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See if you can guess what Ahmadinejad got his Ph.D in:

A) Nuclear physics
B) Traffic control
C) Political Science
D) Jewish studies
E) Sociology

Trivia thanks to Jon Lee Anderson's "Can Iran Change?" in "The New Yorker's" latest Letter from Tehran. The answer is B).

Why traffic control? The answer, inexplicably, could be eschatology. Anderson explains:

Ahmadinejad is a Twelver Shiite and a fervent Mahdist, which means that, in the modern Iranian context, he is the equivalent of a born-again Christian. In the Shia tradition, the Twelfth Imam, or the Mahdi, disappeared in the ninth century, hidden by God. His return, together with that of Jesus Christ, will herald an earthly paradise. (In Islam, Christ is regarded as an early prophet.)

This explains Ahmadinejad's evangelizing allusions to the "promised one" when he has addressed the U.N. General Assembly. His public zeal has earned him criticism from Iranians at home ... A senior Iraqi politician who has met Ahmadinejad a number of times said that, at a meeting in Tehran two years ago, Ahmadinejad spoke about little but the Mahdi. The politician heard from others that Ahmadinejad had blueprints for a planned triumphal superhighway and reception point in Tehran, to be built for the Mahdi’s eventual arrival."

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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