Just another day in Iran

Four Iranian gay men are due to be executed for sodomy under their nation’s Shari’a laws, Pink News is reporting.

The four men — identified by the Human Rights Activist News Agency in Iran as Saadat Arefi, Vahid Akbari, Javid Akbari and Houshmand Akbari — are set to be hanged after their guilty verdict was approved recently by high court judges.

The useful idiot doesn’t fall far from the tree

Like father, like son:

Oliver Stone’s Son, Defender of Ahmadinejad, Converts to Islam

He said criticizing the Iranian government is “like someone coming to your house and saying the father shouldn’t hit the kids,” he said. “Who are we to tell them how to rule their country?”

So it’s a bad thing to intervene when a father hits the kids? I’m sure Sean Stone didn’t intend it, but he’s right in casting Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime as abusive parents.

Iran has a culture minister?

When he’s not keeping silent on his regime’s jailing of artists who support the country’s reform movement, Iran’s deputy culture minister Javad Shamaqdari is defending directors who claim sympathy to Adolf Hitler.

Director Lars von Trier has since apologized for his “unintelligent, ambiguous and needlessly hurtful” remarks about the Fuhrer, which got him banned from the Cannes Film Festival award ceremony (some punishment). Shamaqdari sent a letter blasting the decision by festival organizers, mocking their claim of defending free speech “a meaningless slogan.”

Meanwhile, a film by an Iranian director, Mohammad Rasoulof — sentenced to six years in jail and banned from filmmaking for 20 years on charges that included “making propaganda” against the ruling system — won a prize at Cannes.

Like von Trier, he won’t be at the awards ceremony.

Oliver Stone, useful idiot and shameless propagandist

He ain't heavy, he's my dictator

The hack director of a fawning new documentary about Hugo Chavez just told Larry King that in Venezuela “you can say anything you want.”

Bullshit!

The Board of the World Association of Newspapers has strongly condemned the repression of freedom of speech and the press in Venezuela, and has called on President Hugo Chávez to stop proposed legislation and other measures aimed at silencing the independent press.

“The government “has once again threatened to apply military measures and repression against the media and to enact new and pending legislation limiting freedom of the press,” said the WAN Board in a resolution which was passed on the eve of the World Newspaper Congress and World Editors Forum, which brought more than 1,000 newspaper executives to Istanbul, Turkey, for the global meetings of the world’s press.

In cracking down on the opposition press, Venezuela has recently created a government-controlled committee to regulate the content of news broadcasting and has reopened discussions that would criminalize libel statutes. Recently, the majority of pro-government members of Congress have approved a petition that asks the Attorney General to annul the nationality of several Venezuelan journalists, media owners and other opposition personalities.”

Chavez has also aligned with the fundamentalist thugs who rule Iran, a fact the propagandist Stone chooses to ignore. Useful idiot, indeed.

Iran and reality

Andisheh frames it well:

Will sanctions convince Iran to give up its nuclear fuel enrichment program? Don’t be silly. Of course it won’t. Sanctions, schmanctions. Iran has been living with economic sanctions for three decades. They haven’t worked yet, have they? Sure, they make life difficult for regular Iranians, but clearly nothing we’ve done has helped loosen the Mullahs’ grip on Iran’s metaphorical levers of power.

The world is addicted to fossil fuels. Iran has lots of them. Developed nations will never stop buying it. We can talk tough all day long and try to disrupt their trade with sanctions, but we’re supporting them through our addiction to oil. Sanctions against Iran are as futile as a drug war.

Nevertheless, the sanctions are probably necessary if we’re going to reach a diplomatic settlement. The carrot-and-stick approach only works if the stick can inflict damage. Iran jerked us around a bit, so we have to sharpen the stick. That’s just the way it is. After the new sanctions take hold, we’ll probably pursue yet another diplomatic overture. And I’ll write another column about the same crap.

it’s all about iran

Forget unemployment, global warming, health care or even Afghanistan. The biggest challenge facing Barack Obama in 2010 and beyond is how best to navigate the unrest in Iran.

Saber rattling won’t help. I was among those critical of the administration’s initial reaction to the post-election demonstrations, and clearly the opposition would like some assurances that the world’s greatest democracy is on their side. Determined, back-channel diplomacy might.

Isolating the illegal regime makes the most sense. Holding negotiations with the mullahs’ flunky would grant legitimacy to an increasingly desperate Ahmadinejad.

“To do otherwise would be to betray millions of Iranians who have been defrauded and have risked their lives to have their votes count,” wrote Roger Cohen back in July. “To do otherwise would be to allow Khamenei to gloat that, in the end, what the United States respects is force. To do otherwise would be to embrace the usurpers.”

It’s not like there’s many options. Ahmadinejad won’t negotiate because that would eliminate the nationalism card. It’s about all he has left to play.

You can’t understate the significance of a new regime in Iran. Remember, the overthrow of the Shah was the first major victory for the fundamentalists, emboldening a generation of Islamic theocrats. Losing Iran would be a major psychological blow, particularly to a movement fueled by an arrogance that only they speak for God.

your new hero

kidMahmoud Vahidnia, a student from the prestigious Sharif university and winner of the International Math Olympics, recently confronted Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei during a rare question-and-answer session:

“Why can’t anyone in this country criticize you? Isn’t that ignorant? Do you think that you make no mistakes? Why have they made an idol out of you that is so unreachable and that nobody can challenge? I have never read an article about your performance in any newspaper because you have shut down all the media that is against you in the country. Why does national TV show all the events untruthfully? For example all the events after the election: why do you support them [national TV shows], when everyone knows they are lying? Since the president of national television is directly selected by you, you are thus responsible for all this.”

Vahidnia was reportedly detained by security officials following the event. For what he said, and for what he’s presently enduring, Vahidnia demands your respect. He’ll have the scars to prove it, if he’s lucky.

have they forgotten?

hazing
Who put them in charge? Dick Cheney

Those yearning for a third term by Dick Cheney must be sadists or masochists. Or both. If Cheney had indeed been calling the shots, we’d be mired in THREE quagmires.

*Afghanistan. Call it Obama’s war all you want, but the only thing he’s done differently in nine months (compared to the seven years the previous administration was in charge) is add more troops. The Cheney Plan privatized our national security, and isn’t that working out splendidly?

*Iraq. Cheney initially opposed the troop surge; his support of the troop-lite Rumsfeld fantasy facilitated it.

*Iran. Cheney supported a preemptive strike. That would’ve neutered the ongoing revolution in that country. Iranians, like Americans after 9/11, would’ve likely rallied around their president.

So, feel any safer?

the “elected leader” of iran?

Most Iranians — including several high-ranking clerics — don’t view Ahmadinjead that way, but Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs apparently does. Iranian patriots are pissed, and so am I.

Time to “recalibrate” again, Mr. President. (And ‘how bout seizing the opportunity to replace your priggish press secretary? Contrary to Robert Gibbs’ opinion, he’s not the smartest person in the room, just the most smug.)

what happened to the protesters?

At least 100 reformers have been killed in Iranian prisons. They were the lucky ones.

Some prisoners say they watched fellow detainees being beaten to death by guards in overcrowded, stinking holding pens. Others say they had their fingernails ripped off or were forced to lick filthy toilet bowls.

It’s just a matter of time before the illegal Ahmadinejad regime crumbles.

detained in iran

As you’d expect:

“On the first day, while blindfolded, the interrogator took me to a parking garage. They kept everyone standing for 48 hours with no permission to sleep. On the first night, they tied up our hands and repeatedly beat us and other prisoners with a baton. They kept cursing at the prisoners. The atmosphere was very frightening. Everyone had wet themselves from fear and stress. There were children as young as 15 and men as old as 70; they’d be begging and crying for mercy, but the guards didn’t care.

“After two days of interrogation while blindfolded, we were asked about everything: where we had studied, what our parents do, who we voted for, who is educated in the family, if anyone in our family is part of the military. We were forced to give the names of everyone. It was a scary situation because they were threatening us and were very harsh. All we could hear were other people crying and screaming.

“They provided us with a big piece of bread once, but no water. On the last day, they took away the blindfold to force us sign a paper that was blank on top but said at the bottom: ‘I agree with all of the above statements.'”