Today's Papers

Iran’s Guardian Council: Election Was Kosher

The New York Timesleads with Iran’s powerful Guardian Council announcing that it found some irregularities in the June 12 polls. The council said that the number of votes in 50 districts was greater than the number of eligible voters by 3 million, not enough to overturn the supposed landslide victory of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Los Angeles Timescatches late-breaking news that the council rejected demands that the vote be annulled, saying it found no evidence of “major” irregularities. “Fortunately, in the recent presidential election we found no witness of major fraud or breach in the election,” said the council’s spokesman. The Wall Street Journalleads its world-wide newsbox with security forces quickly breaking up protests in Tehran yesterday, which were much smaller than recent demonstrations.

The Washington Postleads with the collision between two Metro subway trains that killed six people—authorities have since increased the death toll to nine—during rush hour yesterday. One Red Line train crashed into the back of another between the Takoma and Fort Totten stations. The impact was so powerful that one subway car was fully on top of the other train. It was the deadliest accident in Metrorail’s history. USA Todayleads with numbers that show the foreclosure crisis is spreading. According to the paper’s analysis, the “foreclosure rates in 40 of the nation’s counties that have the most households have already doubled from last year.” This latest increase in foreclosures is due more to the recession and increasing unemployment than to subprime mortgages. The LAT leads with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s announcement that he will not be competing in the 2010 race for California governor.

A group of around 1,000 demonstrators—some, including the LAT, put the number at “200 or so”—gathered in central Tehran yesterday but were easily dispersed by security forces that were present in large numbers. Earlier in the day, the Revolutionary Guards posted a message on their Web site, warning that protesters would face “revolutionary confrontation.” Officials also announced they would set up a special court to deal with the protesters. But opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi encouraged supporters to keep protesting. The NYT notes that opposition leaders think their next move is likely to be civil disobedience or a general strike.

The WSJ talks to Iranians who feel the stakes are higher now and are questioning whether to go back to the streets. “It’s now crossed the line, if you come out it means you are ready to become a martyr and I’m not so sure I want to die yet,” a 33-year-old woman said. The LAT also catches signs that “the protesters’ enthusiasm was tapering off,” reporting that when police grabbed a man who was wearing green close to Tehran University, none of the nearby pedestrians said anything. While officials publicly state they arrested 457 people on Saturday, the LAT has a source inside the notorious Evin Prison that says the real figure is closer to 1,000.

Even though the Guardian Council recognized that the number of votes in 50 districts exceeded the number of voters, it said that was possible because Iranians can vote anywhere they choose. But analysts immediately raised doubts about this theory, noting that many of the places that recorded irregularities aren’t exactly popular among business travelers or tourists. Regardless, with today’s announcement by the council that it had found “no major fraud” in the election, it seems any hopes that a compromise could be reached are now out the window.

Security forces in Iran blocked a memorial service scheduled yesterday afternoon for Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman killed Saturday who has become a symbol of the opposition’s struggle after her death was captured on video. The NYT and LAT both front separate stories on Neda, which means voice in Persian. Her friends and family are mostly afraid to speak to the media. The only person who spoke on the record was her friend and music teacher, who was next to her when she was shot. The government ordered the family to bury Neda immediately and forbade them from holding a memorial service. The LAT has the most details about the young woman, who loved music and traveling. Everyone emphasizes that she was far from a political activist and only attended the protest because she was upset about the election results. The NYT points out that “[f]unerals have long served as a political rallying point in Iran, since it is customary to have a week of mourning and a large memorial service 40 days after a death,” a cycle that was particularly important during the 1979 revolution.

Neda may be the most famous victim from Saturday’s clashes, but she was hardly the only one. The WSJ’s Farnaz Fassihi talks to one family whose 19-year-old son was shot in the head on Saturday as he returned from acting classes. Kaveh Alipour’s wedding was scheduled for the following week. Family and friends say they suspect he was caught in the crossfire since he hadn’t participated in any of the protests that had taken place all week. Once he discovered his son’s fate, Alipour’s father was told that he had to pay a $3,000 “bullet fee” before he was allowed to take his body. He was finally allowed to take the body without paying as long as the family promised not to hold a funeral or burial in Tehran.

In a front-page piece, the WP takes a look at how Republicans have been criticizing President Obama for failing to give more direct encouragement to the protesters in Tehran. The unrest in Iran has put on display the differences between how the Obama administration and Republicans “view the nature of American power and the president’s role in speaking to political dissent” around the world. Republicans have been quick to seize on Cold War imagery, but the administration says that comparing the Iranian protesters with Communist bloc dissidents is an oversimplification that doesn’t take into account how the world has changed since the fall of the Soviet Union. “We’re trying to promote a foreign policy that advances our interests, not that makes us feel good about ourselves,” said a senior administration official.

The NYT, LAT, and WP front the Supreme Court’s decision to not strike down a key provision in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The 8-1 decision was surprising because many had expected the court to rule that Section 5 of the voting rights law is unconstitutional. The provision requires several state and local governments, mostly in the South, to seek federal approval for any changes in election laws or voting procedures. Instead, the justices decided that certain municipalities could ask to be exempt from the provision. Still, many think it’s only a matter of time before the justices take a broader stance. “I tend to think the Voting Rights Act is living on borrowed time,” said one law professor.

The LAT and WP report news that singer Chris Brown pleaded guilty to assaulting pop star Rihanna. Brown’s plea deal allowed him to avoid a maximum of five years in prison and was reached a few hours before Rihanna was going to testify about how Brown hit her in February before the Grammy Awards. Instead, he will be on probation for five years and complete six months of “community labor.” Experts said the deal was consistent with similar cases, particularly for someone without a prior criminal record. But others were quick to say he received favorable treatment for being a celebrity. “Paris Hilton got more jail time than Chris Brown did for beating a woman to a pulp,” said the president of the National Organization for Women. “How could he not spend one day in jail?”