Friday, February 02, 2007


Is the Khomeinist leadership preparing to retreat from confrontation over Tehran's nuclear ambitions? Until recently, the answer was an emphatic "No." According to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, such retreat would limit Islamic sovereignty by giving the United Nations a veto on Iran's energy policy. But now Tehran is trying to forestall the passage of a second, and presumably tougher, resolution by the Security Council in March.

Several versions of the presumed Iranian initiative are in circulation. Former President Muhammad Khatami presented one to American and European personalities on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos last week. In this scheme, Tehran is prepared to comply with the Security Council demand to suspend uranium enrichment - as part of a diplomatic package. In this plan, an arbitration group would inspect and assess Iran's nuclear program, reporting back after six months. The group would include the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany, and India on behalf of the nonaligned movement. During the six months in question, the Islamic Republic would suspend enrichment of uranium. In exchange, the Security Council would postpone its March session on the issue and would suspend the sanctions it already approved. Tehran would also insist on an undertaking from the United States not to take military action against Iran. There are other signs that Tehran is trying to cool things down:

* It has not carried out its threat of suspending relations with countries that voted for sanctions, nor has it organized demonstrations by the usual suspects around the embassies of those nations.

* The regime has shown uncharacteristic timidity on the issue of its senior Revolutionary Guard commanders and intelligence officers who were arrested and are being interrogated by U.S. forces in Iraq.

* The Islamic Republic did not vote against a resolution passed by the U.N. General Assembly last week condemning the denial of the Holocaust. (This was an indirect correction for Ahmadinejad, who re-launched the Holocaust-denial debate last year.)

"We hear a moderate message from Tehran," says a senior British official. "And that in a tone we had not heard since Ahmadinejad [became president]." That at least part of the Khomeinist leadership might want ways to defuse the situation is not surprising. The sanctions, though nothing more than a gentle rap on the knuckles, have already started to bite - with a disproportionate psychological impact on some players in the Iranian economy. Iranian businessmen see the measures as a kind of aperitif for a deadlier main course to be served later.

The Iranian currency, the rial, is showing the jitters as never before. Thousands of contracts remain frozen, pending the outcome of the crisis. If current trends continue, hundreds of thousands of Iranian workers may be thrown out of work within months.

The plummeting of oil prices has also done its bit. Over the past year, the Islamic Republic has seen oil revenues decline by almost 20 percent - even as Ahmadinejad's largesse, designed to bribe his constituency, has pushed public expenditure to an all-time high. In recent months, the government has been unable to pay the salaries and bonuses of some employees, including teachers, on time.

The perception that the Bush administration may be preparing military action has sent shivers down the spines of many mullahs and Revolutionary Guard commanders who account for a good part of the wealthy elite.

More here



Why they are smashing online gambling: ""Government taxes your winnings at the casino and it taxes the profits of the casino. If you win the governments gets some. If the casino wins the government gets some. They are the protection racket of the Mafia writ large with one difference -- the Mafia took less. But online gambling is another matter entirely. The damn casino doesn't physically exist anywhere. It is an online entity. It may be a company registered in some primitive place with low taxes like Switzerland. The people who provide the service of gambling are being allowed to keep most of what they earn. And that is what drives greedy politicians into such a frenzy."

Wealth and economic freedom go hand in hand: ""Why are some countries rich and others poor? For more than a decade, the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal have carefully examined the evidence. Every year, for the Index of Economic Freedom, they sift through data on everything from inflation to imports, from tariffs to trade -- and they do it for every country. And one big-picture message about poverty and wealth consistently shines through, year after year: Wealth and economic freedom go hand in hand, says Rebecca Hagelin, a vice president of the Heritage Foundation."

Moscow: Mayor calls gay parade "Satanic": "Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said Monday he would never allow a gay parade to take place in Moscow despite pressure from the West. 'Last year, Moscow came under unprecedented pressure to sanction the gay parade, which can be described in no other way than as Satanic,' Luzhkov said at the 15th Christmas educational readings in the Kremlin Palace 'We did not let the parade take place then, and we are not going to allow it in the future,' said Luzhkov who has been in office since 1992. The conservative 70-year-old mayor of the Russian capital also banned Portuguese bullfights in Moscow in 2001 for their violence and did not let the St. Petersburg-based rock group Leningrad perform in the city because of their explicit lyrics."



"All the worth which the human being possesses, all spiritual reality, he possesses only through the State." -- 19th century German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel is the most influential philosopher of the Left -- inspiring Karl Marx, the American "Progressives" of the early 20th century and university socialists to this day.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason -- Details here and here

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