Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Calm in Baghdad!

This fellow Howard Kaloogian, who is running for Congress in some district in California, wants to tell you the truth about what is really going on in Iraq. According to him, the main explanation for all the bad news coming out of Iraq comes down to the journalists, yes the the evil journalists who "are opposed to the U.S. effort to fight terrorism".

And what is his proof that all is peaches and cream in Baghdad? "We took this photo of dowtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq", he tells us. Have a look at the photo:

Now anyone who can distinguish between his ass and armpit will be able to discern that the above picture is not anywhere in Baghdad or Iraq. I suppose Kaloogian thinks that if you are fool enough to think that all is well in Iraq, then you would be fool enough to believe that this photograph was taken in downtown baghdad.

As of this moment, the above photo and the idiotic claims about calm in baghdad are still up on Kaloogian's site. In case he tries to erase the picture and pretend it didn't happen, I and many others I am sure, have taken the precaution of saving a screenshot.

I have also written a note to Mr. Kaloogian at his email of howard@kaloogianforcongress.com, and I encourage you to do the same. Here is the text of my email:

Dear Howard Kaloogian-

If you want to make the claim that Baghdad is "much more calm and stable" than what journalists portray it as being, you may want to make sure that the photo you post as your "proof" is actually taken in Baghdad. I assure you Mr. Kaloogian, this photograph is not in Baghdad or anywhere else in Iraq. Perhaps the reason you could not produce an authentic photograph is two-fold: First, there is no place "calm and stable" in occupied Iraq that you could photograph; second, if you and your entourage stepped anywhere outside the massively fortified Green Zone and/or U.S. bases, you would be attacked/kidnapped/killed before you had a chance to snap your photo.

If you really cared about the U.S. troops and U.S. citizens, Mr. Kaloogian, you would face the reality about the situation in Iraq and do your best to bring those troops back home.

Monday, March 27, 2006

1. If you haven't done so already, I suggest you watch online the short piece Ha Ha Ha America, which screened at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Instead of sponsoring screenings of Battle of Algiers to learn from the French's experience in torturing arabs, maybe the Pentagon should screen Ha Ha Ha America instead. It might give them a clue that the threat to their world domination is not to be found in the non-existent WMDs of Iran or Iraq and that they would do well to concentrate their efforts elsewhere.

2. Palestinian refugees in Iraq are the latest to suffer as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation. The ethnic and sectarian tensions that have been created and nurtured as a result of the war have also impacted Palestinian refugees in Iraq, over a hundred families among whom have received death threats and were forced to flee to the borders. Stuck in the no-man's land between Jordan and Iraq, Jordan is refusing them entry, and aid organizations seem to be scrambling to ensure that at least their basic needs of food and shelter will be met.

3. I haven't had a chance yet to carefully read this report, but I wanted to link to it without delay. Iran: Consequences of a War is a briefing paper produced by the Oxford Research Group which argues that even a "targeted" attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would result in a protracted military confrontation. If you don't have time or don't want to read the entire piece, at least scroll to the bottom of the article and have a look at the map of major US bases in the region.

4. The only thing unique about the case of 14 year old Ahmad Mohammad Karan is not that an Israeli soldier shot him without provocation, but that an AP journalist had footage of the incident and deliberately erased it. Ahmad survived the shooting, just as he survived the shot to his leg when he was six years old, and it is nice to see him in high spirits in this six minute piece about the incident.

Friday, March 24, 2006

1. John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, professors at University of Chicago and Harvard respectively, have written a joint piece entitled The Israel Lobby and the U.S. Foreign Policy. It is an 80 page paper, a good 40 pages of which are detailed endnotes, demonstrating in short that U.S. Foreign policy (specifically in West Asia and North Africa) has been shaped primarily in accordance to Israel's interests and to the continuing detrement of U.S. interests.

2. The "bomb iran concert" bombed, thanks in no small part to a group of alert and active students at Harvard, among whom are my dear friends Sarah and Alireza. To learn more, you can read Mariam Gharavi and Alireza Doostdar's excellent Op-ed piece on the concert published in the Harvard Paper The Crimson.

3. What are these poor pathetic people thinking, putting a picture of the long-dead dead dictator on a big billboard in Los Angeles for the occassion of the New Year?

4. I think these photos are part of the latest loony who-killed-kennedy conspiracy theory, but it sure looks like Bush Sr. was at the JFK Dallas Murder Scene, doesn't it?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Here is our Haft Seen. The local Iranians bought all of the Sonbols, and since I don't know how to say Sonbol in English, I couldn't ask the clerks for help, and had to settle for Daffodils instead.

These bones are the leftovers from our traditional Nowruz fish dinner. I left the bones outside for our very grumpy neighboorhood cat. I consider this my Eidee to him.

And finally, we met this little guy on our Nowruz trip down south. He didn't seem to care that Spring was coming and preferred to sleep all day instead.

I wish a very happy Nowruz for Iranians, Kurds, Tajiks, Afghans, Uzbeks, Turkomen and all others for whom the Spring Equinox brings a new year.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Sane Thing to Do

Iranians are being attacked on so many fronts these days, it is hard to know where to focus one's efforts.

Bill O'Reilly announced last week that “In a sane world, every country would unite against Iran and blow it off the face of the earth. That would be the sane thing to do.”

At least one group is trying to push for a public apology from O'Reilly, and you can send a letter through them here.

PS- I just read the letter (via link above) that NIAC has drafted in response to this incident and i think it totally blows. Luckily, the text is editable so you can still use their page to conveniently send your email but you can draft your own response. I strongly suggest that you do write your own comment.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Open Letter to Fatemeh Haghighatjoo

For now, I have taken out the information identifying the event that prompted me to write the letter below, frankly because I don't want to give them even the slightest publicity. But there is an urgency as well a broader applicability to what I have outlined here, so I wanted to go ahead and post it:

Dear Ms. Fatemeh Hagighatjoo-

Few who closely follow Iranian politics can forget your brave public stand in 2004, when you were the first member of the Majles to resign in protest of the disqualification of over 2000 candidates for the Seventh Majles. You had much to lose and were attacked from all sides, but in daring to reveal the hypocrisy of those who claim to be rooted in justice but who only selectively apply just principles, you captured the public imagination and became an inspiration to many Iranians inside and outside the country. For these reasons, it pains me greatly to hear of your involvement with the event that is to take place at [prominent U.S. University].

The organizers of the event, none of whom claim to be Iranian or have any connections to Iranian organizations, assert that they do “not take a stance on policy issues like foreign intervention”. At a political moment when Iran has been referred to the UN Security Council, when Iran and Iranians are daily misrepresented in the U.S. press, and when the U.S. Congress is funneling funds towards “opposition” groups, such a claim of neutrality is untenable, if not an outright and deliberate lie. Given the current climate, I would go further to claim that the event itself is perfectly consistent with the stated aims of foreign intervention in Iranian affairs and is indeed an instance of it.

To stand in solidarity with Iranians who give their blood and sweat for internally motivated change in Iran is to stand against all foreign meddling. Supporting the singling out of Iran for its nuclear program (illegal under international treaties), advocating the destabilizing of Iran through direct funds and aid (illegal under international treaties), and demonizing an entire people and religion (not illegal, but certainly despicable), are not the ways of achieving the goals of social and political justice in Iran.

I urge you to not only withdraw your participation in this event but to strongly speak against this and all attempts at co-opting the real struggles of the Iranian people for political gain. I look forward to the day when organic movements free from foreign influence succeed in addressing the social and political ills of Iran and our region as a whole. I hope you will join me in stopping the drive towards the destruction of Iran and in articulating what it would mean for us to be in genuine solidarity with our independent compatriots.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

No War or Sanctions on Iran-- Meeting This Weekend

This is very last minute, I know. But with the security council meeting on Iran this coming week, time is short anyway.

This evening and tomorrow afternoon, the founder and supporters of Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran will be meeting in the San Francisco Bay Area to strategize towards preventing another Iraq-style disaster.

The details for both events are as follows:

Tonight (Saturday, March 11, 2006)
location: UC/Berkeley Meeting Room 110,
Barrows Hall, first floor
(off of Bancroft Way at Barrow Lane & Eshleman Road)
University of California at Berkeley
time: 6:00 pm

Tomorrow (Sunday, March 12, 2006)
location: 895 Escondido Road,
Cottage Room in EV
(located besides the EV office)
Stanford University, Palo Alto
time: 2:00 pm

Friday, March 10, 2006

Saeed Ebrahim Habibi is a member of the same student organization through which Afshari once carried out his political activities. In his latest post, Habibi, who is based in Iran, comments on speech of Afshari and Atri to the U.S. Congress.

Since only select voices are chosen to be translated and dissemenated for western consumption, I thought it was important to include a voice that may otherwise not get much attention in non-Persian speaking circles.

My quick translation below includes all of the links of the original post, along with the photos that were included therein. Please be warned that the pictures are very graphic.

The Ends Do Not Justify the Means

There are certain fragments from history, which though they may have depths that are yet to be discovered, are nonetheless instructive. The relationship between Iran and the U.S. constitutes one such fragment. I do not intend to be longwinded because I think the issue is so clear that it does not need much elaboration. In brief, the subject at hand concerns the trip of two hardworking friends to D.C. where they asked Republican (!) and Democratic (!) senators for their help with Human Rights issues in Iran. We can defer for now the discussion of the tragic Human Rights situation in Iran, since we all know it very well and we all suffer from it. However, what I am moved to write about now is motivated by a serious objection to two aspects of the form and content of these speeches.

First, this conference began with the speech of Senator Rick Santorum, the leader (sic) of the Republican party. He is behind the “Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2005” which offers a referendum as a solution to Iran’s problems and which allocates 10 million dollars towards this and related activities. The presence of two of the architects of the referendum plan alongside this person, especially in the U.S. congress, is to me not only unjustifiable but also taints them. Besides, the two gentlemen introduced themselves as leaders and representatives of the student movement, and this is an obvious error since they neither consulted any relevant groups in this regard nor do they in any case hold such a rank among them. And if they went simply as two activists who represent a social movement, then they have made an even bigger error because then their presence in the Congress can only be interpreted as an appeal to and dependence upon a foreign power. While it is evident that internal changes impact external ones, but in order to have influence on what happens outside one must either have power or be rooted in a social movement. It would have been useful if the two gentlemen told us in all honesty about their motivations.

Secondly, if we assume that this was an opportunity to ask the Republicans for help in protecting Human Rights, it must first be proven that the U.S. in general pursues the adherence to Human Rights—which I do not think it does—or at least one should point to their previous violations of Human Rights so that we can somewhat (and only somewhat!) decrease the chances that they would recur.

I wont for now get into a discussion of exploitation and imperialism, but I will say this much: for capitalists human rights comes down to protection of their capital and nothing else.

Sometimes images can have a deeper and more penetrating impact than words. I believe that U.S. intervention in international affairs has been accompanied with much bitterness. I doubt that history will ever forget the fact that the U.S. has been the only nation to use the nuclear bomb.

Democracy was the excuse behind the Vietnam war as well. Four million people paid with their lives for the U.S pursuit of democracy.

Mr. Afshari and Mr. Atri, it would have been good if you had said something about Iraq as well. Merely stating your opposition to a military invasion is not enough. Being silent about Iraq or asking for help from the enemy can bear no justification. Children are sacrificed in the pursuit of this type of democracy.

On the anniversary of Mossadeq, it is very bitter to thank “all those who have given us the opportunity to speech to Congress and its respected members”. What would have been the harm in making but the slightest reference to the Coup d’etat of 1953? What about the coup d’etat of 9/11 against the people of Chile? And is human rights anything but the rights of those people who gathered around Mossadeq and the Allende?

Those who know and those who do not know me will know that my condemnations of U.S. international policy is in no way sanctions more than 25 years of human rights violations in Iran. Nor does it dismiss Ali’s [Afshari] hard work in Iran and the heavy price he paid in prison. My worry is only about the future that may come about if indecent means are justified in pursuit of our goals.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Which of the following beats the other in terms of being most ridiculous and yet sadly funny?

1. The statement made some months ago by an Iranian politician that condoleeza rice's beef with iran was rooted in her having been jilted by a former Iranian lover.


2. Rice's annoucement today that "We [U.S.] may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran".

Renaissance man gordon parks may be commonly known as the director of Shaft, but i associate him most with this jarring photo that he took called American Gothic, Washington DC:

He died two days ago. Surprisingly, i didn't find too many obituaries about him, but here is one

Monday, March 06, 2006

Thanks to sima's latest post, I now know the details of at least two events happening in Tehran in commemoration of International women's day. From 10-12 on Wednesday, there will be a film screening and roundtable discussion at the University of Tehran on the issue of violence against women. From 4-5 later that day, there will be a general gathering at a public park in tehran (park-e daneshjoo).

Right-wingish U.S. groups, newspapers, blogs, pundits, etc. will most likely try their best to co-opt the messages of these gatherings towards an agenda that pushes war and violence against the people of Iran. Expect the heavy circulation of photos from these events, and expect a lot of patronizing, patriarchical talk from a bunch of people who claim to want to free Iranian women from the claws of Iranian patriarchy.

Left-wingish U.S. groups, newspapers, blogs, pundits, etc. will most likely ignore these events because their message is not easily distilled into the hackneyed slogans that have been recycled for at least the last three decades. Don't expect to hear any of the women involved in these events on your local community radio, and don't expect to see them as international invitees to the demonstrations organized by supposedly progressive NGOs.

As for iranians currently or permanently abroad, i guess we too have a long way to go in learning how to support such gatherings without meddling in and/or manipulating their messages.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

1. In early november, i wondered whether there was any truth to the rumour that the student political activist and political prisoner, ali afshari, had fled iran. I found the answer when I read this news (in persian) that afshari had given some testimony in the U.S. congress. His speech included some cursory remarks about why out-right war against Iran would not be a good idea, and that the ruling government would actually welcome the chance to manipulate popular support.

I don't understand such appeals to the U.S. congress and officials. What is the motivation, from a political and/or strategic point of view? Who is facilitating these meetings and towards what end? By running to the same people in power who threaten Iran night and day, doesn't Afshari and others--who were imprisoned and suffered because of their views--undermine their own credibility, and by association the credibility of others inside of iran who are working indpendently on a range of political and social projects?

2. In checking the statcounter every now and again, i've noticed that the terms "fereydoun foroughi" and "fereydoun foroughi lyrics" bring consistent traffic to this site. Sometime ago, before I had figured out how to use the Persian keyboard, I had transcribed and translated the lyrics of one of his songs. As a tribute to him and his many fans who seem to come online quite often in search of his work, I decided to transcribe the lyrics to yet another one of his songs.

Here then, are the lyrics to tolooe Khooneen (Bloodied Rising), which you can listen to here.

خوش باوران
زحمت کشان
در خوابند

شب به دستان
بت پرستان

ای جان بازان
اکنون کجایید؟

انسانی بود
انسانی رفت
آزادی کو؟

یکی آمد
با پتک سیاه
پرواز را کو؟

ای طولوع خونین از شب تو بگریز
صبح خونبار در خون من با نور آمیز

هم خاک من هم وطنم یک دو پر پا خیز
شب فرو ریز با نور آمیز ای هم صدا

تو دستات خورشید
بر لبات امید
بر دشمن بستیز