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To the non-violent protesters, people power revolutionaries, and good people across the Middle East and North Africa, a glimpse into your future:
Because as Gandhi himself once said, “Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up. And terrible breath is what that monster belches up once he’s finished feasting on his rage.”*
*More of a paraphrase than a direct quote.
Filed under: Ad Campaigns, Capitalism, Civil Disobedience, Democracy, Egypt, Gandhi, Gandhi Gum, Happydent Gum, India, Iran, Jordan, Middle East, Mother Theresa, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Protest, Nonviolent Protesters, North Africa, People Power, Revolutionaries, Revolutions, The Revolution Will Be Marketed, Tunisia, Weird Indian Behavior
Two interesting stories surfaced this week about people who suck at math.
The first had to with an American Institutes for Research report that’s created a new international grading index to compare state and national math scores with those of other countries. And guess what? The U.S. sucks at math, earning a C+ overall and coming in 12th in the world. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan scored the highest in that order. (Dude. Even Kazakhstan and Latvia punked us.)
But whatever, the U.S. lagging behind Asian countries in math is not really news, right?
The other story about people sucking at math that’s a bit more surprising has to do with the Iran election. First came the report from British think tank, Chatham House, which showed that Ahmadinejad received 13 million more votes than he and other conservatives got in 2005, an unlikely occurrence considering his waning popularity. They also found that in two provinces, Mazandaran and Yazd, turnout was more than 100 percent.
Then Bernd Beber and Alexandra Scacco, two Ph.D. candidates in political science at Columbia, performed their own mathematical experiment, publishing their results in a Washington Post op/ed. Beber and Scacco looked at “digit frequencies” in the vote counts–when numbers recur at certain rates it suggests human tampering–to come up with a statistical probability that the election was fair.
And, according to their findings, the probability that the election was fair came out to .005 percent.
What does all this mean? The Iranian election riggers–Ahmadinejad & Co.–really really really suck at math. But perhaps what makes them even stupider is that they didn’t have the good sense to outsource that numbers-tampering shit to people who don’t suck at math. To people, say, in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, or Japan (duh!).
Hails from: Tehran, Iran
Known for: Sharing images with the world. While walking to Tehran’s Freedom Square for a demonstration Saturday, this young woman and fellow protesters were stopped and beaten by Iranian paramilitary forces. Though she had recently wept over the fallen body of fellow protester and the weekend’s public martyr, Neda, the 19-year-old woman made a risky decision to trick the officer accosting her into believing that she surrendered her digital photos of the protest on a disk. Instead, she escaped with the images and shared them immediately with CNN.
See more of her photographs (and catch repeats of her phone interview) on CNN‘s live news broadcast. A selection of the photos is also available here.
At a press conference Wednesday in Dubai, Paris Hilton announced that she’s filming a new version of her reality show Paris Hilton’s My New BFF there.
Because there’s not enough effed-up shit going on in the Middle East right now. No, not really.
Like us, you’ve probably been following what’s been happening in Iran over the last week–a stolen election, the violent government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters–and thought, WTF. But thanks in part to technology, you don’t have to be a helpless spectator like you might have been in the past. Here are a few simple things, via the Utne Reader, that you can do to show your support for the protesters.
1. Provide Cover: If you are Twittering about events in Iran from outside Iran, you have the luxury of not worrying about that knock on the door. Not so for Iranians. There is a movement afoot to provide cover for Iranian cyber-dissent by changing your Twitter profile to match the time zone and location of the Iranians brave enough to tweet the updates and calls to action. To do this, simply open the settings page and select “GMT+03:30 Tehran” and change your location to Tehran, Iran.
2. Change Your Facebook Picture: We did! It’s a small thing, but a show of support on Facebook is something Iranians can see, so long as the government doesn’t shut down the internet completely.
3. Spread the Stories: Iran is a deeply misunderstood place. Stereotypes abound and are typified by the front page of today’s New York Post, which featured a photo from the protests and the headline: TURBAN WARFARE. Powerful narratives are emerging from inside Iran. Put them in your Twitter feed, on your Facebook page, on your blog, or send them out via email. The best place to find these narratives is over at Andrew Sullivan’s Atlantic blog The Daily Dish or through a Twitter search for tweets about Iran.
Read our friend Reza Aslan’s blog post over at The Daily Beast, “Iran’s Military Coup,” about the scary implications of this stolen election. And finally, show your solidarity by wearing green. This takes zero effort and, besides, green is an awesome color. And these days, it’s also the color of freedom.
Occupation: Freelance journalist
Known for: Her imprisonment in the Evin jail of northern Tehran since February of this year, after being arrested for buying wine (which is illegal in Iran).
Eyes across the globe widened as the American journalist’s charges grew quickly–to working without a press card and then spying for Washington–and last month, she was sentenced to eight years in prison for espionage.
But today, Saberi was released.
From today’s NYT:
An Iranian-American journalist who was sentenced to eight years in jail on charges of spying for Washington was released Monday after an appeals court reduced the sentence, her lawyer said. The journalist, Roxana Saberi, will be able to leave the country, he said.
The lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, who defended Ms. Saberi in a hearing on Sunday, said the court rejected the original jail term and issued a two-year suspended prison term in its place.
If the news alone isn’t enough to melt your heart, this photo of her relieved parents, Reza and Akiko Saberi, surely will:
Success! Now, on to the next–let’s move quickly on getting our other journalists released from North Korea.
When we first learned that former beauty queen-turned-journalist Roxana Saberi, an American of Iranian and Japanese descent, had been imprisoned in Iran–for either allegedly buying a bottle of wine or working in the country without a press permit–we thought the whole thing would blow over in a jiffy. We figured Iran would come to its senses and realize that keeping a hot lady in a horrible prison on sketchy charges makes Iran look bad, and Iran already has a bit of a PR problem as it is.
But nooooo. Iran had to go and charge Roxana with espionage last week, after her parents Reza and Akiko Saberi flew to Tehran to see her and lobby for her release. Which is bad news. But how bad is it?
For answers, we turned to our Iranian-American pal and resident Islam expert Reza Aslan, author of No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam and How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror, which debuts next week. Here’s what he wrote in an email:
iran is pretty sensitive to too much international embarrassment and this is a case that has gotten an abnormal amount of attention. with her father in tehran and the red cross allowing access, i can’t imagine that this will actually go to court. then again, you never know. the thing with iran is that they do these kinds of things randomly to prove a point: don’t fuck with us. it seems like at least once a year they jail a researcher or journalist for a couple of months, and then let them go. Let’s hope that happens here.
Kinda reassuring, right? Anyway, fingers crossed.
Freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, 31, has been imprisoned for over a month in Iran. The former Miss North Dakota, who is of Iranian and Japanese descent and holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Iran, was detained at the beginning of February, which is the last time anyone has heard from her. At that time, she phoned her father, Reza Saberi, to tell him that she had been arrested for buying a bottle of wine, which is illegal in Iran. She is currently being held in the Evin jail in northern Tehran, and the Iranian government refuses to disclose what she’s been charged with, saying only that Saberi had been working without a press permit for the last two years.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for Saberi’s release. This was a day after she told reporters following a trip to the Middle East that Iran poses a threat to Europe and Russia and it “intends to interfere in the internal affairs of [other countries in the Middle East] and try to continue their efforts to fund terrorism.”
Damn, Iran, do you really want to fuck with HRC (the “H” is for Hardass)? I sure wouldn’t.
Free Roxana Saberi!