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Rial Hits Record Low; 3 Iranian Scientists Honored; Hikers' Story

27 Sep 2011 16:00Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Standard Time (IRST), GMT+3:30

4 p.m., 5 Mehr/September 27 Uskowi on Iran reports that the Iranian rial fell Monday to a record low against the U.S. dollar,

trading in Tehran's exchange markets at nearly 13,000 rials per dollar. The new value represents a 30 percent decline against [the] dollar in less than a year. The Central Bank of Iran has set the new official rate at 10,810 rials...but the move has not been successful in stopping the decline in [the] rial's value in [the] exchange markets.

As reported by Tehran Bureau a year ago, when the rial set its previous open-trading low against the dollar, the Iranian currency market has become increasingly volatile, with international sanctions and contentious internal lobbying efforts both contributing factors.

***
Avestimehr.jpgMostofi.jpg Three Iranians in the United States were among the 94 researchers named by President Barack Obama as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the U.S. government's highest honor for science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. Dr. Amir Salman Avestimehr of Cornell University (left) and Dr. Yasamin C. Mostofi of the University of New Mexico (right), both American citizens, were nominated for the honor by the National Science Foundation and Dr. Ali Khademhosseini of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital, a Canadian citizen, was nominated by the Department of Defense. According to a White House statement,
The Presidential early career awards embody the high priority the Obama Administration places on producing outstanding scientists and engineers to advance the Nation's goals, tackle grand challenges, and contribute to the American economy. Sixteen Federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America's preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the awarding agencies' missions.

"It is inspiring to see the innovative work being done by these scientists and engineers as they ramp up their careers -- careers that I know will be not only personally rewarding but also invaluable to the Nation," President Obama said. "That so many of them are also devoting time to mentoring and other forms of community service speaks volumes about their potential for leadership, not only as scientists but as model citizens."

Avestimehr, an assistant professor at Cornell's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, works in the fields of information theory, the theory of communications and its applications, and networking and communication protocol design. His research focuses in particular on approximation approaches to wireless network information theory; the interplay between learning and communication from an information-theoretic perspective; source, channel, and network coding; and compressive sensing.

Mostofi, an assistant professor with UNM's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, conducts research at the intersection of the two areas of communications and control/robotics in cooperative networks. Her specific research interests include sensor networks, collaborative information processing in multi-agent mobile networks, optimization of real-time wireless networks, optimum allocation of computation and communication resources, and cross-layer designs.

Khademhosseini2.jpgBefore attaining graduate degrees in the United States -- Avestimehr at the University of California at Berkeley, Mostofi at Stanford University -- both scientists received B.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran.

Khademhosseini (right) is an associate professor at Harvard-MIT's Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. His research focuses on techniques to enhance scientists' ability to understand cell function and to regulate its behavior for tissue engineering. He is also an associate faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, where his laboratory is developing bioinspired approaches for generating tissue-like structures as well as fabricating combinatorial biomaterials for regenerative medicine applications. He directs a satellite laboratory, as well, at the World Premier International-Advanced Institute for Materials Research at Japan's Tohoku University. He received his Ph.D. in bioengineering at MIT and his undergraduate and master's degrees, both in chemical engineering, at the University of Toronto.

***

On Sunday, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the American hikers released by the Islamic Republic last week after two years of detention, along with Sarah Shourd, who was arrested near the unmarked Iraq-Iran border along with them and released last year, described their experiences in a New York City press conference. The following is a selection of directly quoted statements made by the three compiled from various sources:

[Fattal:] It was clear to us from the very beginning that we were hostages. This is the most accurate term because, despite certain knowledge of our innocence, Iran has always tied our case to its political disputes with the U.S.

[Bauer:] Even if we did enter Iran, that has never been the reason the Iranian authorities kept us in prison for so long. The only explanation for our prolonged detention is the 32 years of mutual hostility between America and Iran. The irony is that Sarah, Josh and I oppose U.S. policies towards Iran which perpetuate this hostility. We were convicted of espionage because we are American. It is that simple. No evidence was ever presented against us; that is because there is no evidence and because we were completely innocent. The two court sessions we attended were a total sham. They were made up of ridiculous lies that depicted us as being part of a conspiracy to undermine Iran.

[Fattal:] Many times, too many times, we heard the screams of other prisoners being beaten and there was nothing we could do to help them.

[Shourd:] I don't know what was being done to them. But not being able to help another human being, being completely impotent and unable to do anything to ease their suffering, is something I'll never forget.

[Fattal:] Solitary confinement was the worst experience of all of our lives. We lived in a world of lies and false hope.

[Bauer:] In prison, every time we complained about our conditions, the guards would immediately remind us of comparable conditions at Guantanamo Bay. They would remind us of CIA prisons in other parts of the world, and the conditions that Iranians and others experience in prisons in the U.S. We do not believe that such human rights violations on the part of our government justify what has been done to us. Not for a moment. However, we do believe that these actions on the part of the U.S. provide an excuse for other governments, including the government of Iran, to act in kind.

[Fattal:] We applaud the Iranian authorities for finally making the right decision regarding our case. But we want to be clear: They do not deserve undue credit for ending what they had no right and no justification to start in the first place.

[Bauer:] How can we forgive the Iranian government when it continues to imprison so many other innocent people and prisoners of conscience?... There are people in Iran who have been imprisoned for years for simply attending a protest, for writing a pro-democracy blog, or for worshiping an unpopular faith.

[Shourd:] I don't believe that Iran got anything good out of this. I don't believe it was good for the country, and it certainly wasn't good for the Iranian people, whom I admire and support in their struggle for democracy and freedom.

[Bauer:] Sarah, Josh and I have experienced a taste of the Iranian regime's brutality. We have been held in almost total isolation from the world and everything we love, stripped of our rights and freedom.

Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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