Reaching Millions of Television Viewers in Iran Each Week
Washington D.C. – January 25...PNN was live on location in and around Washington D.C. and New York City to cover the historic inauguration of the 44th U.S. President Barack Obama. Also this week, PNN was in France to cover the 2009 Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women's Freedom which was awarded to the One Million Signatures Campaign. And in cultural news, PNN reported live from the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, where award-winning filmmaker Nahid Persson Sarvestani’s documentary “The Queen and I” was featured.
LIVE ALL DAY COVERAGE OF THE 44th PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION
Special Inauguration Coverage January 20 – PNN delivered to its audience in Iran live inaugural coverage for four-and-a-half hours. From 11 a.m. Eastern standard time to 3:30 p.m., viewers in Iran saw live shots of all the key events of the day’s celebrations. Viewers listened live to President Barack Obama’s inaugural address with simultaneous translation. The full text of the President’s speech was uploaded to the web in English as soon as it was available and was replaced within hours with the Farsi version. Viewers saw the departure of former President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. Viewers saw glimpses of the Congressional luncheon. Extensive use of crowd shots were interspersed throughout reports by broadcasters placed in various settings around Washington D.C.
Houman Seyson reported live from the VOA rooftop. Siamak Deghanpour was steps away from the swearing in on Capitol Hill. Guita Mirsaeedi reported from Lafayette Square amongst the parade route crowds and Behnam Nateghi reported live from New York's Times Square on the crowd reactions in the city. Video teams went out early to conduct man-on-the-street interviews among the crowds for inclusion in the show. Pre-produced packages were used throughout the show, including a profile of the artist behind the iconic Obama portrait, the Howard University inaugural band, as well as a PNN Reporters Notebook from the U.S. Presidential campaign trail. PNN used special inaugural graphics along with specially commissioned music bridges for the broadcast. This special day of programming was co-anchored by News and Views host Setareh Sieg and Roundtable with You and Newstalk host Vafa Mostaghim. Regular PNN contributor Babak Yektafar and Chicago-based professor Dr. Hamid Akbari provided expert on-set analysis. Reactions from inside Iran were provided by live phoners with Nobel Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi and Professor Ziba Kalam from Tehran University. PNN also reported on reactions from viewers in Iran who sent e-comments to a PNN blog and to a special page on the PNN website.
From the vantage point of the VOA's roof top stand-up location, overlooking the U.S. Capitol, PNN's Houman Seyson reported live for Today's Woman and at the top of the Inaugural Special Coverage on the huge crowds that had gathered in the very early hours of the morning to witness the inauguration of Barak Obama. He told viewers that around two million people were expected to attend the event and yens of thousands of police and military personnel were patrolling the streets as well.
Special Inaugural Coverage January 20 – PNN correspondent Siamak Deghanpour reported live from the U.S. Capitol building as Barack Obama took the oath of office to become the 44th president of the United States. The former state and national legislator was sworn in on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, with a crowd of up to 2 million people gathered on the National Mall and an estimated 1 billion others watching on television around the globe. Making history as the first African-American to become president, President Obama took the oath of office with his hand on a Bible used by President Abraham Lincoln, also a former senator from Illinois, at his first inauguration in 1861. A workforce that was made up largely of slaves from houses and farms in Virginia, Maryland and the capital, built the US Capitol, the cornerstone of American democracy. In his inauguration speech, President Obama called for a "new era of responsibility," and said the time has come for the United States to "renew its spirit" and reaffirm "the promise of this nation." President Obama said the challenges the United States faces "are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America – they will be met." Pastor Rick Warren addressed the crowd before President Obama's swearing-in, calling the event a "hinge-point of history." Choirs sang. The world's finest musicians — including classical violinist Yitzak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma, the cellist, along with soul singer Aretha Franklin — performed. High school bands paraded. Tears streamed down faces, weathered and smooth alike, here and around the globe, as the son of a white American and a black African immigrant ascended to his place in history.
President Obama in his speech stressed that he will quickly get down to work after the inaugural celebrations. Reuters quoted military officials as saying that the new president will meet with top defense officials on January 21 to discuss speeding up the drawdown of U.S. troops from Iraq, to fulfill his campaign promise for a full withdrawal within 16 months. He is expected to discuss sending more troops to Afghanistan, which he has identified as the key front in U.S. efforts against terrorism, with a Pentagon delegation led by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. The president is expected on January 21 to start promoting an $825 billion economic-stimulus plan intended to prevent further recession. Addressing people around the world, the new U.S. President promised: ''America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.'' The Washington Post reported that another immediate move for the new President would be to name Northern Ireland peace negotiator George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy to deal swiftly with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After being sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, President Obama had his first luncheon hosted by the joint congressional committee at the historic Statuary Hall at the US Capitol. Approximately 200 guests including the new President, Vice President, members of their families, Supreme Court judges and cabinet designees, and members of the congressional leadership attended the luncheon. The details of the luncheon were designed to reflect the theme of the 2009 inaugural ceremonies.
News and Views January 20 – Dr. Hamid Akbari of Northeastern Illinois University and Babak Yektafar of the Washington Prism joined in on the Inaugural commentary. Dr. Akbari spoke about the historic significance of President Obama for Muslims saying, “He is the first U.S president whose father was a Muslim. Obama is proud of his heritage…and that was why he insisted his middle name be used too.” Dr. Akbari spoke about how the election of President Obama can be traced back to the gains of the civil rights movement. “But it also shows the greatness of the American system. It's the continuation of American democracy,” he added. Dr. Akbari said, “Obama has a unique advantage compared with any other U.S president: he has an Indonesian sister, and Kenyan brothers and sisters, so he understands the world better.” Mr. Yektafar described the extraordinary amount of people who flocked to Washington DC for the event. He described President Obama as unique in his outlook because “Obama views the world as an American and at the same time as someone from outside of the United States.” Mr. Yektafar analyzed the organization of President Obama’s speech, explaining how the President spoke about past presidents and the hard times they faced. Mr. Yektafar believes that the new President will have to focus on the Islamic world and Africa.
NEW PRESIDENT JOINS THE CROWD BY WALKING PART OF THE PARADE
Special Inaugural Coverage January 20 – Reporting from the rooftop of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Behnood Mokri provided live coverage of the inauguration parade. Marching bands, military cadets and high school bands from all over the United States made their way down Pennsylvania Avenue as PNN’s reporter gave background on the history of this special parade. The Presidential motorcade crawled up Pennsylvania Avenue at a snail’s pace flanked with Secret Service agents on foot. At around 4:00 pm, President Obama and the first lady exited the presidential limousine, denoted by the license plate “USA 1,” to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. President Obama dressed in a black overcoat and maroon scarf, and the first lady, in a gold knee-length coat, matching dress and green gloves held hands and waved to the cheering crowds lining both sides of the street. PNN’s broadcaster described symbolic elements of the parade for viewers. Mr. Mokri said, “This is a historical day for Americans. There are many people around the White House and Pennsylvania Avenue here watching the Parade, this is so exciting". Mr. Mokri commented that reporters and journalists from more than 200 countries were live on location to cover this historic day.
INAUGURATION COVERAGE LIVE FROM LAFAYETTE PARK
Special Inaugural Coverage January 20 – PNN correspondent Guita Mirsaeedi reported live from Lafayette Park, directly north of the White House, as the enthusiasm for the 2009 presidential inauguration grew, transcending race, color, age, and social classes. PNN spoke with members of the crowd who described how they had traveled from near and far to witness the swearing in of the 44th president. Several people talked about their sense of a renewed hope for the future of the country and the world.
CROWDS IN NEW YORK WATCH AS PRESIDENT OBAMA TAKES OATH
Special Inaugural Coverage January 20 – PNN’s extended coverage of the Inauguration day featured live shots from Times Square in New York City. PNN’s New York correspondent Behnam Nateghi reported live that thousands of people, who had gathered in Times Square earlier that day, were gone and police had removed the barricades, allowing normal traffic to resume.
Special Inaugural Coverage January 20 – PNN produced a special report on the iconic images of President Obama that became the official logo of Obama’s Hope campaign. Shepard Fairey, a Los Angeles-based street artist and graphic designer created the hand-stenciled mixed media collage that has been found plastered on public building throughout the United States. In an interview with the Washington Post, Mr. Fairey explained how he wanted to create a poster of the President that was not bland or forgettable. In his search for an iconic an inspirational image, he stripped down the lines on a media image of the President, added sharp and bold colors of reds and blues, and created a stencil like affect. Speaking of the image, Mr. Fairey said, “I wanted strong. I wanted wise, but not intimidating.”
INAUGURAL POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE
Late Edition January 19 – PNN reported on the origins of inauguration parades and showed shots of a parade from the early 1900s. Christopher Otway who plans parties at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, one of Washington’s finest, says today’s parties while much more extravagant, are still celebrating the same event. “Well Washington comes alive during the inauguration its very Americana unlike the other events this is the President being inaugurated and it’s a big celebration and it all depends on the party and how the party system changes,” he added. PNN described the 10 official inauguration parties that are taking place around Washington. Mr. Otway commented on the intense preparation and planning that goes into hosting such an event, “Some of these parties will have thousands of attendees… and some of them will have a sit-down dinner.” PNN also spoke with Liberty Jones of Neiman Marcus about what people in Washington are wearing to the inaugural balls. Ms. Jones said that like other inaugurations, attendees take their cue from the new First Lady. “Michelle Obama wears a lot of red she knows it is very flattering to her so I think that other women have come in and said I want to look like Michelle Obama so they’ve definitely been buying a lot of red,” she added. Ms. Jones said the cost of a top end inaugural gown with all the trimmings might cost up to $15,000.
VIEWERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD COMMENT ON OBAMA’S SPEECH
PNN asked viewers to give their thoughts on President Obama’s Inauguration Speech:
Ali writes: “Thanks for the news coverage of this event. I am very sorry that Iran is the first country in the world where Obama’s picture was set on fire. America once again showed that it is the beating heart of real democracy in the world. I hope all dictators the world over, including Iranian leaders, open their eyes and learn from this example. I congratulate this important victory to America for passing the test with flying colors, and wish Mr. Obama much success from the bottom of my heart.
Hossein writes: “Obama’s speech was interesting and sound. When we see these events on our TV sets, when we notice how a people look upon their leaders with such joy and pride, we become sad, and wonder if the day will ever arrive when we can be proud of our leaders. We want from Mr. Obama not to establish any relations with the Islamic republic, because any relations will help prolong the life of the regime. And considering the nature of this regime, such relations are not even possible. So, don’t waste any more time.”
Arash writes: “Finally, this great man was able to arrive with exemplary persistence and hard work to improve the living conditions of the United States of America. It appears that the presence of such a wise man as Barack Obama will pave the road for freedom and peace throughout the world. By the way, BBC will never even catch the wind of your progress.”
Late Edition January 21 – PNN's science and technology reporter discussed the digital transition of the official website for the White House. In this segment the remodeling of www.whitehouse.gov was discussed. PNN described new features to the website such as a weekly video address, a digital platform for viewers to comment on non-emergency legislation before it is signed by President Obama, detailed information about policies on the verge of approval, and a daily blog. The similarities and differences between the former administration and new administration's websites were talked about. A prompt transition between the two websites took place at exactly 12:01pm.
IRANIANS REACT TO PRESIDENT OBAMA’S INAGURATION SPEECH
Roundtable January 21 – Reactions by Iranians to President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech were largely positive as people emphasized that they welcomed his fresh approach. Excerpts of the President’s speech that reflected on foreign policy agendas toward Iraq, Afghanistan, and nuclear proliferation were shown. Routable guests commented on President Obama’s direct message to the Muslim world.
News and Views January 21 – In keeping with tradition, the new US President got straight to work at the Capitol, minutes after taking the oath of office in Washington, DC. At a signing ceremony witnessed by new US Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others, President Obama signed three documents, including a proclamation declaring a day of national renewal and reconciliation. The last three presidents have signed similar proclamations at the same time and in the same venue, the President's room of the Capitol. The other two documents Obama signed were nominations for the cabinet and sub cabinet nominations.
IRANIAN WOMEN’S ORGANIZATION RECEIVES HUMAN RIGHTS PRIZE
News and Views January 21 – PNN had exclusive coverage of the One Million Signature Campaign, a grassroots Iranian women's organization, acceptance of the prestigious 2009 Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women's Freedom. Hamideh Aramideh, the anchor of Today's Woman was in Paris, France to cover the event. On Thursday, she hosted live from Paris and interviewed poet Simin Behbahani, a human rights activist at the forefront of One Million Signature Campaign, and Shahla Shafigh, who has also worked on the campaign. One Million Signature Campaign works against discriminatory laws in Iran, such as a man's uncontested right to divorce, polygamy, and child custody. Alex Belida, PNN's acting director, said the coverage is an example of the network's "ability to go anywhere, anytime, live, to bring our Iranian audience news and information that they deserve to see and hear." The Simone de Beauvoir Prize, founded in 2008 on the 100th anniversary of de Beauvoir's birth, is awarded annually to individuals or groups fighting for gender equality. The prize is named for the French philosopher who espoused gender equality. VOA has the largest combined radio and television audience of all international broadcasters in Iran, with one in four adult Iranians tuning into a VOA show at least once a week. PNN broadcasts seven hours of television a day, repeated for a full 24 hours.
SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL FEATURES IRANIAN DOCUMENTARY
News and Views January 18 – The Sundance Film Festival featured the documentary "The Queen And I" in the World Documentary competition. In an interview on location in Sundance, Iranian-Swedish director of the film Nahid Persson Sarvestani told PNN about her life as a 17 year old communist activist during the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. She described growing up in conditions of abject poverty and her feelings about the society around her. She told her story about how thirty years later, in an effort to answer questions that had plagued her since her adolescence, Ms. Sarvestani goes directly to the source. She took a journey to face Queen Farah Pahlavi, whom she called her enemy. The Queen offered her unfettered access to Ms. Sarvestani over the next year and a half. During this time, in which she questions Queen Farah about the many issues in Iran such as lack of freedom during the Shah's reign, Ms. Sarvestani begins to slowly question herself. Ms. Sarvestani, whose brother was executed after the revolution, stated that if she had the knowledge and experience that she has today, she would not have voted for the Islamic revolution. In her encounter with Queen Farah she discovers the queen's sorrow and the Queen’s pains. Realizing that she shares a lot of the same sentiments as the Queen, she sees how the Queen and the former communist are indeed equal.
U.S. CONSULATE IN DUBAI CLOSES TEMPORARILY
News and Views January 21 – PNN reported that only a few short hours after President Obama was sworn into office, the U.S. embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced it was closing its doors to the public after local authorities warned of a security threat. American diplomats in the UAE declined to specify the nature of the threat. However, Dubai’s police chief told the Associated Press that an anonymous phone call was received. A Sudanese man was arrested in relation to the call. The interrogation of the unnamed man did not reveal a plot.
OBAMA NAMES TWO SPECIAL ENVOYS FOR THE MIDDLE EAST
News and Views January 23 –With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by the President’s side, PNN reported that President Obama has determined that former senator George Mitchell will leave soon for the Middle East in order to assist in ensuring that the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas remains solvent. Secretary Clinton stated, “We know that anything short of relentless diplomatic efforts will fail to produce a lasting, sustainable peace in either place. That is why the President and I have decided to name a Special Envoy for Middle East Peace and a Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.” President Obama conveyed that he is deeply concerned about the loss of both Palestinian and Israeli lives. He is also anxious about the state of humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip, as foreign journalists have recently begun reporting of the destruction from the conflict from inside Gaza. The former senator said he does not underestimate the difficulty of his mission, but is optimistic. He believes that because war and conflict are man-made, man is also capable of resolving conflict and making peace. The Israelis and the Palestinian Authority welcome the nominations of a special envoy. Saeb Erekat, aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated, "President Obama reiterated to President Abbas his commitment to pursue the peace process, so did Secretary Clinton last night, and I believe their appointment of Senator Mitchell to be the special envoy to the Middle East peace process is a significant step." Yigal Palmor, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said, “We think that any American involvement that will push forward peace talks will be beneficial for both Israelis and Palestinians." In other news, President Obama named former ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, as a special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He stated that the area is the "central front" of the struggle against terrorism. Both envoys admitted to the difficulty of the task ahead of them. President Obama commented, “We will seek stronger partnerships with the governments of the region, sustain cooperation with our NATO allies, deeper engagement with the Afghan and Pakistani people and a comprehensive strategy to combat terror and extremism."
News and Views January 24 – Immediately after the inauguration, President Obama started working on domestic and foreign issues. International analyst Dr. Bahman Aghaii Diba commented on the appointments of Richard Holbrook and George Mitchell as special envoys to the Middle East. When asked whether he thought an envoy to Iran might be named after the Iranian presidential election, Dr. Diba stated, “First, the U.S. does not have enough time to wait for election. Second, Iran’s president is not the decision maker, the spiritual leader is.” Dr. Diba expressed his belief that the U.S. and Iran are increasingly favoring talks between two countries. Dr. Diba is not optimistic that such talks would be successful. Diplomatic talks that take place over a long time period can yield some successes for each of the parties involved. Dr. Diba believes that each side will need to make concessions on Iran’s nuclear program.
SENATE APPROVES HILLARY CLINTON AS TOP DIPLOMAT
News and Views January 22 – PNN reported that the Senate confirmed Hillary Rodham Clinton as Secretary of State Wednesday, but held up Eric Holder's bid to become the first black U.S. attorney general and heard an apology from Treasury secretary nominee Timothy Geithner. Republicans and Democrats said Clinton's relatively swift, 94-2 confirmation was necessary so that President Obama could begin tackling the major foreign policy issues at hand, including two wars, the Middle East and the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran. The votes against Clinton came from Senator David Vitter (R-La.), who favored further restrictions on donations to the William J. Clinton Foundation, and Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who cited concern about her views in favor of abortion rights. The delay showed the willingness of Republican lawmakers to take a tough line with the new president by questioning his legislative proposals and nominees. Mrs. Clinton may confront more conflict-of-interest questions because of donations to former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation. President Obama's presidential rival, Senator John McCain, was among those who spoke up for Clinton. ''This nation has come together in a way that it has not for some time,'' the Arizona Republican said. Voters “want us to work together and get to work.” Clinton was sworn in as the nation's 67th Secretary of State in her office in the Russell Senate Office Building. Attending the private ceremony was her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and her Senate staff. After the vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee endorsed Susan Rice to become U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, a post President Obama has elevated to Cabinet level. Meanwhile, Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of slain U.S. president John F. Kennedy, has withdrawn her name from consideration for the New York Senate seat left vacant by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Kennedy issued a brief statement today saying she informed New York Governor David Paterson that she was withdrawing her name "for personal reasons." Governor Paterson will appoint Clinton's successor. He is expected to announce his decision Saturday.
SECRETARY OF STATE CLINTON ARRIVES AT DEPARTMENT OF STATE
News and Views January 22 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived at the Department of State on the first day of assuming her job. She was enthusiastically received by State Department personnel who greeted her in the mezzanine. Bill Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs introduced the 67th Secretary of State. Secretary Clinton told the crowd that a new era had arrived for America. She stated that President Obama's inaugural address set the tone for this and the new administration is committed to advancing America’s national security, furthering America’s interests, and respecting and exemplifying America’s values around the world. Secretary Clinton said American foreign policy revolves around three legs of a stool: defense, diplomacy, and development. She pointed out that the Department of State is responsible for two of the three legs: diplomacy and development that are essential tools in achieving the long-term objectives of the United States. Secretary Clinton acknowledged that the challenging times ahead would require 21st century tools and solutions to meet the problems and seize the opportunities. Secretary Clinton said the Obama administration is intent on delivering on the campaign promises: revival of America's leadership in the world and promotion of democracy. She stated "This is a team, and you are the members of that team....the American team.” In closing, Secretary Clinton added the new administration would no longer tolerate divisiveness.
News and Views January 22 – Dennis Blair, the retired admiral who is President Obama's choice as the nation's top intelligence official, pledged in his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would require counterterrorism programs to operate "in a manner consistent with our nation's values, consistent with our Constitution and consistent with the rule of law." Mr. Blair appeared to be drawing a sharp contrast with Bush administration policies. He indirectly criticized the eavesdropping without warrants by the National Security Agency and harsh interrogation methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Bush presidency. "The intelligence agencies of the United States must respect the privacy and civil liberties of the American people, and they must adhere to the rule of law," Blair said in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Meanwhile, Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama’s nominee for Treasury secretary, pledged an expanded and prolonged government role in everything from stabilizing banks to ensuring credit for small businesses. Mr. Geithner said in his confirmation hearing that a strong dollar is in the United States' interest and that President Obama believes China is manipulating its currency.
GEORGIA AND AFGHANISTAN HOPE FOR CONTINUITY WITH THE U.S.
News and Views January 21 – A PNN report on the international community’s expectations of the new president continues to mount. The country of Afghanistan voiced their hopes that President Obama will do more to focus on terrorism as well as the economic needs of their nation. Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Sultan Ahmad conveyed, “We hope that the new U.S. administration and Barack Obama will focus more on the war against terror and eliminating the terrorist's sanctuaries, which are outside Afghanistan.” Still, some Afghan citizens see the continued U.S. presence in the country as a cause of more civilian casualties. These citizens do not think the U.S. presence will result in the betterment of Afghan life. The Georgian government believes their common value system will yield continued strategic partnerships between the U.S. and Georgia. Griogol Vashadze, the Foreign Minister of Georgia, stated"...The strategic partnership between Georgia and the United States is a constant which will stay there forever." In other news, the confirmation of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected soon. The Department of State is preparing to receive its new boss on Wednesday.
LESSONS IN DEMOCRACY
48 Hours January 24 – PNN was joined by Shahin Fatemi, a professor and the president of the European Center for Advanced International Studies. 48 Hours explored the lessons of President Obama's victory. Dr. Fatemi spoke about realistically transferable insights from the election and how they can be applied to countries that wish to become democracies. Dr. Fatemi contended that Iran's democratic forces must eschew the use of violence as a way to dislodge the regime and come to power. "There is no place for terror, violence and vengefulness. Non-violence is not only the means but also the end. Once you disavow violence as a tool then you disarm the regime and its coercive tactics," he said. In another part of the interview, Dr. Fatemi said that President Obama's ascendancy is the direct result Gandhi’s and Martin Luther King's campaigns of nonviolence. "Transition to a democratic form of government can only be achieved through non-violence," he added. He spoke about how the use of violence de-legitimizes power saying, "A government that resorts to violence to repress its citizens has lost its legitimacy to govern," he said. Dr. Fatemi added, "Through bitter experience our people have learnt that if you lie in order to come to power, then you continue your deceptive ways to stay in power," he said. In closing Dr. Fatemi remarked, "The peaceful transition of power from former president Bush to President Obama should set an example for all who are committed to democratic forms of government."
OBAMA INTENDS TO CLOSE GUANTANAMO
Roundtable January 22 – On President Obama’s first day in office, the new President took swift action to begin a process promised during his campaign by signing an order to shut down the prison in Guantanamo Bay in one year. He also declared an official end to harsh interrogation tactics and elected to review all detention policies of the United States, including those practiced by the CIA. The 245 terrorism suspects housed at the United States military base in Cuba will have their status immediately reviewed to determine if they should be transferred, released or prosecuted. A special White House panel will investigate where prisoners could be moved and what type of court they should be tried. PNN guest and human rights activist Elahe Hicks stated, “The US as the hosting country is responsible to secure the detainees life, and not the UN." President Obama’s order also directs an immediate assessment of the prison itself to ensure that the men are held in conditions that meet the humanitarian requirements of the Geneva Convention.
OBAMA’S SPY CHOICE SEES OPPORTUNITY WITH IRAN AND MUSLIMS
News and Views January 23 – President Barack Obama's choice for spy chief says that U.S. intelligence agencies should seek ways to work with Muslim leaders and countries such as Iran on issues of mutual interest. Retired Adm. Dennis Blair also urged a break with Bush administration policies on treatment of terrorism suspects in a Senate confirmation hearing on his nomination as director of national intelligence. "Identifying opportunities as well as threats is an extremely important balance for intelligence agencies to strike," Adm. Blair told the Senate Intelligence committee. "While the United States must hunt down those terrorists who are seeking to do us harm, the intelligence community also needs to support policymakers who are looking for opportunities to engage and work with influential Muslim leaders who believe (in) and are working for a progressive and peaceful future for their religion and their countries," Adm. Blair said. On Iran, Adm.Blair stated, "While policymakers need to understand anti-American leaders, policies and actions in Iran, the intelligence community can also help policymakers identify and understand other leaders and political forces, so that it is possible to work toward a future in both our interests."
OBAMA’S TREASURY PICK VOWS FINANCIAL ACTION AGAINST IRAN
News and Views January 23 – Treasury secretary-designate Timothy Geithner vowed to pursue the US government's financial offensive on Iran to stamp out its alleged weapons proliferation and support for terrorism. In written answers to members of the Senate finance committee, released Thursday as part of his confirmation process, Mr. Geithner noted that Treasury has blacklisted a number of Iranian banks and companies over those concerns. "If confirmed as secretary of the Treasury, I would consider the full range of tools available to the US Department of the Treasury, including unilateral measures, to prevent Iran from misusing the financial system to engage in proliferation and terrorism," he wrote in response to senators' questions. "I agree wholeheartedly that the Department of the Treasury has done outstanding work in ratcheting up the pressure on Iran, both by vigorously enforcing our sanctions against Iran and by sharing information with key financial actors around the world about how Iran's deceptive conduct poses a threat to the integrity of the financial system," Mr. Geithner said.
OBAMA’S CABINET REMAINS INCOMPLETE
News and Views January 23 – PNN reported that with nine seats down, six seats are still awaiting confirmation to fill President Barack Obama’s Cabinet. Despite the President’s progress, he has received some criticism for not designating enough cabinet posts to women or to green interests. President Obama’s picks for attorney general and deputy defense secretary also remain bogged down in questions over interrogation methods and ethics. On Day Two of the new administration, the Senate unclogged a series of nominations and scheduled a vote for Monday to confirm Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary. Without objection, senators on Thursday confirmed former Illinois Rep. Ray Lahood, a Republican, and New York City Housing Commissioner Shaun Donovan to be secretaries of transportation and housing, respectively. Also confirmed were Lisa Perez Jackson as Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Nancy Helen Sutley as a member of the Council of Environmental Quality, Mary Schapiro as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations. Earlier in the day, a Senate panel cleared the way for Mr. Geithner's confirmation despite concern that he was years late in paying some federal income taxes. Other appointments lingered in what has been described as “political purgatory” as Senate Republicans sought to remind majority Democrats that President Obama cannot count on getting his way without the GOP's consent. Eric Holder's nomination to head the Justice Department remained a step behind Mr. Geithner's. Judiciary Committee Republicans insisted that the hearing be delayed until Wednesday to await Mr. Holder's views on interrogation methods used on detainees. Meanwhile, President Obama's nomination for the No. 2 official at the Pentagon slowed as lawmakers considered whether William J. Lynn III might require an exemption from the administration's own lobbying rules. Mr. Lynn, who has broad support in Congress, had been considered a shoo-in for deputy defense secretary. Mr. Obama was expected to determine whether Mr. Lynn needs a waiver exempting him from a rule that people cannot work for the government agencies they have lobbied in the past two years. Mr. Lynn has been a lobbyist for Raytheon Co., a major military contractor. Republicans said the delays are all about getting information, not flexing muscle. Also, officials say the governor of New York state is set to name congresswoman Kirstin Gillibrand to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Governor David Paterson will announce his selection today. Ms. Gillibrand, a second-term Democrat, is not as well-known as some of the other candidates for the Senate seat.
OBAMA HONORS MARTIN LUTHER KING, PRODS NATION TO SERVICE
News and Views January 19 – On the eve of his historic inauguration, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama paid tribute to the late African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. by focusing on community service. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an annual federal holiday traditionally marked by participating in civic volunteer activities. President-elect Obama said that today is not simply a day to reflect on Reverend King's work, but a day to act. He urged people to turn their service efforts into an ongoing commitment to enriching their communities and the lives of others. The President-elect is set to become the first African-American U.S. president. He noted that many will gather to witness his historic swearing-in on the same stretch of parkland where people gathered in 1963 to hear Reverend King speak about racial equality. Later in the day, the President-elect hosted separate dinners to honor Republican Senator John McCain, Vice President-elect Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. Excitement in Washington is intense on inauguration eve. All around Washington, final preparations are under way for the important event.
News and Views January 19 – The official inaugural celebrations kicked off on Sunday, with a jubilant celebrity-filled outdoor concert attended by hundreds of thousands of people. Near the conclusion of the star-studded "We Are One" concert, held at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall, President-elect Obama took the stage. He said the challenges the United States faces will take many months or years to overcome, but he is as hopeful as ever that the American dream will live on. The Lincoln Memorial was the scene of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s most famous speech – the "I Have a Dream" address of August 28, 1963. It also was the scene of a historic 1939 performance by African-American singer Marian Anderson, who was refused permission to perform in a nearby venue because of her race. It was 19th Century President Abraham Lincoln who became one of the most important presidents in American history, seeing the country through civil war and the abolition of slavery. On Tuesday, the President-elect will place his hand on Lincoln's Bible when taking the oath of office. Under the gaze of Abraham Lincoln's statue, Bruce Springsteen and a red-robed gospel choir kicked off a spirited pre-inaugural concert Sunday before tens of thousands on the National Mall. The crowd erupted in cheers when Obama and his wife, Michelle, arrived, walking down the steps of the memorial. The crowd continued its applause for the high-energy Springsteen act and the performances that followed. There was no red carpet, but the event had the feel of a Hollywood awards ceremony, with stars taking the stage to praise, serenade, and even impersonate the next president. Performers including Bono, Beyonce and James Taylor were on the bill. A crowd numbered at more than half-million stretched past the reflecting pool separating the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.
MIDDLE EAST BRIEFS
Roundtable January 21 – Reactions by Iranians to President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech were largely positive as people emphasized that they welcomed his fresh approach. Excerpts of the President’s speech that reflected on foreign policy agendas toward Iraq, Afghanistan, and nuclear proliferation were shown. Routable guests commented on President Obama’s direct message to the Muslim world.
Roundtable January 22 – Roundtable briefly discussed the growing military pressure of Iran and Turkey on parts of Northern Iraq. Both countries have stated that they have the autonomous right to attack areas in Northern Iraq where members of the Kurdish PKK and the Pajak are hidden. The Pajak, or Freedom Life Party, has been launching attacks in Iran. It is alleged that they have ties to the PKK. PNN’s Ali Javanmardi commented, “The Iranian-Turkish military strikes against northern Iraq have devastated some part of the area and it affected the ordinary people's life rather than the Kurdish militants.”
CULTURE AND SOCIETY BRIEFS
Late Edition January 24 – In celebration of the change of power in Washington, Late Edition’s weekly Book Club introduced and reviewed Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream written by President Barack Obama. His book was published on October 17th, 2006 and quickly became a New York Times and Amazon bestseller. The book is a political biography of the President in which he explains his core values on different social and political issues. Readers also gain some insights into the President’s personal life and his dogged belief in optimism. This optimism, or audacity of hope, is a guiding principle in the book. He writes about the ways in which Americans can repair a government that has fallen badly out of touch with the everyday American. He writes that Americans are out there “waiting for Republicans and Democrats to catch up with them.”
Roundtable January 23 – PNN took a moment to speak with accomplished architect and painter Dr. Kamran Khavarani. Born into a family of artists, Dr. Khavarani began painting at the early age of three. Given his sheer joy for painting, he started to study classical painting at the age of twelve. Dr. Khavarani then switched his focus to the study and design of structures. He completed his education in 1966 with a Master’s degree in Architecture and a Ph.D. in Urban Design. His graduate work was done under the guidance of Houshang Seyhoun, an internationally renowned authority in art and architecture. Dr. Khavarani is the recipient of several awards. He gained recognition for his unique use of color and his expressive ability of creating clear lines of movement through his brushstrokes. He describes his style as a fusion of Romanticism and abstraction. His classical and formal training in arts and architecture influenced Dr. Khavarani’s earliest paintings. Recently, his work has been influenced by what he says are his “encounters with the philosophies of Rumi and other great teachers.” During the interview he describes how his art and his outlook as an artist is “being transformed by the philosophies and subtle mystical messages” of Rumi. Asked to describe his “abstract romanticism” style, Dr. Khavarani noted, “This is perhaps the most apt term to designate my layered, striations of dazzling color that often evoke shimmering fields of sunset and sunrise effects. The blending of heaven and earth, the living sea washing over us, rejuvenating and elevating the mind to that state of creative union in which the ego ceases to dictate and consciousness merges with the universe of the Beloved.’’ Dr. Khavarani’s paintings are housed in many private art collections around the world.
This week on the History Channel… In keeping with the theme of the presidential inauguration, this week’s programming began with RONALD REAGAN: A Legacy Remembered. In a series of intimate interviews, including Nancy Reagan and the Reagan children - Patti Davis, Ron Reagan, and Michael Reagan -- the History Channel presents the private stories of a public man. Viewers learned surprising details about the day Reagan was shot; about his faith in the face of adversity, about the formation of his core beliefs, and his self-taught ability to communicate those beliefs in the political arena. Reagan's fellow leaders also appear in the film: Mikhail Gorbachev recalls the first meetings with Reagan in Geneva. Former President George Bush remembers key moments with Reagan. President George W. Bush discusses Reagan's leadership traits. The program concludes with the private stories of those closest to him on how the former President managed his later years with Alzheimer's. Later on in the week, the biography of another President gave viewers a glimpse into the private life of a President who left office amid scandal. Former President Richard Nixon described his career as a journey to the mountaintop and to the despair of life’s deepest valley.
The triumphs of his presidency were overshadowed by a scandal that forced his resignation. NIXON: A Presidency Revealed, presents the story of a man whose own demons and resentments drove him to criminal excess. Using hours of recorded conversations and the recollections of those who worked closest to Richard Nixon, this episode will expose the driven but flawed man who became this nation’s 37th president. With White House recordings and telephone calls, home movies shot by Nixon staffers, and the diary recordings of Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, NIXON: A Presidency Revealed, went inside the Nixon administration to understand how the president’s hatreds and mistrust of his own staff lead to isolation. To assist in capturing the essence of the man and the times in which he led, NIXON: A Presidency Revealed delivers in-depth interviews with a broad spectrum of experts and members of the Nixon staff including administration insiders Alexander Haig, Henry Kissinger, Alexander Butterfield, Charles Colson, Ray Price, Egil ‘Bud’ Krogh, and John Dean, historians Jonathan Aitken, Robert Dallek, Mark Feldstein, Richard Reeves, and Walter Isaacson, and Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee.
Two other features this week focused on the tools that built America. Skyscraper took viewers on a journey high above to explore the history, evolution and latest developments of the extreme power tools that allow man the ability to build up even higher into the sky. Finally, the feature Ship uncovered the secrets of the mightiest warships. Viewers experience life on a modern-day aircraft carrier that is literally a floating city: with 5,000 crewmembers, 80 aircraft, and a four-and-a-half acre big flight deck. The mighty ship is nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall, and has its very own 20-story skyscraper balanced on top of it.
PNN’s question of the week was “Do you think there will be a change in Iran-U.S. relations during Obama’s presidency?” Out of 10,122 respondents, 1,664 or 16 percent cited “big improvement;” 3,904 or 39 percent marked “small improvement;” 2,300 or 23 percent chose “no change at all;” while 2,254 or 22 percent said it will "further deteriorate."
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, featuring influential women from around the world who discuss a full spectrum of social, medical, human rights, legal, sports and business topics. News and Views, PNN’s existing flagship, 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 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
Fariborz from Karaj: “The Iranian Regime has, for years, used a method for forcing the accused people to confess, and broadcast their confessions through television network. People now know that any such confession has been obtained by torture, thus is of no validity and creditability.”
Nazanin from Malaysia: “Greetings to VOA. The undue and unnecessary explanations of your broadcasters reminded me of the Iranian TV. I am offended to see and hear this from your service whose programmers claim to be professionals.”
Hamid Reza from Iran: “The organizational structure of Iranian government has been designed in a way that only Mafia-like powers can benefit from it. Thus, they do not care about environment, sanitation, or mental health of the society. As an example, the largest automaker company continues to manufacture non-standard cars which add to the Tehran air pollution; so much so that the Chief of Traffic Dept. has criticized the managers of the factory. But, his criticism falls on the deaf ears!”
Mehyar, a Today’s Woman viewers writes: “The Islamic Republic usually starts to brainwash children in an early stage of life. For instance they ask kids in elementary school to throw shoes at a puppet of President Bush. The regime also forces high school kids to gather in them main circles in cities to burn US and Israel’s flag. They do this to cultivate hatred and anger amongst Iranian school kids in an early stage of life.”
Ayatollah Kazemeini from prison in Iran: [The imprisoned Ayatollah wrote a letter from jail congratulating President Obama]. “I express my congratulations for your victory in the presidential election. I would like to ask you, as the herald of freedom, to get my complaint to be heard by the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. I have been harassed for years only because I am confronting this regime. Your election caused embarrassment for those Iranian authorities who believed, and claimed, that a black man would, by no means, be elected as the President of the United States. Please help the Iranian nation to be rescued from this cruel regime.”
Reza writes: “I am one of the steadfast viewers of Today’s Woman program. I do not believe in any religion…With regards to the show you had about retribution about Ameneh’s case, I have to say that it is an inhuman way of punishment.”
Sohrab from Shah-abad-e Gharb: “Greetings. I am of the opinion that all of us must thank and appreciate former president Bush who liberated two Iraqi and Afghan nations from despotic regimes. Also, as a Kurdish-Iranian citizen, I express my congratulations to the American nation and its democratic ruling body who gave a chance to a black man to become the President of the United States.”
A Today’s Woman viewer writes: “Please produce programs about following topics in today’s Iran: How should young girls deal with depression? Due to unemployment, harsh economic situation, social restriction on woman and etc, young woman are more susceptible to depression. We know that we cannot solve all the problems in one day, but addressing these issues might be helpful.”
Ehsan from Iran: “During the last 30 years, physical education industry has never been supported by the government; rather, the government has always been in conflict with this industry. Now, having the sport experts in different branches of sport industry removed, we should wait to see the closure of stadiums.”
Ali from Shiraz: “The government of Iran has not submitted its budget to the Majlis (Parliament) yet, because the extent of ruins in Gaza Strip has not clearly been determined yet; and the government is waiting for a figure!”