In Iran, economic worries grow as new US sanctions loom
By AMIR VAHDAT and DAVID RISING
Monday, July 30
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s currency plummeted to a record low Monday, a week before the United States restores sanctions lifted under the unraveling nuclear deal, giving rise to fears of prolonged economic suffering and further civil unrest.
Already last month, protesters clashed with police outside parliament in Tehran in three days of demonstrations sparked by the Iranian rial plunging to nearly 90,000 to the dollar. That followed country-wide economic protests in December and January, in which 25 protesters were killed and nearly 5,000 people were arrested.
The currency hit a new low on Monday, closing at 122,000 to the dollar on the thriving black market, rapidly dropping from 116,000 on Sunday and 98,000 on Saturday. The official exchange rate, available only to businesses with import and export licenses, was about 44,000 to the dollar on Monday, down from 35,000 on Jan. 1.
Iranians have already seen their savings dwindle, and shopkeepers are increasingly refusing to sell certain goods, unsure of their true value. Many fear things will only get worse once the sanctions go into effect.
“If the rate keeps going up like this, nobody knows what is going to happen,” said Tehran resident Rasool Shadi. “I think people should stop buying for a while. If they don’t buy something, its price will definitely decrease.”
The government last week replaced the country’s central bank governor Valiollah Seif, whose policies have also been blamed for the rial’s fall, and eased regulations on bringing foreign currencies into the country to combat black market trading.
It’s too early to tell whether those moves will have any significant effect. Under the new leadership, the central bank on Sunday blamed the currency’s free fall on “the enemies’ conspiracies … in line with disrupting the economy as well as disturbing people’s peace of mind.”
President Donald Trump’s administration withdrew from the landmark nuclear accord in May, saying it was too generous to Iran. It has vowed to ramp up sanctions until Iran radically changes its regional policies, including its support for regional militant groups, something the country’s leaders have long refused to do.
Tehran-based economist Saeed Leilaz criticized the government for not taking stronger measures, saying it “suffers from horrible inaction and absence of decision making.”
“People’s concerns are very reasonable in the existing conditions,” he told The Associated Press. “They are protecting their own interests by converting their rials to foreign currencies or gold coins.”
Fereshteh, a retired civil servant who would not give his last name, fearing repercussions, said he had just bought a medicine he needs, which had gone up in price.
“That’s why we are worried,” he said. “If the upcoming sanctions are imposed what is going to happen? I hope everything is fixed.”
The Trump administration began dismantling the sanctions relief that was granted to Iran under the 2015 nuclear deal in June, a month after he announced the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the international accord.
The Treasury Department gave American businesses and U.S.-controlled foreign firms dealing in certain types of trade until Aug. 6 to wind down their operations or face penalties under U.S. sanctions. Another set of licenses covering other types of commerce, including oil purchases, will be revoked in the coming weeks, with firms given until Nov. 4 to end those activities.
The other parties to the agreement — Britain, China, Germany, France, Russia and the European Union — have been scrambling to try and save the deal, under which Iran was given relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
Their efforts have been complicated by the American threat to punish companies from other countries that continue to deal with Iran, as the Trump administration steps up its efforts to isolate the country and its faltering economy from international financial and trading systems.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday claimed the U.S. strategy would fail, saying he was “confident we can, over the next few months, show the Americans that they must quit their addiction to sanctions.”
“Europeans should decide whether their businessmen, banks and governments want to pursue European interests or American interests, or in particular Trump’s interests,” he said.
Trump has been in a war of words with Iranian leaders, but has also suggested that as the sanctions take effect, he expected them to call and offer to return to the negotiating table.
“We’re ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster,” he said last week. While U.S. intelligence agencies maintained that Iran complied with the Obama-era agreement to halt its nuclear program, Trump had complained that the deal didn’t do enough to curb Iran’s malign influence in the region.
Iran has ruled out any new talks, saying the U.S. cannot be trusted.
“With this America and the policies it’s pursuing, there’s definitely no possibility of negotiations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said during his weekly briefing.
Internationally, oil prices have been rising on concerns about the ongoing dispute and the American push for other countries to cut oil imports from Iran by Nov. 4. Brent crude futures were up 42 cents Monday to $75.12 a barrel.
The looming sanctions have already started slowing the flow of oil out of Iran, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has suggested his country could try to close the key Strait of Hormuz shipping lane between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman if the U.S. doesn’t back down.
Last week, Saudi Arabia halted all crude shipments through the Bab El-Mandeb Strait between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, another key route, after Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen attacked two of its tankers passing through, causing minor damage to one.
Rising reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. AP producer Mehdi Fattahi in Tehran, Iran contributed.
USAF Contract Competition Tests Trump’s ‘America First’ Pledge
By Kate Patrick
Mixed signals from the Trump administration’s “America First” initiative are creating a confusing economic environment for U.S. companies despite a booming U.S. economy, which could make the “America First” and “Made in America” initiatives unattainable for American business.
President Trump says he wants more U.S. corporations to move production and supply chains back to the United States, but his recent trade policy decisions are incentivizing some to seek non-U.S. resources. Harley-Davidson and Polaris, for example, say they’re planning to move some production to other countries due to aggressive tit-for-tat tariffs between the United States and some of its major trading partners.
Against this controversial backdrop, the two biggest federal contractors — U.S. companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin — are competing to provide the trainer jet for the U.S. Air Force Advanced Pilot Training program. Whichever contractor the Air Force chooses could say much about the credibility and viability of Trump’s “Made in America” push.
Lockheed Martin plans to partner with South Korean contractor Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in its Air Force bid, which means only Boeing — planning to partner with Saab USA — will provide a trainer jet that is entirely American-made (even though Saab is a subsidiary of a Swedish company).
Lockheed Martin and KAI’s trainer jet is the updated T-50A, which is based on a 20-year-old South Korean design and will begin production in South Korea if the team wins the contract, according to the GSA Business Report. Final assembly will be completed at Lockheed Martin’s plant in Greenville, South Carolina, after arriving via container ship through the Port of Charleston.
The report also said Lockheed Martin officials claim 60 percent to 75 percent of the jet will be manufactured in the United States, and will hire more than 200 employees to the Greenville plant to assemble the jet if they win the contract.
Furthermore, officials told the GSA Business Report they do not intend for the T-50A to be entirely made in America, by Americans.
By contrast, Boeing claims 90 percent of its T-X jet for the competition is American-made and will manufacture major parts in Dallas, with final assembly in St. Louis, to create a total of 2,750 additional American jobs.
Further complicating the competition is the issue of national security: while neither South Korea nor South Korean companies have been targeted by Republicans as national security threats, recent congressional actions against Chinese telecom companies like Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp. — whose phones were banned on military bases — may cause the current administration to be more hesitant about relying on foreign suppliers for a military contract.
While Boeing may seem like an obvious choice if the Air Force decides to pursue a stricter interpretation of the “America First” initiative, the Lockheed Martin-KAI jet may be cheaper.
According to the Korea Herald, Lockheed Martin pressured KAI to cut production costs of the updated T-50A to make their joint bid more attractive.
Offering a cheaper jet may provide Lockheed Martin with the edge it needs to beat Boeing, which has said numerous times over the past several months that Trump’s tariffs — especially the steel tariffs — could squeeze profit margins and increase supply chain costs.
Although Boeing still isn’t sure how the tariffs will affect operations (as it’s too soon to measure any real effect), its pessimistic outlook could hamper its chances at winning the Air Force bid, especially if Boeing raises its prices in anticipation of potential negative effects from tariffs.
But because Boeing plans to manufacture more of its trainer jets in the United States, it may face fewer supply chain delays and see more supply chain savings than Lockheed Martin as U.S. trade relationships become more strained and U.S. ports — including the Port of Charleston — struggle to handle a huge boom in shipping volumes.
Despite an uncertain global economic stage, both companies are financially very healthy and likely to withstand most setbacks fairly well over the next year, which means Lockheed Martin’s choice to outsource so much of its jet likely isn’t a necessary move to save profit margins but a strategic one to increase them.
Neither of the top two competitors for the Air Force trainer jet will produce a 100 percent American-made aircraft, but Trump’s recent trade policies aren’t exactly encouraging either of them to pursue a 100 percent American-made production plan. Still, if the Air Forced chooses Boeing for the contract, Trump may treat the decision as a win for “Made in America” and “America First” policies.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Kate Patrick reports technology and finance news for InsideSources.com.
CUFFS & COLLARS
Field reports from ODNR Division of Wildlife Officers
Central Ohio – Wildlife District One
On a day in July, State Wildlife Officers Josh Shields, assigned to Union County, and Adam Smith, assigned to Logan County, contacted 16 anglers at Indian Lake using their patrol boat. Four summonses were issued to anglers for fishing without licenses and fishing with more than two rods per person. The violations resulted in a total of $720 in fines and court costs paid by the anglers.
During the 2018 spring turkey season, State Wildlife Officer Josh Elster, assigned to Pickaway County, was dispatched to Deer Creek Wildlife Area regarding the theft of a pair of chest waders. Officer Elster arrived on scene and spoke with the victim who stated they used the waders to cross the creek to turkey hunt. After changing out of them, the victim placed them under a fallen tree and left them there while hunting. Upon returning to get the waders, the victim realized they were gone. The victim walked up to closest parking lot and could see the waders through the back glass of a vehicle along with an empty gun case. Using the information from the vehicle’s registration, Officer Elster was able to locate a telephone number for an individual matching the vehicle’s registration. Officer Elster contacted the individual and asked them to meet him at the parking lot. Once the individual arrived at the parking lot, Officer Elster asked them about the waders. The individual stated they picked up the waders thinking they had been left there as trash. Officer Elster advised the individual the waders belonged to someone and who discovered them in the suspect’s vehicle. The waders were returned to their owner and the individual who found them was advised to contact an officer in the future if they come across a similar situation.
Northwest Ohio – Wildlife District Two
In June, Lake Erie Investigator Kevin Good was contacted by a concerned citizen who had overheard a man state that he had caught his limit of walleye very quickly and intend to go back out and catch more. The citizen provided a license plate and a good vehicle description to Investigator Good. That evening, the man and his son came in from their second fishing trip and Investigator Good contacted the men. After questioning them about the days catch, both men admitted that they had each caught their limit of walleye in the morning then gone back out in the afternoon, catching a second limit of walleye. Both men were issued summonses and each man paid over $500 in fines, court costs, and restitution. Both men also had their fishing license suspended for one year.
Northeast Ohio – Wildlife District Three
State Wildlife Officer Jason Warren, assigned to Ashtabula County, received a complaint alleging that an individual shot at a deer with a shotgun from inside his residence during the closed season. Aided by snow cover on the ground, the investigation revealed that the man had shot at the deer but missed. Officer Warren charged the subject with hunting deer in the closed season and ordered him to appear in court. He pleaded guilty in the Ashtabula County Municipal Court, was convicted, and fined $295.
On occasion, offenders fail to appear in court and those cases become bench warrants. Recently, State Wildlife Officer Tom Frank, assigned to Mahoning County, was comparing information listed on each summons with the Ohio Bureau of Motor vehicle records. One individual who had failed to appear in the Struthers Municipal Court for a fishing violation had obtained a new drivers’ license which provided a different home address in Trumbull County. Officer Frank arrived at the residence, observed the man enter the house, and knocked on the door. The individual answered the door and was arrested for the fishing violation which had occurred five years earlier. The man spent several days in jail until his court appearance. He was convicted and paid fines and court costs of $148.
Southeast Ohio – Wildlife District Four
State Wildlife Officer Eric Lane, assigned to Perry County, received information from a landowner stating that someone had harvested a deer on his property during deer season without permission. With the information provided by the landowner, Officer Lane was able to contact the suspect. During the interview, Officer Lane was able to determine that a buck had been harvested in the area. Officer Lane seized the buck as evidence and issued a summons for giving false information to check in a deer. The individual paid fines and court costs, and the deer was forfeited to the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
Southwest Ohio – Wildlife District Five
While on patrol along Buck Creek in the city of Springfield, State Wildlife Officer Byron Rice, assigned to Clark County, observed two individuals along the creek who appeared to be fishing. As he drove past their location, Officer Rice could see that one man was fishing but the other wasn’t. He also noticed two fishing poles in the water and decided to drive to the other side of the creek to observe the men a little while longer. Shortly after he had left the area, Officer Rice observed both men beginning to fish. He went back to their location and contacted them to check for valid fishing licenses. Only one of the men had a license. The other man received a citation for not having a valid fishing license. He was later found guilty in the Clark County Municipal Court and fined $150.
July 31, 2018
6-State Trooper Project Targeted Move Over law
COLUMBUS – The Ohio State Highway Patrol joined forces with members of the 6-State Trooper Project enforcing and raising awareness about the Move Over law from July 22 through July 28. The high-visibility campaign included the Indiana State Police, Kentucky State Police, Michigan State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, West Virginia State Police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
During the initiative, OSHP issued 586 Move Over citations and educated motorists about the state’s Move Over law.
Ohio law requires all drivers approaching a stationary public safety, emergency, road service, highway maintenance, or Public Utilities Commission inspections vehicles displaying flashing, oscillating, or rotating lights to move over to an adjacent lane. If moving over is not possible because a second lane does not exist, or if it would be unsafe to do so, the driver shall reduce speed and proceed with due caution while maintaining a safe speed for the road and weather conditions.
The 6-State Trooper Project is a multi-state law enforcement partnership aimed at providing combined and coordinated law enforcement and security services in the areas of highway safety, criminal patrol, and information sharing.
For a complete breakdown and map of Patrol activity, please visit http://www.statepatrol.ohio.gov/doc/6StateTrooperMoveOverOSHP.pdf