2005-06-29

Judaism on Trial - Again

Just when you think you've seen it all. From Hillel Halkin in the New York Sun (subscription; hat tip: Steven B. via the Kesser Israel mailing list):
Russian State Prosecutor Vladimir Ustinov, the front page of the Russian newspaper Izvestia reports, has decided to launch an official investigation of the Shulhan Arukh, the definitive compendium of Jewish law written in the 16th century by Rabbi Joseph Caro and used to this day - generally in an abbreviated version - as a standard reference book by Orthodox Jews.

Prosecutor Ustinov has already summoned Moscow rabbi Zinovy Kogan, chairman of the Congress of Jewish Organizations, for questioning in order to determine whether the Shulhan Arukh should be banned for "racist incitement." He took this action after receiving a letter last January, signed by 500 patriotic Russians, calling the Jewish religion "anti-Christian and inhumane" and demanding that the Shulhan Arukh be banned. ...

The article goes on to recall Pope Gregory IX, who in 1240 CE launched an investigation against the Talmud (the central text of Jewish learning), which resulted in the confiscation and burning of 24 cartloads of sacred Jewish books.

Halkin adds that the 500 Russian luminaries who signed the letter (among them chess champion Boris Spassky) are by no means alone - they are in the company of the leaders of the Anglican Church, which has singled out Israel as the target of its disinvstment campaign. (In these enlightened times, it is apparently OK to do business with Jews - just so long as the Jews don't live in their own country.)

Ah yes, European civilization.

UPDATE: The investigation has been dropped.

Update


A few weeks ago, my father's insurance company - which had previously sworn up and down that there was no money in his life insurance account - sent me a letter asking me to fill out some forms so I could collect his life insurance payment. Well, okay, I said.

First I had to write a letter saying I was the only living child of my parents and get a friend to sign it; my apartment manager refused to do this, so I went to the apartment manager from my old building and he was happy to help.

Then I had to get a "signature guarantee" from my bank. But my local bank had just changed hands and they didn't have a signature guarantee stamp at the branch yet. The branch manager tried to get one of the neighboring banks to help, but to no avail; so last Monday I had to spend all morning on a trip to Vancouver, Washington to visit the bank's main office and get the damn form stamped.

Then I overnighted the forms to the insurance company's office in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was a PO box, so I had to use the US Postal Service and not the "absolutely, positively" people; and sure enough, the USPS absolutely, positively dropped the ball. If I'm lucky, the forms should get to the Charlotte office today; if I'm super lucky, nothing else will go wrong, and if I'm really, incredibly lucky, they will process the claim in less than 3 business days as promised and maybe, just maybe, I'll get the direct deposit payment in time for the weekend. But they way my luck has been going on this, I'm not getting my hopes up.

Meanwhile, my bank account is overdrawn, all my bills are late, my rent is due, I'm working a s**t job, and the refrigerator is nearly empty.

G-d is testing me. I know this. Anyway, please forgive me if I'm a little too distracted to post. Right now I've got to call the insurance company and find out the status of this stuff. I'll get back to solving the world's problems as soon as I get a chance.

2005-06-28

Imagine

Paul McCartney's sixty-third birthday is noted by my good friend Paula Gaon:
It's amazing to see that he's still on the concert tour and seems to be enjoying his work. He's truly an artist with a passion. I had the privledge of being Paul's "neighbor" in Tucson, AZ many years ago. We didn't actually live in the same neighborhood, but on the same side of town and both of us lived close enough to the big supermarket on the east side of town so that it wasn't unusual to see Paul on a Sunday morning with a carton of milk in the express line. Even back then he was enough of a legend that the younger people didn't recognize him, and those of us who remembered the Fab Four in their heyday were probably still too much in awe or simply wanted to respect his privacy. I have to admit that I fell into both of the latter categories. ...

Go read the rest of the post for some thoughts on McCartney, Lennon, and our shrinking world. And don't forget to bookmark Beautiful & Fun Things.

2005-06-27

Let's blogroll!

Friends of the enemy. Read this post at Neo-Neocon for a little Vietnam-era history (as always), and to find out who the terrorist/fascist sympathizers consider their most important resource in the years to come. (Hint: There are 435 of them.) Also on Vietnam, Jayhorn is none too pleased about President Bush's make-nice with the Communist dictators of that country, especially when so many Americans must still be remembered with those bracelets. And while you're at it, read this post and reflect, once again, on the importance of that certain 435-member organization.

Do you ever wonder whether you're doing enough? Sadly, every time I wonder about it, the answer is always "No." So here's a big thank-you to The Redhunter for keeping this organization on our radar.

Some people think the solution to political kidnappings is to pay off the kidnappers. Swedish ex-hostage Ulf Hjertstrom, apparently succumbing to reverse Stockholm syndrome, has a more practical idea:
"I have now put some people to work to find these bastards," he told the Ten Network today.

"I invested about $50,000 so far and we will get them one by one."

Meanwhile, fellow hostage Douglas Woods forgot his manners and referred to his tormentors as "a**holes", a remark which offended the delicate Australian sensibilities of Melbourne Age editor Andrew Jaspan. Tim Blair doesn't mince words: "Andrew Jaspan is a moral vacuum who should be fired." At best. Read Tim's post to find out what else he suggests. The moral of the story: Don't let this happen to you! Michael J. Totten suggests some ways you can avoid ending up like Andrew Jaspan.

2005-06-26

The Iraq war's staggering cost ...

... for the enemy. Mohammed at Iraq the Model offers a glimpse of the quagmire the fascists are facing in Iraq:
-1st regiment/2nd commandoes brigade arrested 43 suspects in Al-Doura district while the 2nd regiment/1st brigade arrested 2 terrorists in Shu'la district.

-The interior ministry announced the beginning of operation lightning-1 in Babil province which is going to be a joint effort between the Army and the local police forces. The 1st wave of raids resulted in arresting 43 suspects and confiscating 10 vehicles used in terror attacks against Iraqi civilians and security forces.

-A force from the Iraqi army backed by Polish troops raided terrorists hides in the areas of Jibla and Rashad in the same province and arrested 8 terrorists and confiscated their Ak-47's.
...
-In Tal-afar near Mosul, Iraqi and American troops killed 15 terrorists in clashes that took place yesterday.

...
Iraqi TV announced Khalid Sulaiman Darwis (aka Abu Al-Ghadia Al-Soori) was killed during a raid as part of Operation Spear in Anbar province.
The Syrian terrorist is one of the leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Read the rest at the link - it's worth scrolling down. As Mohammed says, The future is ours, there's no doubt about that and we shall win.

Iran Report

Message on Iran. The following is excerpted from an e-mail I received this morning:
be naameh Iran-zameen
( In the name of Iran )


Many Iranian families have suffered losses after 1979.

The Iranian opposition may discuss the dynamics of street protests, in order to create larger street protests with greater impact. The following message centers around three issues:
Increasing size of street protests has lead to previous regime-changes in different countries.
The dynamics of increasing the size of street protests can be examined objectively.
When pro-democracy street protests erupt in Tehran, they are usually immediately (within 1-2 hours) reported by exile satellite television stations.

Outline:
We cannot assume
Size of street protests
Summer time
Protest timing
A taste for adventure
Diminishing the risk to protesters
Road-blockades during protests
Map of Tehran
If you like the roadblock concept...

________________________

We cannot assume

Hopefully the mullahs will be out of power soon, however, one cannot assume that regime-change in Iran is imminent in the next few years. You are aware that many view opposition groups as somewhat weak. Although the mullahs are unpopular, the Islamic Republic may remain in power for many more years:
Oil is currently about $60 per barrel. Europeans have been buying Iranian oil below market values for many years (estimates of 35% below market value). With increasing oil demand, it is expected that Europeans will take further steps to secure their inexpensive oil suppliers, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran.

I realize that there are many differences between today's Iran and other countries in the past, however, some comparisons may be made. The communist regime in Russia was generally viewed as unpopular by the masses. Communists ruled Russia for over 70 years. You are aware of other examples...
The Islamic Republic of Iran may exist for many more years, despite the rhetoric of exile opposition groups. Something about the opposition must change.
_______________________

Size of street protests

One measure of success (among others) used to gage the impact of the opposition (including exile media) is the size of street protests in Iran. Although there were many factors involved in the downfall of the late Shah, the increasing size of street protests lead to the eventual collapse of the Iranian regime in 1979. This trend (protests becoming larger during the revolution) implied a impending doom for those in power. This is a world-wide phenomenon.

Some say: If pro-democracy street protests do not become larger in Iran, the opposition has not made tangible progress.

Following the original Tir 18th, members of the regime's security forces acknowledged that if the pro-democracy protests would have become wide-spread, the situation may have become uncontrollable.

The recent protests in Tehran were smaller than Tir 18th protests some years ago. Again, if we simply use the size of street protests as a gage, things are not really progressing.

Dynamics of increasing the size of street protests may be examined objectively.

___________________________

Summer time

As you know, Iran becomes hot during the summer season. In countries with political unrest, there are more incidents when the weather is hot. Please keep in mind that Tir 18th is in the middle of summer.

The hot season provides unique opportunities...
___________________________

Protest Timing

Iranian satellite television is very effective in broad-casting breaking news stories, within 1-2 hours of their onset.

A few years ago, in anticipation of Tir 18th, protests erupted in Tehran and other major Iranian cities. In the days prior to Tir 18, the protests were larger than the original Tir 18 street protests. When these un-scheduled protests erupted, they were immediately (within 1-2 hours) picked-up by Los Angeles satellite TV stations. That year, on Tir 18th, nothing really happened since Martial Law was in full-effect.

A specific date may be chosen by the opposition, however, the actual Protest Combustion Day is likely to occur around the anticipated chosen date.

Everyone will know that on a specific previously chosen date by the opposition, martial law will be in effect and the situation can be controlled by the authorities. People will not risk getting arrested.

We also know that martial law cannot be enforced during the entire summer season. Security forces in Iran know and have acknowledged this fact.

It does make sense to pick a protest day in advance, however, any protests and sparks should be fully supported, which may occur at any time. When the wheels are set into motion, given the adequate (summer) climate, things will hopefully happen and opposition groups should not get too picky about an exact dates.
Imagine what would have happened if another wave of protests was accompanied by simultaneous road-blockades. Most of the city may be affected. The protests would certainly become larger.
Iranian satellite TV has some short-comings, however, the stations are very effective in broad-casting breaking stories almost instantaneously. Within 1-2 hours, the population in Iran will be informed of any protests.

The opposition should be ready to fully utilize the potential of upcoming protests, that may erupt on any day. ...

Roadblocks during protests

City-wide road closures will bring the (otherwise ordinary) pro-democracy protests to a new level.

By using simple tactics, segments of the population in Iran will feel more energized and empowered during upcoming protests. Cultivating simple ideas, before any protests, can help to create an atmosphere of empowerment within segments of the Iranian population, when a protest happens.

Iran to dominate Schoreder/Bush talks. Via Free Iran:
June 26, 2005
Deutsche Presse
Monsters and Critics.com

http://news.monstersandcritics.com/northamerica/article_1022653.php/Iran_to_dominate_Schroeder_Bush_talks_

Berlin/Washington -- Hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's surprise win in the Iranian presidential election and the situation in Iraq have been pushed to the top of the agenda of Monday's talks in Washington between Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and U.S. President George W. Bush.

German officials said Sunday Ahmadinejad's victory had raised concerns in both Washington and Berlin about Teheran's nuclear programme, which has been the subject of long-running talks between the European Union (E.U.) and Iran.

The E.U. so-called big three - France, Germany and Britain - have been holding talks with Teheran in a bid to force Iran to wind back its nuclear programme. Washington has not ruled out military action if the negotiations fail.

Berlin's bid for a seat on a reformed United Nations' Security Council as well the build-up to September elections in Afghanistan and high oil prices are also expected to be raised during Schroeder's three-hour talks in Washington. ...

Debka on Ahmadinejad. Latest report from Debka on new Iranian head fascist:
virtual nobody on Iran’s national scene, Tehran mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 49, was picked by Iran’s radical Islamic leaders and swung ahead of the presidential race to deal “the heaviest psychological blow to Iran’s enemies.” Those words were uttered by the new president in his first post-election statement Saturday, June 25. They attested to the fact that Iran had chosen him as its tool for getting back at the Bush administration for seeking to bring regime change and democracy to the Middle East and Iran in particular.
Everyone but the radical wire-pullers in Tehran was surprised by the victory of a candidate whom most of the Iranian electorate had never heard of. He beat the familiar former president Hashemi Rafsanjani by a resounding 62%: 35%. But nothing had been left to chance. Ahmadinejad was thrust into the presidency by careful engineering, organization and the deployment of every single cog the powerful machine of the heavily centralized government could muster. The Revolutionary Guards in which the candidate once served as an officer was brought into play. With the help too of massive vote-rigging, the ruling clique could cynically claim to have achieved regime change through the ballot box - only it turned out to be more Islamic, more militant, and more Iranian than before. ...

Freedom activists respond to "psychological blow". AFP via Yahoo News reports:
Exiled Iranian opposition leaders hailed hardliner Mahmood Ahmadinejad's victory in Iran's presidential election, saying it would bring Tehran's Islamic regime a step closer to collapse.

While the election of the conservative Islamist might bring tough times for Iranians in the short term, they said, it will ultimately fuel internal opposition, put external pressure on the government and expose cracks within the regime.

Several Iranians in California, home to the most of the 400,000 to 600,000 US-based Persians, said they were shocked but thrilled at the victory of the Tehran mayor, even though his social and political values and beliefs are diametrically opposed to their own.

"We are really excited, this is a very good thing for the opposition to the Islamic republic," said Roozbeh Farhanipour, an activist of the secular Marzepor Gohar political group and a former Iranian student leader who fled to the United States in 2000. ...

Update

I took a break from blogging because I felt I needed to expand my horizons, develop my creativity, get outdoors more, and spend a little less time in front of a computer screen.

So I took a job as a data entry clerk.

Well, go figure. The agency called, said it was a one- to two-month gig, with a possible temp to hire option (oh goody) and I needed some cash in a hurry; so I took it. Well, no problem, I can stick it out for another three weeks or so, as long as I keep my iPod charged and get plenty of rest at night. Fortunately it looks like I may be getting a little bit of pocket change from an insurancy policy my father had, so if all goes well this week (there's some ridiculous red tape I have to go through) I should be able to breathe a little easier on paying the rent and the bills.

I'm kinda tired today because I was up late last night at a party with Michael Totten. Met a great bunch of people. Michael's got one fabulous looking place, too. Hope to get a few posts up later on today ... after I catch a nap.

2005-06-21

It's All About Meme

Loosely based on a meme found at Suburban Lesbian:
THREE WAYS I AM STEREOTYPICALLY A LESBIAN
1. Is it a date or just coffee? I'm always getting confused.
2. First serious relationship ACTUALLY led to the use of a U-Haul.
3. Ex-girlfriends = friends for life.


THREE WAYS I AM STEREOTYPICALLY A GAYBOY
1. I love smoothies.
2. Favorite expression: "Faaabulous!"
3. You should see my wardrobe.


THREE WAYS I AM STEREOTYPICALLY A STRAIGHT CHICK
1. Zero aptitude for sports. I was born without a sports gene.
2. 5 bars of scented soap + 3 scented candles + 4 bottles of shampoo (herbal varieties preferred) + assorted hair conditioner, skin conditioner, and hand lotion = current inventory.
3. A secret passion for Lisa Frank stuff.


THREE WAYS I AM STEREOTYPICALLY A STRAIGHT DUDE
1. Rock and roll, dude. The louder the better.
2. I'm really, really good at using maps.
3. Never dated men. My sexuality is not "fluid".


Oh and for the record:

THREE (or more) CELEBRITY CRUSHES
Amy Ray, Condi Rice, Melissa Etheridge, Jamie Lee Curtis

Fouladvand Update

Latest news from Free Iran.

Azadeh reports:
So he was back on air today (via telephone). They broke his rib, cut both of his hands, kicked him in the face, and also injured his fourhead. They stormed his house at 3 A. M. and never even announced that they were the police. Poor guy thought they were the regime's agents coming to finish him off.

Rasker remarks:
Email Prime Minister Tony Blair at:

http://www.number10.gov.uk/output/Page4345.asp

Congratulate him at how wonderful it is that his troops savage an old man who has lived so many years under the threat of assassination by the mullahs, and who might never have fired a shot in anger. How those real terrorists and tyrants must be laughing to see the agents of a free country do their work for them!

Azadeh adds:
I seriously believe that they wanted to stage it so that he would think it was really terrorists coming to kill him so that they would try to shoot at the police and the police would have an excuse to finish him off. I mean he has a gun. He has said so many times. If I know it, then so the British police. Why wouldn't they reveal that they were the police?

Why, indeed.

I've e-mailed Blair at the link provided above, and I encourage you to do the same. UK citizens especially, please protest this.

2005-06-20

Fouladvand Update

From Azadeh, via comments:
Mr. Fouladvand was back on air today (via telephone only because they took away all his stuff). The MI5 secret police beat the crap out of him. He probably has a broken rib, big gash across his forehead, cuts on both of his hand, and serious bruises on his back. He was kicked in the face! I mean for God's sake, the guy is at least 60 years old (or he looks like it). They even shot him with tranquilizer guns! They know where he lives so did they really need 40 armed police officers to break down the front door and beat the daylights out of the poor guy at 3 o'clock in the morning? They never even told him that they were police or answered any of his question. Even after they handcuffed him and tied him to a chair, he thought they were the regime's agents coming to finish him off! It was only afterwards that they realized they were the police. They held him for 48 hours and finally let him go with no charge. They took his computer and cell phones and other belongings. It's symbolic that they arrested him on election day. Perhaps the regime called the British police with an "anonymous tip"?

I wouldn't be surprised.

2005-06-19

Let's blogroll!

Since I'm going on power-saver mode after this post (really! I promise), I'm going to delegate some of the blogrolling this time around and turn you over to Crystal Clear's roundup. Crystal is a conservative Unitarian (yes, really) and she's got a great collection of posts on Terri, the ACLU, Ground Zero, and other topics.

A winning strategy for Democrats at Conserva-Puppies.

Roger Simon remembers slain pro-democracy activist Andrew Goodman.

Imshin (Not a Fish) has a new home. She's beginning to think that a woman without a man is like, well ...

Finally, don't forget to visit Armies of Liberation and Michael J. Totten. Just because.

And that's all for now folks. See you later.

Matters of Life and Death

Terri Schiavo. I cannot think of any single issue, ever, where my views have changed so profoundly and dramatically in such a short period of time. When I first mentioned the Save Terri campaign here, it was mostly as a freindly gesture to Sherri Reese, whose blog I've enjoyed greatly. Until I came across Sherri's post, I barely knew - or cared - who Terri Schiavo was. If I thought about it at all, I pigeonholed it as "some right-wing cause".

The more I learned, though, the more I realized that this case was NOT, as I had assumed, the case of someone living in excruciating pain; nor someone who had left explicit, written instructions that were being ignored by meddlesome right-to-life absolutists. I began to understand that this was a case too important to let my own prejudices and stereotypes about social conservatives cloud my judgment. Like the liberation of Iraq, it was a case onto which the Left had, for the most part, projected its own ideas - and had gotten it all wrong.

After reading Blogs for Terri, liberal "save Terri" sites like Liberals for Terri and Kesher Talk, and the pro-death side's feeble justifications for its position, I realized that I needed to re-think a lot of my assumptions about life, death, and culture. My previous Terri roundup is here.

Abortion. I have always been, and remain, a fence-sitter on the abortion debate. I have never formed a strong opinion on the subject one way or the other; although I will say that I have come to view the pro-life side with greater respect in recent years. I found this pro-life post from Sherri, which focuses on women's empowerment and responsibility, especially persuasive. There's also a gay pro-life organization called PLAGAL.

I'm not ready to sign on with either side in the debate right now, but I do want to mention one thing about the abortion debate. I can't imagine how the experience of having an abortion - however compelling the circumstances may be - can be anything but traumatic for the woman. And I wonder if pro-choice groups have sometimes downplayed this factor in the interests of making abortion seem more palatable.

Death penalty. I'm against the death penalty in all but extremely rare cases (e.g. Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden). I do not subscribe to the slogan that "capital punishment is murder" because I think it's a stupid moral equivalency. There is, after all, a difference between what the state is empowered to do and what citizens are allowed or forbidden to do. (The state has a duty to impose unpleasant consequences upon people who commit crimes, in order to make crime less attractive. "Death penalty = murder" makes as much sense as saying "prison=kidnapping" or "fines=theft".) But a death wrongly imposed cannot be revoked or commuted; and I do not see what an execution accomplishes that a life sentence - a REAL life sentence - does not. I think a death penalty puts too much power in the hands of the state.

"Matters of Life and Death" is a new feature and I hope to explore these issues and others in greater depth, in future installments. For now, I need to take a break. Stay tuned.

Comments Policy

COMMENTS POLICY - Revised and Updated

GENERAL COMMENTS POLICY

1. Stupid comments will be deleted.
2. See Rule 1.
3. Language needs to be kept reasonable. Please limit the profanity.
4. Racial and ethnic slurs, sexist and homophobic language, and derogatory personal comments will not be tolerated. Period.
5. Attacks directed against any major religion as a whole are not permitted here. I'm making this a separate item because I want to be clear about this. I do not necessarily consider it "hate speech" to argue that one religion is intrinsically superior or inferior to another - in fact, that's much better than moral relativism. But I cannot accommodate these kinds of debates in my comments, so please refrain from generalizations about an entire religion.
6. My policy on trolls is zero tolerance. Deleted, IP banned, no warnings, no second chance. I'm not going to quibble about "who is a troll". If you think the basic rules of blog etiquette don't apply to you, then you're a troll. People who are unable to conduct a civil debate will have no place in my comments, period. End of story.
7. If you're commenting on an old post, PLEASE identify the post by title, date, or topic. When I check my HaloScan screen for new comments, I only see the comments themselves; HaloScan does not provide a link to the original post.
8. The first comment in a thread, at least, should be on-topic. If the first comment is totally irrelevant it makes me think you don't find my blog interesting and my feelings get hurt.
9. To reach me directly, use my e-mail link, not my comments - it's faster. Bloggers, if you would like me to promote a particular post or blog, please do not use my comments section (or trackback) for this. Contact me by e-mail and I will be happy to help.
10. Nitpicking on trivia is not appreciated. If you spot a factual error, by all means bring it to my attention; but if you just want to tell me you don't think I've used some word exactly right, frankly I don't care. If you want to prove your intelligence, the best way to do it is by showing that you understand the difference between substance and style.
11. Links are welcome, but please provide some context - a few words telling me what it is you're linking (and why I should care) plus a valid, descriptive link label. "LINK" is not a valid label.
12. See Rules 1 and 2.


"HOT TOPIC" RULES
These guidelines are over and above my regular comments policy. They will be invoked on particularly sensitive or controversial issues.

1. Please exercise an extra degree of civility. Thank you.
2. No profanity. (In this context, "profanity" means anything you can't say on radio or TV.)
3. No off-topic posts.
4. Please limit posts to two per person. (Exceptions may be granted for relevant information. Contact me.)
5. Do not post under multiple screen names. I will be checking IPs.
6, Keep posts to a reasonable length.

Update

Morning Report has been given its orders and will be on extended leave. I'm going to be focusing my energy on a few other things, mostly in my personal life, so I will be generally cutting back on posting at Dreams Into Lightning for a while.

Among other projects, I will be working on getting some writing published. I'm working on some new original fiction, also looking into possible markets for an opinion/analysis piece.

Topical posting here at Dreams Into Lightning will continue under the categories I introduced earlier (e.g. Africa Report, Lavender Alert, etc.) but I'm not going do it by days of the week anymore; I need more flexibility. Probably what posting I do do will occur mostly on Sundays. Also I'm going to try to keep my posts shorter. So I will post as time, energy, and external events permit.

President Bush Apologizes to Iranian Government

News sources have reported that Iranian government officials have criticized President Bush's remarks about the Iranian election, and have demanded that the President apologize to the Iranian government.

President Bush offers his apology.

Four Iranians Arrested in UK

Four Iranian men not yet named were arrested in London Friday, according to The Guardian (via Free Iran).
Four terrorist [sic] suspects arrested by armed police in dawn swoops in north London yesterday are believed to be linked to a dissident group plotting against the Iranian government, according to police and anti-terrorist officials.
The men, aged 31, 37, 58 and 63, were being questioned last night at the high security police station at Paddington Green.

A Scotland Yard source said they were believed to have links to terrorist [sic] activity in the Middle East. The men were said to be Iranians or part of a group opposed to Tehran.

They were not linked to any al-Qaida network nor planning terrorist attacks in the UK, anti-terrorist officials said.

Officers from the Metropolitan police's S013 anti-terrorist branch seized two of the men in a car in Barnet, in the early hours of yesterday. They were supported by armed officers in case the men had guns.

The police did not recover any firearms, although the road was closed for some time while forensic examinations were carried out. The operation was led by the police, with the support of MI5.

Two other men were arrested at residential addresses, and officers were searching three properties, two in Barnet and one in Finchley.

A source said they did not expect to discover any bomb-making equipment, but hoped to find computers and documents revealing the men's plans. A number of items were seized.

The men are being held under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000, on suspicion of preparing, instigating or commissioning acts of terrorism. The operation, which took place a stone's throw from Barnet police station, closed off a half-mile stretch of the high street for more than an hour, witnesses said.

This comes shortly after the reported arrest of UK-based anti-regime broadcaster Dr. Froud Fouladvand. I do not know whether he was one of the suspects referred to in the Guardian article.

Readers are reminded that while the US and UK governments are allies in the Iraqi theatre, Britain and America may be pursuing different goals in Iran. While Washington has expressed support for Iranian dissidents, the British government is perceived by dissidents as being friendly with the IRI regime. It will be interesting to see whether this arrest affects trans-Atlantic relations.

Morning Report: June 19, 2005

Latest Iran news. The IRI regime's recent "elections" drew calls for a boycott from Iranian freedom activists. Despite some MSM claims of "higher than expected voter turnout", eyewitness accounts from Iranians - and photographs of the polling places - tell a different story. There were also reports of violence against demonstraters in Los Angeles, Ottawa, and other cities. Commenter Rasker provides video of one confrontation in Houston. Opposition candidate Mustafa Moin has challenged the legitimacy of the polls, claiming that "a powerful will entered the arena bent on the victory of a particular candidate and the elimination of the other candidates" and declaring that "a warning bell has sounded" for Iran's rulers. Numerous anti-regime groups have designated the days following the election as the beginning of an organized campaign to depose the regime; however, no new information on this is currently available. (Free Iran, Rasker)

Belmont Club on Iraq developments. Wretchard examines the increased intensity of combat in Iraq, exemplified by operations Spear and Dagger. 'In the near term, the operational tempo (billed as "violence", "instability" or "mayhem" in the media) will almost certainly increase for the following reasons. First, Iraqi forces are now coming online and they are not the "fresh meat" the Daily Kos claims. Though they may have shortcomings, Iraqi troops are far from totally ineffective and actually represent a net increase in coalition combat power against the enemy. Second, the cumulative results of two years of intelligence infrastructure building coming into fruition in the larger size of caches being found and in the number of "tips" which precede many of the recent captures and rescues. Third, the insurgent strategy of attempting to ignite a civil war as described in the last post, will generate its own backblast.' See also Friday's post on Mosul. (Belmont Club)

Command Post on energy issues. 'This week, debate in the Senate began in earnest on the federal energy bill - and the debate in the US, around the world, and on the internet shows no signs of abating. In a widely cited poll, Yale University researchers found that an overwhelming majority of Americans are worried about dependence on foreign oil (92%) and want government to develop new energy technologies to address it (93%). Apparently, they haven’t been reading their Kunstler, or else they’d know that there are no solutions other than the long-overdue destruction of our sinfully consumptive civilization - or maybe they’ve been reading their Engineer-Poet instead, and know better than to buy into sci-fi catastrophilia. ...' Winds of Change takes a look at real-world options on bio, electricity, fossils, nuclear, solar, wind, and energy policy. (Winds of Change)

2005-06-18

Amy Ray rocks!

As many readers know by now, I am a fanatic for the Indigo Girls. The Indigo Girls, for those who don't know, are the lesbian folk/rock duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. (Emily and Amy are not a couple, by the way, and have never been romantically involved with one another.) The two women contribute equally to the songwriting. Emily, the folk half, usually writes upbeat, relationship-based songs; she is also responsible for "The Girl with the Weight of the World in Her Hands", a beautiful song about Christ which chokes me up every time I hear it (and I'm Jewish).

Amy, the rock and roll side, wrote the classic, eerie "Chickenman". the haunting "Cedar Tree" (a tearjerker, but listen close for a few bars from "Ode to Joy" in the guitar solo), the epic "Touch Me Fall", and a very twisted take on the folk staple "This Train". (The last two tracks can be found on "Swamp Ophelia", which is probably my single favorite rock album of all time.)

But I'm writing this post to call your attention to a recent series of Amy Ray interviews - and with Amy as the interviewer, not the interviewee. Somehow, in between touring both with the Indigo Girls AND solo, Amy has found the time and energy to interview a number of women connected with the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, particularly focusing on the festival's controversial policy that limits attendance to "women-born-women only", i.e. excluding transsexual and transgender women.

The relationship between women - particularly lesbians - and transgender/transsexual people has been complex and sometimes difficult. Straight readers may not always appreciate the history and politics behind the clunky "LGBT" acronym that's fashionable nowadays. Even if you are not lesbian, gay, or differently gendered, the debate between trans people and the MWMF offers some valuable insights into the workings of identity politics - and into the issues faced by lesbian, straight, and trans women today. Amy Ray has made an enormous contribution with these interviews.

I've posted earlier about gender and sexuality in the women's movement. I've also written about the relationship of women and power to liberalism and contemporary politics. I'll post later with more comments on the Amy Ray interviews after I've had a chance to read them as carefully as they deserve.

I will also be linking these interviews on my sidebar. Thank you, Amy Ray, for playing an important role in this ongoing conversation.

2005-06-17

Latest Iranian News; IRI Violence in North America

Regime-sponsored violence against Iranians seems to have spread to North America as eyewitnesses reported attacks on nonviolent activists in Los Angeles and Ottawa.

Excerpts from various current threads at Free Iran News Forum:


EXPATS IN L.A. URGE BOYCOTT
Source: http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=857083

LOS ANGELES Jun 17, 2005 — Iranian exiles are campaigning against Friday's presidential elections in their homeland, urging would-be voters in the Islamic republic and abroad to boycott what they call a sham poll.

In Los Angeles, one of 36 U.S. cities where voting was scheduled to take place, a half dozen television and radio stations that for years have criticized the regime are beaming their message into Iran by satellite and Internet. ...

*********************************
IRAN: FAMILIES OF POLITICAL PRISONERS CONTINUE PROTESTS
http://www.regimechangeiran.com/

Adnkronos International:Iranian police have manhandled the wife and brother of jailed journalist and dissident, Akbar Ganji, during the ninth straight day of protest by family members of political prisoners in front of the notorious Evin prison in the Iranian capital of Tehran. Despite having the written permission to meet with her husband, Ganji's wife, Massoumeh Shafii was not allowed to enter the prison on Thursday. ...

***********************************************
IRANIAN STUDENTS DESCRIBE POLLS
Iran's election feed back - Iranian student reporting
Various | June 18th, 05 | Self
http://www.regimechangeiran.com/

Posted on 06/17/2005 4:42:00 PM PDT by Khashayar


Reza from Tehran: This is 10 am in northern part of Tehran. There is no body in the site and I hope officials would announce the number of voters truly.

Hasan from Qom: IRIB (TV & RADIO) is just showing certain places where people go to vote. Most polls are empty here in our city.

Amir from Kashmar (east of Iran): No body is around, especially in the morning.

Sam from Tehran: I did vote to save my country from likes of Rafsanjani. I voted for Mr. Moin

Mehdi from Shiraz: I have counted 10-12 people in this poll in our area. Most of them were forced to vote.

Majid from Tehran: I voted for Imam Zaman to come and save us from the regime.

Fardin from Switzerland: Regime thugs attacked those of us who were protesting against the regime in front of one of the polling stations. ...


************************
SUSPECTED DISSIDENTS ARRESTED IN UK
Four linked to Iran terror plot arrested in UK
Jun 17, 2005
The Guardian
http://www.iranian.ws/iran_news/publish/article_7645.shtml

Four terrorist suspects arrested by armed police in dawn swoops in north London yesterday are believed to be linked to a dissident group plotting against the Iranian government, according to police and anti-terrorist officials.

The men, aged 31, 37, 58 and 63, were being questioned last night at the high security police station at Paddington Green....

**********************
OPEN LETTER FROM DR. RAMIN ETEBAR

Dear Mr. President

What I am about to report is a sad day in the American history that requires your immediate action to protect the
the US constitution specifically the First Amendment.

A group of Iranian Americans composed of TV journalists and political activist who had gathered in front of the
Commerce Plaza Hotel (Los Angeles suburb) to protest and report the conduction of the sham Iranian presidential elections
were assaulted by the hotel security on the command of IRI thugs in US.
According to Ms. Dokhi Abdi; a political activist and Iranian satellite TV reporter and commentator in Los Angeles, upon the
arrival of the group to the Commerce Plaza Hotel where the elections for the Iranian presidential election was being conducted, the group of 12 activists and journalists were intercepted by the hotel security and a valid Iranian passport was demanded from them in order to allow entry to the hotel. Soon after several Iranians who were in charge of the event in the hotel were called to the scene; upon their determination that this group of 12 were Iranian dissidents as well as Iranian Americans who are against the IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran) the hotel security attacked the dissidents and journalists.
According to Ms. Abdi, the hotel security attacked Nasrin Mohammadi whose two of her brothers are political prisoners in Iran to confiscate her video camera as a result of this she fell from a platform. Ms. Firozeh Ghafarpour (another TV journalists and political activist) started to protest this; she was then viciously attacked with pepper spray. At this point Ms. Dokhi Abdi told the security that she was a reporter and that she was there to report the event, upon stating this she was attacked and she was sprayed in the mouth. Several other individuals were beaten and hand cuffed. As I write this the victims are being treated in a local hospital emergency room.

Mr. President, I, as an Iranian American, as a republican, as one of your constituents, as one of your campaign volunteers, as a political and human rights activist I severely protest this incident. How is this possible to require a valid Iranian passport to gain entry into an American hotel in US soil? How is this possible to allow violation of our First amendment Bill of Rights to freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble? This is an act of terror! What is the American law enforcement agencies are going to do about this? What is the US Department of State is going to do about the Iranian interest section (Under the Embassy of Pakistan) who is organizing these acts of terror?

Mr. President, actions speak louder than words! What are you going to do about this?

Sincerely yours,

Ramin Etebar, M.D.
Las Vegas, Nevada

***************
IRANIANS PROTEST "ELECTIONS" IN CANADA
Iran News Jun 17th, 2005 - 18:31:52
Page One > Iran News
http://www.iranian.ws/iran_news/publish/article_7642.shtml

Iranians protest election day in Canada
Jun 17, 2005
Sayeh Hassan and Ruzbeh Hosseini - Persian Journal

Today, a large number of Iranians gathered in front of the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa, Canada to support the boycott of the 9th presidential elections in Iran. ...

The highlight of the event was a hostage taking by Embassy personnel of a well known film maker named Masoud Raouf. After obtaining the required permission from Embassy personnel and the RCMP, he went into the Embassy to take footage of the election for a documentary. Once inside, the Islamic Regime's agents started to harass him. When Mr. Masoud pleaded to have the RCMP intervene, the IRI agents refused and three of them attacked Mr. Raouf and beat him violently about the nose, genitalia, and other parts of his body. To bring attention to his situation Mr. Raouf smashed and broke an Embassy window. This caused the protesting Iranians to storm the Embassy grounds and make thunderous demands for the release of Mr. Raouf who had then become a hostage. Slogans such as "Free Masoud, Free Masoud" could be heard blocks away and it took forty-five minutes for police to calm the crowd and move them away from the Embassy door. The protesters resolved to continue their protest until Mr. Raouf was released. After another hour he was finally released and gave a small speech regarding what had taken place inside.

A disturbing common theme is the willingness of the regime's thugs to use violence against fellow Iranians on foreign soil. Keep watching this space for updates.

Fouladvand Reported Arrested; Clashes in Iranian Diaspora

Latest reports on Iran from Free Iran:
Friday, June 17, 2005
Dr. Froud Fouladvand Under Arrest?
regimechangeiran.com

Iman Foroutan, SOS IRAN.com, told me that it has been reported that Dr. Froud Fouladvand, the Iranian broadcaster operating out of the UK has been arrested. He has been advocating an armed struggle with the Iranian government. His group has been responsible for numerous demonstrations in Europe asking the leaders of the EU to drop its support for the Islamic Republic of Iran. I have yet to find a news source that can confirm this report.

posted by DoctorZin @ 5:15 PM
Comment (0) | Trackback (0)
Iranian Polling Station in LA Shut Down

I just heard from Iman Foroutan, of SOSIRAN.com, that the Iranian polling station in Los Angeles, CA was shut down. Prior to its closure, Aryo Pirouznia, of SMCCDI, and an unnamed women were pepper sprayed by security personnel guarding the polling station. The woman required medical attention and was taken to a local hospital.

I have heard of other agressive measures taken by the Islamic Republic of Iran's personnel in other cities today. A more complete briefing on today's efforts will be posted later.

Update: An SOSIRAN.com associate sent me the following report:

A group of Iranian Americans composed of TV journalists and political activist who had gathered in front of the Commerce Plaza Hotel (Los Angeles suburb) to protest and report the conduction of the sham Iranian presidential elections were assaulted by the hotel security on the command of IRI thugs in US.

According to Ms. Dokhi Abdi; a political activist and Iranian satellite TV reporter and commentator in Los Angeles, upon the arrival of the group to the Commerce Plaza Hotel where the elections for the Iranian presidential election was being conducted, the group of 12 activists and journalists were intercepted by the hotel security and a valid Iranian passport was demanded from them in order to allow entry to the hotel.

Soon after several Iranians who were in charge of the event in the hotel were called to the scene; upon their determination that this group of 12 were Iranian dissidents as well as Iranian Americans who are against the IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran) the hotel security attacked the dissidents and journalists. ...

Posted by Rasker; go to the message thread at the link for full details and follow-ups.

Iranians vote ... with their feet!

Iranians are boycotting the regime's "elections", despite official pressure to vote for one of the six regime-approved candidates. This thread at the Free Iran message forum has the details:
The Iranian people have clearly rejected the Islamist regime by overwhelmingly boycotting the Mullah's Election SHOW. The BOYCOTT AGAINST THE MULLAHS HAS A GREAT MESSAGE to the Islamist Regime that they MUST GIVE UP POWER PEACEFULY NOW Or ELSE ....

West of Tehran
Most of the dozen polling stations in western Tehran were either empty or had a handful of voters from 9 a.m. till 11 a.m.
In particular, the station in Poung Square at the corner of Homeyl Street was completely deserted.
Sattarkhan and Sardar-Jangal roads were empty though 10 people were spotted standing in a queue to vote in Sediqiyeh street.


Tehran

Voting Centre 71
Saddouqi High School in Akbari Street – Six people were spotted, among them three women. (11:30 a.m. local time)

Voting Centres 68 and 69
Imam Hossein Asgary Mosque in Salehi Street – 12 people were seen lined up to vote, among them five women.

Voting Centre 66
Tarasht Prayer Hall – 15 people were seen lined up to vote. Roughly half were women, and youths constituted a handful of them. (11:30 a.m.)
...

And all the eyewitness reports are pretty much the same, throughout Tehran and the rest of Iran as well. In Mazandaran Province, northern Iran, regime officials are offering bribes of $25 and a free lunch to get people to "vote"!

So it's come to this ... the mullahs of the IRI are reduced to begging people to turn out to vote. Pathetic.

Readers are reminded that all major Iranian opposition groups have designated this weekend as the official beginning of their struggle to take back Iran. Dreams Into Lightning observes (and has noted in the past) that the mid-June timeframe is consistent with all statements coming from Washington regarding Iran in recent months.

Remember the Scott Ritter leak? Here's the April 29 Washington Times:
- Scott Ritter, the controversial ex-Marine turned UNSCOM weapons inspector in Iraq, who correctly predicted there were no WMD in Saddam's arsenal, says the plan to bomb Iran's widely-scattered nuclear installations has been approved by President Bush. Ritter predicts the massive air attack against Iran's nuclear infrastructure will take place next June.

And from the peaceniks there's this:

NEWS: Scott Ritter says US attack on Iran planned for June
Written by Mark Jensen
Saturday, 19 February 2005

... The principal theme of Scott Ritter's talk was Americans’ duty to protect the U.S. Constitution by taking action to bring an end to the illegal war in Iraq. But in passing, the former UNSCOM weapons inspector stunned his listeners with two pronouncements. Ritter said plans for a June attack on Iran have been submitted to President George W. Bush, and that the president has approved them. He also asserted that knowledgeable sources say U.S. officials "cooked" the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.

On Iran, Ritter said that President George W. Bush has received and signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran planned for June 2005. Its purported goal is the destruction of Iran’s alleged program to develop nuclear weapons, but Ritter said neoconservatives in the administration also expected that the attack would set in motion a chain of events leading to regime change in the oil-rich nation of 70 million -- a possibility Ritter regards with the greatest skepticism.

Now recall the increasingly tough rhetoric from Bush and Rice about Iran over the past couple of weeks, especially the past few days. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Administration has been quietly coordinating with Iranian opposition groups for a period of (at least) several months. In any event, the ultimatum published by Iran of Tomorrow Movement - SOS Iran is pretty clear.

This is why I feel pretty comfortable in saying that the balloon goes up this weekend. Stay tuned.

Twins to Lead Poland?

Via Arthur Chrenkoff:
No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you - Poland might become the first country in history to be led by identical twins.

Even better, Lech (yes, there's that name again) and Jaroslaw Kaczynski [and there's THAT name again - aa] are both conservatives, anti-corruption anti-government waste crusaders, and staunch supporters of the US alliance (as well as Poland's involvement in Iraq).

The Kaczynski brothers, who already rarely appear together in public to avoid creating confusion, have the potential to sow utter chaos among the ranks of foreign correspondents and commentators - not to mention photojournalists.

Lech and Jaroslaw are running for the posts of president and prime minister, respectively. Will they serve as one another's body doubles? The mind boggles. Go read the article at the link.

Schindler Family Releases Statement

The family of Terri Schindler Schiavo has released a statement in response to the medical examiner's report:
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., and SEMINOLE, Fl., June 16 /Christian Wire Service/ -- On June 15, 2005, the Pinellas County IME has released his report regarding Terri. We would like to thank the IME for his time and effort in making this report. We are not challenging the findings in his report, but we would like to make a few comments publicly. We do not intend to take questions afterwards.

First, the IME's report confirms Terri's physical condition and disability. We all knew Terri was seriously brain-injured before the IME report. This is nothing new. The IME's report also confirms that TERRI WAS NOT TERMINAL. THAT TERRI HAD NO LIVING WILL, THAT TERRI HAD A STRONG HEART, and THAT TERRI WAS BRUTALLY DEHYDRATED TO DEATH.

Second, our family would encourage the media to remember that this case was allegedly about "Terri's choice." There is absolutely no evidence that Terri wanted to die of dehydration, or that she believed that that the level of one's disability gives anyone the moral and legal right to end another's life.

Third, the IME said clearly that dehydration, not her brain injury, was the cause of her death. Terri was dehydrated to death before our eyes The moral shame of what happened is not erased because of Terri's level of disability. No one would say that "blind people" or "brain-injured" people should be put to death. That would be an irresponsible and heartless position to take. Tragically, that is what happened to Terri. As a society, it seems that we have lost our compassion for the disabled.

We asked our attorney, Mr. Gibbs, to meet with the IME prior to the press conference, to attend the IME's press conference, and to speak to the media for our family afterward. In our opinion, some of the significant items from the IME's report are as follows:

-- Terri had a strong heart according to the IME. In addition to her strong heart, Terri also demonstrated a very strong will to live.

-- Terri was not terminal. The IME said with proper care Terri would have lived at least another 10 years even in her disabled condition. Terri's case was NOT an end-of-life case. Terri's case was about ending a disabled person's life.

-- Terri was brain-injured. This does NOT mean that she was brain-dead. Many seem to not understand this absolutely critical distinction.

-- The IME essentially ruled out bulimia and heart attack as causes for Terri's condition. In one sense the IME's report created as many questions as it may have answered. The major question for our family that now remains is what happened? A troubling 70-minute gap appears in the timeline on the day Terri collapsed in 1990: ...

Read the whole thing at the link.

2005-06-16

Reminder: Iran Regime Change Petition

Just for old times' sake, I'm gonna plug this petition one last time. The point is that America's security, and Israel's security, are not in competition with the Iranian people's right to freedom; on the contrary, the evil of the islamist entity is our common enemy. Our President correctly apprehends the danger posed to America and its allies by a nuclear-armed IRI; we must affirm that the solution to this danger lies in the abolition of the current regime in Iran, and its replacement with a secular liberal democracy.

If you haven't already, please sign:
True Security Begins with Regime Change in Iran

Thank you.

Trial of Klan Thug Gets Under Way

The New York Times reports on the trial of Edgar Ray Killen, charged in the murder of three pro-democracy activists in Mississippi in 1964.
When they had a phone, it rang constantly. People on the other end would tell Rita Schwerner that her husband was a dead man. Their license-plate number was circulated to law enforcement officers.

That was the welcome given a young couple who arrived in Mississippi from New York in 1964 to join the civil rights movement, the former Ms. Schwerner, now Rita Bender, told a jury on Thursday. She was the first witness in the state murder trial of a onetime member of the Ku Klux Klan accused of orchestrating the killing of her husband, Michael Schwerner, and two other civil rights workers, James Earl Chaney and Andrew Goodman, more than 40 years ago.

...Mr. Schwerner and Mr. Chaney, who was from Meridian, built shelves to house the donated books that were not available in the public library for blacks. There was a Ping-Pong table. But the workers were also trying to help blacks register to vote, making contacts and looking for places to hold training classes. Mr. Schwerner and Mr. Chaney had visited the Mount Zion United Methodist Church, a black church in Neshoba County near Philadelphia. ...

Read the whole thing at the link.

Fighting fascism is never easy, whether in Afghanistan or Mississippi or Iraq or Iran. But somehow, no matter how many lynchings or how many suicide bombings, the human instinct for freedom remains. Those of us who have had the luxury of growing up in free societies would do well to take a moment to remember the sacrifices made by people like Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner - and those being made by our warriors and their allies today.

Objective Journalism

Article in the "News - Top Stories" section of the Reuters website:
U.S. double standard to hamper Rice Mideast drive
Thu Jun 16, 2005 06:00 PM ET
By Saul Hudson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration's different standards for its friends and foes could hurt the credibility of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's push for democracy in the Middle East on a trip that starts on Saturday.

President Bush pledged this year to make democracy and human rights a central plank in relations worldwide, and particularly in the Middle East where Washington has traditionally tolerated allies' repression and abuses.

Critics and supporters of the campaign say it has so far delivered little, because Washington has tempered its criticism of nations such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia for fear of losing support on policies ranging from the war on terrorism to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to oil supply.

To much of the Arab world, the Bush administration appears hypocritical as it hammers longtime foe Iran over its flawed presidential election set for Friday but refuses to call Egyptian election reform the sham most political analysts say it is.

"U.S. contradictions on democracy aren't new, but rarely has an administration been so self-righteous in its rhetoric -- and that only exposes for the world its double standards," said Stephen Zunes, a politics professor at the University of San Francisco.

Analysts also say the U.S. diplomatic campaign is hamstrung because: Washington has lost credibility due to U.S. abuse of detainees; it is reluctant to back real reform that could bring anti-American forces to power; and it has exaggerated the role of elections in establishing democracy to the neglect of other key elements such as the rule of law. ...

From the Reuters News FAQ:
Do Reuters journalists voice their own opinions?

Question
Do Reuters journalists voice their own opinions?

Answer
No, never. News stories are sourced very clearly and precisely to enable readers and viewers to form their own judgment. Our correspondents do not use unconfirmed reports as the basis of a story, nor do they offer subjective opinion.


Hat tip (Reuters "article"):
Little Green Footballs

Condoleezza Rice on Iran

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denounced Iran's so-called "elections" orchestrated by the regime in this AP news item:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Iran was choking off political freedom just as other Middle East countries were exploring greater openness.

Thousands of would-be candidates, and all women, were arbitrarily barred from running, Rice said at a news conference.

"I can't see how one considers that, quote, a legitimate election," Rice said.

Read the full article at the link.

President Bush in Persian

From Radio Farda, a Farsi-language translation of President Bush's statement to the Iranian people can be found here:
President Bush to the people of Iran

English-speaking readers, please pass this on to your Persian-speaking friends.

Clashes Rock Tehran

Via Free Iran:
Clashes rock several areas of Iranian Capital
SMCCDI (Information Service)
Jun 16, 2005, 07:51

Violent clashes rocked, yesterday evening, several areas of the Iranian Capital as demonstrators were attacked by Islamic regime forces.

Several areas, such as, "Enghelab" and Tehran University, "Vali e Asr", Rey, Zafar and the nearby Park e Mellat, Eslamshahr, Haft Hose, Rassol and Tajrish were affected.

Several demonstrators and also members of the regime forces were seriously injured. Rumors of two deaths have been reported from clashes which happened at Vali e Asr.

Slogans against the Islamic regime and its leadership were shouted by demonstrators who retaliated to the regime's use of clubs and tear gas by throwing pieces of stone and incendiary devices.

Public materials and several security patrol cars were damaged by the crowd. Many of regime's electoral propaganda were destroyed again or set on fire.

The situation in Tehran and several main provincial cities is very tense at few hours before the sham elections. Security forces have been deployed in an unprecedented manner and electronic jamming of abroad based opposition radio and TV programs has been increased.

The Movement's Coordinator, Aryo B. Pirouznia, hosted, via phone, by the popular Radio Israel (Persian service), called for massive boycott of sham elections and increase of protest actions against the regime. During this special program which was broadcasted yesterday evening (20:00 IR Local time), the SMCCDI Public Statement was read for the auditors.

Pirouznia is back to Los Angeles from where he's calling for massive boycott of sham elections and protest actions against the Islamic regime. Special live panels have been set at NITV and Pars TV for this purpose.
Source: SMCCDI

President Bush to Iranians: "The People of America Stand With You"

Just in from the Washington Post (hat tip: Free Iran):
President Bush, addressing the Iranian people on the eve of their presidential election, today denounced Iran's electoral system as undemocratic and vowed that America would stand with those seeking "freedom" in the Islamic Republic.

In a statement distributed by the White House, Bush charged, "Today, Iran is ruled by men who suppress liberty at home and spread terror across the world. Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy."

He added, "The June 17th presidential elections are sadly consistent with this oppressive record."

The statement amounted to a repudiation of the elections and the seven candidates for president, three of whom have campaigned as reformists and are considered relative moderates by local standards. This group includes the front-runner, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, 70, a Shiite Muslim cleric who has served two previous presidential terms. Although he was formerly known as a hard-liner, Rafsanjani now bills himself as a reformer who intends to improve relations with the West, including the United States, and liberalize the economy.

... "Across the Middle East, hopeful change is taking place," Bush said, citing elections in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. "People are claiming their liberty. And as a tide of freedom sweeps this region, it will also come eventually to Iran."

... "Today, the Iranian regime denies all these rights," Bush said. "It shuts down independent newspapers and Web sites and jails those who dare to challenge the corrupt system. It brutalizes its people and denies them their liberty."

Bush concluded: "America believes in the independence and territorial integrity of Iran. America believes in the right of the Iranian people to make their own decisions and determine their own future. America believes that freedom is the birthright and deep desire of every human soul. And to the Iranian people, I say: As you stand for your own liberty, the people of America stand with you."

Earlier, I questioned the gloomy assessment of the Israeli-based analysis site Debka. Debka's analysts interpreted Bush's backing of el-Baradei for a fifth term at IAEA as a "dramatic reversal" that could only mean Washington had given up on stopping the regime's nuclear program. Debka concluded that "For Israel, Washington’s quiet retreat from its campaign against an Iranian bomb spells disaster, the collapse of yet another vital strategic asset intrinsic to the Sharon government’s defense posture."

But it is more likely that it is el-Baradei, not Bush, who has reversed course. A Reuters article quoted at Regime Change Iran flatly states:
The United States lost the battle to depose ElBaradei, but it has not given up its fight against Iran's nuclear program, which Washington says is a front to develop nuclear weapons.

The Reuters sources contend the appointment is more of a face-saving compromise for the UN than a surrender by the US:
"The U.S. has taken the most graceful way out of this situation," a Western diplomat said before the IAEA board meeting. "It has decided to back ElBaradei in exchange for what it hopes will be a tougher stance on Iran," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Also, as I argued previously, it is quite likely that Bush neither desires nor expects the current regime to be sitting in Tehran for very much longer. He may regard both the UN and the IRI as equally irrelevant. In this case, it does not much matter now whom Bush endorses or opposes for the IAEA. In fact, it is quite possible that the Bush Administration has already conducted some kind of negotiations with the future government of Iran.

It would be foolish for the President to consistently commit himself to this hardline anti-regime position unless he believed he had some assurance of being vindicated in the end. Debka - which lately has been sounding a lot like the New York Times - foresees Bush limping through the remainder of his second term, trying to cut his losses, and waiting for the next administration to take on the mess. I believe this assessment is out of character for Bush, and it is not a realistic view of the President's position. The Chief is putting his credibility on the line with Iran - it's only reasonable to assume that he has the means to back it up.

Let's blogroll!

GayPatriot - the original GayPatriot - is back! Go to the post at the link to learn everything you always wanted to know about GP ... and don't forget to visit the main page for current posts.

A Jayhawk in Longhorn Country has a few choice words for message boards. Jayhorn speaks my thoughts on Free Republic, and on longwinded message threads in general.

"Chernobyl is Open." When Michael J. Totten begins a post with these words, you know it won't be long until you read the words "I have to go there." Go to the link to find out why Portland's intrepid travel writer wants to put Chernobyl on his itinerary (which recently included Lebanon and Libya).

Beth is on blogging vacation and enjoying the Southern summer. But don't let that stop you from visiting My VRWC and reading Jody's guest post on Terri Schiavo and Merri's guest post on teen abortion.

Homecomings are the subject of this post at Neo-Neocon. A reflection on some of the ways we've changed since Vietnam ... and some ways we haven't. Read the comments for some words from a Vietnamese Iraq vet.

Shavu'ot fell, appropriately enough, on 6/13 this year; Judith at Kesher Talk posts on Jews by choice - people who choose the Torah.

Update

I'll try to get a Morning Report posted some time before noon (Pacific). I expect to post one more installment of Morning Report this Sunday, after which MR will be going on extended leave. In general I am going to take a break from posting at Dreams Into Lightning starting next week, but I will definitely be back.

This Sunday will be a special day in several respects: it's Juneteenth; it's also the day of a number of Gay Pride celebrations, including the one here in Portland (the historical anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots is June 27); and, of most immediate importance, this weekend will mark the beginning of the Iranian people's campaign to take back their country. May G-d grand them success. All freedom-loving people should support the Iranians in their struggle.

A year ago I posted this Morning Report.

Thanks to all who have visited, commented, and linked here. Stay tuned.

2005-06-15

Morning Report: June 15, 2005

Good news from Iraq. Winds of Change has the latest news: 'Samir al-Saboon, the Sunni head of Iraq's National Security Agency, has recently shared the results of latest opinion research in Iraq, taken in May: 'Recent polling data shows that fully two-thirds of Iraqis believe their country is headed in the right direction, Saboon said. While a poll in January showed only 11 percent of Sunni Muslims in Iraq shared that view, that percentage has since grown to 40, he said... ' Hutwa bi hutwa. Read the full post at the link. (Winds of Change)

Australian hostage Douglas Wood released. The Belmont Club reports: 'Australian hostage Douglas Wood, has been released in Iraq, not through the payment of ransom, but apparently through military action.' Read the post at the link for full details, and for Wretchard's understanding of the likely chain of events. (Belmont Club)

US troops train in Africa. Stratfor (subscription service) reports: 'U.S. troops arrived in Mali June 15 to begin joint military exercises with Nigeria and eight other West and North African Countries. 1,000 U.S. troops, representing all four branches of the U.S. military, are stationed in Africa for the two-week exercise in Mali, Algeria, Chad, Niger and Mauritania. The operations focus on counterterrorism in the border regions of the trans-Sahara. The exercise is scheduled to continue through June 26 and will consist of orienteering, marksmanship, and field communications among other tactics. 3,000 African troops are participating.' (Stratfor)

Iranian activists announce plans. The following announcements have been posted at Free Iran:

Wednesday, June 15 New!
In Tehran, Iran a demonstration calling for the release of political prisoners . Location: in front of the infamous Evin Prison from 11am-1PM. The demonstration has held. I am told it was smaller (100 in some estimates) due to security forces blocking access to Evin Prison. Two women and a man were arrested. More on this soon.

Thursday June 16

The Hakha Movement, associated with Ahura Yazdi has called for people to go into the street at 10AM. They claim the regime will fall on this date.
In Palo Alto, California USA, Supporters of the Iranian freedom movement will attend a protest Location: The intersection of University Avenue and Emerson Street at 6:30 - 8:30PM.

Friday June 17 - Presidential Election Day

The Iran of Tomorrow Movement is calling for pro-democracy forces to stay in their homes and boycott the election. They are also asking Iranians, under the cover of dark, at 5:30AM to burn tires in the streets and alleys of their homes as a sign they are boycotting the election.

Anjomane Padeshahi, associated with Fouladvand has called for people to burn buses, flatten tires, place barbed wire in streets to show displeasure for the election. In the past, the regime has taken busloads of "voters" with false id's around to various polling stations to show the international media a steady stream of "voters." This appears to target these buses. This group is one of the few groups advocating a violent overthrow of the regime.

In Washington D.C. USA, Iranian opposition groups will hold a demonstration asking Iranians to boycott the elections. Location: the Islamic Republic of Iran's Interest Section 2209 Wisconsin Ave, NW. at 5:30-73PM.

2005-06-14

All Apologies

LaShawn Barber cuts loose with such a good rant about the Senate's formal apology over lynching, that I can't resist linking to it again.
In light of the serious problems we face in the world and our own country, I think this apology is one of the dumbest, emptiest, most politically correct pile of rubbish I’ve heard in a long time.
We’ve got fanatics trying to kill us all in the name of their god and hiding among us. We’re being taxed to death taking care of deadbeats and criminals, while President Bush is sending even more of our money to brutal dictators in Africa. And the Senate apologizes for failing to pass anti-lynching laws 100 years ago? ...

It just gets better; go read it all. Meanwhile, Helen at CaribPundit, who's always worth a visit, passes on some grateful words of appreciation for the Democratic Party:
An Open Letter to the Democratic Party
By Frances Rice

(This was originally posted on Free Republic on 6/4/2004, almost one year ago, but it is worthy of reposting here for the benefit of Caribbeanites who are fond of the Democrats.)

We, African American citizens of the United States, declare and assert:

Whereas in the early 1600’s 20 African men and women were landed in Virginia from a Dutch ship as slaves and from that tiny seed grew the poisoned fruit of plantation slavery which shaped the course of American development,

Whereas reconciliation and healing always begin with an apology and an effort to repay those who have been wronged,

Whereas the Democratic Party has never apologized for their horrific atrocities and racist practices committed against African Americans during the past two hundred years, nor for the residual impact that those atrocities and practices and current soft bigotry of low expectations are having on us today,

Whereas the Democratic Party fought to expand slavery and, after the Civil War, established Jim Crow Laws, Black Codes and other repressive legislation that were designed to disenfranchise African Americans,

Whereas the Ku Klux Klan was the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party, and their primary goal was to intimidate and terrorize African American voters, Republicans who moved South to protect African Americans and any other whites who supported them ...

There's a lot more whereases until you get to the end. An apology and WHAT? (Can you say "reparations"?)

Thanks to LaShawn and Helen for these thought-provoking posts. What else should I write?

Science and Space

How to make nanotubes. Microscopic carbon tubes - or nanotubes - were manufactured in a novel way be researchers in China. Nanotubes just one micron long and under 50 nm. in diameter were made by heating plant materials at 250 degrees Celsius (just above the burning point of paper, which is 234 Celsius, or, famously, 451 Fahrenheit) and then heating the resulting residue at some 600 Celsius. The procedure is repeated up to 50 times. The process was developed by Enbo Wang of Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China. Wang used field grass, trees, and a certain wild herb in the experiment. This development is interesting enough by itself, but PhysicsWeb wins the award for best science headline of the day.

Spitzer telescope catches reflected light from supernova. Cassiopeia A, the youngest known supernova remnant in our galaxy, exploded 325 years ago. New data from the Spitzer Space Telescope indicate that Cas A let out one last blast of radiation, just 50 years ago. Photographs that appeared to show dust moving out from Cas A at the speed of light (which we all know is impossible) turned out to reveal an expanding circle of infrared light emitted by the star. Full story at Scientific American.

Mars rovers hit 1,000-sol mark. The planetary rovers Spirit and Opportunity continue to explore Mars more than 1,000 sols (Martian days) into their mission, according to Space.com.

Larger, Earth-type planet discovered. The smallest extrasolar planet yet detected was announced today, reports Space.com: 'Astronomers announced today the discovery of the smallest planet so far found outside of our solar system. About seven-and-a-half times as massive as Earth, and about twice as wide, this new extrasolar planet may be the first rocky world ever found orbiting a star similar to our own. "This is the smallest extrasolar planet yet detected and the first of a new class of rocky terrestrial planets," said team member Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. "It's like Earth's bigger cousin." Currently around 150 extrasolar planets are known, and the number continues to grow. But most of these far-off worlds are large gas giants like Jupiter. Only recently have astronomers started detecting smaller massed objects ...' Full article at the link.

Update

I'll have to tell you another time about my conversion from Safari to Firefox and back to Safari. I think for PC users, especially those using MS Explorer, Firefox is a great idea - and it does have a couple of nice features that Safari doesn't. But overall I like Safari better. I'll bore you with the geeky details later.

Various factors related to work and bills and so on will probably force me to cut back on blogging beginning next week. Morning Report expects to be on duty through this Friday, but will take an indefinite leave of absence thereafter. Occasional posting will continue, well ... occasionally.

Favorite Google search, bar none, was the user who found Dreams Into Lightning with the search terms gay males from outer space. How does that saying go? "We are everywhere." I wonder what those space boiz look like ... Are they bears? Leather daddies? I'm betting they look like this guy.

Is there a whole race of them out there somewhere? But then, how do they reproduce ... ?

And what about lesbians from outer space? Hmmmm. Now there's a concept. Maybe there's a story in that. But I digress.

"I want to live in Niamey, be a doctor and be an important woman."

These words were spoken by Anafghat Ayoub, a brave young woman in Niger, following an unimaginably painful ordeal. Read the post at Neo-Neocon. I've also linked it at Africa Report.

Women Today: More Uppity Middle Eastern Women

Iranian women demonstrate for equality. Hundreds of courageous Iranian women demonstrated at Tehran University this week, calling for a boycott of the IRI regime's "elections" scheduled for this Friday. This thread at Free Iran has the scoop, along with lots of photos! SMCCDI reports: 'Women's who are the majority in Iran are considered as half of a man based on Islamic texts. many positions or study fields are forbidden to them while men can control their lives. Young girls of under 14 years of age can be forced to marry with anyone. Iranian women have at various occasions taken off their mandatory veils or set them on fire in sign of protest while shouting "Na Roossari, Na Toossari" (No Veil, No Submission). Many of them have been beaten up, arrested or heavily fined in retaliation. Some have been injured with acid thrown to their faces. ...'

Iran Focus says the protesters numbered in the "thousands": 'A protest that began with a gathering of dozens of women in downtown Tehran this afternoon drew thousands of anti-government protesters and streamrolled into one of the largest demonstrations against Iran’s clerical rulers in recent months. The protest began in front of Tehran University as a small group of women began chanting “freedom, freedom” and calling for a referendum on religious rule. The rally grew rapidly as thousands of local inhabitants and passers-by joined the protesters. Hundreds of uniformed and plain-clothed security agents quickly circled the protestors to prevent thousands more joining their ranks. Agents of the notorious secret police, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the paramilitary Bassij forces were ferried to the streets around Tehran University to disperse the demonstrators. The mainly young protesters, many in their teens, defied the security forces’ assaults and chanted slogans against the upcoming presidential elections, calling it a masquerade.' More photos at this thread.

A woman's place is in the mosque - and not in the back, either, says Asra Nomani: 'There are those who see Nomani, a self-described "overambitious child of immigrants," as a crusader, an activist lobbying for the right of Muslim women to pray side by side with men. This spring she launched the Muslim Women's Freedom Tour, traveling from city to city (including a stop in April at the Islamic Center of Washington on Massachusetts Avenue NW) to encourage Muslim women to assert themselves in their mosques. As part of the tour, women pray in halls usually reserved for men and participate in mixed-gender prayer services led by women. "It's about time," says religious scholar and historian Reza Aslan. "This conception of the separation of men and women is something that never occurred during the prophet's lifetime." He adds, "What she has done is perfectly in line with Islamic values, traditions and the prophet's own desire to have men and women working side by side, praying side by side and even fighting side by side." ...' Nadz gives a first-class rant.

Also from Nadz, a very thought-provoking post on life as a teen for Middle Eastern and Western girls: 'The relevance of this is that Arab teenage girls, while more restricted than their American sisters, often have the same kinds of feelings and problems. They both experience double standards and contradictory images in how they are supposed to behave. The movie highlighted this well - as the troubled girls run down the street, they are bombarded with images and advertisements for makeup, slutty clothes and underwear that is way too old for them. It also reveals our bizarre outlook on how girls are supposed to act. ...' Read the whole post; it's first-rate writing, even for the super-talented Nadz.

Lavender Alert

Terror expert suddenly "not a good fit" at Library of Congress. Army Rangers veteran Diane Schroer, formerly Colonel David Schroer, was offered a job at the Congressional Research Service (CRS), last December. But the CRS - a branch of the Library of Congress - rescinded Schroeder's offer when it learned she was in the process of gender transition, the Washington Blade reports: 'The Library of Congress rescinded its offer to hire a decorated Army combat veteran who headed an elite anti-terrorism unit after it learned the retired colonel was in the process of changing genders from male to female. Diane J. Schroer, 49, who served in the U.S. Army for 25 years as David Schroer, filed suit on June 2 in federal court in D.C., charging the Library of Congress with engaging in sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The lawsuit says the Congressional Research Service acknowledged Schroer’s qualifications by offering her a job as a terrorism research analyst before rescinding the offer last December on grounds that she would not be a “good fit” at the CRS, which is an arm of the Library of Congress. ... In 1997, Schroer was assigned to the U.S. Special Operations Command, which plans, directs, and executes anti-terrorism operations throughout the world, the lawsuit says. After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Army officials assigned Schroer to the post of director of a 120-person top secret unit that tracks and targets international terrorist organizations. Schroer’s duties included giving personal briefings to Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the U.S. Armed Forces, the lawsuit says.' LC spokesperson Helen Dalrymple declined to comment specifically on the case, but stated that the Library of Congress has several transgendered employees. (Washington Blade)

Alison Bechdel speaks at Boston Dyke March. Cartoonist and blogger Alison Bechdel spoke at the Boston Dyke March last Friday (June 10). Alison writes: 'I talked about the whole marriage thing, and how if I had charted the progress of this civil rights movement, I wouldn’t have picked marriage to be the deciding issue in our attainment of legal and social equality. But now that it is, let’s keep fighting for it. But more importantly, once we get it, let’s not sit back and lapse into a coma of orthodoxy, but work to undermine the false equation of marriage with citizenship.' Read the whole post at the link. A commenter writes to Alison: "Thanks for being so decent. And thanks for giving us all food for thought; for raising important questions without easy answers that call for true change and not just tossing us easy, angry rhetoric." (Alison Bechdel)

LA Times recognizes gay conservatives. (Hat tip: GayPatriot.) An article by Johanna Neuman at the Los Angeles Times provides "A Short History of the Gay Right". 'The Log Cabin Republicans formed in the late 1970s, when Republican state Sen. John Briggs of Orange County proposed a statewide ballot initiative to ban gays and lesbians from teaching in public schools,' the article begins. The brief but information-packed article mentions California Governor Ronald Reagan's public opposition to the anti-gay teacher initiative, which failed despite an overwhelming advantage in early polls; President George W. Bush's positive actions, including an ambitious AIDS plan and continuing support of nondiscrimination policies; and the leadership of current LCR president Patrick Guerriero. Well worth a read. (GP, LA Times)

Africa Report

Niger: FGM, fistulas, and heroism. Citing a Wall Street Journal piece by Roger Thurow, Neo-Neocon writes about female genital mutilation, the early "marriage" of young girls to adult men, and the agonizing and debilitating phenomenon of fistulas - infections that result from childbirth in girls whose bodies are too young for labor. The article follows the story of Anafghat Ayoub: after an early pregnancy led to a stillbirth and a fistula, Anafghat endured a costly and difficult journey to the nation's capital for medical treatment. Her father, Mr. Mahomed, spared no expense or effort to help Anafghat. While recovering in the hospital, 'Anafghat noticed a woman from Niger who was a medical student making the rounds with the American doctors. Anafghat, the goatherder's daughter from the rural village, was extremely taken with her, saying: I want to live in Niamey, be a doctor and be an important woman.' Read the rest at Neo's post, at the link.

Ethiopia: Tension and hope in electoral dispute. Ethiopia's governing and opposition parties have promised to refrain from further violence, the Head Heeb reports. 'With the party reaffirming its commitment to calm, the investigation of electoral irregularities can now go ahead - although, with the situation inflamed as it is, the truce may last only until the results are announced.'

Mbeki fires Zuma. South African President Thabo Mbeki has fired his deputy Jacob Zuma. Reuters reports: 'South African President Thabo Mbeki said on Tuesday he had sacked his deputy Jacob Zuma who has been implicated in a high-profile corruption trial in a move seen as strengthening Africa's declared drive against graft. "I've come to the conclusion that the circumstances dictate that in the interests of the honorable deputy president, the government and our young democratic system ... it will be best to release honorable Jacob Zuma from his responsibilities as deputy president of the republic and member of the cabinet," Mbeki told a special joint session of parliament. Zuma's former financial adviser Schabir Shaik was convicted of corruption and fraud this month in a Durban High Court ruling that also implicated Zuma and said the pair's relationship was "generally corrupt," sparking calls for Zuma to resign. Zuma, popular with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) rank and file as well as its trade union and Communist allies, had refused to step down saying he believed he had committed no crime and had not been tried in a court of law.' AllAfrica: 'This came almost two weeks after Zuma was implicated in corruption during the Durban High Court trial of businessman Schabir Shaik, who acted as his financial advisor. ... Zuma said he accepted and respected Mbeki's decision to sack him as deputy president.' (Reuters, AllAfrica)

UN expects Sudan to drop charges against Dutch MSF workers. Reuters via Sudan Tribune reports: 'The United Nations expects the Sudanese authorities to drop charges against two officials of the Dutch branch of the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on Tuesday, a senior U.N. official said. "I have reason to assume that the charges against the two MSF officials will be dropped today," U.N. envoy to Sudan Jan Pronk told reporters in Khartoum. "That would be very positive because that might make it possible that MSF, which has saved the lives of tens of thousands, in particular children, in Sudan, can continue that humanitarian work," he added. The two officials, Vincent Hoedt and his British superior Paul Foreman, were arrested in May over an MSF report about hundreds of rapes in Sudan's troubled western Darfur region.' (Reuters via Sudan Tribune)