2120 GMT: On the Border. The Los Angeles Times summarises the fuel dispute between Iran and Afghanistan, with Tehran still holding up to 2500 tankers on the border.
1720 GMT: The President's Right-Hand Man. There now appears to be a dedicated campaign amongst some Iranian "hard-liners" to force out Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai. Stay tuned for an EA exclusive on Thursday, but meanwhile this claim from Mashregh News....
Rahim-Mashai supposedly gave $150 vouchers to clerics who came to his speech at a community meeting.
1715 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Nobel Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has written about the 11-year sentence imposed on her attorney, Nasrine Sotoudeh.
The court imprisoned Nasrin—and barred her from practicing law or leaving the country for 20 years—after finding her guilty of "acting against national security" and of "propaganda against the regime." Iran's government routinely levels these charges against lawyers, journalists, nongovernmental organization workers and others whose work it finds troublesome. Nasrin's only crime has been her passionate defense of Iran's most legally vulnerable citizens: juvenile offenders facing the death penalty, human rights campaigners, and prisoners of conscience.
1710 GMT: The Hedda Gabler Affair. The politics is now almost as confusing as Ibsen's play....
This morning we learned that authorities had suspended the performances of Hedda Gabler in Tehran because of complaints over its "hedonistic" presentation (see 1130 GMT).
Then the Minister of Culture said it was no big deal, as the play seemed acceptable to him. (see 1230 GMT).
Now Tehran Prosecutor General Abbas Jafari Doulatabadi announces that the director of the play has been summoned to court.
1645 GMT: Hijab Watch. Presidential aide Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, in a series of disputes with clerics over morality and religious interpretation, has asked, "How many women would wear hijab if it was not required by law?"
1435 GMT: Khatami Presses On. Last week, former President Mohammad Khatami made a vigorous intervention by setting three conditions --- freedom for political prisoners, adherence to the Constitution, and a proper campaign and balloting --- for participation in elections.
Regime figures such as the head of the Guardian Council replied with vitriol, but Khatami has not been deterred: yesterday he told university professors and the medical community that "people can freely choose anyone they wish to take power".
1415 GMT: Countering Censorship. Following the banning of his books by Iranian authorities --- part of a crackdown on "subversive" authors and publishers --- Nobel Prize laureate Paolo Coelho has posted Persian-language editions of all his works on his blog.
1330 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Labour activist Khaled Hosseini, arrested last week in Sanandaj, has been released on $5000 bail.
1230 GMT: Raise the Curtain. Minister of Culture Mohammad Hosseini says he has reviewed the production of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, suspended by authorities (see 1130 GMT), and has found "no moral problem".
1215 GMT: The President's Right-Hand Man. Rooz Online summarises the news, which we noted yesterday, that Parliament’s Article 90 Commission will investigate Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai in a “special procedure”.
In a press conference, the head of the Commission, Hojatoleslam Ebrahim Nikoonam criticised Mashai on his statements ranging from his comments on music, which clashes with those of clerics over "immorality", and the Iranian v. Islamic schools of thought.Nikoonam also said that the parliamentary committee was paying particular attention to the recent “dismissal of ministers and high-ranking officials of the country”.
The Article 90 Commission is empowered to deal with "any person having a complaint against the parliament or the executive or judiciary branch of the government".
1155 GMT: Social Media Question of Day. Green Voice of Freedom asks the obvious: if Facebook and Twitter are forbidden in Iran, why does the Supreme Leader's office have Facebook and Twitter accounts?
1150 GMT: Currency Watch. The value of the Iranian toman is edging downwards again. Today it trades officially for about 1100 to $1.
Last autumn the toman suddenly fell about 15% in value, causing a brief economic flutter as Iranians rushed to buy dollars. The authorities intervened with an injection of foreign reserves, stabilising the official rate of the toman at around 1060 to $1.
1130 GMT: In the Theatre. Authorities have ordered a halt to performances of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler while it is reviewed. The officials claim that they have received complaints from the public, possibly over the representation of smoking and drinking in the play.
1100 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The public transportation workers' syndicate has demanded the release of economist Fariborz Reisdana from detention.
Reisdana was jailed almost a month ago after he criticised the introduction of subsidy cuts in an interview with BBC Persian.
1055 GMT: After the Air Crash. Aftab reports that authorities have removed posters of Minister of Transportation Behbahani from the streets Oroumiyeh streets after people displayed their anger over the Government's alleged responsbility for the recent crash of an Iran Air flight near the city which killed 77 of 105 passengers.
1040 GMT: Economy Watch. Khabar Online is confused. The site says that Iran's Statistics Center was reporting last spring that there were 3.5 million unemployed, yet the Ministry of Labor is saying that there are now 2.8 million out of work.
So, Khabar asks, where is the government announcement claiming credit for a drop of more than 600,000 in the unemployment rate?
1015 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Hojjat Kalashi, the head of the youth branch of the Pan-Iranist Party, has been released from prison. However, three other members --- Reza Kermani, the former Secretary General of the group, Arash Keikhosravi, and Shahin Zeinali --- are still detained and have not been in contact with anyone.
1010 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (A Concession?). Presidential Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai, in a meeting with Iran's Cinema House, has said that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is following the cases of film directors Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof, each sentenced to six years in prison, and he "will have good news soon".
0935 GMT: The Battle Within. Another Parliamentary front (see 0740 GMT) in the context with the Guardian Council....
Mohammad Reza Bahonar, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, has resumed the challenge over control of the Central Bank and policy on foreign investments by invoking another body, the Expediency Council.
Bahonar claims that the Expediency Council, chaired by former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, can make final rulings, even if this is not permitted by the Constitution. (Under the Constitution, the ultimate decision is supposed to reside with the Supreme Leader.)
Bahonar is supported by MP Hajsheikh Alikhani, who has denounced Ahmadinejad's attacks on the Expediency Council.
The Government, supported by the Guardian Council, has refused to accept Majlis legislation revising the supervision arrangements for the Central Bank.
0905 GMT: Sedition Watch (Subsidy Cuts Edition). In case anyone missed his previous barrage of statements over the last 48 hours, Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi has repeated this morning that sedition has been vanquished.
He did add a nice touch, however. This victory had been achieved not only by breaking up the Israeli spy ring that had assassinated nuclear physicist Masoud Alimohammadi (see yesterday's updates). It was also accomplished through subsidy cuts.
The Guardian of London has a summary of Moslehi's earlier declarations and the televised "confession" of the supposed Number One Israel Agent, Majid Jamail-Fash.
It does not, however, mention subsidy cuts.
0855 GMT: Nuke Talks. More posing ahead of the discussions in Turkey next week....
While US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues her dance through the Middle East with declarations that sanctions against Iran are working, Tehran tangoes with this warning from Ali Akbar Soltaneh, its envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, on the pages of IRNA:
[This] might be the last chance because, by installing fuel rods produced by Iran into the core of the Tehran Research Reactor, probably Parliament will not allow the government to negotiate or send its uranium outside the country and the Istanbul meeting might be the last chance for the West to return to talks."
Still, unlike many of the poses, this one may be worth watching for more than a moment: is the pro-Ahmadinejad IRNA sending out the signal that the President wants to deal but he needs the co-operation of the "West" to hold back his domestic foes (e.g. Ali Larijani), who blocked moves to an agreement in autumn 2009?
0815 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Rasoul Bodaghi, a member of the Iran Teachers Union, has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon has joined the US and Britain in denouncing the 11-year prison sentence and 20-year ban on practicing law handed down to attorney Nasrine Sotoudeh:
We are deeply concerned. Such a sentence is completely unacceptable and unjustifiable. We once again urge the government of Iran to reverse the deterioration of human rights in its country."
0810 GMT: Guardians. And in case you are wondering, in light of today's theme, about the role that the Guardian Council is playing in current political battles, Ashkan Parsa has written a useful overview, "Guardian Council Helps Ahmadinejad Expand His Power". Parsa explains why the Council could have a key position in an escalating conflict:
In recent weeks, there have been reports that Speaker Larijani has been engaged in advanced negotiations with the Supreme Leader about the authority and responsibilities of the executive and the legislative branches. [Speaker of Parlaiment] Larijani, a conservative and a loyal supporter of Khamenei, has serious disagreements with the Leader about President Ahmadinejad. Five years ago, Larijani competed against Ahmadinejad for the presidency and last year, during that controversial election, he did not publicly support Ahmadinejad’s candidacy. Many conservatives like Larijani with long histories of public service in the Islamic Republic are worried that the Ahmadinejad wing, thanks to its military and paramilitary support, is going to uproot the old guard.
0740 GMT: A spirited attack on the Guardian Council, the 12-member body that rules on whether law and practice adhere to the values of the Islamic Republic, yesterday....
Now that is nothing new in itself. Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi, Mostafa Tajzadeh, and other opposition figures have challenged the legitimacy of the Guardian Council in its ruling on post-election events. However, this attack comes "from within"takin, with leading MP Ali Motahari taking on the head of the Council, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati.
Motahari called on Jannati to stop “belittling and weakening” the Parliament, days after the Ayatollah had used Tehran Friday Prayers to tell the Majlis to stop summoning Ministers for questioning.
Motahari, who has led a petition drive for President Ahmadinejad to appear before Parliament, wrote on his website about the accountability of ministers. Using the example of $2 billion allocated by Parliament but held up by the Government, he questioned: “When the Minister of Economy refuses to carry out the legislation regarding financial facilities for Tehran subway system and the President says, "I do not consider this a law and will not execute it," is it not the responsibility of representatives to defend people’s rights and to question the minister and the President?”
Motahari reminded Jannati, “A strong parliament is to the advantage of the whole system and a strong obstacle against the tendency toward despotism.”