Iran will not submit a film for Academy Award consideration because of “an intolerable insult to the Prophet,” culture minister Muhammad Hosseini told INSA news.
The “insult” is the hideous piece of schlock filmmaking/BS propaganda The Innocence of Muslims which has provoked deaths, riots and unrest in the Middle East, as well as lawsuits in the United States. A court in Los Angeles denied an actress’ request to have Google remove the film from YouTube.
Citing the failure of Academy Awards organizers to take a position on the incendiary footage, Hosseini urged other Islamic countries to follow also boycott. Last year Iran won ran won its first Oscar in the best foreign language film category with Asghar Farhadi’s “A Separation.” According to Variety:
The country’s committee in charge of selecting Iran’s Oscar candidate had already picked helmer-scribe Reza Mirkarimi’s dramedy “A Cube of Sugar” — about a family wedding that turns into a funeral when a member of the groom’s family dies — for Oscar consideration.
By not submitting a film, Iran is kinda cutting off their nose to spite their face, as art and culture are often an ambassadors for goodwill which can open dialog (though obviously as seen by recent events, one asshole with a video camera and a computer can cause a world of pain).
Egypt and Libya may miss the deadline, which is October 1st, though Academy Award officials say the countries lack of entries is “probably not connected to political factors surrounding the Arab Spring.”
The Academy Awards ceremony, which airs February 24, is televised live in over 100 countries. So far no Muslim countries have stated they will block the ceremony’s broadcast.
Four senior diplomats and military intelligence officers say that the United States has concluded that Israel has recently been granted access to airbases on Iran’s northern border. To do what, exactly, is not clear. “The Israelis have bought an airfield,” a senior administration official told me in early February, “and the airfield is called Azerbaijan.”
The report of Israel using airbases in Azerbaijan for war planes is discounted by Israel’s Haaretz, citing a number of logistical issues that make the use of the Azeri airfields impractical as launching grounds for F-15 fighter planes:
[T]hey fail to address the problem of where the Israeli warplanes can fly to once they have refueled in Azerbaijan. There is no friendly route to fly back to Israel, except over Iranian or Turkish territory, hardly appealing alternatives once an attack has already been carried out and both countries will be on highest alert…
Since landing in Azerbaijan after a strike on Iran would almost certainly mean that returning these valuable aircraft to Israel would be a lengthy and complicated process, especially at a time when the IAF [Israeli Air Force] would certainly need them for additional missions, this doesn’t seem to make sense. Other uses proposed in the FP feature, using Azeri fields just in the case of emergency landings or using them to base search-and-rescue helicopters or reconnaissance drones, makes more sense.
As part of the European Broadcasting Union, Israel is a participant in Eurovision, despite the contest’s May 26 final falling on Shavuot, an Israeli holiday, which commemorates God giving the Torah to the Jews. (Shavuot is celebrated seven weeks after the second day of Passover). Israel’s entry Izabo will perform on the May 22 semi-final.
Now in its 57th year, Eurovision is held among the active member countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) or members of the Council of Europe. Each member country submits a song which is voted on by other countries, and the winner hosts the next year’s contest, providing a chance to promote their nation. Eurovision is such a huge deal that in 2005, host country the Ukraine waived their visa requirements for the summer. This year, 75-year old Englebert Humperdink will be representing for the UK, and Russia has a team of grannies from Urals performing their entry. Sadly this year Armenia withdrew from the competition over tension with Azerbiajan stemming from the 1990s war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh which killed over 25,000.
Regarding the mounting Israeli/Iranian tension, Haaretz adds:
Meanwhile, it may turn out that the only Israeli attack through Azerbaijan this year will be psychedelic punk-rock band Izabo since according to Haaretz’s senior columnist, Amir Oren, Tuesday night’s announcement that the U.S. Defense Department would be seeking funding for further development of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, was a signal that there would be no Israeli strike on Iran this year.
But if for some reason Izabo cancels, duck and cover.
Sources close to actor Sean Penn confirmed that the actor played a huge part in the release of hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer from an Iranian prison where they had been held for over two years. The duo, along with friend Sarah Shourd, were captured by Iranian troops and charged with espionage when they got lost hiking along the Iraq-Iran border.
Penn is close friends with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Reuters reported
Chavez urged his ally, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to release the hikers after the South American leader was lobbied by pals in U.S. “intellectual circles.
Fattal and Bauer were released on $500,000 “bail” each after eight-year sentences were delivered in August, 2011.
Shourd’s bail was the same, but she did not go to trial and was released in 2010 on humanitarian grounds.
To the Syrian people: The world stands with you against the brutal regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Know that time and history are on your side – tyrants use violence because they have nothing else, and the more violent they are, the more fragile they become. We salute your determination to be non-violent in the face of the regime’s brutality, and admire your willingness to pursue justice, not mere revenge. All tyrants will fall, and thanks to your bravery Bashar Al-Assad is next.
To the Syrian military: You are responsible for protecting the Syrian people, and anyone who orders you to kill women, children, and the elderly deserves to be tried for treason. No outside enemy could do as much damage to Syria as Bashar Al-Assad has done. Defend your country – rise up against the regime! – Anonymous
The hack falls in the middle of Ramadan. It was up from at least 9:30 pm west coast time and is still up at press time. UPDATE: By 12:30 am west coast time, the Syrian government’s site was not responding, either because of high traffic or because the government had pulled it down.
The logo of a torso with a question mark instead of head explicates the idea that Anonymous is a headless (dis)organization; there is no leader, as well as reference the Sixties motto “Question Authority.” Anonymous came out of the 4Chan pages, a NSFW image sharing site, and began their activism staging global masked protests against Scientology and that organization’s abuses of civil rights. Since the success of that campaign, the WhyWeProtest.net aspect of Anonymous has expanded to embrace the uprisings in Iran and fight against censorship and for free exchange of information. Many also take issue with what they see as oppressive copyright restrictions.
Anonymous hacks in support of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange included taking over the non-transactional pages of MasterCard, Visa and PayPal to protest the institutions’ refusal to process payments designated for Assange’s defense. The Swedish government website was defaced this year by Anonymous in support of Assange. Other government sites including those of Maylasia, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, and Egypt have also been attacked. And the Westboro Baptist Church was hacked. Basically a bunch of people in an IRC chat room will discover they have an affinity on certain issues, recruit some other like-minded folks and go do something. The internet–with the right tools–allows anyone to be anonymous/Anonymous.
We are doing this in solidarity with Topiary and the Anonymous PayPal LOIC defendants as well as all other political prisoners who are facing the gun of the crooked court system.
The Syrian hack–which follows the hacks of other repressive states in the Middle East–is a major move for a branch/few people/many (?) Anonymous, showing they mean srs bsns when it comes to freedom and democracy, and that for this bunch, their hacktivies are focused on more that just teh lulz. Other Anonymous activities include supporting the current large scale demonstrations in Israel and Chile, and encouraging voting in Argentina’s elections last week.
(for a good, in depth look at Anonymous, check out this edition of The Stream from late June of this year. The Anonymous segment begins at 22:48 and includes a live interview with an Anon who explains the Anonymous philosophy and the hows and whys of Anonymous political involvement, as a well as discussion about new forms of democracy evolving out of social media and cyberspace.)