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21 Nov 2009 17:193 Comments

Iran, Kuwait pledge cooperation during rare PM visit

Reuters | Nov. 21, 2009

Iran and Kuwait pledged to boost economic cooperation during the first visit to Tehran by a prime minister from the Gulf Arab U.S. ally in more than 30 years, Iranian state media said on Saturday.

In a possible reference to the disputed Arash gas field in the Gulf, Iranian First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi and Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah called for "cooperation in connection to the resolution of the continental shelf issue," state broadcaster IRIB said.

They also discussed boosting trade between the two major oil producers and the resumption of halted projects, IRIB said, without elaborating.

Iran to hold war games to protect nuclear sites

AP | Nov. 21, 2009

Iran will begin large-scale air defense war games Sunday aimed at protecting its nuclear facilities from possible attack, a senior military commander said Saturday, reflecting the country's concern that Israel could make good on threats to strike militarily.

The five-day drill will involve Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard and the regular army and will cover 230,000 square miles -- or about 600,000 square kilometers -- of central, western and southern Iran, said air force Gen. Ahmad Mighani.

Resolution on Iran 'politically-motivated': UN envoy

BBC Monitoring | Nov. 21, 2009

Iran's Permanent Ambassador to the UN Mohammad Khaza'i has rejected a Canadian-proposed UN resolution against Iran as "politically motivated". Addressing his UN colleagues, Khaza'i said: "Broad and systematic violation of human rights in some parts of the world is easily ignored, and worse than that, such violations occur under the approval of the self-claimed standard bearers of the human rights." Kurdnasab was sentenced to six months in prison in 2007 on a charge of "trying to overthrow the government by means of journalistic activities."

NBA announcers suspended for Haddadi, Iran jokes

NBC Sports | Nov. 21, 2009

Clippers longtime play-by-play announcer Ralph Lawler and color analyst Michael Smith were suspended one game by the Fox Sports Prime Ticket cable network for their comments about Memphis center Hamed Haddadi.

Lawler and Smith made their off-the-cuff comments about the Iranian-born center during Wednesday night's telecast from Memphis. The on-air banter offended a viewer who e-mailed Fox to complain. The duo did not work Friday's night telecast against the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center. Michael Eaves and Don MacLean, who regularly serve as halftime and postgame analysts on the Clippers telecasts, substituted for Lawler and Smith at courtside.

The unfunny conversation involved 7-2 Iranian center Hamed Haddadi, the first Iranian to play in the NBA, when the Clippers took on the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, November 18th. Here is the 40-second exchange that got them into trouble:

Mike Smith: "Look who's in."

Ralph Lawler: "Hamed Haddadi. Where's he from?"

Smith: "He's the first Iranian to play in the NBA." (Smith pronounced Iranian as "Eye-ranian.")

Lawler: "There aren't any Iranian players in the NBA," repeating Smith's mispronunciation.

Smith: "He's the only one."

Lawler: "He's from Iran?"

Smith: "I guess so."

Lawler: "That Iran?"

Smith: "Yes."

Lawler: "The real Iran?"

Smith: "Yes."

Lawler: "Wow. Haddadi - that's H-A-D-D-A-D-I."

Smith: "You're sure it's not Borat's older brother?"

Smith: "If they ever make a movie about Haddadi, I'm going to get Sacha Baron Cohen to play the part."

Lawler: "Here's Haddadi. Nice little back-door pass. I guess those Iranians can pass the ball."

Smith: "Especially the post players."

Lawler: "I don't know about their guards."

Some items from the past week...

Fars News Agency Banned From Government Events

Jahan News | Nov. 17, 2009

Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency has been banned from attending Presidential Office events and government trips, the conservative Jahan News website reported Tuesday.

"Fars News, which has been criticized for its unconditional support of the government, has been boycotted by the President's Office for publishing some articles criticizing a number of mid-ranking government officials. The reporters of Fars will no longer be allowed to participate in Presidential Office events and government trips," Jahan News reported.

"It is worth mentioning that in its most recent critical article, Fars criticized the Cultural Heritage Organization for pressuring journalists and media," the news reported added.

Iran to Reduce Individual Gasoline Rations Starting Dec. 22

Etemaad | Nov. 17, 2009

Iran's government will cut quotas of rationed gasoline for individual drivers by 20 liters per month for the last three months of the current Iranian year, as of December 22, the daily Etemaad newspaper reported Monday.

"Private passenger cars will receive 80 liters per month as of (the Iranian month of) Dey (starting December 22)," the newspaper quoted Ali Rabii, an advisor on industry and energy to Iran's Committee for Transportation and Fuel Management, as saying.

The Iranian year ends March 20.

Under Iran's current gasoline rationing scheme, which was launched in June 2007, the monthly quota for government-subsidized gasoline is 100 liters a month for individual drivers at a subsidized price of 1,000 rials (around 10 cents) a liter. Drivers can buy gasoline beyond the monthly quota for 4,000 rials (about 40 cents) a liter.

Iran Oil Min: Temporary Rise in Gasoline Production Shows Sanctions are Ineffective

Platts | Nov. 17, 2009

Iran's Oil Minister said Tuesday that aromatic units at three of Iran's petrochemical plants have been converted to add 14 million liters per day (3.7 million gallons a day) of gasoline to the country's production capacity as a demonstration that sanctions against Iran will not be effective, Platts reported Tuesday.

"Today we switched these plants to show that they cannot use this gasoline as leverage against the Iranian Republic," Masoud Mirkazemi said at an event inaugurating the move.

"This symbolic move can continue for a few days with 14 million liters a day and it makes the production capacity 58.5 million liters a day," he added, according to Platts.

Mirkazemi added the cost of implementing "this urgent plant" would be higher than international prices by between $30-$60 per metric ton, Platts reported.

"The sanctions are a political move, not economic or humanitarian. This only a colonial action," Mirkazemi said.

Iran suspends judge over controversial detention centre

BBC Monitoring | Nov. 17, 2009

The head of Tehran's Justice Department has announced that one judge has been suspended with regard to the alleged cases of abuse in Tehran's Kahrizak Detention Centre following the post-election unrest in June.

In an interview with the Iranian Students News Agency, ISNA (17 November), Seyyed Ali Reza Ava'i commented on the reports regarding the suspension of three judges who were involved in the Kahrizak Detention Centre case, and said: "So far one of the judges at the Public Prosecutor's Office has been suspended; however, nothing has been announced with regard to two other judges. If judges are suspended, the disciplinary court of the judges and disciplinary sources will send me letters. I have not received any letter in that respect."

Also Parleman News on 17 November published the letter by three Kordish MPs to the Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani on the execution of the Kordish political activist, Ehsan Fatahiyan and "the gravely negative effect" it has left on public opinion.

Ehsan Fatahiyan who was hanged on 11 November, was sentenced to execution by an appeals court and his initial sentence was ten year imprisonment.

In their letter to Ayatollah Larijani, the three Kordish MPs have expressed concern over the execution sentences that have been reportedly issued for some other "young Kordish detainees".

Interview with Danish journalism student held for six days in Iran

RSF | Nov. 19, 2009

Reporters Without Borders interviewed Niels Krogsgård, a student of journalism at the University of Southern Denmark, who was imprisoned in Iran from 4 to 10 November:

I was arrested on 4 November. Government opponents organised demonstrations on the day of the official commemoration of the taking of the US embassy in 1979. I decided to remain at a certain distance. I knew it would be dangerous. I took the subway. I had planned to get off at the stop just before the US embassy and then observe from afar what was happening. But when the train finally stopped, I realised that all the people in it were demonstrators. I was right in the middle.

When we came out on to the street (...) there were members of the Basiji Islamic militia. Then policemen arrived on motorcycles, fired tear gas and then started clubbing everyone. One of them hit me. I managed to escape and find refuge in a side street. People were crying because of the tear gas. A lot of them had blood on their faces.

When things calmed down, I went back to the main street. But suddenly a Basiji appeared out of nowhere. He grabbed me, screamed at me, hit me and then forced me to take a seat in a car. It was around midday.


Seventy percent of Iranians earn less than 4,500,000 rials (about $450) per month, Iran's statistic centre said. (Source: Iran daily)

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Last year, when Haddadi played Golden State, our announcers did not lower their professional guard. The veteran NBA player announcer was quick to point out his faults, but Haddadi scored well and rebounded, contributing to the Grizzlies come from behind win.

There's no getting around it, Haddadi is a world class basketball player.

Pirouz / November 22, 2009 2:09 AM

If u leave the arabs at it, they will call the planet Earth , Planet arab!

sanam / November 22, 2009 11:48 AM

Bear in mind, that farsnews is under control of the IRGC. In this case, one should consider about rising tensions between the government and the revolutionary guards, not about rising pressure to journalists.
@sanam: the author neither said "persian gulf" nor "arabic gulf". He said "gulf". Wise.
Iran interferes into affairs of many other countries. Cowardly, through the backdoor. Rather the earth is in danger of getting forced to be called "persian earth".

Lews / November 23, 2009 10:47 PM