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Iran’s Captain Of Crazy Might Be Making Another Play For The Presidency

Hold onto your hats, because Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has resurfaced!

The United States isn’t the only country gearing up for what could be a game-changing election. The Islamic Republic of Iran is still over a year away from its presidential election, but rumors are already starting that a very familiar face may be appearing on the campaign trail: Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


In case your Iranian political trivia is rusty, let’s backtrack a bit, because it’s important to remember why this guy got run out of office the first time. Ahmadinejad was first elected in 2005 when he beat out the pragmatic establishment candidate Hashemi Rafsanjani to succeed Reformist icon Mohammed Khatami. Ahmadinejad had been the mayor of Tehran and was a relatively little known figure at the time of his election. But it became clear quickly that the pious and, in a sense, populist president was quite the firebrand. He made a name for himself on the international stage by questioning the Holocaust and rhetorically attacking Israel. He was a fount of incendiary sound bites, including that time he said there are no homosexuals in Iran. Domestically, he sparred with both Reformist and hardline officials over policies, despite being reigned in by the labyrinthian Iranian government and a lot of highly placed rivals. (Seriously, no one liked this guy).

Ahmadinejad’s presidency went from blunder to major problem in 2009 when he ran against wildly popular Reformist candidate Mir Houssain Mousavi. When Ahmadinejad was announced as winner of the election, Mousavi and fellow candidate Karroubi took to the streets and kick started widespread protests. A violent crackdown followed and both Mousavi and Karroubi were put under house arrest, where they remain today.

But it seems the government took notice, particularly after a slew of protests instigated the Arab Spring movement in 2011. Ahmadinejad was got sidelined while the typically under-the-radar Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei took a more public role. By the time the 2013 presidential election rolled around, cleric Hassan Rouhani was swept to office on a wave of public support and a campaign predicated on greater international involvement and moderation – including greater gender equality and economic stability. After leaving office, Ahmadinejad returned to teaching engineering.

And with that we arrive in the present, and Ahmadinejad seems poised to run for office again. You’re justifiably asking: He was already president so how is that even a thing to begin with? In Iran, term limits are a little different. After serving two consecutive terms, a former president can run again after sitting out one round, making 2017 the earliest election Ahmadinejad would be able to participate in after his two terms run. There are a lot of familiar faces shuffling positions in the Iranian government, so it’s not that weird to see former presidents still in the deep end of politics. But just because he can doesn’t mean doing so makes any sense; after all, this is a guy who was supported by the establishment because they thought he would be an easy figurehead to push around, but wound up alienating everyone — seriously, he has no highly placed allies — by being awful in every way possible.

But if we know anything about Ahmadinejad, it’s that he’s a wildcard. Since leaving office he’s been meeting with supporters, and recently made a significant public speech — his first major one since 2013. People close to him, including his brother, have said there is a very real chance he’ll be throwing his hat in the ring next year.

[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]Even if he makes it past the vetting process, he’ll be a back-in-time candidate. Think of him as an Iranian Trump, trying to run on a platform of ‘Making Iran Great Again’ when everyone already thinks things are on the right track.[/quote]

As you’ve learned by now, though, Iranian elections are complicated. Preparations for the election, likely to be held in the late spring, will start this fall. Part of those preparations include a vetting by the Guardian Council, which is a group of 12 Islamic and legal experts who function as a kind of legislative branch with the ability to veto proposed laws. Although hundreds apply every single election cycle, the shortlist is most often less than ten candidates. There are criteria, including age and qualifications, but the Guardian Council has proven it’s pretty easy to eliminate candidates they don’t want running. After all, women aren’t barred from running but have never made it past the vetting stage. That’s definitely not a coincidence. And Ahmadinejad will have to get past that group if he wants in the race.

But no matter how you slice it, the 2017 election is going to be major. President Rouhani just won a significant mandate in parliamentary elections, with Reformist and moderate candidates pushing out a lot of the more conservative voices. The Nuclear Deal has made it possible for the Iranian economy to bounce back after crippling inflation due to sanctions, and if Rouhani shifts focus to domestic issues he could start making good on some of those sweet, sweet campaign promises, like greater economic opportunity for women. He and his allies are popular right now, and the rest of the world is responding positively to Iran for the first time in years.

And it’s within that context that an Ahmadinejad candidacy would have to compete. Even if he makes it past the vetting process (which is unlikely), he’ll be a back-in-time candidate that could appeal to his base of rural, devout and traditionalist voters, but will likely have a hard time finding the same reactionary vein he tapped when running in 2005. Think of him as an Iranian Trump, trying to run on a platform of ‘Making Iran Great Again’ when everyone already thinks things are on the right track.

But what these rumors and whispers prove is that 2017 is already shaping up to be a roller coaster in Iran. If Ahmadinejad does make his comeback, things could get really weird really fast. Get your popcorn ready!

Articles

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

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The Planet