Omid Memarian

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Marjaneh Satrapri, the author of Perseopolis on Colbert Report!

Below is a funny clip of Satrapi on Colbert's show. It is short and,at the same time, includes a very important message. While some of the Iranian, and Iranian-Americans criticize Satrapi for presenting a black and white image of the Iranian society and give warmongers an excuse to do whatever they want to do with Iran, she says that she has tried to humanize the Iranian people in her movie. This is exactly the same feeling I had when I watched it last month. Don't miss it, f you have not watched it yet.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Obama won south Carolina primary- Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama:
A President Like My Father
January 27, 2008 (New York Times)

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.

Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.

I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.

Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Caroline Kennedy is the author of “A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love."

Iranian Speedboats: How mainstream media echoed a fabricated story?
(Published on Huffington Post yesterday)

"Do you think that Iranian speedboats will threaten US warships in the Persian Gulf again?" asked my friend Jacob. Like most people, he followed the infamous January 6th incident for just a few days before moving on. But he was left with the potent image in his mind that Iran's aggressive behavior towards American vessels could have ended in bloody confrontation.

This is not precisely what happened on January 6th between the US and Iran in the Strait of Hormuz, but it is exactly what the people who engineered - or fabricated -- the whole story, had in mind. The Bush administration has tried to extensively portray the Iranian government as an aggressor that is in hot pursuit of a nuclear weapons program, actively supports terrorism in the Middle East, and cannot help but meddle in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last January, US officials arrested four Iranian diplomats on charges of being associated with the Qods Army - a special unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard that allegedly operates in Iraq. Since then no evidence has been presented to prove that claim. Later that year, the US officials brought up Iran's widespread support of insurgency in Iraq and accused them of equipping insurgents with deadly IED's. Evidence provided by military officials proved insufficient to attract any attention, but such allegations still garnered coverage by domestic media as a consequence of their addiction to official sources. The aim of the press in this case appears to have been to portray the Iranian government as behind all the misery, suffering, mismanagement, crises and difficulties in the Middle East. It appears as though they want to keep Tehran bound to the "axis of evil."

This intention manifested itself in policies towards Iran's nuclear program. The US's insistence that Iranians are trying to build a nuclear bomb pushed President Bush to talk about a possible World War Three in October. Watching some of the episodes of Glen Beck's conservative TV show illustrates the goal of making Iran into a serious threat by utilizing anonymous officials. (I remember watching a documentary done by The History Channel entitled "Beyond the Top Secrets" which clearly claimed that Iranians are hard at work at a nuclear bomb.)

All in all it seems as though there was no way to deal with Iran other than launching a strike. It would not have been very hard to anticipate the US's next step toward the Persians were it not for the publication of the National Intelligence Estimate [PDF] and its findings that Iran halted its nuclear weapon program back in 2003.

After publishing the NIE there was a perception that the administration would leave its warmongering path and follow a softer policy while joining various European countries in pursuing constructive negotiation. Iran is a country that is thriving to talk to the United States on an equal level. But it seems that the Bush administration and high level officials in the Pentagon are still thinking about confrontation with Iran as a means of pursuing their political agenda. This would surely be disastrous.

On the other hand, it seems that the Iranians have understood the message. After the propaganda effort by the Pentagon - which had blind support from mainstream media outlets - the Iranians released their own version of video showing the conversation between the warships and speedboats. Since they have become aware that the US is looking for an excuse to make a big deal out of it, the Iranians have equipped their cheap, unarmed, simple speedboats with video cameras and audio recording equipment.

In all of these cases the administration's intention has been to keep Iran as a threat in the public eye by manipulation, distortion, and fabrication of stories. I think to an extent they have been successful in portraying Iran as a threat by using the mainstream media which does not appear to have learned the lessons it should have since the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. In certain areas, they rarely ask the basic journalistic questions: Why? How? When? Who? Where? And when the truth comes out, they do not honestly present it to the public. For example, take the speedboat case in which it was initially claimed that somebody in the boats said that they are going to explode the US warship in a few minutes. But what was discovered later on was different.

"The threatening radio transmission heard at the end of a video showing harassing maneuvers by Iranian patrol boats in the Strait of Hormuz may have come from a locally famous heckler known among ship drivers as the 'Filipino Monkey'."

Fortunately, there have been lots of outlets criticizing the fake story of speedboats such as independent journalists, bloggers and activists. But mainstream media outlets such as CNN, Fox and CBS did not cover the reality behind the story properly.

This sort of behavior calls into question the reliability of mainstream media. That's one of the reasons that it has become harder and harder to understand what is news and what is propaganda. (Go to the original post)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mac World Exhibition Slide Show...

Last week, I went to Mac World Exhibition in San Francisco. It was an amazing event and I was astonished by the new developments in software world and also new phenomena that were presented by tens of companies there. I took lots of picture that you can see a slide show of it on Click here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

False Pretenses: 935 false statements in less than two years

"Following 9/11, "President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq," says an astonishing report conducted by "The Center For Public Integrity." This report just includes the Iraq case, one of the US national security issues, between 2001 and 2003. Meaning that the study does not include the other national security issues such as Iran, Afghanistan, Israel and so on....It's not hard to imagine what the number would be in that case?
"President George W. Bush and seven of his administration's top officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, made at least 935 false statements in the two years following September 11, 2001, about the national security threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Nearly five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an exhaustive examination of the record shows that the statements were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.

On at least 532 separate occasions (in speeches, briefings, interviews, testimony, and the like), Bush and these three key officials, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, stated unequivocally that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or was trying to produce or obtain them), links to Al Qaeda, or both. This concerted effort was the underpinning of the Bush administration's case for war." (Read the rest of the story here.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Negotiation with the Islamic Republic of Iran"

The United States Institute of Peace is sponsoring a book-length study of Iranian negotiating style as part of the Institute’s ongoing
Cross-Cultural Negotiation Project.

This project develops and transmits useful knowledge for negotiating with foreign counterparts on matters affecting the prevention and management of international conflicts.
Specifically, the project is designed to help professional negotiators better understand the negotiating behavior of their counterparts and thereby achieve mutually satisfactory political solutions to issues that might otherwise escalate into confrontation. (Read this special report here.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Emperial History of the Middle East

I found this flash map of the empires in the Middle East very interesting....the changes that have been accrued during the last 3000 years ago is shown in just a few minutes.....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

"RIGHTS-IRAN: Gov't "Leading by Fear", Activists Say"

Here is the link to my latest piece about the current Human Rights situation and also the unusual punushments which has been adopted by the authorities:

"BERKELEY, California, U.S., Jan 17 (IPS) - Iran's recent use of extreme punishments such as amputations and public executions has deepened concerns about the situation of human rights amid the strict enforcement of Islamic law, which has worsened since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hardliner government came to power in June 2005.

"We've been concerned about the rise in executions in Iran in the past year, and we are very alarmed to learn about the recent case of amputations, which are a particularly cruel and brutal form of punishment," said a specialist on Iran at the New York-based Human Rights Watch, who preferred not to be named.... (Read the rest of the story here.)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Filipino Monkey' behind threats?

The US media coverage of Iranian speedboat incident in the Persian Gulf early January has been shocking. It was not the first time that mainstream media was following a manipulated path to magnify fabricated story. But, it seemed that after so many similar cases they learn appropriate lessons not to do so again. All what CNN was showing the entire last two weeks has been fake. It is not clear why this doesn't get the same coverage like the initial alleged incident got:

he threatening radio transmission heard at the end of a video showing harassing maneuvers by Iranian patrol boats in the Strait of Hormuz may have come from a locally famous heckler known among ship drivers as the “Filipino Monkey.”

Since the Jan. 6 incident was announced to the public a day later, the U.S. Navy has said it’s unclear where the voice came from. In the videotape released by the Pentagon on Jan. 8, the screen goes black at the very end and the voice can be heard, distancing it from the scenes on the water.

“We don’t know for sure where they came from,” said Cmdr. Lydia Robertson, spokeswoman for 5th Fleet in Bahrain. “It could have been a shore station.” (Read the rest of the story here.)
Also Read this story by:
How the Pentagon planted a false story
By Gareth Porter

Friday, January 04, 2008

A look at Hukabee, Obama Iowa Victories
"Religion played a huge role in Mike Huckabee's triumph in the Iowa Republican caucuses, though there are some mixed signals for him on the road ahead. On the Democratic side, it was fresh blood — and an outcry for change — that helped propel Barack Obama to his victory in the state.Eight in 10 Huckabee supporters said they are born again or evangelical Christians, according to an entrance poll for The Associated Press and television networks. Another six in 10 said it was very important to share their candidate's religious beliefs. In both categories, none of the former Arkansas governor's opponents came close to that kind of support.

In addition, six in 10 Huckabee supporters — more than his rivals — said it was most important that their candidate shared their values. Only 4 percent of his backers said they wanted a contender with experience, and 2 percent said they were looking for a Republican who can win the White House in November." (Read the rest of the story..)

(The above pictures are taken by me from Obama at his San Francisco gathering two months ago, when I was filing are a report about his campaign.)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Are Iran and the U.S. ready to bite the bullet?

Here is my piece in San Francisco Chronicle about the U.S.-Iran relations which was published yesterday:

"...The NIE has provided common ground for both sides to address their concerns, rather than serving as a vehicle for a regime-change policy from the United States or an opening for hostile, anti-West rhetoric from Iran. Despite mutual concerns to save face, the first step in effective diplomacy is direct talks toward amiable diplomacy. Iran and the United States have never needed each other as much as now..." (Read the rest of the story here)