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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.

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.

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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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A historian points out a startling fact about the current racial divisions in the Trump era

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America is a deeply divided nation. That fact may be the only thing that Americans of all racial, ethnic, and political groups can agree about. A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll conducted in late 2017 indicated that 70 percent of the American people think the country is “as divided as during the Vietnam War.”

This division manifests itself in political ways exemplified by the partisan impeachment proceedings and gridlock. The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed 298 bills in 2019, yet the Republican-led Senate refused to consider hardly any of that legislation.

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Nervous Democrats hoping the Obamas will save the party from Bernie Sanders

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Nervous Democrats are hoping former President Barack Obama will step in and rescue the party from Bernie Sanders.

A number of top Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, fear the Vermont senator will be demolished if he wins the nomination and will hand President Donald Trump another four-year term, reported the New York Times.

“People are worried,” said former Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, a former Democratic National Committee chairman who has endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden. “How you can spend four or five months hoping you don’t have to put a bumper sticker from that guy on your car.”

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Ron Paul unloads on Trump and accuses him of doing the ‘bidding’ of the ‘Deep State’

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For many years, former Rep. Ron Paul was the most prominent libertarian in Congress — often frustrating fellow Republicans by voting against their spending bills. Paul, now 84, left Congress in early January 2013 but still speaks out about politics. And in his February 24 column for the Ron Paul Institute’s website, the Texas libertarian is vehemently critical of President Donald Trump for, as he sees it, throwing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange under the bus.

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