Nothing I can say will change Pat Buchanan’s mind. Nor will it help the nearly 13,000 homosexuals expelled from the military since 1993. But repeal of DADT marks another step on the often rocky road to acceptance of civil rights for all Americans. The decision of Congress to end the ban, rather than cravenly letting the courts resolve the issue, shows that America’s political culture --- the "rules" by which both sides of the political divide abide --- still retains the democratic vitality to make tough choices for the right reasons. As politics becomes more and more polarized in America in the future, long may that respect for the will of the people as expressed by their representatives continue.
2155 GMT: Sedition Watch. Kurdish defendants in a trial in Tehran have said that they were paid $30 million by British intelligence to carry out terrorist acts and assassinations. The defendants also implicated elements in Iraqi intelligence "opposed to Iran".
2040 GMT: Subsidy Cuts Watch. Ali Chenar, writing for Tehran Bureau, offers some vivid first-hand testimony about the effect of the rise in gasoline prices on taxi drivers and on airlines. One cabbie summarises his reaction when the increases were announced: "Right away, I knew I was bankrupt."
1950 GMT: Picture of the Day. Journalist Abdolreza Tajik after he was released tonight on $500,000 bail (hat tip to Mehdi Saharkhiz):
On Sunday, following a conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Obama conducted an e-mail interview with the Turkish daily Hurriyet.
Obama said that he and Erdogan had “reaffirmed the strong state of U.S.-Turkish relations” despite some differences “from time to time.” He continued:
Our partnership is resilient, and we agreed that the irresponsible acts of WikiLeaks do not threaten it. Given the increasingly complex challenges the world faces, I believe that U.S.-Turkish cooperation is more important now than ever.
In a June 2007 report, the head of Israel's internal intelligence service Shin Bet, Yuvak Diskin, had a meeting with US Ambassador Richard H. Jones. Diskin talked about the destructive yet balancing nature of the conflict between the Palestinian parties Fatah and Hamas, outlined Fatah's disadvantages in that contest, and complained about Cairo.
Then Diskin claimed that a "desperate" Fatah Party had turned to Israel:
They are approaching a zero-sum situation, and yet they ask us to attack Hamas. This is a new development. We have never seen this before. They are desperate.
President Obama still retains options to address the issue of immigration reform, including possible use of his executive order powers, but he appears to be caught between a rock and a hard place: declare an amnesty for the children of illegal aliens, risking a political backlash, or accept the suspension of the legislation. Onn one side, he faces a resurgent opposition committed to tougher controls to stop more immigrants entering America and to laws, like Arizona’s SB 1070, encouraging illegal aliens to leave the country. On the other side, there is a growing demographic of Hispanic voters –-- who some analysts are now crediting with providing the votes that helped Democrats retain a majority in the Senate --- whose top priority is an easing of the requirements for undocumented aliens to gain legal status.
UPDATE 1915 GMT: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that opposition candidate Vladimir Neklyayev, who was hospitalised on Sunday after he was beaten unconscious by police, was subsequently snatched from his hospital bed by men in plainclothes.
UPDATE 1900 GMT: Activists claim that independent exit polls showed President Alexander Lukashenko was preferred by 40% of voters, followed by Vladimir Neklyayev with 19.3% and Andrei Sannikov with 13%.
The official return declared Lukashenko the victor with 80%, with no opponent getting more than 2.56%. Neklyayev was reportedly beaten unconscious and taken to hospital during Sunday protests.
2030 GMT: Diplomatic Protest. Twenty leading MPs, including Ahmad Tavakoli, Ali Motahari, and Elyas Naderan, have written to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani to protest last week's dismissal of Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. The MPs have demanded that Parliament's National Security Commission "address the issue as soon as possible".
1850 GMT: Subsidy Cuts Watch. Thomas Erdbrink (see 1840 GMT) also reports that business in department stores had fallen off even though Iranians are celebrating Shab-e Yalda, their festival for the winter solstice.
1840 GMT: The Truckers' Strike. Interesting news from Thomas Erdbrink of The Washington Post in Tehran....
Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.
The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation's history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.
The government's goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, which is in charge of terrorism investigations in the United States.
"Last Tuesday, SIPA’s Office of Career Services received a call from a former student currently employed by the U.S. Department of State who pointed out that the U.S. government documents released during the past few months through WikiLeaks are still considered classified. The caller suggested that students who will be applying for federal jobs that require background checks avoid posting links to these documents or making comments about them on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter."
Q1: You are on the right-hand side of a street. How do you get to the left-hand side?
A1: Find a pedestrian crosswalk and stand there at the curb. No driver will yield and allow you to cross the street, but don't give up! Thirty more people will gradually gather at the crosswalk. You will all start to chant "Death to the dictator!" The police will immediately swoop in and detain you and the others. Approximately six months later, you will be dropped off on the left-hand side of the street.