Saturday, August 30, 2008

Police Violence at DNC

I'm not a fan of Codepink, but I was very disturbed to see this policeman take a baton to a peaceful Codepink protester for no apparent reason. These security forces should be held accountable for using excessive force, who knows what else they've done that wasn't caught on tape.

You can see the full uncut video and narration from the point of view of the photojournalist who documented the whole thing (you can also see the police tackle and arrest some other random peaceful protester) at this link.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

1. Garfield is not at all funny, but Garfield Minus Garfield, now that is pretty hilarious. See yesterday's strip, for example, I just can't stop laughing! (A big thanks to Mana and Seth for introducing me to strip, the newest weapon in my procrastination arsenal)

2. US and Euro press love to cover stories about Iran's "modesty squads" and whatever admittedly annoying activities they take on. But who knew that Israel has some pretty robust "modesty squads" of its own? How many of you heard about the 7 Israeli men who broke into the apartment of a woman and violently assaulted her because they thought she had carried on an "improper" relationship with some guy? If the perpetrators in this case were Iranian or some vigilante group in Iraq or Palestine or some other Muslim-identified group, we would have been bombarded with news stories and emails on listservs. Seriously, if this was a case in Iran or Palestine, some nerdy guy in Canada would have posted it to Balatarin at least a dozen times, and then he would have come back with a dozen of his other usernames to leave snarky comments about how backwards muslims are, how they just need to learn to practice democracy, etc. etc.

3. Michael Ledeen is so bad that even the notorious neo-con nest known as the American Enterprise Institute has rid themselves of him. Ledeen, you may remember, claimed in January 2007, that Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei had died and continued to hold on to the position for days thereafter, even in the face of various new evidence proving the contrary (he claimed it was all state propaganda or something)! Ledeen has now moved to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, apparently a clear demotion, but I think we should now keep a more alert eye on this Foundation and what they are up to.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

1. Iran's olympic athletes returned home today, and huge crowds came to greet them at the airport. I think they mostly came to see taekwondo champ Hadi Saei, the only gold medal winner for Iran. In the photo from ISNA pasted below, a group of little girls in colorful traditional dress present Saei with flowers, and in the background you can see the people who have packed into the airport to see him:

Iran fared pretty poorly at the olympics, other than Saeei's gold, I think they got a couple of other medals. A country of over 65 million which is relatively sports-positive and can afford to nurture its athlete should have done a lot better.

Of course, the usual suspects are wasting no time blaming the person of Ahmadinejad and his administration for the olympic shortcomings. I was reading the blog of a hard-core Ahmadinejad supporter the other day and saw that one of his readers had left a comment asking him to please write a post showing that there is no relationship between the failures at the olympics and the current administration. In answer to this request, the blogger had sarcastically responded: as far as I know, there is nothing on this earth that isn't related to the Ahmadinejad government.

And the guy has a point. The Ahmadinejad administration is to blame for a whole lot of stuff, but come on, the olympics? The website of the Dutch government funded online paper Roozonline is actually a good place for finding some of the far-out connections people make between Ahmadinejad and whatever is going wrong anywhere. Too bad their headlines are just in Persian, but I'll try to translate some every now and again, just for comic value.

Anyway, congratulations to Iran's olympians, here is to a better performance next time.

2. My culinary goals for the next months are to find recipes for and cook as many northern Iranian dishes as I can find the ingredients for. Yesterday, I cooked Morghe Torshe, which is a chicken dish from Mazandaran made with ground herbs and walnuts. Folks from the province of Gilan have a dish with the same name, but their version has weird things in it like split yellow lentils and eggs. Still, I'm up for trying their version as well. For Mazandarani dishes, I am for now relying on recipes from my dad and grandmother, but I need some good stuff from Gilan. Any suggestions of websites or books to look into?

3. My friend Joann is one of the greatest people you could ever hope to know. I've been trying to get her to blog for ages, but it took being stuck in Chicago to persuade her to actually do it. If you want to discover Chicago along with Joann, check out her blog.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Georgia on My Mind

1. I'm back from a trip to Canada where I presented at the Iranian Studies conference, and then we took a mini-road trip within Canada and throughout the US northeast. Canada is really great, at least from what I can tell. And it helped to be hosted by Nazli, who is generous, lovable, and real. She and the many other volunteers at the ISIS conference deserve to be publicly recognized and thanked for all of their hard work. Maybe I missed it, but it didn't seem like their contributions were adequately acknowledged during the conference.

2. Historically, Russia has not been a good neighbor to Iran. Its colonial interventions in Iran meant the loss of much territory and wealth as well as a whole lot of other immeasurable intangibles, like feelings of security or national pride. Even in contemporary times, Russia has continued its exploitation. Taking advantage of US sanctions that prevent Iran from having access to what is legally its right to have, the Russians have stepped in to sell Iran a bunch of technological equipment at exorbitant prices, with dubious quality, all the while extracting a whole lot of other concessions from Iran.

Despite all of this, Russia's reemergence as evidenced by the conflict with Georgia (which is only one example of the territories Iran lost to Russia), probably bodes well for Iran and the region as a whole.

It is best to have no bullies on the block, but having two bullies is better than having one.

The conflict between Georgia and Russia as well as its implications, which will be wide and far reaching, deserve careful consideration which I hope to expand on in the future. For now, it will suffice to say that a significant power shift has occurred, and we will be feeling its global consequences for a long time yet.

3. I just received the DVD for Iran (is Not the Problem), which I'm looking forward to watching later this week. Here is the trailer, if you want to take a look.