Making Sense of Iran "Crisis"

Understanding the situation in Iran (a quiz)
by Mickey Z.
In order to take seriously the mainstream media/political talk about Iran (elections, nuclear ambitions, etc.), you have to first pretend which of the following:

A) The US didn’t overthrow Mossadegh in 1953

B) Israel doesn’t possess nuclear weapons

C) Iran doesn’t possess the world’s third largest oil reserves

D) The US actually wants to promote democracy at home and abroad

E) You forgot that the only nation to ever use nuclear weapons is America

F) All of the above

(Answer: F)

If you can partake in all that pretending, well...the current hoopla will make a whole lot of sense to you.   
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"Death to the Dictator!" An Old Script Writ New in Iran

Iran Faces Greater Risks Than It Knows
by Paul Craig Roberts
Stephen Kinzer’s book, All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror, tells the story of the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected leader, Mohammed Mosaddeq, by the CIA and the British MI6 in 1953. The CIA bribed Iranian government officials, businessmen, and reporters, and paid Iranians to demonstrate in the streets.
America's Former Man in Iran, dictator Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi

The 1953 street demonstrations, together with the cold war claim that the US had to grab Iran before the Soviets did, served as the US government’s justification for overthrowing Iranian democracy. What the Iranian people wanted was not important.

Today the street demonstrations in Tehran show signs of orchestration. The protesters, primarily young people, especially young women opposed to the dress codes, carry signs written in English: “Where is My Vote?”
The signs are intended for the western media, not for the Iranian government.
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Preserving the Peace River Valley

On the CUSP in the Peace
by Andy Sinats
Tzeporah Berman made the argument that the Bute inlet or Toba Independent Power Producer (IPP) projects were not in wilderness and should proceed because the area was already "industrialized." Which is rather like recommending a rape victim should then just go work the streets because the reputation and sanctity of the person was already violated.

The same argument is being made for IPP's and the Site C on the Peace River. Mike Smyth of the Province even claims First Nations are hard done by if these projects don't get rolling.
"The vast majority of these critics have never visited the region itself. None have had the guts to look the In-SHUCK-ch people in the eyes and tell them why they should remain cut off from the world and forced to pollute their own environment to survive. The endorsement of First Nations -- and the jobs created in remote, recession-weary communities -- are just two of the benefits of the run-of-river hydro projects currently being built in B.C."
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Down and Out in the Swat

Down and Out in Shah Mansoor
by Kathy Kelly and Dan Pearson
In Pakistan’s Swabi district, a bumpy road leads to Shah Mansoor, a small village surrounded by farmland. Just outside the village, uniformly sized tents are set up in hundreds of rows.
The sun bores down on the Shah Mansoor camp which has become a temporary home to thousands of displaced Pakistanis from the Swat area. In the stifling heat, the camp’s residents sit idly, day after day, uncertain about their future. They speak with heated certainty, though, about their grievances

As soon as we stepped out of the car, men and children approached us. They had all arrived from Mingora, the main city of Swat, 15 days prior. One young man, a student, told us that bombing and shelling had increased in their area, but, due to a government imposed curfew, they weren’t allowed to leave their homes. Suddenly, the Pakistani Army warned them to leave within four hours or they would be killed. With the curfew lifted long enough for them to get out of Mingora, they joined a mass exodus of people and walked for three days before reaching this camp.

After being assigned to a section of the camp coordinated by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), they were provided with tents and plastic mats. So far, 554 tents are set up in this section, with an average of 6 – 10 people living in each tent.

Inside the tents we visited, families had few belongings. Some more fortunate families have a few cooking supplies and utensils. But for the most part, they now own little more than the clothing they wore when they fled from their homes. The neatness of the camp disguises the chaos that has afflicted its inhabitants.
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Without Irony: Obama and "Terrorist" Dissent

Criminalizing Dissent: Obama Pot Calls Iranian Kettle Black
by Dave Lindorff
President Barack Obama, referring to the violent attacks on protesters against the controversial election results in Iran’s just-completed presidential election, this week lectured Iran’s government, saying, “Peaceful dissent should never be subject to violence.”

Referring to the tens and hundreds of thousands of frustrated and angry Iranians who have taken to the streets accusing Iranian authorities of rigging the election in favor of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Obama said that “the Iranian people and their voices should be heard and respected."

But there is a certain hypocrisy going on here.

Just days ago, the ACLU of Northern California issued a press release announcing that it had filed a complaint over a Pentagon anti-terrorism training manual. That training manual, aimed at Pentagon personnel, describes domestic protests as “low-level terrorist activity.”
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Colouring Iran's Election Coup

Postcard from TwitIran Square
by ddjango
My introduction to the power of Twitter was the Israeli rape of Gaza a few months ago. I was asked by a long-time blogger friend (who has risen to lofty heights on most of the Twitter rating charts) to help retweet on-the-ground news coming from the war zone. The adrenaline rush was incredible. Addiction. Yes. Physical, emotional, mental. It took me a couple of days (or in Twitter parlance, "daze") to see and accept it for what it was. But for this, like all addictions, recognition of the sickness is not resolution. I know that total abstinence is the only solution to addiction of any sort, and I'm still not ready for that. The negative consequences do not yet outpace the goodies, if you understand that.

One reason I got immediately hooked was that it seemed like a cut and dried fight between good and evil. Palestinian good; Isreali bad. On the third day of the Gaza genocide, I was lucky that some clear thinking broke through enough that I could see that Hamas was far from squeaky clean in the conflict. Yes, Zionist Israel sucks big time, but Hamas continued to provoke and, I steadfastly maintain, was at least partially responsible for many of the civilian deaths in the Strip. You can delete me from your ideological blogroll for that, but there it is. I just can't support any violence perpetrated for political tactics and strategies.

At any rate, I learned some lessons about flash mobs and disinfo from the experience. Toward the end of the Gaza invasion, I concentrated on verifiable news and the plight of civilians, rather than taking sides. It didn't seem there were a lot of good guys balancing the bad guys. And a lot of the tweets from the ground were, in a word, shit.
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Stars and Bars: Go Tell it on the Mountain

Go Tell It On the Mountain
by Chris Floyd   
I'm on the road, in a strange country; by all appearances, a fragile, brittle, frightened land, where the natives must be told every day -- and preferably every hour -- by every means possible how wonderful they are, how good, how righteous, how deserving and important, how unquestionably, uncritically, purely and simply (oh so simply) special they are in every way.
A land where cleavage-popping babes adorn forty-foot billboards for bail bonding companies. Where pasty realtors and corn-starched pols gather to pledge allegiance to the Confederate flag, and cranky predestinarians sketch flowcharts of salvation on basement whiteboards in the wee hours of the night.
A land where fine dining establishments politely ask patrons to check their weapons at the door, and thunka-thunka country hunks lob self-regarding bombast through the wastelands and broadbands of suburbia. A land scoop-gutted, a land of simulacra , of empty gesture and thin masquerade. A land where only weather, only nature in its patches and adaptations, only the grass and earth that enclose the heartrendered dead can still convey the tang of deep reality that once flourished here. I am at present lost in such a country.
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Fish Farm 'Aquaculture-cide'

Aquacultural Revolution: Science vs. Salmon Farms
by Damien Gillis
The jig is up on this industry.  Years of PR spin, political influence, and denial of science have led to this moment. Our wild salmon and everything that depends upon them are suffering unacceptably from the impacts of open cage salmon farming on our coast. It is time that we pull our collective heads out of the sand and say "enough is enough."

Despite the unfortunate outcome of our recent provincial election (with the exception of the vast majority of coastal ridings that voted against the Campbell Government), we face an unprecedented window of opportunity to force the giant Norwegian corporations that dominate this industry to fundamentally change their business or leave our province and wild salmon alone.  A mountain of published science, a landmark legal victory, the assertion of indigenous title and rights, and a much-weakened industry - due to gross environmental mismanagement of their Chilean operations and the global economic downturn - have all contributed to this opportunity.
The future of wild salmon and the ecology and people of BC depend on us standing up together to demand the changes that science tells us we need to make before it's too late. We must choose between open cage salmon farms or wild salmon - and we must choose and act quickly. 
Please forward this video and message widely.

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Finding a Hole, Digging a Pit

The Pit
by Peter Ewart
Economically speaking, we have fallen into a pit. We may not fallen as deeply as some other countries, at least not yet, but we are still in the depths – make no mistake about it.
This downturn we are in, as myself and others have been saying for several years now, is not the usual kind. There will be stock market rallies, there will be so-called “green shoots,” but these are all within the overall context of this economic “pit.” We will be stuck in it for a long time yet. And, even when we get out, the world will be a dramatically changed place, both economically and politically.
Recently, Barry Eichengreen, and Kevin O’Rourke, prominent American and English economist respectively, provided an update to an earlier article in which they compared the economic figures of the current “downturn” with those of the Great Depression of the 1930s (see notes at bottom).
Using graphs, these economists track the two downturns in regards to “world industrial output”, “world stock markets”, “volume of world trade” and so on. What the graphs show is that the current downturn tracks as bad, or in some countries, worse than the Great Depression. This does not necessarily mean that we are going to end up with a depression of that scale, but it does mean, at the very least, that we are heading into an unusually long and deep trough.
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Son of Bear Mountain: New Monster Development Lurches Forward in Langford

Skirt Mountain: New Monster Development in Langford Lurches Forward Local group calls for a halt, citing abuse of process and environmental damage
Over the past two years, Langford City Council and Skirt Mountain developers have carved out an appalling legacy that includes the destruction of million-year-old caves, terraforming wildlife habitat into golf courses, a river of toxic orange sludge flowing downhill from Len Barrie's mansion, repeated threats to sue their critics, a reprimand from the BC Civil Liberties Association, public intimidation by gangs of abusive thugs, and an army of Special Forces police attacking a small tree-sit camp.
Environmental Group Charge Langford Deputy Mayor Denise Blackwell and Council Ignored Due Process in Latest Development Bid
Anyone who values free speech, civil society, environmental protection, native heritage, and intelligent urban planning is urged to speak out for an end to this insanity.

On Monday, June 15, Langford City Council is set to give final approval to South Skirt Mountain, a new monster condo development adjacent to Bear Mountain Resort, Goldstream Provincial Park, Florence Lake and the TransCanada Highway. Four developers plan to build 2800 condos along the new Bear Mountain Parkway above the half-built Spencer Interchange. A local environmental group, Vancouver Island Community Forest Action Network (VIC FAN), is preparing to file a petition in BC Supreme Court to overturn the development bylaw.
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Peruvian's Protecting the Amazon Attacked

Canada must halt free trade agreement with Peru
by Council of Canadians
Indigenous communities in Peru have been holding peaceful protests since April 9 to condemn new laws that would allow for the rapid industrialization of the Amazon rainforest. These laws were put in place by the Peruvian government to further facilitate its proposed free trade agreements with Canada and the United States.

Over 30,000 Indigenous protesters have blocked roads, rivers and railways to force the repeal of these new laws, which would make way for intensified oil, mining, logging activities and massive agricultural projects, and to demand that they be consulted on all development planned on their land.

But at dawn on Friday, June 5, 600 Peruvian police in helicopters and on foot opened fire on protesters blocking a road near Bagua in the Peruvian Amazon. Conservative estimates indicate that 60 Indigenous and police have been killed. Police are accused of burning bodies then hiding them in the river and of removing the wounded from hospital to hide the real number of casualties.

Should Canada really be signing a free trade agreement with the Peruvian government when this is how they respond to legitimate protests against oil, mining and forestry projects that threaten to displace local and indigenous communities and further despoil Amazonian ecosystems?

Many of our elected Members of Parliament seem to think so.
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Obama's War: Loosing the Manhunters

Obama Looses the Manhunters: Charisma and the Imperial Presidency
by Tom Engelhardt
Let's face it, even Bo is photogenic, charismatic. He's a camera hound. And as for Barack, Michelle, Sasha, and Malia -- keep in mind that we're now in a first name culture -- they all glow on screen.

Before a camera they can do no wrong. And the president himself, well, if you didn't watch his speech in Cairo, you should have. The guy's impressive. Truly. He can speak to multiple audiences -- Arabs, Jews, Muslims, Christians, as well as a staggering range of Americans -- and somehow just about everyone comes away hearing something they like, feeling he's somehow on their side. And it doesn't even feel like pandering. It feels like thoughtfulness. It feels like intelligence.

For all I know -- and the test of this is still a long, treacherous way off -- Barack Obama may turn out to be the best pure politician we've seen since at least Ronald Reagan, if not Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He seems to have Roosevelt's same unreadable ability to listen and make you believe he's with you (no matter what he's actually going to do), which is a skill not to be whistled at.
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