The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'iran'
The latest refugee in Australia's archipelago of detention centres: an Iranian heavy metal drummer, fleeing persecution by the theocratic regime:
The man wrote that he abandoned his beloved drums after authorities began to increasingly target music fans.''In an underground concert more than 60 fans were arrested, charged and locked up. Players were taken to Intelligence. Two teachers of mine were arrested also.''
He panicked. He sold his drums, moved to a new location and changed his phone number, cut ties with everyone but family and sank into depression. ''I deleted every history of my music from my life because of my fear of being arrested by the government who were intent on stopping this music. During this time six musicians that I knew were arrested in their training place. After that no one contacted each other, even on Facebook.''The Iranian regime's war on popular music is old news: a documentary from 2009, Nobody Knows About Persian Cats, recounts the travails of an underground twee pop band in Tehran. If anything, heavy metal musicians would be singled out for particularly harsh prosecution, possibly even executed for religious crimes, as the unnamed drummer suggests. (Metal bands in neighbouring Iraq haven't fared well either recently; the country's one and only well-known band, Acrassicauda, fled via Turkey and sought asylum in the US.)
(It's interesting that Facebook is (a) not blocked inside Iran, and (b) avoided by those fearing persecution; which suggests that the regime has the means to monitor it, possibly using those forged SSL root certificates it is speculated to have, enabling it to carry out man-in-the-middle attacks on any SSL connections.)
Wary of the possibility that a population of educated, frustrated women could result in pressure for political liberalisation, Iran's government has moved to preempt this by declared 70 university courses to be for men only:
It follows years in which Iranian women students have outperformed men, a trend at odds with the traditional male-dominated outlook of the country's religious leaders. Women outnumbered men by three to two in passing this year's university entrance exam.
Senior clerics in Iran's theocratic regime have become concerned about the social side-effects of rising educational standards among women, including declining birth and marriage rates.Of course, if women outperform men in academic fields, banning women may make the men feel better about their performance, but it will be less salutary for Iran's economy if half of all potential knowledge workers are prohibited by law from developing their potential.
This is at odds with the arguably more progressive Saudi approach (and "progressive" and "Saudi" aren't two words I expected to write adjacent to each other) of planning segregated women-only cities, where the nation's educated, otherwise frustrated women can work in industry on a “separate but equal” basis. (I wonder how long that will last; eventually, I imagine it'll lead to those invested in the status quo deciding that it's a threat and attacking it; starving it of resources, imposing crippling restrictions on it, and eventually shutting it down and sending the women back to the authority of their male family members, and the city will go the way the the USSR's Jewish Autonomous Oblast did once Stalin found it too threatening.)
And Iran is moving to further remind women of their place under an Islamic theocracy, by moving to legalise the marriage of girls under 10. The current age at which girls can be married in the Islamic Republic is 10, down from 16 before the revolution.
And today, in International Zionist Conspiracy news: the Iranian government has stated to the International Olympic Committee that it will boycott the 2012 Olympics unless the logo is changed, on the grounds that the logo spells the word "Zion" if you rearrange the elements of it, and thus is a coded assertion of British support for Israeli supremacy. Or perhaps Rastafarianism or something.
According to the state-backed Iranian Students News Agency, which is frequently used to convey official pronouncements, the letter says: "As internet documents have proved, using the word Zion in the logo of the 2012 Olympic Games is a disgracing action and against the Olympics' valuable mottos. There is no doubt that negligence of the issue from your side may affect the presence of some countries in the Games, especially Iran which abides by commitment to the values and principles."Meanwhile, Hamas, the Iranian-backed Islamist group which rules half of the Palestinian territories, has vowed to prevent United Nations schools in its territories from teaching children about the Holocaust.
"We cannot agree to a programme that is intended to poison the minds of our children," said a statement from the ministry for refugee affairs. "Holocaust studies in refugee camps is a contemptible plot and serves the Zionist entity with a goal of creating a reality and telling stories in order to justify acts of slaughter against the Palestinian people."
Ging, a passionate advocate of the rights of Palestinian refugees and a vocal critic of Israel's policies towards Gaza, said Palestinian children needed to understand the great injustices of the 20th century, including the Holocaust, in order to fight legitimately for their own cause.
An Iranian web programmer resident in Canada, who returned to Iran to visit family, has been sentenced to death after allegedly confessing to having worked on pornographic web sites in Canada. Saeed Malekpour's family are saying that the charges are false and that the confession was extracted under torture.
Why is the Iranian government allegedly torturing an innocent man with a view to executing him for a crime he did not commit? Well, one theory goes that it's to act as a deterrent to revived anti-government protests, with him being merely the unlucky soul who best fit the needs of doing so. The successful toppling of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, and, before that, Tunisia's authoritarian regime, by public protests has emboldened local resistance movements, and made other dictatorships nervous. (And it's not just in the Middle East; during the Egyptian protests, China configured its national firewall to censor all news or commentary mentioning Egypt, just in case it set off another Tienanmen.)
Human rights groups have expressed alarm over a sharp increase in the use of capital punishment in Iran. According to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), 121 people have been hanged between 20 December 2010 and 31 January this year. An ICHRI report published in mid-January said that Iran has hanged an average of one person every eight hours since the beginning of the new year.
According to a US government report, for 18 minutes in April, 15% of global internet traffic was rerouted through a state-owned ISP in China. The report strongly hints that this may have been no accident, but a deliberate attempt by the Chinese government to capture and analyse internet traffic between entities in the US or elsewhere.
Dmitri Alperovitch, a threat research analyst at internet security firm McAfee, said the capture "is one of the biggest – if not the biggest hijacks – we have ever seen". "No one except China Telecom operators" know what happened to the traffic during those 18 minutes, Alperovitch added. "The possibilities are numerous and troubling, but definitive answers are unknown."The Chinese government has denied the allegations. Of course, it could be just a router malfunction or operator error. (Sometimes sinister-looking things turn out to be just randomness: princesses die in stupid car crashes, presidents' heads spontaneously explode in motorcades, that sort of thing. )
Meanwhile, further analysis of the Stuxnet malware (which, it was previously speculated, was designed to attack Iran's nuclear enrichment programme, possibly by the Israeli Mossad) have shown that its payload was designed to subtly degrade the quality of enriched uranium coming from centrifuges:
According to Symantec, Stuxnet targets specific frequency-converter drives — power supplies used to control the speed of a device, such as a motor. The malware intercepts commands sent to the drives from the Siemens SCADA software, and replaces them with malicious commands to control the speed of a device, varying it wildly, but intermittently.
The malware, however, doesn’t sabotage just any frequency converter. It inventories a plant’s network and only springs to life if the plant has at least 33 frequency converter drives made by Fararo Paya in Teheran, Iran, or by the Finland-based Vacon.
Even more specifically, Stuxnet targets only frequency drives from these two companies that are running at high speeds — between 807 Hz and 1210 Hz. Such high speeds are used only for select applications. Symantec is careful not to say definitively that Stuxnet was targeting a nuclear facility, but notes that “frequency converter drives that output over 600 Hz are regulated for export in the United States by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as they can be used for uranium enrichment.”
Bruce Schneier has a writeup of the facts we know about the Stuxnet worm, the sophisticated and unusual-looking Windows worm that has been speculated to have been designed by the intelligence agencies of the USA/Israel/Germany (delete as appropriate) to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Or possibly not:
Stuxnet doesn't act like a criminal worm. It doesn't spread indiscriminately. It doesn't steal credit card information or account login credentials. It doesn't herd infected computers into a botnet. It uses multiple zero-day vulnerabilities. A criminal group would be smarter to create different worm variants and use one in each. Stuxnet performs sabotage. It doesn't threaten sabotage, like a criminal organization intent on extortion might.
Stuxnet was expensive to create. Estimates are that it took 8 to 10 people six months to write. There's also the lab setup--surely any organization that goes to all this trouble would test the thing before releasing it--and the intelligence gathering to know exactly how to target it. Additionally, zero-day exploits are valuable. They're hard to find, and they can only be used once. Whoever wrote Stuxnet was willing to spend a lot of money to ensure that whatever job it was intended to do would be done.
None of this points to the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, though. Best I can tell, this rumor was started by Ralph Lagner, a security researcher from Germany. He labeled his theory "highly speculative," and based it primarily on the facts that Iran had an usually high number of infections (the rumor that it had the most infections of any country seems not to be true), that the Bushehr nuclear plant is a juicy target, and that some of the other countries with high infection rates--India, Indonesia, and Pakistan--are countries where the same Russian contractor involved in Bushehr is also involved. This rumor moved into the computer press and then into the mainstream press, where it became the accepted story, without any of the original caveats.Schneier also looks at strings found in the Stuxnet worm's code, some of which suggest, somewhat tenuously, either that it's of Israeli origin or that the authors wish to give the impression that it is.
Basically, all that's definitely known is that Stuxnet was elaborately expensive to create (containing not only zero-day vulnerabilities but stolen driver certificates) and was designed to attack Siemens plant control computers. It also has been around for a while, possibly having gone undetected for a year, and has updated itself remotely during that time.
Iran: possibly the only place where twee pop is a dangerously subversive underground movement:
Their ambition for next year, once they find a drummer, is to get on to the bill at Glastonbury or Reading. The difference is that Take It Easy Hospital originally formed in Iran, where rock music is banned. When the local music industry is non-existent, gigs and recording studios are regularly raided by police and even MySpace is monitored, simply finding someone who shares your love of guitars and plaintive vocals is fraught with difficulties.
If they'd grown up in England, Take It Easy Hospital's wan, organ-driven indie-pop, topped with earnest observations about the "human jungle", might stand accused of being a little bit twee. But once you learn how hard Ash and Negar have had to fight just to get their songs heard, they take on a whole new complexion. And despite their ugly experiences in Iran, they are determined not to make rebel rock. "Me, I don't care about politics," says Negar. "The value of art is a lot more than politics. Politics is something that passes, but art stays for years."Take It Easy Hospital's story is recounted in the film No One Knows About Persian Cats, opening soon.
The Iranian government, boldly pushing the boundaries in how to make totalitarianism work in the age of the internet, has announced that it will block Google's Gmail permanently. Instead, Iranians will be provided with "a national email service", intended to "boost local development of internet technology" and "build trust between people and the government".
Australian communications minister Senator Conroy is said to be watching developments carefully.
A new documentary showing at the London Film Festival looks at Iran's underground rock scene. In this case, "underground" meaning not so much "uncommercial" as "illegal":
The threat of the police and authorities is all around. Bands soundproof secret rehearsal spaces and venues; one heavy metal band avoids arrest by playing in a stinking cowshed on a farm far out of town; members of another band talk about having their instruments confiscated. The police are often out of shot, however - perhaps adding to the omnipresent menace and what feels like an arbitrary exercise of power. When Negar's car is stopped and her pet dog taken from her, we never see the police officer who does the snatching.The film, No One Knows About Persian Cats, was co-written by Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who was subsequently imprisoned by the Iranian regime.
The Principality of Hutt River, Australia's best-known novelty nation, has found itself in the news again, when an Iranian man facing fraud charges in Dubai claimed to be an ambassador of the province and demanded diplomatic treatment. The unnamed defendant is facing several fraud charges, some relating to the issuing of false passports:
Asked to explain why he was not on a list of foreign diplomats, he claimed his state was trying to open an embassy in Dubai and had just recently started the registration process.The Principality of Hutt River's Prince Leonard (known as Leonard Casley to the Australian Tax Office) has admitted to knowing of the man, though denied that he was a Hutt River diplomat.
A gay Iranian teenager who fled to Britain after his boyfriend was hanged for sodomy is facing deportation to Iran, and almost certain death. Britain's Home Office has already denied Mehdi Kazemi, 19, asylum, and now the Netherlands is extraditing him to Britain:
"There is no doubt that Mehdi will be arrested and probably executed if he is sent back there," said his 51-year-old uncle, a salesman from Hampshire. "The police have issued a warrant for his arrest. He will be in terrible danger if he goes back."
Mr Kazemi's father has also told him that if the state doesn't kill him, he will. "His father is very angry but his mother still loves him. She is extremely worried for him but she is in a very difficult position. In Iran, mothers don't stop loving their children because they are gay."
A Home Office spokeswoman confirmed Mr Kazemi had exhausted all his domestic avenues of appeal and could expect to be detained pending his deportation. But she added: "Any further representations will be considered on their merits taking into account all the circumstances."Meanwhile, in Lancashire, a court has heard that a gang of teenagers beat a 20-year-old woman to death because she was dressed as a Goth. The woman's boyfriend was severely bashed and left with brain damage. It is not clear what the assailants' dispute with the victims' subcultural orientation was, or indeed what their own views were, though it'd probably be a safe bet that they were of the hoody-wearing persuasion.
And the ultra-conservative former prime minister of Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has spoken out against allowing internet voting because the internet is for pornography:
"I am not an enthusiast of a young person sitting in front of a computer, watching video clips and pornography while sipping a bottle of beer and voting when he feels like it," he was quoted as saying on his party's revamped Web site.
He added that Internet users are "the easiest group to manipulate, to suggest who to vote for."He's right, if one defines being manipulated as being persuaded to put aside cherished prejudices and entertain new, potentially controversial, ideas.
Details of how the NSA hacked cryptography machines from Swiss company Crypto AG, inserting an undetectable security hole which allowed them to read the traffic of users (including Iranian government orders to assassins and terrorists including the Lockerbie bombers):
On the day of his assassination and one day before his body was found with his throat slit, the Teheran headquarters of the Iranian Intelligence Service, the VEVAK, transmitted a coded message to Iranian diplomatic missions in London, Paris, Bonn and Geneva. "Is Bakhtiar dead?" the message asked.
"Different countries need different levels of security. The United States and other leading Western countries required completely secure communications. Such security would not be appropriate for the Third World countries that were Crypto's customers," Boris Hagelin explained to the baffled engineer. "We have to do it."
Juerg Spoerndli left Crypto AG in 1994. He helped design the machines in the late '70s. "I was ordered to change algorithms under mysterious circumstances" to weaker machines," says Spoerndli who concluded that NSA was ordering the design change through German intermediaries.
The ownership of Crypto AG has been to a company in Liechtenstein, and from there back to a trust company in Munich. Crypto AG has been described as the secret daughter of Siemens but many believe that the real owner is the German government.
Adult-contemporary balladeer Chris De Burgh will be the first Western artist allowed to play in Iran, presumably because his material is considered sufficiently innocuous, and/or because his country, Ireland, is not in conflict with the Islamist theocracy.
Meanwhile, in Austin, Texas, a 24-hour all-Michael Bolton station has shut down, declaring bankruptcy after almost five months of operation.
The FBI has a new technique for sniffing out potential terrorist cells: scanning grocery store records for telltale spikes in felafel sales. Really.
Other than anything else, the fact that they were using felafel sales to find Iranian sleeper cells suggests that whoever came up with this idea didn't do their homework.
In recent health-related news: a cure may have been discovered for the debilitating condition of unrequited love. Researchers in Alabama and Iran have found that a combination of the hormones of melatonin and vasotocin may alleviate the condition:
Intense romantic love is associated with specific physiological, psychological and behavioural changes, including euphoria, obsessiveness, and a craving for closeness with the target.
The key is the pea-sized pineal gland, which produces melatonin. This hormone plays a key role in the circadian cycle. It has also shown anti-dopamine activities in part of the brain, while a second hormone, arginine-vasotocin, also has a key role in romantic love. The researchers suggest that giving the two hormones may be a cure for non-returned romantic love.(Alabama and Iran? I wonder whether there's any deeper significance to two places known for religiously-based social conservatism being at the forefront of research to control a powerful and sometimes disruptive phenomenon. Is it heartening or disturbing that, even as talk of a US/Iranian war grows louder, US and Iranian scientists can join forces in the War On Unrequited Love?)
Also in the same article: taking showers may cause a neurodegenerative condition associated with inhalation of manganese, keeping dogs may cause breast cancer and sunlight may increase violent impulses.
The Iranian government claims to have captured 14 squirrels equipped with "spy gear", which had been released inside Iran by Zionist-crusader-infidel forces.
Assuming that this story is in fact true (as opposed to being disinformation, a hoax, or something like the man-eating badgers the British are releasing in Iraq), it makes one wonder exactly how the CIA/MI6/Mossad are tricking out these squirrels. Presumably they'd be surgically implanted with some sort of telemetry and communications equipment (a GPS receiver and radio transmitter, for example), along with a power source (which could be a battery, possibly coupled with something to generate power from the squirrel's metabolism or body heat). The devices may be passive, merely transmitting captured data, or they may be wired into the squirrel's brain, controlling its behaviour by stimulating reward centres (this has been successfully done with rats). Whether they could get useful data from the squirrels' visual/auditory cortices is another matter; implanting a microphone may be doable, but a camera would, I suspect, look rather conspicuous.
Iran's reactionary Islamist regime has tightened the screws of censorship and blocked access to numerous evil Zionist-crusader websites like YouTube, Amazon, Wikipedia and IMDB. This seems to be an escalation from the theocracy's relatively more liberal policy until now of only specifically blocking politically or religiously sensitive materials:
Critics accuse Iran of using filtering technology to censor more sites than any country apart from China. Until now, targets have been mainly linked to opposition groups or those deemed "immoral" under Iran's Islamic legal code. Some news sites, such as the BBC's Farsi service, are also blocked.
With some 7.5 million surfers, Iran is believed to have the highest rate of web use in the Middle East after Israel. The net's popularity has prompted an estimated 100,000 bloggers, many opposed to the Islamic regime. Some blogs are substitutes for Iran's once-flourishing, but now largely supressed, reformist press.The new restrictions come a few weeks after the banning of numerous books.
Meanwhile, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadine-Jihad, who isn't known for his liberal views, is in hot water with hardliners in his own regime after he was seen watching unveiled women dancers at the opening of the Asian games in Qatar, which appears to be the Iranian equivalent of being caught in a strip club. MPs are calling for an investigation, and probably beheadings, stonings and limb amputations of those involved.
Project Censored has published a list of the top 25 news stories you didn't hear of in the mainstream media:
1 Future of Internet Debate Ignored by Media
2 Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran
4 Hunger and Homelessness Increasing in the US
11 Dangers of Genetically Modified Food Confirmed
14 Homeland Security Contracts KBR to Build Detention Centers in the US
18 Physicist Challenges Official 9-11 Story
24 Cheney's Halliburton Stock Rose Over 3000 Percent Last Year
(via Boing Boing)
Five Americans who were injured in a Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem are suing to seize ancient Persian clay tablets, on loan from Iran to Chicago University since 1939, to be sold for compensation for Iran's role:
The tablets were found in southern Iran in the 1930s by archaeologists from Chicago University. Many fear that the action will deter future loans of art to the United States, but David Strachman, the victims' lawyer, insists he is just collecting damages from Iran. He admitted he had "no idea" how much the tablets were worth.
The battle stems from an attack by three suicide bombers in Jerusalem on September 4, 1997. The Iranian-backed Palestinian group Hamas claimed responsibility. Several Americans who were wounded in the bombing filed a suit against Iran and in 2003 a US judge awarded them $423.5 million (£246 million). Unable to make Iran pay up, five of the survivors went after Iranian art works and artefacts in the US.
Gil Stein, the director of Chicago University's Oriental Institute, said that the tablets were irreplaceable.Words fail me.
America may have had Freedom Fries and Freedom Ticklers, but Iran is doing one better: the national confectioners' union has ordered danish pastries to be renamed "Roses of the Prophet Mohammed", in retaliation for a Danish newspaper's disrespecting of the Prophet. Presumably there would also be a mandatory "(peace be upon him)" after that, making the new appellation sound even more awkward.
A Danish newspaper publishes cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, offending Muslims. Iran retaliates by running a contest for the most offensive Holocaust-related cartoons. And now, a group of Israeli cartoonists are not taking this lying down, and running their own anti-Semitic cartoon contest, to show the Iranians that they won't be bested:
Amitai Sandy, the publisher of Tel-Aviv, Israel-based Dimona Comix, and founder of the contest jokes, "We'll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published! No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!"A truly inspired move.
(via Boing Boing)
Right-wing hoaxers are believed to have submitted a maliciously modified Michael Leunig cartoon to an Iranian competition to find cartoons poking fun at the Holocaust. The cartoon in question was believed to have been one contrasting the Holocaust with Israeli military actions against Palestinians, which The Age refused to print in 2002; the version submitted apparently had the words changed to something appropriately rabid and mean-spirited to stand a chance against the fierce competition from the Middle Eastern press's finest. Leunig, a renowned humanist and anti-war campaigner, is considering legal action.
The hard-line government of Iran has announced that it will be holding a conference to question whether the Holocaust really happened. The announcement comes shortly after Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadine-Jihad called for the annihilation of Israel and stated that the extermination of Jews by the Nazis was "a myth".
I bet Holocaust denier David Irving's kicking himself that he got arrested in Austria; were he a free man, he'd probably have a university chair waiting for him in Tehran or something.
It looks like Australia may be facing another tightening of its already notorious censorship laws, this time governing TV nudity; Australia's equivalent of the Janet Jackson nipple outrage is reality-TV-show contestants getting it on in a hot-tub, which has made it into Federal parliamentary debates:
"What we basically have is pornography and full frontal nudity on television at a time when children are watching. These people have an aspiration to be porn stars," Draper told Reuters.It's hard to believe that this is the country that, only five years earlier, was considering introducing a "non-violent erotica" film classification.
At least Howard/Hillsong Australia c.2005 isn't quite as bad as Iran, where the government is microwaving its own population to save them from satellite-TV-borne "westoxication". The huge volumes of microwaves being pumped into population centres as Iran's elections approach are claimed to cause everything from migraines to birth defects or worse; though what are a few brain tumours compared to eternal salvation?
Today is Free Mojtaba and Arash day, an international campaign to free two Iranian bloggers imprisoned in a crackdown on online publishing. To see how you can help, follow the link above.
Respected investigative reporter Seymour Hersh claims that US special forces are in Iran, covertly selecting targets for air strikes, and that Iran is likely to be the next country "liberated" from its regime.
Given how well the liberation of Iraq has gone, it's a worry. Though perhaps in domestic political terms, it's a better strategy to go and knock over a fresh evil regime and leave the festering pit of brutal misery that Iraq has become to quietly fall out of media coverage. Meanwhile, North Korea is still in the too-hard basket, despite the fact that, if there ever was one candidate for an "evil regime" to knock over (both on humanitarian grounds and under the doctrine of preemptive self-defence; after all, isn't Kim Jong Il uncomfortably close to being able to hit California with nuclear missiles?), that would probably be it.
Anyway, how much do you want to bet that, when the
Somalization liberation of Iran comes around, John Howard's Australia and Tony Blair's Britain will be jostling for first in line to volunteer troops?
British foreign secretary Jack Straw has stated that a war on Iran is "inconceivable". Well, that's me reassured.
Asked if he thought that the world would back a strike on Iran, either by US or Israeli forces, Mr Straw said: "Not only is that inconceivable, but I think the prospect of it happening is inconceivable."
That's very convenient phrasing; note that Straw does not state opposition to invading or bombing Iran, as, after all, it's not his decision to make. After all, if something unconceivable does happen, then the rules go out the window, and Britain would immediately get in line, just as it did on Iraq and the abandonment of the Oslo accord.
Comment shamelessly stolen from someone else's a LiveJournal:
I wonder how long it will be before certain Christian Conservatives will argue that the earthquake in Bam, Iran was God's wrath against Iran for supporting terro...
Oh, wait. I forgot. God only inflicts disaster on US because of gay firemen.
(from Lt. Wilkes)
Iran's religious police have arrested dozens of young people for internet dating:
General Ahmad Rouzbehani told Irna: "Some people were using an internet site to allow girls and boys to talk and arrange meetings in a place in north Tehran where they had illegal relations."
George W. Bush's Axis of Evil as extreme holiday destination.
North Korea was nowhere near as tough as I thought it would be, but Cuba was a real disappointment because it's so touristy.
Iraq should be popular as Egypt as a tourist destination; it's got the Garden of Eden, the first ever city, the Hanging Gardens, yet hardly anyone visits.
On the third day (in Iran) three guys burst in while we were talking to some students. They took us back to the hotel and turned our rooms over. When they found cameras, tapes and tourist visas, they decided that we were spies.
An article on the rise of blogging in Iran, and how a young generation of web-savvy reformists is leapfrogging the power of the theocracy, largely due to Iran's lack of resources and/or will to establish a Saudi-style censorship infrastructure. Wonder how long this will continue.
Proof that blogs are no longer the exclusive domain of introspective cat-owners, list-making geeks and right-wing warhawks: women in Iran take to blogging, to talk about social issues that women cannot discuss openly in the conservative Islamic society. (via Reenhead)
This is not the Onion: The Islamic theocracy of Iran is ahead of the U.S. in sex education. Mostly because of the U.S.'s federally-mandated "abstinence-only" sex education and panic about regarding under-18s as sexual beings. (For example, the Missouri legislature, presumably taking a break from the War On Goths, recently voted to cut $100,000 from a University's budget to punish a professor who claimed that the 'moral panic' over paedophilia is exaggerated.)
Update: An AlterNet story about the issue, and about a controversial book criticising the whole notion of protecting minors from the very knowledge of sex.
(via Unknown News, The Fix)
Looks like we're off to war with Iraq, Iran and North Korea next.
"For too long our culture has said `if it feels good, do it'," Mr Bush said. "Now America is embracing a new ethic and a new creed: Let's roll."
Actually, "if it feels good, do it" sounds a lot like waging war, finding your approval ratings soaring, and then declaring war on three more states, don't you think?
Was one of the actors in a recently acclaimed Iranian film about oppression in Afghanistan a fugitive assassin, wanted for murdering an Iranian dissident in 1980? US officials insist that he is.
Not the Onion: Iranian Transsexual Unhappy With Experience As Woman