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Fields Medal Stolen from Kurdish Mathematician in Rio

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 04:59
A winner of the Fields Medal, often called the “Nobel Prize of mathematics,” had his prize stolen shortly after receiving it during a ceremony in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday. Caucher Birkar, a Kurdish refugee from Iran teaching at Cambridge University, put the gold medal, worth around $4,000, in a briefcase and soon afterward realized that it had been stolen, according to event organizers. Four mathematicians shared this year's honor. Security officials at the Riocentro venue,...
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Reports: Iran Preparing for Major Military Exercise

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 04:40
Iran is preparing to soon begin a massive military exercise in the Persian Gulf that could demonstrate Tehran’s ability to shut down the Strait of Hormuz. Iran recently threatened to block the strait, which is a key passageway for Middle East oil tankers going from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea.  “We are aware of the increase in Iranian naval operations within the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman,” said Navy Captain Bill Urban, the chief spokesman at Central...
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Anti-Government Protests Persist in Iranian City

Thu, 08/02/2018 - 01:26
Several hundred Iranians have staged a second day of anti-government street protests in Iran’s third-largest city, Isfahan, in a sign of persistent public anger about the country’s economic woes.  Video clips verified by VOA Persian and sent by residents showed the protesters marching and chanting opposition slogans on Wednesday in Isfahan’s northern district of New Shapur, the same area where hundreds of anti-government demonstrators had marched the day before.  Residents...
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UN Calls on Saudi Arabia to Release Human Rights Activists

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:05
The U.N. is calling for the immediate release of human rights activists arrested in Saudi Arabia. The crackdown against human rights defenders and activists, including women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, began in mid-May and shows no signs of letting up. The U.N. human rights office says at least 15 government critics have been arbitrarily detained.  Agency spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says eight have been temporarily released pending a review of their...
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Russia: Iran-backed Forces Withdraw From Golan Frontier

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 17:03
Russian President Vladimir Putin's envoy to Syria said Wednesday that an agreement with Israel that includes Russian guarantees ensures that Iran-backed fighters will remain more than 80 kilometers (50 miles) away from Syria's frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.   Alexander Lavrentyev told the Russian Interfax news agency the agreement was reached in order not to "irritate" Israel. He didn't elaborate on when the agreement was forged or for how...
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Japan Vows to Rescue Journalist Believed Held in Syria

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 14:58
Japan's government said Wednesday it's doing its utmost for the rescue of a Japanese journalist believed to be held in Syria after a video of a man appearing to be him was posted on the internet. Freelance journalist Jumpei Yasuda was last heard from in Syria in June 2015.   Chief Cabinet Spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference that he believed the man in the video was Yasuda. Suga refused to give further details about the rescue efforts.   "The...
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Iran's Parliament Summons Rouhani as Economy Falters Under US Pressures

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 12:08
Iranian lawmakers have given President Hassan Rouhani one month to appear before parliament to answer questions on his government's handling of Iran's economic struggles, state media reported on Wednesday. It is the first time parliament has summoned Rouhani, who is under pressure from hardline rivals to change his cabinet following a deterioration in relations with the United States and Iran's growing economic difficulties. Lawmakers want to question Rouhani on topics...
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Iran Guard Chief: No Talks With 'Great Satan'

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 04:15
The head of Iran's most powerful military body on Tuesday rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's offer of direct talks with Iranian leaders, saying Tehran never would allow talks with what he called the "Great Satan." The commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mohammad Ali Jafari, made the comment in an open letter published by Iran's state-controlled Fars News Agency. In the letter, Jafari said Iran never would allow talks with the...
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Hundreds Protest Currency Slump in Central Iran's Isfahan

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 01:55
Hundreds of Iranians joined a street protest Tuesday in the central city of Isfahan to denounce the government's handling of economic problems, including the record low value of Iran's currency. Images verified by VOA Persian and sent by Isfahan residents showed protesters marching and chanting anti-government slogans in the city's New Shapur district. Residents said they were protesting the rial's slump to a record low against the U.S. dollar in unofficial trading this...
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Yemen's Houthis Halt Red Sea Attacks for Two Weeks

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 01:07
Yemen's Houthi group said Tuesday that it would unilaterally halt attacks in the Red Sea for two weeks to support peace efforts, days after Saudi Arabia suspended oil exports through a strategic Red Sea channel following attacks on crude tankers last week. Yemen — where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement in a three-year-old war — lies on one of the world's most important trade routes for oil tankers, the Bab al-Mandeb...
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Flurry of Syrian Death Notices Shows Fate of Government Detainees

Wed, 08/01/2018 - 00:53
For six years Amina al-Khoulani hoped her brothers Majd and Abdelsattar were alive, albeit cut off in a Syrian government prison after their arrest early in Syria’s war. But last week, newly published state records obtained by relatives told her the men died back in 2013, just weeks after the family last saw them through a metal fence during a visit to the Sednaya military jail near Damascus. “We used to hear a lot of reports that they had been executed. We know that the regime is...
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Amal Clooney Scholarship Winner Aims to Fight Child Marriage and Rape

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 22:58
The 16-year-old winner of the annual Amal Clooney Scholarship said on Tuesday that she wants to combat child marriage and marital rape in Lebanon, where there is no minimum age to wed. Kamar Omary will head to Armenia's UWC Dilijan College in August to enroll in its two-year international baccalaureate program — the fourth Lebanese teenager to receive the award set up by the prominent Lebanese-British human rights lawyer. "We need a minimum age for marriage and marital rape...
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World Bank Warns Some Lebanon Projects Might Be Cancelled

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 22:46
A senior World Bank official said Tuesday that the Lebanese economy is “not doing great” and urged the country’s leaders to approve some $1.1 billion worth of projects put forward by the international lender, saying otherwise they could be cancelled.  Ferid Belhaj, the bank’s vice president for the Middle East and North Africa, told reporters in Beirut that the economy is “in a state of fragility.” Lebanon’s economy has suffered from the seven-year civil war in neighboring Syria,...
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Syrian Envoy Rails Against Turkish Presence in North 

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 22:06
Syria’s envoy to the United Nations on Tuesday railed against Turkey’s growing influence in the north, calling it an “occupation” and vowing to “expel” its troops.  Turkey, a main backer of Syria’s opposition, has sent troops into northern Syria to battle the Islamic State group and Kurdish militants. It has also deployed troops in the opposition stronghold of Idlib as part of a de-escalation agreement with Iran and Russia, both of which are close allies of the...
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No Plans for US-Iran Talks at Asian Meeting

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 19:54
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has no intention of meeting his Iranian counterpart at an international gathering this weekend in Singapore, even as President Donald Trump says he is willing to talk with Tehran about its nuclear weapons development program. The top U.S. diplomat and Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif are both attending Saturday's meeting of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But a senior U.S. State Department official said Tuesday...
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UN Condemns Civilian Hostage Taking by Islamic State in Syria

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 16:40
The U.N. human rights office is condemning multiple attacks by Islamic State militants against civilians last week, which reportedly killed and injured more than 200 people in the city of Sweida in southwest Syria. The U.N. agency reports scores of Islamic State militants went on a rampage, raiding homes in at least eight villages in rural Sweida, shooting and killing civilians and abducting women and children in their homes. Human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says her agency...
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Israel Jails Arab Poet for Online 'Incitement to Terrorism'

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 16:06
An Israeli court jailed an Israeli Arab poet for five months on Tuesday after convicting her of incitement to terrorism for a poem and remarks she posted on social media during a wave of Palestinian street attacks. Dareen Tatour, 36, posted on Facebook and YouTube a video of herself reading out her poem “Resist, My People, Resist”, as a soundtrack to footage of masked Palestinian youths throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli soldiers. Tatour published her poem in October 2015 during...
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Tehran: Trump Wrong to Expect Saudis to Cover Loss of Iran Oil Supply

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 14:13
Iran said on Tuesday U.S. President Donald Trump was mistaken to expect Saudi Arabia and other oil producers to compensate for supply losses caused by U.S. sanctions on Iran, after OPEC production rose only modestly in July. The comments, from Iran's OPEC governor, came a day after a Reuters survey showed OPEC production rose by 70,000 barrels per day in July. Saudi production increased but was offset by a decline in Iranian supply due to the restart of U.S. sanctions, the survey...
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Iran Wary of Trump Offer for Talks, But Not Ruling Them Out

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 11:40
Iran reacted skeptically Tuesday to President Donald Trump saying that he's willing to negotiate with his Iranian counterpart "anytime," but top officials did not reject a sit-down out of hand.   Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, a senior cleric and member of the influential Expediency Council, said Trump's suggestion Monday that he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani should not be categorically rejected.   "It should be discussed in the...
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Trump: Would Meet Iran's Leaders With 'No Preconditions'

Tue, 07/31/2018 - 08:53
President Donald Trump says he is willing to meet with Iran's leaders with "no preconditions" and "any time they want." But at a news conference Monday, he also said Iran's "brutal regime" must never be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Last week, Trump exchanged heated rhetoric with Tehran, warning the Iranian president to "never, ever" threaten the United States again. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
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