A stolen election, but where’s the proof?

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I’ve watched with great curiosity the coverage of the Iranian elections and their aftermath in recent days waiting for a report that actually outlines just how, where and why the election result might have been stolen.

And yet the lack of this has left me with major doubts about the legitimacy of the protests in Tehran and cities across the Islamic Republic.

Clearly the crackdown on protesting is not legitimate when people are dying as a result. From the Tweet-ing, Facebook-ing and YouTube-ing the extent of the government’s lockdown on communications and intimidation of their people is clear and it is not right.

The US and Britain are right to condemn the conduct of the Iranian government in this regard but they are also right to refrain from passing judgement on the actual election result because the truth is, there appears to be no hard evidence to contradict the official results which gave victory to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Now I am not naive enough to believe that Ahmadinejad won two-thirds of the vote as the official results state. A journalist friend of mine who visited Iran earlier in the year was struck by the amount of young people who had a real desire for change and Ahmadinejad was not as popular in his own country as he had us believe.

However his anti-American, anti-Israel rhetoric did have unquestionable support in many circles so his approval ratings cannot have been at George W Bush levels.

The truth is the election result was probably much tighter but whether it gave victory to Ahmadinejad or his main rival, the ‘defeated’ Mir Hossein Mousavi is just not clear.

There has been a great acclaim for the power of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in getting across the material major news outlets are finding it increasingly harder to gather themselves thanks to the meddling of the Iranian Interior Ministry.

But if angry voters are so keen to show the world what’s going in their country right now why aren’t they showing us the proof of voter intimidation, vote rigging, stolen ballot boxes or all three? In an election where 85% of the 70 million population turned out to vote surely there are some if not many who can testify to dodgy practices?

The hugely influential Guardian Council say they are investigating 646 complaints from the three defeated candidates, Mousavi among them, and they will hear their arguments at the weekend.

I’m intrigued to hear what these arguments are and what proof will be presented to back them up because at he moment the lack of hard evidence regarding these elections is as stunning as pictures like this one:

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Susan Boyle and the myth of ‘reality’ TV

So you all know who Susan Boyle is. Britain’s Got Talent‘s singing sensation now commands over 40 millions hits on You Tube less than a fortnight after her appearance on the show that had audience members weeping and judge Amanda Holden on her feet applauding. She probably cried a bit as well, she tends to cry a fair bit.

It was a performance that took the world by storm. Boyle has been on morning television in the United States, Larry King Live and is slated for an appearance on Oprah. It’s a real 21st century rags to riches story in that it has happened in a ridiculously short amount of time.

When Boyle was first introduced to us, you, like me and all my friends, no doubt thought that this dowdy looking, 47-year-old, Scottish virgin was a bit of a joke. Then she opened her mouth, sang beautiful things and we all felt a little crap for having pre judged her.

But at the same time we were uplifted by this small town girl who proved us and everyone else wrong. The scowls and derisive laughter turned to tears of joy and the smirking from Simon Cowell and his fellow judges turned to admiration and high praise.

There was only one problem with it all. It was fake, all so fake and that’s what bothers me. Once again reality TV failed to live up to its name. It was reality but with a caveat in that everyone on the production team at Britain’s Got Talent knew how good Boyle was but rather than present her as such they decided to trick us all into thinking she was crap then unleash this beautiful singing voice on us.

Great TV of course but my issue is with honesty and transparency and on the very shows where this should be most evident it is not. Instead we have pre packaged, pre determined and pre judged ‘talent’ forced upon us because this is how Simon Cowell says it should be.

I’ve been told more than once before that Cowell and his team are in total control of everything that happens on his extensive catalogue of ‘reality’ TV shows and that’s a dangerous trend to a genre that has dominated the screens for the last ten years. 

Susan Boyle is a fantastic singer and her story is a fantastic one. I wish her every success but I worry for her too in that the extent to which her short career has been managed so far will only increase over the coming weeks and months and she becomes no longer the modest, unglamorous small town girl we were initially presented with but yet another pre packaged, soulless, singing talent for Cowell to make obscene amounts of money from.

UPDATE: As if the media frenzy surrounding Susan Boyle wasn’t manic enough, she’s now even been mentioned on South Park of all places!