Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hamas Investment Scam, Iran Really Wants 20 Enrichment Sites, Pray the Gay Away

Charles Blow
Dana Milbank

"Last year, blacks dared to dream anew, envisioning a future in which Obama’s election would be the catalyst for an era of prosperity and more racial harmony. Now that the election’s afterglow has nearly faded, the hysteria of hope is being ground against the hard stone of reality. Things have not gotten better. In many ways, they’ve gotten worse." - Charles Blow

Human nature being what it is, it wasn't too long before Hamas faced its first widespread investment scam. Because Israel has the area surrounded and blockaded, the major way that goods are brought into Gaza is through the smuggling tunnels that go underneath the border into Egypt. The tunnels are nominally controlled by Hamas, but there are many middlemen who act as brokers. They collect money from Gaza residents, who are buying shares of the goods smuggled in. The brokers who are crooks just take the money and run: "... at least 40,000 Gazans have lost their life savings in a scheme that promised up to 50 per cent profits in return for an investment in tunnel trading." Hamas is learning the hard way that governing an area is harder than preaching extremism...

Iran being disingenuous again...
Iran is telling Western news media that it intends to build 10 more nuclear fuel enrichment sites, but it has announced on its official news sire that it needs a total of 20 enrichment plants for the scale of the program it intends to build. This means it already has 10 sites built, 8 more than is officially recognized by the International Atomic Energy Committee.

Iran also announced that it will not pull out of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, and is accusing the West of trying to manipulate events that would force them to leave: "Iran says its enriched uranium will be only for electricity generation. Iran's record of nuclear secrecy and lack of power plants to use low-enriched uranium has convinced the West that Iran is hiding a programme to develop nuclear weapons capacity.

Salehi accused the West of maneuvering to make Iran leave the NPT. "I think the West is trying to force us out of the NPT because they have noticed that we are so insistent on adherence to the NPT and this is not to the liking of the West," Salehi said. "We have no plans to pull out of the NPT."

Iran keeps insisting that it wants all of these nuclear plants to generate electricity, and everyone outside of Iran is fearful that it will use some of the fuel for use in nuclear weapons. The difference is the amount of calibrating the enrichment process, with a lower level used in generating electricity. Many have wondered why a country so rich in oil and gas would need nuclear energy, but Iran doesn't refine a lot of its oil and imports gasoline. Iran already has the plans to weaponize its nuclear fuel and put it into warheads, so, in essence it has the potential to be a threat. It already has a "virtual" bomb, and uses that knowledge to drive its critics mad. The fact that it's government has been taken over by the Revolutionary Guard and is closing its society down, makes folks nervous...

Al Arabiya is also reporting that students are planning protests for this coming Monday: "Every year on December 7, Tehran campuses mark the 1953 killing by the shah's security forces of three students, just months after a US-backed coup toppled the popular prime minister Mohammad Mossadeq.
Iranian opposition groups are preparing to hold fresh protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday, several websites reported, as the nation marks the annual Students Day.

The elite Revolutionary Guards and other authorities have warned they will crack down on any attempt by regime opponents to hijack the event to mount further demonstrations against Ahmadinejad's hotly disputed June re-election."

A lot of threats and intimidation is going on by the police and Revolutionary Guards, mostly how they plan to crack heads and arrest those unruly Green Muslims. The websites of the official opposition figures have been strangely silent, making people wonder if they have finally given in like old men. Student websites are warning: "Protesting in the streets on Dec. 7 does not have the safety net of a state occasion... protesters are likely to face a violent crackdown... The question is how the green supporters can have a strong presence with the least damage."

The government has slowly been sentencing to prison those whom they consider most dangerous to them, creating a new crop of political prisoners it can mistreat, torture, or murder. Its too ironic that this same kind of treatment of its citizens by the Shah is what caused their 1979 revolution in the first place...

right-wing roundup...
Our world is getting smaller, and it seems to me that there is a world-wide right-wing backlash going on. Its being manifested in many ways, from the tearing away of America's cloth of racism, exposing the ugly underbelly lined with tea-bags, to Switzerland passing a law banning minarets, and discriminating against its Muslim community. On the outside they are different acts, but they come from the same source of fear.

The focus on Islamic extremism has gained a lot of public awareness about the local Islamic communities, which have swelled with refugees in Europe, and has created both a spotlight on their beliefs and a backlash. Switzerland is known as a tolerant place, which is why the right-wing law surprised many. Their government has been criticized for allowing the law to pass, but that is also part of the democratic process, that sometimes bad laws can be voted in. Now, European Rabbis are claiming that Jews might be targeted next, as a rise in anti-Semitic violence has been occurring, too.

Ever since WW11 we have been frightened and fascinated every time a rise in right-wing fascism, from skinhead boots stomping across continents, to religious Talibans bombing their way to political legitimacy. All are hysterically fear-based, and in many smaller countries end up in military dictatorships, institutionalizing that fear and intimidating its citizenry, taking away their freedoms and basic human rights. Instead of a war on terror, we should be fighting a war against ignorance and fear.

There is also a fear-based backlash against homosexuals, from taking back and denying marriage rights in the US, to outlawing homosexuality in Uganda. Uganda has written a draconian law that was inspired by US evangelical Christian missionaries and conservative Republican Congressment who are members of the Christian cult, the Family, and have traveled to Uganda many, many times.

From the transcript of last night's Rachel Maddow show: "In March of this year, a group of three American evangelicals traveled to Uganda for a conference on the evils of homosexuality. Their message was that homosexuality is a choice, that it can be cured by a relationship with Jesus, that, in short, you can pray the gay away.

There‘s been a dual effort under way here: anti-gay proselytizing by American evangelicals and assurances from conservative American politicians that we can solve that nation‘s AIDS problem.

The culmination of these efforts—this massive focus on Uganda—is a piece of legislation that‘s been introduced in that country now that attempts, it says, to tackle the AIDS problem in that country and the problem of homosexuality all at once. It‘s a bill that calls for the execution of any gay Ugandan who is HIV positive, who is caught having gay sex—death by hanging specifically. And it‘s not just gay Ugandans who are HIV positive who are being targeted, the sentence just for being gay is life imprisonment.

The sentence for knowing somebody who is gay and not reporting them to authorities, presumably so they can be prosecuted, is three years in prison. This bill was written by a Ugandan legislator purportedly taken in by Republican Senator James Inhofe and the Family here in America.

Having lit this fuse and created this environment in Uganda where a bill like this can exist, some American evangelicals and conservative politicians are now sort of washing their hands of the whole situation." 

There also have been anti-gay violence and public condemnation in China, Russia, Israel, Iran, and California. I know, I know, if only those gays would only stop kissing each other in public, none of this would have happened... As humans, we are creatures of habit, and don't take too well to sudden change. That's why progress is usually measured by increments. But with the rise of instant news media and Internet access to every kind of thought and lifestyle niche, it feels like change is becoming more sudden and in-your-face.

I feel like I'm writing myself into a corner, not finding a way out or a solution. The only way to deal with fear is to learn to be honest with yourself and confront it. Then, it goes away. Therapy 101... Unfortunately, the solution can only come at the personal level, and the best tool to use is the practice of meditation. If all religion and churches used meditation as part of their teachings, we might have a more tolerant world. But fear tends to feed upon itself, using its host like a parasite, and the intolerant world has historically persecuted those who practiced looking inwards, be they Sufis, Christian and Buddhist monks, or Indian shamans. As one modern Sufi stated: "Most people wouldn't recognize true spirituality if it was in their soup..."

And now, a moment of homosexual Zen:

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