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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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WATCH: Trump advisor trashes Dr. Fauci — while pushing coronavirus conspiracy theories

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White House economic advisor Peter Navarro pushed several conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic as the administration attempts to deflect blame for America responding to coronavirus worse than any other developed country.

At one point in the interview, MSNBC's Ali Velshi had to ask, "What are you talking about?"

Navarro harshly criticized Dr. Tony Fauci, who is one of his colleagues in the administration.

And he tried to blame the "Chinese Communist Party" for the disease, saying "they spawned the virus, they hid virus, they sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationalists over here to seed and spread the virus before we knew."

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2020 Election

Ron DeSantis threw temper tantrum after Trump hired strategist he ‘exiled’ from Florida GOP: report

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On Friday, Politico reported that President Donald Trump has brought back longtime Florida Republican strategist Susie Wiles to try to save his electoral chances in the critical swing state — and that Gov. Ron DeSantis, who worked to cast her out of power in the Florida GOP, is enraged by the move.

"Trump’s decision to reinstate Susie Wiles to his campaign’s good inner circle follows months of behind-the-scenes efforts to bring her back after she was exiled at the demand of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who had her cast out of the president’s good graces in September," reported Gary Fineout and Marc Caputo, and it "comes as polls show Trump trailing Democrat Joe Biden in Trump's adopted home state. Trump won Florida four years ago by less than 113,000 votes and a loss in the battleground would likely doom his reelection effort."

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2020 Election

Mike Pence calls his wife ‘mother’ — and just referred to Trump as ‘my father’

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Mike Pence raised eyebrows on Friday when he sent a campaign message referring to President Donald Trump as "my father."

"We need you right now," Pence wrote in a campaign ad. "It's going to take EVERY Patriot stepping up if we want to CRUSH Sleepy Joe's dreams of turning America into a BIG GOVERNMENT SOCIALIST Nation."

"I convinced my father to give you another chance, which is why he's decided to EXTEND your PERSONAL 500%-MATCH OFFER FOR 1 MORE HOUR," Pence wrote.

NBC News reporter Brandy Zadrozny posted a screengrab of the advertisement.

Zadrozny also offered a theory that language could've have resulted from a copy and paste error with language from an ad that was meant to come from one of Trump's children.

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