02172018Sat

Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 15 – The privatization of Iran's hospitals has led to people avoiding important surgeries for fear of rising hospital costs, according to a member of the Health Committee in Iran's Majlis (parliament). "With putting this plan into action in hospitals, people are afraid that they would face long periods of time hospitalized with hefty bills", Jahanbakhsh Amini said in an interview with a state-run news agency.

The following press release has been sent to Iran Focus by Sara Safeed (Persian Mirror): Internationally renowned recording artist Andy has put his talented song-writing skills to a new project called Babak and Friends – A First Norooz. The famed pop star, who has just returned from a world tour is heading into the studio to record the new Norooz song next week. Andy joins a cast of talented artists and actors, including legendary actor Parviz Sayyad and Ali Pourtash in this first-time Norooz project for children and adults alike.

Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 15 – More than 200 tons of narcotics have been discovered in Iran over the past nine months, according to a senior Iranian security official. Speaking to a gathering of reporters, the State Security Forces commander, Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, hinted today that such a large quantity of drugs in circulation might raise questions that drug smuggling has become institutionalized.

New York Times: The Bush administration imposed penalties this month against some of China's largest companies for aiding Iran's efforts to improve its ballistic missiles. The move is part of an effort by the White House and American intelligence agencies to identify and slow important elements of Iran's weapons programs. The White House made no public announcement of the penalties, and the State Department placed a one-page notice on page 133 of The Federal Register early this month listing eight Chinese companies affected.

Iran Focus: Strasbourg, Jan. 14 – After a debate in which a number of Euro-MPs spoke out against the terror-tag placed upon the main Iranian opposition group, the People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), the European Parliament yesterday adopted a resolution on Iran calling for a review of the European Union's list of terrorist organisations.

Reuters: U.S. President George W. Bush says he will not rule out military action against Iran if that country is not more forthcoming about its suspected nuclear weapons programme. "I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I will never take any option off the table," Bush said in an interview with NBC News when asked if he would rule out the potential for military action against Iran "if it continues to stonewall the international community about the existence of its nuclear weapons program."

Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 14 - More than 50,000 people have been arrested in Greater Tehran in the past nine months, according to the head of the Office to Combat Narcotics in Greater Tehran. "A large proportion of those in custody, who comprise people from different sectors of society, are between 25 and 30 years of age", Major Ghodratollah Mahmoudi said in an interview with a state-run news agency
on Wednesday.

Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 17 – Two teenage students hanged themselves in the town of Sirjan (southern Iran) on Friday. Mohammad-Javad Maki-Abadi, a second year high school student, and Asghar Maki-Abadi, a third year high school student, were cousins. They committed suicide in Mohammad-Javad's house when all of their relatives were out. The exact motive has yet to be confirmed.

Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 13 - There are at least 150,000 drug addicts in the city of Mashad (northeast Iran), according to the head of the city's Central Medical Bureau.
"According to recent statistics there are 150,000 drug addicts
at present in Mashad", Rajab Hedayatnia said.

Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 17 – The Head of Iran's Addiction Prevention Office said that the drug addiction rate had surpassed the population increase rate by three times.
"Based on statistics obtained over the last 30 years, drug addiction has increased by eight percent, which is the equivalent of three times the growth of the population", ...

Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 13 - In an apparent reference to the presence of US troops in Iraq, a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Corps (IRGC) official called for Iran to mobilize its troops against the "dangerous Zionist threat".
Speaking to Revolutionary Guards and Iran's Bassij (paramilitary police) forces in Khuzestan on Tuesday Deputy IRGC Commander Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr said, "The Islamic Republic will not tolerate American presence in the region".

Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 16 – At least 30 juveniles are on death row in Tehran and Rajai-Shahr (40km west of the Iranian capital) for offences they have been alleged to have committed under the age of 18. "There are some 30 juveniles under the age of 18 in Tehran's Centre for Reform and Education (Juvenile Prison) and in Rajai-Shahr currently sentenced to ...

AP: An Iranian man who sought asylum in Australia after converting from Islam to Christianity has been deported to Tehran - where rights activists say his change of religion could endanger his life, a refugee advocacy group said Wednesday. The man, in his 30s, was placed on a flight late Tuesday from Sydney to Dubai, from where he would be transported to Iran, said Ian Rental, a spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 16 – Iran's bookstore owners are complaining of the government's decision to ban 200 books, including political, social, cultural, religious, arts, music, scientific and historical literature. According to a Tehran bookshop owner who wanted to remain anonymous, Iran's government have recently sent a list of 200 books considered to be "immoral", "unIslamic", or "influencing acts against the state".

Iran Focus: Tehran, Jan. 13 – Sixteen Iranian students were killed when a fire broke out in a school in western Iran at midday. Reports confirm that the fire broke out in Safilan village's local school in Chahar Mahale Bakhtiari province (west Iran) after a schoolteacher attempted to turn on a gas heater which was near flammable liquids which caught fire upon contact.

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