1835 GMT: Sanctions Watch. Shargh reports that the electronics firm LG, after US pressure, has left Iran for Dubai and that Samsung may follow soon.
1830 GMT: Budget Chat. Video has been posted of the meeting of the Expediency Council meeting, in the presence of Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, on the 5th Budget Plan.
1700 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The family of Reza Shahabi, the treasurer of the Tehran Bus Workers' Union, says he is still in prison two months after bail was posted.
The Union calims Shahabi was to be released on 11 October 11 after his family posted bail of 60 million tomans ($57,103). The family said it agreed to pay an additional surety of 100 million tomans (about $100,000).
Shahabi's brother Hassan told Radio Farda, "They say he is not going to be released for certain reasons," but no one has disclosed what those reasons are.
Shahabi has reportedly started a hunger strike.
1600 GMT: Larijani's Press Conference. After lots of fanfare --- up to 220 journalists present! --- Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani used his press conference this afternoon to polish his credentials as the defender of Iran against US perfidy.
Dropping the official Iranian line that the release of WikiLeaks documents was orchestrated by the US Government, Larijani has called on Washington to explain the "disorderly conduct" of diplomats revealed in the cables: “There are different ambiguities about the Wikileaks website but the main point here is that American officials should be accountable for the issues raised by the website. The US should give a straight answer: did they pursue diplomacy in their international relations or other [illicit] issues such as spying and conspiring?”
1550 GMT: Isn't This Ironic (Campus Edition)? Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has strongly condemned the brutal suppression of university students in Britain for their protest against a sharp rise in tuition fees.
Mottaki, for some reason, did not mention the protests of Iranian university students this past Tuesday over the post-election conflict and the imprisonment of their classmates.
(I type this less than five minutes after giving an interview to Iranian international radio on the subject of...British student protests.)1505 GMT: Karroubi Gets Economic. Mehdi Karroubi has spoken out in anticipation of the religious ceremony of Ashura at the end of this month; however, it is his remarks on the government's record that are most striking. He lashes out at the Ahmadinejad foreign policy and the Government's inability to deal with social problems, but it is the economy that draws his sharpest observation: 50% of Iran's manufacturing units are being closed and 30% are operating under capacity.
1455 GMT: You-Really-Need-To-Keep-An-Eye-on-This-Guy Watch. Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, who this week launched a coded attack on President Ahmadinejad (and who was named as an Ahmadinejad rival in a 2007 US cable we post today), is manoeuvring again....
Opening a metro station in Tehran, Qalibaf used the occasion to praise public transport and "cities who can maintain their stability" with development of their infrastructure.
The remarks come amidst the continuing battle over $2 billion for development of the Tehran Metro, held up by Ahmadinejad.
Qalibaf also fired this shot at the Government's ineffectual action, as the capital suffers under a blanket of smog: "Sprinkling water from the sky [with airplanes] to reduce air pollution is a joke."
1340 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Advar reports on six students of the Tehran Art University who were detained over the 16 Azar protests on Tuesday.
0815 GMT: With Tehran shut down by pollution for another day, it's a quiet morning on the news front. IRNA is leading with a statement indicating that more households will be eligible for support payments if subsidy cuts are implemented. Fars News has not changed its lead story --- the declaration by Ayatollahs Mahdavi Kani and Mesbah Yazdi that principlists will soon be unified --- since Friday afternoon.
0745 GMT: Iran's Press TV has now aired its "documentary" on the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death --- initially by stoning --- for adultery and complicity in the murder of her husband.
Thursday night's flutter, based on photographs from the advance publicity for the documentary, that Ashtiani had been freed from prison could not be farther from the truth. Even as it tries to distance Iran from the furour over stoning, the programme is graphic --- both in its visual depiction of Ashtiani's dead husband and in the "confessions" of Ashtiani and her son Sajad Ghaderzadeh --- in condemning the 43-year-old woman once more.
Yet Ashtiani is not the only target of the film. Indeed, she may not be the primary one. Her "confession" and that of Ghaderzadeh are used in an attempted demolition of those who have defended her. Activist Mina Ahadi is a Communist terrorist dedicated to the destruction of the Islamic Republic. Attorney Mohammad Mostafaei is a greedy lawyer exploiting Ashtiani. The foreign media are puppets for their schemes.
And Ahadi and Mostafaei, in turn, are symbols for all those activists and those lawyers who are Iran's enemies: activists, lawyers, and journalists who must be suppressed and even imprisoned to prevent their malicious schemes.