Men take pictures while visiting Niavaran Palace, now a museum, that was the primary and last residence of late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his family prior to leaving Iran for exile during the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The shah of Iran’s last home before fleeing his country in 1979 was a huge property in the Alborz Mountains — a place no Iranian ever dreamed of visiting.
Today, a visit costs them around $1.
The Niavaran Palace now welcomes the public to see the life the shah enjoyed as Iran’s ruler for almost 40 years. Visitors can explore large, stately structures built on 11 hectares of land.
As Iranians remember Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s ouster 40 years ago, Niavaran Palace has taken on even more meaning for those visiting and working there.
Jamal Shahosseini was once a young revolutionary who raided the Shah’s home with other rebels.
“When you do something consciously and with an ideology, you go until the end, despite pressures,” he said.
History of the Niavaran palace
The palace dates back to in the 1800s, when Iran’s then ruling Qajar family decided to build a summer home on a mountainside. As Tehran grew during the 1960s, the next shah, Reza, and his family increasingly spent time outside the capital as political tensions against his rule grew. That included a failed 1965 attempt against his life by a member of his guard.
The royal family found safety at the palace. The shah’s third wife, Queen Farah, had been a building design student. She spent millions of dollars on Niavaran. Part of one building had a collection of private artworks she had purchased. It was known as the Window to the World.
The shah would walk the grounds or speed along its roads in one of his many sports cars. The shah was also a pilot. He would fly helicopters in and out of the palace, staying off the streets as tensions rose.
All that spending, and reports of public money being misused helped to fuel anger against the shah and his family. From overseas, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for a revolution.
As 1979 came, the pressure became intense for the shah, who at the time was secretly battling cancer that would eventually kill him in exile.
On January 16, 1979, he left the palace for the last time by helicopter, looking out over a Tehran he never would see again.
Four weeks later, protesters pushed past the remaining Imperial Guards at the palace. Among them was Shahosseini, now a 63-year-old guard at the museum. He remembers writing on the walls. Protesters wrote statements like “Viva Khomeini” and “Death to the Shah.”
Once a countryside home, now a museum
Today, the museum’s visitors can walk around the shah’s former home and see the clothes and possessions he and his family left behind. In one room stands a human-shaped form wearing the shah’s official uniform. Two paintings also still remain showing him and Queen Farah.
Another building has some of the shah’s many costly automobiles, including three Rolls-Royce and five Mercedes-Benz vehicles and six motorcycles.
For Fardin Asgari, a 28-year-old visitor born long after the revolution, the French look of the furniture was a sign that “the people viewed the shah as a dictator.”
“They wanted to a have popular and elected government, not a dictatorship,” he said.
Workers try to keep the property as it was when the shah left, including leaving Prince Alireza’s room complete with its electric piano and pictures of naval warships attached to the walls. It can feel like a step back in time, a feel that some get even today as Iran faces new tensions with the United States.
“Today’s pressures are for depriving us of our independence,” Shahosseini said. “We did not have any independence under the shah’s reign.”
I'm Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press (AP) reported this story. George Grow adapted the AP report for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
ideology – n. the set of ideas and beliefs of a group or political party
palace – n.the official home of a ruler; a large, stately building
consciously – adj. of or related to having knowledge of something
museum– n. a place where objects of artistic, cultural, historical or scientific interest are housed and shown to visitors
furniture– n. chairs, tables, beds, etc., that are used to make a room ready for use
view – v. to think about (someone or something) in a particular way
deprive – v. to take something away from someone or something; to not let an individual or something have something
We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.
AS IT IS
Prices Proposed for Carbon Dioxide from Cars
January 17, 2019
FILE - Car exhaust billows around commuter traffic in winter weather in Omaha, Nebraska, Feb. 1, 2013.
Drivers in the eastern United States may soon start paying for the pollution made by their motor vehicles.
Nine eastern states and Washington, D.C. are launching a system of pricing the carbon dioxide produced from burning gasoline and diesel fuel.
Many scientists believe that carbon dioxide and other gases released by vehicles and factories are to blame for a general warming of our planet.
Since Donald Trump became president, the federal government has eased back from efforts meant to fight climate change. But the proposal to set a price on vehicle emissions is an example of how states and cities are taking action themselves.
The plan is an idea of the Transportation and Climate Initiative, or TCI. It would likely require fuel suppliers to pay for eachton of carbon dioxide that their products produce. Drivers would likely then pay more for the fuel they buy.
In a statement, TCI said money raised by the program would be used to improve transportation systems and reduce pollution from cars, trucks and buses.
The program could raise $1.5 billion to $6 billion each year, by one estimate.
Fatima Ahmad is with the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a not-for-profit group based in Washington, D.C. She said a lot can be done to modernize transportation, improve public transit and increase electric vehicles.
Reducing traffic problems is also important to lawmakers in Washington, she noted.
These investments could create an estimated 91,000 to 125,000 new jobs.
Transportation is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Some electrical power companies have cut production of carbon dioxide by moving from coal to natural gas and renewable energy, like wind or energy from the sun. But emissions from the transportation industry have been growing since 2012.
Up to now, California has been the only state to put a price on carbon emissions from transportation fuels. The state included gas and diesel in its carbon-pricing program, beginning in 2015. That program also controls carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from electrical power stations and industry.
For transportation fuels, suppliers buy carbon permits for every ton of fuel. This adds a little to fuel costs for drivers. At the current price of about $15 per ton, the program adds about half a dollar, 49 cents, to the cost of one liter of gasoline.
Stanley Young is communications director at the California Air Resources Board, which operates the program. He said the added cost is less than the difference between prices at fuel stations throughout the city.
California has raised more than $9 billion from permit sales since the program began in 2012.
That money has paid for renewable energy, mass transit, low-emissions vehicles and other investments.
To help ease costs on poor people, one-third of the money raised is directed at improving transit for poor communities.
However, California's program has not stopped vehicle carbon dioxide emissions from rising. After decreases between 2007 and 2013, greenhouse gases from vehicles have increased every year.
The state government is studying the effects of car sharing programs and self-driving cars on reducing emissions. Young said officials are also exploring ways that people can live closer to work or transit.
Hard to change
Transportation is one of the hardest sources of greenhouse gases to battle, experts say.
Unlike at power stations, transportation emissions come from millions of vehicles. And, the choices their owners make have a huge effect on how much carbon dioxide they produce.
There are generally three ways to reduce vehicle emissions, says David Bookbinder: make them more efficient, reduce the amount of carbon dioxide they produce for each unit of energy, or raise the price of fuel.
Bookbinder is from the Niskanen Center, a research and policy center in Washington.
"It's never popular to raise the price [of fuel]," he noted. Even so, he said, you have to raise the price of gasoline by a lot before it has any real effect on people’s use.
France's "yellow vest" protests are one extreme reaction to raising fuel prices. And they demonstrate another risk: policies that make gas pricier can have the biggest effect on the people who can least pay for it.
One way to reduce the effect is by returning to drivers the money raised by pricing carbon. That is the method proposed by a group of Republican Party politicians. Investing in low-cost public transit is another, Bookbinder says.
Members of the Transportation and Climate Initiative will each spend a year designing their programs. The members include Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
I’m Alice Bryant.
Steve Baragona wrote this story for VOA News. Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
initiative – n. plan or program that is intended to solve a problem
transit – n. the act of moving people or things from one place to another
greenhouse gas – n. a gas that traps heat in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change
unit – n. an amount of length, time, money, etc., that is used as a standard for counting or measuring
vest – n. a sleeveless piece of clothing with buttons down the front that is worn over a shirt
AS IT IS
Vietnam Sees Trade Deals as Way to Build Economy
January 17, 2019
Vietnamese Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh speaks during a press conference about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) held on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Danang, Vietnam in November of 2017.
Vietnam is on a path this year to approve its biggest trade expansion since the country joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The country’s National Assembly in Hanoi approved the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership in December. The trade deal became effective on January 14.
The Pacific trade deal would open the markets of Japan and Canada to Vietnam’s products. In addition, the deal will permit Vietnamese to enter 10 countries easily for work-related business.
Vietnam also is seeking to reach a trade agreement with the European Union soon. The two trade agreements together would sharply reduce trade barriers with countries that account for 45 percent of the world’s economy.
Lawmakers of other countries in the Pacific partnership are in the process of approving the deal. Six countries have already approved it meaning that it is likely to legally go into effect.
Vietnam hopes that the EU approves this year the free trade deal which the two sides negotiated in 2015.
Experts say that the two major trade deals will speed growth of the country’s growing middle class. They also help Vietnam compete with China as a place where international companies want to build factories.
Frederick Burke is with the international law group Baker McKenzie in Ho Chi Minh City. He said, “Vietnam will enjoy a comparatively lower duty rate in some export markets where it competes.”
Burke added that foreign direct investment already has increased as much as it did when Vietnam joined the WTO. When foreign companies build factories and gain interest in a country’s companies, it is called foreign direct investment.
Vietnam hopes for trade gains
Vietnam may be one of the nations that gain the most from the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership. That is because exports are such an important part of the country’s growth. Exports are estimated to have reached $200 billion in 2017. Other countries in the Pacific deal are expected to have trade deficits with Vietnam.
Since 1986, Vietnam has sought foreign direct investment in factories that make clothing and electronic devices. It entered the WTO in 2007.
Adam McCarty is chief economist with Mekong Economics in Hanoi. He said, with the new agreement, low-cost manufactured goods like shoes will be less costly to export to countries like Australia.
European and Pacific countries hope trade deals with Vietnam will let them sell products to that country’s growing middle class. The Boston Consulting Group predicts that will mean more than 30 million people by next year.
However, as a member of the trade partnership, Vietnam must permit independent labor unions. Vietnam also must have rules so that companies from partnership countries can make bids for business. And Vietnam will have to protect partners’ intellectual property rights.
McCarty said if Vietnam closely observes the Pacific trade agreement it will further show that it is different from China. Vietnam already stands out for its lower labor costs.
Trung Nguyen heads international relations at Ho Chi Minh University of Social Sciences and Humanities. He said Vietnam wants to follow the deal’s rules. “They want (to) get some new momentum for Vietnam’s economy, and TPP is one of the solutions,” he said.
I’m Mario Ritter Jr.
Ralph Jennings reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter Jr. adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.