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دوشنبه ۳ اردیبهشت ۱۴۰۳ ایران ۱۶:۳۶

Persian tv weekly highlights 6/16

Reaching Millions of Television Viewers in Iran Each Week

Washington, DC – June 16, 2008 . . . Major stories this week included heads of state from the US and European Union agreeing to consider new sanctions against Iran because of its controversial nuclear program; President Bush visiting Europe and participating with European Union leaders at a summit in Slovenia; massive corruption exposed by a whistleblower close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – and his subsequent arrest; the visit to Tehran by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki; the execution of eight inmates at Tehran’s Evin prison; Iran’s economic problems; soaring gasoline prices worldwide; child labor in Iran; the number of homeless children in Iran reaching one-half million; the status of the women’s movement in Iran; and interviews with former Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns; with nuclear weapons expert Jacqueline Shire on the IAEA and Iran; with renowned women’s rights activists Fariba Mohajer Davoodi and Parvin Ardalan; and with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi on her new book, Refugee Rights in Iran.

VOA/PNN premiered a new show this past weekend called 48 Hours. Hosted by Ali Farhoodi, 48 Hours will air during Roundtable with You’s weekday time slot. The show’s first guest on June 14 was Hamid Ghodse, President of the London-based International Narcotics Control Board, the UN body that monitor compliance with drug control treaties. The show’s second guest on June 15 was Parviz Ghelichkhani, captain of Iran’s national soccer team in the early 1970’s.

News and Views June 14 had an exclusive interview with Nicholas Burns, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs until March 2008. Although retired from the State Department, Mr. Burns continues to serve in an advisory capacity at the White House, serving as a special envoy in finalizing the US-India Peaceful Atomic Energy Cooperation Act. On why US authorities are emphasizing US-Iranian cultural exchanges, Mr. Burns said it is important for Americans to know the citizens of Iran are different from their government, “I wish Iranian authorities would be open to issuing visas to Americans. Iran is reluctant to issue visa to members of Congress and ordinary American citizens. One of the tragedies of this 30-year [break in] Iran-US relations is the fact that the citizens of the two countries are no longer familiar with each other’s culture because they cannot travel between the two countries. That’s why Congress decided to assign a budget for Iranian experts to travel to US.” Mr. Burns acknowledged that UN sanctions are not intended to hurt the Iranian people, adding that the US knows many Iranians are dissatisfied with the Islamic Republic. He noted that the US administration and Congress support Voice of America so that the people of Iran have access to factual information. Asked why the US – along with Russia, China and Israel – boycotted the recent convention on prevention of cluster bombs while opposing Iran’s and North Korea’s’ nuclear program, Mr. Burns said nuclear proliferation and the nuclear armament issue in Iran and North Korea “is very important for the world.”

News and Views June 15, 2008 reported that President Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have warned that a nuclear armed Iran would pose a threat to global peace and security. The two leaders held talks Saturday in Paris, after Tehran said that Iran will not consider any offer that demands the country halt its uranium enrichment program. Mr. Sarkozy said Iran obtaining nuclear weapons would be “unacceptable,” while Mr. Bush warned that a nuclear armed Iran would be, in his words, “a major threat to world peace.” Mr. Bush heads to London Sunday for talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. In an interview with the London Observer ahead of his arrival, Mr. Bush warned against British plans to set a timetable for withdrawing British troops from Iraq. He said that troop withdrawals should be, in his words, “based on success” rather than on fixed schedules.

News and Views June 12 reported that President Bush is meeting Thursday with Italian leaders for talks expected to focus on Iran’s nuclear program and Italy's military role in Afghanistan. Mr. Bush first met with President Giorgio Napolitano, ahead of talks with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Earlier, President Bush stressed the value of international exchange programs, telling Italian entrepreneurs the programs help foreigners learn the truth about America. About 1,000 anti-war activists and demonstrators protested in central Rome as Mr. Bush arrived on Wednesday and more protests were planned for Thursday. Mr. Bush’s European tour has been dominated by talks about the nuclear standoff with Iran. Italy has been pushing to become part of a group of negotiators with Tehran that includes the five permanent United Nations Security Council members plus Germany. The United States and its allies believe Iran is planning to build nuclear weapons – a charge Iran strongly denies. Mr. Bush is on a week-long European trip, which also will take him to France, Britain and Northern Ireland. He attended the annual US-European Union summit in Slovenia Monday.

News and Views June 11 reported that President George Bush says diplomacy is the first choice in dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions but all options remain open. Speaking in Germany after talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Bush stressed that the international community will work together to resolve the issue and warned of additional sanctions. Chancellor Merkel said that diplomatic pressure has produced results, but she stressed that new sanctions will be necessary if Iran fails to suspend its uranium enrichment work. Their comments followed wide-ranging discussions on such issues as global trade and climate change. Mr. Bush traveled to Italy earlier Wednesday as he continues his week-long European trip, which will also take him to France, Britain and Northern Ireland.

News and Views June 10 reported that President Bush is meeting with European leaders in Slovenia to discuss a broad range of issues, including Iran’s nuclear program. President Bush has said he wants to discuss joint action to tackle high energy costs, including the need to cut dependence on fossil fuels. He also plans to ask for European help in Afghanistan and to put more pressure on Iran to give up its nuclear program. Ahead of the summit, Mr. Bush met with Slovenian President Danilo Turk and the country’s prime minister, Janez Jansa, at Brdo Castle in Kranj. The president’s visit there coincides with the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan, which provided US reconstruction aid to Europe after World War Two.

News and Views June 9 reported on the kick-off of President Bush’s final visit to major European capitals, where he is expected to call for more help from Europeans on Iraq and Afghanistan as well as on Washington’s attempts to halt Iran’s nuclear program. Speaking on the White House lawn before his departure, Mr. Bush said he was looking forward to the trip and to talking about the freedom agenda with “our friends and allies.” The President said, “We’ve got a lot of work to do in Afghanistan, and the countries I’m going to visit have committed troops to Afghanistan, and of course I want to thank them and remind them there’s a lot of work to be done.” Mr. Bush also mentioned the Afghanistan donors conference in Paris this week, which will be attended by his wife, Laura, who has just been to Afghanistan, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Of his wife’s current trip to Afghanistan, he said “she saw progress, but she also saw….there’s a lot of work to be done.” The President begins his trip in Slovenia, where he will attend his final US-European Union summit. He also will travel to Germany, Italy, France, England and Northern Ireland. During his visits, the President is expected to push for stronger penalties against Iran to discourage Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. His talks with leaders also would cover climate change, the world food crisis, Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and Lebanon.

News and Views June 9 reported that Iranian officials advocated a close defense relationship with Iraq during meetings Sunday in Tehran with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his subordinates. The talks came as Tehran grows increasingly concerned that a proposed long-term security agreement between the United States and Iraq would pose a threat to Iran. Iraq’s Prime Minister sought to ease Iranian fears over a proposed security deal with the US, saying his government will not allow Iraq to become a launching pad for an attack on its neighbor.

News and Views June 15 reported on the possibility of a long-term security agreement between Iraq and the United States with Kurdish journalist Rivar Karim Valy. He said almost all members of the Iraqi Security Council believe a long-term security agreement must accept the Iraqi government’s sovereignty. He noted that the Iraqi people have a dark history, with British colonial rule during the first half of the 20th century. The Iraqi people see US troops as a liberation army following Saddam Hussein’s regime. But Mr. Valy said this agreement could damage the US image in Iraq. He said pro-Iranian and pro-Syrian groups are the strongest opponents of a US-Iraqi long-term security agreement. Kurds and Kurdish groups, on the other hand, including the semi-independent Kurdistan government, support such an agreement. Supporters of the agreement believe it will protect Iraq’s Shiite-led government from becoming a satellite of Shiite-dominated Iran as the American military role in the country fades. Opponents say the agreement will lock in US domination of Iraq.

News and Views June 15 aired the first segment of an eight part series on the main Iranian-Kurdish political parties. VOA/PNN talked with the Deputy Secretary-General of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (DPIK), Hassan Sharafi; with the First Secretary of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (DPK), Khaled Azizi; and with the General Secretary of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KPIK), Abdollah Mohtadi. Mr. Mohtadi said, “We believe the most suitable political system in which the basic rights of all ethnic Iranian minorities are respected is federalism.” All three parties have the same slogan: “Federalism for Iran.”

News and Views June 9 interviewed Jacqueline Shire, a Senior Analyst at the Institute for Science and International Security, about last week’s IAEA meeting and its report on Iran’s nuclear program. The Institute provides research and analysis on Iran’s nuclear program as well as proliferation challenges posed by North Korea and other countries. Ms. Shire appeared live from Trenton, New Jersey, offering a detailed analysis of the report and its findings. She clarified the differences between this report and previous ones, stating that what was found in the new report is that Iran has started using new centrifuges with higher capacities. “The main achievement in Iran’s nuclear program,” she said, “is that the capacity of its centrifuges recently went up from 20% to 50%.” Ms. Shire said the IAEA submitted documents in this new report that also raise concerns about Iran getting closer to having the capacity to develop nuclear weapons. This being said, Ms Shire asserted that she still thinks “diplomacy is still the first and best option for dealing with Iran.”

NewsTalk June 11 reported on the man at the center of the biggest case of corruption in post-revolutionary Iran with exclusive videotape. Close to $35 billion in oil income from the 2006-07 fiscal year is missing, and authorities Wednesday arrested Abbas Palizdar – an associate of President Ahmadinejad and a member of the Iranian parliament’s Judicial Inquiry and Review Committee – and charged him with embezzlement. In a videotape obtained by NewsTalk, Mr. Palizdar detailed how the theft really worked, including one case where an original allocation of $126 million for one group turned into a $600 million cost over-run, saying “No one knows where all the money went. Panelists said the government was so shocked by the allegations that it took them two days to respond – which they did by arresting Mr. Palizdar. London-based political analyst Alireza Nourizadeh said, “The government is shocked by this information since Palizdar is part of the government and anything he says is true, so all they can do is arrest him.” Panelist Mohsen Sazegara noted, “When I was in Iran, I saw two examples of this fraud, including one at a factory. I believe Palizdar because if you look carefully at a lot of Islamic foundations, you see a lot of fraud.” As another example of the kind of corruption cited by Mr. Palizdar, panelists pointed out the Nahjolbalagheh Foundation which gave 500 cars to powerful people close to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. They also noted the trip taken by former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani to Saudi Arabia, ostensibly to improve bilateral relations; he was accompanied by 126 people, many of them family members.

News and Views
June 10 reported that on the controversy generated by a member of the
Iranian parliament’s Judicial Inquiry and Review Committee. Abbas Palizdar publicly accused some 40 prominent ayatollahs and leading members of parliament of pilfering state funds and obtaining favorable business arrangements for their relatives. Among those he claimed were corrupt was former President Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who chairs the Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council. Political analyst Issa Saharkhiz told VOA/PNN that Mr. Palizdar’s accusations ignited a maelstrom. “This kind of rhetoric is considered a challenge to fight among the gladiators,” he said. Despite being a supporter of President Ahmadinejad, authorities arrested Mr. Palizdar for “spreading rumors” and “causing public distress.” Mr. Palizdar, who lobbed his charges two weeks ago, had already singled out the leader of Friday prayers in Tehran, Mohammad Emami Kashani, and the head of the Imam Reza Shrine Foundation, Ayatollah Vaez Tabbasi. He was arrested before being able to carry out his threat of naming additional officials. Mr. Saharkhiz said the only way to get at the root of this controversy is the resignation of President Ahmadinejad followed by a move toward democracy.

News and Views June 12 reported that the rivalry between political parties and factions in Iran is reaching a breaking point. Political analyst Hassan Daei said the arrest of Abbas Palizdar two days ago opened a curtain on the illegal activities of numerous leaders of the Islamic regime – leaders with the exception of Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, chairman of the Guardian Council, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, or Sepah. Mr. Daei said this exception shows where Mr. Palizdar’s support comes from, adding that the reason Mr. Palizdar spoke out was to derail frontline critics of President Ahmadinejad. He noted that Mr. Palizdar was relatively anonymous before making his combustible speech at Hamedan University last week.

News and Views June 10 reported that Behnood Shojaee, convicted of murder as a minor, is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday. Mr. Shojaee was 17-years-old when he killed another boy in a street brawl in 2005 at a Tehran park. Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroudi, the head of the Iranian Judiciary, said the execution would go on as scheduled for June 11 despite pressure from members of the European Union and international human rights organizations to revoke the death sentence. [Editor’s Note: Ayatollah Shahroudi decided, after all, to postpone the execution at least one month to see if a settlement of some sort can be reached with the victim’s family.]

The premier guest on 48 Hours June 14 was Hamid Ghodse, President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Professor of Psychiatry and International Drug Policy at the University of London and Director of the International Centre for Drug Policy at London’s St. George's University. The inaugural show began with a tribute to NBC’s Tim Russert, who died June 14 after suffering a massive heart attack at his office. He was introduced to Iranian viewers as one of the most influential journalists in Washington who was known for grilling politicians with his tough but fair questions. Mr. Ghodse said that the ICNB is an independent and quasi-judicial monitoring body for the implementation of UN international drug. On Iran, he said although the practice of smoking opium is not a novel issue and has been present in this country for centuries, it has currently turned into a malignant social phenomenon with widespread social, psychological and economic consequences. Mr. Ghodse said the emergence of intravenous drug use in Iran, along with the transmission of infectious diseases including HIV and HCV, has added further to the burden. When asked about whether he knew of news reports accusing Iranian officials of being complicit in the easy availability of narcotics in Iran, he said, “It’s inconceivable to me that the Iranian government readily makes drugs available and at affordable prices in order to ensnare its own population into addiction.” Most callers and e-mailers accused the Islamic government of not only turning a blind eye toward this social plight but encouraging it in the younger population.

The premier guest on 48 Hours June 14 was Hamid Ghodse, President of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), Professor of Psychiatry and International Drug Policy at the University of London and Director of the International Centre for Drug Policy at London’s St. George's University. The inaugural show began with a tribute to NBC’s Tim Russert, who died June 14 after suffering a massive heart attack at his office. He was introduced to Iranian viewers as one of the most influential journalists in Washington who was known for grilling politicians with his tough but fair questions. Mr. Ghodse said that the ICNB is an independent and quasi-judicial monitoring body for the implementation of UN international drug. On Iran, he said although the practice of smoking opium is not a novel issue and has been present in this country for centuries, it has currently turned into a malignant social phenomenon with widespread social, psychological and economic consequences. Mr. Ghodse said the emergence of intravenous drug use in Iran, along with the transmission of infectious diseases including HIV and HCV, has added further to the burden. When asked about whether he knew of news reports accusing Iranian officials of being complicit in the easy availability of narcotics in Iran, he said, “It’s inconceivable to me that the Iranian government readily makes drugs available and at affordable prices in order to ensnare its own population into addiction.” Most callers and e-mailers accused the Islamic government of not only turning a blind eye toward this social plight but encouraging it in the younger population.

Roundtable with You
June 13, 2008 focused on Iran in crisis – domestically and abroad – with London-based political analyst Alireza Nourizadeh. Mr. Nourizadeh said President Bush, speaking in Rome Thursday, repeated the position taken by the US and Europe toward Iran’s nuclear program. “All of us P5+1 (five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) are sending the same message to the Iranians, which is – verifiably suspend your enrichment program or else you will face further sanctions and further isolation.” Mr. Nourizadeh also talked about what has become a big scandal in Iran: the vast corruption reported among the highest ranking officials and clergy in the country, as revealed by a mid-level government official. One viewer sent in an e-mail saying, “What is even more shocking than the corruption of these mullahs who openly rob the Iranian people of all their wealth is the chaotic system that allows this corruption to take place with no accountability.”

News and Views June 14 talked with international consultant Bahman Aghaii about world news affecting Iran this week. On Iran’s reported rejection of the latest incentive package from the P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany – Mr. Diba said the next step is likely new sanctions from the UN. “Europe will intensify sanctions, especially on Iranian Banks in Europe. The US will do more to prevent investments in Iran, especially in the oil and natural gas sectors. Mr. Diba said the US and European attitudes toward Iran have differed in large part because some European countries have deep economic ties with Iran. For instance, Mr. Diba says Italy’s membership in the P5+1 would be more beneficial to Iran because of their bilateral ties. On another topic, Mr. Diba said countries attending the oil and natural gas conference in Baku focused on transferring oil and gas through the Caspian Sea. He noted that Iran was not present during that discussion. He also said Russia and Iran proposed buying gas from Azerbaijan, adding that Azerbaijan has not yet responded.

News and Views June 8 talked with economic analyst Hadi Zamani about the recent increase in world oil prices. Mr. Zamani said that world demand for oil is greater than the supply. “But a $10.37 increase in one day (on Friday, June 6) was 8% of the current price of oil. The huge jump is basically caused by one thing: the big impact of speculators in the US market.” Mr. Zamani said another influencing factor was the comment made last week by Israel’s Minister of Transportation Shaul Mafaz. Mr. Mafaz said that a military attack on Iran seems “inevitable” given Tehran’s ongoing refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.

News and Views June 10 reported on the housing market in Iran. With prices going through the roof, people in Tehran are left with view choices but live in the run-down areas in the suburbs or on the outskirts of the capital. New projects have become exorbitant for the ordinary citizen for a number of reasons. UN sanctions have driven up the costs of primary building materials such as cement. Loans are difficult to get unless the applicant is tied to the government. Further, Iran’s parliament has passed a new law imposing a tax on anyone who buys and sells real estate more than once in a calendar year. Minor investors don’t have the millions of dollars needed to build in Tehran – only the government does.

News and Views June 9 interviewed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi on her latest book, Refugee Rights in Iran. In the book, she examines the legal aspects of life as a refugee in Iran. Controversial issues such as the right to education, property and inheritance are addressed in detail through a comparative study of Iranian and international refugee law. Ms. Ebadi told VOA/PNN that there is nothing inherent in the legal structure of Islamic states that prevents them from upholding basic human rights for refugees. She revealed how these rights are protected in Iran, a country where the Islamic legal system is predominant. The book should prove to be an essential reference for policymakers promoting refugee rights in Islamic states.

Roundtable with You June 11 focused on why the date is a historical day for the women’s movement in Iran. Three years ago on June 11, hundreds of men and women gathered in front of Tehran University demanding equal rights for women. The peaceful demonstration quickly turned violent when security guards and plainclothes agents equipped with sticks, chains and bats attacked the protestors, injuring many and arresting scores more. Rather than discouraging women, the crackdown inspired them to expand their efforts nationwide and eventually led to the One Million Signatures Campaign. Paris-based poet Batoul Azizpour said one of the things which led to today’s deprivation of rights for women from the rights they enjoyed before the Revolution was gift from the previous government. She said because of the Shah’s censorship of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s books, people couldn’t see the trap waiting for them by following Khomeini’s Islamic Revolution. Ms. Azizpour said, “The movement of Iranian women is not for equal rights. It is indeed fighting to get back what they lost with the inception of Islamic Republic in Iran.”

Roundtable with You June 12 focused on the problem of homeless children in Iran with Los Angeles-based human rights activist Elahe Amani. The number of street children in oil-rich Iran is estimated at one-half million – and they are living in the streets fending the best they can in a harsh Islamic regime that cares little or nothing about their welfare. The program also focused on the eight women activists arrested in Tehran. They were taken to the Vozara Detention Center for commemorating the third anniversary of the June 11 movement. Ms. Amani said the two topics – homeless children and women’s rights activists – have one strong point in common. The human rights of both are disregarded. Ms. Amani emphasized that society cannot dodge responsibility for its women and children waiting for the mercy of the government, “because it will simply not happen with the Islamic government in Iran.” One caller said, “It is heart-breaking. Our indisputable ‘right’ is to have a shelter for these children and a loaf of bread on our table – not enriched uranium and the infamous yellow cake.”

48 Hours June 15 hosted Parviz Ghelichkhani, captain of Iran’ national soccer team in the early 1970’s. Mr. Ghelichkhani was an icon in Iranian sports in his prime. He spoke about how the clerics in Iran exert total control over every aspect of life in Iran including sports. He decried not allowing women, who make up about half of Iran’s population, to attend soccer games. Mr. Ghelichkhani said, “The Iranian national team cannot compete at an international level because many players have not been able to realize their full potential.” He added that most players, coaches and other officials in the Iranian Football Federation are selected based on who they know and not what they know or their talents. Despite a gloomy forecast for the future of soccer in Iran, he said “We should all cheer on the team because they play for and represent Iran – not the Islamic Republic. When this team has a big victory, the public celebrates in the streets. The regime not only disapproves of this, but the public display of sheer joy also scares them.”

Late Edition June 13 interviewed Los Angeles-based sports analyst Arash Hafizi about the 2010 World Cup Qualification matches. A popular radio host and the producer of a weekly sports program on KIRN, Mr. Hafizi reviewed the latest results of Iran’s national football (soccer) team against Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. He said Iran defeated the UAE 1-0 last weekend. “It was not a beautiful game,” he said, “but the result is great for the national team.” Mr. Hafizi said the Iranian team is young, and that it is going to take some time for new head coach Ali Daie and his players to work together as a professional unit. He criticized the Iranian Football Federation and Iranian officials, saying they mismanage the team and are unprofessional in the way they manage the team. Mr. Hafizi said Iran’s game against Syria on June 14 will be a “doe or die” game for the national team. [Editor’s Note: Iran beat Syria 2-0 in the World Cup qualifier and advances to the next stage.]

Late Edition June 10 reported that the Campaign for a New American Policy on Iran – a coalition of organizations including the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, and the Enough Fear Campaign – organized an innovative “Time to Talk with Iran” event and press conference on Capitol Hill. The goal of the event was to advocate and show support for a diplomatic solution to the rising tensions between the United States and Iran. Participants included Congressman Barbara Lee (D-CA), Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) – who has had a very small albeit very enthusiastic following as he pursued the Republican presidential nomination – and Bob Barr, a former congressman (R-GA) who is now the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate. The group used telephones to talk directly with ordinary Iranian citizens, listening to their comments and ideas regarding US policy toward Iran. The Campaign says a military confrontation with Iran would have enormous human and financial costs and would plunge the Middle East into further chaos. It says just the threat of military conflict elevates oil prices and fosters global insecurity. Campaign supporters say while serious concerns regarding the Government of Iran’s statements and behavior persist, “We believe America must pursue new, far-sighted and responsible policies towards Iran aimed at stabilizing the region and bolstering America’s safety, economic security and international standing.”

Today’s Woman June 13 focused on the June 10th gathering of the Campaign for a New American Policy, a coalition of 35 organizations. The group staged an event to promote diplomatic relations with Iran by opening a bank of red phone lines from Capitol Hill to Iran. The groups involved have very different objectives and philosophies and included conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats, Independents and Libertarians, human rights activists, anti-war groups and religious groups. Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), for example, spoke of the human rights violations in Iran while Ron Paul (R-TX) discussed America’s inability to go to war with respect to its own budget and resources. But they all agreed on the fact that it is better to talk to other countries than to go to war with them.

Roundtable with You June 9 looked at Iran’s intercultural relations with the West, focusing specifically on architecture. Joining the program was architect Abdolhamid Eshragh, a former professor at Melli University in Iran and a member of the board of Encyclopedia Iranica. [Editor’s Note: Encyclopedia Iranica is a multi-disciplinary reference work and research tool designed to record the facts of Iranian history and civilization. It is based at the Center for Iranian Studies, a research center affiliated with Columbia University.] Mr. Eshragh spoke about the heroic efforts of numerous Iranian scholars who are trying to preserve Iran’s heritage and culture. He also spoke about the intercultural relations between Iran and the West, and how it has affected the architecture and landscapes of Iranian cities. He said in recent years, however, Iran has ignored all accepted rules of civil engineering in its bid to rapidly expand cities. “Since relationships rule Iran today, instead of principles, the expansion of cities in Iran hasn’t been based on any scientific or accepted world standard,” he said. One viewer e-mailed the program to say, “We hear this sad story that Iranian scholars with Encyclopedia Iranica are struggling to finance their small budget of one million dollars a year, when only last week the leader of Hamas left Tehran with 100 million dollars in his pocket.”

News and Views June 11 reported that President George Bush says diplomacy is the first choice in dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions but all options remain open. Speaking in Germany after talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Bush stressed that the international community will work together to resolve the issue and warned of additional sanctions. Chancellor Merkel said that diplomatic pressure has produced results, but she stressed that new sanctions will be necessary if Iran fails to suspend its uranium enrichment work. Their comments followed wide-ranging discussions on such issues as global trade and climate change. Mr. Bush traveled to Italy earlier Wednesday as he continues his week-long European trip, which will also take him to France, Britain and Northern Ireland.

Roundtable with You June 10 focused on the first-row seat VOA/PNN political correspondent Siamak Dehghanpour has had on much of the country as he covered the presidential primary contests, beginning in Iowa at the beginning of January and ending in Montana at the beginning of June. Mr. Deghanpour described his journey across America as “eye opening,” adding that the diversity he witnessed in the United States is more evident than perhaps anyplace else in the world. Mr. Deghanpour talked about meeting Iranians in all of the states he visited, saying they differ from one another based on when they immigrated and in which part of the United States they live. He said, “For all their differences, Americans from corner to corner of this vast land have one thing in common. They all demonstrate the diversity of the American melting pot.”

News and Views June 15 interviewed Human Rights Watch researcher Elahe Hicks on the execution of eight prisoners at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison early in the morning on June 11. The official government news agency, Fars, reported that eight men were executed. According to the report, those hanged were: Kiarash (age 32) convicted of murder in 2005, Alireza (age 28) convicted of murder and robbery, Abdolmajid (age 34) convicted of rape in 2001, Ali Akbar (age not given) convicted of murder, Mohammad (age 27) convicted of murder in 2001, Farhad (age 31) convicted of murder (date of murder not given) and two cousins by the names of Ali and Ali (ages not given) convicted of rape in 2005. The report also said authorities postponed the execution of three men: Behnood Shojaee, Mohammad Fadaei and Davoud Mahdoor. All were minors when convicted and sentenced to death. Ms. Hicks said the Iranian government has signed the international convention on children’s rights but noted this law is not being enforced in Iran.

Panelists on NewsTalk this week talked about President Bush lobbying Italy for tougher sanctions against Iran; President Bush’s invitation to Italy to join the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany); his encouraging Iran to accept the offer proffered by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana before more pressure is applied with additional sanctions; the hundreds of workers protesting at the Farnakh and Mehnakh thread factory for not receiving their wages for several months; striking sugar cane factory workers; students protesting in Tabriz with at least one reported arrest; the execution of eight inmates at Evin prison; the impact of UN sanctions on Iran; Rome’s town council’s decision to name a street on July 9th in honor of the Iranian students’ democracy movement; the impact of al-Qaeda documents found in a London taxi cab; Afghan donors conference; the impact of banning the hejab in Turkey; labor issues in northern and southern Iran; and the government’s closure of a major road between the cities of Rasht and Foman.

Today’s Woman June 10 focused on Iran’s economy with Jamshid Asadi, who teaches economics at the American University of Paris. Mr. Asadi said 57 economics professors recently devised plans to fight Iran’s economic problems – all of which were ignored by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He said Iran’s economic is faltering as a result of inadequate government planning and the lack of democracy and capitalism. “Why when oil prices are so high are public standards of life low and inflation high?” he asked. “If you look at socialist countries like the Czech Republic and Slovenia, shortly after abandoning socialism and moving toward capitalism, their economies are producing at 80-90% of that of France’s and Germany’s. Even Iran’s neighbors like Qatar are doing better because Iranians are taking their wealth and investing in the neighboring countries or immigrating overseas. Why? Because power is reserved for a select few in Iran – not everyone has the right and ability to prosper because certain sectors are restricted. Mr. Asadi said only a select few in Iran are allowed to prosper. He said Iran shouldn’t be spending the money generated by its oil income, it should be using the revenue to generate more money, “to create more wealth that can be spent. With all this oil, why are we importing our refined oil from other countries? Iran does not have enough technology to refine its own oil. And due to economic sanctions we have yet to obtain adequate equipment.” Mr. Asadi said there is no problem to Iran’s economic problems with President Ahmadinejad in power. “With Ahmadinejad as president, a solution is not possible. He does not even listen to Supreme Leader Khamenei.”

Today’s Woman June 9 focused on the relationship between celebrity and politics. While celebrity votes count no more than anyone else’s, an endorsement from a celebrity can influence how others vote. Panelists said they hope people would make their choices independent of how their favorite actor or singer votes. Politics and current events have affected the works of artists over the centuries. Goya has depicted Napoleon’s invasion of Spain, and Picasso’s renowned painting, Guernica, portrays Nazi Germany’s bombing of Guernica, Spain. The reverse is also true: artists affect the societies they live in. They hope for change in society through the art, and as such, have a great responsibility. Artists are more concerned with improving people internally while politicians are more concerned with the external. The program showed celebrity endorsements during the Democratic presidential primaries in the United States: actress Renee Zellweger urging people to vote; singer Elton John endorsing Senator Hillary Clinton; actress Jessica Alba saying she hopes to see a Democrat in office; and Senator Barack Obama getting endorsements from singer Stevie Wonder, actress Susan Sarandon, actor George Clooney, actor Will Smith and wife, actress Jada Pinkett. Today’s Woman also showed how George Clooney has used his celebrity to draw attention to the plight of women and children in Darfur, Sudan.

Today’s Woman June 9 also focused on the differences in the adaptability of female and male Iranian immigrants. London-based sociologist Mehrdad Darvishpour has studied the experience of Iranian immigrants to S widen. He found that women are more successful than their male counterparts in adapting to their new environment – in matters of education, increased secularism, economic growth and status. Mr. Darvishpour said women immigrants take greater advantage of education, “thus, the disparities that once existed between the education level of men and women diminishes post-immigration. The same goes for the differences in employment rates between men and women post-immigration.” The success of Iranian immigrants is not necessarily affected so much by their ethnicity as by the culture in which they grew up. Those immigrating to the West with already secular mindsets and a higher education are in a better position of taking advantage of their new home. Mr. Darvishpour said, “In Sweden and other countries, Iranians are among the most successful immigrant groups. In America, as I’m sure you know, Iranians, after Jews, are the most successful and powerful immigrant group.” Mr. Darvishpour said there is a down side to this rose picture. “When women from developing countries move to the West, they are exposed to new rights and greater freedom. They will not be living like they did in their home country. They will have new expectations in their relationships and they will expect better treatment. Unfortunately, in these situations” he said, “many men, still living in the past, cannot adapt to or accept this change, resulting in divorce. The divorce rate for Iranian women in Sweden is four times that of Swedish women… this is reflective of their modernity and quest for a better quality of life.”

Today’s Woman June 11 focused on the third anniversary of the 22 Khordad Women's Protest for Equality with renowned women’s rights activists Fariba Davoodi Mohajer and Parvin Ardalan. Ms. Davoodi Mohajer said, “Today is a day when Iranian women courageously went to the streets in an attempt to have their voices heard by the whole world, the people of Iran, and the government of Iran.” The protest was a catalyst for Iran’s women’s movement, joining together students, workers and activists from other causes, both men and women. Together, the movement was stronger. But because the protest generated tougher crackdowns from authorities, large gatherings such as 22 Khordad have become more difficult and more dangerous. But Ms. Davoodi Mohajer said the lack of demonstrations today in Iran is not a sign of decreased activism and involvement. “After the 22 Khordad protest many people became familiar with the women’s cause and efforts. At first, they were all saying why are you taking it to the streets? It’s dangerous. They will arrest you, detain you, and hit you. But the gains from this event were very much worth it. It would have taken us a lot of time to familiarize people with gender inequalities. Public demonstrations allowed the public to learn about our cause and us to learn about the public.” Joining the show from Tehran, Ms. Ardalan acknowledged the situation in Iran is very difficult for women. “However, that is not to say that if women do not participate in public demonstrations that they are sitting at home doing nothing. They are creating new, stronger ways of fighting back and continuing the movement.” Ms. Ardalan said the women’s movement and demonstrations are showing Iranians democracy in action. “We are even showing those in power what democracy looks like and how it works. As a result we are facing increased opposition from those in power. So in that sense, activism here is very difficult.” She said the joining together of various activists and their support for one another and strengthened them and given them power. “Because of this,” she concluded, “I think we will have a very good and strong future.”

Today’s Woman June 12 focused on the status of women’s rights in Iran and the previous day’s 22 Khordad (June 11) protest. Activist Parvin Ardalan, who received the Olof Palme Prize last year for her struggle for equal rights in Iran, said a group of female activists was to have gathered at a gallery in Tehran to discuss the women’s movement and how to advance their cause. However, before the women had a chance to assemble at the gallery, authorities closed the building down. Those who tried to warn other women not to come were detained. So far, nearly 10 have been detained. Renowned poet Simin Behbahani was one of the people scheduled to speak at the gathering. Ms. Ardalan said the women’s movement in Iran is not split into various sects; rather, it is formed from various groups working together out of their shared interest in promoting women’s rights.

Today’s Woman June 12 also focused on the International Labor Organization’s activities to raise awareness of World Day against Child Labor. The ILO estimates that nearly 165 million children between the ages of 5-14 are involved in child labor involving long hours of heavy tasks. Statistics provided by Iran are much lower than those garnered by international organizations. Masoodeh Mashayegh, head of the Association of Protection for Iranian Children, said there are sorts of child laborers in Iran. The first group of children works on the street, doing jobs such as selling gum, shining shoes or telling fortunes. The second group works behind closed doors. Ms. Mashayegh said these children have told her they are instructed to hide when inspectors are on the premises. She said it is against the law in Iran for a child under the age of 15 to work and that those between the ages of 15-18 are only to work limited hours with lighter workloads. “But in practice,” Ms. Mashayegh said, “this is not the case. Their workloads are as heavy as those set for adults. And because they are children and do not know their rights, or cannot fight for them, they are paid less and without insurance.” She said the situation can improve, but only if all of us take responsibility for those around us. “If pediatricians notice unusual physical bruises or burns on children and report it, we can make progress. It will be a long process and take time, but it will happen. If we believe that we are only responsible for our own lives and children, and do not care what others are doing, then society will remain as it is now. We must all help to create change and make sure these laws are enforced.”

Today’s Woman June 14 highlighted World Blood Donor Day, discussing the importance of donating blood, the requirements for blood donors and receivers, the history of blood donation, the composition of blood, and the precise process by which it is broken up into its four components: red blood cells, white blood cells, blood plasma and platelets. The program also focused on the controversy surrounding a recent divorce case in France between a 20-year-old Muslim woman and her 30-year-old Muslim husband. He had their marriage annulled on the grounds that she was not a virgin. Panelists debated whether this is a political concern or a personal matter. According to the woman’s father, the situation was strictly personal. Panelists talked about there being a double standard for men and women and whether or not a woman’s body is hers to do with as she pleases.

Today’s Woman June 15 discussed Senator Hillary Clinton’s avoidance of the topic of gender during her campaign in contrast to her concession speech which focused heavily on gender issues. Panelists said the fact that she was a woman was both a positive and negative influence on voters. Some women voted for her simply because they wanted to see a female president during their lifetime. Others saw it as a weakness. The panelists agreed that voters should concentrate on the abilities of candidates – not their gender or race. They also noted that Senator Barack Obama must garner many of Senator Clinton’s 18 million votes if he wants to win the White House. The show also focused on the 2008 Forbes 100 – a list of the world’s most powerful celebrities, a power ranking based on both earnings and fame. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey tops the list at $281 million. Golfer Tiger Woods is second at $117 million. Actress Angelina Jolie is third at $14 million, singer Beyonce Knowles is fourth at $82 million. Ms. Jolie’s partner, actor Brad Pitt, is tenth at $20 million. Panelists noted it was interesting to see so many women at the top of the list, and also important to note the list was based on both income and power.

Late Edition June 12 covered a recent game of the Women’s National Basketball Association at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. The match, between the Washington Mystics and the Atlanta Dream, pitted the historic rivals of the Eastern conference, with Washington finally eking out a victory, 80-74. The Washington Post newspaper wrote it up this way: “The Washington Mystics had scratched and clawed their way back into last night’s contest against the Atlanta Dream, yet somehow, despite the rebounds they were snaring and shots they were blocking, the second-half lead they had muscled to obtain was evaporating.” The WNBA is the most successful sports competition for women in the world and this is a great example of equality in American sports. The Washington Mystics is a popular team in the metropolitan area of the nation’s capital, and draws many of its supporters from local children and teenagers.

This week’s History Channel segments included a two-part profile of Saddam Hussein and the Third Reich. “Saddam and the Third Reich” traced the formation of the Baath Party and historical parallels to the Nazi Party in Germany. The program re-examined the April 1941 pro-Nazi coup in Iraq, led by the Grand Mufti, with help from Saddam Hussein’s uncle. After a successful uprising against the British-installed king, funded with Nazi money and support, Baghdad started broadcasting pro-Nazi propaganda. Under the tutelage of his uncle, Saddam later joined the Baath Party and began his long career of politics and violence. Segment three for the week focused on Confucius, the man revered as China’s greatest sage and whose teachings many credit for much of East Asia’s “economic miracle.” Born out of wedlock to a teenaged mother and a 70-year-old father, the young Confucius endured years of desperate poverty before his genius was recognized. Segment four profile designer Vera Wang, the daughter of Chinese immigrants. Born and raised in New York City, she pursued ice skating seriously for 15 years. She briefly attended college before becoming the youngest fashion editor at Vogue. Her own 1989 wedding led to a new career. When she could not find a suitable dress for the lavish affairs, she had one made and discovered a need for elegant gowns, so started designing them. Segment five profiled celebrity millionaire Donald Trump, the businessman, builder, gambler, author, and high-profile headline-grabber who symbolizes wealth.

This week’s “On the Record” – Persian News Network’s once-a-week program featuring executive editor Kambiz Mahmoudi as ombudsman – answered a viewer e-mail that said, “You have talked about the free flow of information but what about distortion of information or misinformation?” This is a very important question, Mr. Mahmoudi said. It is that true dictators as well as totalitarian regimes always try to block the free flow of information. Various methods have been used such as confiscating newspapers, jamming radio waves, and banning the distribution of foreign publications. But with the advancement of communication and broadcasting technology, satellite television and the Internet, it has become much more difficult for non-democratic regimes to deprive their entire population from receiving news and information from sources other than their own. The distortion of news and dissemination of misinformation is something that came of age after World War Two. This method confuses audiences and makes it difficult to distinguish between true and false. The most logical way for freedom lovers and the supporters of the free flow of information to confront this and to enable audiences to discover the truth is a multiplicity of information sources. In other words, we need to utilize modern communications technologies that enable audiences to gain access to various sources. To hear news from numerous sources empowers audiences to distinguish between fact and fiction. For example, the West in general and the United States in particular have no objection to the Islamic Republic of Iran or any other country utilizing atomic energy for peaceful uses. What is objectionable is using this power for manufacturing nuclear energy for the production of weapons of mass destruction. The International Atomic Energy Agency has the same agenda. US officials have stated this on various occasions, but officials from the Islamic Republic of Iran distort this and claim the United States is against any Iranian attempt to produce nuclear energy. Today, our audience has choices: to hear, read and watch the Islamic Republic of Iran’s media as well as Western media including the Voice of America and a host of other sources. Judgment remains with the audience and the truth will prevail.

Week seven of Late Edition’s Book Club highlighted

PNN’s question of the week was, “Do you think the Iraqi Prime Minister's visit to Iran will result in an end to Iran's interference in Iraq's affairs?” Out of 6,806 respondents, 8% said yes, 88% said no, while 4% said they did not know.


The Persian News Network’s television programming complements its radio broadcasts. VOA has the largest combined radio and television audience of all international broadcasters in Iran, with one in four Iranian households tuning into a VOA show at least once a week. Programs also are streamed on www.voapnn.com.

PNN’s 7-hour program block opens with Today in Washington, a brief look at the latest news developments in Washington, as well as the content of PNN’s upcoming programs. Then we present cultural programming translated into Farsi from A&E Television Network’s The History Channel. We intersperse 30-minutes of news breaks throughout our original programming, which includes the following shows: Today’s Woman, PNN’s newest program, had its debut September 27, 2007. The one-hour program features influential women from around the world discussing a full spectrum of topics, including social, medical, human rights, legal, sports and business. News and Views, PNN’s existing flagship, is now 2 hours in length, and features live news coverage of the latest headlines from Washington, Iran and across the globe. Roundtable with You is a talk show with expert guests, featuring discussion of current events, politics, popular culture and global health. Viewers and listeners from Iran and around the world participate in the show via phone calls and e-mails.

Late Edition begins with a wrap up of the day’s news and a close look at the day’s top story. Targeted to a younger demographic, the show also features segments on health, technology, sports, entertainment and culture. NewsTalk is a new journalists’ roundtable discussion program that features a news update followed by an examination of the day’s top stories and an in-depth look at issues relating to Iran.


From a viewer in Iran, one of our first e-mails regarding VOA/PNN’s new show, 48 Hours: “My greetings to [anchor} Ali Farhoodi and all your wonderful colleagues at 48 Hours. I’d like to thank you for inviting Mr. Ghelichkhani. Even though I’m not a big sports fan, I thoroughly enjoyed your show tonight. I think inviting veterans like him, who are not known to my generation, can be very instructive for us. I’d like to ask you to continue your program with the same kind of panache that you’ve started with. Please invite other national heroes like Mr. Ghelichkhani who can shed light on what Iran sports were like in the past and how to make sports better in the future.”

From a 29-year-old man in Tehran: “Thanks for your great programs. I am imprisoned because I could not pay the mahrieh (marriage portion or dowry). Please discuss this topic and its consequences. This has turned into a very big problem for young people.”

From a male viewer in Tehran: “Greetings. Our compassionate government officials, being deeply engulfed in corruption, and being incapable of running the country, have no choice but to increase pressure on the people, and to silence the people, so that they can survive in office longer.”

From a viewer in Qom: “We see new trends in the segregation of the sex everyday in Qom, to the extent that even public phones for men and women are now separated. Qom has the highest rate of suicides in Iran. It has the highest rate of contract marriages (sigheh), the highest rate of new AIDS patients, and the highest rate of poverty. So far, 40 people have died and 400 have become sick or blind in Qom because of home-made poisonous alcoholic drinks. In short, the biggest desire of the young people in Qom is to move to Tehran, which they think is at least a higher level of hell than Qom.”

From a student at Sharif University of Technology: “Thank you very, very much for your interesting program [Roundtable with You]. I really hope to celebrate our victory in Tehran one day with all Iranians. We are under oppressive pressure in Iran nowadays. Members of the police force are everywhere. Gashte Ershad, Gashte Amakken [morals police tasked with enforcing Islamic dress requirements and separation of the sexes] are making life unbearable for us.”

From a viewer in Iran: “Hello to you all at Voice of America and thank you for your great efforts. I am 29 years old. I’ve been in prison for three months for not being able to pay mahrieh (marriage portion) to my wife after we divorced. I’m writing to you while I’m on a temporary release, but I have to go back again soon. There are many men in Iran who are in the same situation – they are not able to pay the marriage portion money after divorce and they end up in prison like me. Would you please produce a program about this matter? Thank you.”

From a viewer in Tehran: “Some other bloggers and I have declared August 15, 2008, the day that bloggers will support the One Million Signatures Campaign. We have designed a banner that we will make available to all bloggers. Since Voice of America is the voice of freedom loving people, we are sharing this idea with you first. Would you dedicate August 15 to this subject on Today’s Woman? We need your support.”

From a viewer in Ahnaz, the capital of Khuzestan province: “Thank you for Today’s Woman. And thank you for your great effort to educate and inform women. I have a request. Would you please invite psychologist Azita Sayan, who resides in the US, as a guest on program? Thank you very much.” [Editor’s Note: Ms. Sayan is the author of Girl Talk Farsi (What Works with Men in Dating, Sex and Marriage.]

From a viewer in Iran: “You had a big revolution on Today’s Woman. Your hosts disagreed with each other for the first time when you had a segment on blogs. Normally, the hosts agree with other. But for the first time, I saw you disagree with each other.”

From a viewer in Tehran: “Would you please produce a program about compulsive-obsessive disorder in women, and especially in Iranian women? Please invite a psychologist onto your program and discuss how this disease can be treated.”

From a viewer in Iran: “In a country where women are considered to be a commodity, talking about women’s rights is only a slogan.”