Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Iranian clerics want a Taliban style government?

According to Mansoor Moaddel, Professor of Sociology at Eastern Michigan University, that is exactly what the clerics are trying to do:

Iran’s Crisis and the U.S. Option: Support Mousavi now or fight Ahmadinejad tomorrow
The current civil uprising in Iran reflects not just a protest against a rigged election. Nor is it primarily a symptom of contentions for power or clashes between opposing perspectives on the nature of the Islamic regime. It is, rather, resistance against a political coup, whose engineers plan to impose a Taliban-style Islamic government on Iran. The coup has been organized by an alliance between the supreme leader and the most militant and fundamentalist faction within the ruling establishment, backed by the Revolutionary Guard.

The political attitudes of one of its most notorious ideologues, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, demonstrates the danger Iranians and the world would be facing should this militant faction get its way. Mesbah Yazdi does not believe in the republican aspects of the Islamic regime, but rather views Islamic law as supreme and must be unquestionably followed. The supreme leader, he says, is not elected but rather discovered by the clerics. For him, Ayatollah Khamenei is the exemplar of such a leader. He has characterized the ideas of representative government and legislative functions as belong to the decadent system of Western liberalism. He has likened reformist ideas to the AIDS virus. He has publically endorsed the construction of a nuclear bomb.

These ideas have much appeal for Ahmadinejad, who claims that the past governments were corrupt and deviated from the Islamic path.

[...]

The outcome of the current civil uprising is certainly consequential for the development of democracy in Iran. It has also far reaching implications for regional stability, international peace efforts, and the security of the United States. At this point, the regime cannot secure its rule without unleashing a reign of terror. And if this coup succeeds, the regime will forge ahead with its expressed plans for nuclear development and support for religious extremism abroad.

It would be a mistake to think that people like Ahmadinejad are reasonable. It is counter productive to base policy on the untenable premise that he would be amenable to a cost-benefit analysis on the nuclear issue. Time and again he has announced that the nuclear issue is off the table. To believe or hope otherwise would be a profound and resonant error. [...]

Read the whole thing. We have nothing to gain by worring about offending the Mullahs; they are not going to "talk" with us. But our Democrat Administration seems to have blinders on to all this.
     

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Health Care Costs; why the high prices?

George Will has an interesting article today:

Americans Will Regret Health Care 'Fix'
[...] Most Americans do want different health care: They want 2009 medicine at 1960 prices. Americans spent much less on health care in 1960 (5 percent of GDP as opposed to 18 percent now). They also spent much less -- nothing, in fact -- on computers, cell phones and cable and satellite television.

[...]

The Hudson Institute's Betsy McCaughey, writing in The American Spectator, says that in 1960 the average American household spent 53 percent of its disposable income on food, housing, energy and health care. Today the portion of income consumed by those four has barely changed -- 55 percent. But the health care component has increased while the other three combined have decreased. This is partly because as societies become richer, they spend more on health care -- and symphonies, universities, museums, etc.

It is also because health care is increasingly competent.
When the first baby boomers, whose aging is driving health care spending, were born in 1946, many American hospitals' principal expense was clean linen. This was long before MRIs, CAT scans and the rest of the diagnostic and therapeutic arsenal that modern medicine deploys.

In a survey released in April by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard, only 6 percent of Americans said they were willing to spend more than $200 a month on health care, and the price must fall to $100 a month before a majority are willing to pay it. But according to Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, Americans already are paying an average of $400 a month.

Most Americans do not know this because the cost of their care is hidden.
Only 9 percent buy health coverage individually, and $84 of every $100 spent on health care is spent by someone (an employer, insurance company or government) other than recipients of the care. Those who get insurance as untaxed compensation from employers have no occasion to compute or confront the size of that benefit. But it is part of the price their employers pay for their work.

The president says the health care market "has not worked perfectly." Indeed. Only God, supposedly, and Wrigley Field, actually, are perfect. Anyway, given the heavy presence of government dollars (46 percent of health care dollars) and regulations, the market, such as it is, is hardly free to work. [...]

Government is a big part of the problem. MORE government is not going to make the situation better. Read the whole thing.
     

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Hooray for Honduras, for defending their constitution, judiciary and the rule of law

The Honduran President Mel Zelaya tried to pull a "Hugo Chavez" by breaking the law to rewrite the constitution to suit himself. He was overruled by the Honduran judiciary, whom he ignored. The country's Supreme Court ordered the military to intervene, because the law was being broken:

Honduras Defends Its Democracy
Fidel Castro and Hillary Clinton object
[...] It remains to be seen what Mr. Zelaya's next move will be. It's not surprising that chavistas throughout the region are claiming that he was victim of a military coup. They want to hide the fact that the military was acting on a court order to defend the rule of law and the constitution, and that the Congress asserted itself for that purpose, too.

Mrs. Clinton has piled on as well. Yesterday she accused Honduras of violating "the precepts of the Interamerican Democratic Charter" and said it "should be condemned by all." Fidel Castro did just that. Mr. Chávez pledged to overthrow the new government.

Honduras is fighting back by strictly following the constitution. The Honduran Congress met in emergency session yesterday and designated its president as the interim executive as stipulated in Honduran law. It also said that presidential elections set for November will go forward. The Supreme Court later said that the military acted on its orders. It also said that when Mr. Zelaya realized that he was going to be prosecuted for his illegal behavior, he agreed to an offer to resign in exchange for safe passage out of the country. Mr. Zelaya denies it.

Many Hondurans are going to be celebrating Mr. Zelaya's foreign excursion. Street protests against his heavy-handed tactics had already begun last week. On Friday a large number of military reservists took their turn. "We won't go backwards," one sign said. "We want to live in peace, freedom and development."

Besides opposition from the Congress, the Supreme Court, the electoral tribunal and the attorney general, the president had also become persona non grata with the Catholic Church and numerous evangelical church leaders. On Thursday evening his own party in Congress sponsored a resolution to investigate whether he is mentally unfit to remain in office.

For Hondurans who still remember military dictatorship, Mr. Zelaya also has another strike against him: He keeps rotten company. [...]

Read the whole thing for all the sordid details. The scariest part of all is that OUR government appears to be backing the criminal Mel Zelaya. Why do you suppose that is? Could it be that they also have no respect for Constitutional law?
     

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Iranian cleric's "sermon" urges "strong cruelty"

Here is what a theocratic government "prayer ceremony" looks like in Iran.

If you think that looks nasty, the "sermon" is even better:
Amongst others, a member of the Iranian pro-government Basij militia, center right, chants slogans during a Friday prayer ceremony at the Tehran University campus in Tehran, Iran, Friday, June 26, 2009. Ayatollah Ahmed Khatami, a senior cleric, said during nationally broadcast Muslim sermon on Friday that the government should punish "leaders of the riots, who were supported by Israel and the U.S., strongly and with cruelty." (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

I've posted about Khatami's crimes previously. His words here shouldn't surprise anyone, given his history of torture and repression.

In 1984, as minister of culture and Islamic propagation, he presided over the creation of Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy army of terrorists in Lebanon and elsewhere.

This is a photo of a Hezbollah "Swearing in ceremony" in Iran:



Here are more photos from Hezbollah rallies:





The are historical ties to Nazism with many militant Islamist groups like Hezbollah. Cruelty is a part of that heritage, and we've seen a large dose of cruelty in Iran recently. But apparently, the ruling clerics believe MORE cruelty is needed.

Imagine what a nation that treats it's own citizens with such cruelty would do, with nuclear weapons, to citizen's of other nations?

Iran's president Amadinejad has harsh words for the USA and our president:

Iran pledges 'crushing' response to US critiques
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Saturday to make the U.S. regret its criticism of Iran's postelection crackdown and said the "mask has been removed" from the Obama administration's efforts to improve relations.

Ahmadinejad — with his internal opponents virtually silenced — all but dared Obama to keep calling for an end to repression of demonstrators who claim the hardline leader stole re-election through massive fraud.

"You should know that if you continue the response of the Iranian nation will be strong," Ahmadinejad said in a speech to members of Iran's judiciary, which is directly controlled by the ruling clerics. "The response of the Iranian nation will be crushing. The response will cause remorse."

Ahmadinejad has no authority to direct major policy decisions on his own — a power that rests with the non-elected theocracy. But his comments often reflect the thinking of the ruling establishment.

The cleric-led regime now appears to have quashed a protest movement that brought hundreds of thousands to the streets of Tehran and other cities in the greatest challenge to its authority in 30 years. There have been no significant demonstrations in days, and the most significant signs of dissent are the cries of "God is great!" echoing from the rooftops, a technique dating to the days of protest against the U.S.-backed shah before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. [...]

Amadinejad literally kisses up to the ruling Mullahs, whose bidding he does.



Iran's president lashes out at Obama
Iran's hardline president lashed out anew at the United States and President Barack Obama on Saturday, accusing him of interference and suggesting that Washington's stance on Iran's postelection turmoil could imperil Obama's aim of improving relations.

"We are surprised at Mr. Obama," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in remarks to judiciary officials broadcast on state television. "Didn't he say that he was after change? Why did he interfere?"


"They keep saying that they want to hold talks with Iran ... but is this the correct way? Definitely, they have made a mistake," Ahmadinejad said. [...]

President Obama has been criticized here at home from the left and right, for saying to little about the Iranian situation, and for saying too much. But lets face it folks. No matter what Obama says (or doesn't say) about Iran's current government, they have never had any intention of "talking" with us about anything. The Mullahs would have us shut up, listen and obey. THEIR will is DIVINE. And if you disagree with them, you deserve to be cruelly crushed.

Democrats too often assume that leaders of other governments are always reasonable and rational; it's one of the Democrats biggest weaknesses. Their Foreign policy blind spot.

How do you "reason" with Nazis? How do you "talk" to cruel monsters who have no interest whatsoever in listening to YOU? It's not as if nobody has ever tried talking to the theocratic government of unelected mullahs since they took power in 1979. How do you "talk" with crazy people?

This protester in Sweden knows a Nazi when she sees one:



Do we?







There may be signs that the Regime is weakening from within. We can only hope. I wish the Iranians glastnost. I wish them a velvet revolution.


Related Links:

Evil Words of the Evil Cleric

German Neo Nazis: Hail Ahmadinejad!

Has Iran's Theocracy suffered a Fatal Wound?
     

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Check your HTML code on-line

Have you ever had a blog post with an HTML error, like an open tag, that you couldn't find? Well this website is really great for checking out code:

WC3 Markup Validation Service

You just copy and paste your code in validation box, and run a check on it. Very useful. A great time saver.
     

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The "Gaybyboomers" speak up for their parents


Many grown children of gay couples are now speaking out against the criticism directed at their parents:

'Gayby boom': Children of gay couples speak out
CNN -- Jesse Levey is a Republican activist who says he believes in family values, small government and his lesbian mothers' right to marry.

Levey is part of the "gayby boom" generation. The 29-year-old management consultant is the son of a lesbian couple who chose to have a child through artificial insemination. He's their only child.

Critics of same-sex marriage say people such as Levey will grow up shunned and sexually confused. Yet he says he's a "well-adjusted heterosexual" whose upbringing proves that love, not gender, makes a family.

"You can imagine what my parents thought when I was 13 and listening to Rush Limbaugh everyday," Levey says. "But my family had strong family values. I was raised in a loving, caring household that let me be a free thinker."

[...]

While much of the controversy surrounding gay rights today has centered on same-sex marriage, a battle is brewing over another family issue: Is it bad for children to be raised by gay or lesbian parents.

It damages the children, says Dale O'Leary, author of "One Man, One Woman: A Catholics Guide to Defending Marriage." She says that all children have a natural desire for a parent of each gender.

But children of same-sex couples are forced to repress that desire because their parents won't accept it, she says. Their parents won't acknowledge their children's needs because they don't want to admit that they have caused their children to suffer.

"A baby is not a trophy -- the child's welfare has to be considered," she says. "These children are more likely to experiment with same-sex relationships. They're more likely to be confused and hurt."

Children of same-sex couples come out of the closet

O'Leary says she doesn't personally know any same-sex parents or their children. That's the problem, some children of same-sex children say. So many people are talking about them; not enough are talking to them, they say. [...]

I've heard these arguments many times. I've also known gay couples and their kids, and their children turn out much like other kids do.

The people who keep hammering away against gay parents with the same tired old arguments, that have no scientific basis and run contrary to what people actually know from personal experience, will find themselves and their opinions increasingly discredited.

I predict that like gay marriage itself, gays having children will remain controversial in the short term, but will increasingly gain acceptance over time, as people get to know such families, and see the results are statistically much like other families.
     

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Aligning conservatism with our modern world

GOP'S WINNING TEAM: FACEBOOK/TWITTER IN '12
Republicans have been quick to recognize the practical benefits of technology, but slow to grasp its political implications.

[...]

As the internet exploded into the mainstream over a decade ago, it was widely assumed that it would accelerate the fragmentation of society. Instead of watching the same television shows, attending the same movies, and patronizing the same stores, tech-savvy and self-reliant consumers would retreat into their own online spaces and express their individuality. Libertarianism would flourish.

In reality, Web 2.0 has had the opposite effect. Social networking sites, online chat and discussion forums, blogs, and peer-to-peer sharing have strengthened social bonds, not dissolved them. As never before, interconnectedness and interdependence are central facts in the lives of young people.

[...]

In this context, excessive rhetoric about individualism and personal freedom is not just inappropriate; it’s insane. It’s no coincidence that Republicans are getting slaughtered in densely populated urban and suburban areas, filled with students and young professionals who are intimately involved in their communities, offline and online. They are repelled by swaggering calls to go it alone, to sink or swim, to believe that they alone determine their own destiny.

What is true in spacious America is doubly true in crowded Britain. This is why British Conservative leader David Cameron endlessly repeats that “we’re all in this together” and “there is such a thing as society.” After the economic revolution of the Thatcher era, Tories were viewed as the wrecking crew, as uprooters of communities and enemies of social cohesion. In truth, conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic are still trying to reconcile economic liberalism with respect for tradition and continuity. Perhaps the most crucial aspect of Cameron’s modernization agenda has been the enormous effort to recast his party as champions of social responsibility. [...]

It goes on to describe how the Brits are attempting to bond conservatism with this new demographic, the "Facebook/Twitter generation", and how in the US Obama has already done so. Could it be true that American conservatives, while being savy about the technology itself, really have yet to fully understand it's implications?

It remains to be seen if what British conservatives are doing will have any success, but if it does, there may be some lessons there for American conservatives. Even if it doesn't work for the Brits, there still may be some lessons there for us. If the Grand Old Party doesn't connect with the current electorate, we may indeed need a Grand New Party.

I'm very much an individualist, but there are some things we all have to cooperate on; none of us lives in a vacuum. As technology increasingly makes our world inter-connected and interdependent, the need for cooperation becomes unavoidable, and that's not lost on the young people who are on the cutting edge in embracing these technologies.

The article goes on to offer some very conservative ideas about how this cooperation should be approached and even embraced and advanced. IMO these ideas don't diminish conservatism in any way, and are at least worth considering, as our Brave New World continues to evolve. The conservative way involves a lot more freedom and multiple choices, and I'll take that over the authoritarian big government Big Brother way any day.
     

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Iran's "Supreme Leader" Khamenei's world view

I've previously speculated about whether Mousavi would be any better than Amadinejad as leader of Iran. Yet the fact is, under Iran's political system, what the President thinks is not nearly as important as what the "Supreme Leader" thinks and does; he has the final say in all matters.

The following article in the CSM takes a look at Iran's current supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei:

How Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, sees the world
Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, which toppled with breathtaking speed Iran's corrupt and secular shah, the country has had two rulers.

One is the package – standard in modern republics – of head of state and parliament. And then there’s the supreme leader, who, in practice, has to work with the consent of the nation’s formally democratic institutions but who, in theory, has the power to overrule them if he feels their actions run counter to God’s will. [...]
I think the author has got it wrong here. He should swap the words "practice" and "theory". Khamenei IS overruling democracy. Iran is not a real democracy, voting is just a sham.
[...] Khamenei is preserving his vision, say analysts, of what the Islamic Republic should look like in the short term by denying the popular will. But he has taken that step, they say, at a cost so great to his own image and to that of the office he occupies that the Islamic Republic is unlikely to be the same again.

[...]

Scholars of Iran say that while Khamenei has for most of his 20 years in power sought to avoid confrontation and played a behind-the-scenes role, he has always been devoted to adhering to Khomenei's call for a velayat-e-faqih, or "rule of the jurisprudent," which in practice means one man like Khamenei acting as "jurisprudent," or interpreter of God's rule on earth.

ADDING WORD "ABSOLUTE" TO HIS POWERS

Indeed, after Khamenei rose to Iran's most important position in 1989, he went further than Khomenei had, leading a successful effort to have the role of the faqih, or jurisprudent, defined more specifically in the Constitution with the insertion of the word "absolute" as in the "absolute rule of the jurisprudent."

When his younger brother Hadi Khamenei, a reformist cleric who favors more oversight and checks on the power of the supreme leader, called for this in a sermon in 1999, he was savagely beaten by basiji militia loyal to the ayatollah – the same group that has been used to attack protesters in recent days.

"I think, in some respects, what Khamenei has done in the past 10 years has been to amass even more authority institutionally than his predecessor ever had," says Suzanne Maloney, an Iran scholar at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "He clearly sees the revolution itself as under threat, and Iran has already begun to deliver with the violence over the weekend. I think they're in a good position to repress, and I don't think Khamenei will blink." [...]

So far so good. But then Ms. Maloney can't resist overstating her case. She goes on to compare Khamenei to Dick Cheney. Yeah, right. Dick Cheney claims absolute power as God's representative on Earth? And I thought he was just an elected "vice president". Silly me.

Ms. Maloney should note, that in 2005, Bill Clinton, speaking at the Davos conference, admitted he admires Iran, because there, the "good guys" always win the elections by two thirds or more, unlike in his own country. Follow the link. He actually describes the Iranian leadership as liberals and progressives, like himself. Khamenei was the Supreme Leader back then too when Clinton said that. Khamenei, a liberal progressive?

I don't think any of the Democrats are in a position to be throwing stones right now. But back to Khamenei:
[...] Mr. Cole, at the University of Michigan, says Khamenei's worldview has led him to see Iran's reformists as abiding threats, even though many of them just want to tweak the nature of the Islamic revolution, not overthrow it entirely.

"What a lot of the reformers want is consumer capitalism and international integration … and Khamenei sees this as an existential to the republic," says Cole. "Khamenei is afraid that if Iran isn't economically independent, then the US will find a way to get a hold of it again and subjugate it. A lot of his paranoia is that the reformists want to give away the show."

He's paranoid because reformers might introduce the Iranian version of glasnost, which could weaken or eliminate his power.

The bottom line is, the Supreme Leader matters more than the President, because he has more power. It's what makes Iran a Theocracy, not a Democracy.

When the Shah was overthrown in 1979, many of the revolutionaries wanted a secular democratic government, and they were promised that, but they were instead subjugated and crushed by the very mullah's they had helped to power. Many Iranian's still want what they were promised 30 years ago. That struggle continues today, and is a large part of what we are seeing now.


Another article from the CSM:

Why Iran's Ahmadinejad is preferred in Israel

The title is somewhat misleading. Some Israeli's prefer Amadinejad, while others think regime change in Iran would be better. Good arguments are offered for both viewpoints. But as long as Iran has a Supreme Leader who can override any elected officials with his "divine" authority, I don't know that it will matter much, in a substantial way, who is president. The position of "Supreme Leader" would have to be changed or eliminated in order to bring about any meaningful reform.

I tend to lean toward the side of the reformers. As someone points out in the article, Iran's nuclear program is proceeding anyway under Amadinejade. But admittedly, there are many unanswered questions about what would happen if Iranian reformers were to come to power. How much reform would we see, an who would really have the power?


Related Link:

Persian Paranoia
     

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Where have all the sunspots gone, and why?

For the past 3 years, sunspot activity has been greatly reduced. I came across this article recently, that offers an explanation as to why this is so:

Mystery of the Missing Sunspots, Solved?
June 17, 2009: The sun is in the pits of a century-class solar minimum, and sunspots have been puzzlingly scarce for more than two years. Now, for the first time, solar physicists might understand why.

At an American Astronomical Society press conference today in Boulder, Colorado, researchers announced that a jet stream deep inside the sun is migrating slower than usual through the star's interior, giving rise to the current lack of sunspots.

[...]

Howe and Hill found that the stream associated with the next solar cycle has moved sluggishly, taking three years to cover a 10 degree range in latitude compared to only two years for the previous solar cycle.

The jet stream is now, finally, reaching the critical latitude, heralding a return of solar activity in the months and years ahead.

"It is exciting to see", says Hill, "that just as this sluggish stream reaches the usual active latitude of 22 degrees, a year late, we finally begin to see new groups of sunspots emerging."

The current solar minimum has been so long and deep, it prompted some scientists to speculate that the sun might enter a long period with no sunspot activity at all, akin to the Maunder Minimum of the 17th century. This new result dispells those concerns. The sun's internal magnetic dynamo is still operating, and the sunspot cycle is not "broken."

Because it flows beneath the surface of the sun, the jet stream is not directly visible. Hill and Howe tracked its hidden motions via helioseismology. [...]

It shows how the current cycle has dragged on for a year longer than usual, but also goes on to explain why that is about to change soon. It also explains more about helioseismology, and NASA's upcoming launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which will provide us with more information about the sun. Interesting stuff.
     

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Farm Report: The May Egg Count

This report is kinda late. I've had a lot of other stuff to do that's kept me from blogging much, but if I wait much longer, it will be time for the June Egg Report as well. So here is the count for last month:

In May, we had 125 bantam eggs, and 63 pullet eggs, for a total of 188 eggs. That is 3 more than last month, but the amount of large eggs is less. We need more large hens, and so we got three Buff Orpington chicks from the local feed store:


I took this photo yesterday, they were much smaller when we got them, here they are already about 5 or six weeks old. They are two hens, and one rooster. The little blue-eyed monsters grow fast. They're very active, but have a mellow and tame temperament. You can read more about Buff Orpingtons here.

Egg count total for the year is now 612. I plan to put the data into a spread sheet, so I'll be able to make a graph and start tracking it that way.

Other farm news: here we have the ongoing progress of our "Dinosaur Food" plant, with the latest picture at the bottom:








Notice the large cones in the center at the bottom of the plant. Those are the plant's flowers, I believe.

End of Farm Report!
     

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Would Mousavi be worse than Amadinejad?

It's a fair question. The neocons are arguing that Mousavi would be a worse leader for Iran than Amadinejad. But then, the neocons also want Israel to bomb Iran. Crazy-talking Amadinejad gives them justification to do it. Mousavi would make it harder for them to do that, if he did indeed institute the reforms he ran on in the election. Consider this, from Mousavi's page on Wikipedia:

Mir-Hossein Mousavi
[...] Goals for presidential term

Mousavi has on numerous occasions indicated his wish to change the constitution in order to remove the existing ban on the private ownership of television stations (currently all Iranian television stations are state-owned), as well as transfer the control of the law-enforcement forces to the President (so that they represent the people, since the people directly elect the President through popular vote) from the Supreme Leader.[10] He has said that "the issue of non-compliance with the Iranian rules and regulations is the biggest problem that the country is currently faced with" and that he wishes to put in place ways to enforce the laws further,[11] and that it is also important to bring an end to keeping people in the dark about government matters [...]

I recommend reading the whole thing. Unlike Amadinejad, Mousavi is not a holocaust denier, and has actually condemned the holocaust. While the kind of government he represents is not the kind I personally would want to embrace, it would seem to be more flexible and more open, perhaps not just like a Western democracy, but still more democratic than the current regime is. If his campaign promises can be believed. If they can, then he might be the best we can hope for in Iran's situation.

To be fair to the neocons, I believe Iran's nuclear program began while Mousavi was Prime Minister in the 1980s. He has stated that he believes nuclear power to be Iran's right to have. The Neocons claim Mousavi would continue the program just like Amadinejad is doing, but he would be quieter about it.

But consider this: Pakistan, a Muslim nation, already has nuclear weapons. It's likely, some would say inevitable, that other Muslim nations will achieve this capability as well. What are we going to do, bomb them all into oblivion? No. It's not gonna happen. So:

Which would you rather have; a nuclear Iran lead by fascist Armageddon-talking Amadinejad, or a nuclear Iran lead by a more moderate, open and accountable Mousavi? If he is indeed those things?

Those might be the good questions to ask. But at this point, it remains to be seen if he and his controversial wife, Zahra Rahnavard, will even physically survive the Iranian regime's brutal response to the challenge against it, or if they will die as martyrs.


     

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Iran's Opposition Leaders prefer a public death?

It's preferable to die in public as martyrs, rather than be liquidated in secret by Amadinejad's goons? That's what is being claimed in a newspaper in Iraq:

Iraqi Daily: Demonstrations in Tehran Meant to Frustrate Attempts to Liquidate Opposition Leaders
The Iraqi daily Al-Sabah al-Jadid, which has a pro-Kurdish orientation, claims that what is happening in Tehran is fundamentally not connected to the results of the presidential elections, but that the events reflect the desire of the country's opposition leaders for "a public death" rather than being the victims of secret and revolutionary trials planned by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to liquidate them once and for all.

As evidence, the paper refers to phrases used by Ahmadinejad to describe the opposition as "Hitlerites, corruption mafia, and inclination for arrogance.[istikbar]."

The paper also mentions the threats uttered by Ahmadinejad during his television debate with the other candidates, in which he threatened to bring to trial all those accused of conspiracies, with Rafsanjani being on top of the list.

The paper said that for some reason Rafsanjani had disappeared from the public scene since the results of the elections were announced. [...]

(Source: Al-Sabah Al-Jadid, Iraq, June 18, 2009)

It goes on to describe the predicament this has created for the current government; sorta damned if they do, damned if they don't.

A related article:

Tanks in Tehran; Rafsanjani's Family Arrested
The Iranian website Peyk-e Iran reports that tanks have been stationed in Azadi Square in Tehran, and that some former Majlis members who are active in the reformist movement have been arrested, including Mohsen Mir-Damadi, Ali Tager-Nia, and Daoud Soulimani. Also arrested was the editor of the daily Etemad-e Meli, who is close to Mehdi Karroubi.

The website Iran News reports that five members of Hashemi Rafsanjani's family, including his daughter Faiza, have been arrested for participating in yesterday's protests.

Sources: Peyk-e Iran, Iran News, Fararu (Iran), June 21, 2009

     

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Has Iran's Theocracy suffered a Fatal Wound?

Fareed Zakaria certainly makes a good case for it. He maintains that while the regime itself may carry on for a while, it's founding ideology has suffered a fatal blow, dividing the ruling mullahs:

Zakaria: 'Fatal wound' inflicted on Iranian regime's ideology
[...] CNN: As you've seen the situation in Iran develop over the last week, what are your thoughts?

Fareed Zakaria: One of the first things that strikes me is we are watching the fall of Islamic theocracy.

CNN: Do you mean you think the regime will fall?

Zakaria: No, I don't mean the Iranian regime will fall soon. It may -- I certainly hope it will -- but repressive regimes can stick around for a long time. I mean that this is the end of the ideology that lay at the basis of the Iranian regime.

The regime's founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, laid out his special interpretation of political Islam in a series of lectures in 1970. In this interpretation of Shia Islam, Islamic jurists had divinely ordained powers to rule as guardians of the society, supreme arbiters not only on matters of morality but politics as well. When Khomeini established the Islamic Republic of Iran, this idea was at its heart. Last week, that ideology suffered a fatal wound.

CNN: How so?

Zakaria: When the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a "divine assessment," he was indicating it was divinely sanctioned. But no one bought it. He was forced to accept the need for an inquiry into the election. The Guardian Council, Iran's supreme constitutional body, met with the candidates and promised to investigate and perhaps recount some votes. Khamenei has subsequently hardened his position but that is now irrelevant. Something very important has been laid bare in Iran today --- legitimacy does not flow from divine authority but from popular support.

CNN: There have been protests in Iran before. What makes this different?

Zakaria: In the past the protests were always the street against the state, and the clerics all sided with the state. When the reformist president, Mohammed Khatami, was in power, he entertained the possibility of siding with the street, but eventually stuck with the establishment. The street and state are at odds again but this time the clerics are divided. Khatami has openly sided with the challenger, Mir Hossein Moussavi, as has the reformist Grand Ayatollah Montazeri. So has Ali Larijani, the speaker of the parliament and a man with strong family connections to the highest levels of the religious hierarchy. Behind the scenes, the former president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, now head of the Assembly of Experts, another important constitutional body, is waging a campaign against Ahmadinejad and even the supreme leader himself. If senior clerics dispute Khamenei's divine assessment and argue that the Guardian Council is wrong, it is a death blow to the basic premise behind the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is as if a senior Soviet leader had said in 1980 that Karl Marx was not the right guide to economic policy.

CNN: What should the United States do?

Zakaria: I would say continue what we have been doing. By reaching out to Iran, publicly and repeatedly, President Obama has made it extremely difficult for the Iranian regime to claim that they are battling an aggressive America bent on attacking Iran. In his inaugural address, his New Year greetings, and his Cairo speech, there is a consistent effort to convey respect and friendship for Iranians. That is why Khamenei reacted so angrily to the New Year greeting. It undermined the image of the Great Satan that he routinely paints in his sermons. In his Friday sermon, Khamenei said that the United States, Israel, and especially the United Kingdom were behind the street protests, an accusation that will surely sound ridiculous to most Iranians. The fact that Obama has been cautious in his reaction makes it all the harder for Khamenei and Ahmadinejad to wrap themselves in a nationalist flag. [...]

Zakaria goes on to make some comparisons with the fall of the Soviet Union, and America's "correct" response to that, which he also compares to Obama's current response.

I've had a lot of mixed feeling about these events. Some people claim that Moussavi was a worse dictator in the 1980's than Amadinejad is now. But Iran was also at war with Iraq back then; different times, different circumstances. I also had -and still have- hopes that Moussavi might be Iran's equivalent of Gorbachev, bringing a kind of Glasnost to Iran.

Even now, there seems to be an element of that happening, as Iranians rebel against many long standing assumptions about the way things are supposed to work in Iran's Islamic Theocracy. The Iranian people are tired of broken promises, fake elections and votes that don't matter. A door has been opened now, and it may not be possible to close it again. My prayers are that Iran finds it's glasnost.

This interview touches on many good points in a complex situation. Meanwhile, events in Iran continue to escalate:

Iranian police throwing teargas at protesters in Tehran; Update: I’m ready for martyrdom, says Mousavi; Update: Israeli minister predicts revolution
     

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Iran and the internet: The Mouse That Roared


Not only roar, but "twitter" too! Iran's tech-savy youth have taken full advantage of the internet to organize and communicate during this uprising of protest.

Iran's Twitter Revolution
Forget CNN or any of the major American "news" networks. If you want to get the latest on the opposition protests in Iran, you should be reading blogs, watching YouTube or following Twitter updates from Tehran, minute-by-minute. [...]

If you read the whole thing, it has a link to a list of Iranian bloggers who are on the scene and reporting in.

Pat told me over dinner that Twitter was supposed to shut down to do some maintenance to their servers, but they postponed that because the Iranians are relying on the service so heavily right now.

When Twitter first became available, I didn't think much of it. "What's it FOR? Of what practical use is it?" I thought. Well, I guess I have my answer now.



EDITORIAL: Iran's Twitter revolution
[...] Tehran's authoritarian leaders clearly were caught off-guard. They had managed to take down the telephone system opposition supporters used for texting but for some reason were slow to eliminate other social media. As open defiance of the election results broke out, citizen journalists used new media to spread the word. And the whole Web was watching.

Iran is a highly computer-literate society with a large number of bloggers and hackers. The hackers in particular were active in helping keep channels open as the regime blocked them, and they spread the word about functioning proxy portals. Hackers also reportedly took down Mr. Ahmadinejad's Web site in an act of cyberdisobedience.

The immediacy of the reports was gripping. Well-developed Twitter lists showed a constant stream of situation updates and links to photos and videos, all of which painted a portrait of the developing turmoil. Digital photos and videos proliferated and were picked up and reported in countless external sources safe from the regime's Net crackdown. Eventually the regime started taking down these sources, and the e-dissidents shifted to e-mail. The only way to completely block the flow of Internet information would have been to take the entire country offline, a move the regime apparently has resisted thus far.

There seems to be no shortage of video cameras in Iran. The footage that has emerged is raw, unedited and dramatic. [...]

The videos are dramatic, and plentiful. This is a real 21st century uprising. Perhaps evolving into a revolution? We shall see.
     

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iranian Uprising Continues. Where is the MSM?

The crowds are huge:


And loud:


Iranian Uprising Underway United States MSM Ignores and Obama Silent

That was from yesterday. Perhaps today we will see a bit more from the MSM? We could hope. I know they don't have direct access, but with all the information coming out of Iran through the internet, and spreading through the blogger sphere, surely the MSM could be reporting more than they are?

In fairness to President Obama, he IS in a tricky position. If he sides with Moussavi against Amadinejad, the Iranian government could declare Moussavi to be a foreign agent and use that as an excuse to crush him. I understand that Obama has to balance his statements carefully, but I do wish he would speak more about the will of the Iranian people. And isn't there more we CAN do? For instance, there was this on Andrew Sullivan's blog:

A Yahoo Message From Iran
[...] The only radio talking about protest 24 hours a day is Radio Farda, but we cant hear it good. I can hear it by satellite, but by radio it is so weak. [They are jamming it.] They are collecting satellite dishes. The US should add a transmitter in Iraq. Radio Farda's only transmitter is in Dubai, so they need to add new one in Iraq.

It's an excellent idea. Is freedom of information not something our current Democrat Administration can support? How about a transmitter, Mr. President?

Andrew Sullivan, who I don't agree with about many things, none the less has excellent coverage of events in Iran. See his blog at Atlantic Monthly for lots of videos, photos and links.

And of course, Iranian ex-pat blogger Azarmehr also has extensive coverage:

For a democratic secular Iran

Be warned, some of the images there are quite shocking and graphic. People are literally dying in this struggle.
     

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Iran: "Lioness" kicks policemen, gets beaten

Blogger Azarmehr posted this video, of a woman he describes as a "lioness":

The Fear is Gone
Look at this brave Iranian lioness, first she swing kicks and then she side kicks the neanderthal truncheon wielding riot guard! She gets a few baton strikes but this is the price for freedom and she cares not.

Blessed is our motherland Iran, for having such daughters.

The fear is gone and the momentum continues. [...]



The poor woman gets hit with truncheons from two men, and shortly after, she collapses. But her bravery is not for nothing. Azarmehr says the marchers now have reached 2 million!

Azarmehr also has video of his interview with the BBC.

Be sure and see his recent post with many photos and videos. I warn you, some of the photos show the bodies of people the Iranian government have murdered in the streets.
     

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100,000 march in Tehran to protest election fraud


Huge pro-reform rally defies crackdown threats
TEHRAN, Iran – More than 100,000 opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defied an Interior Ministry ban Monday and streamed into central Tehran to cheer their pro-reform leader in his first public appearance since elections that he alleges were marred by fraud.

[...]

The unrest also risked bringing splits among Iran's clerical elite, including some influential Shiite scholars raising concern about possible election irregularities and at least one member of the ruling theocracy, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, openly critical of Ahmadinejad in the campaign.

[...]

Overnight, police and hard-line militia stormed the campus at the city's biggest university, ransacking dormitories and arresting dozens of students angry over what they say was mass election fraud.

The nighttime gathering of about 3,000 students at dormitories of Tehran University started with students chanting "Death to the dictator." But it quickly erupted into clashes as students threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at police, who fought back with tear gas and plastic bullets, a 25-year-old student who witnessed the fighting told The Associated Press. He would only give one name, Akbar, out of fears for his safety.

The students set a truck and other vehicles on fire and hurled stones and bricks at the police, he said. Hard-line militia volunteers loyal to the Revolutionary Guard stormed the dormitories, ransacking student rooms and smashing computers and furniture with axes and wooden sticks, Akbar said.

Before leaving around 4 a.m., the police took away memory cards and computer software material, Akbar said, adding that dozens of students were arrested.

[...]

After dark Sunday, Ahmadinejad opponents shouted their opposition from Tehran's rooftops. Cries of "Death to the dictator!" and "Allahu akbar!" — "God is great!" — echoed across the capital. The protest bore deep historic resonance — it was how the leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini asked Iran to unite against the Western-backed shah 30 years earlier. [...]


Attacks and brutal beatings of protesters continue. Foreign journalists who are there to cover the election are supposed to leave today. It's predicted the crackdown on protesters will worsen when the press is gone.

The government is promising an investigation of the voting process, claiming it will take 10 days. Most likely they are stalling for time. They made the same claim in 2005, that they would "investigate" voter fraud, in order to quiet protesters. The results of that investigation were never made public; it was just a ruse.

Will it happen like that again this time? If they can get away with it, probably yes, but it will cost them. The seething resentment and unrest will still be there, and it will have long term consequences if not addressed.


The ironic thing is, Moussavi, the main opposition leader, is a conservative. He's a former prime minister, not a radical outsider, but an insider; one of their own. Yet they feel he is a threat? What does that say about the rulers of Iran? Here is some commentary on the subject:

Commentary: Iran's hardliners are the real losers
(CNN) -- With an apparent political coup in Iran by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his supporters over the weekend, the ruling mullahs have dispensed with all democratic pretense and joined the ranks of traditional dictators in the Middle East.

The hardliners in Tehran, led by the Revolutionary Guards and ultra-conservatives, have won the first round against reformist conservatives but at an extravagant cost -- loss of public support.

[...]

Moussavi's warning to the mullahs that stealing the election would weaken the very foundation of their regime and ultimately bring about its collapse carries weight because he has been part of the political inner circle of the Islamic Republic, not an outsider.

Moussavi is a former prime minister admired for the way he managed the country's economy during the prolonged and bloody Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, a conflict which cost Iran over $500 billion.

He worked closely with Ali Khamenei, then Iran's president and today supreme leader, and clashed with him over political authority and powers. Moussavi is a member of Iran's Expediency Council, which mediates between the parliament and the non-elected Guardian Council led by Ayatollah Khamenei.

Initially, many reformists were skeptical about Moussavi's reform credentials and feared that he was too conservative for their taste.

Throughout the presidential campaign, Moussavi labored hard to portray his proposals on social policy and foreign affairs as an extension of the Islamic system in order to disarm conservative critics, even denying that he is a mainstream reformist candidate in the hope of winning the support of reformers and moderate conservatives.

Indeed, as the presidential campaign progressed, Moussavi won the backing not only of an important conservative segment of the electorate but also the formidable youth constituency. His charismatic wife, Zahra Rahnavard, electrified the female vote and won the hearts and minds of women voters who flooded their campaign rallies.

In the last two weeks, Moussavi's campaign gained momentum. There was increasing evidence that the tide was turning and that women and young voters would tip the balance of power his way, if they turned out to vote in large numbers.

[...]

But the disputed result shows that the ultraconservative mullahs are not only out of touch with a plurality of their citizens but also with reality. Their conduct reflects a deeper crisis of self-confidence and fear of the future.

Has the Islamic revolution run out of ideological steam?

If the mullahs fear Moussavi, a loyalist, they must be scared of their shadows and uncertain about their authority and power. That speaks volumes about where the Islamic Republic is and where it is heading.

The mullahs are swimming against the dominant current of Iranian society. In the next four years, Iran will likely be engulfed in social and political turmoil unless the electoral crisis is resolved in a transparent manner.

Moussavi is so conservative, that I've had doubts that electing him would even be a good thing for the West. After all, wouldn't he just be a "cover" for the same crazy Mullahs that support Amadinejad? Would he?

If there is a split or division among Iran's ruling elite, what could it mean?

This article is interesting, though the author, posting from within Iran, is anonymous for security reasons:

The street protests mount
A fresh report from the Iranian capital. The government uses machetes on the public, the public fights back.

[...] On buses and in taxes you hear voices saying, with resignation, "What's the point? They're all the same. Why fight it?" But then every night and even during the day clashes are occurring. This week will be critical. If the conflict can be sustained, if the pressure can be sustained ---Tehran is coming to a standstill -- then it is possible that the situation will enter a new phase.

Either way, have no doubt, the IRI, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is over. A leading cleric has already announced that we are no longer ruled by the Islamic "Republic" (jomhuri e Islami) but the Islamic government (hookoomat e Islami). Whether now or in a few months or years, the game is over.

I attended the Vali Asr demonstration of support for Dr. Ahmadinejad yesterday afternoon. The turnout was impressive, mostly families and obviously religious types (called "momen" in Farsi). Many asked that I take their pictures and the mood was festive, defiant. They were chanting, but it is critical to note that only some of the chants were against Mousavi. Almost all were directed against Rafsanjani. He is seen as the big threat. This election and its aftermath is turning out to be the climax of an outstanding feud between Rafsanjani and Ahmadinejad in alliance with the Supreme Leader, Khamanei. What will be interesting is to see what Rafsanjani does next. He is regularly described as the "power behind the power," the man with real pull in Iran. What will he do?

[...]

Finally, and this may be the most important piece of news, I personally heard "Marq bar Khamanei" (death or down with Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei) said quickly and once last night. Someone in the neighborhood reported that it was said more than once. If true, and I don't know if it is, this marks a significant turning point. Up until now the chants had been "Marq bar dictator," with dictator meaning Ahmadinejad. To chant against the Supreme Leader is an incredible taboo. In 1979, everyone wanted the Shah to fall, but no one believed that is was thinkable. Then, for some reason, it became so. The movement reached a moment of viability. While this did not guarantee the revolution's success, it was a necessary condition for events to move forward. Has the same happened now in Iran?

The 1979 Revolution, once in motion, took months to play out, but inside of it no knew what was exactly happening. They didn’t know long it would take, or whether there would be a successful conclusion. The same applies to the situation now.

Is there some sort of critical mass dynamic at work here, that is now coming to a head? Are big changes imminent? Time will tell.
     

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Young Iranian's are Fighting Back...







The students actually capture this policeman. Follow the links for many more dramatic photos and commentary. I got the photo's from here:

Its Time to Fight Back

This is Street Justice!

The above links are from the blog of an Iranian expatriate, Azarmehr. I will be checking his blog for updates, the link to the main page of his blog is here:

For a democratic secular Iran. For peace and prosperity in the Middle East.

I expect the Iranian Theocracy is going to crack down on this rebellion and try to squash it, the same way the Chinese crushed the Tiananmen Square rebellion.

I wouldn't feel too sorry for the captured policeman in the photos. Look at what the police goons did to students in June of 2007:

The can's this guy is being forced to suck on are used in toilets. His crime? Wearing Western style hair and clothes.

Note the Iranian News logo on the photos. The government wanted these photos to be seen in the local press, to intimidate the populace.



And remember the Iranian Police publicly bludgeoning women:







All of this, with high unemployment, a rampant illegal drug problem, a housing shortage, shortages of gas and essential goods, and the much talked about marriage crisis in Iran. Is it any wonder the current Iranian government has a rebellion on their hands? There is a large majority of youth in Iran (35% of the population) with no future prospects. No matter how hard the government cracks down, the demographics are working against them. Their economic problems are so severe they make our own look like nothing. They keep hanging more and more people just to silence the dissent.

I fear this is why they are working so hard to quickly acquire nuclear weapons; they have not the means to solve their internal problems and retain power, so they need nuclear weapons so they can acquire other resources from their neighbors, by force. (See "Iran's pressing needs and Iraq's vulnerability")

The great irony in all this is that the current Iranian Theocracy was swept to power in a student revolution. Now students are revolting against them. Will these students have any help from the West?


Related Links:

Ahmadinejad brushes off Iran election violence

The Power Behind Ahmadinejad's Disputed Win: Ayatullah Khamenei

Reformist Azeri Couple Challenge Iran's Amadinejad in Upcoming June Elections
     

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Election Fraud. Has the sh*t hit the fan in Iran?


Clashes erupt in Iran over disputed election
TEHRAN, Iran – Supporters of the main election challenger to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clashed with police and set up barricades of burning tires Saturday as authorities claimed the hard-line president was re-elected in a landslide. The rival candidate said the vote was tainted by widespread fraud and his followers responded with the most serious unrest in the capital in a decade.

By nightfall, cell phone service appeared to have been cut in the capital Tehran. And Ahmadinejad, in a nationally televised victory speech, accused the foreign media of coverage that harms the Iranian people. There was more rioting at night and fires continued to burn on the streets of Tehran.

Several hundred demonstrators — many wearing the trademark green colors of pro-reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi's campaign — chanted "the government lied to the people" and gathered near the Interior Ministry as the final count from Friday's presidential election was announced.

It gave 62.6 percent of the vote to Ahmadinejad and 33.75 to Mousavi — a former prime minister who has become the hero of a youth-driven movement seeking greater liberties and a gentler face for Iran abroad.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, closed the door on any chance he could use his limitless powers to intervene in the disputes from Friday's election. In a message on state TV, he urged the nation to unite behind Ahmadinejad, calling the result a "divine assessment."

Mousavi rejected the result as rigged and urged his supporters to resist a government of "lies and dictatorship."

"I'm warning that I won't surrender to this manipulation," said a statement on Mousavi's Web site. "The outcome of what we've seen from the performance of officials ... is nothing but shaking the pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran's sacred system and governance of lies and dictatorship," it added.

Mousavi warned "people won't respect those who take power through fraud." The headline on one of his Web sites read: "I won't give in to this dangerous manipulation."

Mousavi appealed directly to Khamenei to intervene and stop what he said were violations of the law. Khamenei, who is not elected, holds ultimate political authority in Iran and controls all major policy decisions.

Mousavi and key aides could not be reached by phone. [...]

Read the rest for more details of the rioting that is breaking out, and photos and video of the same.

None of this really surprises me. Iran's Theocratic rulers are not interested in Democracy. The internal pressures in Iran will continue to build, as the population's hardships continue to increase.

Iran's Controversial Election Results Raises Questions Over Its Relations to U.S.


Related Links:

Iran's minorities may bring about regime change

Reformist Azeri Couple Challenge Iran's Amadinejad in Upcoming June Elections

     

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The Weak Spots in the Global Economy

Ten Things That Could Still Go Wrong with the Economy
From The Business Insider, June 11, 2009:

The recent buoyancy of the financial markets has created a sense of calm about the economy. The overall sense of panic has gone.

But there's still a wariness in the air, a feeling that the fragile "green shoots" of the recovery might be stomped out by some new crisis. People are waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Here we suggest 10 things that might stymie our recovery. Some are purely financial events. Others are geopolitical. [...]

In our increasingly interconnected global economy, the weakspots are also interconnected. This list of ten things are ten things to watch closely.
     

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Is it Artificial Intelligence? Or Fake People? Or...?

Meet the future. Meet "Milo", a new innovation for our Brave New World:



It's an interesting technology. But in the end, it's a fantasy. It's not a real boy you are talking to, it's a simulation of a real boy. Simulated intelligence. The lights are on, but nobody's home.

As this kind of technology is pursued, you have to wonder, what the unintended consequences might be for real people.
     

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Alaska Moose used as a workhorse?

I got this in an email recently:


ALASKAN CLYDESDALE

Only in Alaska....... This guy raised an abandoned moose calf with his horses, and believe it or not, he has trained it for lumber removal and other hauling tasks. Given the 2,000 pounds of robust muscle, and the splayed, grippy hooves, he claims it is the best work animal he has.

He says the secret to keeping the moose around is a sweet salt lick, although, during the rut he disappears for a couple of weeks, but always comes home.... Impressive !!

Bound to be someone out there that will raise some issues with this treatment of a wild animal.

To them I say. "If the Moose keeps coming back, what's the problem?"

Is this story true? I mean, if mooses made good domestic animals, wouldn't everyone be using them? And the edges of some of the images in the photo, looked to sharp, I had doubts it was authentic, so I looked it up on Snopes.com, and it turns out the photo and the story are false:

Logging the Northern Way

It has the same photograph, with a different story. Apparently there are several versions of the story. But Snopes explains that the photograph is a fake; the story is just a story. It's been circulating with the photoshoped photo since 2007. They point out some flaws in the photo that show it's been altered.

But interestingly enough, Snopes also provides some links to three examples (with photos) of moose that have actually been domesticated to haul things. So apparently it can happen, but none of the domesticated moose they show have antlers like this creature. Something that size could kill a human quite easily, which is why I suspect that domestic moose are not common.
     

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