It's been suggested by experts for some time now that the COVID-19 situation is far more dire in Iran than the nation's government has been willing to admit. According to Iran, 10,000 of its citizens have been infected with the novel coronavirus, of which 429 have died. However, satellite images that appear to show mass graves being dug outside of the city of Qom are a bad sign that the number of dead may be far higher.
From The Guardian:
The pictures, first published by the New York Times, show the excavation of a new section in a cemetery on the northern fringe of Iran’s holy city in late February, and two long trenches dug, of a total length of 100 yards, by the end of the month.
They confirm the worst fears about the extent of the epidemic and the government’s subsequent cover-up. On 24 February, at the time the trenches were being dug, a legislator from Qom, 75 miles (120 km) south of Tehran, accused the health ministry of lying about the scale of the outbreak, saying there had already been 50 deaths in the city, at a time when the ministry was claiming only 12 people had died from the virus nationwide.
According to The Guardian, it's believed that, as China is Iran's primary trade partner, the Iranian government wasn't thrilled with the idea of halting travel to one of the few big international players who will still do business with them. This, combined with the Iranian government's reluctance to order social distancing or quarantine measures for its nation's citizens allowed the virus to spread faster than shit through a goose. Read the rest
The head of Iran's coronavirus government task force who urged the public not to freak out about the epidemic while coughing and sweating profusely has tested positive for the illness himself, authorities said Tuesday. New cases of COVID-19 originating in Iran are now rapidly popping up across the Middle East.
The coughing and heavily sweating Iraj Harirchi told journalists at a televised news conference in Tehran only one day ago that “the situation is almost stable in the country.” Read the rest
One hundred U.S. soldiers have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries following the Iran missile strike on an American military base in Iraq about which Donald Trump lied, 'no injuries.' Read the rest
Reuters today published a report about an email hacking operation targeting journalists and their connected sources, and the scam appears to be associated with Iran. Read the rest
Shahab Dehghani is an Iranian citizen and college student who has been studying in Boston for the past several years. According to MassLive, he had been in the United States for two years while enrolled at UMass Boston. Dehghani had planned to transfer to Northeastern University, but returned home to Iran in December 2018, and had to wait a year for his F-1 student visa to get re-approved. With all the proper paperwork in place, he returned to Boston to start his first semester at Northeastern.
Upon landing at Logan Airport this past Sunday, he was immediately detained US Customs and Border Protection agents.
The agents wanted to remove him from the country right away. But a federal court upheld an emergency stay from Dehghani's lawyer that would ensure he remained in the country for 48-hours until a proper hearing could be held. According to that same lawyer, CBP deported Dehghani anyway.
It's kind of hard for authoritarian law enforcement to argue that they're upholding "law and order" when they're literally disobeying the law. But somehow that never stops them.
Student Deported From Boston Despite Federal Court Order [Shannon Dooling / WBUR]
Image of Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston via Wikimedia Commons Read the rest
The Good Liars -- the comedy duo of Davram Stiefler and Jason Selvig -- redecorated a Brooklyn armed forces recruiting center with posters featuring Donald Trump Jr and the slogan, "I'm not enlisting but you should" with the strapline, "There's weak, and then there's Trump weak."
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A rocket is reported to have fallen in Iraq's northern Salahuddin province, reports Reuters reports, citing police sources. The strike is close to the Balad air base which houses US troops. Read the rest
U.S. intelligence officials are telling news agencies today they are confident that Iran painted the Ukrainian airliner with radar, then fired two surface to air missiles that brought down the aircraft, killing all 176 people aboard. Read the rest
All 176 people on board died.
The Ukrainian airliner that went down just after liftoff in Tehran, killing all 176 people aboard, probably suffered a technical malfunction and was not brought down by a missile -- that's what various Western intelligence sources are now saying.
The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 dropped from about 8,000 feet to earth in a fireball shortly after take-off from Tehran. Read the rest
By various reports, multiple (two or three) Katyusha rockets hit targets inside Baghdad's Green Zone in the past hour. Read the rest
A Ukrainian International Airlines (UIA) flight crashed shortly after it took off from Imam Khomeini International Airport near Tehran yesterday. All 176 people on the plane died.
The first reports about the crash put the blame on mechanical error. But several aviation experts now think the plane was shot down, according to The Independent:
While some aviation experts said it was too early to speculate, the OPS group, an aviation risk monitoring group, said: “We would recommend the starting assumption to be that this was a shootdown event, similar to MH17 – until there is clear evidence to the contrary," highlighting photos of the crash site which they said "show obvious projectile holes in the fuselage and a wing section."
OPS Group has photos that show holes in the plane's wings, which it says are signs the plane was shot down.
Image: by Kambui - Ukraine International Airlines - UIA Boeing 737-528 UR-GAT, CC BY 2.0, Link Read the rest
Chevron said Monday it has evacuated all expatriate oil workers from Iraq, following last week's Trump airstrike in Baghdad that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. Read the rest
In remarks to reporters about the U.S.-led assassination of top Iran general Qasem Soleimani, House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff [D-CA] said that the United States must now “expect retaliation” by Iran, which today vowed a “crushing response” against the United States and its allies. Read the rest
PHOTO - In this 2016 photo released by the office of Iran's supreme leader, Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, center, attends a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran. Soleimani was killed yesterday in U.S. airstrike on the Baghdad airport in Iraq.
As the U.S. sends some 3,500 additional troops to the mideast, Washington Post reporter Mustafa Salim [@Mustafa_salimb on Twitter] describes the mood in Baghdad as grim. Read the rest
DEPLOYMENTS COME AS IRAN TENSIONS FLARE AFTER U.S. AIRSTRIKE IN BAGHDAD Read the rest
An anonymous source claiming to be an Iraqi patriot sent The Intercept leaks of 900 pages' worth of spy-agency cables and memos sent by Iranian spies in Iraq; James Risen (previously) reported them out in a joint project with the New York Times that reveals how the US's post-invasion nation-building failures created a political vacuum that Iran filled, allowing it to dominate the political and tactical landscape in Iraq.
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