Iran said on Monday some 200 people were arrested in ethnic unrest in its southwest in recent days and closed the offices of the Arab language Al Jazeera television channel, accusing it stirring up trouble.200 Arrested in Iran Ethnic Unrest, Jazeera Closed
At least one person died after Arab-Iranians went on the rampage in the city of Ahvaz, near the border with Iraq, on Friday and Saturday, smashing and setting fire to police cars, banks and government buildings and clashing with police.
Government officials have said the violence in Iran's traditional oil-producing heartland was sparked by a forged letter, supposedly penned by a senior government official, discussing the idea of relocating ethnic Arabs from the area.
"Many of those arrested are young, innocent people. The real criminals are those who provoked them," the official IRNA news agency quoted Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi as saying.
"We have arrested many of those behind the scenes and it became evident that they have ties to anti-government (television) channels," he said.
The Tehran bureau of Qatar-based Al Jazeera television was later closed, said a senior Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry official in charge of supervising the foreign press.
"Until further investigation about the role of this channel in the recent protests in Ahvaz, its offices will be closed," Mohammad Hussein Khoshvaght told Reuters. The channel was closed "for their coverage of these demonstrations which possibly provoked bandits in southwestern Iran."
Al Jazeera said it regretted the "unexpected and unwarranted decision" and called on Iranian authorities to reconsider it.
"Al Jazeera ... assures its audience it will continue to cover Iranian affairs objectively ... and calls on the relevant Iranian authorities to reconsider the decision," the television said in a statement.
Broadcast media in Iran are in the hands of the state, but many Iranians tune in to foreign channels via illegal satellite dishes.
Some Iranian lawmakers also called for the expulsion from Iran of Al Jazeera.
One exile opposition group campaigning for the region's independence from non-Arab Iran, the London-based Ahvaz Arab People Democratic-Popular Front, said the violence was far worse than official accounts and put the death toll much higher.
But officials said peace and order had been restored to the area by Sunday and there were no other reports of renewed violence.
Arabs make up about 3 percent of Iran's 67 million people and most of them live in the southwest of the country.
You know the physicists' abbreviation G.U.T., for "Grand Unified
Theory"? It's the elusive model that will tie together, um, I think
it's relativity, quantum mechanics, and gravity, or something.
Anyway, I have an idea for a new blog dedicated to the development of a "Grand Unified Theology" that attempts to harmonize Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc., with modern science and the dramas of human history.
Mind you, I'm not trying to start a new religion, here; I see the blog as a Gedankenexperiment about the true nature of G-d.
The basic underlying assumption of this theology is that
monotheism was initially true –- in the beginning, there was G-d –- but
being the only consciousness in existence, He got bored and decided to
create the Universe as part of an elaborate, long-term plan to breed
more gods that he could hang out with. In order to produce a diverse
and interesting crowd of god-pals, He settled on the methodology of
"Deistic evolution" in order to generate as much randomness as
Whenever evolution produced a sufficiently intelligent species on a
particular planet, He would choose a sub-population and designate them
as a Chosen People to serve as models for the intellectual and moral
development of the species as a whole – thus, there are "Jews" on
planets throughout the Universe, although some of them have
exoskeletons or breathe ammonia, and naturally the definitions of
"kosher" vary from species to species. The Chosen People on each
planet get the privilege of having a Revealed Scripture that is
mostly true – at least, the truest of revelations given to that
particular planet. Gentile populations get revelations that are partly
true but salted with misleading statements to varying degrees, in
order to stimulate enlightening controversy among them and to provide
challenges for the Chosen People to deal with…
Anyway, that's just an introduction to the idea. I envision presenting
this speculative theology as a series of stories in which G-d is
having dialogues with some other members of the pantheon, as by now
the ongoing project has produced dozens of mortal beings whom He
judged sufficiently enlightened to be entrusted with immortality and
the ability to contravene physical laws, if need be.
It's bound to offend religious sensibilities, but it will be presented
in a lighthearted, Douglas Adams-ish tone, with the disclaimer that
the concept was originated under the influence of marijuana (true),
and that no one should take the arguments at all seriously except to
the extent that they find the reasoning can stand on its own merit.
So, let me know your thoughts!
Start with one of three pastas, then choose one of six sauces and one of four meats, plus three of eleven veggies.
With so many options, your possibilites are endless!
Occasionally, Hersh’s half-confirmed spoken accounts of key events in the Iraq War do get significantly revised when they make their way into print. Last July, not too long after the Abu Ghraib story broke, Hersh spoke to the annual membership conference of the American Civil Liberties Union. He stood before the crowd and in mid-speech appeared to talk to himself. “Debating about it," he muttered, then paused. “Um." Clucked his tongue. “Some of the worst things that happened that you don’t know about. Okay? Videos," he said. “And basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children, in cases that have been recorded, the boys were sodomized, with the cameras rolling, and the worst above all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking. That your government has. They’re in total terror it’s going to come out."
What Hersh said wasn’t entirely correct. His book Chain of Command would deliver the authoritative Seymour M. version: “An attorney involved in the case told me in July 2004 that one of the witness statements he had read described the rape of a boy by a foreign contract employee who served as an interpreter at Abu Ghraib," Hersh wrote. “In the statement, which had not been made public, the lawyer told me, a prisoner stated that he was a witness to the rape, and that a woman was taking pictures."
Horrifying stuff. But key details were different from the impression Hersh gave to the ACLU crowd. And the Sy version raced halfway across the Internet before Seymour M. could get his boots on.
Many who blogged the revelation believed that Hersh was talking about multiple rapes committed by American soldiers. Nearly everyone took it for granted that Hersh had seen the videotapes himself because he’d described their horrifying soundtrack. And everyone did assume that there were in fact videotapes, which there may not be. (“Was it a video camera or a digital camera? Nobody was quite sure," Hersh told students at Tufts later in the year.) The speech was so widely blogged that the ACLU says Hersh asked it to remove part of the video—including the sodomy allegation—from the organization’s Website, which it proceeded to do.
That was Hersh’s first encounter with streaming online video, something that makes a spoken remark as replicable and as easy to distribute as the written word. He’d never heard of it before. “I actually didn’t quite say what I wanted to say correctly," Hersh now says. “It wasn’t that inaccurate, but it was misstated. The next thing I know, it was all over the blogs. And I just realized then, the power of—and so you have to try and be more careful."
As the world prepares to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe on May 8-9, the mood in Poland and other former communist republics is less than celebratory. Here, the feeling is that the end of the war simply replaced one horror — Hitler's — with another — Stalin's.
Poland was forced into the Soviet-dominated Warsaw Pact, while the Baltic countries — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — were incorporated into the Soviet Union. They didn't regain their freedom until the collapse of communism in eastern Europe 15 years ago.
The lingering bitterness has led Presidents Arnold Ruutel of Estonia and Valdas Adamkus of Lithuania to refuse invitations to Moscow for the May 9 celebrations, though Presidents Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia and Aleksandar Kwasniewski of Poland will attend.
That Olizarowicz had already been thrown into a Nazi camp didn't help him with the Soviets. Today, he remembers the Nazis and Soviets as "equally bad."
"If you did something bad in the German camp, a guard would take out a gun and kill you immediately," he recalled. "But in a Soviet camp, they would starve you to death so the death was longer and more painful and then they would shoot you and finish you off with a sickle."
Olizarowicz's "crime" was serving in Poland's Home Army, the clandestine force that fought the Nazis, and which the Soviets feared would remain a rallying point for resistance. Convicted in 1947 of "anti-Soviet activity," he was among nearly 800,000 Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians shipped to labor camps.
During the train ride in cramped cattle cars, Soviet guards would count their prisoners by hitting them. They fed them only salty dried fish while denying them water on hot summer days. In a camp in Minsk, in Belarus, where he spent a year laying bricks before being taken to Siberia, Olizarowicz saw guards slashing the corpses of inmates to make sure they were dead.
Today, resentment is stoked by the perceived unwillingness of Russian authorities to acknowledge the suffering.
Kwasniewski, while saying he'll go to Moscow to commemorate the downfall of Nazi Germany, has repeatedly called on Russia to give an "honest assessment" of Soviet actions in Poland.
Russian celebrations treat the war as an untarnished triumph that began with the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and which cost 27 million Soviet lives. Little mention is made of what came before — a Soviet-German pact that carved up Poland between the two powers.
The most contentious issue is the massacre of 22,000 Polish officers, priests and intellectuals in Katyn Forest in 1940. Stalin was bent on decapitating the Polish establishment while claiming the Nazis did it.
In 1990, in one of the Soviet Union's last acts before it dissolved, the Kremlin accepted responsibility but insisted it was a war crime, not an act of genocide.
Anti-Soviet sentiment simmers in other Eastern European countries such as the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. But the issue of sending representatives to Moscow has provoked little controversy there.
President Vladimir Putin's government recently angered Poles by telling them to be grateful for the Yalta treaty, the 1945 Allied deal that set the stage for the continent's Cold War division and the consignment of Poland to the Soviet sphere.
Polish and Lithuanian leaders helped mediate an end to Ukraine's presidential election crisis in December_ talks which resulted in the defeat of the Moscow's preferred candidate. To Poles, the struggle mirrored their own efforts in the 1980s to throw off Soviet domination.
Sixty years after what the Russians call "The Great Patriotic War," it's still a highly sensitive issue, said Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a foreign affairs magazine. It is "considered a sacred page in our history," he said, and, "every attempt to raise questions about the role of the Soviet Union in this war provokes emotional feelings."
Social freedoms have long been a barometer of politics in Iran, and pundits predicted that conservatives would crack down when they regained control of parliament in February 2004.Iran eases its social strictures
Hard-liners and undercover morality police have tried to legislate a stricter dress code, and last spring stepped up efforts to crash mixed-sex parties, arrest girls showing too much ankle and wearing make-up, and scold those resting sunglasses on their heads. Mobile flogging units were even reportedly deployed in more laid-back Caspian Coast towns.
Following stiff resistance to the measures, however, the unpopular right wing appears to have shifted tactics. With presidential elections looming in June, hard-liners will take advantage of discontent over the failure of reformist President Mohammed Khatami to deliver fully on promises of freedom, openness, and the rule of law.
But they appear to have made another calculation as well - that social flexibility is a price they must pay for their political survival.
Pushing too hard on social restrictions, estimates political analyst and businessman Saeed Laylaz, is one of the three things that could destabilize Iran - along with a severe drop in oil prices or missteps in the dispute over Iran's nuclear program. Several years of rising hopes for change, and the subsequent deflation of those hopes, has turned a sizable group of Iranians, more than two-thirds of whom are under 30 years old, away from politics.
A Polish publisher wants to publish an edition of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic book "Mein Kampf." But he may be in violation of copyright laws. The German state of Bavaria, where Hitler once lived, owns the rights to the title -- and is doing what it can to defend them.