Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Rubin's Cube

Bush is back on his Iran horse today -- root-toot-tooting about how Iran needs to get its act together and reply to the gracious offer he proffered recently. Let's leave Bush riding on that horse for a moment to point out a fascinating oversight committed by many observers of US politics: that Bush is really no different than predecessors such as, say, Clinton.

The fact is, the US government does not operate on a party line -- a smudged and blurred one at that -- a lot of Republicans worked for Clinton, a lot of Democratics work for Bush. There are certain issues, especially in foreign policy, where this is very clear cut. The Middle East, for example.

This week in London, James Rubin, former spokesperson for Clinton's Secretary of State Albright, and present husband of CNN's Christiane Amanpour, made a public appearance of particular note in the battle to distinguish (or not) between Republicans and Democrats, or to simply settle for mistrusting them both. See, Rubin, former government employee, current host of Sky News's World Tonight, doesn't much disagree with George W. Bush's policies in the Middle East and, during the course of this rather dubious engagement made it very clear that the only thing Bush has done wrong is that he's been a cowboy about his foreign policy instead of maneuvering the assistance of other hegemonic wanna-be states.

Yes, Rubin is worried about "the danger of US isolation" not about whether millions of Middle Eastern lives are sacrificed while the US secures its financial interests which, by the way, Rubin doesn't even believe exist. "The idea that US policy is founded on economics is wrong," he says, citing the war in Kosovo as one example though even he says "our action on behalf of the Muslims of Bosnia was taken too late. I regret that." It was too late for the Muslims, not for US interests which lay mainly with curbing a roaring Serbian nationalism and a disastrous war from spreading futher into Europe.

Inconsistent, as all politicians are, Rubin went on to say that "there's no question the reason the United States and Europe cares about the Middle East is because of oil." Hmm...sounds like an economic interest to me. But anyway. Stretching his diplomatic muscles, Mr Rubin proceeded to make himself a candidate for Secretary of State in the next Democratic government by, at the same time mind you, discrediting the present regime while also praising it: "I'm not a fan of President George W. Bush but I don't believe [economics] was his reason for going to war in Iraq." Fabulous Rubie, please, take a seat. But he's not done.

Closet warmonger that he is (like most US government officials have been since Woodrow Wilson's presidency, at the very least), he gave what in his opinion was a legitimate reason to make Iraq a nation that is "absent of brutality today" and a beacon of democracy and elections, "unique things in the Middle East" (yeah, there's no where else in the Middle East where US-rigged elections are held under US occupation -- that's true indeed): "the US had been too defensive and too passive in the Middle East for too long."

That's it folks, show's over, you've gotten your answer and that is simply that the US needs to put on a cowboy hat every once in awhile and show the Middle East who's really in charge. Under Rubin's protocol this would involve UN-backing and multilateral coalition followed by war, destruction, death and destitution. Under Bush's protocol just subtract that first part about not going it alone. So, perhaps, we should actually praise the Bush Ranger in this column for being honest enough about hurting people that he refuses to play along with a silly game of international diplomacy and public opinion charades to carry out a war his adversaries wouldn't hesitate to carry out themselves.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Iranian Internet Survey

For those of you who read and write Farsi, please participate in the Iranian Internet Survey -- it's an excellent study being conducted by the University of London and will no doubt provide fascinating results on the demographics and attitudes of Iranians on the internet.


Friday, June 16, 2006

Jafar Panahi's "Offside"

The latest offering in Iranian New Wave cinema, with perfect timing, is Jafar Panahi's football film, "Offside." Like his previous films, it is a commentary on the condition of women in Iran -- this time focusing on that ridiculous rule against women being in football stadiums. For an excellent review of the film, check this out.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Offside Rule Explained

Welcome to Offside Anonymous, a secret support group for avid football fans who, despite years of service to watching the game, still aren't exactly sure what that weirdo checkered flag man did everytime your team was about to score. The following is a guide to understanding the offside rule...

Here's the easy part. An offensive player cannot be ahead of any defensive player on the pitch, as so:

The hard part, though is that the offensive player can indeed be ahead of any defensive player if, once the ball is kicked, he rushes ahead of the defense and receives the ball:

The key is: watch the ball!

The ball determines the offside line.

No offensive player can ever be ahead of the ball.


Whirl Cup Science

You know how you kept shouting at Croatia yesterday to convert a goal, but they kept coming close and missing the box? As the world has done for several generations now, you can blame the Germans. See, what the Croatians, Iranians and other disappointed World Cup teams may not know is that this year's fancy football design (with those infinity-symbol panels in black and white) is actually much more than a pretty face: according to scientists, the new design is having an impact on the ball's performance in the air.

Adidas's Teamgeist football, as it is called, has 14 panels, instead of the traditional 26 or 32, thereby causing the ball to bounce about unpredictably if there isn't much spin on it -- which, thankfully, only happens rarely. Still, it does happen and can best be observed in slo-mo replays where the goalie is clearly confused about the direction the ball is taking and the kicker is astounded at how far he was from his target. Isn't it great to have someone to blame?


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Evin (Not) Uncovered

(Source: http://rousseaufan.canalblog.com/images/sadness.jpg)

Right in the middle of World Cup season and a major international proposal for its nuclear program, the Iranian government has decided to ride its present high by adding another tally next to its good name: clearing up all that crazy talk about the horrors of Evin by opening up its doors briefly. For those of you who don't know about it, the mere mention of the Evin prison sends shivers down most Iranians' spines. Long before the Islamic revolution, and later regime, magnified the horrors of the fates of Evin's prisoners, the Shah's CIA-trained secret service agency, SAVAK, established its disturbing tradition.

International journalists and human rights watchdogs were given a view of the women's quarters. But the tour of Evin stopped short of showing the male prisoners or the political prisoners -- and one can't help but wonder what innocent souls are dwindling deep in there.

As we speak, and it sometimes crosses the mind, there are prisoners in Evin -- usually those held without charge, a.k.a. "political prisoners" -- who are suffering a fate worse than death. Why? Because death, from what all we living people can tell, is the final terminus, whereas prisonhood in Evin is a daily reliving of one's worst nightmares -- a state wherein death would be a dream come true. Mental, sexual, physical and any other kind of torture you can possibly imagine, go on behind those walls and despite what the Iranian government will tell or show you, the outside world knows the truth because of the rare few who've lived to tell their tales. And those whose tales got out without them.

But don't go demonizing Iran or categorizing a nation for its hardline prison system -- Iran is by far not alone. One need not venture to Guantanamo Bay, for instance, to be privy to the treatment of political prisoners held by Westerners. It is a well-known fact that what the CIA cannot do on US property, it does on other property and torture of prisoners is way up on that handsome list. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- how can we expect less accountable countries to observe human rights when the most accountable of all fail to do just that?

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Red Rover Send Cheney Over

Quelle surprise. Karl "two chins are better than one" Rove has gotten away with lying to the grand jury about his involvement in the CIA leak case. It seems the special prosecutor in the case has a much fatter and arterially-blocked fish to fry: Dickless Shamey himself. Let's see what comes of that -- my bets are he'll cite the powerful-white-man clause, though -- you know, that invisible clause written into the US Constitution that says that even if you rip off a billions of dollars from innocent people, engage in illegal warfare or generally look and act like a primate, you can get away with everything in America as long as you're a rich white man (preferably a born-again Christian or an almost recovering alcoholic/racist).


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Iran vs. Mexico

Some say the better team won today. The rest of us say football is unpredictable and Iran just got unlucky. But there is still hope because despite the fact that Iran's coach (who is resigning after the World Cup) has seen his day (his inadequate management skills were on display today when, after 2 early subs by Mexico in the second half totally turned the game around he still failed to sub till close to the end of the second half when it was too late) the team has some strong key players (one of which, Zandi, didn't even play today because of an injury) and truly has a chance for a win, if not a second-round advancement.

Besides, as Javad Nekounam demonstrates, there's always something to look forward to when Iran plays....

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Score on Terror

This week was a bittersweet PR concoction for the WAT. The latest in the battle to capture a few more points in the likeability polls. Unfortunately, it's not easy to rebuild meager credibility.

First, they tried to convince us that great advances had been made in Iraq thanks to the killing of a terrorist who happened to have no allies beyond the handful of people who died along with him in the US raid on his bunker. Zarqawi, as we've been reminded of thanks to the UK Independent's coverage, was a man whose terrorism career was actually given a boost in February of 2003 when then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell announced his name at that infamous wmd UN speech, ultimately helping him to join Al Qaeda which he had previously not been a member of. Things went sour between him and Al Qaeda though after he started plotting the deaths of Muslims (he just didn't like those Shiites). So, the US basically killed someone who, in a way, was merely helping them out in Iraq.

Next, we stumbled across the latest presidential headline from the US where the leading news of the day is that Herr Bushmeister has "expressed serious concern" over the suicides of 3 Gitmo inmates. That was the 'we are humane' part of the PR. The 'don't let the terrorists fool you' part of the PR is that top US officials in the government and Pentagon are saying that the suicides were "a good PR move to draw attention" (isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?) and, as always, to add a little xenophobia into the propaganda, "a tactic to further the jihadi cause."

Hmmm....you snatch over 400 people from their homes, transport them halfway across the world, all the while mentally and physically abusing them, then imprison them in a maximum security cage on an island floating lawlessly in the sea, and finally never ever tell them why they are there and when they'll get out. Yup, must be military cunning that led these men to take their lives. That or a desperate attempt to escape a tortuous existence. Bets anyone?

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

World Cup Politics

Football, like all sports, is the ultimate in political chivalry: it's all in good fun, let's be good sportsmen, everybody says, but winning is everything. Just remember the 1998 World Cup game when Iran beat the USA...Nobody, not even good ol' home grown farmland Americans could overlook the fact that losing on the football pitch hurt just as bad as at the diplomatic table -- maybe even worse because your voting citizenry actually watch the whole sad event unfold.

So it goes with yet another World Cup -- this time in Germany where, I'm sad to report, the Germans (who I once supported long long ago when they were West Germans and not the shadow sixth member of the UN Security Council headed by an overgrown freckled wart) have already won a match against Costa Rica -- thanks to their methodical playing which makes you want to open up a football handbook and check off one by one the tactics they employ. England's game today was also a no-glow event where Paraguay scored an own goal in the 5th minute and England spent the rest of the game making sure they held onto that 1-0 lead.

Yes, sportmanship is that sweet term politicians use to explain away a pathetic loss to a nation they feel is beneath them. But it's also the epitome of humanity where an embattled and beaten football player extends a hand of help to a fallen member of the opposing team. Too bad politicians aren't sportsmen, too.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Brangelina Baby Pix

Need a break from politics and war-wide fiascos? Take a peek at the first studio pictures of Brangelina's baby...and yes, as predicted by everyone, she has huge lips...


Iran Bullying the Bullies

C'mon rest of the world! Who's gonna follow Iran's example and start taking a stand against the playground bullying of the 'Western Powers' as they like to be called (aka. the commanders of the WAT)? Ahmadinejad is effectively waving the flag of all the countries in the world who are being bullied by this faction of insatiable hoodlums. This week's news about their concessions to Iran is a far cry from those "Axis of Evil" days...I guess the WAT battalion has reneged on yet another hard and fast principle: negotiating with "terrorists". No doubt, it's hard to claim terrorism when you happen to sponsor the most terrorizing practices of the day. Whatever happens next, we have now witnessed a new precedent in preemptive striking: precipitive striving -- a new concept in worldwide diplomacy where all of sudden you've got to try and negotiate instead of just bombing people to kingdom come.

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Blairy Bushmonster Strikes Again

We know that Bush is gasping for air when he starts parading the corpses of terrorists. His latest slide show stars the so-called "Iraq's Most Wanted Terrorist" -- one Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. And, as hypocritically as ever, they have displayed photos of his bloody body for the world to marvel at -- see, it's only wrong to display dead bodies when they are Westerners -- everybody else doesn't matter.

How did mighty mighty Uncle Sam manage to kill one man, a handful of aides and an unreported mass of civilians? With a number (we are not told, of course) of tiny little 500 pound bombs -- you know, the kind that would kill several hundred people in one go (don't believe it? In the 2002 Bali bombings, a 350 pound car bomb killed 202 people -- and that wasn't even dropped on top of them).

Yes, and tight on the heels of unloading millions of American taxpayer dollars on the heads of Iraqi civilians, both Bush and his pasty English chaperone Blair have announced that there are "tough days ahead" meaning: we have commenced a new round of murderous rampage and are asking for your patience as we proceed to efface the population of Iraq.

But let's not just blame Blairy Bushmonster -- the Western press is also doing its job to disseminate this acidic propaganda. Just check out the BBC's report, dotted with references to that "vicious prosecutor" Zarqawi whose organization will "continue to kill," all the while urging "the world to unite on the Iraq issue." The Associated Press's report is no better -- gently slipping in irrelevant and charged propanganda terms like "holy war," "severe blow," "significant victory" and "slaughtering sheik," just to add a bit of exotic spice to the mix.

This, of course, is called appealing to the Lowest Common Denominator -- see, all those people who remain uninformed about this and other issues have no logical choice but to be convinced that this man was a killing machine whose death has finally put to rest what was an interminable murdering spree. One need only add up the number of civilians killed in Iraq alone to know that this type of blatant factmaking is an attempt to shadow the real killing machine in Iraq: the US and its allies (are there two of them now, or is it just the one?).

Nobody is saying this guy wasn't a criminal but let's be frank here -- he and his entire organization have committed less acts of violence, destruction and death by far than this entire War Against Terrorism has in the last few months alone. And the only reason they are working criminals anyway is because the WAT has motivated them beyond their dreams. Will there ever be any checks and balances against state-sponsored terrorists like Bush and Blair? Probably not -- even the so-called United Nations are only united toward letting these guys get away with murder. Every single day.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Lion Answers for God

(Photo: Reuters. Lions at the Kiev Zoo a day after one of them had a Ukrainian for dinner)

It's always nice to know that there are a few brave soldiers out there who are willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of advancing human knowledge. Take the 45-year-old man who was killed in the lion's den at the Ukraine national zoo on Sunday. Yes, there are those whose faith in God is so secure that they will go to any length (or lion's den) to prove it. According to Kiev police spokesman Volodymyr Polishchuk, the Ukrainian man, an ethnic Azerbaijani, (now, why does it have to be so? I can already imagine the Turk jokes piling up in Iran) "shouted 'God will save me, if he exists', lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions."

Only moments later, he got his answer when "a lioness [must women always be the one with the answers?] went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery." Thank you, anonymous Azerbaijani Ukrainian, for ending millennia of confusion and arbitrary obsession -- you've finally proven, in a way no one else could ever have dreamed of...that people are very stupid indeed.


US's Nuclear Gift to Iran

If you are one of those people who bought into the bogus attempts by the US government to convince the world that despite the egregious and ongoing disasters that are Iraq and Afghanistan (and their subsidiaries such as Gitmo , Israel/Palestine, and Syria) the US was somehow in a position to imminently attack Iran too, well, look at today's headlines and think again. In a telling turn of events, not only is there no attacking coming up but the US has now agreed, via the UN envoy Javier Solana, to actually hand Iran nuclear technology in exchange for it stopping its uranium enrichment program.

So much for all that Axis of Evil rhetoric -- this proves once again that the West is far far away from ever colonizing Iran -- this isn't a tiny little piece of land the British penciled in on a map; Iran is a powerful force to be reckoned with and no amount of loudmouth beards or overfed clerics can ever change that.

However, for those of you who care for Iran, don't sigh for relief yet -- considering the geostrategic and political value that Iran wields, the West's millennia-long battle for Persia persists.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Island Fantasy

In the last few years, the English have not hesitated to remind us that they haven't won the World Cup since 1966 (and only then in a very controversial 4-2 win over this year's hosts: the Germans -- chances are slim they'll let it happen again and on their turf) and when the star of that tournament, George Best, passed on this year, the uproar about a new era in English football kicked new life into fans.

Still, few knew quite how desperate the situation was until today -- yes, in a harbinger of coverage to come, BBC Television reached a new low today by broadcasting the entirety of the departure and arrival of the English football team for the World Cup tournament. Yes, folks that's over one hour of live television coverage of a passenger plane being boarded, taking off, landing and being alighted. The departure was, as expected, in an Eastward direction:

The following is photographic evidence of the landing:

For those of you who did not know how international football teams travel, how planes depart and land or what exactly the color of a British Airways airjet might be, decades, perhaps a lifetime of curiousity have finally FINALLY been satiated. May the games commence...


Saturday, June 03, 2006


Thanks for your patience this past week while the saccharinist was redesigned...hope you like the new style...