Archive for the 'Society' Category

Chinese Opium Wars and American Cigarettes Boom in Iran

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

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In late years of Shah regime or maybe early years after his fall, I watched a Western made movie on Iranian TV which I have not forgotten its plot after two decades. I recall it had a part about “Chinese Opium Wars” when British were distributing free opium in Hong Kong harbor in order to destroy that nation among other things. I do not recall the movie title but it was made before 1985. It had a comedy-drama theme where someone with Chinese root and western education was trying to empower those demoralized people who were living in a corrupt society. (Please let us know if you know what movie that was.) 

Aside from that nostalgic movie, the historical documents show that in1839 Lin Zexu, a Chinese scholar and official during the Qing Dynasty pleaded with Queen Victoria of Britain to stop the opium traffic to China, and warned: “Your Majesty has not before been thus officially notified, and you may plead ignorance of the severity of our laws. But I now give my assurance that we mean to cut this harmful drug forever”. To ensure its immoral materialistic interests, British went to war with China and imposed many unjust treaties on that weak empire. Following the British, France , the USA, minor European states, and even Russia forced their own favorite treaties to the addicted and demoralized nation of China for decades to come. To find out more about “Chinese Opium Wars” see the following sources:


Opium Wars and Unequal Treaties 

WikiPedia Encyclopedia on “The Opium Wars


The Opium War (Yapian Zhanzheng)“, Chinese, 1997 

Tai Pan” directed by Daryl Duke in 1986 


The Opium Wars: The Addiction of One Empire and the Corruption of Another  by W. Travis Hanes, 1860.

Last night, I was reading a BBC report about American 2005 export to Iran which in brief was saying that: “In 2005, at least half of about 100 million dollar American export to Iran has been cigaretts which makes Iran the third largest exporter of the American cigaretts in the world!”. This a very sad and and shocking news by itself but would enraging if you know the following facts:

- The smoking rate has decreased by about %20 in the US while it has been increasing in the Iran.

- Iranian government officially imports many brands of American Cigarettes including Winston and Kent. These cigarettes are exclusively packed for Iran and bear the official seal of Iran. 

- The price a pack of say Winston cigarette in Iran is about 1/4 of its price in US.

- Teenagers can easily buy cigarettes in Iran from any corner including the street sellers. In the US, on the contrary, cigarettes are only sold by authorized shops and are under lock. The minimum age for buying cigarettes in the US  is currently 18 which is in the process being raised to 21 soon. These regulations are strongly enforced in the US and violators are severely prosecuted.

- These days smoking is considered something very bad by the society at large. Furthermore, it is against the law to smoke in public places including restaurants and the law is fully observed and enforced in the US.

- The warnings labels regarding the dangers of smoking is more pronounced on cigarette packages in the US than in Iran.

Smoking is the first stage of drug abuse and addiction. It has become much more expensive and difficult for a teenager to smoke in the US and as a result the smoking rate in general and especially among youth is steadily decreasing.

 In summary, it is mind boggling to know that in this time and age, the authorities in Iran are getting international rankings for spending the financial reserves of  the nation for importing for such serious health hazards and addicting materials from the US while the Chinese empire went to war with British to avoid dumping of their free opium on their people.

Let me know end this story on a high note by giving a personal story. My father has been smoking since he was 10 years old but he decided to quit over a year ago when he was 84 years old and he has been smoke-free since then. It is admirable act which shows if there is a will there will be a way. Congratulations Dad. You have done a great job and we are all proud of you!

Smoking was forbidden on Shirin Science Center premises since it was established about 7 years ago. Two years ago, a group of Shirin Science Center members started an initiative in Fasa which resulted in banning smoking in taxis which was very common before then. Last year, when I entered a car to take me from Fasa to Shiraz, I bluntly asked a smoking passenger to extinguish his cigarette. He did it immediately and apologized for it. Smoking is unwise to say the least. So if you come across a smoking person take a firm stand at least for your own health. They might not like it now but sometime they will be greatful for what you have done for them. 

If you come across any of the Iranian representatives, remind them that the 10-20 percent increase in the price of cigarrettes in coming year is rediculous considering the the international experience. Tell them that you expect them to show their sincerity by immediately increasing the price of cigarettes many folds and use all of the revenu for establishing centers to advance science, technology, art, and culture among the young generation.

By: Dr. Ali Taalebinezhaad

March 2007

Happy Chahar-Shanbe Souri!

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007


Chahar-Shanbe Souri is an old Iranian tradition which is celebrated on the last Tuesday night of the Persian year. For details see:

Try to save a young man from execution!

Friday, March 9th, 2007


Executing a young man who at the age of 17 had tried to defend his life against unprovoked attack is against many human and social principles. You can try to save the life of this young man from Fasa simply by signing  the petition in this link:

Please see an appeal from his brother at:


Save Reza Alinejad from death. His execution is set for next month.

Friday, March 9th, 2007


Dear Friends,

I am Meghdad Alinejad from Fasa, Iran. My brother Reza has been in prison for past 5 years and is now facing imminent execution for a killing his attacker  in self-defence when he was 17 years old.

This is the story: When Reza and his friend were on their way to home, two men started harassing them with profanities. Then one of them started to attack Reza with Nunchaku (a Japanese weapon used in marshal arts). Attackers then surrounded Reza so he couldn’t escape and injured him by a blow to his head. While Reza was defending himself from attackers one of them was stabed and killed.
Witnesses have testified that Reza was defencing himself.
The second attacker has testified that they (the attackers) started to attack Reza and his friend by Nunchaku and Reza was only defencing himself.

My brother needs your help. Please do whatever you can to save his life soon because his execution is scheduled to go ahead in one month.

Here are what you can do:

1. Sign this electronic petition :

2. Please write a letter to Iranian head of Judiciary Ayatollah Shahroudi asking for a stay of execution and a fair re-trial.

Head of the Judiciary,
His Excellency Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Justice Ministry BLDG. - Panzdah-Khordad (ARK) Sq.
Tehran, Iran
Phone: 98 (21) 391-1109
Fax:     98 (21) 390-4986
           (In the email subject line write: URGENT LETTER TO AYATOLLAH HASHEMI SHAHROUDI )
Note: The fields are written in Persian. The first line is for your Name, 2nd your email, and the 3rd field is the subject which should read ‘URGENT LETTER TO AYATOLLAH HASHEMI SHAHROUDI’ and 4th field is for your comments)

For more information please see:




Breading giant rabbits for food in North Korea

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

Karl Szmolinsky of Germany has been bredaing rabbits since 1964. His favorite breed, German gray giants, weighing as much as 23 pounds and so fat they can barely hop.

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The North Koreans approached Szmolinsky in November 2006 and asked whether he’d advise them on how to start a rabbit breeding program to help “feed the population.” He accepted and took some of his giant rabbits to North Korea to start a breading program for them, apparently in an attempt to ease the nation’s endemic food shortage.

Besides genetics, the main secret in raising such huge rabbits is feeding them a lot things they like. So watch what you are eating!

It is amazing what hard work and determination can achieve.

>> Mat

Source: Boston Globe, Feb. 4, 2007


Palestine Peace Not Apartheid

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

Carter book-signing poster at Harvard CoopPalestine Peace Not Aprtheid

On Jan. 23, 2007, Jimmy Carter was sigining his latest book called “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” at Harvard Coop bookstore in Cambrige Massachussets.

He has written many books before but this is his most challenging, provocative, and courageous book. He is the first president of the United States who has clearly criticized the policies of Israel regarding Palastenians. He has been seriously criticized by numerious Jewish groups following to the publication of his book. Here is a quote from this book:

“There will be no substantive and permanant peace for any people in this troubled region as long as Israel is violating key U.N. resolutions, official American policy, and the international “road map” for peace by occupying Arab lands and oppressing the Palestinians.”

Jimmy Carter was the 39th president of the US from 1977 to 1981. During his persidency, he promoted human rights in the world, including in Iran while Shah was in power.

Origin of the Eunuchs Operating System!

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007
Ron is not a typical American; he adores Iran, Iranians and has studied Middle Eastern cultures; besides, he has a great sense of humor. This is the chapter one of his recent work called:“The World According to Ron” .
Origin of the Eunuchs Operating System!

The ancient Middle East played an important role in the early development of the modern computer. Centuries ago, kings would employ the services of a certain type of men, called eunuchs, to guard their harem, or wives, from intruders. These eunuchs mingled freely among the kings wives and were free to cavort carnally with them. The king would have no fear of his eunuchs impregnating any of his wives and eliminating any possibility of producing an illegal heir to the throne. These eunuchs, of course, were castrated.

Some of them were such good singers with a mellow high voice the king would ask them to sing for him. They eventually became known in the musical world as Castratos. Later, Vienna would learn of these men with a beautiful voice and began using the idea of Castratos by having young boys castrated before reaching puberty. This procedure kept the boys’ voices artificially high, even as they grew past the age when their voices would normally lower. They became known as the world famous Vienna Boys Sausages that sang extremely well.

So, it is told, the ancient kings of Babylon unwittingly began using the Eunuchs Operating System in their palace. The rest of us have to use a similar but problematic Microsoft software family. Microsoft, nothing but the best helps keep your hardware from running smoothly.

Woman Fashion Show in Tehran

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

      Iranian Model in colorful outfit       

A model at Tehran Fasion Show in Jan. 2007.