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Persian tv weekly highlights 11/24

Reaching Millions of Television Viewers in Iran Each Week

Washington D.C. – November 23 …Top stories this week include the latest reports by PNN on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s dealings with Iran; breaking coverage of Iranian censorship of an estimated 5 million Internet sites; congressional criticism of the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement; and interviews commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Iranian serial murders.


NewsTalk November 18 – As corruption reaches near record levels in Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for a financial investigation of all Ministers and elected officials since the 1979 Revolution to the present day. Political analyst Nasser Mohammadi from London and Heshmatolah Tabarzadi, the Spokesman of the Iranian Democratic Front in Tehran, joined PNN to discuss the latest state of affairs in Parliament. Mr. Mohammadi criticized the nomination of Sadek Mahsouli for Interior Ministry saying that the credibility of the Iranian Parliament is under question. Mr. Mahsouli served as Mr. Ahmadinejad’s campaign manager and he is one of President Ahmadinejad's closest aides. Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani announced on state radio, “Out of 273 deputies who received ballots to take part in the vote of confidence, 138 voted for him, 112 rejected his nomination, we have 20 abstentions, and three did not take part at all." Mr. Mahsouli, like the president, is a veteran of the Revolutionary Guards. He previously held posts in provincial government and as deputy defense minister in charge of planning. Mr. Tabarzadi believes Iran is facing a crisis both politically and economically. Mr. Mahsouli's nomination was heavily debated in Parliament because he is in charge of organizing elections.

NewsTalk November 19 – NewsTalk was joined by PNN contributor Alireza Nourizadeh from London and political analyst Mohammed Sazegara in studio to discuss the latest updates regarding the appointment of Iranian ministers. Mr. Nourizadeh expressed his displeasure over the limited political power available to President Ahmadinejad in political appointments. He commented, “The Oil Minister, Interior Minister and Foreign Minister in Iran are chosen not only by Ahmadinejad but by Ayatollah Khamenei and other powerful persons like Rafsanjani.” He spoke briefly about the recent appointment of Sadegh Mahsouli to the position of Interior Minister. Mr. Mahsouli was President Ahmadinejad’s former campaign manager. In response to a question on corruption, he added, “Mr. Mahsouli as the new Interior Minister is just one corrupted person but the problem is bigger than this and related to the roots of the Iranian regime.” Mr. Sazegara followed up by saying that he believed Mr. Mahsouli’s appointment was a grave mistake. In his opinion, freedom of the press is absolutely necessary in order to fight corruption. In conclusion, Mr. Nourizadeh touched briefly on human rights issues, lamenting the lack of accountability concerning the deaths of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi and Zahra Bani Yaghoun, a medical student who also died in an Iranian prison.


Today’s Woman November 23, 2008 -- In recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, discussion focused on the status of violence against women in Iran and around the world. In-studio guest Ms. Mehrangiz Kar, activist and lawyer, discussed the occurring political violence and laws that contribute to hostility against women in Iran. She stated that Iranian women suffer from discriminatory laws that permit the justification of various forms of abuse against women, such as the controlling nature of laws constituting the legal relationship between husbands and wives and fathers and daughters. They include legislation regarding blood money, travel, and inheritance. In order to overcome the legal obstacles Iranian women face, Ms. Kar suggested that women voice their dissent against the biased laws.


News and Views November 21 – Sources close to the Obama transition team say that President-elect Barack Obama is close to announcing his nomination of Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. The formal announcement will take place after Thanksgiving. The Obama transition team has been sorting through an array of financial statements and documents involving the foundation run by Senator Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton. Meanwhile, Retired Marine Gen. James Jones is emerging as a leading contender for White House national security adviser as President-elect Obama works to assemble his foreign policy team. In other news, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) introduced legislation blocking a proposed civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) unless stringent conditions are met, one of which includes halting the shipment of nuclear-related equipment from the UAE to Iran. In domestic news, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says any congressional bailout of the distressed U.S. auto industry is not intended to be "life support," but doing nothing "is not an option." Democratic leaders demand the companies demonstrate financial viability and accountability, but appear to be giving Detroit wide latitude on explaining how they would use bailout money to reverse their disastrous financial slide. Meanwhile, Verizon Wireless confirmed that some of its employees gained unauthorized access and viewed an inactive personal account of President-elect Obama. In a statement, Verizon Wireless President and Chief Executive Lowell McAdam apologized to President-elect Obama. He said the device in question was a simple voice phone that did not have email capabilities.


News and Views November 19
– During Wednesday’s action by Iranian authorities, in which access to more than five million Internet sites in Iran were blocked, PNN spoke with blogger Rozbeh Amir-Ebrahimi. He noted that today’s actions mirrored a massive crackdown of Iran’s reformist press in 2000 when many journalists were forced to turn to blogging after their publications were shut down. Under President Ahmadinejad, closures of newspapers and other media, including web sites and news agencies of all political persuasions, have continued. Mr. Amir-Ebrahimi said government officials in Iran claim that the Internet “inflicts social, political, economic and moral damage.” According to Mr. Amir-Ebrahimi, new media forms such as the Internet and text messaging played important roles in revolutions in Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia. Iranian authorities are afraid of similar events in Iran. He added that the ban has also targeted social networking sites including You Tube. He concluded by saying, “In recent years the Internet service providers were told to block access to political, human rights and women’s sites and web logs expressing dissent or deemed to be pornographic and anti-Islamic.”


News and Views November 19
– Al-Qaeda’s initial reaction to Senator Barack Obama's election as U.S. president was one of disdain. The terrorist group referred to the President-elect by a derogatory racial term and attacked his policies as anti-Islamic. In a posting on a militant website today a voice identified as the terror network's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri, said President-elect Obama's plan to increase the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan will be doomed for failure. There was no immediate reaction from the U.S. government or President-elect Obama's transition team. Meanwhile, on Tuesday President-elect Obama addressed an international summit on climate change hosted by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger via video conferencing. The President-elect said that the U.S. economy would continue to weaken if climate change and dependence on foreign oil are not addressed. In addition, Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, who was convicted of corruption last month, lost his bid for re-election. This has boosted the Democratic Party majority in the U.S. Senate, as they now control 58 seats. That brings the Democratic Party within two seats of the 60-vote majority needed to prevent Republicans from blocking legislation from advancing to a final vote. Senate races in the states of Georgia and Minnesota are still being decided. Yesterday, Democrat-turned-Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman managed to keep his Senate committee chairmanship in part because President-elect Barack Obama refused to punish him for supporting Sen. John McCain.


News and Views November 19
– News and Views was the first broadcast within VOA to report on the latest IAEA report regarding Iran's nuclear program. The report said that due to the lack of cooperation by Iran in connection with the alleged studies and other key remaining issues of serious concern, the agency has not been able to make substantive progress. The agency urged Iran to clarify the extent to which information contained in the relevant documentation is factually correct and where, in its view, such information may have been modified or related to non-nuclear weapons. The agency also said in its report that, contrary to the decisions of the Security Council, Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, having continued the operation of a new generation of centrifuges for test purposes. At the end of the report, the Agency urged Iran to implement all measures required to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program at the earliest possible date.

News and Views November 19 – PNN aired findings from a new report, which indicates that the world faces a serious risk as terrorists could obtain a nuclear bomb and that the potential for an attack is very real. The report urged U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to make reducing that risk a top priority of U.S. security and policy. The study is the seventh annual report from Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The Nuclear Threat Initiative commissioned the report. The nonproliferation group is based in Washington, D.C. Britain's top diplomat says he hopes next year will be an opportunity to bring change to the Middle East because there will be a new U.S. president and elections will be held in Israel, Lebanon and Iran. Foreign Secretary David Miliband spoke after meeting Wednesday with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman in Beirut. Mr. Miliband said 2009 will be a year of change globally. He expressed support for Lebanon's independence and democracy. Mr. Miliband arrived in Beirut after visiting Syria, Israel and the West Bank as part of a Middle East tour. On Tuesday in Damascus, Mr. Miliband said Syria could play a constructive role in bringing stability to the Middle East. He called on Syrian officials to continue holding indirect peace talks with Israel. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice delivered the keynote address for the 23rd Annual Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) briefing today. Yesterday, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, son of the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, visited the U.S. State Department and met with Assistant Secretary David Welch. A State Department spokesman said Washington-Tripoli ties have definitely improved.


News and Views November 22
– International analyst Dr. Bahman Aghaii Diba touched upon direct talks with Iran by the U.S. administration. Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, wrote in a letter addressed to Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili that major world powers believe that the nuclear dispute between the U.S. and Iran can now be resolved through diplomatic talks. Dr. Diba disagreed by saying that Iran must first change its position before talks can be held. He specifically cited Iran’s lack of cooperation in previous talks and its previous history of refusing IAEA inspectors access to nuclear facilities. Dr. Diba also touched upon the recent passage of a Canadian sponsored United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning human rights violations in Iran. He said that the resolution focused on the suppression of women’s movements, the lack of freedom of speech principles, and the recent increase in the execution of minors. Although the resolution passed through a key committee more quickly than in previous votes, it is interesting to note that 60 countries abstained from voting.

Roundtable November 21 – As the international community discusses the merits of opening up diplomatic relations between Iran and the U.S., Roundtable took a more critical look at the difficulties of potential dialogue with Iran. Mehdi Khalaji, a Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, noted that current discussions with Iran have reached an impasse. As it stands, Iran is not willing to forgo its ambitions for nuclear weapons. At the same time, Iran does not want to be known as an uncooperative regime. Mr. Khalaji believes that the United States has shown its willingness to engage Iran. He cited U.S. efforts to sit with Iran's ambassador in Iraq and he reminded viewers that the U.S. sent a top representative from the State Department to two conferences involving Iran and the nuclear issue. Mr. Khalaji pointed out, “It is fundamentally wrong to assume that in Iran the president has the authority over foreign policy because that is solely at the discretion of the Supreme Leader. As such, Ayatollah Khamenei needs assurance that western democracy and its mechanisms are not going to be imported into Iran. But in the age of the Internet and mass media, the people of Iran will not stand for that. Therefore, the answer is that so long as Ayatollah Khamenei is in power, there is not going to be a possibility for meaningful dialogue.” Mr. Khalaji believes that the incoming Obama Administration will have a maximum window of one year to bring some element of talks with Iran to fruition. Otherwise, the opportunity is lost. In Mr. Khalaji's estimation, if Iran and Ayatollah Khamenei do not agree to a schedule of talks with the U.S., the West will implement more severe sanctions. Mr. Khalaji believes that the fear of Iran's leader is not from any action by the Pentagon, but rather a fear from the "influence of Hollywood and messages from non-political sources."

48 Hours November 20 – PNN reported that the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report gives further justification to the decision by the UN Security Council to keep Iran's dossier under its control rather than give it back to the IAEA. Michael Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund and former head of non-proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, spoke with PNN about the report. The Ploughshares Fund is a public foundation aimed at the prevention and use of nuclear weapons. Mr. Cirincione said, "The report states that Iran has been able to make steady progress both in the number of centrifuges operating as well as increased efficiency of these machines. And these developments are of grave concern to the agency." Referring to toughening sanctions against Iran for its nuclear enrichment, he said "the international community would not be able to prevent Iran from perfecting the nuclear technology especially if friendly countries help Iran with know-how on how to build a bomb." In his opinion, there are two models on how to stop countries from building nuclear bombs. He said, “One is the Iraq model, whereby we had to invade the country, which was disastrous. The other model was Libya, where we had to negotiate with the country and persuade its leader to foreswear his nuclear bombs program." Acknowledging that Iran's dismal human rights record should be part of our agenda with Iran, he said, "the Obama Administration has a long list of issues with Iran, but it's better to deal with them through negotiations rather than threats of military attacks or sanctions."


News and Views November 17 – The Iraqi government is facing a difficult situation, PNN reported, in their efforts to balance relations between Iran and the U.S. Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has the support of Iran, denounced the Iraqi cabinet's approval of the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement. While the President-elect’s transition team has released no official view on Iran, sources close to the team say that President-elect Obama may intend to focus more on Afghanistan initially.

News and Views November 17 – The Israeli Prime Minister called for stronger efforts on behalf of the international community to stop Iran's nuclear program. Addressing the United Jewish Community's annual general assembly in Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert said Iran is a threat to Israel. Meanwhile, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) released a report this month projecting nuclear growth in the Middle East. ISIS President David Albright urged the Obama administration to encourage Israel to join in banning plutonium production and uranium enrichment by treaty. In continued coverage of the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement, U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker termed the ratification of the agreement by the Iraqi cabinet as "historic." Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Richard Schmierer elaborated on this achievement of signing the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) during a live interview by saying, “The SOFA is historic in the sense that it involves not only security issues, but economic and cultural considerations as well.” He commented on questions concerning the opposition to the agreement by answering, “The U.S. expects the parliament of Iraq to approve the SOFA, but obviously we will consider other ways and means of securing security in Iraq.”

News and Views November 18 – Iranian speaker of the Majlis, Ali Larijani, urged the Iraqi government and its lawmakers to continue their resistance to the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement. PNN reported that the website of Iran’s judiciary quotes its chief, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, as saying the Iraqi government has done very well regarding this matter. David Milliband, the British Foreign Secretary, is urging Syria to play a positive role in the region, something that Washington has also been asking of Damascus, especially concerning Iraq. Edgar Vasquez, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department’s Near East Bureau, commented that Washington expects Syria to guard its borders with Iraq against the infiltration of insurgents into Iraq. Meanwhile, the U.S. and the UAE released a joint statement yesterday outlining the countries’ bilateral ties and common interests.

News and Views November 18 – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) released the following statement on the U.S.-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) - the agreement was approved by the Iraqi Cabinet and will be sent to the Iraqi Parliament for ratification: “The signing of the Status of Forces Agreement by Ambassador Crocker and Foreign Minister Zebari brings to a close the difficult and protracted negotiations between the U.S. and Iraq. Our negotiators have worked long hours over the last year to reach this agreement. The agreement contains some positive aspects. I am pleased that our troops will have the legal authority they need after January 1, and I am glad that the Administration has finally recognized the wisdom of setting deadlines for the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq. However, I am deeply troubled by the sections of the agreement that could result in U.S. troops facing prosecution in Iraqi courts. For example, I do not believe it was wise to push off major decisions about the legal protections U.S. troops would have in such cases or the crimes for which they could be charged. I am also troubled by vague language in the agreement that will likely cause misunderstandings and conflict between the U.S. and Iraq in the future. Should the Iraqi Council of Representatives pass the agreement, the House Armed Services Committee will closely monitor the agreement’s implementation to ensure the protection of our men and women in uniform who have served and who continue to sacrifice on our behalf in Iraq.”


News and Views November 20 – The U.S. Government is refusing to disclose to the public the details of the landmark strategic security agreement with Iraq that calls for the withdrawal of U.S troops by the end of 2011. According to officials, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and General James Cartwright of the Joint Chiefs of Staff briefed lawmakers from both houses of congress on the Status of Forces Agreement behind closed doors. Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations and Human Rights, called the briefing “insulting and an after-thought” after the Bush administration earlier rebuffed calls for Congress to be consulted during the year-long negotiations on the agreement. Rep. Delahunt urged President Bush to renew the UN mandate rather than sign a bilateral agreement with Iraq. The Bush administration has repeatedly turned down invitations to attend the eight open hearings, saying it is a “sensitive time.” Experts testifying before Rep. Bill Delahunt and the subcommittee were forced to rely on an unofficial English translation of the security deal. The Bush administration is adamant that the agreement does not rise to the level that would require ratification by the U.S. Senate. According to the unofficial version, the United States and Iraq are to set up a joint committee to oversee and coordinate all offensive U.S. Military operations. On the controversial issue of Iraqi criminal jurisdiction over U.S. soldiers, the unofficial English version says Iraq will have the right “when such crimes are committed outside agreed facilities and outside duty status.” The agreement does not define “duty status.” Any U.S. service members arrested or detained by Iraqi forces will be kept in U.S. custody pending trial. In addition, U.S. forces will not be able to arrest Iraqis without Iraqi approval. Those detained must be handed over to Iraqi authorities within 24 hours, requirements that could potentially complicate military operations according to Michael Matheson, a former State Department legal advisor. Top officials have confirmed that the agreement calls for a withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 without preconditions.


News and Views November 18 – Former campaign rivals U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and Senator John McCain met on Monday to talk about how they can work together on issues facing the country. The two men paused briefly before TV cameras before a private meeting Monday at President-elect Obama's transition office in Chicago. It was the first face-to-face meeting since the President-elect beat Senator McCain in the November 4 election. Meanwhile, President-elect Obama called Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to assure him of the continued support of the U.S.


Late Edition November 20 – PNN took an in-depth look at the international challenges that will be facing President-elect Obama when he takes office on January 20. A Brookings scholar gave his analysis of the challenges facing the President-elect in regards to being the first president elected during wartime in 40 years. Beyond the two-front war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the program focused on what looks to be a worldwide economic recession and the hope that a new administration can provide much needed stability to world markets. Nuclear proliferation was discussed in regards to Iran and North Korea and will be at the center of President-elect Obama's foreign policy as will a resurgent Russia. Moscow will also play a large role along with economic powerhouse China if the new President follows through with his promises to make climate change a major part of his agenda.


48 Hours November 22 – This week marked the 10th anniversary of the Forouhar brutal murders, an event that rocked Iran and was followed by the killing of other secular dissidents and authors. The focus of the serial murder cases (also known as "chain murders") remained limited to four key individuals: Parvaneh and Dariush Forouhar, Mohammad Mokhtari, and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh. However, at least 10 other individuals were murdered or disappeared at the hands of what many allege to be the same perpetrators. PNN spoke with the daughter of the late Forouhar, Parastoo Forouhar. Ms. Forouhar said thatthrough the hiding of clues, the disappearance of the attorneys and relatives of the victims, and changes in the direction of the trial, these cases of undeniable national importance were reduced to the level of a simple criminal case. PNN also interviewed Roozbeh Farahanipour, the leader of the Iran Marzeporgohar Party, about these events. Mr. Farahanipour said that the attorneys for the victims' families were incarcerated and publications that reported on developments related to the crimes were shut down. According to the guest, today many of those who ordered as well as perpetrated these crimes hold positions of aurthority within the government, security apparatus and the military. "Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, issued a Fatwa, giving a religious justification for the physical elimination of these thinkers," he added. "After we get rid of this clerical regime, we need to set up truth commissions as they did at the end of Apartheid and mete out appropriate punishments to those who carried out these crimes. We will not forget and neither will we forgive," Farahanipour stated. Everyone on the program, including Paris-based filmmaker Jamshid Golmakani, agreed that with the elimination of major pieces of evidence, a clear shift in the direction of the trial, flaws in the legal case, murders of the victims' family members, and the disappearance of Iran's intellectuals as the main claimants, one of the most sensitive political/security/criminal cases in contemporary Iranian history was transformed into an ordinary criminal case and ultimately efforts were made so that it would be swept under the rug.

Late Edition November 21
– Abbas Maroufi, a well-known Iranian writer and journalist, joined Late Edition from Berlin to talk about the 10th anniversary commemorating the deaths of several influential political and intellectual dissidents by the Iranian intelligence ministry. He criticized the Islamic republic for such a horrible action. Mr. Maroufi accused the ministry of the murders of the Iranian People’s Party leaders Dariush Forouhar and his wife Parvaneh on November 22, 1998. These murders set off a series of reports that the Iranian media coined the “chain murders.” Poet and activist Mohammad Mokhtari disappeared soon after and was found dead on December 9, 1998. French translator and writer Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh was found dead two days later. It has been strongly alleged, though not officially confirmed, that a gang headed by Saeed Emami or Eslami, the Deputy Minister of Intelligence, carried out these four murders.Mr. Maroufi also spoke about the deaths of Majid Sharif and Pirroz Davani, victims who many believe suffered under the same hands. In all, at least ten people were murdered or disappeared during the autumn of 1998.

Today's Woman November 21 – The show began by commemorating the tenth anniversary of the serial killings of Iranian intellectuals and journalists, including Dariush and Parvaneh Forouhar, Mohammad Mokhtari, and Jafar Pouyandeh. Human rights lawyer and Nobel Peace prize laureate Shirin Ebadi contributed to the discussion in a phone interview, stating that the cases are still unresolved. Next, the show discussed guidelines and procedures of the United States Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery with in-studio guest Dr. Hoomayan Moghtader, an immigration lawyer based in Los Angeles. The URL of the visa lottery website was displayed throughout the segment. Dr. Moghtader advised applicants to be cautious of fake or misleading websites. The remainder of the show compared divorce laws in the United States and in Iran. Dr. Moghtader noted that divorce laws in the United States vary from state to state. He acknowledged that in the United States, men and women seeking a divorce maintain equal legal standing, contrasting highly with divorce laws in Iran where the rights of women are subordinate to those of a man, specifically regarding child custody.


News and Views November 16 – Leaders of industrial nations and emerging economies gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss the current world economic crisis. G20 members agreed to continue their efforts to stimulate the world economy although specific details were not reported. European and U.S. media criticized the summit as “long on rhetoric and short on specific practical solutions.”

Roundtable November 17 – Amid increasing criticism by media covering the G20 Summit, PNN took a moment to speak with Dr. Fereydoun Khavand, a professor of International Economics at the René Descartes University in Paris. Dr. Khavand noted that a major goal of the G20 summit has been the creation of a transparent system on monitoring credit issues on a global scale. He noted that management of international monetary organizations should be more clear and efficient. One important aspect of the G20 summit, according to Dr. Khavand, has been the invitation and attendance of emerging economies of the world. Of note are the three Muslim countries of Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Saudi Arabia has the world's largestoil reserve and controls oil production and price in the world market. Although Turkey has no reserve of oil or natural gas, Dr. Khavand noted that Turkey has made itself a player in the world scene by becoming an important passageway for oil and gas imports to Europe. As such, it has been able to export $130 billion in goods to the world. The reason Iran was left off the list of invitees, according to Dr. Khavand, is due to its one-dimensional economy. He stated that because Iran lacks a transparency in governance, its leaders are not adept at dealing with world economic trends. In his opinion, this contributes to Iran’s isolation on the world stage.


News and Views November 18 – Amidst nationwide criticism, the top three Detroit auto executives took separate corporate jets to Washington, D.C. in their quest to make a case for economic bailout assistance from Congress. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson opposed a plan by Democrats to use some of the $700 billion from the financial rescue package to help the auto industry and troubled homeowners. Mr. Paulson spoke today at a Congressional hearing where he said the plan should remain focused on the critical task of stabilizing the financial system by buying stock in troubled banks. Paulson spoke just hours before top U.S. auto executives from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler and the head of the autoworkers union appeared before a separate Congressional hearing seeking help for their industry. Democrats in Congress back a plan to use $25 billion from the economic rescue plan to help the carmakers. The chief executives were sharply criticized during the Congressional hearing for using corporate jets for the short flight to the nation’s capitol.


News and Views November 18
– PNN’s stringer reported live from Iraq as the Parliament continued discussions on the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement. According to Iraqi law, all fractions in the Iraqi Parliament have until tomorrow to clarify their position on the controversial security agreement. The pro-Sadr opposition group called on lawmakers to prevent the approval of the agreement.

News and Views November 19 – The Turkish Interior Minister is in Iraq amid growing concerns stemming from the U.S. security pact with Iraq. The U.S., Iraq and Turkey have agreed to fight Kurdish separatists rebels based in northern Iraq who engage in attacks against Turkey. Meanwhile, Iraqi lawmakers loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have disrupted the parliamentary debate on the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement. Iraq’s parliamentary speaker adjourned today’s session and Iraqi lawmakers will meet again on Thursday. The Parliament is scheduled to vote on the security agreement on November 24th. The U.S. military in Iraq says a high-ranking member of Iran’s Quds forces was arrested during his return to Iran.

News and Views November 20 – After a tense day in Parliament yesterday, Iraqi lawmakers met again today during a calmer and shorter session on the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement. Iraqi lawmakers loyal to Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr continued to oppose the Strategic Security Agreement. Iraq’s parliamentary speaker called on the U.S. to do more in their efforts to free Iraqi prisoners. An Iraqi official said the U.S. security pact has a chance of gaining parliamentary approval, despite heated opposition. The U.S. military said yesterday that Iraq security forces arrested an alleged "senior" Iranian commando from the Revolutionary Guard's Quds Forces at Baghdad International Airport. The military said they suspected the man of "involvement in facilitating Iranian weapons shipments into Iraq" under the cover of working for an organization involved in the restoration of Iraqi religious sites.

News and Views November 23 – The spokesman of the Iraqi Parliament confirmed that debate on the controversial new U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement has ended. The Parliament is expected to vote this coming Wednesday on the agreement. A rally in Karbala supporting the agreement took place despite mounting criticism by some groups in the region. Thousands of Sadr followers staged an angry but peaceful protest on Friday. PNN spoke with political analyst Kamal Karimi who said there is a gap among Shiites regarding the U.S.-Iraqi agreement. He said there are some Shiites who believe the U.S. Strategic Security Pact is necessary because it confirms the will of the Iraqi people. According to Mr. Karimi, they believe the pact will assist in the stabilization of Iraq and assist efforts to resolve long term economic and security problems in the region. On Wednesday, the U.S. military confirmed that Iraqi security forces arrested alleged Senior Iranian Commando Nader Ghorbani from the Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force at Baghdad International Airport. However, today an Iraqi deputy to the Foreign Ministry said that Mr. Ghorbani was released. This move was not a surprise as Mr. Ghorbani’s release reduced political tensions between Iraq and Iran.


News and Views November 21
– On Thursday the U.S Senate confirmed the nomination of longtime diplomat Gene Cretz to serve as ambassador in Libya. Some senators had held up the move until Libya made good on its promise to fully compensate the families of victims of terrorist acts in the 1980s. Last month Libya paid one-and-a-half billion dollars into a fund for families of victims of the Libyan-backed terrorist attacks. At the State Department yesterday, Secretary of State Rice met with the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and urged the release of a jailed political dissident. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack reported that Secretary Rice addressed human rights concerns in her meeting with Saif al-Islam Gadhafi as well as bilateral issues. Secretary Rice also met with Javier Solana, EU foreign policy chief, to discuss an array of issues including relations with Iran. France's Prime Minister Francois Fillon held talks with Lebanon's top leaders on a visit designed to show support for the Beirut government. He arrived in Lebanon on Thursday on a two-day visit that is expected to expand both economic and trade cooperation between Lebanon and France. The U.S. mission to the IAEA issued a statement about the agency's reports on Iran and Syria. The statement said that the report reinforces the U.S. government's assessment that Syria was secretly building a nuclear reactor, thereby violating its IAEA safeguards obligations. Gregory Schulte said in the statement that Syria should not adopt Iranian tactics but should cooperate with the agency. Regarding Iran, the statement said the report is troubling because it shows Iran is only a small step away from gaining access to the highly enriched uranium needed to build nuclear weapon.


News and Views November 22 – The National Iranian American Council held a conference at the Hart Senate Office Building on November 18. The conference featured a panel discussion that presented a Joint Experts Statement on Iran. The statement offers five principles for the U.S. to deal successfully with Iran. The November 18th event featured special addresses by Rep. John Tierney (D-MA) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) followed by a keynote address by Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE). Panelists included Ambassador James Dobbins, Dr. Farideh Farhi from the University of Hawaii and Joseph Cirincione, who serves as President of the Ploughshares Fund. Panelists agreed that the Bush administration's policies toward Iran have not been successful and there is a need to adopt a new Iran-focused policy that is centered on diplomacy.


Today's Woman November 19 – The show discussed the women’s movement in Iran with guest Ebrahim Nabivi. Mr. Nabivi is a comedian and writer based in Belgium. He stated that the women’s movement is one of the most important issues confronting Iran. He contended that the oppression of women is rooted in the culture and traditions of the society and that one cannot blame oppression solely on discriminatory laws. However, he noted that the first step towards equality is changing the laws. He advised women activists to be selfish in their struggle for women’s rights by exclusively focusing on their goal of achieving gender equality.


Late Edition November 20 – Last week marked the seventieth anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the ‘Night of Broken Glass.’ It was on November 10, 1938 that Nazis burned and destroyed synagogues, Jewish schools and businesses as part of Hitler's anti-Semitic policies in Germany. More than 92 Jews lost their lives to violence that night and almost 30 thousand Jews were arrested and deported to concentration camps. Last weekend, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC marked the anniversary of Kristallnacht with a special exhibition where images of Holocaust survivors were projected onto the walls of the museum’s Halls of Remembrance. Museum official Andrew Hollinger spoke to PNN about the exhibit. He said, “We chose to project images of the survivors because of the central role they play here. It’s for them that the museum is built, to memorialize their story, to memorialize them and what they went through and to educate people around the world about the history of the Holocaust."


Late Edition November 22 – A historic community in Bolivia is the subject of the recent film The Men of the Lake. It is a short documentary examining the devastating effects of pollution and global warming on one of the smallest and most isolated communities in Latin America. The Men of the Lake, written and produced by Aaron Naar, a New York based filmmaker and recent graduate of Vassar College. The documentary highlights the isolated Bolivian fishing community of Puñaca Tintamaria, one of the most historically important villages in Latin America. Founded around 2000 B.C., it currently is on the brink of extinction. The film recounts the history of the area’s indigenous community of Uru Muratos, its customs, and current problems (their continuous poverty, lack of land and representation, the contamination of Lake Poopó, and the impact of global warming). PNN spoke with Mr. Naar and the film’s narrator Daniel Moricio Choque who said, “It’s about the small village that’s dying off due to global factors and it has a very human element because people are dying off and there are communities like this all over the world and no one really knows them and no one cares about them.” This year the movie was featured at independent film festivals in North America and most recently at a film festival in Tehran.

Also on PNN…

Late Edition November 22 – A new book written by Iranian-American journalist Hooman Majd was highlighted. It gives riveting insight into the tarouf culture of Iran and its juxtapositions. Mr. Majd writes for the New Yorker, The New York Times, GQ and Salon.com and he is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post. Mr. Majd was born in Iran but grew up in England and the United States. He travels to Iran frequently and has served as an unofficial advisor and translator for Iran's current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former President Mohammad Khatami. His book is titled The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran in which he presents a different and unique view on Iran's society, culture and politics through the use of vivid dialogue and precise translations of well-known political dialogue including the President’s musings about the Holocaust. A Los Angeles Times critic calls it the best book yet written on the contradictions of contemporary Iran. Mr. Majd interprets for non-Farsi speakers the nuances of Persian speech and the tarouf culture that is even evident in international affairs. In this book, Mr. Majd criticizes the Ahmadinejad administration's policies on several issues, yet he praises former President Khatami's liberal views and the fact that he stood up against conservative officials and even the Supreme Leader on several occasions that provided more social freedom for the people of Iran. The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran gives readers a glimpse behind the high walls of Persian houses and into the private lives, joys, and social limitation to explain the contradictions that have baffled the West for more than 30 years.

On the Record November 21 – During this week’s edition of On the Record, viewers had the chance to voice their concerns about PNN’s programming. Some viewers expressed their disappointment over segments that they felt portrayed Iran in a bad light. Others had questions about the selection process of PNN contributors. Ombudsman Kambiz Mahmoudi told viewers that PNN does not have a correspondent in place in Iran as the Islamic Government of Iran does not allow Voice of America, more commonly known as VOA, to operate from Iran. VOA must rely on reports filed by other international news agencies and VOA verifies those reports before they are broadcast. PNN cannot make the news, it only reports the news. Contributors are chosen by the subject topic and their expertise or knowledge in a particular field. PNN makes every effort to bring the viewing public top-notch experts in their field and to present a well-rounded report. Another question posed by several viewers was, “What happened to Mr. Ahmad Baharloo, the former anchor of Roundtable?” PNN is delighted to report that Mr. Baharloo is working on new projects and viewers should soon be seeing his new program. TV viewers were encouraged to email questions that require a more in depth response and On the Record will respond.

This week on the History Channel…In “The American Troubadour” viewers took a step into the life of iconic musician Bob Dylan. The story begins in the winter of 1961, when a nineteen-year-old Midwestern kid -- lean, boyish, and awkwardly charming -- arrived in Greenwich Village with a battered guitar, a murky past, and a dream of meeting Woody Guthrie. With his defiant individualism and enigmatic charisma, Bob Dylan secured his place as a cultural icon of the 20th century at the mere age of 25. For the first time on television, A&E presents a comprehensive retrospective of Dylan's life and career in a special two-hour Biography. Dylan remains a musical force, playing hundreds of shows every year and continuing to write and record as he approaches his 60th year. This program is the chronicle of a legend still in the making. Next, a look at theatre. Few know that Neil Simon was born on the 4th of July in 1927. Neil would go on to become the most prolific and commercially successful playwright in Broadway history. Biography took a look at his successes beginning with his first play “Come Blow Your Horn,” which debuted on Broadway in 1961. Neil spent the rest of the 1960s writing hit after hit. Simon himself has said that writing is a necessity. It is the way he makes sense of his world. And in the end, he helps his audience make sense of theirs. Next, viewers took a closer look at ancient Egyptian icon Cleopatra examining how she wielded quiet power in shaping the future of her kingdom. Viewers gained insight into her life beyond her scandalous affair with Julius Caesar and her marriage to Marc Antony, which ended in a double suicide. A biographical portrait of the American artist Georgia O'Keefe concluded this week’s features on the History Channel. This vibrant portrait includes archival footage, contemporary interviews, stills, candid photos taken by her lover Alfred Steiglitz and footage of her works. Ms. O’Keefe was famous for her vivid painting of flowers and landscapes.

PNN’s question of the week was “ِDo you feel threatened by the new U.S.-Iraq Strategic Security Agreement?” Out of 5,936 respondents, 1,041 or 18 percent said yes, 4,619 or 78 percent said no, while 276 or 5 percent 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.


Mojtaba from Yazd writes: “Dear Mr. Obama, as an Iranian, I congratulate your victory in the election. You have indicated that you are ready to talk to the Iranian authorities. Have you studied the history of Iran of the last 30 years? Are you aware of the ideology of the Iranian authorities? If you have in mind to sit on the table for talks with them, I suggest that you first talk to the Iranian people, for instance through Voice of Amerce to see what these people want.”

Suran from Sanandaj writes: “My student friends and I created a theater about the life of Iraqi Kurds in Hakabche, and decided to display it in Student Theater Festival. However, we were told that the theater shows that the Iraqi Kurds will be considered as oppressed people. I ask Ahmadinejad who continuously defend the Palestinian cause, why he does not allow showing the Kurdish people life?”

Mohammad from Fars province writes: “I, accompanied with my family, was in a car manufactured by Iran Khodrow Factory. Suddenly the car caught fire, and people rescued us, because we could not open the car doors. An expert inFire Dept. and in Security Dept. say the fire was because of technical failure of the car. The car company says we should have carried hammer and fire extinguisher in our car! The court delays in hearing this case. I request you to broadcast this story; so that the authorities may pay more attention.

Fariborz from Karaj writes: “Vote of confidence of Majlis (Iranian Parliament) for Mr. Mahsooli, Minister of the Interior, who is charged with embezzlement of public properties, shows that the Majlis actually is not in a capacity to prevent corruption.”

Mahyar from Tehran writes: “The new exercise of Security Forces of the Regime is not for maintaining security, but to intimidate people and to create a dreary atmosphere. We expect some more pressure on people.”

Abbas from Badar writes: “The Revolutionary Guard finally admitted that the pollution of Persian Gulf water is because of chemicals which have been spilled in the water due to experiments, and not because of algae, as it was initially claimed. This pollution caused thousands of water creatures to perish.”

A viewer from Iran writes: “Greeting to you and congratulation to the American people and Obama for their real democracy. I suggest to Obama to consider the following matters when dealing with Iran:1- Call for lifting the punishment for apostasy. As an instance, for me, who have converted to Christianity, the punishment will be execution. 2- Freedom of Expression. Nobody in Iran can freely express his/her views. 3- Women rights. Thanks.”

Saadin from Tehran writes: “Since VOA has the most viewers among the Persian programs, therefore, viewers have higher expectations from VOA than from other news agencies. I, representing a number of viewers, suggest that you provide subtitles in cases where you broadcast certain parts of a newsmaker’s speech.”