Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tragic killer whale accident at Shamu Stadium kills SeaWorld employee

by Scott Carmichael

(This is a developing story)

A SeaWorld employee died this afternoon when she was grabbed by one of the whales at the start of a public show.

According to a park guest, the trainer had just finished explaining the show when a killer whale popped up out of the water and grabbed her.

The whale thrashed her around, at which point the sirens went off in the stadium forcing all guests to be evacuated. The trainer was pronounced dead by rescue personnel, but no more information has been released by SeaWorld.

Update: According to a breaking news source on Twitter, the whale in question is Tilikum (Tilly), the world's largest whale in captivity. If correct, this would be the third time Tillikum has killed a human.

Update 2: All shows at Shamu stadium have been canceled for today.

Malcolm X's legacy ignored 45 years after his murder

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

Apparently, Malcolm X does not exist. At least that's what you might think while visiting the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. During our rally for the Heather Ellis case, the young woman who faced 15 years in prison after cutting line at a Wal-Mart, I took a tour of the museum. After completing the hour-long tour, I realized that they'd forgotten something. Even though the museum had hundreds of pictures of other events representing the civil rights struggle in America, I saw only one picture of Malcolm X.

This incredibly disappointing display at the Civil Rights Museum is a reflection of how Malcolm's legacy has been treated like the neglected step-child of the African-American struggle for freedom and equality. Malcolm fought for civil rights just as diligently as Dr. King. He was just as impactful as Dr. King. He gave his life like Dr. King. But for some reason, most of us don't remember Malcolm's birthday. We've never considered having a holiday to commemorate his contribution. He is rarely discussed in the same sentence with Dr. King. We just ignore him and this has got to change.

Read More....

Why Obama should reconcile with Rev. Jesse Jackson

By Dr. Boyce Watkins
Say what you want about Rev. Jesse Jackson, but the value of his legacy cannot be denied. Few have made the sacrifices Jackson has made, and few can match his historical significance when it comes to America's quest for equality and civil rights. Every politician or American citizen who wishes to question the methods by which Jackson achieves his objectives need only compare his record to their own. Most politicians can't say that they nearly died in order to serve their constituencies, but Jesse Jackson can certainly make such a statement.

What is important to understand about the legacy of Rev. Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton and others is that most of what we know about these men has been presented through the lens of an American media construct that is conditioned to project negative imagery of black men. Therefore, when Bill Clinton has an affair, he's just another philandering politician. When Jesse Jackson has an affair, he is considered unfit to lead. When Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Harry Reid say racially insensitive things about Obama, it becomes water under the bridge. When Rev. Jackson slips and makes a televised error, some have the audacity to argue that he is no longer relevant. The decision by some to toss out black leadership in exchange for a black president becomes mind boggling in light of the fact that our black president has made it abundantly clear that he has almost no interest in pursuing targeted advocacy for the African-American community.


Sharpton-Smiley fight reveals rift in black leadership over Obama

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

I sat at my desk, as frozen as a block of ice, listening to one of the most heated conversations I've ever heard on the radio. Tavis Smiley and Rev. Al Sharpton were mad, and you could hear it in their voices. This wasn't "radio mad," where you pretend to fight in order to get ratings. It was "I'm coming to your mama's house to get you" mad, the kind of anger that normally doesn't spill over to the American public.
The contentious dialogue was rooted in Smiley's recent attack on Rev. Sharpton for a New York Times article in which Sharpton was quoted as saying that he feels the president is wise not to "ballyhoo" a black agenda. In a platform granted to him by The Tom Joyner Morning Show, Tavis put Rev. Sharpton, NAACP President Ben Jealous, Urban League President Marc Morial, Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree and even Dorothy Height on "super blast," arguing that these individuals have not shown sufficient evidence that they care about the interests of the African-American community.
Bad move Tavis. Very bad.


Pakistan to hand over Mullah Baradar to Afghanistan

Pakistan will hand over detained top Taliban commander Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar to the Afghan government, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Wednesday.

Malik, his Afghan counterpart Mohammad Hanif Atmar and U.S. FBI chief Robert Miller held a joint meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Briefing media after the meeting, Malik said that it was decided to hand over the arrested Taliban second-in-command to Afghan authorities.

He said biometric system would be installed on the Pakistan- Afghanistan border within two months.

U.S. authorities has asked Pakistan to transfer Baradar and other wanted terrorists to America but Pakistan said they will be extradited to the country of their origin if they have not violated Pakistani law.

Last week Pakistan and the White House confirmed that Mullah Baradar was captured in southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, hailed as big success in U.S.-Pakistani cooperation in counter- terrorism.

Meet The Real Victim Of Last Week's Terror Attack On IRS Building - Vietnam Vet, Vernon Hunter

By Logan Murphy
Last week, Joseph Stack set his house on fire, drove to the airport, jumped in his plane and flew it into an IRS building in Austin, Texas. This deliberate, cowardly act of domestic terrorism resulted in injuring thirteen IRS workers and left one man dead -- a veteran of the Vietnam War:

When Ken Hunter first heard about a plane crashing into his father's office building in Austin, he said he hoped his dad, Vernon Hunter, wasn't there.

After several attempts to reach his father, a 67-year-old IRS worker, he discovered his dad was missing.

In the hours that followed, Ken said he heard lots of talk about the pilot's motivations and felt compelled to speak out on his father's behalf.

"There was just too much going on about what the guy did and what he believed in, and enough's enough," he said. "They don't need to talk about him. Talk about my dad. You know, some people are trying to make this guy out to be a hero, a patriot. My dad served two terms in Vietnam. This guy never served at all. My dad wasn't responsible for his tax problems." Read on...

Stack's political views can be debated, but he wasn't the real victim here. He committed an act of terrorism that took the life of an American veteran. As the son of a vet, I felt compelled to write this post and make sure that Vernon Hunter was acknowledged instead of being overshadowed by the sick, selfish coward who ended his life.

Regulatin Ur Prop Trading, Or Not

Here’s your sporadic update on where we stand when it comes to regulating prop trading. We all know it isn’t going to go anywhere, but Obama is still talking big about turning the vampire squid into calamari, Volcker style:

The Obama administration said on Tuesday it is still committed to the “Volcker rule” to ban risky trading by banks…President Barack Obama had originally framed the proposed Volcker rule on January 21 as an outright ban, which stunned markets and complicated extended negotiations in Congress over legislation to tighten bank and capital market regulation.

He proposed that banks “no longer be allowed to own, invest, or sponsor hedge funds, private equity funds, or proprietary trading operations for their own profit, unrelated to serving their customers.” The Volcker rule could affect as much as 10 percent of net revenues at Goldman Sachs, said a senior executive of the Wall Street giant earlier this month.

To go ahead and make the argument against – is it the brightest thing to tell these banks “Stop trading or investing in anything for your own profit”? The biggest banks aren’t about to run out and reincorporate themselves as 501(c)(3)’s any time soon, so isn’t this going to equate to “Find new and innovative ways to bleed customers through fees and such?” But, anyhow. Ordering Lloyd Blankfein to go to yoga and meditate on the Zen art of portfolio balance isn’t in the cards.

The House and Senate are considering a weaksauce iteration:

The committee is considering including a watered-down version of the Volcker rule in the bill, which will also propose new rules to protect financial consumers, rein in derivatives markets and tackle the “too big to fail” problem. Financial services industry lobbyists said senators may add language to their bill from a bill approved in December by the House of Representatives. The House bill would allow, but not require, regulators to restrict proprietary trading at firms judged to pose a risk to the stability of the financial system. Regulators could also order firms out of the hedge fund business under the Democratic House bill, which got no votes of support from Republicans.

So when it comes to vampire squid ceviche, Obama wants to get the knives, Treasury – which you’d think would agree with the administration, but nah – wants “mandatory limits,” and the House wants to retain the rights to step in… maybe.

Oddest quote of the article award goes, I think, to this, from Representative Paul Kanjorski:

“When your dog just keeps wetting the carpet, there’s only one thing to do, you’ve got to whack him on the nose to let him know that’s not what he’s supposed to do. Maybe the regulators have to whack the banks a little bit to make them respond.”

Ohhhh. So THAT is what this entire financial crisis equates to — a dog peeing on the floor. Finally, now I get it. Sparky just needs a little scolding. Dude who said this is an author of the House bill. Frankly I don’t think this analogy does his point any favors. He could’ve at least evoked Giant George and a pooper scooper if he was going to go the canine route.

Video: Kobe Bryant Game Winning 3 Over Memphis Grizzlies

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Kobe Bryant returned to lineup after missing five games with an ankle injury and hit a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left to lift the Los Angeles Lakers to a 99-98 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday night.

Bryant led the Lakers with 32 points, including his team's final nine points. His 3-pointer with 54 seconds left tied the game.

Pau Gasol added 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, who won for the seventh time in their last eight road games.

The Grizzlies, who lost their fifth straight home game, were led by O.J. Mayo's 25 points. Zach Randolph scored 20 and grabbed 14 rebounds, his seventh straight double-double.

Mayo's two missed free throws with 18.8 seconds allowed the Lakers an opportunity to complete a comeback from nine points down early in the fourth quarter. Had Mayo made his free throws, the Grizzlies would have led by four.

Absent from the Lakers lineup for his longest stretch in five years, Bryant scored nine points in the opening quarter, including a four-point play, and triggered a late first-quarter run with two breakaway dunks to increase the Lakers' lead to 11.

Bryant last played Feb. 5 and Los Angeles went 4-1 without him.

The Grizzlies took their first lead early in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Mayo for a 59-56 advantage and didn't trail again until Bryant's game-winning shot.

Bryant, averaging 42.5 points against Memphis in two previous games this season, began his late nine-point run with a jumper from the left wing with 2:23 to go to trim the Memphis lead to 95-92.

With Bryant scoring 17 of his points in the first half, the Lakers built several 14-point leads before settling for a 53-48 halftime advantage.


Brian Westbrook will have to get hurt wearing somebody else’s uniform next season. The Philadelphia Eagles just cut him.

“Brian is one of the greatest Eagles of all time and he is even a better person and leader,” coach Andy Reid. “In my mind, there has not been a more versatile running back that the NFL has seen. I had a conversation with Brian this morning to let him know. This is by far the most difficult part of this job. We wanted to make this move now in order to maximize Brian’s chances of landing with another NFL team.” –FOX News.

Interesting dichotomy, seeing as this comes one day after the release of Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson. While LT was a reliable fantasy football workhorse through most of his career, Westbrook was the proverbial box of chocolates. He could run for 150 yards and then sit out for a month, it seemed. It’s too bad, that such a beautiful fantasy chameleon is winding down his career. I always enjoyed watching people overvalue him the last three years. And yeah, that includes the Eagles.

Tony Kornheiser Suspended by ESPN for Criticizing Hannah Storm

Tony Kornheiser, a former Washington Post columnist and ESPN radio show host, has been suspended by the network for criticizing the wardrobe of SportsCenter anchor Hannah Storm.

Last week, Kornheiser opened his show by critiquing the clothing Storm donned while she hosted a morning edition of SportsCenter. His exact words:

Hannah Storm in a horrifying, horrifying outfit today. She's got on red go-go boots and a catholic school plaid skirt. Way too short for somebody in her 40s or maybe early 50s by now. And she's got on her typically very, very tight shirt. So she looks like she's got sausage casing wrapping around her upper body... I know she's very good, and I'm not supposed to be critical of ESPN people..But, Hannah Storm, come on now!

Kornheiser later called Storm to apologize and also publicly apologized for the comments. He told his listeners today:

"I apologize, unequivocally. I'm a sarcastic, subversive guy... I'm a troll, look at me. I have no right to insult what anybody looks like or what anybody wears. That, I think, should go without saying."

ESPN has suspended the host for two weeks. We get it, you can't exactly call out a co-worker in the fashion with which he referenced Storm. (THG note: Free Britney once called my cut-off T-shirt "cheap" and was forced to fetch my coffee for a month.)

But Kornheiser makes ESPN gobs of money by co-hosting Pardon the Interruption. His biting, sardonic attitude is a major appeal for fans that watch the show.

Moreover, by suspending Kornheiser, the network has actually made national news of a story that few would have noticed if no punishment had been handed down. Ironic.

Michael Steele an 'imperial chairman'

Republican donors have accused Michael Steele, the party's national chairman, of wasteful spending, with one fundraiser describing his habits as "imperial."

They point to his decision to hold the Republican National Committee's winter meeting in Hawaii, Politico reports, and to hire an upmarket caterer for a Christmas party at the Newseum, Politico reports.

Politico compared Steele's spending in 2009 to the party's expenses in 2005, also an off-year before a midterm election. It said RNC spending on chartered planes doubled and catering costs jumped from $306,000 to $599,000.

"Michael Steele is an imperial chairman," a longtime fundraiser told Politico. "He flies in private aircraft. He drives in private cars. He has private consultants that are paid ridiculous retainers. He fancies himself a presidential candidate and wants all of the trappings and gets them by using other people's money."

Louis Pope, head of the Budget Committee, defended Steele, saying "nobody is living it up." Pope said Steele travels more than Ken Mehlman, the 2005 chairman, because he is in demand.

Mom of school stabbing victim lost another son in ’08 tragedy

Staff Writer of Trentonian

TRENTON — Yesterday’s second stabbing at a Trenton school in 28 days made the victim’s mother fearful she’d be burying a son for the second time in 17 months.

Misty DeJesus’ 13-year-old son received two minor wounds when attacked as he was walking out of the boys room at the troubled Dunn Middle School in the South Ward at 11:30 a.m.

“Sure, that went through my mind after hearing that my son had been stabbed. I didn’t know how bad it was at the time, but I thought the worst,” the mother said.

DeJesus’ seventh-grade son suffered minor wounds to his back and arm. Capital Health-Fuld treated and released him after administering several tests.

Police said the stabbing was the result of a “play fight” in a boys lavatory. They said the suspect, a 12-year-old classmate, pulled out a large folding knife during the scuffle.

The victim, police said, was walking out of the bathroom when he realized he had been cut during the incident. They said he then ran to his classroom and told his teacher what occurred.

DeJesus said she received a phone call about her injured son at 11:40 a.m.: “They just said he had been stabbed and that he was being taken to Helene Fuld.

“My son said he was in the bathroom and two boys were in there fighting,” said DeJesus, a nurse. “One boy had a knife and he was waving it in the face of the other boy. As my son came out of the bathroom stall to wash his hands, he got stabbed in the back.”

In August 2008, DeJesus buried an 8-year-old son, Malachi Williams, who police said hanged himself in an accidental asphyxiation. Investigators never determined if Williams had engaged in what’s called the “hanging game” or “choking game,” in which children intentionally strangle themselves to a point near passing out.

Police found Williams hanging on the third floor of his family’s home on the 300 block of Woodland Street.

Yesterday’s attack marked a second knife incident in a month at a city school. On Jan. 27, a Trenton Central High School coed pulled a knife out of her bra and attempted to attack another girl.

A security officer, Tyrone McNeese, intervened and received a slash on his arm, an injury that required several stitches and forced him to miss work for several days.

A few days later Superintendent of Schools Rodney Lofton said concern about patting down girls figured into security officers getting lax and letting female students through when they touch off the metal detectors at the school entry.

Lofton and the school security chief, retired city detective Howard B. White, said the procedures will be tightened to prevent another such stabbing.

After yesterday’s Dunn incident, Trenton police spokesman Sgt. Pedro Medina said investigators found out that the victim, like McNeese last month, was injured when caught in the middle of a fight between two others.

Police said the victim’s teacher secured the knife and the 12-year-old suspect was detained, charged with aggravated assault and held in the Mercer County youth lockup in Ewing.

Breaking: Shooting In Littleton, Colorado–Again

Two teenagers were victims in a shooting at Dry Creek Middle School in Littleton, Colorado that was carried out by an adult male Tuesday afternoon. So far, the media is not sure if the shooter is a twenty-something or a forty-something, but he was said to be wearing camouflage pants. A witness told Fox 31 news the gunman opened fire on some students waiting for the bus after school when a teacher tackled him to the ground. That gunman is in custody. Authorities say a female student sustained a gunshot wound to the chest. The other victim, a male student, was shot in the arm. Both were taken to Littleton Adventist Hospital with non-life threatening wounds. One was listed in serious condition, the other in fair condition.The kids shot do not appear to be in serious condition.

Creek Middle School is two miles away from Columbine High School where 12 students and one teacher were killed in an infamous 1999 shooting.

Appointment Watch: Lamb-Hale

The mainstream media continue to ignore President Obama's appointment of bizarre personnel to run the government. Personnel is policy. That being the case the American people need to know about these appointments. This week we look another Obama appointee. This is not an isolated incident or an occasional bad apple. This appointment is representative of the appointments he is making with little or no push back from the Senate during the confirmation process.

Nicole Lamb-Hale, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services

· Lamb-Hale was a law school classmate of President Obama

· Lamb-Hale doesn't have relevant manufacturing experience.

· Lamb-Hale only connection to manufacturing is her bankruptcy practice.

· Lamb-Hale was confirmed on February 11, 2010, without one Senator objecting.

This is just a sample of the type of people President Obama has placed in positions of power within his Administration. If you want more information please visit:

Stay On Top of Electoral Manipulation

By David Bozeman

After being pummeled in '06 and '08, Republicans are regaining their footing. With the potential for huge gains this November -- including the possibility of retaking the House and Senate -- the base isn't going to let anything as mundane as electoral manipulation dampen their spirits.

It is not merely the registering-of-the-dead style of which ACORN has been accused that should keep Republicans alert. Open legislation, primarily by Democrats, and court rulings could add millions of new voters to the rolls and change the dynamics of elections well into the future.

A new bill before Congress, the Voter Registration Modernization Act, would require all state to allow voters to register online by 2012. Arizona pioneered the practice, which other states are considering, and numerous others, including the electorally vital Michigan , New Jersey and New York are debating their own pending legislation.

Universal voter registration is a vital plank in the liberal agenda. According to, Senator Chuck Schumer (NY) and Representative John Conyers (MI), both Democrats, are planning to introduce a universal voter registration bill. Details are sketchy, but author John Fund (How the Obama Administration Plans to Undermine Our Elections) writes that Obama and the Democrats would like to see every eligible citizen automatically and permanently registered, using DMV records, income tax returns, welfare rolls and unemployment lists.

Putting it under federal control, according to the left's reasoning, would streamline the process and reduce instances of local corruption (and one always hears of 'convenience' for Internet-generation voters). According to The Nation, between two and four millions people were denied their voting rights in 2008. Editor Katrina Heuvel and other leftists routinely tout the 90% registration rates in Canada , France , Venezuela , Russia and other progressive nations.

In the U.S. , the notoriously liberal 9th Circuit Court recently cleared the way for inmates to vote from prison, ruling that a denial of their rights (in Washington state) is unfair to those groups with higher incarceration rates.

One might ask why the concern with bringing new voters into the process. The concern is less with numbers than with mindset. While conservatives and liberals cherish voting as a fundamental right, conservatives tend to stress the inherent responsibility to make reasoned, informed decisions on what is best for the community, state or nation. The Michigan online law, by contrast, would reportedly allow procrastinators and the idle to register up to 4pm the day before an election. Spur-of-the-moment voters also enjoy same-day registration in nine other states, including Iowa , North Carolina and Wisconsin .

Are these really the most informed, passionate citizens among us? Yet through them, Democrats seek to swell their numbers and seal permanent majorities. While conservatives certainly work within electoral realities, they tend to recognize voters not as blocs but as autonomous citizens with a distinct duty to keep their governments small and accountable.

Streamlining and simplifying the electoral process is fine, but not to cater to the civic-ally lazy. If registering and voting takes a little extra effort, then maybe citizens will give each vote the weight it deserves. Our republic need not buckle beneath the will of the uninformed if we insist that electoral reform serve the needs of an enlightened citizenry and not replace it.

David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer for Americans for Limited Government.

Obama's New Compromise

ALG Editor's Note: William Warren's award-winning cartoons published at are a free service of ALG News Bureau. They may be reused and redistributed free of charge.

Editorial: "New-and-Improved ObamaCare!"

Yesterday, Barack Obama unveiled his latest, "new-and-improved" version of ObamaCare. Sadly for the American people, it's more of the same. According to the New York Times, the Obama proposal "sticks largely to the version passed by the Senate in December." This is therefore the same proposal that 58 percent of voters overwhelmingly oppose, as reported by Rasmussen Reports. A full 61 percent want Congress to simply start over.

As well they should. As Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson commented yesterday, "This is pretty much the same government-run health care proposal that the American people have already rejected." Indeed.

According to the Times, the White House claims the plan will cost some $950 billion atop the already swelling entitlement burden that cost $1.441 trillion in 2010 alone. It also proposes extending taxpayer-subsidized coverage to some 31 million Americans.

Unfortunately, the proposal was so vague, the Congressional Budget Office cannot even grade it properly. Writes CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf: "preparing a cost estimate requires very detailed specifications of numerous provisions, and the materials that were released this morning do not provide sufficient detail on all of the provisions."

Rest assured, if this latest abomination is anything like the Senate version, as is reported, the true cost will be more like $2.5 trillion over ten years once fully implemented, as Senate Republicans have claimed of the bill they opposed in the Senate.

And, lest anyone doubt the veracity of that figure, such as Senator Al Franken or Talking Points Memo, just check with the Congressional Budget Office, as reported by the Weekly Standard in December: "The Democrats are irresponsibly and disingenuously claiming that the bill would cost $871 billion over 10 years. But that's not what the CBO says. Rather, the CBO says that $871 billion would be the costs from 2010 to 2019 for expansions in insurance coverage alone. But less than 2 percent of those '10-year costs' would kick in before the fifth year of that span. In its real first 10 years (2014 to 2023), the CBO says that the bill would cost $1.8 trillion -- for insurance coverage expansions alone. Other parts of the bill would cost approximately $700 billion more, bringing the bill's full 10-year tab to approximately $2.5 trillion -- according to the CBO."

Even Senator Max Baucus admitted that the bill would cost $2.5 trillion when he said, "health care reform, whether you use a ten-year number or when you start in 2010 or start in 2014, wherever you start at, so it is still either $1 trillion or it's $2.5 Trillion, depending on where you start…"

Although the White House in one breath claims the bill will be "deficit-neutral," it is forced to admit that it will indeed be funded by taxpayers: "Millions of families will receive hundreds of billions of dollars in tax credits to help them pay for insurance in the new exchanges… The Act also provides financial assistance to reduce out-of-pocket costs for moderate and low-income eligible Americans." Those are direct subsidies for health benefits; to call them tax credits is like calling Medicare or welfare a tax credit.

Obama's claim to deficit-neutrality depends on the critical $483 billion in ten-year cuts to Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid. But, a $210 billion "doc-fix" bill — kept apart from ObamaCare — that passed the House in November restores a good portion of those cuts, as reported by FOX News.

This is where the rationing comes in. As the government's unfunded health care liabilities become increasingly unsustainable over the next several years, the growing costs of providing health benefits for everyone will assuredly eat into the benefits of providing coverage to seniors and the poor.

The greater the insurance pool, the more costly the "doc-fixes" and other subsidies will be in the future, and the less benefits there will be to go around.

This is therefore a bill that will ultimately ration care away from seniors, lower the quality of medical treatment, increase premiums, drive the American people off of their private health options and onto government-run ObamaCare, and bankrupt the Treasury with unsustainable costs. And one that Congressional Democrats intend to pass by simply eliminating the filibuster and weakening the nation's two-party system, as ALG News has previously reported.

If one needed any more proof of the phoniness of this White House, look no further than February 25th's health care summit, where Obama hopes to create a theater of bipartisanship, all the while hocking the same old, wretched Congressional bill that barely survived the town halls.

Of course, it's a theater of the absurd. And the meeting is a stage for Obama to pretend that it is not. The bill is to be rammed through regardless of the summit; with or without Republican support. This "new-and-improved" proposal, its much ballyhooed summit, and the pretense of honest, faithful negotiations have more in common with a reprehensible, Orwellian, Third World banana republic than a fully mature citizen republic. This is not change, it is a fraud.

US Calls Iranian Nuclear Offer Unacceptable

A handout picture released by the official website of Iran's presidency office shows Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the Natanz uranium enrichment facility (File)

The United States Tuesday said an Iranian offer to trade its low-enriched uranium for more highly-processed fuel for a research reactor is unacceptable. The State Department said U.S. diplomats are aggressively pursuing the idea of additional sanctions against Tehran because of its non-cooperation on the nuclear issue.

The Iranian offer, in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was described as Tehran's first official reply to an IAEA confidence-building proposal offered last October.

But the State Department says the Iranian message does not contain anything that hasn't been heard before, and that Tehran continues to back-track from its initial acceptance of the IAEA plan.

Under the proposal offered in October with big-power backing, Iran would have shipped most of its growing stockpile of low-enriched uranium abroad in return for the provision, several months later, of more highly-enriched fuel for a Tehran reactor producing nuclear isotopes for medical purposes.

In its message to the IAEA, Iran said Tuesday it is willing to trade low-enriched uranium for reactor fuel but the exchange would have to be simultaneous and take place on Iranian soil.

At a news briefing, State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley called the Iranian offer "a red herring" - a diversion that would do nothing to reassure the world community that its nuclear program is peaceful. "Under the Iranian proposal, there would be an exchange, but that would require the international community to front its own fuel to satisfy Iranian needs, while Iran continues to violate its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. So this response, the Iranian counterproposal, is unacceptable, as we've made clear before and we'll continue to work within the IAEA but also will continue to consult on appropriate next steps including prospective sanctions," he said.

Crowley said the Obama administration is still open to engagement with Iran but that it is working more aggressively on a possible fourth round of U.N. sanctions because of its failure to accept last October's good faith offer by the IAEA. "We have not closed the door to further engagement. But you actually have to have a willing partner to engage. The fact is Iran makes these series of statements, day after day, week after week. But it refuses to come to the table and actually negotiate in good faith, and address the concerns that the international community has," he said.

U.S. officials believe chances for a new round of U.N. sanctions are improving with Russia lately joining in a growing consensus for further penalties.

However China, a veto-wielding Security Council member country, has been reluctant and its foreign ministry Tuesday again urged more diplomacy with Tehran.

Spokesman Crowley said another sanctions resolution might be introduced "in the coming weeks."