07/11/09 - 6:21pm
by Chas Danner
 

Best Cartoon Yet

Cartoon by Mana Neyestani - July 10th 2009

07/10/09 - 7:10pm
by Chas Danner
 

Poem for the Rooftops Suite

Lost in the 24 hour struggle to launch The Rooftop Project was the news that I had finished the first and final Poem for the Rooftops of Iran by YouTube user Oldouz84. I titled it Defenseless People. While it is already featured as the June 16th entry on The Rooftop Project, here it is again by itself so it gets the extra special attention it deserves. As with the June 20th video, I had the help of several Farsi speakers who’s translations I have woven together. Below the jump are the other two “Poems” so that all three are now viewable together for the first time. Also, you should know that “Oldouz84″ did not write these in advance but rather invented them spontaneously in the moment each time, something I find remarkable.

Three weeks ago I’m embarrassed to admit I could not have pointed to Tehran on a map. Now I have mastered highly focused YouTube searches in written Farsi and yesterday even got the point where I took issue with the New York Times for doubting the date of a video I had uploaded. (Like a geometry proof, I cited location, crowd makeup, and careful analysis of hundreds of other videos)

Since June 18th when I opened my YouTube account, my uploaded videos have received a combined 468,554 views. Most of these clips I found in other places and converted to YouTube so they would easier for Nico @ HuffPo to share. Almost all of them show terrible violence that I feel absolutely no pride in associating myself with. But of the footage to make it out from Iran, and I have seen almost all of it, I believe these “Poems” are the most important. Violence may have an easier time capturing our attention, but art is always more powerful at providing the resonance we need to understand and remember. These three videos capture the beating heart of this moment in Iran, and I feel truly fortunate to have been able to play any small part in making sure they are more fully seen.

7/12 UPDATE: There is a fourth video from June 22nd! Coming soon!!



THERE'S MORE…..click.here…………

07/10/09 - 7:46am
by Chas Danner
 

Iran: The Rooftop Project

One of the most compelling elements of the continued uprising in Iran has been when each night under the cover of darkness Iranians chant themselves hoarse from the rooftops, balconies, and windows of their homes. This is done to express resolve, hope, frustration, but probably more than anything else – to provide a way for people to be together, in spirit and in their cause. As long as their voices echo through each night, Iran is not yet free. It is the soundtrack of revolution.

This is meant to be the most complete possible collection of recordings of nighttime protest in Iran since the beginning of the uprising. Its goal is to locate and profile at least one video for each night primarily focusing on the nightly chanting of Allah-o-Akbar from the rooftops whenever that footage is available. Some of these videos have not been widely seen until now. I will continue to update this post with new videos as they become available, please encourage people in Iran to try to record these evening chants of Allah-o-Akbar so that the world can continue to see and hear them every day. There are several days for which I was unable to find a video – please help me find them! – you can email me at itsmightier@gmail.com – I can post the videos anonymously under my YouTube account if needed. The permalink for this post will be http://mightierthan.com/rooftop

This project is dedicated to “Oldouz84″

تکمیل‌ترین جمع ضبط شبهای ایران از آغاز شلوقیها. روز با روز با سعی‌ اولیه از نشون دادن الله اکبر از پشتبونها. بعضی‌ از اینها بطور زیاد تا باحال دیده نشدن. من با رسیدن ویدئوهای جدید این سایت رو ادامه میدم. لطفا از ایرانیان خواهش کنید که همچنان ادامه ضبط الله اکبر در شبها باشند که تمام دنیا شاهد روزانه این فعلیتها باشند. چند روز بود که ویدئو گیر نیاوردم اگر دستتن اومد به من ایمیل بزنین
و اگر مخواهید میتوانم زیر اسم ناشناس برییتون آپلود کنم.

“Oldouz84″ این رو اهدا می‌کنم به
Balatarin Link

THERE'S MORE…..click.here…………

07/6/09 - 12:07pm
by Chas Danner
 

New Rooftop Poem: Listen Closely

New Poem for the Rooftops from that brave young woman in Iran. This was recorded on June 20th after the brutal government crackdown on protesters. That day among much other violence, was the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan, a 26 year old girl who was shot by the Basij militia.

07/5/09 - 11:24pm
by Chas Danner
 

Attention Must Be Paid

Roger’s Cohen’s A Journalist’s ‘Actual Responsibility’ is probably the best and most personal editorial he will write in his career. It is also a piece every writer needs to read, especially if they believe in journalism or seek to wrangle non-fiction to effect the ideas and lives of others. Writers like me.

Maybe I’m biased because I believed what he says before he said it, or because I care so deeply about the Iran story, but while we all complain about Old Vs New Media, or worry about WaPo’s salons, or consider what some idiot like Glenn Beck thinks about *anything*…  Here is Roger Cohen, old school, wielding the full potential of his ability as a journalist and writer to say as forcefully as he can: “bear witness.”

Watch for the use of this sentence: You cannot carve in rotten wood. which is one of many that as a reader stopped me cold – its perfect clarity and placement humming like a solemn bell. I already liked Cohen, I already thought what he was doing in the way he has covered Iran was downright heroic, as far as a writer can be heroic, but this is beyond all that. I won’t quote anymore, as it just needs to be read as it is – but I can give no better endorsement than to say that this piece is exactly why I want to be a writer.

**The original post was based on the fact that this column was not appearing in Sunday’s US New York Times, I see now that it in fact is appearing, only on Monday not Sunday, thus the edit**

07/3/09 - 3:06pm
by Chas Danner
 

The Calm After and Before the Storm

For anyone who’s still paying close attention to the events in Iran, it’s now obvious that between the lack of demonstrations, the slowdown in Twitter traffic, and the cultural obsession with Michael Jackson – coverage of Iran has rapidly declined. But the story is not dead, the uprising is not extinguished, and the news is still important as the slow pressure of a new status quo in Iran takes shape. Things are simmering, and they may move at this pace for a while. I for one am committed to continuing to follow the story, and I know I am not alone. If anything, it is even more interesting now, there is more time to process, more time for careful reporting to be done as the regime in Iran tries to relax the communications blackout (or else sacrifice their economy).

Stay plugged in. You are smart enough to not need continuous video and images to understand this story. Here are the places online it is still being watched closely:

Nico Pitney @ the Huffington Post (he never sleeps as far as I can tell, this is now the best source online for full coverage)
Juan Cole
NIAC’s Blog
Spencer Ackerman (reports on most anything to do with foreign policy)
Andrew Sullivan (back to covering a wider range of news, but still checking in on Iran several times a day)
BBC (who make me more and more jealous every day wishing for a US equivalent)

In this space @ MightierThan –  I expect to have two big posts for Monday, including the new “Poem for the Rooftop” videos which I have had some very gracious help from Farsi speakers for.

Happy Independence Day, and here’s to independence everywhere…

07/1/09 - 9:47pm
by Chas Danner
 

Cohen’s Gamble

New York Times columnist Roger “made me want to toss away my notebook” Cohen has lined himself up for an award of some kind with the gutsy and emotionally charged reporting he contributed from Iran (including after the media ban). His latest piece has new perspective via a fascinating interview with a regime-ist cleric. He bounces off this cleric’s statements to offer a compelling proposal for how America should handle the new (old) Iran.

“This is going to cause a huge gulf between generations,” he told me. “I was talking to a young woman who was a good friend of mine before the vote and she said she doesn’t respect me any more. She’s so angry she’s ready to die.”

Mahmoudi looked surprised. I’m not. Sentiment has shifted radically in Iran as multiple security forces deploy in defense of a lie. For Ayatollah Ali Khamouenei, the supreme leader, the question of how to win back support will in time arise. Enter America, the target of Great-Satanism but dear to most Iranians.

Cohen then reiterates what has become commonly decided knowledge, that the coup to rig the election was a rush job, a last-minute autocratic flourish of the desperate (and desperately conjoined) Ahmadinejad and Khamenei camps to resist slow yet inevitable reform and their ensuing marginalization.

With the gears of Big Change now in perpetual motion, reform for Iran is only a matter of time, and the Iranian regime so overshot its reaction to the election and demonstrations that it has instead accelerated the timetable for its demise. Cohen goes on to suggest that it is essential for Obama to hold back what might be the one thing the current regime could use to win back the support of its people: engagement with the West. (this is a very Ameri-centric analysis but it makes some sense)

Obama must leave them dangling for the foreseeable future. He should refrain indefinitely from talk of engagement.

To do otherwise would be to betray millions of Iranians who have been defrauded and have risked their lives to have their votes count. To do otherwise would be to allow Khamenei to gloat that, in the end, what the United States respects is force. To do otherwise would be to embrace the usurpers.

The slow arc of moral justice is fine but Iran is gripped by the fierce urgency of now.

and

the Iran of today is not the Iran of three weeks ago; it is in volatile flux from without and within. Its Robespierres are running amok. Obama must do nothing to suggest business as usual. Let Ahmadinejad, he of the bipolar mood swings, fret and sweat. Let him writhe in the turbid puddle of his self-proclaimed “justice” and “ethics.”

The only thing I disagree with Cohen about is when he then suggests that Ali Larijani, the leader of the Iranian Parliament, might be an acceptable compromise should Ahmadinejad be removed from power (so Khamenei can retain his). That might be so, but only temporarily. From everything I have read and the people I have talked to, a new more moderate President for Iran is not what’s now demanded from the rooftops each night, not even the self admittedly “blank canvas” Mousavi. All the people had wanted was their vote, but now it’s gone beyond that. Now they want another fair election and for their will to not only be respected, but for that will to be the true ruler of their government. There is no longer an acceptable equilibrium for partial democracy in Iran.

These voters woke up June 12th understanding that they were voting for incremental change, not revolution. They were content to see a new President take Iran, via baby step, towards the rest of the world. But by taking away their voice they have now only grown louder, and their unrest will not end until the Islamic Republic becomes a real Republic – that just happens to also be Islamic. They have made a down payment for that future in blood. It might take months, it might take a generation, but the new arc for Iran has been permanently set. The faith of Islam, the power of youth and education, and the suddenly wide-open arms of the rest of the world – will make sure of it.

Let the Usurpers Writhe (New York Times) (and a must read)

06/30/09 - 6:17am
by Chas Danner
 

A View Apart – One


Part 1/2

Iran was already a misunderstood place before this election captured the world’s attention, and as much as the world has now learned about Iran from witnessing these past few weeks, the experience might still lead to an even greater misunderstanding unless we take the time to look deeper. Lost behind the chants of inspiring crowds, the images of bloodied faces, or the grainy chaotic videos, is an Iran much of the world has likely never made the effort to notice.

For a few days I have been looking for images of Tehran that showed it in a more ordinary light, images that could behave as a control group against the ones we have been seeing. I have compiled them in two parts comprising about 60 total images. Some are of places where we have seen demonstrations, but many are just slices of life or images I somehow reacted to. Iran seems like a very modern place with a fascinating culture that somehow straddles two worlds – I have tried to capture that essence with these selections. BTW 12 million people live in Tehran, which is about 4 million more than the population of New York City.

Unless they have an embedded caption, I have added no context to the images so that they will appear for the first time as whatever the eyes say they are. The only thing they all have in common is that they are of Tehran and were taken before the election. I obtained all the images here – if you can help me with attribution please email me

The photos begin after the jump, please give the page some time to load – most enlarge when you click them.
THERE'S MORE…..click.here…………

06/30/09 - 6:17am
by Chas Danner
 

A View Apart – Two


Part 2/2

Iran was already a misunderstood place before this election captured the world’s attention, and as much as the world has now learned about Iran from witnessing these past few weeks, the experience might still lead to an even greater misunderstanding unless we take the time to look deeper. Lost behind the chants of inspiring crowds, the images of bloodied faces, or the grainy chaotic videos, is an Iran much of the world has likely never made the effort to notice.

For a few days I have been looking for images of Tehran that showed it in a more ordinary light, images that could behave as a control group against the ones we have been seeing. I have compiled them in two parts comprising about 60 total images. Some are of places where we have seen demonstrations, but many are just slices of life or images I somehow reacted to. Iran seems like a very modern place with a fascinating culture that somehow straddles two worlds – I have tried to capture that essence with these selections. BTW 12 million people live in Tehran, which is about 4 million more than the population of New York City.

Unless they have an embedded caption, I have added no context to the images, so that they will appear for the first time as whatever the eyes say they are. The only thing they all have in common is that they are of Tehran and were taken before the election. I obtained all the images here.

The photos begin after the jump, please give the page some time to load – most enlarge when you click them.
THERE'S MORE…..click.here…………

06/29/09 - 7:55pm
by Chas Danner
 

PersianKiwi

While not online, multiple confirmations from the people who would know on Twitter that she/he(?) is OK and just too much on the move to post. You can hear the sigh of relief across the entire #iranelection hashtag

06/28/09 - 5:40pm
by Chas Danner
 

Imagine

You take a walk outside. You get arrested and imprisoned for 48 hours in the dungeon of a government building without food or water. After “enhanced interrogation techniques” are applied on you, you are brought on PBS to confess that North Korean agents paid you to go outside for a walk that day.

You go to church wearing a green polo shirt. On the way you are arrested for wearing green. Your family can’t find you for several days. You are released, but are now on a list and will never be able to get a job again. To have any semblance of a normal life you are forced to flee to Costa Rica, but must pay everything you own to human traffickers to smuggle you there hanging onto the undercarriage of an old truck. You get a job washing dishes and you feel like you’re lucky.

You’re a huge futbol fan, you have a satellite dish so you can watch all the games. One night strange men break down the door of your house and storm to your rooftop beating and breaking everything and everyone in their path. They rip out your dish, and throw your central air conditioning unit off the roof almost killing two people in a car below.

You’re a policeman who refuses to beat with a nightstick a woman who is simply walking down the street. You are fired. You now fear for your family’s safety.

Your kid is killed on the street, shot. You don’t find out she is dead until she has been missing for half a day and one of her friends calls to tell you he watched her bleed out on the street. He says the government confiscated her body. It takes a full day to find out where her body is. It is already in the ground. It takes another day to find out where. You are expressly forbidden from holding a memorial service. No one seems to care who shot your kid. She might as well have fallen into a hole in the ground and been buried alive. Vanished except for a hastily washed blood stain on some pavement across town.

You and some friends at school support a political candidate. He apparently loses but you don’t believe it so you take to the streets to peacefully ask for a recount. That night in your dorm you hear a great commotion and discover strange men breaking into your dorm building. They see the poster on your door supporting this candidate and they break it down. They beat you and your roommate within an inch of your lives, a friend down the hall isn’t so lucky. He was a philosophy major and helped you pass Informal Logic last semester. The men also punch a hole the size of a softball in your computer monitor. They flip your bunk bed and break its supports. They promise they will return the next night. You were a physics major. Now you are just unemployed with a broken arm.

Your internet is mostly down. Your cell phone barely works. Your providers don’t pick up the phone to hear your complaints when it does. There is a lot of upheaval on the streets and you are very worried. During a rare moment of net up-time, your friend who is studying in Europe asks you in an email if you are OK and you reply that you are but that you are fed up with the state of your country and might join the people on the street expressing their frustration. The next morning strange men knock on your door.

06/26/09 - 8:28pm
by Chas Danner
 

Ethereal Grief

Tehran’s Rooftops by Day… at least for one. Looks like a beautiful city..

Green balloons were launched in rememberance of the those who have lost their lives in the demonstrations since the disputed election, people like Neda Agha Soltan.

06/26/09 - 12:03pm
by Chas Danner
 

Comments

I don’t have comments turned on here at MightierThan – I have always kind of hated them on other blogs, not because I think readers can’t have interesting thoughts on interesting posts, they can and usually do, but because since its inception the Internet has provided too many people the unnecessary opportunity to be someone online they could never get away with being in person, usually someone much more rude and disagreeable, sometimes even hateful, racist, or worse. I think interaction is important, and I think tolerance of random trolls should be encouraged, but I still can’t bring myself to allow them on some corner of the net I have tried to carve out on my own. (7/11 update: read here for my complete 180)

However on YouTube, and more specifically on the Iran videos I have posted, the comment culture is fascinating to watch, both inspiring and infuriating. I have tried to curate with care, deleting obviously hateful posts, or ones so ignorant no one should have to waste their time reading them – but the community does a pretty good job policing itself with the excellent comment rating system that YouTube employs. I wish more sites would copy it.

Mostly I’m amazed how many people think videos of the Iran ordeal are the best place to bring up how much they dislike Obama, and it occurs to me that people’s distrust and perhaps hatred of him is so searing that any soapbox will do if it’s a chance to let out their frustration. It’s like they’re convinced they’re watching a magic show that’s effect is so offensive they must stand on their chair and shout about hidden rabbits. But it’s not a magic show, and there is no rabbit – so any sensible audience member who’s paying attention thinks they are crazy. This just enrages them further.

While in my heart I wish Obama and America could swoop in and fix all of Iran’s problems, that is an irrational wish. Obama has done very well setting the tone for America’s reaction, for as we learned in Iraq – you can’t invent someone else’s democracy – they have to earn it for themselves or else they will never be able to employ it successfully.

06/25/09 - 9:05pm
by Chas Danner
 

MJ

Can’t say I’ve ever seen social media explode around one topic like it just did when Michael Jackson died. It was the new media equivalent of my high school when Kurt Cobain blew his head off, or when OJ was found not guilty. It’s not hard to imagine everybody remembering forever that the answer to “Where were you when you learned Michael Jackson died?” will be: “sitting in front of my computer.” Twitter went into an instant lag, even freezing completely right when it happened and a few million people all assumed at the same time that they were one of the first to know and thus had to spread the word. It took another 45 minutes before I heard the first car drive by playing his music. I think I might have actually been the first person to tip off HuffPo, which was a little weird. (their front page lagged too around the same time Twitter did)

I was born in 1979, so Michael Jackson to a large extent was my childhood, and I respect him for that, and for all that great music – but it’s been hard to imagine MJ as a real person for a very long time, so him being dead doesn’t really impact me much at all. Andrew Sullivan just got it right, along these lines. I’m much more worried about my Dad’s 69-year-old heart; I’m much more worried about PersianKiwi.

The greatest thing about a great album, and Thriller is one of the best of all time, is that it is frozen in time forever as it is. No one can touch it, no one can bring it down or make it sound any different, better, or worse. And music comes with the memories of when you’ve heard it, the way the LP case unfolded or what sticker was on the mixtape, the time you made out to that track in that place with that somebody. Music can’t die, just ask the Voyager spacecraft.

Beyond any afterlife, culture owns Michael Jackson now, intact with every flaw and talent. I think I’d rather let my iTunes own him. I’m not going to care about the specials, retrospectives, the bullshat-out hyper-reporting. I’ll probably just be annoyed that the tragedies in Iran will feel less relevant to a few hundred million people while they think about a great music video. But that’s the way people are, the way celebrity deaths are, and I’m a hypocrite to try to suggest that when Heath Ledger died I was suddenly distracted from far more tragic deaths in Darfur or the slums of Rio. The bandwidth for tragedy is limited; it has to be.

But I stand by the joke I thought up about 3 minutes after MJ died:

IRANIAN STATE TV: CIA Killed Michael Jackson

and I actually have a friend named Michael Jackson and this was his FB status update a little later:

So as far as I’m concerned:
MICHAEL JACKSON LIVES.

06/25/09 - 3:23pm
by Chas Danner
 

Paris Too Crowded This Summer?

http://www.irpedia.com/

Possible Taglines:

“Our helpful militia will beat anyone who interferes with your enjoyment”

“You’ll enjoy three days and two nights seeing all Iran has to offer from your hotel window”

“Allah-o-akbar” doesn’t just mean “God is Great”, it means “All is Well” and people shout it from the rooftops!!”

“Every day at 4pm Iranians put on elaborate street theater re-enacting the famous (and fun!) 1979 Re-Governmenting!”

“Iran, Where Black is the New Green”

“Medical students! Acquire essential learning experience volunteering at area hospitals!”

“Iran is the land of Woman’s Liberation, they are beaten just as harshly as the men!”

“Come to Iran! Where troubles simply disappear!”

“Iran, we hate loud obnoxious Americans even more than you do!”

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