Sunday, June 18, 2006

An Iranian's View

One of our readers has been kind enough to share some of his thoughts with us. I think that he points out a number of interesting things.

The last paragraph, in particular, is worth reading twice. I have talked to many people inside Iran, and they have a completely different perception of what Ahmadinejad is about. The same is true with some of my friends from Latin America about people like Hugo Chaves and Eva Morales. In their domestic speeches, these leaders seldom talk about contentious international issues. They just promise more freedom and justice, over and over again.

Since the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to office many have voiced their
concern about implementing democracy in the Middle East. Not too long
ago, Palestinians also voted Hamas into office. A growing number of journalists, scholars and politicians are arguing that establishing democratic systems in the Middle East would lead to the further radicalization of the regime. [But what accounts for the popularity of radicals in the region?]

In the absence of efficient governments, in a region where in
almost every country an oligarchy of royal families, or military officers, or
religious elite rules, there is no surprise to see people turning to guys who
are similar to themselves. For many decades now, secular Arab autocrats,
backed by the West, have ruled the region. The public suffers from no
representation, from the feeling that it is not involved in any affairs and
that its obedience is necessary at all times.

In reacting to such conditions, people vote for “outsiders,” for “underdogs,” for
Ahmadinejad’s. They are not embracing fascism – but just voting for
someone who promises them a better life. If one listens
to Ahmadinejad regularly, he won’t hear much about wiping Israel off the
map. But in every occasion he will hear about building gyms for women and
the youth, employment opportunities, new schools and hospitals, roads, and
such. Many know that such promises won’t come true – but at least they
are made and provide a glimpse of hope for the future.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Purported Iranian letter of 2003 proposing cooperation with USA

The following document appears to be a letter sent to the Bush administration from Iranian authorities in 2003. The topic of the letter is the Arab Peace Initiative. Berkeley Forum has not verified the authenticity of this document therefore does not support nor reject the contents of this letter.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Berkeley Forum Exclusive

David Hopkins is an instructor of political science at UC Berkeley. He teaches American politics, including an in depth course on political parties in the United States. Mr. Hopkins is originally from Boston, moved to New York and is now at Berkeley, California. He has assisted Professor Nelson Polsby in publishing his famous book “How Congress Evolves" and is currently assisting Professor Polsby with the new edition of “Presidential Elections”. Berkeley Forum asked Mr.Hopkins a few questions about the upcoming presidential election of 2998. Here is the entire script:

Who do you think would be the greatest challenger to
Sen. McCain in the 2008 Republican primaries? and why?

I think it's way too early to tell. Presumably, Republicans will face something of a tradeoff between McCain's electability and the greater ideological or partisan purity of an alternative candidate. I'm not sure the Republican electorate in the 2008 primaries will find McCain unacceptably moderate, although Republican activists and officeholders might prefer a candidate without McCain's history of occasional party disloyalty. Since any litmus test which disqualifies McCain certainly rules out
Giuliani as well, that leaves George Allen and Mitt Romney as the preeminent alternatives among those we know of at the moment.
But making predictions about presidential nominations is a risky venture, especially two years in advance. Some candidates crash on takeoff, while others come out of nowhere. Most Washington insiders, including Bush's own strategists, anticipated that
Steve Forbes, not McCain, would be Bush's chief rival for the nomination in 2000. Similarly, I remember the well-hyped Phil Gramm campaign in 1996; he was widely predicted to be a formidable threat to Bob Dole that year. But Gramm placed fifth in the Iowa caucuses and that was the end of him. It's sometimes frustrating that the presidential nomination process is so unpredictable, but I suppose that can make it exciting to follow as well.

What is your estimate of
Hillary Clinton's success in the primaries for the Democratic Party? Do you think that other candidates such as Joe Biden or Mark Warner would stand a chance in the Democratic primaries?
Again, I'll resist the temptation to make a prediction, hoping I can address your question in a slightly different way. If she runs, Hillary Clinton will be a formidable candidate in the 2008 Democratic primaries, and I don't mean to suggest otherwise. However, we should be very careful about interpreting the results of national polls as being in any way meaningful. At this early stage, they chiefly measure name recognition, and Mrs. Clinton has by far the broadest name recognition among the national electorate of all the potential 2008 candidates, excluding Gore and Kerry. Almost everybody else--Warner,
Bayh, Feingold, Biden, Dodd, Richardson, Vilsack, etc.--is basically unknown outside of his home state. But that would change overnight if one of them won the Iowa caucuses or exceeded media expectations. In 2004, nobody really knew who John Kerry was until he came in first in Iowa and New Hampshire, and all of a sudden Kerry was the front-runner and Howard Dean's goose was cooked. The presidential nomination process is extremely volatile in its early stages, and we have no way of knowing today what the political environment will be like in 2008.
Mrs. Clinton will have the strong support of a segment of the Democratic Party. How big that segment will be is impossible to say right now. But the nomination process will probably proceed in a way that will cause one or two of the numerous other Democratic candidates to emerge as the chief alternative or alternatives to a Hillary Clinton candidacy, while the others fall by the wayside. There's just no way right now to know exactly who those alternatives will be. After Iowa and New Hampshire, the nomination process becomes much more predictable, due to the immense influence of the outcomes in the first two states on media coverage and, therefore, the behavior of voters in subsequent primaries. So if you could tell me who wins in Iowa and New Hampshire in 2008, I'd be more likely to venture a prediction about the identity of the presidential nominee!

Culture Through Entertainment

"Culture Through Entertainment" is the motto of Norooz Productions. In this clip, CNN interviews Shabnam Rezaei and covers the story of their first film Babak & Friends - A First Norooz. Anchor Asieh Namdar talks about the importance of raising awareness about the richness of these cultures and what a great thing Norooz Productions has set out to do.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The World Cup Is Finally Here!

I don't understand why people in America are so oblivious when it comes to soccer. An estimated 3-5 billion people are going to tune in around the world and watch this year's tournament. The world cup is by far the most popular sporting event in the world.

Here are some fun facts about the world cup:

- The first world cup tournament was held in 1930, and every 4 years after that except for 1942 and 1946 (due to WWII).

- Only 7 countries have won the world cup so far. Brazil leads the pack with 5 championships, followed by Germany and Italy, each with 3.

- The United States defeated Belgium 4-1 in its first world cup appearance in 1930.

- 197 countries have competed for the world cup finals. Only 32 teams appear in the finals.

- Brazil is the favorite team to win this year's tournament, with 3 to 1 odds. England is following Brazil 8 to 1, Germany being third 9 to 1. The odds of Iran winning is 751 to 1. Costa Rica has the worst odds with 2501 to 1.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Nuclear-Berkeley--Video sent by omemarian

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