Thursday, January 31, 2008

Now they have really crossed the line!

In my heart, I could accept EVERY single shit was coming out of the IRI and turn my eyes away and look at the formidable work that was done, and written about by the dedicated journalists of the Zanan magazine.

Now, they have SHUT IT DOWN TOO!

I am distressed.
This is depressing.
and I am in tears for the hurdles Iran's best friends, the writers, the journalists, the filmmakers, the historians, the philosphers have to put up with ... because a gang of ugly, wicked, low-life, socially-immature, STUPID, PETTY, IDIOTS ARE RUNNING MY COUNTRY ....

I was making a post that Iran's prominent filmmakers are protesting the new restrictions.
I was making a post that Iran's moderate politicians are protesting the unfair and unexplained rejection critera
There is nothing of Iran's beauty that tastes good to me now, until we have gotten the Zanan magazine back ... Women and the women movement were the only thing that Iran could take pride in ...

Economy's harmed more by mismanagement of Ahmadinejad than by sanctions.
Cultures's harmed more by narrowmindedness of Ahmadinejad than by US propaganda.
Natural resources're lost to Russia not because of Bush but because of Ahmadinejad.

It's too easy to blame Cheney ... but right now, Iran's being destroyed by Iranians. Cheney needs to do none but to sit back and grin!

I am angry!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ashura: The Shiite's festival

Update: Please Visit MarcLord's web for a comparative analysis and realpolitikal take on Ashura.
For those who are interested in knowing what Ashura is, Wikipedia has a fair and straight forward article.

I was browsing one of Iran's news sources and I came across these pictures: Ashura commemoration in different cities of Iran.

Every year (on the lunar calendar), symbolic representations of the events of the day of Ashura take place. There are street-plays called "ta'ziyeh":

The word ta'ziyeh literally means expressions of sympathy, mourning and consolation.

As a dramatic form it has its origins in the Muharram procession commemorating Hussein's martyrdom and throughout its evolution the representation of the siege and carnage at Kerbela has remained its centerpoint.
Ta'ziyeh has never lost its religious implications. Because early Shi'ites viewed Hussein's death as a sacred redemptive act, the performance of the Muharram ceremonies was believed to be an aid to salvation; later they also believed that participation, both by actors and spectators, in the Ta'ziyeh dramas would gain them Hussein's intercession on the day of the Last Judgment.

Perhaps because of their tradition of hereditary kingship and strong nationalism, the people of the Iranian plateau were particularly hospitable to the Shi'ite form of Islam. According to Persian legend, the daughter of the last Persian king of the Sasanid dynasty was taken captive during the Muslim invasion and married to Hussein. From the beginning, the annual Muharram mourning ceremonies were observed with great pageantry and emotion. Veneration of deceased heroes had long been an important part of Persian culture; the theme of redemption through sacrifice found parallels in such pre-Islamic legends as the death of Siyavash and in the ancient Mesopotamian ritual of Adonis-Tamuz.

By the tenth century A.D. impressive Muharram processions were well-established. The reliable historian Ibn al-Athir, tells of great numbers of participants, with black painted faces abd disheveled hair circling round and round the city of Baghdad, beating their chests and moaning the mourning songs at the festival of Muharram. It was at this time when the Persian Buyid dynasty ruled from Baghdad.

In the first years of the sixteenth century, when under the Safavid dynasty, Persia, which had always been a strong cultural power, again became a political power, Shi'ite Islam was established as the state religion and was used to unify the country, especially against the aggressive Ottomans and Uzbeks who were adherents of Sunnite Islam.

The Muharram observances received royal encouragement; commemoration of Hussein's martyrdom became a patriotic as well as religious act. Many accounts of the processions, written mostly by European envoys, missionaries, merchants and travelers, tell of characters dressed in colorful costumes marching, or mounted on horses and camels, depicting the events leading up to the final tragedy of Kerbela.

Living tableaux of butchered martyrs stained with blood, their bodies showing simulated amputations, were moved along on wheeled platforms. Mock battles were mimed by hundreds of uniformed mourners armed with bows, swords, and other weapons. The entire pageant was accompanied by funeral music and spectators, lined up along its path, beat their breasts and shouted "Hussein, O Hussein, the King of the Martyrs" as it passed by.

Certain similarities between the Muharram processions and the European medieval theatre of the Stations of the Cross was obvious. An important difference is, however, that during the Muharram ceremonies the spectators remained stationary while the tableaux moved and in the theatre of the Stations the tableaux were stationary while the viewer-penitents moved.

The Muharram processions are, perhaps, more similar to the Passion Week celebrations which can still be seen in such Christian countries as Guatemala.

The city names are encoded in the picture name. Please click on the picture.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The fight's out in the open now!

The Associated Press:

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's supreme leader Monday reversed a decision by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and ordered him to implement a law supplying natural gas to remote villages amid rising dissatisfaction with the president's performance.

The move by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was a major rebuke to the hardline president, whose popularity has plummeted amid rising food prices and deaths due to gas cuts during a particularly harsh winter.

In response to a request by the conservative-dominated parliament, Khamenei ordered the president to implement a law spending $1 billion from the Currency Reserve Fund to supply gas to villages after he balked for budgetary reasons.

"All legal legislation that has gone through (the required) procedures stipulated in the constitution is binding for all branches of power," Parliamentary Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel quoted the supreme leader as saying in a statement.

Haddad Adel called Ahmadinejad's refusal to implement the law "surprising" and said his appeal to Khamenei was aimed at "defending the dignity of the legislature." His comments, which were broadcast live on state-run radio, prompted chants of "well done" from the chamber.

Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005 on a populist agenda promising to bring oil revenues to every family, eradicate poverty and tackle unemployment. He now faces increasing criticism for failing to meet those promises.

"We don't want (you) to bring oil money to our table ... just restore heating gas immediately," lawmaker Valiollah Raeyat said in an open session of the parliament last week.

Iran has the second largest natural gas reservoir of the world but its supply network has been overwhelmed by high demand. Both reformists and conservatives are increasingly asking the president why Iranians are dying from the cold while sitting on the massive gas fields.

As much as 22 inches of snow fell in areas of northern and central Iran in early January, the heaviest snowfall in more than a decade. Local media have reported 64 cold-related deaths this winter and say gas cuts are to blame.

State Inspection Organization chief, Mohammad Niazi, said Monday that Ahmadinejad's administration ignored suggestions to set aside gas supplies in case of an emergency, the official IRNA news agency reported Monday.

"Earlier, (we) had warned executive officials about saving fuel but unfortunately warnings were not heeded ... there is no strategy for gas supply in the country," he said.

Ahmadinejad, who portrayed himself as a champion of the poor when he swept to power, is being challenged not only by reformers but by the same conservatives who paved the way for his victory in 2005.

Even conservatives say Ahmadinejad has concentrated too much on fiery, anti-U.S. speeches and not enough on the economy — and they have become more aggressive in calling him to account.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Who is ripping the benefits of Iran sanctions?

In summary:
- War-loving Fundamentalists in Iran (GW Boooosh's spiritual cousins)
- China
- Russia
- Dubai's middlemen

Los Angeles Times
By Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim, Special to The Times
January 20, 2008

TEHRAN -- Sanctions weren't supposed to hurt Majid Taleghani. But the Iranian book publisher says they have forced him to increase prices and scale back the number of titles he issues.

"In the past few weeks, the price of South Korean paper has soared at least 25%," Taleghani complained, chain-smoking nervously. "Why? South Korean banks refuse to open letters of credit. They won't work with Iranian banks anymore."

President Bush's recent tour through the Middle East was meant in part to rally U.S. allies against Iran before talks Tuesday in Berlin by members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany over the possibility of imposing a third round of sanctions on Iran to pressure the government to halt its nuclear program.

A year after the Security Council first imposed sanctions, they clearly have begun to have an effect. But i
n an echo of the debate over sanctions against Iraq under Saddam Hussein in the 1990s, diplomats and economic analysts disagree sharply over whether such measures would pressure those in power to change their policies or merely hurt the Iranian people.

"They have an impact; they have a heavy impact on the economy," said a Western diplomat in Tehran who is among those who regularly brief officials in Washington about the situation in Iran. "But will this have an effect on policy? That is the question."

A report released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office, an independent auditing group that answers to the U.S. Congress, says, "The overall impact of sanctions, and the extent to which these sanctions further U.S. objectives, is unclear," and that foreign firms continue to make deals in Iran's state-controlled energy sector.

But on the streets and in the shops of Tehran, the capital, sanctions have had a visible effect, diminishing the ability of merchants and consumers to buy goods from Europe, forcing them to opt for cheaper Asian imports.

Prices of most goods, including French perfumes and German printing plates, have increased 50% in the last four months, merchants say, a result of the extra cost of doing business through Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, instead of directly with foreign manufacturers and distributors. Many of those firms are wary of doing business with Iran lest they come under the scrutiny of the U.S. Treasury Department, which has begun aggressively targeting companies with ties to both the United States and Iran.

Now, doing business with anywhere other than China or Russia is too much of a pain, [ehm: the Westerners shooting themselves in the foot!] " said Ali-Reza Morshed Razam, owner of an eyeglasses shop on Palestine Street, in downtown Tehran.

Although some observers say Iran's elites will weather any sanctions short of an international ban on the purchase of Iranian oil and natural gas, others think economic restrictions will force the country's well-connected merchants to press the government to change its ways.

A European diplomat said he was heartened to hear that a group of Iranian entrepreneurs recently had approached Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to complain that sanctions were hurting their bottom line.

"If you want to touch the people who have an interest in the regime, then sanctions are the way to do it," said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "
Small-business men should put pressure on the regime." [fat chance! small business men will not dare do so! Because as we speak, G W Booosh has fortified Iran's oppressive elements!]

Iran's economy is heavily dependent on oil and characterized by massive amounts of public spending, especially to provide cheap gasoline, which the government imports and sells at heavily subsidized rates. Increasing the costs of doing business with the outside world forces Iran to spend more money, draining government resources.

By pouring more cash into the economy, the government also confronts the shrinking value of the Iranian rial, and increased inflation, which makes people poorer.
[which is another way of politically oppressing people, pushing back their drive to democracy, and thus fertilizing teh ground for the growth of radicalism!]

Economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the Security Council and countries such as the United States so far have had few concrete restrictions but have created an atmosphere that makes investors fearful, observers said.

Sanctions are like icebergs," said Saeed Leylaz, an Iranian economist and journalist. "Only 10% of the effect is directly attributable to the Security Council. Ninety percent is fear of the U.S." [of course, with American economy in shatters, one wonders how long this will last!]

Some officials dread a repeat in Iran of the events in Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when sanctions discouraged companies from doing business with Iraqis, whittling at livelihoods of the people while strengthening the hand of Hussein and his inner circle.

"Even if something is not on a list, a lot of companies will say, 'Dealing with Iran -- oh, I'd better not do it,' " said a European diplomat in Tehran. "It's becoming like 1990s Iraq, when companies used to refuse to sell papers and pencil to Iraq."

The Bush administration has also announced that it will sanction any company doing business with the Revolutionary Guard, the country's ideologically driven parallel military force. Those sanctions, advocates say, are meant to strike at Iran's leadership without weakening the economic status of middle-class Iranians who are likely to press for domestic change.

"The U.S. government proposal for new multilateral steps, be it at the U.N. or with the [European Union], is to step up pressure on Iran's leaders -- not to press Iran's people with broad economic sanctions," said Patrick Clawson, an Iran expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, whose views on Iran often reflect those of the White House.

But some Iran experts say the
Bush administration's sanctions strategy reflects a misreading of Iranian political dynamics. One scholar likened the American and Western European thinking to that of Marxist and anarchist revolutionaries of Central Europe in the 1920s who believed that the people would rise up against capitalist elites if the economy worsened.

In fact, said the scholar, Iranian hard-liners will be strengthened by any economic crisis. "
Extremists in Iran don't mind at all if sanctions get worse," he said. "They don't mind if the U.S. attacks Iran."

Foreign investment in Iran's once-bustling, Western-leaning private sector has flattened after dropping off two years ago with the election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the beginning of major tensions over Iran's uranium-enrichment program, Western diplomats said.

Such pressures serve only to antagonize Iranians against the West, some say.

"What pressure does this put on the system?" fumed Mousa Ghaninejad, an Iranian economist who writes for the daily Donya-e-Eqtesad, or World of Economics. "
Americans are making the people enemies. The important thing is to make the Iranian people their friends. They're doing the opposite."

Western diplomats in Tehran say they closely watch the effects of sanctions on prices and Iranian attitudes, and send their findings back to European capitals as well as to Washington, where diplomats say they are eagerly received by White House, State Department and Pentagon officials.

"Targeting the sanctions is the biggest battle we have among people who are discussing sanctions," said a European diplomat in Tehran. "Ultimately we want the regime to change its policies, without hurting ordinary people. So you've got to hit the decision-makers, and that is very, very difficult."

Daragahi is a Times staff writer, and Mostaghim is a special correspondent.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

5 Iranian boats pose WORLD THREAT to American Navy

BBC: Iran state broadcasts its footage, no sign of hostility, routine operation!
Wooohoooo, even pentagon says that the video was fake!!! (Thanks Jim)
Bush, who is in lala land-amusing the humanity with his message of "peace", while siding with Israel and saber rattling at Iran, and trying (in vain) to get Arabs rally in his crusade-has EMBARRASSED HIS NAVY!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Snow White

Aplogies for earlier bug!
Blogger is teasing me these days. I have been unsuccessful even looking at my own blog, without my browser freezing on the front page. If you notice slow loading of the page, please let me know.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Wind Carpet: Kamal Tabrizi

Just watched this wonderfully funny, deliberately informative, cinematographicly witty film by Kamal Tabrizi.

Synopsis: ": Ten-year-old Sakura (Miyu Yagyu) travels with her father Makoto (Takaaki Enoki) from Japan, to Isfahan, to pick up a Persian carpet designed by her late mother. Although warmly greeted by Makoto’s friend Akbar (Reza Kianian), it soon becomes clear that the carpet – needed in 20 days’ time for a Japanese street-festival – has not even been started. The 11 years old Ruzbeh calls the locals into a carpet-weaving Task Force in a bid to get the job done. Although essentially a conventional fish-out-of-water story, director Kamal Tabrizi brings a variety of tones and textures to the film to keep it from following a predictable pattern.

The film was produced on the occasion of a major exhibition (June 2004) on Iranian carpets at the Mitsubishi Club in the Japanese capital of Tokyo on Tuesday. 10 percent of the sales of the displayed carpets was allocated for the victims of the earthquake in the city of Bam, Kerman province.

Trivia: did you know that a recently woven Iranian carpet (2005) hangs in the auditorium of the UN headquarter in NY?

  • Unique design
  • 225 sq feet
  • each centimeter of it contains 200 knots all tied manually
  • Woven in 10 years by the well-known Iranian carpet weaver Mohammad Seirafian from the city of Isfahan.
  • The 12 century Persian poem "Oneness of Mankind" has been woven into it in pure gold.
  • all natural colors, resistant to sun and become more attractive with time
  • The carpet is presented as a gift from Iran
  • The English translation of the verse installed next to the carpet

The verse reads:

All men are members of the same body, Created from one essence.
If fate brings suffering to one member, The others cannot stay at rest.
You who remain indifferent
To the burden of pain of others,
Do not deserve to be called human."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Dinner Party in a Restaurant

We were all surprised when the director of the restaurant told us that we could take our scarves off and play dance music. The ladies, had to run to their cars to change into dresses they had brought for the after-dinner party (in the house)! Of course, we had rented the entire restaurant for the party, but still, they say that in the IRI one is not supposed to hold mix parties in public places! Our friends were joking:" where did the revolution go?"

Here's a little treat: recipe of Khoresht-e Fesenjan (slang: Fesenjoon)

Ingredients: (6 servings, keeps well in freezer)

  • (preferebly boneless) Chicken pieces, 1 kg
  • Ground walnuts, 300 grams
  • 1 large onion
  • Half a cup of pomegranate sauce (the Iranian version is rather sweet, the Mediterranean one more sour)
  • Sugar, 2-3 spoons 4 tbl spoons of oil Salt, black pepper, and 1 tea spoon of tumeric


  • Peel onions and slice thinly. Fry in oil on medium heat until slightly golden.
  • Add tumeric to onions and stir for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Fry chicken pieces (3-inch cuts) in onions until color changes.
  • Add ground walnuts and fry for 5 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent burning walnut.
  • Add one cup of water and bring to boil.
  • Add pomegranate sauce and simmer long enough until the sauce thickens.
  • The khoresht is well cooked when the oil in walnuts comes out (you will see a layer of yellow oil over the pot, you can dispose it, if you like).
  • Khoresht fesenjan should be served with white rice.
The Southern people like this more sweet, the Northrners more sour! I do not know anyone who dislikes this dish.

Variatoin: replace chicken with meatballs (ground beef, chicpea flour, grated onions, one egg)

Three-bill evening at The Artist's Forum: Mashayekhi, Aghdashloo, Waezi!

Last year, I reported on the Artist's forum, or "Khaneh Honarmandan".
This year, I managed to catch the winds of Jamshid Mashayekhi's birthday (and half a century of his career). He is a veteran Iranian actor; one of those rare actors whose acting career has remained uninterrupted (even through revolution/war years when many Iranian actors were banned from screen) and rather outstanding since 1957.

In addition, there were two other exhibitions.

One was a painting exhibition, a tribute to Aydin Aghdashloo (the ex-husband of Oscar-winner Shohre Aghdashloo) by his students (
Kooche Oskoo, pelak-e 32, no 32, Oskoo Alley);

My favorite pieces were those of
Mojtaba Tajik (samples of his style)
Abdi Asbaghi (his official website)
Ali Esmailpour
Hasan AbbasNejad
Iraj Shafei (samples of his work)
Shahla Etemadi

And the other one was a photo gallery by 26 years old Fardin Waezi called Through Afghan Eyes. Fardin is an experienced Afghan photojournalist who started photography at the age of 7, with a box camera. He has been to Taliban prison for taking pictures, however he has been unrelenting in capturing snapshots of Afghanistans dynamic society. Presently, Fardin works for UN Assistance mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) in Kabul. This is his blog.