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As Iran Hits 20,000 Cases, US Says ‘Coronavirus Won’t Save You From Sanctions’

As Iran Hits 20,000 Cases, US Says ‘Coronavirus Won’t Save You From Sanctions’

Even amid a global pandemic that’s altering daily life as everyone knows it, and with borders shut, markets collapsing, and talk of mobilizing the military domestically, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is keeping up the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran. 

“The United States sent Iran a blunt message this week: the spread of the coronavirus will not save it from U.S. sanctions that are choking off its oil revenues and isolating its economy,” Reuters reports

Consider too the blunt headline to the report — U.S. to Iran: Coronavirus won’t save you from sanctionsThis as a top Iranian health expert warned his fellow citizens to brace for “millions” possibly killed as a result of the deadly pandemic. “Our policy of maximum pressure on the regime continues,” Brian Hook, the US Special Representative for Iranian Affairs, told reporters this week.

But as Spencer Ackerman reports, this policy will actually make the Covid-19 spread more dangerous for us all:

“We are not safe in any place until everyone all over the world is safe,” Paul Anatharajah Tambyah, the president of the Asia-Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, told the Wall Street Journal about a new wave of COVID-19 cases in east Asia.

“You have to facilitate these medical goods. Anyone who argues otherwise, or does otherwise, is a sociopath or a moron,” [bold mine-DL] said Jarrett Blanc, a former State Department official who monitored Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal that the Trump administration abandoned. “The U.S. should be busting its ass to make sure permissible medical exports are available to Iran. It’s in our self-interest.”

The administration gleefully (and fanatically some would say) rolled out with new sanctions this week targeting over a dozen Iran-linked entities and individuals. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Virus is a Time Machine

The Virus is a Time Machine

Heinrich Hofmann Christ and the Rich Young Man  1889

Around mid-January I started including coronavirus news in the daily Automatic Earth “Debt Rattle” news aggregators, and wrote the first essay on the topic on January 29. Tons of people since have asked why, but I thought the virus had “potential”. Though not everybody would agree, I still think that. So the Debt Rattles are full of coronavirus these days.

For a proper understanding, we must remember that China was 4-5 weeks too late in reporting the disease, and after that the west was 4-5 weeks late in acting on the news. This happens simply because a politician who cries wolf will have a short career, and reporters, certainly today, follow that same model.

I explained 5 weeks ago why this happens the way it does in China in The Party and the Virus, but western countries’ political and media systems are structured very much the same way. Being early to warn does not help your job prospects. Unless you’re 100% sure, but then you won’t be alone and there’s nothing left to warn about. So might as well stay mum.

Until you must speak, and then you’re way behind, and you’ll be as wrong as you are late. Cast in stone. Bias “R” Us. But then, that’s why there’s the Automatic Earth. The Matrix is never perfectly sealed.

In the case of COVID19, the story is not about the numbers of cases or fatalities at any given point after two months and change, it’s about the disruption it will cause. We have a highly contagious virus that can cause death. That is all you need to know really. Feel free to claim that reactions and measures are over the hill, but no government has the option to say things are not all that bad and it’s business as usual.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Are Russia and Turkey on a Collision Course?

Are Russia and Turkey on a Collision Course?

The murder of the Iranian hero-martyr General Soleimani created a situation in which a war between Iran and the Axis of Kindness (USA/Israel/KSA) became a real possibility but, at the very last minute, Uncle Shmuel decided that he had no stomach for a full-scale war against Iran. Wise decision.

This, however, does not at all imply that the AngloZionist Empire decided to stand by idly, far from it. The need to take quick and determined action became particularly acute following the huge anti-US demonstrations in Iraq (well over one million people in the streets!) which directly put at risk the US occupation (the MSM would call it “presence”) in both Iraq and Syria.

At the same time, Turkish President Erdogan’s refusal to remove all the “bad terrorists” from the Idlib province eventually resulted in a joint Syrian-Russian offensive to liberate the province. That offensive, in turn, clearly infuriated the Turks who warned of a major military operation to prevent the Syrians from liberating their own country.

This begs the question: are Russia and Turkey really on a collision course?

There are certainly some very worrying warning signs including a number of very harsh statements by Erdogan himself, and a suddenly re-kindled Turkish interest for the US “Patriots”.

On the ground in Idlib, the Turks have clearly provided the “bad terrorists” with a lot of support including equipment, MANPADs, tanks and armored personnel carriers. The Turks actually went as far as sending special forces to assist the “bad terrorists” directly. Finally, from footage taken by Russian and Syrian drones, and even the “bad terrorists” themselves, it appears undeniable that Turkish MLRS and regular artillery provided the “bad terrorists” with fire support.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

NYT: ‘Iran-Backed Militia’ Attack That Provoked Soleimani Killing Was Possible ISIS False Flag

NYT: ‘Iran-Backed Militia’ Attack That Provoked Soleimani Killing Was Possible ISIS False Flag

The initial major rationale and justification the US administration offered for the drone assassination of IRGC Gen. Qassem Soleimani and commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was the Dec.27 rocket attack on K1 camp in Kirkuk, which houses coalition forces. 

That attack involving surface-to-surface missile strikes killed an American contractor and reportedly wounded several US troops. Washington immediately blamed the Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary group Khataib Hezbollah, with Mike Pompeo saying of the attack: “We will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy,” after he briefedPresident Trump. But top Iraqi military and intelligence officials are now calling this entire narrative into question.

A new lengthy New York Times investigative report cites multiple top Iraqi officials who go on record to say of their analysis of the Dec.27 Kirkuk incident: “These facts all point to the Islamic State, Iraqi officials say.”

ISIS terrorists in Iraq, file image.

The Pentagon says it has evidence decisively pinning it on Khataib Hezbollah, known for its closeness to Tehran; however, the paramilitary group itself has denied that it was behind the operation. US officials have from the start been scant on details and have not made public any evidence or intelligence.

This led some analysts in the days after the attack to question whether ISIS cells, still known to be active in the area, might have been behind it — given also it would be to the Sunni terrorist group’s benefit to sow a major rift between US and local Iraqi Shia forces, which is precisely what happened (Trump has recently gone so far as to threaten “very big sanctions” on Baghdad if US forces are kicked out). Alternately the White House perhaps appeared ready to manufacture a justification to take out Soleimani.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Iran War Was “Closer Than You Thought”, Trump Admits

Iran War Was “Closer Than You Thought”, Trump Admits

In what the administration has described as an “off-the-record lunch” on Tuesday, President Trump told television anchors hosted at the White House that war with Iran was “closer than you thought,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

It’s an annual tradition for the president to host television anchors from major networks just ahead of the State of the Union address, which was delivered last night.

The private luncheon marks the first time the president gave candid remarks confirming the US stood very close to entering another major war in the Middle East, which was on the heels of the Jan.3 assassination of IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani and subsequent Iranian ‘retaliatory strike’ on Jan.8 against a US base in Iraq. 

During that time in early January the hashtag WWIII was trending on Twitter, along with countless social media viral memes warning the US stood on the brink of major war with Iran. 

In apparent confirmation that the public’s fears were justified, the WSJ describes further of the president’s off-the-cuff comments:

The president’s comment on Iran came after one attendee asked him how close the U.S. came to going to war with Iran earlier this year, after the U.S. killed a top Iranian military commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Iran responded with a missile barrage on Iraqi bases housing U.S. and allied military forces. The Iranian strikes didn’t result in any U.S. deaths.

And further, the report notes: 

Mr. Trump didn’t elaborate on why war with Iran was “closer than you thought,” the people said.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

False Flag? Fmr CIA Officer Suggests US Hacked Ukrainian Plane Transponder To Provoke Iran Shootdown

False Flag? Fmr CIA Officer Suggests US Hacked Ukrainian Plane Transponder To Provoke Iran Shootdown

Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the CIA, penned a piece in the American Herald Tribune speculating that the U.S. launched several cyber-attacks, one on an Iranian missile defense system, and another on the transponder of the doomed Ukrainian plane.

Giraldi explains the Iranian missile operator experienced extreme “jamming” and Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752’s transponder was switched off several minutes before the two Russian made Tor missiles were launched. 

“The shutdown of the transponder, which would have automatically signaled to the operator and Tor electronics that the plane was civilian, instead automatically indicated that it was hostile. The operator, having been particularly briefed on the possibility of incoming American cruise missiles, then fired,” he said.

Giraldi said the Tor missile system used by Iran is vulnerable to being hacked or “spoofed,” and at the same moment, Flight 752’s transponder was taken offline “to create an aviation accident that would be attributed to the Iranian government.”

The Pentagon has reportedly developed technologies that can trick enemy radars with false and deceptively moving targets, he said. 

“The same technology can, of course, be used to alter or even mask the transponder on a civilian airliner in such a fashion as to send false information about identity and location. The United States has the cyber and electronic warfare capability to both jam and alter signals relating to both airliner transponders and to the Iranian air defenses. Israel presumably has the same ability,” Giraldi said.

Iran made the claim Wednesday that “enemy sabotage” cannot be ruled out in the downing of the plane. 

Iranian Brigadier General Ali Abdollahi suggested the U.S. hacked missile defense systems to make it appear Flight 752 was an incoming missile. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Iran Must Begin Acting Like A Normal Nation,” Says Totally Normal Nation

“Iran Must Begin Acting Like A Normal Nation,” Says Totally Normal Nation

The government which runs a globe-spanning empire led by a reality TV host keeps talking about the lack of normality in the nation of Iran.

“What we want all countries to join in,” said State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus in a recent Fox News interview, “is to help us not only to de-escalate any tensions with Iran, but to help us bring Iran to a place where they are ready to stop their terrorist and malign behavior, and where they are ready to discuss with the United States, with Europe, with everyone, about how they can change their behavior to act like a normal nation.”

“We want Iran to simply behave like a normal nation,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a press statement the other day. “We believe that the sanctions we imposed today further that strategic objective.”

These would be the additional sanctions which have been expanded to include virtually the entire Iranian economy, deliberately targeting Iran’s already sanction-starved populace, with the explicit goal of fomenting a civil war in that nation.

Which is of course a perfectly normal thing to do, from a perfectly normal nation.


.@StateDeptSPOX: We want all countries to join us in encouraging #Iran to behave like a normal nation.


This would be the same Iran whose cultural heritage sites were threatened with destruction if it retaliated for the totally normal assassination of its top military official via flying robot. The same Iran whose financial system was just threatened with destruction using the totally normal hegemony of American central banking. Perfectly normal, perfectly healthy.

So what can Iran do to become a “normal nation”? Well, since it’s the United States making this demand, we can safely assume that it’s the model Iran should look to.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Americans Have Been Brainwashed to Accept War Without Question

AMERICANS HAVE BEEN BRAINWASHED TO ACCEPT WAR WITHOUT QUESTION

As the United States seemed to teeter on the edge of yet another war, this time with Iran, the biggest concern was just how much support the government had for its mass-murdering schemes. But psychologists say that that is no mistake.  As Americans, we have been conditioned for war all of our lives.

Americans have been programmed to accept the violence and domination with a belief that the mass murders are done for some kind of “good.” Propaganda has been widely used along with patriotic images to make even those who consider themselves peaceful cheer for death, violence, and destruction.

Americans are taught from a young age to accept their country’s militarism without question. This conditioning has numerous ingredients. Themes of nationalism and militarism are frequently injected into public life through the media and other institutions, for example, as is a sense of righteousness, a rarely challenged belief that the country is almost always a force for good. –Psychology Today

Fear is also a major element in conditioning minds for war. Americans of all ages are often reminded, by their government and the media, that perceived enemies pose a constant danger. The Soviet threat was used to justify military spending and adventurism around the globe for much of the later twentieth century, validating the warning given by President Eisenhower in his 1961 farewell speech of the growing influence of the “military-industrial complex.”

More recently, through constant reminders of the “war on terror,” Americans are effectively conditioned to see evildoers as always looming. There is little to no debate about whether slaughtering people and killing others thousands of miles away is right or wrong.  Militarism and force through mass murder is always the conclusion drawn by most Americans.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Israel Bombs Weapons Depot Run By Iranian Militia

Israel Bombs Weapons Depot Run By Iranian Militia

Tensions continued to climb in the Middle East Thursday evening as reports of another air strike have been confirmed, but this time, it was the Israelis doing the shelling.

According to reports by domestic and western media, the Israeli air force carried out an attack against an Iran-backed militia reportedly headquartered on the border between Syria and Iraq.

Tribal sources in Iraq apparently told reporters that the Israeli shelling targeted trucks and individuals associated with Iranian-backed militias near the Iraqi-Syria border. Artillery and shelling was also reported, though it’s unclear who fired those shots. The weapons are believed to have been destined for Hezbollah.

Sources claimed that the airstrikes were targeting weapons shipments, according to the Washington Post. The Kataib Imam Ali, an Iran-backed militia, was apparently moving weapons, possibly in preparation for a strike against US interests.

Al Mayadeen reported that the strikes targeted ballistic missile warehouses run by the group. The warehouse was situated outside of the city of Al Bukamal

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Past Point of No Return –John Rubino

Past Point of No Return –John Rubino

Financial writer and book author John Rubino sees the world careening toward a debt reset at an increasing pace. Rubino explains, “The coming monetary reset and what that means for gold and what that means for the rest of the global financial system, you don’t need a war to bring that about because we are making enough financial mistakes that will get us there in no time flat now without geopolitical turmoil. If you add a big war in the Middle East into the equation, then anything can happen. A scenario right now that is very, very feasible is we start shooting in the Middle East and Russia and China is on the other side of this in one way or another. They help Iran, and we have our allies helping us, and we start using these next generation weapons that are breathtakingly powerful. Nobody has any idea what’s going to happen when we start throwing these things at each other. . . . Oil spikes to $100 – $150 per barrel, and that tips the already extremely fragile global financial system over the edge. So, we get the ‘Greater Depression’ or the monetary reset or a hyperinflation or whatever we get sooner rather than later. It’s a disaster for everybody when it happens that way.”

Rubino says the monetary masters “tried to fix the financial system but could not do it.” Rubino says, “If you think you are beyond the point of no return financially as an individual, you borrow as much money as you can, and then go bankrupt. . . . Governments in the world are starting to do that now or behaving that way. . . . There is nothing they can do to fix the system. In the U.S., they tried to fix the system and scale back and they found out that is impossible…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

On The Idiotic Partisan Debate Over Regime Change In Iran Or Syria

On The Idiotic Partisan Debate Over Regime Change In Iran Or Syria

I love my job. Really, I do. But writing about US military agendas for a living often brings one into contact with such staggering stupidity that all you can do is pause and wonder how our species survived past the invention of the pointy stick.

By far the dumbest thing in all of US politics is the fact that Democrats tend to support regime change in Syria, while Republicans tend to support it more in Iran. I am not talking about the elected officials in those parties; I’m talking about the ordinary rank-and-file Joes and Janets who stand absolutely nothing to gain from toppling either Damascus or Tehran, but who have been brainwashed by lifelong media consumption into supporting one or the other anyway.

Whenever I write against the US government’s longstanding agenda to replace the leadership of Tehran with a compliant puppet regime, I know with absolute certainty that I’m going to spend the rest of my time online arguing with Trump supporters and lifelong Republicans. Whenever I write against the US government’s longstanding agenda to do the same in Syria, I know with absolute certainty that I’m going to be arguing predominantly with so-called centrist liberals.

At no time has this ever failed to occur.

I’ve spent the last few days arguing with Trump supporters who are telling me I’m crazy for not celebrating the death of an Iranian general they had no idea existed one week ago, and many of these pro bono State Department propagandists began following my work because they liked what I’ve been saying about Syria.

Conversely, all the fauxgressives and liberal interventionists who spent all last month telling me I’m a monster for writing about leaked OPCW documents showing we were lied to about an alleged 2018 chemical weapons incident have been staying out of my social media notifications completely these past four days.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iran Refuses To Hand Over Crash Data, Stoking Speculation Plane Was Accidentally Shot Down

Iran Refuses To Hand Over Crash Data, Stoking Speculation Plane Was Accidentally Shot Down

Iran will reportedly refuse to hand over black box data from the Boeing 737 that crashed over Tehran last night to Boeing, stoking speculation that the aircraft was shot down by an Iranian missile.

Video of wreckage from the crash, which shows shattered bodies and debris spread over a wide area, has surfaced on social media.



…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

No Survivors After Ukraine-Bound 737 Crashes Two Minutes Into Flight From Tehran

No Survivors After Ukraine-Bound 737 Crashes Two Minutes Into Flight From Tehran

Update: There were no survivors in the Ukraine International 737-800 which crashed shortly after takeoff from Iran, according to the head of the Iranian Red Crescent’s Relief and Rescue Organization in an appearance on state television. The New York Timesmeanwhile, reports that the plane was carrying “at least 170 people,” while Bloomberg puts the number between 167 and 180. The cause of the crash has thus far been reported as a ‘technical problem.’

A Boeing 737-800 of the Ukraine International airline in Duesseldorf, Germany, in September.Credit…Ina Fassbender/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Four helicopters and 22 ambulances were sent to the crash site, according to Bloomberg.


Updated photos of air crash flight #PS752 @isna_farsi

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

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Tanker Operators Suspend Travel Through Strait Of Hormuz

Tanker Operators Suspend Travel Through Strait Of Hormuz

Following Iran’s decision to lob missiles at US-Iraqi bases last night, several major tanker operators have suspended sailing through the Straits of Hormuz, the site of several tanker attacks last year.

Petrobras, Bahri – Saudi Arabia’s state-run tanker operator – and other tanker companies have suspended sailing through the Straits of Hormuz, WSJ reports, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, Gulf officials are already trying to convince the world that there’s nothing to worry about in what’s essentially a tinderbox inside another tinderbox. United Arab Emirates’ Energy Minister Suhail al-Mazrouei said on Wednesday he saw no immediate risk to oil passing through the critical gateway through which 20% of the global supply of crude travels. al-Mazrouei made the comments on the sidelines of a conference in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.

The source of their concerns is clear: Iran carried out its “retaliation” for the killing of General Suleimani last night – though the Pentagon has confirmed that there have been no American casualties from Iran’s strikes. However, many fear that Iran isn’t finished with its retaliation. 

Mazrouei added that OPEC was not discussing any precautionary steps at the moment, but would re-evaluate the situation if a supply shortage emerged, according to Reuters. He said earlier that the global oil market was well supplied.

Oil prices initially moved higher after last night’s attacks, but prices have since settled, and the market largely ignored the news about the tanker suspensions, as it was already largely priced in.

On Tuesday, Washington warned about “the possibility of Iranian action against US maritime interests” in the Middle East.

“U.S. commercial vessels are advised to exercise caution and coordinate vessel voyage planning for transits of the Persian Gulf and nearby waterways,” the U.S. Maritime Administration said in a statement on its website.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iranian MPs Pass Bill Labeling All US Military Personnel “Terrorist Entities”

Iranian MPs Pass Bill Labeling All US Military Personnel “Terrorist Entities”

Lawmakers of the Islamic Consultative Assembly on Tuesday have labeled the Pentagon and its affiliates as terrorist entities under a new law, according to Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). 

Iran’s new legislation was overwhelmingly approved by 223 lawmakers, according to IRNA. The law comes in response to the US’ assassination of top Iranian general Qasim Suleimani last Friday. 

The law states, “all members of the Pentagon, all affiliated companies, institutions, agents and commanders,” are now considered terrorist organizations in the eyes of Iran. 

This means, all those Silicon Valley technology companies that have contracts with the Pentagon, are now all classified as terrorist organizations and could be targeted if war broke out.

The nation’s Supreme National Security Council has already designated the U.S. Central Command as a terrorist organization. 

The Trump administration recently identified the IRGC as a terrorist group after Trump pulled out of the 2016 nuclear deal with Iran. 

As both countries are designating each other as a terrorist organization, Iran is now on the verge of conducting a retaliation attack against the U.S.

President Trump has warned that if retaliation is seen, the U.S. military will strike 52 “very high level” Iranian cultural and state targets.

Iran responded Tuesday and said it has considered 13 “revenge scenarios” in retaliation for Soleimani’s killing.

Fars News Agency quoted Iranian Supreme National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani on Tuesday as saying that “even if there is consensus on the weakest scenario, carrying it out can be a historic nightmare for the Americans.”

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