"Riga-based firm, named Kontora, does not require credit history record or proof of employment. It grants loans of 50 to 500 Latvian lats ($100 to $1,000) to any adult after he or she signs the a very short agreement.
"According to the agreement, the only security required of the borrower is their immortal soul, which they are asked to confirm as their previously unmortgaged property.
"The loan is subject to one percent per day in interest until full repayment.
"The period of full repayment is 90 days, and in case the borrower fails to return the money, the creditor gets full possession of his soul."
Protesters and riot police clashed in the streets around Iran's parliament Wednesday as hundreds of people converged on a Tehran square in defiance of government orders to halt demonstrations demanding a new presidential election, witnesses said.
Police beat the protesters gathered on Baharestan Square with batons and fired tear gas canisters and rounds of ammunition into the air, the witnesses told The Associated Press. They said some demonstrators fought back while others fled to another Tehran plaza, Sepah Square, about a mile (2 kilometers) to the north. [snip]
Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's refusal earlier Wednesday to bow to demands from protesters effectively closed the door to any compromise with the opposition.
The wife of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi was defiant, saying protesters refused to buckle under a situation she compared to martial law. Mousavi's official Web site said a protest was planned outside Iran's parliament Wednesday afternoon. [snip]
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered protests to end, leaving Mousavi with the choice of restraining followers or continuing to directly challenge the country's ultimate authority despite threats of escalating force.
"On the current situation, I was insisting and will insist on implementation of the law. That means, we will not go one step beyond the law," Khamenei said on state television. "For sure, neither the system nor the people will yield to pressure at any price." He used language that indicated he was referring to domestic pressures. [snip]
Meanwhile Wednesday, a conservative candidate in the disputed presidential election said he was withdrawing his complaints about voting fraud for the sake of the country, state television reported.
The announcement by Mohsen Rezaie, a former commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards, moved the cleric-led government one step closer to a final declaration of victory for Ahmadinejad. State TV reported that Ahmadinejad would be sworn in sometime between July 26 and Aug. 19.
Whatever happens from this point on, nothing will ever be the same in Tehran.
Whatever happens, if the protest gains momentum or loses steam, if it ends up prevailing or if the regime succeeds in terrorizing it, he who should now only be called president-non-elect Ahmadinejad will only be an ersatz, illegitimate, weakened president. [snip]
Whatever happens, and beyond these internal conflicts, the people will be dissociated from an anemic and fatally wounded regime.
Whatever happens, young people, who were believed to be enthralled by the principles of political Islam and who a month ago, upon Ahmadinejad's return from Geneva, had supposedly planned a triumphal reception for the president-non-elect, will have said, loud and proud, with an audacity matched only by their political intelligence, that this president shamed them.
Whatever happens, there will be in Tehran, Tabriz, Ispahan, Zahedan, and Ardebil, millions of young people who in a matter of a few days will have become, like the timid Mousavi, in a sense larger than themselves--and will have understood that they could, with their bare hands, without provocation or violence, keep a power at bay.
Whatever happens, this extraordinary event--which is a miracle, as a popular uprising always is, and which was endowed under this circumstance with the blind mimetism and un-self-consciousness that is peculiar to the Angel of History when it thinks it is going forward, but is actually looking backward--will seem to have reproduced topsy-turvy the very scene in the same streets, surrounding the same barracks and the same shops, that was described thirty years ago by Michel Foucault, who never imagined that the real revolution was still to come, and that it would be the exact opposite of what he described.
Whatever happens, the people know, from this point on, that they are the people and that there is not a regime on earth that can remain in power against the people.
Whatever happens, a body politic has been formed in the heat of peaceful protests--and even if it gets winded and loses steam, even if the murderers think they can declare victory, there is a new actor onstage, without whom the rest of this country's story will not be written.
Whatever happens, the beautiful face of Neda Soltan, killed at point-blank range last Saturday by a Bassidj henchman, the images of kids beaten to death by the attack squadron and motorcycle infantry of the guardians of the revolution, the videos of the enormous protests, impressively calm and dignified, will have, via Twitter, circled both the cyberplanet and the planet.
As I'm sure many of you have noticed, I don't post as often as I used to. There are several reasons for this, all negative. I'm tired. Tired of wasting my time pointing out the hypocrisy and stupidity of what passes for politics. Tired of posting about the same issues as very little has changed since I started blogging four years ago and what change there has been has not been for the better. No matter how many times we've been promised "hope and change".
Civil rights are disappearing daily courtesy of a a group of grumpy old men hell bent on returning us to a past where those who aren't like them knew their place. The people's wishes are consistently and constantly ignored by their "representatives" in Congress. Newspapers are disappearing at an alarming rate while so-called reporters piss and moan about a blogger getting to ask the president a question, totally ignoring the fact that reporters haven't done their job in so many years that they have made themselves irrelevant.
Then there is the ex-Vice President who made secrecy his policy while in office, and has used every legal procedure to prevent public knowledge of his activities for the last eight years, is now writing a memoir that will only reflect his point of view and make up facts and ignore the truth to portray the beginning of the 21st century dismemberment of the United States in a glorious light. If he was shorter and his epicanthic folds were different he could be our very own Kim Jong Il but the press likes to ignore those aspects of his character.
I'm tired of taking care of my mother. I have had little to no help and no time off for the last nine years. Unfortunately, she still recognizes me so I'm still holding up my side of the bargain but it becomes more difficult by the minute. Eight years ago I had a thriving practice, could afford to buy a car, go on vacation and pay my rent. Today I wonder how to afford toilet paper because food stamps will cover potato chips but not personal toiletries. I was so broke I sold the car but the person can only make payments so now I'm still destitute but have no transportation. And I still have to pay car insurance until the car is fully paid off but I can't take the dogs to the dog park. The first of the month is going to be a disaster of titanic proportions and I have no resources to ameliorate the situation.
I've tried leaving her for a few hours at a time but the stress isn't worth it. Shopping has become a hit and run affair. The dogs get out, burners are left on high on the stove, she totters around the neighborhood making everybody nervous because they think she is going to fall and if I take her out she deliberately wanders off if I go to the bathroom. Even if I take her to the same place all the time her sense of direction is so impaired that she can't find her way to the front door by herself. I can't put her in a home until I find a job and I can't find a job until I put her in a home.
I'm tired and losing hope faster than Afghani civilians during a surgical air strike. It shames me that the average American citizen won't stand up for their rights as they disappear into the ether yet can cheer on the Tiananmen tank protester or cry for Neda while turning their back on their fellow Americans in trouble as they occupy their time worrying about the latest celebrity divorce or who is going to win the current reality show du jour.