Tag Archives: Iran

Gaza Strip Rockets Reach Tel Aviv, Israel Mulls Ground Invasion

Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system intercepts rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepts rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

A second day of conflict between the Gaza Strip and Israel brought a very unfamiliar sound to the country’s commercial capital, Tel Aviv – for the first time since the First Iraq War the sounds of exploding rockets thundered across the sky. Only three made it anywhere near the city limits and there wasn’t the fear of chemical attacks as there was in 1991, but it was still a psychological hit to Israel’s sense of superiority - missile defense and all. It may compel the country to launch a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip in the days to come.

For its part, Israel and their overwhelming military superiority continued targeted strikes in Gaza City – with a death toll on the Palestinian side pushing twenty since the conflict’s escalation on Wednesday. The Israel Defense Force has toyed publicly on Twitter (actually a lot of disturbing toying has been going on both sides over Twitter of all places but that’s for another day) that a ground offensive is possible in Gaza. Some 30,000 reservists have been called up for this potential outcome.

Meanwhile down the coast in Egypt, the government of Mohamed Morsi finds itself in the absolutely unenviable position of being between hardliners who want the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel, the Arab Street which is going to likely be whipped into a furor during end-of-week prayers, the United States still counting on Egypt to be a stalwart ally for peace in the region, and an internal desire to be more assertive over regional affairs – to show there are more players at the table than just Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Read more »

Israel Skirmishes With West Bank as Peace Dies a Little More

Explosions rattled Gaza City on Wednesday as Israel launched pinpoint air strikes against Hamas targets.

Explosions rattled Gaza City on Wednesday as Israel launched pinpoint air strikes against Hamas targets.

A long time ago in years far, far away, there was actually hope for a peace process in the Middle East. There were accords in Dayton, hands were shook, people even smiled into the camera together. The first decade of the 21st century and now the second has seen this supplanted by a thickly lingering cold war that flares rather hot and in varying directions depending from which direction the pot was stirred. Yesterday that direction was to the west.

Israel launched air strikes across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, most notably killing Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari – the military leader of the militant wing of Hamas. His death, and the subsequent release of the killing footage by the Israel Defense Forces, have predictably stoked anger and desire for retaliation among the hard liners in Gaza.

Fiery rhetoric is the order of the day as Hamas has thrown out phrases such as “declaration of war” and “opened the gates of hell on itself” in regards to Israel. It remains to be seen what, if anything, Hamas can effectively inflict upon Israel and just how much of their absolute advantage in every military facet imaginable they will bring to bare on the overcrowded strip.

Read more »

Iran Votes: Ayatollah Strengthened, Ahmadinejad Weakened

Iranian President Ahmadinejad votes in legislative elections on 2 March which took power from him and handed it to backers of the religious theocracy.

Iranian President Ahmadinejad votes in legislative elections on 2 March which took power from him and handed it to backers of the religious theocracy.

Iranians turned out in droves to vote in elections on the 2nd of March. Results for seats that do not require a runoff vote in April show a changing political landscape in the troubled country – a power grab by allies of Ayatollah Khamenei, a fracturing and subsequent decimation of the ruling Conservative majority, and a continued almost non-existence of reformists.

It is hard to accept Iranian election results as an accurate and fair expression of the will of the people. In actuality the country is a hybrid dictatorship and democracy – that is, democracy exists in so much as the Ayatollah allows it to exist. In the 2009 Presidential election there, the Reformist candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, appeared to be vastly ahead in polls and in leaked “official” vote totals. The political establishment of Iran (the Ayatollah and his backers) through the weight of the state behind the incumbent Ahmadinejad. People took to the streets for months of protests that gave hope that true democracy may be able to flourish in Iran. Over time those hopes, and the movement, was violently crushed and repressed by the Iranian government.

This time around for the legislative elections, the Iranian establishment looked to prevent any such repeat outpouring of emotion from the people. With the repression still fresh in the minds of many in the Reformist camp, many withdrew from the electoral process and did not run at all. There were calls for believers of the Reformist cause to boycott the polls as well, though with a turnout of over 64% that call wasn’t listened to so well.

This, on paper, should have cleared the path for a crushing victory for the Conservative coalition. Unfortunately for it, they were still led by President Ahmadinejad – who has done his best to draw the ire of the Ayatollah himself.

Read more »

Iran Cuts Access to Popular E-mail, Social Networking Sites

Iran is currently seeing some of its heaviest Internet restrictions since the aftermath of the disputed 2009 Presidential elections.

Iran is currently seeing some of its heaviest Internet restrictions since the aftermath of the disputed 2009 Presidential elections.

As parliamentary elections slated for the 2nd of March draw closer, Iran continues to tighten its grasp on the ability for information to flow freely from the Internet to its citizens. Not yet launching a rumored “country intranet” which would effectively sever connections between the Iran citizenry and the outside world, the Islamic Republic has shuttered access to popular e-mail services GMail, Yahoo Mail, and Microsoft’s Hotmail, as well to preeminent social networks Facebook and Twitter. Thus far no explanation has been offered to citizens as to why the sites are inaccessible or when they might become view-able again – if ever.

At present, more technically savvy Iranians are able to circumvent the restrictions by using VPN servers hosted elsewhere in the world, or proxy connections – indicating that the websites are being filtered at the Internet Service Provider level. As soon as Iran completes its alleged new Intranet infrastructure, evading the Iranian censors will become significantly more difficult:

Last month the country’s information minister told the Islamic Republic News Agency that a firewalled national Internet would soon become operational. There was no word on when the government might plan to throw the switch on what essentially would be a vast “intranet,” but it could happen any day. And that prospect has cyber activists in Iran concerned. It would give the government a hand up in its cyber cat-and-mouse battle with opponents.

Right now, if Iran now blocks proxy servers and VPN connections for more than a few days, companies with branches or headquarters in the country are cut off from communicating with fellow employees around the world other than by telephone. That forces the government to open the spigot for everyone. Once the new network goes into effect, ordinary Iranians would wake up to a more censored Internet.

“I don’t know the the infrastructure that they will use but I don’t think we have a way out of that one,” said the Iranian person. “We are getting closer and closer to North Korea.”

Unplugging the country from the Internet became a key weapon in trying to fight protesters from getting the word out about the goings on inside the country after the highly controversial 2009 Presidential election that saw a new term awarded to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, even though a large percentage of the citizenry believed Mir Hossein Mousavi was the actual victor. Violent Iranian repression of its people in the weeks and months after were broadcast to the world via YouTube – and when simple blocks were not working well enough for the country, Iran shuttered all access to the Internet for days at a time. Business interests in the country were severely harmed by the lack of communication with the outside world, and could be hurt yet again if Iran moves forward with the nationwide “intranet” scheme.

The moves thus far are drawing the ire of politicians within the country, though:

But the Mehr news agency said the restrictions were not related only to email.

“It has been a while that Internet users have had difficulty accessing domestic and news websites as well as foreign search engines and email services,” it said on its website.

These difficulties include “low speed, outage and blocking” of websites, Mehr said.

A top conservative lawmaker, Ahmad Tavakoli, criticised the new “annoying” filtering and said it should be explained.

“The new filtering measure and cutting of access to the services used by most people without prior notice… will raise the ire of educated” people, he told Mehr.

“Such annoying filtering will cost the regime dearly.”

It remains to be seen if the government will speak out publicly about this issue at all before the legislative elections, or if the Internet restrictions will have any real impact on those elections.

Ahead of Legislative Election, Iran Clamps Down Hard on Internet Access

Fueled by anger over a stolen election and united through online social media, Iranians organized huge protests against the government in 2009. Iran looks to stop this from even starting come the 2013 elections.

Fueled by anger over a stolen election and united through online social media, Iranians organized huge protests against the government in 2009. Iran looks to stop this from even starting come the 2013 elections.

Learning the lessons of what happens when people - especially younger generations – have basic access to the Internet during an election that is, in many ways, just a puppet show for the direction the Ayatollah thinks the country should take, Iran is reportedly dropping very harsh restrictions on public internet access at internet cafes:

The Iranian Cyber Police published new rules on Wednesday designed to allow officials to know exactly who is visiting what Web sites. Before they can log on, Iranians are required to provide their name, father’s name, address, telephone number and national ID, according to an Iranian media report cited by Radio Free Europe. Cafe owners will be required to install security cameras and to keep all data on Web surfers, including browsing history, for six months.

Sometimes bordering on the outskirts of free and fair, and other times being overtly orchestrated with results decided long in advance, Iranian elections occur in two waves: a legislative election to elect members to the 290-seat Majlis, followed by a Presidential election in the following year. Emboldened by a 12-seat gain in the 2008 elections, supporters of the Reformist party looked to organize to try and take down President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the ballot box. While official state-run media showed that Mr. Ahmadinejad was crossing the 50% mark on his way to an easy victory, leaked results told a different tale:

2009 Iranian Presidential Election Results
Candidate Official Tally Leaked Tally
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 24,527,516 5,698,417
Mir Hossein Mousavi 13,216,411 19,075,623
Mohsen Rezaee 678,240 3,754,218
Mehdi Karoubi 333,635 13,387,104
(void) 409,389 38,716

Starting the 13th of June in 2009 and continuing for months, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets in the hope they could affect change and end Mr. Ahmadinejad’s tenure. Dozens of deaths and thousands of arrests later, the Iranian government simply waited the protests out, and eventually “won”. In the early stages of the Iranian protests, social media sites like YouTube and Twitter were heavily relied on for the dissemination of information to other participants and the world at large. Iran would counter by cutting their country off from the Internet itself at stages, and very slowly bringing itself back online.

The new restrictions on public internet availability and anonymity are only the first stages of Iran’s ultimate goal – a permanent separation from the international Internet:

Monitoring Web surfers is an interim measure until the government is done building out its own domestic intranet that is “halal,” or pure. Initially, the Iran intranet will run in tandem with the Internet before the global Web is shut off to the 23 million Internet users in Iran, according to reports. Payam Karbasi, spokesman for Iran professional union Corporate Computer Systems, told Iranian media that the domestic network, which was announced last March, would be launched in coming weeks, the WSJ reported.

Iranians have reported that during the intranet tests this week, Internet connections have slowed down and Web sites have been blocked. Access to VPNs (virtual private networks) Iranians use to access sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have also been affected, reports said.

If these measures are in place by the 2012 and 2013 elections, then the last chance for Iranian citizens to get independent information on the happenings in their dictatorship may already be gone – along with it the easiest and most powerful way to unite and counter against continued electoral shams and a continuing religious dictatorship.

When a leak becomes a deluge: Wikileaks’ US Embassy Cables are out

Julian Assange, editor and head of Wikileaks

Julian Assange, editor and head of Wikileaks

UK’s The Guardian is the first major newspaper out with coverage on the latest massive disclosure of information to come from whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.  The first read is ominous enough, and probably quite accurate: “global diplomatic crisis”.

What is being revealed is the shady backroom deals that make up international politics and the balance of power the world over, and how the policy of nations of the world can be quite two-faced, when compared to public stances on the same international issues.

French paper Le Monde has justified its decision on participating in the disclosure by saying transparency and judgment are not incompatible, it does not mean to act irresponsibly, and this is what separates it from Wikileaks (and any allegations that Wikileaks itself is being the irresponsible one here).

Read more »

All aboard with failure this good

Depending on your prospective this is either diplomacy or the end of America.

Depending on your prospective this is either diplomacy or the end of America.

The meme against Obama by those who are of the mindset to be against him & his policies is already set in stone, and it is to repeat what have you done for me lately as often as possible, while casting any attempt at doing or saying anything as further proof that there’s some sort of grand plot to turn the United States into a dictatorship that’s so unbearably socialist that Stalin will look like he provided over free market capitalism by comparison.

…and I forget, is that with ACORN as the shock troops, or was it the turnout to Obama’s repeated calls for an increase in volunteerism?

Read more »

A coup, complete

In today’s edition: Iran’s coup becomes official, the U.S. ponders the good bank/bad bank solution, and the Rooskies are coming

—–

As the President, I swear to Almighty God before the Holy Quran and the Iranian nation that I will protect the official religion and the Islamic Republic regime and the country’s constitution, and use all my talents and qualifications towards responsibilities I have undertaken, and dedicate myself to serving the people and promoting the country, promoting religion and morality, supporting truth and spreading justice, and will avoid any kind of obstinacy and defend the freedom and dignity of individuals and rights of the nation that the Constitution has recognized.  I will refrain from any action to safeguard the borders and political, economic and cultural independence of the country, and with the help of God and by following the Islamic Prophet and the Imams like a devout and self-sacrificing trustee will protect the power that has been given to me by the nation as a sacred trust placed in me and pass it to the nation’s elected [leader] after me…

With those words spoken today, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began his 2nd term as President of Iran.  It appears all but certain that the old guard of that country has solidified its grip, has pulled off an obvious mass electoral fraud, killed its own citizens to further the cause, and has gotten away with it.  Perhaps not scott free, but any sort of winning is winning, right?  One last time now, the “actual” and “real” results…

Official Iranian Election Results
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 24,527,516 62.63%
Mir-Hossein Mousavi 13,216,411 33.75%
Mohsen Rezaee 678,240 1.73%
Mehdi Karroubi 333,635 0.85%

…and…

Unofficial Iranian Election Results
Mir-Hossein Mousavi 19,075,623 45.39%
Mehdi Karroubi 13,387,104 31.85%
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 5,698,417 13.56%
Mohsen Rezaee 3,754,218 8.93%

The next Iranian election for President is in 2013. Mr. Ahmadinejad is term limited and will not be allowed to run (probably). Still, I highly, highly doubt that any sort of openness of debate will be allowed anywhere near the level that was seen in Iran this year – and it will probably be limited in such a way for a long time.

—–

The financial crisis and its after effects continue to haunt us.  Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, two companies that were quazi-private lenders of last resort to potential house buyers, were slammed by last fall’s meltdown.  There appears to be an endgame on the table for both of those companies, and that would basically involve wiping their collective slates clean:

The Obama administration is considering an overhaul of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that would strip the mortgage finance giants of hundreds of billions of dollars in troubled loans and create a new structure to support the home-loan market, government officials said.

The bad debts the firms own would be placed in new government financial institutions — so-called bad banks — that would take responsibility for collecting as much of the outstanding balance as possible. What would be left would be two healthy financial companies with a clean slate.

The moves would represent one of the most dramatic reorderings of the badly shattered housing finance system since District-based Fannie Mae was created by Congress to support mortgage lending during the Great Depression. Both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, based in McLean, have government charters to buy home loans from banks, which they then repackage and sell to investors. The banks can then use the proceeds to offer more loans to home buyers.

While this does the job of making unhealthy companies healthy again, and attempts to collect whatever is left over of what can be paid on these properties, it does allow two companies to walk away from their own lending practices and their own mess, into the future to potentially do it all again.  The bad guys get away and we get stuck with the bill.  The downside to letting them fail, however, was seen in last fall’s stock market crash.  The evaporation of Lehman Brothers helped to evaporate 20 – 30% off of the U.S. stock market – and that was just one financial company.  It’s one of those situations where there are no pleasurable options, just bitter pills to swallow.  Good job, capitalism.

—–

Russia is flexing its muscle:

A senior Russian military official said Wednesday that Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines spotted off the U.S. East Coast were on a legitimate training mission.U.S. defense officials said Tuesday that two Russian submarines had been patrolling in international waters for several days. While the activity was reminiscent of the Cold War, the U.S. officials said the submarines had done nothing to provoke concern.

Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, a deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian military, said the patrols were part of efforts to give more training to the military forces.

For anyone who has forgotten the back story, last year the tiny nation of Georgia instigated a war against Russia with weapons sold to them by the United States.  The Georgians were routed and sent packing by the overwhelming Russian forces and in a few days the conflict was over.  The fact that Russians were being shot at with American weapons though, did not sit well with Moscow – causing a freezing in relations like nothing seen since the end of the Cold War.  Such a thing isn’t going to be forgotten by the Russians as quickly as the West might forget that the conflict ever happened.  If anything the exercises off the east coast of the U.S. are a “stay out of our backyard!” warning that, thanks to the current administration we have, will more than likely not turn into a dick waving war for the 2010s and beyond.  Just let time heal these wounds.

Iran moves toward outlawing opposition

In today’s edition: What might be the beginning of the end of the Iranian opposition, success is apparently a warning of disaster, and a college graduate displays they slept through any and all legal classes they may have taken.

—–

The show trials in Iran have begun.  Over the next few days, perhaps weeks, hundreds of people will be publicized on state media – accused of inciting riots that were actually massive protests in the days that followed that country’s historic election.  The leaders of the reform movement – so far not including main opposition candidate Mousavi – will be tried, found guilty, paraded in front of the public, and either locked up for the rest of their lives or put to death.  That seems to be exactly where all this is heading, indicating that the hard line regime looks to remain just that and to not give into the public’s demand for modest reform.

The mass trial of Iran’s top reformist leaders over the weekend on charges that include conspiring to overthrow the regime signals that a process is under way to eventually outlaw the reformist party and ban its members and supporters from political activity, Iran analysts say.

On Sunday, reaction by Iranian newspapers and Web sites to the trials of some 100 detained opposition members, including a former vice president, was polarized as some raised questions about whether their confessions were coerced.

Those who disagree may eventually be forced to fall in line, and opinions like this might become more common and more… official from the government toward the west:

The Kayhan newspaper, which acts as a mouthpiece for Iran’s government, hailed the testimonies as proof that Western powers were plotting a “velvet revolution” in Iran and called for the execution of top reform leaders. It also encouraged the government to jail Mr. Khatami and opposition leader and presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.

If this all goes according to plan, Iran will become a one-party dictatorship:

The outlawing of the Islamic Participation Front, the reform party that vehemently opposes Mr. Ahmadinejad, would immediately purge the parliament of reformist lawmakers. It would also ensure that no reformist candidate could run for office.

—–

The so-called “Cash for Clunkers” program, a program that is offering up to $4,500 for an individual to trade in their old, gas guzzling car for a new, more energy efficient one has been a smashing success – going through its allotted billion dollars in funding in just one week, which potentially translates into a quarter million new car sales.  Upon hearing that the funds were running out the House hurriedly passed a measure that would allocate another $2 billion for the successful program.  If it is approved by the Senate this week, then it’s full steam ahead for the program at least through the rest of this month.  This new source of economic activity and overall successful part of the $700+ billion bailout effort of this government is exactly why the Democrats and Obama can’t be trusted with anything!  What?  Oh, it must be the newest Republican talking point:

Republicans say the problems with the program are another strike against the Obama administration as it pushes for a speedy overhaul of the health care system that would involve a government-run insurance program. They argue that government involvement in any industry is a recipe for disaster.

Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said the “cash for clunkers” program was an example of the “stupidity coming out of Washington right now.”

“The federal government went bankrupt in one week in the used-car business, and now they want to run our health care system,” Mr. DeMint said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “This is crazy to try to rush this thing through again while they’re trying to rush through health care, and they want to get on to cap-and-trade electricity tax. We’ve got to slow this thing down.”

Let’s play that game where we parse language.  The “problems” described by Senator DeMint, and others like him, say that because the program was such an overwhelming and popular success, it was an utter failure.  It would have apparently been better if nobody bought anything and the program… failed.  The “government went bankrupt in one week” line is a cute touch but is, in fact, just another distortion of the truth.  The government allocated x-dollars for the program, which were subsequently spent.  The government is now looking to re-allocate an additional x-dollars for the program, so it may continue.  This happens on an annual basis in Washington, it’s called the budget.  Under Senator DeMint’s argument, every program and the federal government itself goes bankrupt every year because money that is allocated is eventually spent.  That’s over 233 years of continuous bankruptcies.  How will we ever survive?

—–

Here’s an entry for “legal case that doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell“:

A 27-year-old Monroe College graduate is suing the New York school, contending it has done little to help her find a job.Trina Thompson, who graduated in April with a bachelor’s degree, alleges in a Bronx Supreme Court lawsuit that she did not receive adequate employment leads and advice from the school’s office of career advancement, the New York Post reported Sunday.

“They have not tried hard enough to help me,” the information technology degree graduate alleges in the July 24 suit.

Ms. Thompson has apparently yet to learn that college is not a service that is guaranteed to do things for you.  Just because you get a degree in anything doesn’t mean you’re going to the Forbes 500 list, and just because your school has job seeking help doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to get a job.  Ms. Thompson is a bit miffed that she spent $70,000 on schooling and was not greeted with a job upon leaving the campus for the final time, but she’s in a very large boat with a vast number of graduated students all across the country.  The jobs just aren’t there right now, at least not in the fields that were studied during school.  Most people set out to make do with what they can, hoping that when the economy finally does turn, there will be some sort of employment award for that piece of paper that is worth so many thousands of dollars.  In the meantime the answer is not to sue everyone else for your problems.  Anyone who honestly thinks college = automatic employment is perhaps not smart enough for the real world just yet, and may consider additional schooling.

All of this coming from a college student who has been there, done that.

Nothing wrong with too much of a good thing, right? (QH: 30 July 2009)

In today’s edition: people actually bought cars, we just paid for a lot of bonuses, and the Iranian fight goes on.

—–

The U.S. government’s initiative to get people back into buying cars and getting gas guzzlers off the road, the “Cash for Clunkers” plan, has been a tremendous success.  It’s been so much of a success, it looks like the program might already be over:

The White House said Thursday it was reviewing the government’s popular “cash for clunkers” program amid concerns the $1 billion budget for rebates for new auto purchases may have been exhausted in only a week.Transportation Department officials called lawmakers’ offices earlier Thursday to alert them of plans to suspend the program as early as Friday. But a White House official said later the program had not been suspended and officials there were assessing their options.

The White House said auto dealers and consumers should have confidence that transactions under the program that already have taken place would be honored.

Offering up to $4,500 per gas guzzling clunker turned in, that means that somewhere in the neighborhood of 200,000 cars may have been sold from this program alone – all of which coming in the past week.  While that alone might not be enough to unclog the auto inventory glut that has exasperated the tremendous economic problems facing the industry, it will at least go a long way in helping to unclog the system, and perhaps even get auto companies into strategies that involve making and selling cars – not figuring out how to get rid of so much inventory (since production has already been greatly scaled back).  Just another small success that will likely go under reported and be overshadowed by forced race debates.

—–

The next time you take a look at your pay stub (if you are fortunate enough to be employed), check how much in taxes you’ve paid, and then settle into your chair as you realize that at least a portion of that amount has gone toward this:

Citigroup Inc., one of the biggest recipients of government bailout money, gave employees $5.33 billion in bonuses for 2008, New York’s attorney general said Thursday in a report detailing the payouts by nine big banks.The report from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office focused on 2008 bonuses paid to the initial nine banks that received loans under the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program last fall. Cuomo has joined other government officials in criticizing the banks for paying out big bonuses while accepting taxpayer money.

That’s $5.33 billion of reward for a year that Citigroup that lost $18.7 billion in the same time period.  You’d think logic would be nice enough here to tell those running Citigroup that they could have trimmed their annual losses to $13.37 billion just by not paying the bonuses.  No, however, because in the end the people who failed so badly… they need their rewards, too.

$5.33 billion, by the way, would pay the average yearly earnings of 186,579 Americans ($28,567, 2006 data).  According to Citigroup, at least 738 employees were given a bonus of $1 million or more.

—–

The band is playing on in Iran, still, with a defiant and emboldened opposition, still rallying around their martyr of the rebellion, Neda Agh-Soltan:

Security forces in Iran on Thursday confronted thousands of protesting Iranians across the city, first at a cemetery and later at a prayer venue and near a government building, witnesses and news reports said.

Clashes erupted at the cemetery as two of Iran’s main opposition leaders tried to join the several thousand people at a memorial for the slain woman who became the symbol of Iran’s post-election violence, witnesses said.

The gathering was banned, but participants ignored the government strictures.

Iran has, and probably will for the near future, remain in a state of political flux – with the outside world not really knowing how to take or trust the current government of the nation at any given time.  What is the real Iran?  Is it the relics of the Revolution still trying to hold on to power?  Is it Ahmadinejad and his near dictatorial behavior?  Is it the Revolutionary Guard itself playing everyone else as puppets?  Is it the street force that has united behind Moussavi?  Will this truly go somewhere or will it just fade quietly, over time?