Iran Election Guide

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Thursday
Jan062011

Belarus Updates: More Searches and Interrogations

More searches and interrogations: activists Vitali Omelkovich and Dennis Balakirev, who monitored the elections, student Hamutova Hleb, who had been detained for 12 days after the Election Day protest on 19 December, Klimko Anton, Olga Zhuravleva, and Valery Matskevitch and Nikolai Demidenko of the Youth Front.

Also questioned: Roman Gritsevich, a member of the "Right Alliance" and representative of Presidential candidate Nikolai Statkevich.

Pavel Vinogradov of the "Speak the Truth" campaign has been detained.

The chairman of the Youth Front, Zmitser Dashkevich, and the head of the Minsk community organizations, Eduardo Lobavu, have been charged with offences.

Dunja Mijatovic, a representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has urged the Belarussian authorities to end attacks on independent media and to releaseimprisoned journalists immediately.

Thursday
Jan062011

Egypt Latest: Tightened Security for Christian New Year; 5 Activists Released

1555 GMT: An Egyptian court has postponed the trial of eight leftist activists who were arrested during protests in Cairo on Sunday.

The activists belong to the Socialist Renewal Current. They were charged with rioting, disturbing the peace, and vandalizing public property.

The hearing was adjourned until 13 January.

1345 GMT: Security around churches and monasteries  across Egypt has been tightened on the eve of Christian New Year.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan062011

WikiLeaks and Israel 2008: Keeping Gaza Economy "Functioning at Lowest Level Possible"

In October 2008, the US Embassy --- drawing from conversations with Israeli officials --- assesses Israel's economic strategy towards Gaza, led by a Hamas Government.

The conclusion is blunt: "Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis."

This means not only maintaining the blockade on goods and material into Gaza but also keeping tight control of the financial sector. In particular, the Israelis emphasise --- citing mismanagement and corruption profiting Hamas --- that they are going to restrict money coming into Gaza's banks to pay the salaries of employees of the Palestinian Authority.

The paradox of the Israeli approach, however, is that it may have strengthened its enemy Hamas.

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Thursday
Jan062011

The Latest from Iran (6 January): Spying Fantasy, Death Sentence Reality

2100 GMT: Sanctions Watch. The Financial Times reviews the Washington-led effort to shut down the operations of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, "US Takes Aim at Iranian Shipping".

2055 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Two activists from the Tehran Bus Workers Union in Iran, Morteza Komsari and Aliakbar Nazariis, have been released in prison. Four others --- Gholamreza Gholamhosseini, Ebrahim Madadi, Mansour Osanloo, and Reza Shahabi --- remain in detention.

1720 GMT: Striking at the Lies. Alireza Beheshti, Chief of Staff to Mir Hossein Mousavi during the 2009 campaign, has written an open letter challenging the regime's line of "sedition" around the Presidential election as a "flood of slander and insult".

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Thursday
Jan062011

Iran Note: A Message to the Media About "American Woman Spying Through Her Teeth"

UPDATE 2105 GMT: Given my crankiness this morning at the lack of scrutiny by most in the media sensationally recycling this story, it is only fair to give a big tip of the hat to Scott Peterson of the Christian Science Monitor, who gets to the heart of the matter, "US Woman Arrested in Iran as Spy: Why the Story May Not Have Teeth".

Peterson updates on the changing stories in the Iranian media --- Fars says, “The detained spy asked the Iranian authorities not to return her to Armenia in fear of her life,” but the TV outlet Al-Alam says Hall Talayan never entered Iran, as she did not have the proper visa --- and notes the lack of support from Iranian government officials and outlets like Press TV.

Peterson notes our original entry, "The uncertainties prompted the EAWorldView website, which closely follows daily events in Iran, to urge caution."

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Thursday
Jan062011

Iran Snapshot: Death Sentence Handed Down on Iranian-Dutch National Zahra Bahrami

Given the international attention to the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, condemned to execution for adultery, there was little notice of another woman sentenced to death in Iran.

Zahra Bahrami, an Iranian-Dutch national, was ordered to hang on drugs charges. Her condemnation, by the "hard-line" Judge Abolqasem Salavati, occurred on Sunday, but it was only yesterday that her daughter, Banafsheh Najebpour, felt it was safe to inform the media.

Najebpour summarised in a radio interview:

I am devastated. What has my mother done wrong for heavens sake? I just don't understand it.

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Thursday
Jan062011

Tunisia Media Special: Journalists to President "End Censorship on Coverage of Unrest"

The Committee to Protect Journalists is disturbed by your government's attempt to censor coverage of recent protests against unemployment and corruption in Tunisia. We are specifically alarmed by the confiscation of two opposition weeklies, the government's denunciation of Al-Jazeera, the systematic obstruction of reporting and broadcasting, as well as the blocking of news websites that are covering the protests. We call on your government to bring to an immediate end its efforts to curtail independent reporting and to reverse course on the restrictions in place since mid-December.

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Thursday
Jan062011

Tunisia Cyber-Special: "Anonymous" Takes Down the Government

In an operation which has received surprisingly little attention, Anonymous --- the collective which defended WikiLeaks last month by attacking sites of institutions such as Visa, MasterCard, and the bank Swiss Post Finance --- has taken down the on-line presence of the Government of Tunisia.

On Monday, in a general protest supporting Tunisian demonstrations over the economy and in a specific response to the Government's censorship and surveillance of websites and social media (see separate entry), Anonymous attacked six sites of the Government, including those of the Prime Minister and its Ministries, and the site of a private bank.

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Thursday
Jan062011

Tunisia Cyber-Special: Authorities "Invade" Facebook to Monitor Activists (O'Brien)

Based on reports of users in the country, Tunisian authorities appear to be modifying web pages on the fly to steal usernames and passwords for sites such as Facebook, Google and Yahoo. Unknown parties have subsequently logged onto these sites using these stolen credentials, and used them to delete Facebook groups, pages, and accounts.

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Wednesday
Jan052011

EA Appeal: Save the Vulture (Who is Not, In Fact, an Israeli Spy)

A Non-Spying Griffon VultureAs long-time readers know, our correspondent Ms. EA has a special dedication to animal welfare. She brought us the exclusive story of Winnie the Pooh's response to the swine flu scare, and last month she helped break the story of the "Israeli spy" sharks (who were not, in fact, Israeli spies) infesting Egyptian waters.

But now Ms EA has reached a new level of concern. She has learned from absolutely, totally, beyond-any-doubt media outlets that a griffon vulture is in danger of execution in Saudi Arabia because --- and you may see a theme building here --- he is accused of being an Israeli spy

Click to read more ...