My buddy Joe Kadeh is from Iran. Twice he’s invited me to go there with him on trips which I declined and later regretted. Most of my impression of Iran was from him and while I knew that was rather one-sided, it was quite extensive and rather directly informed. The picture he painted was of a functioning contemporary country. I never spent a few days deeply researching the country.

For all of Bush’s drum-beating against Iran, I had to wonder why it never sounded like the news one used to hear about Qaddafi and Libya. If ever any country had sounded like what Bush says about Iran, it was Libya. We hear nothing now about Libya like we did 15-20 years ago. For all I knew, Qaddafi was now dead or deposed.

Recently, thanks to an article here on the Newswire, I learned of, which I added to the blogroll on the front page of my site. Reading there yesterday, I found these articles of interest to me. Funny how Bush doesn’t capitalize on such reports, but quite undoubtably, there’s still yet much I don’t know. (Ya think?)

DEATH PENALTY-IRAN: Top Campaigner Harassed, Hangings Increase
RIGHTS-IRAN: Dissidents Encouraged to Go Into Exile
RIGHTS-IRAN: “Blood Was Everywhere, the Smell of Death”

RIGHTS-IRAN: Gov’t “Leading by Fear”, Activists Say
By Omid Memarian*

BERKELEY, California, U.S., Jan 17 (IPS) – Iran’s recent use of extreme punishments such as amputations and public executions has deepened concerns about the situation of human rights amid the strict enforcement of Islamic law, which has worsened since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hardliner government came to power in June 2005.

POLITICS: Controversy Follows Gaddafi’s Rapprochement With Europe
By Michael Deibert

PARIS, Dec 31 (IPS) – The re-emergence of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi into the diplomatic good graces of Europe has met with a decidedly mixed response, even in some of the governments ostensibly courting his favour.

Personally, I need peace there until at least Joe can get some of his funds out, which is no one’s bizness but ours, but leaves me in a weird position vis a vis Iran. I just want to say it’s not an abstract place on the other side of the globe for me, but as real as the actual places I *have* been to, and I thank and appreciate Joe for that.

The entire world is indeed real and connected, and while news reports help us be informed and so reduce this big world to something we can grasp, blogs do too in a more direct and personal way. I wish I could convince Joe to blog, as outgoing as he is he’s just not inclined that way unfortunately. I think I’ll make a last effort… In any case, given my reading some news about Iran here, I’m going to see him and have another of our long conversations. Maybe get a free lunch while I’m at it.

…Y’know I read President Mahmoud A.’s blog when he first started it, and replied even. I can’t believe the background he wrote it from -he sounded so reasonable.

What a crazy world.

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