Washington D.C. – November 2, 2008…With the clock winding down to the U.S. Presidential election on November 4th, Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama stumped in the battleground states of Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. In foreign policy news, a rare attack by U.S. special forces on an Al Qaeda operative in Syria stirred up protests in the Middle East. In sports news, a recap of the Iranian Olympic delegation.
THOUSANDS DEMONSTRATE IN DAMASCUS AFTER U.S. ATTACK
News and Views October 29 – PNN has learned that the Syrian government has decided to shut down an American school and a cultural center in Damascus. The move is in response to a deadly attack Sunday by U.S. Special Forces on a village near the Iraq border, which killed eight people. U.S. State Department Spokesmen Robert Wood stated he was aware of the reports; however, the Syrian Government has not officially notified the U.S. government about the decision.
NewsTalk October 29 – In an update on the attack in Syria, guests to NewsTalk reported that Syria is still seething over the U.S. special forces helicopter attack along its border with Iraq. PNN was joined by journalist Dr. Alireza Nourizadeh and PNN contributor Dr. Mohsen Sazgara. An American military official, who has requested anonymity, told the Associated Press that the mission of the attack was to kill an Al-Qaeda leader of the region. Also discussed was a recent meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Persian Gulf States Cooperative Council Abdolrahman Al-Atiyeh. Mr. Al-Atiyeh met with the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates in order to shore up support for economic cooperation between the two countries.
News and Views October 30 – Thousands of people demonstrated in the Syrian capital of Damascus today in protest of a raid near the Iraqi border. Syria has blamed U.S. forces for the attack. The U.S. embassy in Syria closed today due to security concerns as tensions rose between the two countries. U.S. State Department Spokesman Robert Wood said Wednesday that Syria notified the United States that it must close its cultural center in Damascus, as well as an American school by November 6. Earlier Wednesday, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad demanded the United States and Iraq apologize and investigate the deadly attack, which Syria claims killed eight civilians in the country's eastern region. Syria has also protested the raid to the United Nations. U.S. officials, speaking anonymously, said the operation appears to have killed Al Qaeda leader Abu Ghadiyah who smuggled weapons and foreign fighters into Iraq. In an interview with the VOA, Zbigniew Brzezinski, former presidential national security advisor, said the next U.S. president should enter serious negotiations with Iran. Mr. Brzezinski qualified his statement by saying, “The U.S. position has been and will be that we will enter talks with Iran on one condition: that Iran stop enrichment activities."
News and Views October 31 – PNN learned that Syria has reduced the number of troops located on the Iraqi border following Sunday’s raid by U.S. forces. Neither Damascus nor Baghdad has confirmed this report. While Washington has not confirmed the reports regarding the helicopter attack, the Syrian government has called the attack an act of aggression by the U.S. government. A U.S. State Department spokesman has confirmed that the Syrian government has requested that the U.S. close its cultural center in Damascus immediately as a response to Sunday’s attack.
DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ISSUES WARNING
News and Views October 31 – PNN learned that the top U.S. intelligence official issued a warning that America may be especially vulnerable to security threats during the first months of a new presidency. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell delivered a speech Thursday highlighting security threats and challenges the country will likely face in the next two decades. Mr. McConnell said there is always a surprise soon after a U.S. president takes office. He cited terrorist attacks during the first year of the Clinton and Bush administrations.
ONE OUT OF EVERY SEVEN AMERICANS REMAINS UNDECIDED ABOUT VOTE
News and Views October 31 – Republican presidential candidate Senator McCain and Democrat candidate Senator Obama are fighting for undecided voters in the American heartland today, four days before the national election. A new poll suggests one of the deciding factors in Tuesday's presidential election could be the undecided voters. According to an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll of likely voters released Friday, one in seven, or 14 percent, cannot decide or back a candidate. Meanwhile, more than 33.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the Democratic presidential nominee's paid 30-minute message, aired on three major broadcast networks and four smaller channels, Nielsen Media Research reported on Thursday. Senator McCain is spending a second day in Ohio, where today he vowed to overtake Senator Obama's lead there and in other key states. No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. Senator Obama is campaigning in the Midwestern states of Iowa and Indiana. The Illinois Senator has been linking Senator McCain's economic policies to those of the unpopular incumbent president, Republican George Bush. The latest polls show the race is very tight in Indiana, which traditionally votes as a Republican state. Support in Iowa has shifted between both parties, but the latest surveys show Senator Obama currently holds a significant lead there. Senator Obama continues to lead Senator McCain nationwide by an average of six percentage points. Senator McCain and Senator Obama dueled over the economy on Thursday in the last stretch of their fierce fight for the White House, with Senator McCain charging that Senator Obama would not do enough to rein in oil company profits.
LONGEST U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ENTERS FINAL WEEK OF CAMPAIGNS
News and Views October 27 – PNN continued coverage as candidates near the finish line of the longest presidential campaign in U.S. history. Senator McCain stated that the trio of Senator Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) represent a “dangerous threesome.” Looking ahead to closing his case against Senator McCain in Ohio, Senator Obama argued that voters there have a chance to reject "politics that would divide a nation just to win an election." Fresh off rollicking rallies in Colorado, Senator Obama faced a more sober reality on Monday in Ohio. Polls show a tight race in the state that sealed President Bush's 2004 reelection. Senator Obama is giving what his campaign calls the "closing argument" of his presidential bid in Ohio, where he already lost once this year, to fellow Democratic Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. The longest presidential contest in history is down to just eight days, with Senator Obama and Senator McCain dueling for the electoral riches of Ohio and Pennsylvania. According to a series of Reuters/Zogby polls released on Monday, Senator Obama leads Senator McCain in five of eight crucial battleground states one week before the presidential election, with Senator McCain ahead in two states and Florida dead even. On Sunday, Senator McCain said of the race in a TV interview: "We're going to win it, and it's going to be tight, and we're going to be up late" on election night. In addition, he worked anew to distance himself from the unpopular President Bush. "The fact is I am not George Bush," Senator McCain said. Then, he added: "Do we share a common philosophy of the Republican Party? Of course." Senator Obama pounced on that comment, telling his Denver audience, "I guess that was Senator McCain finally giving us a little straight talk, and owning up to the fact that he and George Bush actually have a whole lot in common." He noted that President Bush has already cast his vote for Senator McCain and said, "We're not going to let George Bush pass the torch to McCain." Senator McCain summed up his agenda clearly by stating, “This election comes down to how you want your hard-earned money spent. Do you want to keep it and invest it in your future or have it taken by the most liberal person to ever run for the presidency and the Democratic leaders, the most liberal who have been running Congress for [the] past two years — Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid?”
News and Views October 28 – Both Senator McCain and Senator Obama are relying on their economic messages to win the support of undecided voters with just one week left before the election. Senator McCain tore into his opponent's tax plans at a rally today in Pennsylvania – a state seen as crucial to victory. He told supporters that Senator Obama plans to redistribute wealth by raising taxes. Senator Obama refined his economic message as he told supporters in Pennsylvania he would roll back tax cuts that benefit only the country's wealthiest citizens. He vowed to give a tax break to small businesses and 95% of working class Americans. The Illinois senator also urged Americans to unite in order to build a stronger and more prosperous nation. An average of recent opinion surveys indicates that Senator McCain is trailing Senator Obama nationally by more than seven percentage points. Republican vice-presidential nominee Governor Sarah Palin appeared alongside Senator McCain at the Pennsylvania rally. Meanwhile, U.S. officials in the southern state of Tennessee say they have arrested two men who had allegedly been plotting to kill African-Americans including Senator Obama. Also on Tuesday, Senator McCain called on fellow Republican Ted Stevens to resign after the Alaska senator's corruption conviction, a verdict that could help tip power in the U.S. Senate.
News and Views October 28 – PNN aired comments by U.S. soldiers serving in the Middle East about the upcoming elections. Private Keith Jordan, who is serving in Afghanistan, commented that he is looking forward to change and he hopes that either candidate will bring forth positive changes in the Middle East. Sergeant Dominic Garza stated, "Everybody's opinion matters, and especially when it comes time to vote for that person that is in favor of bringing troops home." The upcoming election is a hot topic in the Middle East. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told PNN, "The next U.S. president will probably be the last chance for America to correct the strategies and approaches of its foreign policy.” He further stated that while both candidates speak of change it is unclear what changes would take place.
News and Views October 29 – Senators Barack Obama and John McCain both continued to maintain a high level of intensity in the final days of the presidential campaign. On the anniversary of the October 29, 1929 “Black Tuesday” stock market crash, Senator Obama took to the primetime television airwaves. His campaign bought 30 minutes on several networks to deliver a message about the economy, which prompted Senator McCain to comment about his opponent, “He is measuring the drapes and he has planned his first address to the nation before the election. By the way, no one will delay the World Series game with an infomercial when I am president.” Senator McCain made numerous campaign stops in Florida and appeared on “Larry King Live” during a week in which the conservative group Citizens United spent over $1 million to distribute a 95-minute anti-Obama DVD via several newspapers in the hotly-contested states of Florida, Ohio, and Nevada. The Obama campaign worked to deliver a landslide victory for its candidate by targeting traditionally Republican states. It enjoyed leads in four and ties in two of these states, and its optimism was supported by early voting statistics. Among early voters in North Carolina, Florida, and Colorado, which all went to the Republican candidate in 2004, registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans. The news appeared to have an effect on at least some prominent Republicans. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, both once considered as potential running mates for Senator McCain, separately acknowledged that the polls show good news for Senator Obama. During a campaign stop in another state that voted Republican in 2004, Senator Obama proclaimed, "If you will stand with me, if you will reach deep down and fight with me, we won't just win Virginia, we're going to win this election."
News and Views October 30 – With five days until the election, the presidential race is picking up the pace. Fresh off a day defined by flash and cash, Senator Obama targeted the battleground states of Florida, Virginia and Missouri. A resilient Senator McCain aptly picked up his campaign in the Ohio town of Defiance, battling long odds to victory. Obama, the Democratic Illinois senator, held the leads in polls nationally and in most of the states still in competition. McCain, a Republican Arizona senator, has tried to erode Senator Obama's lead by raising doubts about his tax plan and his ability to protect the nation. Senator Obama started Wednesday in Florida, shifting north to Virginia and then ended his day in Missouri. Senator McCain focused on Ohio, which gained notoriety in the 2004 election because it tipped the election for President Bush. Campaigns are famous for tightening and getting even more unpredictable in the final days. Senator McCain and running mate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin say they will surprise election predictors with a win. Senator Obama tried to lock up undecided voters on Wednesday with a prime-time infomercial that seamlessly cut to some live comments he was making in Florida. The airtime cost $4 million. Senator Obama got a big boost late in the evening from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who got on stage with Senator Obama for the first time, calling him the future of the country. Senator McCain, in Florida, argued that Senator Obama lacks "what it takes to protect America from terrorists" as he sought to shift attention away from the economy. Meanwhile, after weeks of being out-advertised by Senator Obama, Senator McCain and the Republican Party are nearly matching the Democrat candidate ad for ad in key battleground markets.
NewsTalk October 30 – PNN reporters from France, Iraq, Italy, and Washington DC discussed the latest news from around the world. The latest news on the U.S. Presidential Election indicates that the race is going to be close. Battleground states are gearing up for a record turn out as well as potential challenges by either campaign. In other news, the International Federation of Human Rights Advocates has issued a new report, stating that torture is rampant in Iranian prisons.
SENATOR OBAMA PONDERS POSSIBLE CABINET MEMBERS IF ELECTED
News and Views October 30 – Continued analysis of the 2008 election included a report on each candidate’s potential Cabinet members. Senator Obama said he "absolutely" considered it important to have Republicans in the Cabinet but he sidestepped a question on whether he would ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain in his job. There has been speculation that either Senator Obama or his Republican rival, Senator McCain, might ask Mr. Gates to stay on. "I'm not going to get into details," Senator Obama said, but he added that national security policy, in particular, should be nonpartisan. Other people mentioned as possible defense secretary picks in a Senator Obama administration include former Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican senator from Nebraska.
GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS
News and Views October 27 – PNN spoke with Karim Pakravan about whether or not markets in the developing world are facing the same challenges as seen in the United States. Mr. Pakravan is a former vice president of JP Morgan and teaches at the University of Chicago. He expressed his belief that the infrastructure in some developing countries is strong enough to overcome the challenges in inter-bank lending.
News and Views October 28 – Asian and European equities rose on Tuesday as the Japanese government announced measures to tighten restrictions on short selling. The Japanese market rebounded after an initial decrease. The Nikkei Stock Average index dipped initially but closed 6.41% higher today after recent steep slides. Latin stock markets reacted to falls in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
News and Views October 29 – Dr. Massoud Yahyazadeh granted PNN an interview to discuss the current state of economic affairs in the United States. Dr. Yahyazadeh is a professor of accounting and finance at George Mason University in Virginia. Dr. Yahyazadeh shared his opinions on the current status of the credit and mortgage markets. He outlined a series of steps that should be taken to end the current decline in the housing industry, which he feels is the prime root of economic stagnation. It is his opinion that the high rate of unemployment is the result of decline in the housing market. Dr. Yahyazadeh expressed his views on the economic packages advocated by the presidential candidates. According to him, Senator McCain’s economic policies are a continuation of President Bush’s policies. Turning to the oil markets, Dr. Yahyazadeh commented on the impact of the recent and dramatic reduction in oil prices. The price per barrel has dropped from a high of $147 to $64 in the world markets. Dr. Yahyazadeh explained how oil prices are regulated by market demands. He stated that the reduction in oil prices, due to a weakening global economy, would have adverse consequences on oil producing counties such as Iran.
LIVE FROM IRAQ
News and Views October 27 – PNN’s Iraq stringer recapped for viewers the differing viewpoints on the U.S. Strategic Security Agreement. An Iraqi government speaker, Ali al-Dabbagh, confirmed that Iran is concerned about the agreement, which will extend the date by which U.S. troops must leave Iraq. The agreement has stalled due to concerns about immunity for U.S. troops. In other news, Abu Hamzeh Masri, the Al Qaeda leader in Iraq, has denied any connection with Iran. Iraqi police arrested 14 militants in the southern part of Kirkuk.
News and Views October 29 – Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamel Mohammed Hassan al-Maliki will call for a referendum about the U.S. Strategic Security Agreement. According to PNN’s stringer in Iraq, the Iraqi cabinet held a meeting today in which Prime Minister al-Maliki was authorized to bring up the planned amendments to the security pact with U.S. negotiators. An Iraqi spokesperson, Ali al-Dabbagh, stated that the new draft was delivered to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. However, the U.S. announced it would not accept any changes in the draft security pacts. In other news, Iraqi security forces arrested three militants in Mosul. In addition, there are reports that the Turkish military is waging attacks along the northern borders of Iraq.
News and Views October 30 – PNN reported live from Iraq that the spokesman for multi-national forces in Iraq, Brigadier General David G. Perkins, commented that it is no secret that Iran tried to interfere in the bilateral discussion between the U.S. and Iraq. He also spoke of Iran’s attempts to weigh in on the sovereign decisions of Iraq. He said, according to the U.S. Strategic Security Agreement and Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), U.S. forces can fight against militant forces including those linked with Iran. In light of a recent U.S. attack in Syria, the Iraqi cabinet strongly expressed their wishes that the SOFA is to include language guaranteeing that Iraq would not become abase of operationsfor staging other U.S. attacks in Middle Eastern countries.
CORRUPTION IN IRAN INCREASING ACCORDING TO GLOBAL RESEARCH
News and Views October 27 – PNN reported that corruption in Iran might be increasing according to the 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) as reported by Transparency International, reflecting a drop in Iran’s previous standing. The CPI scores 180 countries on a scale from zero (highly corrupt) to 10 (highly transparent). The report is a composite index as per ‘the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians.' Iran received the low score of 2.3, which placed it at 141 overall. Iran’s ranking in 2007 was 133. VOA interviewed economist and analyst Dr. Fariborz Raeesdana to learn more about the results of this composite index. He expressed his disappointment in the decreased ranking by saying, “I assure you that corruption has permeated all levels of the regime in Iran.” Dr. Raeesdana was careful to make a distinction between the state and the public when speaking of the root of the country’s problems with accountability. He explained that although bribery in Iran is common nowadays, “You cannot blame them [Iranian citizens], because in a totalitarian regime like Iran it is the government that has everything under its control.” Dr. Raeesdana expressed his dismay that President Ahmadinejad had done little to confront corruption during his time in office. In his opinion, the regime should look more closely at the dealings of the elite members of the Iranian regime.
NewsTalk October 28 – NewsTalk was joined by Nasser Mohammadi, the deputy Editor-in-Chief of Kayhan in London, and energy policy expert Dr. Sohrab Sobhani to discuss news from inside Iran. Reports out of Iran indicate Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been ill due to "exhaustion." However, analysts stated this may be an opening for the Iranian hierarchy to cast him aside if there is a more viable candidate for the upcoming Presidential campaign. Guests updated viewers on the status of Iranian-American graduate student Esha Momeni. Ms. Momeni was arrested on October 15 while undertaking research in Iran on her graduate thesis. She has allegedly been charged with "conduct against the security of the regime." From Vienna, IAEA Director Mohammad El-Baradei noted that Iran is yet again blocking the path of inspectors for further inspections in Iran. Finally, PNN reported that the U.S. Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq has now hit a snag. It is believed that the issue will be postponed till the U.S. Presidential Election results are known.
Late Edition October 31 – Sports journalist Ali Sarshar talked about the Iranian Olympic Committee (IOC) election in Tehran. He talked about the election of Mohammad Ali Abadi as the new president of the committee. Mr. Sarshar described the general process as an undemocratic election, therefore criticizing the Iranian Olympic Committee for choosing Mr. Abadi. Because Mr. Abadi is the assistant Vice President to President Ahmadinejad and the head of the Iranian sports delegation, Mr. Sarshar relayed his opinion that Mr. Abadi used his connections to take over the IOC as well. He further reported that the majority of people who participated in the election also work for Mr. Abadi. Mr. Sarshar called this another political move by the Islamic Republic to control Iranian sports. He stated that this is another sign of the struggle between different political groups in Iran. According to Mr. Sarshar, this new committee will not be capable of achieving much in the 2012 Olympics. It is his belief that Iran will be disappointed again because of the lack of qualifications of its Olympic Committee members.
News and Views November 1 – PNN was joined by international analyst Dr. Bahman Aghaii Diba to discuss the presidential candidates and their perspectives on Iran. Dr. Diba shared his views on Iran’s nuclear program and how the candidates’ views differed. It is widely known that Senator Obama believes the U.S. should talk with Iran without any precondition. This has been one of the attacking points of the McCain campaign as Senator McCain says Iran must first stop its nuclear program. Dr. Diba is not optimistic on the future of talks, because he believes some factions in Iran play on the advantage of the negative relationship between the U.S. and Iran. When asked if there is a difference in the foreign policy approaches between the Democratic and Republican parties, Dr. Diba answered, “Not in Iran’s case.” Turning to preparations for the springtime presidential elections in Iran, Dr. Diba expressed his view that the Majlis would not have any impact in the election of the future president. This is because in Iran the religious leaders vet presidential candidates. In closing, Dr. Diba stated that to date it appears that President Ahmadinejad does not have any rivals for the presidency.
48 Hours November 1 – A professor and a journalist joined PNN to examine the reasons why the reform movement failed to create a firm foundation for a more democratic and less autocratic Iran. Professor Kazem Alamdari of California State University Northridge expressed his view that it is the very structure of the Islamic Republic that is resistant, “Those in the vanguard of this reform saw the preservation of the regime and their own self-interests more paramount than the popular sovereignty of the Iranian people.” Sweden-based independent journalist Hasan Behgar argued that cracking down on dissent has the least cost for the regime now because Iranian leaders now have all the means of coercion at their disposal. "It would be foolish for people wishing for a more democratic Iran to put all their eggs in the basket of reformers. They had a chance to show their mettle and failed their test," he argued. Iran’s former president, Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, was also touched upon during the discussion as an example of a leader who could not alter the structure of the Islamic Republic. Professor Alamdari highlighted how Mr. Khatami himself was unable to carry out the reform plans that were a part of his election platform. “He realized that the reform plans he was championing were not compatible with the absolute rule of the clerics," he added.
HUMAN RIGHTS UPDATES
Roundtable October 27 – PNN took a closer look at a topic raised from viewer emails to the show. Roundtable examined the banning of publications. Guests Yalda Nourshahi, a journalist and editor of the bi-monthly Honarhaye Zistan, and Mohsen Namakian, a member of the executive committee of the Al-e Yasin Spiritual Group of Iran, joined the show. The Al-e Yasin group is comprised of cultural, social, and Iranian heritage experts whose mission is to promote thought provoking ideas. The group has been suffering under severe restrictions in Iran. The leader, Payman Fattahi, was jailed and beaten. The groupstates that they are accused of threatening the security of the system and that they are trying to change the religious nature of Iran. However, they state that the goal of their mission is to promote freedom of religion and freedom of speech. According to the guests, government officials in Iran have created a secret office to combat all those who are suspected of anti-regime elements. These officials are restricting the lives of Al-e Yasin affiliates, such as the bi-monthly publication Honarhaye Zistan, which was shut down. In addition, they stated that the government notified the leader of the Al-e Yasin group that if he promotes his ideas or conducts further seminars he would face severe and swift actions of the government.
NewsTalk October 27 – Human rights activist Elahe Sharifpour Hicks and Ahmad Batebi, a spokesperson for the Consortium of Human Rights, joined NewsTalk for a discussion on the latest human rights updates. The Disciplinary Committee of Shiraz University has summoned over 50 female students for questioning due to lack of adherence to Islamic Hijab policies of the institution. Further reports indicate that the government of Iran has banned any activities by the HOMAI band. This classical music ensemble, which has traveled to the U.S., was also a previous guest on PNN. Guests to the show stated that several Iranian teenagers were arrested by security forces. The teenagers were planning a commemoration of the birth of Cyrus the Great. There are also reports that some of the teenagers had been beaten. Dissident cleric, Ayatollah Kazemeini Boroujerdi, has issued his last will and testament from his jail cell. NewsTalk guests indicated that he has asked international human rights advocacy groups to protest human rights violations in Iran.
Today’s Woman October 30 – PNN continued its coverage of Esha Momeni, the detained women’s rights activist associated with the One Million Signature Campaign who was arrested in Tehran on October 15 while doing research for her graduate thesis. Ms. Momeni is detained at Evin prison. Fariba Davoudi Mohajer, a women’s rights activist and campaign member, joined PNN live in studio to discuss the status of Ms. Momeni’s case. Ms. Mohajer contended that the Iranian regime imprisons activists like Esha Momeni in order to instill fear in other activists. The official Iranian news source Kayhan claims that the Campaign is funded by the United States, an allegation that Mohajer refutes and instead argues that each member of the Campaign contributes individually to the cause. According to Ms. Mohajer, the Iranian regime intends to weaken the campaign because they feel their authority is threatened. PNN is unaware of any official updates on the legal status of Ms. Momeni’s case.
LITERARY COMMUNITY SUGGESTS LITERATURE FOR NEXT PRESIDENT
Late Edition November 1 – This week Late Edition covered books recommended bymembers of the San Francisco Bay area's literary community to the victor of Tuesday's presidential election. Author Daniel Handler recommended Joshua Beckman's Your Time Has Comeremarking, “Short poems are about all I'd allow during the presidency.” One of Wendy Lesser’s suggestions as editor of the “Threepenny Review,” included Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace. Poet Gary Snyder recommended "The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation" because he believes the ancient Chinese philosopher’s advice is useful and needed in our current situation. Radio host Michael Krasny of KQED-FM's daily call-in show Forum chose Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March. The book traces the development of an individual through a series of encounters, occupations and relationships during the Great Depression. He also recommended Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, which depicts the intellectual and social challenges of African-Americans. Richard North Patterson chose works specific to each candidate. He thought Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s writings would help Senator Obama compare the challenges of Roosevelt’s time with those of today. For Senator McCain he recommended the writings of Edmund Burke, who believed change could be slowly achieved by prudent conservatism. Susan Griffin suggested that both candidates read her own book, Wrestling With the Angel of Democracy, as well as a book called Scheherazade Goes West by the Moroccan writer Fatima Mernissi. The candidates had earlier revealed their favorite books to Katie Couric of CBS News. Senator Obama’s is Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, and Senator McCain chose For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway.
A LOOK AT IRANIAN AMERICANS IN CINEMA
Late Edition November 1 – Late Edition looked at an Iranian American actress who was cast in an upcoming Hollywood film about the lives of differing immigrant communities in the United States. Actress Nina Nayebi shared her own story with viewers about her journey to Hollywood. Ms. Nayebi came to the United States to continue her education. She received her bachelor’s degree in computer science and upon graduation went to work for different companies as a consultant. However, Ms. Nayebi had always wanted to be an actress. So she decided to follow her dream in Los Angeles. She took acting classes and she studied cinema for a while. Ms. Nayebi gained experience working with some well-known Iranian groups and was an extra in some television series and movies. Ms. Nayebi became a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). She recently acted in the soap opera General Hospital and the popular primetime drama CSI, which stands for Crime Scene Investigation. Ms. Nayebi recently acted in the films 60 Minutes of Distance and Crossing Worlds with Hollywood stars Harrison Ford and Sean Penn. Crossing Worlds is a controversial movie about the life of a Persian family in Los Angeles. Ms. Nayebi told Late Edition that in her opinion Iranian-American actors are talented and passionate, two qualities necessary to succeed in Hollywood. She expressed her heartfelt gratitude for her successes.
Late Edition October 28 – PNN interviewed Iranian-American artist Afshean Hessam. Mr. Hessam began his artistic journey in photography at the age of eighteen, when he traveled throughout Iran shooting architectural and landscape montages. Using black and white film and Polaroid transfer methods, his photos of Iran depict stark emotions of the people who inhabit both urban and rural dwellings. Mr. Hessam moved to America at the age of twenty-two to focus on cinematography by pursuing courses at the Academy of Art University (AAU), where he obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2005. His work has been shown in several exhibitions and galleries both in the United States and in Iran. He received the Best Experimental Award at the AAU Film Festival in San Francisco in 2002 and 2003 and a scholarship from the Peter and Masha Plotkin Memorial Foundation in Irvine. Mr. Hessam has created several short films and has worked on film and advertising projects both in the United States and in Iran.
Also on PNN…
On the Record October 31 – PNN’s Executive Editor Kambiz Mahmoudi as ombudsman explained the uniqueness of this year’s American Presidential Election. American elections, like other democratic elections in the world, are for the people to exercise their freedom of expression and choose their own government. How this year’s election differs from any previous American election is that both major tickets include candidates whose basic rights, let alone voting rights, were non-existent less than a century ago. It is unprecedented that the tickets of both major parties reflect this level of acceptance of these previously disenfranchised groups. When the election is over, the American people will have either its first African American president or its first female vice president. It is of great significance that, regardless of the outcome, the world will witness an orderly transfer of power. He concluded by telling viewers that PNN will host a special broadcast on November 4th.
This week on the History Channel – The History Channel’s programming this week featured biographies of actors, comedians and inventors. Comedian Robin Williams’ acting journey began with classical training at Julliard and has included an Oscar-winning performance in Good Will Hunting. Today, with three children, Robin Williams can be found performing stand-up for the troops and acting in countless new film projects. Next, Gary Sinise highlighted one of Hollywood’s legendary showbiz families. Beginning with the birth of Maurice Barrymore in the early 1800’s, he shared with viewers the trials and tribulations of a family that has reigned on stage and film for over 150 years. This segment finished with a look at current Hollywood actress Drew Barrymore. Turning to Northern California, the History Channel examined the post-Google world in a follow up on Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the inventors behind the ubiquitous search engine. Viewers pondered what Mr. Page and Mr. Brin’s gift to the age of the Internet would bring. In the future, will we all be defined by what Google says about us? Will past misdeeds follow us forever? Finally, the biography of Charles & Anne Lindbergh: Alone Together examines one of the most celebrated and most reviled couples of our time. This biography looked beyond the couple’s well-known public identity, instead building an emotional and intimate portrait of the misunderstood couple.
PNN’s question of the week was “Does the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) seem to have any plans to counter the impact of the oil price reduction?” Out of 5,116 respondents, 516 or 10 % said yes, 4,418or 86 % said no, while 182 or 4 % did not have an opinion.
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.
PNN INSIDER - VIEWER PERSPECTIVES
Several viewers from Tehran: These viewers thanked VOA, particularly Ms. Shahla Arasteh, the anchor for News and Views Program,for her wonderfulprogram about Al-e Yasin society, and about the actions which, allegedly,the Iranian Regime takes against its members.
Ramin from Tehran wrote: “Thanks for your repeated programs which you broadcast about Kordan’s forged educational records. Your attempts caused his impeachment by the Majlis (Iranian Parliament). I for one would like to thank you.”
Reza from Abadan: “Greeting to you whichlet our voice beingheard. Six hundred workers of Abadan Refinery were fired. They hoped that the visit of Rafsanjani’s son would help their reinstatement on their job. This proved a wishful thinking! Not only has their request for reinstatementbeen rejected, but also they have been threatened to imprisonment. Please broadcast this news. Thanks”
Parvin from Tehran wrote: “In Iran the worstservice is given by Social Security Administration. Its employees are impolite and rude; there is too much red tape and delays; the files are frequently lost; and even its computer data are not up to date. This is in line with the statement of Ahmadinejad who claims thathis government works only for the welfare of the nation!”
Nazanin Afshin Jam, President and Co-Founder of Stop Child Executionswrote: “We are pleased that Iran is taking the right step forward to end the death penalty. We take the recent statement by the government of Iran cautiously as we have seen in the past where the Islamic Republic’s officials have reneged on their statements. We at the Stop ChildExecutions are hopeful that this is a battle that can be won. Our voices together really do make as difference and we are being heard and addressed worldwide.”