them to shutter plans and restructure full industries.
There seems to be a clear consensus forming about Monday's debate: Hillary Clinton was the winner. One focus group of undecided Pennsylvania voters, conducted by GOP pollster Frank Luntz, found 16 favored Clinton while five picked Donald Trump. In a Florida focus group organized by CNN, 18 of 20 undecided voters saw Clinton as the winner.
As both candidates walked off the stage, Donald Trump lauded himself for being restrained and for not bringing up Bill Clinton. "I didn’t want to say—her husband was in the room along with her daughter, who I think is a very nice young lady—and I didn’t want to say what I was going to say about what’s been going on in their life," Trump said. Trump claims he stopped himself from hitting Bill Clinton because daughter Chelsea was in the room.