Iran

Rounding Up Romney, Sesame Street And The World

The US Presidential election is almost over, in a day or two voting will be completed and the counting starts.

Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, has received a more than fair hearing by the world’s media, but as far I can see they have avoided talking about his weirder views and what might happen under a Romney Presidency.

Mitt and Big Bird

Some have strong opinions about Romney’s proposed cuts to PBS:

“Organizers of the Million Puppet March on Capitol Hill in support of Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television and National Public Radio (NPR) put the turnout at around 1,000 people, three days before the US presidential vote.

Characters from the children’s show “Sesame Street” — a PBS staple since the network’s founding in 1970 — figured prominently, including two Big Birds, many Kermits and Elmos, and a Miss Piggy grooving to “Dancing in the Streets.”

But the family-friendly rally on a chilly and cloudy day also attracted a frisky marionette of President Barack Obama and a blue-suited protester in a Mitt Romney mask jammed into a trash can with Big Bird on his back.

There was no shortage of sometimes witty placards, like “Keep your Mitts off Big Bird,” “puppets for peace” and, on the arm of a middle-aged gentleman with a skunk puppet, “Romney smells funny.”

The New Yorker looks at Mormonism, private equity, and the making of a candidate:

“Just about the only thing in life that Mitt Romney is obviously not very good at is the public aspect of running for office. During his four campaigns for office—U.S. senator, in 1994; governor, in 2002; President, in 2008 and 2012—he must have undergone endless hours of training and practice, but the magic just isn’t there. In June, I spent a few days on the campaign trail with him, in Wisconsin and Iowa. Romney’s trip had several purposes. A film crew was gathering footage for campaign commercials to run in the fall; Romney stopped in Janesville, Wisconsin, talking privately and doing an event with Paul Ryan, soon to be his running mate; and it was another attempt, apparently fruitless, on the part of the campaign to demonstrate the candidate’s concern with ordinary people. This segment was officially called the “Every Town Counts” tour. Romney rode around in a sleek bus painted with all-American scenes of mountains, church steeples, and ships in harbors. “

Joan Smith looks at a similar issue, men with power and keeping it to themselves:

“Now he’s been criticised by the first female head of the Home Office, the kind of person who very rarely speaks out, for excluding women from top government posts. Dame Helen Ghosh, who left her job as permanent secretary last month to run the National Trust, told students at a Cambridge college that Westminster is run by powerful networks of men which are hard for women to break into. She pointed out that there was a “magical moment” six years ago when half the heads of government departments were women, but now there are only three female permanent secretaries. “

The West-friendly Bahrain regime is locking up people, again:

“MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — A defense lawyer in Bahrain says a prominent human rights activist is in custody after defying an official ban on protest gatherings in the Gulf kingdom.

The detention of Yousef al-Muhafedha could further embolden Shiite-led demonstrators seeking a greater political voice in the Sunni-ruled nation, which is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet.”

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John-Paul Pagano Analyses Iranian Vice President Rahimi’s Racism

One of the least reported stories in the media recently was the crazed and racist speech at a event in Tehran, AP explains:

“According to The New York Times, Mr Rahimi blamed Zionists, a term used by some for Jews supporting the state of Israel, for illegal drug trade, and said that Talmud, a Jewish religious book, taught followers that they were a superior race.

He said: “The Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anybody who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict.

“They do not exist. This is the proof of their involvement in drugs trade.”

He proceeded to blame the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia on Zionists, and said that they ordered gynaecologists to kill black babies.

Not unsurprisingly, it was not covered by the BBC and barely by the Guardian.

Can’t say I am that shocked, nowadays it is more in the Guardian’s line to give VP Mohammad Reza Rahimi a column than criticize his disgusting racism, but back to the real issue.

John-Paul Pagano has provided a detailed breakdown of Rahimi’s speech:

“He added: Eighty percent of American wealth is in the hands of 6 percent of the Jewish world and a U.S. researcher says that in order to reduce the population of American Indians a Jewish doctor of obstetrics and gynecology rendered 8000 of them sterile — all of these teachings are in the Talmud. “

وي افزود: هشتاد درصد ثروت آمريكا در دست شش درصد از يهوديان دنياست و يك محقق آمريكايي مي‌گويد يك پزشك زنان و زايمان يهود براي كاهش نسل سرخپوستان هشت هزار نفر از آنها را عقيم كرده است و همه اين مباحث در آموزه‌هاي تلموت است.

I wonder if any “anti-Zionists” will ever admit the depth of racism at the heart of the Iranian leadership?

Or perhaps, like the BBC, it really isn’t an issue for them.

BBC Understatement, Racism and Rounding Up

I was about to put out a number of individual posts, but it is probably more worthwhile to include them in a round up:

Surprise, surprise, neofascist killer, Breivik took drugs before going on his murder spree.

I wonder if the chess playing Israeli boycotters will avoid the games of Boris Gelfand?

The singing neo-Nazi, Gary Marsden I’Anson, is on his uppers.

Whilst I had appreciated the level of uranium enrichment completed by the Iranian regime, the actual volume and size of the material, some 6 tons of UF6 enriched to 3.5 percent, was a shock to me. That is a lot of enriched uranium.

Searchlight on Journalist falls for EDL’s absurd claims.

Norm on How much more murder (in Syria)?
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Questionable Exam Questions, Syria And The EU

There is some debate as to whether or not it was appropriate for an exam paper to ask:

“Explain briefly why some people are prejudiced against Jews.”

My gut feeling was how inappropriate such a question might be for children, and the result of mainstreaming of anti-Jewish racism within academia. We have seen it manifest before.

But on reflection (and I’m glad that Norm seems to agree with me), I think discussing racism is a good idea, even if the wording is poor.

Opening up the subject, not letting it fester away in the corner, but facing all our prejudices, both individual, collective and societal is a good idea.

It helps us address the question, why is antisemitism still prevalent in western societies?

In Syria, according to the BBC there is continued killing of civilians in Rastan. Not unsurprisingly there is little indignation in the Western media concerning the shelling of the defenceless by Assad’s murderous gang.

Elsewhere, Chris Dillow makes an acute observation on Leveson inquiry:

“Tittle-tattle about whether Hunt should resign or not symbolises an ideology that disfigures our politics – the idea that what’s needed for proper decision-making is men of the right character. But this is not enough. You also need the right systems. And these have not been in place. If Hunt does have to resign – and I can think of nothing I care less about – he will pay the price for a political system which over-rates the role of personality and under-rates the role of structure.

Alfred North Whitehead famously said that “civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking of them.” By this standard, government hasn’t advanced very much. “

Over in Egypt.

I have never much followed the Daily Beast but Hussein Ibish is a must read for anyone serious about understanding the Middle East. His, Stop Settler Violence, is a very necessary post.

How much enrichment is really just for medical purposes? You decide:

“There are civilian uses for 20% enriched uranium, but it is also a significant technical step towards producing weapons-grade uranium.

Iran has told the agency it was a mistake in starting up the cascades of centrifuges, the machines used to enrich uranium.

Nuclear experts say that is plausible. But one senior diplomat in Vienna refused to speculate. “It can happen,” he said, “it needs to be checked”. “

Mystical Politics explains it better.

Apparently, EU to look into antisemitism on continent.

The Plight of Saeed Malekpour

Saeed Malekpour’s situation is terrible:

“Last week, the Iranian Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence for computer programmer Saeed Malekpour, whose photography program was used without his knowledge, to upload pornography to the internet.

Canadian resident Mr Malekpour was arrested while visiting his dying father in Iran during October 2008. He was held in solitary confinement in Tehran’s Evin Prison for a year without charge, according to Amnesty.

He made confessions, which were later televised, to his charges, which according to the EFF include “acting against national security through propaganda” and “production and publication of obscene materials through computer systems”.

However, in a letter sent from the prison in March 2010, Mr Malekpour states, he retracted these confessions, stating they had been given under duress after prolonged interrogation and torture by the “Revolutionary Guards Cyber Counterattack” team. He also wrote that he still not been allowed to visit his lawyer.”

Workers in Iran

Workers across the world face austerity, poor wages and worse conditions, and workers in Iran have it very hard, BBC News has more:

“Iran’s labour union has been pressing for several years for the country’s labour law to be re-written.

In its current form, employers can fire workers on the spot so long as they provide them with a written notice.

Some 40% of the country’s manual workers are hired without contracts and are paid by the day.”

Labourstart has good coverage of events in Iran.

Talking Of That Plot

There is a lot in the press and blogosphere about the plot to kill the Saudi ambassador in the US. Much of it doesn’t make sense, but this is a thoughtful piece on the issue:

“Given the Quds Force’s modus operandi, it is odd that its commanders would entrust an unprecedentedly brazen attack against a foreign diplomat on U.S. soil to a former used-car salesman and Mexican drug-cartel hit men. Manssor Arbabsiar, the Iranian expatriate at the center of the plot, bears no resemblance to a covert operative, and any personal or familial connections he may have with Quds Force commanders does not explain his apparent role in facilitating the operation. The Quds Force also has no known connections with Mexican drug cartels, and enlisting them to carry out the terrorist attack runs counter to the Quds Force’s established pattern of working with long-standing, trusted contacts.

Finally, and perhaps most puzzlingly, the plot does not seem to fit Iran’s larger strategic objectives, whether regarding its relations with the United States, its relations with Saudi Arabia, or its relations with the international community. It makes little sense that Iranian authorities would choose such a drastic, extreme measure at this time, especially when such an act would do little to advance Iran’s prevailing goals, would assuredly provoke a harsh response by the United States, and would further tarnish Iran’s already poor global reputation. No matter how one looks at it, it is difficult to imagine how such an act would not severely jeopardize the security of the Iranian regime. If maintaining power and stability is what is driving Iran’s current leadership, such an attack would be of no apparent value.”