July 13th, 2010
08:48 AM ET

Tuesday's intriguing people

Shahram Amiri

Shahram Amiri

The missing Iranian researcher, whom Tehran claimed the CIA abducted, has taken refuge in the Pakistani Embassy in Washington. “He has requested to be sent back to Iran quickly," Iran's semiofficial news agency Mehr said Tuesday. 

Amiri, a researcher at Tehran's Malek Ashtar University, mysteriously disappeared in June 2009 while on a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, according to Iranian media reports. Iran has accused the United States of involvement in Amiri's disappearance, saying the researcher was taken to force him to give up data about Tehran's nuclear program.

The U.S. State Department has denied that allegation but has been tight-lipped on whether Amiri defected. 

Last month, two videos surfaced on the internet of a man claiming to be Amiri in which he said he had escaped from U.S. agents and was hiding in Virginia. In one of the videos, the man again said that he was brought against his will to the U.S. and fears he will be discovered and re-arrested.

"I am Shahram Amiri, the son of the Islamic Republic of Iran, who with God's help succeeded in running away from the U.S. security agents in the state of Virginia. I am [temporarily] at a safe place and I am trying to do this video, but it is quite possible that I may shortly be again arrested by American security agents."

CNN could not independently verify the authenticity of the videos nor the identity of the man in them.

CNN: Missing Iranian researcher takes refuge in Pakistani Embassy

Pamela Geller

New York's Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a hearing Tuesday to decide whether a century-old building near ground zero is worth preserving. The hearing is expected to be contentious because if the commission rules the building is not worth landmark status, it will pave the way for a mosque and community center that have been planned there.

Those pushing for the landmark status are opposed to the mosque at the site where the twin towers of the World Trade Center were destroyed by Islamist hijackers on September 11, 2001.

"Building the Ground Zero mosque is not an issue of religious freedom, but of resisting an effort to insult the victims of 9/11 and to establish a beachhead for political Islam and Islamic supremacism in New York. ... Ground Zero is a war memorial, a burial ground. Respect it," said Geller, a conservative blogger, on her group's website, Stop Islamization of America.

Geller recently told HLN’s Joy Behar that no one's telling the mosque's planners they can't build it, but "We're asking them not to."

CNN Video: Ground zero mosque critic speaks out

Dr. Robert J. Frascino

The primary investigator in numerous HIV clinical trials and founder of two medical clinics devoted to the comprehensive care of people living with HIV says that he’s “just delighted” to be alive.

In January 1991, while performing a routine medical procedure on a patient with HIV infection, Frascino was lacerated by a needle and became HIV positive. 

“I have an usual perspective because I see it from both sides of the examination table,” Frascino told CNN on Monday. “I have the mind of an HIV physician specialist and the heart and soul of a patient. That colors the way I live with it. I consider myself the most optimistic person on the planet. I hadn’t anticipated that.

"When I became HIV positive, the survival statistics were 10 years tops, so I structured my life accordingly. Then, I was able to take advantage of new drugs in 1996. I have been very, very lucky. So as a physician, I say we have made tremendous strides in combating HIV.

"But from the patient’s side, there is still an enormous stigma and difficulty. For most patients, it’s still very difficult to navigate the world of relationships, the world of employment, the world of health care.”

In 1999, Frascino and his life partner, Dr. Steve Natterstad, established the Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides advocacy and services for men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS.

The two doctors married in October 2008 before Proposition 8 was passed in California. Both doctors are also classically trained pianists and have given a series of performances titled “A Concerted Effort” to benefit AIDS service organizations worldwide.

On Tuesday, President Obama is scheduled to announce a strategy to reduce the annual number of new HIV/AIDS cases by 25 percent within five years.  According to a White House report, about 56,000 people become infected each year, and more than 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV.

CNN: Obama administration unveiling national HIV/AIDS strategy

Robert James Frascino AIDS Foundation

Bob Geldolf

Twenty-five years ago Tuesday, Live Aid raised more than $200 million for famine relief in Ethiopia. The 1985 international fundraising effort, led by Geldolf, connected rock bands at Wembley Stadium in London, England, and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to worldwide TV audiences via satellite.

Among the performers were Mick Jagger, Joan Baez, Elton John, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Freddy Mercury and Phil Collins.

Geldof, a rock musician and activist who was later granted an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth, told the BBC in 1999 about his most memorable moment from the concert:  “I was doing a song that I'd written a long time ago, called ‘I Don't Like Mondays’ - which people certainly in Britain knew. And there was a line of that which was: ‘The lesson today is how to die.' And I hadn't chosen that song because of that line. But lots of things took on a significance that day that they otherwise wouldn't have. And I got to that line and I suddenly stopped. I pulled up sharp. I stopped dead, you know. I stopped singing the song. And the line just lay hanging in the air over Wembley Stadium, and presumably over the billion and a half people watching on television. And the crowd started going mad. The noise rose to an even higher intensity of emotion. And for me personally it was a cathartic moment.”

Geldof's website

Tony Tasset

The 49-year-old artist has created a fiberglass eye three stories tall that now watches over Pritzker Park in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Tribune reports that Tasset, who earned a master's degree from the School of the Art Institute in 1985, said his goal as a public artist is to create work that both appeals to "intellectuals" and has meaning to a wider audience.

Tasset knows his Eye will not please everyone. "There are going to be a lot of people who are like, 'Oh, this is terrible,' " Tasset told the newspaper. "I've always wanted to make work that people either loved or hated. The worst thing would be a kind of innocuous decorative work that you can just pass by, that doesn't do one thing or another."

He added, "I wanted to make something with effect."

Chicago Tribune: The odyssey of Chicago's new Eye sculpture

Kavi Gupta Gallery

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. john doe

    There is more to this story, then is being reported on the major networks. Coupled with Russia's president stating that Iran is months away from having the ability to create / deploy nuclear weapons.........stuff may get bad pretty soon.

    July 13, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  2. CallingBS

    Smoke and mirrors...don't buy into this.

    July 13, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    There is nothing intriguing about a 3 story fiberglass eye. It is just an eyesore.......in the landscape.

    July 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. what?

    He escaped and is hiding? in the USA?
    no credible, this is not his country, he does not know the area, no way

    July 13, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chloe

    To all of us who are positive stay strong and don’t let anyone put you down, life is not a rehearsal it is here and now so live the best way you can. Check out http://PositiveFishes.com, You can know many inspirational story here!You are not alone.

    July 13, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |