Investor flood deepens worries that sanctions collapsing, Iran "open for business"

 

Foreign investors from more than half a dozen major automobile corporations flocked to Tehran this week to participate in the country’s auto show, driving concerns that the Iranian economy is steadily recovering amid a de-escalation in sanctions pressure on the Islamic republic. Experts have for more than a year warned that a feeding frenzy would take hold as sanctions against Iran modestly eroded, with nations and companies scrambling to avoid getting left behind in the rush back into the Iranian market. Obama administration officials had earlier this year repeatedly insisted that the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPA) would not leave Iran open for business, and on Monday State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki, speaking at the State Department’s daily press briefing, fielded a question about the auto show’s international participation, telling reporters that Iran “is not yet open for business… That’s obviously still the case.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in September boasted that Iran’s post-JPA economy had managed to recover from what had been a multi-year stagnation, the result of Western sanctions that had been widely credited with bringing the Iranians to the negotiating table. The auto show comes amid reports that Peugeot, which halted production in the country in 2012, is in talks with the Islamic republic to again enter the Iranian market. Sanctions on the Islamic republic’s automotive industry were lifted as part of the interim agreement reached by Iran and the P5+1 powers that was put in place earlier this year. Diplomats last month announced that they would extend the interim agreement - which has provided the Iranians with sufficient economic relief to begin stabilizing their economy – through June 2015. Iran is expected to, under the terms of the extension, receive approximately $700 million per month in unfrozen oil revenues.

 

As concern grows in the US about the danger of head injuries to American football players after a spate of recent high-school deaths, an Israeli team has developed a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) diagnostic approach that can more easily visualize and assess the consequences of even mild injuries to the brain. Dr. Alon Friedman and his team at the Brain Imaging Research Center at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev hope to change that. Researchers at BGU and its affiliated Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheva showed, for the first time, how they were able to identify significant damage to the blood-brain barrier (BBB) of football players following “unreported” trauma or mild concussions. The method uses dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) to detect and localize vascular pathology and BBB breakdown. The BBB is composed of proteins, membranes and other materials that protect the brain by preventing many dangerous substances from penetrating. Medical researchers, including Friedman’s group at BGU, are working to find ways to develop drugs that could repair a damaged BBB and possibly prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological diseases in some patients. Forty percent of the examined football players with unreported concussions had evidence of “leaky BBB” compared to 8.3 percent of the control athletes. Published in the current issue of JAMA Neurology, this study could help physicians in the decision-making process regarding treatment and when an athlete may return to the playing field. Other members of the research team include BGU Ph.D. candidates Itai Weissberg and Ronel Veksler, who developed the new imaging method. Lyn Kamintsky, Rotem Saar-Ashkenazy and Dan Z. Milkovsky conducted the study. Dr. Ilan Shelef, BGU lecturer and a member of the department of medical imaging at Soroka University Medical Center, also contributed. The publication of this study follows closely on the heels of Tel Aviv University study showing that an enhanced environment could speed the healing of traumatic brain injuries. (via Israel21c)


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