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Unofficial US-Iran Talks Lay Groundwork For Possible Direct Contacts
President Barack Obama has made clear his intention to open some kind of dialogue with Iran if the circumstances are right. That stance has sparked intense speculation about if and when such direct contacts would be opened. But informal contacts have already been laying the foundation for that to happen. - 1/31/09

Photos: Ceremonies to celebrate 30th anniversary of Iran's Revolution kick off
Nationwide ceremonies to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran started at 9:30 local time at the mausoleum of the Late Founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini in southern Tehran. - 1/31/09

Qaem Maqami- Karpov draw in 3rd game
The third game between Iran's Chess grandmaster Ehsan Qaem Maqami and former World Champion Anatoly Karpov from Russia ends in a draw. The game ended in a draw after 44 moves in Goftegoo Park in the Iranian capital Tehran on Thursday. - 1/31/09

MEI Launches Special Viewpoints on The 30th Anniversary of The Iranian Revolution
The Middle East Institute announces a special edition of Viewpoints entitled "The Iranian Revolution at 30." This wide-ranging mega-collection of more than 50 original essays is the first of a series of six similar publications commemorating the events of 1979. - 1/31/09

Iran soccer clubs feel pain of empty pockets
As the global downturn takes its toll on the world economy, Iranian soccer clubs are entangled with a financial crisis of their own. The crisis has affected big and small clubs alike, from Iranian Premier League (IPL) champion Persepolis to second division club Ararat, which belongs to the Armenian minority of Iran. -Press TV - 1/31/09

27th Fajr International Film Festival kicks off in Tehran
The 27th Fajr International Film Festival was inaugurated on Friday at the Milad Tower in Tehran. Iran's most important event in the motion picture industry, the Fajr film festival is held annually to commemorate the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. - 1/31/09

American coach Gerardo to head Iran baseball team
Gerardo Yassel Cabrera (Moreno) was chosen as Iran's baseball coach on Saturday. -MNA - 1/31/09

The letter to Iran
How long will Obama's self-declared mutual understanding between the U.S. and the Muslim world last? -Real News Network - 1/31/09

Writings Offer Look at Administration Debate on Iran
President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in the past week have sent repeated signals to Iran that the door is now wide open for direct talks between the two countries three decades after the Iranian revolution, but U.S. officials say the method, the pace and the tenor of that diplomacy still remain to be settled. -Washington Post - 1/31/09

Iranian Presidential Candidate Protests General's Ahmadinejad Endorsement
An Iranian presidential candidate has criticized comments by Iranian armed forces chief General Hassan Firuz Abadi pledging support to President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in the June presidential election. - 1/31/09

Iran's Majlis Speaker Larijani to attend Munich security conference
Advisor to Majlis Speaker Hassan Zamani said on Saturday that the Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani will attend the 45th Munich security conference on Friday. - 1/31/09

Photos: Zoroastrians celebrate ancient feast of Sadeh (creation of fire) in Tehran
The Zoroastrians marked Sadeh, an ancient feast celebrating the creation of fire, in Tehran, Iran this week. Sadeh has been observed since the days when Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion in the powerful Persian empire. -Photos by Mona Hoobehfekr, ISNA - 1/30/09

US Denies Conciliatory Iran Letter Planned
The U.S. State Department has denied a British newspaper report that the Obama administration is drafting a "conciliatory" letter to Iran. - 1/30/09

NIAC welcomes appointment of Iranian American Vali Nasr to Obama Administration
The National Iranian American Council welcomes Iranian-American Professor Vali Nasr's appointment as senior advisor to special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, which he has confirmed to Foreign Policy magazine, and we congratulate Dr. Nasr on his upcoming role in the Obama administration. - 1/30/09

Outspoken Iranian Cleric Draws Reformist Fans
Ex-minister, once jailed for his views, urged to declare himself a presidential candidate - Former interior minister Abdollah Noori is considering entering the presidential race after a group of teachers and academics asked him to run. -Fardad Farehi, Tehran - 1/30/09

Hans Wilhelm, distinguished children's author: I wish children were our teachers!
The world of children is disparately different with ours. Their world is happy, colorful, immaculate and flawless while ours is inextricably blended with crimes, brutality, wars and conflicts. They don't think about hitting, harming or betraying each other in treacherous ways; just planning to be cheerful with together, sharing whatever they obtain and "smiling". -Interview by Ahmadreza Tavassoli, Kourosh Ziabari - 1/30/09

FM: Iran to respond positively to US policy change
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in Davos, Switzerland on Thursday that Iran will respond positively if the new US President Barack Obama is sincere with his promise to change the US foreign policy. - 1/30/09

Meet Amir Farokhi - First Iranian American Candidate for City Council Seat in Atlanta
The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans and its connected PAC, the Iranian American Political Action Committee, recently had the opportunity to sit down with Amir Farokhi and discuss his campaign for the Post 2 At-Large seat on Atlanta's City Council. The election, which will be held in November of 2009, marks the first time an Iranian American has run for public office in the City of Atlanta. - 1/30/09

Iranian Women Wait for Freedom, 30 Years After Islamic Revolution
Iran's Islamic revolution was all about bringing change - toppling a repressive monarchy, rolling back western influence and, many hoped, ushering in a freer and better life for its citizens. While change certainly came, it had different consequences from what many had hoped. Now, 30 years later, many Iranian women abroad and at home are calling for more equality and personal freedom. -VOA - 1/30/09

Report: Perry talked to Iranian official
Former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry and a senior adviser to the Iranian president held undisclosed talks last year, a person close to the talks says. -UPI - 1/30/09

At Davos, prospects of an improvement in U.S.-Iran relations, but economic gloom pervades
Iran pledged on Thursday to respond positively to a change in tack from the United States, while policy makers in Davos warned of a growing threat of trade protectionism around the world. -Reuters - 1/30/09

The Iranian Revolution Thirty Years On
Thirty years have now passed since the stern, bearded visage of Ayatollah Khomeini graced out television screens decrying the many “ills” of the west and their colonial allies. The leader of a revolution, few, if any at the time had anticipated and participants and observers alike still endeavour to properly understand. -Sadegh Kabeer, Global Research - 1/30/09

Poll battle for Iraqi city of Najaf
Millions of Iraqis will be voting this weekend for provincial councils, in the third election since the American-led invasion. One closely-watched election battle is in the holy city of Najaf. The leading Shia party there wants to turn it into the capital of a new self-ruled southern region. -BBC - 1/30/09

Arusi Persian Wedding in New York City
ARUSI PERSIAN WEDDING chronicles Tehrani's brother's journey to Iran, their father's birthplace, as he travels with his American wife to hold a traditional Persian wedding ceremony and explore his lost heritage. - 1/29/09

Painting for Obama by Iranian-American organization in Cupertino, California
The message: This painting is a gift from the Iranian-American organization in Cupertino, California to President Barack Obama . The poem (on the painting) is by the Poet Saadi of Shiraz / Iran , 1184-1291 CE. - 1/29/09

IAAB's Fourth International Conference on the Iranian Diaspora
Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) is pleased to announce The Fourth International Conference on the Iranian Diaspora, to take place April 4-5, 2009 at the University of California Berkeley's Pauley Ballroom. - 1/29/09

Revealed: the letter Obama team hope will heal Iran rift
Officials of Barack Obama's administration have drafted a letter to Iran from the president aimed at unfreezing US-Iranian relations and opening the way for face-to-face talks, the Guardian has learned. -Guardian - 1/29/09

Iran turns to UN ver EU approval of MKO terrorist group
Iran has filed a complaint to the UN on the recent EU decision to remove the Mujahedin Khalq Organization from its list of terror groups. Meanwhile, the family members of victims of MKO terrorist attacks have cautioned the EU against becoming the organization's "partner in crime". - 1/29/09

Exploring the Other: Contemporary Iran
A photography exhibition by Iason Athanasiadis to foster a deeper understanding by American public on contemporary Iran - 1/29/09

NIYAZ performing in California February 6-13
NIYAZ 2005 debut album featured a convincing blend of Sufi poetry and trance electronica, and quickly established them as a standout ensemble in a very crowded world music field. Since then NIYAZ have become international touring artists performing all over the world from Canada, the United States, Europe to the Middle East. - 1/29/09

Iranian Jews Hurt by One of Their Own
In recent months, as the broader American Jewish community has reeled from the financial tsunami wrought by Bernard Madoff, the alleged perpetrator of a $50 billion Ponzi scheme that stripped the coffers of Jewish charities and wiped out the savings of individuals from New York to Florida, the Iranian-Jewish community has grappled with its own financial catastrophe. -Forward - 1/29/09

Iraq, Turkey, Iran Vulnerable To Ethnic Conflict
Occasionally, I have heated discussions with my Turkish and Kurdish friends. Most of those from Iraq's Kurdistan region, emboldened by the region's semi-independence from Baghdad and its current relative stability, warn that it would declare independence if things fall apart in Iraq. -Abbas Djavadi - 1/29/09

West seeking Iran's help in Afghanistan
Western countries are launching efforts to use Iran's regional influence to help stabilize neighboring Afghanistan. U.S. military chief Admiral Michael Mullen, U.S. Middle East and Central Asia Commander General David Petraeus, and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer have been calling for Iran's help in Afghanistan. - 1/29/09

Iran to take part in 45th Munich Security Conference
The main organizer of the 45th Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger confirmed that a representative from Iran will take part in the high-profile security meeting, scheduled to be held from February 6 through 8, it was announced on Thursday. -IRNA - 1/29/09

How to Begin with Iran
Looks like Dennis Ross is about to become the U.S. envoy in charge of Iran. But I'm not sure that sending Ross directly into the fray is the best way to launch negotiations. Here are four other things that should happen first -TIME - 1/29/09

Nasr to advise Holbrooke
U.S. Afghanistan/Pakistan envoy Amb. Richard Holbrooke has asked Middle East and Islamic world scholar Vali Nasr, a professor at the Fletcher School, to serve as his senior advisor, Nasr confirms. -Foreign Policy - 1/29/09

France appeals removal of the PMOI from terrorist blacklist
France is appealing against a European court ruling that forced the Council of Ministers this week to remove an Iranian opposition movement from the EU's terrorist blacklist. -European Voice - 1/29/09

Iranians For Peace Letter to President Obama
Dear Mr. President, Your election as the President of the United States of America has opened a new and promising chapter in the history of the USA and created a strong wave of enthusiasm and hope across the world. - 1/28/09

Obama: US Willingness to Talk With Iran Important
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States must be willing to engage in diplomacy with Iran. Speaking late Monday with a Dubai-based television network Al-Arabiya, Mr. Obama repeated his inaugural address pledge to extend a hand to countries such as Iran if they are "willing to unclench their fist." - 1/28/09

Soccer: Iran stopped by Thailand
Iran's football team which had made a pulsating start in the 2011 Asian Cup qualifiers with a 6-0 rout of Singapore, was held to a goalless draw by Thailand at the Rajamangala National Stadium on Wednesday. - 1/28/09

Iran to send "Omid" satellite to space by March 20
Iranian Space Agency (ISA) predicted the first domestically-made satellite of Iran called "Omid" in Persian, meaning hope, will be sent to the orbit by March 19. - 1/28/09

Iran Parliament protests inaction on UAE's expansionistic policy
There have been repeated claims by the UAE over the ownership of three Iranian islands, the Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa. International documents indicate the islands were historically owned by Iran but temporarily fell under British control in 1903. - 1/28/09

Iran's Global Nanotechnology Ranking Improves to 25th
Head of the Nanotechnology Association Dr. Mojtaba Shariati Niasar said in Tehran Wednesday that Iran managed to improve its global standing in nanotechnology to 25th while maintaining the top rank among Muslim countries thanks to efforts of its scientists. - 1/28/09

19th Annual Celebration of Iranian Cinema at UCLA
The Archive's annual Celebration of Iranian Cinema returns and our program this year is as eclectic and diverse as ever. This year's offerings include six new features from Iran and the Diaspora, as well as compelling new documentary and short works on film and video - Saturday, January 31 – Saturday, February 21 - 1/28/09

Iranian visa refusal rate grows
Canada refuses more visitors' visas from Iran than almost any other country despite having collected millions of dollars in processing fees, a group of Iranian lawyers says it has found out through an Access to Information request. - 1/28/09

Iranian business delegation due in London
Martin Johnston, the director general of the British-Iranian Chamber of Commerce (BICC), expressed hope that the sides would promote bilateral relations, adding that "despite existing obstacles on the way of Iran-UK trade, especially in the banking field, the two nations have continued business with one another." - 1/28/09

Clinton: Iran Has 'Clear Opportunity' to Engage with US, Others
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Iran has a clear opportunity, with the new Obama administration now in office, to engage meaningfully with the United States and others in the world community. She added that the six powers trying to negotiate an end to Iran's uranium enrichment program will meet next week. - 1/28/09

Ahmadinejad orders removal of obstacles for screening "About Elly" at Fajr Festival
"About Elly" faced problems in obtaining the Culture Ministry's approval for participating in the festival due to the appearance of one of the film's stars, Golshifteh Farahani, in "Body of Lies," a Hollywood film. - 1/28/09

US not to follow EU on changing terrorist status of MKO
"We've already done a review and it was determined that there would not be a revocation of that status for the Mujahedin-e Khalq, so nothing has changed from our standpoint," Robert Wood said at a briefing on Monday, when asked if Washington would follow the action taken by the European Union. - 1/28/09

30th Anniversary of Islamic Revolution of Iran to Witness Many Foreign News Agencies
The commemoration of the 30th Anniversary of Islamic Revolution, which is scheduled to be held in Iran this February, will witness the active participation of many eminent foreign news agencies, confirms Ivan Sahar, a well-known foreign media service centre of the Islamic Republic of Iran. - 1/28/09

Saudi patience is running out
In my decades as a public servant, I have strongly promoted the Arab-Israeli peace process. During recent months, I argued that the peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia could be implemented under an Obama administration if the Israelis and Palestinians both accepted difficult compromises. -Turki al-Faisal, FT - 1/28/09

Speaker warns UAE over treatment of Iranian nationals
Iranian Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani warned the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the treatment of Iranian nationals upon their arrival in UAE airports. - 1/28/09

Iran-US talks help Israel: Ex-Mossad chief
Ephraim Halevy, the former head of Israel's intelligence service, said on Tuesday that Tel Aviv must adopt a "cool-headed" approach vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic and see Washington-Tehran talks as an "opportunity". - 1/28/09

Commentary: Will Obama see sense about nuclear threat?
As we object to Iran's apparent efforts to join the club of nuclear weapons states we should remember that the US, Russia, France, the UK and China have failed to meet their obligations to disarm, some four decades after they all signed the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). -New Scientist - 1/28/09

Russia and Iran Get Strategic
While many analysts predicted a rosier picture for U.S.-Iranian relations with the Obama administration, the situation is rapidly becoming profoundly more difficult and more complicated. The new dimension is Russia. -FPIF - 1/28/09

Gates Warns of Iranian Influence in Latin America
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Senators Tuesday that although much attention was given to Russia's recent courting of some Latin American countries, he is more concerned about new activities of Iran in the region. - 1/28/09

Farshad Khorrami’s Robotic Ray
An underwater spy and the man who’s building it. -scienceline - 1/28/09

Domotex 2009: Oriental Carpet Makers Brace For Economic Downturn
This time of year in Hanover, northern Germany, the sun barely appears before 8:30 and is gone by 4 pm. And all day long the North Sea wind hurtles into the city with nothing to stop it but the giant flags flapping over the city's sprawling fairground. Still, hundreds of carpet producers and importers come here every January, bringing tons of oriental rugs from every corner of the world. -Charles Recknagelis - 1/27/09

Iran denounces EU's removal of MKO from its black terror list
IRI Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a communiqué issued here Monday night denounced EU's removing of Iranian terrorist grouplet, MKO, from its black list, calling the move "devoid of credibility." - 1/27/09

Photos: "Rostam's Seven Steps" at Fajr International Theatre Festival
Pari Saberi believes that Shahnameh is national identity of a land. The experienced director who staged "Rostam's Seven Steps" in the Vahdat hall on Jan 25 and 26, said to Iran Theatre: "I have written Rostam's Seven Steps according to the Rostam's Seven Steps of Shahnameh, and in fact I will stage my own adaptation of the ancient story." - 1/27/09

Iran protests Egypt's hold-back of aid ship
Tehran has criticized Egypt for delaying Gaza-bound humanitarian aid by refusing to allow an Iranian ship to dock at an Egyptian port. Egyptian authorities have so far denied the relief ship permission to unload urgently-needed aid for Gaza in the Egyptian port of Al-Areesh. - 1/27/09

EU Takes Iranian Group Off Terror List, But Status Still Disputed
The MKO's support for Iraq in the 1980-88 war is today seen by observers as the main reason for its limited support among Iranians. It is also accused by critics of collaborating with Saddam during his bloody campaign against the Kurds, charges that the MKO denies. -RFE - 1/27/09

Iran mixed football match furore
The leading Iranian football club has apologised for allowing its women's team and its men's youth team to play each other. -BBC - 1/27/09

Nabucco Summit Opens Amid Questions Of Funding, Supply
From the eastern Caspian region through parts of the Middle East and on into the European Union, many people are waiting to see if Europe's flagship natural-gas pipeline project will move from plans on paper toward reality. -RFE - 1/27/09

Hillary Mann Leverett: Take Up Iran on Its Al Qaida Offer
In response to the Bush Administration's unconditional demands that Tehran turn over Al Qaida operatives we believed to be on Iranian soil, the Iranians offered a deal: to exchange Al Qaida figures they had detained for MEK cadres in Iraq. To facilitate such an exchange, the Iranians offered to release all low- and mid-level MEK figures... -Washington Note - 1/27/09

Kalhor makes World Cup history for Iran
Hossein Kalhor swept unconvincingly into Alpine skiing history on Sunday when he became the first Iranian to take part in the World Cup. -AFP - 1/27/09

Iranian national library keen to support foreign Persian studies
Iran National Library and Archive (INLA) tries to render Persian sources for foreign Iranologists via signing agreements with other countries libraries and foreign universities. - 1/27/09

Iran: 10 police die in clashes in southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province
Police officers engaged in clashes with gunmen near the city of Zahedan, the provincial capital, Sunday night. Ten Iranian police officers were killed. There have been no reports yet on the number of casualties inflicted on the armed militants. -Press TV - 1/27/09

Iran Starts Manufacture of Stealth Aircraft
Iran's Air Force has started manufacturing of its first stealth aircraft after completing the design, Air Force Commander Brigadier General Shahsafi said. -FNA - 1/27/09

German Government to Crack Down on Business with Iran
Germany is set to crack down on export credit guarantees to German firms seeking to do business with Iran and will only approve them in exceptional cases, according to a report published Monday. -Deutsche Welle - 1/27/09

Even Ordinary Iranians Took Up This Banner
During a recent trip to Tehran, I noticed that the Benetton shop in my old neighborhood of Darrous was closed, its windows papered over. In the past, fundamentalists offended by the shop's immodest displays had decried its immorality and spread rumors of "Zionist ownership." This time, however, they set the place on fire... -Washington Post - 1/27/09

Market condition changes gas price formula in Iran-Pakistan agreement: Official
The current market condition has changed the price formula and some articles of Iran-Pakistan gas agreement, said Iranian representative in Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) Peace Pipeline talks Hojatollah Ghanimifard. -ISNA - 1/27/09

New US Envoy Arrives at United Nations
She said the U.S. would pursue vigorous diplomacy that would be both directly with Iran and continued collaboration with the other four permanent members of the Security Council and Germany through the group known as the "P-Five Plus One". -VOA - 1/27/09

Flying to and around Iran
"What is the best way to book flights to Iran, and also inside the country? I read somewhere that internal flights are amazingly cheap, but can¹t seem to find any." - Sunday Times travel expert Richard Green responds -TIMES ONLINE - 1/27/09

The "Forever-Entitled-Ones" The Gatekeepers Between Obama and Tehran
I believe that a carefully guarded perpetuation of instability in the region, just below the flashpoint, is the best therapeutic measure in preventing a catastrophic meltdown. Any rapprochement between the United States and Iran must pass through the ultimate checkpoint guarded by the Forever-Entitled-Ones. -Kam Zarrabi - 1/26/09

President Bush's policies towards Iran
My Washington reporting journey started with President George W. Bush's presidency. I have covered countless press conferences, seminars, panels, congressional hearings that included introducing, passing, or blocking of numerous congressional bills about Iran. -Mahtab Farid - 1/26/09

Photos: "Kakooti and Circus" at Fajr International Theatre Festival
Following photos are from the "Kakooti and Circus" play which was performed at the annual Fajr International Theatre festival. The festival is being held in Tehran and runs from January 21st to 30th. -Photos by Hamid Forootan, ISNA - 1/26/09

Green Christmas in Iran
Every day, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and many senior Iranian officials of Iran go past Tehran's oldest flower shop to reach the presidential Palace. Around Christmas, the window display normally has fir trees on sale. This year, however, there were no Christmas trees on view ahead of the Christian festival, which falls on January 6 because of the eastern calendar used by Iran's Armenian minority. -Maryam Jalali, Tehran - 1/26/09

Iranian American Bar Association Welcomes Appointment of Tamila Ebrahimi Ipema to San Diego Superior Court Bench
On January 22, 2009, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Tamila Ebrahimi Ipema to the San Diego Superior Court bench. - 1/26/09

Tabriz International Cartoon Contest: "No War"
World cartoonists will be participating at the 8th Tabriz International Cartoon Contest entitled "No War" and cartoons on Gaza will be given a warm welcome. - 1/26/09

Tehran Residents Demonstrate Resolve to Have Clean Air
Nongovernmental organizations of Tehran in cooperation with Tehran Municipality have demonstrated Tehran citizens' will to have clean air. -Tehran Municipality - 1/26/09

Enjoy Persian Cuisine at Pars Restaurant in New York
For those us blessed with our residence in the New York City Metropolitan area, we tend to take it for granted, that is, the easy access we have to a wide variety of international cuisines, especially the Persian culinary gastronomical intoxications, as dozens of the Persian restaurants are scattered throughout not only NYC, but also in Long Island, Lower Hudson valley, Northern NJ, and southern Connecticut. -David N. Rahni - 1/26/09

Iran approves bill to try war criminals
The Iranian government cabinet on Monday approved a bill to launch investigations into alleged war crimes and prosecute war criminals in any part of the world. -MNA - 1/26/09

EU removes MKO from terror list
The European Union on Monday removed Mojahedin Khalq Organization from its list of terrorist organizations, EU diplomats said. -MNA - 1/26/09

Obama starts a new era with Iran
While much of US media focused on the fact America had is first African-American president, Obama's 19 minute address quickly recast how the US will deal with conflicts in the Middle East and could lead to a thawing of relationship with Iran sharing boarders with Iraq and Afghanistan. -Mahtab Farid - 1/25/09

Photos: "Wedding in the Shade" at Fajr International Theatre Festival
Following photos are from the "Wedding in the Shade" play performed at the Fajr International Theatre festival in Tehran. The festival runs from January 21st to 30th. -Photos by Hamid Forootan, ISNA - 1/25/09

Don't remove MKO from terrorist list, Iranian officials tell EU
If the European Union is so concerned about the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), it should "take the members of the terrorist group to one of its member states," the Iranian ambassador to Iraq says. - 1/25/09

The Aftermath of the War in Gaza
Five-thousand homes destroyed, more than 1300 killed, and thousands of injured – yet, Hamas is still in charge of the Gaza strip. If one follows mainstream media, which overall argue that Israel's objective is/was to crush Hamas and free captive soldier Gilad Shalit, one would agree with Likud candidate Benyamin Netanyahu's remarks about the conflict: "The IDF has dealt Hamas a severe blow, but unfortunately the job has not been complete." -Mohammad Ali Shabani - 1/25/09

The Bay Area's Vida Ghahremani: A star is reborn in Wayne Wang's latest
When Vida Ghahremani became a movie star at age 16 in the Shah’s Iran, she felt as if she were in prison. It left her with a lifelong desire to pursue freedom at all costs, but the memory of those years made her burst out in uncontrollable tears during a rehearsal for her role as an Iranian exile in Wayne Wang’s superb new film A Thousand Years of Good Prayers, which opens this weekend in the Bay Area. -SF 360 - 1/25/09

Iran to set up National Development Fund to absorb oil price shocks
The Iranian government plans to establish a National Development Fund to supplant the Oil Stabilization Fund in a bid to curb shock effects of the global oil price fluctuations on the country's economy, the deputy finance minister said here on Sunday. -MNA - 1/25/09

Former MPs ask Tehran mayor to run for president
A Tehran Municipality official stated on Sunday that some former Majlis lawmakers in a meeting with Tehran mayor Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf had asked him to contest the June presidential election. - 1/25/09

Over 60% of Tehrani students suffer from skeletal abnormalities
More than 60% of the capital's students suffer from height and skeletal abnormalities, an official in Tehran's Physical Education Department said here on Sunday. Girls due to lack of exercise are more likely to suffer height and skeletal abnormalities, Hossen Qaemi said. - 1/25/09

Berlin Film Festival picks Iranian director Rafi Pitts as juror
Iranian prominent director Rafi Pitts has been selected as Berlin Film Festival juror for the Best First Feature section. - 1/25/09

Iran's Kish island hosts 2nd international investment fair
Iran's southern Island of Kish has hosted the second international investment fair with the presence of Iranian major figures for investment and ambassadors of 13 countries. - 1/25/09

American wrestlers heading to Takhti Cup competition in Iran
Nine American wrestlers will take part in the Takhti Cup competition, scheduled for March 12-13, according to state Iranian media and USA Wrestling -- the national governing body for Olympics wrestling in the United States. - 1/24/09

Iranian ayatollah wishes Obama good luck
An Iranian Ayatollah on Friday wished US President Barack Obama good luck in implementing his new foreign policies. Speaking at the weekly Friday prayer ceremony in Tehran, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani said Obama's remarks in his inauguration speech- that the world was changing and US should change with it - were positive. - 1/24/09

Iran objects to Caspian seabed pipelines
Iran says it opposes the construction of any underwater pipeline in the Caspian Sea that will carry oil from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan. - 1/24/09

In Long Term, Moscow-Kyiv Gas Dispute Could Redraw Europe's Energy Map
If the EU were to proceed on work with Russia on a Nord Stream-South Stream strategy, then Ukraine might emerge as the greatest loser from the recent dispute. But momentum is growing in Europe for the bloc to circumvent Russian gas altogether -- meaning the long-stalled Nabucco project is suddenly back in the spotlight. -RFE - 1/24/09

Iraq to close MKO camp in two months
Iraqi National Security advisor Muwafaq al-Rubaie said on Friday that Baghdad plans to close down the Ashaf military camp where the terrorist Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) members are held under house arrest. -MNA - 1/24/09

After the revolution
It is 30 years since Ayatollah Khomeini ousted the Shah of Iran, ending 2,000 years of monarchical rule and heralding the age of radical Islamism. Since then, the US has had no diplomatic relations with Iran. But is that about to change with the arrival of Barack Obama? -New Statesman - 1/24/09

Wine-Order Bride
As a young Californian I always assumed I would be married at a winery or on an island, places where wedding planning does not involve separate reception halls for men and women and pre-emptive security against a morality-police raid. But I met my future husband while living in Iran. -Azadeh Moaveni, New York Times - 1/24/09

Iran says Not Meddling in Iraqi Elections
Iran's ambassador to Baghdad has rejected U.S. accusations that Iran is seeking to interfere in upcoming elections in Iraq. - 1/24/09

Tehran drinking water has highest nitrate level in Iran
Tehran water supply has the highest level of nitrate in the country, director of Tehran's Department of Environment (DOE) said here on Thursday. - 1/24/09

'US and Iran Share an Equal Monopoly on Violence'
"Obama is going to have continuous pressure from Israel to attack Iran and, in some way, their nuclear facilities, and this is going to be tied up with Gaza and Lebanon," according to Robert Baer, a former top Central Intelligence Agency operative and the author of The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower. -Omid Memarian, - 1/24/09

DreamWorks keen to work with Iran's Qobadi on Nasruddin Film
As mentioned in the synopsis, "One brother and sister aged 15 and 14 are looking for their father Nasruddin in different countries of the Middle East. As the story unfolds, the life of Nasruddin, who is married with three wives, is depicted and reviewed along with his problems." - 1/24/09

France Asks EU Court to Keep Iranian Group on Terror Blacklist
France urged a European Union court to keep an Iranian anti-government group on the bloc’s list of terrorist organizations, opposing a toughening of EU policy toward Iran before President Barack Obama outlines plans for U.S. engagement. -Bloomberg - 1/24/09

Iran Ranks Students, Housewives As Employed
Counting students and housewives among the ranks of the employed has helped lower Iran's jobless rate, an official at the statistics office said in remarks published on January 24. -Reuters - 1/24/09

Tehran Respiratory Illnesses Rise 7 Percent, Sarmayeh Reports
The number of Tehran residents with severe respiratory illnesses increased by 7 percent in the last year, Sarmayeh reported, citing an unidentified emergency services official. Pollution contributed to the deterioration, an environmental expert said. -Bloomberg - 1/24/09

A Few Blissful And Peaceful Days In Kish: Good Eating Places
During our recent blissful trip to Kish we had decided not to go to any of the familiar places to eat that we had been to several times in past trips to Kish and to try some new ones. Below we share with you our choices and our experiences. -Syma Sayyah and Paul Sanford, Tehran - 1/23/09

Photos: "Dreams of Persian Gulf" at Fajr International Theatre Festival
Theater groups from Iran and 16 groups from other countries are staging their plays during the annual Fajr International Theatre festival, held at Tehran's City Theater Complex and other theaters in the Iranian capital. The festival runs from January 21st to 30th. -Photos by Hamid Forootan, ISNA - 1/23/09

Interview with Adam Shapiro: 60 Years of Israeli crimes should be tried
Adam Shapiro, the symbol of a courageous, pure peace advocate, has long been under fire for his unconditional and categorical criticism of Israeli occupying state. -Kourosh Ziabari - 1/23/09

Persian Gulf Eager to See What Obama Presidency Brings
As U.S. President Barack Obama was sworn into office Tuesday, many in the Muslim world watched with interest. As he begins his first full day in office, many in the Middle East will also be watching for signs the new American president will move quickly to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and improve relations with the region in general. - 1/23/09

Better US-Iran relations equals better US-Middle East relations
As she prepares for her role as Secretary of State, Senator Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Obama foreign policy team should consider how a new American-Iranian relationship might advance American interests in Iraq and Afghanistan, and conceivably even the Arab-Israeli peace process. -Richard W. Murphy - 1/23/09

Obama to Close Guantanamo, Selects Envoys for Mideast and South Asia
During his first appearance at the State Department, the president announced he is sending a special envoy to the Middle East - former Senator and veteran negotiator George Mitchell. The president also tapped former U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke to be his envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. - 1/23/09

US Panel Hears from Experts on Terrorism, Proliferation Challenges Facing Obama
As President Obama announced new initiatives for the Middle East and South Asia on Thursday, congressional lawmakers heard from experts about challenges facing the Obama administration in preventing terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. -VOA - 1/23/09

Iran's PSEEZ absorbs $36B foreign investment in a decade
Pars Special Economic Energy Zone was established in 1998 for the utilization of South Pars oil and gas resources. - 1/23/09

New study claims 16% of Iranian men have had gay relationships
A sociologist at an Iranian university has presented a new study that shows high levels of homosexual experiences among the country's population. - 1/23/09

Obama Spy Choice Sees Opportunity On Iran, Muslims
U.S. intelligence agencies should seek ways to work with Muslim leaders and countries such as Iran on issues of mutual interest, President Barack Obama's choice for spy chief has said. -Reuters - 1/23/09

Psychologists for Social Responsibility: Gaza Community Mental Health Project
Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) urges our members and friends to contribute to the Gaza Community Mental Health Project, a new PsySR fundraising campaign to support the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP), which has suffered extensive damage to its headquarters at a time of escalating demand for its services. - 1/23/09

Dutch Lawmaker Wilders Faces Charges Over 'Fitna' Film
Dutch legislator Geert Wilders, the creator of a controversial web-based film stigmatizing Islam, is to be prosecuted in Amsterdam on charges of discrimination and incitement to hatred. -Charles Recknagel, RFE/RL - 1/23/09

Iran: The people and the politics
Two young Iranian parents smiled at me, showing mock desperation as their little boy and girl eagerly dragged them into a shop famous for its pistachio ice cream sandwiches. Around the corner, filling the side of a 15-story building, a government-sponsored propaganda mural showed a perverted American flag, with skulls for stars and falling bombs for stripes. -CNN - 1/23/09

Burns victim vows to be suicide bomber while Israelis ask: 'Was it all worth it?'
Two days after their last soldiers returned from Gaza, Israelis are asking increasingly whether the offensive had achieved anything other than spawning a new generation of potential suicide bombers. -TIMES ONLINE - 1/23/09

Indian-built Afghan road opened
The 200km (124-mile) highway, costing about $85m, links Zaranj on the Iranian border with the main road between the cities of Herat, Kandahar and Kabul. On the Iranian side, it links with a route to the coast. -BBC - 1/23/09

Photos: Fajr Theater Festival Opening Ceremonies in Tehran
The 2009 Fajr Theater Festival is scheduled for Jan. 21 to 30. Many theater groups in Iran and 16 groups from around the globe will stage their plays during the annual festival, held at Tehran's City Theater Complex and other theaters in the Iranian capital. - 1/22/09

Iran's Rehab Centres – Sanctuaries or Scams?
Look at the classified pages of any Iranian newspaper and you'll notice a growing number of adverts for drug rehabilitation centres. In recent months, at least 20 to 30 new institutions have placed listings, outlining their services to the public. -Manijeh Nourmohammadi, Tehran - 1/22/09

"Happiness Theater" Bus in Tehran
One day before inauguration of Fajr International Theater Festival, "Happiness Theater" bus will start moving across Tehran supported by Tehran Municipality. The bus's motto is "Theater, Child, and Peace." -Tehran Municipality - 1/22/09

Photos: "Security and Tranquility Maneuvers" in Bandar Abbas, Iran
Bandar Abbas is a port city and capital of Hormozgan Province on the southern coast of Iran, on the Persian Gulf. The city occupies a strategic position on the narrow Straits of Hormuz, and it is the location of the main base of the Iranian Navy. It had an estimated population of 352,173 in 2005. -Photos by Peyman Kiyani, ISNA - 1/22/09

Berlin to Hold Shahnameh Congress
Germany is to hold a Shahnameh Congress in a bid to honor the 1000th anniversary of the creation of the Persian literary masterpiece by Abolqasem Ferdowsi. - 1/22/09

Iran Increases Pressure On Critics Ahead Of June's Presidential Election
The arrest of internationally renowned AIDS specialists, brothers Arash and Kamyar Alaei, in June and the prison sentences against them for allegedly plotting a U.S.-backed soft revolution in Iran have generated concern among rights activists and the country's scientific community. -RFE - 1/22/09

Barack Obama: Administration willing to talk to Iran 'without preconditions'
The new Obama administration is willing to talk to Iran "without preconditions" and will work towards the abolition of nuclear weapons, the White House said today. -Guardian - 1/22/09

Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Plays Complex Role in Iran's Political, Economic, Cultural Scene
Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps has evolved to take on a greater role in the nation's political, economic and cultural arenas in addition to serving as a major military force, according to a study issued on January 8, 2009 by the RAND Corporation. - 1/22/09

Prominent Iranian Activist Simin Behbahani Receives Award In Paris
A prominent Iranian poet and women's rights defender Simin Behbahani received the "Simone De Beauvoir Prize for Women's Freedom" in Paris on January 21. - 1/22/09

Iran carpet center adopts countermeasures to tackle economic meltdown
The Iran National Carpet Center has adopted special strategies to stop the negative influence of the global economic crisis on Iran's carpet exports. - 1/22/09

Iranian Author Mohammad Sadegh Kaboudvand Awarded Hellman/Hammett Grant
Human Rights Watch today announced a Hellman/Hammett grant, awarded to persecuted writers, for the Iranian human rights activist Mohammad Sadegh Kaboudvand. He is serving a 10-year prison term in Iran for his writings and is in a critical medical condition in urgent need of care. - 1/22/09

Iraq has made plans for expulsion of MKO members: Al-Rubaie
Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie said his country has made plans for expulsion of members of Mojahidin Khalq Organizations (MKO). -ISNA - 1/22/09

Activist's 'railroad' helps gay Iranians
Not quite three years ago, Arsham Parsi was an Iranian refugee in Turkey. Today, he is executive director of the Iranian Queer Railroad, trying to help 200 people down the same road he took to Toronto. -Toronto Star - 1/22/09

120 terrorists killed along borders: Iran
Iranian forces have tightened security along the country's borders in recent months, killing some 120 insurgents and arresting many others. - 1/22/09

Iran Uses AIDS Doctors' Imprisonment as First Test of Obama Administration
In the wake of President Barack Obama's inauguration, Iran has signaled that the espionage trial of two world-renowned AIDS doctors is a bellwether for the future of U.S.-Iranian relations. -Physicians for Human Rights - 1/21/09

Obama to Address Foreign Policy on First Full Day in Office
U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to tackle foreign policy issues on his first full day in office. Mr. Obama will likely address the Middle East crisis and other world issues on Wednesday. - 1/21/09

Hope springs eternal. Has it ever borne fruit?
Impressive!  Absolutely impressive! I found the entire production to be impressive.  Spectacularly impressive! A rekindling of the hope and the dreams born out of the Obama campaign, which have withered and wilted somewhat in the hiatus of transitional appointments. -Debbie Menon - 1/21/09

Iranian FM tells Obama to try to realize the emerging "new Middle East"
Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki recommended the new U.S. President Barak Obama to try to understand the "new Middle East which was emerging". - 1/21/09

Arab Summit in Kuwait Ends in Discord
Arab leaders tried to patch over their differences as a two-day summit in Kuwait drew to a close, but the Gaza conflict appears to have exacerbated the tensions. - 1/21/09

Iran lays out plan for Gaza reconstruction
As Israel completes its troop pullout from Gaza after 23 days of war, Iran announces plans for the reconstruction of the devastated strip. - 1/21/09

Iran: Student Group Protests University Quota For Militia Members
Iran's largest pro-reform student group, the Office to Foster Unity, has protested reports that members of the Basij militia could be given a quota for university places. -RFE - 1/21/09

Iran's Phantom First Lady Comes Out
Like all the Islamic Republic's first ladies, the wife of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has been something of a phantom, with very occasional public appearances and no discernible political role. Yet recently Azam al-Sadat Farahi has bucked that trend. - 1/21/09

Another War, Another Defeat
Israelis and their American supporters claim that Israel learned its lessons well from the disastrous 2006 Lebanon war and has devised a winning strategy for the present war against Hamas. Of course, when a ceasefire comes, Israel will declare victory. Don’t believe it. -John J. Mearsheimer, American Conservative - 1/21/09

Sundance Film Festival: The rebel and the Empress
Thirty years after being forced into exile with her husband, the Shah of Iran, Queen Farah explains to Geoffrey Macnab why she agreed to a documentary on her life -Independent - 1/21/09

Iraq Accuses Iranian Exiles of Plotting Attack
The Iraqi government this week accused an Iranian opposition group of planning a suicide attack against Iraqi troops, a possible prelude to decisive government action to close the group's camp in Iraq and expel its members. -Washington Post - 1/21/09

Activity of BBC Persian channel illegal in Iran: Culture Minister
The activity of the Persian TV channel of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Iran is illegal, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad-Hossein Safar-Harandi said on Wednesday. - 1/21/09

Iran to head new ECO trade organization
The Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) -- originally founded by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey -- entered a new stage of development when it was joined by the central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as Azerbaijan and Afghanistan. - 1/21/09

Israel denies medical teams, food supplies entry to Gaza
Israel has denied Human Rights Watch and aid agencies entry to the Gaza Strip as Palestinians grapple with a shortage of vital supplies. - 1/21/09

Iran: Preserve the Khavaran grave site for investigation into mass killings
Reports indicate that between 9-16 January 2009, the numerous ad hoc grave markings made by the families of some of those executed in previous years were destroyed by bulldozer. The site was at least partially covered by soil and trees were planted. -Amnesty International - 1/21/09

Citizen's Briefing Book: Re-evaluate aid to Israel
Re-evaluate whether the level of and the basis for the aid we provide Israel is appropriate given our tough economic circumstance. Presently I fail to see the benefits to our country that would justify the extraordinarily high per-capita level of aid. - By Citizen Cyr - 1/20/09

Inauguration Fever in Nation's Capitol
It is freezing cold. If you are not wearing a warm hat, your ears may be hurting. If you take out your gloves you will notice your fingers become numb. But watch out, the heat for the Inauguration of President-elect Obama is on. -Mahtab Farid - 1/20/09

Reviving Iran-US frozen ties needs Obama to fulfill promises: FM Deputy
Iran's Foreign Ministry's Deputy says US president Barack Obama must fulfill the promises he made regarding Iran during his campaign if he is to revive frozen ties of the two countries. - 1/20/09

Israel's Next War: Today the Gaza Strip, Tomorrow Lebanon?
In the Middle East, it is widely believed that the war against Gaza is an extension of the 2006 war against Lebanon. Without question, the war in the Gaza Strip is a part of the same conflict. Moreover, since the Israeli defeat in 2006, Tel Aviv and Washington have not abandoned their design to turn Lebanon into a client state. -Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Global Research - 1/20/09

Goli Ameri Gives Farewell Speech About Public Diplomacy
"When I came to the United States to attend Stanford University, I was one of [about] 100,000 international students [in] the U.S. Among the myriad of things I learned was the value of freedom and democracy, the fundamentals of critical thinking, the questioning of ideas and a profound sense of empowerment. - 1/20/09

New U.S.-U.A.E. Deal Raises Eyebrows Amid Concern Over Iran's Nuclear Program
The United States has signed an agreement to cooperate in developing a civilian nuclear energy program in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). -RFE - 1/20/09

Kashan, Kansas State Universities sign MoU on educational cooperation
Iran's International Kashan University and the US Kansas State University signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on educational and research domains. - 1/20/09

Kish to host global financial crisis conference
The third Global Financial Crisis: Challenges and Opportunities for Iran and the Region conference will be held in Kish on January 23. -MNA - 1/20/09

Nabucco Official Says EU 'Very Supportive' Of Pipeline Project
The ongoing dispute between Russia and Ukraine over natural-gas shipments to Europe has left the European Union cold -- and eager to re-examine its options for fuel supplies. One alternative is the Nabucco pipeline, which would ship Central Asian gas directly to Europe and circumvent Russia and other troublesome countries altogether. -RFE - 1/20/09

Largest funfair in Mideast to be built in Isfahan
Provided with parking garage, green space, children's rides, and commercial unites, the funfair is to be established in an area of 170,000 square meters - 1/20/09

Ancient Persians 'gassed Romans'
Ancient Persians were the first to use chemical warfare against their enemies, a study has suggested. -BBC - 1/20/09

Iran-Canada joint documentary about Iran's President in Berlin's Film Fest
"Letters to the President", a documentary jointly produced by Iran and Canada will be hosted in Berlin's Film Festival. - 1/20/09

Shalamcheh Iran-Iraq border point is reopened
The Shalamcheh border point with Iraq in this southern province was reopened on Sunday after a lapse of 10 months, a local official said on Monday. - 1/20/09

Photos: Persian Gulf shores, Iran
Photos by Amir Reza Fakhri, Abolfath Davari, Peyman Kiani, ISNA - 1/19/09

Can Arabs do the MLK thing, and start marching?
Few on this planet inherited oil fields from God! Arabs and Muslims did! Look what they have done with all of this power! - By Debbie Menon - 1/19/09

This paper examines the democratic process in the United States and in particular the much heralded election of Barack Obama as the "hope for the world" in light of systemic imperatives and contradictions. - By Mehdi S. Shariati - 1/19/09

Palestinian artist finds peace in music
Basim is among estimated three million people who have come to Washington, DC to be part of the history as the first African American, 44th US President-elect Barack Obama will be inaugurated on January 20, 2009. Basim and his music group, "The Latin League" received an invitation to perform at the Latino Gala Inauguration. - By Mahtab Farid - 1/19/09

Iran busts another CIA network
The soft revolution plan was carried out through "NGOs, union protests, non-violent demonstrations, civil disobedience… and (efforts to) foment ethnic strife" all across Iran, the official stated. Mehr - 1/19/09

Gazans heading back to their homes - if they exist
It is now estimated - by the Israeli army in conjunction with some Palestinian sources on the ground - that the Israeli army destroyed some 15 percent of buildings in Gaza and severely damaged infrastructural facilities. -IRIN - 1/19/09

Iran neutralizes CIA-instigated disobedience project
Four of these persons were put on trial and some of them were forgiven - Mehr - 1/19/09

Israel to keep tight grip on Gaza reconstruction
Preliminary estimates put the damage at nearly $2 billion. Saudi Arabia said it would donate $1 billion. ..Western diplomats, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Israel has asked the United Nations and other aid groups to provide a detailed list of goods, equipment and personnel that they want to bring into the Gaza Strip, both to meet immediate needs and for rebuilding. Reuters - 1/19/09

Miliband: War on terror 'misconceived'
Miliband went on to say the misuse of the phrase 'war on terror' had brought "more harm than good" for the West. - PressTV - 1/19/09

Iranian president softens his tone
Mr Ahmadi-Nejad's reference to "respect" picked up on comments by Mr Obama at the weekend, when the president-elect said he wanted "a new emphasis on respect [towards Iran] and a new emphasis on being willing to talk, but also a clarity about what our bottom lines are". Mr Obama added: "We're going to have to move swiftly." - FT - 1/19/09

Iranian treasures bound for Britain
An ancient clay cylinder, regarded by scholars as the world's first declaration of human rights, helps to seal a deal that could open a new diplomatic channel between Britain and Iran. - BBC - 1/19/09

A few blissful and peaceful days in Kish - Part 1
Last week, because of the religious holiday, we had a 4 day weekend and decided to go to Kish Island, 1,000km south east of Tehran in the Persian Gulf. - By Syma Sayyah & Paul Sanford, Tehran - 1/18/09

We want people to focus on Khayyam's nationality: American curator
Harry Ransom Center, which is a cultural, artistic institution located in the University of Texas at Austin, announced last week that it will be inaugurating the exhibition of "Persian Sensation" from Feb 3 to Aug 2. By Ahmadreza Tavassoli, Kourosh Ziabari - 1/18/09

"Today is a better day than yesterday," John Ging, UNRWA chief in Gaza
There are 50,000 people are in our temporary shelters in our schools – they have to be fed every day. Some 80 percent of the [Gaza] population is food dependent on us. - 1/18/09

Rafsanjani slams France's stance on Iran's nuclear issue
"Using the language of threat, and unfriendly rhetoric will not help resolve the problems. Iran is truly ready to settle issues through negotiations without preconditions and within the framework of international law," Rafsanjani told French ambassador Bernard Poletti in a meeting on Sunday. - Mehr - 1/18/09

Iranian Exiles Say Relatives Arrested In Tehran
Iraq-based Iranian opposition exiles accused Tehran on January 18 of arresting their family members as they tried to leave Iran to visit them. RFE - 1/18/09

ARTS: Book on Iranians' role in civilization released in Egypt
"Iranians' Role in History of World Civilization" has recently been published in Arabic in Egypt. - Mehr - 1/18/09

UAE and US sign nuclear deal
The United Arab Emirates has signed a nuclear energy co-operation agreement with the US, putting it on the path to become the first Arab state to develop nuclear power. - FT - 1/18/09

Pope sends monetary aid to Gazan
Relations between Israel and the Vatican turned sour shortly after a senior representative of the pontiff condemned Israel for turning Gaza into "a big concentration camp". - PressTV - 1/17/09

Benetton Stores Attack in Iran May Unsettle Investors
There are fears that these events will prompt some of the companies that have already invested in the clothing retail market, fashion design, and other consumer goods markets or were planning to do so, to withdraw from Iran. It is an attractive market – 70 million people, and demographically the youngest population in the world. - 1/17/09

Attacks Are Inhuman, Peace Activists Tell Olmert, Barak
On Wednesday a coalition of nine Israeli human rights groups convened to urge an immediate halt to the fighting in the Gaza Strip which they said was on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. - CommonDreams - 1/17/09

Scholars elaborate on influence of Persian on world literature
At the congress, Chinese scholar Yidan Wang from the Institute of Iranian Culture Studies at Peking University likened Persian literature to fire, which is vital and vigorous and includes many stories of passionate love... -Mehr - 1/17/09

Iran complains over inactive presence of OPCW
It is terrifying that such massive use of chemical materials by the Zionist regime happens in front of everybody's eyes and despite existence of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons that has been created to prevent use of these weapons completely - ISNA - 1/17/09

The thief who stole pages from history
Wealthy businessman Farhad Hakimzadeh has been jailed for two years for stealing pages from rare books in the British Library - BBC - 1/17/09

Mission to Tehran
For years, a debate raged among Middle East analysts on how connected the many conflicts in the region were.....The debate is not over, but there is an emerging consensus for a third way. All the roads that used to lead to Jerusalem now lead to Tehran - NYtimes - 1/17/09

End of the Good Times for Iranian Economy
Middle Eastern states including Iran are primarily linked to global markets via pipelines and the oil tankers that sail up and down the Persian Gulf. Falling oil prices have had a severe effect on all these economies in recent months, and Iran was also affected despite being isolated by international sanctions. -Arash Hassan-Nia, Tehran - 1/16/09

Artist Nadalian to ride bicycle of peace on Persian Gulf Coast
Iranian land artist Ahmad Nadalian is to ride the bicycle of peace on the Persian Gulf Coast. Nadalian will arrive on Hormoz Island on Sunday and will be riding the bicycle on the sands of Persian Gulf. - 1/16/09

Israel, Gaza and Iran: Trapping Obama in Imagined Fault Lines
In talking about the assault on Gaza, neo-conservative pundits and Israeli hardliners have relied on a familiar frame. The fighting in Gaza, they say, is a struggle between Israel and so-called "moderate" Arab states (namely, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) on the one hand, and Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Ha-mas on the other. -Trita Parsi, NIAC - 1/16/09

Davood Roostaei's paintings to be presented to "Obama: THAT ONE!" "CHANGE" Award Honorees
"Obama: THAT ONE!" presented by Lifestyle Communications and sponsored in part by HBO, announced today that internationally acclaimed artist Davood Roostaei will create one-of-a-kind paintings to present to "Obama: THAT ONE!" "CHANGE" Award Honorees on Sunday, January 18 at the Newseum, the world's most interactive, state-of-the-art news museum. - 1/16/09

Iran's Leader Says He Plans To Avoid Prejudging Obama
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad struck a milder-than-usual tone toward the United States in remarks Thursday, saying he did not want to "judge ahead of time" the policies of President-elect Barack Obama. -Washington Post - 1/16/09

Iran President arrives in Qatar for Arab League Summit on Gaza
President Mahmdoud Ahmadinejad left Tehran for Doha, Qatar, on Friday on an official invitation by Qatari Emir Ahmad Bin Khalifa al-Thani to take part in the extraordinary Arab League Summit. -IRNA - 1/16/09

Six Baha'is arrested in Iran
At least six Baha'is were arrested in Iran yesterday, including a woman who worked at human rights organizations connected with Nobel prize winner Shirin Ebadi. -BWNS - 1/16/09

IRAN: Arrest of Ms. Jinus Sobhani, a member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre
In the morning of January 14, 2009, Ms. Jinus Sobhani was arrested at her residence, following a home search and the seizure of her personal belongings and those of her husband, by security officers. No arrest or search warrant was presented to Ms. Sobhani. - 1/16/09

Peruvian Rinaldo joins Iran's Esteghlal Club
International Peruvian Paulo Rinaldo Cruzado Durand has joined the Tehran-based Esteghlal team on an 18-month contract. The 24-year old midfielder is Esteghlal's second foreign player in the current season after Brazilian John Vario. -MNA - 1/16/09

US Signs Civilian Nuclear Deal With UAE
The United States and the United Arab Emirates, the UAE, signed a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement on Thursday as the Bush administration nears the end of its term. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended the deal amid criticism from Congress that it could fuel nuclear competition in the Persian Gulf. -VOA - 1/16/09

A Free Palestine Has Never Been Closer!
While the depth and breadth of pain of the ongoing Zionist massacre against the Palestinian people is immeasurable, victory for the Palestinian people has never been closer. -The Free Palestine Alliance - 1/16/09

Iran Wants Increased Stake In Azerbaijani Gas Field
An Iranian oil official says Tehran wants to invest $1.7 billion to help develop the second phase of Azerbaijan's Shah Deniz natural-gas field, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports. -RFE - 1/16/09

Iran: New executions demonstrate need for unequivocal legal ban of stoning
Amnesty International urges the Iranian authorities to enact a law unequivocally banning stoning as a legal punishment. - 1/16/09

Could Dennis Ross Set the Stage for Future War with Iran?
The threat that the United States would launch a military attack on Iran has never been "taken off the table," but you'd be hard pressed to find many people who think that a U.S. attack on Iran in the near term is a realistic possibility. -Common Dreams - 1/16/09

Iranians 'worried about economy'
Iranians are more concerned about their country's finances than tension with the West or political reform, according to a BBC poll. - 1/16/09

The Persian Sensation: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam in the West
The Harry Ransom Center's exhibition "The Persian Sensation: The 'Rub�iy�t of Omar Khayy�m' in the West' explores how a translation of a Persian poem went from obscurity to celebrity in British and American culture. The exhibition runs from Feb. 3 to Aug. 2, 2009, at the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin. - 1/15/09

Israel Hits UN Refugee Compound ; Threatens to Shoot Unarmed Civilians aboard Mercy Ship
Relief and works agency compound on fire as 'outraged' UN chief demands inquiry into attack. Also, the Israeli navy today threatened to kill unarmed civilians aboard a mercy ship on its way to deliver medical supplies and doctors to besieged Gaza. - 1/15/09

Iran moves down in FIFA rankings
The Iranian football team has moved down three spots to 46th in the recently released FIFA rankings on Wednesday. -MNA - 1/15/09

2009 World Report: Obama Should Emphasize Human Rights
The incoming Obama administration will need to put human rights at the heart of foreign, domestic, and security policy if it is to undo the enormous damage of the Bush years, Human Rights Watch said today in issuing its World Report 2009. - 1/15/09

Call for Submissions: The Atlanta Review 2010 IRAN issue
Iranian Poets writing in Iran or in Diaspora (or non-Iranian poets with poems about Iran) submit three to four poems, or translations of poems by an Iranian poet. - 1/15/09

Intellectual Blockade of America and Rest of 'Civilized' Western World
It's been thirty years since I subscribed to any mainstream media. Time Magazine was the last publication I dumped and prior to that were Newsweek and Wall Street Journal. It took me a while to understand what's going on with the American Media, then again, being in my twenties and gullible did not help. -Sina Alavi - 1/15/09

Leading Israeli Scholar Avi Shlaim: Israel Committing �State Terror� in Gaza Attack, Preventing Peace
We speak with Oxford professor Avi Shlaim. He served in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and is widely regarded as one of the world�s leading authorities on the Israeli-Arab conflict. -Democracy Now - 1/15/09

A Project named "Send Love to Iran"
BriAnna Olson is an American artist who uses �Send Love to Iran� as an attempt to see the Islamic Republic of Iran through the eyes of a contemporary American artist. -Global Voices - 1/15/09

Taking The Veil home
Shahin Sayadi is both nervous and excited to be taking his play The Veil to his native Iran. After a four-show run in Halifax this week, he and six actors leave Sunday for Tehran�s Fadjr International Theatre Festival, a 10-day festival with 200 theatre companies and international guests this year including Canadian director Daniel Brooks. -Herald, Canada - 1/15/09

Islamic states back Iran's 14-point proposal on Gaza
Majlis speaker Ali Larijani on Wednesday put forward a 14-point proposal on the Gaza conflict which received strong support from the Islamic states attending the Islamic Inter-Parliamentary Union (IIPU) in Istanbul, Turkey. - 1/15/09

China Works to Raise Mideast Profile
China National Petroleum Corporation and the National Iranian Oil Company signed a nearly $2 billion-deal to develop the North Azadegan oil field, Wednesday. The western Iranian field is estimated to hold six-billion barrels in reserves. - 1/15/09

How Israel's Propaganda Machine Works
As in past Mideast conflicts, both the media story line and political commentary here in the U.S. has closely followed Israel's talking points on the war. This has been an essential component in Israel's early success and in its ability to prolong fighting without U.S. pushback. -Huffington Post - 1/15/09

Iran Serious about Boycotting Israeli-Linked Companies
Iran is seriously pursuing sanctions on Iran-based companies which are linked to Israel through front companies. -FNA - 1/15/09

BBC awaits response to Persian TV
The launch of BBC Persian television is part of the BBC's strategy for - in the words of the head of the World Service, Nigel Chapman - "having the right services in the right media for each part of the world". - 1/15/09

Iraq Looks to Iran
Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki’s visit to Iran last week, his fourth since he became premier in May 2006, suggests that Iraqi-Iranian ties will grow stronger as the United States reduces its troop presence and funding for reconstruction in the coming years. -IWPR - 1/15/09

A New Spin on Iran's Nuclear Threat
The neo-cons, some of the reporters from major US newspapers, and a number of nonproliferation experts are now spinning a new story about the potential threat of Iran's uranium enrichment capability. According to the story, sometime in 2009, Iran will have enough Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) which may then be used as a seed for further refinement to bomb grade level, commonly referred to as High Enriched Uranium (HEU). -Nader Bagherzadeh - 1/14/09

Iran thrashes 10-man Singapore 6-0 in Tehran
Iran football team had a good start in the opener of the 2011 Asian Cup qualifiers, beating Singapore 6-0 here at the Azadi Stadium on Wednesday. - 1/14/09

Tiffany Ariany: A Budding Young Iranian-American Actress Who is on the Dean's List!
Tiffany Ariany is a young, Iranian-American actress based in Virginia who is proud of getting top marks as a college student while simultaneously launching a career in film, television and theater. -Grace Nasri, Iran Times - 1/14/09

The Big Push
"We need to expect the unexpected with Iran. If we think we have Iran figured out, we need to think again." Suzanne Maloney, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution, said in her closing remarks Thursday morning at "Confronting or Engaging Iran" held in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. -Sahar Jooshani, NIAC - 1/14/09

Clinton Offers Clues To 'Different' Tack On Iran
There is broad consensus that one of the most immediate challenges for Hillary Clinton and her team, if she is confirmed as the next U.S. secretary of State, will be to find ways to respond to Iran's growing regional influence and curb that country's nuclear ambitions. There is far less unanimity over how those aims might be achieved. -RFE - 1/14/09

Reports Suggest Obama Faces Early Choice On Iran Covert Ops
The arrests of four Iranians for alleged involvement in a U.S.-financed plot to topple Tehran's Islamic government come amid fresh U.S. media reports that President George W. Bush has authorized a major program for covert operations in Iran. -RFE - 1/14/09

Gaza Witness Reports
The following the on-scene first-person witness reports by Vittorio Arrigoni and Ewa Jasiewicz, are absolutely riveting! Bullet holes and body parts are real, kind of stuff that grabs attention. They are two people, journalists and activists, who are working with the Ambulance Services in Gaza, who have been writing some very gruesome and impressive stories about what exactly is happening to the people. - 1/14/09

U.S. Senator Believes Missing American Being Held In Secret Iranian Prison
During yesterday's confirmation hearing for Hillary Clinton in Washington, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida said he believes a former FBI agent who went missing in Iran in 2007 is being held in a secret prison there. - 1/14/09

Clinton Says US Should Use 'Smart Power' With Diplomacy in Lead
The secretary-designate outlined the general principles of the incoming administration but offered few specifics, saying key issues such as the idea of opening a U.S. diplomatic post in Iran, remain under review. - 1/14/09

Iran Accuses 4 of US-Backed Coup Plot
Iran's judiciary said it expects a verdict soon in the case of four Iranians accused of involvement in an alleged U.S.-funded plot to topple Iran's Islamic government. -VOA - 1/14/09

US Reaffirms MKO as Terrorists
The US State Department reaffirmed its designation of the anti-Iran Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization as a terrorist organization. -FNA - 1/14/09

Mamali and his Doves in Art?!
"Mamali and his Doves in Art?!" is artists' newest project, exploring the theme of narcissism and the artist. It consists of an installation of large-scale photos of the artist in a series of "artistic" poses with "his" doves. -AARAN Gallery, Tehran - 1/14/09

Iran Stones Two Men For Adultery, While Third Escapes
Two men convicted of adultery in Iran were stoned to death in December, but a third convicted man escaped while the punishment was being carried out, the judiciary has said. -Reuters - 1/14/09

Israel Blocks Iran Aid Ship For Gaza
The cargo ship, loaded with 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid including foods and medicines, was intercepted at about 20 miles from Gaza's shore, Iranian Red Crescent Society director Ahmad Moussavi announced in Tehran on Tuesday. - 1/14/09

Israel, Gaza and Iran: Trapping Obama in Imagined Fault Lines
In talking about the assault on Gaza, neo-conservative pundits and Israeli hardliners have relied on a familiar frame. The fighting in Gaza, they say, is a struggle between Israel and so-called "moderate" Arab states (namely, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) on the one hand, and Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas on the other. -Trita Parsi, Huffington Post - 1/14/09

Now the Likudniks in Israel , best represented by Netanyahu who is likely the next Prime Minister, and their American counterparts and staunch supporters, people such as John Bolton, are trying their best to implicate Iran in the current crisis in Gaza. -Kam Zarrabi - 1/13/09

Photos: Iranian Artists Illustrate the Suffering of People in Gaza
A group of Iranian artists gathered in Tehran in support of the besieged people of Gaza. They used their brushes to illustrate the suffering and carnage in Gaza on canvas. -Photos by Rooholla Vahdati, ISNA - 1/13/09

Iranian-American Filmmaker Debuts Her Short Film at SLAMDANCE 2009
Written an directed by Iranian/American filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour, SIX AND A HALF takes us on vivid journey into childhood and the sometimes brutally capricious nature of children, and all in just 5 minutes. - 1/13/09

Exploring The Other: Contemporary Iran Through The Lens Of Iason Athanasiadis
Exhibition at the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) in Los Angeles, California, The exhibition is scheduled for January 25 through March 29, 2009. Presented by CAFAM together with SoCiArts Productions. - 1/13/09

Iran Says Israel Stops Its Aid Ship To Gaza
An Iranian ship carrying aid to Gaza was stopped by Israel's navy off the coast of the Palestinian territory, Iran's state radio has reported. -Reuters - 1/13/09

Fmr. Clinton Special Counsel Lanny Davis vs. Israeli Professor Neve Gordon: A Debate on the Israeli Assault on Gaza
Attorney Lanny Davis is with us. He’s a senior adviser and spokesperson for the Israel Project, former special counsel to President Clinton. He joins us from Washington, D.C. Joining us on the line from Beersheba, Israel is Neve Gordon. He’s the chair of the Department of Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He is author of Israel’s Occupation. -Democracy Now - 1/13/09

The Moral and Military Meltdown of Israel
Writing under circumstances when on a daily basis Palestinian women and children are slaughtered by the Israeli army in Gaza is an exceedingly difficult, for it seems utterly futile, task. But writing one must. -Hamid Dabashi - 1/13/09

Iran makes documentary on Choqa Zanbil
Iranian filmmaker Pejman Fakharian is making a documentary about Choqa Zanbil, the world's largest ziggurat located in Khuzestan Province. -Press TV - 1/13/09

Approval of construction projects threatening historical Soltanieh Dome denied
The Zanjan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department (ZCHTHD) director denied issuance of any permit by the ZCHTHD for construction projects currently threatening the Soltanieh Dome world heritage monument. - 1/13/09

Iran to host junior Water Polo World Cup qualifications
Iran has been selected on Tuesday as the host of the 15th FINA Junior Men's Water Polo World Championship qualifications. - 1/13/09

Iraqi fear of Iran on the rise, despite new airport link
The first flight from Iran in three decades landed in Iraq's holy city of Najaf today, resurrecting a direct link between the world's two major Shia communities. -TIMES ONLINE - 1/13/09

U.S. Official: Hussein Pretended to Have WMD Due To Fear Of Iran
In the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein played a curious double game...Why did Hussein maintain a charade that ultimately led to his downfall? The answer is: Iran. -RFE - 1/13/09

Report: PJAK Kurdish rebels lay down arms
PJAK militants have reportedly admitted defeat and declared that they will abandon all attempts to form an independent Kurdish state. -Press TV - 1/13/09

Iran Judiciary spokesman says gang of US-related saboteurs crushed
A gang of saboteurs related to the US government was recently discovered and destroyed, Judiciary spokesman, Ali-Reza Jamshidi said on Tuesday. - 1/13/09

Exhibition in London by two of the foremost contemporary Iranian artists: Hossein Khosrojerdi and Mehdi Saeedi
Hossein Khosrojerdi is a leading Iranian artist and designer and a noted historical figure. Mehdi Saeedi is an internationally renowned artist and designer. His aesthetics have become a mainstay of design in many regions, especially in those using the Arabic and Iranian scripts as their alphabet. - - 1/13/09

The Sources of Arabs' Shame: Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia
The atrocities committed by Israel is a genocide of a conquered people. Gaza is a concentration camp and no amount of PR can reduce the magnitude of this horrible crime against humanity and decency. -Abbas Bakhtiar, Norway - 1/12/09

A City Under Siege: Tales of the Iran-Iraq War (Thinking of Gaza)
In a past 16 days almost 890 innocent civilians died in Gaza. The pain and sadness of these days make us all to do something. In my part as a writer, I want to share a true story I wrote many years ago. -Habib Ahmadzadeh, Tehran - 1/12/09

Flamingos in Mand Protected Region in Bushehr, Iran
The Mand River is 480 km long and occupies a basin of about 60,000 sq km. The delta of the Mand is a Protected Area of 46,700 ha. There are thin oxbow lakes and associated marshes. -Photos by Mohsen Halavee, ISNA - 1/12/09

Iran and America: Can Obama Find a Political Solution?
This speech was presented at an off-the-record meeting in Washington, D.C., on November 14 of 2008. I am releasing the speech for two key reasons. First, it forms the foundation for an AIC position paper on a President Obama's Iran policy that we plan to release soon; and second, it gives, in its beginning part, a short account of my recent experiences in Iran, particularly regardiang AIC's OFAC license and my "shuttle diplomacy" between Washington and Tehran. -Hooshang Amirahmadi - 1/12/09

FREE GAZA: "We are coming in on Tuesday"
The Free Gaza Movement ship, "SPIRIT OF HUMANITY," will leave Larnaca Port at 12:00 noon, Monday, 12 January, on an emergency mission to besieged Gaza. The ship will carry desperately needed doctors, journalists, human rights workers, and members of several European parliaments as well as medical supplies. - 1/12/09

Gazans have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip received on 10 January air-dropped leaflets warning them that the Israeli military was about to step up operations against militant targets there and that they should take necessary precautions. However, it remained unclear what Palestinians could do, given that UN officials have said Gazans have no safe place to hide. -IRIN - 1/12/09

30% of Iranian University Students Uninterested in Present Course of Study
Thirty percent of the Iranian university students are not interested in their fields of study, an official at the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology said. -FNA - 1/12/09

Unusually Large U.S. Weapons Shipment to Israel: Are the US and Israel Planning a Broader Middle East War?
A very large delivery of US weaponry to Israel consisting of 3,000 tons of "ammunition" is scheduled to sail to Israel. The size and nature of the shipments are described as "unusual" -Global Research - 1/12/09

Obama vows to focus on Gaza and Iran from start
Barack Obama, the US president-elect, yesterday promised to focus on Middle East peace from the start of his administration and to treat Iran with "respect" as he set out his foreign policy thinking in greater detail. -Financial Times - 1/12/09

Documents of Iran's Ex-Envoy Vanish
A key document preventing former Iranian diplomat Nosratollah Tajik from being extradited to the United States has mysteriously disappeared. -FNA - 1/12/09

Iran's clandestine arms pipeline
Despite multiple attempts by the Bush administration to halt illegal imports — including sanctions against several Dubai-based Iranian front companies in 2006 — the technology pipeline to Tehran is flowing at an even faster pace. -Washington Post - 1/12/09

UN Human Rights Council condemns Israeli military operation in Gaza
The Human Rights Council this morning concluded its ninth Special Session on the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including the recent aggression of the occupied Gaza Strip, and adopted a resolution in which it strongly condemned the ongoing Israeli military operation in Gaza, which had resulted in massive violations of human rights of the Palestinian people, and demanded the occupying power, Israel, to immediately withdraw its military forces from Gaza - 1/12/09

Message to Obama: Iran will respond appropriately to change in U.S. conduct
U.S. President-elect Barack Obama said on Sunday that his administration will take a new approach toward Iran. Obama told ABC that "a new emphasis on respect and a new emphasis on being willing to talk, but also a clarity about what our bottom lines are." - 1/12/09

There is nothing "new" happening in Palestine
There is nothing new happening in Palestine. This is simply a continuation of the execution of Theodore Herzl's dream which is now a century old. It goes on and on, 'round and 'round, with no end. -Debbie Menon - 1/12/09

Mothers for Peace Demonstrate in Tehran Against the War in Gaza
Mothers for Peace in Iran are a group of women who came together to share their solidarity and belief in peace and harmony in the world and dialogue and understanding rather than violence and war. Today, Sunday, they demonstrated in front of the Palestinian embassy in Tehran. -Syma Sayyah, Tehran - 1/11/09

British bank helped Iran moved billions into U.S.
Iranian banks illegally shifted billions of dollars through American financial institutions in recent years, and the authorities suspect some of the money may have been used to finance Iranian nuclear and missile programs. -IHT - 1/11/09

U.S. rejected Israeli request to aid attack on Iran
President George W. Bush deflected a secret request by Israel last year for specialized bunker-busting bombs it wanted for an attack on Iran's main nuclear complex and told the Israelis that he had authorized new covert action intended to sabotage Iran's suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons, according to senior American and foreign officials. -New York Times - 1/11/09

Israel mounts pressure on Iranian media covering Gaza Carnage
Israel is mounting pressure on Iranian correspondents covering its crimes against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. An Israeli court on Sunday extended the detention without charge of two Iranian journalists for another two days. -Press TV - 1/11/09

Iranian, foreign archaeologists return to 8000-year-old site in southern Iran
A team of Iranian, Australian, and British archaeologists has recently begun the fifth season of excavation at the 8000-year-old site in Sorvan near Nurabad Mamasani in Fars Province. -MNA - 1/11/09

Georgian Foreign Minister Hopeful About Accord With U.S.
Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze has said the U.S.-Georgian accord signed on January 9 will help Tbilisi reclaim the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. -RFE - 1/11/09

Iran to swap gas with Russia, Qatar
Iran says it will discuss swapping natural gas with Russia and Qatar at an upcoming meeting of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF). -Press TV - 1/11/09

In US, War of Words Over Gaza
As war rages between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and President-elect Barack Obama counts down the days until he has to deal directly with the conflict as the leader of the free world, a war to control the message is raging at home. And it's unusually fierce. -San Francisco Chronicle - 1/11/09

Photos: Ashura mourning ceremonies in Khorramabad, Iran's Lorestan province
Muharram mourning reaches its climax on the tenth day, known as Ashura, on which the forces of Yazid killed the 72 individuals who fought, including Husayn and his family and supporters. The following photos are from the mourning ceremonies held in the city of Khorramabad.Photos by Mona Hoobehfekr, ISNA - 1/10/09

Photos: Taziyeh religious ceremonies in Kashan, Iran
Taziyeh, a dramatic genre performed by Iranian Shiites, commemorates the sufferings and martyrdom of Imamyeh Hossein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad and the third Shiite Imam, along with all the male members of his family, relatives, friends, soldiers who all together formed a 72-member army in an unequal war with a 30,000-strong army of the enemy in the desert of Karbala in eastern Iraq around 14 centuries ago - 1/10/09

Iranian Students Call For Protesters To Be Released
Student activists at Tehran's Shiraz University are calling for the release of four of their colleagues who were detained on January 3. One activist, who requested anonymity, told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that the students will begin a hunger strike on January 10 in protest. -RFE - 1/10/09

Israel's attacks on Iranian media building in Gaza hurt its prestige
The Head of Iranian state-run English-language satellite channel of Press TV, Mohammad Sarafraz said Israeli attacks over Press TV and al-Alam media building in the Gaza Strip have damaged the prestige of Tel Aviv. - 1/10/09

Palestinian and Israeli Women, in New Book, Seek Peace
Peace By Peace, an American non-profit group, has brought together Palestinian and Israeli women to discuss how to achieve peace. The organization released a book that tells how the 60 women envision peace. Late last year, before the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, the women visited Washington. They said they hoped to push for peace which they say has eluded the region's male leadership. - 1/10/09

Join President-Elect Barack Obama in Public Service Activities on Martin Luther King Day
On Monday January 19th, thousands of Americans will celebrate Martin Luther King Day by performing volunteer activities to help others in their communities. As Iranian-Americans, this is a wonderful chance to give back to our communities. - 1/10/09

Iran's first solar power plant comes on stream
Iran's first solar power plant was inaugurated in Shiraz, Fars province, on Saturday, the director of the solar energy division of the Iranian Renewable Energies Organization announced. -MNA - 1/10/09

Human Rights Watch: "End Repression in Kurdish Areas of Iran"
The government of Iran should amend or abolish broadly worded national security laws used to stifle peaceful dissent in the country's Kurdish areas and end arbitrary arrests of Kurdish critics and dissidents, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. - 1/10/09

Iran to invest $1.7b in Azeri gas field
A top Iranian oil official says Tehran plans to invest $1.7 billion to develop the second phase of Azerbaijan's Shah-Deniz gas field. -Press TV - 1/10/09

One Million Signature Campaign Honored with Simone de Beauvoir Award
According to a report by Radio France International, Persian Service the One Million Signatures Campaign has been awarded the Simone de Beauvoir Award which was established in honor and memory of this Feminist theorist and writer. - 1/10/09

UN human rights chief accuses Israel of war crimes
The United Nations' most senior human rights official said last night that the Israeli military may have committed war crimes in Gaza. The warning came as Israeli troops pressed on with the deadly offensive in defiance of a UN security council resolution calling for a ceasefire. -Guardian - 1/10/09

Somali Pirates Release Iranian Chartered Cargo Ship
Iranian media report Somali pirates have released an Iranian chartered cargo ship seized off the coast of Yemen in November. -VOA - 1/10/09

Iran downs China at Tehran's Azadi Stadium
Iran national football team defeated China 3-1 in a friendly match on Thursday here at the Azadi Stadium. Ali Daei's side, who are preparing for the World Cup 2010 qualifiers against South Korea in February, beat their rival for the second time in one month. - 1/9/09

Perhaps we are seeing the turn of the tide. Return to "People Power"
It is becoming a contest between the people and the dinosaurs. "People Power" is coming back in, in a real sense this time, not just as a sixties slogan which was overwhelmed and trampled underfoot by the gargantuan dinosaurs who ruled communications and roamed the world at will. -Debbie Menon - 1/9/09

Iranian AIDS doctors tried in closed hearing
Brothers Arash and Kamiar Alaei, two Iranian doctors, detained without charge for six months, are awaiting the verdict of the unfair trial they faced in a closed session before a Revolutionary Court in Tehran, Iran on 31 December 2008. -Amnesty International - 1/9/09

Photos: Ashura mourning day in Bijar, Iran's Kurdistan province
Bijar is a city located in Kurdistan Province of Iran. Its estimated population as of 2006 is 46,156. With an elevation of 1883.4 meters, Bijar is called the Roof of Iran. The majority of the inhabitants of Bijar are Kurds. Bijar is known internationally for its elegant and ancient carpet and rug designs. -Photos by Arash Khamooshi, ISNA - 1/9/09

PAAIA Members Elect New Board of Directors
The Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) is pleased to announce the results of the first election of its Board of Directors by the organization's members. In these elections, from among 25 highly qualified and dedicated candidates from across the country, our members elected the following 18 persons to represent them in leading PAAIA, overseeing its affairs and directing its policies. - 1/9/09

General Petraeus Cites US-Iran 'Common Interests' on Afghanistan, Iraq
The commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia says it may be possible to work with Iran on some issues related to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. But at the same time General David Petraeus also said some Iranian elements may continue to try to make trouble in both countries, as they have in the past. -VOA - 1/9/09

Exhibition - Masterpieces of Ancient Jewelry: Exquisite Objects from the Cradle of Civilization
February 13, 2009 - July 5, 2009 at Field Museum in Chicago -- Whether worn as a symbol of status or to ward off evil spirits, jewelry has played an important role in ancient cultures and customs since the earliest times. Masterpieces of Ancient Jewelry chronicles the emergence of great civilizations, portraying the economic and artistic interchanges among them. - 1/9/09

As Europe Shivers, Kyiv And Moscow Stay Warm, For Now
Russia's decision on January 7 to cut all gas supplies to Ukraine, a key transit route for Europe, has left more than a dozen countries scrambling to cope with an exceptional cold snap. -RFE - 1/9/09

Iran aid ship nears Gaza
An Iranian aid ship, destined for Palestinians, has reportedly entered Egyptian waters and scheduled to dock at the port of Gaza on Saturday. - 1/9/09

Trip to Iran reveals quirky differences
Traveling through Iran to film a public television show, I quickly filled up my notebook with quirky observations. One moment, I saw propaganda murals encouraging young men to walk into the blazing sunset of martyrdom. The next, a woman in a bookstore served me cookies while I browsed through the books, admiring one in particular. Then, when I was about to leave without buying anything, she gave me the book for free. -CNN - 1/9/09

Iranian movies may help bridge a cultural gap
It's possible to visit this ancient, fascinating country for a couple of hours via the Iranian Film Festival in Louisville, beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday with a screening of "Children of Heaven." --- in a festival presented by the University of Louisville's Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Program in partnership with the Speed Museum of Art. -Courier-Journal - 1/9/09

Former Amb. Martin Indyk vs. Author Norman Finkelstein: A Debate on Israel’s Assault on Gaza and the US Role in the Conflict
We host a debate between Martin Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel ... and author of, Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East, and Norman Finkelstein, author of several books, including The Holocaust Industry, Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict and Beyond Chutzpah. -Democracy Now - 1/9/09

Iran: Revisiting the 1979 Revolution
The 30th anniversary of the Iranian revolution is nearing. The revolution of 1979 was not only an act against the US domination of Iranian politics, which began with the US-British coup of 1953 against the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh, but also an act that was supposed to place Iran amongst the countries that made the transition to electoral democracy as part of what the late Samuel Huntington and others have called the "third wave" of democratization. -Jalal Alavi - 1/9/09

Iran-Iraq War Dead Buried At Tehran University
The bodies of five unknown soldiers killed in the Iran-Iraq War have been buried on the campus of Tehran University, Radio Farda reported. The burial took place during the Ashura religious holiday, when classes are not held. - 1/9/09

NAM censures UN Security Council over Gaza inaction
Cuban Ambassador Abelardo Moreno told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) strongly condemns Israel's indiscriminate attacks on the Gaza Strip, Prensa Latina reported. - 1/8/09

National Security Advisor Says Iran a Top Challenge for Obama
White House National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said Iran represents the biggest challenge in the Middle East for the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama. - 1/8/09

"Israel didn't seek 'clearance' from US"
Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday that Israel did not seek U.S. approval before a ground invasion against Hamas, the bloodiest Israeli-Palestinian clash in years. -Debbie Menon - 1/8/09

Some Iranians Resent Gaza Appeals In Light Of Domestic Hardships
Iran is the only country that really cares about the Palestinian people. Or so Iran's political leaders have sought to convince people -- at home and abroad -- since the beginning of Israel's current Gaza offensive. -RFE - 1/8/09

The Agent From Iran
How a mother of two ended up in a plot to smuggle high-tech gear to the enemy -New Times Broward - Palm Beach - 1/8/09

BBC Persian announces TV channel launch date
BBC World Service announces today (8 January 2009) that its Persian language television channel will launch on Wednesday 14 January. BBC Persian TV will form part of the BBC's multimedia news and information service for Persian-speakers in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and around the globe. - 1/8/09

Photos: Ashura Mourning Ceremonies in various parts of Iran
The Mourning of Muharram is an important period of mourning in the Shi'a branch of Islam, taking place in Muharram which is the first month of the Islamic calendar. The mourning reaches its climax on the tenth day, known as Ashura, on which the forces of Yazid killed the 72 individuals who fought, including Husayn and his family and supporters. - 1/8/09

Shi'a And Sunnis See Common Cause Over Gaza
From Gaza to Kabul, signs are mounting that the age-old feud between Sunni and Shi'ite Islam is easing, despite violence yet again marring Ashura, the holiest Shi'ite holiday that culminates today in the Iraqi city of Karbala. -RFE - 1/8/09

For three Iranian women: Meeting in Weston, they discover it's a small world
By their own admissions, Rosy Jacobs, Farrah Daghoghi, and Chahrnaz Pahlavi Medvetsky should never have met, let alone become great friends. But they did meet, and, 6,105 miles away from their homeland, it was the town of Weston that brought them together. -Hersam Acorn - 1/8/09

Hezbollah Steps Up Rhetoric Against Israel
Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah stepped up his fiery rhetoric against Israel, warning the Jewish state not to contemplate another war with Lebanon, like the previous one in July 2006, because the next war will be much costlier. -VOA - 1/8/09

Predictions: Save your candles – the Dark Ages are coming
War. Preparations for war usually result in war, and there are several candidates for 2009. The first is Iran, which will undergo a prolonged diplomatic, political, and economic assault before facing the prospect of American bombs falling on its cities. This, however, may not turn out to be the main theater of American aggression in the coming year -Justin Raimondo, - 1/8/09

Iranian hackers 'bring down Mossad web site'
A group of Iranian hackers says they have managed to bring down the Israeli secret service's web site to voice solidarity with Gazans. -Press TV - 1/8/09

PBS's Travel Documentary on IRAN
PBS stations nationwide will broadcast a one hour travel documentary on IRAN by Rick Steves in the month of January. CalPoly's Mr. Abdi Sami has served as associate producer when it was being filmed in Iran last May. - 1/7/09

195 children have been killed in Israel's war on Gaza: medics
So far 195 children have been in the Israeli blitz on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials say. Gaza health officials say that since the onslaught began on Dec. 27 more than 550 Palestinians have been killed and 2,500 wounded. -MNA - 1/7/09

Shi'ites Flock to Iraqi City of Karbala for Start of Ashura
Men and boys marched down the streets of Karbala with blood streaming down their faces after cutting their scalps, part of the self-flagellation that accompanies some Ashura rituals. Many pilgrims came from Iran, a majority Shi'ite nation. - 1/7/09

Robert Fisk: Why do they hate the West so much, we will ask
So once again, Israel has opened the gates of hell to the Palestinians. Forty civilian refugees dead in a United Nations school, three more in another. Not bad for a night's work in Gaza by the army that believes in "purity of arms". But why should we be surprised? -Independent - 1/7/09

Controversy Arises Over Alleged Hamas-Iran Tie
While moderate Arab states have been largely quiet about the conflict in the Gaza Strip, Iran has been sharply vocal in its criticism of Israel and has offered support to Hamas. Most analysts agree there are links between Iran and Hamas, but they differ about the nature and depth of those ties. -VOA - 1/7/09

Have Moscow, Kyiv Crossed The Line In Gas Dispute?
As a bitter cold snap settles in on the European continent, Moscow's price dispute with Kyiv has begun to inflict collateral damage. Russian gas is no longer flowing to Bulgaria, Croatia, Turkey, Greece, or Macedonia. In Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Romania it has slowed to a mere trickle. -RFE - 1/7/09

Hamas Is Not Iran's Puppet
That the conflict between Israel and Hamas is a proxy war with Iran is a myth that has grown up during the Bush administration. -William O. Beeman, New America Media - 1/7/09

Iran turns to Singapore for gas oil
Iran has reportedly bought three million barrels of gas oil from a Singapore trader to compensate for a loss of supplies from India. -Press TV - 1/7/09

Iran's Supreme Leader Opts to Back Ahmadinejad's Re-Election
For the first time since the early days of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the country’s supreme spiritual leader has plunged into partisan politics. The development, some experts speculate, could be an indicator that the time for compromise with the international community on Iran’s nuclear program has passed. -Eurasianet - 1/7/09

Iran Names Squad for 2011 Asian Cup Qualifiers
Iran National team coach Ali Daei announced the 26-men Iran squad in time for scheduled China friendly and Asian Cup 2011 qualifier against Singapore. -FNA - 1/7/09

Photos: Muharram Mourning Ceremonies in Khorram Abad, Iran
The following photos are from the mourning ceremonies held in the towns of Khorram Abad in western Iran. Khorramabad is the capital of Lorestan, a province in western Iran. It had an estimated population of 339,759 in 2005. It is situated in the Zagros Mountains. -Photos by Mona Hoobehfekr, ISNA - 1/7/09

Fellow Nobel Laureate Concerned For Iranian's Safety
Nobel Peace Prize winner Williams says Iranian authorities "have to be serious about protecting her (Shirin Ebadi), not pretending and saying one thing to the international community and then behaving a different way at her house." - 1/7/09

A Night of Persian Poetry in New York Featuring Nahid Mozaffari
Nahid received her PhD in History and Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. She has taught courses on the history, culture, politics and literature of the Middle East and North Africa at various universities in the United States and Europe. - 1/7/09

New Israeli strike kills 40 in UN school
At least 40 people have been killed in a new Israeli attack on a school run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip. Also, so far at least 111 children have been in the Israeli blitz on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials say. - 1/6/09

Iranian Jewish community split as creditors force Ezri Namvar into bankruptcy
Businessman and philanthropist Ezri Namvar was once a pillar of the local Iranian Jewish community, a trusted friend to whom many in the community loaned freely and without fear. Now Namvar and his investment company, Namco Capital Group, Inc., are accused of losing as much as $400 million loaned to him. -Jewish Journal - 1/6/09

Turkish Warplanes, Iranian artillery bombard Suspected Kurdish Rebels in Iraq
Turkish warplanes Monday targeted suspected Kurdish rebel hideouts in northern Iraq. A spokesman for the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, told the French news agency that Turkish planes and Iranian artillery bombarded locations in the remote mountain area. -VOA - 1/6/09

Israeli Professor Under Hamas Rocket Fire, Neve Gordon Condemns Israeli Invasion of Gaza
Earlier this morning, three Qassam rockets exploded in open areas in the western Negev in Israel. We go to the region to speak with Neve Gordon, chair of the Department of Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, and the author of Israel’s Occupation. -Democracy Now - 1/6/09

Iran informs customers of oil output cut
Iran has reportedly informed some of the Asian buyers of its crude oil that it will significantly reduce their supplies in January. Iran announced in late December that it would cut oil output by 545,000 bpd from January 1 in line with OPEC's December decision to reduce supplies. -Press TV - 1/6/09

Iranian Resistance Group a Source of Contention in Iraq
The question now isn't just what to do with the MEK's 3,500 members — it's also who decides their future. Past U.S. ties to the group suggest that the Geneva Convention isn't the only reason Washington might not want to throw the MEK to the wolves just yet. But how deeply is Washington invested? The answer may lie in how Baghdad chooses to deal with the group. -TIME - 1/6/09

Jill Worrall, New Zealand Herald Columnist: Iran, the most misunderstood country of the world!
For the global public opinions and the majority of masses who do not have any particular way of knowing a far spot on the earth rather than relying on the information given to them by the mainstream media i.e. magazines, TV channels, news websites and radio stations, Iran would enthusiastically be the most astonishing and enticing place one can ever see and explore in his/her lifespan. -Kourosh Ziabari - 1/6/09

Religious Plays Gaining Popularity in Iran Again
Traditional plays held during the month of Moharram, the first month of the lunar Islamic calendar, are growing in popularity once again throughout Iran. -FNA - 1/6/09

Photos: Muharram Mourning Ceremonies in Iran
The Mourning of Muharram is an important period of mourning in the Shi'a branch of Islam, taking place in Muharram which is the first month of the Islamic calendar. The following photos are from the mourning ceremonies held in the towns of Isfahan, Qom, Zanjan and Shahr-e-Rey (a suburb of Tehran). - 1/6/09

The Politics of An Israeli Extermination Campaign: Backers, Apologists and Arms Suppliers
Because of the unconditional support of the entire political class in the US, from the White House to Congress, including both Parties, incoming and outgoing elected officials and all the principle print and electronic mass media, the Israeli Government feels no compunction in publicly proclaiming a detailed and graphic account of its policy of mass extermination of the population of Gaza. -James Petras - 1/6/09

Six more Iranian sites to receive UNESCO world heritage certificates
UNESCO plans to award six more Iranian monuments world heritage certificates during 2009. The six monuments to receive certificates are as follows: Chogha Zanbil Ziggurat, Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Takht-e Soleiman, Pasargadae, Soltanieh Dome, and the collection of historic churches of St. Thaddeus, St. Stephanus, and Dzordzor. - 1/6/09

Qatar Accuses Israel of 'War Crime' in Gaza
The emir of Qatar on Sunday accused the Tel Aviv regime of committing a "war crime" in Gaza and renewed a call for an extraordinary Arab summit. "The Israeli aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip is a war crime," Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said in a televised address. - 1/5/09

Stones vs. Bombs
Even many peace activists in Israel are afraid of what this state has turned into -Fariba Amini - 1/5/09

Don't trust US promises, Iran Leader tells Iraq PM
"Presence of the US and British troops in Iraq is the root cause of the different problems including terrorism and internal conflicts. So long as the US is present in Iraq, the Iraqi nation will not have a day of peace," Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said in a Sunday meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. - 1/5/09

150 Trained Mountain Climbers Stationed in North Tehran Mountains
Some 150 trained mountain climbers, who are members of Tehran Province Mountain Climbing Board, have been stationed in north Tehran mountains in order to train citizens and prevent accidents along five main routes of north Tehran mountains. -Tehran municipality - 1/5/09

Before presidential election, Iran's hard-liners crack down on reformists
As the race for Iran's presidential election heats up, hard-liners are cracking down on activists who have supported reformist candidates in the past. -IHT - 1/5/09

"Ashura The Tenth Day" at AAran Art Gallery in Tehran
The battle of good versus the evil is an age old phenomenon. Every religion has some story or other to show us the 'right' path from the 'wrong' one. Hinduism celebrates the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon Narakasura as Diwali. Christians remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as a supreme sacrifice in the way of God, and so do Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husain, the grandson of the Prophet. - 1/5/09

SAIPA, Iran Khodro post 10% rise in car production in 2008
The giant subsidiaries of the Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran (IDRO), SAIPA and Iran Khodro, posted a 10 percent rise in car production in 2008. - 1/5/09

New law for investment, production takes effect in Iran
The Law for Removing Specific Hurdles to Production and Industrial Investment is now in effect following its December 2008 publication in the Official Gazette. -Press TV - 1/5/09

Mark Steel: So what have the Palestinians got to complain about?
When you read the statements from Israeli and US politicians, and try to match them with the pictures of devastation, there seems to be only one explanation. They must have one of those conditions, called something like "Visual Carnage Responsibility Back To Front Upside Down Massacre Disorder". -Independent - 1/5/09

Giant Awakened
The most significant event of 2009 will be the administration's foreign policies. Looming crisis in seven continents, six if you are European, is demanding attention, now. Worldwide economic crisis, food crisis, water crisis, energy crisis, drug wars, territorial wars, religious wars and wars against terrorism are center stage. The Obama administration will have to rebuild America's place in the worlds of politics, economics, science and technology. -Sousan Alemansour - 1/5/09

First Documentary on "HAYEDEH, Legendary Persian Diva"
Announcing the first documentary highlighting the life and career of the woman some call "Persia's Maria Callas," the late singer, Hayedeh (1942-1990). The documentary, "Hayedeh, Legendary Persian Diva," was made by Pejman Akbarzadeh (28) a Netherlands-based pianist, journalist, and author of a 4-volume book about 20th-century Persian musicians. - 1/5/09

On The Question of Iranian Threat to World Peace and Immense Benefits of Hypocrisy
Many US and Israeli officials have argued that Iran is a threat to the world peace but instead of proving their claim they have exaggerated it to a ridiculous point. Among them is Benjamin Netanyahu's claim in Europe that Iran is the biggest threat to world peace in history; even greater than Hitler. These are the kind of claims that is made by someone with certain agenda and then is picked up and circulated by the media without questioning its' accuracy or validity. -Manouchehr Hosseinzadeh - 1/5/09

Gaza at War
It is too early to predict the future developments. We still do not know what the goals of the Israeli invasion are, and we do not know the strength of Palestinian resistance. Fighters decide the future now, not the pundits. The war may go on to confrontation with Iran; it may bring too long rule of Hosni Mubarak to an abrupt end, it may cause a new intifada, it may re-shape the Middle East. -Israel Shamir - 1/4/09

Iranians continue condemnation of Israeli crimes in Gaza
Gatherings and protests continue in Iran as in many other countries in support of Palestine and condemnation of Israel intensified aggressive against Gaza. -ISNA - 1/4/09

Iran Questions Western Human Rights Talk
Iran says the deafening silence of Western human rights advocates on Gaza is at odds with their carping about trivial contraventions. - 1/4/09

15 Iranian pilgrims killed, 36 wounded in Iraq blast
Iran on Sunday announced that at least 52 Iranian pilgrims were killed and injured in a bomb blast in Iraq on Sunday. The explosion happened at one of the entrances to Imam Moussa al-Kadhim shrine in Al Kazimiyah. - 1/4/09

Iran, Iraq set up to two committees to strengthen ties
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced here on Sunday that Iran and Iraq have formed an expert committee and a high joint committee to strengthen commercial and industrial relations between the two countries. -MNA - 1/4/09

The truth about Gaza
It is crucial that one has her/his facts straight about Israel’s war on Gaza. What events brought about this dreadful situation? What needs to be done to make it stop? These questions will be answered in the content of this article, using concrete facts from a variety of news sources. -Adam Sheets, NormanFinkelstein,com - 1/4/09

Biography: Iranian Artist Shadi Mahsa
Born in Tehran in 1967 Shadi Mahsa started to paint avidly from the age of 6. From childhood she was trained by some of the most leading Iranian art instructors of the day. In 1990 she left Iran for Sydney. After this time Mahsa went on to participate in numerous art courses and schools in both Australia and the UK. -Gallery Mamak, Tahran - 1/4/09

Interview With Prof. James Russell of Harvard University: Iran Should Return To Its Global Position Again
Nowadays, Iran’s name comes up in global media headlines for the most catastrophic reasons. Nuclear weapons, terrorism, mass destruction, violation of human rights, abduction of freedom activists etc. Such longstanding hostile corporate media coverage of Iran news could easily create international pessimism toward the people of Iran, the culture of Iran and the history of Iran. -Kourosh Ziabari, The Moderate Voice - 1/4/09

Molten Lead in Gaza: How Israel is Multiplying Hamas by a Thousand
Liquidate Hamas rule? That sounds like a chapter out of “The March of Folly”. After all, it is no secret that it was the Israeli government which set up Hamas to start with. When I once asked a former Shin-Bet chief, Yaakov Peri, about it, he answered enigmatically: “We did not create it, but we did not hinder its creation.” - Uri Avnery, Israeli writer and peace activist, CounterPunch - 1/4/09

Iran to prepare budget based on $37 oil
The global financial crisis has sharply slashed oil demand. The Iranian government will base its budget for the next calendar year on oil prices of over $37 a barrel, reveals an Iranian minister. -Press TV - 1/4/09

Iran likely to invest in Turkmenistan's gas field
Tehran and Ashgabat held talks for Iran's investment in Turkmenistan's large gas field to produce 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, said Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari. -ISNA - 1/4/09

Second cloned lamb born in Iran
A cloned lamb has been successfully born at twenty-eight weeks of gestational age --7th month of pregnancy-- in Iran's Royan Institute. - 1/4/09

Persepolis crushed by Zob Ahan, while Esteghlal breaks Mes of Kerman's barrier
Persepolis will never forget this Saturday, being badly beaten by Zob Ahan in the 21st week of the Iran Professional League (IPL) at the Fuladshahr Stadium in Isfahan. Meanwhile, Arash Borhani’s injury time goal sealed a sweet victory over Mes of Kerman at Tehran Azadi Stadium. - 1/3/09

Ahmadinejad, al-Maliki meet in Tehran
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki held a meeting here on Monday. Ahmadinejad emphasized that Iran wants to see a "prosperous" Iraq. The glory, independence, prosperity, security, and progress of the Iraqi nation are important for the Islamic Republic of Iran, he added. - 1/3/09

Protests Against Israel's Gaza Bombardment Spread
Massive protests are erupting across capitals in the Middle East and around the world in condemnation of Israel's deadly bombardment of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. - 1/3/09

Iranian author tasked to remind world pacifists about Gaza catastrophe
Iranian author Habib Ahmadzadeh sent the English version of his novel "Eagle Feather," recently translated by U.S. translator Paul Sprachman, to world pacifist groups on the occasion of the recent Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip. Written years ago, the book narrates the story of the Abadan siege by Iraqis during the Iran-Iraq war - 1/3/09

Iran's women national football team to train in Norway
Iranian women national football team will travel to Norway next April to be prepared for its upcoming matches in 2010 in Guangzhou, China, said Farideh Shojaei the Head of Women's Football at the Islamic Republic of Iran Football Federation (IRIFF). - 1/3/09

Iran: Threats to Nobel Laureate Escalate
The Iranian government should immediately end its campaign of persecution against Dr. Shirin Ebadi, which has now escalated to mob threats and violence against her home, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and Human Rights Watch said today. - 1/3/09

Q&A with Iranian Jewish “mensche” Manijeh Youabian
For the past 16 years Mrs. Youabian, from her own initiative, has helped hundreds of local Iranian Jewish families and new immigrants from Iran who have fallen on bad times. From my research and knowledge, she has never sought acclaim or the limelight from the community for what she’s done for the less fortunate from amongst our ranks. -Jewish Journal - 1/3/09

IRAN: ‘I Want to Present a Different View of the Women in My Country’
The U.S. government’s calls for civil society to work for "regime change" in Iran has increased pressure on activists on the ground who are engaged in a peaceful process of improving their society and addressing social problems, according to Sussan Tahmasebi, a prominent women’s right activist in Iran who has not been allowed to leave the country for the past two years. -Omid Memarian, IPS - 1/3/09

UAE, Germany, China are Iran's main trade partners
Iran's exports to the UAE in the nine-month period amounts to 25.10% of Iran's total trade, and imports from this major trade partner in the Persian Gulf totals 12.82% of its trade, up 6.10% and 40.94% respectively from last year's corresponding period. -MNA - 1/3/09

Cult-like Iranian militant group worries about its future in Iraq
Since the U.S. invasion toppled the MEK's onetime sponsor, Saddam Hussein, the group — to the outrage of the Iranian government — has been protected by the U.S. military inside its camp and on supply runs to Baghdad. On New Year's Day that protection ended -McClatchy Newspapers - 1/3/09

Hopes Rise For Iraq Amid Signs Of New Stability
After five years of fighting and with Iraqi authority now at unprecedented levels since the launch of the U.S.-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, the level of violence appears to have finally eased to the point that Iraqi citizens can again plan for the future. -Charles Recknagel, RFE - 1/3/09

Akbar Ganji: ’The 12th Shia imam was a historical invention’
’They all think I’m a spy’ - Once a revolutionary who helped bring down Iran’s monarchy in 1979, Akbar Ganji is now the country’s most outspoken reformist -Middle East transparent - 1/3/09

2008 In Review: Was This The Year That Russia Peaked?
2008 was a very good...half-year for Russia. From its historic victory against Canada in the world ice hockey championships to skyrocketing oil revenues and growing international muscle, Russia spent at least the first half of the year the way it likes -- a winner on all fronts. -RFE - 1/3/09

Visual artists hold workshop in Tehran in support of Gaza people
Following photos are from a workshop held by Iranian visual artists in Tehran on Saturday in support of the people in Gaza. -Photos by Mona Hoobehfekr, ISNA - 1/3/09

Photos: Toddlers participate in Muharram Mourning in Qom, Iran
These photos are from Iranian toddlers who have been dressed up in religious ceremonial outfits as part of Muharram Mourning in Qom, Iran. The Mourning of Muharram is an important period of mourning in the Shi'a branch of Islam, taking place in Muharram which is the first month of the Islamic calendar. -Photos by Mohammad Akhlaghi, ISNA - 1/2/09

Gaza: An Interview with Ramzi Kysia
Ramzi Kysia is a writer and activist, and one of the organizers of the Free Gaza Movement. Prior to 9/11, he spent two years working on Capitol Hill as a lobbyist for the peace movement, as well as working with Iraq anti-sanction activists around the country in grassroots organizing. Since 9/11, he's spent over three years in the Middle East, including: a year in Iraq with Voices in the Wilderness... -Shirin Saeidi - 1/2/09

How many will it take? Are there that many Palestinians?
"How many does it take to metamorphose wickedness into righteousness? One man must not kill. If he does, it is murder.... But a state or nation may kill as many as they please, and it is not murder. It is just, necessary, commendable, and right. Only get people enough to agree to it, and the butchery of myriads of human beings is perfectly innocent. But how many does it take?" -Debbie Menon - 1/2/09

Iran warns protestors not to storm embassies
Iran has warned protestors not to break into foreign missions following violent demonstrations at the British Embassy compound in Tehran. - 1/2/09

Lecture and movie series at MIT: "Iran Through the Lens of History"
Lecture and movie series deals with contemporary issues pertaining to Iranian politics, cinema, society and culture. The lectures will be delivered by Prof. Hamid Dabashi, a world renowned expert of Iranian history and Iranian cinema. - 1/2/09

Iran publishes bulletin on ancient artificial eye found in Burnt City
Iran's Sistan-Baluchestan Province has published a bulletin about the artificial eye, unearthed in the historical Burnt City site. The 5,000 year-old eye was unearthed two years ago and is believed to be the oldest prosthetic in the world. - 1/2/09

Iranian Maestro Kamkar unimpressed by Ukraine orchestra's performance
Violin maestro Arsalan Kamkar is convinced that the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, conducted by Vladimir Sirenko, gave a very unprofessional performance in Tehran. - 1/2/09

Iran intends to preserve its quota of Caspian Sea Caviar export
At the 29th meeting of the commission of biological resources of Caspian Sea in Turkmenistan, the five littoral states discussed the share of sturgeon fishery in the future but due to Iran's suggestion they decided to define the quota of each state at another meeting - 1/2/09

Films from 49 countries line up for Tehran's Fajr Festival
Foreign films from 49 countries will go on screen at the 27th Fajr International Film Festival which will be held from February 1 to 11, 2009 at various Tehran theaters. -MNA - 1/2/09

Iran-Turkey trade rises 30% in 2008
The volume of trade between Iran and Turkey hit $9.708 billion for the first 11 months of 2008, showing a 30.6 percent rise over the figure for the same period in 2007. -MNA - 1/2/09

The Art of Recycling
Newspaper in Iran is not only for reading, as local people traditionally use them for a variety of other purposes. Instead of recycling them, the sellers of shops also use them to pack vegetables, foods and other goods such as fabrics. On many occasions newspapers are also used as tablecloths when the working class or students eat their meals. -Ahmad Nadalian, RiverArt - 1/2/09

In the New Year Please Stop this Madness
We started the New Year not only with much needed rain which made the famous Tehran traffic jams even more unbearable but, as civilized citizens of the world, as those who believe that all God's children are born equal, shocked and mortified that the killing of ordinary citizens in Gaza by the bombs of the Israeli government is still going on. -Syma Sayyah, Tehran - 1/1/09

Car exhaust fumes blamed for over 80% of air pollution in Tehran
According to the latest researches conducted by Tehran Municipality and Iran's Department of Environment (DOE), over 80% of Tehran air pollution is caused by auto exhaust fumes. - 1/1/09

Iran's Haddadi makes NBA debut
Grizzlies center Hamed Haddadi made his NBA debut on Tuesday, finishing a loss to Phoenix with two points and one rebound in four minutes, according to - 1/1/09

PHR Criticizes Iran for Trying AIDS Doctors on Secret Charges
The Iranian government's December 31 trial of Dr. Arash Alaei and Dr. Kamiar Alaei -- Iranian brothers who are known worldwide for their work as HIV/AIDS physicians -- denied fundamental requirements of due process because, according to reports received by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), the prosecutor refused to disclose all the charges against the accused and denied their right to confront and defend themselves against their accusers. - 1/1/09

Gaza health services on brink of collapse
As of the night of 30 December the death toll from the Israeli offensive had reached 380, with 1,800 wounded, according to the Gaza health ministry. The UN World Health Organization (WHO) said 30 children and nine women were among the dead and 250 children had been injured. -IRIN - 1/1/09

Kargozaran Newspaper banned in Iran
Director General of domestic media at the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry said Kargozaran newspaper was shut down over a media offense on Wednesday. - 1/1/09

Iran's Fajr filmfest to honor Leigh, Coppola
Iran's 27th Fajr International Film Festival is set to pay tribute to celebrated cinematographers Mike Leigh and Francis Ford Coppola. - 1/1/09

Iran Cuts Oil Output by 1/2 Million BPD
Iran said it cuts oil output by 545,000 barrels per day from Thursday, Jan. 1 in line with OPEC's decision to reduce production in its bid to try to shore up tumbling crude prices. -FNA - 1/1/09

Protesters attack Tehran home of Nobel winner
A group of demonstrators attacked the Tehran home and office of Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi on Thursday, trampling a sign in the front yard, spray-painting slogans on her building and accusing her of supporting Israel, her office said. -CNN - 1/1/09

Rohani says more resolutions against Iran must be prevented
Former Supreme National Security Council chief Hassan Rohani said that Iran should use an active diplomacy to prevent any more UN resolutions against the country for its nuclear activities. -MNA - 1/1/09

Protesters Worldwide Keep up Pressure Over Gaza
Protesters denouncing Israel's deadly bombardment of the Gaza Strip returned to the streets in demonstrations around the world to keep up the pressure for an end to the violence. -AFP - 1/1/09

AFGHANISTAN: Farmers in the midst of poppy cultivation dilemma
Farmers in Nangarhar Province, eastern Afghanistan, have been told by Taliban insurgents to grow poppy, but the government has warned them not to. -IRIN - 1/1/09

Merrill Lynch Settles Discrimination Suit
Merrill Lynch agreed to pay $1.55 million and improve employee training to settle a lawsuit that claimed discrimination in the firing of an analyst because he was an Iranian Muslim. -New York Times - 1/1/09

Iran's 9-month non-oil exports reaches $14B
Iran's non-oil exports during the first nine months of the Iranian calendar year from mid March to mid December had a 22 percent rise reaching to 13.992 billion dollars. -ISNA - 1/1/09

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