With stunning meanness and unabashed mockery, the British press are lambasting the choice of a German as pope. The catch phrases of the day are "Hitler" "Tank Cardinal" and "God's Rottweiler." In short, the English papers are doing less reporting than seething with rage.
Almost no English paper has missed the opportunity of running a photo of the new pope, Joseph Ratzinger, as he looked as a young boy in his Hitler Youth uniform. Taking a quick glance at a London newsstand on Wednesday, one has the impression that a sort of concerted battle readiness is in the works. In reality, the preparations have nothing to do with godliness and everything to do with power. Particularly the power of a German.
“The events in Georgia, Ukraine and recently in Kyrgyzstan have spirited the people on Iran, mostly the young generation and dispirited the authorities, mostly the leadership that is thrown in full crisis, as it sees similar dictatorships relying on the bayonet have crumbled in one night and evaporated�?, confirmed a dissident students leader.Read it all.
IPS – Students have made the “Referendum, referendum, this is the slogan of the people�? a generalised, national slogan. Nevertheless, for most of the people it is not clear what is the purpose of the referendum; what is going to be demanded from them?
AAF - That is quite right and this is one criticism we also have, asking why we should not express our goals clearly to the people? In 1979, people voted massively for a referendum without knowing exactly what was the Islamic Republic? They voted and less than two months latter, they badly regretted, because they (new leaders) had abused from people’s sentiments. This is no more possible, because people are awake and aware. The question asked from them in the referendum now must be clear: Do you accept the Islamic Republic, yes or not? This is the question people would be asked.
Because Iran is at the centre of world’s attention, because the world is looking at Iran, we have a historic, but very short occasion to be on the world’s stage. It is upon us to make the best use of this unique occasion to expose our aspirations, our demands and our wishes. In one word, to tell the world that by referendum, we want liberalism, pluralism, democracy, human rights and secularity.
IPS – Do you think recent events in Ukraine and in Kyrgyzstan can affect Iranian people and authorities?
AAF – Have no doubt on that. Already we can see the impact in the streets, on the people, on the youngsters as well as on the officials. One of the latest jokes is this: “Let’s go choose colour", in reference to the colours of these recent revolutions. These events have spirited the people, mostly the young generation and at the same time dispirited the authorities, mostly the leadership that is thrown in full crisis, as it sees visibly how similar dictatorships relying on the bayonet have crumbled in one night and finished.
When a regime has not a popular backing, it can fall or melt like snow in the sun.
This shows that when a regime has not a popular backing, it can fall; it can melt like snow in the sun. These lads know that in order to live and survive a regime must have both domestic and international legitimacy, something that this regime has neither.
As I said, these colourful revolutions have a deep impact on the Iranian leadership, they have warned them that if they continue to discard and ignore the wishes and demands of their people, they should pack the soonest possible and leave for a country that would give them shelter.
IPS – Don’t you think that if in Iran people do not move quickly, there would be no colour left?
AAF – Concerning the colours, I have to say that if in some nations where the colourful revolution took place and succeeded, it was because a minimum of freedom and space existed for the opposition to air its views while in Iran, there is no freedom at all for the opponents. In May 1997, one tried to bring about a peaceful change and we, students, we were among the front runners in experiencing the first colour revolution in the region.
By standing behind the reformists and President Mohammad Khatami, we offered them the occasion to start and advance a peaceful, non violent revolution, but the leadership took the hard line and threw so many stones that now, they should expect harvesting what they planted: violence.
The repression that exists in our country is unparalleled. Where people would be jailed for an innocent open letter, for an interview with a foreign-based radio station, for writing an article or simply for screaming out?
More than 400 young men and women have volunteered to carry out suicide bombing attacks against Americans in Iraq and targets in Israel, a militant group said Wednesday.
The recruiting effort was detailed during a ceremony organized by the Headquarters for Commemorating Martyrs of the Global Islamic Movement, a shadowy group that has been seeking attackers for nearly a year.
The Iranian government has distanced itself from the organization. But the event was attended by Mahdi Rahimian, the head of the Martyr's Foundation and the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, both quasi-government organizations run by hard-liners loyal to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"Some 440 volunteers, most of them women, signed up today," said group spokesman Mohammad Ali Samadi.
Samadi, said members have already carried out suicide attacks inside Israel against Israeli military targets. But his group is not among those that have claimed responsibility for any previous attacks there.
Iran's hard-line rulers have long called for the destruction of Israel. Iranians are barred from traveling to Israel and Samadi suggested that his suicide bombers secretly infiltrate the Jewish state.
A 12-part series on the life of the “father of suicide bombings," Hamas bomb-maker Yihye Ayash, is set to be aired on the Lebanese-based Hizbullah satellite television station al-Manar.And speaking of high moral standards and not harming Israeli chidren...
Ayash, who studied electrical engineering at Bir Zeit University near Ramallah and joined Hamas shortly afterward, was responsible for manufacturing bombs that killed at least 76 Israelis and injured more than 400. Israeli intelligence elements finally succeeded in killing him in 1996, using an explosive installed in his cellular phone.
Ayash is lauded as a hero in the Palestinian Authority, and posters featuring his face, with the honorific nickname ‘al-Muhandas’ [The Engineer], plaster the walls of many Arab towns in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
On January 5, 1996, Israeli security agents succeeded in having him answer a cell phone in which they had planted 1.7 ounces of explosives - causing it to blow up and kill him on the spot.
The Syrian-produced TV series on his life is not the first anti-Semitic program to be aired on al-Manar. Aside from laudatory news reports following attacks on Israeli civilians, the channel broadcast a series called ‘A-Shatat’ [Diaspora] in November 2003. The show was billed as an accurate depiction of modern Zionism, but was blatantly anti-Semitic in content and made repeated references to the forged anti-Semitic document "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
Following that broadcast and the refusal of al-Manar to remove anti-Semitic programming, the channel was removed from the rosters of local satellite networks in the United States and France.
The series on Ayash began airing in April, at prime time each evening. The series glorifies the terrorist, and Hamas in general.
The Arab actors playing IDF soldiers and Israeli government officials speak Hebrew in the series, though with a thick Arabic accent. Sinister music is played whenever a Jew appears on the scene.
Ayash is portrayed as a role model, and even a moral humanist. One scene depicts him urging terrorists under his command not to harm any Israeli children in an “operation." He says to them: “Never forget, we are superior to our enemy in our moral standards."
Six years after Ayash's death, Israel's Ministry of Education released a pamphlet about the 70 infants, children and teenagers who had been murdered by Palestinian terrorists - and the 720 who suffered moderate to serious wounds in these attacks. Dozens more have been killed since then.
Hamas Bomb-Maker Star of Syrian-Produced TV Series
Julius Streicher was hanged to death in 1946. He had to be dragged to the gallows kicking, spitting, and screaming at his jailors. As he approached the hangman's noose he shrieked "Heil Hitler!" As the stone-faced Americans in their pressed green uniforms pushed him up the steps he cried "And now I go to God!" Finally, as the executioners slipped the noose around his neck rage boiled across his features and he stared with hatred at the witnesses. "Purimfest 1946!" he cried. The lever was pulled. Streicher's neck snapped like dry wood and his legs thrashed spasmodically. He shit himself and a wet gurgle flecked with blood passed his lips.Here's a sample illustration from the book:
His strange last words resonated with the Jews who heard them. Purim is the Jewish celebration of deliverance from Haman, the ruler of Persia, who sought to exterminate the Jews and ended up being hanged. The fact that Streicher empathized with Haman does not lessen the truth of his mad words. The Jewish people had once again barely survived to witness justice exacted on those who would see the Jews exterminated.
Streicher is infamous among those who have more than a casual interest in the Second World War. For the rest of the population his name is half-forgotten next to villains like Hitler, Goebbels, Goering, and Himmler. Streicher's particular brand of evil was insidious and low key. It was clever in a way that Hitler's vitriolic speeches and Goebbels' ridiculous propaganda were not. It was the black font from which sprung the slow rot of the German spirit.
Among other things, Julius Streicher wrote children's books. He was the goose stepping Dr. Seuss of Nazi Germany.
Streicher's most infamous work was a colorfully illustrated book bearing the cumbersome title "Never Trust a Fox in His Green Meadow and Never Trust the Oath of a Jew." Like most of the books written by Nazis the text is absolutely terrible. I don't mean that the content is disgusting - that should go without saying - I mean that Nazis all write as if they failed out of German at the Gymnasium. Have you read "Mein Kampf" lately? No? Don't read it. It's like a compilation of awkward Live Journal entries by a guy who sucked up too much phosgene in the trenches and wants society to pay him back everything it owes him. Streicher's books are just as awkward.
Opening Monday and trumpeted proudly by city officials is the Midnight Mission - and one of the nation's plushest homeless shelters. The $17 million state-of-the-art facility boasts a full-sized gymnasium, library, playroom, hair salon, education center, and professional kitchen. The shelter is the city's latest effort to address one of its most visible and resistant social problems: the more than 6,000 people who live on the streets.
But the fanfare surrounding the new mission also raises questions increasingly being faced by cities coast to coast. At the same time that some homeless advocates embrace such new facilities as the best way to attract homeless people into counseling and job-placement programs, others openly ask whether the money could have been better spent in finding more permanent solutions.
"Since the late 1980s, America has built a mammoth infrastructure of shelters and the number of homeless has gone up, not down. It's a bit of the if-you-build-it-they-will-come phenomenon at work," says Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. As Ms. Roman and other national officials see it, the lack of affordable housing is what needs to be addressed.
"That same $17 million could have gone a long way toward creating homes and jobs," says Bob Erlenbusch, vice president of the board for the National Coalition for the Homeless. "Affordable housing is what these people need, not a way to institutionalize their temporary status."
Britain's National Postgraduate Committee (NPC), which represents all master's degree and doctoral students there, has voted unanimously to oppose the renewal of the academic boycott of Israel proposed by the British Association of University Teachers (AUT)."And it's fucking rednecked, immoral, and idiotic as well," he strangely neglected to continue.
NPC project officer Andre Oboler told The Jerusalem Post that his group decided to oppose the boycott "as it runs contrary to our objective, which is to advance in the public interest the education of postgraduate students within the UK." The motion resulting from the discussion was proposed by NPC's general secretary and seconded by the delegate for the Council of International Students (CIS).
The boycott was originally launched in 2002 and saw two academics fired from a journal, an Israeli student discriminated against in admissions and a number of papers from Israeli academics returned unopened.It's not only in the US that students are more conservative than their sixties-retread educators; I'm quite heartened to hear that a UK students' committee voted unanimously against the moral leprosy of their "elders"-truly, the students have bested their masters.
The British government responded saying that "the prime minister is appalled by discrimination against academics on the grounds of their race or nationality" and that "universities must send a clear signal that this will not be tolerated." The Committee on Human Rights of Scientists of the New York Academy of Sciences responded to the 2002 boycott saying it "violates the basic principles of scientific freedom and scholarship." Now the NPC has echoed these sentiments in relation to this renewed boycott, which is to be voted on later this month.
A boycott attempt based on nationality encourages discrimination and goes against the principle of judging academic work on its merits alone. It inhibits progress in areas that benefit humanity, cuts the UK off from leading research, prevents collaborations and encourages discrimination against some students and staff within the UK, Oboler stated. In addition to opposing the boycott in principle the NPC made clear that it would continue to invite contributions from Israeli academics to its own publications, including the Journal of Graduate Education.
One of the most important factors in China's inability to truly address its economic troubles is not even an economic issue per say. Rather, it is the inability of the central government to control regional and local officials. This has been a developing problem in China and is nearing crisis mode. When Jiang Zemin was president and Zhu Rongji was premier, they recognized and tried to address some of the more pressing aspects of this problem, including the lack of accurate statistics and the undermining of Communist Party authority because of corruption and nepotism.One might argue that for China's ultimate good, as everywhere else, it's better that local officials feel responsible for the results of government policy than that blame be absorbed by an unseeing, unfeeling euroblob in the center. Of course, China's ultimate good and that of the Communist party are manifestly not the same.
One of the biggest troubles facing Zhu in guiding the Chinese economy was a lack of real knowledge of the status of the economy itself. Years of state economic targets had engrained in the system a culture of fudging numbers. No township, city or provincial leader wanted to tell his immediate superior he missed his target, and so he would inflate the numbers, hiding whatever losses, corruption and theft there was. On up the chain this went, always fudging numbers based on other fudged numbers; a true picture of the economy was impossible. Zhu initiated changes in statistical reporting and some progress was made, but given that the real numbers were much less rosy than the fabricated ones, a certain amount of falsification was overlooked. At the same time, however, some steps were made to find some of the missing money and shore up the party's mandate. In 1979, then-President Deng Xiaoping set China on a new course, one where the concept of financial growth was justification enough for the existence of the party as the single core of leadership. This emphasis on personal financial gain rather then revolutionary zeal continued to be promoted under Jiang Zemin.
But Jiang also recognized that unrestrained growth was undercutting the authority of the central party core, since financial wealth didn't come from Beijing. Jiang purged the military of its economic holdings, reclaiming central control and allegiance by becoming once again the main source of defense funding. At the same time, Jiang and Zhu began very public anti-corruption campaigns aimed at regaining some central control and mitigating a growing distaste for the party by rural and urban Chinese alike.
But the measures were not complete, and when corruption scandals were hitting too close to home, the central authorities pulled back. The central government had, and continues to have, two overriding and connected priorities in all it sets out to accomplish -- the maintenance of the party and the maintenance of social stability -- and too many anti-corruption efforts only reinforced the depth and scope of corruption, undermining the positive perceptions engendered by action against the corrupt.
One closely related element that is still present is the inability of the central leadership to enforce its edicts at the grass-roots level. Local and provincial leaders have established themselves based less on their loyalty to Beijing and more on their connections within their respective regions. When Beijing decides that free government bailouts to SOEs are no good, local governments balk. The impact of a few thousand laid off workers in a southern city is minimal to China as a whole, but to the local leader, it can be ruinous.
In addition, economic ties by local leaders to the business interests in their districts often fund their own family members and themselves and give them increased power. If a coastal city is able to bring in foreign businesses, money and technology, it can build its own power base, and central government edicts become much less pressing.One can only cheer as the Communists lose their grip on the Chinese neck, even though it means a higher likelihood of armed conflict during the transition.
And this is the core of the Chinese problem. Even if the central government came up with a brilliant plan for a massive restructuring of the economy, it is unlikely to be implemented locally. Beijing has difficulty squeezing money out of the profitable coastal provinces to fund development in the inland provinces, where the urban-rural gap continues to grow and social unrest boils over much more regularly. When Beijing tried to slow lending in 2004, it was unsuccessful; local and regional banks and governments simply made up for the reduced money coming from the center.
The unrestrained investment the IMF worries about is caused by local governments that are thinking and acting for themselves, and as their interests coincide more with foreign investors than neighboring provinces, Beijing's grip will continue to slip. This ultimately will undermine the central government's economic plans, no matter how brilliant those plans are.