Aug 212017
 
Sunday, August 20, 2017 TM, Trash ‘Mafia’ and Lack of Responsibility People all over Iran have long witnessed waste pickers going around cities carrying huge, filthy bags on their backs, diving in bins to salvage whatever they can sell or reuse. Though dirty, it is a well-paid job for bin divers and a lucrative business for those who run the show behind the scenes. Urban waste pickers operate legally in the developed world as their activities are monitored and their contribution to urban sanitation and lowering municipal costs cannot be denied. In fact, in 2008, they held the First World Conference on Waste Pickers in Bogota, Colombia, to facilitate global networking. The term “waste picker” was adopted then. However, waste picking is not at all monitored in Iran, allowing few people to run the business behind the scenes without dirtying their own hands. Officials have often expressed concern and sometimes laid out plans to tackle the problem. All words, no action. Acknowledging the problem, Mohammad Javad Haqshenas, member of the Tehran City Council, told Ensafnews that “mafias” operating in the shadows employ young children to do their bidding. Last week, Mozafar Alvandi, secretary of the National Body on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, revealed that waste pickers— 60% of whom  ostensibly are refugee children — have special cards issued by Tehran Municipality which allow them to search the trash bins! The cards, which surprisingly bear the stamp of TM, cost the holder 3 million rials (about $78.5) per month. This shocking statement means that city officials are not only aware of the hands behind the scenes, but also their activities, despite touting measures to tackle the problem. However, whenever the matter is brought up, TM absolves itself of any responsibility and blames contractors. Assuming city officials are right and there are contractors with no direct link to municipalities, another question comes up: Aren’t municipalities and local councils responsible for collecting and segregating waste in the first place? Or, should contractors not be monitored? Waste pickers, young and old, put their lives at risk by working in unsanitary environments and are deprived of a normal life so that a handful of greedy people line their pockets. Those who misuse children, whether contractors or municipal officials, must be stopped. For that to happen, legislators must reform a law that allows children to work only in workshops with fewer than (more…)
Aug 212017
 
Sunday, August 20, 2017 TM, Trash ‘Mafia’ and Lack of Responsibility People all over Iran have long witnessed waste pickers going around cities carrying huge, filthy bags on their backs, diving in bins to salvage whatever they can sell or reuse. Though dirty, it is a well-paid job for bin divers and a lucrative business for those who run the show behind the scenes. Urban waste pickers operate legally in the developed world as their activities are monitored and their contribution to urban sanitation and lowering municipal costs cannot be denied. In fact, in 2008, they held the First World Conference on Waste Pickers in Bogota, Colombia, to facilitate global networking. The term “waste picker” was adopted then. However, waste picking is not at all monitored in Iran, allowing few people to run the business behind the scenes without dirtying their own hands. Officials have often expressed concern and sometimes laid out plans to tackle the problem. All words, no action. Acknowledging the problem, Mohammad Javad Haqshenas, member of the Tehran City Council, told Ensafnews that “mafias” operating in the shadows employ young children to do their bidding. Last week, Mozafar Alvandi, secretary of the National Body on the Convention of the Rights of the Child, revealed that waste pickers— 60% of whom  ostensibly are refugee children — have special cards issued by Tehran Municipality which allow them to search the trash bins! The cards, which surprisingly bear the stamp of TM, cost the holder 3 million rials (about $78.5) per month. This shocking statement means that city officials are not only aware of the hands behind the scenes, but also their activities, despite touting measures to tackle the problem. However, whenever the matter is brought up, TM absolves itself of any responsibility and blames contractors. Assuming city officials are right and there are contractors with no direct link to municipalities, another question comes up: Aren’t municipalities and local councils responsible for collecting and segregating waste in the first place? Or, should contractors not be monitored? Waste pickers, young and old, put their lives at risk by working in unsanitary environments and are deprived of a normal life so that a handful of greedy people line their pockets. Those who misuse children, whether contractors or municipal officials, must be stopped. For that to happen, legislators must reform a law that allows children to work only in workshops with fewer than (more…)
Jul 132015
 
The deal has been struck with Iran.  Why else would they be allowed to join SWIFT, the US currency control center? Things are going to change very soon.  M Iran’s Day Bank has officially joined the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). Iran’s Day Bank has officially joined the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). Iran’s Day Bank announced on Saturday that it has officially joined the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). This was announced at an official ceremony held at Day Bank headquarters in Tehran. Ahmad Shafizadeh, the governor of the bank, said at the ceremony that joining SWIFT in face of sanctions that prohibit financial transactions with Iran has been the result of a lengthy campaign. SWIFT is a global supplier of secure messaging services and interface software to wholesale financial entities. It is a secure private network used by nearly every bank around the world to send payment messages that lead to the transfer of money across international borders. In early 2012, SWIFT said it had been instructed by the European Council to discontinue its communications services to Iranian financial institutions that are subject to European sanctions. Accordingly, it blocked 30 Iranian banks from using its service thus literally cutting off Iran from the global banking system. The decision also hurt ordinary Iranians because SWIFT facilitates minor money transfers, as well. Therefore, many Iranians were no longer able to send money abroad or return any amount due to the same problem. Iran’s media reported earlier in April that SWIFT has already held a series of “official and unofficial meetings” with Iran’s private banks over the resumption of its services to the country. Reports added that this came in light of a gradual thaw in Iran’s banking transactions with the world introduced by developments in the country’s nuclear case. Iran and the P5+1 group of countries – the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany – are working on a final agreement over the Iranian nuclear energy program. The agreement – if reached – will lead to the lifting of certain economic sanctions against Iran – including those that prevent banking transactions with Iran – in return for the country’s steps to restrict certain aspects of its nuclear energy activities. Share this:FacebookLinkedInTwitterGoogleTumblrPinterestReddit (more…)
Jul 122015
 
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESSJULY 12, 2015, 9:43 A.M. E.D.T. VIENNA — Negotiators at the Iran nuclear talks plan to announce Monday that they’ve reached a historic deal capping nearly a decade of diplomacy that would curb the country’s atomic program in return for sanctions relief, two diplomats told The Associated Press on Sunday. The envoys said a provisional agreement may be reached even earlier — by late Sunday. But they cautioned that final details of the pact were still being worked out and a formal agreement must still be reviewed by leaders in the capitals of Iran and the six world powers at the talks. Senior U.S. and Iranian officials suggested, however, there was not enough time to reach a provisional deal by the end of Sunday. All of the officials, who are at the talks, demanded anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly. “We are working hard, but a deal tonight is simply logistically impossible,” the Iranian official said, noting that the agreement will run roughly 100 pages. The senior U.S. official declined to speculate as to the timing of any agreement or announcement, saying “major issues remain to be resolved.” Despite the caution, the negotiators appeared to be on the cusp of an agreement. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who on Thursday had threatened to walk away from the negotiations, said Sunday that “a few tough things” remain in the way but added “we’re getting to some real decisions.” En route to Mass at Vienna’s Gothic St. Stephens Cathedral, Kerry said twice he was “hopeful” after a “very good meeting” Saturday with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who had Muslim services Friday. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also was cautiously optimistic, telling reporters Sunday: “I hope that we are finally entering the last phase of this negotiation.” Movement toward a deal has been marked by years of tough negotiations. The pact is meant to impose long-term, verifiable limits on nuclear programs that Tehran could modify to produce weapons. Iran, in return, would get tens of billions of dollars in sanctions relief. The current round of nuclear talks is now in its 16th day and has been extended three times since the first deadline of March 31 was missed. The mood among negotiators had turned more somber each time a new target date was set. As the weekend approached, Kerry declared the talks couldn’t go (more…)
Oct 162014
 
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.short URL Published time: October 15, 2014 11:52 http://rt.com/op-edge/196148-saudiarabia-oil-russia-economic-confrontation/ A fisherman pulls in his net as an oil tanker is seen at the port in the northwestern city of Duba.(Reuters / Mohamed Al Hwaity) Rosneft Vice President Mikhail Leontyev: “Prices can be manipulative …Saudi Arabia has begun making big discounts on oil. This is political manipulation, Arabis is being manipulated, which could end badly.” A correction is in order; the Saudis are not being manipulated. What the House of Saud is launching is“Tomahawks of spin,” insisting they’re OK with oil at $90 a barrel; also at $80 for the next two years; and even at $50 to $60 for Asian and North American clients. The fact is Brent crude had already fallen to below $90 a barrel because China – and Asia as a whole – was already slowing down economically, although to a lesser degree compared to the West. Production, though, remained high – especially by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait – even with very little Libyan and Syrian oil on the market and with Iran forced to cut exports by a million barrels a day because of the US economic war, a.k.a. sanctions. The House of Saud is applying a highly predatory pricing strategy, which boils down to reducing market share of its competitors, in the middle- to long-term. At least in theory, this could make life miserable for a lot of players – from the US (energy development, fracking and deepwater drilling become unprofitable) to producers of heavy, sour crude such as Iran and Venezuela. Yet the key target, make no mistake, is Russia. A strategy that simultaneously hurts Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Ecuador and Russia cannot escape the temptation of being regarded as an “Empire of Chaos” power play, as in Washington cutting a deal with Riyadh. A deal would imply bombing ISIS/ISIL/Daesh leader Caliph Ibrahim is just a prelude to bombing Bashar al-Assad’s forces; in exchange, the Saudis squeeze oil prices to hurt the enemies of the “Empire of Chaos.” Yet it’s way more complicated than that. Sticking it to Washington Russia’s state budget for 2015 requires oil at least at $100 a barrel. Still, the Kremlin is borrowing no more than $7 billion in 2015 from the usual “foreign investors”, plus $27.2 (more…)