06-22-2024  4:09 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

NORTHWEST NEWS

Seattle Police Officer Fired for off-Duty Racist Comments

The termination stemmed from an altercation with his neighbor, Zhen Jin, over the disposal of dog bones at the condominium complex where they lived in Kenmore. The Seattle Office of Police Accountability had recommended a range of disciplinary actions, from a 30-day suspension to termination of employment.

New Holgate Library to Open in July

Grand opening celebration begins July 13 with ribbon cutting, food, music, fun

Nurses in Oregon Take to the Picket Lines to Demand Better Staffing, Higher Pay

The Oregon Nurses Association says they're seeking a contract that includes competitive wages and sufficient staffing levels. The CEO of Providence Oregon says they’ve been preparing for the strike for months and have contracted with replacement workers to ensure patient care does not suffer. 

Black Leaders Urge County to Continue Funding Multnomah Mothers Trust

The program has been entirely funded by American Rescue Plan grants, which run out after this year.

NEWS BRIEFS

Tiffani Penson to Kick Off Her Campaign for Portland City Council, District 2

Host Committee Includes Former State Senators Margaret Carter and Avel Gordly ...

Calling All Nonfiction Media Makers: Real to Reel is June 29

Join Open Signal for a day of collaboration and opportunity with Portland's community of nonfiction media makers. ...

Governor Kotek Observes Juneteenth

Governor Kotek joins Oregon Black Pioneers, Just Walk Salem Keizer and the Willamette Heritage Center for In Freedom’s Footsteps...

University of Portland Honored with Carnegie Leadership for Public Purpose Classification

UP recognized as one of 25 institutions nationwide committed to advancing leadership in pursuit of justice, equity, diversity and...

The National Civil Rights Museum Announces 33rd Freedom Award Honorees

This is the museum's signature event, which pays tribute to individuals who have shown unwavering commitment to promoting equity and...

Parts of Washington state parental rights law criticized as a ‘forced outing’ placed on hold

SEATTLE (AP) — A judge has paused parts of a new Washington state parental rights law derided by critics as a “forced outing” measure. King County Superior Court Judge Michael Scott on Friday paused portions of the law while a lawsuit brought by civil liberties groups and...

Seattle police officer fired for off-duty racist comments

SEATTLE (AP) — A Seattle police officer was fired for calling his Chinese American neighbor racist and sexist slurs while off duty in 2022, according to a news report. Officer Burton Hill was fired in May, The Seattle Times reported. The termination stemmed from an...

Kansas governor signs bills enabling effort to entice Chiefs and Royals with new stadiums

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas' governor signed legislation Friday enabling the state to lure the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and Major League Baseball's Royals away from neighboring Missouri by helping the teams pay for new stadiums. Gov. Laura Kelly's action came three days...

A Missouri mayor says a fight over jobs is back on. Things to know about Kansas wooing the Chiefs

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A plan in Kansas for luring the Kansas City's two major league sports franchises from Missouri has prompted their hometown's mayor to declare that the move ends a 5-year-old agreement by the states not to poach each other's jobs. The Kansas Legislature has...

OPINION

State of the Nation’s Housing 2024: The Cost of the American Dream Jumped 47 Percent Since 2020

Only 1 in 7 renters can afford homeownership, homelessness at an all-time high ...

Juneteenth is a Sacred American Holiday

Today, when our history is threatened by erasure, our communities are being dismantled by systemic disinvestment, Juneteenth can serve as a rallying cry for communal healing and collective action. ...

Supreme Court Says 'Yes” to Consumer Protection, "No" to Payday Lenders 7-2 Decision Upholds CFPB’s Funding

A recent 7-2 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court gave consumers a long-sought victory that ended more than a decade of challenges over the constitutionality of the agency created to be the nation’s financial cop on the beat. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

South Africa's new government brings Black and white together. It's also reviving racial tensions

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — In a country where racial segregation was once brutally enforced, South Africa's new coalition government has brought a Black president and a white opposition leader together in an image of unity. Yet the power-sharing agreement sealed a week ago...

Buttigieg tours Mississippi civil rights site and says transportation is key to equity in the US

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Friday toured the home of assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers in Mississippi's capital city, saying afterward that transportation is important to securing equity and justice in the United States. ...

Celebrations honor Willie Mays and Negro League players ahead of MLB game at Rickwood Field

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — As Ajay Stone strolled around historic Rickwood Field and gazed at tributes displayed in honor of Willie Mays and other Negro Leaguers, he clutched a cherished memory under his arm. It was a picture from 2004 of Mays holding Stone's then-10-month-old daughter...

ENTERTAINMENT

Book Review: 'Swole' explores what masculinity could be in a hyperconnected, TikTok-imaged world

Author Michael Brodeur takes the gym too seriously, and not seriously at all at the same time, in his book “Swole: The Making of Men and the Meaning of Muscles” in an effort to show the readers that the overly online world of hypermasculinity is an illusion and what a man can be is what you...

List of winners at the 2024 Tony Awards

NEW YORK (AP) — Winners at the 2024 Tony Awards, announced Sunday. Best Musical: “The Outsiders” Best Play: “Stereophonic” Best Revival of a Musical: “Merrily We Roll Along” Best Revival of a Play: “Appropriate” ...

Sony Pictures acquires Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the dine-in movie theater chain

Sony Pictures Entertainment is getting into the exhibition business. The studio behind recent films like “Bad Boys: Ride or Die” and “The Garfield Movie” has acquired the distinctive theater chain Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the companies said Wednesday. Included in the deal is the genre film...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Nigel Farage, leader of Reform UK, criticized for saying West provoked Putin to invade Ukraine

LONDON (AP) — Nigel Farage, leader of the right-wing Reform U.K party, is facing wide-ranging criticism across...

US aircraft carrier arrives in South Korea as a show of force against nuclear-armed North Korea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A nuclear-powered U.S. aircraft carrier arrived Saturday in South Korea for a...

A year ago, Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin challenged the Kremlin with a mutiny

On a lazy summer weekend a year ago, Russia was jolted by the stunning news of an armed uprising. The swaggering...

How does heat kill? It confuses your brain. It shuts down your organs. It overworks your heart.

As temperatures and humidity soar outside, what's happening inside the human body can become a life-or-death...

Italian coast guard recovers 14 more bodies of shipwreck victims off Calabria, dozens still missing

ROME (AP) — The Italian coast guard has recovered 14 more bodies from last week's shipwreck in the Ionian Sea...

As U.S.-supplied weapons show impact inside Russia, Ukrainian soldiers hope for deeper strikes

KHARKIV REGION, Ukraine (AP) — Weeks after the decision allowing Ukraine to use U.S.-supplied weapons for...

By Laura Smith-Spark CNN

Standing 5,671 meters (18,605 feet) at the heart of the Alborz range, Mount Damavand is the highest volcano in Asia and a ubiquitous Iranian icon, gracing everything from bottled water advertisements to the 10,000 rial banknote. It's also one of the planet's great trekking peaks.

Photo courtesy of Mohammad Hajabolfath.


More than 50 million Iranian voters are eligible to go to the polls Friday to pick a new president.

The country, a regional power player, faces a painful economic situation, resulting in part from international sanctions intended to pressure Tehran over its foreign policy stance and its nuclear program

The last presidential election, in 2009, sparked allegations of massive fraud and a protest movement that was subsequently crushed by the government of the re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Friday's presidential vote thrusts Iran's democratic process back into the spotlight. But a question mark hangs over how much of a difference its outcome can make to the Iranian people.

How democratic is Iran's election process?

Iranian citizens ages 18 and over, male and female, can vote for the president, but only an Iranian-born male Shiite can run for president, said Alex Vatanka of the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

Those who want to stand have to be approved by Iran's Guardian Council, a non-elected body made up of six clerics and six lawyers operating under the oversight of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. That means only candidates who have Khamenei's blessing can really contest the election, said Vatanka, making it "very much a limited, controlled process."



Khamenei "has four significant tools to weaken democratic institutions," and over time he has used them to sap the power of the president and parliament, said Mehdi Khalaji, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

First, the judiciary are accountable to him and listen only to him, he said. The country's intelligence apparatus also answers to the Supreme Leader, as does Iran's military; he is commander-in-chief. Khamenei also pulls the strings when it comes to state-run TV and radio, allowing him to control the flow of information.

"Each election, he makes sure that all those who may cause problems for him or challenge his authority won't be qualified," Khalaji said, which means the outcome is effectively "pre-set."

The other obstacle to democracy is fraud, said Vatanka said, citing the disputed 2009 election.

The Guardian Council and Interior Ministry will be the chief bodies monitoring the vote, he said.

Who's running for election?

The Guardian Council approved eight candidates to run in the election, out of more than 680 who registered, but two of those dropped out of the race this week. The six remaining are: Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Ali-Akbar Velayati, Saeed Jalili, Mohsen Rezaei, Hassan Rouhani, and Mohammad Gharazi.

Velayati, Ghalibaf and Jalili, who is Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, are all seen as being close to the Supreme Leader and would be unlikely to challenge his authority, said Khalaji.

The two who dropped out are Mohammad Reza Aref and conservative Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, who had not been polling strongly.

Aref, who was vice president to former President Mohammad Khatami, was seen as a reformist candidate. Khatami said he was backing Rouhani, seen as a centrist, and that Aref had withdrawn "to increase the reformist camp's chances of winning," according to Iran's state-run Press TV.

Rouhani did better than Aref in the presidential debates and seems to have the top guns behind him, including former president and political heavyweight Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Vatanka said. One of the two had to drop out so the reformist camp would not split its vote, he added.

However, those voters who backed Aref will not necessarily back Rouhani, said Khalaji.

In a blow to Ahmadinejad, his aide and protege Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei was among those excluded from standing by the Guardian Council. Another high-profile figure barred from the race was Rafsanjani.

What's the difference between Iran's president and the supreme leader?

The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei holds many of the cards and, as an unelected individual, can claim the greatest share of power. He directs foreign policy and has a degree of economic control too.

Iran's president is the country's highest official after the supreme leader and is responsible "for implementing the Constitution and acting as the head of the executive, except in matters directly concerned with (the office of) the Leadership."

The president has a lot of sway over economic issues but not full control, said Khalaji.

Khamenei has sought to present himself as a religious figure who is above politics, said Vatanka, but his actions have betrayed his agenda. "He tends to opt for policies which are conservative and almost always about protecting his power," he said.

Iran has an elected parliament, but it does not play a significant role in deciding strategic issues such as foreign policy, said Vatanka, although it does pass a budget.

The Guardian Council again plays a role in approving parliamentary candidates, and lawmakers have seemed keen to support the supreme leader since he and Ahmadinejad fell out, he added.

"There has been a power grab over the past few years by Khamenei, and that has come at the expense not only of the president but of Parliament," Vatanka said.

What happened in 2009?

Ahmadinejad, who had Khamenei's backing, found himself in an unexpectedly close and polarized race with reformist candidates, including Mir Hossein Moussavi. People were so excited they rallied in the streets across the country, and the voting seemed set to go to a second round, Khalaji said.

However, Ahmadinejad won re-election with 62.63% of the vote, according to Iranian government sources. His nearest rival, Moussavi, received 33.75%. Demonstrations protesting the outcome of the election broke out across Tehran. Dozens of people were reported killed. Despite widespread unrest, Ahmadinejad's re-election was formally certified by the Guardian Council.

The Green Movement, the opposition force that exploded onto the scene during the 2009 elections, was later crushed by the regime's security apparatus. Moussavi and another opposition leader, Mehdi Karoubi, remain under house arrest.

Dozens of political activists are still in prison, and others who were released live under restrictions, Khalaji said.

Iran's security officials have warned the public against anti-government street protests this time round.

No independent investigation was allowed, said Vatanka, and the extent of the fraud that took place in 2009 remains unknown.

How is this election expected to differ from others?

The Supreme Leader learns from past mistakes, but Iran is a big country and its politics are unpredictable, said Khalaji. Polls he has seen predict just over half the country's voters will cast their ballot, which would be the lowest turnout since the Islamic Republic of Iran was established in 1979.

The outcome depends in part on whether the middle class comes out to vote in big numbers, Khalaji said.

However, the people who vote are are mostly organized by the government -- some 15 million of them, said Khalaji. The organization is done through the religious network of mosques and the loyalist Basij militia, particularly in small towns and rural areas, he said. Municipal elections will also be held Friday, which could also bring people to the ballot box.

The presidential election could well go to a second round this time, said Khalaji.

There is no sign of the same excitement that galvanized the Iranian people before the 2009 election, said Vatanka, but there have not been wide calls for a boycott either. Although Rouhani is not beloved by the reformist camp, they may rally behind him as their best option rather than see the hardliners' preferred candidate elected by a big margin, he said.

"Iranian public opinion is deafeningly silent, a silence that even the media close to the regime has complained about," Ali Reza Eshraghi, Iran's Project Manager at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, said in a commentary for CNN.com.

"Unlike the four previous presidential elections during which the streets were turned into lively and colorful carnivals with the supporters of different candidates engaging in unending debates and fervent speeches, this time it is only the walls of the streets that have been covered with banners and posters."

How will the election outcome affect Iran's international relations?

Foreign policy is designed and implemented by the Supreme Leader, not the president, said Khalaji. As a result, the change of president will do little to influence foreign policy directly.

Eight or 16 years ago this wouldn't have been the case, said Khalaji, but the old elites and factions have been largely sidelined, and a new generation of politicians totally loyal to Khamenei has taken their place.

Once the new president is elected, he may try to play hardball with Khamenei, as Ahmadinejad did in the last few years, said Vatanka, but the Supreme Leader will want to keep control of anything sensitive. That could be expected to include Iran's positions on Israel, Syria and its controversial nuclear program. Tehran insists its intentions are peaceful, but the West suspects it of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

The best the West can hope for, said Vatanka, is that Khamenei uses the election of the new president as a way to shift course slightly without losing face. However, Iran is unlikely to give up a nuclear program it has been pursuing for decades, no matter what the external pressure.

"At the same time, if we have a new face in the presidential palace in Tehran, that can become a catalyst for a new phase to begin between Iran and the world," Vatanka said.

Recent talks between Iran and world powers on the nuclear issue have made little progress. The United States has sought to pile on the pressure by imposing sanctions on Iran's petrochemical industry, its automotive industry and its unit of currency, the rial. Other Western nations have also imposed sanctions on Iran.

What are the major issues for the electorate?

The biggest issue for voters is the country's economic situation, said Khalaji. The economy is in a bad way for three reasons, he says: massive corruption within government, mismanagement and the painful international sanctions.

"The problem is that candidates can promise to people to improve the management and beat the corruption, but they cannot promise to change the foreign policy which led to sanctions, and that creates a dilemma for anyone who wants to be president this time," said Khalaji. "The executive power suffers from the foreign policy but has little role in shaping it."

A change in foreign policy, and specifically U.S.-Iran relations, is seen by many voters as central to improving their everyday life because of the international sanctions, which are so closely intertwined with the economic situation, said Vatanka.

Iranians have grown used to living with corruption, mismanagement and restricted freedoms over the years, he said, but the sanctions are causing new pain by hitting ordinary people in the pocket and causing shortages of everyday goods. The rial has plunged, inflation is running at over 35%, unemployment is rising and oil revenues dropped by half last year because of sanctions.

This has bred a great desire for change, Vatanka said.

"But the question at the heart of the matter is, does the average Iranian believe that voting matters any more?" he said."If you don't believe it matters, you can be as angry and disillusioned as you want, but you are not going to drag yourself to the ballot box."

Will the election change anything for the Iranian people?

If one of the candidates close to Khamenei wins the election, little is likely to change in the cultural or social arena, said Khalaji.

Ghalibaf, currently serving his second term as mayor of Tehran, is as hardline as Ahmadinejad when it comes to social and Islamic issues, he said. "But it's very obvious that his economic management is much better than Ahmadinejad's."

The other candidates seen as close to Khamenei have held political rather than senior management roles, he said, so it's hard to judge.

Essentially, said Vatanka, what follows the election will depend on more on what Khamenei and his people consider necessary to lessen the pain of sanctions than on who wins.

"It could be an opportunity for Khamenei to soften the Iranian position without being associated with that softening necessarily," he said of the vote.