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Archive for the ‘stem cells’ Category

Windows on Iran 43

The new, solar-powered 7-star Dariush Grand Hotel on Kish Island (see below for more pictures and information on the Hotel).

The new, solar-powered 7-star Dariush Grand Hotel on Kish Island (see below for more pictures and information on this luxurious and innovative hotel).

Dear All,

I hope you are well. It is a pleasure to open another window on Iran as we start yet another lively and colorful autumn in St. Louis. This will be a full window with lots of news about Iran on various subjects including current issues, art, science and technology.

Upcoming Events

* If you are in St. Louis this weekend, you will have a chance to see the play The Veil of Silence, by Andrew Michael Neiman and Suzanne Renard. Saturday November 10 at 8 PM, and Sunday November 11 at 2 PM at The Black Cat Theater, 2810 Sutton in Maplewood.

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* And if you are planning to be in San Diego next Sunday, Nov. 18, stop by the UNC Press booth at the book exhibit for the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in the Convention Center where I will have the pleasure of meeting you while signing copies of Jasmine & Stars: Reading More than Lolita in Tehran. See the flyer here: Jasmine and Stars American Academy of Religion Flyer.

Let us now move to our first set of beautiful slides. I cannot think of a better opening for any window.

A piece of calligraphy art by Sadegh Tabrizi (please see the link on the right for more of his work).

A piece of calligraphy art by Sadegh Tabrizi (please see the link below for more of his work).

Visual Delight

* Iranians have a history of love for calligraphy. In the past two or three decades there has been a clear revival in this historic art form. One of the interesting features of contemporary Iranian calligraphy is its interrelation with painting. As you know from these windows, young Iranian painters paint a great deal and in a vast array of styles and media. This week I am going to introduce you Sadegh Tabrizi, a master painter and calligrapher (born 1938). Tabrizi has had numerous individual and group exhibits in various parts of the country. What is particularly interesting about the exhibit which you will see is that every painting is inspired by letters of the alphabet and the art of calligraphy in general. Please click here: Calligraphy Art by Sadegh Tabrizi. Enjoy!

* While we are on visual arts, lets add a touch of performance and watch a clip form a current Iranian TV series that I told you about a few weeks ago. This is the love story called “The Zero Degree Turn” involving the rescue of a number of French Jews and putting them on a plane to Iran disguised as Iranians.  (Thanks to Behrooz Ghamari for sending the clip).

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Current Issues

* An Iranian woman takes up a seat in the House of Lords cross benches as a non-party political peer in recognition of her work. Professor Haleh Afshar, who is an adviser to the British government on public policy relating to Muslim women and Islamic law and the founder and chair of the Muslim Women’s Network, was chosen as a ‘People’s Peer’, an appointment for people who will bring distinction and expertise to the House of Lords. For the full article click on: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/oct/1265.html (courtesy of a new subscriber to the windows on Iran Mina Naji, thank you Mina Khanom!).

The New US Sanctions against Iran

* As you read that the US imposed unilateral sanctions against Iran may not be as effective as the current American government presents them to be, please know that ordinary Iranians are quite a bit worried about further economic hardship resulting from these sanctions. The point to keep in mind is that sanctions and economic problems do not encourage diversity and change in any country. If you have doubts about this, think about a simple situation. If you were to take care of your family during an economic crisis, which will be your priority: “finding medical care for a sick child” or “attending a meeting or a rally to improve the country’s political system”?

* We usually hear that China and Russia are helping Iran survive the U.S. attempts to isolate it. A lot of less known individuals are also working to do the same. One such attempt involves building the first 7-star-hotel run entirely by solar energy. “Generating electricity from the sun is a very expensive project but I mean to bring this technology to Iran,” said Hossein Sabet, the Iranian investor of the solar hotel. “Now that other countries are imposing sanctions on Iran, building such a hotel is an important step in tourism development,” he concluded. Here is an article, if you like to see pictures and read more: http://www.payvand.com/news/07/nov/1016.html

The 7-star Dariush Grand Hotel on Kish Island (click on the link above for more pictures and information on the Hotel).

A view of the 7-star Dariush Grand Hotel on Kish Island at night (click on the link above for more pictures and information).

The 7-star Dariush Grand Hotel on Kish Island (please click on the link above for more pictures and information).

Another shot of the The 7-star Dariush Grand Hotel (please click on the link above for more pictures and information).

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Passionate Appeal to Europe

* Jean-Marie Matagne, President of “Action of Citizens for the Total Dismantling of Nukes” (Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire, ACDN, France), Doctor in Philosophy and Dr. Yehuda Atai, Executive Secretariat of the Mediterranean No Nuclear Neighborhood (MN3), Member in the Israeli Committee for a Free Middle East of WMD, Publisher of the “World of the Bible” have made a passionate appeal to the European community to do everything in their power to prevent a war on Iran: http://acdn.france.free.fr/spip/article.php3?id_article=361&lang=en

* Here in our own country, the presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama made headlines when he introduced a note of sanity into the election debates that at some point looked like an Iran bashing competition. In an interview, on November 1st in Chicago, Senator Obama pledged to work on building a new relationship with Iran, should he get into the White House. He further explained that sticking to the rhetoric of “regime change,” just for the sake of it, is wrong and suggested that things need to change in a more fundamental way on both sides. The fact that he had one of his successful fund raising weeks last week may not be solely the outcome of this interview. However, it shows that the American public is tired of angry rhetorics and is hoping for a more sophisticated foreign policy. You can read more at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21586430/

Stem Cell Research in Iran

Rudolf Jaenisch with Hossein Baharvand and a group of young Iranian scientists during his trip to at The Royal Institute.

Rudolf Jaenisch with Iranian colleague Hossein Baharvand and a group of young Iranian scientists during his visit to the Royan Institute (image courtesy of http://www.nature.com).

* This month, Rudolf Jaenisch, a founding member of the Whitehead Institute and a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology attended a major scientific conference in the Royan Institute in Tehran. Professor Jaenisch who was warned by friends against traveling to Iran had this to say: “During my time in Tehran, however, I encountered only enthusiasm and hospitality. Other Westerners, such as Emory University’s Sarah Berga, who has spoken at this conference before, were treated equally well. My only regret is that there were not more Americans there. Despite my colleagues’ concerns, I felt safer than if I had been a tourist in a large American city. There were no panhandlers or aggressive touts to harass me, and the country is beautiful.” Here is the link, if you like to read more: http://www.nature.com/stemcells/2007/0710/071025/full/stemcells.2007.105.html.

* On a related topic, NAS expands cooperation with Iran. Following productive discussions in Iran between representatives of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and senior Iranian officials and scientific leaders, the U.S. National Academies plan to expand a program of scientific cooperation with Iranian institutions that began in 1999. During the past eight years, continuing political confrontations between the U.S. and Iranian governments have complicated bilateral scientific cooperation, but with perseverance by scientific institutions in both countries, important programs have been carried out: http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=10312007.

Womens kick boxing match in Iran. Please see the end of this window for many more pictures from the thriving Iranian womens sports scene.

Women's kick boxing match in Iran. Please see the link on the right for many more pictures from the thriving Iranian women's sports scene.

Iranian Women in Sports

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* For a variety of recent images of Iranian women athletes, visit http://www.shirzanan.com/spip.php?article476. To enlarge individual images, double-click on them. I did not make them into a power point slide show to keep the volume of the visual attachment to this window small.

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If you are not signed up to receive these windows, send a message to windowoniran@yahoo.com to subscribe. Until the next window on Iran, have a great weekend.

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Best,
Fatemeh
===================================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatures
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
==================================

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Beautiful Qashqai women in Iran. The Qashqai are one of Irans many ethnic minority groups (See below for more information).

Beautiful Qashqa'i women of Iran in their colorful traditional dresses. The Qashqa'i are one of Iran's many ethnic minority groups (See below for more information about them and other ethnic groups).

Greetings Everyone!

I don’t know how to thank you for all your kind messages, for forwarding these windows to others, and for recommending it. Over thirty names have been added to the list in the past two days alone. All I can say is I am delighted these windows have so many onlookers. Welcome to window number eight!

Current Issues

* On the last day of House legislative business, Iran sanctions advocates pushed through legislation ( HR 6198 ) strengthening sanctions and promoting a policy of regime-change in Iran.
Managing the bill on the House floor, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen made the
case that IFSA’s policies complemented US diplomatic activity.
“Sanctions target the Iranian regime where it is most vulnerable:
its energy sector,” said Ros-Lehtinen in her opening remarks.
Leading a bipartisan corps of members who spoke in opposition to
the measure, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) characterized the latest
version of the Iran Freedom Support Act (IFSA) as a “cruise
missile” and stated that, “the timing for this legislation could
not be worse.” Right he is. The most immediate impact of this
“cruise missile” — besides hurting ordinary people not the regime
— is weakening the moderates within the Iranian political sphere.
The hard-liners will loose no time in using this legislation to
remind the country that America is indeed Iran’s enemy.

Nothing heals like a good poem! In response to this aggressive move,
let’s read together a stanza from a great classic of twentieth century
Persian poetry by Ahmad Shamlu (b.1925), Shamlu, known as the “Poet of
Liberty,” faced hostility by the Shah’s regime and remained out of favor
with the Islamic Republic. He wrote some of the most poignant
revolutionary, as well as lyrical, poems of modern Persian language.
Here is an excerpt from a poem he dedicated to his wife Aida called
“Aida in the Mirror” translated by my good friend Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak
(University of Maryland):

Tempests play magnificently a tiny flute
in your grand dance
And the singing of your veins makes the sun of always rise
(Let me rise from sleep so that the lanes of the city
perceive my presence).

Your hands are reconciliation
and friends helping that hostilities may be forgotten

Suggested Reading: An Anthology of Modern Persian Poetry, selected and
translated by Ahmad Karimi Hakkak ( Westview Press, 1978 ) Still is
available through Amazon Books.

Science

* On a much happier note, Iran’s cloned sheep born yesterday is
alive and kicking, reported Iranian doctors in the Royan
research center in Isfahan. More significantly, a combination of
the cloning methods and the new progress made by Iranian
physicians in the field of spinal injuries has created
possibilities of curing those suffering from spinal damages,
Nasr-Esfahani said. Iranian specialists recently announced a
breakthrough in curing spinal injuries with the culture of Schwann
cells enabling those suffering from paralysis to move. For cute
pictures of the newly born cloned sheep click on the first link
below (here the text is Persian)
http://www.isna.ir/Main/NewsView.aspx?ID=News-799766&Lang=P

For more reading on the subject, click on this link:
http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-16/0610015225123117.htm and
http://www.payvand.com/news/06/oct/1015.html

Social

* This is the Children’s week in Iran. Each day is devoted to a
topic such as “Children and Health”, “Children and Equal
Opportunities,” etc. The United Nations International Children’s
Fund (UNICEF) will participate in the events. Activists such as
Shirin Ebadi have been instrumental in drawing attention to
children’s rights in Iran. More needs to be done, particularly in
relation to minority children such as abandoned children of
Afghani fathers who have returned to Afghanistan after the
collapse of the Taliban regime.

* Many of you have been asking questions about ethnic minorities in
Iran. I will keep an eye open for material. Iran’s ethnic
diversity is truly amazing. Of course, like everywhere else, all
kinds of jokes and stereotypes are attached to each group. In
general, however, people are fairly used to hearing different
languages and seeing different costumes on the street. The nomadic
Qashqa’is, for example, still wear their very colorful dresses.
Click on this link to see a beautiful young Qashqai girl in
festive outfit (center of the page):
http://www.11iran.com/Z2INDEX.HTM . To get a general idea of
Iranian ethnic diversity and its geographical distribution click
on:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_minorities_in_Iran

Prominent Iranian Americans:

* This week’s personality is Google’s senior vice president for
global sales Mr. Omid Kordestani, 42. He joined  the company a
year after its establishment as its “business founder” and is
viewed as a force behind Google’s success. Here is the link if you
like to read more (courtesy of my friend Bahar Bastani):
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1187475,00.html
Also, I must apologize for sending the wrong link on the Harvard
Scientist Nima Arkani in the last window. Instead of just a
picture, I meant to send this brief description of his impressive
work:
http://www.physics.harvard.edu/people/facpages/arkani-hamed.html

Art and Culture

* If you are off to France, don’t miss the exhibition of more than
200 items from the last major pre-Islamic Persian empire the
Sassanians on view at the Cernuschi Museum Paris (15th September
to 30th December 2006). By the way, art historians would tell you
that these pre-Islamic objects — and many more — survived
because Muslim conquerors of Iran did not destroy them. Click on
this link to get a brief preview:
http://www.irandokht.com/editorial/index4.php?area=pro&sectionID=9&editorialID=2143

Suggested Reading:  Mostly Miniatures: An Introduction to Persian
Painting by Oleg Grabar
. A more general art history, The Golden Age of
Persian Art 1501-1722
by Sheila Canby both available through Amazon.
And Western art is exhibited in Iran. Check this one out:

* Last summer Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art held a major
exhibit (June-October 2005) called “Modern Art Movements,”
bringing together a historic number of contemporary world
masterpieces owned by Iranian Museums.  Barbara Rose who writes
about the exhibit for “The Wall Street Journal on Line” observes:
“The unprecedented show was a huge success.”  “The first gallery”
she says ” was filled with Impressionist and Post-Impressionist
paintings. There was a Gauguin still life, a rare Léger from 1913
and Picasso’s synthetic cubist masterpiece, “Fenêtre Ouverte sur
la Rue de Penthièvre,” as well as his late cast bronze of a baboon
cradling her baby, which is also in the Picasso Museum in Paris.
There were circus performers by Georges Rouault as well as a
daring watercolor by the German Dadaist George Grosz. Other
European and American modern masters were on view with a special
section devoted to Pop artists Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol,
David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, Claes Oldenburg and Jim Dine.
Also in the collection are sculptures by Magritte, Henry Moore and
Giacometti; paintings by Wassily Kandinsky, Joan Miró and Georges
Braque; and three important Toulouse-Lautrecs.”

Now, check out Ms. Barbara Rose’s tone in her write up:

*”Most remarkably,” she observes “an entire gallery was devoted
to Abstract Expressionism, the art movement that proclaimed
America’s cultural primacy.”  She is even more shocked at the
Iranian Museum of Contemporary art’s “continuing to list the works
of modern Western art, including a number of prominent Jewish
artists, as part of its permanent collection, which is presumably
open to the public [can the museum be making this up?]. A more
recent, “ironic” exhibition, she adds :” is that of paintings by
the well-known Jewish painter Marc Chagall also opened in Tehran
this summer.” [2006].

*Here is what she concludes: “No one knows what will happen to
the masterpieces of modern Western art in Tehran. They are said to
be worth billions of dollars now and are too expensive to be
destroyed.”  And finally, concerning a painting of a female leg,
owned by the museum, which has not been on display, Ms. Rose
speculates: “Did some fanatic realize it is a woman’s and throw a
cloth over its offensive nudity? Is it being held for ransom to be
exchanged for a valuable Persian manuscript or an important weapon?”

* All right, we need more antidote. Let’s just visit a few of our
concluding Visual Delights, some recent exhibits of the works of
Iranian painters and art-lovers who — no doubt — enjoyed the
above exhibit tremendously (and luckily won’t have to read Ms.
Rose’s review). I have particularly enjoyed the portrays by Nemat
Lalehei
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=316 . Lalehei is an
artist from the northern city of Rasht. Be sure to double click on
each portraits to see the enlarged version. Another male artist,
and one very different in style and temperament is:  Masoud
Dashtban
http://www.elahe.net/photo.php?picid=3416 . Finally,
please take a look at the works of the young photographer, Salomeh
Manouchehri
. Here too, you must enlarge the photographs to see the
subtleties of her work. Enjoy:
http://www.elahe.net/thumb.php?gallery=313

Have a great week. I hope to be opening another window in about a week.
Best,

Fatemeh
========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
========================

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The cropped (Left) and real (Right) picture from the front cover of Azar Nafisis Reading Lolita in Tehran.

The cropped (Left) and real (Right) picture from the front cover of Azar Nafisi's "Reading Lolita in Tehran" (see below for further explanation).

Dear Friends, Greetings,

First:
We have grown too large for a group email list! This is wonderful news
but has a practical implication: I must turn the “Window on Iran” into a
listserv. My colleagues at the university computing services will kindly
assist me in doing so. I am happy with the change because in a listserv
your names and addresses will be safer from possible spam users and you
can unsubscribe at will. I will soon send you the initial message of the
listserv. IF YOU DO NOT RECEIVE THAT MESSAGE NEXT WEEK, PLEASE E-MAIL ME
TO MAKE SURE THAT YOUR ADDRESS HAS NOT BEEN DELETED IN THE TRANSITION.

Second:
Apparently, my link to Professor Inhorn’s excellent article on Iran in
which she observes:  “The Iran I encountered is far from the medieval
theocracy often portrayed in American media” did not work. If you did
not get my “correction” message, here is the link again:
http://www.sph.umich.edu/news_events/pdf/inhorn%20iran.pdf

And now to this week’s Window on Iran:

Current issues

* Iranian chief nuclear negotiator’s statement that Iran reserves
the right to continue its nuclear program “only under UN
inspection” was presented in American and British papers as
“Iran’s defiance of the UN resolution.”
* 15 day visas of about 40 American educated Iranian scientists
arriving in the U.S. last week to participate in a university
reunion in Northern California were revoked last minute without
explanation. Some were held overnight in what one described to a
friend in a brief phone call as “jail conditions” before being
sent  back to Iran.

Science

* Iranian scientists in a Tehran fertility clinic cloned a sheep
successfully. Although the sheep died soon after birth, this first
cloning in the Middle East was hailed by the world media as a
great breakthrough. Iranian scientists described with excitement
the history of their cloning experiments on mice and cow:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1874227.cms It may
come as a surprise to you that Iran’s cloning program, like its
work on embryonic stem cell research, has the blessing of the
country’s religious authorities.

Social/Cultural

* This week I would like to introduce you to one of the most
prominent poets of twentieth-century Iran: Simin Behbahani. Known
as the “Lioness of Iran,” Behbahani has remained an ardent
defender of human rights, free speech, and women’s rights. She
spoke against war and violence even as the Iran-Iraq war raged in
the 1980s. Currently President of The Iranian Writers’
Association, Behbahani has published 12 collections of poems and
has stayed in the public eye before, during, and after the 1979
revolution defying all forms of totalitarianism. Behbahani was
nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature in 1997. For a short
biography of Simin Behbahni, please click on the first link below.
And go to the second link to view the “Lioness” in action, and her
pronounced fashion statements!
o http://www.iranchamber.com/literature/sbehbahani/simin_behbahani.php
o http://www.payvand.com/news/05/aug/1105.html

* Most of you have read, or heard of, the book that vilified
most Iranian men and victimized the majority of Iranian women, the
bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran. The cover of the book depicts
two young Iranian girls with downcast eyes hinting at the
unlikelihood of an active intellectual life. The picture, above
this post, is actually of two girls active in the
Iranian general elections (notice Khatami’s poster in the
background) reading a newspaper.

Have a great weekend!
Fatemeh Keshavarz
========================
Fatemeh Keshavarz, Professor and Chair
Dept. of Asian and Near Eastern Languages and Literatuares
Washington University in St. Louis
Tel: (314) 935-5156
Fax: (314) 935-4399
========================

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