Thursday, September 30, 2010

North Korea: Black Suit vs. Beige

Black vs. Beige: could the color of Kim Jong Il's son's suit mark a symbolic shift towards business, away from militarism?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ahmadinejad vs. Capitalism...Oh Really?

Although some of dangers of capitalism being too unregulated and very globalized were exposed when the sub-prime housing crisis impacted not only the U.S. but other countries with international investment portfolios, Ahmadinejad's statement against capitalism seems ironic, since Sepah (Revolutionary Guards) are taking over more and more businesses in Iran, already reportedly reaps huge profits off black market items in Iran, and arrests so many people and demands such huge bail that it's starting to look like an extortion racket. Also, the Islamic regime famously persecuted the Communists who helped them come to power.

So is this the best that AN could come up with as a theoretical counter-attack to the more severe economic sanctions that have been put in place against the IRI? Lashes Out at Capitalism
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Rap Satire and Anti-Rap Propaganda: Iranian Rapper, Video Maker, Promoter React

by Julie Jigsawnovich

Rap music and style have been exploited in movies and TV shows approved by Ershad, Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, with depictions that distort and deviate from the spirit of real Iranian rap. I asked Fred, Shaya, and Adrenaline to express their opinions of this material. Farbod "Fred" Khoshtinat created the video for Hichkas’ “Ye Mosht Sarbaz” (Bunch of Soldiers) track [and has since won a 2010 Democracy Video Challenge award and also directed the "Dasa Bala" video for Arash] Shaya may be the only female rapper still trying to create and perform new songs inside Iran. Adrenaline is an underground rap promoter. They do not know each other, and they answered the following questions separately, without seeing each others’ answers.

JJ: How would you describe the “rap” in the trailer for this Iranian government-approved movie, Shame-e Aroosi (Wedding Dinner), which you can see here?

S: I don’t like this. This is a kind of joke.

FK: This is fast rhyming about moral things like weddings and stuff.

A: Honestly, I didn’t even watch it to the end. I can describe it in one word: “garbage”.

JJ: Are you surprised that Ershad allowed “rap” and “graffiti” to be shown in a movie in Iran, when Police there arrest real rappers and graffiti artists?

S: No, but we are sorry when we see these scenes in our movies. They show this just to give some fun to every person that bought a ticket.

FK: The thing that they are against are the lyrics that have been used in rap. And, by the way, you can never see such a thing in Iranian TV. This is Iranian cinema–whole different rules!

A: Sorry that I didn’t put it in a charming, polite way. I don’t care about the governments, because I have seen many crazy things from them that make “inviting Lil’ Wayne for a show in Iran national TV” like nothing. And you don’t need to worry about the POLICE! They can arrest you for ONLY WALKING IN THE STREETS! It’s up to them–they have the right to arrest anyone at anytime if they feel like it! So don’t worry about police arresting graffiti artists!

JJ: Do you think this movie helped or hurt rap in Iran?

S: Absolutely hurts.

FK: I don’t think it has any effect on rap in Iran. I don’t really consider that song a rap!

A: You don’t need to worry about third question either! Because there are only A FEW people–like 15, or maybe 20–in Iran who really know the real hip-hop! So Persian rap is already hurt! We need a miracle here.

JJ: Has rap been shown in any Iranian movies or on Iranian TV lately?

S: I saw some rap music in movies, but they portray rappers as sick people.

FK: No, there is no such a thing as rap in Iranian TV.

A: Sorry, because I don’t watch Iranian TV or movies–NEVER! And I mean it!

JJ: Fred, I heard there was an Iranian TV show called Shock that used HichKas songs. And this TV program was State propaganda–saying all rappers use drugs and are into devil worship. Did you see Shock? Is it true what I heard about that show?

FK: Yes, it’s all true about Shock. It also showed some parts of Hichkas’ “Bunch of Soldiers” music video.

JJ: I heard that rap music was considered “Western music” in Iran, and was therefore forbidden for most rappers to perform. No?

FK: My opinion is that their main concern is on the lyrics. We have legal rock and pop, but they have moral lyrics.

JJ: I think the lyrics to Hichkas’ “Bunch of Soldiers” do show a type of morality. He’s talking about loving God, friends and family–and being ready to defend his country against attack. He is saying he is street wise, but that he has made mistakes. He is not saying anything ****ual, and he is not criticizing the regime. What more could they ask for? Really!

FK: Hichkas is someone outside the system who is leading some people. This is some big political issue. Hichkas is influential, and the regime dislikes this.

JJ: How did you feel when you saw the “Bunch of Soldiers” video you made for Hichkas included in Shock?

FK: I was shocked and amazed. Iranian TV just showed five seconds of the video, where Hichkas is moving his hands fast–while a Shock narrator claimed that drugs made rappers and Satanists mad. It was propaganda to convince the society about arresting the rappers.

JJ: Did the inclusion of the “Bunch of Soldiers” video in Shock help or hurt your career?

FK: It hurt. That inclusion meant that they had their eyes on us–and they really did.

JJ: When did Shock first show on TV?

FK: I think it was summer before last–I’m not sure. But two months after that they started to arrest underground artists, again.


From the archives of Oct. 2009

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mashaii vs. Islamist Hardliners

When it comes to pre-Islamic history, music and women's rights, does Mashaii might offer some glimmer of hope? Iranian friends of mine tell me he's even helped give official approval to pop songs somewhat critical of the regime. It's a shame he doesn't like hip hop. I hear that Iranian hip hop musicians are still taking big risks inside Iran.--Jigsawnovich

Thursday, September 16, 2010

IRI can track Haystack proxy users

Frankly, there are already other proxy servers that internet users in Iran are using safely. I don't see why Haystack was even needed. Now it turns out Haystack may have endangered users. Very sad. Not good.

Tor developer criticizes Haystack

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Democracy Video Challenge winners honored at UN

Had a great time at the Democracy Video Challenge screening at the United Nations. Enjoyed seeing the people I met in DC again, seeing friends I invited and also meeting new people. Congratulations to Farbod Khoshtinat, Taraneh Golozar and Shahin Pajoom for their success with the ATTN: Mr. Democrat video. It's been viewed more than 21,000 times now. I look forward to the day it reaches 100,000 views.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

VOA interviews Iranian Democracy Video Challenge Winner

Farbod "Fred" Khoshtinat's video, ATTN: Mr. Democrat, is one of six winners of the 2010 Democracy Video Challenge.

Click through for wide screen.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

ATTN: Mr. Democrat director receives award from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

The sharp truths in Farbod "Fred" Khoshtinat's ATTN: Mr. Democrat video are almost shocking. It's wonderful to see these truths and the greatness of this video acknowledged--and by acknowledging them, the greatness of brave Iranian people who do fight and struggle against exterior and interior obstacles as they seek the way to their own kind of freedom and democracy.

Thanks again to everyone who voted and helped spread the word about this video.

Here is the video link to the Democracy Video Challenge award ceremony. Secretary Rodham Clinton mentions Iran's green movement around 4:00 and Farbod "Fred" Khoshtinat receives the award around 6:18. Here is more info about Democracy Video Challenge.

There are six winners of the 2010 Democracy Video Challenge: Anup Poudel of Nepal, Yared Shumete of Ethiopia, Farbod Khoshtinat of Iran, Joel Ben Marsden of Spain, Adhyatmika Euuy of Indonesia and Juan Pablo Patino Arevelo of Colombia.

Here is the transcript in case your computer/internet connection is too slow for video, or your country blocks YouTube.

2010 Democracy Video Challenge Award Presentation
Hillary Rodham Clinton 

Secretary of State

Judith A. McHale 
Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Treaty Room

Washington, DC September 10, 2010

UNDER SECRETARY MCHALE: Come on in. These are the stars of the show, the real stars of the show. They probably feel a little uncomfortable because they’re normally on the other side of the camera. (Laughter.)

Good afternoon. I’m delighted to be here with all of you today. I’m Judith McHale and I have the great privilege of introducing you to some great filmmakers. These are the winners of our Democracy Video Challenge, which is in its second or third year that we have done this, where we reach out to young filmmakers around the world and ask them to submit videos which illustrate how they think about – the contest is called Democracy Is… and so they interpret in film, in a two-minute film, what democracy means. And it’s absolutely extraordinary. The sort of versions and interpretations of this are really incredibly well done, but also very moving. We have – obviously, all of us have an enormous commitment to democracy and to see how these young filmmakers interpret that world, I invite you all to see it.

We’re also delighted to have some of our partners here with us today, without whom we could not have done it. And I’d also especially like to thank Lori Brutten from IIP, who has organized this, the sort of State Department genius behind this, and Dawn McCall, our new head of IIP, who have joined me here today.

But most importantly, I’m delighted to have our Secretary of State, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, with us today to say a few words about these great filmmakers. Secretary Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Judith. And this is an especially exciting day for us here to celebrate these young activist filmmakers who are using technology to make their voices heard and, by doing so, giving voice to so many millions of others, and the State Department’s partners who have made the Democracy Video Challenge not only possible, but amazingly successful.

So far, over 3.5 million people around the world have been reached by our growing Democracy is… campaign. This is an effort led by Judith and her entire team to engage youth in a global dialogue on democracy. And we are about to kick off the 3rd annual Democracy Video Challenge at the United Nations next week. So I am very eager to see what ideas this continues to generate.

The prompt for this challenge, as you know, is “Democracy is…” It’s open ended. It is meant to provoke thought and to spur ideas. It truly is a challenge that builds on the freedom that democracy provides for individuals to pursue their own dreams. Each of these young winners has captured six different visions of democracy – some satirical and lighthearted, some poignant and haunting – but each shaped by their own experiences and expressed through their own unique artistic lens.

Now, not all democracies look or behave exactly the same way. As our winner from Nepal said about his video – I hope you don’t mind me quoting you – (laughter) – “Democracy can exist in all countries and it doesn’t have a fixed shape or size.” But the fundamental tenets are non-negotiable. The videos we are honoring today capture essential truths about democracy across the world and respond to the deepest yearning of human beings to have a right to their own lives and their own dreams. Democracy is about fair play. Democracy equalizes the voices of people. And democracy is a learning process.

And so I said earlier this week at a speech I gave that democracy needs defending. And I think we have a very good cross-section of defenders standing here. Another one of our winners, whose beautiful video was inspired by the Green Movement in Iran, said, “I believe if I want democracy, I should fight for it! And this is my way of fighting.” And it gives me great hope to see what these young people are saying.

Now, here at the State Department, we talk a lot about the need to use 21st century diplomacy to solve 21st century problems. Well, this is the heart of that 21st century diplomacy – connecting directly to people, particularly young people, who Judith constantly reminds me – (laughter) – represents what percentage of the world’s population? (Laughter.)

UNDER SECRETARY MCHALE: Sixty-five percent are under the age of 30.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah. Boy, does that make me feel old, I gotta tell you. (Laughter.)
So this is about not only the next generation, it’s about this generation. I particularly want to welcome representatives of the countries of the winners who are here today, and thank you all for coming.

Now, Under Secretary McHale will come back to officially present the awards, which I think you will call the name and I will hand the award. Is that the way we will do it? So I will maybe come out around here, and as you call the name, if the winner will come up here, and then we can give the award. And I hope you all get pictures – that way? Is that okay? All right.

UNDER SECRETARY MCHALE: As Secretary Clinton has mentioned, these winners come from around the world, from each of the six different regions of the world, and they were voted on by people who were tuned into and watching constantly YouTube. So we also especially want to thank YouTube for helping us with this.
From Colombia, Juan Pablo PatiƱo. (Applause.)
From Ethiopia, Yared Shumete. (Applause.)
From Indonesia, Adhyatmika. (Applause.)
From Iran, Farbod Khoshtinat. (Applause.)
From Nepal, Anup Poudel. (Applause.)
And from Spain, Jual – I’m sorry, Joel Mardsen. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re very proud of these winners and we are looking to follow them with great interest. We hope that this not only confirms their own ideas, but actually serves to generate more from them and encourage others to join their ranks. So let’s give our award winners another round of applause. (Applause.)
And Judith, why don’t we invite some of our partners and perhaps you could introduce them as well.

LORI BRUTTEN: (Inaudible), Steve Grove, the director of YouTube Student Politics; Rick Cotton, Chief Counsel of NBC Universal; Kate Raftery from the – Vice President for Learning and Citizenship at the International Youth Foundation; Patti Pearson, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Director of Special Projects.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Great. (Applause.) Great. Thank you all very much.

# # #

Friday, September 10, 2010

Researchers give robots the capability for deceptive behavior

Farbod "Fred" Khoshtinat shakes hands with Hillary Clinton

U.S Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton quotes Farbod Khoshtinat 4min. into the video and presents the award to him at 6min 18sec into the video. Khoshtinat's ATTN: Mr. Democrat video is one of six winners in the Democracy Video Challenge.