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June 15, 2009

By United Press International
June 15, 2009
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures for his supporters during a rally in Tehran, Iran on June 14, 2009. (UPI Photo/Hossein Fatemi) | License Photo

Iran's disputed election:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner in his bid for re-election as the face of Iran. His main rival Mir Hossein Mousavi is contesting that outcome. Official results had Ahmadinejad emerging from what was expected to be a tight election with more than 62 percent of the vote. He was congratulated by the likes of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The United States, as Vice President Joe Biden said, has "doubts" as to the elections' announced results.

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So apparently do many in Iran. Street demonstrations, seemingly mostly by younger people, suggesting a generation gap in the Iranian electorate, have taken place, although a rally scheduled for Monday was called off when the government barred such protests against the election's outcome and Mousavi expressed fear for the safety of participants. Police and government security forces have broken up protest crowds.

Mousavi and his supporters claim the vote was rigged. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had said the election was fair, has ordered an investigation into allegations of vote fraud.


Obama and the AMA:

U.S. President Barack Obama heads to Chicago for an address to the annual meeting of the American Medical Association as part of his campaign for his healthcare reform initiatives. The central tenet of the White House plan is: "We have the most expensive healthcare system in the world but do not get the best results." Obama spoke of the ways to fund the plan in his weekend Internet address.

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He'll speak Monday of how improved efficiencies will help save money to pay for his plan, which is expected to cost about $1 trillion. He'll also push for a government-sponsored instance plan that would co-exist with private plans.

The AMA has expressed concern for plans that force doctors to take part but, the AMA's president said, would consider "variations" of plans being floated in Congress.


Two-state solution:

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a speech Sunday, said he'd support a Palestinian state alongside Israel. It was the first time he'd said that after years of pleas from many world leaders that a two-state solution is necessary. However, Netanyahu included conditions to such an arrangement, such as a disarmed Palestine, a demand Palestinian leaders recognize Israel's right to exist and rejected the Palestinian "right of return" for refugees.

The speech did pull in some support, notably from Obama, but angered people on both sides of the debate, with hard-line Israelis refusing to accept the two-state idea and hard-line Palestinians refusing to go along with several ideas, especially demilitarization.


Military leader in Afghanistan:

U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal took over command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. He leads a force totaling 88,000 troops (56,000 of them from U.S. armed forces) when violence in the country, spurred by the Taliban, has been increasing. One of McChrystal's biggest challenges will be to limit causalities among Afghan civilians, who have been in the line of fire, especially when airstrikes are used, in the counterinsurgency fight.

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