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Jason Rezaian's Mother Pleads for Her Son's Release
Mary Rezaian, the mother of Jason Rezaian, the Washington Post reporter who was detained in Iran last week with his wife Yeganeh Salehi without charge or access to a lawyer, makes a heartfelt plea to Iranian authorities in this video to release her two loved ones. -Jasmin Ramsey - 7/31/14

Rouhani's Hollow Year
With the approaching conclusion of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's first year in office, the collective appetite of the world, in particular his domestic constituents, still craves for the bold campaign and inauguration promises echoed so loudly last spring and summer. -Omid Irani - 7/31/14

Spreading Decline of Zagros Oak Forests in Iran
Decline and destruction of Zagros oak forests has been accelerating at a rapid pace in the past five years and despite many warnings, no solution has been so far implemented to protect these highly valuable natural resources. While numerous meetings and seminars at taking place on this issue, an unknown pestilence is progreesively drying out the entire oak forests of Zagros. - 7/31/14

Gaza: Ode to the Lost American Conscience
Watching the US-backed Israeli bombardment of Gaza makes me ashamed to be an American. The sight of US-made bombs bursting in the air, in hospitals, in homes, and over beaches is a far cry from the sense of American exceptionalism engendered by Francis Scott Key's observations of the British shelling of Baltimore during the war of 1812. -James A. Russell - 7/31/14

Stats show dire state of Iran's economy, industry
Iran's Industry Minister says the economy has shrunk by 2.2 percent since the last measurement and 50 percent of the manufacturing sector is now in recession. Mohammadreza Nematzadeh said "severe currency fluctuations, a lack of equipment and a lack of foreign investment" have left more than 10,000 industrial units half-finished all across the country. - 7/31/14

Icann bids to stop Iran web domain seizure
Net overseer Icann has asked a US court to stop an attempt to seize the web space of Iran, Syria and North Korea. The attempt to seize the .ir, .sy and .kp domains is being made by families of victims of terrorism. -BBC - 7/31/14

Six judges accused of leading role in Iranian crackdown on free speech
Iran's crackdown on journalists and political activists is being spearheaded by a small group of judges under the influence of the country's intelligence and security apparatus, according to human rights organisations. -Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian - 7/31/14

Neocons Agree: Pressure Iran Forever
One of the unintended consequences of the decision to extend the international talks on Iran's nuclear program is the growing number of neoconservative calls for even more pressure on Iran. -Derek Davison - 7/30/14

Column: Free Jason Rezaian, Other Iranian American Detainees
All Iranian Americans who travel to Iran know they face a certain amount of risk. Obliged to use Iranian passports instead of obtaining visas like other Americans, Iranian Americans can easily be barred from leaving the country and become pawns in the three-decade-old U.S.-Iran confrontation as well as in Iran's complicated domestic political battles. The latest such pawn appears to be Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian. -Barbara Slavin - 7/30/14

US: No Commitment to End Date for Iran Nuclear Talks
An Obama administration official has declined to commit to an absolute end date for nuclear negotiations with Iran, but says the United States remains committed to a verifiable accord preventing Tehran from building an atomic weapon. In the Senate, lawmakers of both parties voiced strong skepticism about international talks with Iran that have been extended to November. -Michael Bowman, VOA - 7/30/14

Mortazavi charged with misuse of Social Security Fund
Saeed Mortazavi, the former head of the Social Security Fund, has been summoned to court for the charge of "embezzlement, malversation, and illegal seizure of private property." The charges have been brought against him by a number of workers covered by the Social Security Fund. - 7/30/14

U.S. Pushes to Expedite Some Humanitarian Shipments to Iran
Amid a diplomatic thaw earlier this year between Tehran and the West, U.S. officials had a message for European companies eager to get back into Iran: Take it slow. Today, Washington is pushing some of them to speed things up. -Wall Street Journal - 7/30/14

How to End the Gaza War
As the killing and destruction rages on in Gaza, and as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Hamas leadership exchange recriminations and threats, key regional and world players must accept a central truism: No peace can be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians without including Hamas. The quicker they internalize this fact, the faster the cycle of violence can be broken. -Emile Nakhleh - 7/30/14

"All is lost" -- Unless the US and EU Start Thinking Straighter
On the face of it, July has not been a bad month for those of us who would like to see the West's nuclear quarrel with Iran resolved peacefully, not least so that the US, EU and Iran can feel less inhibited about regional security cooperation, and so that trade and investment can resume, sanctions having created hardship not just for ordinary Iranians but also for many EU companies. -Peter Jenkins - 7/29/14

Rights Groups, US Urge Iran to Release Journalists
Rights groups and the U.S. State Department are continuing to call for Iran to release four people arrested last week, including Washington Post Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian and two other journalists. - 7/29/14

Iran Is World's Leading Jailer Of Female Journalists And Netizens
The arrest on 22 July of two journalists and a photographer, including the Tehran correspondent of the Washington Post and his Iranian wife, brings to 65 the number of news providers behind bars in Iran. They include 10 women, of whom three are foreign nationals, making Iran the world's leading jailer of female journalists and netizens. - 7/29/14

Tehran told to drop plans for gender segregation in city offices
The Ministry of Labour has called on Tehran Mayor Mohammad Baghher Ghalibaf to revoke the directive for gender segregation in city offices. The ministry maintains that the directive violates the International Labour Convention's anti-discrimination provisions. - 7/29/14

Stagflation plagues Iranian economy
Iran is facing stagflation and a 20-percent decline in national revenue, according to Massoud Nili, the economic advisor to President Hassan Rohani. In an interview with ILNA, Nili said this level of stagflation is unprecedented in the post-war period, adding that in the past two years, economic growth has been negative while inflation has been consistently above 30 percent. - 7/29/14

Mesmerizing Interiors Of Iran's Mosques Captured In Rare Photographs By Mohammad Domiri
Mohammad Domiri, a talented architectural photographer from northern Iran, takes stunning photos of grandiose mosque architecture throughout the Middle East. -boredpanda - 7/29/14

Iran establishes largest Middle East biological refinery
Qeshm Micro Algae Biological Refinery in southern Iran was established as the Middle East's largest biological technological company on micro algae. - 7/29/14

Israel Creates 'No Man's Land' in Gaza, Shrinking Strip by 40 Percent
"Scorched earth," historically, means destroying land to deprive the encroaching enemy of its use. Israelis shy away from using the phrase to describe what they are doing because, in Israel, it brings to mind the strategy of the Nazi retreat from Russia at the end of the Second World War. -Jesse Rosenfeld, Daily Beast - 7/29/14

Singing is our resistance: Iranian sisters on their fight to perform
A prominent Iranian musician today told how she uses music as her "resistance" against the strict laws in her home country. Mahsa Vahdat, 40, who performed at Womad festival with her sister Marjan, 37, on Sunday, said she refuses to comply with a law preventing women from singing solo to a mixed-sex audience. -Evening Standard, London - 7/29/14

Explorer 'dices with death' as he treks Iran's longest river for a MONTH
A Northern Ireland adventurer who traced the longest river in Iran from source to sea, has described it as 'dicing with death'. Leon McCarron walked, kayaked and biked along the waterway - from the snowy mountainous headwaters of the south west to the Persian Gulf - in a country still largely shrouded in mystery. -Connie Allfrey, Daily Mail, UK - 7/29/14

Iran should free Post journalist Jason Rezaian and his colleagues immediately
Mr. Rezaian, who grew up in California as the son of an Iranian immigrant, went to the country in 2012 because he believed he could offer a more nuanced portrait of Iran, his mother told The Post. He has reported not just on political developments in Tehran but also on social issues, such as a water shortage, and cultural developments, including a nascent Iranian appetite for baseball. -Editorial Board, Washington Post - 7/29/14

Iranian teams shine in RoboCup 2014
Iranian high school and university students have excelled in RoboCup 2014, winning first, second and third places in separate events. The competitions were held in Joao Pessoa, Brazil, from July 19 to 25. - 7/28/14

Raid Leaves Arrested Washington Post Journalist's Home in Tehran "Looking Like a Scene from Hell"
Jason Rezaian, Yeganeh Salehi, two journalists, and a photographer were arrested in Tehran on the night of July 22, 2014, after their homes were raided by security forces. The agents also confiscated their personal belongings, including laptops, books, and notes, a source told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. - 7/28/14

Iran's inflation rate much improved
Iran's Central Bank says the country's annual inflation rate now stands at 25.4 percent. The announcement on Sunday July 27 included news that the consumer goods and services price index has gone up by 1.4 percent in Iranian cities compared to last month. - 7/28/14

Iranian Journalist Mirdamadi Gets Six-Year Sentence
Jailed Iranian journalist Serajeddin Mirdamadi was sentenced to six years in jail on Sunday July 27 at Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court. The sentence, which was issued at a preliminary hearing, can be appealed within 20 days. Mirdamadi used to reside in Paris and collaborated with a number of media outlets including Radio Zamaneh. - 7/28/14

In death, soccer fan-turned soldier embodies Israeli-Palestinian gap
In death, Staff Sergeant Nissim Sean Carmeli, a 21-year old soccer fan, embodies the deep fears, distrust and dehumanization of the other that has exploded into massive bloodshed in Gaza, threatens to spark another uprising on the West Bank and makes achievement of even a temporary Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire an almost impossible task. - James M. Dorsey - 7/28/14

Can Iran build bridges to regional foes?
Islamic State extremists in Iraq have created a common enemy in the region. But Iran has to tackle deep distrust - and keep nuclear talks on track - to forge a new relationship with its Arab neighbors. -Scott Peterson, CSM - 7/28/14

Iran's pistachio exports up 94 percent
Iran's pistachio exports totaled 168 million dollars in the first three months of Iranian calendar year (started on March 21), jumping by 94 percent comparing to similar period last year. - 7/28/14

Iran students face expulsion from Norway over sanctions
Academics from Norway's top technical university have expressed concern after almost a dozen post-graduate science students from Iran had their residence permits cancelled because of international sanctions. -Fariba Sahraei, The Nation - 7/28/14

'Fashion Police' Are Real In Iran, And They Just Shut Down A Famous Design Institute
Technically they're called 'morality police,' but nonetheless, famous clothing design institute "Khaneh Mode" (Mode House) was shut down last week in Tehran for violating conservative Islamic rules. -Dina Hashem, The Gloss - 7/28/14

Iranian Security forces shut down poet's commemoration
The fourteenth commemoration ceremony for the passing of Iranian poet Ahmad Shamloo was interrupted by Islamic Republic security forces. HRANA reports that the ceremony was organized by Iran's Writers' Association and was held on Thursday July 25. - 7/26/14

Why the Hawks Are Winning the Iran Debate
Last week, my colleague Ali Gharib and I published an article in The Nation in which we explored the influence of hawkish groups in shaping congressional legislation on Iran sanctions. One of the explanations we offered was the overwhelmingly large budgets enjoyed by hard line, pro-sanctions organizations such as the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). -Eli Clifton - 7/26/14

Let's display Iran's pacifism to the world through art and culture: President Rouhani
President Hassan Rouhani has called on Iranian artists and literati to prove Iran's genuine belief in pacifism to the world by means of art and culture. Speaking during a meeting with Iranian artists and cultural figures on Friday evening in Tehran, he said, "Iranian people have always been against violence and extremism." - 7/26/14

Ministry of Health Concerned over Sale of Iranian Kidneys
Iran's Charity Association for the Support of Kidney Patients (CASKP) says the Ministry of Health has to establish protocols to prevent the sale of Iranian kidneys to foreign patients. The ministry's response, however, is that the Society must be held accountable for this problem. - 7/26/14

Iran Forest Fires Up By 40 Percent
The head of Iran's Forest Protection Unit says the incidence of forest fires rose by an unprecedented 40 percent in the past year due to "excessive heat and droughts." - 7/26/14

Overcoming the Media Blockade in Gaza
This latest assault on Gaza reaffirms the key role played by the U.S. media in maintaining the information blockade. It also highlights the increasing importance of pressure applied by social networks. -Amy Goodman, truthdig - 7/26/14

Photos: Iranians hold 'Quds Day' protest rally to condemn Israel's Gaza aggression
Millions of people across Iran held protest rallies on Friday, World Quds Day, to condemn Israeli invasion of Gaza and the attacks on the defenseless civilians there. - 7/25/14

Iran Detains 4 Journalists, Including Washington Post Reporter
Three Americans, including a reporter for The Washington Post, appear to have been detained in Iran, the newspaper and the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday. Two of the detainees are Jason Rezaian, the Tehran correspondent for The Washington Post, and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, a correspondent for the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper the Nation, the CPJ said in a statement. - 7/25/14

Persian.ology: Cyrus Rising: King(s) of the Four Quarters
Cyrus the Great (Kurush) entered the holy city of Babylon on 29 October 539 BCE and the world was never, ever the same. All the great ancient kingdoms of the Near East-other than Egypt-were now ruled by one king: Cyrus. A first. -A.J. Cave - 7/25/14

Ruling of Combined 127-Year Sentence for Facebook Users Violates Iran's Own Laws
A source knowledgeable about the case of eight young Iranians sentenced to heavy prison sentences for their activities on Facebook told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that in an illegal ruling, Branch 28 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Moghisseh has issued verdicts that are up to three times longer than allowable under Iran's own laws. - 7/25/14

Boeing to provide Iran Air with plane parts: Report
Aerospace giant Boeing has reportedly signed a deal with Iran Air to provide the Iranian flag carrier airline with plane parts. A regulatory filing which was issued on Wednesday reads that Boeing will provide goods and services "related to the safety of flight" for Iran's flag carrier airline, AFP reported. - 7/25/14

Iranian Hardline Cleric Ayatollah Jannati Chosen Again To Oversee Guardian Council
Jannati is 88 years old and has served as head of the Guardian Council since 1992. He was a staunch supporter of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the 2009 election and has been severely opposed to all efforts by the new administration to secure the release of opposition leaders Karroubi, Mousavi and Rahnavard, who have been under house arrest since 2011. - 7/25/14

Iran: Probe finds more students received bursaries unfairly
The investigation into the former administration's practice of offering bursaries to ineligible students has uncovered 3, 731 cases of these irregularities so far. The head of the Parliament's Education and Research Commission has announced that these students received bursaries without meeting the necessary GPA criteria, a practice that has called the entire system into serious question. - 7/25/14

Photos: Iranian Mothers For Peace group protests attacks on Gaza
Iran's Mothers for Peace gathered in protest in front of the United Nations offices in Tehran to condemn the Israeli attacks on Gaza. Iran's Mothers for Peace expressed affinity with the Palestinian mothers who have lost family members in the Israeli attacks. - 7/24/14

Fuzzy Math From Iran Hawks
Being a Washington analyst means never having to say you're sorry. And so it has been throughout the diplomatic process with Iran, where naysayers who stridently opposed talks have found themselves dealing with the reality of negotiations over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program by not dealing at all with their past records on the matter. -Ali Gharib - 7/24/14

Jailed Iranian journalist seems weak at court
Jailed Iranian journalist Saba Azarpeyk attended the Revolutionary Court on Sunday and Monday, July 20 and 21. Eyewitnesses report that Azarpeyk appeared weak and showed serious weight loss. Azarpeyk has only been allowed to contact her family once since her arrest. - 7/24/14

Iranian actress Niki Karimi criticizes world's silence on Israeli crimes in Gaza
Iranian actress-cum-director Niki Karimi has expressed her criticism over the world's silence on the ongoing Israeli crimes in Gaza. "It is very strange to me that in today's world of instant communication such a tragedy can be occurring, and yet everyone still does as he pleases, and nothing is done to stop it." A large group of Iranian cineastes also gathered at Tehran's Shafaq Cultural Center yesterday to protest against Israeli crimes in Gaza. - 7/24/14

Iranian Satellite Jamming Causes Storm Of Controversy
The Iranian regime has long used signal jamming to disrupt the flow of information into the Islamic republic, but it couldn't have forecast the strategy's deadly consequences. Satellite-jamming technology is being blamed for disrupting Iran's ability to predict a major dust storm that hit Tehran in June, killing five people. - 7/24/14

Meet the Billionaire Funders of the Anti-Diplomacy Lobby
My colleague Ali Gharib and I just published an article in The Nation in which we explore how hawkish, deep-pocketed organizations hold disproportionate influence in shaping the discussion about Iran-policy on Capitol Hill. -Eli Clifton - 7/24/14

Gaza Under Fire: A Humanitarian Disaster
The current crisis in Gaza comes against a backdrop of a continued blockade imposed on the territory by Israel, widespread unemployment, severe poverty, electricity cuts, closure of borders and crossings since 2006, destroyed infrastructure and a stagnant Gazan economy, combined with a lack of political progress at the Israeli-Palestinian political level. -Khaled Alashqar, IPS - 7/23/14

Zarif specifies sticking points in Iran nuclear talks
The Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that Tehran's enrichment capacity, the Arak heavy-water reactor, and the sanctions against the country are the main sticking points in the talks between Iran and the major powers. - 7/23/14

Abdol-Hossein Harati Arrested After Return to Iran
In an open letter to Mehdi Karoubi four years ago, Abdol-Hossein Harati called the 1980s in Iran "The Terror Hallway of Iran's History" that is associated with the founder of the Islamic republic ayatollah Khomeini. Through the letter he objected to Karoubi's and Mir-Hossein Mousavi's constant praise of Khomeini. -Fereshteh Ghazi - 7/23/14

Widespread Elimination of Women from Tehran City Administration "for Their Comfort"
A Tehran Municipality manager announced on July 13, 2014 that henceforth all managers in the organization should use male employees in their offices, and the Municipality offices should be segregated by gender. - 7/23/14

Latest Statistics Reveal: Marriage of 31,000 Underage Iranian Girls in 9 Months
Over five percent of women who got married in the first nine months of 1392 (i.e., between March and December of 2013) were less than 15 years of age, according to the most recent figures published by the government's National Organization for Civil Registration -Niusha Saremi - 7/23/14

Jobless rate rises in Iran even for the educated
Iran's Centre for Statistics has announced a rise in the country's unemployment rate. ISNA reports that the statistics indicate a 0.2-percent increase in unemployment. The number of unemployed has gone from 2.4 million to more than 2.53 million, including 1.772 million men and almost 758,000 women. - 7/23/14

"A Place of Indescribable Loss": As Ceasefire Talks Begin, Israel Bombs Hospital, Mosques and Homes
The Israeli assault on Gaza has entered its third week as the Palestinian death toll has topped 600, mostly civilians. More than 100 of the dead are children. More than 3,700 Palestinians have been injured. -Democracy Now - 7/23/14

Iranian Science Minister Defends University Appointments
Iran's minister of science has responded to critics and defended his choices for university presidents, saying all his appointees have top academic credentials and have also been approved by the ministry of intelligence. Farajidana has been accused of appointing individuals who supported the opposition in the election protests of 2009. - 7/23/14

5 Things to Know About the Extended Nuclear Talks with Iran
The recently extended nuclear negotiations with Iran have had to compete for front-page attention with acute crises elsewhere. The agreement to extend both the negotiations and the interim commitments associated with them for another four months has nonetheless provoked comments from the usual quarters, including those who have never wanted any agreement with Iran and continue to try to sabotage the negotiations. -Paul Pillar - 7/22/14

The Lying Game: Failing in Gaza
On or around August 6, 1945, US Air Force jets dropped copies of two leaflets on Japanese cities, including Nagasaki, according to the Harry S. Truman Library. Both included a similar message: You saw what we did to Hiroshima. If you don't want the same thing to happen to you, overthrow your emperor. Failing that, flee your cities. -Mitchell Plitnick - 7/22/14

Iran revising Internet-control bill
The Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance announced on Sunday that Iran's bill on controlling Internet websites is being amended by a team of experts and officials. The amendments are aimed to legalize Iranian users' access to some online social network services such as Facebook and twitter, and other internet services such as WhatsApp and Viber, which are currently illegal in Iran. - 7/22/14

Wave Of Forgiveness Washes Over Iran
Last week alone, according to the reformist "Shargh" daily, nine individuals sentenced to death were pardoned by victims' families. Observers say a concerted publicity campaign is at play, but money is also a factor. Artists, television celebrities, and rights activists have been publicly calling on citizens to spare the lives of those sentenced to death and the media have been sympathetic in their coverage. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 7/22/14

Iran takes 4th spot at world fustal championship
The 14th edition of World University Championship started in the Spanish city of Antequera on July 13, and ended on July 20.The Iranian national men's futsal team has finished fourth place at the 14th edition of World University Championship in Spain, being beaten by Belarus in a penalty shootout. - 7/22/14

Fear, Love and Iran's Favorite Internet Enemy (it's Facebook)
Throughout its 35 years of existence, the Islamic Republic of Iran has not tolerated free expression or public gatherings beyond its control. Facebook offers some semblance of both of these things on an easy-to-use platform. -Mahsa Alimardani and Fred Petrossian, Global Voices - 7/22/14

Google has a 'Security Princess'
Information Security Engineer is a pretty dry job title. Google's Parisa Tabriz instead prefers to go by "Security Princess." Yes, that is actually what it says on her business cards. -SFGate - 7/22/14

Iranian Volleyballers Finish 4th In World League
Iran's volleyball team is overpowered by Italy in FIVB Volleyball World League 2014 semifinals, finishing fourth in the tournament notwithstanding its decent performance. The two sides went head to head at the Nelson Mandela Forum in Florence on Sunday, with Italy managing to get past Iran in straight sets (25-22, 25-18, and 25-22). - 7/21/14

"Indiscriminate" Bombing in Gaza Pushes Death Toll Beyond 500
In the Gaza City suburb of Shuja'iyya on Sunday, more than 120 Palestinians-at least 40 of whom where women and children-were killed during intense and reportedly "indiscriminate" bombing by Israeli forces. The Ma'an News Agency reports that overall, 150 Palestinians were killed across the territory on Sunday. -Jon Queally, Common Dreams - 7/21/14

Three elections, three reactions: Ukraine, Egypt and Syria
As it happens, there have been elections in all the three countries in June, and it is useful to study the circumstances surrounding those elections and the West's reactions to those elections. -Farhang Jahanpour - 7/21/14

Iran Plays a Waiting Game in Afghanistan
It has been a worrisome few weeks for Iran. The negotiations with world powers over its nuclear program are seeing significant differences, there is chaos in Iraq to Iran's west, and more recently, the political transition in its eastern neighbor, Afghanistan, hit a serious bump with allegations of fraud threatening to derail the process. -Sumitha Narayanan Kutty - 7/21/14

Iranian football player Ali Karimi announces his retirement
Former Iran international and Persepolis star Ali Karimi has decided to hang up his boots. The 35-year-old made the announcement in a letter published on his Instagram account on Sunday. Karimi, who was known for his amazing dribbling skills, was arguably one of Iran's all-time best players. He was often referred to as the Asian Maradona and was regarded as one of Asia's greatest footballers. - 7/21/14

Iran Eliminates Highly-Enriched Uranium Under Nuclear Deal
A nuclear watchdog says Iran has eliminated its most-sensitive stockpile of enriched uranium gas as pledged under a temporary nuclear deal signed with six world powers last year. - 7/21/14

Prosecutor agrees to jailed Iranian activist's demands
Jailed Iranian labour activist Reza Shahabi has ended his 50-day hunger strike after the Tehran Prosecutor agreed to his demands. Reports indicate that one of prosecutor's deputies, Mehdi Khodabakhshi, visited Shahabi in hospital on Sunday July 20 and accepted his demands for ending his strike. - 7/21/14

'Tsunami of tourists' head for Iran
Tehran may be a capital of some 12 million people, but remarkably it has only three large five-star hotels. A fourth is under construction yet most of Tehran's accommodations remain smaller apartment style hotels. Farman Ghafarian owns two of these enterprises -- Tehran Grand Hotels One and Two. The recent spike in visitors has him thinking expansion. -Reza Sayah, CNN - 7/21/14

Volleyball: Iran defeated by USA 3-0 in FIVB World League semifinals
Iran's volleyball team has failed to reach the FIVB World League's final match after being defeated by the American team in three straight sets. On Saturday, Iran lost its first ever semifinal match at a world tournament to the US team 3-0 (25-18, 25-22, 25-16). - 7/20/14

Iran basketball team wins FIBA Asia Cup
Iran's national basketball team has defeated Chinese Taipei to win the final match of the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup held at Wuhan, China. Iranian basketball players hammered the Chinese Taipei 89-79 in the match held at the Wuhan Gymnasium on Saturday, claiming their second Asian Cup. - 7/20/14

Planned Chaos in the Middle East-and Beyond
Geopolitical observers of the Middle East turbulence tend to blame the raging chaos in the area on the presumed failure of the "incoherent," "illogical" or "contradictory" policies of the United States. Irrefutable evidence (some of which presented in this study) suggests, however, that in fact the chaos represents the success, not failure, of those policies-policies that are designed by the beneficiaries of war and military adventures in the region, and beyond. -Ismael Hossein-zadeh - 7/20/14

Fear of an Iranian Bomb Grips Capitol Hill
With the rumored extension of the negotiations in Vienna on Iran's nuclear program hanging in the air, a group of legislators and right-wing thinkers gathered on Capitol Hill on Friday to talk about what they believe a comprehensive deal with Iran should entail. -Derek Davison - 7/20/14

Iran: Families, friends of Kahrizak victims call for justice
A gathering was held to mark the fifth anniversary of the victims of the Kahrizak Detention Centre, with families and activists calling for a follow-up into the deaths of the detainees in custody. - 7/20/14

Tehran mayor stands firm on gender segregation plan
The mayor of Tehran has defended his move to segregate male and female workers in city offices, saying: "We have religious honour and will not permit women to socialize and have contact with men other than their husbands." - 7/20/14

'Death and horror' in Gaza as thousands flee Israeli bombardment
Palestinian government condemns attack on Gaza's Shejaiya neighbourhood as 'war crime' as Israel widens ground offensive -Guardian - 7/20/14

Iran, World Powers Agree to Extend Nuclear Talks
World powers and Iran have agreed to extend a deadline for reaching an agreement aimed at limiting Iran's nuclear program until mid-November, citing progress made, but nowhere near enough to reach a deal. The announcement came early Saturday morning in Vienna after the latest set of marathon talks between Iran and world powers. -Lisa Bryant, VOA - 7/19/14

Volleyball: Iran defeats Brazil at FIVB World League, reaches semifinals
Iran's volleyball team has advanced to the semifinals of the 2014 FIVB World League after beating nine-time world champion Brazil. The Iranian team defeated Brazil 3-1 (25-22, 25-19, 23-25, 28-26) in a match in the Italian city of Florence on Friday, progressing to the semifinals of the event for the first time in its history. - 7/19/14

Carlos Queiroz agrees new contract to stay at Iran until 2018
The Iranian Football Federation (IFF) has agreed to extend Carlos Queiroz's contract until the end of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. In a session held at the Iran Football Federation headquarters on Friday, two parties agreed to finalize the contract on August 1. - 7/19/14

West Considers Early Sanctions Moves in Troubled Iran Nuclear Talks
With talks between world powers and Iran over a broad nuclear accord at an impasse, Western governments are considering offering a significant easing of sanctions early on in the process to try to wring concessions from Tehran, diplomats say. -Reuters - 7/18/14

Iranian Human Rights Defenders Voice Support for Nuclear Talks
The talks in Vienna over Iran's nuclear program will likely continue past the July 20 deadline for reaching a final deal. President Barack Obama noted "real progress" but hinted at an extension yesterday after being briefed by Secretary of State John Kerry, who held several meetings with the Iranians this week. -Jasmin Ramsey - 7/18/14

Bill Criminalizing Birth Control is "Against Citizens' Rights," Critics Say
Two prominent Iranian lawyers have questioned the legitimacy of a bill approved by the Iranian Parliament on June 24, 2014, which calls for punishment against those who perform birth control procedures such as vasectomy and tubectomy. The bills are part of an official drive to boost the country's population. - 7/18/14

Gender segregation considered for Tehran parks, city staff
Tehran's deputy mayor for Staff Maintenance announced that a plan to segregate park benches is being considered to make sure young men and women do not sit too close in public. Meysam Amroodi said provisions could be made to have a table in between seats to allow for appropriate distance between men and women. - 7/18/14

New Memo Analyzes Consequences of No Nuclear Deal with Iran
Washington, DC - Failure to reach a nuclear deal with Iran will not lead to a continuation of the current status quo, but rather a deterioration of the situation with severe military, economic and security consequences. This is the conclusion of a new NIAC Policy Memo published today analyzing the consequences of a diplomatic failure between the U.S. and Iran. - 7/18/14

Campaign begins to restore major Tehran landmark
A new campaign has been established by a group of Iranian cultural heritage and history aficionados to save Azadi Tower, a prominent landmark in the capital. - 7/18/14

Covert war against Iran's nuclear scientists: a widow remembers
The wife of the first scientist to be assassinated speaks about her husband's growing fear of a net closing around him - and of meeting his Israeli-trained assassin before his execution. -Scott Peterson, CSM - 7/18/14

Iranian Commanders on Front Line of Iraq's Fight
A powerful Iranian general has emerged as the chief tactician in Iraq's fight against Sunni militants, working on the front lines alongside 120 advisers from his country's Revolutionary Guard to direct Shiite militiamen and government forces in the smallest details of battle, militia commanders and government officials say. -AP - 7/18/14

Obama Says Significant Gaps Remain On Iran Talks
President Barack Obama on July 16 said there are "still significant gaps" and more work to do on Iran nuclear talks. Obama, speaking in Washington, said he will consult with Congress and allies to establish whether negotiations need to be extended after the July 20 deadline. - 7/17/14

Iran's Rouhani, Zarif Not Desperate for Nuclear Deal
The negotiations in Vienna between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program are in the home stretch even if the July 20 deadline to reach a final deal set by last year's interim accord will not be met. Few expected a deal to be reached so quickly, less than one year after last year's historic agreement, the Joint Plan of Action. -Adnan Tabatabai - 7/17/14

Volleyball: Russia and Italy record wins against Iran and USA as World League Finals begin
Russia beat Iran 3-2 (18-25, 25-18, 25-21, 35-37, 15-8), but it was far from comfortable for the title holders as Iran battled right to the end of the match. In front of a huge number of Iran supporters, the World League finals debutants won a thrilling fourth set to take the match into a decider. - 7/17/14

Column: Extension Looks Likely for Iran Nuclear Talks
That the sides cannot quite close all the gaps is as much a function of politics as are technical concerns over aspects of the Iranian nuclear program. So much is riding on these negotiations that for either side to give in too quickly would likely be viewed negatively by key constituencies around the world and back home. -Barbara Slavin - 7/17/14

Iranian journalist jailed for sending letters to her father in prison
Sajedeh Arabsorkhi, an Iranian activist and journalist, has been transferred to Evin Prison to serve out a one-year prison sentence. According to the Kaleme website, she is accused of propaganda against the regime for writing letters to her father, Feizollah Arabsorkhi, a political prisoner at the time. - 7/17/14

Call For Papers: Symposia Iranica Second Biennial Iranian Studies Conference
Symposia Iranica inaugurated at the University of St Andrews with 99 speakers in 2013 as the first early career scholar-focused in the field. We bring together this group to celebrate, encourage and stimulate their interest and engagement with Iranian studies - 7/17/14

Iran beats Jordan, marches into FIBA Asia Cup semifinals
Iran men's national basketball team has advanced to the semifinals of the fifth edition of Federation Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) Asia Cup in China after registering a convincing victory over Jordan. - 7/17/14

Opening minds in Iran's closed society through Parinoush Saniee's best-seller
The Book of Fate, one of Iran's best-selling novels ever despite being banned twice, had its paperback release this month. To mark the occasion, its author, 64-year-old Parinoush Saniee, spent a week promoting the book in Bulgaria, before flying to Heidelberg, Germany, to spend time with her two children and grandchild. -The National, UAE - 7/17/14

Baseball in Iran is more like the Bad News Bears than the Major Leagues
Closer to the Bad News Bears than the Major Leagues, organized baseball has been played here since 1991. Very few Iranians beyond the estimated 500 players, coaches and umpires who belong to the national association, however, have even heard of the game. -Jason Rezaian, Washington Post - 7/17/14

Progress Cited, but No Accord in Iran Nuclear Talks
VIENNA - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is heading back to Washington three days of talks with Iran in Vienna, as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called for extended negotiations if a deal with world powers is not achieved by the July 20 deadline. - 7/16/14

Strong US Majority Prefers Iran Deal says "Citizen Cabinet" Survey
Sixty-one percent of the American public prefers a deal permitting Iran to continue limited uranium enrichment and imposing intrusive inspections on its nuclear facilities in exchange for some sanctions relief, according to a unique new survey released here Tuesday. -Jim Lobe - 7/16/14

Breakout, Shmeakout: The Wrong Way to Assess a Nuclear Deal with Iran
There is a preoccupation with "breakout" - a scenario in which an Iran supposedly determined to violate an agreement suddenly races to build a nuclear weapon - and with stripping away Iranian capabilities in order to lengthen the time required under such a scenario for Iran to produce enough fissile material for a weapon. The fixation with breakout, with the repeated references to it as a supposed reason to be wary of any agreement with Iran, is misplaced for several reasons. -Paul Pillar - 7/16/14

Iran: Rouhani administration unveils economic stimulus package
The package, which was unveiled on Monday, highlights supporting the leading domestic economic enterprises, boosting industrial and service exports, and promoting tourism as the initial factors which can help the national economy come out of recession. - 7/16/14

New Study Shows Leading Iranian Figures Support Nuclear Negotiations
In a study released by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran today,Voices from Iran: Strong Support for the Nuclear Negotiations, prominent members of Iranian civil society expressed their strong support for the P5+1 nuclear negotiations between Iran and the world powers. - 7/16/14

Iran's population grows in latest census report
Iran's population has reached 78 million, with an increase of 333,669 people in the past six months. Iran's Census Bureau released the latest report on Tuesday July 15, saying: "70 percent of the population is now between the ages of 15 and 64, which is the age group considered working and active." - 7/16/14

Iranian fighter jet crashes during training
Two people were killed when an Iranian fighter aircraft crashed in Fars Province during military training. IRNA reports that a military spokesman said the F4 jet was from the Bandar Abbas Flight Base and the reason for the crash has not been determined. - 7/16/14

Kerry, Iran's Zarif In 'Very Tough' Nuclear Talks In Vienna
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he is engaged in "very tough" negotiations in Vienna with Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif over Iran's nuclear program. Kerry's comments on July 14 come six days before a deadline for a deal curbing Iran's controversial nuclear program is to expire. - 7/15/14

Report: Iran Sanctions Cost US Economy up to $175 Billion
U.S. sanctions on Iran have carried a significant cost to the U.S. economy, a new report published by the National Iranian American Council today finds. Losing Billions - The Cost of Iran Sanctions to the U.S. Economy reveals that between 1995 and 2012, the U.S. sacrificed at least $135 billion and as much as $175 billion in potential export revenue to Iran. - 7/15/14

Kerry: 'Real Gaps' Remain in Iran's Nuclear Talks
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says diplomats from Iran and a group of six world powers have made progress in talks about Iran's nuclear program, but that "very real gaps remain" on key issues. Kerry spoke Tuesday in Vienna after the latest meeting in an effort to find a long-term agreement to ensure Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. - 7/15/14

Iraq's Disintegration Would be Contagious and Destabilizing
When the Soviet Union fell in 1991, there was hope that a main barrier to implementing the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and creating a more law-based international system and order had been removed, offering the chance that states, both great and small, would endeavor to organize their relations on the basis of law and principle and not sheer power and ambition. -Shireen T. Hunter - 7/15/14

Are NGOs Returning to Iran?
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) began to thrive in Iran under the presidency of Mohammad Khatami (1997-2005). A plethora of organizations sprung up to work on a variety of issues, from the environment, to women's issues, to poverty, to protecting child laborers. However, with the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005 NGOs took a big hit in Iran. - 7/15/14

Reformist son of Iranian clergy member released after hunger strike
Iranian political prisoner Mehdi Khazali was released after going on a hunger strike for 24 days. Khazali was arrested early last month and immediately began a hunger strike. Since then, he has reportedly suffered two heart attacks and is in grave health. - 7/15/14

Jailed Iranian reporter Siamak Ghaderi released
Siamak Ghaderi, an Iranian reporter who used to work for IRNA, was released from prison on Monday July 14 after serving his sentence. Reports from Iran indicate that Ghaderi was released on a roadside in order to avoid any gathering of his supporters in front of the prison door. - 7/15/14

Two Iranians Flogged Publicly For Eating During Ramadan
Two men were flogged in public in the south-central Iranian city of Shiraz for eating during fasting hours in the holy month of Ramadan. Fasting in Ramadan is considered a religious duty for Muslims. - 7/15/14

Iran's washing up liquid protest
A striking piece of graffiti in the heart of Iran's capital Tehran has been widely shared on social media. It shows a woman holding up a "World Cup" in the shape of a washing up liquid bottle. What does it mean and why has it struck a chord? -BBC - 7/15/14

No Breakthrough In Iran Nuclear Talks
There appeared to be no breakthrough in talks between world powers and Iran, a week before the deadline to strike a momentous nuclear deal. The European ministers left late on July 13 saying no breakthrough had been made, although Kerry remained for further discussions with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif that are expected to continue on July 14. - 7/14/14

Iranian Facebook Activities Draw Harsh Prison Sentences
Eight people have been handed heavy prison sentences for their activities on Facebook. The charges against them range from "assembly and collusion against national security" and "anti-regime activity" to "insulting sanctities and government officials." - 7/14/14

Could More Iran Sanctions Roil Energy Markets?
Could the collapse of Iran nuclear negotiations cause havoc at the gas pump this summer? While negotiators from the P5+1 and Iran are meeting this week for a final marathon session to see if a comprehensive solution can be reached as to Iran's nuclear program, a perfect storm could await world energy markets if the talks fail to produce a deal. -Wright Smith, NIAC - 7/14/14

Sanctions Experts Visualize Smart Sanctions Relief
Washington, DC - With a potential Iran nuclear deal a little more than a week away, expertise on the issue of sanctions relief is in high demand on Capitol Hill. Last week, the National Iranian American Council held a briefing on the issue with three leading experts who helped Congressional staff members navigate the difficult legal terrain. - 7/14/14

Column: Religion, Sports Exchanges Bring Iranians and Americans Closer
While U.S. and Iranian negotiators labor to reach a long-term nuclear agreement, other Americans and Iranians are stepping up contacts in a new wave of people-to-people diplomacy. -Barbara Slavin, VOA - 7/14/14

Israeli Propaganda and the Politics of Revenge against Gaza
Well, the Palestinians who live in the Gaza Strip are 80 percent refugees--80 percent of them are descended directly from those who were forced off their land in what is now Israel in 1947 in 1948. And now they're being told to leave again. And they have nowhere to go. There are no bomb shelters in the Gaza Strip. There is nowhere for these refugees to flee. -The Real News Network - 7/14/14

Former Iranian President Denies Claim He's Under Gag Order
Former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami has denied recent statements about an alleged court order against him prohibiting him from giving public appearances and talks. - 7/14/14

EU lifts sanctions on 14 Iranian entities in a year
The European Union has annulled sanctions against 14 Iranian entities since President Hassan Rouhani took office in August 2013, the IRNA news agency reported on Sunday. - 7/14/14

Iran sees no benefit in developing nuclear weapons: Foreign Minister Zarif
"I will commit to everything and anything that would provide credible assurances for the international community that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, because we are not. We don't see any benefit in Iran developing a nuclear weapon." - 7/13/14

U.S., Iran Warn Major Disputes Remain At Nuclear Talks
The United States and Iran are both warning that major disputes remain in the Vienna talks over Iran's nuclear program. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Vienna on July 13 that "obviously we have some very significant gaps still, so we need to see if we can make some progress." - 7/13/14

Ed Levine Dissects Royce-Engel Letter on Iran Deal
Ed Levine has now written a second memo, this one on the Royce-Engel letter to President Barack Obama, which I wrote about last night and which had been signed by 344 House members as of Thursday. Like its predecessor, it details the problematic and unrealistic nature of many of the key demands contained in the letter and thus deserves the widest possible circulation. -Jom Lobe - 7/13/14

Uranium Enrichment Is Most Difficult Part Of Talks: Iranian Negotiator
A top Iranian nuclear negotiator has said that the uranium enrichment program by Iran is one of the most difficult parts of the talks with major powers and given the sensitivity and the capacity of the issue, no agreement has been achieved yet. Abbas Araqchi made the remarks in a televised interview aired on Sunday. - 7/13/14

Iranian Minister Announces Reversal Of Water-Rationing Plan
Iran's Minister of Power has announced that the plan to ration water in Tehran and other large cities throughout the country has been dropped. Earlier, the Iran Water and Sewage Company had announced that water must be rationed across the country, saying 517 cities are now facing a water crisis. - 7/13/14

The Map: A Palestinian Nation Thwarted & Speaking Truth to Power
As part of my original posting, I mirrored a map of modern Palestinian history that has the virtue of showing graphically what has happened to the Palestinians politically and territorially in the past century. -Juan Cole - 7/13/14

Spoiler Alert: Iran Hawks Take Wing Against Nuclear Deal
After a period of relative (and blissful) quiescence, the Iran hawks are springing back into action, preparing the groundwork for sabotaging any nuclear deal that may be reached by Iran and world powers by July 20 or shortly thereafter. -Jim Lobe - 7/12/14

The Hopes and Fears of an Agreement with Iran
Over the last century, July 20 was more than once a consequential date, for good and ill. The ill was in 1944: the unsuccessful plot to kill Adolph Hitler. The good was in 1969: the first manned landing on the moon. Success on the former July 20 might have spared at least some of the terrible suffering that continued for another 10 months; the latter ushered in a new era of expectations. -Robert E. Hunter - 7/12/14

US Backing Israeli War of Choice In Gaza
The moral high ground is always a tenuous piece of property. It is difficult to obtain and is easily lost. It is seen, however, as crucial because most people, all over the world, cannot accommodate the notion that life is composed of shades of grey; they desperately need to see black and white, good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains, in every situation. Nowhere is this truer than in the Israel-Palestine conflict. -Mitchell Plitnick - 7/12/14

TripAdvisor grants Certificate of Excellence to tomb of Persian Poet Hafez
TripAdvisor, a U.S. travel website that provides directory information and reviews of travel-related content, has granted a Certificate of Excellence to the tomb of Hafez in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, Fars Province. - 7/12/14

Jailed tycoon's debts to Iran exceed his assets
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namadar says the assets of jailed tycoon Babak Zanjani will only cover 40 percent of his debts to the ministry. Zanajani was arrested six months ago for his debts to the oil ministry and the Central Bank, for forging bank documents, and for bribing the Bank of Tajikstan. - 7/12/14

How a U.S.-Iran nuclear deal could help save Iraq
A new strategic relationship between the United States and Iran may seem impossible and risky, yet it is also necessary and in the interests of both. While an alliance is out of the question, mutually informed parallel action is essential. -Ryan Crocker, William Luers and Thomas Pickering, Washington Post - 7/12/14

Noam Chomsky calls on Iran to release imprisoned journalist Marzieh Rasouli
The US philosopher Noam Chomsky has called on Iran to release the female journalist Marzieh Rasouli who was jailed last week to endure a sentence of 50 lashes and two years in prison. -Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian - 7/12/14

Israel's Groundhog Day: Reverse Snowballs and the Horror of Lawn-Mowing
As in the Bill Murray science fiction vehicle "Groundhog Day," the Israelis, the Palestinians and the world are doomed to relive these periodic slaughters over and over again, until slowly, inexorably, they further corrupt the Israeli soul and make the Zionist enterprise so unlovely in the eyes of the world that it loses crucial support, and the snowball rolls uphill, getting smaller and smaller. -Juan Cole - 7/12/14

Linking the US and Iran
Should the (Iran nuclear) talks fail to reach agreement, what happens next? More sanctions, more enrichment, and more talk of military action are the most likely outcomes. What has been missing from the debate, and what could save the long-term relationship between Iran and the West, is more talk of enhancing "linkage" with Iran. -David Collier - 7/11/14

New Wave of Arrests and Prison Sentences Against Iranian Journalists
The prominent journalist Marzieh Rasouli was summoned to Evin Prison on July 8, 2014, for the implementation of her sentence of 50 lashes and two years' imprisonment, she announced on Twitter, even though Rasouli has not yet received confirmation of the initial sentence from the appeals court. - 7/11/14

NIAC Statement on Royce-Engel Iran Letter
National Iranian American Council (NIAC) Policy Director Jamal Abdi released the following statement regarding the "Royce-Engel letter" that was sent to the President today concerning nuclear negotiations with Iran: - 7/11/14

Kerry In, Lavrov Out Of Nuclear Talks With Iran
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Vienna this weekend to join ongoing world power nuclear talks with Iran. The State Department said on July 10 that Kerry "will see if progress can be made on the issues where significant gaps remain and assess Iran's willingness to make a set of critical choices at the negotiating table." - 7/11/14

Suspicious forest fires in Iran give poachers cover
A number of suspicious fires have burned hundreds of acres of Iran's Golestan National Park in recent days. The last of these incidents occurred on Tuesday July 8 and affected more than 400 acres of Golestan National Park's forests. - 7/11/14

Obituary: Iranian Revolution's Willing Executioner
Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammadi Gilani is being hailed by Tehran as a hero of the Islamic Revolution. But many will remember him as an executioner willing to cleanse Iranian society of anyone -- possibly even his own sons -- who opposed the regime. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 7/11/14

Fatal explosion kills two Iranian miners
An explosion in a red granite mine in Northeastern Ardakan has killed two miners and injured three others. ILNA reports that Yazd Province labour officials announced that the incident occurred on Monday July 7 and the injured workers are being treated for burns. - 7/11/14

American athletes get star treatment in Iran
"People look at me like I have two heads," said James Ravannack, describing the reaction he gets when he explains to people what a fabulous time he had in Iran. -Barbara Slavin, Al-Monitor - 7/11/14

"Closed Curtain": Iran's banned filmmaker won't give up
"Are there windows behind those curtains?" asks the mysterious woman to the mysterious writer in Jafar Panahi's "Closed Curtain," an ambiguous, allegorical film made by the world's best-known banned director. -Andrew O'heir, Salon - 7/11/14

Lawmakers Call On Obama To Consult Them On Iran Nuclear Deal
More than three-quarters of the U.S. House of Representatives has called on President Barack Obama to consult with Congress about any final deal with Iran over its nuclear activities. - 7/11/14

Sanctions Relief Terms Could Sink Iran Nuclear Deal
Most of the recent discouraging news about the talks between Iran and world powers has focused on the substantial disagreement regarding Iran's uranium enrichment capacity. However, while this dispute could sink the chances of reaching an agreement on its own, the focus on enrichment masks another and perhaps equally volatile issue: the process through which Iran will receive sanctions relief if a deal is reached. -Derek Davison - 7/10/14

Iran may cooperate with U.S. on Iraq: Rafsanjani
"Iran and the United States have common interests in Iraq. And there is no obstacle to cooperation. If the two countries deem it necessary that there is a need for cooperation, they may make planning in this regard," Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said in an exclusive interview with the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun on July 7. - 7/10/14

Argentina Beats Netherlands, Advances to World Cup Championship
Argentina positioned itself to win its first World Cup in nearly 30 years, beating the Netherlands in a penalty shootout, 4-2, after a scoreless draw. The result Wednesday at rainy Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo means Argentina plays Germany in Sunday's championship game at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. - 7/10/14

Iranian journalists call for release of jailed colleague
Eighty-two Iranian journalists have spoken out against the continued detention of Serajeddin Mirdamadi, an Iranian journalist who has been in custody since May 10. Kaleme reports that a statement from the journalists denounces Mirdamadi's continued arrest and the judiciary's refusal to release him. - 7/10/14

Iran: From 'axis of evil' to last best hope in the Middle East
By easing sanctions and fostering economic growth in Iran, the U.S. can ultimately promote a sustainable relationship based on mutual needs and benefits. Now more than ever, the opportunity for just such a partnership exists in Iran's budding technology market. -Arezo Yazd, CNN - 7/10/14

On Israel-Palestine and BDS
The misery caused by Israel's actions in the occupied territories has elicited serious concern among at least some Israelis. One of the most outspoken, for many years, has been Gideon Levy, a columnist for Haaretz, who writes that "Israel should be condemned and punished for creating insufferable life under occupation, [and] for the fact that a country that claims to be among the enlightened nations continues abusing an entire people, day and night." -Noam Chomsky, Nation - 7/10/14

Iran to create 3rd petrochemical hub in Chabahar
Iran plans to turn Chabahar Port, located in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan on the coast of the Gulf of Oman, to the third petrochemical hub of the country, IRNA reported on Tuesday. - 7/10/14

Open the Files on the Iran Coup
But just as the world is demanding that Iran be honest about its past nuclear activities, Britain and the United States still refuse to come clean about the 1953 Anglo-American coup in Iran that remains an open wound in Iran's relations with the West. -Roham Alvandi, NY Times - 7/10/14

Wave of Hunger Strikes in Iranian Prisons; Are We Aware?
A widescale hunger strike is currently underway among Iranian political prisoners yet we are unaware of its details and are not doing anything about it. We won't until we hear the news of the death of one of them. -Issa Saharkhiz - 7/9/14

Shirin in Love": A Romantic Iranian-American comedy
Following its successful theatrical release this spring, Vision Films in association with Sideshow Releasing are proud to announce the release of "Shirin in Love", a romantic comedy about a quirky young Iranian American writer from Los Angeles who falls in love and discovers herself, - 7/9/14

Germany Crushes Brazil 7-1 in World Cup Semifinal
Germany's goal total was the most ever by one team in a World Cup semifinal, while Brazil matched its worst-ever margin of defeat and allowed seven goals for the first time in 80 years. Brazil also lost its first official competitive match at home since 1975. -Mike Richman, VOA - 7/9/14

Jailed Iranian journalist speaks to her family after weeks
Saba Azarpeyk, the Iranian journalist who has been under arrest since late May, has contacted her mother for the first time in more than 40 days. Meanwhile, journalist Marzieh Rasouli says on her Twitter page that she has been summoned to serve out her sentence of imprisonment and fifty lashes. - 7/9/14

US Diplomat: Bahrain 'Undermining' Reform Talks With Expulsion Threat
The Bahraini government Monday accused visiting Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski of interfering in internal affairs and called for his immediate departure after he met with opposition members, who have been advocating reform since a 2011 uprising. - 7/9/14

Iran Sends 3 Attack Planes to Iraqi Government
Deepening its involvement in the crisis in Iraq, Iran has sent three Russian-made attack planes to the Maliki government that could be deployed against the Sunni militants who have wreaked havoc on Iraqi military forces, American and Iraqi officials said Tuesday. -NY Times - 7/9/14

Iran: 'flag' fashion show flops in Tehran
A fashion show in Tehran has upset Iranian authorities by using variations of the national flag and pictures of animals in its designs, it's reported. -BBC - 7/9/14

Iran's Khar Turan 2nd largest biosphere reserve in world
The national park of Khar Turan, located southeast of the Iranian city of Shahrud, is believed to be the second largest biosphere reserve in the world. Khar Turan national park, with an area of around 1.5 million hectares, is the world's second largest biosphere reserve after Africa's Serengeti, says the park's Chief Ranger Ali Akbar Ghorbanloo. - 7/8/14

Khamenei Says U.S., Israel Playing 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' With Iran
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said the United States and Israel were playing "good cop, bad cop" to intimidate his country into making concessions on the nuclear dispute with the West. - 7/8/14

Iran's Supreme Leader: There's mechanism to guarantee no diversion to nuclear weapons
The Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution said on Monday that the West wants Iran to close the Fordo nuclear enrichment site because this facility is safe from any attack, calling the demand "comical". Fordo, dug into a mountain near the city of Qom, is safe from air attack. - 7/8/14

New Report Reveals Iranian TV's Continued Human Rights Violations
he United States should reinstate sanctions on Iran's state TV and radio broadcasting agency, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), for the continuation of its widespread human rights violations, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. The US Treasury had issued a six-month waiver of IRIB sanctions in February 2014, which expires in August. - 7/8/14

Football: Tehran's Esteghlal signs Brazilian goalkeeper da Silv
Tehran's Esteghlal football club has signed Brazilian goalkeeper Alberto Rafael da Silva on a two-year contract. The 30-year-old goalkeeper is really happy to sign for Iranian football giant. - 7/8/14

Iranian MPs end call for removal of Science Minister
A group of MPs withdrew their call to impeach the Minister of Science and Technology after Minister Reza Farajidana promised to address their concerns in a meeting that included the MPs and parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani. - 7/8/14

Benjamin Netanyahu's Excellent Adventure
The last few months have gone rather well for the right-wing Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu, in the sense of advancing its prime objective of indefinitely extending the occupation and colonization of Palestinian territory by ensuring failure of any diplomatic efforts to end the occupation. -Paul Pillar, LobeLog - 7/8/14

Outcome of Nuclear Talks Difficult to Predict: Iranian FM
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says it is difficult to predict the outcome of ongoing nuclear negotiations due to the complexity of the agenda. "Given the complexity and consistency of various subjects that should be agreed upon in order to reach a comprehensive [nuclear] agreement, it is really difficult to predict the result of the talks," Zarif said. - 7/7/14

Photos: A Low Budget "World Cup"
These days we are all caught in the excitement of the World Cup and all the magnificence surrounding the games. However, there are also many "little cups" happening all over the world that don't get much attention. There are no billion dollar budgets; no fancy stadiums or green grasses; no nice balls, jerseys and shoes. These games are rather played on rough dirt fields, most often with no shoes and with flat balls. Yet the players and their spectators seem to be happy just the same. - 7/7/14

Protests Continue Over Ban on Iranian Women's Presence at Sporting Events: Rouhani's Deputy on Women's Affairs is "Conservative"
While the ban on women's presence at sporting events continues in the Islamic republic, a group of women gathered at the building of the capital's provincial center building to display their unhappiness where they signed a petition and submitted it to the governor of Tehran in which they demand the authorities to provide a justification for banning women from watching volleyball at the country's largest stadium complex, the Azadi Stadium. -Niusha Saremi - 7/7/14

Zarif, Ashton meet on sixth day of nuclear talks
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton have held a fresh round of meeting over Tehran's nuclear energy program. Iran and the six countries formally kicked off the sixth round of nuclear talks on July 3 to discuss a permanent accord. - 7/7/14

Building in Persepolis vicinity halted for code violation
A university building project in the Persepolis area has been halted by Cultural Heritage officials of Fars Province because it violates building regulations for that area and distorts the view of the ancient ruins. ISNA reports that last March, the Marvdasht Azad University announced that it would build a new complex near Persepolis, including a mosque. - 7/7/14

Aircraft Manufacturers Vying for Iran Market
Major aircraft makers and spare part producers have reached out to the Iranian companies to grab a share of the country's potentially lucrative market once the anti-Iran sanctions are eased, an Iranian official said. - 7/7/14

Iran Said to Name U.S.-Trained Economist Its New UN Envoy
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani may name his American-educated chief of staff to be the country's next envoy to the United Nations, after the U.S. denied a visa to his previous choice. -Bloomberg - 7/7/14

Urmia Lake Restoration Committee announces 10-year restoration plan
The committee has prepared a 10-year plan to restore the Lake Urmia. Davoud Reza Arab, who was speaking in the 2nd press conference of the ULRC today, told the press that the committee had prepared a 9-year plan to restore the lake, with 2023 being the year when the lake would have been completely restored. - 7/6/14

10 Iranians on list of World's Most Influential Scientific Minds
Ten Iranian scientists have been named to Thomson Reuters' list of The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds 2014. The list includes more than 3,200 scientists from around the world who have published the highest number of articles that are cited the most frequently by other researchers. - 7/6/14

Professors write in defence of embattled Iran's Science Minister
More than 900 professors at Iranian universities have issued a statement expressing their support for Science and Technology Minister Reza Faraji-Dana. The Etemad daily reports that in a letter to Ali Larijani, the head of Parliament, the professors express dismay regarding the actions that a number of MPs have taken against the minister of science. - 7/6/14

Volleyball World League: Poland Beat Iran 3-0
Poland overpowered Iran 3-0 to register a second win against the Asian champions in their last 2014 FIVB Men's Volleyball World League match in Gdansk on Saturday to collect half of the points possible from their four confrontations against Iran after they lost their first two matches in Tehran last week. - 7/6/14

Israeli Police Caught On Video Beating Palestinian U.S. Citizen
It is a nightmare day for the Khdeir family, in East Jerusalem and in Tampa, Florida. It's worth taking a close look at the conditions they are facing in light of crimes committed against some of their youngest members that most of us will, thankfully, never have to come close to experiencing. -Mitchell Plitnick - 7/6/14

Rafsanjani calls for Saudi-Iranian effort against extremists
Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Chairman of Iran's Expediency Council, has called on Iran and Saudi Arabia to cooperate in the fight against extremism in the region. Meeting in Tehran with the Saudi ambassador to Iran, Hashemi Rafsanjani said: "Differences among Islamic countries in the region are giving terrorist groups an opportunity to escalate their activities, and this in turn has weakened the Islamic world." - 7/6/14

Iran News Agency Reports Death Of Iranian Pilot In Iraq
Iran's official IRNA news agency says an Iranian pilot has been killed while fighting in Iraq. The news agency said Colonel Shoja'at Alamdari Mourjani was killed while "defending" Shi'ite Muslim holy sites in the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad. It did not say whether the pilot died while flying sorties or fighting on the ground. - 7/5/14

Coach Carlos Queiroz shows green light to Iran
Iran coach Carlos Queiroz showed green light to Iran's Football Federation (IFF) to renew his contract with the Team Melli. Former Real Madrid coach talked to the "2014" TV show on Thursday and admitted that he has received a written offer from IFF to extend his contract. - 7/5/14

EU court scraps sanctions on National Iranian Tanker Company
A European Union court on Thursday annulled sanctions placed by the 28-nation bloc on National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), because of its alleged involvement in the country's nuclear program. The European Union has provided insufficient evidence to justify sanctions imposed against the NITC, the General Court said. - 7/5/14

Mining in southern Tehran adds to pollution in capital
The over-exploitation of construction material mines in southern Tehran has become a source of dust particles, adding to air pollution problems in the Iranian capital. - 7/5/14

Iran and the Six Powers Must Make a Good Deal, But Can They?
Verifiably trusting Iran may be the best option. After all, if a country the size and geography of Iran intended to clandestinely build a bomb, no amount of inspection and verification will ever be able to detect or stop it. Even if Iran had the intention to build bombs it could be better diverted by other means than sanctions and inspections - like regional security cooperation, trade and foreign investment, and political reform in Iran, all of which will build trust and confidence. -Hooshang Amirahmadi - 7/4/14

Let Freedom Ring: U.Va. Professor Rediscovers Sacred Story Behind Jefferson Statue
Jehovah. Allah. Brahma. Ra. Atma. Zeus. God. Names given by people across time and culture to represent a divine creator, a source of ultimate power and will. They've been used to inspire generations to connect with something greater than themselves, as well as to fuel centuries of holy wars, religious persecution and terrorism, excuses for death and division within a world of different belief systems. -Lauren Jones, University of Virginia - 7/4/14

Explainer: How Iran Could Help Iraq Fight ISIL
To help Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government battle militants of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Iran could potentially offer significant assistance through its powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which reportedly has been active in Iraq during the past decade, analysts say. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 7/4/14

Tehran's daily power outages bring call for restraint
Tehran is facing a daily power outage that lasts for hours. The Shargh daily reports that the first days of summer in Tehran have been accompanied by repeated power outages lasting four to five hours. - 7/4/14

Iran: Kazeroon Forest Fire Still Out Of Control
One hundred hectares of meadow and forest in Kazeroon in Fars Province have burnt down in a fire that started on Tuesday July 1. IRNA reports that the fire started on Tuesday and, according to Natural Resources officials in the province, high winds on Wednesday spread the fires further, complicating the task of extinguishing them. - 7/4/14

Iran and World Powers Begin Nuclear Talks in Vienna
Delegates from Iran and six world powers have begun a final round of talks as the deadline approaches for a final agreement on Tehran's nuclear program. Negotiators from Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia began the opening plenary session of the sixth round of nuclear talks Thursday in Vienna. - 7/3/14

Zarif to 5+1: Opportunities should be seized and delusions abandoned
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote an article in the French newspaper Le Monde saying that while thoughtfulness and reasonable analysis would secure success in achieving a nuclear comprehensive agreement, delusions and miscalculations could lead to a new missed opportunity. - 7/3/14

EU Court Scraps Sanctions On Iranian University
A European Union court has annulled sanctions on a top Iranian university, which the 28-nation bloc accuses of being involved with Iran's nuclear program. The General Court ruled on July 3 that the European Union had provided insufficient evidence to justify an asset freeze on Tehran's Sharif University of Technology. - 7/3/14

Iranian Warplanes Reportedly Deployed In Iraq
Areport by a London-based think tank suggests that Iran has supplied Iraq with warplanes to bolster its forces as it fights an offensive by Sunni-led Islamist militants. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) says imagery analysis of a video released by the Iraqi authorities suggests the Sukhoi jets delivered on July 1 originated from Iran. -RFE - 7/3/14

Meet Sheila Irani: Candidate for Los Angeles City Council, District 4
Sheila Irani, an entrepreneur in Lake Hollywood, recently announced her candidacy to represent District Four of the Los Angeles City Council. Born and raised in the Hollywood Hills, Irani holds a bachelor's degree in economics and psychology as well as an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles. - 7/3/14

Iranian journalist group seeks to re-establish itself
Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, the head of Iran's disbanded Association of Journalists, has called on the Minister of Culture to take the last step to resurrect the association. Shamsolvaezin told Shargh that since Culture Minister Ali Jannati has said that he has no problems with the activities of the association, then he should take the last step and get the judiciary to reopen it - 7/3/14

FREEDOM: A SHARED DREAM - International Jury Announcement
Farhang Foundation announces its collaboration with an esteemed panel of jurors for the international urban art competition to design a site-specific artwork that commemorates the concepts of religious diversity and freedom as human rights as inspired by the ideals of Cyrus the Great. - 7/3/14

U.S. company to invest over $1.1B in Iranian waste-to-energy project
The U.S. company World Eco Energy plans to invest $1.175 billion in a project in Iran's southwestern province of Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari to generate electricity from solid waste. Local companies will invest the same amount of money in the project. - 7/3/14

Iran volleyball team to play U.S. in Los Angeles
Head of Iran Volleyball Federation Mohammad Reza Davarzani said that the Iranian team will play four friendlies against the U.S. in Los Angeles in preparation for the 2014 Volleyball World Championship. - 7/2/14

Iran's Population Drive Could Outlaw Vasectomies
Iran cannot force its citizens to have more children, but it could take away their ability to get their tubes tied. Acting on Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's calls for Iran to reverse course and boost its population growth, parliament has passed a bill that would make vasectomies, tubectomies, and other surgical methods of sterilization punishable by two to five years in prison. -Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE - 7/2/14

"Bad Deal" Better Than "No Deal"?
"No deal is better than bad deal:" that's the mantra that has been heard ad nauseam in the recent past and presented as self-evident of U.S. toughness in the negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. -Francois Nicoulaud - 7/2/14

Crack in sanctions cannot be repaired: President Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that the sanctions imposed on Iran have already been eased through actions taken by his government and the nuclear negotiating team. "The bowl of sanctions has broken... and [nobody] can return this broken bowl to its previous state," Rouhani said during a ceremony held to commemorate Iran's Industry and Mining Day in Tehran on Tuesday. - 7/2/14

Iranian negotiators will try to reach a reasonable nuclear solution: Araqchi
Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi has said that Iranian negotiators will try to reach a "fair" and "reasonable" solution to Iran's nuclear issue in a new round of nuclear talks with the major powers, which starts on Wednesday in Vienna. - 7/2/14

Tattooing, a lucrative business in Iran
Tattooing, risen to an unprecedented demand gaining a wide market in many countries across the world, has also become a top earning occupation in Iran. While tattooing is actually illegal, it is being offered overtly in all beauty salons and spas in all the major cities of the country. - 7/2/14

Iranian nuclear deal still is possible, but time is running out
July 20, the deadline to negotiate a comprehensive agreement on Iran's nuclear program, is fast approaching. All along, these negotiations have been about a choice for Iran's leaders... -US Secretary Of State, John Kerry - 7/2/14

Iran's water crisis the product of decades of bad planning
Iran is headed for a water shortage of epic proportions, and little is being done to reverse a decades-long trend that has reduced the country's water supply to crisis levels. -Jason Rezaian, Washington Post - 7/2/14

Iran Shoots Modern Family Scenes Almost Frame for Frame -- Minus the frames with the gay couple
Fans of the ABC series Modern Family may never have laid eyes on the Iranian TV series Haft Sang - but they've seen it, nonetheless. -TIME - 7/2/14

Iranian Youths Urged To Improve Competencies
Unemployment is a major concern of young people in Iran, which compels more youths to remain single. Tuesday edition of the English language newspaper Iran Daily wrote that lack of responsibility and inadequate skills are also contributing to this issue, said an Iranian sociologist. - 7/1/14

Iraqi Turmoil And the Global Oil Market
According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), Iraq has the fifth largest proven oil reserves in the world. Yet 90 percent of its resources are unexplored, mainly due to years of war and sanctions. Production costs in Iraq might be some of the lowest in the world, yet its production has never exceeded 4 million barrels a day (mb/d). -Sara Vakhshouri - 7/1/14

Dollmaker to display works inspired by characters of Iranian folk tales
Works by Bibi Haazer Omidvari, an 88-year-old self-taught Iranian doll maker, is on display in an exhibition at the Iranian Artists Forum (IAF) in Tehran. Bibi Haazer, who lives in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, creates her works based on characters from Iranian folk tales. - 7/1/14

Iranian MP reveals Supreme Leader rejected end to house arrests
Outspoken Iranian MP Ali Motahari says Iran's Supreme Leader has turned down his request to release MirHosein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi from house arrest, maintaining that their offence is too big and that if the late leader of the Revolution Ayatollah Khomeini were alive, he would have been even more severe with them. - 7/1/14

University reprimands Tehran morality police for going on-campus
The head of Tehran University of Art, Gholamreza Akrami, says the police do not have the right to enter the university campus, and following a discussion with them, "they have apologized for the recent incident." - 7/1/14

Iranian carmaker resumes exports to Russia after 5-year hiatus
The Iranian carmaker Iran Khodro (IKCO) has resumed automobiles exports to Russia, which it halted in 2009 when Russia adopted stricter Euro-4 emission standards. The company plans to export 10,000 cars to Russia by 2015, according to the Tasnim News Agency. - 7/1/14

Sport, in the name of Iranian-US diplomacy
Creative solutions are necessary to sustain more peaceful relations between Iran and America. Your Middle East's contributor Sam Khanlari offers you some real insight into what role sport can play. -Sam Khanlari, -Your Middle East - 7/1/14
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