Archive for  January 2008

Home / January 2008
102 Posts

Escaping Iran – the New Brain Drain | Podcasts | MIANEH

Escaping Iran – the New Brain Drain

ایران گریزی؛ بحران تازه در پیامد فرار مغزها

Mohammad Navidi-Kashani | Tehran | 13 January 2008

Podcast: 1.2 MB, 5 mins 9 secs [Download audio file…]

Over the last three decades, Iranian society has suffered a continuing brain drain. Now it is facing a new crisis affecting its young people, which might best be described as the “escape from Iran”.

The results of a poll published last month showed that at least eight out of ten young Iranians are interested in leaving to live in a developed country. The widespread participation of young Iranians in the American Green Card lottery and the countless applications for immigration to countries like Canada, Australia and even the United Arab Emirates serve to underline this astonishing figure.The strong motivation to leave Iran is clearly apparent when you talk to young people. They see emigration as the only way to escape economic and other difficulties. It’s not that they are fascinated by life in the West, or that they have some ideal city in mind that they’d like to live in. The desire to leave is instead a reaction to difficult circumstances.

Today’s young Iranians enjoy very few opportunities to realise their ambitions. Hardly any of them believe they will be able to pursue what they’re interested in if they stay in their own country. It isn’t just the widespread unemployment, the difficulty of getting married, the high property prices or anything else. It’s that they feel the doors are closed to them.

The urge to get out of this impasse can be seen in the recent popularity of pyramid schemes. In the three years that companies running this kind of scheme have existed in Iran, around three million young Iranians have been drawn to just one of them, called Gold Quest. All of them hoped to earn huge amounts by taking part.

This situation has been brought about by diminishing hopes for the future. Even a few years ago, young people felt they lacked opportunities to change the conditions they were living in. The difference now is that they have lost hope that the situation will improve.

More than anything else, this new sense of desperation is a consequence of the disruption caused to Iran’s economic order by the policies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government, coupled with increasing social pressures.

In short, the most important change of recent years is the emergence of a sense that the future is bleak.

Another factor driving people to leave Iran is the sense of insecurity. The lack of social support systems such as unemployment insurance and the weakening of traditional social bonds has left the younger generation feeling abandoned.

The government has focused much of its funding and attention on things like religion which really don’t need official backing, while those areas that are in fact in dire need of government support, such as employment, social security and housing, have been left on the margins.

At a time when the government’s energy is consumed by international crises such as the nuclear dispute, and expenditure on security and defence has increased by 300 per cent, it is natural that the social sector has not received the support it needs.

According to the leading political commentator Saeed Hajjarian, the government has had to choose between a policy of “suspension of enrichment” and one of “enrichment in suspension”, and it has opted for the latter. In other words, nuclear enrichment is going ahead but the economy has effectively in a state of suspension.

Another reason why young people feel they have less freedom of movement at home is the nature of the political system, which is constantly on the lookout for ways to extend its control over all areas of life. Public announcements about transferring the economy to the private sector and reducing the role of government have never been seriously put into practice. On the contrary, government interference has increased.

Young people now face a serious challenge from government in every area, from music and sport to economics, and just walking in the streets. This restricts their room for manoeuvre at every turn. The government has very different values from theirs, and it tries to impose its view of things on the whole of society.

So it makes sense for young people to consider escaping from Iran, as the only route out of the situation they find themselves in. They aren’t taken seriously in the society they live in, the future looks uncertain, and they can’t plan for the future or even satisfy their basic desire for happiness and fun.

The realities of their situation are so patently obvious that government propaganda has failed to inspire any sense of optimism in Iranian society.

Mohammad Navidi-Kashani, former managing editor of the Eftekhar newspaper.

Brattleboro Reformer – Sending a message

Sending a message

Reformer.com


Thursday, January 31

It may be a purely symbolic gesture, but the upcoming Town Meeting vote on whether Brattleboro should indict President Bush and Vice President Cheney certainly raised the ire of conservatives all over the country. The Municipal Center was swamped this week with nasty phone calls and e-mails, many containing language unprintable in this newspaper.

The level of rage from those who still believe that President Bush can do no wrong is astounding to behold. But while we’re surprised there are still that many people in America who support Bush, we understand their rage.

Put yourself in the shoes of a diehard Bush supporter. You believed President Bush would avenge the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but Osama bin Laden has never been captured and Afghanistan remains a safe haven for al-Qaida.

You believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq posed a grave threat to America, but the WMDs turned out to have never existed and all the rationales for war turned out to be lies (see www. publicintegrity.org/WarCard for a fully searchable database of hundreds of false statements issued by the Bush administration in the two years after 9/11).

You believed him when President Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003, below a banner that read “Mission Accomplished,” and proclaimed that major combat operations in Iraq were over. Now, nearly 4,000 Americans and about 1 million Iraqis have died in a conflict that was only supposed to last a few weeks and now is about to enter its sixth year.

You believed that President Bush would create a leaner, more efficient government, yet the size of the federal government has expanded and the federal budget surplus he inherited in 2001 is now a $9 trillion deficit.

You believed America would remain the unquestioned No. 1 superpower in the world. Now we’re the No. 1 debtor nation, the dollar is weaker than it has been in decades and our influence on world affairs shrinks by the day.

In the face of all this, some little pipsqueak town in Vermont dares to call your president a war criminal and calls for his indictment and arrest.

We feel your pain. The man you believed was destined for greatness is now headed for the dustbin of history. Future historians will rate George W. Bush as the worst president ever. And the last remnants of the conservative majority you thought would last for decades will likely be swept away in November’s election.

We fully realize that there is absolutely no chance that Brattleboro will indict and arrest Bush and Cheney. But three years ago, impeachment seemed like a crazy idea, too.

Conservatives laughed at Vermont in 2005 when Town Meeting voters around the state approved resolutions calling for Bush’s impeachment. Now, the intransigence of the Democratic Party leadership in Congress is all that’s preventing impeachment from taking place.

Nobody likes to be on the wrong side of history. That’s why we have a certain amount of sympathy for the people who are attacking this town from the safety of their computer keyboards. Everything they believed in has been betrayed by an administration that exploited their trust.

Watching these people reminds us of the late psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ famous “Five Stages of Grief.” They haven’t really dealt with the first stage, denial and isolation (“Is Bush really that bad? It can’t be.”) Judging from the e-mails we’ve seen, they’re very deep into the second stage, anger. They’re entering the third stage, bargaining (“Maybe if we can find a real conservative like Ronald Reagan, everything will be better.”) Stage four, depression, may be starting to sink in as they see that their presidential choices for 2008 are John McCain or Mitt Romney.

We’re not sure if they will get to the final stage, acceptance (“Maybe John McCain isn’t really that bad, after all.”) We hope they do, eventually. If we as a nation are to eventually recover from the long nightmare that has been the Bush presidency, we’ll need the support of those angry letter writers.

Why lovers of Israel should vote for McCain (according to Joe Lieberman)

Why lovers of Israel should vote for McCain

 (according to Joe Lieberman)

In an interview with Haaretz, Lieberman says he believes McCain is the candidate most likely to thwart a nuclear Iran.

By Shmuel Rosner, Haaretz Correspondent

30/01/08 “Haaretz.” — — FORT LAUDERDALE – Joe Lieberman was a busy man this week, and the week before, and the one before that. Almost as busy as a candidate for the 2008 election. So busy that he did not even have the time to go back to Washington for the State of the Union address. So busy that he was trying to squeeze some interviews while driving from one event to another. One of them was with Haaretz.

He has a horse in this race. Not the horse Barack Obama was talking about yesterday.

Lieberman’s is a Republican horse: Senator John McCain. Last week he was working for him in the Jewish community of Florida that will go to the polls today. This week it is mostly the Hispanic community. When I spoke to him he was getting ready for the event that prevented him from getting back to DC in time for President Bush’s last annual address, an event with mostly Venezuelan-Americans

So why McCain?

We started with Iran. McCain, Lieberman says, is the candidate to be trusted on this crucial matter. Every candidate states that he does not want Iran to become a nuclear power. The question is, Lieberman says, “how far will they go.” And off course, McCain, like everybody else, wants to solve the problem peacefully, by diplomatic means, and sanctions when necessary. But “there’s no question in my mind,” Lieberman says, that McCain is a leader with “very strong views” when it comes to a nuclear Iran.

He does not believe that talks with Iran will make the difference. Lieberman calls this approach “just naive”. You can’t expect that “words” will do the trick. The Iranians will react to “strength.” And in McCain Lieberman found the “principled leader in time of war” that will not be swayed by public opinion. “He is fearless” when it comes to “political popularity,” Lieberman reminds the voters, and “does not change with the wind.” He was fighting for the surge in Iraq when it was unpopular, which “speaks volumes to me.”

And Lieberman also says that McCain understands how significant the establishment of the state of Israel was. He is an avid reader of history and also has “a sense of history.” He is familiar with the story of the country. He will not do anything that will “compromise Israel’s security.” Lieberman has real confidence in McCain, a “total comfort level” because “I know this man.”

Yes, Lieberman is familiar with this quote people are talking about, as if McCain said that he will be sending James Baker of Brent Scowcroft to be the Middle East envoy for his administration, even thought Israel would probably not like it. But he says he only heard about it recently, and is also somewhat skeptical about it. I know McCain appreciates Scowcroft, Lieberman says. But the two disagree on so many things that are fundamental to McCain’s way of thinking, like the war in Iraq, that he finds it strange.

Lieberman is also skeptical about the efforts of the Bush administration to achieve something on the Israeli-Palestinian front in the last year of the administration. “The real obstacle,” he says, is that Hamas controls the Gaza Strip and that Abbas can not deliver. Not that he doesn’t want to. He just can’t. Peace will be “very hard to achieve” this year, he says. But he also suggests cutting the president some slack. After all, Bush was one of the friendliest presidents ever when it comes to Israel, maybe even “the strongest” supporter of all presidents.

So Lieberman listens, and hears some things that are “worrisome” from the administration. But he does not yet feel alarmed. Last week, when the president came back from the trip to the Middle East, Lieberman met him with other legislators and gathered that all the president wants to do it to have some kind of “understanding,” not an agreement that will be implemented. He thinks that Bush is well aware that even this task might not be practical.

On the eve of the Florida primaries Lieberman is not delusional about the Jewish vote. Most Jews here are Democrats and can’t vote for McCain even if they want to, but “he will get mote than his fair share”. The one candidate that might endanger such achievement is Rudy Giuliani, and it seem as if Lieberman has the hope that when the race moves on Giuliani will no longer be there to take votes from McCain.

The Jewish vote will be “a different story” when, not if, McCain’s the nominee, in the general election, Lieberman believes. To him, McCain represents a “strong combination” that will have an appeal to many Jewish voters.

Evidently, one such Jewish voter he already has.

Salt Lake Tribune – Former movie ‘sanitizer’ accused of sex with underage girls

Former movie ‘sanitizer’ accused of sex with underage girls

By Nate Carlisle
The Salt Lake Tribune


Daniel Thompson

Daniel Thompson

Updated: 12:23 PM- The man who used to run a business editing sex and profanity from movies has been arrested in Orem on suspicion of having sex with underage teenage girls.
Police on Friday arrested Daniel Thompson, 31, and another man. Two 14-year-old girls needed money and decided to offer sexual favors, police said.
A third girl put them in contact with one of the men and he paid both 14-year-olds $20 for oral sex, police said. Later, the man took the girls to Thompson and the teenagers performed oral sex on him, according to police.
Police said the scheme was exposed when one of the girl's mothers found a $20 bill and asked where it came. The two men were booked into jail on suspicion of sexual abuse and unlawful sex with a 14-year-old.
Thompson formerly operated a business called Flix Club, which edited feature films to remove or alter conduct deemed inappropriate for children or discriminating movie-goers.
The store closed in December after threats of legal action from Hollywood studios.