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May 2007

DESTABILIZATION
While Ahmadinejad dreams of martyrdom
Tina Ehrami
May 29, 2007

According to the American press the United States have started a secret destabilization program against Iran. The fact that this program is out in the press however no longer makes it a secret program. In this program they have found a strong partnership with Israel and several Sunni countries. Their aim is to destroy the Iranian regime by attacking their oil industry and increasing tensions between the authorities in Tehran and different ethnical minorities.

The dominating role of Iran in the Middle East has been a threat and agitation for the US who has recently stated to stay in Iraq as long as it takes to stabilize the country. Iran's support of terrorist organizations and support of the Palestinians against their fight against Zionism, has increased turbulence in the Middle East during the past few years. Middle East countries, mainly Sunni's, have come to see that they have more to gain by joining up with Israel and the US than by supporting the Islamic Republic of Iran.

According to these news agencies, this program is financially being supported by Saudi Arabia with approximately 300 million dollars. The fact that countries in the region have openly supported this program and are willing to pay such a price to reach its aim, gives little hope for Iran's future. The only response that Ahmadinejad has given is that he will join the people of Natanz in case the US is planning to bomb Iran's nuclear energy sites. His willingness to sacrifice himself and his invitation to other Iranians to become martyrs does not reveal much promise of a diplomatic reaction to the program the US has presented.

Several European parliamentarians have characterized this program as dangerous and aggressive against Iran and at the same time illegal according to international law. Whether this condemnation will be of any effect to this program is something only time will tell. Comment

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THANKS
One day I will return
Darren Marchant
May 26, 2007

NEW ZEALAND -- Late in 2004 I had the great pleasure of spending a wonderful month in your country. Most of this time was spent down around the cities of Bam and Kerman. What a wonderful place and what fantastic people. I made friends there that I shall miss, maybe for the rest of my life. I was exposed to a part of your country that my peirs can only wonder at when I recall the memories of a time to distant.

The fresh fruit, amazing flat breads fresh from the stones on which they where cooked still linger in my mind. To my good friend Ali, then living with his family in a tent on the side of the main road which passes through Baravat, (please forgive my spelling) just south west of Bam, I say, I remember you well my friend and hope this letter may find you well too. To the many other people I met during that stay, I say thank you.

One day I will return.  Comment

REGIME CHANGE
Common denominator
Daniel M Pourkesali
May 25, 2007

Recent detention of several Iranian-Americans with ties to various think tanks here in the United States by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence comes at a time when the negative publicity has emboldened those pressing for forceful regime change and will undoubtedly strengthen the Western case for passing yet another set of debilitating sanctions against Iran for refusing to give up its legal right to Uranium enrichment at the U.N. Security Council.

Whether those detained are guilty of the serious charges leveled against them is beyond the scope of this writing. Latest reports seem to indicate that the arrests were probably unwarranted. But in order to do an objective analysis and make any sense of this latest episode, one has to consider the entire chain of contributing factors that have consistently raised the pressure on both sides to engage in such 'bad behavior' and react in ways that unfortunately leads down the slippery and ever precarious path of confrontation.

Those keen and unbiased observers closely following the developments between the two sides are quick to realize that the declared policy of regime change is the common denominator at the core of all these events. Neo-Conservatives within the Bush administration led by V.P. Dick Cheney buoyed by their quick success toppling Saddam's regime in 2003, missed a major opportunity by rebuffing an initiative from Tehran for a wide-ranging dialogue.  

As a direct result of that failure and the subsequent descent of Iraq into civil war, those hawks not already running for cover from a barrage of misconduct charges leveled against them, are scrambling to find other means to reestablish that U.S. leverage under far less favorable circumstances via less transparent covert actions.

Top among the priorities of any regime anywhere on the planet including the United States is self-preservation. If the government in China were to declare regime change as official foreign policy toward the United States, you could probably expect some Chinese-Americans scholars traveling between the two countries be subject to detentions and interrogation, especially if they worked with government supported think tanks and policy institutes in China.

Coercive diplomacy is not achieved through economic sanctions and threats of military action when the ultimate objective is seen as regime change. It is time that Washington gave up this unwise policy and showed some willingness to take yes for an answer.  Only when the diplomacy of gun-slinging and the rhetoric of regime change are taken off the table can we truly expect a change of behavior from the other side. Comment

POETRY
Haadeseh
Nassir Mashkouri
May 24, 2007

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FOOD
Seer torshieh haft saaleh
Layla Khamoushian
May 22, 2007

I love Seer Torshi or Pickled Garlic. I have mentioned it before, it's because it reminds me of Shomal. Recently, I decided to look up how to make my very own jar of Seer Torshi. Excitedly, I opened my new Persian cookbook, New Food of Life by Najmieh Batmanglij, to page 259 where the recipe for Seer Torshi is. I reviewed the list of simple magic ingredients, and of course, given the gourmet nature of the recipes, I noticed an added ingredient: my very own favorite little barberries or zereshk, which are supposed to be placed in the middle of a garlic clove.

Wow, can you believe the combination of garlic and zereshk? She is a genius.

At the end of the recipe, she mentions it is lucky to wait and "noosheh jan" the Seer Torshi in seven years. Yes, you heard me, SEVEN years. This means that in the meantime, while my Seer Torshi is becoming "jaa-oftaadeh" in the jar, in a dark and cool corner of the house, absorbing the serkeh and salt in every cell of every clove, I have to continue buying the jars from the local Persian Markets! God Bless them, of course.

At first, I had a very hard time thinking about seven years from now. Where will I live? will I have children? How many? Any dogs? Would I have lost a loved one?

Then I thought about the past seven years -- how much I have changed and how much every cell in my own body has absorbed the bitterness and sweetness of life and has made me who I am today. Every place I traveled to (including Bologna, Italy!), every single person I met, every new dish I tasted and every great movie I watched, all the pain and heartache I suffered... all of them have made me be me, today.

Now, I have made my lucky Seer Torshi jar, with authentic garlic cloves I bought from a local farmer in Gilroy, California... and I write this short story to celebrate the next seven years of life.  Comment

PUBLIC SERVICE
Civil engineer to civic service
Baran Elahi
May 21, 2007

San Francisco Bay Area Iranians take great pride in once again seeing a distinguished and well qualified individual being appointed to an important position within the city government.

In March 2006, Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed Iranian born Dr. Fred (Fariborz) Abadi as his new Director of Public Works for the city of San Francisco, making him the first Iranian ever holding this position. Dr. Abadi has over 20 years of experience in public works administration. Prior to his position in San Francisco he was the Deputy Director of Public Works in Minneapolis.

Dr. Abadi's office oversees care and maintenance of San Francisco's streets and infrastructure including cleaning and resurfacing of streets, plants and maintaining city-owned street trees; designing, constructing and maintaining city-owned facilities, conducting sidewalk and roadway inspections, constructing curb ramps, providing mechanical and manual street cleaning, removing graffiti from public property, and partnering with the diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco to accomplish above baseline cleaning and greening services.

Dr. Abadi has extensive experience with business and community groups. He holds a PhD in Civil Engineering (Transportation and Public Works Administration) and a MS in Civil Engineering from Marquette University. Comment

INVITATION
Stupid is what stupid does
Guive Mirfendereski

May 21, 2007

Many years ago, in the early 1990s, the perennial flaring up of the hemorrhoids in Iran-UAE relations provided me with an opportunity to visit Iran after decades of being away. As proposed by the Iranian Mission at United Nations, I should have gone to Iran and participated in a conference about the status of the Tonbs and Abu Musa islands, a subject about which I knew a thing or two. As one watermelon too many were being placed under my arm, to puff me up and make me feel important, I came very close to accepting the IRI’s invitation to return to post-revolutionary Iran. I did not for the simple reason that this lot who rule the country cannot be trusted with one’s personal circumstance.

I asked from the person who was trying to get me to go if the IRI would respect my choice of having renounced the Iranian citizenship in favor of the United States? He replied that as an Iranian I had to travel there with my Iranian passport. I said, I would not. He inquired if I thought my reason for traveling with a US passport was to invoke the diplomatic protection of the United States if something untoward happened to me while in Iran? I replied in the negative. He asked why then should I insist on traveling with a US passport. I replied that renouncing the citizenship of my birthland had been the most difficult choice I had ever made in my life and I expected that the IRI would respect that choice by giving me the benefit of that election. He excused himself. Case closed.

In recent times, a few prominent Iranians living abroad have gone to Iran, and some after multiple trips eventually have found themselves in shackles. One in particular had her brains bashed in. I personally did what I could for the release of a few such mis-adventurous types, but no more. Nor would I get outraged on behalf of idiots who travel to Iran, expecting respect and a safe return. This is especially true of people with high profile jobs in the US or outspoken opinions, who are "smart" enough to know better than to trust their personal safety to the IRI.

In my thinking, if you work for an establishment in a country like the US promoting "dialogue" with Iran but your organization and leadership are not very much liked by the IRI people, then set your fucking ass down and do not travel to Iran. I do not give a flying fuck about what you think your universal rights of travel might be – hey, dickweed, in IRI, what matters is what the IRI thinks of you and your activity in this country that is trying to overthrow the regime there. Why do you think that IRI would not touch you? Because you are so fucking innocent? Important? Or are you so fucking full of yourself that you think you are beyond reach? Or you think if you went there once before you can get to go there over and over again and come back unmolested? If you think so, then you are pretty stupid.

Before you go to Iran, ask yourself, why are you not there to begin with. Unless you are deliberately there to get arrested and provide a pretense for “war,” then, hajji, stupid is what stupid does and the stupid should pay for it! I personally believe the Iranian expatriate community's continuing ties with the IRI contributes handsomely to the legitimization and perpetuation of the IRI. If one cared about the multitudes trapped in Iran, one would stop traveling there and dealing with the IRI and instead encourage greater migration out of Iran for the persons trapped there.

The problem with you fence-sitters (two-passport types) is that you want the khar and khorma. The truth is that as you bend down to pick up the khorma, yes, the khar will have its way with you. Please leave me alone, and bail your own sorry ass out of IRI! Comment

INTOLERABLE
Gift to Western hardliners
Noam Chomsky
May 20, 2007

I would like to join Human Rights Watch, the Middle East Studies Association, and the International Society for Iranian Studies in strenuously condemning the persecution and now imprisonment of Haleh Esfandiari. These actions are deplorable in themselves, and also are a gift to Western hardliners who are trying to organize support for military action against Iran.  Now is a time for diplomacy, negotiations, and relaxation of tensions, in accordance with the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans and Iranians, as recent polls reveal.  The intolerable treatment of this highly respected scholar and human rights activist severely undermines the efforts of those who are seeking peace, justice, and freedom in the region and the world. Comment

SENIORS
Providing legal care
Nema Milaninia
May 18, 2007

As members of our community it is our responsibility to not only look out for each other, but to also create awareness on significant issues concerning legal rights and entitlements. Often neglected are the legal rights and responsibility of our Iranian Seniors. As such, the Northern California Chapter of the Iranian-American Bar Association (IABA) is happy to present “Senior Citizen Day!” We want to ensure that older Iranians receive critical information in areas such as consumer protection, public benefits, resident’s rights, guardianship, estate planning, social security, Medicare and Medicaid, and abuse and neglect.

If you have a senior citizen related question or problem please come to our event. We will be providing Iranian-American attorneys to take your case and assist you in any way possible free of charge. This event is a pro bono event, which means if we undertake your case it will be voluntarily and without payment. We may not be able to help you with all legal issues you have. But we will do our best to assist you. Please note it is in our discretion to accept or reject a case related to your legal problems.

Bring your questions and concerns on Saturday, June 9th, between 9- to 1 PM to the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California (ICCNC) located at 1433 Madison Street, Oakland, CA 94612. Please see iccnc.org.

Please note our event will not be affiliated in any way with any religious activity. Many senior citizens in the East Bay are familiar with this center. Further, ICCNC has kindly agreed to provide us with a spacious room and it is easy to find parking at this location.

If you have any questions or would like to volunteer at our event please contact Sean Donrad, Esq. at 510-387-2482 or counselhelp@gmail.com.

We look forward to helping you! Comment

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MARATHON
In honor of my beloved
Solmaz Ziad
May 17, 2007

Last Saturday, I ran the 14 mile Malibu Creek Trail Run, and it was the most exhilarating experience I have been through. After the race, I vowed to complete the Nike Women's full marathon, which will be held in San Francisco in October. I will be running this 26.2 mile marathon in honor of my beloved mother in law, who lost her battle with Lymphoma on December 5, 2006.

Currently I am raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as a participant in their Team In Training and I'm asking you to help by making a contribution. Each donation helps accelerate cures for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma and brings hope to the patients and families who are on the front lines of the battle against these diseases.

I am participanting as a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team In Training. All of us on Team In Training are raising funds to help stop leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma from taking more lives. I'm completing this event in honor of all individuals who are battling blood cancers. These people are the real heroes on our team, and we need your support to cross the ultimate finish line - a cure!

I am really excited about training for this marathon, and I know that sometimes its going to be difficult to press on both physically and mentally. However with the help and support of wonderful friends like you, I am confident that I won't let you guys down. I will keep in touch and keep you posted on how the training journey progresses >>> Donate
Comment

DIALOGUE
Engaging with a ruthless regime
Sheema Kalbasi
May 16, 2007

The difference between some one like Haleh Esfandiari and I, Sheema Kalbasi, is that I see the Iranian regime as a group of people who have committed and continue to commit horrendous crimes against humanity. People like Dr. Esfandiari -- who I hope will return to the U.S. safe and sound especially since Keyhan has accused her of apostasy-- do support a dialogue with the Iranian regime. I like to know why Ms. Esfandiari's husband is devastated over his wife's arrest and why he doesn't try to engage in a dialogue with the Iranian regime? Why Shaul Bakhash goes on BBC to confirm that Esfandiari is still a Muslim? After all Ms. Esfandiari and people like her insist on engaging in a dialogue with the Iranian regime.

So what if she is accused of apostasy! So what if women and men are stoned to death in Iran! So what if political activists and Bahaies are arrested and executed and the Bahai graveyards are destroyed, and they are not even allowed to bury their dead in adherence to their religious tradition. So what if Kurds are murdered and their dead body are shown throughout the town to teach a lesson! So what if Iranian women have no right to their children after divorce! So what if Iranian women don't have equal opportunities, and so what if women activists, workers, and teachers are arrested! So what if intellectuals have been murdered and bloggers are arrested! So what if minors are hanged or are on death row in Iran. So what if homosexuals and bisexuals are arrested and sometimes executed. Iranian regime is a regime that one can engage in a dialogue with.

I am sure once Dr. Esfandiari is back in the U.S. she will continue to work with her boss and this time her words and work will have more legitimacy since she will be that victim of the Iranian regime her self!! For people who have lost nothing and/or their countrymen and women's arrests and executions has not influenced and effected their lives the Iranian regime is surly legitimize enough to engage in a talk with. They tend to show Ahmadinejad is the worst case Iran has ever had during the years Iran has been occupied by the regime.

Let us not forget the Iranian regime is not a product of president Ahmadinejad. The Iranian regime has been in power for almost thirty years and Ahmadinejad is the product of this regime. I may be buying a lot of junk and a lot of junk may sit on my figure but this junk regarding Ahmadinejad just doesn't fit and sit right with me!! And let us thank the Democratic presidential candidate Ms. Clinton for bringing attention to Haleh's case! I hope she will not forget the Iranian regime's problem with Dr. Esfandiari is not her duel citizenship! Comment

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LOOKS
Would you care if he was ugly?
Tina Ehrami
May 14, 2007

There was this documentary I saw a couple of year ago about how people always look for good looking partners to reproduce themselves with, because good looking people have stronger genes and have less chances of getting ill. Even though "good looks" is a relative notion, there are certain aspects of ones appearance that will attract us, no matter what taste we have. Those who have symmetric faces, the right measures and shapes are simply more attractive. So we all know that good looking people have more chances of finding a spouse and reproducing, but what you may not know is that looking good could even save your life!

In Iran, where many people are imprisoned, forgotten in some dark corner of Evin prison. might never be honoured with a petition campaign to rescue them from their harsh treatment. Political activists get beaten and murdered and nobody would ever know. Not because we don't care, but because the person in question is well, not good looking enough! He or she obviously didn't attract our attention when we saw him or her on the news one day. But if say he had blue or green eyes, dark shiny hair and pretty lips, we would have remembered him or her for sure. We would feel so sorry for the poor pretty person that we would do anything just to help.

Poor ugly people, who have a mind, but no pretty face! I guess you all would have to wait in line until we are through saving pretty boy Kianoosh Sanjari first, because God forbid if he might have to struggle on his own like all other ordinary refugees who have fled Iran! I have absolutely no problems with this guy, I even think he is very brave and all that. But come on, would he be getting all this attention if he had acne, a big nose, receding hair line, a beer belly and small dark eyes? It's just so hypocrite, all the online shrines that people make for this guy, like he's some God! Grow up people! This guy wants to ventilate his idea's about the regime, good for him. I support that 100%. But what's with all this fan-club stuff? I don't think that actually has much to do with his political activities somehow. And for the people paying attention, you could see a pattern in these save-our-souls campaigns related to pretty boy political activists.

Remember Ahmad Batebi, the guy whose picture became the symbol of the 18Tir resistance? I wonder if people would go to such lengths to help him if he didn't have those "cheshm o abroo". I guess even human rights activists who spend all their time and energy helping those in need knowingly or unknowingly have a soft spot for these pretty boy qualities! Anyhow, what it comes down to is that he should receive the same treatment and protection that any other political refugee should receive. Comment

MEDIA
Thank You Mr. Pourzal
Qumars Bolourchian
May 14, 2007

On Saturday Voice of America's Persian service proved itself once again to be the stooge of the Israeli and right-wing American warmongers that pay its salary.

I listened to a man, whom I had never heard of before, Mr. Rostam Pourzal, make an extremely thoughtful, simple and uncontroversial case against hurting Iranian civilians with war or with sanctions. For this simple message he was singled-out and repeatedly and viciously attacked by the host and the other guests. The host made it clear, he was biased against Mr. Pourzal and he went out of his way to throw in damaging comments like suggesting that Pourzal represents the Islamic Republic. You could sense the anger in his voice as he felt like he had to personally retort after every statement that Pourzal made, but did nothing except nod in approval of his other, pro-sanctions guest. He tried his best to censor the phone calls, blatantly cutting off the ones who were in agreement with Pourzal, only reading the hostile emails and always adding his own spin to the questions. This was not journalism. But then, again, I had very low expectations to begin with.

His other guest was the typical "pay me money so I can start a revolution tomorrow morning" LA-based Iranian voice that we've heard for 27 years now. These people used to call themselves "Saltanat Talab", then "Monarchist" then "Constitutionalist" and now they claim they want "Democracy" for Iran. When will these people understand they can't finance a revolution from the comfort of their LA mansions?

How arrogant and patronizing of them to think they even know what people in Iran - outside of their friends in North Tehran - even want, let alone making life and death decisions on their behalf here in America? The people who had to sit through 27 years of repressive regime, 8 years of war paid for by American taxes (including the Iranian Americans) and thousands of terrorist acts financed by those same taxes are the ones who have to make a decision on their own future, not you!

Pourzal is clearly a threat to both LA Monarchists and the US foreign policy instruments like Voice of America. I predict they will spend the next program doing damage control and reading one-sided responses against Pourzal but never inviting him back again. Comment

VICTORY
Iranians reinstalled
Fredun Hojabri
May 14, 2007

Dear ACS Members,

I am pleased to inform you that the American Chemical Society (ACS) has announced the reversal of their decision and reinstalled dropped Iranian members [See: "No crime and punishment"]. On behalf the 'Committee to reinstall the dropped Iranian ACS members', I would like to thank you for writing to CS, and expessing your support of Academic Freedom and the The Constituion & Rules of ACS. Our special thanks to other Organizations, like APS, who stood firm and advised ACS of their own interpretation of U. S. Laws in this regard. 

Regards,

Fredun Hojabri

PS.: Please distribute this announcement to your friends and colleagues. Comment

ZOO
Wrong animals in the cage
Faramarz Fateh
May 12, 2007

LOS ANEGELES -- Last few weeks, for one reason or another, I have been reading about or seeing pictures of variety of animals in cages in zoos. From giraffs and hippos, to small monkeys. Why do we even have zoos in the 21st century?

We take a lion, supposedly the king of the wild, and confine it to a 12x8 cage for year after year after year. Or, in case of a place like sea world, we take a 4 ton whale who is supposed to swim in limitless oceans and confine it to a man made pool the ends of which can be reached by the whale in less than 5 seconds.

I remember an incident in which one of these whales had taken its trainer by his legs and had dragged him under water for a while. The whole media in southern California was in a frenzy about the "killer" whale gone mad.

One can understand the need for a zoo in big cities back in the 1950s or even as late as the 1990s. But now, with the advent of the internet, kids, or adults for that matter, can see a picture or videos of any animal complete with sound and all the info you could ever want with a click of a mouse. I see pictures of kids in villages in Afghanistan having access to the internet. So, we're not depriving too many people if we connect them to the internet for their curiousity about animals.

I think its time to slowly close down all zoos except maybe for very large open ones such as the Wild Animal Park in San Diego. But come to think of it, there are a bunch of cages there too. What the hell, close all zoos.

What and who we need to keep in cages are creatures like Ahmadinejad, G.W. Bush, and oh yes, I forgot about Bill O'reily. We'll have a spinning wheel in his cage in case he wants to stop the spin. Comment

PLEA
Free Esfandiari
May 11, 2007

THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR IRANIAN STUDIES
Committee for Academic & Intellectual Freedom

To: Ayatollah Sayyid ‘Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, Head of the Iranian Judiciary
Mr. Mohammad Hassan Zia'i-Far, Secretary of the Islamic Human Rights Commission

We are deeply troubled by the news of the arrest and detention of the internationally distinguished and respected Iranian-born academic Dr. Haleh Esfandiari in Tehran on May 8.  Dr. Esfandiari is currently the director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., a  publicly - and privately-funded nonpartisan research institution devoted to the promotion of national and international dialogue. Dr. Esfandiari’s numerous publications have ranged in topic from women’s rights in Iran to the conditions of Palestinian refugees and she has been a staunch advocate of pursuing peaceful dialogue between Tehran and Washington in resolving their diplomatic standoff. Following a family visit to Iran last autumn, Dr. Esfandiari has been prevented from leaving the country since December 2006 and was finally detained on May 8 on unspecified grounds.

As the leading international, non-partisan, academic organization devoted to Iran and Iran-related studies, we strongly deplore the arrest of such a highly-respected academic and call on Iranian authorities for the immediate release of Dr. Esfandiari and for granting her permission to leave the country whenever she chooses. In the meantime, we ask the Iranian authorities to guarantee her well-treatment and health and to provide her visitation rights and regular phone calls to her relatives and friends while she remains in confinement. Comment

The International Society for Iranian Studies
Committee for Academic & Intellectual Freedom

FILM
Yes she Cannes
Darius Kadivar
May 9, 2007

Marjane Satrapi’s best-selling illustrated books -- Persepolis -- are now brought to screen as an animated Feature starring Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroiani for the voice overs. The French produced movie to be distributed by Sony Pictures in the United States is now running for the Palme d’Or (the most prestigious film Award in the World with the American Oscars) in the upcoming Cannes International Film Festival that will be celebrating its 60th anniversary and the head of the jury will be  director Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dangerous Liaisons).

What are the chances for Satrapi’s film Persepolis in this year’s competition? That is hard to say for the time being but it would certainly be an achievement for an animated film to be in a selection that favors traditional feature films to animated ones. However if Persepolis does win then it would be the 2nd Palme d’Or won by an Iranian filmmaker and particularly exactly ten years after Abbas Kiarostami in 1997.  However the film will be running for the French colors since it is produced by two French Studio’s Pumpkin 3D & Bibo Productions. Satrapi also shares the film director’s credits with her collaborator Vincent Paronnaud.

Good Luck Marjane and Vincent! Comment

REZAIE
Iran's comeback kid
Meir Javedanfar
May 5, 2007

Mohsen Rezaie, the current deputy head of the Expediency Council, and the owner of Baztab is a very shrewd Iranian politician. In fact, when it comes to former IRGC commanders turned politician, he is one of the most able.

During the 2005 elections, in which he was initially participating, he soon realized that he had no chance. Therefore rather than embarrass himself, he pulled out, even though it was not an easy decision. After all, he was the former head of IRGC. Other contenders such as Larijani, Ahmadinejad and Ghalibaf had served under him in the IRGC, and were junior to him in the political arena too.

By taking this decision, he managed to keep his credibility intact, both within the hallways of power, and in the Iranian press. He saved himself for another battle on another day. He has since managed to stay on the sidelines, and to act as a powerful media referee of the government. He has criticized Ahmadinejad, with force, in many cases where he deserved it. After all, it was Baztab which published the videos of Ahmadinejad talking about his messianic moment at the UN. This was a valid stance, because such tendencies were a danger for the regime as a whole. And he was supported by the top in his decision.

Since then, he has become such a strong critic of the government that the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance has tried to filter Baztab. So far, government in Tehran has failed to completely shut down his site, thankfully. Another sign of his strength is the fact that Rafsanjani is now against him. The publication of Khomeini's ceasefire letter by Rafsanjani created a very bad relationship between the two. Nevertheless, despite being sniped by Ahmadinejad and Rafsanjani, Rezaie is still standing. He has powerful friends, thanks to his superior skills of choosing his timing, his friends, and his enemies.

Now, in true Rezaie style, he is back. With the Majlis attacking Ahmadinejad, while Rafsanjani seems too old to run for another term, Rezaie, sensing that the timing is right, is trying to re-enter the political scene. According to reports from Tehran, he is forming a new political party. The timing is very good. We have two years before the Iranian presidential elections.

The Isargaran, where he is a member, are most likely to back Ghalibaf. So if he starts now, he will have time to build the party, and gain enough credibility, to go solo. There is only one problem. Apparently he has chosen "Etehade Melli" meaning national unity as the name. If anything, the fact that he has decided to go it alone, is a perfect indication of disunity, especially within the conservatives.

If he is looking for a campaign song, I think the most befitting is Frank Sinatra's "I did it my way"....translated into Farsi (of course), and preferably sung by a non female, non Russian lady who is not wearing a revealing dress, and is not playing the violin either... that's if he is interested in Mottaki's vote. Comment

Meir Javedanfar is a Middle East Analyst and the Director for the Middle East Economic and Political Analysis Company, www.meepas.com.

FRANCE
Sarkozy’s nightmare
Shirin Vazin
May 5, 2007

I had a funny dream a couple of nights ago.

Following closely France’s presidential elections I dreamt that Sarkozy is an Iranian woman, French by birth and therefore eligible to be a presidential candidate. Well, the dream was droll.

As a young girl I lived in Paris in a dorm named Maison Sainte-Genevieve in Rue du Cardinale Lemoine. It was1981 and Francois Mitterrand who became later the first socialist president of France and Valery Giscard d’Estaing ran for presidency.

One night after dinner almost the whole dorm watched TV in the television room. I remember Georges Marchais, the candidate of France’s communist party was shown on TV. One of the French girls in the room raised her hand, made a fist and shouted: "Vive les Travailleur" (Long live workers).

Some of the girls laughed at her, some told her to shut up and some supported her.

Being present in that exciting atmosphere in the TV room in dorm and having participated enthusiastically in the first presidential elections after the revolution in Iran I wished to be able to vote also in France.

My vote would have gone to Valery Giscard d’Estaing... for a simple reason: he looked exactly like my father!

My justification for important decisions in life has been always very simple. For example, I had the desire to have a child just because I wanted to see how he looks like!

In this election in France I would vote for Mme. Royal, not because she resembles my mother or my sister but because she represents the socialists. This comes for me first. Comment

LOST
Where have all the honey bees gone?
Sepehr Haddad
May 4, 2007

I attended a seminar yesterday on a topic that has been of interest to me since a few months back when I first heard that there has been an unprecedented decrease in the number of honey bees, not only here in the US, but also in other parts of the world.

Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD) is the name of the phenomenon that describes the massive die-off affecting an entire beehive or bee colony. The die-offs have also been termed Vanishing Bee Syndrome and Disappearing Disease. It was originally limited to colonies of the Western honey bee here in the United States but European beekeepers have recently claimed to be observing a similar phenomenon in Spain, Switzerland, Poland, and Germany. The cause of the syndrome is not yet well understood and even the existence of CCD remains disputed. There are different theories about what may be happening including environmental change-related stresses, malnutrition, unknown pathogens, mites, pesticides, disease, and or the genetically modified crops. 

The problem of what happens is that over the course of a week the majority of the bees in an affected colony will flee the hive and disappear, going off to die elsewhere.

The speakers at the seminar were from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Penn State University, but ultimately they don’t know why this is happening, but one thing is for sure, it is happening and with a world focused on “larger” issues such as weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and all kinds of war, this very seemingly “smaller” issue that doesn’t get headlines on the front pages of your daily newspaper, may lead to disastrous consequences, and I’m not talking about the price of honey going up.

Honeybees are responsible for pollination of up to one-third of the US crop species including almonds, peaches, soybeans, apples, etc. Even though, other native insects can pollinate some of these crops, it cannot be done on a commercial scale as with honey bees especially due to their efficiency as pollinators. Economically speaking, in the year 2000, the total U.S. crop value that was wholly dependent on the honey bee pollination was estimated to exceed US$15 billion. So if this turns out to be something that we humans cannot figure out by determining a cause such as pesticides or a new parasite, etc., the U.S., and for that matter the world food supply can be affected, which in turn can strain the economy, and everyone’s pocketbook.

Some interesting theories that have been discounted are that cell phones and cell phone towers emit radiation that somehow interferes with the honeybees inherent navigation system, thereby rendering them unable to return to their hive. Even though this reason sounds the best, especially for a Stephen King type novel, scientists have ruled this one out.

Whatever, the reason, just like in those Verizon commercials on television, and as Jon Stewart said on his show a few nights back, maybe this is Mother Nature’s way of saying to us, “Can you Hear Me Now?” Comment

POLITICS
Fool us once Goli, shame on us
Minou Akhavan
May 3, 2007

Goli Ameri is back! After having run a disastrous campaign in 2004, where she raised $2,188,078 yet only managed to capture a mere 38 percent of the vote against the unpopular Democratic incumbent, David Wu, the Iranian-American wanna-be politician is in the hot waters again because of her affiliation with Senator McCain.

Two weeks ago, the staunch neo-conservative McCain showed off his singing skills during a fundraising event in South Carolina. Answering a question regarding US policy options on Iran, McCain started singing the Beach Boys song "Bomb, Bomb, Iran."

Ameri's association with the neo-conservatives is well established. In 2004 she never came out against a US war with Iran. She supported the Patriot Act and praised President Bush for having invaded Iraq. Later in 2006, she began organizing an Iranian-American lobby. At the inaugural meeting in New York, the guest of honor was no other than John Bolton, the Bush Administration's tough-talking UN Ambassador.

In addition, she is a key fundraiser for Republican Senator Gordon Smith, who spearheads legislation in the Senate to impose new sanctions on Iran.

Currently, Ameri sits on Senator McCain's fundraising committee. Her responsibilities there are to raise money for the very same Presidential candidate that openly sings about bombing Iran.

Mrs. Ameri is entitled to her opinion. In fact, in many ways, she is a role-model; unlike other Iranian-Americans, she is actively pursuing her political goals through whatever means possible.

The problem is that her goals are those of a small minority of neoconservative warmongers who believe that the US's problems in the Middle East stem from a failure to use enough military force.

In 2004, Ameri raised the majority of her funds from the Iranian-American community, but she took her cues from the Republican Party and her adviser, Karl Rove.

As she prepares for her 2008 Congressional bid, she should either run as an Iranian-American candidate, raise Iranian-American funds and listen to the concerns of Iranian-Americans. But then she should resign from McCain's committee and distance herself from his agenda. And even then, she must answer the question why Iranian-Americans should put trust in her this time around, when she betrayed their values so openly in 2004. Alternatively, she should be honest about her views and run as a Bush-McCain-neocon, follow their agenda and raise her campaign funds from their supporters as well.

As her new Congressional bid starts to take shape, she will likely find out that she cannot have it both ways. Comment

TURKEY
How do you defend securalism?
Amir Rostam Begli Beigie
May 2, 2007

Pardon my French but where the f**k does EU get off thinking they can dictate to the Turkish Army and how do they allow themselves to interfere in their affairs? What business is it of theirs to tell the Turkish Army not to interfere in politics?

It seems that the collation of the past colonialists cannot help but maintain its idiotic attitude towards developing countries. It is patronizing and the Turkish Army is treating it with the contempt it deserves.

The Army has made it clear that secularism in Turkey is not up for negotiation. To me EU has been slapped in the face for their interference by demonstrations in Tukey in favour of secularism and against creeping Islamification.

The conspiracy theorist in me says there is no logical conclusion to EU's attitude other than the fact that the collective wants to keep developing countries and its own non-white populace in its place by keeping it in the dark ages, promoting Islam under the guise of democracy and multiculturalism.

Islam is a fascist movement and under the guise of democracy it has managed to gain power in countries like Iran and trample on human rights. It is tragic that democracy has become rule of majority instead of protection of human rights and the rights of minorities in particular. This point seems lost on all those who wonder why rapid democratisation sees to fail in developing countries.

One of the reasons for this failure is that you need people who are willing to make sacrifices and the Turks are lucky to have an Army that is prepared to take action to stop creeping Islamic Fascism. Wonder if EU would have objected to German Army removing the democratically elected Hitler from power?

As we say in Persian, darigh as yek jo gheirat. While we have to watch the subjugation of women in our country, the Turks are making a stand.

I leave you with an excerpt from the Turkish Army on reasons for their stand:

"Developments in our region give numerous examples that playing on religion and manipulating the faith into a political discourse can cause disasters. There are accounts in our country and abroad that a political discourse or an ideology can destroy the faith itself and turn it into something else when it is imposed on faith... Doubtlessly, the sole condition for the Republic of Turkey to live in peace and stability as a contemporary democracy is through defending the basic characteristics of our state which are defined in the Constitution." Comment

LIFE
Current events
Siamak Vossoughi
May 1, 2007

Ha ha, he thought. And it seemed like all the comedy he had ever known in his life was bringing him to this moment, to a moment when he would be standing before a group of American kids, whose American-ness was something he had been in himself, at least at school, when he had been the one cutting out an article from an American newspaper, bringing it to school as the teacher had asked, and using it to announce that he was as connected to the world as anybody. Those articles had shone with possibility, even as they had brought the truth of suffering into the world.

And now he had to face the truth that the American boy who had brought in an article about a possible attack on Iran by America was doing so with the same shine, and with the same discovery of who he was, that he was a man who dealt with the newspaper, for one thing, and more than that, that he was big enough to meet war, and big enough to meet the terribleness of it, to stand against the whole idea of it with full confidence that he was right and war was wrong, and that it was a beautiful feeling to know that at age eight.

I guess my country is his beautiful feeling, the teacher thought, and I am glad for the feeling even as I am not glad for my country. Even as I know now that an article like that is holding worlds of misery in it for my people, still the thing to do is to be glad for his shine, to give it right back to him, so at the very least he will know that that shine is not just for boys but also for men, and let it combine with the shine of the day, so that the yearning for peace becomes as natural as the yearning for another day of life itself, all the while remembering that as long as the news in the article remains the news of the world, then all the comedy I have ever known in my life is bringing me to every moment, which is only to mean: Keep going. Keep going and be strong about it, because wherever you are going, you will be bringing them along. Comment

SOLUTION
Time to switch
Saied Ghaffari
May 1, 2007

I've been a Mac user all my life and love it. I love hearing that 50% of people that buy a Mac today are called "switchers" - people who had Windows and switch to the Mac. One thing I noticed was that a major scare for many switchers is, "how am I going to learn how to use the Mac because I've heard it takes a couple weeks, at least?" Well, my company, "It's About Time" Products, decided to create a product to help people with the switch. It's called, It's About Time to learn the Switch to Mac. Its the only learning tool that reminds switchers of their lives in Windows, then teaches them the equivalent on the Mac. The best part is, it's completely interactive, so after you see Saied, me the instructor, show you how to do something, you try it right on screen and are told if you did it right.

Our goal in creating It's About Time to learn the Switch to Mac was to take the 2 weeks it takes to get use to the Mac and cut it down to about an hour. I think it's going to be a lifesaver for so many people. Comment

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