WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department extended six-month Iran sanctions waivers on Friday to China, India, South Korea and other countries in exchange for their reducing purchases of Iranian crude oil earlier this year.The waivers had been expected. Under a law governing sanctions imposed on Iran’s disputed nuclear program by the United States, the State Department is required to determine whether the Islamic Republic’s oil consumers have reduced their purchases.The decision comes even after the United States and five other global powers, known as the P5+1, agreed in Geneva this month to ease Iran’s access to about $4.2 billion in foreign currency reserves for six months in exchange for Tehran’s taking steps to curb its nuclear program.The waivers, which the State Department calls exceptions, mean that banks in the consuming countries will not face being cut off from the U.S. financial system for the next six months.”We will continue to aggressively enforce our sanctions over the next six months, as we work to determine whether there is a comprehensive solution that gives us confidence that the Iranian nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.Since the beginning of the sanctions regime in 2012, all 20 of Iran’s oil customers have qualified for the periodic waivers. But despite the Geneva agreement, the United States reserves the right to sanction any oil consuming country should it suddenly increase its purchases.Officials from the Departments of State, Treasury and Commerce have worked with Iran’s buyers since 2012 in an effort to find alternative sources of crude, including oil from Saudi Arabia.Under the Geneva accord, the P5+1 agreed to pause efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales, allowing consuming countries to continue buying their „current average amounts of crude oil.” The interim agreement is meant to build confidence for a final agreement on the nuclear program.Under that agreement, Iran’s oil exports will be held to about 1 million barrels per day, the level its sales have averaged this year. Iran’s oil shipments were about 2.5 million bpd in the beginning of 2012, before U.S. and European sanctions took effect. The U.S. sanctions law could have driven Iran’s oil sales even lower if Iran and the P5+1 did not come to agreement in Geneva.The State Department said Turkey and Taiwan also qualified for the waivers. Malaysia, South Africa, Singapore and Sri Lanka, which no longer purchase oil from Iran, also qualified for the exceptions.(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; editing by Ros Krasny, Sandra Maler and Jim Marshall)
The president’s older daughter, Malia, now 15, will likely be in college but Sasha, now 12, will still be in high school when Obama leaves office.”So we’ve got to – you know we got to make sure that she’s doing well … until she goes off to college,” Obama said according to ABC News excerpts of an interview set to air at 10 p.m. on Friday (0300 GMT on Saturday). „Sasha will have a big say in where we are.”The Obamas own a home in Chicago, and the president frequently mentions his hometown with affection.He has been less than complimentary about Washington and its polarized political culture. The Obamas have been criticized for not socializing as much as other U.S. presidential couples and instead spending much of their free time with family and a group of trusted, old friends.But their daughters, who both attend the private Sidwell Friends School, frequently have friends over to the White House, hosting sleepovers and pajama parties on the third floor, their parents said in the ABC interview.Obama indicated moving his youngest child to another city when she was in high school might be difficult.”Because she’s, you know, obviously they – and Michelle -have made a lot of sacrifices on behalf of my cockamamie ideas, the running for office and things,” Obama joked.MICHELLE OBAMA NOT A FACEBOOK FANMichelle Obama, who has said her most important job is „Mom-in-Chief,” has worked hard to keep her daughters sheltered from the constant media scrutiny of the White House.She told ABC that she has limited their access to social media, including Facebook.”I still am not a big believer in Facebook for young people … particularly for them, because they’re in the public eye,” Michelle Obama said.”Some of it is stuff they don’t need to see and be a part of … So we try to protect them from too much of the public voice,” she said.In the interview, Walters asked Obama whether Michelle – whose popularity ratings far exceed those of her husband – would make a better president than he would.”That’s an easy question, but she is smart enough to know that she might not want to go through the process,” the president said.(Reporting by Diane Bartz, Roberta Rampton; Editing by Paul Simao and Sandra Maler)
China scrambles jets to new defense zone, eyes U.S., Japan flights
Japan’s Shimizu Corporation has some pretty lofty dreams for the future, but their latest plan, called ‘Luna Ring‘ is an out-of-this-world solution to the Earth’s energy needs.With proposals to bring water to the deserts, to reorganize urban centres to be more efficient and to expand where humanity lives and works with floating cities, space hotels and moon bases, Shimizu is always thinking big. Luna Ring is their biggest idea yet, though, and rightly-so, since it would solve one of humanity’s biggest problems — our growing need for clean, efficient, renewable energy.With the moon’s surface continuously receiving roughly the same amount of solar energy as Earth’s surface, half of a 400-kilometre wide ring of solar panels around the moon’s equator would continuously receive about 3,000 terawatts of power. If only 20 per cent of that were converted to usable electricity (in line with current commercial solar panels), that’s more than 30 times the electricity the world uses, right now, per year. Beaming the energy back to Earth via lasers and microwaves might mean another drop in efficiency, but that still gives us plenty of power to deal with and with further advances in solar panel technology, Luna Ring could provide even more.[ More Geekquinox: SpaceX’s retry at milestone launch aborted at the last second ]Luna ring isn’t just about making sure that we have enough electricity, though. It would put an end to air pollution, especially greenhouse gases, emitted due to power generation. With the resources, technology and labour needed to put it together, it would bring the world together on a tremendous undertaking, which is exactly the kind of ‘big thinking’ the human race needs right now.(Image courtesy: Shimizu Corporation)Geek out with the latest in science and weather.Follow @ygeekquinox on Twitter!
Mitt Romney’s son helps family of four after SUV crash
Reuters – Tue, 26 Nov, 2013