Thursday, April 30, 2009

Persian Chicks: Iranian females graduating from Police Academy.

Who dares messing with these? :)

Political Pawn: Roxana Saberi

UPDATE: Saberi's released! As I said, pawn of political game, and Ahmadinejad's election tactic! Lunatic!

I have been silent on this case because I have been trying to figure out "which political group" has designed "which political gain" from her case. This is a media circus, staged on the occasion of Iran's upcoming election. This is also a media circus to anatagonize Obama, because frankly, Obama has been antagonizing Iran. Iran's political leaders have been mildly suggesting to Obama to adjust his tone and use proper language. But hat Hillary woman is going around, barking off like a bitch on Zionist's leash! Saberi, is thus used as a sign to America: "we are not afraid of your new version of saber rattling--no matter what kind of cotton your president is pampering the saber in!"

Of course, Saberi's case is not unique. Same happened to Haleh Esfandiari, Parnaz Azima, Ramin Jahanbegloo. What is fascinating is that Iranians arrest people who actually CARE about Iran, who are doing best to build bridges! This confirms the fears of many who suggest Iran is run by lunatics! I won't call them lunatics; but I consider them machiavellian psychopaths! (But I also question their independence and their motivations, suspecting them to be different from what it seems!)

Perhaps something that makes Saberi, Esfandiari and Jahanbegloo more vulnerable than hordes of other "peace missionaries" who travel, report or even SPY in Iran is that perhaps they operate closer to home: Iran. They can perhaps make an impact on intellectual discourse within Iran more than merely being a publicist for "come look Tehran is so pretty and Tehranis have nose jobs!" 

I don't know much about Saberi's work, but her close relationship with Bahman Ghobadi-an upcoming cinema director (from Iran's Kurdistan provinces), who is internationally praised, but nationally banned-may not be fully unrelated to her case.

On April 22, Ghobadi came out with a public plea, that "Saberi's his fiancee, that she is a "weak" person who didn't "dare to spy" and that she had only stayed n Iran for him to finish his underground film; and now that he film was done they were planning to move to the US! On April 23rd, announcement came that his film (No One Has Heard of The Persian Cat) was nominated for one of the competition categories of the Cannes Film Festival!

It is slightly cruel to be cynical perhaps ... but, could it be that those staging this circus are holding the puppet strings from elsewhere?! Demonizing Iran's image is a lovely enterprise for many a Western institutions!

Remember how every time the world pressure on Israel for "peace" intensifies, a palestinian suicide bomber goes up the smoke? In Iran, everytime talks of peace intensify, an American-Iranian gets jailed!! (I think Iranian puppets are not stupid enough to be manipulated to blowing themselves up with their American captives!!)

I am still watching this case! And I wish Iran's leaders took a lead to end this fiasco sooner than later! In fact, they should make a public display of the idiots who come up with such political designs! (They should also have prosecuted those responsible for accidental death of Zahra Kazemi). They just discredit Iran's government.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rick Steve's Iran Visit: one of the BEST documentaries on Iran to date!

And the reason is because it is made by a man who is a traveller, not a political reporter or peace activist per se.

Also see this: Iran, the most poorly understood, yet fascinating land he has ever visited.


This is an aerial view of an ancient irrigation system originating in Persia (Qanat). The picture is taken in 1978 by the award winning award-winning Swiss photographer Georg Gerster .

The 'holes" in the picture are a series of well-like vertical shafts. These are connected by gently sloping tunnels. The objective is to transport the subterranean water in a manner that efficiently delivers large quantities of water to the surface without need for pumping. The water drains relying on gravity, with the destination lower than the source. This allows 1) the water to be transported long distances in hot dry climates without losing a large proportion of the source water and 2) to transport water in the mountains, where the surface water cannot flow "up" the "bumps".

Qanat finders, builders, managers (do you call them "diviners" in English?) used to be highly respected in old times in Iran. They would be hired as modern-day consultants, and their travel paid to architect the Qanat systems across the land.

Wikipedia has a rather nice and pictorial explanation of their history and propagation across different cultures.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Washington Post: Iran at the forefront of stem cell research

[hyperlinks are provided by naj]

"Though the world's attention has focused on Iran's advancing nuclear program, Iranian scientists have moved to the forefront in embryonic stem cell research, according to a recent joint study by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

Controversial in the United States, embryonic stem cell research was embraced in 2002 by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's conservative religious leader. President Obama has recently adopted a similar policy, reversing restrictions that George W. Bush's administration imposed because of the implications for destroying potential human lives.
"Islam is very compatible with the modern sciences," said Hassan Ashktorab of the Howard University Cancer Center. "Policies that may be classified as liberal in the American political system seem to be common sense to Iranian politicians."

Ayatollah Khamenei has often spoken of launching Iran to the scientific vanguard of the Muslim world, and scientific achievement is important to Iranian national pride. During the Persian Empire - a designation for Iran used until the early 20th century - Iran was a crossroads of medical advancements and established itself as a center of world learning.

The 1979 Islamic revolution triggered a massive brain drain, slowing Iranian advances in science, Mr. Ashktorab said. "There are many renowned scientific intellectuals around the world who are originally Iranian, yet they have adopted a new nationality in the country to which they have migrated," he said.

ButAli Khademhosseini, an Iranian immigrant to the U.S. who co-wrote the recent study on stem cells for the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, said brain drain is "a more generic issue in Iran" and has not prevented Iranian scientists from making advances in certain areas, such as stem cell research.

"The sciences in Iran have a lot of committed and passionate people, so the brain drain doesn't necessarily affect this field," he said.

In 1988, after the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, Iran began to heavily invest in the sciences. According to the study by Mr. Khademhosseini and David Morrison, government spending on science rose from 0.2 percent of Iranian gross domestic product in 1990, or about $232 million, to 0.65 percent in 2005, the equivalent of $1.2 billion.

In 2008, Press TV, Iran's state-sponsored English language international news channel, reported that the Iranian government planned to invest $2.5 billion in stem cell research alone over a period of five years.

Iran's stem cell research is centered at the Royan Institute, in the foothills of the Alborz mountains in northern Tehran.

Founded in 1991 as an infertility clinic, it was expanded in 1998 into a Ministry of Health-approved cell research center. According to the Royan Institute Web site, it hosts departments in six fields: stem cells, embryology, gynecology, genetics, andrology and epidemiology.

Iran is in the top 10 of countries in the world that produce, culture and freeze human embryonic stem cells, according to Mr. Khademhosseini's study.

This places Iran in the company of countries including Sweden, Japan, the United States, Australia, Britain, India, South Korea and Singapore.

Royana, the name given to the first cloned sheep in the Middle East, was born Sept. 30, 2006, in the Iranian city of Esfahan. Iranian scientists have also identified and isolated human kidney stem cells and cultured and produced differentiated liver tissues in mice.

Despite Iran's conservative Islamic rule, there is broad government approval for embryonic stem cell research, which Muslim clerics say is permissible under Islamic law. Shi'ite Muslim scholars believe that the fetus is given a soul at 120 days, before which abortion is permissible when there is a physical or emotional threat to the mother - thus avoiding the abortion debates common in the United States.

Ayatollah Khamenei often cites the Koran's emphasis on preventing human illness and suffering as evidence that stem cell research and Islam are compatible. Limits do exist: Iran's supreme leader has warned Iranian scientists to be careful that producing identical parts of human beings does not lead to producing a human being, as human cloning is not accepted - a policy shared by the Obama administration.

Although Iran's progress has been noteworthy, political unrest between Iran and the West has been an impediment. Sanctions directed against Iran's nuclear and missile programs have lessened the availability of other scientific supplies and equipment primarily manufactured in the U.S. Many Iranian scientists depend on the black market to acquire the equipment necessary for common scientific practices, though at a higher cost.

Mr. Khademhosseini said that despite these problems, he is optimistic about the future. Iranian "research is improving; there is support from the general public, as well as the government. It definitely looks bright."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Israel's Cacophony

Well I am now back; and I am grateful to all of you who have wished me well.

I made a quick trip to my favorite Iran-news shop and noticed Israelis have been huffing and puffing again:

(this news item sounds like a Julia Childs recipe, it's kinda foody fruity!)

Then there is an instance of Ben Bullies Barak to Attack.

On the other hand, the NYT has suddenly had another one of its schizo episodes publishing a series of Roger Cohen's op-eds:

Realpolitik for Iran

(sorry i have to cut this short since Safari has gone on a strike against my blogger! Time to get a firefox again.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

13 be dar (a spring festival)

On the 13th day of the Persian new year, i.e. 13 days after the spring equinox; Iranians "must" head out to the nature; somewhere outside of home, out in the open fields; where they can BBQ, play, and "tie a knot to the grass", when making wishes.

It will be bad luck to not do so; according to tradition. On rooze-13 (usually April 1st) Iran looks like this: