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The Latest from Iran (15 October): Cutting Through The Noise

Ali Motahari1810 GMT: Economy (Mismanagement) Watch. MP Musalreza Sarvati has claimed that Parliament is ignoring the Ahmadinejad Administration's $15 billion shortfall in the approved budget. Sarvati also asserted that the administration has withdrawn $4.5 billion from the Central Ban, without depositing a compensating amount into the Treasury.

1805 GMT: The House Arrests. The three children of detained Mir Hossein Mousavi have met with Fatemeh Karroubi, who has also been under house arrest for eight months.

Mousavi's children said they have been denied phone contact with parents, whom they have not seen them in five weeks.

1755 GMT: Reformist Watch. More than 140 prominent political activists, many of them imprisoned, have written former President Khatami to declare that if the current situation continues, there is no prospect for sane elections.

The activists repeated four essential demands --- freedom of political prisoners, freedom of activity political parties, a fair electoral process, and adherence to the Constitution --- and deplored that there was no reaction from the regime after three months.

1625 GMT: Worst Denial of the Day. Prominent cleric Hojatoleslam Mehdi Taeb was on script when he claimed that the US allegations of an Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US were a diversion from the challenge of Occupy Wall Street.

Then he declared, "We don't need to kill Saudi ambassador, but if necessary, we are able to assassinate King Abdullah"

The website Alef, linked to influential MP Ahmad Tavakoli, chips in, "We will eradicate the Saudi dynasty from the holy land of Hejaz within a night."

1622 GMT: Proper Television. Cinema Negar claims that a female presenter on State broadcaster IRIB has been banned from inviting male guests.

1620 GMT: Corruption Watch. Taamol News claims that Hamidreza Afrashteh, President Ahmadinejad's son-in-law, has asked Vice President Hamid Baghaei for a 51 billion Toman ($41 million) budget to stage an International Youth Meeting next June.

1230 GMT: The Plot. The Supreme Leader, in a speech in Kermanshah in western Iran, dismissed US allegations of an Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington: "A meaningless and nonsensical accusation has been raised against a few Iranians in America, which was made into an excuse to present the Islamic Republic as a supporter of terrorism....It didn't work, it won't work."

Khamenei insisted, "They undertake such conspiracies on a regular no avail. They say we want to isolate Iran, (but) it's they who have isolated themselves."

1225 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch (At the Movies Edition). An appeals court has upheld the six-year prison sentence and 20-year ban on filmmaking for award-winning director Jafar Panahi. The court has also affirmed the six-year sentence of director Mohammad Rasoulof.

0715 GMT: Human Rights and House Arrests. BBC Persian says it has a copy of the first report from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, Ahmed Shaheed. The channel says the report, which is merely an introductory assessment, focuses on the treatment of those in civil society, rights for women, ethnic and religious minorities, the use of the death penalty, and imprisonment based on the allegation of contact with external organisations.

Shaheed also expresses his concern over the "serious situation" of Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, entering their 9th month of strict house arrest.

0615 GMT: We start this morning with an analysis of the propaganda around the alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the US, trying to cut through the noise --- some of it from Iranian official outlets, some of it from the Saudi-linked Al Arabiya, some of it from dutiful US columnists passing on the spin from American and Saudi officials --- from the significant developments.

There is also noise on the domestic front. Tehran Bureau headlines with the resignation of MP Ali Motahari, a persistent critic of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, featuring his letter to Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani:

When the President explicitly says that he will not execute certain legislation, can we not pose even one question?... Some people say that the Supreme Leader is opposed to the questioning. I am not sure about this. If he is, he should announce so publicly. He has no hidden issue with the nation.... Since the leadership of the Majles is still preventing the plan, and because the Majles cannot carry out its duties [under these circumstances], I announce my resignation as a representative of Tehran, Rey, Eslamshahr, and Shemiranat because I cannot defend the nation's rights.

I am not so sure that the move is that significant. Unlike an MP like Ahmad Tavakoli, who is close to the Larijanis, Motahari feels like a spent force. Still, we will keep ears open.

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