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Iranian Election and Protest Overview

This is a quick overview of the events that have taken place in Iran over the past couple of weeks.

On June 12, 2009, Iran held their presidential elections. The president is the highest elected official in the Iranian government, however he has no control over foreign policy, the military, or security or defense issues. Those important decisions are made by the Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khomeini. The Ayatollah also names the Head of the Judiciary and together, the Supreme Leader and Head of the Judiciary put in place the Guardian Council. This Guardian Council then vets each potential Presidential candidate. Only candidates approved by the Guardian Council may run for office. So while the President is elected by the people, it is a choice made from a pool selected (indirectly) by the Supreme Leader.

This election featured two prominent Iranian politicians. The first is the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has had a long career in Iranian politics going back at least three decades. He has held a variety of governmental positions and was a member of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution during the Iran-Iraq war. He won election to the Presidency in 2005. He has shown loyalty to Ayatollah Khomeini, however in 2006 Ahmadinejad’s party lost many seats in local elections. It was seen as a shift in national preference to a more centrist government. There is a two-term limit for Presidency, so should Ahmadinejad be allowed to sit for and complete his second term, he will be ineligible to run a third time.

The second major contender to emerge from the election is Ahmadinejad’s main rival, Mir-Hossein Mousavi. Mr. Mousavi was the last Prime Minister of Iran, a post he held until 1989 when the post was abolished in a revising of the Iranian Constitution. He is seen as a moderate, appealing to both conservatives and reformists. He has the support of many prominent people within Iranian politics including former president Mohammad Khatami.

Almost immidiately, there were allegations of impropriety and on June 15 Supreme Leader Khomeini said there would be a recount. Mousavi has alleged that there are some 14 million unused ballots that have gone missing, concerned they may be used to rig election results. Currently, Ahmadinejad is reported to have 62% of the vote, enough to avoid a run-off election; a second round of elections run should one candidate fail to win a majority. Mousavi is reported to have just under 34% of the vote.

Allegations of corruption and espionage abound. A campaign office of Mousavi’s was torched less than two weeks before the election. There was also an alleged assassinations attempt made on former president Khatami’s life after a bomb was said to have been found on-board the plane in which he was travelling. There have also been accusations that vote counts in some cities around the country are higher than the populations of those cities; Ahmadinejad was reported to have won most of the cities in massive landslides. Polling has been largely inconclusive, as most polls have been carried out by politically motivated groups. Statistical analysis, however does show some irregularities in voting patterns, usually favoring Ahmadinejad.

Since the elections, there have been wide-spread protests across the country and large-scale violence where protesters have clashed with police and security forces. There have also been allegations, by the BBC and others, that there have been attempts to manipulate the media through transmission jamming and, in some cases,political pressure.

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Posted by on June 20, 2009 in News

 

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BBC NEWS | Middle East | Ahmadinejad wins Iran presidential election

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Ahmadinejad wins Iran presidential election.

Iran is becoming increasingly insular. They are still a power in the region, howver their power has grown since the fall of the Hussein regime in Iraq. Iran is at the center of the greatest fracture belt in modern international politics. The region can not progress without a free and open Iran.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2009 in News

 

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Kiva lets users loan to U.S. businesses | Marketplace From American Public Media

Kiva lets users loan to U.S. businesses | Marketplace From American Public Media.

This is something that’s been sorely needed in this country for a while. The concept of micro-finance has worked wonders for entrepreneurs the world over. America’s economy is driven in large part through entrepreneurship and innovation. Any step to advance those endeavours is a step that will help to grow the economy and the long-run stability of the this country.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2009 in News

 

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Warfare, culture and human evolution: Blood and treasure | The Economist

Warfare, culture and human evolution: Blood and treasure | The Economist.

A fascinating study on the social and evolutionary consequences of altruism. In the long run, it makes sense that those societies which consist of altruistic members, those willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of society, would survive since there would be less inherent competition for resources. Certainly societies with strong militaries have tended to prevail throughout history.  Sufficient numbers of soldiers are required to maintain a strong military; meaning a society must have sufficient numbers of people willing to sacrifice themselves for that society. Catholic priests sacrifice their genetic lineage for the sake of the members (and, perhapd more specifically, the souls of the members) in their societies, and certainly the Catholic church has become an extremely successful society within our modern world. Maybe there’s something to being altruistic after all.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2009 in News, Opinion

 

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BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | How Tiananmen shook Europe

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | How Tiananmen shook Europe.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2009 in News

 

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Obama nominates Sotomayor to Supreme Court – CNN.com

Obama nominates Sotomayor to Supreme Court – CNN.com.

I think this nomination raises some very interesting questions. Firstly, should things like race, gender, and background play a role in nominating people to the Supreme Court? Certainly it would been seen as discriminatory to do so, however, this brings me to my second question. How should we value different perspectives on a court such as the Supreme Court? After all, isn’t the purpose of the Supreme Court merely to stand as a check against the other two branches of government and rule on the constitutionality of laws? While this is certainly one very important role of the Court, they also serve as a kind of court of last resort in cases with wide-ranging social implications on a national scale. This nation is by no means of a single mind-set. It is one where ideas and viewpoints are numerous and varied. I think it appropriate, if not necessary, for our highest court to be similarly diverse mind-set so that it may, in composition at least, embody the tenet of the Constitution that holds that all are created equal.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2009 in News

 

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Judge shields Craigslist from prosecution in South Carolina – CNN.com

Judge shields Craigslist from prosecution in South Carolina – CNN.com.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2009 in News

 

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