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Persian tv weekly highlights 8/18

Reaching Millionsof Television Viewers in Iran Each Week

Washington, D.C. – August 18, 2008. The European Union slaps further sanctions on Iran; PNN launches its investigative series on Corruption in the Iranian Judiciary System; hostilities break out between Georgia and Russia – President Bush says a massive U.S. aid package is on the way for tens of thousands uprooted in the conflict; and Iranian President Ahmadinejad makes his first
state visit to neighboring Turkey.

Stay tuned: This Friday (August 24), PNN’s Newstalk broadcasts live from the Newseum, focusing on the U.S. Presidential Election.

An unprecedented and highly sensitive investigative report prepared for Iran’s Parliament has detailed instances of corruption throughout the country's judiciary. In an apparent political tug-of-war between rival Iranian leaders, the nearly 200-page document has been suppressed and never released to the public. VOA obtained a copy and PNN reports exclusively on the document’s findings.

Investigators working for the parliament’s Judicial Inquiry and Review Committee, many of them deputies themselves, subsequently reported a variety of corrupt practices. According to the report, these range from cases of judicial officials conspiring with convicted drug dealers who received reduced jail sentences or were allowed to escape custody, to instances of apparent profiteering by judicial officials who collaborated with private businesses for personal gain.

Among the cases cited in the extensive report: justice officials appeared to have turned a blind eye to a problem-plagued construction project through the mountains north of the Iranian capital,

Tehran – an expansion of the Kandovan tunnel that was originally built 70 years ago. The report notes construction took 10 years and was extremely over budget. The report says there were no legal consequences.

The Parliamentary probe also found judges were allowed to purchase new Iranian Khodro automobiles at the reduced rates normally charged for vehicles that came off the assembly lines with defects. The auto manufacturer then allowed the sub-standard cars to be sold to the public at new car prices.

The report even documents such problems as the sale of university entrance exam questions, a practice that allowed unqualified students to secure coveted university admission slots. The report found that none of those identified as perpetrators ever faced punishment. In one instance, a judge ruled that the exam questions that were sold were false, thereby allowing a suspect to go free.

The names of top Iranian political and religious leaders allegedly linked to corruption are not mentioned in the report obtained by VOA, which Iranian sources say appears to have been heavily edited to protect reputations.

News and Views, August 15 – PNN Interviewed Jackie Shire of the Institute for Science and International Security on its recent report claiming that military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities would not be a desirable option. The report, Shire explained, examines the difficulties of a military strike on Iran’s enrichment facilities. “It explores what is known about Iran’s complex of facilities to make centrifuges and related equipment, noting that current knowledge of that complex is lacking. Without such
information, an attack is unlikely to significantly delay Imastery of enrichment with gas centrifuges. Shire added that “the report’s conclusion is that an emphasis on militaryresponses to this conflict also has the effect of discouragIran from allowing more effective IAEA inspections, something necessary for the successful conclusion of a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program.” On the need for finding a diplomatic solution to the stand-off, she said that calls for military action against Iran may have the result of increasing pressure on Iran and hesitant ato seek a meaningful diplomatic solution.

News and Views, August 7 – PNN reported on the teleconference of the political directors of P5+1 aimed at pursuing further sanctions against Iran. PNN also alluded to the British Foreign Office statement saying while informal contacts between Solana and Jalili will continue, the group has no choice but to pursue further sanctions against Iran, as part of the dual - track strategy. In a related development, John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the UN, wrote an article in the August 5 edition of the Wall Street Journal saying “with every day the Iranian regime gets closer to nuclear bomb technology, while the possibility of a successful attack diminishes.”

News and Views, August 8 – Appearing on NAV, Justin Logan, associate director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, said that both European and UN Security Council sanctions on Iran have so far been largely ineffective in changing Iran’s behavior with regard to its nuclear program. The only effective sanction by the EU will be if they punish companies that do business with Tehran. “There is a broad consensus that Iran is trying to run the clock. They would like to wait and see who the president is going to be in the United States and adjust their policy accordingly,” he added. “The Russians have been fairly effective in blocking the process of sanctions”, he said. “[They] see the Kosovo independence, Georgia’s potential membership of NATO, and Iran’s nuclear issue where Washington needs Moscow’s help as all related to each other, but the United States tends to view these separately and independent of each other.” On the Georgia/Russia conflict, he concluded “It’s hard to tell who fired the first shot, but the real anger
is that for nationalistic reasons it may be difficult to back away and make concessions.”

News and Views, August 12 – PNN reported that the U.S. Treasury Department designated five entities for their ties to Iran’s uclear and missile programs. All five designees are owned or controlled by, or acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, entities that have been designated by the United States or the United Nations Security Council. The entities designated were the Nuclear Research Center for Agriculture and Medicine (aka Karaj Nuclear Research Center), the Esfahan Nuclear Fuel Research and Production Center (NFRPC), Jabber Ibn Hayan, Safety Equipment Procurement Company (SEP Co.) and Joza Industrial ompany.

News and Views, August 13 – PNN interviewed Prof. Hassan Mansour, a London-based economist to seek his views on recent sanctions announced by Washington against five Iranian entities. He said that Iran’s further isolation would inadvertently push Iran further into the sphere of Russian and Chinese influence. “Moscow is pursuing the hegemonic policies of the defunct Soviet Union. And because the Islamic Republic has become so weakened internally and internationally, it is now willing to make unimaginable concessions to Russia and the Chinese so that they make investments in Iran’s oil and gas industries.” He also said that the Iranian
economy is totally reliant on its oil revenue without which they cannot sustain the subsidies needed to keep the majority of the Iranian people on a subsistence level.

News and Views August 11 – PNN reported that western nations were pressing Russia and Georgia to end the hostilities. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer accused Russia of using excessive force and violating Georgia’s territory. It further reported that the United States was campaigning to get Russia to halt its retaliation and American officials accused Russia of
using the fighting to try to overthrow the Georgian government. In turn, Putin criticized the United States for airlifting Georgian troops back home from Iraq on Sunday at Georgia’s request.

News and Views, August 12 – PNN reported on President Bush’s deep concern about Russia’s involvement in the Georgia and breakaway regions’ conflict. He said the Russian escalation of military measures “would be inconsistent with assurances we have received from Russia – that its objectives were limited to restoring the status quo in south Ossetia that existed before fighting began on August 6.” PNN further reported on President Bush’s warning that “those actions jeopardize Russia’s relations with the Unite States and Europe”. On Sunday, in an interview with NBC in Beijing, President Bush said Russia had gone too far, its reaction has been disproportionate, and it must agree with mediation.

News and Views, August 13 – PNN reported that Georgia was accusing Russia of sending tanks into the strategic city of Gori despite a cease-fire in the fight over two pro-Russian breakaway Georgian regions. Russia has denied the presence of tanks, but says troops have set up several checkpoints near the largely abandoned city. PNN further reported that both Georgia and Russia agreed to the main points of a French-brokered peace plan which calls for the withdrawal of forces from two Georgian breakaway regions and free access for humanitarian aid workers. As a EU peace plan for Georgia and Russia struggled to take hold on ednesday, Russia’s foreign minister denied that his country’s military operations had been halted due to outside influence.

News and Views, August 13 – PNN quoted a senior U.S. defense official as saying that the United States canceled a joint naval exercise with Russia scheduled for this week in the wake of the fighting in Georgia. It also reported that U.S. officials want the Group of Eight to consider whether to expel Russia, reverting to G-7. The officials also say Washington may reconsider inviting Russia to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Roundtable with You, August 13 – Aram Hesami, a political science professor at Montgomery College in Maryland, discussed the full-scale war in the Caucasus between Russia and Georgia. According to Prof. Hesami, the act of aggression by Russia amounts to nothing but a show of force by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is nurturing visions of a Russian Empire in his mind. “He is serving notice to the former soviet republics that they cannot appear too chummy with the West. Since 1989, when the Soviet Union collapsed and Russia could no longer vie with the United States in terms of international influence and clout, it has been trying to intimidate its neighbors,” he added. As far as repercussions for Iran, Prof. Hesami claimed that Moscow is using its support for further punitive sanctions against Tehran as a bargaining chip in order to dissuade the West not to come to Georgia’s aid.

News and Views, August 17 – Former Iranian diplomat in Moscow Ali Geranmayeh weighed in on the invasion of Russian forces into Georgia during an interview with PNN saying “Although Moscow’s military operation has caused alarm among European capitals, they hope to calm the situation first and then bring pressure to bear on Russia to withdraw its forces from Georgia.” He opined that the presence of top western leaders and politicians in Georgia sends an unmistakable signal to Moscow that Georgia’s fledgling democracy will not be abandoned by the

News and Views, August 17 – a PNN reporter traveling with the McCain campaign asked the senator if he supported calls for rejecting the proposed U.S.-Russia nuclear agreement in congress in order to punish Moscow. McCain responded by saying that Russia’s invasion of Georgia requires a complete reexamination of U.S. relations with the Moscow government, and pointed out that he was pleased the United States canceled a planned joint military operation with Russia. He added that Washington would now
need to review the full range of its relations with Russia. McCain’s campaign comments came as Washington and Moscow traded barbs over the crisis in Georgia. Sen. McCain also announced the upcoming trip of influential senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) to Georgia to lend support to the embattled Georgian government.

News and Views, August 13 – PNN interviewed Darius Shahinfar, Democratic Candidate for New York’s 21st Congressional istrict. The Democratic Primary is set for Sept. 9. He told viewers, “My father came here almost 50 years ago to make a life for himself, a choice for which I am eternally grateful. I have been deeply touched at the enthusiasm my candidacy has created for other Iranian-Americans excited to see a bit of their own American promise fulfilled through my candidacy.” Commenting on his heritage, he added, “I know that many Iranian-Americans, including myself, have sometimes felt it necessary to downplay our heritage . . . but in this day and age there is no need to do so, if there ever was.” Touching on the continuing tension between the United States and Iran, he said that Iranian-Americans he speaks to are always interested in opening a new chapter in U.S-Iran relations and getting rid of the hostility that exists.

News and Views, August 5 – PNN reported on the presumptive GOP nominee Sen. John McCain’s visit to nuclear power plants in Michigan, highlighting the promise of a technology that is a key component of his sweeping plan to help the country overcome its energy crisis. PNN also reported on Sen. Barack Obama in Ohio where he also declared his support for safe and secure nuclear energy and added that other key issues must be addressed including security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and roliferation. Earlier in the week, the Illinois senator put forward a broad energy plan designed to end U.S. reliance on imported oil within 10 years.

News and Views, August 14 – PNN interviewed Prof. Touraj Atabaki, history professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands, to seek his views on the significance of the visit to Istanbul. The venue for the visit had been changed to Istanbul because in Ankara Mr. Ahmadinejad had to comply with the protocol and lay a wreath on the tomb of Ataturk, father of Turkey’s secularism, something that is an anethma to Iranian leaders. Prof. Atabaki said that Turkey has been asked by 5+1 countries to be a mediator between them and Iran to resolve the nuclear standoff. “The Turkish foreign minister has been anxious to dampen expectations about their role, but if they succeed with persuading the Iranians to suspend uranium enrichment it would elevate the status of Turkey. In addition, a nuclear-armed Iran is the last thing that Turkey wants in its backyard,” he added. According to Prof. Atabaki, there is a huge difference between the Islamists in Turkey and their counterpart in Iran. “Turkish Islamists have accepted pluralism and the role that Ataturk plays as the founder of modern Turkey. On the other hand, we see Ahmadinejad who cannot bring himself to visit Ankara because he has to pay his respect at the final resting place of Ataturk,” he concluded.

48 Hours, August 16 – London-based political analyst Alireza Nourizadeh appeared on 48 Hours to review the week’s top Iran and Middle East news stories. He said the reason the Islamic Republic has sat on the fence in the Russia-Georgia conflict is that the clerics in Iran do not want to antagonize Moscow and take sides notwithstanding a long and common history between the two people. “It’s expedient for Iran not to side with Georgia because it needs Russia’s help to stand up to the West over its nuclear program as international sanctions intensify,” he said. On President Ahmadinejad’s trip to Turkey, Nourizadeh said that the Iranian president refused to visit Ankara because, according to state protocol, he would have had to pay homage to the founder of modern Turkey, Kamal Ataturk. For Iran, he added, Ataturk’s thinking and beliefs are totally at odds with their view of absolute power through clerical rule. He said it was not surprising that the comments by a government official had drawn fire when he said that the
people are friends with everyone, even with the people of Israel. “This is not surprising from this regime because they are not just anti-Zionists as they claim to be, they are also anti-Semitic,” he said. Adib Boroumand, a top Iranian National Front leader, also joined the discussion and presented the viewpoints of his organization. He said that the INF is redoubling its efforts to attract the youth. In response to the U.S.-backed coup that toppled the government of Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953, he said “this unfortunate U.S. interference in Iran is one of the most shameful and disastrous episodes in Iranian history and we are still paying a price for this misguided U.S. policy that set back Iran’s national aspirations to take its destiny in its own hands against the British imperialism.”

News and Views, August 6 – PNN’s stringer in Irbil examined claims made by U.S. commanders that the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps – Ghods Forces – are reorganizing radical Shiite groups in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf to attack U.S. and Iraqi forces. ·In addition, the Lebanese militia group is aiding and abetting Iran in its attacks against coalition forces. ·Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi called on Iran not to meddle in Iraqi internal affairs. He demanded that the United Nations reign in Iranian interference in the Middle East’s hot spots. ·PNN also reported on the U.S. and Iraqi offensive in the eastern province of Diyala aimed at rooting out Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

News and Views, August 12 – PNN’s stringer in Irbil talked about the meeting between the representatives of the Autonomous Kurdish Government in Iraq with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad and speaker of Iran’s parliament Ali Larijani. At the meeting, it was agreed upon that the Islamic Republic would halt military attacks in northern Iraq against Kurdish positions.
·He also reported on the impending trip of the deputy of Iraq’s reconstruction Barham Ahmad Saleh to Iran to discuss long-standing border issues with Iranian authorities.

News and Views, August 13 – PNN’s stringer in Irbil focused on a trip taken by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Ahmad Saleh as part of an official delegation to Iran. The Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister says the delegation was hoping to hold talks with Iranian officials on issues of mutual concerns. Mr. Saleh expected to sign a number of trade and economic agreements. ·Iran, for its part, would try to talk the Iraqi officials out of signing the security agreement plan with the United States. ·

News and Views, August 13 – PNN’s stringer in Irbil, Iraq, covered the visit of Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Ahmad Saleh to Iran. During his 4-day visit Saleh called the Iraqi-U.S. Security Agreement an internal Iraqi matter, despite Iran’s concerns that his government would sign the agreement. ·The Iranian foreign minister met with Dr. Saleh today calling for the release of all Iranian political prisoners held in Iraq. ·The Iraqi Presidency Council calls upon Arab nations to increase bilateral ties with Iraq, stopping some neighbors of interfering with Iraq’s internal affairs. ·The PNN reporter also said that the Iraqi police in Basra arrested five suspected terrorists with possible ties to Iran.

News and Views, August 5 – PNN reported on the meeting between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President ahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat reportedly said the talks would focus on permanent-status issues, Israeli checkpoints, and the fate of Palestinian prisoners. The meeting was the first between the two since Mr. Olmert announced that he would step down after his Kadima party chooses a new leader in September. The Israeli prime minister has been under a cloud of corruption charges. On the other hand, the infighting between Fatah and Hamas has split the Palestinians into two distinct entities. Hamas is now firmly in control of Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank.

News and Views, August 17 – PNN reported on the latest paper by the World Bank regarding Middle Eastern countries including Iran. The report claims that Iran spends almost 10 percent on food subsidies and 7.2 percent on energy subsidies. According to a separate study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), if the fall in oil prices drops to $75 a barrel, Iran’s economy would adversely be affected with a soaring budget deficit. In an interview with PNN, economist Bijan Bidabad said that although the ranian government claims to be eager in reforming Iran’s outdated economic structure, there are hidden hands belonging to ultra onservative parties that resist government reforms. Instead of investing the oil windfall on making the economy more productive, Ahmadinejad has directly fueled the price rises by plowing huge amounts of cash into the economy to fund local infrastructure projects.

Late Edition, August 16 – California-based sports analyst Arash Hafizi appeared live to discuss Iran’s performance a week into the Beijing Olympic games. “The overall performance of the Iranian delegation to the games has been nothing but poor. The Iranian sports officials had promised before that they would win at least five medals in the first week, but it didn’t happen and instead of winning medals, the athletes faced failures,” he said. He added that mismanagement of sports and lack of professional training are the main reasons for the failure of Iranian athletes in the games. “It’s shameful that a country with 70 million in population couldn’t
achieve any success in the world’s greatest sports competitions,” he concluded.

Late Edition, August 4 – PNN reported live from the International AIDS conference in Mexico City. The report focused on the conference's goal to raise awareness about AIDS all around the world. The report also explained what the disease is, how it is transmitted, how can it be prevented and the latest medications used to treat it.

Late Edition, August 6 – PNN reported live from the International AIDS conference in Mexico City. PNN looked at the conference's Global Village exhibit which raises awareness about AIDS using dance, musical performances, art exhibits and theatre.

Today's Woman, August 8 – PNN reported live from International AIDS conference. This report focused on women's issues, highlighting the fact that high-risk women rarely get tested and women are getting infected at the same rate as men. Women face more violence and prejudice for being HIV positive that men don't face. The report also mentioned that Iranian AIDS researchers Dr. Kamiar and Arash Aalei were absent from the conference because of their imprisonment.

Late Edition, August 8 – PNN broadcast an exclusive interview with Dr. Pedro Cahn, president of the International AIDS Society, which sponsored the conference. Dr. Cahn talked about the challenges Iran and other countries face as they combat the spread of AIDs at the rate of 7,000 victims per day. Iranian AIDS activist and HIV positive patient Amireza Moradi told PNN that as activist he sees many issues with Iran's AIDS program but the overall picture looks very promising.

Today’s Woman, August 8 – a PNN correspondent reported live from the site of the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. Iran’s Mashhad Positive Club was amongst the five recipients of the Red Ribbon Award, given by the United Nations Development Fund to organizations combating HIV. The conference also acknowledged the recent imprisonment of the Alaei brothers, internationally recognized AIDS specialists, including a clip from their appearance on the Today’s Woman program last year.

Today’s Woman also featured an interview with Dr. Mahboobeh Safaeian, an AIDS researcher from the National Cancer Institute, regarding ways to prevent AIDS and provide treatment. There were also comments from Dr. Amir A. Afkhami of George Washington University. Afkami, who also spoke at the conference in Mexico City, described the consequences of AIDS
stigmatization, acknowledging the importance of AIDS awareness and the realization that AIDS affects people from all walks of life.

Roundtable with You, August 11 – Dr. Marjan Hezareh, Science Director at AIDS Research Alliance, appeared on PNN live from Mexico City while attending the International AIDS Conference. She said that HIV infection still carries a stigma in the world that inhibits individuals from testing their HIV status and those infected to seek treatment. She added that there is a problem of inequality between men and women in Iran – that married women do not have the power to force their husbands to use condoms even if they have other sexual partners. “For that reason,” she said, “women make up more than half of those infected with the virus.” The way in which most infections occur vary, according to Dr. Hezareh. For example, in Africa it is transmitted through unprotected sexual encounters with those afflicted. In the Middle East in general (and Iran in particular), it is through drug addiction and needle-sharing that this virus spreads.

Newstalk, August 4 – PNN covered the execution of blogger Yaghoob Mehrnahad for allegedly “spreading anti-government propaganda in his satanic writing,” as claimed by the prosecutor. Amnesty International condemns this execution, and believes that this was nothing but an attempt to silence the Sunni minority in Iran. Human rights activists in Iran believe that the series of recent executions in Iran attest to the government’s desire to silence any dissenting view within Iranian society.

News and Views, August 6 – PNN reported on the recent election by Iran’s writers union. It was the union’s first election in six years despite the ban by the government. Because any gathering of union member was barred by law, the union was able to conduct its election through mail. PNN discussed this election with Said Fariborz Raeesdana, a union member, who said, “We don’t wish to get involved in politics, but still the government does not leave us alone.”

Late Edition, August 6 – PNN interviewed journalist and blogger Arash Sigarchi on the state of Internet freedom and Web logging in Iran. He said blogging among Iranians skyrocketed in the year 2000 and the number of blogs has increased dramatically ever since, despite government restrictions. “This is why Farsi has become one of the most important languages on the Web,” he said. He added that blogging is used as a means of modern communication to exchange ideas among the youth. “Some pay a heavy price for this. Last week, Yaghoub Mehrnahad, who was a blogger from south of Iran was executed due to his blogging.”

Today’s Woman, August 11 – The Family Protection Bill, a controversial piece of legislation that further legalizes gender discrimination in Iran, was the main topic of discussion. The hosts discussed reports that a broad-based coalition of women activists in Iran is being formed to prevent the bill from becoming law. A vote by the Iranian Majles (parliament) is expected this week. Another segment in the show looked at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver and the scheduled peeches by Michelle Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Another segment looked at the status of women political prisoners in Iran acknowledging the imprisonment of student activist Bahareh Hedeyat and Mahboobeh Karimi. In a phone interview, Ms. Hedeyat’s husband stated that his wife was being held in solitary confinement in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

News and Views, August 14 – PNN interviewed the brother of Masood Kurdpour who was arrested last week in his house and his family has not heard from him since. A college graduate with a major in geography, he used to publish articles in local newspapers on civil rights and human right issues in the Kurdish region. “According to the laws of the Islamic Republic, every detainee has the right to know why he has been arrested, but the Islamic regime breaks its own laws by arresting people and depriving them of their basic rights,” said Jafar Kurdpour to PNN.

48 Hours, August 9 & 10 – Prof. Abbas Milani with the Hoover Institute at Stanford University appeared on PNN to discuss his groundbreaking portrait of modern Iran that reveals the country’s rich history through the lives of the men and women who forged it. Prof. Milani said that his new book consists of 150 profiles of the most important innovators in Iran between World War II and the Islamic Revolution. The book includes politicians, entrepreneurs, poets, artists, and thinkers who brought Iran into the modern era with brilliant success and sometimes terrible consequences. Prof. Milani said that the two volumes are divided into sections on
politics, economics, and culture, each accompanied by an introductory essay that places the individual stories in their broader historical context. Drawn from interviews, extensive archival material, and private correspondence, Eminent Persians is a treasure trove of original documents, many appearing in print for the first time. Detailed sketches of personalities and personal foibles offer a compelling and highly readable account of this remarkable period of history on a human scale.

Roundtable with You, August 4 – reported that Iran’s current economic and social stagnation could be blamed on the Islamic Revolution and the reversal of the secular constitution with its separation of powers. Historian Mashallah Ajoudani joined the discussion from London to celebrate the anniversary of the Constitutional Revolution of 1906. “During the Constitutional
Revolution, the nation went from a backward nation into a modern one, with educational expansion, separation of powers and a strong military; whereas, in the Islamic Revolution of 1979, all of these expansions were reversed and the nation nose dived into stagnation.”

Roundtable with You, August 14 – PNN covered the alarming spike in recent public hangings and worsening human rights in Iran with Dr. Ramin Ahmadi, an active member of Doctors without Borders, as well as Doctors for Human Rights law professor Nemat Ahmadi from Tehran (no relations to the first guest). It was said that none of those hanged had access to counsel and any kind of due process. Both guests noted that Amnesty International issued a rebuke of the Iranian government and demanded Iran to account for the massive arrests of women activists, those involved with the One Million Signature Campaign, and the arrest of the Alaei brothers who were actively involved in the treatment of AIDS in Iran. Dr. Nemat Ahmadi noted that the prevalent insecurity in Iran is quietly destroying lives, but on the other hand, also feeds the perception that the regime also feels insecure about its longevity.

News and Views, August 5 – PNN reported on the latest study by the Iranian Central bank that revealed at least 14 million Iranians living below the poverty line – adding to concern about the welfare of those worst off in Iran as prices soar. The central bank figures, published in the reformist daily newspaper Sarmayeh, represent one in five of Iran's 70 million people. The latest figures come amid increasing concern over soaring prices in Iran, which have hit the poor and low-income state employees particularly hard. PNN also spoke with Tehran-based economist Bijan Bidabad, who said that with government poised to cut subsidies on items such as sugar and tea, more people will have a harder time making ends meet. “The government needs to stabilize the rate of inflation between six to eight percent, then move to gradually cut back on subsidies,” Bdabad added.

News and Views, August 6 – PNN reported that the seven Iranian Bahai community leaders, who were arrested more than two months ago, were recently allowed to make phone calls to their relatives for the first time. Iranian officials claim that these Bahai leaders have confessed to having established an unlawful organization that took its marching orders from Israel in an attempt to undermine the Islamic Republic. Nabil Tavakoli, a member of a Bahai official assembly in Iran, told PNN “whenever they arrest Iranian Bahais for their religious beliefs, authorities invariably come up with these trumped-up charges, i.e. ‘acting against national

Roundtable with You, August 12 – The personal physician of the Shah of Iran appeared to detail the Shah’s terminal cancer and treatment. He said there were only three individuals in 1974 that diagnosed the late Shah with a severe, and serious blood related illness. They were Dr. Abbas Safavian, Professor Jean Bernard, and Professor Mileise. This disease, while in a good regimen of treatment, would have had no effect on the Shah’s ability to govern. According to the guest, the Shah’s situation deteriorated rapidly due to severe level of stress and pressure of what was taking place in Iran, and he continuously was thinking about his compatriots.

News and Views, August 14 – PNN’s investigative report looked at the boom and bust of the Iranian real estate market. The skyrocketing cost of housing in Iran has been followed by a slump in home sales. The government has been alarmed by a huge spike in real estate prices caused mainly by speculation and has vowed to bring down home prices. Part of the reason for extremely high home prices was that many buyers who had investments in Dubai saw the housing market in Iran a far more attractive opportunity to make a quick profit and transferred their cash position to Iran. There are properties in upscale Tehran neighborhoods that go for $27,000 per square meter.

Today’s Woman, August 15 – discussion focused on the Family Protection Bill in Iran with Hassan Asadi, chair of the Advar Islamic Graduate Student Organization, in order to understand the perspectives of youth in Iran regarding the bill. Asadi contended that the provisions of the bill are not only an insult to women’s rights, but also an insult to human rights. He went on to say that
the Family Protection Bill affects everyone, thus making it an issue that all should oppose. Mr. Asadi also compared the current Family Protection Bill with the post-Islamic Revolution Family Protection law, suggesting that the latter was more protective of women’s rights.

Late Edition, August 15 – Political Rapper Omid Pouryousefi appeared live to discuss his Tapesh 2012 music group. The lyrics of this music group include socio-political topics such as human rights, poverty, injustice, Islam and the “war of religions”, and the environment. Pouryousefi said music is an effective way to convey messages. He said the reason they picked Tapesh 2012 as the name of the group is that they are hoping for a change in Iran’s political situation so that they can plan a concert in Iran by year 2012. Tapesh 2012 is an open project and free for anyone to join. Three albums have been released to date. Pouryousefi added that his music group has drawn inspiration from Mahadma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. “They stand for social change that is accomplished through non-violent methods,” he concluded.

48 Hours, August 17 – American-Iranian Council President Hooshang Amirahmadi, who has just returned from his second trip to Iran in 2008, appeared on PNN to discuss the prospect of a thaw in U.S.-Iranian relations. During his trip to Iran, he said he was engaged in extensive shuttle diplomacy with American, Iranian and British officials, lawmakers and civil society leaders. His month-long tour of Iran last month, he said, enabled him to closely examine the domestic circumstances of Iran, especially with respect to a possible normalization of relations with the United States. He added that Iran is gradually readying itself to embrace a more normal relationship with the United States, but that Tehran has little hope that it could resolve its nuclear enrichment issue within the multilateral channel of the UN Security Council. “In sharp contrast, Iran is increasingly interested in engaging the United States bilaterally, which it now thinks is a better channel to resolving its disputes with both the United States and the UNSC,” he said.
Iran’s positive reaction to the idea that the United States might wish to establish an Interests Section in Iran is a reflection of this new Iranian perspective. Ramin Asgard, who is the director of the Iran Regional Presence Office (IRPO) in the U.S. consulate in Dubai, said through his office in the past two years over 250 Iranians, including artists, athletes, medical professionals, and teachers of Persian, have participated in exchange programs in the United States, and a small but still significant number of Americans have traveled to Iran. Despite many obstacles, the history of U.S.-Iran cultural diplomacy is overwhelmingly positive and its impact on many thousands of Americans and Iranians has endured regardless of political differences between our two nations. “The main objective of our office in Dubai is for us to have a better understanding of what’s going on in Iran. We don’t seek out opponents of the regime per se,” he added (dismissing an accusation leveled at IRPO by Tehran).

News and Views, August 17 – PNN reported on the power rationing plan announced by the Iranian Energy Ministry. According to the plan, every major city in Iran will experience two to four hours of rolling blackouts. The 16 power plants that were supposed to be up and running by now, as promised by the Ahmadinejad government, have not gotten off the ground. An anonymous source in Tehran told PNN that if the government had invested adequately in the infrastructure the blackouts announced recently would have been avoided. “Due to the decaying parts in these power plants, some of the power generated never reaches Iranian consumers,” this source added.

On the Record, August 8 – Persian News Network’s program featuring executive editor Kambiz Mahmoudi as ombudsman focused on PNN’s devotion to accuracy and balance in reporting the news, as opposed to being the first to report on certain news items. On the Record also explored the western media's freedom in criticizing their own government. Dr. Mahmoudi explained that this criticism doesn't mean western democracies are corrupt, but rather it shows the power of the people to bring about change when leadership is faced with issues. As a comparison, Dr. Mahmoudi said that in dictatorial governments, if there are no reports of
corruption, it doesn't mean these countries are corruption-free. Instead, it shows that the government is either controlling or suppressing the media.
On the Record, August 15 – Persian News Network's program featuring executive editor Kambiz Mahmoudi as ombudsman focused on the established firewall that separates BBG journalists from the rest of the United States Government ensuring Voice of America's ability to report on the news without being under the influence of any government agency. This, according to the BBG, provides VOA with credibility as a news organization. Dr. Mahmoudi explained that the firewall, which is part of the legislation governing VOA policy, is violated whenever a U.S. government official tries to influence the reporting of the news by putting undue pressure on a journalist or broadcast manager. This is what democracy is all about, according to Dr. Mahmoudi.

PNN’s Aug. 4 Question of the Week was "Has the Iranian judiciary acted according to its mandate in fighting corruption?" Out of 8,71 respondents, 7% said yes, 92% said no and 1% did not have an opinion.

PNN’s Aug. 11 Question of the Week was “Is the Iranian athletes’ refusal to compete with athletes of Israel compatible with the spirit of the Olympic games?” Out of 7,802 respondents, 13% said yes, 85% said no, while 2% did not have an opinion.

August 4, History Channel programs featured post-impressionists Van Gogh and Gauguin – in October of 1888, two struggling artists joined forces in a tiny yellow house in the South of France - Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin. Their collaboration was the first step towards the realization of Vincent's lofty dreams. “Tunnels” takes the viewer to one of America’s biggest tunnel projects, Atlanta’s CSO (Combined Sewage Overflow). To help manage wastewater during torrential rains, two four and a half mile long tunnels are being constructed under the city to channel storm water overflow to a pumping station. “Richard Pryor: Comic on the Edge” examined Pryor's rise as a comedy superstar from his childhood in Peoria, Illinois, to his debut on the segregated Chitlin' Circuit, and his eventual rise to unprecedented crossover success on stage, records, television, and film. Part One “George Patton” delved into the life of one of America’s most celebrated World War II generals.

August 11, History Channel programs covered the life and times of World War II’s General George Patton, one of America’s most enigmatic and beloved military commanders. More than 60 years after World War II, his name still evokes a profane, go-for-the-throat, hell-on-wheels commander whose slashing armored columns dismembered Hitler’s “Thousand Year Reich” with matchless thunder and dash. Also featured was Laura Bush as the “Secret Weapon” of the 43rd President. This particular episode quoted many of Laura Bush’s friends who said she has a mind of her own and she’s not afraid to use it. She’s smart, well read, and quick with a gentle tension-busting joke. Another episode delved into the life of a quintessential American success story, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former bodybuilder and action movie mega-star who marries a Kennedy. Finally, a profile is offered regarding every aspect of the Hippie movement – free love, the peace movement, drugs, Eastern religions, communes, Gestalt therapy, macrobiotics – which introduced the “gurus” whose words and actions inspired it – Marshall McCluhan, Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, Jerry Rubin, Gloria Steinem, Dick Gregory and a host of others.

PNN is pleased to announce that it is beefing up its presence on YouTube. The recent package regarding Economic Corruption in Iran is evidence of this effort. PNN producers are being encouraged to bring their stories to the PNN web desk for possible posting on YouTube.


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 newsbreaks 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.


Fariborz from Karaj writes
“I think as long as we have "velayat- faqih " (religious jurisprudence) in Iran, no democratic movement can go forward. Human rights, women rights, justice, freedom of speech and social welfare will all be attainable only when the theocratic regime is eliminated from this country.

Hamid from Iran writes “The Islamic regime would love an attack by USA, Israel or other countries. This is its desire, provided no cleric would die. Only it is in this condition that it can survive and remain in power for some fifty years more. However, if it feels that such an attack will lead to its destruction, then it will immediately surrender.”

From Fari in the U.S., “I always watch VOA. On July 23, 2008 on Today’s Woman, after televising a movie about Afghanistan they concluded that: Probably America can reach to its goals, but freedom cannot be released from the barrel of gun. Afghan people are blaming USA for Taleban re construction Situation in Afghanistan during the last 2 years is worse than 3 years ago. Everything was negative and hopeless and nothing about educational opportunities for Afghan young generation.”

Kambiz from Rasht writes “In Iran the security agents are masked. Meaning: In the “pure Mohammadian Regime” The police fear as much as I do. I fear to express my views. What do the police fear from? Have you ever known a country where the police are masked?”

Diaoko from Shiraz writes “Article 80 of the Iranian Constitution stipulates that giving any loan or grant to other countries must be approved by the Iranian Majles (Parliament). In the Islamic Regime, not only it is not approved by the Majles, but also people are not informed of the process. I call this “embezzlement” of Ahmadinejad government.”

From a Today’s Woman viewer in Iran, “My wife and I are addicted to this show [Today’s Woman]. We have to watch it every day. Your programs have improved during the last two months. It has become more informative, more educational and more fun. I am a writer who writes in the Shahrvand Newspaper under the nickname of Mirza Taghi khan. Here is the newspaper’s website www.shahrvand.com. I have written some articles about women issues that you can use in your show if you are interested. Thank you.”

From a Today’s Woman viewer in Iran, “Since Today’s Women program is not only a news show, but it also covers women’s issues, and it also gives you an idea about how women should be in the future, I suggest that you change the name of this show from Today’s Women to Future’s Women. Then the name of the show will match the content of your show. Would you please invite Mrs. Setareh Derakhshesh to Today’s Women Program? We would like to know more about Mrs.Derakhshesh’s biography.”

Majid in India says “I have moved to India to continue my studies. I always watch Today’s Women program through Internet. I have also encouraged all my friends to watch Today’s Women program. I suggested that they follow your great program. In my point of view women in Iran are becoming more and more active in our society. You can see the differences if you look at the past decade. However I’m so sorry that due to conservative religious believes, Iranian women are not able to participate in various fields of women sports in the Olympics in China.”

A PNN viewer writes, “Please tell the viewers that the Family Bill, which has newly been introduced to parliament by the Ahmadinejad administration, is a bill that actually will ruin the base of family institution in our society. The new Family Bill will just benefit those men in the families who follow Khomeini’s footstep.”

A Today’s Woman viewer writes, “Hello to you all at Today’s Women program. I watched today’s segment about the new research on homosexuals. As you have mentioned in your program unfortunately the traditional and backward beliefs about homosexuals in Iran has made the life for them so hard. I had to leave my beloved country, Iran, because I am a homosexual. I had to flee to a foreign country. I had to leave Iran because I had no future there as homosexual person. I encourage you to produce more programs about this subject, because this would help to change the misbeliefs about homosexuality in our country.”

A Today’s Woman viewer writes, “Would you please invite Mrs. Setareh Derakhshesh to Today’s Women Program? We would like to know more about Mrs.Derakhshesh’s biography.”

Reza in Iran writes, “Would you like to have a new experience in view of art widespread? I have got a lot of new movie plans and ideas in the form of short stories which contain original and non-adapted subjects. If you would like, I can send you a short biography of my works written in different styles. As you know, a good plan is the most important factor for a movie success; so I have tried to gather the artistic and commercial standard together with different forms. I am sure if you accept my companion, we can achieve a great and reasonable success using your experience. Yours truly."