Sunday, December 31, 2017

Iran Protests Enter Day 5 Despite Warning Of Crackdown

Iran protests enter day 5 despite warning of crackdown

The largest protests to strike Iran in nearly a decade continued unabated Sunday night with demonstrators across the country poised for a fifth day of  unrest, despite stark government warnings of a crackdown to end the stand-off.
In addition to major metropolises that have seen mass protests since Thursday, smaller cities from north to south held protests Sunday and were expecting increased turnouts on Monday, according to regional reports.
On Sunday, Tehran moved to block access to Instagram and a popular messaging app used by activists to organize, with even President Hassan Rouhani acknowledging the public’s anger over the Islamic Republic’s flagging economy.
Rouhani and other leaders made a point to warn that the government wouldn’t hesitate to crack down on those it considers lawbreakers amid the demonstrations, which began Thursday over the economic woes plaguing Iran.
“Those who misused cyberspace and spread violence are absolutely known to us and we will definitely confront them,” Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said on state television.
The outpouring of public discontent — the most widespread since protests following Iran’s disputed 2009 presidential election — have been fanned by messages sent on the Telegram messaging app, which authorities blocked Sunday along with the photo-sharing app Instagram, which is owned by social media giant Facebook.
Many of the country’s 80 million people are learning about the protests and sharing images of them through Telegram. On Saturday, Telegram shut down one channel of the service over Iranian government allegations that it encouraged violence, which its moderator denied.
On Sunday, Telegram CEO Pavel Durov wrote on Twitter that authorities had blocked all access to the app.
“Iranian authorities are blocking access to Telegram for the majority of Iranians after our public refusal to shut down … peacefully protesting channels,” he wrote.
Iran’s state TV news website,, said social media in Iran was being temporarily limited as a safety measure.
“With a decision by the Supreme National Security Council, activities of Telegram and Instagram are temporarily limited,” the report said, without elaborating.
Facebook, based in Menlo Park, California, declined to comment.
Facebook itself has been banned in Iran since the 2009 protests that followed the re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However, some in Iran access it and other banned websites using virtual private networks.
Meanwhile, authorities acknowledged the first fatalities in the protests, during clashes late Saturday in Doroud, some 325 kilometers (200 miles) southwest of Tehran in Lorestan province, where protesters had gathered for an unauthorized rally, said Habibollah Khojastepour, the security deputy of Lorestan’s governor.
“The gathering was to be ended peacefully, but due to the presence of the (agitators), unfortunately, this happened,” Khojastepour said.
He did not offer a cause of death for the two protesters, but said “no bullets were shot from police and security forces at the people.”
However, the reformist Etemad newspaper quoted Hamid Reza Kazemi, a Lorestan lawmaker, as saying police did open fire during the clashes.
“If someone comes to the street and acts like a norm breaker, what would you do?” the newspaper quoted Kazemi as saying.
Videos circulating on social media late Saturday also appeared to show fallen protesters in Doroud as gunshots sounded in the background.

Thousands have taken to the streets of cities across Iran, beginning on Thursday in Mashhad, the country’s second-largest city and a holy site for Shiite pilgrims.
The protests in the Iranian capital, as well as US President Donald Trump tweeting in support of them, raised the stakes. It also apparently forced state television to break its silence about the unrest, acknowledging Saturday that it hadn’t reported on the protests on orders from security officials.
Trump, whose travel bans have blocked Iranians from getting US visas, in his latest tweets on Sunday showed support for the protesters and for their ability to communicate.
“The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer,” Trump wrote. “The USA is watching very closely for human rights violations!”
Rouhani criticized Trump in comments aired Sunday night.
“This guy in America who wants to sympathize with our people today has forgotten that he had called Iranian people ‘terrorists’ a few months ago,” Rouhani said. “This person who is against Iran from head to toe does not have the right to be sympathetic to Iranian people.”
Several hundred protesters have been arrested so far, beginning with over 50 in Mashhad on Thursday. The semi-official ILNA news agency reported Sunday that authorities had arrested some 80 protesters in the city of Arak, some 280 kilometers (175 miles) south of Tehran, as well as another 200 in Tehran on Saturday night.
State TV also has reported that some protesters invoked the name of the US-backed shah, who fled into exile just before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and later died.
Iran’s economy has improved since its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some international sanctions. Tehran now sells its oil on the global market and has signed deals to purchase tens of billions of dollars’ worth of Western aircraft.
That improvement has not reached the average Iranian, however. Unemployment remains high, and official inflation has crept up to 10 percent again. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.
While the protests have sparked clashes, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard and its affiliates have not intervened as they have in other unauthorized demonstrations since the 2009 election.
Some analysts outside of Iran have suggested that may be because the economic protests initially just put pressure on Rouhani, a relative moderate whose administration struck the nuclear deal.
While saying people should be allowed to protest, Rouhani also made a point Sunday of warning demonstrators.
“The government will definitely not tolerate those groups who are after the destruction of public property or disrupting the public order or spark riots in the society,” he said.

Extreme Cold To Test New Year's Revelers, Piercing Cold Blast In Much Of U.S.

 It's madness! Frozen sharks -40 deg F (-40 deg C) in Minnesota colder than Mars and the North Pole coldest New Year in living memory in the US

As parts of the US is considered colder than Mars some remarkable stat's are being banded around the net as some weather forecasters predict the cold will last well into January.

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy said it had found three dead thresher sharks frozen to death on the shore of the Cape Cod Bay in Brewster, south of Boston, in the last three days.
Glass windows were said to be cracking on Chicago's new Apple building from the extreme cold temperatures.

Low temperatures in the minus 40 deg F (-40 deg C) have been recorded in northern Minnesota this week.

According to the Weather Channel, the long-lived Arctic cold outbreak will be reinforced this New Year's weekend in the Plains, Midwest, South and East, shattering more daily records into the first days of 2018.

As some cities are forecast to have their coldest new years eve ever many have cancelled celebrations.

Niagara Falls has turned to ice as temperatures plummet to record-breaking lows.
The Sun reports, it is set to be the coldest New Year in living memory as 220 million Americans wrap up to face lows of -37 degrees Celsius.

The crippling cold has brought transit systems grinding to a halt in Boston while there were 30 crashes in one Michigan county alone on Friday morning due to treacherous icy roads.
Fountains froze over in New York where New Years Eve partygoers are being warned to lay off the booze and bring some hand warmers to see the famous big ball drop in Times Square as forecasters say it will hit -11C.

A temperature of -35C was recorded in Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire — the highest peak in the northeastern United States — breaking a record set back in 1933.
With temperatures colder than domestic freezers, data from the Curiosity Rover, which is roaming the red planet, showed temperatures on Mars reached a comparatively balmy -23C on December 20.
And with temperatures around -21 deg C today the North Pole is actually warmer than parts of the US.

Dress in layers, lay off the booze and bring some hand warmers. Those are some of the tips offered for the huge crowd of revelers expected in Times Square for what could be one of the coldest New Year’s Eve ball drops on record.

Brutal weather has iced plans for scores of events in the Northeast from New Year’s Eve through New Year’s Day, but not in New York City, where people will start gathering in Times Square up to nine hours before the famous ball drop.

“Hundreds of thousands have withstood very cold weather over the years for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we expect this year to be no different,” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance which puts on the event.

The coldest New Year’s Eve in Times Square came in 1917, when it was 1 degree at midnight. This year, the forecast is for 11 degrees with a wind chill around zero, which would tie for second with 1962.

City and state health officials are advising people to cover all exposed skin, and wear a hat, scarf and gloves. Drinking alcohol is discouraged because it causes the body to lose heat faster.

Extra New York Fire Department personnel are going to be on hand to provide medical support and a National Weather Service meteorologist will be on site with the city’s emergency management officials to monitor weather conditions.

In other areas gripped by the cold, some events are being canceled or reconsidered. The annual Lobster Dip at Old Orchard Beach in Maine has been rescheduled for the first time in 30 years.

Organizers of the Penguin Plunge in Narragansett, Rhode Island, say it’s still on for New Year’s Day but advised the thousands of expected participants to “use their good judgment” and avoid taking the plunge if they have a medical condition or have been sick.

With temperatures only expected to reach 9 degrees in Springfield, Illinois, on Sunday, organizers of its annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display have decided to cancel this year’s show. Officials say they plan to reschedule it for a warmer date.

In Ohio where some communities saw digit temperatures on Saturday, fireworks have been canceled and events moved inside in Miami Township and the New Year’s Eve ball drop and other activities in New Carlisle have been reduced to an hour.

Despite the drawn-out deep freeze across Pennsylvania, officials said Saturday the annual New Year’s Day Mummers Parade will still be held. The event features thousands of performers in colorful costumes adorned with sequins and feathers strutting through Philadelphia’s streets.
The village of Orchard Park 
near Buffalo, New York, has canceled its New Year’s Eve event because subzero temperatures have been forecast. “With frigid weather, the chance of a water line break is higher, and I’d rather have my public works crew fixing it than hoisting a ball up to drop,” said Mayor Jo Ann Litwin Clinton.

Cold air rivaling that of the past 100 years for late December and early January will make it painful to be outdoors and may lead to damage in the central and northeastern Unites States.
AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures are projected to be below zero over much of the Northeast and well below zero in much of the Midwest.
In the coming days, RealFeel temperatures 5 to 20 degrees below zero will be common. In the northern tier, RealFeel temperatures may dip as low as 30 to 40 degrees below zero.

Most low temperature records from the northern and central Plains to the mid-Atlantic and New England are likely to remain in tact.
However, in terms of the level of cold, actual temperatures in many locations will be in the lower 5 percentile for all years on record for late December and early January, according to the National Weather Service.
Standout years for record cold in the Northeast at this point in the season were in 1880-81 and 1917-18. In the Midwest, the years 1967-68 and 1973-74 left a mark with subzero F cold.
"While the level of cold will vary from one day to the next, indications are that the frigid weather will linger through the first week of January in the Central and Eastern states," according to AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Max Vido.

"It may not be until toward the second or third week of the month before many areas get above the freezing mark for a time," Vido said.
There is also the chance the severe cold may help spin up a storm on the coast during the first week of 2018.
The severity and persistence of the cold blast may take a toll on the homeless population.
Energy demands will skyrocket. Household heating budgets may take a huge hit.

Climate change got its close-up in 2017. A gaggle of films either name-checked Al Gore’s biggest fear or built their narratives around it.
The timing, in theory, couldn’t be better for Hollywood bean counters: Three major hurricanes. Massive fires in the West. Record-setting chills. Media reports routinely connected the disasters with a warming planet.
Yet audiences stayed away from films influenced by eco-concerns. Far, far away.
Think “Blade Runner 2049,” “Geostorm,” “Downsizing,” “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” and “mother!” They all flopped, some in spectacular fashion.
Mr. Gore’s sequel to his documentary smash “An Inconvenient Truth” paid the most attention to climate change, of course. The 2006 original scored with audiences and Oscar voters, earning best documentary honors. The sequel snared a fraction of the first film’s tally: $3 million versus $24 million. That’s despite massive media attention, mostly fawning reviews and promotion from eco-conscious stars such as Paul McCartney, Bono and Pharrell Williams.
Documentaries rarely make serious coin at the box office, but the drop was massive.
“Geostorm” promised B-movie thrills with a tale of the Earth’s weather run amok. Audiences typically adore disaster films — the cheesier, the better. So what happened? The movie raked in $33 million from a reported $120 million budget.
“Downsizing,” a rare flop from director Alexander Payne (“About Schmidt”), envisioned a future in which people can shrink themselves to the height of a grapefruit. That fueled some cheeky social commentary and a recurring message about the world’s dwindling resources.
“Mother!” and “Blade Runner 2049” touched on climate change in more subtle ways.
Is there a connection among the flops, or is Hollywood circa 2017 more unpredictable than ever?
Justin Haskins, executive editor at the right-leaning, free-market Heartland Institute, said Hollywood insiders remain fixated on saving the planet.
“They believe climate change will bring people to the movies,” Mr. Haskins said. “That’s wildly out of touch with how moviegoers feel about the issue.”
A Pew Research survey this year found that “the environment” does not rank among the top 10 public policy concerns of most Americans, trailing behind “terrorism,” “the economy,” “education” and “jobs,” among others.

10 Killed In Iran Protests, Internet Access, Incoming International Calls Blocked, As Gaza Heats Up, Israel Points An Accusing Finger At Iran

10 Killed in Iran Protests, Internet Access, Incoming International Calls Blocked

Hundreds of students marched at Tehran University as Iranians reported nationwide disruption of cell phone service and internet shutdowns. Incoming international calls were blocked in some neighborhoods in Tehran as anti-government protests entered their fourth day, continuing to swell, and to spread across Iran.

Crackdowns also began, as did government disinformation, with reports by semi-official news agencies claiming “Tehran is calm” and “only 200 are demonstrating.” But Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, a security deputy for the governor of Tehran, told the semi-official ILNA news agency that early Sunday 200 protesters were arrested the previous night in the Iranian capital.

“These individuals are now with the judiciary and some others have been freed out of clemency,” he claimed; but their true fate is impossible to discern.
Tens of thousands of protesters across the country have risen up against their government, however, chanting things like, “Let go of Palestine” and “Death to Hezbollah.” They are complaining about high unemployment, biting economic standards and the price the average Iranian has to pay for its government’s choice to support Syria, Hezbollah, Iraq and Yemen. 
At least 10 Iranian protesters were killed in the town of Dorud, located just a few miles southwest of Tehran.
Government officials claimed “armed foreign agents” were responsible for the murders, but eyewitnesses were quoted on the Twitter social networking site as saying a contingent of Islamic Republic security forces “flown in from Tehran” to Dorud killed the protesters.
The above video footage was posted by to the Telegram messaging service just before access to that and Twitter was blocked as well.
Earlier in the day on Sunday hundreds of students at Tehran University gathered to protest severe economic conditions in the country, and to call for the resignation of President Hassan Rouhani.
The Islamic Republic has blamed Israel, the United States and Britain for the protests. But demonstrators are pointing their fingers at the government for spending too much money on support for the Palestinian Authority and the Hezbollah terrorist organization, among others.
Iranian investment in regional hegemony is coming at the expense of domestic survival say the nation’s citizens.
Protesters have been tearing down pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – a capital offense – as well as pictures of Qassem Solemani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qods Force in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
U.S. President Donald Trump has so far been the only foreign leader other than Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bluntly speak out against the Iranian regime’s heavy-handed response to the protests.
Trump tweeted his support directly to the Iranian people, further infuriating the Tehran government, saying the “entire world understands the good people of Iran want change, and that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear most,” other than the military power of the United States.
“We are following reports of multiple peaceful protests by Iranian citizens in cities across the country,” State Dept. spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a briefing. “Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos. As President Trump has said, the longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are Iran’s own people.
“The United States strongly condemns the arrest of peaceful protesters….
“Secretary Tillerson reiterates the United States’ deep respect for the Iranian people. We call on all nations to stand with us in demanding the regime respect their basic human rights.”

Israeli officials call on residents of the coastal enclave to reject the machinations of the Iranian regime and choose a better 'future for your children'

After terrorists in Gaza fired three mortar shells at southern Israel on Friday, apparently to disrupt a ceremony honoring a fallen IDF soldier whose remains are being held captive in the coastal enclave, top Israeli officials have cast blame not only on Hamas, which rules the Strip, but also on Israel’s nemesis, Iran.
On social media and in interviews with news outlets, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz and the Israel Defense Forces have all pointed to the Islamic Republic as the source of rising tensions in the Gaza Strip.
Friday’s mortar fire was the latest attack against Israel by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip this month, which also saw a two-week period in which there were near daily rocket launches aimed at southern Israel.
Iran’s support for terrorist groups in the coastal enclave is, of course, nothing new. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been received funding from the Islamic Republic for decades, maintaining close ties with its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Hamas too has been turning more toward Tehran in recent years, particularly for its military wing, as it has been moving away from Saudi Arabia — or, more accurately, as Saudi Arabia has been moving away from it.
After the Iranians completely destroyed Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon and Syria, they are starting to do the exact same thing in Gaza
The comments from senior Israeli officials come as protesters in Iran rail against the country’s apparent focus on the wider Middle East region, rather than its domestic concerns. Iranian students chanted, “Never mind Palestine, think about us,” and “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran.”
With their comments, the Israeli ministers and military appeared to be trying to stir similar feelings among Palestinians, calling on them to consider their well-being.
“After the Iranians completely destroyed Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon and Syria, they are starting to do the exact same thing in Gaza,” Liberman said on Saturday night, in a Facebook video published by the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
The video, published in English, Hebrew and Arabic, was specifically directed toward a Palestinian audience.

“I suggest you think about your children, their future, and start pressing Hamas leaders to change direction. Right now, you’re on a flight to nowhere. If you change the direction, believe me, you will build, first and foremost, a good future for your children,” he said

“The heads of the regime in Tehran are not interested in the depressing reality in Gaza nor in the future of the children there. They care about their extremist ideology and hurting Israel as much as possible,” he said.
The defense minister also noted that while the vast majority of Gaza Strip residents only have access to electricity between four to six hours a day, the leaders of Hamas — Yahya Sinwar and Saleh al-Arouri — have power 24 hours a day.
Since becoming defense minister last year, Liberman has maintained a policy of “sticks and carrots” as it relates to the Palestinians. Regarding Gaza, where there is widespread unemployment, he has said that he would be prepared to allow residents of the Strip to work in Israel, if the security situation were calmer.
Speaking to Israel Radio, the intelligence minister also accused the Islamic Republic of effectively hijacking the Gaza Strip for its own means through its influence over the Hamas terrorist group.

“Iran and Hezbollah are trying to turn Gaza into Lebanon II, into south Lebanon B,” Katz said.
“We need to differentiate between the interests of Hamas and the interests of most of the people in Gaza,” he added.
Katz, who is minister of both intelligence and transportation, has long advocated for the construction of an artificial island off the coast of Gaza where a port can be opened in an attempt to make the Strip more independent.
Referring to Gaza as a “ticking time bomb,” he repeated his call for the off-shore port, saying it would relieve Israel of the onus of having to manage the land crossings and daily convoys of trucks bringing humanitarian aid and commercial goods into the coastal enclave.
Maintaining the same basic line of argument, the IDF also blamed Iran for supplying the terrorist group that launched the mortar shells — which it inaccurately referred to as rockets — and unnecessarily endangering the lives of Gaza citizens.
“The rockets were launched by a terror organization that used standard-grade Iranian weapons. This is a severe incident that proves once more how much these terror organizations despise the residents of Gaza & are willing to put them at risk of escalation over Iranian interests,” the army tweeted on Sunday.

U.S. - N Korea Closer To War Than Ever: Former U.S. Military Chief

The United States is now closer than it has ever been to a nuclear war with North Korea, a former top US military officer warned Sunday, saying he saw little prospect of a diplomatic solution.
Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, attributed the rising danger to Donald Trump's "incredibly disruptive" presidency.
"And in my view, an incredibly dangerous climate exists out there in that uncertainty with how this all ends up," he said on ABC's "This Week." "One in particular that is top of the list is North Korea."

"We're actually closer, in my view, to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we have ever been," he said, adding, "I don't see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point."
Mullen, who served as the top US military adviser to both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, questioned whether Trump can be constrained by US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster or White House chief of staff John Kelly.
"Will he follow through on his rhetoric? Or will we actually be able to get to a situation where it could be solved peacefully?" Mullen asked.
"I'm just more inclined to see over time that the rhetoric seems to be where the president is, and that will limit the constraining ability that both Jim Mattis and H.R. McMaster and John Kelly have," he said. 
Trump warned in a speech to the UN General Assembly in September that the United States "will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea" if forced to defend itself or its allies.
In August, he vowed to unleash "fire and fury" on North Korea if it continued to threaten the United States or its allies.
Pyongyang conducted its sixth nuclear test September 3 and, despite escalating sanctions, on Nov. 28 it test-launched an intercontinental missile capable of striking the United States.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who warned Sunday of a sharp increase in the risk of pre-emptive attack if North Korea conducts any more tests, said Trump had decided early on to deny North Korea the capability to strike the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile.
"2018 will be a year of opportunity and extreme danger," Graham said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
"Now, the Iranians are watching the way he engages with North Korea, and vice versa. So we've got a chance here to deliver some fatal blows to really bad actors in 2018. But if we blink, God help us all."

Iran Warns Protesters Against Pursuing Challenge To Leadership

The US State Department has issued a formal condemnation of the Iranian government following two days of economic protests centering in a handful of cities, calling the regime "a rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos" while announcing support for protesters. It fits a familiar script which seems to roll out when anyone protests for any reason in a country considered an enemy of the United States (whether over economic grievances or full on calling for government overthrow). 

The statement by spokesperson Heather Nauert, released late on Friday, further comes very close to calling for regime change in Iran when it asserts the following:

On June 14, 2017, Secretary Tillerson testified to Congress that he supports "those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of government. Those elements are there, certainly as we know." The Secretary today repeats his deep support for the Iranian people.

Though most current reports strongly suggest protests are being driven fundamentally by economic grievances, the US has already framed this week's events inside Iran as revolutionary in nature and as aiming for "transition of government". On Friday evening White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted the following statement:

Reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with the regime’s corruption and its squandering of the nation’s wealth to fund terrorism abroad. The Iranian government should respect their people’s rights including their right to express themselves. The world is watching.

The media is already promoting a regime change narrative
As we noted during our initial coverage of Thursday's protests, Israeli as well as Iranian opposition media commentators (and of course pundits in the US mainstream) have generally appeared giddy with excitement at the prospect that protests could spread inside Iran, potentially culminating in society-wide resistance and possible change in government. It goes without saying that Iran has been enemy #1 for the United States and Israel since the Islamic Revolution and embassy hostage crisis beginning in 1979. 
Consider for example this major Israeli international broadcast network, which in an English language interview segment covering the very beginnings of (relatively small and limited) protests Thursday quickly linked the Tehran government with use of chemical weapons in Syria, supporting the "biggest butcher in this region Bashar al-Assad", and facilitating the killing of civilians:

#Iran protests: this might be #Rouhani's chance to force the economic reform he's been long clamoring for, @MeirJa tells @talexander_i24
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) December 28, 2017

Simultaneously the resident "expert" presents the protesters as condemning these things while yearning for freedom and democracy. He can barely contain himself while repeating "It's spontaneous! It's spontaneous!... and could be more spontaneous! inspires people to go out more! ...Because it's spontaneous these two are combustible mixtures":

The protests in #Iran are 'completely spontaneous' - which is why @khamenei_irshould be worried, @MeirJa tells @talexander_i24
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) December 28, 2017

Other tweets and statements from the generally pro regime-change media and the experts which frequent their panels seem very eager to prematurely cast this as a 'revolution':

Iran warned of a tough crackdown on Sunday against demonstrators who pose one of the most audacious challenges to its clerical leaders since nationwide pro-reform unrest jolted the Islamist theocracy in 2009.

Police in Tehran fired water cannon to try to disperse demonstrators gathering in Ferdowsi Square in the center of the capital, according to video footage posted on social media, in an apparent fourth day of protests. 
Video posted online also showed a clash between protesters and police in the city of Khoramdareh in Zanjan province in the country’s northwest. There were also reports of protests in the cities of Sanandaj and Kermanshah in western Iran. 
Reuters was unable immediately to verify the authenticity of the footage. 
Tens of thousands of people have protested across the country since Thursday against the Islamic Republic’s unelected clerical elite and Iranian foreign policy in the region. They have also chanted slogans in support of political prisoners.
The demonstrators also shouted: “Reza Shah, bless your soul”. Such calls are evidence of a deep level of anger and break a taboo. The king ruled Iran from 1925 to 1941 and his Pahlavi dynasty was overthrown in a revolution in 1979 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic’s first leader. 
The protests are the biggest since unrest in 2009 that followed the disputed re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. 
Demonstrators denounce high prices, corruption and mismanagement. Unemployment stood at 12.4 percent in this fiscal year, up 1.4 points from the previous year. About 3.2 million Iranians are jobless, out of a total population of 80 million. 
The demonstrations are particularly troublesome for Rouhani’s government because he was elected on a promise to guarantee rights to freedom of expression and assembly.

Iran official claims ‘foreign agents’ killed 2 protesters

The Times of Israel is liveblogging Sunday’s developments as they unfold.

Iran protesters, riot police clash across Tehran

Iranian protesters and riot police are clashing across Tehran, according to unverified footage posted on social media.
Photos posted online show police using water cannons and tear gas to disperse the demonstrations.

Outside the capital, scattered protests are reported across the country.
At several of the rallies, demonstrators are said to be chanting: “No Gaza, No Lebanon, Our lives are devoted to Iran,” in protest of generous military aid by Tehran to various terror groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah.
Others are calling for Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to be deposed or killed.

Iran official claims ‘foreign agents’ killed protesters

An Iranian official claims the two protesters shot dead in Dorud during anti-regime demonstrations on Saturday night were killed by “foreign agents” and “enemies of the revolution.”
“Violent clashes broke out in the illegal demonstration in Dorud on Saturday and unfortunately two people were killed,” the deputy governor of Lorestan province, tells state TV, according to Reuters.
“No shots were fired by the police and security forces. We have found evidence of enemies of the revolution, Takfiri groups and foreign agents in this clash,” says Habibollah Khojastehpour.

The Anti-Semitic UN And The 'Paper' Civil War In The U.S.: A Conflict Between The Political Class And The People

Jeffress: 'UN is overwhelmingly anti-Semitic'

Christian leader Robert Jeffress is calling out the United Nations for its consistently blatant anti-Semitic policies over the years – noting that it gives virtually all other nations of the world mere lip service for their atrocities.

Jeffress – who is the senior pastor of the 13,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas – commended the commander-in-chief for standing up to the U.N. and the global community by sending the loud and clear message of moving the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“Thank you for having the guts to do what no other president has done in officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Jeffress addressed the White House party, as recalled in his column on Townhall. “Mr. President, you are on the right side of history and the right side of God.” 

U.N. opposing Israel and God
Reflecting on the sentiments he shared at the nation’s capital, Jeffress elaborated on why he has tagged the global agency as being anti-Israel virtually every time it meddles in matters in the Middle East.
“That the United Nations is on the wrong side of history and would condemn President Trump’s declaration about Jerusalem was completely expected – and totally illogical,” the nationally syndicated TV and radio host expressed. “Historically, Jerusalem has been the recognized capital of Israel since 1000 B.C. From a geopolitical perspective, the United Nations recognizes the right of every other nation to designate its own capital. Why not Israel?”
Jeffress was one of the first to commend the president for slashing America’s funding of the U.N. by hundreds of millions of dollars because of its anti-Israel policies – ultimately seeing the move as the defunding of a global anti-Semitic campaign.
“The only logical explanation for the U.N.’s condemnation of U.S. policy about Israel is that the United Nations is overwhelmingly anti-Semitic,” the 24-time best-selling author reasoned. “President Trump is right to oppose the financial excess, corruption and growing anti-Semitism in the United Nations by cutting U.S. contributions $285 million – nearly 25 percent – in 2018.”
He went on to clarify his depiction of the U.N. as being an agency that works to spread racism around the globe.
“It is clear that the organization – which receives nearly a quarter of its budget from the United States alone (far more than any other country) – is increasingly a safe place for pure anti-Semitism to grow,” Jeffress added. “Its opposition to Israel has gone far beyond political opposition; it is a racist organization.”

U.N.’s shameful legacy of embracing hate and violence
Jeffress, who hosts the Pathway to Victory program on more than 900 radio stations in 195 countries, says that the absurd policies and actions  of the U.N. – which he noted as being well-documented by UN Watch – are virtually limitless.
“It’s unthinkable that Turkey is now on the executive board of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which is responsible for promoting and protecting cultural sites around the world,” the outspoken pastor pointed out. “This summer alone, Turkey seized [dozens of] ancient Christian churches and properties, not to mention the countless schools and universities affected by Erdogan’s vicious crackdown on human rights, schools and cultural institutions.”
Turkey – which is nearly 100-percent Muslim – has a long record of U.N. support and anti-Semitic and anti-Christian maneuverings, with some of its latest atrocities reaching global headlines.
“Tensions are high among Turkey’s oldest indigenous community over fears that a recent land grab by the government could lead to its cultural extinction,” Fox News reported this summer. “Turkish authorities recently seized about 50 properties – monasteries, cemeteries and churches – that belonged to the Syriac Orthodox Church, claiming the ownership deeds had lapsed.”
Turkey’s campaign to eradicate everything in and around its borders that has anything to do with biblical history was witnessed at the time.
“Church and community leaders in the southeastern region known as Tur Abdin, which translates to ‘The Mountain of the Servants of God,’ say that among the properties seized were two functioning monasteries built some 1,500 years ago and that their loss will be a crushing blow their culture’s survival,” Fox News’ Perry Chiaramonte noted.
Philos Project Executive Director Robert Nicholson – who heads the advocacy group assisting Christian minorities in the Middle East – indicated that the Turkish government’s abusive campaigns should be condemned … making the U.N.’s recent decision to include the rogue nation on its UNESCO executive board unfathomable to many.
"Erdogan's government is working to consolidate power and control over the country, especially its restive southeastern region where Kurds and Christians make up large parts of the population,” the Middle East analyst told Fox News. “In the case of the Syriac Christians, Erdogan is using legal pretexts to seize and redistribute lands and churches that have been owned by Christians for over a millennium. Christians haven't always faced pressure from the Turkish government or even from Erdogan's Justice and Development Party. But Turkish politics are changing, and it's still unclear how minority groups like the Syriacs will fare in the end."

Condemning a human rights champion, rewarding human rights abusers
Jeffress noted the hypocrisy of the U.N.’s decision to condemn Israel, which has an extensive track record providing humanitarian aid for its Middle East neighbors (including Syria) and nations overseas (including Haiti, Japan and the U.S.) – while embracing serious human rights violators.
“[T]he United Nations’ Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) now includes the nations of Venezuela, Cuba and the Philippines – all nations that are notorious for their violations of human rights,” the nationally acclaimed conservative commentator explained. “They also currently placed Syria – a virtual protectorate of Iran – on a committee focused on ‘decolonization,’ and they once named Zimbabwe’s brutal former dictator, Robert Mugabe, a ‘goodwill ambassador’ for the World Health Organization (WHO). These facts sound more like farce than fact – but the examples just go on and on; it would take pages and pages even to summarize them.”

In fact, UN Watch recently sent out the sobering warning that even though the stated mission of UNESCO is supposedly to promote education, science and culture, it has become “hijacked by dictatorships.” The U.N. watchdog group then listed off five major reasons why Israel and the U.S. pulled out of UNESCO:
  1. Anti-Israeli Obsession: Between 2009-2014, UNESCO adopted 46 resolutions against Israel; 1 on Syria; and none on Iran, Sudan, North Korea, or any other country in the world. Betraying its mission to protect world heritage and culture, UNESCO repeatedly denies the ancient Jewish heritage and culture of the holy cities Jerusalem and Hebron, which was this year declared a World Heritage site of “Palestine.”
  2. Electing Syria’s Assad to Human Rights Committee: In 2011, UNESCO elected Syria’s Assad regime to its human rights committee. When UN Watch exposed the outrage and launched a protest campaign, the U.S. and UK were embarrassed and tried to remove Syria – but failed to get enough votes to do so.
  3. Glorifying Violence: In 2013, UNESCO enshrined “The Life and Works of Ernestor Che Guevara“ in its “Memory of the World Register” – even though Che Guevara led the first firing squads of the Cuban Revolution, and founded Cuba’s ‘labor camp’ system that would later be used to incarcerate gays, dissidents and AIDS victims. President Obama’s representative demanded that UNESCO’s program not “not be used as a tool to glorify or legitimize violence.” His objection was ignored.
  4. Naming Prizes for Dictators: UNESCO created a $3 million prize in 2008 named for and funded by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo – the brutal and corrupt dictator of Equitorial Guinea. His state radio announced that Obiang “can decide to kill” without anyone calling him to account because he is in “permanent contact” with God, “who gives him this strength.” In addition, UNESCO created an education prize in the name of, and sponsored by, the despot of Bahrain – the “King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize.”
  5. “World Philosophy Day” in Tehran In a 2010 address, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova spoke of her efforts over two years to sponsor a “Philosophy Day” in Tehran – despite Iran’s horrific record of repression and censorship after the fraudulent elections of 2009. Absurdly, Bokova said “I hope this will be a major opportunity for free intellectual debates around the topics.” Eventually UNESCO was forced to cancel the event.

The U.N. list against Israel goes on …
Jeffress also highlighted telling statistics that further piles on the U.N.’s track record of targeting Israel for condemnation, while making light of other nations’ grievous offences.
“The U.N. human rights council from 2006 to 2017 condemned Israel on 68 occasions, but only issued another 67 condemnations over the entire 10 years for all the other nations of the world, combined,” Jeffress noted. “The U.N. General Assembly criticized individual nations 97 times from 2012 to 2015, of which 83 were against Israel. In 2017 alone, the U.N. voted against Israel 21 times, and only voted to condemn Iran, Russia, North Korea, Myanmar and Syria, once.”
The conservative Christian personality is thankful that the U.S. now has a president – after eight years under former President Barack Obama’s pro-Palestinian foreign policy – who will stand strong with America’s longtime ally in the Middle East. An educated guess as to why Trump slashed U.N. funding and support was then given.
“The only logical conclusion is the United Nations has become the leading sponsor of anti-Semitic rhetoric and action in the entire world,” Jeffress observed. “President Trump is right to condemn this body, and the United States Congress needs to follow the president’s courageous example.”
With Israel being situated in the midst of the Middle East’s volatile “Powder Keg,” Jeffress sent a strong message to the U.N. that it must cease and desist its anti-Semitic onslaught against the only democracy in the entire region.
“Israel is also surrounded by enemies who not only believe Israel does not have a right to their land, they don’t believe Israel has the right even to exist,” Jeffress stressed. “The United States should not be convening those enemies to spew their anti-Semitism in New York City, which has the largest Jewish population in the United States.”
Words of praise were reserved for Trump’s unprecedented boldness in his recent stand for Israel and against the U.N.
“I thank God that President Trump – unlike any other U.S. president – is insisting that the United Nations no longer act as the international facilitator of such blatant anti-Semitism,” Jeffress concluded.” President Trump's willingness to financially drain this expanding cesspool of racism may be his most consequential global decision.”

A last ditch effort by the establishment to wrest control from the president.
By Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow who focuses on Islamic terrorism and the radical left.

The original civil war was fought by farmhands and factory workers, freed slaves and young boys turned soldiers; the new civil war is being fought by lawyers in blue or gray suits not with bullets, but with bullet points.
From the Mueller investigation to Federal judges declaring that President Trump doesn’t have the right to control immigration policy or command the military, from political sabotage at the DOJ by Obama appointees like Sally Yates to Patagonia’s lawsuit over national monuments, the cold civil war set off by the left’s rejection of the 2016 election results has been a paper war largely waged by lawyers.
“The biggest threat to New Yorkers right now is the federal government,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of New York recently declared. The radical leftist pol who had once vowed to do everything possible to elect Hillary Clinton was explaining his hundred lawsuits against the government on everything from net neutrality to the travel ban meant to keep out the Islamic terrorists running over tourists near Ground Zero and bombing commuters in the tunnels off Times Square.
Islamic terrorists have killed thousands of people in New York City in the last two decades. Net neutrality’s current death toll hovers around zero. The Federal government is far less of a threat to New Yorkers than their own government which insists that Islamic terrorists should be able to kill them. But it is a great threat to a class of political lawyers whose ranks include AG Schneiderman, Hawaii’s Judge Derrick Watson, Mueller’s team, Sally Yates, the ACLU and countless other #resistance combatants.
The blatant secessionism of the AG’s premise is no longer extraordinary. Not when California’s Jerry Brown tours the world signing independent environmental treaties. Schneiderman is one of a number of blue state attorney generals who have decided that their primary focus shouldn’t be enforcing the law, but resisting the Federal government. But Scheiderman is also articulating the central tenet of the new #resistance which, despite Antifa’s antics, is more dedicated to legal sabotage than actual violence.
It’s still a paper civil war. For now.
The loss of the two elected branches of government has forced the left to default to the unelected third. 
Like AG Schneiderman, the left’s legal civil war appears to reject the authority of the Federal government. But despite the posturing, blue staters aren’t serious about seceding. Nor have they become newfound converts to the rights of states to go their own way when they disagree with D.C.

New York and California’s #resistance apparatchiks aren’t rejecting the authority of Federal judges. They’re turning to them and relying on them. Instead they’re rejecting the authority of elected Federal officials. Their secession isn’t Federal, it’s democratic. They want a strong central government. They just aren’t willing to allow the American people to decide who gets to run it.
That’s what the civil war is about. 
Will the American people govern themselves? Or will Mueller, Schneiderman, Watson, Yates and ten thousand other elites with law degrees be allowed to turn elections into a meaningless farce?

Federal judges have seized previously unimaginable amounts of power by not only blocking orders that had always been considered an essential part of presidential authority on flimsy premises that when dissected amount to a critique of President Trump’s character (not to mention the sovereign entitlement of the University of Hawaii to set national immigration policy for the entire country based on its urgent need for Syrian grad students), but by demanding that agencies under the control of the President of the United States enact their orders, such as accepting transgender military recruits.
The absurd outcomes of these rulings, that the University of Hawaii can set national immigration policy, but not the President of the United States, and that fitness to serve in the military can be determined by a Federal judge, but not by the military or the commander in chief, are only an irrational side effect of a conflict between the elected branches of government and an unelected class of political lawyers.

The Mueller investigation has to be seen in the context of a battle between the democratic powers of the people to choose their own representatives and the lawyers who actually run the government. 
Elections are being replaced by investigations and litigation as the engines of government. You don’t need to win an election to investigate elected officials. You don’t need public support to sue either.

Government by litigation and investigation shifts power away from voters to lawyers. What was meant to be a last resort for redressing serious violations instead becomes the primary test for holding political office. When investigation and litigation become more powerful tools than en election, then a politician must court the political legal class ahead of the country’s voters and put his obligations to them first.
That intended outcome is also the cause of the conflict.

President Trump refused to put the political class ahead of the voters. The legal civil war is being fought to reaffirm the centrality of the establishment over the voters. The civil war is a conflict between the political class and the people. It’s a struggle over the tools of government being waged with those tools. 
Populism isn’t always a threat to the establishment. Obama’s populism didn’t threaten the establishment because its purpose was to reaffirm its power. Hope and Change just meant building a coalition that would vote for more government power in exchange for political goodies. But Trump’s populism challenges the existence of the establishment and its ability to distribute those goodies.
Politicians often run against the political machine. But most just want to pull the levers. Trump has challenged its power and its existence. And that is what set off the civil war. 

Legal conflict is the last stage before physical conflict. 

The lawyers’ war is a last ditch effort by the establishment to wrest physical control of the government from President Trump. Unable to give the orders as the representatives of the people, the left is asserting every possible valid and invalid legal stratagem to run the government anyway. And to run President Trump out of town.
If its legal gambit fails, the left will default fully to mass protests, street violence and terrorism.
But the beauty of the legal gambit is that it allows the left to make common cause with establishment non-radicals like Mueller or the FBI’s Strzok who disprove of President Trump without sharing the left’s larger political agenda. 

A civil war fought by lawyers is cleaner and less ugly than one fought with bombs and bullets. If President Trump can survive the lawyers’ war, his opposition will be split between radicals who support violence and an establishment that wants to keep things running. 
That is the Mueller test.
If the Democrats can’t sweep into office on the investigation’s coattails, the whole thing dies with a whimper. As Trump reshapes the judiciary, the judicial activism will matter less. The lawyers’ war will either end with the next election. Or it will begin in earnest. And only voter turnout will decide that.
Meanwhile the civil war continues. It’s a civil war fought with paperwork. But its outcome will determine whether the “government of the people, by the people, for the people” that President Lincoln invoked in the Gettysburg Address will thrive or “perish from the earth.”
Governments are run by bullets and paper, by force and process. Today’s civil war is still a paper war. But if the paper civil war fails, the rest of it may be fought the same way as the original civil war.