Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How Iran's Hackers Killed Big Brother by Douglas Rushkoff

How Iran's Hackers Killed Big Brother

by Douglas Rushkoff

Douglas Rushkoff, a professor of media studies at The New School University and producer and correspondent for the PBS Frontline Digital Nation project, is the author of numerous books, including Cyberia, ScreenAgers, Media Virus, and, most recently, Life Inc., released this month by Random House.

Douglas Rushkoff
BS Top - Rushkoff Iran Twitter Burhan Ozbilici / AP Photo Tehran's streets may be bloody, says Douglas Rushkoff, but the opposition has won the digital war. The battleground: Facebook and Twitter. The weapons: bandwidth and hacking. The prize: the end of totalitarianism.

Perhaps the best indication for Americans that something important is going on in Iran right now is the fact that Twitter has delayed a scheduled downtime for maintenance in order for Iranians and others involved in the post-election digital melee to keep at it. For anyone lacking a Twitter feed and thus missing the intense virtual crossfire, what's happening is nothing short of a test of Internet users' ability to challenge not only a regime's power over an election, but over the network itself. The effort alone constitutes a victory.

Unlike the United States, where Facebook friends, Meetup groups, and other online innovation successfully elected a candidate who (at least initially) lacked top-down support, the Iranian power structure has less compunction about snuffing digital democracy. Incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is widely believed to have shut down Iranian access to Facebook as soon as it was clear his opponent's supporters were using the social network to organize rallies and motivate voters. Not that Mousavi's 36,000 Facebook friends at that point would have led to the undeniable landslide the opposition leader would have needed to actually win—but the heavy-handed gesture hinted at what was to come. It was the opening salvo in a digital war with global implications, and a blueprint for the democratizing influence of the Internet.

Iran's government counter-attacked with a blockade, closing off the four Internet access routes it controlled, leaving just one pipe through Turkey for messages to breach it.


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Change_for_Iran Resurfaces! NEW REPORTS

# state TV is now requesting people (armed forces) to go to valiasr st and protest against the outlaws & criminals! (people) #iranelection21 minutes ago from web

# thanks to someone (probably gov) we're are now also spies of israel! and to be shoot on sight30 minutes ago from web

# Kasra is dead & I don't know where is masood, lost him in the crowd yesterday31 minutes ago from web

# 5 killed in the girl's dorm. we saw karoubi in person yesteday and told him about what happened. I guess we made a big mistake #IranElection37 minutes ago from web

# 3:30pm basij is after us. slept in the streets last night. internet is down in most of the city #iranelection43 minutes ago from web

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The meaning of the Tehran spring By Pepe Escobar

June 16

Page 1 of 2
The meaning of the Tehran spring
By Pepe Escobar

It is 1979 in Tehran all over again. From Saturday to Sunday, the deafening sound deep in the night across Tehran's rooftops was a roaring, ubiquitous "Allah-u Akbar" (God is great). Then, in 1979, to hail the Islamic revolution; now, in 2009, to signify what appears to be the hijacking of the Islamic revolution. Then, the revolution was not televised; it was via (Ruhollah Khomeini) radio. Now, it is being broadcast all across the world.

Let's cut to the chase: what Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi qualified as "this dangerous charade" and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei "the sweetness of the election", or better yet, a "divine assessment", has all the non-divine markings of intervention by the Iranian Republican Guards Corps (IRGC). This follows President Mahmud Ahmadinejad officially gaining 64% of the vote in defeating Mousavi in what inthe days before Friday's vote had widely been called as a very close race.

Scores of protesters equating Ahmadinejad with Augusto Pinochet in 1973's Chile might not be that far off the mark. Call it the ultra-right wing, military dictatorship of the mullahtariat.

This is emerging as a no-holds-barred civil war at the very top of the Islamic Republic. The undisputed elite is now supposed to be embodied by the Ahmadinejad faction, the IRGC, the intelligence apparatus, the Ministry of the Interior, the Basij volunteer militias, and most of all the Supreme Leader himself.

The elite wants subdued, muzzled, if not destroyed, reformists of all strands: any relatively moderate cleric; the late 1970s clerical/technocratic Revolution Old Guard (which includes Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, Mohammad Khatami and Mousavi); "globalized" students; urban, educated women; and the urban intelligentsia.

Even fighting a cascade of political and economic setbacks, for the past three decades the regime has always been proud of the Islamic Republic's brand of popular democracy, and its alleged legitimacy. Now the revolution enters completely uncharted territory as thousands of people have taken to the streets in protest against the result.

What will be the distinguishing features of the military dictatorship of the mullahtariat? How does the revolution recoup from a coup? A 29-year-old female journalist working in a moderately conservative Tehran newspaper spelled it out for Radio Free Europe: "Coup means that right now they're beating people in the streets. A coup means they didn't even count people's votes. They announced the results without opening the ballot boxes. It was sent as a circular to the state television, which announced it. Is it so difficult for the world to understand this?"

The trillion-dollar-question regarding this new "revolutionary" situation is that as things stand, no pacifying solution can be found within the institutional framework of the Islamic Republic. In a nutshell, Ahmadinejad has made his power play against Mousavi and Rafsanjani. The Supreme Leader fully supported him. Mousavi and Rafsanjani, plus Khatami, need an urgent counterpunch. And their only possible play is to go after Khamenei.

As Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council, among others, has noted, Rafsanjani is now counting his votes at the Council of Experts (86 clerics, no women) - of which he is the chairman - to see if they are able to depose Khamenei. He is in the holy city of Qom for this explicit purpose. To pull it off, the council would imperatively have to be supported by at least some factions within the IRGC. The Ahmadinejad faction will go ballistic. A Supreme Leader implosion is bound to imply the implosion of the whole Khomeini-built edifice.

Null and void
As a prelude, Mousavi has already bypassed the Supreme Leader, sending an open letter to the powerful mullahcracy in Qom asking them to invalidate the election. Hojjatoleslam Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, head of the election vote-monitoring committee, has officially requested that the Council of Guardians void the election and schedule a new, fully monitored one.

One of the stalwarts of Qom power, the moderate Grand Ayatollah Sanei, who had issued a fatwa against vote rigging, calling it a "mortal sin", has already declared the Ahmadinejad presidency "illegitimate". His house and office are now under police siege. Iranians eagerly expect a public pronouncement from Grand Ayatollah Muntazeri, the country's true top religious figure (not Khamenei) and a certified anti-ultra-right wing.

Even more strikingly, a group of Ministry of Interior employees sent an open letter to the chairman of the Council of Experts (Rafsanjani), the president of the parliament (Majlis), former nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, the heads of the legislative and the judiciary, and many other government agencies. The crucial paragraph reads: "As dedicated employees of the Ministry of Interior, with experience in management and supervision of several elections such as the elections of Khamenei, Rafsanjani and Khatami, we announce that we fear the 10th presidential elections were not healthy."

The Islamic Combatant Clergy Association (ICCA), close to Khatami and supportive of Mousavi, said on its website that the counting process was "widely engineered [manipulated]", and there was enough evidence to prove it. So for the ICCA, the election should be nullified.

Mohsen Rezai, who ran as a conservative and who is nothing less than a former head of the IRGC, also sent a letter to the Council of Guardians saying the election was illegitimate. This is crucial; it means a serious crack inside the IRGC - because Rezai's former subordinates are still active and will inevitably support him (he remains very influential). "Officially", Rezai had less than 1 million votes. He maintains that according to his own polls, "in a worst-case scenario I should have had between 3.5 and 7 million votes."
Even a former Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Ayatollah Mohajerani, went on the BBC Persian service to say the Supreme Leader was not infallible, and should be replaced in case of "dishonesty".

How it all evolved
The ultra-right wing maybe has not seen it coming this way - the urban youth of Tehran behaving like it's May 1968 in Paris. But they seem to have prepared themselves accordingly. The only question is when. Was it long-term pre-planning? Did it emerge after the televised presidential debates propelled the "green revolution"? Or was it a last-minute, cooked up in minutes, gambit?

As the election approached, an impartial observation of the Iranian presidential TV debates would signal that Ahmadinejad was virtually freaking out. The public debate in Iran made clear that what mattered most for voters was Ahmadinejad's record of economic incompetence, much more than his foreign policy tirades.

In the debates, Ahmadinejad managed to get away with fanciful figures regarding inflation and unemployment. He went into overdrive on the eve of the election, virtually accusing his three opponents of being Zionist agents. He may have calculated that a second round with Mousavi would be too risky. Ahmadinejad knew Khamenei was on his side. But it's fair to argue neither Ahmadinejad nor the ultra-right wing spectrum may have evaluated the full implication of a dubious electoral victory possibly imploding the whole system as they know it.

By the end of May, Mousavi was ahead of Ahmadinejad in Iran's 10 biggest cities by at least 4%.

Fast forward to this past Friday, when Khamenei met with Rafsanjani, the powerful, actual number two in the regime, who had warned the Supreme Leader three days earlier about the serious possibility of election fraud. Khamenei dismissed it.

Mousavi had also warned of fraud after Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, Ahmadinejad's apocalyptic, Mahdist spiritual mentor, appeared to endorse vote rigging.

Ominous signs were piling up fast. Before the election, the IRGC officially warned it would not tolerate a "velvet revolution" orchestrated by Mousavi's urban sea of green. On election day, ballot papers "disappeared" from thousands of polling places. SMS messages were blocked.

The polls closed at 10pm on Friday, Tehran time. Most main streets then were fully decked out in green. In an absolutely crucial development, the great Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf told Radio Farda how Mousavi's main campaign office in Tehran received a phone call on Saturday at 1am; the Interior Ministry was saying "Don't announce Mr Mousavi's victory yet ... We will gradually prepare the public and then you can proceed." Iranian bloggers broke down the vote at the time as 19.7 million for Mousavi, between 7 and 8 million for Ahmadinejad, 7 million for Karroubi, and 3 million for Rezai.

Then all hell seemed to break loose. Phones, SMS, text messaging, YouTube, political blogs, opposition websites, foreign media websites, all communication networks, in a cascade, were shutting down fast. Military and police forces started to take over Tehran's streets. The Ahmadinejad-controlled Ministry of Interior - doubling as election headquarters - was isolated by concrete barriers. Iranian TV switched to old Iron Curtain-style "messages of national unity". And the mind-boggling semi-final numbers of Ahmadinejad's landslide were announced (Ahmadinejad 64%, Mousavi 32%, Rezai 2% and Karroubi less than 1%).

The fact that the electoral commission had less than three hours to hand-count 81% of 39 million votes is positively a "divine assessment".

Continued 1 2

Page 2 of 2
The meaning of the Tehran spring
By Pepe Escobar

Masked mobs encircled and attacked the headquarters of both Mousavi and Karroubi. By 3am on Saturday, long military convoys escorted by Basij militias on motorbikes took over the streets of Tehran, crying "Mousavi bye-bye" - the countercoup to the green revolution's chant of "Ahmadi bye-bye". The whole thing started to feel like Tiananmen in Beijing in 1989. Or a plain and simple coup.
On Saturday, Khamenei had to go on the record to stress there was no fraud. And on Sunday, he felt he needed to re-certify the whole thing, describing the election as "an epic and ominous event".

The official breakdown of the vote had Ahmadinejad taking Tehran by over 50%. He may be popular in the rural provinces and in
Page 2 of 2
The meaning of the Tehran spring
By Pepe Escobar

Masked mobs encircled and attacked the headquarters of both Mousavi and Karroubi. By 3am on Saturday, long military convoys escorted by Basij militias on motorbikes took over the streets of Tehran, crying "Mousavi bye-bye" - the countercoup to the green revolution's chant of "Ahmadi bye-bye". The whole thing started to feel like Tiananmen in Beijing in 1989. Or a plain and simple coup.
On Saturday, Khamenei had to go on the record to stress there was no fraud. And on Sunday, he felt he needed to re-certify the whole thing, describing the election as "an epic and ominous event".

The official breakdown of the vote had Ahmadinejad taking Tehran by over 50%. He may be popular in the rural provinces and in

parts of working-class south Tehran, but not even "divine assessment" could be expected to give him more than 30% in the capital.

Ahmadinejad won in the big city of Tabriz. Tabriz is in Azerbaijan. Mousavi is Azeri. Azeris are an ultra-tight ethnic group, they vote for one of their own. The notion that Mousavi was beaten, four to one, in his home ground borders on fiction.

Karroubi had less than half of Ahmadinejad's vote and came in a distant second in his own hometown of Oligudarz. Karroubi not only didn't win in his home province of Lorestan, he had less votes than volunteers helping in his campaign. The first numbers on election night came from rural villages and small towns
voting Ahmadinejad. Something immediately seemed to be way off when less than 1% of voters in western Iran went for Karroubi, very popular not only in his native Lorestan but also in Kurdistan.

As for Rezai, from Khuzestan, where most of Iran's oilfields are, he expected 2 million votes in his province alone. He polled less than a million nationwide. Everywhere, all over the country, Ahmadinejad got between a steady 66% and 69%, no matter the region, no matter the predominant ethnic group, no matter the demographics.

By law, the Electoral Commission must wait three days before certifying the results. Then they inform Khamenei and he gives his seal of approval. This is to prevent any "irregularities". This time, Khamenei approved the official results in less than four hours.

But could he actually win?
"Landslide" apart, a true Ahmadinejad victory would not be implausible. He could have reasonably scored something like 48%, for instance, ahead of Mousavi, and both would square off in a second round of voting. Ahmadinejad visited every Iranian province at least twice in these past four years. Deep, rural Iran has nothing to do with upscale north Tehran.

He plundered the reserve fund, full of oil money, set up by Khatami, to shower more money to pensioners and distribute more pork. Inflation skyrocketed. The working classes suffered with inflation and unemployment as much as north Tehran. But the average Iranian still seemed to be satisfied that his standard of living under Ahmadinejad was slightly higher.

Ahmadinejad turned the election into a referendum on the whole idea of the Islamic revolution. He literally enveloped himself in the flag - a crowd pleaser in a very religious and nationalistic country.

Mousavi had the urban youth vote, the urban, educated female vote, the intelligentsia vote, the upper middle class, globalized vote, and even the bazaar vote. But that was not enough. In the showdown between SMS and Facebook and the poor, rural and working-class masses - many of whom have a lot of empathy with the pious son of a blacksmith - it's fair to assume he could be the winner. But not in a landslide. Khatami had a real landslide in 2001, when he got no less than 78% of the vote (after 70% in 1997). The notion that an over 70% reformist impulse has been transformed over these past few years into a 62% ultra-right wing fervor is questionable.

See you in the barricades
The biggest winner in all this seems to be the Supreme Leader - who else? This is how it all played out. When Mousavi said in the TV presidential debates that Ahmadinejad was a disgrace to Iran's global image, he did not get away with it. The slap came via the very influential Kayhan newspaper, very close to the Supreme Leader.

Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, went after billionaire Rafsanjani with all guns blazing, accusing him of corruption and nepotism. This still strikes a chord at the popular level, and especially strikes a chord with the IRGC.

Rafsanjani is the de facto number two most powerful player in the Iranian system, and has been so for more than 20 years now. He controls the Expediency Council and the Council of Experts (which has the power to depose the Supreme Leader). The IRGC fear him and are against him. It's no secret that those that really matter in the Iranian system are the top mullahcracy and the IRGC. (The name says it all; they are the guardians of the whole idea of the revolution. And they only respond to the Supreme Leader.)

With the Basij militia working as a kind of military cell in every one of the 90,000 mosques all over the country, and multiplying rapidly (they may number close to 13 million by now), these forces can do no wrong.

Ahmadinejad was very clever in the TV debates to equate Rafsanjani with Khatami and Mousavi. He painted them to his key constituency as a shock to the system. The system had to strike back. Game, set, match. For the Supreme Leader - the constituency that matters the most - Ahmadinejad even served the divine satisfaction of crushing Mousavi, who as prime minister in the 1980s (during the terrible years of the Iran-Iraq war) was played by Khomeini to control the power of then-president Khamenei.

Will Rafsanjani go for broke? As he prepares a Council of Experts counterpunch against the Supreme Leader and Mousavi plots the next resistance steps, the ball is now in the Iranian street's court. Much will depend on this Monday's peaceful march along Vali Asr street in Tehran and in 19 other cities, and a national strike on Tuesday, both called by Mousavi. Everyone remembers how a week ago the green revolution formed a chain down the entire 18 kilometer length of Vali Asr.

Ahmadinejad's show of force was his victory rally this Sunday - attended by a huge mass of true supporters in south Tehran, Basij in civilian dress and rent-a-mobs from all over the place. In a press conference earlier, Ahmadinejad hinted that in his second term he will be "more and more solid".

Ahmadinejad blamed the whole Iranian turmoil on foreign media - which not by accident are now being virtually persecuted by the security apparatus. The crackdown is assuming ultra-hardcore proportions. Yet the revolution continues to be broadcast to the whole world in English and Farsi, although the indispensable Tehran Bureau website was been taken down by the thought police. Riot police have fought students inside the dorms of the University of Tehran.

The Ministry of Interior is now protected by tanks. Many in Tehran believe that a lot of the motorbiked Basij are in fact Arabs doing the "dirty work" true nationalist Persians would refuse. Basij have been fighting hard for hours to subdue throngs of protesters. There are widespread reports of a "staggering" number of injured in Tehran hospitals. A Basiji center in north Tehran seems to have been captured by protesters on Sunday night. This means the green revolution having access to weapons.

This has nothing to do with the US-supported color-coded revolutions in Eurasia. This is about Iran. An election was stolen in the United States in 2000 and Americans didn't do a thing about it. Iranians are willing to die to have their votes counted. There is now an opening for a true Iranian people-power movement not specifically to the benefit of Mousavi, but with Mousavi as the catalyst in a wider struggle for real democratic legitimacy. The die is cast; now it's people power against "divine assessment".

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2009 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

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VIGIL FOR IRAN TWEEPS @Change_for_Iran -- NO WORD for 24 hours!

Many of us trying to use Twitter to support the #Green Revolution in Iran right now were following the courageous updates of a student (?) or group of students in Tehran. The last news was before they set out for the big protest yesterday, were at least 8 are confirmed killed by Basij and many accounts of innumerable wounded spreading across the Twitterverse and Blogosphere.

I am reposting Change_for_Iran's TWITTER posts in hopes that more people will mobilize to keep the flow of information coming out and going into Iran.

Got to TWITTER, you don't even need an account to see posts. But ideally sign up and help RETWEET (RT) important news about the escalating crisis and burgeoning civil war there. People's lives are on the line and I have been moved and humbled by the courage and integrity of the Iranian people, who have stood up in the face of death threats on national television to dispute a baldly fraudulent election, while we in a America did nothing when Dubya and his cronies stole the 2000 and 2004 elections. Shame on us. We obviously have a few things to learn about participatory democracy from our friends who have taken to the streets across Iran.

Please support them in any way you can. This is not about whether you like Mousavi or think his policies are in the US or whatever nation's "interests," this is about the people reclaiming their rights to be heard and counted, and to determine their leaders for themselves. We must stand by them!

SOLIDARITY with the Green Revolution!


You follow Change_for_Iran
Change_for_Iran's updates appear in your timeline.

1. it's worth taking the risk, we're going. I won't be able to update until I'm back. again thanks for your kind support and wish us luckabout 24 hours ago from web

2. government is now playing a masterpiece mind game, all people here are so confused about what is real and who to trustabout 24 hours ago from web

3. there are now rumors of mousavi's site being hacked and the whole rally is IRG's trap. gun placements at azadi square confirmed2:37 PM Jun 15th from web

4. State TV right now: rally is illegal and Police will use iron fist against law breakers2:32 PM Jun 15th from web

5. whatever it's a trap or not we're agreed to go trying to speak with mousavi & karoubi in person.2:18 PM Jun 15th from web

6. @danrlewis it is complicated, mousavi's official site said it is cancelled but he will be there with karoubi!2:06 PM Jun 15th from web in reply to danrlewis

7. I'm not sure about going to mousavi's rally anymore, we're talking about possibilities.2:00 PM Jun 15th from web

8. IRG threaten to open fire at people if they try to participate in Mousavi's rally1:51 PM Jun 15th from web

9. http://25khordad.wordpress.... more pictures, we will upload more if internet speed gets better #Iranelection12:29 PM Jun 15th from web

10. I will update from over there, we really need to see other students & think of something. #iranelection12:01 PM Jun 15th from web

11. Masood came to say Police forces are moving outside of complex! we're going to take the chance & run to other buildings #iranelection11:57 AM Jun 15th from web

12. http://bit.ly/Aw5zA (in farsi) the news is spreading!11:53 AM Jun 15th from web

13. @VoiceofIran 23 was captured by ansar around 3am, we're in 22 right now11:47 AM Jun 15th from web in reply to VoiceofIran

14. very calm outside people just passing by looking at the police & remnants of doors & windows. #iranelection11:36 AM Jun 15th from web

15. accourding to BBC persian the weapon Ansar used was winchester hunting rifles, looks like the same at Esfahan #iranelection11:31 AM Jun 15th from web

16. @Kellye9 please RT it to me if possible.11:26 AM Jun 15th from web in reply to Kellye9

17. police still prevent us from going to other dorm buildings or attempting to exit the complex. #iranelection11:23 AM Jun 15th from web

18. Ansar troops left about an hour ago & we managed to give Reza some first aid, I guess he is OK for now. #iranelection11:19 AM Jun 15th from web

19. NOT SUITABLE FOR PEOPLE UNDER 18 ---> university of Esfahan http://bit.ly/3whaZV #iranelection11:16 AM Jun 15th from web

20. I'm not sure it's wise to share them here or not, they are absolutely +1811:09 AM Jun 15th from web

21. University of Esfahan was also under attack last night, I got some pictures from students over there but they are terrifying #iranelection11:06 AM Jun 15th from web

22. http://bit.ly/nCF2j #iranelection11:00 AM Jun 15th from web

23. I'm really out of energy & don't know when I will able to twit again. sorry I didn't answer to all of your questions & please wish us luck6:32 AM Jun 15th from web

24. sorry I can't answer to all twits. my head is spinning and Masood is killing me with the importance of his thesis files #iranelection6:28 AM Jun 15th from web

25. @RandyInman Mr.Potato lover is a lunatic selfish man think of himself as a God. so yes it does!6:26 AM Jun 15th from web in reply to RandyInman

26. it's calm now outside. no more sound of sirens or chants guess people are going to work & have no more time for revolting #iranelection6:21 AM Jun 15th from web

27. I really want to sleep right now, it's more than 48hours of rapid incidents. I wonder what mousavi is doing does he know? #iranelection6:12 AM Jun 15th from web

28. unlike Masood and others I really don't think capturing them can help us in any way. #iranelection6:10 AM Jun 15th from web

29. just received news about forging department students captured 2 Ansar troopers and moving them to another building! #iranelection6:04 AM Jun 15th from web

30. Masood says at least we can call it 25khordad and be more famous than 18tir students. I'm too much sleepy for laughing #iranelection5:54 AM Jun 15th from web

31. it's near 6am! come on amirabad people! wake up #iranelection5:47 AM Jun 15th from web

32. Reza is looking very bad & they will shoot at us again if we try to leave here. #iranelection5:44 AM Jun 15th from web

33. if what gooyanews reported is true, the situation in other buildings are far worst than us #iranelection5:40 AM Jun 15th from web

34. according to gooyanews : in whole complex: 15 badly wounded, more than 100 arrested or missing. #iranelection5:38 AM Jun 15th from web

35. 5:26AM I'm praying to GOD they leave us be! we should get Reza to a hospital Asap, he has some bad wounds. #iranelections5:28 AM Jun 15th from web

36. http://news.gooya.com/polit... (in farsi) Finally we are being seen! #iranelection5:23 AM Jun 15th from web

37. 5:17am people outside are burning Saderat bank building or as it seems from this far #iranelection5:20 AM Jun 15th from web

38. Masood is going outside & I'm shaking & feeling useless #iranelection5:11 AM Jun 15th from web

39. The KingKong (Masood named him & well deserved) is now speaking with his radio outside. probably giving or getting some orders #iranelection5:03 AM Jun 15th from web

40. the other buildings are now chanting "Ey Iran" song. #iranelection5:00 AM Jun 15th from web

41. We're trying to stop Masood from going outside! there is no way they will listen to us right now. #iranelection4:56 AM Jun 15th from web

42. Stop burning tires & trash cans! come to our aid it's getting worse than 18tir already! #iranelection4:55 AM Jun 15th from web

43. For some unknown reason there is still power in here and DSL line is working. but there is no dial tone. #iranelection4:53 AM Jun 15th from web

44. typing as fastest as I can in both English & Farsi, Still we need outside help, I really don't want to be captured by Ansar #iranelection4:49 AM Jun 15th from web

45. unfortunately the entrance door is completely destroyed and there is no way of barricading it. #iranelection4:47 AM Jun 15th from web

46. to other sources: this isn't the police! police is still outside! we're under attack by Ansar-Hezbolah. #iranelection4:42 AM Jun 15th from web

47. they used some kind of riot control gun in their last attack, never seen it before #iranelection4:41 AM Jun 15th from web

48. my friend saying more than 100 students arrested, I can't confirm this but the numbers are high #iranelection4:38 AM Jun 15th from web

49. bastards just attacked us for no reason, I lost count of how much tear gas they launched at us! #iranelection4:35 AM Jun 15th from web

50. all university's own security and personnel already evacuated by police, there are only us students in here right now. #iranelection4:30 AM Jun 15th from web

51. we have now some students with urgent need of medical attention I'm calling out to all ppl who can come here don't leave us #iranelection4:26 AM Jun 15th from web

52. trying hard to sleep, there are rumors about karoubi's march toward here! if it is true there is still hope for us! #iranelection4:18 AM Jun 15th from web

53. 4:09am from dormitory building of university of Tehran, we will wait for day light and hoping people of amirabad help us out #iranelection4:12 AM Jun 15th from web

54. there is nothing we can't do right now, police & basij forces are waiting outside blocking anyone from getting in or out #iranelection4:07 AM Jun 15th from web

55. using freegate now, nothing else working. no power in most of the buildings & cellphones & land lines are out again. #iranelection4:00 AM Jun 15th from web

56. http://bit.ly/vnz0l police will break in if you give shelter to people! #iranelection1:57 AM Jun 15th from TwitterFox

57. @monshi thanks for confirming it! I don't believe they have the courage to arrest khatami1:19 AM Jun 15th from TwitterFox in reply to monshi

58. http://bit.ly/ZV2As #iranelection12:55 AM Jun 15th from TwitterFox

59. @Robot117 IRG is not shah! it's a complete lunatic military organization! let's pray that will never happen.12:54 AM Jun 15th from TwitterFox

60. http://bit.ly/4AZ7zw Tehran Valiasr st 5:30pm after President Potato's speech #iranelection12:37 AM Jun 15th from TwitterFox

61. http://www.iranuon.net23.ne... in this photo: our beloved ex president Khatam arrested; I really hope this is fake12:04 AM Jun 15th from TwitterFox

62. @joergheber we're backed by other universities and local people of Koy district and yes we want to try again12:00 AM Jun 15th from TwitterFox in reply to joergheber

63. sorry for the name change, Guess I'm being overprotective11:39 PM Jun 14th from TwitterFox

64. Basij bastards waving Iron chains at us, my back hurts but I'm OK, we will try again around 2~3AM #iranelection11:34 PM Jun 14th from TwitterFox

65. I'm sorry people of koy for not being able to do anything, never saw so many basij forces in my life! #iranelection10:58 PM Jun 14th from TwitterFox

66. tired & beaten. we couldn't break through their wall, they were too many & we were no match for an entire army of special forces10:51 PM Jun 14th from TwitterFox

67. Students & people fighting back a large group of police & Basij right now at university of physics! I'm going to join them. #iranelection9:04 PM Jun 14th from TwitterFox

68. is there any end to police's motorcycles?! how much more we should burn?! #iranelection8:38 PM Jun 14th from TwitterFox

69. Karoubi speaking right now with people in front of his office. I hope nothing bad happens #iranelection8:36 PM Jun 14th from TwitterFox

70. http://bit.ly/2temyZ God! I really hate him! #iranelection8:32 PM Jun 14th from TwitterFox

71. @jeff_w44 we called the "lebas shakhsi" (wearing no uniforms) ,you could say they are regime's undercover agents.8:24 PM Jun 14th from TwitterFox in reply to jeff_w44

72. From Enghelab square my friend just called me, Police & unknown forces beating everybody for no apparent reason! #iranelection8:16 PM Jun 14th from TwitterFox

73. Gordanhaye Ashora (IRG's Elite infantry division) seen at Narmak in standby & fully armed with military equipment. #iranelection8:12 PM Jun 14th from TwitterFox

74. @Olive648 it was impossible to reach there! it is near ministry of national security & they have a small army protecting it!8:08 PM Jun 14th from TwitterFox in reply to Olive648

75. Security forces are now gathering a large force near university of physics #iranelection7:54 PM Jun 14th from web

76. I'm feeling angry & also depressed seeing him lying so easlly & wearing OUR COLOR on TV #iranelection6:52 PM Jun 14th from web

77. Ahmadynezad now calls himself "seyed" (bloodline of prophet mohammad) & wearing a green shawl on state TV! unbelievable! #IranElection6:43 PM Jun 14th from web

78. http://i40.tinypic.com/oiha... Vali-Asr street #IranElection6:33 PM Jun 14th from web

79. From Qom: Reformist grand ayatolah Saneyi is in house arrest and his office phones lines answered by ministry of Intel #iranelection6:29 PM Jun 14th from web

80. Karoubi does NOT recognize Ahmadinejad as President, and declares the election VOID & urges people to stand #iranelection6:27 PM Jun 14th from web

81. President Potato showing his evil powers on national TV right now! speaking of peace & justice! #iranelection6:24 PM Jun 14th from web

82. IRG's helicopter flying low on yousefabadad Amirabad Gisha right now creating a devastating sound and making windows shake #IranElection6:12 PM Jun 14th from web

83. http://gharinaz.persianblog... #Iranelection6:08 PM Jun 14th from web

84. We can't just risk loosing mousavi because it could be a trap! his core support was always us students! #IranElection11:05 AM Jun 14th from web

85. I'm going inside the building to inform the others, I hope we can get out peacefully with university's bus, we must be there at 12:3010:42 AM Jun 14th from web

86. I guess we should all go, after all he is the real president #iranelection10:26 AM Jun 14th from web

87. according to rumor mousavi requested all people to gather near his office at 12:30 pm today.10:25 AM Jun 14th from web

88. there is a rumor now in Farsi twitting community about mousavi being seen after 12h of no known location #iranelection10:20 AM Jun 14th from web

89. still no working cellphones here and wireless speed is awful #iranelection10:17 AM Jun 14th from web

90. it's 9:54 AM -Amirabad street near Pasargad bank and to be honest I don't have the courage to leave the roof right now #iranelection9:57 AM Jun 14th from web

91. @ahmadinejad no wonder you are OK Mr president 24.5M9:43 AM Jun 14th from TwitterFox in reply to ahmadinejad

92. I'm dizzy but ok. some people are getting shelter in the nearby unfinished bank building. police arresting a middle aged man9:41 AM Jun 14th from web

93. my eyes are burning hard to keep them open #iranelection9:16 AM Jun 14th from web

94. tear gas #iranelection9:01 AM Jun 14th from web

95. Down with the dictator! Mousavi, Karoubi; support us! #iranelection9:00 AM Jun 14th from web

96. police demanding people to move their cars and start crashing car windows. more people are coming. I will try to get a better view8:48 AM Jun 14th from web

97. some people are now parking their cars in middle of the street trying to block the vans. #iranelection8:46 AM Jun 14th from web

98. from the looks of it they are waiting to arrest all the students! it's also explains the vans8:44 AM Jun 14th from web

99. Police is trying to stop people from gathering around while Intel guys still holding a line in front of the gates #iranelection8:35 AM Jun 14th from web

100. http://twitpic.com/7c85l #iranelection8:32 AM Jun 14th from web

101. just receive http://bit.ly/17SDk4 from a friend. can't check it out myself. hope it's not fake. #Iranelection8:20 AM Jun 14th from web

102. they are starting their motorbikes now. I can't see where they are going. #iranelection8:14 AM Jun 14th from web

103. my brother thinks they are after a student council activist. the council known as Tahkime Vahdat and belongs to president era. #iranelection8:05 AM Jun 14th from web

104. I guess the Intel ministry guy is trying to convince university's security to open the gates #iranelection7:56 AM Jun 14th from web

105. I'm currently on rooftop with my laptop, most of the city is now looking calm except university of Economy building. #IranElection7:53 AM Jun 14th from web

106. there were more troops inside the vans and now starting to create a line in front of the only entrance of the building #iranelection7:48 AM Jun 14th from web

107. no reports from any other part of Tehran, we're all waiting for a move from mousavi or karoubi. #iranelection7:42 AM Jun 14th from web

108. Internet barely works, Speed is near 2kbps #iranelection7:34 AM Jun 14th from web

109. they are joining with police motorcycles in front of student's dormitory buildings firefighters are leaving the area right now #iranelection7:33 AM Jun 14th from web

110. black riot guards with black vans, it's my first time seeing this people, no badges! probably Intel ministry #iranelection7:25 AM Jun 14th from web

111. 7am news, still nothing about protests & clashes on TV. #iranelection7:09 AM Jun 14th from web

112. all cellphones now read: Emergency only - No Service! #iranelection6:57 AM Jun 14th from web

113. 6:47 am, police is speaking with students inside dormitory buildings of university of Tehran with speaker. #iranelection6:49 AM Jun 14th from web

114. @matthew951 we're using twitterfox! thanks for the note!6:40 AM Jun 14th from web in reply to matthew951

115. Ahmadinejad & his supporters will celebrate their victory today at 5pm local time in Valiasr square & we will try to ruin his party!6:37 AM Jun 14th from web

116. Major General Jafari, commander of IRG said he will not let mousavi's green movement to harm Islamic revolution's ethics #iranelection6:27 AM Jun 14th from web

117. @LovLesmile Internet access in Iran is based on land lines not sat dishes!6:12 AM Jun 14th from web in reply to LovLesmile

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Iraq and Dubya's Lies

Dubya's lies. Olbermann says "shut the hell up," apparently only because he wasn't allowed to say "fuck" on tv.

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An Oldie but a Goodie--Keith Olbermann calls Bush a Fascist

Keith Olbermann ROCKS

Keith Olbermann often warms the cockles of my heart, but this special commentary on the shameless passage of Prop 8 banning gay marriage in California is especially powerful, impassioned and spot on.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Judith Warner Captures a Transgenerational Momement

November 6, 2008, 9:03 pm
Tears to Remember
By Judith Warner
New York Times

On Wednesday, Nov. 5, 1980, my 10th-grade American history teacher started class by unfurling The New York Times. She pointed to its triple banner headline: “Reagan Easily Beats Carter; Republicans Gain in Congress; D’Amato and Dodd are Victors.”

“Save this paper,” she told us. “This is the start of a whole new era.”

And it was. An era of unbridled deregulation, wealth-enhancing perks for the already well-off, and miserly indifference to the poor and middle class; of the recasting of greed as goodness, the equation of bellicose provincialism with patriotism, the reframing of bigotry as small-town decency.

In short, it was the start of our current era. The Reagan Revolution was the formative political experience of my generation’s lifetime, like the Great Depression, the Second World War or Vietnam for those before us. And in its intellectual and moral paucity, in its eventual hegemony, these years shut down, for some of us, the ability to fully imagine another way.

I will admit that back in January, when Barack Obama, in his post-Iowa victory speech, spoke about the “cynics,” the “they” who said “this country was too divided, too disillusioned to ever come together around a common purpose,” he was talking about me.

I will admit that the call of “change” did not speak to me as an achievable goal.

Until it actually came.

On Wednesday, there was a run on newspapers, as voters rushed to grab a tangible piece of the history they’d made. My husband Max and I, unable to find extra copies, brought our own worn papers home to 8- and 11-year-old Emilie and Julia.

Sept. 11, the seismic event that we’d feared would forever form their political consciousness, shaping their world and constricting the boundaries of the possible, had actually been eclipsed, light blotting out darkness, the best of America at long last driving away the demons of fear. We wanted them to see that it was the end of an era.

“Look,” we said, pointing to the headline “Racial Barrier Falls.” “This is huge.”

We labored to make them understand that their world — art that day, and orchestra, and Baked Potato Bar at lunch — had irrevocably changed.

But how can you understand change when you’ve only known one way of being?

They were happy because we were happy. They rose to the occasion in that bemused way children do when adults tell them what they should feel. They were glad to be rid of George W. Bush and to be saved – for now – from the specter of Sarah Palin. (“It is not O.K. to say she’s an ‘idiot,’” I had snapped when they came home from school stoked by the mob. “Prove your case. Show, don’t tell.”)

They’d had, like many D.C. children, more than their share of politics. After first following the country into battle against the all-purpose boogeyman Saddam Hussein, they’d become antiwar. They had opinions on tax policy and spoke angrily about the “wealth gap.” In the past election year, they’d been fired up about the woman thing, in all its pretty girl versus smart girl iterations; in fact, they and their friends had remained hard-core Hillaryites long after their moms had moved on.

But the race thing? The groundbreaking immensity of the election of our country’s first African-American president?

“You’re being racist,” Emilie had said when I made a comment about how particularly earth-moving this election was for black voters. “Why should it matter if people are black or white?”

Theirs has often looked to me like a world drained of meaning. Girl power put to the service of selling Hannah Montana. Feel-good inclusiveness that occulted the very real conflicts, crimes and hatreds of history.

It isn’t easy to let go of the past to embrace something new, to risk heartbreak on the chance of the world’s actually having changed.

Or at least, it hasn’t been easy for me. But it comes naturally to some. Like the hundreds of George Washington University students who gathered in front of the White House on Tuesday night, cheering and screaming and shouting their goodbyes to the political era of their youth.

“Bliss it was to be alive, but to be young was very heaven,” Max emailed me, paraphrasing William Wordsworth on the French Revolution, at 11:30 p.m. on election night, after leaving his desk to walk among the revelers downtown. I, home with the kids, was in bed, sleeping the drugged sleep of an alcohol-abstaining migraineuse after drinking half a glass of celebratory champagne.

Colin Powell did not dance for joy over Obama’s victory; he wept.

“Look what we did. Look what we did,” he said, puffy-faced, red-eyed, fighting back more tears on CNN. “He’s won. It’s over.”

David Dinkins was similarly solemn. “Things do change. There is a God. They do get better,” said the mayor who presided over New York City at a time of toxic racial tensions.

Obama, too, resisted giddy gladness on Tuesday night. But he did proclaim an end to the world as we’ve known it for far too long.

“To those who would tear the world down: we will defeat you,” he promised. “This is our moment. This is our time.”

The glory of Barack Obama is that there are so many different kinds of us who can claim a piece of that “our.” African-Americans, Democrats, post-boomers, progressives, people who rose from essentially nowhere and through hard work and determination succeeded beyond their parents’ wildest dreams are the most obvious.

But there are also people who respect intelligence and good grammar. People who see their spouse as their “best friend,” as Barack called Michelle on Tuesday night. People whose children have the same knowing look as Sasha and Malia, who are probably more excited about their puppy than about their father’s presidency.

Two images will forever stay in my mind to mark this epoch-breaking Election Day. One is that of Jesse Jackson’s face, drenched in tears, in Chicago’s Grant Park on Tuesday evening.

And the other is a photo that ran in The Times on Wednesday. In it, a black mother and daughter sit on the floor of a church in Harlem. The mother, Latrice Barnes, having heard of Obama’s victory, is doubled up in tears; her daughter, Jasmine, is reaching a tentative hand up to soothe her. To me, she looks like the future, reaching out to heal the past.
Obama's victoryAt the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, Latrice Barnes, right, is comforted by her daughter Jasmine Redd, 5. (David Goldman for The New York Times)

It is, I suppose, in part a matter of temperament, whether one shouts or weeps at happy transformative moments. But I also think it’s a matter of what has come before. The young people joyfully frolicking in front of the Bush White House never knew the universe whose passing was marked by Obama’s victory and Jackson’s tears.

This moment of triumph marks the end of such a long period of pain, of indignity and injustice for African-Americans. And for so many others of us, of the trampling and debasing of our most basic ideals, beliefs that we cherished every bit as deeply and passionately as those of the “values voters” around whose sensibilities we’ve had to tiptoe for the past 28 years.

The election brought the return of a country we’d lost for so long that it was almost forgotten under the accumulated scar tissue of accommodation and acceptance.

For me, this will be the enduring memory of election night 2008: One generation released its grief. The next looked up confusedly, eager to please and yet unable to comprehend just what the tears were about.

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Why the White House Needs a Greyhound

Why The White House Needs A Greyhound

11:50 AM on Sat Nov 8 2008
By hortense
Posted on Jezebel.com

Though President-Elect Obama's first press conference yesterday was meant to showcase his plans on how to ease the economy out of its current crisis, the question that garnered the most attention, and the question that has been flying all over the press in every country in the world, is this: What kind of dog are the Obamas going to get? We had some suggestions last week, with Goldendoodles, Bichon Frises and Poodles leading the hypoallergenic way, and though it seems likely that the girls will choose one of these adorable breeds, I'd like to make the case for another hypoallergenic, quiet, loyal, loving breed: the greyhound.

Greyhounds have a long and noble history; before greyhound racing became what they were best known for, greyhounds were actually protected by law during the Middle Ages, were the only dogs mentioned in the Bible, and were mentioned by Chaucer and Shakespeare, among others. America's favorite animated family, The Simpsons, adopted their greyhound, Santa's Little Helper, at the very start of the beloved series, and J.K. Rowling adopted a grey last year, which means, of course, that greyhounds are Gryffindor approved.

The Obamas are looking for two things: a rescue dog and a hypoallergenic dog. A greyhound fits both of these criteria. Greyhounds are also notoriously lazy, preferring to spend their days curled up in a ball, fast asleep. They're incredibly gentle, they don't shed, they very rarely bark, and they don't secrete the same oil as other dogs, which means they don't give off that "doggy smell" that other breeds seem to.

Even if the Obamas decide to go with a poodle or a doodle (which they will, most likely), greyhounds have already won one victory this week: voters in the State of Massachusetts voted to ban greyhound racing, a move that will close down the tracks that my retired racer used to run on. Thousands of dogs will now be placed in rescue shelters to await real homes. With 5,000-8,500 greyhounds being killed each year simply because they can't race anymore, the need for good homes and greyhound rescue awareness is higher than ever, and a Presidential adoption would do wonders for greyhound rescue efforts across the country.

When we first got Liffey, he was three years old and had never set foot in a home before. He didn't know how to climb stairs. He didn't understand that the face looking back at him in the mirror was his own, and not another dog's. He walked into the plate glass door twice, not knowing what windows were. He had spent his entire life in a crate, leaving only to pee, eat, or run.

A year and a half later, he's a bit of a rock star in our very small town. Kids will stop us every three feet when we go for walks, and he stands patiently as they pet him and tell him how neat they think he is. Sometimes when I watch him curled up in a ball on the couch, I think about the first three years of his life, when he was just a number on a track, locked in a cage at night, and I can't help but worry about the other greys out there who are still in need. A greyhound in the White House would be the best thing that ever happened to the Greyhound Rescue movement; but even if that doesn't happen, the steps being made in states like Massachusetts are definite signs that the country is beginning to realize that these animals deserve loving families, good homes, and a chance to live a cage-free life.

Mass. Voters Approve Dog Racing Ban [Boston Globe]
J.K. Rowling Adopts An Abandoned Greyhound [Daily Record]
Who Should Be The First Dog? Here Are The Candidates [AP]

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Gail Collins' Thinking of Good Vibrations

Thinking of Good Vibrations

Op-Ed Columnist
Published: November 5, 2008
The New York Times


We are only thinking cheerful thoughts today, people. America did good. Enjoy.

Even if you voted for John McCain, be happy. You’ve got the best of all worlds. Today, you can bask in the realization that there are billions of people around the planet who loathed our country last week but are now in awe of its capacity to rise above historic fears and prejudices, that once again, the United States will have a president the world wants to follow.

Then later, when things get screwed up, you can point out that it’s not your fault.

About the inevitable disasters: I am sorry to tell you, excited youth of America, that Barack Obama is going to make mistakes. And the country’s broke. Perhaps we should have mentioned this before. But let’s leave all that to 2009. When somebody runs one of the best presidential campaigns ever, he deserves a little time to enjoy the sweet spot between achievement of a goal and the arrival of the consequences.

Let’s hear it for the voters. Good turnout, guys — especially you Virginians who stood in line for seven hours. A professor at George Mason University who studies this sort of thing claims that there hasn’t been such a high participation level since 1908. You could turn out to be the ever-elusive answer to the question: “Name one thing that Barack Obama has in common with William Howard Taft?”

Let’s hear it for Hillary Clinton, who lost but made the country comfortable with the idea of a woman as chief executive. And Joe Biden, who actually ran a disciplined campaign, given his truly exceptional capacity to say weird things.

And let’s give a shout-out to John McCain. As desperate as he was, he still passed up opportunities to poke hard at the nation’s fault lines of race, religion and region — although he has probably created a permanent gap between the rest of us and segments of the country who feel under imminent threat from Bill Ayers.

McCain ran a dreadful campaign, but it’s over. Give the guy a break. He was stuck with George Bush. And the Republican Party. And the fact that he was constitutionally incapable of giving a decent speech. The road was hard, but he soldiered on and did a lovely concession Tuesday night. Kudos.

Sarah Palin did go over the top with her small towns vs. the world mantra. However, she does get credit for giving us a real understanding of the difference between a moose and a caribou.

O.K., there is nothing positive to say about Sarah Palin. And Alaska, are you re-electing Ted Stevens? What’s going on there? Did you actually believe him when he said that the court verdict was still up in the air? On the day after he was found guilty? By the way, if Stevens does win, it will be with about 106,000 votes. In total. There are more people than that in my immediate neighborhood! What kind of state is this, anyway?

But we’re in a good mood, so let’s forget Alaska. Instead, we’ll contemplate the fact that North Carolina tossed Elizabeth Dole out of office despite her ad campaign aimed at convincing the state that her opponent, Kay Hagan, was an atheist. This was accomplished, you may remember, through the creative strategy of showing Hagan’s picture along with another woman’s voice saying: “There is no God!” If Dole had won, by the next election we would have been bombarded with ads that appeared to show candidates saying “I support adultery!” or “Let’s kill the puppies!” Now that won’t happen. Thank you, North Carolina.

By the way, I believe that during the campaign McCain’s great friend Senator Lindsey Graham said something along the line of promising to drown himself if North Carolina went for Obama. I believe I speak for us all, Senator Graham, when I say that we are feeling extremely mellow today and you do not have to follow through.

Congratulations to Senator Susan Collins on her re-election. The entire moderate Republican caucus in the Senate may now wind up consisting of women from Maine. As Maine goes, so go the Supreme Court nominations.

Finally, on behalf of the baby-boom generation, I would like to hear a little round of applause before we cede the stage to the people who were too young to go to Woodstock and would appreciate not having to listen to the stories about it anymore. It looks as though we will be represented in history by only two presidents, one of whom is George W. Bush. Bummer.

The boomers didn’t win any wars and that business about being self-involved was not entirely unfounded. On the other hand, they made the nation get serious about the idea of everybody being created equal. And now American children are going to grow up unaware that there’s anything novel in an African-American president or a woman running for the White House.

We’ll settle for that.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Anna Quindlen on What Obama Means for Us: Living History

Living History

Occasionally America turns out to be every bit as good as its hype. It's thrilling to be around to witness one of those moments.
Anna Quindlen
From the magazine issue dated Nov 17, 2008

The American Museum of Natural History threw a spectacular party on New Year's Eve 1999, but perhaps the millennium really arrived there just a few weeks ago. A group of New York City schoolchildren were at an event marking the 150th birthday of Theodore Roosevelt, naturalist and president, and at the end of the visit one of the kids raised his hand. "I have a question," he said. "Was he black?"

History will record that on Nov. 4, 2008, Barack Hussein Obama was elected the first black president of the United States. It is impossible to overstate what that means to this nation.

America is as much a concept as it is a country, but it is a concept too often honored in the breach. The Statue of Liberty welcomes with the words "Give me your tired, your poor." Yet generation after generation of immigrants arrived here to face contempt and hatred until the passage of time, the flattening of accents, turned them into tolerated natives. The Declaration of Independence states unequivocally that all men are created equal. Yet for years the politicians and the powerful seemed to take the gender of that noun literally and denied all manner of rights to women.

But no injustice or prejudice brought to bear by this country against its own people can compare with how it has treated black men and women. Humiliation, degradation, lynchings, beatings, murders. The rights the United States pretended to confer upon all were unthinkingly and consistently denied them: the right to the franchise, to representation, to protection by the justice system.

Literal ownership gave way to something not so different: "When we are moved to better our lot," Richard Wright wrote in 1941, "we do not ask ourselves 'can we do it?' but 'will they let us do it?' " Henry Louis Gates Jr., in the memoir "Colored People," says simply, "For most of my childhood, we couldn't eat in restaurants or sleep in hotels, we couldn't use certain bathrooms or try on clothes in stores." Alice Walker left home for college on a bus and was ordered to move after a white woman complained that she was too near the front.

None of this was so very long ago.

Time passed. Things changed. John Lewis, a boy who loved books but was not permitted to enter the public library, a man whose skull was fractured by Alabama state troopers when he led a peaceful march across a bridge, now sits in Congress. Gates is a professor at Harvard, Walker a revered writer. Segregation as a matter of law has given way to segregation as a matter of class and custom. As President-elect Obama said when he gave a speech about race earlier this year, speaking of systemic poverty, bad schools and broken families, "Many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow."

But Obama said something else in that speech, something both simpler and more profound that has special resonance now that his improbable candidacy has prevailed. He made the political spiritual. "In the end, then," he said, "what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world's great religions demand—that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us." He asked the American people to be fair and just, to be kind and generous, to put prejudice behind them and be one people because that is, not a legal or social imperative, but a moral one.

There will be learned discussion in the years to come about the specific meaning of this moment, about whether it will be more symbolic than substantive, about whether having a black president will lull Americans into believing that racism is a thing of the past. But for just a moment consider this small fact: for a long time a black man in many parts of the United States was denied even the honorific "Mister" by the white community, and was instead called by his first name, like a child, no matter how elderly and esteemed he might be.

Now a black man will be called Mr. President.

They never thought they would see the day, people said, especially the older ones, who could remember the murders of Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X. They wept, some of them, and so did I. Perhaps it was because this man seems so young and vigorous in a nation that seems old and tired. Perhaps it is because he promises change and hope, and both are so badly needed. He is the president for our children's generation, a more tolerant and diverse society, so insensible of bright dividing lines that one of them would idly wonder whether Theodore Roosevelt was a black man. They belie a time when there was a crayon labeled "flesh" in my Crayola box, a crayon that was a pale pink.

But I suspect that, like many others, I wept for myself, too, because I felt I was part of a country that was living its principles. Despite all our prejudices, seen and hidden, millions of citizens managed, in the words of Dr. King, to judge Barack Obama by the content of his character and not the color of his skin. There were many reasons to elect him president, but this was one collateral gift: to be able to watch America look an old evil in the eye and to say, no more. We must be better than that. We can be better than that. We are better than that.
URL: http://www.newsweek.com/id/167571
© 2008

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Barack Obama's election victory brings a new dawn of leadership

Barack Obama's election victory brings a new dawn of leadership

* Jonathan Freedland in Chicago
* guardian.co.uk
* Wednesday November 05 2008 06.57 GMT

The man who once described himself as a "skinny kid with a funny name" stood before a vast, euphoric crowd — and a watching world — and in a speech that was by turns sombre and inspirational, took upon his shoulders the great weight of leadership of the United States of America.

Barack Obama emerged onto the stage at Chicago's Grant Park as President-Elect to greet a crowd that had waited for several hours to see him — and for decades to witness such a moment. There had been tears all evening, as one key state after another fell — first Pennsylvania, then Ohio — turning the hope of victory into a certainty. But for many it was the sight of the man himself that finally made reality sink in. There he was: an African-American man who from today will be addressed as Mr President.

Obama himself seemed to understand the gravity of the moment. Save for a few thank-yous to his campaign team — and a message to his daughters that they had earned the new puppy that the Obamas will take with them to the White House — he did not deliver a cheery victory speech celebrating an electoral triumph. Instead he used the occasion to give the first address of his presidency.

He declared that "Change has come to America," but left no doubt that his election marked only the first step along a road that will prove long and hard. "We may not get there in one year or in one term," he cautioned. "But we will get there."

Reprising a line he had used in the stump speech that launched his "improbable journey" in the snows of Iowa and New Hampshire a year ago, he reminded his audience that they were a nation at war, with an economy in trouble, living on a planet in peril. He called on all Americans — including those who had not voted for him — to join him in the tough work ahead: "I hear your voices, I need your help and I will be your president too."

It was one of several calls for unity from the man who made his name with a 2004 plea for America to remember that it is not made up of blue states or red states, but must always be the United States. He seemed to be attempting to assemble a new coalition, even a government of national unity, to tackle the great challenges of the age. In a flourish that echoed John F Kennedy, he declared: "Let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other."

The crowd in Grant Park — scene of one of the most bruising chapters in recent US political history, the Chicago riots of 1968 — stood rapt. They listened as Obama seemed to steel them for a collective effort unseen since the days of FDR.

That crystallised a sense that had been building about Obama in the final weeks of his campaign: that he aspires to be not just a successful politician who wins elections, but a genuine leader — ready to steer his people through an onslaught of troubles. "America, we have come so far," he said, as if the entire nation were gathered before him. "We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do."

He also had a message to the rest of the world, one that will be welcomed almost everywhere. "To all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand."

In this speech, and with his victory, Barack Obama has drawn a line under the last eight years, ending an American era that few will mourn. For today marked nothing less than the first day of the Obama presidency.

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We Did It! Welcome President Elect Barack Obama

Watch Obama's Victory Speech
Obama Victory Speech Transcript

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

Its the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

Its the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

Its the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

Its been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and hes fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nations promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nations next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy thats coming with us to the White House. And while shes no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what youve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didnt start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generations apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didnt do this just to win an election and I know you didnt do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how theyll make the mortgage, or pay their doctors bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who wont agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government cant solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, its that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one thats on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. Shes a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldnt vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that shes seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we cant, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when womens voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we cant, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

We are the Ones We've been Waiting for!

John McCain: No You Can't

From Election08 On Youtube
Presented by: The Public Service Administratioin
Andy Cobb
Josh Funk
Nyima Funk
Marc Evan Jackson
Mark Kienlen
David Pompeii
Marc Warzecha

Special guests:
Beth Farmer
Matt Craig
Rebecca Allen
Kai Pompeii
Kevin Douglas
Victor Lopez

The work that we face in our time is great
in a time of war
and the terrible sacrifices it entails
the promise of a better future is not always clear
there's gonna be other wars
I'm sorry to tell you there's gonna be other wars
there's gonna be a lot of combat wounds
and my friends it's gonna be tough
and we're gonna have a lot to do
That old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran?
Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb...
I'm still convinced that withdrawal means chaos
and if you think that things are bad now
if we withdraw--you ain't seen nothing yet
was the war a good idea, worth the price in blood and treasure?
It was a good idea
President Bush talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years
Maybe a hundred, that's fine with me
I don't think Americans are concerned if we're there for a hundred years, or a thousand years, or ten thousand years.

From: lessjobsmorewars
Added: February 13, 2008
NO, YOU CAN'T -- NO SE PUEDE. Status quo is Latin f...

Status quo is Latin for scandal, recession, Bush, McCain, global warming, children without healthcare, young men and women dying in Iraq for 100 years, and tax cuts for the super-rich while we rack up trillion dollar deficits. If you prefer more of the same, please stick with the Grand Ol' Party. If you want hope and change, there's that other guy running for president...

We made "No, You Can't" as a part parody/part homage (or "parage," if you will :-) ), to the original piece by will.i.am. We're inspired by the movement that Obama has set in motion, and wanted to poke fun at the entrenched interests and cynics who'll be pushing back harder and harder against us as our movement grows stronger.

Members of the power elite featured in this video include: Dick Cheney, Filmore Barrols, Ivy League-Legacy, Jen Trification, D. Forrest Callee, Monet Oliver de Place, Winsome Mandate, and Lily the Dog.

Brought to you by the same spoiled brats who brought you Billionaires for Bush http://billionairesforbush.com

Creative Team: Melody Bates (producer), Elissa Jiji (producer), Marco Ceglie (writer/post-production genius), Andrew Boyd (other writer/post-production sub-genius), Tom Blake (camera), Diana Solomon (hair and makeup), Eddie Martinez (editor), Ken Rosser (guitar), Ron Kidd (Dick Cheney), Brian Fairbanks & Justin Krebs & Cliff Tasner (co-conspirators), Kim & Philippo (dog wrangling).



...It was a creed, snuck into the founding documents that denied the destiny of a nation.

No, you can't.

It was decreed by bankers and landowners as they marched our monopolies westward.

No, you can't.

No you can't stop our power and privilege.

No you can't repeal our tax cuts for the wealthy few.

No you can't heal this nation.

No you can't end the war.

No you can't.

No matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of our power keeping us in power.

Status quo.

Now the hopes of the little girl who goes to a private school in Newport are the same as the dreams of the boy who parties in the clubs of LA.

We are not as divided as our portfolios suggest. We run this nation, and together we will stop this nonsense about writing the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea --

No. You. Can't.


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I am waiting for the new day to break. I am proud that the best we have in us has been called forth by the prospect of hope. Thank you, Barack Obama. We shall overcome.

Official song site:

Obama Campaign Site:

Yes we can what?:

Is it true that he....?:

Be a part of the video at:


It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation.

Yes we can.

It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail toward freedom.

Yes we can.

It was sung by immigrants as they struck out from distant shores and pioneers who pushed westward against an unforgiving wilderness.

Yes we can.

It was the call of workers who organized; women who reached for the ballots; a President who chose the moon as our new frontier; and a King who took us to the mountaintop and pointed the way to the Promised Land.

Yes we can to justice and equality.

Yes we can to opportunity and prosperity.

Yes we can heal this nation.

Yes we can repair this world.

Yes we can.

We know the battle ahead will be long, but always remember that no matter what obstacles stand in our way, nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.

We have been told we cannot do this by a chorus of cynics...they will only grow louder and more dissonant ........... We've been asked to pause for a reality check. We've been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope.

But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.

Now the hopes of the little girl who goes to a crumbling school in Dillon are the same as the dreams of the boy who learns on the streets of LA; we will remember that there is something happening in America; that we are not as divided as our politics suggests; that we are one people; we are one nation; and together, we will begin the next great chapter in the American story with three words that will ring from coast to coast; from sea to shining sea --

Yes. We. Can.

Celebrities featured include: Jesse Dylan, Will.i.am, Common, Scarlett Johansson, Tatyana Ali, John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Kate Walsh, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Adam Rodriquez, Kelly Hu, Amber Valetta, Eric Balfour, Aisha Tyler, Nicole Scherzinger and Nick Cannon

Also check out this other great song and video inspired by Barack:


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Vote Yes on PROP 2 in California--Prevent Gratuitous Suffering

Dear Californians, please vote yes on Prop 2 today to fight back against the grotesque cruelty of factory farms. Give animals raised for food a little decency--the right to stand up, turn around, lie down and stretch their limbs. Is that really too much to ask? And if the wellbeing of the animals does not move you, consider the filthy and unsanitary conditions in which your food is being raised. Do the right thing and vote Yes on Prop 2.

Long Version

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Vote NO on California's Discriminatory Prop 8

Here are but a few perspectives on why it is essential that we California's fight for what's right and vote down the despicable Proposition 8 with a landslide. The idea that we should write discriminatory, religion-driven intolerance and inequality into law is revolting. Anti-gay marriage legislation is the incestuous cousin of the anti-miscegenation Laws prohibition interracial marriage that were constitutional until 1967! Stamp out this kind of disgusting bigotry and descrimination. SAY NO TO PROP 8 in California, and any similar legislation like it across the country (and the world). The pursuit of life, liberty and happiness surely includes everyone regardless of whom they love. These are the real traditional American values to stand by and protect.

For a glimpse at the twisted logic behind the divisive Yes on Prop 8 people, take a look at this ridiculous mess of lies and scare tactics. It's like white racists in Little Rock fighting for their so-called "right" to not have their children schooled alongside African American kids, or white male clubs defending their "right" not admit people of color or women. This kind of blind, stupid hatred has no place in America, or anywhere for that matter. So fucking what if your kids learn that people who love each other can get married regardless of gender? I think the idea of raising a new generation of kids who are open-minded and tolerant is a beautiful fabulous idea.

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