Washington, D.C. - September 1-7, 2008… live coverage of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota anchored by Setareh Derakhshesh, with reporters Guita Mirsaeedi, and Siamak Deghanpour gave Iranian viewers an in-depth look at American party politics. Interviews with high-ranking government officials and political operatives; an interview with former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Libya top PNN’s coverage this week.
LIVE COVERAGE FROM REPUBLICAN CONVENTION
Tommy Thompson the former republican governor of Wisconsin spoke with PNN about the decision to drastically cut back on events scheduled for Monday’s convention saying, “ McCain thinks of Americans first… it was the right thing to do.” Thompson also spoke to PNN about Senator McCain’s decision to tap Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate calling her “the best choice, ” and suggesting that her presence will “help the party in the long run.”
Political analyst Stuart Rothenberg, publisher and editor of the Rothenberg report commented on Senator McCain’s V.P. choice saying: “McCain likes to surprise people. He wanted to make a splash: bringing someone new and young, and he did. All will depend of how she handles herself in the weeks to come.”
Former Presidential Candidate and Republican Bob Dole talked about why Governor Palin was chosen. “Well first it makes history.” He said, “We don't choose her because she's a woman. We choose her because she brings the right values to the ticket.”
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, (R-MI) told PNN this is a historic election, saying: “Regardless of the outcome in November, this election will be historic. We'll either elect our first woman to be Vice President or President or we'll elect an African American…”
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, (R-TX) told PNN Palin “…brings something that women can relate to and that is she's a working mom and every working mom knows how hard it is to juggle everything. But she's done it and she's done it very well and I think a lot of people are supporting her because they relate to her experiences… “
Senator James Inhofe, (R-OK) told PNN the choice of Palin was a logical one for Senator McCain. “Those of us who know John McCain well and even those who don't know him well know that he has some very rough edges. Governor Palin softens those edges. She's one of these people you can't dislike and she has a smile that's always there. That's what is needed on this ticket. Because that is what McCain does not have.”
Senator George Voinovich, (R-OH) said her experiences are ones that most Americans can relate to. “She does not have a silver spoon in her mouth,” he said. “She faces the problems of the ordinary citizen of this country and I think that dimension of her will resonate with a lot of Americans to say that at least we've got somebody that's got five kids, she's got the same problems that we have … ”
Congressman Chris Smith, (R-NJ) said Governor Palin has energized the campaign saying, “Well I think she has really brought a renewed enthusiasm to the race but more importantly she is a reformer. She is very pro-family. She believes in the sanctity and dignity of all human life including unborn children, the disabled and I think she brings such a breath of fresh air.”
Congressman David Dreier, (R-CA) said, “She is going to be the next Vice President of the United States, I am convinced of it. And the reason is that not only is she intelligent, she has superb judgment, great experience but her life story is what has inspired so many people…”
Congressman Tom Tancredo, (R-CO) said Palin has made him enthusiastic about the ticket. “Now I can actually vote not just against Obama, which is what I was doing,” he said. “Now I can vote for our ticket... because she inspires me, she creates the enthusiasm in me…”
Congressman Mario Diaz Ballard, (R-FL) talked with PNN about Palin’s potential for bringing in votes in some important swing states and dismissed criticisms about her lack of experience. “Look she's very ready. She has a lot. She has executive experience. She has more experience than the top of the ticket on the Democrat side. She's an expert in the energy area and that's one of those critical issues facing the nation.”
Former Senator Mike DeWine, (R-OH) called McCain “an independent thinker. I think he's well respected for that. I've know him for over 25, 26 years so I think he's going to be competitive in a number of states that maybe Republicans have not been traditionally competitive in…”
Congressman Pete King, (R-NY) told PNN “I believe Wisconsin and Minnesota, just to name two states, are very much up for grabs. Senator McCain has a real chance to get them. President Bush only lost them, I think, by two or three points in the last election and also Michigan's another state where I think we have a real chance to win it so yeah we can and uh... we have to just keep uh... fighting...”
Former Nixon Administration Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told PNN that the Republican Party’s response to Senator McCain's demand for change will be positive.
Former Majority Leader Bill Frist said, "Senator McCain is the maverick. As the majority leader of the Senate, I can tell you he's a maverick and he does it well and he does it with values and now he's complemented by Sarah Palin who is a clearly independent thinker who is calling for change every day.”
Congressman Jeff Flake, (R-AZ) told PNN “We've got to have reform. And the country, they want reform as well. They know that Washington’s broken and we're spending far more money that we have. Energy prices are through the roof. We just can't go on like this... This convention has been good. The choice of Sarah Palin has certainly energized Republicans and Democrats and independents to vote for.”
Congressman Tom Price, (R-GA) bashed the Democratic nominee saying: “Senator Obama is the number one leftist liberal senator in the United States Senate. This is an individual whose default is always more government. That's not what the American people want."
The team in St. Paul also spoke with a number of Republican lawmakers and officials about the situation in Iran and the approaches a McCain or Obama administration would bring.
Senator Bob Corker, (R-TN) said, “I don't think Iran sanctions will be a major issue coming to November Election because I have a sense that both candidates actually will be focused on sanctions in that regard… And my sense is, you know, the importance of what happens in Iran certainly is paramount and as it is in North Korea, as it is in a number of places and my sense is a McCain administration would throw themselves into that…”
Robert Portman, former Director of office of Management and Budget, told PNN “Senator McCain's pretty tough on Iran for very good reasons, you know. He's saying that Iran can't continue to say the things they're saying and to encourage groups that might not be Iranian but that are extremist groups through that kind of language and that kind of support.”
Ilan Berman, Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council pointed out the differences between the Obama and McCain campaigns. “Senator Obama’s talked a great deal about the need for dialogue, the need for unconditional negotiations underpinned, I think, by an understanding that if only we could talk to the Iranians we could sort of convince them of the error of their ways, come to some sort of reconciliation. Senator McCain takes a very different approach. He thinks that the Iranian regime has been pursuing this program for twenty years; they know what they're doing so it's not a matter of talking to them to convince them. It's a question of pressuring them to demonstrate to them that the costs of moving forward with the nuclear program are greater than any benefit they'll receive.”
Senator Norm Coleman, (R-MN) told PNN “…Iran cannot and should not be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. That would be a terribly destabilizing impact on the entire Middle-East so I think the ability to deal with the challenge that Iran represents is going to be an issue and John McCain has the strength and the experience to deal with the challenges in the Middle-East and challenges with Iran and I think in the most experienced way.”
Representative Peter King, (R-NY) told PNN the U.S. “should not be going to negotiations with Iran at the highest levels unless a lot has already been agreed on. We cannot allow the President of the United States or even the Secretary of State of the United States to be used by Iran. We can do that through intermediaries and we can reach out to them through middle level representatives. I think Senator Obama really has showed lack of knowledge when he said he'd be willing to sit down with Ahmadinejad or any Iranian leader without preconditions. That's just... that would be disastrous.”
Trent Lott, Former Senate Majority Leader told PNN that under a McCain Administration “Everything will be revised” in regards to Iran. “Policies will be similar but would depend on circumstances. McCain will have a very aggressive internationalist policy, and will be very strong with countries and leaders who present challenges to other parts of the world.”
Senator Orrin Hatch, (R-UT) made a point of separating the Iranian people from the government of Iran. “Most of the people of Iran are pro-western,” he said. “We love the nation of Iran, but we simply cannot allow them to be an irresponsible nuclear power. McCain's approach will be diplomatic but Iran is a serious problem.”
Congressman Duncan Hunter, (R-CA) told PNN “We want to resolve the Iranian centrifuges and the refinement of the uranium which can be used for nuclear weapons when it reaches a certain refinement level. Obviously we want to resolve that issue without violence, without the need to take military action but Sen. McCain will not let Iran have a nuclear weapon.”
Former Senator George Allen, (R-VA) also talked about Iran in the context of nuclear weapons and energy. “A key issue John McCain cares about is strategic energy security for our country,” he told PNN. “Countries such as Iran, countries such as Russia, Venezuela and others are using energy or oil more particularly and natural gas as leverage over other countries and our country needs to be less dependent on imported oil…”
Congressman Boozman, (R-AR) spoke about diplomacy in Iran saying, “There's a lot of value in diplomacy. I'm glad that President Sarkozy is doing what he's doing in the sense of talking. Trying to mediate. I think Sen. McCain will be a strong president. I think you have to have peace through strength to get things done.”
Political Analyst David Broder also spoke about the challenges a nuclear Iran poses to a McCain Administration. “Senator McCain has said that he regards Iran's nuclear program as one of the most serious challenges facing the US and the west, but it is not clear how he would address that. I expect the next administration - McCain or Obama - to continue with the current policy and discussions with Iran. But it is what Iran does that largely determines the course of US relations with that country.”
News and Views, Sept, 2- Obama supporter Ahmad Taghvayee, told PNN that Obama favors diplomacy and stronger sanctions Against Iran. He also said that choosing Mrs. Palin for Vice Presidency would benefit McCain in the short run, because it will generate support among the Republican’s evangelical base. But because of her lack of experience in areas like economy, foreign policy and some other areas, it won’t help McCain in the election.
Today’s Woman Sept. 3- PNN spoke with Miriam Ansari a German based journalist about European views on the U.S. presidential elections. She said Europeans are following the US election closely and acknowledged that although race and gender may be issues in the US presidential elections, in Europe qualifications of the candidate are what matter most.
SECRETARY RICE TRAVELS TO LIBYA
News and Views Sept. 5- In an exclusive interview David Welch, Assistant Secretary of State, for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs told PNN that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would be the first secretary of state to visit Libya in more than a half-century. Welch told PNN that Libya has abandoned its nuclear, Biological and chemical weapons program and now is ready to benefit from relations with Western countries. He also said that the Bush administration would like to send a clear message to countries like Iran and North Korea to show how cooperation with the international community could be beneficial to them.
News and Views, Sept. 6- Dr. Bahman Aghaii Diba appeared on News and Views on Saturday to discuss Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Libya. “Libya made changes in its policies,” he said. Libya made its nuclear program clear, and stopped supporting terrorism.”
News and Views, Sept. 7- PNN spoke with Dr. Morteza Anvari about US Secretary of State Rice and her meetings with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, this week. He spoke about Rice’s message is that the U.S. has no permanent enemies and that Libya’s willingness to change made the difference. He said Libya’s experience proves a country cannot lead merely with ideology, and that Russia and China have learned this in the past.
JOHN BOLTON ON FUTURE OF U.S. IRAN RELATIONS
News and Views, Sept. 2- PNN interviewed former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton about Iran, and the world’s efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program. The former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations claimed that Iran has mastered all the science and technology to allow them to eventually create and deliver nuclear weapons. Bolton also claimed that diplomatic efforts alone would not convince Iran to abandon their nuclear weapons program. Bolton believes the Bush administration will not initiate a military attack against Iran; however the Israelis, are willing to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Bolton predicts If Israel attacks Iran; it will be during the Bush administration since Tel Aviv has more concerns about the reaction of Bush’s successor.
IRANIAN INFLUENCE IN CENTRAL AMERICA
News and Views Sept. 4- Dr Dennis Jett discussed Bolivian President Evo Morales' trip to Tehran, as well as Hezbollah's presence in Venezuela. Dr Jett served as the United States ambassador to Mozambique and Peru under the Clinton administration and is currently a professor of international relations at the School of International Affairs at the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Jett said “the relation between Iran’s Regime and the countries such as Bolivia and Venezuela whose leaders follow extreme and anti- American policies, is based on Iran’s increasing opposition and animosity towards the U.S., and we have been witnessing millions of Dollars of investments and economic deals with those countries, so Iran can buy their friendship and support. And generally it seems to be the case that Iran’s regime is establishing coalitions with all of America’s enemies.”
IRANIAN TEACHERS PAY
News and Views, Aug. 31- Fariborz Raees Dana told PNN that the Iranian Government is facing severe shortages in the education budget. And is requesting more money in order to pay its teachers. "At the beginning of the fiscal year they set their budget for 9 billion and now they are saying that they need 6.6 more." “They want to pretend as if they want to do something for the teachers, but they don't have enough money for that.”
AL-ARABIYA BUREAU CHIEF EXPELLED FROM IRAN
News and Views, Sept.4- Al - Arabiya’s Tehran Bureau Chief Hassan Al-Fahs spoke with PNN about the government’s decision to expel him from the country. He said this is the beginning of a big turn for Iran towards the Arab media in the region that are being supported by Saudi Arabia: "This is one of the consequences of the power struggle between the 2 countries." He insisted that Al Arabiya’s objective reporting also got him kicked out of the country. "They started objecting to Al Arabiya during the Israeli-Hezbollah war and claimed that our reporting is biased”
CREATION OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS ALLIANCE OF IRANIAN AMERICANS
48 Hours, Sept. 7- PNN spoke with Babak Hoghooghi and former CNN and FOX anchor Rudi Bakhtiar about the newly created Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA). The group calls itself a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian, independent organization that represents the domestic interests of the Iranian American community. Mr. Hoghoohi said the, "PAAIA is about working to bring Iranian Americans together, expand opportunities for the active participation of Iranian Americans in the democratic process at all levels of government and in the public debate, and to foster greater understanding of our community and its Persian heritage." Ms. Bakhtiar said the Iranian community is large and affluent, “yet we don't have much of a voice that is commensurate with our wealth and numbers in American society."
REFUGEES AT CAMP ASHRAF
Roundtable, Sept. 4- PNN hosted Ali Reza Jafarzadeh, President of Strategic Policy Consulting, and former spokesperson of the National Council of Resistance of Iran - known as Mujaheddin-E-Khalgh (MEK) on the impending transfer of security at Camp Ashraf from US to Iraqi forces. Jafarzadeh spoke about the MEK's concerns that if the MEK loses the protection of the U.S., the Iraqi’s will follow up on threats to expel the residents of Camp Ashraf. In response to a question as to who has paid for the Camp, Mr. Jafarzadeh noted that as far as he knows, everything has been paid by the MEK membership, and their fundraising efforts throughout the world. One caller from Germany identified himself as Mohmmad Hossein Sobhani and claimed to be a member of the MEK and a former resident of Camp Ashraf. The caller claimed that he was imprisoned at the Camp, beaten and tortured. Mr. Jafarzadeh claimed that the caller is now an agent of the Iranian regime and wants to distort the image of the MEK.
PNN REPORTING FROM THE VENICE FILM FESTIVAL
Late Edition Sept. 1-5-PNN's Rome based Stringer Ahmad Rafat traveled to the Venice Film Festival and interviewed three Iranian directors who had films in this year's program. Bahman Motamedian, is the director of Khastegi, a film about Iranian transsexuals that has been banned in Iran. Motamedian spoke about the difficulties involved in making films in Iran. Babak Karimi, a member of the Selection
Committee said that after years of nothing, Iranian films are just now coming back to the big film festivals. Rafat also spoke with Mohammad Haghighat, an influential Iranian movie journalist about Iranian Cinema. He said many filmmakers have left the country rather than deal with the difficulties involved in getting a film made inside Iran.
THE IRANIAN FAMILY PROTECTION BILL
Today’s Woman Sept. 3- PNN spoke with poet and activist Simin Behbahani about the recently proposed bill that would allow Iranian men to take second wives would weaken the family instead of strengthening it. Human rights lawyer Nasrin Soutudeh argued that granting men the right to practice polygamy without the consent of their wife is something women activists strongly oppose. The last segment included a phone interview with women’s rights activist Maryam Hosseinha who said she does not understand how demanding gender equality could jeopardize national security.
Today’s Woman, Sept. 4- PNN spoke with Sahba Motallebi an Iranian musician based in Los Angeles about the unique qualities of Iranian traditional music, the importance of teaching, training, and supporting Iranian traditional music. Ms. Sahba said Iranian women should think about themselves as human beings and understand that they have rights and are not limited to being mothers and wives.
Today’s woman Sept. 6- PNN spoke with environmental professor Dr. Ismael Kahram from Iran. He emphasized the importance of environmental preservation and addressed the deforestation that is taking place in Iran’s Golestan National Park. Dr. Kahram acknowledged that the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural organization has recognized Golestan National Park as the first and oldest park in Iran, making it a national treasure.
LATE EDITIONS DISSECTS NEW WOODWARD BOOK
Late Edition, Sept. 6- Late Edition previewed Bob Woodward’s new book called “The War within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008” in which he criticizes Bush's policy in Iraq and argues that the surge was not the main reason of reducing violence in Iraq. This is the 4th book that Woodward has written about the Bush White House and is likely to target the White House with new criticism about the conduct of the war against terror. Woodward’s book claims to outline a significant and growing level of distrust between the White House and military leaders it also details what Woodward claims was covert spying on Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki. The book will be released on Monday September 8.
History Channel programs airing this past week included a two-part look at hillbillies - the mountain men who settled America's first frontiers and fought the Indian Wars with a history marked by conquests and conflicts; and biographies of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, guitarist and Grateful Dead band leader Jerry Garcia, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower (Part 1).
PNN’s Question of the Week: Is it in Iran’s interest for President Ahmadinejad of Iran to take a side in the Georgian crisis? Out of a total of 6142 respondents, 1150 said yes, 4707 said no, and 285 had no opinion.
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.
Ali from Canada writes: To whom it may concern: First of all you have great Farsi programs. My dad has come to visit me in Canada and he had missed your programs so much that I finally started downloading your Programs everyday and showing them to him thru a big TV screen. I am kind of getting hooked on them myself.
Ramin from Tehran writes: The authorities of Iran claim to have launched a satellite into the space successfully and that they have achieved their goals. However, if you ask them where this satellite is and into which orbit it has been launched, they do not know. They even cannot tell you where this satellite is now!
Babr from Baluchestan: Greeting. I am one of the viewers of your programs. I would appreciate if you could include the situation of human rights in Baluchestan in your programs. I believe that you do not pay enough attention to this region, compared to other places.
Ara from Tehran writes: Since when has Mr. Afshari has turned into a political commentator? Do you read between his lines? He used to be director of government-run group of “Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat.” We cannot forget Ali Afshari’s face on the Iranian TV, and now he is serving VOA PNN! Why are you helping Islamic fanatics in the USA?
Farshad from Tehran writes: Why (do) you (the Voice of America) keep talking about the Democrats. Do you know that if the Democrats come to power, then our government will increase its oppression against the people?
Behzad from Masjid-e Soleiman writes: For eight years, Khatami talked about Islamic civil society and civil laws. However, nobody understood what the Islamic civil society is; and I bet Khatami himself did not understand too. But Khatami proved one thing: that as long as the Islamic regime, and Velayat-e Faqih (Islamic jurisprudence) is in place, nothing can be done for modernization and civil reforms in Iran.
Manuchehr from Germany writes: Ahmadinejad says “I wish Americans had more rights to elect their president.” I have a message for him: Please do not compare yourself with other parts of the world, because you were selected by Khamenei, who deleted the names of all other candidates so that you could be elected. Dear Ahmadinejad: live the life of millions of Iranians only for one day, and then you would find out how miserably Iranian people live in our country.
Farooq from Bukan writes: Greetings. Recently Ministry of Energy promised that there would be no more power outage. But, alas! Our power outage has doubled. We know that this government is a pack of lie; and during their thirty years of governance we have not heard even one true word.
Masood from Javanrood writes: The Islamic Republic of Iran, off and on, “amuse” people by introducing a new subject, such as subsidy, coupon and the like. If this situation continues then we should fill out an application and submit a copy of our identity card only to buy bread or vegetables!
Hamed from Shahreza writes: Thank you to Roundtable and Voice of America for having a program on Mujahiddin Khalgh, and their so called, "spokesperson". This show made all of us realize why we don't like the MEK, and how despicable their act of treason in cooperating with Saddam Hussein during the Iran/Iraq war was. Long live America, Long Live Iran, and Long Live VOA!
Mahshid from Sari writes: We thoroughly enjoyed your program on the Georgia/Russia conflict when you had Mr. Ilan Berman. His systematic approach to the issue, and explanation of the role of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the controversy makes it easy and appreciable to know that we have a media outlet like Voice of America to bring us the truth! Can you please invite Mr. Berman more often? Thank you again.
Shiva from Tehran writes: The program you had with Dr. Hossein Ladjevardi on the recent poll amongst Iranian youth about their views towards Iranian identity, and their perspective on Iran's regime, as well as their situation in Iran was an eye-opener. As a 29-year-old college educated young woman in Iran, I appreciated knowing what my fellow countrymen feel and what their beliefs are. I wish you could have shows on younger generation's issues such as marriage, dating, relationship, and social affairs.
Mahyar from Tehran writes: With appreciation of your program, I want to know why don't you cover more of the news in Iran? Mr. Ahmadinejad states that Iran is one of the most free countries in the world. The question is: if Iran is so free, how come we cannot access your program with ease and comfort? How come we have to hide our satellite dishes?
Homa from Tabriz writes: I want to know why you don't have more programs about the real news of Iran, which is poverty and prostitution? I am a physician, yet the insurance companies in Iran have not paid our bills for the last 5 months, and inflation has reached 33%. The rate of young girls in Iran that have been afflicted with sexually transmitted disease is skyrocketing. These are the issues that we need to hear the truth about. Thank you.
Alireza from Shahi writes: Young and old in Iran are expecting help from the outside. We don't have any trust in our government, and our officials are nothing but cheaters, who present fake credentials, and expect us to follow their misgivings. We appreciate all your efforts in having quality shows, however, if there is a possibility to have more shows on news of the day in Iran, we would be more grateful. By the way, the coverage of conventions in the U.S. is good, but in my view, is not relevant to us in Iran. We need to know more about news that affects us.
Ali writes: Thank you for the great Today’s Woman Program. And thank you for informing us about the news inside Iran. I have witnessed several times that girls have been subject to discrimination in front of the security forces in Iran and yet they have not stepped in and helped them. The regime applied the new national security plan for social protection, but they do nothing. It is unfortunate that these rulers have the power in Iran.
Sajjad from Shiraz writes: I would like to make some points about your zane-emrooz program. I am wondering if have any restrictions on women participants who wear a scarf? It’s been long time since Mrs. Fariba Davoodi has attended your program. She was the only woman who wore a scarf and represents an Islamic woman! I am a Muslim and I enjoy seeing someone like me in Voice of America. But now, I am very curious to know what is the reason for not having her any more.
Unnamed from Iran writes: I think Today’s Woman program would become a much better program if you could preannounce the content of the next day’s show. The conversation format of the show the program is great, but since I do not know what are the upcoming topics I cannot plan to follow the program.
Unnamed from Iran writes: I am thankful for the great Today’s Woman program. Please produce more programs about youth problems and addiction. If it is possible for you, please send me a copy of your sexual education program with Dr. Sayan. Because of the filtering I could not download this program. I appreciate the great efforts in your program.