Sunday, August 27, 2006

Health Care for All Californians

Arash-  I just recieved this email from a one of my dearest professor's at Moorpark college:
Did you know that if Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs it next week,
a bill providing all Californians with universal health coverage will actually
become law on or before Thursday, August 31? The media have barely
mentioned this truly historic development. I only found out about it last week (and I tend to be reasonably well-informed).
A Universal Health Care Bill (SB 840) sponsored by State Senator Sheila Kuehl has already passed the state senate by 25-15 and appears likely
to pass the state assembly early next week (41 votes are needed; 40 votes are committed).

Here's the rub: Schwarzenegger has indicated that he will veto the

It is now time to flood his office before August 31 with hundreds of
thousands of messages in support of the bill. Schwarzenegger must be
made to realize that if he does veto the bill, this whole issue will explode in his
face on election day next November.

Capitol Address
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CAÂ Â 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-445-4633
SB 840 will provide comprehensive, high quality health insurance for
all Californians using a single-payer system.
Look up the following website for more information and for signing a petition:

Health Care for All”California Home Page; Achieve Universal Health ...
Health Care for All is a nonprofit grassroots organization working for
quality, universal, single payer health care in California.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Galloway vs. the U.S Senate

Arash- "I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein." George Galloway

George Galloway( MP UK) has been a controversial figure for many years. He appeared before the U.S senate during the Senate's investigation of U.N's Oil For Food program. Galloway made some interesting remarks. You can watch the senate hearing HERE .
I must agree with Ali on one of his recent posts where he compared Galloway to a "
hardcore Berkeley liberal". There are plenty of Galloways here on the Berkeley campus whom you cannot have a decent discussion with. Galloway makes some good points about Bush's war plans and the lack of evidence for the existence of WMDs. But Mr. Galloway proudly shook the hands of Saddam in 1994, a man who is responsible for the death of over a million Iraqis, Iranians and Kurds. You can Watch his comments about Saddam Hussein Here where he claims that most Iraqis actually liked Saddam! Watch the video and judge for yourself.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Domestic violence in Afghanistan is ‘endemic,’ perpetrators go unpunished – UN study

Arash- Once again , Elaheh Amani has opened our eyes to what is happening around the world, especially to the poorest and the weakest among us. The women of Afghansitan have suffered decades of war and injustcie. This male dominated society( like Iran , Iraq , Saudi Arabia and many others) has opressed its women for centuries. The world community needs a wake up call.

The following study once again exemplifies that women experience violence in different spheres and at personal as well as political life. Women not only experience the violation of their rights in society they experience violence at home. Respect of Women's human rights in society and at home are interdependent and one can not truly flourish without the other.

Read the entire article HERE.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Iranian - African Child From Botswana

Aramesh - Watch Aref , an Iranian- African child who was born in Botswana and adopted and raised by his Iranian parents. The story is about a family from Iran who went as far as Botswana to adopt a child who was in need. Watch the entire story HERE.
I promise you will be amazed.
This is another Current TV production and they do a geat job covering stories that you never see on Fox or CNN.

A Plea for Life

Aramesh- Former Miss World Canada ( Nazanin Afshin Jam) struggles to save 18-year-old Iranian woman from execution

Watch the CNN report HERE.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Women's Fashion Show in Iran

This is just amazing. The first ever government sponsored fashion show for women in Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 was held in Tehran just a few weeks ago.

Although the models were completely covered, following the Islamic dress code, no men were allowed to watch the show live.

You can see the pictures of the fashion show HERE.

CAMEROON: Campaign Launched to Counter 'Breast Ironing'

Arash- I recieved an email from a dear friend and human rights activist , Elaheh Amani, regarding breast ironing in Africa and I would like to share it with all of you.

Breast Ironing is one of the many forms of body modification which is widely being practiced in some of the African counties specifically Cameroon. This brutal and harmful cultural practice is currently inflicted on 25% of all girls in Cameroon. An additional 3.8 million girls are also at risk of breast ironing. According to BBC News many mothers and female relatives in Cameroon support the practice despite the fact that it is unlawful and they face a three year prison sentence, because they believe, detracting attention from sexuality means more attention to education for girls. The following is an article and a recent interview of AWID ( Association of Women's Rights in Development ) Resource Net with Bessem Arrey Ebanga Bissong that can shed some light on this harmful practice. Breast Ironing is one of the concerns of women in Africa under the category of health and reproductive rights. Bodily integrity is a women's human rights!

p.s. while reading this interview, I reflected at the dichotomy of our world. In America, breast augmentation /implant among young women are increasing at an alarming rate. Between 1992 and 2004 the number of the augmentation surgeries performed on girls ages 18 and younger has increased 293 percent.

you can read the entire article here.

Who's Afraid of Shirin Ebadi?

Arash- I read this editorial piece in the New York Times today. It is a sad day when a regime treats its only noble laureate, the first Muslim woman to win such an award, in such horrible ways.

Shirin Ebadi has been active for decades fighting for women's and children's rights. Her record on defending Human Rights speaks for itself and needs no further explanation by me.

Yet the Islamic Republic find new ways everyday to harass her. The same applies to many of Iran's best and brightest, men like Akbar Ganji , Saied Hajarian , Taghi Rahmani and many others who are constantly harassed by the regime , simply because of criticizing the government.

Ready For Hillary?

Arash-Are you prepared for 2008 Presidential elections???

Here is something for you!!

Click here and make sure your speakers are on.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Few Clarifications

In the his previous post , Omid has brought up a few points. I appreciate his comments but I must clarify a few things for our readers.

First of all you accused me of saying “Then he mentions that how this wave of terrorism is an outcome of the Wahhabi ideology “. I certainly believe that Wahhabis are responsible for a large portion of terrorist activities around the world, but I certainly don’t believe they are the only group of people who do so.

Second, when I said “I am not after finding the faulty side here” I was referring to the Israeli- Lebanese conflict. I meant that I was no going to determine who started the war first. That quote had nothing to do with Wahhabis and if anyone reads my text carefully, you will see my point.

You claim that “Different version of Islam, have different readings, including Wahhabism”. Not true. Sunni Islam and Shiite Islam have various understandings of Islamic readings. The same applies to Christianity and Judaism. But Wahhabism by definition is a “fundamentalist interpretation of Islam”. You can find this definition in any encyclopedia.

You said “I think it is not precise to accuse a part of Islam on what is happening now in the region, while the roots of terrorism in the region related to many complicated factors such as economy, history and the lack of good governance among Middle East countries”. Good points. Where have I said that the Wahhabis are the only cause of terrorism in the region? But there is no doubt that the Wahhabi establishment was and is the principle financial and ideological supporter of many radical terrorist groups such as the Sepah-e- Sahabeh in Pakistan, more than 10 Wahhabi jihadist groups in Iraq including the Zarqawi network, the Janjaweed in Sudan, the Somalian Islamic fundamentalists such as Sheikh Nur Barud and the Council of Ulema, more than 60 Wahhabi groups in Russian( according to Russia’s interior ministry and reports by interfax) including those of Aslan Maskhadof and Shemil Basayef. The Wahhabi produce such violent ideologies and their wealthy Saudi supporter pour hundreds of millions of dollars into their cause. This is just a short list.

You said” Corruption of the rulers is a common pain for the countries in this region It is not just Saudi Arabia, which I think its rulers try to be more pragmatic in the International policy making processes.” I never said Saudi Arabia was the only corrupt regime on the planet. Iran, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and many more government alike are corrupt as well. Regarding the Saudi’s level of pragmatism, we all know that the Saudi regime is America’s Stooge. And what kind of pragmatic policy would endorse 200 or more small and large terrorist organizations in the world?

“What Arash says about the Mecca and Saudis’ palaces, are not something to discuss”. Why not? Do I not have the right to express my opinion about Islam’s two holiest shrines? I cannot believe that some of our leading scholars and journalist are so bogged down by such levels of political correctness that they self censor themselves and ban anyone from speaking against the occupation of the holy land because it may hurt the feelings of some Wahhabis. If that is the case, so be it. We must embrace free speech and not limit it. I cannot censor myself just because it might hurt someone’s feelings. I stated my opinion about the condition of the two holy cities and I stand by it.

At the end I encourage our readers to study the history of Wahhabism. Wahhabism is not just another version of Islam like the Hanafis or the Malikis. Wahhabism is a strict and harsh interpretation of the religion and anyone who claims to be a practicing Wahhabi adheres to those principles. At the end I must say that not all Saudis are Wahhabis. There are many Saudis who are fed up by the current system and are fighting for more civil and political liberties. May peace and success be with them.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Some notes on a post: Why this issue is so complicated?

Omid- “In one of the earlier comments Arash, has claimed that Saudi rulers do not support Hezbollah because of their hypocrisy, which is very true in some ways. He also says:

“The Wahhabis rule the corrupt kingdom of Saudi Arabia and enjoy from its
billions of dollars of oil wealth.”

Then he mentions that how this wave of terrorism is an outcome of the Wahhabi ideology. He continues:
“They have lost their credibility before the Muslim world for they have
lost their prominence to a small Shiites group in southern Lebanon called
Hezbollah. They are cowards who brainwash young men to carry out suicide
operations while they sit in their palaces and enjoy their many wives.”

And while he claims “I am not after finding the faulty side here”, he accuses Saudi rulers as the core of the terrorism in the region.I have some notes on this post:

1-Different version of Islam, have different readings, including Wahhabism. What he claims about Wahhabi followers and the Saudi rulers, to some extent is the same for Shiites and Sunnis and so on. There are radical readings of all branches of Islam like Christianity and Judaism. All the people who have breathed in the Islamic world atmosphere are familiar with this concept. I think it is not precise to accuse a part of Islam on what is happening now in the region, while the roots of terrorism in the region related to many complicated factors such as economy, history and the lack of good governance among Middle East countries.

2- Corruption of the rulers is a common pain for the countries in this region. We know that most of the countries in this region, suffer from corruption, bad governance, lack of political participation, lack of freedom of expression and so on, more or less. It is not just Saudi Arabia, which I think its rulers try to be more pragmatic in the International policy making processes.

3- What Arash says about the Mecca and Saudis’ palaces, are not something to discuss. I think words such as “cowards”, “brainwash”, “enjoy their many wives” and so on. Nobody among the people who are trying to bring peace in the region use this tone. No one of the people who have basic knowledge of terrorism and know how this disaster can be reinforced, use such a provocative tone, which is just swear word and comes out of a huge anger. Especially in Iran, while the former president was advocate of dialogue among civilization but not accusing the others on creating terrorism, this tone does not represent the voice of democrats and civil society activist of the region.

4- Such a judgement on who is behind the terrorism, no matter who express, is hurtful for any kind of peace promotion process in the region. That’s why many peace activists emphasize that we should carefully judge the people of the other sects and religions..

Ahmadinejad the Teacher

If you happened to watch some parts of Mike Wallace's interview with Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, you would have noticed the numerous times in which Ahmadinejad made "teacher-like" jokes. For example, when Wallace pushed Ahmadinejad to give a clear "yes" or "no" answer to a question, Ahmadinejad asked if Wallace's interview was a multiple-choice test. There were a number of other instances when Ahmadinejad had "teacher-like" comebacks. It certainly reminded me of the old school days in Iran.

This is because Ahmadinejad in fact was a teacher and a professor prior to entering politics. In his campaign speeches he often boasts about this and uses it as an illustration of how "connected" he is to his people. You can read a brief biography of Ahmadinejad's life HERE.

By the way, Ahmadinejad has just joined the 80,000 plus blogs that are writting in Farsi on the web. He's now a blogger, a source of (mis)information! You can read Ahmadinejad's blog in english HERE.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ahmadinejad on CBS

Arash-I watched Mike Wallace’s interview with Ahmadinejad yesterday. I must admit that Ahmadinejad’s answers were calculated. The general assumption about Ahmadinejad is that he is an uneducated man who can poorly articulate himself. But his performance on 60 minutes was surprising and proves that assumption to be wrong. He answered most of the questions in a very politically sound manner. He spoke comfortably and tried to make his case while keeping a meaningful smile on his face. He is still an illegitimate leader in my eyes who is driven by ideology and not by Iran’s national interest, but I am not going to bother you with my opinion on his performance as president so far. I leave that for another time. You can watch most of the interview here.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Wahhabis Are Islam's True Enemy

Arash- Since the beginning of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, the Muslim world has begun to view this Iranian backed group in a different way. In the piece that you are about to read, I am not after finding the faulty side here. I will not address the question of “who started this war?” But I will focus on the response of the Wahhabi establishment who claim to be Muslims and call all Shiites, including Hezbollah, heretics. The Wahhabis rule the corrupt kingdom of Saudi Arabia and enjoy from its billions of dollars of oil wealth. Thus they establish Madrasahs or seminary schools around the world to preach their harsh, inhumane version of Islam. Lets just assume for a minute that Hezbollah is not a terrorist group but an organization that provides welfare for the poorest of Lebanon and also fights the Israeli occupation. Most Muslims would agree with the above premise. Second, Israel is claimed by the Wahhabis to be the root cause of all evils in the region. If the 2 premises above are true, then why are the Wahhabi clerics so adamantly oppose Hezbollah in its fight against Israel? Why is it that Wahhabi terrorists kill tens of Iraqi civilians just because they are Shiites? Why have many Saudi Muftis have given out Fatwas –religious decrees- against Hezbollah? Isn’t Hezbollah fighting the Zionist occupiers? Isn’t Hezbollah’s goal the destruction of the state of Israel? It was The Wahhabi ideology that produced Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab Al- Zarqawi. It produced hijackers and suicide bombers and the Saudi Royal family is the principle backer of these terrorists. The most outrages occupation of Muslim lands, in my opinion, is the occupation of Mecca and Medina by the corrupt and sinful Saudi family. The Wahhabi fundamentalists and their harsh interpretation of Islam are doomed to fail. They have lost their credibility before the Muslim world for they have lost their prominence to a small Shiites group in southern Lebanon called Hezbollah. They are cowards who brainwash young men to carry out suicide operations while they sit in their palaces and enjoy their many wives. Their abominable acts will discredit them even further and they will soon find themselves in a real Wahhabi hell.

Imported vs Homegrown

Arash- Homegrown terrorism is going to be the free world’s most fierce challenge. It is easy to deny visas to outsiders and monitor their activities once they arrive at your country. Furthermore, these outsiders are not citizens of that country and can be deported easily. But what must be taken into consideration as a major threat is home grown terrorism. Young men and sometimes women of mainly Arab and Pakistani origins who are devout Muslims and attend mosque regularly are easy preys for radical Islamist who are in desperate need of recruiting the alienated Muslim youth. What happened in London and in Canada a few months ago illustrates the increase in number of homegrown terrorists.
The West must deny entry to radical preachers such as Abu Hamza Masri. Preachers like Masri only invite trouble and recruit trouble makers. Masri and his likes must be dealt with in courts and either be deported or incarcerated so their venomous preaching won’t infect anymore of the Muslim youth.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Iranian Leader Speaks To Mike Wallace

Arash-(CBS) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sat down with Mike Wallace in Tehran on Tuesday in a rare, exclusive interview with a Western reporter. In the wide-ranging interview, the Iranian leader comments on President Bush's foreign policy, the lack of relations between Iran and the United States, Hezbollah, Lebanon and Iraq. Speaking about President Bush's failure to answer his 18-page letter that criticized U.S. foreign policy, Ahmadinejad said, "Well, (with the letter) I wanted to open a window towards the light for the president so that he can see that one can look on the world through a different perspective. … We are all free to choose. But please give him this message, sir: Those who refuse to accept an invitation will not have a good ending or fate. You see that his approval rating is dropping every day. Hatred vis-à-vis the president is increasing every day around the world. For a ruler, this is the worst message that he could receive. Rulers and heads of government at the end of their office must leave the office holding their heads high."

Read the rest of the report here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Scottish MP on Hezbollah

The video of George Galloway's (UK MP) interview with Sky News has been circulating on the web for the past few days. I personally got emails from a few of my friends, some sympathetic to Galloway's views and some not. You can watch this interview HERE.

He sounds like a hardcore Berkeley liberal in this interview. Then again, he has a point. As long as you don't change the preconditions that give rise to terrorism, eliminating this or that terrorist group would just open the door for more extremist groups to take their place. It's like market demand and market supply: as long as the market demands terrorism, one firm or another will produce terrorism.

Galloway is married to a Palestinian woman by the way.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Ganji's Talk at UC Berkeley

omid- Akbar Ganji, the most prominent dissident and Human Rights activist, who was released last March from 6 years of imprisonment, will deliver a lecture on "Gender Apartheid in Iran".

Since releasing from the jail, Ganji has left Iran for a tour around Europe and the United States. He has been in many cities and has had different talks. His talk, at UC Berkeley, has sponsored by the Peace & Conflict Studies Program,Institute of International Studies, and the Center for Middle Eastern.This trip has been an amazing opportunities for Ganji and talk to many prominent scholars around the Western countries.

Harry Kreisler, executive director of the "Institute of International Studies" is supposed to interview Ganji for his very famous and amazing series of interviews, "Conversation with History".

Dr. Abbas Milani, director of the Iranian Study at Stanford University has translated many articles of Ganji to English which provide a better understanding for people in US to listen to him.I talked to Ganji during the last days to organize this event in Berkeley. As we belong to the similiar atmosphere and the same social life, have common perception on different things. He is going to talk on "Gender Apartheid in Iran" for the first time.

He tries to associate himself to the universities and not any political groups or even people who love him; however he tries to go through the academics....The hall he is going to talk is exactlly the one that Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Noble Peace Prize winner in 2003, talked a few months ago...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What Will Happen In Lebanon?

How will the current war in Lebanon affect the country's internal politics in the years to come? I think that Israel took a huge gamble going into this conflict. This war can affect Lebanon's internal politics in two possible ways.

If the non-Shia majority in Lebanon (composed mostly of Sunni's and Christians) identifies with this war as its war, then Hezbollah will emerge out of this conflict stronger than before: the cause of "Liberation" will gain momentum once again, the investigation into Rafiq Hariri's assasination will fade into the background, and the calls for Hezbollah's disarmament will lose much of their vigor; the Lebanese government will be isolated more than ever before, and Hezbollah will add to its legitimacy as a competent and viable force for (much-needed) resistence.

On the other hand, if the non-Shia majority in Lebanon does not identify with this war as its war, then Hezbollah will bear much of the blame for the destruction of the Lebanese infrastructure. More people, even from within the Shia community, will call for Hezbollah's disarmament, and Hezbollah's political appeal will diminish within the general population. As an organization dedicated to active resistence, Hezbollah will lose much of its credibility, both within and without the Lebanese community.

How the non-Shia Lebanese majority will view this war, in my opinion, depends ultimately on how well Israel could manage it (a parallel can be drawn here with the shifting attitudes of the Iraqi population towards the U.S. as the war dragged on and the insurgency grew). In the end, the frequency of humanitarian disasters such as the Qana Attack could easily tip the balance one way or another.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It Is a Bad Year For Dictators

Arash-It is very likely that the world is going to be rid of another dictator very soon. Yes, I am talking about Fidel Castro the Cuban dictator who has ruled over Cuba for 40 years with nothing but fear and terror. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled their homeland after the Cuban Revolution and a big portion of this exiled community reside in Florida. I saw pictures and video clips of their joy. I saw them cheering in the streets of Miami. I saw many exiles who hope to return to their homeland once the shadow of a bloodthirsty dictator is lifted from Cuba.
"Castro has gone under successful surgical operation and his condition is stable” said the Cuban official television. Many think he is dead and others think that he is too weak and sick to be able to handle the affairs of his nation. That is why he handed over all operational powers to his brother, Raul Castro.
It has been a pretty bad year for dictators. Milosevic died in jail while Saddam has been on a ridicules hunger strike while being trialed for crimes against humanity. Fidel doesn’t feel that great and Chavez and Ahmadinejad are becoming more and more isolated. Lets hope this year would be even worse for dictators .

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?