Reaching Millionsof Television Viewers in Iran Each Week

Washington D.C. - October 5, 2008… Major stories this week included live reporting from Capitol Hill on the $700 billion financial bailout package for Wall Street. From Wall Street to Main Street, PNN was on campus to cover the Vice Presidential Debates at Washington University in St. Louis. In foreign policy, PNN continued coverage of the IAEA talks, including coverage of nuclear negotiations with India and North Korea.     


News and Views October 1 - PNN was live on location for the vice presidential debate between candidates Governor Palin and Senator Biden. According to preliminary figures from Nielsen Media Research, it was the most-watched vice presidential debate in history. Senator Biden opened the debate held at Washington University in St. Louis debate by blaming the Republican Party for the dismal handling of the American economy over the eight years of President George Bush's administration. Senator Biden defended his running mate, saying Senator Obama’s plan to raise the taxes of Americans making more than $250,000 annually is as a matter of "simple fairness." A feisty exchange ensued while debating foreign policy in the Middle East. Governor Palin accused Senator Obama of preparing to wave a “white flag of surrender” in Iraq. Senator Biden countered saying that the United States was wasting $10 billion per month in Iraq while ignoring the real hotbed of terrorism in the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Governor Sara Palin (R-AK) stated, “Diplomacy is hard work by serious people. It's lining
out clear objectives and having your friends and your allies ready to back you up there and have sanctions lined up before any kind of presidential summit would take place."

Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) reflected his knowledge of Iran’s government saying, "It surprises me that Senator McCain doesn't realize that Ahmadinejad does not control the security apparatus in Iran.  The theocracy controls the security apparatus ...Our friends and allies have been saying, ‘Sit down. Talk. Talk. Talk.’... And John McCain has said he would go along with an agreement, but he wouldn't sit down.  Now, how do you do that when you don't have your administration sit down and talk with the adversary?"

Spokesman for Senator McCain, Tucker Bounds, commented that the public has found a new voice of change in the election saying, “It was exceptional and a commanding performance by our VP nominee Governor Palin.” He pointed out that Senator McCain and Governor Palin do support engaging in diplomatic efforts to have a different Iran."

Senator Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, stated that the debates reflected more of the same middle class policies and philosophies of the last eight years of rule by President Bush.

News and Views October 3 - Political analyst Babak Yektafar spoke with PNN about the concentrated focus on Governor Palin at the debates. Mr. Yektafar said, "Because of the ridicule that Governor Palin had to go through for her stumbles in her interviews with major U.S. networks, everyone was anxious to see if she would pass a minimum threshold. Expectations were deliberately set very low for her." He added, "But her remarks were devoid of any substance." According to sources, Senator Biden deliberately avoided any personal attacks against Governor Palin. According to Mr. Yektafar, the handlers of both camps had instructed each VP candidate to go after the top of the tickets and avoid criticizing each other.


News and Views October 2 - PNN gathered opinions on this election and thoughts on the debates from faculty members of Washington University. Professor Leila Sadat appreciates both Governor Palin and Senator Biden for their candid nature and humor. Veteran producer of the Golden Globe-nominated HBO film ‘Live from Baghdad’ commented on the historic election saying, “A woman came from the PTA to become Mayor and Governor of Alaska. This is a Frank Capra story. Wonderful character, she is likable and honest but she maybe the most likely to make an error because of her robotic response and not being spontaneous.” Law Professor Cheryl Block spoke for Clinton supporters saying, "I think it is terrific that a woman is on the ticket but it is ridiculous that they think she might get Clinton supporters."

Today’s Woman October 3 - Continuing its discussion about gender in politics, PNN spoke with students and faculty at Washington University where the vice presidential debate was held. An Iranian American student did not find issue with the gender question but said, “I don't agree with Governor Palin's position on many issues... the debate won't be a good measure of her success because this has been rehearsed many times and they agreed that moderators cannot ask a follow-up question." Dr. Nader Mozami, a faculty member in the Department of Medicine commented, "It is not a matter of being woman or man. When Senator Clinton was running against Senator Obama it was fantastic because she is a real politician but Governor Palin is not... it is unfortunate that all questions and the format of the debate has already been chosen so there will be nothing surprising." Another female student and member of the College Republicans felt differently about Governor Palin’s efforts by remarking, "Even though some polls are suggesting Governor Palin is losing her base, I am very optimistic that she will do fine because she is a great speaker and a real maverick... she went against her party in Alaska. Her stance on global warming differs from Senator McCain and I believe this would help the ticket."


News and Views September 29 - The United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution ordering Iran to halt nuclear enrichment work. However, the 18-line resolution poses no new sanctions on Iran. Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization called the resolution “toothless”. Meanwhile from Vienna, IAEA Chief Mohammad El Baradei again urged Iran to implement all transparency measures including additional protocols required as soon as possible in order to build confidence in the international community. El Baradei said, "I regret that we are not still in a position to make progress regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran." Chief nuclear negotiator for Iran, Saeed Jalili, reacted to the 4th UNSC resolution against Iran saying, “These [resolutions] are not constructive." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice described the resolution as a very positive step which reflects the strong unity among the P5+1. According to the VOA Jerusalem bureau, it is reported that the U.S. has provided Israel with an advanced radar system in case of a missile attack by Iran. Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, believes that Iran may be trying to thwart the security pact between Washington and Baghdad saying, "The reason Iran does not want to see an agreement has to do with their fundamental desire to oppose the development of a fully secure and stable Iraq. I think they would like to keep Iraq off balance as a way of being able to control events here to the satisfaction of Tehran." Ironically, Iran and Syria are also vying for a seat on the IAEA’s Board of Governors (BOG).  If either country gained a seat on the BOG it would become incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to pass a resolution on Iran. El Baradei said, "I regret that we are not still in a position to make progress regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran."

News and Views September 30 - IAEA Chief, Mohammad El Baradei, expressed hope that North Korea would return to the Non Proliferation Treaty. An IAEA announcement last week said Pyongyang had asked the agency to remove its seals and surveillance monitors in the reprocessing facilities. Pyongyang also advised the IAEA that it would be feeding the equipment with nuclear material and that IAEA inspectors would not have access to their facilities anymore. El Baradei voiced his disappointment, "The DPRK authorities last week asked our inspectors to remove seals and surveillance equipment to enable them to carry out tests at the reprocessing plant.” He stated further, “Nevertheless, I still hope that conditions can be created for the DPRK to return to the Non-Proliferation Treaty at the earliest possible date." Also at the IAEA yesterday, Aliasghar Soltanieh, Iranian ambassador to the agency, accused the U.S. of using the IAEA for its own objectives, saying sanctions will not deter Iran from pursuing enrichment and other nuclear peaceful activities.

Roundtable with You October 1-In our ongoing conversations about Iran’s financial situation, Dr. Patrick Clawson joined PNN on set, and noted that much of President Ahmadinejad's defiance is fueled by unprecedented oil income. Dr. Clawson, Deputy Director of Research at Washington Institute for Near Eastern Studies, asserts that if the oil prices in the international market falls below $85 a barrel, Iran's economy, which is currently “one-dimensional, and oil revenue based, will go into severe deficit, and a depression might hit the nation.” The current problem in Iran, according to Dr. Clawson, is that policymakers have allowed their ideologies to prevail over common sense and economic wisdom, convinced that high oil income would sustain that country. As a result, Iran has negative growth, whereas it used to have an annual GDP of 9.8%, and the average income in Iran is not much higher than it was thirty years ago.


Roundtable with You September 29 - PNN spoke with economist Dr. Fereydoon Khavand, professor of international economic relations at the University of Rene Descartes in Paris, about the reaction to the $700 billion financial bailout package. According to Dr. Khavand, one of main reasons for the economic crisis in the U.S. is due to lax regulations, which allowed financial institutions to extend large amounts of credit, with little oversight, for sub-prime mortgages to individuals who then defaulted on the payments. Dr. Khavand further explained that the mortgages were then turned into securities, which were sold to investors all over the globe. These bundled securities, or collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), are an unregulated type of security. Due to the lack of regulation, these CDOs became a larger part of the problem when investors defaulted on their payments. Dr. Khavand said that because Iran's economy is not connected to that of the free market and it is solely based on oil revenue, it may not be affected directly by the financial crisis. However, he commented that officials must "be in constant prayer that the price of oil does not continue to fall; otherwise, Iran will go into a recession."

News and Views September 29 - In continued coverage of the Wall Street crisis, PNN spoke with Karim Pakravan, a former Vice President for JP Morgan and Lecturer at DePaul University’s College of Commerce. Mr. Pakravan put the $700 billion plan in perspective for PNN viewers by explaining possible short and long-term outcomes of the package. Mr. Pakravan believes the plan will be effective in the end, pointing out other economic systems that have bounced back after suffering difficult economic periods.

News and Views September 30 - PNN interviewed Dr. Siamack Shojai, Dean of the School of Business at Central Connecticut State University, about the rejected bail out plan. Dr. Shojai specializes in global finance and he has authored books on this subject. He told PNN his thoughts on the matters by stating, “This is a democracy. Lawmakers are responding to the calls from their angry voters.” In stating the reasons for the failure, Dr. Shojai commented, “The plan was rejected for both political and economic reasons. If the crisis continues, the damage will be lasting and dangerous. Everyone is doing what they can to prevent this from happening.”

News and Views October 1 - PNN explored the financial crisis further by speaking with university professor and oil expert Dr. Feridoun Feshraki.  Dr. Feshraki commented that the financial crisis has two distinct impacts. First it affects the oil market and prices because demands for oil decline, forcing out some players in the futures market. Second, it affects natural gas output. He commented that, “Despite pressure on the Islamic republic of Iran, the Islamic government tries in different ways to export her gas. Of course, this year the government is experiencing more difficulty than last year in that regard.” Through follow up, PNN learned that there may be a possibility in the future for sending gas exports to Pakistan and India. Dr. Feshraki concluded the interview by saying that sanctions worry companies and that, “Sanctions against the Islamic government applies to investment, not negotiations.”


News and Views September 30 - PNN was on hand to cover Congressional leaders as they scrambled Tuesday to find out what changes are needed to sell the failed $700 billion financial system bailout to rank-and-file members. Senator Obama proposed a plan that some House Republicans had pushed earlier: raising the federal deposit insurance limit from $100,000 to $250,000. The aim of this change would be to reassure nervous Americans - and hence their elected representatives in the Congress- that the legislation would shore up the faltering economy. PNN apprised its viewers of the huge sell-off in the stock market, the biggest single-day plunge of the DOW, 778 points. The House vote and the market's terrified reaction shook Washington and New York - even overseas markets - but no immediate solution seemed at hand. More than two-thirds of Republicans and 40 percent of Democrats opposed the bill. In all, 65 Republicans joined 140 Democrats in voting "yes", while 133 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted "no."

News and Views September 30
- Immediately following the bailout vote, Republican leaders blamed their failure to secure more votes on the partisan tone of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's pre-vote speech on the House floor. "There were a dozen members who we thought ... we had a really good chance of getting on the floor," said Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, "And all that evaporated with that speech." But Pelosi insisted the Democrats "more than lived up to their side of the bargain"; instead claiming the gravity of the situation "has not been received yet by the Republican caucus". Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi drew criticism for her statement: "Today when the legislation came to the floor, the Democratic side more than lived up to its side of the bargain. While the legislation may have failed, the crisis is still with us." Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner’s statement echoed other critiques: "I do believe that we could have gotten there today had it not been for this partisan speech that the Speaker gave on the floor of the House. We put everything we had into getting the votes to get there today, but the Speaker had to give a partisan voice that poisoned our conference, caused a number of members that we thought we could get to go south."


News and Views October 2 - In a historic moment, PNN reported that the Senate passed the $700 billion financial bailout package. However, the bill must gain approval by the House before the President signs it. Senator Hillary Clinton stressed the urgency of action adding that, “This is a sink or swim moment in the U.S. history.” One important aspect of the new version of the bailout package is shielding bank deposits. The law temporarily raises the FDIC insurance cap from $100,000 to $250,000.

News and Views October 2 - PNN’s efforts to educate viewers about the global effect of the financial bail out package, PNN interviewed American University of Paris economic professor Jamshid Assadi who said the bailout package should not be viewed as a long-term package, and at best it will have a temporary effect on financial markets. "It cannot be a cure unless there are structural changes made to the way we do business," he added. He further added that the phenomenon of globalization, especially in the world of finance, has made it possible for this crisis to spill over to Europe and Asia. He concluded by saying, "The fact that we had to deal with this severe crisis in our financial markets does not mean that markets lack integrity. It just means that we should tighten our regulations and be more vigilant when speculators run amok with excessive speculation."


News and Views October 1 - In PNN’s continued coverage from Capitol Hill, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) stressed the necessity of immediate action. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) supported Reid by saying, “Being inactive in the issue of the proposed package is not an option for the people’s representatives.” However, some members of Congress have doubts about the bailout, which President Bush and Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson consider critical for saving the economy. These doubts are largely rooted in the fear that this bailout will only end in saving “solely the fat paychecks of the CEOs on Wall Street.” The Senate is set to vote on the bill this afternoon.

News and Views October 3 - PNN spoke with members of Congress amid hot discussions regarding the bail out package, while the Dow Jones fell another three hundred points by the end of yesterday. According to Friday’s edition of the Washington Post, some analysts believe that even if the plan were passed now, it would not affect the market until mid ’09. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, has insisted that the House is working hard on evaluating the revised version of the bill, which she believes is a more reasonable plan. Rather than focusing on the Dow Jones, Congresswoman Pelosi added that the Representatives would focus on the economic status of “Mr. and Mrs. Jones,” which is a reference to middle class Americans. President Bush is quite confident that the bill will pass the House. Many members of Congress seriously oppose the bill, as so do many ordinary middle-class citizens, including a large group of protesters who gathered in front of Congress on Thursday. Some members of Congress do not believe that all parts of the bailout plan are acceptable according to financial theories. Nevertheless, members such as Joe Wilson (R-SC) believe Congress must act in the interest of the public. Some pessimistic onlookers and analysts think that the passage or rejection of the plan would not have any kind of drastic effect on the state of the economy, at least not anytime soon. Some members of Congress say they cannot lay their responsibilities aside and shy away from the people who are struggling; in essence watching the American Dream evaporate.


News and Views October 1
- According to recent ABC and Washington Post polls, Senator Obama has lost some points by potential voters due to the worsening financial situation. Nevertheless, he is still leading McCain in the polls. A poll by CNN shows that the state of the market plays a critical role in defining public decision. According to a Time magazine article on research by the Pew Center, 76% of Americans have little confidence in the financial situation and the management of Wall Street.

PNN Online October 2 - A new election feature to PNN ONLINE includes a webpage which highlights the history and biography of each American president, starting from George Washington and leading up to our current president George Bush. Each featured presidential biography includes a complimentary brief on the history of Iran during each president’s term. As a daily series, a portrait of each president will be posted through November 5th, when the portrait and biography of America’s 44th president will be portrayed.  

Late Edition October 2
- PNN spoke with college students about the importance of the youth vote in the upcoming election. Reports show presidential candidates Senator McCain and Senator Obama pushing hard to win the support of more than 50 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 30. Further, it is expected that America’s youth will turn out at the polls in record numbers this November. PNN spoke with students at American University and Georgetown University and learned about their plans for Election Day. PNN also interviewed Dr. Curtis Gans, who is the Director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate and an expert on voting matters. Dr. Gans explained that this election is most important for the younger generation because they will be most affected by the outcome. “They have legitimate worries out there about the kind of world they’re going to live in,” he concluded.  


News and Views September 26 - PNN’s coverage of the presidential debates included live interviews with the following members of government:

Senator John Kerry (D-MA): "I think Senator Obama doesn't need anybody's advice right now. I think he's going to do just terrifically because there's such a distinct difference between his approach on foreign policy and Senator McCain’s. Senator McCain has been the cheerleader in chief for a foreign policy that has failed in Iraq. It's been more dangerous, made us more dangerous in the Middle East and in the world. Hamas is more powerful. Hezbolla's more powerful. Iran's more powerful. Al Qaeda’s reconstituted in 80 countries and Barack Obama knows that you can't fight global extremism by occupying Iraq....The major difference begins with Barack Obama's willingness to work with other countries well in advance and to do the diplomacy necessary so that you're in the position to have some leverage. What's happened with Russia and with China and the fact that we've stayed away from the discussions with the British, the French and the Germans for so long is that we in fact made the route to be able to bring sanctions against Iran much more complicated."

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "I am convinced the Iranian regime doesn't want nuclear power. They want a nuclear weapon and we can't let it happen…Russian needs to hear: you know that I've tried to be your friend here, but this is a bridge too far...If Russia would talk to Iran it would help. It's not in Russia's interest in my opinion for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon."

Robert Gibbs, Senator Obama’s Senior Advisor: "Borrowing money from China to pay the Saudis for oil makes us dependent on their actions in the Middle East so obviously we've got a lot that's intertwined... Senator Obama is a strong proponent of sanctions on Iran.”

Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM): "It's important we not have nuclear weapons in Iran but also try to find ways to work together on Iraq, on nuclear proliferation, to make sure that America once again cares about the Middle East and the Persian Gulf but it'll be a tough new relationship but I think we need to start talking and working with each other."

Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL): “First and foremost Iran must stop its enrichment program, agree to a legitimate inspection program. They must stop their financial support of terror. I mean there are a whole host of other issues here that are related. The stability of Lebanon in many respects will depend on our ability to engage with Iran in a more productive fashion."

Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS): "We're going to have a great debate tonight. This is a wonderful place for it... the University of Mississippi has done a fantastic job in preparation…If you're going to have a debate about foreign policy, how can there not be parts that are about economics? We have a global economy. When you look at trade- a big issue in American politics- so the foreign policy impacts on the economy means the economy must be part of this…I think Senator McCain's experience and strength, his known trustworthiness is his big asset. Obama's a tremendous performer. He's got... you know he can charm the skin off a snake and what I think you'll see tonight is substance in McCain and sizzle with Obama and we'll see whether the people like substance or sizzle."

News and Views October 2 - PNN learned that Senator John McCain has abandoned efforts to win Michigan. Polls show support in Michigan has been shifting rapidly to Senator Obama ever since the first presidential debate on September 26 in Mississippi.


News and Views October 1 - PNN reported that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill arrived in North Korea for talks about Pyongyang’s nuclear disarmament process. The intended outcome of the talks remains uncertain due to the fact that North Korea remains on the U.S. terrorism blacklist despite submitting an account of its nuclear facilities. It is expected that Mr. Hill will suggest some form of compromise agreement during the Pyongyang talks.  

News and Views October 2 - In continued coverage on nuclear talks with North Korea, U.S. lead negotiator, Christopher Hill, reported that he had held “detailed” and “substantive” talks regarding Pyongyang’s disarmament process. In another development, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA said that Tehran would continue its uranium enrichment until the international community offers a legally binding commitment to provide nuclear fuel supply to Iran.

News and Views October 3 - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice headed to India to hold talks with officials on a range of issues including counter-terrorism. She also hopes to sign the U.S.-India nuclear deal that the U.S. Congress approved.  It is reported that Indian officials have asked that President Bush sign the nuclear agreement as a condition to India’s approval. U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill did not divulge much about the content of his 6-party talks, saying he would first have to brief his counterparts at the State Department. A State Department spokesman said that verification of North Korea's declaration is necessary in view of that country's history. In other news, the State Department says it “understands” that a license has been granted to the American-Iranian Council, the U.S.-based NGO to open an office in Tehran. The spokesman directed reporters to the Treasury Department for more information. Several messages left at the Treasury from VOA-PNN about this matter have gone unanswered.


News and Views October 1 - Advancing its coverage of Iran’s Interior Minister Ali Kordan, PNN reports that Kordan submitted a formal admission of his false academic credentials.  He wrote a letter yesterday to President Ahmadinejad admitting his honorary doctorate in law in comparative legal studies from the University of Oxford was falsified. PNN reviewed the history of Mr. Kordan's scandal over the past year by speaking with former Iranian MP and lawyer Ghasem Shole Saadi in order to gain further insight into this matter. Mr. Saadi explained that this falsification of credentials is pervasive saying, "He has committed a crime by lying in the Parliament about his Ph.D. but in fact when you look deeper, you see that this ‘degree fever’ in Iran is not only in academic levels, but even in seminary we have the same problem. There are cases that a cleric was upgraded to Grand Ayatollah overnight.” This latter reference refers to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. President Ahmadinejad publicly defended Mr. Kordan by dismissing all degrees in general as “torn paper." Ahmadinejad has also used this phrase to dismiss UN Security Council resolutions against Iran's nuclear program.


News and Views October 4 - PNN spoke with Dr. Bahman Aghaii Diba about reported discord in the Majlis between Mr. Larijani and opposition members. Dr. Diba explained that part of the recent opposition to Mr. Larijani is due to competition for the future presidential election. Secondly, President Ahmadinejad’s plan regarding subsidies is drawing criticism. Dr. Diba said that distributing oil revenues cannot solve all of Iran’s economic problems. Dr. Diba believes global economies are still greatly dependent on each other. He said, “A vast global development during the past few years strained the market…These days the economy is global, and a crisis in one country impacts the world.” In closing, PNN asked Dr. Diba’s opinion on the latest Security Council resolution. He stated, “This resolution is a defeat for Iran, especially with China and Russia’s approval of it.”


News and Views September 29 - In live dispatches from Northern Iraq, PNN reports that Coalition forces arrested 5 Hezbollah militants in Baghdad. In response to the arrest, Iran’s ambassador in Iraq, Hassan Kazemi Ghomi, denies any connection with the arrested militants. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, accused Iran of trying to interfere with a new security pact between Iraq and the United States. According to reports in Arab newspapers, Iran has been waging Internet attacks against Sunni websites. Further, they report that these attacks contradict claims made by the regime that Shiites and Sunnis should coexist peacefully. Iraqi president Jalal Talabani returned to Baghdad today after being treated for a heart ailment in London.

News and Views October 1 - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki rejected legal immunity for American troops and contractors in Iraq. While the U.S. strategic security pact is in Iraqi and American interests, a legal framework of conduct for American troops and contractors is needed. In other news, Iran is expanding its influence in Iraqi Shiite regions. Further, Iran has an increasing expectation that the Iraqi Mahdi army will work to protect Iran’s interests abroad in the same manner as Hezbollah in Lebanon.

News and Views October 2 - PNN reports that southern Iraqi tribal leader Ahmad Ghane has accused Iran of interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs. Ghane called on the Iraqi government to expel Iran’s diplomats. Further reports indicate violence is on the decline as Iraq’s speaker of parliament praised recent security improvements in the country.


Today’s Woman October 2 - In a PNN exclusive, Today’s Woman included an original package on the Tahirih Justice Center. Tahirih, which is based in the DC area, provides psychosocial and legal assistance to female immigrants and girls facing gender-based violence. The justice center is named after a 19th century Persian who empowered women to reject the oppressions placed on them by society. Tahirih’s services include providing pro bono legal counsel and social services such as food, shelter, and medical care. PNN’s on site interviews of