1609 GMT: Campus Watch. We have been reporting recently on the exclusion of women from university programmes (see 1141 GMT) --- well, here's a twist....
The Nursing Association has complained, "The decision to eliminate male applicants for nursing is shocking and against national policies and patients' needs."
Earlier this month President Ahmadinejad called for a three-month stockpile of rice, sugar, cooking fat, and other commodities.
1450 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Will this be the opportunity for President Ahmadinejad to bounce back politically? Hamshahri reports that he, as well as the Supreme Leader's advisor Ali Abkar Velayati, will address the Tehran Friday Prayer audience before Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami gives the main sermon, celebrating Quds (Palestine) Day.
1352 GMT: The Earthquakes. The Supreme Leader's office has posted a short clip of Ayatollah Khamenei touring one of the affected villages in East Azerbaijan today --- the report of State broadcaster IRIB including the footage:
Among the better-known prisoners who have been released are Mehdi (Koorosh) Koohkan, Ali Malihi, Hamzeh Karami, Esmail Sahabeh, and Rahman Boozari.
Koohkan, a cultural activist, was arrested in February 2010 and sentenced to three years, six months, and four days of incarceration, 148 lashes, and a 250,000 Toman fine (about $200 at the time).
Malihi, a graduate of Sharif University of Technology, is in charge of public relations for the opposition Organization of University Graduates. He was arrested in February 2010 and sentenced to four years of incarceration.
Karami, a senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander during the war with Iraq, served in various positions in the administrations of former Presidents Akbar Hashem Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami, and was a major figure in Mir Hossein Mousavi's 2009 presidential campaign. He was arrested in the aftermath of the election, sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment, and barred forever from again holding government office. While in jail, he wrote a letter to Khamenei describing his torture. Sahabeh, a member of the youth committee of the outlawed reformist Islamic Iran Participation Front, was arrested in October 2009 and held for two months until he posted bail. In August 2010, he was sentenced to four and a half years of incarceration. Boozari, a journalist, has worked for several reformist newspapers, including Shargh, Kargozaaraan, and Hammihan. He was arrested in May 2011.Attorney, university professor, and former Majles deputy Ghasem Sholeh Sadi has also been released. In 2002, he declared that Khamenei's rule was illegal and was detained for a time as a result. He was arrested again in April 2011 and sentenced to one year of incarceration. That October, his sentence was increased to three years after he was charged with "insulting the Supreme Leader".
Meanwhile, the release list includes none of the most prominent political prisoners --- those who have the ability to organize peaceful demonstrations, and who have been repeatedly spoken out even from behind prison walls.
Last week, after 48 Iranians had been abducted in Syria, Firouzabadi warned Turkey and Qatar of consequences for their intervention in the Syrian conflict. The warning was inconveniently timed, with Foreign Minister Ali Salehi going to Ankara the next days to look for Turkish assistance both in the case of the 48 men and in the general approach to Syria. In the following days, Turkish officials --- including the Deputy Foreign Minister --- struck back with warnings to Tehran.
The Central Bank said inflation was 22.9%.
Last month it was reported that Iranian officials were curbing the admission of women to 77 programmes across the country because they were "over-subscribed" by females.
1132 GMT: Parliament Watch. Gholam Ali Haddad Adel --- former Speaker of Parliament and member of the Supreme Leader's inner circle --- has been elected head of the leading principlist faction in the Majlis.
The position is a consolation prize for Haddad Adel, who unsuccessfully challenged Ali Larijani for the post of Speaker this spring.
1122 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. How effective has President Ahmadinejad been in his trip to the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Saudi Arabia, risking criticism for walking away from the earthquakes in his country? Read between the lines of this Press TV promotion and the answer is "Not Very":
The Iranian president has held talks with several leaders of Muslim nations on the sidelines of the OIC summit in Mecca, urging expansion of ties as well as the need to establish a united front to resist meddling in the region by foreign forces.
The president met with the presidents of Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, and Guinea Bissau on Wednesday at the site of the summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
1008 GMT: Earthquake Watch. No more diversions (see 0550 GMT) --- the Supreme Leader has decided to show authority by visiting one of the villages in East Azerbaijan affected by Saturday's earthquake.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the Islamic Republic would show unity and strength in dealing with the disaster and advised people to have patience.
0658 GMT: Foreign Affairs Watch (Syrian Front). Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has criticised the suspension of Syria's membership in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as “unfair": “The Syrian government should have been invited to the meeting prior to this decision so that it could defend itself and the attendees could listen to the Syrian government’s official views.”
Salehi said Syria's presence could have been an opportunity to discuss the conflict between the regime and opposition and a possible solution to the ongoing crisis.
0611 GMT: Espionage Watch. And in case, the previous two diversions are not sufficient, you can also be drawn by the story that the families of assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists "have filed a lawsuit" against Israel, the US, and Britain.
Rahim Ahmadi Roshan, the father of scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, killed in January, told a press conference in Tehran on Wednesdaythat the families have asked the judiciary to pursue their complaints.
Five scientists have been assassinated since January 2010.
0603 GMT: Terrorism Watch. Just in case the Supreme Leader's "Look Over at Palestine" speech is not diverting enough, you can also take in the latest "terrorism" claim from the regime --- "an informed security source" has put out the story that the US Consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra has prepared a shipment of weapons for a terrorist cell inside Iran.
In a sign of the regime's gathering campaign against Turkey, especially over the Syrian situation, the source said the weapons came from "Turkish soil". And, as part of the campaign against protesting Iranian Arabs, the source said the arms were "expected to end up in the hands of the Khalq-e Arab terrorist group" in the southwestern province of Khuzestan.
0550 GMT: When you are in some difficulty at home, with an economy close to turmoil, and abroad with imperiled allies, it is not a bad idea to give people a diversion.
To be fair to the Supreme Leader, International Quds Day --- with marches throughout the world in support of the people of Palestine --- is not far away. However, it was more than convenient on Wednesday for Ayatollah Khamenei to uphold this as the occasion that should draw the attention of Iranians.
The Supreme Leader told veterans of the Iraq-Iran War that a high turnout on the day would give a crushing response to the enemies of Islam and Palestinians. And, for those listening closely, there was an allusion to Syria: “Had this conspiracy not taken place, these wars, divisions, and interventions by colonialists and oppressors would not have occurred."