Turkey Trades Gold for Iranian Oil

Who needs dollars when the two of you have real stuff that you both want?

Iran accumulating gold, which is odd since you can’t eat it

Secret Iran Gold Holdings Leaked: Tehran Holds Same Amount Of Gold As United Kingdom, And Is Buying More:

“Market observers believe Tehran has been one of the biggest buyers of bullion over the past decade after China, Russia and India, and is among the 20 largest holders of gold reserves… with an alleged 300 tons, big enough to challenge the UK at 310 tons, and more than Spain!”

Now why would Iran want a barbarous relic like gold when they could buy Apple stock, which is sure to go up up up forever?

What’s the Matter with Egypt?

What’s Behind Egypt’s Problems?

At least part of Egypt’s problem is the fact that in the past the government has threatened to reduce food subsidies. Now it is planning to hold food subsidies level and raise energy subsidies, but it is not clear that the dollar amount of subsidy will be enough. The government is taking steps to make food and energy affordable for most, but there is worry that the steps being taken will not be enough.

There is a good reason why one might expect Egypt to start running into problems with energy and food subsidies. Its own financial situation is declining at the same time that the cost of food imports is soaring. If we look at a graph of Egyptian oil imports, exports, and consumption (using a graph from Energy Export Databrowser, which graphs BP Statistical Data), we find that Egypt’s oil use has been rising rapidly, at the same time the amount extracted each year is declining.

Based on information from the CIA World Fact Book, Egypt was already significantly overspending its revenue in 2009 (the last year available), with revenues of $46.82 billion and expenditures of $64.19 billion. For 2010, the Factbook reports government debt amounting to 80.5% of GDP, putting its debt level far above that of most other African and Arab nations.

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Iran Sentences Blogger Hossein Derakhshan (Hoder) to 20 Years in Prison

CNNIran’s ‘blogfather’ sentenced to almost 20 years in prison:

An Iranian court has sentenced the so-called “blogfather” of Iran to 19½ years in prison, the semi-official Mashregh news website said Tuesday.

Hossein Derakhshan was “convicted of cooperating with enemy states, making propaganda against the Islamic system of government, promoting small anti-revolutionary groups, managing obscene web sites and insulting Islamic sanctities,” Mashregh reported.

Iran’s government is thoroughly indefensible. I believe that when the truth is known Hoder’s story is even worse. After his defense of a nuclear Iran I began to suspect Ahmadinejad’s government was threatening his family, who still lives in Iran.


Google switches Gmail to https by default

Information WeekGoogle: We’re Encrypting Everyone’s Gmail Automatically:

Whether or not the timing of this announcement has anything to do with Google’s recent actions in the Chinese market is unknown. The company today said that it is switching Gmail access to https for all users by default.

The company wrote in a blog post, “Using https helps protect data from being snooped by third parties, such as in public wifi hotspots. We initially left the choice of using it up to you because there’s a downside: https can make your mail slower since encrypted data doesn’t travel across the web as quickly as unencrypted data. Over the last few months, we’ve been researching the security/latency tradeoff and decided that turning https on for everyone was the right thing to do.”

In related news, Iran’s government has banned Gmail:

As the Iranian authorities attempt to stifle tomorrow’s protests surrounding the anniversary of the Iranian revolution, they are going one step further: Iran is permanently suspending access to Google’s Gmail. Earlier this week, we wrote about failing Internet connections in Iran.

The timing of these problems has been met with suspicion: February 11 (tomorrow) marks the anniversary of the Iranian revolution and gatherings are already being planned to protest against June’s alleged election fraud.

Iran seizes Nobel Peace Prize winner’s medal

This is why people say Iran’s government is run by dicks.

Iranian blogger Hoder has been in solitary confinement for 10 months

BoingBoingIran: blogger Hossein “Hoder” Derakshan said to have been jailed in solitary for 10 months:

Fershteh Ghazi (@iranbaan) tweets that Hamed Derakhshan, brother of jailed Iranian blogger Hossein “Hoder” Derakshan, just said on @bbcpersian his brother has been held in solitary confinement for 10 months. Hoder was first arrested on November 1, 2008.


Fight Club

Watched Fight Club again last night. The basic story is that a generation of young men are living empty lives, “working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” Fight Club gives them a purpose and makes them feel like men.

Scary thought: think of the aimless young men in Fight Club. Now imagine they’re young Muslim men joining a terrorist organization, which is what Fight Club became when it turned into Project Mayhem.

Fight Club was released in 1999. Post-9/11 they would have never used an ending that involved blowing up skyscrapers. The parallels would have been too obvious and unnerving.

I’m glad they were able to use that ending because the parallels are instructive. I like Fight Club, but what I’ve always disliked about it is the juvenile endorsement of violence as a means to manhood and the embrace of destruction as entertainment and self-realization. Connecting the dots with groups like Al Qaeda shows where that mindset leads.

Iranian election fraud

In many Iranian cities the number of people who voted exceeded the number of eligible voters. Is miracle!

This is in addition to the suspiciously-fast vote count. “How do you count almost 40 million handwritten paper ballots in a matter of hours and declare a winner? That’s a key question in Iran’s disputed presidential election. International polling experts and Iran analysts said the speed of the vote count, coupled with a lack of detailed election data normally released by officials, was fueling suspicion around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s landslide victory.”

The bad news is that the Iranian government ran a rigged election. The good news such as it is is that their  incompetent made it obvious that they rigged the election.

Daoud Kuttab’s crazy bias against Israel

Little Green Footballs – Washington Post: ‘Amateur’ Rockets ‘Nagging’ Israel:

The Washington Post gives column space today to Palestinian shill Daoud Kuttab, who turns in one of those very predictable whiny pieces claiming that fighting against terrorists “only makes them stronger:” Daoud Kuttab – Has Israel’s Gaza Attack Revived Hamas?

Includes this absolute howler of an opening sentence:

JERUSALEM — In its efforts to stop amateur rockets from nagging the residents of some of its southern cities, Israel appears to have given new life to the fledging Islamic movement in Palestine.

Other great Washington Post headlines from history:

  • DALLAS – Amateur assassin nags JFK’s head with old milsurp bullets
  • NEW YORK – Amateur pilots nag Twin Towers, much like Maverick playfully buzzed the control tower in “Top Gun”

I’ll have to check my copy of the AP Style Book, but I don’t think nag is an acceptable synonym for “murder.” This year Hamas rocket attacks on Israel killed a number of Israeli civilians, wounded others, and kept the population in terror.

Also, I don’t think Iran would appreciate the WaPo describing their Qassam and Katyusha rockets as “amateur.” Many of the press reports describe them as “Hamas rockets,” but Hamas couldn’t make a light bulb, much less a rocket. The rockets are provided by outside countries like Iran and Syria who are using Hamas in a proxy war with Israel.

CNN’s Six “Undecided Voters” Were Ringers

Doug Ross:

CNN hits bottom and digs: All six debate questioners appear to be Democratic Party operatives. So much for “ordinary people, undecided voters”. To paraphrase Junior Soprano, CNN is so far up the DNC’s hind end, Howard Dean can taste hair gel.

In a nutshell, CNN’s six “undecided voters” were:

A Democratic Party bigwig
An antiwar activist
A Union official
An Islamic leader
A Harry Reid staffer
A radical Chicano separatist

This is why some people’s ears perk up when they see or hear the phrase “undecided voter.”

See also:
John Ridley – NPR’s “Undecided Voter”

89,000 Afghanistan Kids Saved This Year

USA TodayAfghan officials: Better care saves 89,000 kids this year:

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Close to 90,000 children who would have died before age 5 in Afghanistan during Taliban rule will stay alive this year because of advances in medical care in the country, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Sunday.

The under-5 child mortality rate in Afghanistan has declined from an estimated 257 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2001 to about 191 per 1,000 in 2006, the Ministry of Public Health said, relying on a new study by Johns Hopkins University.

The U.N. and aid agency Save the Children both hailed the advances in health care in Afghanistan.

“This is certainly very positive news,” said the U.N. spokesman in Afghanistan, Adrian Edwards. “To come from such low life expectancy to see this improvement does appear to be an indication that the work on the health sector here is beginning to pay off.”

The article goes out of its way to give any credit to the U.S., devoting just one sentence (the last sentence) to the American role: “A U.S.-led invasion in 2001 toppled the Taliban militant movement from power.”

Scott Adams Re-thinks the War on Terror/Al Qaeda

He’s now in favor of it:

One of the problems is that there is a complete disconnect between reality and what terrorists believe. They think God gave them specific real estate, that a horse can fly, there are virgins waiting for them in heaven, and Jews orchestrated the 9-11 attacks. There’s no reason to believe that reality intrudes on their decisions. Tweaking reality would be a waste of time.

This leads me to Israel. I used to think Israel was making a mistake to occupy disputed land and give their enemies more reasons to attack and fewer reasons to make peace. Again, perhaps if we had a time machine there was a period in history where that was true. But we’re long past that. Now I believe there is sufficient perpetual hatred against Israel that it would be irrational for them to offer any concessions. It makes more sense to grab as much land and water as they can get their hands on. And it makes sense to keep the Palestinians in a permanent state of wretchedness and powerlessness as Israel consolidates its hold on those resources. In five hundred years, they’ll be glad they have more land and water.

While I think Israel’s policies are a dark grey form of evil, I support them because at this point they are being entirely rational. It would be hypocritical to deny any other nation the right to pursue their self-interest.

Hoder on a Nuclear Iran

I met Hossein Derakshan (“Hoder”) last year at BlogNashville and covered his talk there. Hoder is an Iranian expat and critic of the current Iranian regime. He currently lives in Canada.

This week he wrote a Washington Post op-ed titled “Iran Needs Nuclear Weapons.”

Hoder fled his native country because of the abuse of power there. He’s spoken out against the Iranian mullah’s manipulation of elections (such as wiping dozens of opposition party candidates off the ballot). He’s fearful of going back because the government may arrest him for his criticism.

Yet he wants that same government to have nuclear weapons. What’s wrong with this picture?

This is the same Iranian government that openly gave conventional arms to Hezbollah a few months ago to wage a proxy war with Israel. Why should we believe they wouldn’t do the same with nuclear weapons?

Conversation in a Food City Checkout Line

JAY: Do you have your Food City card?
ME: I think. Maybe on my keychain.
JAY: Here. You can use mine.
ME: I’m using your Food City card? Cool. In that case I want five enema bottles, a gross of Kotex, and a dozen Trojans size extra-small.
JAY: Why don’t you go ahead and get some of that cold medicine they keep behind the counter?
ME: (to the cashier) I’ll take a hundred dollars worth of whatever I need to make crystal meth. Put it on his card.

See also:
Buying Condoms
Conversation in the Living Room
Conversation in a Kroger’s Checkout Line
Conversation at a Urinal (Rated R)