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America and Iran Settle Their Differences on the Robotic Soccer Field

If only all geopolitical conflicts could be handled by droids kicking soccer balls at each other.

image via (cc) flickr user eneas

If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ve probably heard a little something about the recent nuclear agreement between the United States and Iran—an agreement critics fear will clear a path for Iranian atomic weapons, and which advocates argue is a necessary diplomatic step to help direct both nations away from a violent confrontation. But while pundits and politicians around the world have spent the last several days debating the merits of the nuclear diplomacy, Iranian and U.S. representatives were busy duking it out in a very different type of arena: The robotic soccer field.

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How We’re Making Progress With Iran, Even If the Nuclear Deal Fails

Behind the headline-making talks, subtler forms of diplomacy are laying the real groundwork for Iran’s international future.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Paris earlier this year.

Since negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries (America, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom) commenced on June 26th, there have been missed deadlines and a spate of nervous nail biting as uncertainty reigned regarding the outcome of the talks. But early Tuesday morning, negotiators in Vienna, Austria finally produced a viable nuclear deal. The massive document, still being parsed for details, basically constitutes a promise by Iran to curb any nuclear activities that could contribute to weaponization for at least 15 years. Tehran will allow regular non-proliferation compliance inspections and unprecedented access to state facilities in perpetuity, with heightened monitoring by watchdogs for the next couple of decades. In exchange for this (and a host of other little guarantees), some of the world’s harshest sanctions, ratcheted up on Iran especially over the past decade, will slowly roll back towards normalization.

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Billboards Highlight Art, Not Ads, in Tehran

Tehran becomes an open-air art museum, thanks to the city’s culturally-minded mayor.

Image by Facebook user Babak Karimi.

In an effort to promote the city’s museums and cultural institutions, the mayor of Tehran exchanged 1,500 of the city’s billboard ads with works of art by local and international artists. The billboards, which line many of Tehran’s busy streets and highways, now feature images of paintings by the likes of 20th century Iranian artists Sohrab Sepehri and Mahmoud Farshchian, as well as pieces by Spanish painters Pablo Picasso and the French artist Henri Matisse.

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Even in Oil-Rich Iran, Green Transit Ideas Are Catching On

Finding lessons in how green transit can survive and thrive in an unlikely place.

Tehran is not an obvious place for sustainable transportation ideas to thrive. Gas used to cost next to nothing—about 38 cents per gallon—until December, when the government quadrupled the price to about $1.50 per gallon for a monthly ration of about 16 gallons per car, and closer to $3.00 for any amount past that. With gas so cheap, it's no wonder people choose to drive rather than take the train or the bus. In Tehran, in 2008, just over a quarter of all trips were in private and shared taxis, and another 27 percent were in private cars, according to data from the city. Tehran has been designed for cars, too: freeways slice through the city, cutting off neighborhoods from each other.

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FIFA Headscarf Ban Crushes Olympic Hopes for Iranian Women's Soccer

The Iranian women's soccer team has been banned from Olympic competition, all because of uniforms. Who's to blame: FIFA or the Iranian government?


FIFA has just ruled that Iran’s women soccer team will not be able to compete in the Olympics because their headscarves violate the association’s dress code. The decision came right before an Olympic qualifier against Jordan last Friday. Iran’s football federation claimed they made changes to the team uniforms after a similar ban last year, but FIFA, the preeminent international soccer authority, has nevertheless deemed the team ineligible.

Since the decision, Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called FIFA officials “dictators and colonialists,” and officials will protest the decision. But FIFA hasn’t budged, saying their decision was for “safety reasons.”

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