Tag Archives: president

Slant News: The Iran Expert

The excerpt below originally appeared on Slant.

  • Dr. Amirahmadi is a pleasant, unassuming man with sharp eyes and an even sharper sense of style. One might guess that Amirahmadi is a successful academic by his classy threads and bespectacled countenance, but it’s not initially obvious that the Iranian American was once the man to talk to if anyone from the U.S. government wanted to talk to Iran.

    It was the middle of the disastrous Iran-Iraq War that Amirahmadi first became heavily involved in Iranian affairs. The war was triggered in 1980 after Iran’s Islamic Revolution, when Saddam Hussein, a Sunni presiding over the secular Ba’athist government in Iraq, invaded the Shia-led Islamic Republic of Iran with material support from the U.S.

    Brutal fighting raged for the next eight years, leaving millions dead and dealing a disproportional blow to Iran, both in financial and human costs.

    “In 1986, I was invited to Iran to participate in a conference on post-war reconstruction,” Amirahmadi said in an interview with Slant. “I was the first — absolute first — Iranian academic expatriate to return.”

    He recalled touring the wreckage in devastated Iranian towns and villages. For three consecutive years Amirahmadi returned, each time taking in the massive scale of damage done to Iran during that war. On his final visit, the government invited him to deliver a lecture on a geopolitical theory he had developed, which would later be seized upon as a justification for ending the war with Iraq.

    Read more on Slant!

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Slant News: The Real Left is Coming …

The excerpt below originally appeared on Slant.

  • Bernie Sanders is striking a chord with a broader segment of the electorate than almost anyone expected.It’s obvious from the crowds at his early campaign stops — some reportedly numbering in the thousands — that Bernie resonates with a considerable amount of American voters. With the Sanders campaign claiming more than 200,000 individual donors who have contributed an average of $40 each, one might say the verbose Senator’s grassroots supporters are growing by the day.Sanders proclaims himself as a proud socialist, the only one in the Senate. What does that mean? It’s certainly not the same kind of “socialist” some fringe tea-party members accuse President Barack Obama of being. Bernie is the real deal, and far from some frightening Stalinist strawman fiction.

    Bernie has championed the so-called radical left since his start in politics in Burlington, Vermont. Serving as mayor of Burlington from 1981 to 1988, he expanded affordable housing, squashed a private development of the waterfront and helped usher in a co-op supermarket.

    Really. The dude’s, like, a hippie, man.

  • Read more on Slant

Red Meat for Red Voters, with a side of Rhetoric and Platitudes

The late April sun beat down on the little cadre of restless reporters and, for the first time in 2015, I felt the light tingle of subtle sunburn spread across my face. Some of us were pressed up against the bars of the fence surrounding the New Brunswick Counseling Center, hurriedly scribbling notes as we interviewed the handful of protesters that had been pushed out and gated off moments earlier. The large frame of the well-dressed man who had turned them away cast a shadow across our news cameras and the crowd of raucous demonstrators.

“Can I get your name,” I asked a protester after he agreed to be interviewed.

The Voiceless Black Man was not a welcome participant in the Christie press conference.
The Voiceless Black Man was not a welcome participant in the Christie press conference.

“Voiceless Black Man,” he answered, hanging on the wrought-iron fence as if it were the bars of a prison cell. His group had gathered to protest Governor Chris Christie’s decision to send some 150 N.J. State Troopers to help quell the unrest in Baltimore, which was set off by the death of Freddie Gray, a man who died in police custody after sustaining a severe spinal cord injury. (The next day, Christie extended the State Troopers detail beyond the original 72-hour period.)

“So, what brings you out here,” I asked. I was genuinely interested, but it wasn’t the reason I had come. Christie would soon be stepping out of the addiction treatment center, a depository of Methadone and Suboxone, to sign two bills regarding opioid-based painkiller addiction.

In truth, it seemed like the governor’s decision to send police to Maryland was just an excuse to reignite the Black Lives Matter protests in New Brunswick and keep the pressure on. Why not? After all, the marches that had been seen months earlier had resurged since the latest high profile killings, including one in South Jersey. The protester began his response calmly:

“The first part is holding the people who have the power to make change accountable for their power,” he said, giving a thoughtful glance downward before he continued. “Not doing anything is the same as doing something.”

Continue reading Red Meat for Red Voters, with a side of Rhetoric and Platitudes