Short division

An Iran divided. On this date in 1979 Iranians took over the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Today, protestors chanting anti-government and anti-Russian slogans as gathered in Tehran’s Haft-e-Tir Square. They have been met with teargas and beatings from security forces. Government supporters also gathered around the empty U.S. embassy and shouted anti-American slogans. An Al Jazeera correspondent on the scene writes,

“The phone lines have been cut…but what we are hearing and seeing from pictures being fed from the streets of Tehran are thousands of anti-government protesters who have been chanting pro-Mir Hossein Mousavi slogans and “death to the dictator” as well. We also understand that Mehdi Karroubi, one of the presidential candidates, on his way to [Haft-e-Tir] square was attacked. We understand he is OK, but two of his guards have been injured…”

In a statement, U.S. President Obama asked if Iran would remain fixated in the past. Mixed statements from the government make the answer to that question rather unclear. Speaking before the anniversary, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, accused the U.S. of consistant duplicity in Iranian affairs. However, earlier today, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, a senior Iranian religious leader, said that the embassy takeover was not the right thing to do.

Democrats were bracing for bad news in yesterday’s elections,  and they got some in the form of lost gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virgina. But so may have the Republicans. Despite the triumph of Democratic candidate Bill Owens in NY’s 23rd Congressional district race, the more conservative faction of the GOP is howling at the moon over its candidate Doug Hoffman’s successful coup over the moderate, GOP establishment nominee Dede Scozzafava. Now conservative groups promise to make the same thing happen to moderate Republicans in 2012 elections across the country. “For me, what this says is, we need to take a deep breath and decide whether [moderates and conservatives] work together or not,” said Tom Davis, the former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “And if we don’t, it can get very, very ugly.”

Let the RINO (Republicans In Name Only) hunt begin! Targets include Bob Inglis (R-SC) who spoke out against his fellow South Carolinian Joe Wilson’s “You Lie!” outburst, and Florida governor Charlie Crist, who faces a challenge from conservative Marco Rubio.

“What you’ll find tomorrow is a lot of conservatives will look around and say, and say ‘where else is this happening?'” Rubio spokesperson Alex Burgos said in an interview today. “A lot came together essentially at the last minute in New York 23 … This is a campaign and a candidate that conservatives can get behind early and have an effect… [NY-23] is a pretty prominent race where a conservative has stuck to his guns and done well. It’s the same way with Marco. A lot of people left him for dead but he never lost sight of his conscience.”

Amtrak Warren? Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway purchased Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad for $26 billion, the largest investment in the billionaire investor’s history. Buffett has called the deal, “an all-in wager on the economic future of the United States.” Whether he thinks that his trains will transport goods or people, his view is in line with that of the Obama Administration (especially Veep Joe Biden) in terms of using more fuel efficient transportation to combat climate change. WSJ points out that Burlington’s trains carry more coal than anything else. Perhaps that makes this deal Buffett’s bet on clean coal, but let’s not underestimate his imagination. Perhaps he will turn this company into something we have not yet seen before in this century.

The House voted to support President Obama in his condemnation of the UN’s Goldstone Report. Meanwhile, in an interview with NPR, Secretary of State Clinton clarified that the U.S. does not approve of the Israeli settlements. “Obama has tried to do something which no previous American president, including my husband, tried to do, which was to make absolutely clear what has been American policy for 40 years — namely that we view Israeli settlement activity as not legitimate.”

Europeans may just care about the arts more than we do. U.S. film production has fallen 26 percent since 2005 to 520 films last year, while in Western Europe it rose 9 percent to 1,145. Thanks to the financial crisis,  the American Film Market — the largest gathering of the world’s independent film industry — opens in Santa Monica today with the U.S.’s lack of European-style public support for filmmaking ever visible.

“Take German producer Jens Meurer. His latest film ‘The Last Station,’ about the final days of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, was shot in Germany and Russia, with much of its 14 million-euro budget coming from public funds. Gap loans and movie presales made up the rest, said Meurer.

The star power of Oscar-winner Helen Mirren and Christopher Plummer (Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music”) wouldn’t have been enough to lure U.S. funds to the film, he said. Many U.S. states have started offering tax incentives for filming to revive local economies. Michigan offers one of the world’s highest refundable tax credits, about 40 percent for in- state expenditure. Michael Moore comes to mind?



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