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Google confirms Iran choked off Internet access ahead of elections

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Search giant Google, Inc. confirmed Monday morning that its Gmail, YouTube and encrypted search services have been unavailable to Iranians since Feb. 10, the day that rumors began to circulate that the whole country had been taken offline.

Shortly after Google’s confirmation Monday morning, The Associated Press began receiving reports that access to email services had returned after a four-day outage, and the Iranian government said it wasn’t responsible.

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Previously working countermeasures against Iranian censorship, however — like the use of virtual private networks and proxies — were shut down on Thursday, leading some to theorize that state-run Internet service providers (ISPs) have since began targeting the world’s most popular websites with blockades.

The blackout and a year-long house arrest of opposition leaders has drawn calls for another round of mass protests starting Tuesday, Feb. 14, and government security forces are reportedly already gearing up to meet the demonstrators head-on.

The parliamentary elections are also coming up on March 2. The last national election in 2009 resulted in mass chaos after Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, the leading reformers, said the vote had been rigged. Reformers have said they are boycotting the 2012 vote. Saturday also marked the 33rd anniversary of Iran’s revolution that overthrew a U.S.-sponsored dictator and installed a brutal theocracy in its place — a politically sensitive time for Iran’s conservative hardliners who’ve been in power ever since.

The last time a nation’s government cut its whole population off from the Internet, revolution was afoot: In Libya, once the Internet vanished, the insurgency picked up pace with an urgency. So too was the case when Egyptian ISPs stopped working and mobile phones were cut off in late January, 2011, marking the start of the real protests after weeks of simmering public anger.

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Once the Internet turned off in Egypt, people flooded into the streets and toppled the regime within days. It took a bit longer for Gaddafi’s Libya, but the result was nearly the same.

Iran’s digital censorship apparatus was built by Siemens AG and Nokia Corp., which sold the country the ability to intercept or block communications on a large or narrow scale.

The technology provided by Western corporations even allows the regime to intercept opposition communications and alter them, inserting disinformation into potentially crucial electronic messages.

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Lewandowski’s testimony will let Democrats build Nixon-like articles of impeachment: Ex-prosecutor

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As President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski combatively testified before the House Judiciary Committee, he admitted that Trump asked him to communicate to then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions that former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation must be shut down. Aside from that revelation, most of the testimony was unproductive, with Lewandowski lashing out at members of Congress and running interference for the president.

But as former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti wrote on Twitter, these outbursts — and the fact that Trump sanctioned the way that Lewandowski behaved in the hearing — could be the basis for Democrats to write up articles of impeachment against Trump similar to those drafted against Richard Nixon in 1974:

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Putin aims a weaponized barb at Trump over Saudi attack – and hits the mark

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Russian President Vladimir Putin joked this week about selling defense systems to Riyadh following weekend attacks on Saudi oil facilities. The gag was aimed at US President Donald Trump and it hit the mark with the precision of a guided weapon.

It was a masterful piece of trolling by the czar of trolls – a snide, disparaging jibe with an element of truth twisted into absurdity for maximum effect and laughs. At a joint press conference with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Ankara on Monday, Putin cast his bait into the volatile Persian Gulf region just days after devastating attacks on Saudi oil facilities exposed the limits of the Gulf kingdom’s expensive defense systems.

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Rick Wilson obliterates Dems for letting Lewandowski get away with stonewalling: ‘So bad it makes me cringe’

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Anti-Trump Republican strategist Rick Wilson dropped the hammer on House Democrats Tuesday for letting Trump minion Corey Lewandowski make a mockery of their oversight powers.

After witnessing a House Judiciary Committee hearing that quickly devolved into a circus with Lewandowski stonewalling and evading questions, Wilson unloaded on Democrats for failing in their basic responsibilities in governmental oversight.

"This is outrageous contempt," Wilson wrote. "It isn't just that this scumbag Lewandowski is slapping the committee with it. This is a test, and the Democrats are going to fail it. They're so bad at this it makes me cringe."

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