June 21st, 2009
11:31 AM ET

The Twitter Tiananmen of Tehran

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/21/iran.election/art.iran.hose.jpg caption="Demonstrators are sprayed with a water hose Saturday by Iranian security forces."]

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/06/21/iran.election/art.gas.afp.gi.jpg caption="Protesters try to protect themselves from tear gas fired by police Saturday in Tehran. "]

Arsalan Iftikhar | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Founder, TheMuslimGuy.com

Watching the events in Tehran unfold over the past week has conjured up tragic memories of what took place in Tiananmen Square more than 20 years ago.

In 1989, China's largest pro-democracy protests in history ended when military tanks rolled onto Tiananmen Square (translated literally as ‘Gate of Heavenly Peace’) and armed Chinese troops opened fire on crowds of more 1 million people.

The tragedy sadly resulted in the deaths of between 180 to 500 people, according to a 1989 U.S. State Department briefing on the matter.

Following the violence, the government conducted widespread arrests to suppress protesters and their supporters, cracked down on other protests around China, banned the foreign press from the country and strictly controlled coverage of the events.

That sounds eerily familiar to what we are seeing transpire on the streets of Tehran, Iran today.

In the aftermath of the hotly-contested presidential election between hard-line incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and reformist candidate Mir Hossein Moussavi, we have seen hundreds of thousands of average Iranians take to the streets of Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz and other Iranian cities. Iranians are demanding their votes to be accurately counted - and certified. It is the closest thing that Iran has seen to a ‘velvet revolution’ in recent historical memory.


June 21st, 2009
08:26 AM ET

Dear President Obama #153: Here's to absent fathers

Reporter's Note: President Barack Obama spoke last week on the importance of fathers in society, even though he was raised by his mother and grandparents.  He has also asked for input from Americans on how to operate his White House, so one father to another, I continue with my daily letters.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/05/art.getty.obama.jpg]

Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

This is the first Fathers Day in my life that I have had no need to buy a card or gift, which is to say, the first since my own dad passed away. I knew that I would be thinking about him a lot, but I have been unprepared for how much he has been on my mind. Sometimes I will see a picture of him on an end table, or have a conversation about him, or run across a keepsake like his old pocket knife, and memories will rise like a covey of quail. More often, however, I will see something, or read something, or hear something quite normal and think, “I should call and tell Pop about that. He’ll find it interesting.” Then I catch myself and remember that we’ve had our last call.

Anyway, I hope you don’t mind if I use my letter today to tell you a little about him.

The basics are easy: Grew up poor in a big family on the south side of Chicago. Left for the Army when he was little more than a boy, and ended up with a career in the Air Force. Korea, Guam, Alaska, Morocco. Other places too. Married a southern girl, had a baby that died. Then had three more children. I was the last. Retired from the military to be many things: a state park ranger, a postman, a minister for a small country church founded by my grandfather on my mother’s side. Died of cancer last year.

Beyond the basics, however, as it is with more people, is where the real story lies.