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Reaching Millions of Television Viewers in Iran Each Week

Washington D.C. - October 12, 2008… Coverage of the global financial fallout from Wall Street continues. Other major news stories this week included extensive coverage of the second Presidential Debate live from Nashville, Tennessee. PNN gathered exclusive interviews from the debates regarding foreign policy views on Iran. The first Iranian basketball player for the NBA granted PNN an interview live from the first day of practice in Memphis. This week’s coverage also features in depth coverage of human rights updates in the Middle East.


Roundtable with You October 6 - In extensive coverage of the global financial market, PNN spoke with Dr. Kamran Dadkhah, Associate Professor of Economics at Northeastern University in Boston. Dr. Dadkhah noted that financial services would continue to be in turmoil with various financial indices showing massive fluctuations. The fluctuations and investor insecurity will freeze lines of available credit. Dr. Dadkhah believes that in the coming days we will continue to see market fluctuations until lenders and creditors realize that stability has returned, thus removing their freeze of credit assets. Dr. Dadkhah stated that the $700 billion rescue plan will be effective and will assist not just the U.S. market, but also the world economy. He further stated that the plan would remove the threat to the one-dimensional economies in the world, such as Iran, who rely only on oil as their source of income. In closing, Dr. Dadkhah stated that if the current crisis is not dealt with correctly, it could consume smaller and more fragile economies worldwide.

News and Views October 7 - Repercussions from the global financial crisis were felt across the world as PNN continued in depth coverage of the crisis on Wall Street. Investors grow wary of lending capital, waiting instead to see whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will cut prime rates. In London, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown met with British Chancellor Alistair Darling on Tuesday to consider new actions to stabilize the British financial system. Mr. Darling is keen to unveil a rescue plan, which will cut British growth outlook. Shares at the Royal Bank of Scotland plummeted by 39 percent in the first two hours of trading on the London Stock Exchange, before stabilizing. Another Scottish bank is set to fail as talks by British economists continue to iron out the difficulties in a proposed recapitalization plan, which would use British taxpayer funds to buy government stakes in the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Lloyds TSB. Former Minister of Parliament Ken Clarke stated, "Everyone knows they're going to have to do it." Speaking of the proposed recapitalization plan, he urged officials to, “Get on with it.”

News and Views October 7 - Hassan Mansour, professor of economics at Schiller International University in London, commented on the global economic crisis saying, “All governments were taken by surprise by this crisis and its extent, which is the reason for the bail-out. They had to interfere and take unusual measures, something the governments usually do not do for the economies. Europe is having the same set of problems.” Mr. Mansour said that in response to Iran, “No one knows what type of economic policy they are following. It is chaos and it shows through rising prices, unemployment and inflation.”

News and Views October 7 - PNN continued its live coverage of congressional inquiries into the financial crisis. Former CEO of Lehman Brothers Richard Fuld Jr. was called to a hearing on the Hill. Mr. Fuld ignored a warning that the bank's 'liquidity can disappear quite fast' and dismissed suggestions that staff may not get their bonuses. During questioning, Mr. Fuld was asked whether he had intentionally misled their investors. Mr. Fuld, who netted more than $300 million in pay since 2000, was questioned about the “golden parachute” options, which were approved for two executives even after Lehman Brothers failed. The former CEO looked remorseful at times and remarked that he would change his ways of handling the situation if he could turn back the clock. Nevertheless, he never made a statement of apology during the hearing. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) echoed the general sentiment of the hearing by saying, “You have not worked for the system though the system has worked for you and now the taxpayers have to pay for your shortcomings."

News and Views October 8
- PNN reported that Wall Street opened amid fears as investors prepare for another volatile session. Investors are suffering from five straight days of global economic turmoil as the Dow Jones Industrial reached a record low point of 8,750. Investor confidence on Wall Street remained stagnant. Investors were initially encouraged after Central Banks and the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates in a coordinated effort aimed at restoring confidence in the markets. Still, reports indicated that investor doubts remain, despite a capital influx to credit markets from the emergency interest rate cut. There are fears that the crisis in the financial market may cause severe economic problems, including heavy job loss and high unemployment. The credit market remains in turmoil and investors are wary of loaning money after the failure of Lehman Brothers.

News and Views October 9 - PNN reported that despite instability in the U.S. market, share prices rebounded in South Korea as the Central Bank cut prime interest rates. Lowered interest rates were seen across the board in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. These events reflect mixed feelings in the Asian markets as investors looked on with enthusiasm at interest rate cuts around the world. The rate cuts have drummed up fear over the severe strains in credit markets worldwide. This fear is coupled with real prospects of a global recession.

News and Views October 12 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the European economy and its reaction to the U.S. financial crisis. The two heads of state rejected a European rescue fund and are set to meet with other European leaders this week. The leaders of France and Germany met in the eastern part of Paris to discuss policy options. The meeting coincided with a ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a reconciliation deal in the wake of World War II. French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel commented on the resilience of the economy in spite of the financial crisis. Further reports indicate that European leaders met to work on an EU-wide economic rescue deal. At the present time, President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel reject the proposed European rescue fund. Both leaders stressed the need for a new financial order.


News and Views October 7 - PNN reported live from Nashville as final preparations for
the debate began. Republican Senator John McCain hopes to halt Democratic Senator Barack Obama's momentum when the presidential rivals meet in their second debate. With four weeks until the November 4 election, the debate offers Senator McCain one of his last chances to recast a presidential race that has been turning toward Senator Obama in the last few weeks. Senator Obama has solidified his national lead and gained an edge in crucial battleground states as the Wall Street crisis has focused attention on the economy, an area where polls show voters prefer the Illinois senator's leadership. The economic turmoil continued on Monday, when stocks tumbled on Wall Street in a sign the $700 billion government bailout of U.S. financial concerns did not ease market concerns about the economy. Polls judged Senator Obama as the winner of the first debate, but the Tuesday debate will be conducted with a town-hall format, the favorite format for Senator McCain's campaign stops and a longtime strength for him.

NewsTalk October 7 - Live on location from Nashville, PNN was granted interviews by Senator McCain’s spokesperson Tucker Bounds and Senator Obama’s senior advisor Robert Gibbs. Each gave PNN a preview of what viewers should expect in the second debate. Mr. Bounds stated, "Senator McCain will be more aggressive and will challenge Senator Obama's economic policies, his tax proposals, his position on free trade agreements, and in foreign policy.” Mr. Gibbs added, "Iran will be an issue in tonight’s debate with respect to foreign policy and Senator Obama will clearly share his views on proliferation of nuclear weapons with audience.” PNN also reported that Nashville has the largest Kurdish community in the United States, numbering approximately 11,000. During the Iraqi election of 2005, Nashville was one of the few international locations where Iraqi expatriates could vote.

Late Edition October 8 - Live PNN coverage of the second Presidential Debate featured a segment on Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Belmont University, host of the 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate, is a fast-growing community of nearly 4,800 students who come from almost every state and more than 25 countries. The 2008 Town Hall Presidential Debate garnered the university massive media exposure with thousands of hits on the radio and television, along with print publicity worth millions of dollars. Just after the second debate, the life stories of the 2008 U.S. presidential candidates Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama hit comic book stands. IDW Publishing, a San Diego-based company, said it produced the comic book biographies of the two candidates to capitalize on the election. The company hopes plenty of adults will buy them. The two biographies, each 28 pages, will be sold separately in comic stores, and together in a bound edition at bookstores.

News and Views October 8 - PNN interviewed Editor-in-Chief Babak Yektafar of the
Washington Prism who said in comparison to the first debate, the second debate was more focused on the content of the questions. He thought the debate was more beneficial to Senator McCain because it created the impetus to launch attacks on the ability of Senator Obama’s leadership capabilities. For Senator Obama, the debate allowed a platform in which to present his foreign policy stances on positions that Senator McCain has previously characterized as weak. In terms of education and health policies, Mr. Yektafar did not see any new policies expressed, save for Senator McCain’s housing proposal, which yielded little follow up information. On Iran, the main points for both were Iran's position toward Israel and Iran's nuclear activity. However, Senator Obama believes if we do not restrict ourselves to those issues only, there is a chance to talk with Iran. Senator Obama spoke for the first time about a sanction on gas exports from Iran. According to Mr. Yektafar, this would probably be more effective than all previous sanctions.


PNN spoke with the following voters in Nashville about the upcoming debate:

Dr. Sybril Bennett, Director of “New Century Journalism Program” in Belmont University: “People need to really believe that he (Senator Obama) can be president and quote-unquote ‘pull the trigger’ if need be … He's (Senator McCain) got to be consistent with who he is… But this (town hall format) is going to give Senator McCain a big chance to show a different side… They need to set out a plan. If neither one of them does that tonight, I think the undecided voters will remain undecided… Most people made their decision about the election a long time ago and we really do not know who is going to vote for whom. You've got a lot of people who say they're going to vote for Senator Obama who are actually going to vote for Senator McCain.”

Dr. Nathan Griffith, Professor of Political Science in Belmont University: “They don't know the questions beforehand because the audience members submit them and Tom Brokaw will pick the ones he wants to ask and then they're on stools and they encourage them to get up and walk around, you know, they can actually go to the person they're talking with, shake a hand if they need to or... connect one-on-one so there's direct eye contact… He's (McCain) a very honest and unvarnished person and that comes across when he's talking one-on-one… the idea was to get undecided voters, people who hadn't made their minds up, so they would get questions that maybe other people who were undecided would want to know, hoping that that would help folks make up their minds about who they'd like to vote for in the election… It goes to Congress [in case of a tie in the Electoral College]. And the presidential vote goes to the House of Representatives where the delegations from each state would each have one vote… and I believe the Vice President would be decided in the Senate.”


News and Views October 8 - PNN reported that Senator Obama made strides toward easing voters’ concerns about his candidacy in Tuesday night’s debate. Senator McCain, despite raising pointed questions about his rival’s readiness, was not able to create the game-changing moment needed between now and Election Day according to debate analysts. There are still four weeks to go, but time is running out for Senator McCain. Poised and confident, Senator Obama directly confronted his greatest hurdle, foreign policy, and did it by turning the tables on Senator McCain during a foreign policy question. Senator Obama bluntly challenged Senator McCain’s steadiness: “This is a guy who sang bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, who called for the annihilation of North Korea - I don’t think that is an example of speaking softly.” Senator McCain countered back by saying he would order the Treasury Department to enact a sweeping $300 billion program to shield homeowners from mortgage foreclosure. However, he did not provide details, leaving those to his aides to deliver in a stream of news releases. Immediate polls taken by CNN and CBS showed Senator Obama winner of the second debate.

News and Views October 10 - The latest Gallop poll shows that Senator McCain is 9 percent behind Senator Obama. A recent CNN poll showed that Senator McCain's new financial rescue plan has actually made him less popular. The Washington Post reported that Senator Obama has supported the Bush Administration's decision to sell military equipment to Taiwan and that Senator McCain has said if the deal does not include F-16 aircraft and submarines it will fall short.


PNN spoke with the following people regarding the debate:

David Plouffe, Obama Campaign Manager: "Well I think Senator Obama today laid out his vision particularly well as related to the middle class. Now Senator McCain did not launch the types of attacks he suggested he would. You will have to ask them why that is. But our sense is, over the last four days, this has been a terrible period for the Senator McCain campaign. His unfavorables are rising... We have been talking about the economy this entire general election campaign. We're going to continue to talk about it every day and we think that steadiness and advocacy of the middle class will pay off."

Senator Joseph Lieberman, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee (ID-CT): "Senator McCain made clear tonight that we're on the side of the Iranian people. We are against the fanatical government of Iran. And that's the difference. I think we have to do more to reach out to the people, to help build a civil society there with women's groups, labor groups, human rights groups, and journalists. And then apply economic sanctions that hurt the fanatical leadership of the country so they will behave in a way that will bring them into the community of nations. We do not want to have conflict with Iran. Its leaders are making the conflict."

Rick Davis, McCain Campaign Manager: "I thought John McCain won the debate tonight. He did a great job connecting with people on economic issues, on the future of our country, on what it means to be a leader."

Senator Claire McCaskill, member of Armed Services Committee (D-MO): “Well I think that's the challenge and I think you heard him talk about it tonight that we need to have direct talks with Iran. We need to say if you behave, you can be part of the community of nations. If you do not behave then he will do whatever he must do to stop them from getting nuclear weapons. As he said, a military option must always be on the table. He clearly and forcefully has said a number of times how important Israel is to the United States of America and how important that alliance is to the United States of America. So I think that it is obviously a carrot and stick approach. He understands that the Ayatollahs are the real force in Iran and I think he also understands that there are a lot of Iranian people that are very pro western... they can be helpful.”

Mitt Romney, former Republican Governor of Massachusetts: “I remember in my presidential debates, we were very confident, we were winning debates and then John McCain ended up with the prize. There was a time there when I was ahead in the polls, Rudy Giuliani ahead in the polls, Fred Thompson ahead in the polls, but John McCain won. He has a way of winning and I think it's because people look at his experience, at his judgment, at his service to the country and particularly in difficult times, a man who's been tested and proven time and time again is the kind of person America looks to for leadership.”

Robert Gibbs, Obama Senior Advisor: “I thought tonight was great. I thought Barack Obama was the clear winner because he put out a convincing case for change, a plan to get our economy moving again and a plan to get out of Iraq responsibly. So I think it was another great night for Barack Obama.”


Late Edition October 8 - PNN focused on the candidates’ responses on questions concerning Iran which were asked during the debate. In answering a question about the UN Security Council, Senator John McCain stated, "We obviously would not wait for the United Nations Security Council. I think the realities are that both Russia and China would probably pose significant obstacles. And our challenge right now is the Iranians continue on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons and it's a great threat. It's not just a threat to the state of Israel. It's a threat to the stability of the entire Middle East. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, all the other countries will acquire them, too. The tensions will be ratcheted up." Senator Barack Obama said, "It would also create a possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. And so it's unacceptable. And I will do everything that's required to prevent it. And we will never take military options off the table. And it is important that we don't provide veto power to the United Nations or anyone else in acting in our interests."

News and Views October 8 - PNN examined post-debate news in newspapers nationwide. The Wall Street Journal wrote that despite many talks on the matter, neither presidential candidate has proposed a different financial solution to the ongoing financial crisis. In foreign policy coverage, the New York Times analyzed Senator McCain’s position on bombing Iran, mentioning the “Bomb, bomb Iran” song that has been a source of controversy. The Washington Times reported on Senator Obama’s knowledge in the technology domain.

News and Views October 6 - PNN reported that the tone of the 2008 presidential campaign is becoming increasingly negative. Opposing parties are accusing the other side of misrepresentation of tax policies and health insurance policies. Public opinion polls show that Senator Obama is edging ahead of Senator McCain. Some analysts say that the recent character attacks on each other are aimed at drawing attention away from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Voters are not pleased with these tactics, calling upon the candidates to respond to the economic issues. Both candidates have been in key battleground states as the focus of the campaign turns to those states that could be the deciding ground in the upcoming election. Governor Palin has been courting undecided voters by taking a more approachable foreign policy stance stating, “America is not that imperfect to work with a former domestic terrorist.”

News and Views October 6 - PNN reported live from Irbil that Iraq’s oil minister, Hussein Al Sharestani, said Iraq is ready to sell its oil below the market price. U.S. commander of Iraq's multi-national forces, General Ray Odierno, met with Iraqi President Jalal Talebani and President of the Autonomous Kurdish Government in Iraq Masoud Barezani. The Office of the Prime Minister said Nori Al Malki and Deputy Secretary of State John Negro Ponte met today and discussed the Iraq-U.S. Strategic Security Agreement. Iraqi police arrested nine militants in Iraq’s southern city, Nasseria, linked to Iran’s Ghods Forces. Iraq’s Ambassador to Iran called for the fourth set of talks between the U.S. and Iran. Iran did not allow the plane of Mahmoud Mashhadani, Iraq’s Speaker of the Parliament, to land in Tehran. Iran’s speaker of Majles, Ali Larijani, invited Mr. Mashhadani for a three-day visit.

News and Views October 7 - PNN reported live from Irbil that Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Hoshyar Zebari said his country is very close to finalizing a U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement. He said it depends on Iraq’s parliament to approve the final document. Iraq has signed a contract with Egypt for oil projects in Iraq, and is ready to sell its oil below the market price. Iraqi police arrested four militants in Iraqi’s southern city, Nasseria, who are said to be linked to Iran’s Ghods Forces. Iran’s Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Ghomi officially apologized for not allowing the Iraqi Speaker of the Parliament’s plane to land in Tehran. Iraq’s parliament is set to vote on the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement next week, which would allow American troops to remain in the country beyond 2008.

News and Views October 12 - PNN reports live from Irbil that following a rise in attacks and threats by Islamic extremists, hundreds of Christian families have fled from the northern city of Mosul. A Christian lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament has called for more actions to protect Iraqi Christians. In other news, a car bomb killed nine and wounded seventeen others in Iraq. In political coverage, authorities have announced that the Jordanian embassy will be reopened in Iraq. A group of high Turkish officials met with Kurdish authorities in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil to discuss cooperation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which uses its bases in northern Iraq to launch attacks on Turkish targets. The Iraqi parliament is close to signing the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement. Political analyst Mohsen Khatami says that Iran does not want Iraq to have a democracy. Mr. Khatami said that the Iraqi parliament would approve the U.S.-Iraqi Strategic Security Agreement despite Iran’s resistance in the matter.


News and Views October 12 - Protests by hundreds of students regarding a scheduled lecture by Chairman of the Iranian Parliament Ali Larijani occurred today at Shiraz University. PNN spoke with a student from the university named Arash who confirmed that Mr. Larijani’s answers to students’ questions were met with criticism and anger. Arash told PNN that the protests were due to the mismanagement of the university and increasing criticism of what students call “anarchy” in the education system. Arash said students protested “so many issues like poverty, discrimination, and gender bias in the university.” He further stated that, “moral and financial corruption in the government forced students to act in a state of anarchy.” According to the Fars news agency, more than 700 students arrived at Fajr Auditorium at 4 p.m. local time. It is reported that the protestors interrupted Mr. Larijani’s speech by shouting “Larijani, shame on you; leave the university,” “Death to dictator,” “Free all imprisoned students,” “We don’t want an appointed parliament,” and “We are fighters, men and women, fight us and we will fight.” It was reported that Mr. Larijani left the speech under tight security.


News and Views October 6 - PNN has learned that a new estimate indicates an increase in chemical addictions in Iran. While the use of opiates, such as opium, heroin and morphine can be traced back several centuries, the use of synthetic or “club drugs” like Ecstasy has been more recent. PNN inquired into the situation of drug addicts in Iran. Although statistics published by the UN in 2003 indicate that 2 million addicts live in Iran, Dr.Attari, director of Iran's physicians’ news agency, said there are up to 4 million addicts in Iran. A Tehran police chief said yesterday that there was an estimated three hundred percent increase in synthetic drug use this year. The trend toward synthetic drugs is rooted in economics. Dr. Attari emphasized that the educated and affluent classes gravitate towards the synthetic drugs, which are cheaper and easier to transfer. However, this trend is also prevalent in students. Statistics released by Tehran University indicate that 11 percent of university students in Iran have tried synthetic drugs at least once. BBC Persian Services confirmed these statistics. “These new chemical drugs have undeniable and detrimental effects on the users,” stated Dr. Attari, further emphasizing the need for government intervention by saying, “Since the media have not been releasing information, there is this notion among youngsters that these drugs have no effect on their physics."

News and Views October 8 - Iraqi politician and Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives Mahmud Al Mashhadani arrived in Tehran on Tuesday, a day after his plane was refused permission to land in Iran. Mr. Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab, met his Iranian counterpart Ali Larijani and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr. Mashhadani believes the U.S. presence in Iraq is the greatest contributing factor to instability in Iraq. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte arrived in Basra on Tuesday afternoon on a surprise visit. He met with Basra Province Governor Mohamed Musbeh Al Waeli to discuss the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement.

News and Views October 8 - PNN discussed the decision of the Iranian government's introduction of value added tax (VAT) with Iranian economist Fariborz Raees Dana. The decision was granted despite widespread strikes and mounting economic pressures which threaten the status quo concerning retail prices. The strike against the decision began in jewelry shops, spreading quickly to textile and carpet stalls. “Iran’s bazaar merchants are unable to pass on the tax to consumers and therefore have to absorb this tax, which has led to their strike,” stated Mr. Raees Dana. He further added that, “It’s important to note that these merchants are political allies of Ahmadinejad so their dissatisfaction with his government tax policies cannot be easily dismissed.” This turn of events is surprising because the current government is careful to avoid antagonizing merchants in the bazaar. He said, “If these strikers were your run-of-the-mill factory workers, then the regime would have dealt with them much more harshly.” When questioned about the purpose of the VAT, he stated that the “VAT will not do anything but lower the Iranian public’s standard of living and purchasing power. This VAT will not contribute to more productivity and will lead to a worsening situation in Iran’s economic conditions.”

News and Views October 9 - PNN reported that shopkeepers in Iran's traditional bazaars continued with strikes on Wednesday, protesting against the government's introduction of the value added tax (VAT) amid mounting pressure to lower retail prices. Gold merchants in the bazaars of Tehran and Tabriz shuttered their businesses. A PNN stringer in Tabriz reported, "The main hall of the Tabriz Bazaar was completely shut down.” Merchants are angry because they claim that they must already charge customers 7% in taxes. Further, once the government enforces the VAT, the tax will be passed onto customers and business will suffer. Gold prices continued to rise as PNN’s Tehran stringer reported, “The parliament's spokesman has said that this law cannot be reversed.”

News and Views October 9 - The Associated Press has quoted a Russian foreign ministry spokesman as saying that Russia does not intend to sell Iran S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. Sources indicate Russia will base such decisions on preserving the balance of power and maintaining stability in the region.

Roundtable with You October 10 - Mehdi Khalaji, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Studies, granted PNN an interview during which he spoke about the increasing tensions between Shia and Sunni factions in Iraq. Mr. Khalaji also commented on the role of Iran saying that he believed the current structure in Iraq allows Iran to extend enormous influence. Still, Mr. Khalaji stated that Iran is not interested in either group winning in Iraq, and in fact, Iran wants both sides to be in conflict with one another so that Iran can continue to dominate the region financially and militarily. The Mahdi Force (Jaish-Al-Mahdi) in Iraq, under the leadership of Muqtada Al Sadr, is under the influence of the Iranian regime. In Mr. Khalaji's view, instead of playing the role of an antagonist, Iran ought to use its influence to play the role of a mediator and a peacemaker. Further, he believes this will bring more credibility to Iran not just in Iraq but also in the region. Finally in the eyes of the international community, Iran’s role as a mediator would be seen as a positive force rather than its current role, which is seen as disruptive.


News and Views October 6 - PNN reports that the NATO Secretary General said that he was not certain the world could stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb. Speaking at the World Policy Conference in the southeast of France, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said it is a major challenge to prevent Iran from continuing to strive to get the bomb. In other news, Secretary of State Rice met with the president, prime minister and foreign minister of Kazakhstan on Sunday. They discussed issues of mutual interest including energy as well as democratic pre-requisites for Kazakhstan to assume the presidency of OSCE in 2010. The IAEA concluded its 52nd General Conference. Despite Iran and Middle Eastern states’ opposition to Israel possessing nuclear weapons and not being a signatory to the NPT, and Israel's opposition to Iran's continuation with its nuclear program, a resolution was passed urging all Middle Eastern nations to renounce nuclear weapons and strive for a nuke-free region. Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki took part in an interview with Newsweek magazine while he was in New York for the UN General Assembly. The interview is to be published in the Oct. 13 issue, but the following excerpts were released: Mottaki does not believe Israel or the U.S. will attack its nuclear facilities. He said the threat by Iran to close the Strait of Hormoz was a military response to the military comments of American and Israeli officials. Mottaki said participation of William Burns in the Geneva talks was the right approach by the U.S. and if Washington wants to resolve Iran's nuclear issue, it should continue the same effort. Confronted with Iranian officials' comments about 'wiping Israel off the map of the world' he simply said the Islamic Republic does not recognize the Israeli regime and changed the subject. He suggested that the next U.S. president should 'fundamentally' change its policy vis-a-vis the world, including the Middle East.

News and Views October 7 - PNN reported that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke at the World Steel Association’s 42nd Annual Meeting. She said that the Administration has sought to contribute a responsible international solution to what is “one of the central challenges facing every country in the 21st century - to develop a confident, constructive, and sustainable engagement with the global economy.” Secretary Rice commented further that, “No nation will be able to withdraw from the world, to isolate itself and to deny the realities of a 21st century in which we are all integrated and entangled with one another.” Seventeen countries have signed trade agreements with the U.S. during her tenure. The U.S. administration is looking ahead at the Pathways to Prosperity initiative, which President Bush and nine other leaders launched at the UN General Assembly in September.


News and Views October 8 - PNN reports that Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, sent a letter to EU Secretary General Javier Solana. According to Iranian media reports, Mr. Jalili wrote in the letter sent to Mr. Solana that the West's pressures on Iran have not been constructive. A Department of State spokesman confirmed receipt of the letter. Reports confirm that the letter is a formal response to the 4th UN Security Council resolution against Iran. In other news, the South Korean foreign minister told his country's parliament today that there are recent signs of compromise between the U.S. and North Korea. Finally, General David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker were awarded top honors today by the Department of State for their efforts in helping to bring calm back to Iraq. Still, Ambassador Crocker says Iran is putting pressure on Iraq’s prime minister to avoid signing the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement. Numerous Iranian officials have voiced opposition to the agreement.

News and Views October 9 - In a historic moment, President Bush signed the nuclear agreement with India, ending a 34-year hiatus in nuclear cooperation with New Delhi. President Bush said this agreement sends a signal to the world: Nations that follow the path of democracy and responsible behavior will find a friend in the United States of America. He enumerated the benefits of the deal for both countries.

News and Views October 11 - International analyst Dr. Bahman Aghaii Diba answered questions posed by PNN concerning the removal of North Korea from the list of terrorist-supporting countries. When asked whether Iran would follow suit, Dr. Diba replied that it is unlikely, “We cannot compare Iran with North Korea. North Korea is a poor, isolated country, while Iran is rich and influential in the region.” According to Dr. Diba, even if Iran stops its nuclear program, Iran will not be removed from the list because of its interference in the region as well as its hostility towards the West and ongoing human rights violations. Switching to India, PNN asked the impact of the U.S.-India nuclear cooperation agreement on India’s agreements with Iran and Pakistan concerning natural gas lines. Dr. Diba answered, “India will put pressure on Iran to lower the prices.” In closing Dr. Diba reviewed possible impacts of the drop in oil prices on Iran’s economy saying, “ Iran already has an ill economy and the global financial crisis would not have a deep impact on it.” He stated, however, that the drop in oil prices would occur because oil is the country’s only source of revenue.

News and Views October 10 - The South Korean foreign minister told reporters in Seoul today that the U.S. and North Korea may be close to a compromise aimed at saving the stalemate over ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program. The associated press also quoted U.S. officials as saying a decision is near to remove North Korea from a terrorism blacklist. However, as of Thursday, a State Department spokesman said Washington will reciprocate when the North acts on its own commitments. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the NATO Secretary General, announced the group’s agreement that the drug trade in Afghanistan, which partly finances the Taliban, should be targeted. Also the New York Times has quoted European and American officials as saying that the IAEA is investigating whether a Russian scientist helped Iran conduct complex experiments on the detonation of nuclear devices. The IAEA has obtained a new document in Farsi that narrates the process under question.


Today's Woman October 6 - In recognition of the seventh anniversary of the American-led coalition against the Taliban, PNN discussed the status of women in Afghanistan. Leading the discussion was PNN guest speaker from Kabul and Member of Parliament Shukria Barakzai. PNN learned that eighty percent of Afghani women are illiterate and every half an hour a woman dies from child labor. In spite of these obstacles, Ms. Barakzai contended that Afghani women have made significant progress in the past few years, acknowledging that women account for twenty percent of Afghanistan’s Parliament. In regards to the recent assassination of prominent Afghani policewoman Lieutenant Colonel Malalai Kakar, Ms. Barakzai stated that Ms. Kakar was one of the many Afghani women who have been killed by the Taliban. Nonetheless, Afghani women are progressing in spite of the danger the Taliban poses.

Today's Woman October 7 - PNN continues exploring the gender divide by focusing on the characteristics of the modern man. PNN reviewed the opinions of men and women in the Washington D.C. area and asked Mr. Mohammad Owlyaee, lawyer from inside Iran, and Los Angeles-based psychologist Dr. Homa Mahmoudi for their analyses and comparisons to the views in Iran. Co-hosts discussed whether or not the key component of being a modern man related to gender equality. Mr. Owlyaee contended that there are three categories of men: those who have traditional views, those who believe in gender equality, and lastly those who believe in gender equality and actually practice it. He suggested that in Iran most men fall into the second category where although they believe in gender equality they do not practice it. Mr. Owlyaee stated that the modern man believes and practices gender equality; however in Iran, where women are legally subordinate, gender discriminatory laws merge with culture and prevent men from fully implementing gender equality.

Today’s Woman October 7 - Looking at the future of nongovernmental work in Iran, PNN interviewed Mohammad Sharif, the attorney for two Kurdish women activists from the Azarmehr Association. This is one of the many NGO’s active in Iran’s Kurdistan. The association is best known for its work on the One Million Signatures Campaign for Equality, which seeks to bring about the enforcement of more equal rights laws in Iran. The women’s sentences suggest stronger efforts in the government’s crackdown on campaigners for the equal rights of women. Mr. Sharif said that Hana Abdi was able to have her sentence commuted from 5 years to 18 months. “She will spend this time in exile in another Kurdish town near her residence,” he said. The other client, Ronak Safarzadeh, has yet to stand trial for charges pressed against her. Asked if the Azarmehr Association was barred from engaging in any political activity, he said, “As far as I know, the work of this NGO was something lawful, but apparently Iranian authorities have a different interpretation of the law.”
Roundtable with You October 8 - Vice Chair of the Human Rights Federation in Paris Dr. Abdolkarim Lahiji discussed the new legislation on the Islamic Punishment Law in Iran. Dr. Lahiji gave a brief background on the new legislation and the effect of the law’s passage in Iran. The new law is causing a stir amongst international human rights organizations because it may threaten religious and ethnic minorities. Dr. Lahiji noted that in Iran one cannot expect the government to remove all rights from the people, and expect the public to remain silent. The government uses a rhetoric of "unity" and "disruption of Islamic values" to enforce the laws which indirectly target minority factions. Dr. Lahiji suggested that the Islamic Punishment Law is only intended to silence ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Baha'is, the Christians, the Jews, and the Kurds.

News and Views October 9 - PNN’s extended coverage of capital punishment laws in Iran included an interview with Mohammad Mostafaie, an attorney who was able to obtain a stay of execution for his client, Mohammad Reza Haddadi. Mr. Mostafaie’s client was a minor at the time the crime was committed. According to Amnesty International, there are 71 minors in Iran awaiting execution. Mr. Mostafaie said that his client’s trial was grossly flawed. Further, he insists his client made his confession under duress saying, “He now denies any involvement in this murder. We don’t know how long the stay of his execution is going to last.” Mr. Mostafaie added that the spokesperson for Iran’s judiciary committee has countered by saying these executions are in fact retributions, which is permissible under Islamic law. When asked how the penal laws in Iran could be amended to reduce capital punishment he concluded, “We also need to exclude any murders that are not committed with premeditation from our penal code. If we do so, we would reduce our execution rate by 95 percent.”

Late Edition October 11 - Late Edition introduced a book written by an Iranian author imprisoned in the infamous Evin prison which sits atop the foothills of Elburz overlooking Tehran. Zahra Ghahramani, a 19-year-old Iranian student with Kurdish ancestry, was arrested in 2001 after taking part in a demonstration in front of Tehran University. The demonstration was held to oppose the strict dress code imposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. The daughter of a Kurdish military officer who served under the Shah and her Zoroastrian mother, Ms. Ghahramani was imprisoned for 30 days in solitary confinement in the Evin prison. In her book “My Life as a Traitor” she depicts the horrors of prison. During her interview Ms. Ghahramani remarked that her troubles stem from the fact that as a girl all she ever wanted was to be a “pretty Persian girl”, but she was deprived of that basic human right from early childhood when she could not wear her forbidden pink slip-on shoes with flowers on the toes. In her book, she talks about torture and its mental effects. She concludes, “Suffering does not ennoble.” She explains further that suffering does not build character, wisdom or courage. She writes rather, “It will consume what little courage you have and then you are left with nothing.” Ms. Ghahramani is currently exiled in Australia.


News and Views October 9 - PNN’s Rome stringer reported on two important foreign relations conferences in Rome and Milan. Riccardo Radaelli, Director of the Middle East program of the Centro Volta - Landau Network, and Mr. Karim Sajjadpour, an Associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace were interviewed. The Rome conference, organized by the Italian Institute of Research in collaboration with the Italian Foreign Ministry, featured topics on preventing nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. The status of Iran’s nuclear progress was the topic of several discussions. Participants included delegates from Europe and the Arab World; however Iran was not present at the conference. PNN reported some of the Arab participants in the conference expressed their concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Some voiced concern about regional safety issues and dangers posed by possible accidents. Others suggested that a nuclear-capable Iran would change the balance of power in the Middle East. Further, there are general overall concerns that these moves may lead to a new arms race in the region.


On the Record October 10 - PNN responded to viewer sentiments about the content of Roundtable with You, clearing up confusion concerning the role of callers to the program. Some callers have expressed disappointment that their issues are not immediately attended to during the program and have questioned PNN’s commitment to freedom of speech principles. PNN’s Executive Editor Kambiz Mahmoudi as ombudsman acknowledged the frustration of viewers and explained that the viewpoints and concerns of all callers are valued by saying, “Definitely, freedom of speech is very important and we believe in it very strongly. Our esteemed viewers are reminded that each [program] is devoted to one or two subject matters.” Further, he stated that the journalist or program contributor is a subject matter expert in the particular subject focus of the show, qualified to respond to the questions related to the topic of the discussion. Ombudsman Mahmoudi suggested concerned viewers send e-mails and pose questions to be discussed in future programs with guests who are better prepared to respond to the matter at hand. He stated, “As you don’t ask your math instructor to respond to your questions about history or geography problems, we expect our dear viewers to cooperate with the program hosts. Of course it does not mean that your questions and your issues are not important.” PNN will tally the number of similar questions generated by email and invite guests to respond on a future show.

Late Edition October 9 - Hamed Hadadi, the first Iranian basketball player in the NBA, granted PNN an interview. Mr. Hadadi joined the Memphis Grizzlies in a three-year contract. PNN spoke with the player and his coach during the first day of practice with the team in Memphis, Tennessee. Mr. Hadadi, the best basketball player from Iran, is 23 years old and 7'2" tall. He will be playing for the Memphis Grizzlies at the center position. Head coach Marc Lavaroni said Mr. Hadadi is a very talented player and he has the potential of being a successful player in the NBA. Mr. Hadadi said he is very delighted to be the first Iranian basketball player who joined the NBA. He said being a part of the most competitive basketball league in the world is a great achievement.

Roundtable with You October 6 - Musician Shervin Mohajer appeared on the show to discuss the role of music in modern Iran. Mr. Mohajer was born in 1979 and began playing the violin and piano at the age of five. In a wish to expand his musical repertoire, Mr. Mohajer began learning a traditional Iranian instrument called the kamancheh from musical master Ardeshir Kamkar in 1994. In 1996, he won the first prize in kamancheh competitions in Iran. Mr. Mohajer has gained respect for his talent, playing as a band member for classical giants such as Mohammad Reza Shajarian and Shahram Nazeri. Mr. Mohajer believes that Iranian classical music is quite vibrant. Further, he says that it has a special place in Iranians' hearts; however, modern day improvements in music and technological advances in music pose challenges for young artists. In today's Iran, playing any type of instrument will initially be met with governmental restrictions and the imposition of fines unless the artists and their music have been cleared by various sources. This is a long process lasting many months.

Late Edition October 10 - The 13th annual celebration of Mehregan, the Persian festival of autumn, was featured on Late Edition. PNN spoke with Bahman Tavakoli, the founder and president of Mehregan Irvine, about the two-day outdoor festival that was held in Irvine, California. Mr. Tavakoli said that Mehregan is a celebration of nature which honors the ancient Persian goddess Mehr. The annual festival is sponsored and organized by different Iranian American groups in Southern California. A traditional teahouse, folk dances, music, traditional foods, and live performances by pop entertainers made up some of this year’s festivities. An estimated one million Iranian-Americans who reside in the U.S. celebrate Mehregan, a harvest festival often compared to an American Thanksgiving. This year’s festival was in honor of the famous Persian King Cyrus the Great who reigned during the 6th century B.C. Cyrus the Great created the Cyrus Cylinder, a proclamation inscribed in clay, which is considered the world’s first charter of human rights.

This week on the History Channel features a two part series recounting the life of artist Pablo Picasso. Picasso stunned other artists by completely changing his lifestyle time and again: his Blue period, his Rose period, Cubism, neoclassicism, his stark wartime paintings and his violent and vivid sexual drawings, to name only a fraction. Picasso invented styles at every phase of his life, each time with dazzling and sustained originality. And each time, the change came with a radical change in his personal life. His daughter, Maya tells Biography in her interview that he took what he could from each woman in order to transform it into pictures. This Biography Special shows Pablo Picasso to be an infinitely complex and paradoxical man. Biography examines the struggle between the hideous and the beautiful in Picasso's life and work, and explores the difficult nature of perhaps the most unique personality of this century. Next, the history highlight of the week features Joan of Arc. She has been called a saint and a sorceress...a warrior and a martyr...a advisor to kings and a channel of God. At the age of 17, this peasant girl donned a suit of armor and rode off to war. By age nineteen, all of Joan's extraordinary claims of her power and relationship with God had come true. And she was dead...burned at the stake by those who feared her power. The figure of Joan of Arc presents a mass of contradictions. Whether she was a national hero, an instrument of God or simply a troubled but forceful young woman, the Maid of Orleans ignited the spirit of an entire people...and created a legend that still inspires us today. Turning to sports, the History Channel looked at Eldrick "Tiger" Woods who, at the age of 30, has achieved what few people have ever done: he has totally dominated his world. Indisputably, he is one of the greatest golfers ever to pick up clubs. A child prodigy, Woods began his golf career at the age of six months, imitating his father's swing. He was so proficient so young that while still a small child he made an appearance on the Mike Douglas Show putting against the legendary golf maven Bob Hope. This segment included interviews from many of his competitors. The final segment looked at the life of Tom Hanks. There isn't an award in Hollywood that Tom Hanks hasn't won. But for the always humble Hanks, no award means as much to him as his wife and children. Despite the constant glare of Hollywood's spotlight, Hanks has managed to keep his private life out of the news. A&E's new Biography of Tom Hanks traces the actor's amazing career, from a dysfunctional childhood, through his early career as a Shakespearean actor, and finally down the sometimes bumpy road to stardom.

PNN’s question of the week was
“Do you think that the global economic meltdown will have an impact on the Iranian economy?” Out of 5774 respondents, 4649 or 81 percent said yes, 976 or 17 percent said no, while 149 or 2 percent did not have an opinion.

Persian News Network 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.

Ehsan from Tabriz writes: “I have already written you several times. Here, the government has led the nation to misery; and imprisons its opponents. The ethnic and religious minorities do not have any rights in Iran. On the other hand, the Iranian president with his ridiculous speech in the United Nations disgraced the Iranians.”

A Today’s Woman viewer writes: “Today’s Woman program about Ayatollah Brojerdi was the best show so far. This program draws the attention of religious people. My daughter has a religious father and is raised in a religious family and she is interested in woman’s right and she wants to get involved in this cause. I have to tell you that since my husband started to watch Today’s Woman program, he has treated me better. Especially when he hears that Islam does not want them to treat woman badly. Thank you very much.”

Sassan writes:
“Monopolistic approaches are expanding in Iran, to such extent that the clerics have monopolized even the right to speak or to think about spirituality, morality and God. In the state Television Network, while they denounce the other sects, they speak highly about the Shiite sect. On TV they try to inculcate the idea that only the Shiite cleric are trusted by God. I have not seen such a monopoly in Qur’an or the Prophet’s sayings.

From Iran: “I am a man and I learn from the program. By the way, the drug dealer in Rooze Hasrat series who in one episode of this series was shown as a Today’s Woman viewer did not learn from Today’s Woman, she did not become a better person and she ended up in jail.”

A viewer from Iran writes: “Whenever the Regime starts to degrade someone, by all means, we assume that such a person should be a highly-qualified person, or there is something behind the scene. Now, who is this Payman Fattahi, known as “Illia” whom the Iranian media are trying to demean him? Please have an interview with him so that we know him.”

Masoud writes: “I miss Today’s Woman program. Unfortunately, I have not been able to watch the show, because I am on campus and I do not have access to Internet and satellite dish. Right now, I am writing to you from an Internet café. I love you all.”

Mohammad from Tehran writes: “Greeting. Why have you deleted Mr. Baharloo from your programs? He is a very qualified performer. By the way, I suggest you to set a room in your website for polling so that you can be aware of the views of your audience.”

Ali writes: “It has been a while that the Regime has increased its repression against all classes of society including the clerics. I suggest you to have a program about the oppression made against Ayatollah Kazemeini Boroojerdi on 2nd anniversary of his imprisonment.”

A law student writes: “Thank you for the good program [Today’s Woman Show]. My name is Babak and I am a senior law student. I am also active in Human Rights issues. I wonder if I could send you subjects and articles about human rights issues, especially woman rights issues. Please guide me. Thank you.”

Farshad from Iran: “Greeting. Please tell the American politicians to clarify their positions, not to show green light to the Iranian leaders, and do not negotiate with them.”

Kolber from Iran writes: “The foreign policy of Iran is worsening. The pressure on Iran is increasing; therefore, the French Peugeot car manufacturing has decided to increase the price of its spare parts, and probably will impose sanction on Iran. Therefore, the Iran Khodrow will have to stop manufacturing this type of cars and start manufacturing Paykan Cars, which had been stopped. This is the economic policy of Ayatollah Khamenei.”