President Rouhani inaugurates housing projects
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated the National Housing units as well as some of the units under the Mehr Housing initiative in an online ceremony on Monday.
In the ceremony which also was attended by Roads and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Eslami, 51,230 units worth about $5.2 billion were handed over to the owners in 31 provinces of Iran, IRNA reported.
As reported, 28,518 of the said units were constructed under the National Housing plan and the rest were Mehr Housing units.
Eslami said in order to facilitate the access of the target community to affordable housing units, 55 percent of the price of the mentioned units will be lent to the applicants in the form of banking facilities.
He added: “We have completed Mehr Housing plan and it will not be transferred to the next government.”
According to the minister, in the process of the registration for the National Housing plan, over 2.5 million people applied, among which 530,000 were eligible to receive housing units, however, some did not complete the registration.
The National Housing Action Plan aims to construct 400,000 small- and medium-sized apartments (70-100 square meters in size) across the country and particularly in Tehran, where housing prices have risen most sharply.
Nearly half of the total number of the said houses will be constructed in Tehran’s suburban new towns including Parand and Pardis, respectively located in the west and east of the city.
According to Deputy Roads and Urban Development Minister Mahmoud Mahmoudzadeh, so far in the two stages of the National Housing plan, over 40,000 units have been handed over to the applicants across the country.
Raeisi: Effective measures required to improve people’s livelihoods, tourism sector
Iran’s President-elect Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi urged more effective measures to improve people’s livelihoods and the country’s tourism sector, in separate meetings with outgoing ministers on Monday.
In an address to his meeting with Justice Minister Alireza Avaei, Raeisi noted that the State Discretionary Punishment Organization must play a more effective supervisory role in regulating the domestic market, restoring economic stability and improving the people’s livelihoods, IRNA reported.
The president-elect stressed that the State Discretionary Punishment Organization must, in cooperation with the country’s supervisory organizations, play a more significant role in fighting goods smuggling and bringing down exorbitant prices in the domestic
Raeisi highlighted the necessity of assessing measures by the State Discretionary Punishment Organization and its current situation, calling for drawing up a plan to reform the organization’s structure, status and processes to transform it.
Congratulating Raeisi on his victory in the June 18 presidential election, Avaei presented a report of his ministry’s latest plans and measures.
In his meeting with Minister of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Ali Asghar Mounesan, Raeisi urged for accelerating the process of public vaccination to bring greater prosperity to the domestic tourism sector.
He described as efforts to create greater added-value in the domestic tourism industry, promoting the national culture and generating revenues through the sector.
Raeisi added that among God’s blessings to Iran are the country’s numerous tourist attractions, saying Iran is home to a large number of pristine regions that are capable of being developed and used to improve the tourism sector.
He said that the tourism industry has a high capacity for boosting employment, stressing that those involved in the sector must be provided with further support.
Mounesan also congratulated Raeisi on his election win and presented a report of his ministry’s plans and measures.
Raeisi is set to be sworn in on August 3, succeeding President Hassan Rouhani, who has served two four-year terms since 2013.
Iran: Foreign interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs worsens situation
Iran said foreign interference, particularly by the US, in Lebanon’s internal affairs solely exacerbates the situation in the Arab country and undermines its stability.
Commenting on the formation of the Lebanese government in an address to a weekly press conference, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh added that the Lebanese people themselves will determine the way to form their new government, stressing that they will not acquiesce to any foreign pressure or imposed decision.
He said Iran maintains that this is a domestic issue and refrains from interfering in other country’s internal affairs, including those of Lebanon.
“We respect the Lebanese’ decisions and hope that their new government would be formed as soon as possible.”
He stressed that Lebanon has an independent government as well as a president, a Parliament and people, who are capable of resolving their problems and should be respected.
Lebanon has been grappling with an economic crisis over the past months, which has led to the deterioration of living standards in the country.
This comes as an ongoing political deadlock has prevented the formation of a government in the country for months, and those in power have failed repeatedly to mount a credible financial reform blueprint needed to unlock billions of dollars in desperately needed international aid, according to aljazeera.com.
Russia: Iran’s uranium metal plan outcome of ‘maximum pressure’
Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna said Iran’s plan to enrich uranium metal is a direct outcome of the US “maximum pressure” campaign against the country.
“In a first occasion for nonnuclear countries, Iran began enriching uranium to 60 percent. And now it’s about to start producing metal uranium enriched to 20 percent. I don’t think anyone in the US is happy about that, but that’s the direct consequence of the maximum pressure policy,” Mikhail Ulyanov said in an interview with Russian newspaper Kommersant on Sunday according to Press TV.
Ulyanov expressed hope that the Americans can learn from their past mistakes, which brought results that were the opposite of what they expected.
The Russian diplomat was referring to US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA, in May 2018, in pursuit of the so-called maximum pressure policy against Tehran. The withdrawal occurred under the administration of former US president Donald Trump, who was a vocal critic of the JCPOA, signed under his predecessor Barack Obama. In response, Iran used its rights under the 2015 agreement to retaliate by ramping up its nuclear activities in gradual steps, the latest of which was a plan to produce enriched uranium metal, Press TV reported.
Following Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election, which saw Democrats return to the White House, the US showed interest in returning to the JCPOA, leading to negotiations between the parties to the accord in Vienna with the aim of bringing Washington back into compliance.
However, three months after the beginning of the Vienna talks, the US is still declining to remove all the sanctions that were reimposed after the former administration pulled out of the deal, and has failed to provide assurances that it will not exit the deal again, while keeping the “maximum pressure” in
The sanctions had been lifted when the JCPOA went into effect in January 2016.
‘US should take first step’
According to Ulyanov, the first step toward the restoration of the nuclear agreement should be made by the US as the party that created the current obstacles in the path of the full implementation of the JCPOA.
“I can lay out Russia’s point of view: Naturally, the first step is to be made by the Americans because it was them who started the whole thing when they withdrew from the deal and nearly wrecked it threatening the entire world with their extraterritorial sanctions,” he said.
Ulyanov, who leads the Russian delegation to the Vienna talks, said more than 90 percent of the work to restore the JCPOA is done, but there are politically sensitive matters in the remaining 10 percent.
He said although the participants have not agreed to a plan, the outlines of the potential agreement are “quite clear and everyone sees its conceptual frames. Everyone accepts them but details – who and what should do and when – are yet to be specified within these outlines”.
The Russian envoy also said the next round of the talks, which were paused on June 20, is not likely to happen earlier than 10 days, but voiced hope that the talks would resume as soon as possible.
“It is quite explainable: A new president has recently been elected in Iran, a new team is being formed and they need time to decide on their position. It is a hot-button matter for Iranian society and the Establishment. Heated debates go on. So, no wonder,” he added.
Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi won the June 18 presidential election in a landslide, garnering over 18 million votes.
Last week, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said Iran’s JCPOA policies will not change under the incoming Raeisi administration.
Raeisi himself has also noted that Iran will not renege on its promises. Speaking at his first press conference in late June after his victory, he urged the US to return to the JCPOA and comply with its commitments under the deal, saying the Iranian nation is not satisfied with the current state of the nuclear deal.
President Diaz-Canel accuses ‘Cuban-American mafia’ of orchestrating unrest in Cuba
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel accused old Cold War foe the United States of inciting unrest in the Caribbean nation, calling on Cubans to stage counter-protests against “provocations,” as thousands have taken to the streets demanding his resignation amid a worsening economic crisis.
“We call on all revolutionaries of the country, all communists, to go out in the streets where these provocations occur,” Diaz-Canel said in a televised address on Sunday, Press TV reported.
He told government supporters, some of whom had already organized pro-government demonstrations in the capital city Havana, to rally “in a decisive, firm and courageous way.”
Meanwhile, thousands of people – frustrated by the economic situation and the toughest phase of the coronavirus pandemic – took part in rare protests in Havana and other cities on Sunday demanding Diaz-Canel step down.
“The energy situation seems to have produced some reaction,” the president told reporters in San Antonio de los Banos, blaming US sanctions imposed by former president Donald Trump and left unchanged by President Joe Biden.
The United States has maintained a harsh economic, financial and commercial embargo against Cuba for more than 60 years. Numerous resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly have indicated that the blockade is against international law.
Diaz-Canel, who also heads the Communist Party, accused “a Cuban-American mafia” of whipping up the protests on social media.
Previously, the US had devised a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining the Cuban government, according to multiple reports. The mission was to reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans through a text-message social network called ZunZuneo – slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet.
The program was launched by the US government in hope that it would trigger anti-government protests that could bring about “regime change” in the Latin American country.
The “Cuban Twitter” project, which lasted from 2009-12, had attempted to conceal its links to US spy agencies through a series of shell companies. The plan was to use cellphone text messaging to evade Cuban authorities overseeing anti-government “provocations” by mercenaries.
The social media network was financed and operated through the US Agency for International Development, best known for overseeing billions of dollars in US government aid programs to other countries.
US aid programs are notorious for their ulterior agendas hidden behind them.
In light of the recent unrest, President Diaz-Canel acknowledged that many protesters were sincere but manipulated by US-orchestrated social media campaigns and “mercenaries” on the ground. He called on supporters to counter such “provocations,” which he said would not be tolerated anymore.
The US has recently further tightened the illegal embargo under the pretext of fighting the spread of the coronavirus.
Many Cubans have grown frustrated with the economic crisis and a surge in coronavirus cases.
The government has reiterated that the US embargo is impeding the country’s ability to purchase equipment and other supplies to deal with COVID-19 and is making the pandemic worse.
Despite the sanctions, Cuba has been developing five domestic COVID-19 vaccines, and last month announced that one of them, called Abdalla, was 92 percent efficient.
Washington quick to react
Washington reacted swiftly to the protests in Cuba.
“The US supports freedom of expression and assembly across Cuba, and would strongly condemn any violence or targeting of peaceful protesters who are exercising their universal rights,” US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Twitter.
‘Bringing home the trophy’: Mancini dedicates tears to all of Italy after Euro 2020 triumph
Roberto Mancini said his tears were for the whole of Italy after winning Euro 2020 in a dramatic penalty shooutout. Victory over England brought Italy their first European Championship title since 1968 and the manager was overcome at the end.
“We don’t even realise what we have managed to achieve,” said Mancini, who took over in 2018 after Italy had failed to qualify for the World Cup, Press Association reported.
“We are delighted for people and the Italian public because they really deserve this after what has been a trying period. This is great joy for us.
“I cried on this ground 30 years ago after the 1992 European Cup final [when Sampdoria lost to Barcelona]. That really hurt back then. Winning the European Championship for the first time since 1968 and bringing home the trophy I do think it is something incredible.“It [crying] was the emotion which happens after achieving something incredible. It was the emotion of seeing the guys celebrate and the fans in the stands. Seeing everything we have managed to create, all of the hard work we have put in over the last three years but specifically the last 50 days which have been very hard.
“It’s the fact we have been able to forge this team spirit over the last 50 days – they have really created something which can never be separated going forward. They will always be synonymous with this triumph.”
Luke Shaw had put England ahead after only one minute and 57 seconds but Italy, who lost to Spain in the 2012 final, slowly got to grips with the game.
Mancini said: “I’m very happy because the team played well and we deserved the victory. The goal did cause us a few issues in the first 15 minutes but then we started to take control of the game. We were disappointed we had to dig in and go all the way to penalties but we are very happy for Italians everywhere.”Italy’s goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma, saved from Jadon Sancho and, decisively, Bukayo Saka to win the shootout. “We are very fortunate to have Donnarumma,” Mancini said. “I was sure he was going to save a couple of penalties because he is the best goalkeeper in the world. He really is a wonderful guy and incredible goalkeeper.”
Racial abuse condemned
The UK prime minister and the Football Association condemned racist abuse aimed at England’s Sancho, Saka, and Marcus Rashford after the trio missed penalties in Sunday’s shootout loss.
The Metropolitan Police is investigating the abuse and said “it will not be tolerated”, BBC Sport reported.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the abuse “appalling”.
“This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,” he said.
“Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
England’s players have taken a knee before games at the Euros to highlight the fight against racial inequality.
The FA said it was “appalled” by the “online racism” of the three players following the defeat at Wembley.
It added: “We could not be clearer that anyone behind such disgusting behaviour is not welcome in following the team.
“We will do all we can to support the players affected while urging the toughest punishments possible for anyone responsible.
“Social media companies need to step up and take accountability and action to ban abusers from their platforms, gather evidence that can lead to prosecution and support making their platforms free from this type of abhorrent abuse.”
Fadjr International Theater Festival to have special guest in 40th edition
Arts & Culture Desk
The 40th edition of the Fadjr International Theater Festival (FITF) will host one country as a special guest, director of Iran’s Dramatic Arts Center announced.
The move is to benefit the international aspects of Iran in the world, Qader Ashena added, according to IRNA.
The FITF, which is one of the most important international events in the country and hosts the one-year activities of theatrical artists every year, was subject to several changes after the outbreak of the coronavirus in its 39th edition.
“There was no international section for the 39th edition of the festival, because most of the theater companies around the world were closed,” Hossein Mosafer-Astaneh, the secretary of the 40th FITF noted.
On July 3, the festival organizers published a call for the participants for the 40th edition in eight sections of playwriting, stage plays, street plays, other types of performances, theater of nations, Radio Theater as well as competition and exhibition of theatrical photos and posters.
Speaking about national and international holding of the festival, Mosafer-Astaneh said that unlike the 39th edition, the upcoming event will be held internationally with the presence of theatrical groups from different countries.
He added that due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, the upcoming festival will inevitably be held online, while some parts will be held in
Lightning kills more than 50 in India
More than 50 people were killed in lightning strikes across several states in India, authorities said on Monday, including 11 people at a historic fort.
Hundreds of people are killed each year in intense storms at the start of the monsoon season, which bring respite from the summer heat across the northern Indian plains, AFP wrote.
Media reports said about 10 other people were killed on Sunday in the desert state of Rajasthan and authorities added at least 42 died in different districts of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state.
In Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, bolts hit two watchtowers at the 12th-century Amer Fort, which were packed with visitors watching the storm cross the city.
“It was already raining when the people were there. They huddled in the towers as the rainfall intensified,” Saurabh Tiwari, a senior Jaipur police officer, told AFP.
People had flocked to the fort, which gives a panoramic view across Jaipur, after several weeks of intense heat in the state.
Eleven people were killed and another 17 were injured, with three in critical condition, according to police.
Tiwari said up to 30 people were on the towers when the lightning struck.
“Some of the injured were left unconscious by the strikes. Others ran out in panic and extreme pain,” he added.
Emergency teams were checking on Monday whether any victims had fallen into a deep moat on one side of the watchtowers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said special payments would be made to the families of people who lost their lives, as he offered condolences.
Borrell: Slovenian PM remarks at anti-Iran meeting not EU stance
Zarif slams Jansa’s participation, remarks as unacceptable, imprudent
Remarks by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa in a meeting organized by the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) terrorist group about Iran by no means reflect the European Union’s stance on relations with Tehran, said the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
He made the statement in a Sunday phone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Tasnim News Agency reported.
A number of Western politicians took part in a hybrid physical and virtual meeting organized and held by the MKO in Berlin on Saturday, according to Press TV.
The event linked the MKO terrorists at their camp in Albania with hired supporters among US senators, British MPs and French lawmakers as well as gatherings in cities including Berlin on Saturday.
It also featured speeches by former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and the Slovenian PM.
Expressing regret over the issue, Borrell underscored that the EU’s position is expressed by the chairperson of the European Council at the level of heads of state, and by the EU foreign policy chief at the ministerial level.
He also noted that Jansa’s remarks have in no way been made in the EU’s capacity.
Zarif also denounced the Slovenian premier’s unacceptable move to take part in the MKO gathering, saying Jansa’s participation and remarks in the virtual meeting were unacceptable and imprudent.
He called on the EU to express its position on the issue considering Slovenia’s rotating presidency of the block.
On Sunday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Slovenian ambassador to Tehran and officially protested Jansa’s “unacceptable and undiplomatic” move.
Kristina Radej was also informed of Iran’s serious complaints against the Slovenian PM’s move and unfounded accusations against the Islamic Republic.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry stressed that the Slovenian prime minister’s participation in a meeting organized by a terrorist group, which is hated by the great people of Iran, and his untrue and flagrant statements are in contradiction to diplomatic norms and the two countries’ relations and are condemned by the Islamic Republic.
In addition, supporting a terrorist group is against the United Nations’ Charter, international principles and human rights values and, thus, is not acceptable at all, the ministry stressed.
At the terrorist group’s Saturday meeting, Pompeo, conspicuously infuriated by the massive participation of Iranians in the June 18 presidential elections, claimed in his online speech that the vote was “in fact, a boycott and the regime knows it”.
Similarly, Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the MKO terrorist cult and president of its umbrella National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), alleged that the poll was a “sham”.
In response, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted, “Bought Western politicians (incl #LyingCheatingStealing Pompeo) sell themselves cheap for a Europe-hosted circus arranged by a once Saddam-backed terrorist cult with Iranian blood on its hands.”
“Insatiable thirst for $$ & anti-Iran obsession is driving shameful Western hypocrisy,” he added in his tweet posted on Saturday night.
The MKO has conducted numerous assassinations and bombings against Iranian statesmen and civilians since the 1979 victory of Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Its members fled Iran in 1986 for Iraq, where they enjoyed backing from former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Out of the nearly 17,000 Iranians killed in terrorist assaults since the Islamic Revolution, about 12,000 have fallen victim to the MKO’s acts of terror.
The anti-Iran cult was on the US government’s list of terrorist organizations until 2012. Major European countries, including France, have also removed it from their blacklists.
A few years ago, the MKO elements were relocated from Camp Ashraf in Iraq’s Diyala Province to Camp Hurriyet (Camp Liberty), a former US military base in Baghdad, and later sent to Albania.
The MKO terrorists enjoy freedom of activity in the US and Europe, and hold meetings with European and American officials.