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Officials cut Tehran Internet access ahead of major protest

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Foreign media banned from reporting in Tehran from Dec. 7-9

Most of the Iranian capital’s Internet links with the outside world were down on Saturday, two days ahead of planned demonstrations by opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Sources close to Iran’s technical services told AFP the cut was the result of “a decision by the authorities” rather than a technical breakdown, but telecommunications ministry officials were unavailable for comment.

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Officials furthermore revoked all foreign media permits, in an attempt to block any reports coming out of Tehran between Dec. 7 and Dec. 9.

“Police and elite Revolutionary Guards have warned that any ‘illegal’ rally will be fiercely confronted on Monday when the country marks Student Day, commemorating the killing of three students in 1953 under the former Shah,” reported Reuters.

Internet lines, texting and at times even mobile phone connections have often been cut or scrambled since Ahmadinejad’s contested re-election in June, but this was the first such occurrence a full two days before planned protests.

Iranian opposition groups are preparing to hold fresh demonstrations on Monday, several websites reported, as the nation marks the annual Students Day.

The elite Revolutionary Guards and other authorities have warned they will crack down on any attempt by regime opponents to hijack the event to mount further protests against Ahmadinejad.

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Tehran on December 7 marks the 1953 killing by the shah’s security forces of three students, just months after a US-backed coup toppled popular prime minister Mohammad Mossadeq.

With AFP.

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Julian Assange in UK court outburst over distance from lawyers

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday briefly disrupted his extradition hearing in Britain to complain about being forced to sit away from his lawyers.

The 48-year-old Australian stood up and launched an impromptu courtroom address from inside the glass-panelled dock of the court during the third day of the hearing, being held in southeast London.

"I can't speak to my lawyers with any proper confidentiality," he complained, noting microphones near the dock could pick up conversations.

"I can't ask, I can't instruct them," added Assange, wearing a grey blazer and a sweater over a collared shirt and seated between two guards.

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Google pledges new $10 billion investment in US in 2020

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Google said Wednesday it would invest more than $10 billion in US offices and data centers in 2020, including its new campus planned for New York City and projects in 10 other states.

The pledge comes on top of some $22 billion invested by the US tech giant unit over the past two years.

"These investments will create thousands of jobs -- including roles within Google, construction jobs in data centers and renewable energy facilities, and opportunities in local businesses in surrounding towns and communities," said a blog post by Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google parent Alphabet.

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Devin Nunes’ income called into question as watchdog asks for investigation of his finances

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According to a report from the Fresno Bee,the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center is requesting a federal investigation into whether U.S. Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) is receiving legal services in violation of House ethics rules.

Over the past year, the conservative Republicans has launched a handful of lawsuits against critics -- including the McClatchy newspaper chain and a person on Twitter purporting to be one of his cows.

According to the Bee, "The complaint says Nunes appears to be in 'blatant violation of House rules,' because he would have trouble paying for all these lawsuits solely from his congressional salary of $174,000 per year. The group argues he’d only be able to pay if he received legal services for free, at a discounted rate, or based on a contingency fee, meaning the lawyer would get compensated from Nunes’ winnings if he prevails in his lawsuits."

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