Iran Detains Protesting Bus Drivers

People are seen at a market in Tehran, Iran. Reuters file photo
People are seen at a market in Tehran, Iran. Reuters file photo
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Iran Detains Protesting Bus Drivers

People are seen at a market in Tehran, Iran. Reuters file photo
People are seen at a market in Tehran, Iran. Reuters file photo

Iran arrested a number of bus drivers who have staged protests in Tehran for the second consecutive day over their living conditions, media in the country reported on Tuesday.

"A number of drivers were detained yesterday during a gathering in front of the central office of the Tehran Bus Company," Mohsen Bagheri, a company official, was quoted as saying by ILNA news agency.

"A number of drivers were also arrested during today's protest," he added.

Bagheri did not say why the drivers were arrested, only expressing hope that they would be released soon, AFP reported.

"The workers do not want anything beyond the law; their demand is a legal increase in wages," Bagheri said.

Striking bus drivers chanted slogans describing Tehran's mayor as "incompetent" and called on him to resign at a protest on Monday, the reformist Shargh newspaper said on Twitter.

Buses were seen operating in different areas of the capital on Tuesday, AFP journalists said, but it was unclear if the strike was continuing.

The mayor of Tehran, Alireza Zakani, met with a group of drivers on Monday and said a committee was looking into the possibility of salary increases, according to state news agency IRNA.

Last week, Iran's government announced a series of measures to tackle mounting economic challenges, such as changing a subsidy system and raising the price of staples including cooking oil and dairy products.

Hundreds have taken to the streets in a number of Iranian cities in the past week to protest against the moves, including in Tehran province, IRNA reported.

MP Ahmed Avai said on Saturday that one person had been killed during demonstrations in the southwestern city of Dezful, according to ILNA.

Iran's economy has been hit hard by sanctions imposed by the United States since 2018 as well as rising prices sparked by Russia's invasion of Ukraine this year.

Iran has witnessed several waves of protests over living conditions in recent years, most notably in 2019 after a fuel price hike.

In recent months, teachers have held successive demonstrations demanding the speeding up of reforms that would see their salaries better reflect their experience and performance.



Biden Abruptly Changed His Mind about 2024 Race over Weekend, Sources Say

US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)
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Biden Abruptly Changed His Mind about 2024 Race over Weekend, Sources Say

US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)
US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks during a barbecue for active-duty military families in honor of the Fourth of July on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 4, 2024. (AFP)

As of Saturday, President Joe Biden was still planning to stay in the 2024 presidential race. But on Sunday afternoon, he shocked many of his senior staff by telling them he was withdrawing just before making the decision public, sources familiar with the matter said.

The sources, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Biden began to come to a decision on Saturday night that he should withdraw from the 2024 race. He had spent weeks defiantly insisting he would stay in the race despite pressure from some Democrats to pull out.

At 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, however, Biden told his senior team he had changed his mind and would withdraw, the sources said.

One minute later, at 1:46 p.m., Biden made his bombshell announcement.

The decision came less than a month after Biden had a disastrous debate against Republican Donald Trump that raised questions about the mental acuity of the 81-year-old Democratic president.

Biden came to his decision over the 48 hours preceding the announcement, after digesting large amounts of data and polls that showed his path to victory largely out of reach, two sources said. He agonized over the decision, but when he made up his mind, he moved quickly, a senior White House official said.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke multiple times on Sunday ahead of his announcement, a person familiar with their conversations said.

Biden, who has been at his Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, home since testing positive for COVID on Wednesday, shared his decision with his senior team by reading the letter to them that he would soon release publicly on social media.

"He read the letter to us and wanted us to understand his thinking. He said he had wrestled with it over the last 48 hours," the official said.

Shortly after the call, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients called senior White House staff together to inform them of the decision.

"This was really closely held," the official said. "It came as a surprise to most White House folks."

DIVIDED PARTY

After the debate, Biden began losing ground to Trump in battleground states, and Biden's campaign was pursuing a razor-thin path to reelection.

"It became hard with the growing opposition within the party. We have to be united going into November. That was a factor," the senior White House official said, while noting there had still been significant support for Biden across the country.

“I'm still processing it," said Marcus Mason, an at-large member of the Democratic National Convention.

"The president will go down in history as a patriot who put his country and party over his own ambitions," Mason said.

The president, still nursing a cough after his COVID diagnosis, had spent the weekend stewing over Democratic pressure to force him to leave the race, aides said. With him were long-time senior aides Annie Tomasini, Steve Richetti and Mike Donilon and a top aide to first lady Jill Biden, Anthony Bernal.

Biden had been particularly irked at former House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whom Biden advisers believed was orchestrating a pressure campaign to get him to stand down.

Hours before the announcement, the Biden campaign denied reports he was planning to drop out.

"It is false. And I think that it is false to continue to try to gin up this narrative," deputy campaign manager Quentin Fulks told MSNBC's "The Weekend” on Sunday morning.

There were plenty of signs Biden had been thinking about pulling out for several days, with sources saying the Democratic incumbent had been doing some soul-searching.