Age: 56 |
Birth City: آبادان |
Joined on October 02, 2012
Iran after the protests: What comes next?
Dina Esfandiary is a Fellow in the War Studies Department at King’s College London, and an Adjunct Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
The Washington Post: The recent spate of protests in Iran has ebbed — at least for the moment. The unrest caught the regime off guard. Initially it responded in the usual manner: by blaming foreigners and discrediting protesters. But in a pragmatic move, the leadership then acknowledged the protesters’ demands. This is new and significant because it signals a willingness to open up in order to stay in power. But doing too little or too much will jeopardize the system.
The protests began over economic hardship, and rapidly spread to more than 80 cities, leading to 1000 arrests and more than 20 deaths. Protests are not new in Iran, with sit-ins and peaceful protests a regular feature, especially since President Hassan Rouhani took office. But these were widespread — they began outside the capital in the conservative city of Mashhad — and communicated bolder slogans, some of which targeted the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, himself. They also caught the government off guard.
During his election bid, Rouhani outlined an ambitious plan to boost the country’s economy. As part of this, he negotiated the nuclear deal, which was supposed to pull Iran out of isolation, and put in place a team of experienced technocrats to carry out his economic agenda.
In practice, though, it turned out to be a bit more complicated.
First, Rouhani’s bargain with the people and the leadership was to focus on the economy and the nuclear deal at the expense of other domestic issues, such as political and social freedoms. Secondly, as part of selling the deal and ensuring his reelection, his administration raised expectations. They touted the return of foreign business to Iran and the potential for growth. But average Iranians didn’t feel any benefits. Instead, they faced growing inflation and unemployment, experienced growing restrictions on their freedoms and witnessed truckloads of Iranian money being spent outside the country.
Today, the administration is paying the price.
But Iran is pragmatic and survival is its driving principle. When its existence is threatened, the regime adapts. What the government’s response to the protests shows is that they now think they didn’t get that deal quite right.
After initially blaming foreigners and seditionists for instigating the protests, the system changed course. Certain clerics, members of the judiciary and officials began to sympathize with the protesters >>>
Donald Trump’s First Presidential Physical
The New Yorker: In 1978, James Groves, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital, published a now classic paper in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Taking Care of the Hateful Patient.” In it, Groves acknowledged a truth widely, if quietly, known among medical professionals—that some patients are true nightmares. Groves wasn’t referring to the common jerks and complainers. “The fact remains that a few patients kindle aversion, fear, despair or even downright malice in their doctors,” he wrote. He cited the example of an attorney with multiple sclerosis who harangued his doctors and threatened to sue the previous “bastard” who had tried to help him: “He was like Job, who raged, ‘Ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.’ ”
Groves divided these dreaded people into four categories. The “clingers” were “overt in their neediness,” requiring constant explanations, affection, and attention. Even absent any actual ailment, they demonstrated a “self-perception of bottomless need” and saw their physicians as “inexhaustible.” At least they showed gratitude, though, unlike the “manipulative help-rejectors” (a.k.a “crocks”), who constantly replaced one symptom with another and were never more self-satisfied than when the doctor’s diagnosis was wrong. The “self-destructive deniers,” meanwhile, ignored medical advice in a different way; they were the hepatitis patients who still drank heavily, the guys with heart disease who kept “forgetting” their physicians’ warnings not to shovel snow. And then there were the “entitled demanders,” who used “intimidation, devaluation and guilt-induction to place the doctor in the role of the inexhaustible supply depot.” They were like the clingers, but hostile. “The patient may try to control the physician by withholding payment or threatening litigation,” Groves wrote. “Such patients often exude a repulsive sense of innate deservedness as if they were far superior to the physician.”
It’s hard not to see a place in Groves’s schema, maybe more than one, for Donald Trump. As one New York-based psychiatrist, who preferred not to be named, told me recently, “He’s precisely the kind of person who comes for two sessions, doesn’t pay, and is never heard from again.” Of course, we don’t know how Trump interacts in private with the White House physician, Ronny L. Jackson, who, last Friday, administered the President’s first physical examination in office. (Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy, also oversaw Barack Obama’s physicals and was involved in at least one of George W. Bush’s.) But, if Trump treats Jackson at all like his other advisers, one can’t help feeling sorry for the man. Last Thursday, when asked about the physical, Trump said, “I think it’s going to go well.” He added, “It better go well; otherwise the stock market will not be happy >>>
Republicans, do you want a race-based immigration system, too?
THE WASHINGTON: President Trump’s intent could not be more explicit: He wants immigration policies that admit white people and shut the door to black and brown people. That is pure racism — and the Republican Party, which traces its heritage to the Abraham Lincoln era, must decide whether to go along.
Silly me. The GOP seems to have made its choice, judging by the weaselly response from most of the Republicans who were in the Oval Office on Thursday when Trump made vile and nakedly racist remarks.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) heard the president clearly: Trump referred to African nations as “shithole countries,” the shocked senator reported. At another point, while discussing potential relief for groups of immigrants — including Haitians — who are losing their temporary permission to remain here, Trump reportedly said, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”
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According to Durbin, Trump asked why the United States wasn’t welcoming more immigrants from places such as Norway, whose prime minister had visited the White House a day earlier.
To Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), the president’s message apparently came through. His colleague, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who was not at the meeting, said that Graham told him Durbin’s account was “basically accurate.” Graham himself would say only that “I said my piece directly” to the president, and that “I’ve always believed that America is an idea, not defined by its people but by its ideals.”
Other Republicans at the meeting cravenly claimed either deafness or memory loss. Perhaps they simply agree with Trump’s race-based approach to immigration.
Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) issued a joint statement saying they “do not recall . . . specifically” the “shithole countries” slur; Perdue later went further, flatly denying the words were spoken. Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, said she did not recall “that exact phrase,” while House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) apparently have been stricken mute >>>
If Martin Luther King Jr were alive today, politicians would denounce him
The Guardian: Today is the day American many politicians pretend to care about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr, one of the wisest souls who attempted to save this sorry nation. Don’t fall for their scams.
While King did care about black and/or poor people in the United States and around the world, he was no American exceptionalist. “Don’t let anybody make you think God chose America as His divine messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world,” King once said.
‘It was an extraordinary speech’: the day I met Martin Luther King
He also criticized how Americans “have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice,” when “the fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor – both black and white, here and abroad”.
And yet, modern day Republicans and Democrats often speak as if they love King, even as they excoriate the real heirs to his legacy: the Black Lives Matter activists and other social justice warriors who fight for racial and economic liberation. But the truth is, many of these American politicians would have hated King when he was alive as much as they hypocritically dishonor his radical legacy today.
Take President Trump, who signed a bill a week ago turning King’s birth place into a national park, only to viciously refer to immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and all countries as Africa as “shithole countries” a few days later – stirring up the kind of racist hatred King died trying to defeat over the weekend the nation remembers him >>>
Tracing the Racist Roots of Donald Trump’s Obscenities
The New Yorker: Trump reportedly grouped Africans under the scatological banner while lamenting the dearth of Norwegians arriving in the United States. His exasperation with African immigration is particularly jarring, given the high educational achievements of many people coming from that continent. Trump is reported to have said last year that once Nigerians see the United States, they will never “go back to their huts.” Yet Nigerians in this country hold master’s degrees at more than double the rate of white Americans, and doctorates at four times the rate. The Administration has consistently denounced immigration that was not based on “merit,” but, two years ago, the Pew Charitable Trusts reported that one of the biggest problems that African immigrants faced in the United States was finding employment commensurate with their levels of educational achievement.
Among the more curious footnotes to Trump’s Presidency is the provenance of his nativism. He is, as David Klion wrote, a product of Queens, New York, the most ethnically diverse urban area in the United States. (Some experts estimate that as many as eight hundred languages are spoken there.) Trump grew up in Jamaica Estates; I grew up in South Jamaica. There is precisely the same relationship between those two communities that their names would suggest. Trump’s environs were, both literally and socioeconomically, elevated above the surrounding areas. The Queens in which he spent his youth served as a sort of interior suburb of New York City and was, not coincidentally, the second-whitest of the five boroughs, after Staten Island. Such were the racial politics of Queens in that era that, as the historian Martha Biondi points out in “To Stand and Fight,” a history of the civil-rights movement in New York, LaGuardia airport, in northern Queens, enacted a demure form of segregation of black travellers in the fifties. There were no “Colored Only” signs, just tacitly recognized black and white areas in the airport.
The tide of change in the borough came as a product of the Hart-Celler Act, of 1965, which radically changed the composition of American immigration. Beginning in the late sixties, Queens became the destination for successive waves of Brazilian, Colombian, Ecuadorian, Tunisian, Yemeni, Dominican, Indian, and Pakistani immigrants. (White resentment of this shift was embodied in the character of Archie Bunker, in Norman Lear’s “All in the Family.”) Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric around immigration during the campaign was merely the opening front of a much larger offensive against any form of immigration that might result in more of the United States coming to resemble Queens. He obliterated a field of sixteen Republican candidates for President last year, in part, because, while they struggled with the language of white ethnic resentment, he spoke it fluently.
The burgeoning hostility toward immigrants in New York in those years landed with particular weight on Haitians—who, Trump is reported to have said last year, “all have AIDS.” Amid the paranoia of the early AIDS crisis, Haitians were stigmatized as vectors for the disease, and the federal government banned them from donating blood. The fear that a new group will spread disease is a common narrative in the history of American immigration. In this instance, it was conjoined to an irony, in that a good deal of the flight from Haiti during those years was inspired by the brutality of the Duvalier regimes, both of which were supported by the United States.
Both history and irony are lost on the current occupant of the White House. It is nonetheless worth recalling that Haiti was the second colony in the Western Hemisphere to declare independence from Europe. Whereas the Americans rebelled against the comparative abstractions of tax policy and economic interests, Haitians confronted a power that had quite literally enslaved, raped, and murdered them. The disastrous impact of that war on the French economy factored into Napoleon’s decision to sell to Thomas Jefferson the Louisiana Territory, for the fire-sale price of fifteen million dollars. (Fifteen American states were carved in part or in their entirety from that purchase.) The success of the Haitian Revolution, in turn, inspired the United States to abolish the trans-Atlantic slave trade, fearful that there was now a template for successful mass slave revolts. The histories of the United States and Haiti are intricately interwoven >>>
'There's no other word but racist': Trump's global rebuke for 'shithole' remark
The Guardian: Donald Trump has been branded a shocking and shameful racist after it was credibly reported he had described African nations, as well as Haiti and El Salvador as “shitholes” and questioned why so many of their citizens had ever been permitted to enter America.
US diplomats around the world were summoned for formal reproach, amid global shock that such crude remarks could ever be made in a semi-public meeting by the president of America.
In a strongly-worded statement, the UN said it was impossible to describe his remarks as anything other than racist, while the Vatican decried Trump’s words as “particularly harsh and offensive”.
The 55-nation African Union said the remarks were “clearly racist”.
Trump initially allowed reported accounts of his comments to go unchallenged, but went into damage limitation mode on Friday, insisting he had not used derogatory words – but admitting that the language he had used at a meeting with Senators on immigration was “tough”.
But the democratic senator Dick Durbin – who was present at the meeting with Trump on Thursday – insisted that the reports were entirely accurate.
“Shithole was the exact word used once not twice but repeatedly,” Durbin said, adding that the word was specifically used in the context of African countries.
The UN human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, told a Geneva news briefing: “There is no other word one can use but racist. You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”
Salvador Sánchez, the president of El Salvador, said Trump’s words had “struck at the dignity of Salvadorans”.
“El Salvador formally protests and energetically rejects this kind of comment,” Sánchez wrote on Twitter.
US diplomats and the US embassy in San Salvador sought to assure those in El Salvador of their respect for the country. Jean Manes, the US envoy to El Salvador, tweeted in Spanish: “I have had the privilege to travel around this beautiful country and meet thousands of Salvadorans. It is an honour to live and work here. We remain 100% committed.”
Robin Diallo, the US chargé d’affaires to Haiti, was summoned to meet the Haitian president, Jovenel Moïse, to discuss the remarks. The former Haitian president Laurent Lamothe expressed his dismay, saying Trump had shown “a lack of respect and ignorance”.
Across Africa there was diplomatic fury. Botswana’s government called Trump’s comment “reprehensible and racist” and said the US ambassador had been summoned to clarify whether the nation was regarded as a “shithole” country after years of cordial relations. Uganda’s state minister for international relations, Henry Okello Oryem, called the remarks “unfortunate and regrettable” >>>
UN condemns as racist Donald Trump's 'shithole countries' remark
The Guardian: Remarks by Donald Trump describing immigrants from Africa and Haiti as coming from “shithole countries” were racist, the United Nations human rights office has said, as it led global condemnation of the US president.
On Thursday, Trump questioned why the US would want to have immigrants from Haiti and African nations, instead suggesting the US should bring more immigrants from Norway, whose prime minister he had met on Wednesday.
“There is no other word one can use but racist,” the UN human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, told a Geneva news briefing. “You cannot dismiss entire countries and continents as ‘shitholes’, whose entire populations, who are not white, are therefore not welcome.”
The African Union said it was “frankly alarmed” by Trump’s language. “Given the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the United States as slaves, this statement flies in the face of all accepted behaviour and practice,” AU spokeswoman Ebba Kalondo told the Associated Press. “This is particularly surprising as the United States of America remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity.”
The former Haitian president Laurent Lamothe also expressed his dismay, saying the US president’s remark “shows a lack of respect and ignorance”. The Haitian ambassador to the US, Paul Altidor, said Trump’s views were “based on stereotypes”.
Mexico’s former president, Vicente Fox, who has been an outspoken critic of Trump, said in a colourful tweet that “America’s greatness was built on diversity”.
According to a report in the Washington Post, Trump said “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” after he had been presented with a proposal to restore protections for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and certain African nations as part of a bipartisan immigration deal. In a statement, the White House did not deny the account, instead highlighting Trump’s hardline immigration stance >>>
Why Did Catherine Deneuve and Other Prominent Frenchwomen Denounce #MeToo?
The New Yorker: One morning last summer, I was out doing errands near my apartment, in Paris. I had a phone call to make, so I stopped and leaned against a wall. Before I knew what was happening, a man was running his hands over my breasts and my belly, which felt like an especially private part, since I was eight months pregnant. I couldn’t move or speak, out of fear that he had somehow damaged my baby. The man was halfway down the block before I gathered myself and screamed after him the crudest curses I could muster. I went to a police station and reported what had happened, hoping only to create a paper trail for whomever he attacked next. It was a vile and insignificant experience. I hadn’t thought about it again until I saw, yesterday, that a hundred Frenchwomen, including the actress Catherine Deneuve and the writer Catherine Millet, had signed an opinion piece in Le Monde, defending “a freedom to bother, indispensable to sexual freedom.”
“A freedom to bother”—it was the first time I’d heard that one. (The word that the women used, “importuner,” ranges in connotation from bugging someone to really disturbing her. Whatever the level of offense, the behavior is clearly unwanted.) Was this some bold new European liberty, like the right to be forgotten? One didn’t have to read far to figure out that the statement was just another apologia for sexual assault and harassment. “Rape is a crime,” the piece in Le Monde began. “But hitting on someone insistently or awkwardly is not an offense, nor is gallantry a chauvinist aggression.” When the second sentence of an argument makes a turn against the wrongness of rape, you know you are not in for a subtle debate.
Deneuve and her co-signers run through a series of tired arguments, conflating the censure of sexual violence with censorship, and misconstruing #MeToo feminism as “a hatred of men and of sexuality.” The movement, they write, renders women “eternal victims, poor little things under the influence of demon phallocrats, as in the good old days of witchcraft.” (Daphne Merkin chose a different period setting for an Op-Ed in the Times, writing, “We seem to be returning to a victimology paradigm for young women, in particular, in which they are perceived to be—and perceived themselves to be—as frail as Victorian housewives.”) The Le Monde hundred find the concept of informed consent ridiculous. They defend Roman Polanski, sound a few notes on the dog whistle of “religious extremists,” and talk about the touching of knees while remaining silent on men demanding blowjobs and masturbating behind locked doors. It’s the small jabs that betray a hostility to the entire #MeToo project, not just its excesses. “A woman can, in the same day, lead a professional team and enjoy being the sexual object of a man, without being a ‘slut,’ nor a cheap accomplice of the patriarchy,” they write. “She can insure that her salary is equal to a man’s, but not feel forever traumatized by a frotteur in the Métro.” Ladies, one of these clauses is not like the others! Consensual sex is no more akin to being rubbed up against in the subway than drinking wine is to being roofied. A woman can fight for equal pay and not like assault, or tuna-fish sandwiches. There’s no connection >>>
Cyber Warfare Iranian Style
Huffington Post: Repressive regimes fight against the “medium” to control the delivery of content against the fundamental math that controls the Internet’s robotic programming. They are limited in how much control they can exert because of the reality that the world’s dependency on the commerce functions of the Internet are now universal and existential. Also, there aren’t that many activists. As a proportion of total internet traffic, they are a nit. So closed regimes engage in a balancing game of placing boundaries around the portions of the internet the regime’s interests needs to wall off. Sidebar, it’s all about building walls isn’t it? Physical and virtual.
Activists in turn fight back by finding ways to pretend they are in a part of the internet that a regime does not control. The 2018 method of choice for this “hiding from the man” game is to use a virtual private network (VPN) that makes one appear to be in another part of the world; for instance, in Paris when you’re actually in Tehran. This opens up the entire Internet to keep coordinating with your fellow activists even if the regime has built walls. Back before this kind of stuff was a commercial off the shelf service you could install for every computer in a company or individuals could buy for not very much, there were other ways this location spoofing was done. I used to offer friends in sensitive positions remote access to a specially configured spare server in my rack so they could log in and do what they needed to do while appearing to be in the United States. The machine was in server farm that took a strong volume of robotic web page inquiry traffic from all over the world, in many instances from known foreign government owned IP address, so that the channels to and from it were constantly open. It was a discrete tunnel built on one of my favorite design principles, “fly low and avoid the radar”.
The cyber warfare goes back and forth like a cat and mouse chase. Today’s regime hunt for the VPN’s to shut down. Activists try to stay a step ahead opening new VPN’s before the last one is killed. It’s a grassroots form of a self-annealing connection hopping security design based on millions of nodes acting independently. It drives closed regimes bat shit.
In the meantime, the “medium” content delivery engines continue to expand the messaging, a robot reaching out to society and activating an expanding global network of concern based on the simplicity of affinity algorithms and the mechanics of echoing >>>
Iran says it has ended anti-government protests and blames US, Israel and Saudi Arabia for unrest
The Independent: Iran's Revolutionary Guard said security forces have ended the unrest linked to anti-government protests which erupted last month.
In a statement on its website, the powerful paramilitary force blamed the unrest on the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, as parliament and security officials met to discuss the boldest challenge to the clerical establishment since 2009.
The Guard also claimed an exiled opposition group known as the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and supporters of the monarchy that was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution were behind the protests.
Price hikes sparked demonstrations last month, with the protests spreading to at least 80 cities and towns. At least 21 people were killed in scattered clashes.
The protestors, many of them young and working-class Iranians, vented anger at high unemployment and official corruption. The demonstrations were the largest seen in Iran since the disputed 2009 presidential elections.
Some protesters called for the overthrow of the government. Many also protested against the Revolutionary Guard's huge budget, its costly interventions across the region, and against the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to whom the force is loyal.
More than 1,000 people have been arrested since the protests began. They include around 90 university students, of whom 10 remained unaccounted for, reformist MP Mahmoud Sadeghi told the semi-official ISNA news agency.
Several parliament members and university officials have expressed concern over the fate of students arrested during the protests. Tehran University Vice-President Majid Sarsangi said the university had set up a committee to track them.
Relatives of detainees were reported to have gathered outside prisons seeking information about the fate of their loved ones.
A police spokesman said most of those arrested were "duped" into joining the unrest and had been freed on bail. He added: "But the leaders of the unrest are held by the judiciary in prison."
Residents of several cities confirmed to Reuters that protests had subsided after the government intensified a crackdown by dispatching forces to a number of provinces >>>