What does Iran's election mean for the United States?

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
June 14 2009 5:14 AM

Tehran Down the House

The New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times all lead with reports of rioting in Tehran after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced he had won Friday's election by a landside 62.6 percent of the vote.  Meanwhile, reform candidate and second-place finisher Mir Hossein Mousavi is still insisting that he won, even though official results show him garnering just 34 percent of the vote. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says he won't get involved in the election, meaning there's no way Mousavi can challenge the results. Following the controversial announcement, police and protesters fought, journalists were harassed, and several political opponents, possibly including Mousavi, were arrested. Why are voters so suspicious of the results? The LAT explains that during the last six Iranian presidential elections, conservative candidates have only won in elections with low turnout—like the 2005 election that swept Ahmadinejad to power. That year just 48 percent of Iranians voted, compared with up to 86 percent this year. Analysts say they think it's unlikely that so many more people would turn out just to support the incumbent.

In a news-analysis column, NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller writes that Ahmadinejad's victory will hobble reform efforts in Iran. Keller notes Ahmadinejad shows none of Mousavi's concern about human rights issues and he isn't likely to reverse his frosty stance toward the West suddenly. This leaves President Barack Obama in the uncomfortable position of trying to work for peace with a belligerent leader who may have rigged his re-election. Yet the election is good news for right-wing governments, Keller writes, since the outcome makes it easier for them to continue taking a hard-line stance on Iran.

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North Korea has dropped all pretenses about its nuclear program and is now publicly proclaiming its intention to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, the WP reports. North Korea says the announcement is payback after the U.N. Security Council voted to condemn North Korea's recent nuclear tests and approve harsher sanctions.

An African fungus known as "stem rust" has the potential destroy 80 percent of the world's wheat, writes the LAT. U.S. scientists are working to develop resistant wheat strains before the blight goes global. Researchers say they've already discovered which genes make a plant resistant to the fungus, but it could still take nine to 12 years to integrate those traits fully into the world's wheat crops.

President Barack Obama's spending record may hurt Democratic candidates in the 2010 elections, reports the WP. While Obama still enjoys fairly healthy public support, the paper says Republican candidates may be able to make inroads with voters by criticizing the $9 trillion in deficit spending Obama is proposing between 2010 and 2020—provided that GOP candidates can sidestep the party's own spending record from the George W. Bush administration.

And where's all that money going? The White House says its $787 billion stimulus package will jump-start the economy while acting as a booster for things like renewable energy intiatives. Not only is the money being spent quite slowly, the LAT reports; critics are saying that many of the projects getting funding aren't all that useful. The paper points to the Minneapolis City Council's recent decision to spent $2 million on a dance theater instead of a solar power plant.

Improving bank regulation isn't just a question of how, writes the NYT—it's also a matter of who gets to do the regulating. The paper takes a look at the public feud between Comptroller of the Currency John C. Dugan and FDIC Chairwoman Sheila C. Bair as each maneuvers for more regulatory territory. The two have a personal and professional rivalry that goes back years, the paper reports, and the fighting is only going to intensify if President Obama goes through with his plan to broaden banking oversight.

Residents of the Republic of Palau are upset by their government's recent decision to take in 13 Chinese Muslim inmates from Guantanamo Bay. The LAT reports that the U.S. claims the inmates are harmless, but they can't be sent back to China, because as Uighur separatists, they would probaby face execution. The paper notes that the tiny nation may have been reluctant to say no to the prisoner transfer because Palau relies so heavily on the U.S. for aid and tourism.

The WP writes that Washington, D.C.-area families are getting much choosier when it comes to hiring nannies. While child care was traditionally a seller's market in Washington, the recession prompted many area families to let their nannies go, resulting in a glut of qualified candidates for the job openings that remain.

Girls' sports programs have made great strides in suburban areas, according to the NYT, but the change hasn't taken hold in cities. A combination of shoestring budgets and concerned parents make it difficult for urban schools to offer girls robust athletic programs.

The NYT notes that many of the lawmakers with the most input on health care overhaul legislation have enormous financial stakes in health care companies.

Six Flags has declared bankruptcy, according to the WP.

Jesse Stanchak is a writer living in Washington, D.C.

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