6/19 Roundup: Iranians Speak, Balking and Scouring, Fly Execution

Ayatollah Ali KhameneiLeader: Iranians Speak

- Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, spoke out Friday for the first time since the elections a week ago. He praised the election as "an epic moment that became a historic moment," and warned the protesters to stay off the streets.  He alleged that a gap of 11 million votes between Ahmadinejad and Moussavi was too big a gap to have been falsified, and accused "Zionist media" and "Western powers" for casting doubt on the election. 

- After days of looking to appease the protestors by offering a recount, the Ayatollah appears to have given up hope that these protests will play themselves out and wind down to his advantage.  This announcement is a clear step up in the ongoing power struggle. It's hard to imagine the protesters will quietly acquiesce and stay indoors, so it seems the government will have little choice but to crack down harder.  How can this play out but with further escalation?

- The NY Times looks at the vigilantes who are known as Basijis, and have been roaming the streets in Iran after dark, intimidating, beating up, and sometimes killing protestors they followed during the day.

- in the FT, Philip Stevens looks at the divide between the realists and the idealists-- a battle that has raged on our blog, as well.

- Moussavi's external spokesman, based in Paris, gave an interview with FP.  Of course, he insists he would rather hear President Obama issue full-throated support of Moussavi, though I suspect he's just playing politics, as I'm confident he realizes, as I suggested the other day, that any U.S. government support of Moussavi would backfire and be used as fodder against him by Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah.

- The NY Times published an op-ed by an anonymous student in Iran who insists that Americans have a three-decades-old conception of his country.

- Spencer Ackerman got an interview with one of the leaders of the protests in Iran.

- Nico Pitney continues his excellent liveblogging over at HuffPo.  He's got a number of excellent videos and photos up, and is currently watching the fallout from the Ayatollah's remarks.


- The NY Times runs an editorial arguing that now is the time for immigration reform, and I think they've been reading our stuff:

The American people have been far out front of the politicians on this issue, overwhelmingly supporting comprehensive reform. Washington can still catch up. There’s still time. And the country is waiting.

- The Obama Administration wanted to push healthcare reform through the legislative process quickly, but it hit some pretty big bumps this week, as congress has balked at the cost. Dems are scouring the bill for ways to cut its costs, but finding the money will be a challenge, regardless.


- President Obama's plan to tighten the regulations on our banking system would have a new role for the Fed.  And our Congress is a little wary of the Fed's expanding role.

- Paul Krugman responds to the proposed rules, saying that yes, they do close some big holes, but there's still more to do:

I’m aware of the political realities: getting financial reform through Congress won’t be easy. And even as it stands the Obama plan would be a lot better than nothing. 

But to live up to its own analysis, the Obama administration needs to come down harder on the rating agencies and, even more important, get much more specific about reforming the way bankers are paid.


- The Global Post reports on sex workers in Chennai, India, learning Kung Fu and other martial arts for self-defense.

- A car bomb went off near Bilbao, and the Spanish government is blaming Basque separatists.

New From NDN

- Mike Hais comes out with his second weekly post on polling, and finds that Democrats are much more popular than we give them credit for.

- Simon stays on Iran, pulling quotes from some of the best pieces of recent days, and pointing you toward our work on all this.

One More Thing

- I assume you've seen the sweet video of President Obama killing an irritating a fly in the middle of an interview with ninja-like swatting skills. Well, PETA came out against the President's action, calling it an "execution."  This is why nobody takes you seriously, PETA.

- Last, I don't know how you feel about Henry Kissinger, but it's always good when people think you're doing a good job, right?: