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June 2006

HURT
Shame on you

Yalda Hakimian
June 30, 2006

To Persis Karim, editor of "Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora" and 3 other so called "intellectual" women who were interviewed on KQED in Berkeley Thursday morning (June 29th), I only have 3 words: Shame On You.

When asked by a listener what they thought about Iran sending Tehran Prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi to the UN, they all skirted the issue by saying: "Is human rights situation better here at US?"

I understand these women's motivation (and a lot of other "scholars" mostly teaching and researching at Western universities.). I actually personally know some of them.

First of all, they want to be able to go back to Iran every year or so, to bring back materials to help them write their articles, their poems and therefore establish their positions here at work, as an "expert" on Iran. But in order to do that they have to shut up about human rights or any other subject that would impede their ability to go back and forth. So why make any waves, Zahra Kazemi being clobbered in the head? So what, look at Guantanamo!

Secondly, a lot of these "experts" come from influential families in Iran. 2 or 3 of the guests today said they had attended Iran Zamin international school. So their families probably still have lots of wealth and property in Iran and no way are they going to jeopardize that, by making any Iranian official angry.

Basically this new and growing group of young "professors, authors, scholars and researchers" are selling us here and the Iranians in Iran out for their personal gain.

This is why Iranian women and other human rights activists in Iran should be very careful and not look for any help from this group. As the saying in Persian goes, "I don't have any hope of your good deeds, just don't hurt me." [Also see: "Iranian women writers on KQED" By Ari Siletz]
Comment

ISLAM
Very dangerous place to be

Omid Townsend
June 29, 2006

Any student of history will be able to point out heights in Iranian history. Our culture is one of the oldest and most renowned in the known World. Our food, architecture, literature, language, people and customs have been admired and written about the World over. Islam has been a major contributor to a great number of these things, no doubt about it. However, the past is the past. How can Islam and the Iranian version of it be compatible with the world as it is today?

As it is playing out in the news it is clearly apparent that nationalistic ambitions are clearly being thwarted by the international community. Whatever the reason may be for pursuing nuclear technology, whether for civilian or military purposes it is clear that Iran is having to run the gauntlet in regards to the international community. It seems to be very clear that Iran needs to make some serious choices about human rights, the WTO, the UN etc.

Any level headed American who has Iranian friends will quickly acknowledge our friendliness, ambition, and respectability. For god sakes our stereotypes are even praising! Everybody thinks we can only be lawyers and doctors.

But why does the micro view of Iranians differ so greatly from the macro? Our country is listed as terrorist sponsoring nation, our leaders are considered firebrand clerics who are undemocratically elected and our President seems to just want to turn the way in the face of historical fact. All of these things are very un-Iranian.

Islamic theocracy will never succeed has reputable form of government and its principles in practice have always failed and ended in a coup or a revolution. This is not far off for Iran. The growing unrest internally and the growing pressure from the outside will eventually lead to a very stark conclusion, one that will not be without blood. With the regime actively recruiting suicide bombers, and the Americans surrounding them on more than 3 fronts, a conflict it reasonably imminent either way if not inevitable.

What really rubs me is that the leaders of both countries think that they are being guided by God. President Ahmadinejad thinks the 12th Imam guides him and Bush is emboldened by his ‘passion for the Christ’. What a bunch of crap! What do you think these two prophets would talk about if they were in the same room? Religion is becoming more of a reason to go to war than ever before, whether our leaders want to admit it or not. The Bahai question is coming to the forefront in more than one Islamic country. The Egyptian government is finding ways to satisfy the hypocritical Islamic brotherhood and the academically shallow Al-Azhar University.

The fact of the matter is no Islamic regime has existed more than a hundred years without being overthrown. Why is that? With that question comes another: Why has the U.S. and British governments been in continuing governing status for over 200 years without major disruptions, civil wars aside? It's called respect of law, human rights and personal choice. Any government who violates these rights is not a government, just a regime. When a government tries to cheat the public or provide miss-information it is simply digging its own grave. It is only a matter of time. I feel this goes the same for the U.S. too.

The main issue that I am trying to address is that Islam is not a realistic form of government in the modern day world. It does not have a proven track record of human rights, equality of sexes, diplomacy and freedom of speech. Islam as a faith is at war with itself. It seems it is becoming more of a political thought process than a practiced religion. This is a very dangerous place to be. The answer to this question is deeper than I will attempt to address. However, I welcome any comments and I would love to hear more on the discussion.  Comment

IRAN
Democracy is not top priority

Kianosh Saadati
June 28, 2006

No matter the outcome of Iranian nuclear crisis, undoubtedly, Iran is heading to full scale chaos! Even if they can reach a deal with the Western world to suspend the Uranium enrichment, the economic situation in the country has become so bad that being optimistic about the future is a fatal mistake.

Many people are still wondering why one of the world's largest oil producers is going to ration gasoline in three months. They may not be familiar with the ailing infrastructure of the country. Underneath the cover, behind the scenes of an Islamic country, which claims to be a nuclear power with outdated Russian technology, lies a disaster. It is getting harder and harder for people inside the country to survive.

Despite the hype made by the outside world that the main priority for Iran are democracy and freedom, many people do not even care them. They simply want lower inflation and a better economy. Sooner or later when the government rations gasoline or sells it with two different prices, inflation will skyrocket. Indeed it is already high and it is going to go higher and higher.

The current situation, is quite similar to the last years of the previous regime. While the shah was proud of his imaginary Great Civilisation and he was quite sure that he would survive, only a few people in those days warned of the immanent possibility of revolution and regime change, an unbelievable forecast which came true. With one big difference. In those days in 1979, people had faith and unity in commencing the revolution. Today after 28 years, they are simply pessimistic and doubtful about any replacement because they can not trust anyone who comes to power.

Whatever happens next, as long as the people don't change, the situation will not improve. It is the time that instead of reforming or changing the regime, people start changing themselves. Simply accusing Western countries and sticking to conspiracy theories will not help.

While the economic situation worsens in Iran, maybe it is time to open up our eyes and try to realize what is our real priority. Do we really need American style freedom and democracy or we need better culture and improving infrastructure? Mismanagement, corruption, economic discrepancies and high inflation have paralysed the country and these problems can not be resolved with democracy alone! We have many other priorities.

I wish I could be positive about Iran's future. But I can not. All I see is a country and nation always concerned about the future. A nation that has a problem, A Big Problem. But it does not realize the problem. A nation who heads into the chaos and prepares for the worst!! Comment

IDEAS
How do we prevent China from colonizing the world?

Tina Ehrami
June 28, 2006

Until today development economics have aimed at improving the economic and social conditions in developing countries. The IMF for instance gives loans to developing countries along with a list of conditions that stimulates these developing countries to improve their government systems, combat corruption and improve their legal and human rights situation. Some find organizations like the World Bank or the IMF paternalistic or perhaps even neo-colonist, but at least they set conditions so that the people of these developing countries can have a better quality of life. This on itself is a noble goal and from my point of view the most appreciative way of friendly state intervention.

What happens now though is a shift of power and economic weight on the international scene. Europe and the US seem to be lagging behind when it comes to economic growth and anticipation on the changing world order.

Now the table has turned, China seems to be the future economic success. What does this mean for international political economy and for the world we will live in?

China, being a country with a repressive regime that shows no interest in protecting its people's human rights, will be doing business with other countries. Developing countries now can choose between an economic co-operation with an organization such as the IMF, that interferes with their internal affairs, tells them how to run their government and tells them off for disrespecting their peoples human rights, or they can choose a business partner like China that simply says: "Here is money, give me raw material and no I don't care that you torture your people, 'cause heck we do that too back home!"

China's irresponsiveness towards the protection of human rights, becomes alarming now that they also have the means to move around and steal markets that before were being regulated under international protection. Who is going to fabricate international economic pressure tools that will also protect human rights?

What will happen to developing countries that close deals with China and step into long term relations with a country that is only in it for the money? Or more important, who is going to prevent China from colonizing the developing world?  Is there going to be a collaboration of repressive and economic wealthy countries in the future? What happens if, for instance, the future economic relations between China and the Islamic Republic Iran grows into a proportion that can enlarge their political pressure means on the international stage? Are we then heading towards a new world order? Comment

WOMEN
Things I learned from watching football with my husband

Pillango Farfar
June 27, 2006

I don’t know how many women watch football, but definitly not the ones I know. I thought why not for once sit down and watch a football game with my husband and try to grasp what it is that he like so much about this game. I watched a couple of games with him and found out interesting things. I also ended up having some questions. Like who decides what color outfit the players wear? Who designs them?

I thought maybe the chosen color had to be in harmony with where the players come from. But, for example, looking at Japanese players I couldn’t find harmony between the players and their blue jersey. On the other hand, the yellow color is just perfect for Brazil, it is the color of the beautiful sun they just love. The black and white design was so neat for the American players, it symbolizes independance while the dominant white was quite peaceful.

As for Iranian players maybe more green would do. I observed that the goal keeper felt good in green and he performed well. Iran is green, I don’t know how to explain it but the pine and the plam trees, even the color of water and part of the flag of are all green too. Who knows maybe our Iranian men would associate themselves better with green, rather than forcefully introducing a little red and green into an abundance of white.

Another thing I learned from watching football was which team is good at teamwork. I could see how wonderfully the three players for example create a triangle and pass the ball to each other, or when they all run towards the goal I could see how many of the opposite players were there. I just noticed it because of the colors they wore. So teamwork seems to be the key word in football.

One other thing I felt was that some teams enjoy playing more than others. Spanish and Brazilian players just enjoyed themselves, and were happy, almost dancing. But why do some players seem so tense and shout at each other? I see when they are angry with the opposite team they express frustration at each other. How demoralizing is that? There is this spirit of sport they talk about, but you really see it in some teams and not at all.

I don’t know which team will be the winner but I hope every single person or team who attends the World Cup comes out feeling joy. After all this is the only thing that matters. It has an impact on our mind and soul; it gives energy. Joy of being there to support the team you like; joy of being a player who performs his best yet does not kick anyone on purpose; joy of being the referee who does his best to be just and fairminded; joy for being a guard around the ground to ensure a secure game; joy of being the cameraman who filmed the match so precisely; joy of being the interpreter; joy of being a woman who supported her husband watch the game without nagging (this year).

Joy gives us wings! Comment

BLOGGING
Is Hoder's era over?

Kianosh Saadati
June 23, 2006

Since the launch of first, or at least one of the first, Persian blogs, one name has always been prominent. Hoder (Hossein Derakhshan) has been recognized as the Father (or technically the Godfather!!!) of Persian blogging. Numerous efforts have been made by him and others to encourage Iranians to launch and manage their own blogs. Indeed Persian blogs have been one of the fastest growing in today's media world.

But these days the Father of Persian blog is quiet. He used to blog on a daily basis or speak to Iranians through different Iranian TV and radio programmes. His much -hyped travel to Iran last year during presidential elections was one of his greatest efforts to encourage Iranians to vote in an already manipulated election!

But these days he is quiet. He simply blogs once he is travelling or when he wants to judge current political issues in Iran. Maybe he already knows that Persian blogging is close to the end! Maybe he realises that many Iranians (including me!) do not enjoy reading other people's weblogs anymore. Instead, they tend to go to more reliable media and official sources.

How many times do we have to see baseless, humours or personal attacks with strongest language in the Persian blogs? I assume many bloggers are fed up with writing. Writing about what? Does anyone really care about what the blogger eats, believes or what kind of entertainment s/he likes the best? Is it really important to know these?

I believe that in a few years blogs will be something over familiar or even bothersome like emails. When email first became available, it became very popular, but nowadays you need to be very careful once you receive an email from someone you do not know! It can even cost you your PC!!

I guess Hoder knows these issues very well. How many more times does he have to encourage people to write in their weblogs about politics, economy, sex and...?

Maybe he needs to start something else, start a career in the media, something more reliable and of course more enjoyable than sitting in front of the monitor and writing about many different subjects that most people have no interest in.

Is the blog the only way to discover and recognize the world??? Certainly not. Hoder perfectly knows that! Maybe this is why he remains silent these days. Basically because he does not have anything new and creative to write about. Like many other bloggers who simply repeat and renew themselves. Maybe he already knows that Hoder's era is over!! Comment

WORLD CUP
Sweet, free (unachievable) dreams

Kianosh Saadati
June 22, 2006

World Cup 2006 is over for us. It was already finished for us. Long time ago, many people criticized our national team because it was not prepared enough for this tournament. But the world is not over yet!

Logically, we need to sit back and try to learn from our mistakes. We need to prepare ourselves physically and mentally for upcoming 2010 World Cup in South Africa. But I still wonder whether we will learn from mistakes or not? I assume we will be the same even in the next World Cup.

Again, we will make songs and lyrics for our team, again Iranian fans will dye their face and book their flihgts -- this time for South Africa. But the team will still remain the same. We are the nation who has always been the same. All over these years at least from one hundred years ago, we have always been doing the same.

Instead of living and feeling the realities, we prefer to live with our dreams and ideals. Although they look unachievable, they are still sweet and of course free to imagine. There is no cost to pay.

While I was watching the Iran-Angola game on TV, I logged on to Tehran Live Cameras on traffic control web site. Tehran was the same, crowded, polluted with its usual heavy traffic. While Iran was desperate to win, in Angola nobody cared about the score!!

There is a long time until the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. But is it not sweet to dream about it? At least dreams are sweet and free. They are not realities and facts. In your dreams you can capture whatever you like from the furthest supernovas in the universe to that small golden World Cup. Just close your eyes and imagine -- and only imagine (no sense of reality please) -- that our team has defeated all others in 2010 and they have returned to Iran with the World Cup. Sweet, free and OF COURSE unachievable!

So, see you in 2010!!! Comment

LAPTOP REVOLUTIONARIES
Where do I sign up?

Siamack Baniameri
June 21, 2006

I got an email the other day from a group of Iranian ex-pats, inviting me to take part in an "electronic sit-in to support human rights in Iran." I'm all for that. As a matter of fact, I'm all for anything that protects me from bodily harm and possible injuries. Therefore, I volunteer to participate in: online hunger strikes, virtual flag burning, cyber rebellion, internet human chains, electronic passive resistance, computer-generated insurgency and dotcom uprising. Where do I sign up? Comment

KHOSHTEEP
I adore it (Mirzapour)

Email from a football fan in love
Maria Erli de Melo

'Como faço para me corresponder com o Ebrahim Mirzapour? Sou fã dele'
How I make to correspond me with the Ebrahim Mirzapour? I am fan of it. I adore it.
Comment

WORLD CUP
Chill out

Qumars Bolourchian

Dear Iranian fans,

Chill out! it's not the end of the world. Both Mexico and Portugal are excellent teams, ranked ahead of Iran and were the favorites to win the group from the outset. This is only the 3rd time Iran has even made it into the finals. It's unrealistic and frankly unfair to expect miracles at this point in the development of Iranian football. As good as we are against Asian teams, our national team has had little experience and even less success at the world stage. For us to be upset that Iran lost today is just as rediculous as the Americans' "demand" that their team beat 3-time champion Italy.

Iran played well. It held well against both teams until the last quarter. It's clear Iran needs more improvement and this world cup will provide valuable experience to facilitate that. Please, set aside the anger and the shortsighted expectations. As Abbas Kirostami wrote in his column this is about the youth who are watching back home, who are getting used to seeing their team play the world's best and get the kind of confidence needed for real success in the future. Be proud of Iran for making it to the final 32, for representing the Asian continent, where nearly 2 out of every 3 humans on earth live. There's no shame in that. Sit back, cheer your team and enjoy the Angola game. Comment

WORLD CUP
I just had a brilliant idea

Parham

Having noticed that the players in this World Cup keep faking fouls to get some time off for refreshment, I'd like to propose the head of FIFA to consider setting up a long bar on each football field, complete with sexy bargirls and Bud Light advertisements, and giving the players a five minute break in each half so that they could go suck on those yellow water-containers and get to know each other better.  Maybe the world will be a better place after this. Comment

WORLD CUP
All losses are not created equal

Siamak Farah-bakhshian
June 18, 2006

As the pragmatist in you says that in the world cup a loss is a loss and the table of standings only remembers numbers and not effort, I would like to quickly remind you that all losses are not created equal.

The loss to Mexico left us all with a sense of disgust, a shock followed by disappointment and in many cases ending in resentment, primarily since there was a feeling that we did it to ourselves. We couldn't stop thinking what if Grandpa Daei was not playing, or what if Mirzapour for once in his life would stick to his goal, communicate with his defenders, and not mosey around the field, or what if our coach would substitute in fresher players in the second half. Anyone I know did not think we lost due to lack of talent, rather due to not using that talent properly.

The loss to Portugal today was of a different nature. To put it bluntly, we were outclassed. Yes, we did still play with only 10 people as Karimi was holding the fort for Daei as the invisible 11th man, and yes, Hashemian didn't live up to his billing, and yes, we all hoped that when Yahya Golmohammadi went down, our coach would bring Borhani in to use offense as its best defense, yet still, despite all those, the team poured its heart out on the field.

So, I thought that while many will dwell on the loss, we should point out that we saw a new team today. We saw a Kaebi that truly belongs to a world class team. We saw a Mirzapour, whom we all vilified after the last game, working as hard as he possibly could to redeem himself. We saw Rezai, Mahdavi Kia, Teymourian Zandi and many more, rise to the occasion and make us all proud.

I have watched Renaldo on the Manchester United team many a times, and the world's best have a very tough time holding him down. Interestingly enough, his arrogance and the talent to back it up gets under their skin. Today, mainly Kaebi, but also Nosrati and the entire Iran team got under Renaldo's skin. Our team now knows that it can hold its own, even against a team that has their entire starting line up, and the bench, playing in the top leagues of Europe.

So, while normally, a loss is a loss, we grew as a result of this loss and are a better team for it. To paraphrase a wise person, unfortunately, only experience prevents losses and experience is often only acquired by losses. Comment

WORLD CUP
The glass is still half full

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi
June 15, 2006

Iran's loss to Mexico anguished the hearts of millions of Iranians, and I have followed with interest the huge deluge of negative commentaries on the internet and beyond about the poor performance of the Iranian team and while I agree with some of the criticisms, nonetheless I strongly think that the glass is still half full, rather than half empty, for the following reasons:

First, for full seventy five minutes, Iran stood shoulder to shoulder with Mexico, which is, in fact, a semi-Brazilian team with some naturalized Brazilians on its roster. That was, quite honestly, gratifying and especially when you consider the fact that Iran played a superb first half and nearly scored during the first few minutes of the game, only to be denied by a superb dive by the Mexican goale keeper.

Second, Iran's loss was due to a silly mistake on the part of the Iranian goal keeper and a defense player, and as aweful as those errors were, such mistakes can be rectfified for the coming matches against Portugal and Angola, learning tough lessons from them.

Third, there are other lessons that can be applied from game one, such as with respect to mid-field ball distribution, in my opinion our weakest link. Also, one might question the coach's wisdom of bringing out Karimi during the second half, thus depriving the team of some of its speed. Karimi is much better as center forward, in light of his dribbling skills and he was squeezed along the sidelines one too many times.

Let's not forget that compared with Mexico, Portugal and Angola are easier targets and Iran still has a chance to make it to the second round. Comment

HUMOR
Pink security forces

Siamack Baniameri
June 14, 2006

I'm a sucker for the way Iranian security forces handle dissidents. They actually have a gender-specific system. During gatherings by male activists, the male security forces and police beat, arrest and disperse the protesters. Recently, the Iranian women's sit-in on June 12th was broken up by club-wielding, pepper-spraying female security forces. I'm beginning to understand how it works and I can't wait for gatherings by gay, lesbian and transvestite dissidents. Comment

WORLD CUP
Waiting for a miracle

Kianosh Saadati
June 14, 2006

This Saturday, the match against Portugal is the judgment day for our team. A loss or even a draw will simply toss us out of the round of 16. This Saturday we will show the world how we have learned from our mistakes and whether we have tried to correct them or not. Many fellow Iranians might be upset with those who criticize the Iranian team in Germany. But the reality is there! The fact is that we should not be waiting for a miracle if we lose or draw it is better to pack up and the match against Angola will be a formality.

The truth is that we have a chance to succeed. However, we need to be extremely realistic, cautious and vigilant. Many people will argue that the world never ends if we fail again. That is fine. But is it not time to correct ourselves? How many more times should our football team wait for a miracle from Heaven?

Sometimes I think (and only I think; I'm not quite sure!!) that our fellow players are not doing enough to win the game. Especially those who play in the European league! I assume they are doing much better once they are playing in European clubs than with the national team. It is simply a guess from the unconscious! But sometimes the unconscious happens to be where the truth is! Comment

CIVILIZATION
Symbolic beheading

Daniel M Pourkesali
June 12, 2006

Dear editor at New York Times,

June 9th op-ed commentary by Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon is a laundry list of all the horrible things the terrorist mastermind Abu Musab Zaraqwi has committed. While not arguing with any of the facts presented and not discounting his death as a definite positive for the Iraqi people who are fed up with the kind of savage sectarian violence he promoted, the distinguished writers leave a tiny detail hidden from their readers and that is the fact that our invasion of Iraq provided the climate necessary for Zarqawi to set up his butcher shop in that country.

But that is an entirely separate argument and not the reason for this writing

What offended this reader, and I'm sure score of others who are familiar with history, is the mocking of a very important iconic figure in this article: -The ancient human-headed winged lion or lamassi which has been depicted as a headless lion with presumably scud missile wings, were guardians protecting important doorways to palaces of the great Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 B.C.) Your ridicule of this important historical symbol is an insult to humankind and the birthplace of our civilization in ancient Persia and Mesopotamia. Comment

Regards,
Daniel M Pourkesali
Leesburg, VA

WORLD CUP
I accuse: Iran sucks!

Kianosh Saadati
June 11, 2006

A few days before the World Cup kick off I wrote on this site that we do not have to be overconfident and we need to evaluate each situation very carefully. Now after this 3-1 humiliating loss to Mexico I see how much I was right.

This is a really warning for all of us to reconsider ourselves and try to re-assess our weakness and strength unbiased. I am not a football expert but even with my basic knowledge I can realise how poor we were in second half. Why Ali Karimi was so exhausted? Why Mahdavi-Kia's shots were so inaccurate?

Our strikers and half-backs were really disorganised in the second half. What really happened between the two halves? Is it not time to discharge Ali Daie and send him home to enjoy the rest of his life? There are some unconfirmed  reports indicating that our players had a very heavy and tight training session the night before the match. This is why they were looked so exhausted especially in the second half. Well, Branco has already been paid. He will depart from our team right after the tournament. We are the ones who have to care about ourselves. He doesn't care anymore.

No doubt, we had a great performance in the first half but why we were so disorganised after receiving second goal in the second half. And then a third goal just after a few minutes?

I assume that morale must be very low among our team, but these terrible mistakes with this poor performance must have taught us a great lesson. A lesson we should not forget. Never ever! Comment

MOVIE
Funny & musical

Reza Ghobadinic

I've just seen the "Happy Feet" movie link and I became happy actually (not because it is in the Anyway column though) because I am working in that movie. It is two years now that I have left Iran/Tehran and I am working in this movie as a Crowd Technical Director and unfortunately I am the only Iranian in this movie at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney. This movie is one of the 3 block busters of 2006 from Warner Brothers and I encourage everyone to see it. It is funny and musical. Thanks for putting a link to that movie. The official movie website is here. Comment

WORLD CUP
I've got an idea

Siamack Baniameri
June 9, 2006

Two things all diehard football fans have in common are colossal testosterone and small IQs.  No other sporting event brings together a large group of jackasses like the World Cup. From British hooligans, Italian Mafia, Columbian drug lords to Brazilian gangsters, World Cup manages to bring together the idiots of the world. While 22 finely tuned athletes play the game, large numbers of drunken, out-of-shape, artery-clogged, high-school flunky wannabes (the diehards) rampage the streets, burn cars, and stab each other to death. Having said that, at the end of each World Cup match, I would like the fans to be allowed to go at it and beat the shit out of each other on the field. That would be awesome. Imagine the ratings. Wouldn't it be great to see eyes gouged, heads smashed on goal posts, kidneys rolling down the sideline and Molotov cocktails flying from one side to the other? Better yet, let's have the fans of the losing team chase the ref and behead him on the field, Taliban style. And all of it televised live to audiences around the world. Wouldn't that be great? Just an idea! Comment

IDENTITY
You're from Iran, not Persia

Ara Ghandhari
June 8, 2006

Referring to yourself as Persian is great. I'm ridiculously proud of being Persian. But lets clarify something ... you are not from Persia, your ancestors were. In fact, most "Persians" are mutts. How many Persians do you know that are Tork, Kord, etc? Even if you are fully Fars, you are from the beautiful country of Iran. Be proud of that. I understand that many Persians, living in Iran or abroad, disagree with the present day regime in Iran. I am one of them. But many people all over the world are in disagreement with the political status of their country. Where should all Bush-hating Americans say they're from? Seriously, where?

It's interesting to hear Iranians describe the ancient history of Persia. Cyrus the Great, Darius ... all amazing historical figures. But how much do we really know of them? Is the reason why we keep referring to these names because they ring "familiar" to non-Iranians. Why don't the names Ardeshir I and Jamshid Kashani evoke the same feeling of pride? It's amusing to me when Iranians say that present day Iran does not reflect who they are. Or that they cannot relate to their fellow countrymen.

Yet, for some odd reason, they believe they can better relate to the ancient Persians. But a present day Persian could not hold a clear conversation with the people of ancient Persia, let alone relate to their way of life. The Noruz of ancient Persia was celebrated significantly differently than the materialized Noruz that you and I are familiar with. Our beloved cuisine, colloquial Farsi, and the names of the majority of Persians are more influenced by what Iran is today, that what it used to be 2000 years ago.

I don't know of any other cultural group that tries so persistently to shine bad light on their people. Countless times I've heard Iranians refer to the prostitution and drug problem present in Iran in an effort to convince non-Iranians of how corrupt Iran is. Who are you trying to convince? Some one whose country has a history one-tenth as old and presently more corrupt? There is no convincing needed to be done. Iranians living outside of Iran need to understand that they shall always be related to the country of Iran. No amount of hair-coloring, name-changing and country-denouncing will change your affiliation to Iran and its people. Face it, you most likely share more similarities with Ahmadinejad than to Cyrus.

Referring to yourself as Persian will not convince non-Iranians that you, your parents, or your grandparents are originally from anywhere else other than Iran. Instead, each time you describe yourself as Persian, you should be reminded of the magnificence that Persia once was and be hopeful that Iranians can make Iran just as great. Don't turn your back on Iran and don't grasp onto something that once was. Make an effort to turn the title "Iranian" into something just as admirable and likeable as the title "Persian." Comment

WORLD CUP
Do not be overconfident!

Kianosh Saadati
June 7, 2006

On Sunday June 11th, millions of Iranian inside the country and abroad will be glued to their TV sets to watch Iran's first match vs Mexico. Undoubtedly, all Iranians including me want victory for Iranian football team. But some people over exaggerate Iran's situation in World Cup 2006.

Many of us even in our personal lives are so confident and optimistic about the success in future that we forget to consider our knowledge and capabilities from an realistic point of view. Iranian team is a great football team  but like many other aspects of Iranian lifestyle, despite individual successes and achievements for its members, it is suffering from lack of coordination and cooperation. Simply we do not believe in each other. we do not want to accept that the Boss is Boss and every body assumes himself as his own boss!

Many of us are so anxious and biased about our team achievment that we forget our main deficiencies and disorganisation and once we fail we blame every one else from top to bottom except ourselves. In situations like this ,an accurate estimate and evaluation of our knowledge and capabilities is much more helpful than nervousness and Iranian-style prejudice!!!

Instead of conducting a full-scale blame game after a possible failure it is better to look at ourselves and take responsibility of our actions and behaviours. Whatever happens to the Iranian football team in Germany 2006 world cup it is a direct result of their own actions, behaviours and spirits and no one else can be blamed .Because equal opportunity has been provided for all participating teams in the tournament. Comment

WORLD CUP
Team Melli VIP treatment

Siamack Baniameri
June 7, 2006

Every year, hundreds of European female collage students embark on a trip to Germany to participate in lucrative business of legal prostitution. A female collage student can earn up to 40,000 Euro in three months working in a brothel in any number of cities in Germany. With world Cup starting on Friday and the prospect of hundreds of horny hooligans roaming the streets, prostitution will be the number three money producer after lodging and food services.

A friend who frequents Munich brothels and is in first name basis with many of the working girls told me that you can easily spot many of the international footballers in VIP rooms of some of the upscale brothels in Munich. He said that Brazilin players are the most loyal customers followed by Italians, French and Argentines. According to him, the best international players visit the brothels in regular basis during the World Cup. My friend's theory is that the reason the mentioned countries do well in the World Cup is due to their VIP treatment by the working girls of Europe.

As a social experiment and for the sake of science, I would like to propose that we Iranians treat our national team to a night of VIP treatment in one of the finest German brothels just to validate my friend's theory. The worst that can happen is our boys will enter the stadium with a smile from ear to ear. What's wrong with that? Comment

PEACE
We've had enough
Jethro Heiko
June 7, 2006

I am writing to share www.EnoughFear.org with you. This is a campaign to bring the voices of Iranians and Americans into a discussion that is being dominated by extremists on both sides and bringing us closer to the unthinkable: nuclear war. We've had enough. Enough posturing. Enough threats. Enough fear. Our campaign begins with individuals willing to stand up and say no. This website collects and displays photos of people from the US and Iran (and other countries) holding up a hand in the universal symbol for "stop!" These photos are the first step in what we hope will become an international campaign in which people from both sides will work together to prevent any attack. These are the people who will suffer if war breaks out. There is no time to lose. We look forward to a peaceful future. Comment

SUGGESTION
President A-Jad

Babak
June 5, 2006

Most Americans, from President Bush, to TV news anchors to the average Joe on the street, cannot pronounce Ahmadinejad. So, in the same tradition of calling Jennifer Lopez "J-Lo" or Alex Rodriguez "A-Rod", I recommend calling our beloved President "A-Jad". One of the in-vogue fashion icons can probably come up with a new cologne/scent for men called A-Jad, like "A-Jad... the smell of 4-day-old socks and dayold-sweat for the discriminating uber male". Comment

WORLD CUP
The memory of World Cup '78

Kianosh Saadati
June 5, 2006

Twenty-eight years ago on days like these, almost all Iranians were extremely anxious about the first attendance of Iranian soccer (football) team in World Cup 1978 in Argentina. Although I was a grade-4 student on those days but I remember the excitement and soccer mania all over the country. A few months ahead of the revolution nothing was in the air except football. There was live broadcast of all matches on TV with professional commentators: Atta Behmanehs and Manook Khoda-Bakshian.

We did not achieve a very good score on that tournament, but the people's excitement and football mania were remarkable. I am browsing into my mind to find out what exactly we have lost since then until now! Another world cup for Iran after twenty eight years. I am asking myself can I call people on those days happier and healthier than now?? Happy and healthy enough to sit in front of their TV sets till 4 am to follow all live matches? Then going to work with keyhan varzeshi or Donyaye Varzesh and talking with others about last night game or posting Ali Parvin or Nasser Hejazi posters on their room walls?

Are we a nation who is missing something or many things since then? On those days people were having 70 Rials a US Dollar in their pocket, they were able to buy a PARS super color TV only for 90,000 Rials!!! (This is what our family exactly did to watch all games in color!)

Now after 28 years , we are not the same nation as we used to be, although Iran is in the tournament again and world cup fever is everywhere, but Iranians are not the same nation as they used to be. I have no doubt that many people including me are missing those happy days! Days which will never come back again because they have left us with devastation, uncertainty and concern about the future of Iran .But still a soccer mania nation manages to survive! A nation lost in time with an elusive memory! The memory of World Cup 1978 on its mind. Comment

USA
Bush is the next Reagan

Slater Bakhtavar
June 5, 2006

The same people who heavily criticized former President Reagan for his tough stance against Communism and for his aggressive push for democracy in Eastern Europe are now attacking President Bush for his tough stance against fundamentalism and his aggressive push for democracy in the Middle East.

-They argued then that Communism would never fall - it did
They argue now that Islamic Fundamentalism will never fall - it will

-They argued then that the Soviet Union is too strong - it wasn't
They argue now that the insurgency is too strong - it isn't

-They argued that Reagans vision of democracy in East Europe would never work - it did
They argue now that Bushs vision of democracy for the mid-east would never work - it will

They argued then that Reagans evil empire speech was a failure - it wasn't
They argue now that Bushs axis of evil speech is a failure - it won't be

-They argued then that former soviet bloc countries wouldn't embrace democracy - they did
They argue now that middle east countries would never embrace democracy - they will

-They argued then that Eastern Europeans nations would never be our allies - they are
They argue now that middle eastern countries will never be our allies - they will be

-They argued then that people without God could never embrace democracy - they did
They argue now that Muslims will never embrace democracy - they will

-They argued then that President Reagan was unrealistic - he wasn't
They argue now that President Bush is unrealistic - he'll prove he isn't

-They argued then democracy isn't universal to former Communists - it was
They argue now democracy isn't universal to Middle Easterners - it will be

-They argued then that funding of pro-democracy groups in Eastern European countries won't work - it did
They argue now that funding of pro-democracy groups won't work in the Middle East - it will

The same exact critcism was directed at Reagan. The future will be the judge of President Bush and my guess is that he will be judged as the Great Liberator of the Middle East. Comment

IRAN-U.S.
Nothing but a PR ploy

Daniel M Pourkesali
June 4, 2006

Throughout history there are numerous examples where unrestrained power, whether held by a single individual or a state has led to belligerent and irresponsible behavior. Today the global community witnesses in the United States a nation that has arrogated itself into a position well outside the boundaries of international law where it does not recognize the rules, organizations, or norms that limit its interests or freedom of action - whether it is the Kyoto agreement, the International Criminal Court, the Geneva Convention, or the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

What has been hailed as a major shift in U.S. policy by offering to talk to Iran with a precondition of complete halt to Uranium enrichment is nothing but a PR ploy designed to win public opinion and solidify support among the European allies as well as convincing the Chinese and Russian veto wielding members of UN Security Council to get on board with the American master plan. A plan that has been and remains to be regime change and transformation of the country to one totally under U.S. control much as it was under the Shah until the 1979 Islamic revolution.

There is absolutely no justification requiring Iran to cease a legal activity allowed and exercised by every other NPT signatory state. But then again double standards never get in the way of US foreign policy. While continuously accusing Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons without evidence, countries like India, Pakistan, and Israel that already possess illegal nuclear weapon stockpiles acquired outside of NPT rules and haven't signed the treaty are given a free pass and treated as allies. After three years of intensive inspections, IAEA inspectors have yet to find any indication that Iran has or ever had a nuclear weapons program. Yet the public has been duped by the intentionally misleading rhetoric and blatant lies to build the case for regime change.

Iran may have a radical and unpopular government, but so does North Korea, yet the diplomatic route and direct talks with them was without any preconditions. Of course, North Korea is not of a major strategic interest to Unites States because they don't own and control that precious commodity known as oil. Comment

MAKE A DIFFERENCE
A bug invite... please bite

Larry Evans
June 3, 2006

This Invitation comes to you from the Mount Lebanon Lady Bugs Soccer Club of Pittsburgh, PA, USA. The Bugs came together in 2002 as a girls kindergarten soccer team of a dozen five year-olds making a fashion statement and today are still kicking as a 10 and 11 year-old travel team. In four years, the Lady Bug's membership has ballooned to over 50 kids and the range of their athletic talents has broadened as many of the girls have emerged from the wonderfully developmental sport of soccer to engage also in the more technical team sports like softball, basketball, lacrosse and field hockey. Individual Bugs have also become avid runners, swimmers, skiers, skaters, tennis players, triathletes and even ice hockey players.

The Bugs have learned that they can do-it-all on the even playing field of sport and this healthy physical confidence has given rise to their maturing into the belief that they can strive to know-it-all on the somewhat uneven playing field of life.

That is why on this Make-a-Difference Day -- an annual USA Today Weekend Magazine sponsored contest, chaired by actor Paul Newman, encouraging good deeds -- Saturday, October 21, 2006, the Mount Lebanon Lady Bugs invite you to help them make some sense of this world by joining them in friendly sport and fundraising for a cause they became aware of during this year's World Cup -- Iranian women and girls NOT having the right to attend men's soccer games. The Bugs were surprised to learn about the female ban by Iran and they would like to peacefully confront that decision by playing a symbolic soccer game with an Iranian girls team without any restrictions on who can attend and with any charitable proceeds going to help promote girls soccer in Iran...

The Bugs are prepared to host this event here in Mount Lebanon and are currently exploring alternatives as to where this game could take place. Since they have been ball-girls up at the university of Pitt's home - founder's field - the last few years (for the ND game in 2004 and WVA game in 2005) - they have contacted the Pitt women's coach Sue-Moy Lin about integrating our project schedule with theirs. Pitt is playing Providence at Founders on friday nite, Oct 20 and they play again versus CT on Sunday afternoon, Oct 23rd. Saturday, Oct 21 is currently open at Founders and we are booking it for An Iranian Girls SoccerFest, featuring a clinic, friendly tournament games and a roundtable discussion in the clubhouse which would be open to the public. The local Iranian Students Organization at Pitt and organizations like the Women's Sports Foundation and the FIFA/World Cup have expressed an interest in this Bug project. Comment

Larry Evans
Sports Programming Consultant
& Regional Sales Representative
Just Ducky Playing Surfaces
mobile: 412-445-2951
phone: 412-571-2410
fax: 412-571-164

CONCERT
A bouquet of music

Farhad Bahrami
June 1, 2006

Last Saturday night, May 20th 2006, we were witness to a wonderful evening of classical guitar music from around the world, performed by Lily Afshar (www.lilyafshar.com).

As maestro Andre Segovia had predicted, Lily Afshar is one of the top players in the world today. Not even considering her doctorate in guitar performance, Dr. Afshar’s credentials are seriously impressive: perfect technique and execution, beautiful tone, depth of feeling, and a genuinely graceful stage presentation. Her choice of material was exquisite, with familiar and exotic pieces - like flowers - creating a lovely bouquet of music.

The Devine School of Guitar Ensemble opened the program with several diverse arrangements played by the full ensemble (10 youngsters between the ages of 9 and 15), and also a couple of pieces showcasing the more mature players. Everyone in the audience loved them and their performance.

Ms. Afshar then played two sets separated by an intermission, including pieces written by Turkish, Italian, Iranian, American, Spanish, Argentinian, and Paraguayan composers. She introduced each piece from the stage, which gave the concert an intimate feeling. Standard guitar repertoire pieces (e.g. by Albeniz and Barrios) were augmented and contrasted by pieces written explicitly for Ms. Afshar (e.g. by Reza Vali and Garry Eister), arranged by Lily herself (“Three Popular Persian Ballads”), or selected from world guitar literature (“Kara Toprack” and “Koyunbaba”) to take listeners on a journey through time and place. The pieces ranged from quiet and meditative (e.g. my favorite “Una Limosna por el Amor de Dios” by Barrios) to fast and fiery (e.g. the Argentinian dance piece played as an encore). The audience was visibly entranced and gave Ms. Afshar a heartfelt standing ovation.

Notable was that Ms. Afshar has had her guitar modified so as to be able to play “quartertones” used in Middle-Eastern music. This came in handy in a couple of pieces – especially Reza Vali’s piece which starts out in dastgah-e Nava (a mode of Persian classical music). Also interesting was that many of the pieces required different tunings, and fortunately Ms. Afshar was quite adept at changing tunings between pieces quickly and precisely.

As I left the acoustically-perfect Neurosciences Institute Auditorium, sparsely but elegantly decorated with beautiful bouquets of flowers, I felt I had also just listened to a lovely bouquet of music. Thanks to the Persian Cultural Center (www.pccsd.org) and the Devine School of Guitar (www.devineguitar.org) for making this wonderful concert possible. Comment

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