FROM ENDURING AMERICA
1. Ahmadinejad Watch. Etedaal has joined Jam-e Jam and Alef in reporting that President Ahmadinejad has been summoned to Parliament for questioning next Tuesday.
2. Ayatollah Gholamali Bushehri, the Supreme Leader's representative in Bushehr has said that the Islamic Republic's elections are the "healthiest in the world".
3. Why did the head of the Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Reza Jafari, meet ayatollahs in Qom on Thursday? Were the talks concerned with "promoting the scientific level of universities run by the IRGC", as Mehr reports? Or is it possible that the military commander and the clerics were discussing an alliance behind the Supreme Leader for the March elections?
4. A correspondent gives us the highlights of today's Friday Prayer, delivered by Hojatoleslam Kazem Siddighi: "Iraqis celebrated the withdrawal of Americans and should keep unity." Press TV adds this line: “To take revenge on Iraqis for their joy over the withdrawal of the occupying [American] forces, the US commissioned consecutive bombings and killings in Iraq in order to [also] convey that the Americans were the source of peace in the country and that their withdrawal created instability."
5. Speaking of past and future elections, Sedighi said that although the "sedition" claiming fraud in the 2009 Presidential vote had failed, it would be attempted again. No matter: "people will defend free elections against the enemy".
6. Radio Free Europe features the statement by the Mothers of Mourning, the women who gathered in Laleh Park after the 2009 election to protest killings, abuses, and detentions.
Asking the question, "Who Really Endangers National Security, Mothers or Rulers?", the group identifies seven members and supporters who have been sentenced to prison in recent months.
( FG ASKS: Didn't we hear almost the same words just before the big time rigging of the 2009 election as a kind of pre-warning to the people "not to protest when we steal this one)."
1. Etedaal writes that, in reaction to the currency crisis, hoarding of goods has started. Retailers are complaining about not receiving goods, from batteries to paper, from wholesalers; food production has stopped in place because of a cardboard shortage.
2. Mehr reports that, after subsidy cuts, doctors have turned to selling mobile phones and driving taxis to make ends meet.
3. Meanwhile, the website reports, the Government is subsidising luxury car importers indirectly with 262 billion Toman (about $165 million) amidst the currency crisis.
4. There will be a respite in the currency crisis today --- foreign exchanges are closed for the Iranian weekend. The posted rate of the Rial v. the US dollar is 15980:1. The Iranian currency is still sharply lower than last month but, for the moment, it is not touching Monday's low point of 17800:1.
However, there is unlikely to be a let-up of pressure on the regime. This week has seen an escalation of the US-led strategy to squeeze Iran's economy through sanctions
FROM THE GUARDIAN
Syria defector describes how Assad uses well-paid "monsters"
(Hasn't Khamenei done the same in Iran with his plainclothes thugs and his earlier death squads? Did IRI security advisors suggest some of these tactics?)
Mahmoud al-Haj Hamad was a financial inspector in the Ministry of Defense in Damascus until his recent defection to Egypt. In an interview with CNN this week, he provided a firsthand account of the wheels of repression at work, as seen from his former 12th-floor office.
"I used to see them bringing in blindfolded and handcuffed detainees on buses who are kept in underground prisons, even some built under the streets," he said. During protests in the streets of Damascus, city buses filled with armed gangs left the ministry, flanked by four-wheel-drive vehicles "filled with weapons," Hamad said.....
...intelligence vans marked with the Syrian Red Crescent insignia that would drive through the protests as ambulances and start firing at protesters..."
He blames much of the carnage not Syrian regular troops but on President Bashar al-Assad's intelligence service and the armed gangs he says were recruited to battle protesters.
He said the gunmen were provided with accommodations "and high salaries of about $100 a day." But the nearly 10-month-old crackdown in Syria has cost the government so much that it has had to cut funding for other government ministries by 30%, Hamad said.
Hamad said he supported the revolution from the start, as did many of his colleagues. He said he would even disguise himself to join the demonstrators sometimes.
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