Countries which say a Big No to #Valentinesday


Valentine’s Day is widely celebrated all over the world as a day when no powerful force on earth can stop any lovers from expressing their feelings and love. Unfortunately, there are some places where celebrating this day is considered as something against the culture and hence banned it by terming it as a crime. In case, you were on a look out for the right destination to celebrate Valentine’s Day, don’t visit to the following places, reports PolicyMic.

Malaysia

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In a country like Malaysia where Muslims account for over 60 percent of the population, celebrating Valentine’s Day is totally banned since 2005. The idea of not encouraging such day is firmly based on culture and religion followed by the dominating population in Malaysia.  As per the BBC reports, over 80 young Muslims were arrested in budget hotels and public parks and charged with being in “close proximity,” which is a punishable offense of upto two years imprisonment. Though Malaysia prides itself on being a diverse and tolerant nation, the authorities tends to make and enforce regulations over its Muslims masses.

Iran

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In an attempt to cast out Western influence from the budding minds of Iranian youth, this Islamic country has banned Valentine’s Day since 2011. The country’s lawmaker prohibits the production of Valentine’s Day gifts and also any promotion of the day celebrating romantic love and affections between a man and a woman.  The new Valentine’s Day guidelines strictly warn Iranians that legal action will be taken against the violators. According to the latest instructions, “Printing and producing any products related to Valentine’s Day, including posters, brochures, advertising cards, boxes with the symbols of hearts, half-hearts, red roses and any activities promoting this day are banned,” reports TIME. With the popularity of V-day on the rise in Iran within its 70 percent of the younger population, the ban apparently was imposed to curb it.

Saudi Arabia

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‘Nothing Reds on this day!’ says moral police in Saudi Arabia. In this Islamic nation, not just V-day is banned, even selling or wearing anything red on this day is totally a big ‘No.’ Every year on February 14th brings about the same procedure; flower shops and gift shops are prohibited from selling red roses, anything heart-shaped or red for that matter on that day by the “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice” (CPVPV) also known as the Religious Police. The penalty for violating the rules would lead to bringing the store shut down permanently. Not just that, all the schoolgirls are also prohibited from wearing anything red –not even a red scarf on this very day. The real motive behind banning anything red on this day is to discourage people from celebrating the day of love as it is a non-Islamic occasion and it may lead people to go “astray”; and also restricting people from dating or having any opposite sex attraction before marriage.

Russia

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The lawmakers of Belgorod, a small city in western Russia has banned Valentine’s Day since 2011. The local authorities stated that Valentine’s Day, like Halloween, is inauspicious for the soul and not at all a Russian tradition. Therefore, it should not be celebrated. Grigory Bolotnov, a consultant to the local government on social and religious issues said “The very atmosphere of these holidays does not foster the formation of spiritual and moral values in youth,” reports the Global post. On this day, schools and clubs have been urged to cancel any Valentine’s Day related events.

Indonesia

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Indonesia, another country in the list dominated by Muslim population,  banned with the world’s most populous Muslim country is also one such country where the celebrations of the V-Day is completely banned by the Islamic authorities, clerics and residents. The Head of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), Habib Idrus Al Gadhri exclaimed “It’s Western culture and immoral so it’s ironic Muslims celebrate it,” reports CAPITAL NEWS. In some Indonesian cities such as Balikpapan on Borneo authorities would monitor cheap hotels and conduct raids on unmarried young couples.

China Passes U.S. As World’s Biggest Oil Importer


China has achieved another world-beating status its leaders don’t want: Biggest oil importer.

China passed the United States in September as the world’s biggest net oil importer, driven by faster economic growth and strong auto sales, according to U.S. government data released this week.

China Oil ImportsA city ring road becomes clogged with heavy traffic in Beijing, China Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013. China has passed the United States in September as the world’s biggest net oil importer, driven by faster economic growth and strong auto sales, according to U.S. government data released this week. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) | AP

Chinese oil consumption outstripped production by 6.3 million barrels per day, which indicates the country had to import that much to fill the gap, the Energy Information Administration said this week.

“China’s steady growth in oil demand has led it to become the world’s largest net oil importer, exceeding the United States in September 2013,'” the agency said in a report. “EIA forecasts this trend to continue through 2014.”

China’s economic boom has raised incomes and increased its global influence. But it also has spurred demand for imported oil and gas, which communist leaders see as a strategic weakness.

Rising auto ownership has left China’s cities choking on smog and added to pressure on Beijing from its own public to curb pollution and from other nations to rein in surging greenhouse gas emissions.

The United States, with a population about one-third the size of China’s, still consumes far more oil per person than China does.

In September, Americans used 18.6 million barrels per day of oil and other liquid fossil fuels, while China used 10.9 million, according to the EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook. U.S. production was 12.5 million barrels per day, while that of China was 4.6 million.

China’s economy, the world’s second-largest, is cooling but still is forecast to grow by nearly 8 percent this year, well above forecasts for the U.S.

 

The Chinese auto market, the biggest by number of vehicles sold, also is cooling but sales still rose by 11 percent in August.

Beijing is encouraging development of wind and solar power and use of autos powered by batteries or natural gas. But gasoline is expected to remain the country’s main vehicle fuel in coming decades.

The government has launched initiatives to improve China’s energy intensity, or the energy consumed for each unit of economic output. It has reported progress but still is far behind developed economies.

Until the late 1990s, China supplied its oil needs from domestic sources including the vast Daqing field in the northeast. But the economic boom outstripped its production capacity while output from existing sources is forecast to decline.

That has forced China to rely more heavily on imports, especially from Saudi Arabia and Iran. Communist leaders see that as a strategic weakness because of possible instability in the Gulf and Iran’s political isolation.

EIA noted that China’s domestic oil production was hampered over the past two months by summer flooding.

State-owned oil companies and their foreign partners are spending heavily to look for new oil sources in China and to develop alternatives such as methane from coal beds. But they have yet to find new deposits that match the size of Daqing.

Abroad, Chinese state-owned oil companies have invested billions of dollars to develop oil and gas sources in Iraq, Central Asia and Africa. Some of that is meant for export to China but much of it is sold in other markets.

At the same time, U.S. import demand has weakened as hydraulic fracturing and other technologies open up new domestic sources of supply.

American demand for oil and other liquid fuels rose by about 110,000 barrels per day, or just 0.6 percent, in the first nine months of this year, due partly to improved engine efficiency, the EIA said. It said consumption is forecast to fall by 0.4 percent next year.

Overall, the United States still should be the biggest oil consumer next year at about 18.7 million barrels per day, down from its peak of 20.8 million in 2005, according to the EIA. It said China’s consumption next should be about 11 million barrels per day.

Thousands of Gmail accounts hacked in Iran: Google


The phishing campaigns are being launched inside Iran and represent a big surge in the region’s hacking activity before Iran’s presidential election on Friday.

Internet giant Google says it has blocked a “politically motivated” phishing against thousands of gmail users in Iran on the eve of the country’s presidential election.

“For almost three weeks, we have detected and disrupted multiple email-based phishing campaigns,” Eric Grosse, Google Inc.’s vice-president for security engineering, wrote in a post on Google’s blog.

“The timing and targeting of the campaigns suggest that the attacks are politically motivated,” Grosse said without elaborating.

The phishing campaigns are being launched inside Iran and represent a big surge in the region’s hacking activity before Iran’s presidential election on Friday, Grosse said.

The hackers direct gmail users in Iran to fake account maintenance pages where they are asked to give their username and password, Grosse said.

Google used its Chrome browser to detect a phishing campaign in 2011, when a young Iranian student claimed he hacked gmail accounts belonging to anti-government dissidents in a personal “patriotic” initiative unconnected to the government.

Moderate cleric Hassan Rowhani has emerged as the favourite in Iran’s presidential race, after former presidents Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani threw their support behind him.

A former chief nuclear negotiator, Rowhani, is keen to transform Iran’s damaged relations with the west.

Pro-reform candidate Mohammad Reza Aref pulled out of the contest, saying he was asked to do so by Khatami.

Presidential incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cannot run for a third term in office.

Powerful #Earthquake could hit #Iran in the next 48 hours


World Earthquakes predicts high seismic activity in Iran and Japan may in the next 48 hours

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There is a possibility of a powerful earthquake hitting Iran in the next 48 hours, according to the World Earthquakes data.

“High seismic activity may occur for the next 48 hours” in Iran, the World Earthquake said on Friday.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has also predicted that a powerful earthquake that could hit the region between Thursday, April 25, and Tuesday, April 30. But UAE’s National Center of Meteorology & Seismology said that it’s a rumour and earthquakes cannot be predicted.IRAN-QUAKE

On Thursday, A 5.2-magnitude earthquake hit northwestern Iran on Thursday, only days after a deadly temblor struck near the border with Pakistan, media reported citing the seismological centre at Tehran.

Last Tuesday, a huge earthquake measuring 7.8 struck southeastern Iran killing a woman and injuring more than a dozen other people. At least 40 people were killed across the border in Pakistan where hundreds of mud homes were levelled. The tremors from the earthquake were felt across the Gulf region.

Iran sits astride several major fault lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes, some of which have been devastating.

Tuesday’s earthquake was the strongest to hit Iran since 1957.

A double earthquake, one measuring 6.2 and the other 6.0, struck northwestern Iran last August, killing more than 300 people and injuring 3,000.

The World Earthquakes also warned of another powerful quake possibly hitting Japan in the next 48 hours.

On Friday, a major 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck off northern Japan on Friday, seismologists said, but no tsunami warning was issued.

Indian oil refineries carry on negotiations with the OPEC countries for increase in supply of crude oil


The Indian oil refineries are carrying on negotiations with the OPEC countries for increase in supply of crude oil starting from April 1, 2013 in connection with decrease of imports of oil from Iran.

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Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq already expressed readiness to increase export of oil to India for compensation of its losses in case of termination of deliveries of crude from Iran. Such guarantees of the countries of OPEC increase chances of accession of India to the international sanctions against Iran.

Till date New Delhi, despite the international economic sanctions imposed on Tehran reduced purchases of the Iranian crude oil only in insignificant volumes. According to the Indian representatives, the republic recognizes only UN Security Council endorsed sanctions, rather than those by the USA and the European Union.

Iran develops new software to control social networking


Iran’s police chief says the Islamic Republic is developing new software to control social net­working sites.

Iran develops new software to control social networking

Gen. Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam was quoted in Irani­an newspapers Saturday as say­ing the new software will pre­vent Iranians from being ex­posed to malicious content on­line while allowing users to enjoy the benefits of the Inter­net. He did not say when the software would be introduced.

Moghadam also did not spe­cify which social networking sites would be affected, but both Facebook and Twitter are popu­lar in Iran.

Iranians currently have access to most of the Internet, although authorities block some sites affiliated with the opposition, as well as those that are seen as promoting dissent or considered morally corrupt.

Eventually, Teheran is planning to create a national computer network to replace the Internet. All government bodies will use this network.

700 year old Iranian Home


Allegedly, these homes in Iran, carved out of solid rock, were built on the order of 700 years ago and are still inhabited by people who have given them modern touches (you know, the little things like windows, doors, and electricity).  Pretty impressive when you consider that houses in America barely survive a century without extensive maintenance.
 

 

Circumventing sanctions: Iran begins construction of $10bn gas pipeline to Syria


Iran has begun building a US$10 billion gas pipeline to Syria as part of efforts to boost its energy sector, as well as help its war-torn neighbor. Tehran has also been battling Western sanctions ever since it refused to abandon its nuclear program.

­According to a report by Fars news agency, Iran has begun construction of the first phase of the project. It involves a 225km (140 mile) stretch and will cost approximately $3 billion. The 1,500km (750 mile) pipeline will pass through Iraq before reaching Syria.

The entire project is to be completed in the second half of 2013. The deal was signed between Iran, Iraq and Syria last July, Fars said.

The pipeline would help boost Iran’s gas output, which the country hopes will exceed Qatar’s by 2016.

Iran has the world’s second-largest gas reserves, estimated at 28 trillion cubic meters.

Meanwhile, after a seven month decline due to Western sanctions, Iran’s oil output has made a recovery. The sanctions also initially hurt exports. However, China’s and South Korea’s increased purchases have seen an export recovery recently.

Syria’s stability is vital to Iran, with the Persian state giving its beleaguered neighbor unwavering support since the beginning of the civil unrest.

It warned against sending weapons to Syrian rebels, saying it will threaten regional stability and increase the “risk of terrorism.”

Iran’s foreign minister said in a speech on Sunday that talks between Syrian officials and opposition groups that “some countries envisage arming the opposition with heavy and semi-heavy weaponry.”

Tehran has also hosted a conference under the motto, “No to violence, yes to democracy” in a bid to end the violence in Syria. An estimated 200 Syrian and regional politicians gathered in Iran’s capital on Sunday to discuss possible solutions.

“We believe reforms in Syria should lead to a free, fair and transparent election with the cooperation of all political parties,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in opening remarks at the one-day Syrian National Dialogue conference.

Iran continues to back Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime, despite the continued bloodshed.

The presence of delegations from dozens of countries, including representatives of Russia and China, two of Syria’s key allies, has shown that Iran may well be able to influence the conflict, notwithstanding crippling Western sanctions and international condemnation.

World’s 10 Most Polluted Cities


The environmental problems in the world are growing rapidly, and are putting a strain on the environment, infrastructure and the natural resources. Based upon the level of polluting particles in the air, the 10 most air polluted cities in the world are listed below. To put it into perspective, New York City averages 21 micrograms per cubic meter.

10. Kanpur, India:

On position ten is Kanpur, India. The city records for 209 micrograms of polluting particles per cubic meter. The city has an alarmingly high air pollution level and the reasons accounted for it being one of the most polluted cities are the emission of hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and other harmful gases. The vehicles seem to largely contribute to the ever-increasing air pollution. Kanpur is also home to the largest tanneries in India, which are also the primary source of the pollution throughout the city.

9. Yasouj, Iran:

On the ninth place is Yasouj in Iran. It records for 215 micrograms of polluting particles per cubic meter. Yasouj is known for their sugar processing plant and coal power plant which generates electricity for the entire area. The city is still in the process of constructing a new private oil refinery.

8. Gaborone, Botswana:

Gaborone in Botswana takes the eighth position on the most polluted cities list. The city records for 219 micrograms of polluting particles per cubic meter. Gaborone is the capital and the biggest city in Botswana. It is one of the most rapidly growing cities in Africa, though, veldt fires from the dry winters and dirty second-hand vehicles are the main source of pollution in the city.

7. Peshawar, Pakistan:

Peshawar in Pakistan takes the seventh position. The city records for 219 micrograms of polluting particles per cubic meter. Peshawar is located in a valley and is the administrative center for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.  Its enormous expansion and influx of migratory workers has caused a boom in urban pollution. It is also a key city from where the U.S. launches many of its strategic campaigns in Afghanistan.

6. Kermanshah, Iran:

Kermanshah in Iran ranks sixth on the most polluted cities list. It records for 229 micrograms of polluting particles per cubic meter. Kermanshah is located in western Iran and is well-known for its oil refineries and manufacturing. It was once an agricultural center, but has since then emerged as an industrial center.  It has become one of the chief importing/exporting gates of Iran.

5. Ludhiana, India:

Ludhiana in India shares the fourth position with Quetta in Pakistan. Ludhiana records for 251 micrograms of polluting particles per cubic meter. Ludhiana is the largest city in the state of Punjab, and one of the richest in the whole of India. They produce 50 percent of India’s bikes and 60 percent of their tractor parts.

4. Quetta, Pakistan:

Quetta records for 251 micrograms of polluting particles per cubic meter. Quetta is a high-altitude city well-known as the “Fruit Garden of Pakistan” because of its diverse plant and animal life. The city is also a transportation hub known for its railways and airport.

 3. Sanandaj, Iran:  

Sanandaj in Iran is the third most polluted city in the world. It records for 254 micrograms of polluting particles per cubic meter. It is another city of western Iran famed for its numerous manufacturing industries. They produce cotton, carpets, woodwork, and metal ware. Outside the city is a landscape of beautiful hills and mountains, but the city itself has turned into a sea of smog and commerce.

2. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia:

The second most polluted city is Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia. The city records for 279 micrograms of polluting particles per cubic meter. Ulaan Baatar is not only the capital of Mongolia but it also serves as the country’s transport and industrial center. It manufactures nearly everything, from textiles to processed foods to cement and just around the corner are the coal mines powering these industries.

 1. Ahvaz, Iran:

Ahvaz in Iran is the most polluted city in the world. It records for 372 micrograms of polluting particles per cubic meter. The Iranian capital of Ahvaz is found to have the highest annual average for outdoor air pollutants. It is an oil center, transportation hub, and industrial city. The city is known for producing sugar and silk, and for linking roads, rails, and pipelines to ports in the Persian Gulf.

Iran to Test Long-Range Missiles in Weekend Drill


                                                         Military personnel place a flag on a submarine during the Velayat-90 war games by the Iranian navy in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran December 27, 2011

Photo: REUTERS
Military personnel place a flag on a submarine during the Velayat-90 war games by the Iranian navy in the Strait of Hormuz in southern Iran December 27, 2011

Iran says it will fire long-range missiles on Saturday as part of military exercises in the Gulf.

The announcement on Friday was made on the heels of heightened tensions between Iran and Western powers over Tehran‘s threat to block oil shipments through the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

The semi-official Fars News agency quotes Iranian admiral Mahmoud Mousavi as saying the navy will test several kinds of missiles, including long-range ones, as part of a military drill that began on December 24. He says the test firings are the final phase of the drill to “prepare the navy for confronting the enemy” in any war situations.

Iran’s arsenal incudes the Shahab-3 missile, which could reach Israel and some U.S. bases in the Middle East.

Earlier this week, Tehran threatened to block the entrance to the Persian Gulf if Western powers imposed sanctions targeting its oil exports.  

Such a move would add to several rounds of sanctions already imposed on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

More than one-third of the world’s tanker-borne oil supply passes through the Strait of Hormuz. A closure could temporarily cut off some oil supplies and impact the price of oil worldwide.

The Pentagon said interfering with the passage of vessels through the strait will not be tolerated.

Separately, the Associated Press quoted a Saudi oil ministry official as saying Gulf oil producers would be ready to step in, if necessary, to make up for any losses.

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