Saturday, June 20, 2009

Powder Keg

Uh oh.

As I've been following the situation in Iran, I'm slowly starting to get a picture for what's happening at home. Not good, deffinately not good...

The Obama Administration has taken what I feel is a somewhat-correct approach and, while encouraging and supporting the Iranian people in their efforts for election - and ultimately national - reform, they're not taking direct action. Military action from the US is most certainly not necessary at this time, but I'm not ruling out that it may be necessary should the situation in Iran collapse, which it easily could.

But there are some here at home who think that a forceful response is, in fact, warranted. Why they think we should be the world's military nanny is beyond me. We're already up to our necks in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention potential troubles from North Korea.

The GOP has been critical of the Administration's response to the situation in Iran, and given their status as a party fighting for its very political life, it could create a serious problem. You see, Iran is an Islamic Republic. The Republican Party's remaining base is still predominantly Evangelical Christian. These are two religions that DO NOT get along. If the Republican Party can whip up the Christian Right into an anti-islamic frenzy by saying this is our chance to overthrow yet another Islamic regime (Hussein's Iraq doesn't really count as one) and install Democracy, there could be quite a push for military deployment.

In the name of God.

You have to remember that, no matter what the Christian Right thinks, there are still a few facts they can't ignore:

1) While the protestors in Iran are denying the current regime, they are not turning away from their Islamic beliefs. They will remain followers of Islam no matter what happens.

2) This is NOT a Christian Nation. Sorry. We have Muslims, Jews, Taoists, Bhuddists, Hari Krishnas, Atheists, Catholics - all kinds of flavors of religion or lack thereof. You do NOT make the decisions for all of us, majority or not.

But will they heed that? Will they instead follow the party line and push for military action?

The results are too scary to think about. Believe me, you don't want to see the pictures rolling through my head.

Meanwhile, those of us with our heads screwed on are taking a different approach, which alot of us feel is the correct one. Americans left and right are not only supporting Iran in word, but also in deed. Posting on Twitter, disseminating video and pictures, making sure the Iranian people - suffering from a state-ordered media blackout and blockage - have an outlet that will ensure that their voices are heard.

What I'm doing is one tiny, nearly insignificant part. But all these tiny parts add up to a very significant whole. I don't think we should militarize and meddle in Iran's burgeoning revolution, but I don't think we should sit idly by and watch without acting, either. You have to find a middle ground, and then walk it.

But you can't stop looking over your shoulder, either. Because you never know what homeward forces could be plotting to take advantage of the situation for their own gain.

Nobody light a match, alright?

The World is Watching

Update: 12:49pm EST - More video is available, sourced from HuffPo and the NYT Liveblogs. First up is a lengthy 7 minute clip, apparently from today, showing police and protestors clashing, with a decent veil of tear gas all around. Scary stuff indeed. The others are CNN iReport videos, also apparently from today. CNN is currently running video of what may be an unofficial protest rally that has grown quite large despite the crackdown on planned rallies. I'm going to try and find these videos if I can. Any suggestions, please send them to me via Twitter...

I'm going to see about pulling these videos down and reposting them to create copies just in case Iran's current regime grows some balls and tries to take down everything...

Update: 12:30pm EST
- @BreakingNews Online is reporting that Iranian protestors who are either killed or wounded are being carried away almost immediately by police forces. To me, this looks like a clear attempt to prevent people and the media from seeing the results of what are clearly sickening and horrifying acts. For some of the fastest updates in the world of news, I suggest following them on Twitter.

BNO is also confirming that Mousavi has, in fact, said that he is "Ready for Martyrdom" and fully intends to continue working for change until his death. Confirmed by a Reuters-based witness.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think I'm ready to call it: The Iranian Revolution has begun.

This calls memories of Boris Yeltsin standing on a tank and talking to the Russian people during the collapse of the USSR. I truely have lived during very fascinating times indeed...

Update: 12:05pm EST - CNN still says opposition leaders haven't been seen, yet HuffPo is running tweets from Iranians confirming his location, as well as his speeches and the chants of protestors:
"Crowd rushing to Jihoun St, where people are saying Mousavi is there and talking with protesters"

Protesters in Revolution sq r chanting: Goftim agar taghalob besheh basatetoon jam misheh!! "We told u if u cheat it'll be the end of u"

The situation is heating up. This is history, kids! My thoughts are with the people of Iran right now. Going to take a break, smoke a cigarette, visit my cats and try to calm my nerves.

Update: 11:53am EST - Still no confirmation found for the Kohmeni Shrine Bombing. The International Media Blackout is somewhat effective, preventing agencies like CNN, BBC etc. from doing independent confirmation. State-run media is still the only source of information on that.

From the Huffington Post Live-Blog:
A report on opposition leader Mousavi:@LilyMazahery: "Mousavi is at head of Jayhoon ave. giving a speech."

Reliable Iranian on Twitter: "mousavi among people: I am ready for death"

Another: "Mousavi - Confirmed - I have prepared for martyrdom"

Tweets from the staff: i'm dying with worry. please pray for us. 13 minutes ago from web

i'm worried 14 minutes ago from web

she hasn't returned 14 minutes ago from web

my young sister has taken to the streets as well 14 minutes ago from web

things are horrible, please pray for us 14 minutes ago from web

And from the New York Times Live-Blog:

From Shiraz, by way of our reader gb’s mother:

My mom is again stressing that the protesters were totally peaceful not even chanting when they were attacked. My mom’s friend said she saw right in front of her that a plain clothes person hit this young man with a baton so hard that the baton broke.

Another friend that lives in Daneshjoo Square (the place the protests took place) said that plain clothes police came to their homes this morning and told them they are not allowed to let any of the protesters seek refuge in their houses or they will be held responsible.

Yes, I'm Atheist. But I urge you all to do whatever it is you do to show your support for the people of Iran. We were once like them, in a revolution against an unjust system. We won our freedom, the people of Iran can, too...

Update: 11:40am EST - CNN is reporting that, in the second video I have posted below, protesters are shouting "Death to Kahemeni" in Farsi. They're also reporting that protests and marches have sprung up in the USA as well.

Some Iranians are posting pictures on Twitpic of the various scenes in and around Tehran.

Republican leaders are butthurt because we're taking a passive stance on Iran so far, at least in an official government capacity. I guess they really do love to meddle in international affairs, especially when it comes to oil-producing nations. Meanwhile, American citizens are NOT taking a passive stance, taking to Twitter, Facebook, etc., helping to disseminate information and post news links.

Update: 11:24am EST - OK, here we go. First of all, welcome to everyone pouring in from Twitter! Glad you decided to stop in for my take on the situation in Iran. And now, I'm going to make a lame attempt at live-blogging history. First up, here's the video I linked to previously, as well as some others culled from various sources around the web:

Students and police clash. A billboard appears to be set on fire, and reportedly, the police forces fired on the students on-camera. I can't really tell, maybe you all can.

Video, apparently from a storefront, shows riot police backing up as protestors advance. This video has been aired on CNN.

While reports indicate that the major protests called for today have been more or less blocked by state forces, people are still taking to the streets in Tehran and, presumably, the rest of Iran.

IF YOU'RE IN IRAN AND HAVE VIDEO, POST IT ASAP AND LINK IT ON TWITTER! Eventually, I'll get my hands on it and - like so many others of us around the world - we'll throw it up in order to keep these images from being drowned out!

Still no confirmation on the Kohmeni Shrine Bombing. No images yet, only state-run media reports that there are two dead and 8 injured. This is up from 1 dead and 8 injured, which would lead me to think that the updated figure should read 7 injured if one died. Take everything you get from Iranian State Media with an entire can of salt, because it's probably pro-regime bullshit.

More updates to come...

ORIGINAL POST: For every kid who's ever said that history isn't important. For every kid who's ever said that the world is a boring place where nothing happens. For every ignorant fuck who thinks that things half a world away has nothing to do with them.

History is happening right now in Iran. This Video shows a clash between students and police. I can't really make it out, but at some point, the students are fired upon.

The Huffington Post is live-blogging, with video as it comes out of Tehran and other parts of Iran.

State-run Iranian TV is reporting on a bomb blast at Ayatollah Kohmeni's mausoleum earlier today. Of course, it's state-run TV, so take it with several grains of salt. There are rumors that they actually reported the blast a few moments before it actually happened, which is very possible and - if true - could be a thorn in the side of the current power structure. There have also been reports that there's no evidence of any bombing at all yet. Interesting.

And you people thought this didn't affect you. Need I remind you that Iran is a nuclear capable rogue state? Remember the Bush Years when you were all happy to be afraid? Well, now you actually SHOULD. Depending on the outcome of any potential revolution, some very interesting people could be in charge of some very powerful weapons...

To the people of Iran, if you can find a way around the blocks and censors and can actually find and read my site: STAY STRONG, DON'T BACK DOWN, KEEP FIGHTING. Despite what your government says, not all Americans are evil. In fact, many of us are behind you 100%, spreading news, pictures, and video to protect your work by making it as widely available and as hard to trace as possible.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Another Once in a Lifetime

As promised, Nick has sent along the awesome pictures that he took from our vantage point on Monday! I'll shut up and post a few here, but the rest, you'll have to view at my Flickr Page!

Legends - Mario Lemieux and the Stanley Cup

A victorious Sidney Crosby and Lord Stanley's Mug

The Flower Blossoms - Marc-Andre Fleury

Pittsburgh Fans prove why we're The City of Champions!

Update: Gone done and put them up on MySpace as a Photo Album as well. Now all you MySpace addicts (you know you're still out there) can leave silly comments, too...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Once In A Lifetime

Yep, you know me. You know that I just HAD to be in Pittsburgh to catch the Penguins and the Stanley Cup. Although this picture totally sucks, let me assure you that that is Sidney Crosby, hoisting the Stanley Cup aloft on the stage at Stanwix and the Boulevard. Because of the quality, it looks like I was forever away, but in fact, I was probably ~75-100 feet away from the stage. And let me tell you, the view was AMAZING!

Sid the Kid Hoists Lord Stanley's CupHopefully soon, Nick - a fellow fan I met at South Hills Junction, who had a WAY better camera - will be sending me many more amazing shots. Big thanks to him and the guys who drove all the way from New Jersey (!) for this once in a lifetime event.

To have that much star power - Crosby, Lemieux, Talbot, Fleury, Malkin, Staal, Guerin, Gonchar, and the legendary Mike Lange - in one place at one time... It was something I'll never, EVER forget.


And, thanks to those amazing Pittsburgh Steelers, we are once again The City of Champions! Two major titles in one year! Suck it, Sports World!