Companies in the EU and China have been caught offering to commit fraud to launder sales of mass surveillance weapons to Al Jazeera reporters posing as representatives of autocratic regimes under sanction for gross human rights abuses; these weapons would allow their users to target and round up political dissidents for arbitrary detention, torture and murder. Read the rest
Houthi rebels from Yemen attacked a Saudi frigate; White House spokesman Sean Spicer falsely claimed that this was Iranian forces attacking a US Naval ship and thus an act of war; no one from the White House press corps corrected him or followed up. Read the rest
If you thought soccer's world cup being awarded to baking-hot Qatar marked the zenith of sporting corruption, give FIDE a chance: the international chess federation's forthcoming world championship is headed to Iran, and women players must wear the hijab to compete. UK tabloids quote leading women chess players as threatening to quit the tournament rather than obey.
US women's champion Nazi Paikidze said: ‘It is absolutely unacceptable to host one of the most important women's tournaments in a venue where, to this day, women are forced to cover up with a hijab.
‘I understand and respect cultural differences. But, failing to comply can lead to imprisonment and women's rights are being severely restricted in general. It does not feel safe for women from around the world to play here.’
She added: ‘If the situation remains unchanged, I will most certainly not participate in this event.’
It's insane, but entirely in keeping with FIDE's brainier-than-thou shiftiness, to think that Tehran is a good place to host the key event on their highly-politicized mind game's calendar. For starters, there's a current U.S. government travel warning telling citizens not to go there at all.
(I would go, but wear a Burka) Read the rest
Former Syrian National Council vice-president Nour Al-Ameer fled to Turkey after being arrested and tortured by the Assad regime -- that's when someone attempted to phish her and steal her identity with a fake Powerpoint attachment purporting to be about the crimes of the Assad regime. Read the rest
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The color changes have become common in the spring and early summer due to seasonal precipitation and climate patterns. Spring is the wettest season in northwestern Iran, with rainfall usually peaking in April. Snow on nearby mountains within the watershed also melts in the spring. The combination of rain and snowmelt sends a surge of fresh water into Lake Urmia in April and May. By July, the influx of fresh water has tapered off and lake levels begin to drop.
The fresh water in the spring drives salinity levels down, but the lake generally becomes saltier as summer heat and dryness take hold. That’s when the microorganisms show their colors, too. Careful sampling of the water would be required to determine which organisms transformed the lake in 2016, but scientists say there are likely two main groups of organisms involved: a family of algae called Dunaliella and an archaic family of bacteria known as Halobacteriaceae.
While Lake Urmia has shifted from green to red and back several times in recent years, trends suggest that a red Urmia could become increasingly common.
Sosha Makani, 29, was goalkeeper of Tehran's Persepolis soccer club. But not any more, after Iranian morality police saw him photographed in a pair of SpongeBob Squarepants pants.
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“Sosha suspended for six months because of yellow trousers,” read the headline of Varzesh3, an Iranian sports news agency. “SpongeBob [trousers] cause six-month suspension for Sosha,” said the online news agency Asriran. ... Last month, Iranian news agencies reported that Makani, who played for Iran’s national football team at the 2014 World Cup, was being scrutinised by the authorities over his trousers.
Reporters from Fairfax Media and The Huffington Post obtained a huge trove of email from Unaoil, a business run by a rich Monaco family, that reveal that the family ran a corrupt bribery empire that spanned the world's oil-producing states, and that they world with companies like Rolls-Royce, Halliburton, Leighton Holding, Samsung and Hyundai, to rig contracts through a system of bribes and kickbacks that looted the national treasuries of some of the world's poorest countries. Read the rest
The government of Iran claims to have obtained “thousands of pages of information” from devices used by the U.S. Navy sailors briefly detained in January.
Classical nude statues at Italy's Capitoline Museum were covered up this week in anticipation of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's visit. Some politicians and art critics called out the stupidity. From The Telegraph:
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The president’s aides were also reportedly anxious that he not be photographed too close to a giant bronze statue of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius on horseback.
The Iranians objected to what one Italian newspaper delicately described as “the attributes” or genitalia of the huge horse, which dates from the second century AD.
Though Iran won't actually execute people under 18, their courts will readily sentence children as young a nine to physical punishment, including death, and hold them in inhumane, crowded conditions until they are old enough for their sentences to be carried out. Read the rest
Citizenlab details an "elaborate phishing campaign" against Iranian expats and activists, combining phone-calls from fake Reuters reporters, mostly convincing Google Docs login-screens, and a sophisticated attempt to do a "real-time man-in-the-middle attack" against Google's two-factor authentication. Read the rest
The case against Jae Shik Kim -- a South Korean exec caught selling weapons components to Iran -- has collapsed because the prosecutors abused the rule allowing them to search laptop hard-drives without a warrant when someone is at a "border crossing" (in this case, LAX). Read the rest
A 28-year-old Iranian artist and activist has been sentenced to 12 years and nine in prison for making monkeys out of Iranian leaders. Tehran’s Revolutionary Court (which doesn't use juries) ruled that Atena Farghadani crimes included “insulting members of parliament through paintings” and “spreading propaganda against the system.”
One political cartoonist particularly knowledgeable about her plight is Iranian American artist Nikahang Kowsar. Now a CRNI board member based in the Washington area, Kowsar was jailed in his native Iran 15 years ago for his cartoons critical of the country’s leaders.
“Atena is being punished for something many of us have been doing in Iran: drawing politicians as animals, without naming them,” Kowsar tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “Of course, I drew a crocodile and made a name that rhymed with the name of powerful Ayatollah, and caused a national security crisis in 2000. What Atena drew was just an innocent take on what the parliamentarians are doing, and based on the Iranian culture, monkeys are considered the followers and imitators, [and] cows are the stupid ones.
It's in Farsi, it's beautifully-shot film noir, it has a female lead, and you have to see it. Read the rest