Civil War in Iran? Let’s Hope It Doesn’t Go That Far.

Iranian supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi protest in Tehran, Iran
Iranian supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi protest in Tehran, Iran

The American media is doing a pretty crappy job at covering one of the biggest news stories of the past couple of weeks. Iran’s 2009 Presidential Election was held on June 12, 2009, and since then, all hell has broken loose in a country that has had its fair share of unrest over the past 50 years. In the past few days, tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Tehran, Iran’s capital. What set them off? I’m glad you asked. [Disclaimer: I am not a historian or researcher, and I know very little about Iranian politics. However, I’m going to give this my best shot.]

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mohsen Rezaee, Mehdi Karroubi
2009 Iran Presidential Election Candidates: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Mohsen Rezaee, Mehdi Karroubi

For just a little background context, the Presidential Election featured 4 nominees:

  • Incumbant: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Abadgaran Party)
  • Mir-Hossein Mousavi (Independent Reformist Party)
  • Mohsen Rezaee (Independent Conservative Party)
  • Mehdi Karroubi (Etemad-e-Melli Party)

On the night of June 12th, Iran’s official news agency, the Islamic Republic News Agency, announced that the incumbant, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had won by a count of 66% to 33% of the votes cast. The problem was that at the time, only 2/3 of the votes had been counted. To make matters even worse, the president of Iran’s election monitoring commission declared the results invalid. Then he called for a do-over (source).  Today, Time Magazine published an article with 5 reason’s to suspect Iran’s election results (link). Furthermore, many are asking the simple question: How do you count almost 40 million handwritten paper ballots in a matter of hours and declare a winner? More on that here.

Obviously, something is up. The Whitehouse is remaining relatively neutral about the whole thing, though President Obama has issued a short statement about the Iran Election and the violent protesting in Tehran (link, video):

Obama said of the Iranian demonstrators that “the world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was. We do believe the Iranian people and their voices should be heard.”

There is a ton of information out there, and I could go on with more and more coverage – because this thing is being broadcast on every major social network on the internet. Here are some of the links with fascinating, often troubling, updates of the events regarding the Presidential Election in Iran:

  •’s photo gallery of the protests in Tehran (link)
  • AP News/MyWay update: Iranian protester killed after opposition rally (link)
  • has the AP picture of the protester who was kill. NSFW & Disturbing (link)
  • Twitter streams break Iran news dam (link)
  • Andrew Sullivan’s Blog on the Atlantic (link)

Well, I hope to have more updates in the next few days. I hope the Iranian people can work this out without more deaths. Things like this do not typically end well for many people. The country seems to be split in half, and maybe it’s worse than that. If anything is certain, it’s that the people of Iran have a voice, and it will be heard. By the whole world.

Swedish Pirate Party Wins Seat at European Parliament

Sweden Pirate Party Flag Logo
Sweden Pirate Party Flag Logo

Most Americans are not too concerned with events in the European Parliament. There is not a ton of news coverage for the subject in America. However, today we can all learn something about working so that our voices are heard. Yesterday in the 2009 European Parliament Elections, the Swedish Pirate Party secured one (possibly 2) seats in the European Parliament (source):

With 99.9% of the districts counted the Pirates have 7.1 percent of the votes, beating several established parties. This means that the Pirate Party will get at least one, but most likely two of the 18 (+2) available seats Sweden has at the European Parliament.

Rick Falkvinge - Pirate Party Leader
Rick Falkvinge - Pirate Party Leader

Founded in 2006, the Pirate Party is a political party in Sweden led by Rick Falkvinge. It’s goals are primarily restricted to the reform of copyright laws and patent laws, though it’s Wiki page list the Pirate Party’s political ideology as “Freedom of Information, Privacy, Anarchism.” It is estimated that the Pirate Party got 200,000 votes, an extremely significant increase over the 2006 elections, where the party managed to get about 34,000 votes.

Yesterday, Mr. Falvinge was quoted as saying:

Together, we have today changed the landscape of European politics. No matter how this night ends, we have changed it. This feels wonderful. The citizens have understood it’s time to make a difference. The older politicians have taken apart young peoples’ lifestyle, bit by bit. We do not accept that the authorities’ mass-surveillance.

The Pirate Bay - Torrent Tracker Website
The Pirate Bay - Torrent Tracker Website

How did the Pirate Party grow so quickly. Within 2 years, they have become a huge political party in Sweden. Most recently, there was a huge increase in Pirate Party membership due to the guilty verdict levied in the Pirate Bay trial. After the verdict, membership in the Pirate Party more than tripled to 48,000 members. For those of you who do not know about The Pirate Bay, here is why they were charged (and also why a lot of people got pissed off about it):

The Pirate Bay “spectrial” has ended in a guilty verdict, prison sentences for the defendants, and a shared 30 million kronor ($3.5 million) fine. According to the Swedish district court, the operators of the site were guilty of assisting copyright infringement, even though The Pirate Bay hosted none of the files in question and even though other search engines like Google also provide direct access to illegal .torrent files.

A ‘guilty’ verdict for The Pirate Bay is probably the best thing that could have ever happened for the Pirate Party. It’s utterly ironic if you ask me. The Pirate Bay supporters just love the idea of free torrents. But don’t be fooled. The Los Angeles Times referred to the Pirate Bay as “one of the world’s largest facilitators of illegal downloading” and “the most visible member of a burgeoning international —or pro-piracy—movement” (source). But who can you really trust nowadays anyway? The Los Angeles Times? Everyone’s got an angle. Even not having an angle is an angle. (That’s me!)

Christian Engström, Vice Chairman of the Pirate Party
Christian Engström, Vice Chairman of the Pirate Party

Christian Engström, Vice Chairman of the Swedish Pirate Party, is the top candidate for one of the party’s seats in the European Parliament. When he arrived at the the celebration in Stockholm yesterday he said, “It’s great fun to be a pirate right now.” I’d have to agree with that. I wonder if they’ll make any dent in copyright and patent laws. I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out.