1800 GMT: Economy Watch. Kalemeh reports that the unemployment rate has risen across Iran by 3.5% since last spring. In 26 of the country's provinces, the average is now 14.6%.
1745 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Labour activist Pedram Nasrollahi has been sentenced to four months in prison for “acting against national security” and “propaganda against the system by joining the women’s council”.
Kurdish painter Mokhtar Houshmand, the secretary of the Marivan Society of Visual Arts, remains in prison after his detention order was renewed for a month. His family has reportedly been denied a meeting or talking with him on the phone. The family has also been prohibited from talking to the media.
1735 GMT: The Hunger Strike. Kalemeh reports that five political prisoners who recently ended a hunger strike were threatened by the director of Evin Prison to six months in solitary confinement. Those warned were journalists Ali Malihi, Bahman Ahmadi Amouie, Keyvan Samimi, and Kouhyar Goudarzi and Ashura protester Gholamhossein Arashi. 4 of them are journos, Arashi is a Ashura protester, severely beaten in prison.
1725 GMT: Spinning Bushehr. Washington has tried to convert the news that Russia will supply the fuel needed to make Iran's nuclear plant at Bushehr operational --- finally, after repeated delays --- into a case that Tehran does not need to carry out its own uranium enrichment.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, "Russia is providing the fuel, and taking the fuel back out....(This) underscores that Iran does not need its own enrichment capability if its intentions, as it states, are for a peaceful nuclear program."
1510 GMT: The President's Right-Hand Man (cont.). How significant is the movement against Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai? An EA correspondent summarises:
*Javan News --- connected with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps --- now quotes Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of the General Staff, Habibullah Asgarowladi, secretary of the "conservative" Front of the Followers of the Path of the Imam, Ayatollah Kaabi, a member of the Association of Teachers and Researchers of Qom, and Hojatoleslam Moe'tamed as condemning Rahim-Mashai's statements about "the school of Iran," which they call "nationalist" and a threat to the international and Islamist character of the Islamic Republic.
*Jomhouriye Eslami writes in an editorial that "support of higher authorities [Ahmadinejad] for Rahim-Mashai makes the situation worse".
*Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi: "Once more Mr. Mashaei has involved himself in discussions not worthy of him and has made wrong and unsuitable statements....It is not to the benefit of the regime, the office of the Presidency and the person of the President --- who has always been in the line of the leader and a supporter of religious foundations --- that his chief-of-staff engages in expert discussions about issues about which he is ignorant and harms his own dignity and those related to him even more."
*Alef News accuses Rahim-Mashai of "eclecticism" and condemns his statements about "human beings having the capacity to become God".
* MP Ali-Reza Zakani warns of a "new discord", likening Mashaei's statements with statements of former Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan "who confessed that his conflict with His Holiness the Imam [Khomeini] was that we want Islam for Iran, but the Imam wants Iran for Islam".
1420 GMT: Shutting Down Green Media. A week after it was launched, the website of the new Green channel, Rasa TV, has been filtered by the Ministry of Intelligence.
1410 GMT: Challenges to the President (cont.): MP Ahmad Tavakkoli has criticised Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for disregarding the laws ratified by the Parliament and the Expediency Council.
Tavakkoli accused the president of intransigence, and said, “I am sorry that the president values his personal interpretation too much.”
MP Parviz Sorouri also criticized the President, “Any law that is ratified should be implemented. The president is not in a position to say whether a particular law is correct or not."
1230 GMT: But Those Other Friday Prayers Might Be A Problem....
Away from Ayatollah Jannati's Tehran Friday Prayer, trying to deflect attention from problems for the regime, other sermons point to, well, problems for the regime.
In Qom, Mohammad Saeedi indirectly criticised the President while bolstering Ayatollah Khamenei, saying someone who manages the country has to follow the Supreme Leader as the representative of Prophets. Saeedi declared everyone has to abide to the laws ratified by Parliament and approved by the Guardian Council.
Elsewhere, alongside condemnation of US sanctions and praise of Lebanon's Sayyed Hassan Nasrullah for his stand against Israel, there were attacks on the President because of his aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai's "Iran principle", placing Tehran as a source of emulation ahead of Islam. In Mashhad, Ahmad Alamolhoda said any ruling against the Supreme Leader is obsolete. In Kashan, Abdolnabi Namazi directly said Rahim-Mashai's presence disturbed the Iranian clerics and people.
1200 GMT: International Front. Not sure what to make of this....
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the head of Parliament's National Security Commission, claims that the Vienna group (US, France, Russia, International Atomic Energy Agency) has accepted the Iran-Brazil-Turkey statement on uranium enrichment, so there is no necessity for Brasilia and Ankara to join talks with the "5+1" powers of the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany.
1155 GMT: Put-Down of the Day? Khabar Online claims a large banner with President Ahmadinejad's picture was removed from the Qur'an exhibition at Tehran's Grand Mossalla.
1145 GMT: Oil Squeeze. Alireza Mir-Mohammad Sadeghi, the deputy to Minister of Oil Mirkazemi --- a target of Khabar Online for "wrong policies: --- has allegedly said that 12,000 oil managers are on the verge of retirement.
1045 GMT: Getting Jannati's Line Right. Press TV gives the proper spin to Friday's Friday Prayer by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the head of the Guardian Council, after recent difficulties over his speeches. Jannati, without re-stating the "$51 billion" coup allegation, warned against the discussions with the US:
You have forgotten what they (Americans) have done, you think they have changed…. They are the same….When they flash a green light it is [always] chicanery and a scam.
They think the Iranian people will give in under sanctions and adversities.…but the West's problem is that they do not know the Iranian nation and do not know who they are dealing with.
1025 GMT: The President's Right-Hand Man. The conservative Resalat devotes its main article to the "unacceptable statements" of Ahmadinejad Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai.
The newspaper says the comments provide a welcome excuse for conservatives to attack the Government and demands, "Mr Ahmadinejad, let the passengers without a ticket get off the (Government) train!"
Key MP and Government critic Ali Motahari goes farther and harsher, claiming that the thinking of the President and his followers about Islam is like the Forghan group who killed his father, Ayatollah Motahari, in 1979.
Motahari alleged that Ahmadinejad's and Rahim-Mashai's ideas do not comply with Islam. According to the MP, the President is neither a conservative nor a reformist, but because he is supported by the Supreme Leader, other clerics support him as well.
The Motahari's call for resistance: a MP must decide by himself, not according to the Supreme Leader's opinion. He strengthens the demand with the regret that MPs should have protested clearly against the Kahrizak abuse and the allegation that Ahmadinejad's refusal to implement laws is a sign of dictatorship.
1015 GMT: Three Islamic Revolution Guards Corps soldiers have been killed in clashes with members of the Kurdish separatist group PJAK.
1000 GMT: More on the "Jannati Line". Alongside Ayatollah Jannati's appearance at Friday Prayers, there is support for him from Esmail Kowsari, deputy head of the National Security Council, who claims the Majlis was informed about the documents for Jannati's claim of the $51 billion US-Saudi-opposition coup plan. Kowsari says the proof is in the Ministry of Intelligence.
MP Zohreh Elahian, a member of Parliament's National Security Commission, claims the documents will be given to prosecutors.
0915 GMT: Challenging Ahmadinejad. Khabar Online devotes its "headline" news to an analysis by Professor Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh, who criticises the President's foreign policy.
Mojtahedzadeh claims Iran's "turn to the East" led to damage to its nuclear energy programme, as Russia delayed completion of the Bushehr reactor, and to a quadrupline of imports from China.
(Last night, Voice of America claimed the cost to Iran of the Bushehr reactor was now close to $1 billion.)
The professor adds a significant comparison: during the Presidency of Hashemi Rafsanjani (1989-1997), the east-bound policy was advisable, but it has now led Iran "to this mess". Instead of battling with one set of foreign powers (US, Europen Union) and making advances to another (Russia, China), Tehran should follow a balanced policy towards all.
0455 GMT: Execution (Ashtiani) Watch. Human Rights Watch has condemned the treatment of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death for adultery and presented on national TV on Wednesday with her "confession".
HRW women's rights researcher Nadya Khalife said, “The men who run Iran apparently have no shame at all, first pronouncing the barbaric sentence of death by stoning and then resorting to a televised confession. Under the circumstances there is every reason to believe that this so-called confession was coerced."
0430 GMT: We begin this morning with a look to the future, provided by an EA correspondent:
Roughly 3 weeks to Qods Day and a lot of chatter, whether Mousavi and Karroubi will invite the people to protests.
Another idea is going to the streets on the 27th of every month in accordance with Article 27 of the Constitution, assuring freedom of assembly.Qods (Jerusalem) Day is the annual commemoration of Palestine. Last September, opposition supporters used the occasion to press their demands publicly in one of the largest post-election rallies.
47 Baha’is Currently In Prison
Following the recnet sentencing of seven Baha’i leaders in Iran to 20 years in prison each, Diane Ala’i, the representative of the Baha’i International Community has said that there are currently 47 members of the Baha’i Faith are inside Iranian prisons.
According to Ala’i, the Baha’is are not facing charges of mohareb (enmity with God), which carry the death penalty. They are accused of “acting against national security”, “participating in illegal groups", and “propagating the Baha’i Faith”.
Ala'i added that the seven leaders have been moved from Evin Prison to Rajai Shahr Prison in Gohardasht, Karaj. Families have been able to visit the prisoners once every two weeks for 10 minutes. They are allowed to see male relatives one week and female relatives the next, so the entire family cannot meet at the same time.
Ala'I said the verdicts for the seven Baha’i leaders have not yet been served in writing.
The Persian 30mail site, which features news roundups, has launched a competition for IT specialists to write a programme feeding news from Green sites to e-mail accounts and mobiles in Iran. Programmers selected in the first round receive $1000, and the finalist wins another $4000.