CNN’s Christiane Amanpour Says She Pulled Out Of Interview With Iran’s President After He Demanded She Wear A Headscarf
In a Twitter thread, Amanpour chronicled how her scheduled interview with Raisi on Wednesday night in New York fell apart, characterizing the aide’s request as an “unprecedented and unexpected condition.”
Amanpour, CNN’s chief international anchor, said she planned to ask Raisi about the protests that have swept across Iran after Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman held by the country’s morality police for allegedly violating its strictly enforced dress code, died in custody last week.
Raisi was in New York for the U.N. General Assembly.
Iranian authorities have said Amini died last Friday after having fallen ill and slipping into a coma as she waited with other women held by the morality police. Authorities have acknowledged making arrests at subsequent protests, but they denied mistreating Amini and said they were investigating her death.
Amini’s family has denied that she had health issues.
In recent days, Iranian security forces have clashed with anti-government protesters furious over Amini’s death, with some women burning their headscarves in defiance of the morality police and the country’s wider atmosphere of social repression. The deadly unrest has been documented on social media.
Amanpour said she and her CNN team planned the interview over the course of weeks and spent eight hours Wednesday setting up translation equipment, lights and cameras.
“[W]e were ready,” she wrote in part. “But no sign of President Raisi.”
“I politely declined,” Amanpour wrote. “We are in New York, where there is no law or tradition regarding headscarves. I pointed out that no previous Iranian president has required this when I have interviewed them outside Iran.”
“The aide made it clear that the interview would not happen if I did not wear a headscarf,” she wrote. “He said it was ‘a matter of respect,’ and referred to ‘the situation in Iran’ — alluding to the protests sweeping the country.”
Amanpour wrote that she told the aide that she could not agree to what she described as an “unprecedented and unexpected condition” to the interview.
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“And so we walked away. The interview didn’t happen,” Amanpour wrote in the Twitter thread’s concluding post. “As protests continue in Iran and people are being killed, it would have been an important moment to speak with President Raisi.”
Amanpour’s final tweet in the thread was accompanied by a photo of her facing an empty chair.
NBC News could not immediately reach Raisi for comment because the president’s office is closed until Saturday.
In a statement, a spokesperson for CNN said: “We fully support the decision of Christiane and her team to politely decline the interview with President Raisi.”
In an address to world leaders at the U.N. on Wednesday, Raisi did not address the escalating unrest in his country, instead using his time to assail the West and what he characterized as the “double standards of some governments regarding human rights.”
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Police Fine British Prime Minister For Not Wearing Seatbelt In Car
The British Police have fined Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for not wearing a seatbelt in the back of a moving car while on a trip to northern England.
Sunak, who recorded an Instagram video on Thursday, was seen turning in his seat to talk to the camera without a seatbelt on, a video that has now been deleted from the social media site.
The PM’s office at Downing Street said the incident was a “brief error of judgment”, but Lancashire constabulary announced they were fining Sunak for the infraction, The Guardian UK says.
The force said: “You will be aware that a video has been circulating on social media showing an individual failing to wear a seatbelt while a passenger in a moving car in Lancashire.
“After looking into this matter, we have today issued a 42-year-old man from London with a conditional offer of fixed penalty.”
Reacting, a spokesperson for Sunak said: “The prime minister fully accepts this was a mistake and has apologised. He will of course comply with the fixed penalty.”
A fixed penalty means Sunak can pay a fine to avoid a court hearing.
The police did not disclose how much they had fined the prime minister, but according to the government’s safety campaign, any driver or passenger not wearing a seatbelt is breaking the law and is liable to be fined up to £500 if the case goes to court, according to The Guardian UK.
Sunak’s transportation habits were already a talking point in the United Kingdom before the incident, a report by AFP says.
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His political rivals have taken aim at his use of a private jet to make multiple short flights in recent days.
This is not the first time Sunak has been slapped with a police fine.
He was fined while serving as Chancellor of the Exchequer for attending a Downing Street party in June 2020 that violated the government’s rules on social distancing, according to an AFP report.
The latest fine makes Sunak the second Conservative prime minister to receive a police fine in less than 12 months. The Metropolitan police, in 2020, issued a fixed-penalty notice to Boris Johnson for attending a party during lockdown. Sunak was fined for attending the same event as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
World’s Oldest Nun Dies At 118
French nun Sister André who was the world’s oldest known person died at age 118 in the southern French city of Toulon, the city’s mayor Hubert Falco said on Wednesday.
Born in the southern French town of Ales on Feb. 11, 1904, as Lucile Randon, Sister André was listed as the oldest person alive by the Gerontology Research Group in April 2022.
The Frenchwoman worked as a home teacher in her youth and did not enter a religious community until she was in her early 40s.
Most recently, Sister André was confined to a wheelchair, and for several years she could no longer see properly.
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She was an honorary citizen of Toulon, where she lived in a retirement home for several years.
Falco praised her as incredibly modern and a nun with a big heart.
Guinness World Records said Lucile, who took the name of Sister André in 1944, was the second-oldest French person and the second-oldest European person ever recorded.
More recently, Sister André received the record for the oldest COVID-19 survivor after an infection in 2021.
“It’s difficult to fathom that someone born before the patenting of plastic, zips or even bras were alive well into the 21st century, and robust enough to beat COVID-19’’, the Guinness World Records editor, Craig Glenday said in a statement.
“It’s been an honour to record her story in the pages of the Guinness World Records book, and she will live on in history as the fourth oldest person ever authenticated.’’
With her death, Maria Branyas Morera, who lived in Spain, assumed the title of the world’s oldest person at age 115.
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Eight Shot At Crowded Martin Luther King Day Block Party
Eight people were shot at a block party packed with more than 1,000 people celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Fort Pierce, Florida, Monday, police said.
All eight of those shot were adults and they were ferried to the hospital for treatment, including one person in critical condition, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brian Hester said during a news conference.
Six people, including a baby, were killed in a ‘massacre’ that is likely gang-related, California sheriff’s office says.
At least four others were injured as people ran for safety, the sheriff’s office said. One of those injured was a juvenile who was hurt as people rushed to flee the park where the event was being held, Hester said.
“As the shots rang out, people were just running in all directions,” Hester said. “There were people laying behind cars, laying behind anything they could lay behind. It was kind of hard to tell who was a victim and who was just hiding at that point.”
The shooting began at around 5:20 p.m. in Ilous Ellis Park, he said, where the community had gathered for an afternoon car show, dance performances, live DJ and kids activities to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an event flyer shows.
In a video taken by a witness, attendees are seen dancing by their cars and enjoying the music when what sounds like gunfire begins to resonate over the song. People in the crowd start to rush away from the noise, some ducking behind cars or grabbing children’s hands and running across the street.
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The incident marks the 30th mass shooting in the country this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
So far this year, the US is averaging about two mass shootings per day.
Two sheriff’s deputies who were stationed in the park ran toward the scene and provided aid to those injured, Hester said. Several witnesses also helped to render aid and drive people to the hospital, he added.
The sheriff’s office has not named any suspects in the shooting, but investigators were following up on several leads from witnesses and community members Monday night.
Investigators preliminarily believe the gunfire involved multiple shooters and resulted from “a disagreement of some sort between two parties,” Hester said.
“So many innocent people that were injured or hurt were not part of the disagreement,” he added.
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“It’s really unfortunate and it’s sad that during a celebration of someone who represented peace and equality, a disagreement results in a use of guns and violence,” Hester said.
He estimated as many as 40 sheriff’s office personnel were working the case Monday night as they processed the scene, spoke to victims at the hospital and followed up on leads.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact authorities or submit anonymous tips through CrimeStoppers. The sheriff’s department is handling the case because the Ilous Ellis Park is a St. Lucie County park.
Fort Pierce is a coastal city about an hour’s drive north of West Palm Beach.
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