Cartoon of the Day: Nikahang Kowsar's President Ahmadinejad cries out, "We sell smuggled oil"
Iran has strongly denounced the detention of a prominent Shia cleric and the brutal crackdown of anti-regime protesters in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, which has been a major scene of protests over the past months.
1954 GMT: Oil Watch. Minister of Oil Rostam Qassemi has said that $5 billion of the National Development Fund has been allocated to the South Pars gas field development projects, accelerating Phases 20-24 of the project.
On 2 July, the NDF and the Ministry of Oil signed a deal for the Fund to earmark $14 billion of its assets to oil industry projects.
More than 70% will be spent on the development of oil and gas fields as well as expanding the upstream sector of the oil industry, Qassemi said, with the rest channeled into refining infrastructure.
President Ahmadinejad has claimed the NDF's assets will reach $55 billion by the end of this year. Iran transfers 20% of its oil revenues to the Fund.
1549 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. MP Ali Motahari, a leading challenger of the Government, has suggested the judiciary should "clarify the situation of political prisoners instead of prosecuting MPs".
The Tehran Prosecutor General announced on Sunday that Motahari would be charged with slander for statements he made in Parliament.
Mohammad Javad Larijani, the judiciary official responsible for "human rights", has responded, "We have no political prisoners. Motahari is repeating the enemy's words."
1541 GMT: The Battle Within. Principlist websites have come to the defence of Alef, the site of leading MP Ahmad Tavakoli, which was filtered by authorities on Monday, apparently after it published a lengthy opinion by Tavakoli on Parliamentary oversight of the Government.
1521 GMT: Street Scene. Mehr has posted a series of photographs of a family setting up "home" on a pavement after the father lost his job:
Iran's production, above 4 million barrels per day in 2011, is now estimated at below 3 million bpd amid sanctions and falling exports.
The source was defiant however, "It's a mistake to think this will make us put our hands up. Iran will not surrender."
Rezaei was convicted on charges of "mohareb" (enmity against God) through cooperation and connection with a banned Kurdish political party.
In recent weeks, Iranian authorities have restricted the immigrants to certain cities and limited their access to jobs, goods, and services (see separate feature).
1315 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Back from an academic break to find that the US State Department has as called on Iran to release Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was imprisoned in 2009 and condemned to death for converting from Islam to Christianity.
Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Nadarkhani "still faces the threat of execution for simply following his faith, and we repeat our call for Iranian authorities to release him immediately".
Nadarkhani, 34, converted from Islam to Christianity at the age of 19 and became pastor of a small evangelical community called the Church of Iran. His conviction was upheld by an appeals court in September 2010 but overturned by Tehran's Supreme Court, which sent the case back to the lower court in his hometown of Rasht.
Dozens of men of various ages gathered Saturday at the 19th-century open-air shopping arcade in an old commercial neighborhood of Tehran, listening as prices were called out from various corners of the forex market.
When trading began, one party sold $5 million, immediately bringing the going price down about 200 rials (or $.01). That price was then circulated by phone, text message, e-mail and word of mouth.
Traders at the bazaar estimate that more than $100 million is traded there each day. Indeed, many regular traders carry with them several hundred thousand dollars in crisp, new $100 bills, which they wave in the air to indicate they are ready to deal.
If the tiny alley is Iran’s heart of foreign exchange, its arteries reach out in all directions, affecting commerce across Iran as changes in the rates of the dollar and other international currencies emerge throughout the day.
Potkin Azarmehr has details and a video of Badkoobei reciting his work.
0620 GMT: A Tehran-based correspondent for Tehran Bureau offers a snapshot of the economic situation through conversations with an import-export trader, a taxi driver, a 12-year-old worker, a builder from Abadan, electronics and clothing dealers, and a young woman:
Sara [is] a 25-year-old who graduated two years ago from one of the country's top universities. She is a resident of north Tehran. "I can sum it up thus: I really feel destitute. Half the money I have in my pocketbook at the beginning of the week, say 100,000 tomans [$50], is gone by midweek," she says. "And then, it seems like I haven't bought much, like I have filled up my car and gone to the supermarket twice."
Sara recognizes that she is still relatively well off. "Many are unemployed, but I'm working and have a good salary, as compared to others. But I really feel that I can't stretch my money enough to cover much, let alone save anything, which I have had to let go."
She says that in the middle of her growing financial predicament she was arrested by a the Gasht-e Ershad (Guidance Patrol -- the morality police). "The detail picked me up and it cost me 550,000 tomans [$275]. The police have vans stationed at every major intersection in Tehran and they arrest any female whose hair pokes out of her scarf, has a somewhat short manteau, or happens to have nail polish on her toes, and fines them."
I ask Sara about the changes to her lifestyle that she's had to make. "I practically can't afford anything any more," she replies. "I never asked the price of what I wanted, but not now. Its been a while since I bought any clothing. Going to fine restaurants was one of my main pastimes. Now, I can't really remember when was the last time I visited one. I make one million tomans a month [$500] and believe that this is really the minimum. I mean that I can hardly cover rent, utilities, groceries, and dry cleaning."
Sara lives with her parents to make ends meet.
The dismal economic conditions have convinced many young graduates that they have to leave the country to continue their studies and have any hope for a better life. Sara has been thinking along those lines, but she adds, "The situation is a wreck, yet because of the exchange rates I have abandoned thoughts of going abroad to study."
Who does she blame for the current conditions? Sara says, "I hold the regime responsible, definitely and fully." She adds, reminding me of Amir's sentiments, "I envy Turkey, it is progressing so well."
I ask for her view of Iran's economic future. Sara replies, "I have no hope, none at all, given this regime and its policies, unless the situation gets a jolt."