Venezuela’s Maduro meets Leader, president
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrived in Tehran on Saturday and held talks with the Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and discussed various issues including stabilization of oil market.
The two presidents discussed bilateral issues and explored avenues to promote ties.
Iran’s president said Tehran supports fair oil prices and quotas for producers in order to stabilize oil market.
Maduro embarked on a four-day international trip on Thursday that also includes visits to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Azerbaijan.
His tour of various oil-producing countries is aimed at helping stabilize the international oil market as a drop in global oil prices has negatively affected his country’s economy.
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed in Algiers on Sept. 28 to reduce production to a range of 32.5 million to 33.0 million barrels per day, which would be its first output cut since 2008. Another meeting on Nov. 30 is set to firm up details of the accord.
Haldor Topsoe eyeing Iran petchem sector
Denmark’s Haldor Topsoe has voiced readiness to invest in its petrochemical industry.
Announcing the above, Marzieh Shahdaei, the managing director of Iran’s National Petrochemical Company (NPC) said that she had discussed several areas for potential cooperation with top officials from Haldor Topsoe in a meeting on the sidelines of K Trade Fair 2016 in Germany, Press TV reported.
Shahdaei added that the Danish giant had expressed readiness to participate in projects to produce new petrochemical products.
She emphasized that the company was specifically interested in supplying Iran’s petrochemical projects with technical licenses. Further areas of cooperation between Iran’s NPC and the Danish firm include the construction of catalyst plants and also plants to produce methanol, urea and ammonia.
Before a series of US-led sanctions were imposed on Iran in 2012, Haldor Topsoe was one of the most active companies in the country’s petrochemical industry, Iran’s Mehr News Agency reported.
The Danish company had a contract worth €500 million to construct a methanol production unit in Iran’s Asaluyeh energy hub.
Iran has been witnessing a surge in the interest of global energy giants in its petrochemical industry.
Adel Salimnejad, the managing director of Iran’s Persian Gulf Holding Company, said on Friday that Total plans to invest as much as $2 billion in an olefin project in Iran.
Salimnejad added that a deal to the same effect will be signed with the company before April 2017.
He also said another major energy corporation – which he did not name – plans to sign a second big petrochemical deal with Iran within the next months.
Role of climate change in historic drought
Led by Luke Harrington and Professor David Frame from the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, the research measured the likelihood of extreme weather patterns occurring in modern day New Zealand compared to weather patterns in the late 19th century.
“We used new statistical techniques to examine the specific types of weather systems which passed over New Zealand during the 2013 summer drought. We then used climate models to evaluate whether they were more likely to occur in the present day, when compared with the late nineteenth century,” said Harrington, physorg wrote.
“Our results show that due to changes in climate over the last 130 years, in response to both greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion, weather patterns such as those seen in the 2013 drought were 20 percent more likely to occur in the present day than in the late 1800s.”
The 2013 New Zealand drought affected the entire North Island and the west coast of the South Island, and is considered one of the most severe droughts to have affected these areas in at least 40 years.
“The 2013 drought had a huge impact on New Zealand — according to Treasury estimates, the drought cost the New Zealand economy at least $1.3 billion. It’s also an important case study to help New Zealanders understand how the nature of extreme events is changing for New Zealand,” said Harrington.
“We are already seeing changes in the frequency of extreme weather over New Zealand due to a changing climate. The results from our research are yet another sign that we can expect droughts more frequently in the future and that, when they occur, they are likely to be more intense.
“By looking at the properties of the drought in several different ways, we hope the in-depth detail of our results will be useful for primary industries’ planning in anticipation of future New Zealand summers in a warming world.”
This research, carried out in collaboration with researchers from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the University of New South Wales in Sydney and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, has been published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.
‘Persian Nightingale’ capable of performing all genres
By Sadeq Dehqan & Hamideh Hosseini
Iranian well-known vocalist Shahram Nazeri is famous for performing classical music, but his performance is not limited to this genre and is ready to experience other genres as well.
Due to his unique voice, Shahram Nazeri is called Iran’s Molana in the field of singing. But describing him in an analogy based on Western and European legends, it is better to compare him with Eastern and Iranian legends and celebrities.
His mystical voice plus his Kurdish origin reminds us of Iranian myths, his face is similar to the faces of Shahnameh’s characters. Almost everyone knows how Nazeri is influenced by mystical works as well as the epic works of the great Persian poet Ferdowsi.
In fact, his voice is the echo of generations through which Iran’s folk music has evolved.
Maestro Nazeri’s performances have garnered critical acclaim worldwide and won him awards at music festivals around the world.
In 1975, he won the First Prize at the Concours de Musique Traditionelle, the first competition to showcase Iran’s great performers.
More recently, the Ministry of Culture in Iran named him the Best Singer of Classical Persian and Sufi Music. UCLA has honored him with the Living Legend Award. The UN has honored Nazeri with cognition award for his legendary contribution to the revival of Kurdish and Iranian Classical Music.
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Iran, German bank resume oil trade cooperation
Iran and Germany’s Deutsche Bank have resumed cooperation in oil trade, announced deputy oil minister for international affairs.
Referring to insufficient cooperation between Iran and major European banks, particularly regarding oil deals, in the post-JCPOA era, Amir Hossein Zamani-Nia, added, “However, unlike the past, when collaborations were limited to small European banks, prominent banks are boosting their ties with Iran,” Mehr News Agency reported.
“Transactions with Deutsche Bank of Germany were resumed a few days ago for a number of oil deals,” said the official asserting that several other major European banks will reinvigorate ties with Iran in coming days.
Referring to the talks with giant oil companies over new oil partnerships with Iran under IPCs (Iran Petroleum Contracts), Zamaninia said, “Although negotiations are underway, a number of firms are still harboring doubts about launching cooperation with Iran within the framework of the new model of Iranian oil contracts.”
“Talks are underway to present IPCs to foreign companies, European firms in particular,” the official noted, adding remarkable progress have been made in negotiations with major European companies, the outcomes of which will be announced within a few weeks.
Deutsche Bank had officially suspended its banking activities in Iran in 2006, especially in the field trading crude and oil products.
Iran’s Javanmardi receives Allianz Best Female Athlete
Sareh Javanmardi Doodmani, who became Iran’s first female Paralympic gold medalist in shooting, was voted by the public as the Allianz Best Female Athlete of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
She completed a double victory for Iran as her compatriot powerlifter Siamand Rahman received the Best Male honor last week, paralympic.org reported.
The 31-year-old Iranian won two glittering golds – P2 (women’s 10m air pistol SH1) and P4 (mixed 50m pistol SH1).
It was a close race in the public polls between Javanmardi (41 percent) and Italian wheelchair fencer Beatrice Vio (38 percent). US Para triathlete Grace Norman was third with 19 percent of the votes.
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Kremlin: Demands for Assad’s departure “thoughtless”
The entire territory of Syria must be “liberated,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said in remarks televised Saturday, dismissing demands for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s departure as “thoughtless”.
Dmitry Peskov said Assad needs to stay in power to prevent the country from falling into the hands of terrorists, AP reported.
“There are just two options: Assad sitting in Damascus or the Nusra sitting in Damascus,” Peskov said in a reference to Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front terrorists that renamed the group Fatah al-Sham Front earlier this year. “And Assad must sit in Damascus to ensure a political settlement.”
Peskov’s statement comes as the break in the fighting Russia has declared in the besieged city of Aleppo entered its third day. He said Russia’s decision to extend the break, which was initially declared for just one day Thursday, wasn’t a concession to Western pressure.
The UN greeted the lull intended to allow the evacuation of wounded civilians and opponents from the terrorist-held eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo shattered by airstrikes, but the terrorists have rejected the offer to evacuate and no evacuations were seen along the corridors created by the Syrian government. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the West was turning a blind eye to the Al-Qaeda terrorists blocking humanitarian aid deliveries to Aleppo and trying to shift the blame onto Moscow.
“It’s mean and cynical to ... watch the Nusra block the delivery of food and medicines to civilians while blaming Russia for the humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo,” she said.
Russia launched an air campaign in support of Syria against terrorists a year ago, helping Syrian forces win some key ground.
Peskov said the goal of the Russian campaign is to fight “terrorists,” saying that the fall of the Syrian government would cause new flows of refugees and more terror attacks in Europe.
“Some countries are trying play with the devil and use terrorists to get rid of Assad, and some just say thoughtlessly that Assad must leave,” Peskov said. “If Damascus falls and terrorists take hold there, there will be no political settlement then.”
He said there is little hope that the Syrian conflict could end soon, adding that it will require a “long and hard work by the international community”.
Iraqi forces drive Daesh from Christian region near Mosul
Compiled from Dispatches
Iraqi Army troops on Saturday stormed into a Christian region that has been under Daesh control since 2014 as part of operations to clear the entrances to Mosul, the terrorist group’s last major city stronghold in Iraq.
A military statement said Iraqi units entered the center of Qaraqosh, a mainly Christian town about 20km (13 miles) southeast of Mosul, and were carrying out mop-up operations across the town, Reuters reported.
Further action was underway to seize a neighboring Christian village, Karamless, also known as Karemlash in the Syrian language. The region’s population fled in the summer of 2014, when the terrorists swept in.
Earlier this week, Iraqi special units also captured Bartella, a Christian village north of Qaraqosh.
A US military official estimated there were fewer than a couple of hundred Daesh terrorists in Qaraqosh.
The interior minister of the Kurdish regional government said on Saturday that Iraqi forces have advanced to 5km (3 miles) from Mosul and there are signs of revolt against the group, but he added that the battle is not expected to end soon.
Karim Sinjari, who is also acting defense minister in the area, told Reuters in an interview that Daesh terrorists – believed to number between 4,000 and 8,000 – will put up a fierce fight because of Mosul’s symbolic value for the terrorist group.
“If they resist in the city, especially in old Mosul, it will be a big fight ... The roads are very thin, very narrow. You can’t have vehicles, you can’t have tanks. So it will be a fight, person by person,” he said.
The offensive on Mosul is expected to become the biggest battle fought in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003.
The army is also trying to advance from the south and the east while Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are holding fronts in the east and north.
US forces at Iraq’s Qayyarah West airfield, south of Mosul, put on protective masks after winds brought fumes from a nearby sulfur plant set alight by Daesh terrorists, US military officials said.
According to AFP, a toxic cloud released by a fire the terrorists set off at the sulfur plant killed at least two civilians and forced some US service members to wear masks.
A Reuters reporter in Qayyarah saw Iraqi soldiers wearing gas masks on top of their heads, ready to pull them down. A cloud of white smoke blanketed the region to the north, where the factory is located, mingling with black fumes from oil wells that the terrorists torched to cover their moves.
The Iraqi Army’s media office said about 50 villages had been taken from the terrorists since Monday in operations to prepare the main thrust into Mosul itself, where 5,000 to 6,000 Daesh members are dug in, according to Iraqi estimates.
Clashes in Kirkuk
Security forces battled for a second day Saturday with Daesh terrorists who infiltrated Kirkuk in a brazen raid that rattled Iraq as it ramped up the offensive to retake Mosul, AFP reported.
A day after the shock attack on the Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk, terrorist snipers and suspected suicide bombers were still at large, prompting Baghdad to send reinforcements.
Special counterterrorism and intelligence units were hunting down some of the dozens of Daesh terrorists who stormed public buildings in the early hours of Friday.
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Egyptian court confirms 20-year prison sentence for Morsi
An Egyptian court confirmed a 20-year prison sentence against former president Mohamed Morsi on Saturday, judicial sources told Reuters.
It is the first final verdict against Morsi on charges arising from the killing of protesters during demonstrations in 2012, Reuters reported.
Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, faces charges in other cases.
He received the prison sentence in April 2015 on charges of inciting violence near the presidential palace in Cairo during the 2012 protests.
Morsi has already been sentenced in three separate trials to death and a life term on charge of spying for Qatar.
In May 2015, Morsi and 105 others were sentenced to death for a mass prison break in 2011, during the country’s popular uprising that led to the overthrow of longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The Egyptian government has been cracking down on opposition since Morsi was ousted in a military coup led by former army chief and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in July 2013.
Rights groups say the army’s crackdown on the supporters of Morsi has led to the deaths of over 1,400 people and the arrest of 22,000 others, including some 200 people who have been sentenced to death in mass trials.