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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Spring 2015

Spring 2015

For years, we believed in the Dream. We still do. The dream doesn't deal with reactionary policies or injustice. It deals with the principle that we need an egalitarian society where the means of production are controlled by the masses of the people not by the select, upper class. It is about establishing justice for all not for some. In the course of our lives, we have intrepidly witnessed historic political changes, and other controversies. Yet, we are still here. Regardless of the times in which we live, we are going to continue to advocate economic justice, an end to imperialism, and in equality for all of humanity. We're not afraid of the opposition. Despite Ted Cruz's extremist, reactionary words, we will believe in love not discrimination. Despite John Bolton's extremist, reckless calls for a military strike against Iran, we will adhere to progressive negotiations and peace. It is barbarous to assume that a military strike against Iran will somehow solve the nuclear crisis. Therefore, the battle for justice is not over, but we struggle onward for justice in order for us to win the total war during the future. We will continue to execute relentless, steadfast determination as a means for us to make America and the world better. The truth is on our side.

Recently, four elementary school teachers, two principals, and five administrators in Atlanta, Georgia were convicted. They were convicted on state racketeering charges for inflating the results on standardized tests taken by public schools students. These educators made mistakes, but even they didn’t deserve to face 20 years or more in prison. That is blatantly excessive. This whole scandal has been exploited by the forces of reaction to vilify teachers and end the public education system in America as we know it. The educators were charged under the state’s RICO Act. RICO stands for Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. The Fulton County prosecutor wanted the teachers to be convicted. The investigation by the Georgia governor’s office in 2009 found that a “culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation infested the district,” led by then-Superintendent Beverly Hall, with teachers facing humiliation, demotion and firing if they did not meet student achievement targets. There was an unprecedented seven year probe by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The defense attorney for the elementary school teacher Dessa Curb sad that the investigation was like a “Salem witchcraft mentality.” Dessa Curb has been acquitted of all charges. The trial lasted for seven months. The pages of the defendants were shown across websites and in the pages of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Some of the educators made plea deals and some didn’t. Doctoring test scores is evil, but we can’t omit how this situation came about. This situation came about by the “teacher accountability” schemes being promoted by big business parties to scapegoat all teachers. There have been decades of budget cutting, teacher layoffs, and the growth of poverty. Even the best of teachers will have difficulty in these circumstances. These neoliberal policies has been promoted by excessive standardized testing via President George W. Bush’s 2001 “No Child Left Behind Act” (the late Democrat Edward Kennedy co-authored the plan) and the Obama’s Race to the Top programs (it rewards teachers with pay and jobs based on performance while closing of schools continue with charter schools in its place). Teachers need smaller class sizes, more supplies, job security, and modern technology. We have an educational system that favors the wealthy (with money to buy the best school system on Earth) and the poor lacking in total educational resources. Resources are lax in the poor communities and these resources are providing tax breaks and business opportunities for the super-rich. These include the billionaire oligarchs Eli Broad and Bill Gates, the Pearson textbook and testing empire, and other corporations seeking to cash in on the $1.3 trillion “education market.” The White House and the Educational Secretary Arne Duncan (who made disrespectful comments about the Katrina event) oversaw the closing of more than 4,000 schools. Wall Street criminals are not readily prosecuted or jailed. The U.S. capitalist economy is based on racketeering and conspiracy against the people. We know that the Wall Street banks, credit rating agencies, federal regulators, news media and politicians from both big business parties conspired to cover up the financial criminality that led to the 2008 economic crash. While millions lost their homes, jobs and savings, the financial aristocracy was not only held accountable; it was made richer than ever. The U.S. government launch wars based on lies, invades countries, and form regime change in violation of international law. The military industrial complex engages in torture and no one is held accountable. The White House has used drones to assassinate anyone it wants. The American domestic spying network has illegally violated human civil liberties. Whistleblowers are in jail or are in risk of jail for exposing these unconstitutional crimes. We have militarized police and protesters being slandered by reactionaries. Also, I will make another point. The history of the FBI and the CIA has been filled with torture, terrorism, murder, illegal spying of the heroic Black Panther Party members and other social movements, and other nefarious deeds. Therefore, we should not ally with the FBI and we should not ally with the CIA (who had done massive evils overseas and funded coups against democratically elected governments internationally).

We have racism and classism. Things must change.


Iran is in the center of debates and discussions on Middle Eastern policies. Some extremists want to attack Iran while others want real justice to transpire in the Middle East. First, it is important to understand its very long history. Iran is a nation in Western Asia. Iran has been called Persia too. It is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkmenistan Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan. Iran now has about 78.4 million human beings making it the 17th most populous nation in the world. Many languages are spoken there from Persian, Kurdish, and to Turkmen. Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Zoroastrians, Christians, followers of Judaism, and followers of other creeds exist in Iran. During the Middle Paleolithic era, there have been artifacts found in Kashafrud and Ganj Par sites.  There were Neanderthal people (who are not modern human beings) found in Iran as well. The Neolithic age found more human beings creating settlements like Chogha Bonut (which was the earliest village in Susian) in 8,000 B.C. Settlements grew in and around the Zagros Mountains region of Western Iran. During that time, we see clay vessels and modeled human and animal terracotta figurines produced in Ganj Dareh (or in western Iran).

The southwestern part of Iran was part of the Fertile Crescent civilizations. Susa was a settlement created in ca. 4,400 B.C. Settlements like Chogha Mish date back to 6,800 B.C. There have been the ruins of 7,000 year old settlements like Sialk. Susa was the extension of the Sumerian city state of Uruk. Later, Susa was the capital of Elam, which came as a state in 4,000 B.C. Elam was an ancient pre-Iranic civilization. Elam had ziggurats or large Temples and other components of civilization. At times, Elam has a matriarchal society. Mesopotamia and Iran traded with each other in early urbanization during the Chalcolithic period or the Cooper Age. Elamites called themselves Haltimti. Their language was not Indo-European, not Sumerian, and not Semitic. Later, there were the rise of the Medes, the Persians, and the Parthians. The Elamite supremacy in Iran ended with the Assyrian King Ashurbanipal sacking Susa in 646 B.C. There were a lot of Median people in Iran during this time. For over 150 years Assyrian kings of nearby Northern Mesopotamia were seeking to conquer Median tribes of Western Iran. Under pressure from the Assyrian empire, the small kingdoms of the western Iranian plateau coalesced into increasingly larger and more centralized states. The Median tribes united and fought for their independence. They were united by a person named Deioces.  In 612 B.C., Cyaxares the Great or Deioces' grandson, and the Babylonian king Nabopolassar invaded Assyria. They laid siege to and eventually destroyed Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, which led to the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The Medes established a foundation of Iran as a nation and as an Empire. They formed the first ancient Iranian Empire. Later, Cyrus the Great established an unified Empire of the Medes and the Persians. This caused the establishment of the Achaemenian Empire, which existed form 550 B.C. to 330 B.C.

So, Cyrus the Great overthrew the Median Empire, the Lydian Empire, and the Neo-Babylonian Empire. This new Empire stretched from Turkey to near India. It was much larger than the Assyrian Empire. Cyrus allowed long roads and a strong governmental infrastructure. He reconciled his subjects to Persian rule and issues more progressive policies. Cyrus allowed the Jewish people in exile (in Babylonia) to return to Israel. This was when the Hebrews constructed the Second Temple. Cyrus's son, Cambyses II, conquered the last major power of the region, Ancient Egypt, causing the collapse of the ancient Egyptian Dynasty XXVI. Since he became ill and died before, or while, leaving Egypt, stories developed, as related by Herodotus, that he was struck down for impiety against the Egyptian pantheon. Be that as it may, it led to a succession crisis. The winner, Darius I of Persia, based his claim on membership in a collateral line of the Achaemenid Dynasty. Darius at first allowed Susa to be his capital. Then, he started to a building program at Persepolis (that city would be the new capital of the Achaemenid Empire). Darius also rebuilt a canal between the Nile and the Red Sea, which was a forerunner of the modern Suez Canal. His road system from Sardis (in Turkey) to Susa had stations at intervals too. He organized coinage with the daric (or gold coin) and the shekel (or silver coin). The Persian Empire was the largest empire in the world during that time.

What is Zoroastrianism? Zoroastrianism is a religion which was founded by ancient times by the prophet Zarathustra. The Greeks called him Zoroaster. It was the dominate religion of the Persian empires too. It has spread worldwide since 559 B.C. Many followers of Zoroastrianism said that the prophet Zarathustra was the son of Pourushaspa, of the Spitaman family. The 17 hymns called the Gathas talk about this person too. In the religion, it teaches that Zoroaster taught humanity message from God. The Supreme Being in the religion is called Ahura Mazda. That phrase means “Wise Lord” Ahura Mazda is all good and created the world and all good things including people. He is opposed by Anghra Mainyu meaning “Destructive Spirit.” This being is evil and he created evil things. So, there is the cosmic battle between good and evil. This battle will result in the destruction of all evil. Some believe that the religion came about in ca. 1200 B.C. Zoroaster is said to lived and preached in the Inner Asian steppes. Zarathushtra received his revelations directly from Ahura Mazda, and from his Archangels (Amesha Spentas). The central scripture in Zoroastrianism is called the Avesta. The Gathas are the most sacred sections of the Avesta. There are other sacred literature like the Pahlavi Texts, which contain extensive quotations and paraphrases from lost Avesta texts. There are communal festival and rituals including prayers found in the religion. They hold fire as the symbol of “Asha” or the “original light of God.” Prayer is done in front of a fire. Their scriptures promote charity, education, honesty (or telling the truth), and other concepts. There are thousands of followers of Zoroastrians worldwide.

It tried to promote tolerance and respect for other cultures and religions. This changed with the advent of the Greco-Persian Wars. In 499 BC, Athens lent support to a revolt in Miletus which resulted in the sacking of Sardis. This led to an Achaemenid campaign against Greece known as the Greco-Persian Wars which lasted the first half of the 5th century BC. During the Greco-Persian wars, Persia made some major advantages and razed Athens in 480 BC, but after a string of Greek victories the Persians were forced to withdraw while losing control of Macedonia, Thrace and Ionia. The peace of Callias temporarily ended fighting by 449 B.C. Later, Darius II died in 404 B.C. Son, Egypt rebelled under Amyrtaeus.  Later Egyptian Pharaohs successfully resisted Persian attempts to reconquer Egypt until 343 BC when Egypt was reconquered by Artaxerxes III. Alexander the Great rose up to not only unify Macedonia and Greece. He traveled all over Europe, Africa, and Asia to establish a huge empire and he defeated the Persians. He defeated Darius II in the battles of Granicus, Issus and Gaugamela, swiftly conquering the Persian Empire by 331 BC. The Zoroastrians call him Arda Wiraz Namag or the accursed Alexander. Alexander the Great's empire stretched as far east as India.
Alexander the Great died in 331 B.C. So, his empire was split among his generals. General Seleucus I Nicator tried to take control of Persia and later Mesopotamia, Syria, and Asia Minor. The ruling family of Seleucus became the Seleucid Dynasty. Seleucus was killed in 281 B.C. by Ptolemy Keraunos. In Iran, Greek language, philosophy, and art came with the colonists.

This period was the Hellenistic age. The Hellenistic culture was a combination of Greek and Asian cultures. During the Seleucid Dynasty throughout Alexander's former empire, Greek became the common tongue of diplomacy and literature. Massive trade and cultural exchanges existed too. Buddhism came into Iran from India. Zoroastrianism from Iran came to influence Judaism. There have been statues of the Buddha in classical Greek styles in Persia and Afghanistan. Greco-Buddhism existed too. The Parthian Empire existed by 248 B.C. This existed during the Arsacid dynasty that reunited and governed the Iranian plateau after conquering Parthia (and defeating the Greek Seleucid Empire). The Parthian Empire expanded into Eastern Arabia and Mesopotamia later on. Parthia was the Eastern arch enemy of the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire never reached into Iran, because of the Parthian Empire (who had a heavily armed and armored cataphracts and lightly armed but highly mobilized mounted archers). The Romans couldn’t conquer them and vice versa. The last Parthian King was defeated by the new Sasanian Empire. It existed in 224 A.D. and lasted until 651 A.D. The first shah of the empire was Ardashir I. He reformed the nation economically and militarily. It was a huge empire that ruled from Egypt to Central Asia in its peak. They defeated the Romans in the Battle of Edessa in 260 A.D. and took the Roman Empire Valerian prisoner for the rest of his life. The Sasanians fought the Romano-Byzantine armies in Mesopotamia, Armenia, and Levant. Justinian I (of the Byzantine Empire) made an uneasy peace with payment of tribute to the Sassanians. The Roman-Persian wars exhausted the Persians. Then, Islam came about in ca. 632 A.D. The Muslims grew their Empire rapidly. They defeated the Iranians at the Battle of al-Qâdisiyah (in 632 A.D.) in Hilla, (present day Iraq) to the invading forces of Islam. The Sassanian civilization had a strong culture and influenced European and Asiatic medieval art. Even Muslims were influenced by the Sassanian Persians. Iranian King Yazdegerd III was defeated by Islamic forces. The Umayyad Caliphate dominated Iran and the Saffarid Dynasty existed. Several dynasties existed and then Iran was controlled by the Mongol Empire. The Safavid Empire set the stage for Iran to be mostly Shia Muslim. By the 20th century, the nation of Iran would be changed forever.

The Qajar Dynasty ended and there was the Constitutional Revolution of Iran against the Shah. This happened during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Shah remained in power and granted a limited constitution in 1906. This caused Iran to be a constitutional monarchy. The first Majils or Parliament was convened on October 7, 1906. In 1908, petroleum was discovered by the British in Khuzestan. This changed the game as the British had a renewed interest in Persia. The British wanted Iranian resources. Iran was a bridge between Russia and the UK. So, the Anglo-Russia Convention was created in 1907. It divided Persia into spheres of influence regardless of her national sovereignty. This action never had the input of the Iranian people. In WWI, Iran was occupied by the British. Ottoman and Russian forces didn’t occupy Iran. The Russian Revolution came and Britain failed to make Iran a protectorate. The Pahlavi dynasty came in 1925. Reza Shah Pahlavi took over. There was a coup against the Constitutional government. In 1925, after being prime minister for a couple of years, Reza Shah became the king of Iran and established the Pahlavi dynasty. This dynasty lasted until 1979. Reza Shah Pahlavi ruled until 1946 when he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran. Reza Shah was anti-communism, nationalist, authorization, militarist, secularist, and has strict censorship .He promoted state propaganda. Reza introduced some socio economic reforms and reorganized the military including the Iranian government. Many of his policies harmed the civil liberties of Muslims. Muslims were not allowed to west Muslim clothing, women were encouraged to not wear the hijab. Tensions boiled over in 1935, when bazaaris and villagers rose up in rebellion at the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, chanting slogans such as 'The Shah is a new Yezid.' Dozens were killed and hundreds were injured when troops finally quelled the unrest. During WWII, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi met with FDR at the Tehran Conference in 1943 (which dealt with Iran in the post-war future. Soviet oil concessions were promised then revoked). The Allied forces invaded Iran to get Iranian oil fields, so those fields can supply Allied forces (who were fighting the Axis powers). Iran was officially neutral during WWII, but Reza Shah was deposed since the Allies believed that he was friendly toward the Axis Powers. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi took his place and he ruled Iran until 1979. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi or the Shah was a dictator. At first, he allowed the parliament to have great power. Later, he became corrupt. In 1951 Prime Minister Mohammed received the vote required from the parliament to nationalize the British-owned oil industry, in a situation known as the Abadan Crisis. Despite British pressure, including an economic blockade, the nationalization continued. Mossadeq was removed by CIA and MI6 backed forces in the Operation Ajax and Operation Boot actions. The Western backed Iranian military general Fazlollah Zahedi removed Mosaddeq in power via the coup.

Mossadeq was sent to house arrest until the rest of his life. He died in 1967. The Shah’s SAVAK police force brutalized the Iranians further. The Iranian Revolution was started in 1978 when students used demonstrations. Iran created the theocratic constitution and Ayatollah Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country in December 1979. The Shah was left in exile. Strikes and demonstrations paralyzed Iran. On February 1, 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran to a greeting of several million Iranians. On April 1, 1979, after much fighting, Iran became an Islamic Republic. Most Iranians supported this new era. This revolution was part of the Shia revolution that still is strong today. It had populist overtones. Islamic jurists govern the land. Khomeini would be the supreme leader as a jurist until his death in 1989. The hostage crisis would go on. Iran would fight Iraq in a brutal war. Khamenei became the leader of Iran for a while. The famous reformist President of Iran of Iran from 1997 to 2005 was Mohammad Khatami. To this day, there have been debates in Iran between the reformists and the more conservative wing of Iranian leadership. The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was once a mayor of Tehran. Iran continues to support Shia interests in Iraq, Yemen, and all over the Middle East. In 2009 reelection was hotly disputed and marred by large protests that formed the "greatest domestic challenge" to the leadership of the Islamic Republic "in 30 years". By June 15, 2013, Hassan Rouhai won the Presidential election in Iran. Today, we see negotiation for a nuclear deal between the West and Iran.

By Timothy

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