Hormozgan Dates Earn $40m p.a.

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About 10,000 tons of dates worth close to $40 million are exported from Iran’s southern Hormozgan Province every year, an official with Hormozgan Agricultural Jihad Organization said.
“Close to 140,000 tons of the product are produced from 37,000 hectares of date plantations in Hormozgan,” Hassan Hosseini was also quoted as saying by IRNA. Iran is the world’s second biggest producer of dates and the biggest exporter of the crop. Production stood at close to 1.2 million tons in the last Iranian year that ended on March 20, 2017. About 20% of overall production, worth around $300 million, were exported to Europe, North America, the Far East and Russia.

 

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US Court Upholds Block on Trump Travel Ban

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A US appeals court on Monday upheld a decision to block US President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban targeting citizens from six Muslim majority nations—the latest in a string of stinging judicial blows for the Republican billionaire.
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit kept in place a lower court injunction on the ban, arguing the president had overstepped his authority and his executive order discriminated against travelers based on their nationality, AFP reported.
The matter was already headed for the Supreme Court, as another federal appeals court had already ruled against the Republican president, and the Justice Department had asked the high court to hear the case.
But the Ninth Circuit ruling certainly was another setback for Trump in his quest to see the measure put into effect.
“Immigration, even for the president, is not a one-person show,” the three justices—all appointed by former president Bill Clinton—said in their unanimous ruling.
“The president, in issuing the executive order, exceeded the scope of the authority delegated to him by Congress.”
The judges said the government had failed to prove “any link between an individual’s nationality and their propensity to commit terrorism”, and cited a June 5 tweet by Trump to back their argument.
“Indeed, the president recently confirmed his assessment that it is the ‘countries’ that are inherently dangerous, rather than the 180 million individual nationals of those countries who are barred from entry under the president’s ‘travel ban’,” the judges wrote.
“National security is not a ‘talismanic incantation’ that, once invoked, can support any and all exercise of executive power,” they added.
The ruling came just ahead of a deadline for states challenging the travel ban to submit briefs to the Supreme Court in response to the Trump administration’s request that the nine justices hear the case.
The US Justice Department filed an emergency application to the Supreme Court on June 1, urging it to undo the Fourth Circuit’s ruling.
Trump issued an initial travel ban by executive order in January, but that measure, which banned entry to nationals from seven countries for 90 days and suspended the nation’s refugee program for 120 days, was quickly halted by the courts.
A revised executive order announced in March—meant to address the issues raised by the federal judges—deleted Iraq from the list and removed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. This is the measure affected by the Ninth Circuit ruling.
The Trump administration argues the measures are needed to ward off terror attacks in the country, but critics say the ban is discriminatory and violates the US Constitution by specifically targeting Muslim-majority countries.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the latest ruling.

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Oman Returns Part of Agricultural Shipments

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Over the past month, Oman has returned part of Iran’s agricultural shipments that lacked pesticide control certificates, the head of the National Union of Agricultural Exporters said. “Unfortunately, the Agriculture Ministry does not issue the certificates and has delegated the Iranian National Standards Organization to do so,” Reza Nourani was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
According to the official, Oman banned the import of Jordanian agro products last month due to the high content of pesticides in the crops, which makes for a great opportunity for Iran to expand its exports to the neighboring country.

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May Sets Up Meeting With Irish “Kingmakers”

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British Prime Minister Theresa May was scheduled to meet the leader of a small Northern Irish Protestant party on Tuesday to save her premiership and avoid a second election that would thrust Brexit negotiations into turmoil.
May’s botched election gamble cost her Conservative Party its majority in the 650-seat parliament last week, weakening her hand just days before talks with the European Union on a divorce that has to be agreed before an exit due in March 2019, Reuters reported.
With her authority diminished, May won some time when she performed well on Monday in front of Conservative lawmakers who said they would help her remain in power, at least for now.
“She said ‘I’m the person who got us into this mess and I’m the one who is going to get us out of it’,” said one Conservative lawmaker who attended the meeting.
“She said she will serve us as long as we want her.”
But to stay in government, May must strike a deal with the small euroskeptic Northern Irish party with 10 parliamentary seats, the Democratic Unionist Party.
May is set to meet DUP leader Arlene Foster in London on Tuesday but will face demands from the DUP for more money for Northern Ireland.
“We enter these talks in a positive fashion, we are first and foremost unionists and therefore we want to secure the union,” Foster told Sky News.
“But we do want to do so in the national interest to give stability to the government and that’s why we will be entering these negotiations,” she said.
While a deal with the DUP would help May stay in power to open Brexit talks that are due to begin next week, it would also risk destabilizing the political balance in Northern Ireland by increasing the influence of pro-British unionists.
The unionists have struggled for years with Irish Catholic nationalists who want Northern Ireland to join a united Ireland.
While the DUP are deeply euroskeptic, they have balked at some of the practical implications of a so-call hard Brexit—including a potential loss of a “frictionless border” with the Republic of Ireland—and talks will touch on efforts to minimize the potential damage to Northern Ireland.
With formal EU divorce talks due next week, May heads to France on Tuesday, possibly to bask in the popularity of Emmanuel Macron, who last month swept to victory in a presidential contest.
British officials held “talks about talks” with the European Union’s Brexit man in Brussels but actual negotiations, scheduled to start in a week’s time, might be delayed by political upheaval in London.
May’s spokesman said the prime minister, who in March set Britain on a two-year countdown to leaving the EU that included a clean break with the bloc’s single market and customs union, was not changing her position on what she wants from Brussels.

 

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Amano Updates IAEA Governors on JCPOA

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In his introductory statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors in Vienna on Monday, the director of the UN nuclear watchdog updated the members on the enforcement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Tehran’s nuclear program. The IAEA is tasked with overseeing Iran’s adherence to its nuclear undertakings under the accord.  Yukiya Amano pointed to his recent report on Iran, in which he confirmed the country’s compliance with the terms of the deal, and said, “The agency is verifying and monitoring Iran’s implementation of all its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA, in accordance with the modalities set out in the [agreement], consistent with the agency’s standard safeguards practices, and in an impartial and objective manner,” according to the official website of the IAEA.  He added, “The agency continues to verify the non-diversion of nuclear material declared by Iran under its safeguards agreement. Evaluations regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran remain ongoing.”  

 

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Ardebil Power Plant Ready for Launch

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A combined heat and power (CHP) plant is ready for launch in Germi County in the northwestern province of Ardebil, an advisor to Iran Power Generation, Distribution and Transmission Company (Tavanir) said on Sunday.
“With 120 billion rials (around $3.1 million) in private investment, the CHP station, with an electricity production capacity of 7 megawatts, is planned to go on stream in Angut District in Germi,” Mirhossein Faqani was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Cogeneration or combined heat and power is the use of a heat engine or power station to generate electricity and useful heat at the same time. Cogeneration is an efficient use of fuel.
In conventional power plants, some energy is discarded as waste heat, but in cogeneration, most of this thermal energy is put to use.
According to Faqani, the steam from the power plant will be used for heating a greenhouse, which is due to be built near the CHP station on a 5-hectare piece of land.Once operational, the plant will help minimize power outages  in Germi and supply electricity to the nearby cities of Meshgin Shahr and Parsabad.
“The plant’s launch that was initially set for the last (fiscal) year was delayed  because some equipment for the power station was temporarily impounded by customs,” Faqani said without elaboration.
Ebrahim Emami, Germi’s governor, also said that another power plant, with 24 MW power generation capacity, will become operational in the region to feed local factories and industrial units. CHP power stations can utilize steam turbines, gas turbines, internal combustion engines or both steam and gas turbines.
By capturing the excess heat, CHP uses heat that would be wasted in a conventional power plant, potentially reaching an efficiency of up to 80%.
This means that less fuel needs to be consumed to produce the same amount of useful energy.

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Ex-Envoy Says Saudi Rulers Involved in Revenge Plot

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A former envoy to Germany listed evidence to bolster Tehran’s case that Saudi Arabia was behind last week’s terrorist attacks on the Iranian Majlis and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder Islamic Republic.
The so-called Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the twin attacks on Wednesday that claimed 17 lives.
Speaking in a recent interview with the Real News, Hossein Mousavian said there is “clear evidence that IS terrorist attack in Tehran is managed, orchestrated by Saudi Arabia, in order to confront Iran.”
“The reason is clear. Iran is the real major force fighting IS in the region, from Syria to Iraq, to Yemen, everywhere. That’s why Saudi Arabia is trying to avenge Iran, because IS is the real asset, IS and Jabhat al-Nusra, all these terrorists groups, they are the real assets of Saudi Arabia in the region, and Iran is fighting them. Therefore, this is a revenge terrorist activity orchestrated by Saudis inside Tehran.”
The former nuclear negotiator cited remarks by Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, in May, that Riyadh would bring “the battle” for regional influence to Iran and a hostile twitter message by the top Saudi diplomat shortly before the attacks.
   Real King
“This was public announcement of the defense minister of Saudi Arabia who is the real king. I mean, he is the real power in Saudi Arabia, and just some hours before the terrorist attack, [Adel] al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, publicly said Tehran should be punished because of its regional policies.”
Mousavian highlighted a multi-billion dollar arms deal between Riyadh and Washington when US President Donald Trump visited Saudi Arabia, where the hawkish Republican accused Tehran of supporting terrorism in the Middle East.
“You remember we had President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia about two weeks ago, and there was about 300 billion dollars of arms sales [and other deals] and the whole narrative of his trip to Saudi Arabia, selling billions of dollars worth of sophisticated US arms, was to confront Iran.”
Saudi Arabia’s decision days earlier to cut diplomatic ties with neighboring Qatar for its Iran links and alleged support for regional terrorism further fuels speculations of the oil kingdom’s involvement in the terrorist act, Mousavian said.
“They are also saying that Saudi Arabia is punishing Qatar, because Qatar is going to have normal relations with Iran.”

  Evil Triangle
The foreign policy analyst said it is clear that a “triangle of Saudi Arabia, the US and Israelis” has been formed to confront Iran.
Hours after the terrorist move, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted, “Terror-sponsoring despots threaten to bring the fight to our homeland. Proxies attack what their masters despise most: the seat of democracy,” in an apparent reference to bin Salman’s remarks.
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, in a statement, echoed Tehran’s take on the issue and vowed to seek revenge.
“This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the US president and the [Saudi] backward leaders who support terrorists. The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they (Saudi rulers) were involved in the brutal attack,” the statement said.
Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in the Tehran attacks.

 

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Pesticide Use Exacerbates Tehran’s Whitefly Conundrum

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Unsystematic and belated spraying of pesticides is the main reason for the explosion in the population of whiteflies in Tehran in the past several years, since it has led to a decline in the numbers of natural predators, according to the head of the Tehran City Council’s Environment Committee.
Speaking to ISNA, Mohammad Haqqani added that Tehran Municipality’s measures in the past few years to control the population of insects besieging the Iranian capital have failed to put an end to their onslaught.
In the absence of natural predators, the whiteflies spread freely across the city, which grows hot in the summer and is home to plants favored by the pests.
Experts have repeatedly said that the best solution to control the population of the insects is to grow and release the pests’ biological predators that are collectively known as parasitoid wasps.
However, “excessive use of non-organic pesticides is the reason behind the annihilation of the predators of whiteflies and disturbance of the cycle in nature”.
Whiteflies have been a nuisance for Tehranis every summer in the last three years.
The silver leaf whitefly is one of several whitefly species infamous for their devastating impact on farmlands and plants but they are harmless to humans.
Also called the “sweet potato” fly, these sap feeders reduce the overall vigor of plants with their feeding. As infestations become severe, they cause plants to yellow and lose their leaves prematurely.
Whiteflies also produce large amounts of sticky, sugary honeydew, which is colonized by black sooty mold, reducing the marketability of whitefly-infested crops.
Pointing to scientific literature, Haqqani suggested that the best time for pesticide spraying is early spring and winter, when the larvae are developed into whiteflies. He urged TM to observe scientific principles in taking pest control measures.
About two years ago, TM began employing a method known as integrated pest management to control their population without endangering public health.
The University of California, a leader in IPM, defines the method as an eco-friendly strategy that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation and modification of cultural practices.
Washing out the host plants and modifying trimming and pruning methods have been undertaken by Tehran Municipality, but clearly these have not been enough.

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99 Films Under Production

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A total of 99 feature films are currently under production in Iran, according to statistics by Farabi Cinema Foundation based in Tehran.
Of the 99 films, five are under final preparation for screening. They are ‘Oxidan’ directed by Hamed Mohammadi; ‘White Bridge’ by Ali Qavitan; ‘I’m Not Crazy’ by Ali Reza Amini; ‘Jourabshou and Pinocchio’ by Ali Reza Mahmoudzadeh; and ‘Skier’ directed by Fereydoun Najafi, according to the foundation website fcf.ir.
Six films are under the process of dubbing. They are ‘Tochal’ directed by Mohamamd Ahangarani; ‘Wind Rider’ by Hojjatollah Seyfi; ‘Wild Roses’ by Rahbar Qanbari; ‘The Last Fiction’ by Ashkan Rahgozar; ‘Intoxicated Daffodil’ by Seyed Jalaloddin Dorri; and ‘Astigmatic’ directed by Seyed Mohammad Reza Mostafavi.
Meanwhile, 18 films are going through editing; 11 are in shooting process; and 59 are in the pre-production phase.
The themes of the upcoming films are on various subjects including war, resistance, beliefs and history. They will come in different genres such as comedy, action, social and family dramas, as well as for children and young adults.
Among the 99 films, 26 are by the directors who are making their first feature film.
Founded in 1983, Farabi Cinema Foundation, the biggest in Iranian film industry, is the leading company in the field of production, international distribution and promotion of Iranian films.

 

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Hyundai Models Earn Higher Ranking

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Iran Standards and Quality Inspection Company (ISQI) has released the latest report on the quality of 42 locally-made cars and seven pickup trucks.
Four models have joined the tiny club of four-star cars, the report, which covered the one-month period from April 21 to May 2, indicates.
Two of the cars are Hyundai models produced by a local carmaker in collaboration with the South Korean auto giant.
Cars in Iran are ranked from one to a maximum of five stars by ISQI. None of the cars produced by Iranian auto manufacturers have received more than four stars so far since the system was launched in the recent past.
The new models that have joined the four-star cars club now are Hyundai i10 and i20 recently put on sale by Kerman Motor, and Tondar 90 and Pars Tondar (both face-lifted models of Renault’s Logan), produced by IKCO and Pars Khodro respectively.
Considering that Pars Khodro is a subsidiary of SAIPA, with three cars in the exclusive club, the automotive firm is ahead of its rival IKCO, the top Iranian auto producer.
Cars that have scored four stars in the previous ISQI ranking are: New Mazda3 (Bahman Motor), Grand Vitara (Iran Khodro), Renault Sandero (Pars Khodro) and the 2011 Kia Cerato (SAIPA).
The report also indicates that Iranian automakers’ output observed a 53% jump during the one month period compared to the previous month. They produced 64,219 cars and light-duty vehicles during the period.
With 11 models, the list of one-star cars is still the most crowded. SAIPA and IKCO each have five cars in this list along with the Chery QQ produced by the Chinese company’s local subsidiary.

  Pickup Trucks
According to ISQI, light-duty vehicles like pickup trucks have a meager share of 1% in the production rate.
From the seven models of pickup trucks tested by ISQI during the one-month period, only two models got more than one star.
Tondar pickup truck produced by IKCO has three stars while Foton produced by one of the company’s subsidiaries has been able to earn two stars.

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