Roughly 75 percent of the votes went to backers of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a contest between conservative factions, leaving Ahmadinejad looking a lot weaker ahead of next year’s presidential elections.
One day of protests, and an act of arson, were all it took to take down an unpopular Azerbaijan governor. What began with an appointed governor’s taunts of his own people, ended with the same governor’s resignation according to the Azerbaijan government. In a statement released on Friday, President Ilham Aliyev’s office confirmed that Quban Governor Rauf Gabibov had been removed from his post, after civil unrest on Thursday ended with Gabibov’s mansion in flames and protesters clashing with police. (photo via CNN iReport)source
I don’t think I have the qualities to be a good European Commission or European Council President.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy • Responding to a reporter’s question about his political future at an EU summit in Brussels, Belgium. The French president’s future came into question because, with elections next month and polls showing him in second, it’s possible this could be his last appearance at an EU summit. Sarkozy also voiced his support for recently re-elected European Council president Herman Van Rompuy, saying “I am sure I would do it less well than him.” source
$10million to build a “great firewall” around Pakistan’s interweb source
» And they’re being open about it: Unlike China and other countries that have national internet censorship policies, Pakistan is discussing the issue openly, going so far as to take proposals to build a wall and putting ads in the country’s newspapers. It’s drawn a lot of controversy, however, partly as a result of the ads. “The authorities here are big fans of China and how it filters the Internet,” said Sana Saleem of the activist group Bolo Bhi. “They overlook the fact that China is an autocratic regime and we are a democracy.”
I’m pleased the court has lifted the travel ban and am looking forward to my son’s arrival in the US. I’d like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this time.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood • From a statement today, on the flight home for seven American pro-democracy workers who had been held in Egypt, barred from traveling over accusations of illegal fundraising. One of the seven is his son, Sam LaHood, a high-profile family connection that helped highlight the diplomatic turmoil that unfolded over the Americans’ detainment. The price of getting these folks back home? A cool $5 million in bail, paid by the U.S. to Egypt. This brings an end to a perilous diplomatic situation, though the U.S. doesn’t seem ready to bury the hatchet and forget about this just yet – Victoria Nuland, spokeswoman for the State Department, said no decision has yet been made on the state of U.S. aid to Egypt. source
It was a very aggressive attack on Baba Amr today. I don’t think they want to enter it anyway; they want to destroy it completely by shelling it from adjacent villages and neighborhoods.
Mulham al-Jundi, Syrian activist • Describing the state of Baba Amr, a part of the besieged city of Homs in Syria. Homs has been the site of the most sustained, catastrophic violence in recent months, and tanks have reportedly surrounded the Baba Amr neighborhood on four sides, launching mortar fire and rockets into the fray. Communication into Baba Amr, which had been maintained for weeks, was cut off for a few hours today, conjuring fears of a ground massacre rolling through the area. Thankfully, recent reports suggest this has not yet occurred. The scene in Homs is ghastly, and looks to be getting worse every day — al-Jundi also said it’s hard to discern how many people are left alive, because anybody who moves through the streets risks being shot dead by government snipers stationed on rooftops. source
Suffocating sanctions could lead to a grave economic situation in Iran and to a shortage of food. This would force the regime to consider whether the nuclear adventure is worthwhile, while the Persian people have nothing to eat and may rise up as was the case in Syria, Tunisia and other Arab states.
An unnamed Israeli official • Calling for the U.S. to cripple Iran’s economy with harder sanctions, to cause food shortages for the Iranian public as a means to gain diplomatic leverage. The impetus of this thinking came earlier today, when North Korea agreed to halt production of new nuclear weapons in exchange for food aid. While respecting the existential concern Iran’s nuclear prospects pose for Israel, the fact that the U.S. would itself impose a food shortage (unlike North Korea, where state mismanagement and famine were to blame) seems like it would aim the Iranian public’s outrage outward, not inward. The Arab spring had much do with economics, Tunisia’s high unemployment, for example, but a foreign state inducing hunger and starvation, and hoping people will therefore turn against their own government? That seems highly unlikely, as well as morally dubious. source
the deal The U.S. got North Korea to agree to curb its nuclear testing and enrichment processes and allow outside investigators to monitor its main reactor, which is a fairly major breakthrough for the countries.
the perk In exchange, North Korea will get 240,000 metric tons of food aid. While the U.S. has long considered offering aid for purely humanitarian reasons, North Korea insisted that it be tied to this deal. source
» Significant, if “limited”: This result came after a set of talks last week that initially did not seem to go well, but later proved be palatable for the North Koreans. The two countries previously were close to some sort of deal before Kim Jong-il’s death, but the latest development seems to have gone over. “The United States still has profound concerns regarding North Korean behavior across a wide range of areas,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, “but today’s announcement reflects important, if limited, progress in addressing some of these.”
7,500killed in Syria since last March, UN says source
» “Indiscriminant bombardment by tank and rocket fire”: Those were the words of the UN’s undersecretary general for political affairs, Lynn Pascoe. The killing in Syria has reached something of a fever pitch in past months, with the bombardment of Homs in particular leading to grim headlines, and truly ghastly footage. The UN currently estimates that over 100 people per day are being killed by Bashar al-Assad’s security forces. Said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on Assad as a war criminal: “I think that based on definitions of war criminal and crimes against humanity, there would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category.”
Creepy Russian political ad of the day: Wherein a scared virgin is relieved to learn from a fortune teller that she’ll lose it, as they say, to former KGB agent and Russian Prime Minsiter Vladimir Putin, who’s running for president this year. Putin already served two terms as Russian president from 2000-2008; he couldn’t run again in 2008 due to term limit laws, so he chilled as Prime Minister for four years while Dmitry Medvedev warmed the seat, and now he’s seeking his old office again. If elected, he could conceivably serve until 2024. Anyway, it’s noteworthy that an ad like this flies in Russia; a similar commercial by, say, Mitt Romney’s campaign in the US probably wouldn’t cut it (imagine Rick Santorum’s response) It’s also noteworthy that there are twomore ads with the same pro-“lose your virginity to Vlad Putin” message on the guy’s website. source
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