Morning Report: August 26, 2005

Norway rated best place to live. According to news sources, the UN Development program (UNDP) rates Norway the best place to live for the fifth year in a row. 'Rich from North Sea oil and with a generous welfare state, Norway has led the world ranking since it ousted Canada from top spot in 2001. The annual list ranks countries by an index combining wealth, education and life expectancy.' (MSNBC)

Iran news roundup. An Iran Focus item posted at Free Iran highlights a ban on "Music Day", the brothers Mohsen and Parviz Esmaeili, street children in Tehran, and other issues: 'Iran’s Supreme Cultural Revolution Council, led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, banned newspapers from declaring any day of the year as “Music Day”. Hard-liners consider music as un-Islamic. ... President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has chosen two ultra-Islamist brothers for two key government posts. Mohsen Esmaeili, a young jurist on the powerful Guardian Council, has been earmarked to become cabinet secretary and government spokesman. His brother, Parviz Esmaeili, will be the new head of Iran’s official news agency, IRNA. ... Tehran’s chief prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi announced that a new wave of crackdown would commence to root out “troublemakers”. The hard-line daily Kayhan earlier quoted Mortazavi as saying, “There are various methods to ensure public security and peace. Combating troublemakers is an important such method”. ... The semi-official daily Jomhouri Islami earlier quoted the director of the Social Ailments branch of the Tehran Mayor’s Office as saying that his organisation had rounded up 14,205 homeless children from the streets of Tehran over the past year. Oil-rich Iran has an estimated 100,000 street children.' (Iran Focus via Free Iran)

Equal rights, equal responsibilities. An AP item at the Washington Blade explores a California Supreme Court ruling on lesbian and gay couples: 'Same-sex couples who raise children are lawful parents and must provide for them if they break up, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday. The precedent-setting decision puts former gay and lesbian couples on equal ground with unmarried heterosexual couples who break up and marks the latest decision by the court recognizing rights of same-sex couples.' (Washington Blade)

In brief. Kat at The Middle Ground reflects on the quiet majority; Sam at Hammorabi has an analysis of the silent war between Syria and America; Jane at Armies of Liberation blasts the Yemen regime's campaign of intimidation against Jamal Amer; and Imshin has a moving piece on the family of an innocent man named Osama who was murdered by a terrorist named ... well, just go read the article. (various)