"Those books subjected to censorship or denied permission to be published in the past will be reviewed again and new decisions will be made. Our approach towards freedom of the press and books, as well as relaxing the atmosphere for writers and thinkers, is different from the past and its results will gradually become apparent."
Iran has released the award-winning human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and several other political prisoners from jail a week before President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to New York for the UN general assembly, in what appears to be the most tangible sign of change so far under his moderate administration.
The authorities drove Sotoudeh from Evin prison in Tehran to her house in another part of the Iranian capital and told her she did not need to return to jail.
"They were quite certain this time that I’m freed and I don’t need to go back," the 45-year-old women’s rights activist told the Guardian by phone from her home.
NPR: “Singer Mohsen Namjoo was sentenced to five years in prison in absentia under President Ahmadinejad for songs disparaging the Koran. Guest host Linda Wertheimer speaks with Namjoo on the day before Hassan Rouhani is sworn in as president.”
“They always show the guys shouting “Death to America!!” Just once I wish the media would show us, I don’t know, baking a cookie. I’ve been to Iran, we have cookies, I swear. Just once, I want the media to be like, “Okay, we’re going to go to Mohammed in Iran” and then a guy would appear like “Hello, I’m Mohammed… and I’m just baking a cookie.”—Maz Jobrani
As Iran’s tightly-controlled June 14th presidential election approaches, observers worldwide are scouring the Web for tweets, photos and videos that offer hints of events inside the country. Yet to the dismay of overseas opposition groups, the Iranian government has mounted a sophisticated — and so far largely successful — effort to choke off Internet access inside the country.
“More than a month ago, we saw how the speed of the Internet shut down,” said Trita Parsi, president of the Washington-based National Iranian American Council. “They started to make it much more difficult for people to Skype with the outside world.”
"The United States shipped $45.7 million worth of goods to Iran in April. That’s a tiny sum compared with the $26.2 billion the US sent to its largest trading partner, Canada, but nonetheless interesting since most forms of trade with Iran are illegal in the US. …
Among the more eyebrow-raising exports: The US sent $815,536 worth of bovine semen to Iran in April, enough to sire thousands of cows. In the first four months of 2013, the US has exported more than $1.7 million dollars worth of bull sperm, down slightly from $1.8 million over the same period in 2012.
But the majority of goods exported to Iran in April were foodstuffs: 83% of the trade ($37.8 million) was in rice, lentils, chickpeas, and butter.”
"Afshin Shahi shines a light on how sex may be becoming “a form of passive resistance” in Iran”:
Changing attitudes toward marriage and divorce have coincided with a dramatic shift in the way Iranians approach relationships and sex. According to one study cited by a high-ranking Ministry of Youth official in December 2008, a majority of male respondents admitted having had at least one relationship with someone of the opposite sex before marriage.
"There are some clues as to what’s at play":
There are a number of potential explanations, including economic factors, urbanization, new communication tools, and the emergence of a highly educated female population — all of which are probably partly responsible for changing attitudes toward sex. At the same time, however, most of these factors are at play in other countries in the region that are not experiencing analogous transitions. (Indeed, a wave of social conservatism is sweeping much of the Middle East, while Iran moves in the opposite direction.) So what is different in Iran? Paradoxically, it is the puritanical state — rigid, out of touch, and dedicated to combating “vice” and promoting “virtue” — that seems to be powering Iran’s emergent liberal streak.