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Iran Warns Against New "Illegal" US Sanctions
Iran said Thursday it would respond to any "interventionist" measures by the United States, after U.S. officials said the Treasury Department was preparing new sanctions connected to Iran's ballistic missile program. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari called the planned sanctions "unilateral, arbitrary and illegal." -Chris Hannas, VOA - 12/31/15

Stubborn air pollution forces emergency meeting, traffic reductions in Tehran
With the persistence of severe air pollution in Tehran, the Department of the Environment called for an emergency meeting with the governor's office in the capital on Tuesday December 29. The committee decided to close all preschool and elementary schools tomorrow. Traffic rules that restrict which cars can be driven each day according to odd-numbered or even-numbered licence plates will be enforced on all streets rather than being limited to areas in the downtown core. - 12/31/15

U.S. Preparing New Sanctions On Iran Over Missile Tests
The Obama administration is preparing new U.S. sanctions on corporations and individuals connected with Iran's ballistic missile program, news media reported on December 30. The Wall Street Journal and the Reuters news agency reported that the planned sanctions would target about a dozen companies and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong, and the United Arab Emirates for their alleged role in helping Iran develop ballistic missiles. - 12/31/15

Iranian Activist's Health Worsens in Prison As She Awaits Appeal Hearing
A prolonged delay in hearing children's rights activist Atena Daemi's appeal against her 14-year prison sentence is causing a serious deterioration in her health, particularly as she has not been able to leave prison for the past eight months to receive specialized medical treatment. - 12/31/15

Detained Iranian writers released on bail after three weeks
Rouzbeh Gilasian and Elaheh Sorooshnia, the two Iranian writers arrested three weeks ago, have been released on bail from Amirabad Prison in Gorgan. They were arrested on Monday December 14 in Gorgan and, according to HRANA, were held primarily in the Revolutionary Guards detention centre, then were transferred to Amirabad Prison when interrogations were completed. - 12/31/15

Iran Poised for Another Raucous Election
December 25 marked the last day of registration for the February 26 joint elections in Iran for the parliament and the Assembly of Experts. Like the deadline for the Assembly of Experts registration two days earlier, the large number of people wanting to register at the last minute led to the extension of the deadline until midnight. -Farideh Farhi, LobeLog - 12/31/15

Iran Marks 'Epic' 2009 Pro-Government Rallies
Iran is marking six years since tens of thousands of hard-line supporters took to the streets to show their support for the clerical establishment, countering mass demonstrations against the results of the country's 2009 presidential election. - 12/31/15

Iran opens its first marathon to tourists - but women can't compete
Iran's first marathon invites international tourists to run to the ancient city of Persepolis, but rules prevent women from joining -Lizzie Porter, Telegraph - 12/31/15

IRGC rejects rocket test near US warships
"The IRGC Navy has had no drill in the Strait of Hormuz over the past week during the time claimed by the Americans for launch of a rocket or missile," head of the IRGC's public relations office Brig. Gen. Ramezan Sharif said on Thursday. - 12/31/15

Sanctions to Remain Key U.S. Foreign Policy Tool Under Obama and Beyond: The Case of Iran
The United States has increasingly relied on economic sanctions as a foreign policy tool, placing a heavy burden on the private sector, but also providing a unique opportunity for companies to work together with the government to remain compliant and advance U.S. foreign policy interests. -David Mortlock - 12/30/15

Iranian Test Rockets Fly Near US Aircraft Carrier
U.S. military officials say Iran test fired missiles Saturday that passed within 1,500 meters of an American aircraft carrier passing through international shipping lanes in the Strait of Hormuz. In addition to the USS Harry S. Truman, there were several other vessels in the area, including the destroyer USS Buckley, a French frigate and merchant ships. - 12/30/15

Sexual Insults Against Iranian President's Adviser May Shut Down Weekly
Ali Jannati, Iran's minister of Culture and Guidance, has announced that the Yalsarat weekly may be denied publication in the coming week. The weekly has published articles containing sexual insults to Shahindokht Molaverdi, the president's adviser on women and family issues. - 12/30/15

Report: U.S. Spied On Israeli Leader During Iran Nuclear Talks
The United States spied on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the Iran nuclear negotiations despite a pledge by the White House to stop spying on allies, the Wall Street Journal reported December 29. - 12/30/15

Iranian official again raises possibility of reducing drug-related executions
Mohammad Javad Larijani, the secretary of Iran's Human Rights Headquarters of the Judiciary, has once again said that reform of the country's death penalty sentences may be in order. - 12/30/15

Iran says constructing 125 luxury hotels
Iran's top tourism official says the country is constructing 125 new four- and five-star hotels, stressing that the figure is a record in the Iranian hospitality industry. Soltanifar said that President Rouhani's government has already devised serious plans to promote Iran's tourism industry once the sanctions are lifted. - 12/30/15

Iran, Russia firms sign deal to build oil rigs
Iranian shipbuilder ISOICO says it has signed an agreement with Russian shipyard Krasnye Barrikady (Red Barricades) for oil rig construction and technology transfer. - 12/30/15

Iran's blogfather: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are killing the web
Hossein Derakhshan was imprisoned by the regime for his blogging. On his release, he found the internet stripped of its power to change the world and instead serving up a stream of pointless social trivia -Hossein Derakhshan, Guardian - 12/30/15

Will Green Movement haunt Iran's upcoming elections?
The registration process for the February 2016 parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections has come to end with a record number of candidates: Nearly 12,000 individuals registered to compete for a seat in the 290-member parliament. -Arash Karimi, Al Monitor - 12/30/15

US Hails Iran's Progress on Nuclear Deal
Iran has taken one of its most significant steps toward fulfilling its commitment to the nuclear deal, says U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry said that step took place Monday, when a ship carrying more than 11,300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium materials left Iran for Russia. - 12/29/15

Iran Threatens Reprisals If U.S. Carries Out Visa Restrictions
Iran will retaliate if the United States breaches the nuclear arms deal by carrying out new visa restrictions on Iranians, Tehran warned December 28. U.S. President Barack Obama last week signed a law that prevents people who visited Iran or are Iranian citizens from entering the United States visa-free. - 12/29/15

Heart problems cause transfer to hospital for jailed Iranian poet
Jailed Iranian poet Mohammadreza AliPayam was transferred to hospital from Rejai Shahr Prison due to heart complication. The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reports that the jailed poet, who is in his ninth month of incarceration, was transferred to the Tehran Heart Centre on Sunday December 27. - 12/29/15

Iran sends low-enriched uranium to Russia under nuclear agreement
Iran has shipped its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to Russia as a key step in fulfilling its commitments under a landmark nuclear agreement clinched between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries. - 12/29/15

Iran's foreign trade incomes see slump in Q1: CBI
Latest figures by the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) reveal that foreign trade incomes stood at just over USD 30 billion in the first quarter of the Iranian calendar year (started March 21). The CBI data released on Monday show the volume of foreign trade shrank by some $10 billion in the Q1 to halt at $30.582 billion from $40.302 in the same period last year - 12/29/15

Scarred Riverbeds and Dead Pistachio Trees in a Parched Iran
POUZE KHOON, Iran - The early-morning sun meagerly brightened the gloom of this sad township, a collection of empty, crumbling houses along a highway through the dusty desert landscape in southeastern Iran. FROM OUR ADVERTISERS Until a decade or so ago, Amin Shoul would come here every year to help his father harvest pistachios, the nuts that are as much a symbol of Iran as caviar. -Thomas Erdbrink, NY Times - 12/29/15

Is Congress empowering Iranian hard-liners?
For years, many in Iran have seen the anti-American discourse of domestic hard-liners as the cause of Washington's antagonistic policies against the Islamic Republic in recent years - including the sanctions targeting the Iranian nuclear program. Some analysts from both the Iranian conservative and Reformist camps have been of the belief that with softening of the rhetoric and engagement with the United States, some of the tensions will be eased. -Mahmoud Pargoo, Al Monitor - 12/29/15

Iran's President Rohani Says Muslims Must Correct Islam's Image
Iranian President Hassan Rohani says Muslims must improve the image of their religion that has been damaged by extremist groups such as the Islamic State. Rohani said at an Islamic conference in Tehran on December 27 that "it is our greatest duty today to correct the image of Islam in world public opinion." - 12/28/15

Iranian Ministry Blocks Album Release; Composer Banned From Working
The latest album of music by Majid Derakhshani, titled Khoroosh (roar), has been denied distribution, with the security department of the Ministry of Guidance stating that the prominent musician is banned from working. - 12/28/15

Iran MPs introduce US compensation bill
Iran's lawmakers introduce an urgent bill, demanding compensation from the US for "the damages which it has inflicted" on the country since 1953. The MPs, irked by recent moves in the US for appropriation of Iran's frozen assets, presented the bill Monday with a single urgency status, meaning it will be discussed immediately in parliament. - 12/28/15

Rare fetal surgery performed in Shiraz, Iran
Surgeons at the Shiraz University of Medical Sciences performed the second successful fetal surgery, which was unprecedented in other regional countries. The surgery was carried out in the Ghadir Mother and Child Hospital, the IRNA news agency reported. - 12/28/15

Code.org founder a second-class citizen under visa change
Ali Partovi is the reason Silicon Valley loves immigrants. After moving to the United States from Iran when he was 11 years old, Partovi became a citizen, graduated from Harvard with a degree in computer science, sold a couple of startups, and invested in Facebook, Dropbox and Airbnb. Today, he runs Code.org, a nonprofit organization that focuses on getting more women and minorities into computer science. -SF Chronicle - 12/28/15

Iran sets oil at $35 in next year budget
Iran's media reported on Sunday that the government of President Hassan Rouhani has devised the annual budget for the next calendar year (21 March 2016-2017) by anticipating sales of oil at an average price of $35 per barrel. - 12/28/15

Birth rate rises 4.5% in Iran: Official
An official at the National Organization for Civil Registration of Iran announced that the birth rate in the country has increased by 4.5 percent in the first nine months of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21-December 21) compared to the same period last year. - 12/28/15

War of Words: A woman's battle to end stoning and juvenile execution in Iran
In the Mazandaran province of northern Iran, where the Elburz Mountains careen toward the Caspian Sea, Asieh Amini grew up on a farm surrounded by kiwi and tangerine orchards. Born in 1974, Amini was the third of four sisters. -Laura Secor, New Yorker - 12/28/15

10 ways to make the best of your Yazd trip!
I'm still waiting for the persian new year to come around to make my new year resolutions but more domestic travel is definitely one of them. Let's face it, I'm back home after a few years and when you're earning in the invaluable local currency it's pretty hard to travel abroad without going broke anyways. This makes all the excuse to explore my homeland, something I'm pretty much guilty of not having done before. -Matin Lashkari, Travestyle - 12/28/15

Canada's Iranian Diaspora Supports Thaw With Tehran
Analysts and members of the Iranian-Canadian community say they are optimistic about a thawing of relations between Iran and Canada now that a new government is in power. Despite the fact that a large and dynamic Iranian diaspora calls Canada its home, recent relations between the two countries have been complicated. -Alireza Ahmadian, Highbrow - 12/28/15

Year-Ender: Iran Looks To Build On Momentum
Months of intense nuclear negotiations between Iran and major world powers dominated the headlines in 2015. In 2016, we get to see the first signs of how the deal that was reached will shape the future of the Islamic republic. Two major elections slated for February 26 -- likely before economic sanctions are lifted when the deal goes into effect sometime in the first half of 2016 -- promise to make it a momentous year in Iran. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/26/15

US Journalist Jailed in Iran Gets Christmas Dinner With Family Members
Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post journalist who has been jailed in Iran for more than 500 days, was allowed a Christmas Day visit with his wife and mother. "After several efforts, Yegi and I were able to secure permission from the court to meet with Jason for several hours today, Christmas," Rezaian's mother, Mary, said in an email Friday to the Post. - 12/26/15

Visa rules put Obama in a vise
When the Obama administration decided to support a bipartisan push in Congress to change rules covering visa-free travel to the U.S., it did so in part to save the U.S. resettlement program for Syrian and Iraqi refugees. But since the new visa regulations have become law, they've faced a growing backlash. -Nahal Toosi, Politico - 12/26/15

Some 12,000 To Run In Iranian Elections
Nearly 12,000 candidates, including some 1,200 women have registered to run in Iran's parliamentary elections, the Interior Ministry said on December 25. The election for the parliament's 290 seats is due to be held on February 26,2016. - 12/26/15

Two children of Expediency Council chair to run in Iran's parliamentary elections
Fatemeh and Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, whose father is moderate Iranian cleric Ayatollah Rafsanjani, have registered their names to run for a seat in Parliament. They both registered on Friday, the final day of registration. - 12/26/15

Tupolev to let Iran make, market its planes
Russia's aviation giant Tupolev said on Saturday that it is ready to provide the license for production of its planes to Iran so that the country would build its planes and sell them in regional markets. The announcement was made by a top Tupolev official who visited Iran for a major exhibition of Russian enterprises in the Iranian capital Tehran. - 12/26/15

German Foreign Minister Says Saudi Arabia Key to Fight Against IS
Saudi Arabia has a central role in fighting Islamic State as it can help eliminate the ultra-hardline militant group's ideological breeding ground, Germany's foreign minister was quoted by newspapers in the Funke Medien Gruppe as saying. Frank-Walter Steinmeier's comments were the latest in a series of mixed messages from the German government about Saudi Arabia and the role it plays in the Middle East and in relation to militants. -Reuters - 12/26/15

NFL Film Details Exchange Of Super Bowl Tapes With Iranian Hostages
Alex Paen showed up at the U.S. Embassy gates in Tehran on the morning of Jan. 21, 1980. The Iranian guards, who called him, "Radio California," had been expecting him after arrangements were made several days earlier. Paen put the tapes in his main contact's hand, but he didn't let go. "Are you going to play this for the hostages?" he asked. -Jeffrey Eisenband, ThePostGame - 12/26/15

Iran and the Misdirected New Visa Rules
The Obama administration has expressed its intention to make a needed correction, albeit only a partial one, to a badly flawed and misdirected piece of legislation that was an emotional response to fears about terrorism and that will do little or nothing to achieve its stated objective. -Paul R. Pillar, LobeLog - 12/25/15

Pollution lingers over Tehran and other major cities in Iran
In addition to Tehran, which has been suffering under severe pollution for the past 13 days, reports indicate that Tabriz and Isfahan have also been experiencing conditions of low air quality. - 12/25/15

US court mulls appropriation of Iran assets
The US Supreme Court is mulling a case on appropriating $2 billion of Iranian assets frozen in a bank in New York. Over 1,300 Americans are reportedly pressing the US government, judiciary and Congress to pay them billions of dollars in awarded damages over two bombings in Beirut and Saudi Arabia in 1983 and 1996. - 12/25/15

Iranian passenger jet has accident at Istanbul Airport
An Iranian Airbus 310 from the Mahan Airlines fleet ran into the taxiway walls at Istanbul Airport. The Young Reporters Club reports that the plane, which had arrived in Istanbul from Tehran on Thursday morning, hit the walls during turning and parking. - 12/25/15

Popular Iranian Poet Arrested for Third Time amidst Hardline Crackdown against Artistic Community
The well-known Iranian poet Mohamadreza Haj Rostambegloo was released on bail from Karaj's Central Prison last week, following his third arrest by the authorities in Iran in the last six years. - 12/25/15

Americans Held Hostage in Iran Finally Get Resolution
It took 36 years, but the Americans held hostage for 444 days by Iranian captors finally are getting resolution to their ordeal. A massive spending bill that Congress passed last Friday granted up to $4.4 million for each of the 53 former hostages or their estates, The New York Times reported Thursday. Some benefits also would be available to victims of other state-sponsored attacks. -Carol Guensburg, VOA - 12/25/15

White House, Congress Spar Over Iranian Visa Restrictions
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has sought to reassure Tehran that the White House can waive new visa requirements that have outraged Iranians, but has faced a backlash from Republican leaders in Congress. - 12/24/15

Iranian-American Organizations Urge President Obama to Waive Discriminatory Visa Language
A coalition of Iranian American organizations issued the following joint-statement regarding legislation recently passed into law concerning the Visa Waiver Program: As Iranian American civil rights and advocacy organizations, we are dismayed that Congress passed legislation to amend the U.S.'s Visa Waiver Program in a manner that risks discriminating against the Iranian-American community and other communities. - 12/24/15

Ten Iranian women run for Assembly of Experts, hundreds run for Parliament
Hossein Ali Amiri, the secretary and spokesman for the Interior Ministry's election headquarters, says 10 women have registered their names to run for a spot in the Assembly of Experts. This is the first time that women are stepping into the Assembly of Experts election arena. - 12/24/15

Are U.S. Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia Hurting its Own Interests in the Region?
Last month the United States approved a $1.29 billion arms deal to Saudi Arabia. This deal is the latest in a string of major arms sales agreements totaling $20.8 billion since the Gulf country began fighting in Yemen against the Houthi rebels in March 2015. In addition, from 2009-14 the United States delivered over $13 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia, making it the largest recipient of U.S. arms in the world. -Leah Schulz - 12/24/15

Authorities in Iran's Isfahan province stop group tour bus over "intermingling" of genders
Police stopped a tour bus en route to Naeen in Isfahan and cut the tour short for what the officers described as "the intermingling of men and women". Tour organizer Karim Shadfar told ISNA on Wednesday December 23 that the police stopped the bus at 5 AM while it was on its way to the Varzaneh Desert, holding them for over six hours at temperatures below freezing. He stressed that 80 percent of the travelers were relatives. - 12/24/15

US rice import draws criticism in Iran
A US ship reportedly unloading 10,000 tonnes of rice in the Iranian port of Chabahar has become a lightning rod for criticism in a country which is seeking to curb imports of American goods. - 12/24/15

Iran will buy 450 Boeing, Airbus planes: Report
With the prospects for the removal of sanctions against Iran already looming, speculations are already rising that the country will need a much larger aviation fleet to better address what is seen to be a wider flight demand in the near future. - 12/24/15

Neocons Still Demanding Regime Change in Iran
The Israeli political leadership, with some notable exceptions, appears to have reduced its all-out efforts to derail the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the P5+1 and Iran in hopes of cadging a new 10-year, $50-billion dollar military aid package out of the Obama administration. But hard-line neocons here have clearly not given up on their cherished goal of achieving regime change in Tehran. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 12/24/15

12 Street Artists Transforming The Walls Of Iran
"Graffiti is an absolute crime," street artist CK1, face obscured by a black-and-white geometric mask, explains in the trailer for "Mutiny of Colours." The documentary, still in progress and currently raising funds on IndieGogo, follows Iranian street artists spreading freedom, expression and love through visually striking and politically charged graphic imagery. -Priscilla Frank, Huffington Post - 12/24/15

U.S. Firms Prepare for End to Iran Sanctions
Apple, GE, HP gear up for potential opening of markets in Islamic Republic: Ahead of an expected lifting of sanctions, several U.S. corporate giants including personal-computer seller HP Inc. and General Electric Inc.'s oil-services unit are actively exploring a market entry into Iran. -Wall Street Journal - 12/24/15

Iran Gearing Up to Join the WTO-Again
Iran is increasingly vocal about its readiness to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), which will involve a long, negotiated process with challenges both domestically and abroad. In preparation, the Hassan Rouhani administration is tackling the diplomatic mobilization and economic reforms required for admission. -Semira N. Nikou, LobeLog - 12/23/15

Iran: Government accused of silence, inaction as poets, writers arrested
A group of Iranian writers and activists has issued a statement denouncing the recent wave of arrests targeting Iranian poets and writers; it calls for their immediate release and the rescinding of sentences against them. - 12/23/15

Iran: Child Rights Activist's Mother Pleas for Help for Son's Ten-Year Prison Sentence
Imprisoned children's rights activist Omid Alishenas has been refused bail while waiting for the Appeals Court to hear his case. "Seven months have passed since Omid was sentenced in the preliminary court but the Appeals Court has not yet convened," Omid Alishenas's mother said. We have made several requests to release him on bail until the final verdict but they have not agreed. - 12/23/15

Iran picked destination of choice for tourists
Industry experts have selected Iran among the world's top tourist destinations, a new report says. The Belgian website La Libre identified Iran as one of the countries with most tourist attractions after surveying specialized publications such as National Geographic, Lonely Planet and Afar. - 12/23/15

Daily death rate rises in Tehran due to air pollution
The secretary of Tehran City Council says rising pollution has increased the average number of deaths in the capital to 180 people a day. Tehran's air quality has been in the red-alert zone since last week, with the volume of air pollutant particles rising seven times beyond acceptable levels. - 12/23/15

Blocked messages on Telegram herald "smart-filtering" in Iran
Users of the Telegram app in Iran report that recently they have been receiving certain messages that prevent them from sending certain information. This appears to mark the beginning of the so-called "smart filtering" of Telegram. - 12/23/15

The Case of David Albright's Missing Objectivity
During a panel discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council on December 17, on the topic of Iran's obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), panel member David Albright, the founder of the Institute for Science and International Security, and Barbara Slavin, Atlantic Council senior fellow and the panel's moderator, had the following exchange -Derek Davison, LobeLog - 12/23/15

Major leap in China's imports of Iran oil
The latest market figures have revealed a major leap in China's imports of crude oil from Iran over the past month. Figures reported by Reuters show that China imported 2.02 million tons of Iranian oil in November or 491,100 barrels per day (bpd). - 12/23/15

Iranian 'Embassy' Opens in Jerusalem, Without a Diplomat in Sight
Group of Israeli artists creates space to spotlight Persian culture and recall the strong ties between the two countries that were cut by the Iranian revolution. -Haaretz - 12/23/15

Asian Cities Choking on Worsening Air Pollution
Heavy smog on Tuesday shrouded the capitals of the world's two most populous countries. Air quality monitoring stations in Beijing and New Delhi displayed readings far exceeding the threshold for the highest-category hazardous level. A high pollution alert also prompted Iranian authorities in Tehran, Isfahan and Arak, to close all schools for two days from Sunday. It was the first such order since 2010. -Steve Herman, VOA - 12/22/15

Obama: Iran Nuclear Deal Top Ten Achievement of 2015
The nuclear deal struck between Iran and six world powers in July ended decades of negotiations and setbacks, and has been hailed by U.S. President Barack Obama as one of the major achievements of the year. -Henry Ridgwell, VOA - 12/22/15

Iran: Rouhani and Judiciary Clash over Ban on Publishing Images of Former President Khatami
The Rouhani administration and the hardline-dominated Judiciary in Iran are engaged in an increasingly direct confrontation over the ability of Iranian media to publish images of the former (1997-2005) reformist President Mohammad Khatami. - 12/22/15

Iran's President Rohani seeks another term as Assembly of Experts member
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has registered himself as a nominee for the fifth round of elections for the Assembly of Experts. ISNA reports that Rohani arrived at the Tehran election office to register as an assembly candidate on Monday December 21. - 12/22/15

Russia to start building 2 nuclear plants in Iran next week: AEOI
Russia will start constructing two nuclear power plants in Iran next week, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi says. Speaking in a radio interview on Tuesday, Kamalvandi added that technical measures are underway in parallel with political and economic negotiations. - 12/22/15

Iran's president due in Italy, France in January 2016
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani is to pay a visit to Italy and France in late January after an earlier trip was canceled following a spate of deadly terror attacks in Paris, the official IRNA news agency says. - 12/22/15

An Iranian-American in Eastern Kentucky
Discrimination is a word Parisa Shamaei-Zadeh uses often when describing her experience of being an Iranian-American in Eastern Kentucky. Shamaei-Zadeh, a senior at Paintsville High School and a student at Johnson County / Paintsville Early College Academy at Big Sandy Community and Technical College, wrote about her struggles and received $42,000 for the William C. Parker Diversity Scholarship at the University of Kentucky. -Independent Online - 12/22/15

Iran's most famous scribe keeps the flame of the Revolution--and of hatred against the Great Satan
For a man often described as the attack-dog of the Islamic Republic, Hossein Shariatmadari comes across as something of a pussycat. The editor of Kayhan, the arch-conservative newspaper and quasi-official organ of the Iranian regime, is small of stature, avuncular in appearance, and gracious in demeanor. -Bobby Ghosh, Quartz - 12/22/15

Iran Complains About New US Visa Rules
Iran is complaining that new U.S. travel restrictions on four countries, including Iran, violate the nuclear deal with six world powers. "This law certainly affects economic, tourist, scientific and cultural exchanges with Iran and it contravenes the nuclear deal," Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said Sunday. - 12/21/15

Russia holds biggest trade exhibit in Iran
Representatives of 80 leading Russian companies, including plane manufacturers and energy majors, are showcasing their products in Tehran in the biggest foreign display of the kind ever held in Iran. - 12/21/15

Crude oil prices hit lowest in 11 years
The global supply glut drives down oil prices further to their lowest in more than 11 years after the US decides to lift its 40-year ban on crude exports. Brent futures fell by about 2 percent to $36.05 per barrel on Monday, the weakest since 2004. US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), futures fell 33 cents to $34.40 a barrel, their lowest since 2009. - 12/21/15

Iranian-Americans Have Reached Highest Echelons Of Tech, But Still Failed To Stop Visa Restriction
How influential is the Iranian-American community? A list just released by Persian Tech Entrepreneurs, a group of young Iranian-Americans active in technology, offers a window into how powerful this community is, especially in Silicon Valley. Many Iranian-Americans have reached the top ranks of some of the most important companies in Silicon Valley -Elizabeth MacBride, Forbes - 12/21/15

Who Owns the Federal Reserve Bank--and Why is It Shrouded in Myths and Mysteries?
The Federal Reserve Bank (or simply the Fed), is shrouded in a number of myths and mysteries. These include its name, its ownership, its purported independence form external influences, and its presumed commitment to market stability, economic growth and public interest. -Ismael Hossein-zadeh - 12/21/15

The unconventional adventures of an Italian in Iran
I've written about the glorious history of ancient Persia, the mesmerizing islamic art, kaleidoscopic mosques and Zoroastrian fire, romance and poetry Iranian style, my favorite dish and also my favorite cafes (well, not all of them), but let's face it, with already three Iran trips on my resume (and counting), could my expeditions be always serious and research-oriented? -Angela Corrrias - 12/21/15

The world's fastest developing countries
MONEY isn't everything. That's the idea behind the United Nations' Human Development Index, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. It incorporates measures for income, life expectancy and education into a single development score, which is designed to give a holistic sense of how a country is doing. -Economist - 12/21/15

How Should Washington Respond to Iran's Ballistic Missile Tests?
Iran's recent ballistic missile tests, while extremely unhelpful, should not come as a surprise. And although the missile tests violate UN Security Council Resolution 1929, they are not a violation of the soon-to-be-implemented nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran. -Kelsey Davenport, Greg Thielmann, and Daryl G. Kimball, LobeLog - 12/21/15

Air pollution forcing Tehran schools to close for two days
The Tehran Board of Education has announced that all Tehran schools will be closed on Sunday and Monday due to air pollution. ISNA reports that the head of the Board of Education announced on Saturday December 19 that all schools in Tehran and Shahr Rey at all levels will be closed for the next two days in response to heavy pollution. - 12/20/15

Secretary John Kerry's Letter to Iranian FM Zarif Regarding Visa Waiver Reform
NIAC has obtained a copy of the original english language version of the letter Secretary of State John Kerry sent to Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif listing three instruments that the U.S. Government can use to ensure that the new Visa Waiver Reform law does not violate the JCPOA. While these are welcome steps from NIAC's perspective, it remains unclear how these steps will ensure that dual citizens are not discriminated against solely on the basis of their nationality. - 12/20/15

Trump and Company Deepens Divide on Arabs and Muslim
Donald Trump and his GOP colleagues have exposed the depth of the divide in attitudes over the role of American Muslims in US society. The results of a recent Zogby poll establish that the divide is more existential than merely rhetorical, and is more demographic than simply partisan. It has become a matter less of competing political philosophies and more a question of the attitudes of the groups that now make up the mainstream of each party. - James J. Zogby, LobeLog - 12/20/15

Inside the studios of Iran's artists
Italian photographer Matteo Lonardi headed to Tehran to learn about the country away from the news headlines and through its artists: We chose Iran as a place to look at through its artists. We felt that media's relationship to Iran had been based on stereotypes and one-dimensional portrayals. -Matteo Lonardi, Guardian - 12/20/15

Iran awards Imam Khomeini Airport deal to Dutch firm NACO
Iran on Saturday awarded a deal to a Dutch company over the development of a town in the vicinity of the country's biggest airport - Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA) - in southern Tehran. The contract was signed between the Managing Director of IKIA Airport Town Company Mahmoud Navidi and Kiel Cloisterville, the vice president of the Netherlands Airport Consultant Company (NACO). - 12/20/15

Most Cuban Americans Prefer Obama's Cuba Policy to Rubio's
According to a new survey released by the Bendixen & Amandi International polling firm on Thursday, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) are increasingly out of touch with the larger Cuban-American community with respect to Obama's decision to normalize relations with Havana and ask Congress to end the half-century-old trade embargo against the island. -Jim Lobe, LobeLog - 12/20/15

YALDA and SADEH Celebrations
Winter solstice that usually falls on December 21 has been celebrated by many human communities throughout the millennia. Some of the oldest civilizations, which have evolved between the Indus and the Ganji Rivers to the East, and Tigris, Euphrates and the Nile Rivers to the West where today's Iran falls in the center of this region, have commemorated the seasonal epochs. Iranians have, especially, revered and celebrated the winter solstice and spring vernal equinox as the semi-annual zeniths of the year. -avood Rahni & Behnam Ashjari - 12/19/15

Iran To Ship Enriched Uranium To Russia
Iranian nuclear officials say Tehran will export most of its enriched uranium stockpile to Russia in the coming days as it implements a nuclear deal to secure relief from international sanctions. The Iranian news agency IRNA quotes nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi as saying on December 19 that "around nine tons of Iran's enriched uranium will be exported to Russia." That is roughly the amount that Iran must export to bring its stockpile down to the required level under the sanctions-relief deal. - 12/19/15

The Saudi Debacle in Yemen?
The second round of UN-sponsored peace talks to end the nine months of hostilities between the Saudi-supported government of Yemen and the Iran-backed Ansarullah (or Houthi) rebels started on December 15 in Switzerland. The warring sides had reportedly agreed in advance on a seven-day ceasefire that was supposed to begin December 14 at 11:55 pm, but both sides reported continued fighting on several fronts on Wednesday. -Hooshmand Mirfakhraei - 12/19/15

Now I'm a Second-Class Citizen
I was lucky. My parents immigrated to the United States from Iran before I was born. They settled in Pittsburgh and built the humble beginnings of a successful life for themselves and their children. I was born as the first American in my family. I grew up oblivious to the sacrifices my parents had made for me and my siblings, to the unlimited opportunities at my feet. I took for granted the reality that I could be anything I wanted to be. -Elham Khatami, NIAC - 12/19/15

Iran ups oil output by 500k barrels in hours
Iran said on Saturday that it has set a record in boosting its oil production capacity by 500,000 barrels "in a matter of hours". Mohsen Dehqan-Zadeh, the managing director of Karoun Oil and Gas Development Company, told reporters that the record had been made in Iran's southern onshore oil fields. - 12/19/15

Iran takes back purchased artworks from US after nearly 40 years
Iran has taken back over a dozen pieces of American art pieces purchased nearly 40 years ago but blocked for export due to a rupture in bilateral relations since Iran's Islamic Revolution. - 12/19/15

Adelson Funded Group that Praised Hitler, Blamed Jews for Anti-Semitism
Tens of millions of dollars were spent in efforts to oppose the Iran nuclear deal, led by a $20 million campaign underwritten by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Ultimately, after nearly two years of negotiations, lobbying, and public debate, Senate Republicans failed to block the nuclear deal in September 2015. Casino billionaires and Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) board member Sheldon Adelson made no secret of his animosity toward the nuclear deal. -Eli Clifton, LobeLog - 12/19/15

Iran's biggest-budget film, Muhammad, The Messenger of God, eliminated from Oscar race
Majid Majidi's film "Muhammad, The Messenger of God," Iran' entry for the best foreign film category at the Oscars, has been eliminated in the first round of selections. On Thursday December 17, the academy announced the list of nine foreign films still vying for the best foreign film Oscar of 2016, and Majidi's epic was not among them. - 12/19/15

How one Iranian TV show is breaking censorship boundaries
Some reports in Persian-language media sources have argued that "Shahrzad" is indicative of important political developments in recent years. They believe the series has caught those behind Iran's censorship off guard - with censors perhaps not realizing its significance. -Masoud Lavasani, Al-Monitor - 12/19/15

Israel, Turkey Reportedly Close to Normalizing Relations
Israel and Turkey have reportedly reached a preliminary agreement to end years of estrangement and begin restoring full diplomatic relations. The two countries, once close regional allies, fell out after a deadly confrontation in 2010 between Israeli commandos and Turkish activists on a passenger vessel seeking to breach Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. -Dorian Jones, VOA - 12/19/15

Off piste in the Islamic Republic
IT IS not a regular in skiing magazines, but it soon could be. With pistes higher than most European resorts, and lift passes much cheaper, Iran is a bit of a downhill paradise. Its north-facing slopes and high altitudes ensure crisp powder between December and May. -Economist - 12/19/15

Iranian Americans Blast 'Discriminatory' Effort To Improve U.S. Visa Rules
If Washington's intention is to improve current visa policies in order to prevent acts of terrorism in the United States, Iranian-Americans are not impressed. As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act (H.R. 158) -- overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives in early December -- Iranian-Americans, civil libertarians, and European Union ambassadors are crying foul. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/18/15

Iran's Reformists, Hardliners Maneuver Ahead of Elections
Iran's political elite remains split over the country's future, and analysts predict the divisions are likely to get more abrasive as reformers and conservatives maneuver before February parliamentary elections. The polls are seen as a crucial test of reformist President Hassan Rouhani's authority and likely will impact his hopes of re-election in 2017. -Jamie Dettmer, VOA - 12/18/15

Iran Aims To Boost Economy By Joining World Trading System
Iran hopes to go beyond the lifting of Western economic sanctions and boost its economy by joining the world's preeminent trading group, a top Iranian official announced December 17. - 12/18/15

Daily Beast Didn't Know American Was Stuck In Iran When It Published Anonymous Story Attacking Him
On Sept. 15, The Daily Beast published an article by "Alex Shirazi" -- a fake name that the news outlet said was a pseudonym for a "a well-known Iranian dissident" -- describing Iranian-American businessman Siamak Namazi as part of "The Shady Family Behind America's Iran Lobby." -Huffington Post - 12/18/15

Professor makes history as first woman to aim for Iran's Assembly of Experts
For the first time, a woman has registered to run for the Assembly of Experts. ISNA reported on Thursday December 17 that Esmat Savadi, a seminary and university professor, registered her name as a nominee for the Assembly Experts at a Tehran elections office on the first day of nominee registrations. - 12/18/15

Some Iran Sanctions Could Be Lifted As Soon As January
The United States has taken a step toward lifting at least some sanctions against Iran, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Tehran is fulfilling its obligations in a "transparent" and "verifiable" way under an international agreement on its nuclear program. Kerry made the remarks in a letter sent to the committee on December 16. - 12/18/15

Kerry To Chair UN Effort To Forge Syrian Peace December 18
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will chair a meeting of the United Nations Security Council December 18 in a major effort to end the four-year civil war in Syria. - 12/18/15

Was this really how women dressed in IRAN before the revolution?
Photos of models from the 1970s show plunging necklines and heavy make-up in a startling contrast with today's strict dress code -Daily Mail - 12/18/15

Obama: The Fairy-Tale President?
In fairy tales, the hero makes a wish. After a few trials the wish comes true, and everyone lives happily ever after. But only in this Disney version of fairy tales is wish fulfillment so straightforward. In Goethe's modern fairy tale, a scholar dreams of knowledge and power. A stranger grants his wish, but the ambitious Faust must pledge his soul to the Devil to seal the deal. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 12/18/15

Grandson of Modern Iran's Founder Seeks to Join Council That Picks Supreme Leader
A moderate Iranian cleric, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic, registered on Friday as a candidate in elections for the council charged with picking the country's next supreme leader, whenever that time comes. -Thomas Erdbrink, NY Times - 12/18/15

New Politicized Visa Restrictions Harm Iranians and Undermine America's Core Values
The recent bill passed by Congress aims to clamp down on the visa waiver program with provisions that essentially discriminate against Iranians. The ACLU calls H.R.158, passed last Tuesday by overwhelming support (419 yes), as a measure calling for "blanket arbitrary discrimination based on nationality and national origin." -Omid Memarian, Huffington Post - 12/18/15

U.S. Congress Set To Pass Visa Curbs On Visitors To Iraq, Iran
A massive spending bill headed toward approval in the U.S. Congress this week includes new restrictions on travelers to the United States who have visited Iraq, Iran, Syria, or Sudan. - 12/17/15

Iran's Rouhani: Sanctions to be Lifted Soon
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said he expects sanctions on Iran to be lifted in the coming weeks, after the U.N. nuclear agency ended its probe into allegations Iran once worked to develop nuclear weapons. - 12/17/15

A Call To Arms Against McCarthy 2.0
Last week a friend sent me this ominous article about a bill that threatened to codify racist rhetoric into law. I dismissed it, thinking, "we have checks and balances to prevent stuff like that." -Ali Partovi, Techcrunch - 12/17/15

IAEA Intelligence Acquisition Practices
Tariq Rauf, a former Canadian diplomat, and Robert Kelley, a former US nuclear weapon scientist, have published an assessment of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) handling of the Iranian case on the website of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). -Peter Jenkins - 12/17/15

More Iranians Die From Swine Flu
The Iranian Health Ministry says that 15 more people have died in the past five days in a swine flu outbreak that has affected some 900 people in Iran. The ministry said on December 15 that a total of 57 Iranians have died from the disease since mid-November. - 12/17/15

The IAEA's "Final Assessment"
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessment has cleared the way for the board of governors to end the Agency's extraordinary investigation into accusations of Iran's past nuclear weapons work. But a closer examination of the document reveals much more about the political role that the Agency has played in managing the Iran file. -Gareth Porter, LobeLog - 12/17/15

After 20-Day Hunger Strike, Imprisoned Iranian Teacher Activist Released on Temporary Medical Leave
The teachers' union activist Mahmoud Beheshti Langroudi was allowed to leave Evin prison on December 16, 2015, on temporary medical leave after a 20-day hunger strike to protest his nine-year prison sentence. - 12/17/15

Why Deterrence Against Iran Is a Bad Idea
In the November-December 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs, prominent American scholar Michael Mandelbaum argues that in order to deter Iran from going nuclear, the agreement reached by P5+1 should be supplemented by an explicit threat of US military action. Mandelbaum proposes that the Obama administration or any future US government "publicly articulate and resolutely communicate" such a threat to Tehran. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 12/17/15

Mike Honda: What My Time in a Japanese Internment Camp Taught Me About Hate
Don't give in to the ignorance and fear of Donald Trump, Ben Carson and others. -Mike Honda is a U.S Representative for California. - 12/17/15

Will US Visa Waiver Bill Undermine JCPOA and Iran's Economy?
Those in Congress and elsewhere who oppose America's nuclear agreement with Iran have not given up on their efforts to contain Iran and isolate it economically and politically, which has been US policy toward Iran at least since 1991. Before the ink was dry on the Iran nuclear agreement, they began thinking of ways to prevent its full implementation and Iran's return to the international community. -Shireen T. Hunter - 12/16/15

Take Action: Urge Congress and the White House to Reject Discrimination
Our allies on Capitol Hill have confirmed that the omnibus will be released soon and the discriminatory provisions of the visa waiver reform bill (H.R. 158) that target Iranian dual nationals and those who have traveled to Iran are included in the bill. -NIAC Action - 12/16/15

IAEA Closes Iranian Nuclear Weapons Probe
The U.N. nuclear agency has officially closed its more than decade-old investigation into allegations Iran once worked to develop nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency unanimously approved a resolution to end the investigation. - 12/16/15

What H.R. 158 Must Teach Us
The recent House legislative draft, H.R. 158 Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015, sponsored by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), to provide enhanced security measures for the visa waiver program and passed by an overwhelming majority of 407-19 in the House of Representative, is a draconian and drastic departure from the constitutionality of the legislative body which empowers its members to draft laws for a civil society which the United States of America has symbolized for almost 300 years -Jamshid S. Irani - 12/16/15

Iran Just Slapped A Shuttlecock Ban On The U.S.
Iran has banned the import of hundreds of American goods that include toilet paper, shuttlecocks, and tanks in a move that appears largely designed to clap alarm bells about creeping U.S. influence. The 227-item ban list was issued by the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran on December 14 and reportedly sent to the relevant provincial authorities. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/16/15

Underground Music Distributors Await Appeal Decision for Six Years in Prison
Two Iranian musicians and a filmmaker who were jointly sentenced to six years in prison and fined 200 million rials (about $6,650) each for "insulting the sacred" and "propaganda against the state," are awaiting a ruling by a Tehran appeals court, a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 12/16/15

Iranian actors to stage Woody Allen's play in Tehran
Iranian actors will stage a Persian version of 'Don't Drink the Water' by American comedian and playwright Woody Allen in the capital, Tehran. Directed by Davoud Bani-Ardalan, the play has been translated into Persian by Negar Shaterian and will be performed by a group of 11 Iranian actors - 12/16/15

Iran: Guardian Council contradicts judiciary over supervision of Supreme Leader
One day after the head of Iran's judiciary denied there was any constitutional basis to argue that the Assembly of Experts has supervisory authority over the Supreme Leadership, a member of the Guardian Council, Iran's constitutional watchdog, says the assembly should in fact monitor the highest authority in the land. - 12/16/15

A Brooklyn comedian has launched a Facebook campaign to stop a 'racist' bill from passing Congress
Mitra Jouhari's Facebook campaign is part of a bigger internet push to get people aware of the bill and voice their disfavor of it. -Business Insider - 12/16/15

'Walls Of Kindness' Encourage Iranians To Give
Walls typically create divisions. But not always. In Iran, activists are using them to bring people together and encourage them to give. They've installed coat hooks and signs in at least three cities asking people to leave unwanted clothing for those in need. "If you need clothing, take according to your needs, and if you have clothing at home that you don't need, please hang it here," reads one of the signs. Iranians are calling them "walls of kindness." -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/15/15

IAEA to Close Iranian Nuclear Weapons Probe
The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog is expected Tuesday to officially close its more than decade-old investigation into allegations that Iran once worked to develop nuclear weapons. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano presented his final report on the matter to the IAEA board saying it gave clear answers to whether Iran worked toward nuclear arms. - 12/15/15

Tehran air pollution so bad it's dangerous for anyone to breathe
Tehran air quality is reported to be very dangerous, with a red alert issued due to the increased concentration of pollutants. The concentration of particulates in Tehran air is now measured at 2.5 microns, which is seven times the acceptable level according to World Health Organization standards. - 12/15/15

Economist slams Iran's rampant corruption, calls for concerted efforts
Expert economist Farshad Momeni says Iran's ranking in terms of transparency is cause for concern, as it indicates the Iranian system is plagued with more corruption than 77 percent of the world's countries. - 12/15/15

Elections for Assembly of Experts Puts Spotlight on Future of Leadership in Iran
Although Iran's Assembly of Experts has the power to select or depose the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, it has never been seen as an influential body. The image of this popularly elected body of Islamic jurists and scholars that generally comes to mind for the average Iranian is a rubber-stamp chamber full of very old men. As such, past elections for the 86-member body have not generated much excitement. - 12/15/15

Iran can produce oil at $1 per barrel
Iran's push for big investment in its oil industry comes amid crude prices sliding to new record lows but officials are confident the low cost of production in the country will supersede any drawback. - 12/15/15

Am I Not American Enough?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles county. The past 22 years, California has been my home. It has been my parent's home for the last 37 years. But because my Iranian-born parents automatically passed down their nationality on to me through jus sanguinis laws and I am an Iranian-American dual national, now I'm uncertain if freely traveling to see my family will be a possibility due to the recent passage of a discriminatory House bill sponsored by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI-10). -Samira Damavandi, Huffington Post - 12/15/15

Iran's Sikhs get a better deal than many other minorities
Every Iranian I meet on my trip is astonished to hear there's a Sikh temple, or "gurdwara," in Tehran. I wouldn't know of it myself but for Iranian-American author Hooman Majd's terrific book, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, where the temple makes a cameo appearance in a juicy rumor about the antecedents of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini... but more about that later. -Quartz - 12/15/15

What the Visa Waiver Program means to Europe
Much has been written in the past week about the need to "tighten up" the Visa Waiver Program. Some of the commentary is accurate and balanced while some is less well informed. As ambassadors of the 28 European member states, 23 of our countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program while the remaining five aspire to join the program in the near future. So we feel it is important to make our contribution to this debate. -The Hill - 12/15/15

What Are Russians up to in Syria?
In remarks on December 11 intended to increase pressure on Turkey, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia's military to act in an "extremely tough way" in Syria to protect Russian forces attacking Islamic State (ISIS or IS) targets. "Any targets threatening our military group or land infrastructure must be immediately destroyed," Putin said, speaking at a Defense Ministry event. -Eldar Mamedov, LobeLog - 12/15/15

Trumping the Trump
Let's call a spade a spade. Let's not try to be polite or politically correct, as the current front-running Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, often says. OK then, who is a good example of a self-serving, megalomaniacal, predatory capitalist pig? Do I have to name him here? I think I already have! -Kambiz Zarrabi - 12/14/15

Open Letter to President Obama on the Visa Waiver Improvement Act
On behalf of the American Iranian Council, I am writing to express my deep concern about the discriminatory consequences of a bill that is currently being considered in the Congress, and is set to be bundled into the Omnibus spending bill that will be voted on shortly. -Hooshang Amirahmadi - 12/14/15

Iran labels 227 US-made goods for boycott
The Trade Promotion Organization of Iran has published the names of 227 goods subject to an import ban and sent the list to authorities in all the 31 provinces across the country in a directive to implement the boycott. - 12/14/15

British PM asks for release of gravely ill Iranian-British prisoner
The British prime minister has written to Iranian President Hassan Rohani to request the release of Kamal Foroughi, an Iranian-British citizen. The Independent website reported on Saturday December 12 that David Cameron has intervened on behalf of Foroughi, who has been imprisoned in Iran on spying charges for nearly five years. - 12/14/15

Isfahan still to allow mixed-gender tour groups despite earlier objections
An Isfahan Province tourism official says there is no barrier to organizing mixed-gender family tours in Maranjab desert and Nushabad underground city as long as "Islamic values" are preserved. - 12/14/15

Iranian, French firms finalize FLNG talks
Iranian companies and a French firm have reached a final agreement on floating production of LNG from associated gas at an oilfield in the Persian Gulf, Deputy Petroleum Minister Roknoddin Javadi says. - 12/14/15

Who Will Fight the Islamic State
In the many strategies proposed to defeat the Islamic State (IS) by presidential candidates, policymakers, and media pundits alike across the American political spectrum, one common element stands out: someone else should really do it. The United States will send in planes, advisers, and special ops guys, but it would be best -- and this varies depending on which pseudo-strategist you cite -- if the Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Sunnis, and/or Shias would please step in soon and get America off the hook. -Peter Van Buren, LobeLog - 12/14/15

Iranian officials warn about dangerous dolls from Iraq containing explosives
Mehdi Forouzan the governor of Kashmar in Khorasan Province has announced the discovery of "a number of booby-trapped dolls" in the city. The Mehr News Agency reported on Saturday December 12 that the dolls were purchased by Iranian citizens visiting Iraq and were then brought into the country. - 12/14/15

Everything You Need to Know About the Visa Waiver Improvement Act of 2015 (H.R.158)
The Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act is a White House backed, bipartisan effort to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to include terrorism risk as a factor when determining an alien's eligibility to travel to the United States. The Visa Waiver Program currently allows citizens of 38 participating countries to travel to the U.S., Europe, Japan and South Korea without a visa for stays of 90 days or less. This legislation would exclude those with Iranian, Iraqi, Sudanese and Syrian nationality or anyone who has travelled to those countries in the past five years from using the program to enter the country. - 12/12/15

NIAC Action Condemns Outrageous Rhetoric from Rep. Steve King
"NIAC Action condemns remarks by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) in which he suggested that Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Andre Carson's (D-IN) commitment to upholding the Constitution should be in question because they are Muslim. The real question is how anyone who openly calls for religious discrimination against fellow Americans can be trusted to uphold the Constitution, which fundamentally protects religious freedom. - 12/12/15

Trump, the Islamic State, and the Cliche of Civilizations
I was listening to a German parliamentarian the other night. She was making some anodyne comments about transatlantic friendship and the importance of culture. And then she veered off to mention the recent attacks in Paris and the threat of the Islamic State. This issue, she said, required an urgent response from the "free world." The audience murmured its approval. -John Feffer, LobeLog - 12/12/15

Crowd shuts down event featuring reformist speeches in Karaj, Iran
Two reformist contenders in the parliamentary elections were prevented from giving speeches in Karaj, as conservative factions of the Islamic Republic establishment gear up to keep reformists from reaching the public. The social media efforts reportedly led to the gathering of 100 protesters in front of the venue in Karaj yesterday. They shouted slogans such a "death to seditionists!". - 12/12/15

Channeling Nation's Ugliness, Trump More American Than You Think
Much has been made of how Donald Trump's racist remarks on the 2016 presidential campaign trail are "un-American," outlandish, and-incredibly to some-giving him a bump in the polls. But others say it's time for a reality check. -Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams - 12/12/15

Marco Rubio Is Winning the Neocon Primary
With pundits and columnists dissecting and critiquing every word uttered by GOP front-runners Ben Carson and Donald Trump, comparatively little attention has been paid to the positions and affiliations of a far more electable Republican presidential candidate: Florida Senator Marco Rubio. -Sina Toossi, LobeLog - 12/12/15

IAEA: Most PMD Claims Groundless
Although the final report is good news in that it will finally close the so-called "PMD file" related to Iran's past nuclear activities (and permit the JCPOA to go forward), it is also very disappointing in its virtually total failure to disclose any new information about those alleged activities, including at Marivan and Parchin. -Robert Kelley - 12/11/15

Iranians Protest Outside Azerbaijani Consulate In Tabriz
Dozens of Iranians have demonstrated outside Azerbaijan's consulate in the northwestern city of Tabriz to protest the alleged "killing of Shia" in Nardaran, a suburb of the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, Iranian news agencies reported on December 10. - 12/11/15

Beheading the Blacksmith of Balkh: Iranian Americans scapegoated again
A radicalised, American-born Pakistani went to Saudi Arabia and married another Pakistani brainwashed with an extremist version of Wahhabism that is the Saudi state religion. The couple came to the US and shot up a Christmas office party killing 14 people. Guess who is being chosen for punishment for this despicable crime? Iranian Americans, who have never shared that extremist ideology and... -Ahmad Sadri, Guardian - 12/11/15

The Smile on the Face of the Tiger
It seems that there has been a rapidly building expression of international disquiet about the relationship between the ideology of Salafi Jihadism and Wahhabism, the state religion of Saudi Arabia (and--less well-known--of Qatar.) As Gideon Rachman recently put it in an archetypal Financial Times op-ed "The sudden increase in concern about Saudi Arabia is driven, in large part, by the rise of Isis." -James Spencer, LobeLog - 12/11/15

Isfahan court bars mixed-gender tourist groups in Maranjab
The Isfahan Provincial Court has issued an order prohibiting mixed-gender tours and tourist groups from entering the tourist region of Maranjab and the underground city of Nooshabad. - 12/11/15

Iran-EU trade up 6% in 9 months
Trade value between Iran and the European Union member states amounted to 5.597 billion in the first nine months of 2015, rising 6 percent from 5.296 billion Euro in the same period of time in 2014. - 12/11/15

Aid requested for Minab townships plagued by sinkholes
The Hormozgan Province representative has announced that 30 townships in the Minab region of the province are now surrounded by sinkholes and he called on the Ministry of Power to resolve the situation. - 12/11/15

Iran's fraught relationship with American goods is about to get a little more complicated
Ali Reza is in the middle of a long explanation as to why Iran doesn't need American products when he stops to take a sip of Coca-Cola. A Revolutionary Guards veteran turned businessman, who has brought his family on vacation to historic Isfahan, Reza tells me he travels frequently to Asia, where he is building relationships that, he hopes, will turn into lucrative joint ventures one day. -Quartz - 12/11/15

State Department Supports Congressional Moves to Tighten Controls on Visa-Free Travel
The U.S. State Department lent support Wednesday to Congressional efforts to restrict travel to the United States by citizens of 38 countries who have traveled to Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan in the past five years. -Nike Ching, VOA - 12/10/15

Tehran Says 42 Have Died From Swine Flu During Past Month
Iran's Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi says an outbreak of swine flu has killed at least 42 people in the country during the past month, raising the death toll from the H1N1 virus by six in the last 24 hours. - 12/10/15

Iran: Students Plead with President Rouhani to Release Political Prisoners
President Hassan Rouhani and other senior government officials were met with students expressing frustration over the continuing repression in Iran and demanding the release of political prisoners, at a ceremony marking Students Day (December 7) in Iran. Notably, many of the students explicitly called for the end of the house arrests of Green Movement opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi. - 12/10/15

Detained Iranian songwriter released on bail
Jailed Iranian poet and songwriter Yaghma Golrouyi was released on bail on Wednesday without any formal announcement of the charges against him. Golrouyi's arrest triggered widespread outrage and controversy on social media. - 12/10/15

Iranian Newspaper Protests Media Ban On Ex-President
One of Iran's oldest newspapers has defiantly criticized a media ban on covering former President Mohammad Khatami. In a front-page editorial published on December 9 by the Ettelaat daily, managing editor Mahmud Doaei, a cleric, said the ban violated Iran's constitution and called on President Hassan Rohani to intervene and halt the "illegal process." -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/10/15

Iranian MPs try again to remove death penalty from anti-drug law
A member of the Iranian Parliament's judiciary and legal commission says a bill signed by 70 MPs proposes to eliminate the death penalty from the Fight Against Narcotics Law. - 12/10/15

Iran open for business? Some practicalities after sanctions
The imposition of blanket sanctions and extensive trade restrictions by the US, EU and other countries on Iran's financial, banking and energy sectors has crippled its economy in the past few years...What remains essential even after the Implementation Day is the re-establishment of banking channels and international corresponding relationship with Iranian banks and their foreign branches and subsidiaries. -Azadeh Meskarian, TFR - 12/10/15

Abbas Kiarostami Unveils Compilation Project, '24 Frames Before and After Lumiere'
Attending the Marrakech Film Festival to deliver a masterclass, 75-year old Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami unveiled his latest project - "24 Frames before and After Lumiere" - a compilation project based on 24 four-and-a-half minute films that he has been directing over the last three years and aims to release in mid-2016. -Martin Dale, Variety - 12/10/15

Apocalypse When?
For six centuries or more, history was, above all, the story of the great game of empires. From the time the first wooden ships mounted with cannons left Europe's shores, they began to compete for global power and control. Three, four, even five empires, rising and falling, on an increasingly commandeered and colonized planet. The story, as usually told, is a tale of concentration and of destruction until, in the wake of the second great bloodletting of the twentieth century, there were just two imperial powers left standing: the United States and the Soviet Union. -Tom Engelhardt, LobeLog - 12/10/15

Iranian TV officials fail to remove names from European blacklist
The European Court of Justice has rejected appeals by Mohammad Sarafraz, the head of Iranian national broadcaster Seda va Sima, and Hamid Reza Emadi, Press TV's chief editor, to be removed from Europe's blacklist for human rights violations. - 12/10/15

Iranian-Americans oppose "discriminatory" bill passed by Congress
Iranian-American groups are voicing their opposition to the House of Representatives' bill (H.R. 158) passed on Monday that curbs the visa waiver program. The bill contains measures viewed as discriminatory against Americans of Iranian origin. NIAC Action and PAAIA are among the groups that have issued statements opposing this bill. - 12/9/15

Iran sets goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions
A spokesman for Iran's Department of the Environment says Iran is prepared to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12 percent. China, the European Union, India, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Britain, Mexico and Iran respectively top the list of greenhouse gas emitters. - 12/9/15

Will Congress Use Trump's Racist Rhetoric to Create Second Class Americans?
If you thought Donald Trump's divisive, bigoted and blatantly racist rhetoric was just a reflection of the silliness we always face during primary campaigns, think again. This bigotry is not only dominating the news cycle and winning Trump Republican primary votes. It's directly trickling into to new legislation that Congress is currently considering -Trita Parsi, Huffington Post - 12/9/15

US Examines Reports of Iranian Missile Test
The United States is reviewing reports that Iran carried out a ballistic missile test last month in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said Tuesday that the United States was "conducting a serious review" of the reports and would take appropriate steps if they were true. - 12/9/15

Civil liberties groups slam Obama-backed visa waiver changes
A White House-backed, bipartisan effort to clamp down on the visa waiver program faces a growing backlash from civil liberties and minority rights groups who say it discriminates against certain ethnic groups, even if they have citizenship in the West. -Nahal Toosi, Politico - 12/9/15

Media sharpen Trump coverage after candidate calls for Muslim ban
the candidate's recent remarks about Muslims in the aftermath of the shooting rampage in San Bernardino and its ties to terrorism by extremists have hit a new level of outrage - with conservative leaders and opinion makers associating Trump's views with fascism. -Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times - 12/9/15

Iran denies halving gas exports to Turkey
Turkey is currently locked in a diplomatic dispute with Russia which provides for 60% of Turkish gas needs. Iran is the second supplier of gas to Turkey, accounting for 30% of the country's needs. Turkey is said to be looking at the possibility of boosting imports from Iran. On Monday, an official dismissed reports that Iran had ramped up supplies to its northwestern neighbor. - 12/9/15

Air France to resume direct flights to Iran
Air France-KLM says it will resume direct flights to Iran after a seven-year gap as Europe moves to put trade ties back on track with a country described as the "Germany of the Middle East". The Franco-Dutch airline plans three weekly flights between Paris and Tehran from April 2016, the company said in a statement, "supporting the resumption of commercial exchange with Iran". - 12/9/15

Is the U.S. Facilitating the Use of Mercenaries in Yemen?
The recent New York Times report that the United Arab Emirates is paying, arming, and training retired soldiers from Colombia and other Latin American countries to fight in Yemen marks a troubling turning point in the evolution of the current generation of Mideast wars. One question for Congress and the Obama administration is whether U.S. arms and training programs have helped to facilitate these rogue activities. -William D. Hartung, LobeLog - 12/9/15

Iran's President Rouhani: "If power is not criticized or questioned, deviation and tyranny will appear"
Speaking at the ceremony marking National Student Day in Sharif University of Technology President Rouhani deemed December 7 as a historic day for the Iranian nation. Addressing the ceremony which was held with the massive participation of students, Rouhani noted the significance of the National Student Day deeming it as day of independence and liberation against colonialism and despotism. - 12/8/15

House Bill Threatens to Restrict Iranian-American Travel to Europe
NIAC Action released the following statement regarding H.R.158, legislation that would revise the Visa Waiver Program which is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday, December 8: "This is an outrageous bill that threatens to block Iranian Americans from traveling to Europe under the Visa Waiver Program. It risks creating a separate class of American citizen . An American passport is an American passport regardless of the ethnicity or national origin of the person holding it. - 12/8/15

Petition: Don't Let the House Pass Discriminatory Visa Waiver Bill
On Tuesday, the House is voting on a bill that could prevent YOU from visiting family or traveling to Europe simply because you are Iranian American. -NIAC Action - 12/8/15

Iran's Nuclear Aberration
It was inevitable that some of the headlines greeting the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) final assessment of military nuclear research in Iran would be variations on the theme of "Iran's nuclear weapon program confirmed." In reality the picture that emerges from the assessment, distributed to IAEA members on December 2, is more complex-and less alarming. -Peter Jenkins - 12/8/15

Oil Prices Plummet As Investors Brace For Flood Of Iranian Crude
Oil prices plummeted to their lowest levels since the depths of the global recession in February 2009 as investors braced for a flood of Iranian oil in an already glutted market. - 12/8/15

Iranian-American Dr. Who Responded to San Bernardino Attack: "Let's Show ISIS What We Are Made Of"
Dr. Michael Neeki was one of the first to attend to the victims. Born in Iran, he said he was "sad" to see such terror occur in a country that is supposed to espouse freedom. Let's "show ISIS what we are made of," he said, and support the victims and their families. -Town Hall - 12/8/15

Three Europe carmakers to return to Iran soon
Three automakers from Sweden, Germany and France will resume operations in Iran when a July nuclear accord goes into effect, Industry Minister Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh says. - 12/8/15

Iranian MP says political activity should remain open to all
Iranian MP Ali Motahari says he does not believe in "fabricated red lines" to limit freedom of speech and even communists should be allowed to be active in the country. He also said establishing relations with the United States should not be viewed as the end of the Revolution. - 12/8/15

Satire show challenges Iranian TV culture
In the absence of attractive and entertaining programs on Iranian TV, comedy show 'Khandevaneh' is gaining momentum and drawing public attention. Especially among the young. -Your Middle East - 12/8/15

Asiatic cheetah extinction trend reversed
UN resident coordinator in Iran has said cooperation between Department of Environment and the Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project has reversed the extinction trend among Asiatic cheetahs. Gary Lewis who was addressing the ceremony to celebrate the International Cheetah Day (December 5) on Saturday - 12/7/15

Man-made Issues Exacerbate Iran's Water Crisis
A water crisis is looming in many dry areas of the world and Iran is no exception. As world leaders gather in Paris to negotiate a universal agreement regarding climate change, Iran is struggling with severe environmental issues that many believe were created due to manmade resource management decisions. Iran's Environmental Protection Organization said 7 million hectares of land is in danger of desertification. -Maryam Manzoori - 12/7/15

Some 22 people fall to H1N1 flu in Iran's Kerman province
Some 22 people have died after contracting the H1N1 flu virus in Iran's southeastern province of Kerman. The health deputy of Kerman Medical University, Nozar Nakhaei, made the announcement late on Sunday, adding that most of the deceased had underlying chronic diseases before becoming infected, IRNA reported. - 12/7/15

Iran: Kurdish Filmmaker's Appeal Request Accepted; Colleagues Voice Support
Documentary filmmaker Keyvan Karimi's request for an appeal against a six-year prison sentence for "insulting the sacred" has been accepted, a source close to the case told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 12/7/15

Success reported in efforts to bring back Lake Urmia
The chief environmental official for Western Azerbaijan Province reported on Sunday December 6 that 700 square kilometers of the southern parts of Lake Urmia are now covered with water. - 12/7/15

MasterCard preparing to set foot in Iran
Global payment operator MasterCard Incorporation is preparing to penetrate into the Iranian market as soon as the sanctions against Iran are lifted, the country's media reported on Saturday. - 12/7/15

Iran's cyber police arrest 53 Daesh propagandists
Iran's cyber police unit known as FATA has arrested 53 people for supporting the dogma of the Takfiri Daesh (Islamic State) terrorist group on the Internet over the past 20 months. - 12/7/15

Ninety Iranian Journalists Call for Release of Four Arrested Colleagues
Ninety Iranian journalists have signed a statement calling for the release of four of their colleagues arrested a month ago by Iran's Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization: Issa Saharkhiz, Ehsan Mazandarani, Saman Safarzaie, and Afarin Chitsaz. - 12/5/15

Iran Hawks Try a New Congressional Tactic
This week, the Senate and House introduced resolutions expressing congressional support for state and local divestment measures targeting foreign companies engaged in certain trade-related dealings with Iran. Both resolutions, which have attracted bipartisan support among congressional opponents of the Iran nuclear deal, threaten to complicate the Obama administration's implementation of U.S. sanctions relief for Iran. -Tyler Cullis - 12/5/15

Iranian reformist group calls for protection from disruption of speeches
Iran's Coordination Council of the Reformist Front has called on the judiciary to take the necessary steps to prevent the disruption of speaking events across the country. Speaking events organized for a number of reformists across the country have been cancelled or interrupted by groups of hecklers or attackers in the past month. - 12/5/15

Divided OPEC Braces For Flood Of Iranian Crude
Stiff Iranian opposition to any attempt to rein in its oil production has left the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) divided and unable to agree on a plan of action. A meeting on December 4 ended in disarray after Iran said it would not consider any production curbs until it restored output that has been scaled back for years as a result of Western economic sanctions. - 12/5/15

Iranian Ayatollah Criticizes Working Women
An influential spiritual leader in Iran has criticized what he described as the boom in working women, blaming the policies of President Hassan Rohani. "Why do people always insist that women work, although so many of our men are unemployed," said Ayatollah Seyyed Yousef Tabatabai-Nejad, the leading preacher in the central city of Isfahan. - 12/5/15

Russia, Iran, Iraq Quash Reported Bid To Cut Oil Output
The Energy Intelligence newsletter reported that Saudi Arabia, the largest oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), was ready to propose a cut of 1 million barrels a day in output at a meeting of the oil cartel on December 4, if non-OPEC countries like Russia joined in. But Russia, Iran, and Iraq quickly rejected the idea in the run-up to the meeting. - 12/4/15

Iranian FM hails Iraqis for successful Arbaeen ceremony hosting 26 million pilgrims
After the secure and successful ceremony of Arbaeen walking and mourning rituals in Iraqi holy cities of Najaf and Karbala where 26 million pilgrims, according to Iraqi minister of transport, converged on Thursday, Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif issued a message of appreciation and congratulation. - 12/4/15

Iran condemns Saudi airstrike on MSF clinic in Yemen
Iran has strongly condemned a recent Saudi aerial attack against a medical facility run by the international charity organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, in Yemen's southwestern province of Ta'izz. - 12/4/15

Water levels dropped sharply in Caspian Sea over past year
The National Centre for Studies and Research of the Caspian Sea announced on Wednesday that water levels there have fallen by 22 centimetres in the past year. The report adds that the decline over the past two years was 30 centimetres. - 12/4/15

Russia says it will produce evidence of Turkey's oil dealings with ISIS
Sputnik reports that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday December 2, during a visit to Serbia, that his country has said on many occasions that the oil being produced in the ISIS-occupied regions of Syria and Iraq is being sold through Turkey. - 12/4/15

Iran hardliners close concerts in challenge to president
Hardline sympathisers in Iran have been causing the abrupt closure of concerts, intimidating musicians in a show of force aimed at the moderate administration of President Hassan Rouhani. -Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian - 12/4/15

100 Women 2015: Iranian women's fight for freedom
Iran is better known for its religious conservatism than its history of women's rights. But although it might not be obvious to outsiders, the feminist movement in the country has a rich and varied history. -Faranak Amidi, BBC - 12/4/15

IAEA Report Concludes Iran Did Basic Work To Develop Nuclear Weapon
The UN's atomic watchdog says it believes Iran conducted activities relevant to developing nuclear weapons at least until the end of 2003 but that its activities didn't go further than planning and basic experiments. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 12/3/15

Prison to probe alleged use of violent offenders against Iranian political prisoners
Five political prisoners in Rejaishahr Prison, who started a hunger strike after being attacked by two violent offenders in prison, now say they have ended their strike because authorities said they will investigate the matter. - 12/3/15

Iran's Detention of US Journalist Jason Rezaian Reaches 500 Days
Iran's detention of U.S. journalist Jason Rezaian hits 500 days on Thursday, with The Washington Post saying that its Tehran correspondent is in "immediate danger" as his health deteriorates. - 12/3/15

Russia Begins S-300 Air Defense System Delivery To Iran: Report
Russia has reportedly begun the delivery of the S-300 air defense system to Iran as part of a long-running contract between Tehran and Moscow, reports say. Russia's TASS news agency quoted Vladimir Kozhin, an aide to President Vladimir Putin, as saying on Thursday that "the contract is being implemented, (deliveries of S-300s) are starting." The official did not disclose further details. - 12/3/15

Iranian beach soccer team ranks best in Asia
The national Iranian men beach soccer squad has been named the best team in Asia in the November edition of the Beach Soccer Worldwide (BSWW) rankings, standing at the sixth spot in the world. - 12/3/15

Iran mulls investment in giant titanium reserves
Iran needs more than $4.2 billion of investment over the next five years to bring a massive titanium mine in the country's southeast fully online, an official says. The deposits in Fanuj can yield 30 million tonnes of titanium ore a year, head of the board of directors of Makran Steel Jamshid Jahanbakhsh Tehrani said. - 12/3/15

Iranians tackle homelessness and hunger - one refrigerator at a time
Ali Heidari got in the car with his wife and nine-year-old son and drove to the Harandi neighbourhood in south Tehran, one of the main concentrations for homeless people in the Iranian capital. They were carrying 15 meals for the homeless. When they got there, Heidari was struck by what he saw. -Denise Hassanzade Ajiri, Guardian - 12/3/15

Popular Iranian Poet, Songwriter Arrested
Awell-known Iranian poet and songwriter has been arrested in Tehran for reasons that remain unclear. Forty-year-old Yaghma Golruyi was detained at his home in the Iranian capital on November 30, his wife, Athena Habibi, said via social media. - 12/2/15

Iranian American Groups Seek Congressional Support for Federal Hate Crime Investigation
A coalition of Iranian-American organizations released a letter today asking Representatives Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), Loretta Sanchez (CA-46) and other members of Congress to urge the U.S. Department of Justice to carry out an open and rigorous federal hate crime investigation into the murder of Iranian American college student Shayan Mazroei. - 12/2/15

Iran's Elaheh Ahmadi stands atop air rifle women world shooting podium
Female Iranian sports shooter Elaheh Ahmadi has been crowned as the world's best athlete of the 10-meter air rifle women division in the November edition of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) rankings. - 12/2/15

School fire in Hashtrood injures Iranian teacher
A fire involving a kerosene heater at an elementary school in Hashtrood resulted in a teacher sustaining serious burn injuries. Fars News reported on November 30, the fire at Alipoor School in Hashtrood district scared the students and caused burns to the hand of their teacher who was trying to protect the students from the fire. - 12/2/15

Rouhani Administration Continues Ban on Popular Musician
Singer-songwriter Hossein Zaman, who has been banned from performing for nearly ten years and lost his university teaching post due to his political views, says Rouhani administration officials in Iran are refusing to allow him to resume his artistic career because he has continued to openly express criticism about the country's affairs. - 12/2/15

Can Washington Separate Its Iran Policy From Israel?
A senior German official told me in 2010, quite proudly, that under the leadership of Angela Merkel, Germany's Iran policy had become a function of its relations with Israel. Whether Germany would sanction Iran or engage in diplomacy very much depended on Israel's reaction. In its simplest form, the German official was explaining to me the process of "Israelizing" Iran -Trita Parsi, National Interest - 12/2/15

U.S. Investigating Execution Of Iranian-American Man In Tehran
The U.S. State Department is investigating the fate of an Iranian-American man who was reportedly executed in Iran for murder last month. A nonprofit group, which is based in Norway, said in a report that Hamid Samiee was arrested in Iran in 2008 and executed by hanging last month for allegedly killing an Iranian man in the state of California. - 12/2/15

Hidden For Decades, Pollocks, Rothkos And More Go On Display In Iran
The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art has a new exhibition and the lineup of artists is stunning: Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, just to name a few. -NPR - 12/2/15

Italy intends to be Iran's leading trading partner
Italy intends to elevate its rank among Iran's leading trading partners in the world from ninth to first, said Italian Deputy Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda in Iran-Italy Business Forum, which was held in Tehran on Sunday. - 12/1/15

Iraq: Iranian Pilgrims Stampede At Border
Iraq has blamed Iran following a breach of the border by thousands of Iranian pilgrims who reportedly broke down fences and injured guards. The Iraqi Interior Ministry said the pilgrims who were traveling on foot to the city of Karbala to take part in Arbaeen religious rituals, overwhelmed security guards on November 29. - 12/1/15

Iran to facilitate visa issuance for foreign businessmen
Head of Tehran Chamber Of Commerce has announced the government plan to issue visas for foreign businessmen on their arrival at Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKA) to facilitate their visit and activity. - 12/1/15

IRGC General Soleimani Says Still in Quest of Martyrdom
Grinning about rumors of receiving injuries in Syria, Commander of Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Qassem Soleimani said in Tehran that his fervent wish to be martyred has not still come true. - 12/1/15

Iran's Wrestling Federation slams cancellation of orchestra performance
Rasoul Khadem, head of Iran's Wrestling Federation has called for an investigation into the cancellation of Tehran Symphonic Orchestra performance in the closing of World Wrestling Championships. - 12/1/15

Iran's mines can generate more money than crude: Bloomberg
The report, which appeared on Bloomberg website on Sunday, said Iran, as the fifth-largest crude producer among the member states of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has potential to generate more revenue from mining than it does from crude if the government puts more focus on developing the metals sector. - 12/1/15

The tumbling turban: Who is behind attacks on Reformists in Iran?
As Iran's disparate political entities begin to lobby and organize for the 2016 parliamentary and Assembly of Experts elections, attacks on Reformist gatherings portend a challenging path for a decimated group that hopes to return to power. -Arash Karami, Al-Monitor - 12/1/15
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