The US Government is investigating a series of incidents in Vienna, Austria, involving its diplomats and other administrative officials.
Since Joe Biden took over the US presidency in January, more than 20 officials have reported symptoms similar to “Havana Syndrome,” a mysterious brain disease that affected US diplomats in Cuba and China in 2016 and 2017.
The most recent cases, recorded in the Austrian capital, Vienna, were released last Friday by the “New Yorker” magazine and later confirmed by the US State Department, which said it was “vigorously investigating”.
Vienna has long been a hub of diplomatic activity and has a reputation for being a hub of espionage, particularly during the Cold War. The city is currently hosting indirect negotiations between Iran and the US to try to “resurrect” the 2015 nuclear deal.
Cases of the disease have been reported in other parts of the world, but US authorities say the numbers in Vienna are bigger than in any other city besides Havana.
Victims of Havana Syndrome have reported a varied array of symptoms and physical sensations, including sudden dizziness, nausea, pressure and headaches, sometimes accompanied by “pervasive directional noise.” In some cases, they even reported being able to “enter” and “exit” these sensations by physically moving the body.
Some have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries and continue to suffer from debilitating headaches and other health problems.
In a statement, the Austrian Foreign Ministry said it was “working together with the US authorities” to unravel the mystery.
Between November 2016 and August 2017, US and Canadian diplomats complained of a variety of symptoms, ranging from dizziness, loss of balance, hearing loss and anxiety to something they described as “cognitive fog”.
The syndrome has no explanation, but US scientists believe it is likely caused by targeted microwave radiation.
The US accused Cuba of carrying out “sonic attacks”. The country flatly denied it, but the incident increased tension between the two nations.
A 2019 study found “brain abnormalities” in diplomats who fell ill, but Cuba rejected the report.
In June of this year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a comprehensive review of the causes of the disease.
Facebook claims to have unmasked and stopped an Iran-controlled espionage operation on its website. Around 200 accounts kept under false identities in the online network as part of this operation have been removed, as the anti-espionage boss of the online group, Mike Dvilyanski, announced on Thursday. These accounts were designed to siphon off data and information from employees in the defense and aerospace industries in the United States and Europe.
The backers used Facebook to gather information about their target persons, to lure them to websites outside of Facebook and to infect their computers with spy software. It is difficult to assess how successful this operation, called “tortoiseshell” (turtle shell), has been. Yet it had all the characteristics of a “resource-rich” campaign.
According to Dvilyanski, some of the espionage software is said to have been developed by the Mahak Rayan Afras company based in Tehran. This company has connections to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, said the Facebook expert.
Lots of tension
Iran is repeatedly blamed for cyber attacks by American authorities and companies. Relations between the US and Iran had deteriorated significantly under former President Donald Trump. Trump got out of the international nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 and had massive sanctions imposed on the country. In response, Tehran gradually withdrew from its nuclear deal obligations.
US President Joe Biden, who has been in office since January, has been open to reviving the 2015 agreement, but negotiations are currently underway in Vienna. Biden makes a precondition, however, that Tehran fully complies with its obligations under the nuclear agreement. Iran, in turn, makes a new version of the agreement a condition that the US sanctions are lifted.
Dhe New York Prosecutor’s Office has charged four Iranian intelligence officials or informants with the planned kidnapping of a US human rights activist. They wanted to kidnap the American woman of Iranian origin, who lives in Brooklyn, and abduct her to Iran, where she was threatened with prosecution as a critic of the Iranian regime, as the Justice Department said on Tuesday (local time).
The four suspects are in Iran, it said. A fifth person who lives in California is alleged to have helped fund the venture. The Federal Police FBI thwarted the plan in time, it said. It is the right of US citizens to exercise their freedom of expression and to stand up for human rights without having to fear foreign intelligence services, the prosecutor said.
The Justice Department did not name the person who was about to be abducted. According to media reports, it was the author and activist Masih Alinejad. They spread via their verified Twitter account also several reports and comments identifying her as the target of the planned kidnapping.
Vienna – The Greens have clearly criticized Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen’s congratulations for the new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. “With all the importance of bilateral relations: This unnecessary revaluation of the inhuman and criminal regime and its protagonists in Iran is rightly disconcerting for many,” said the foreign policy spokeswoman for the Greens, Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic of the “press” (Wednesday edition).
“For me, single-handed congratulations are difficult to understand,” commented the member of the National Council on the decision of the long-time federal spokesman for the Greens, who was elected to the Hofburg in 2016 with high financial support from today’s ruling party.
Raisi extremely controversial
The arch-conservative Raisi is extremely controversial because, as Iran’s head of justice, he is responsible for numerous death sentences. This earned him the nickname “Butcher of Tehran” among critics. Congratulations to newly elected counterparts are part of diplomatic practice and also common among countries and politicians who otherwise have little in common.
Correspondingly, arguments were made to the “press” in the presidential office and the foreign ministry. The turquoise MEP Lukas Mandl, however, defended Van der Bellen. “I respect it when a president is congratulated for office,” said the ÖVP mandate of the newspaper. In the Hofburg it was emphasized that Van der Bellen did not expressly congratulate his counterpart on the election – which was extremely controversial due to the exclusion of numerous candidates – but on the “appointment”.
According to the newspaper, the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier did not congratulate the new Iranian President. Of course, Austria plays a special role vis-à-vis Iran, as the international talks on the Iranian nuclear program are taking place in Vienna. It is probably no coincidence that Van der Bellen also used his congratulations to Raisi to point out that Austria was “very happy” to be available to host the follow-up talks on the Iranian nuclear program. (WHAT)
The head of the World Health Organization has warned that wealthy countries are too slow in sharing vaccines with low-income countries to prevent the spread of the “delta variant” of COVID, risking millions of lives.
According to The Guardian, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said vaccine sharing was “just a trickle outstripping options” after it was revealed that the first-discovered Delta variant in India is now present in at least 98 countries.
The WHO Director-General’s warning came when Dame Sarah Gilbert, an Oxford professor who led the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine development team, called for caution about vaccination proposals for children in the UK. “We have to balance what we think about vaccinating children in high-income countries with vaccinating the rest of the world because we need to stop transmission of this virus around the world,” she told the Observer. “I am very worried about vaccines for the rest of the world because we need to stop the transmission of the virus and its further development. It can give us a new option that will be really difficult to deal with. ”
Dr. Ghebreyesus said world leaders must ensure that at least 10% of people in all countries are vaccinated by the end of September to protect vulnerable people and healthcare workers.
“Option Delta is dangerous and continues to evolve and change, which requires constant evaluation and careful adjustment of the public health response,” said the director general of WHO. – Delta has been found in at least 98 countries and is spreading rapidly in countries with low and high vaccination coverage. The world must share protective equipment, oxygen, tests, treatments and vaccines in an equitable manner. ” By July next year, 70% of people in every country should be vaccinated, he said: “This is the best way to slow the pandemic, save lives and spur a truly global economic recovery, and prevent further dangerous options from prevailing.”
This point of view was supported by Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Oxford: “Delta is going to go through the EU in much the same way as here. Fortunately, they too are vaccinating at a very fast pace and, like the UK, probably just got out of the point of maximum danger, although the summer is going to be tough. But because so few people are vaccinated in developing countries, their point of maximum danger lies ahead. Once Delta is operational, it will overwhelm healthcare systems very quickly if vaccination progress does not improve. The vast majority of health care systems will experience a disproportionate rise in deaths as oxygen runs out, health workers fail, and other care is cut off. More thought needs to be given to whether vaccination of young children in rich countries is as important and ethically justifiable as vaccinating key workers and the most vulnerable populations in developing countries. ”
According to Professor James Naismith, 3 billion vaccines have been distributed so far, but low-income countries need new manufacturing centers: “I encourage companies such as BioNTech, Pfizer and Moderna to share their know-how so that we can accelerate the development of a new products. The sooner we start to create more vaccination centers and increase the global vaccination capacity, the sooner we can reduce the number of deaths. ”
Last week, the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organization joined WHO in calling for “urgent action” to increase vaccine supplies. They also asked the G20 group of countries to step up efforts to meet vaccine goals.
Scientists have highlighted the urgency of vaccination around the world because existing vaccines are already less effective against the Delta variant than other coronavirus variants, and Delta is significantly more transmitted.
David Bauer, team leader at the Francis Crick Institute’s RNA Virus Replication Laboratory, says: “From a virological perspective, it’s very clear: The Delta variant will supersede all other variants that exist today. It took him about eight weeks to supplant the Alpha in the United Kingdom and is now well on its way to supplanting the Beta in South Africa, and you see similar exponential trends in the United States. We need to vaccinate everyone as quickly as possible and then identify the groups that need revaccination the most … We need everyone to get vaccinated now. We are not all protected until the whole world is protected. This may sound idealistic, but it is not: there is a heartless and selfish motive behind it all. “
US President Joe Biden warned that while COVID-19 is receding in America, the latest variant of the coronavirus is of particular concern to those who have not yet been vaccinated – while the president’s goals for 70% of US adults to receive at least one vaccination for the 4th of July, did not work out.
Over the past week, the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States has jumped 10% due to the spread of the highly contagious variant of Delta, especially where vaccination rates are low.
“I am concerned that people who have not been vaccinated have the potential to catch this variant and pass it on to other people who have not been vaccinated,” Biden said Friday. “I don’t care if there’s going to be a major outbreak … another epidemic across the country. But I am concerned that lives will be lost. “
The vast majority of Americans dying from COVID-19 are not vaccinated, according to public health officials. And the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, says areas with low vaccination rates are becoming hotbeds of new infections even as the situation in the country as a whole improves.
Nearly 25% of new infections in the US were associated with the “hyper-transmitted” variant of Delta, first identified in India, up from 6% in June.
As of July 1, 66.8% of US adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In total, 54.6% of all Americans received one or more shots.
The Delta option is causing great concern in Iran as well. Islamic Republic President Hassan Rouhani has expressed concerns that the country will face a new wave of COVID-19 due to the Delta variant outbreak. “There are concerns that we are on track for a fifth wave across the country,” Rouhani said at a meeting of the Iranian anti-virus working group, warning the public to be wary of the Delta variant infiltrating Iran.
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 84,000 people out of more than 3.2 million infections in Iran, according to official figures, which, according to authorities, do not include all cases.
The Iranian Ministry of Health has classified the capital Tehran and nine other cities in Tehran province as “red” – the highest category on the Iranian coronavirus risk scale. The southern and southeastern provinces of Fars, Hormozgan, Kerman and Sistan-Baluchistan are now also classified as “red”. In the “red zones” all shops must remain closed, except for those deemed necessary, including grocery stores and pharmacies.
See also: An explanation for the “long-term COVID” has been found: changes in blood cells
The Lebanese singer Elissa sparked controversy on the communication sites between a welcome and a critic when she responded to a tweet criticizing her on “Twitter” by saying, “I mean electronic flies by saying that they are not easy to help me.
She wrote: “With this account is fake, I mean electronic flies by saying it is not easy to be my help, we have seen the glory of the days of Saudi Arabia, and we see the misfortunes of the days of Iran!”
Elissa had previously tweeted on her account: “I am a Lebanese Christian Maronite, and the words of a moderate Muslim cleric represent me 100 times more than the words of a fanatical and extremist Christian cleric who is out of reality.
I am a Lebanese Maronite Christian, and the words of a moderate Muslim cleric represent me 100 times more than the words of a fanatical, extremist, and out of reality Christian cleric. The top of the prayer is not suitable for anyone who is not #It_timeصار
Elissa’s response sparked the interaction of her followers, a number of whom expressed their admiration for her praise of Saudi Arabia and its role in Lebanon.
And a tweet said, “Saudi Arabia was extending its green hand to the people and the Lebanese government, when the Lebanese official was honest and rehabilitated Lebanon and others with Saudi money, Lebanon’s economy and tourism were flourishing.”
And she added, “But when the Lebanese official was lost, Saudi Arabia raised its support after learning that Saudi money is being used to mobilize Hezbollah.”
And a tweeter said, “God returns Lebanon to its Arab axis, restores its glory, Beirut returns to its best days, and restores security and safety to the free Lebanese people, far from all prone to the axis of evil, Iran and others… I wish they had the text of your patriotism.”
Lebanon currently lives without a government, and since the outbreak of the crisis in the fall of 2019, ranked among the most severe since 1850 according to the World Bank, the Lebanese pound has lost more than 95% of its value against the dollar.
May God return Lebanon to its Arab axis, return its glory, Beirut return to its best days, and restore security and safety to the free Lebanese people, far from all those prone to the axis of evil, Iran and others 🙏🏼 I wish they had a text of your patriotism ❤️
The price of the dollar has been fixed at 1,507 pounds since 1997, but the price of the dollar has now reached 18,000 pounds.
In addition, these crises coincided with a rise in unemployment and inflation, a cut in a large number of medicines, and a rise in the prices of mostly imported foodstuffs, which led to the acceleration of the spread of poverty on a large scale, so that half of the population now lives below the poverty line, according to the United Nations.
A UNICEF survey stated that “economic stagnation is only one of the many crises afflicting the country, which is reeling under the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic and the results of the two massive bombings that ravaged the Port of Beirut in August 2020, in addition to the ongoing political instability. Rapid support is rising at a record speed.
He stated that “the World Bank described what is currently happening in Lebanon as one of the three largest economic collapses that have emerged since the mid-nineteenth century,” noting that “what was highlighted by the UNICEF survey, is that children are the easiest prey to the deep catastrophe and often bear the brunt of it.”
The bombingAmericans perpetrated last night in border areas between Siria e Iraq, who have left at least eleven deads between Shiite civilians and militiamen, mark a new peak of tension Come in Washington and Tehran for the actions of the Iraqi militias on both sides of the border with the support of Iran.
Just four months after a similar action by the american aviation in Syrian territory and in full negotiations so that United States and Iran go back to the nuclear deal, F-16 fighters of the US Air Forces carried out two bombings in Syria and one en Iraq.
VICTIMS ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER
In Al Bukamal, in the eastern Syrian province of Deir al Zur, the attack killed a 9-year-old boy, five members of the group of Iraqi militiass mainly Shiites Popular Crowd and a seventh person who has not yet been identified, a report to Efe syrian military font who requested anonymity.
The projectiles they reached an operations center of la Popular Crowd slocated just a kilometer from the border with the neighbor Iraq, according to the military source.
For its part, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights expanded the alleged radius of scope of the action by stating that a weapons warehouse and a military position of that armed formation were reached in Syrian territory, dwhere you fight on the side of the president Bachar al-Asad.
According to a statement from the NGO, based in the United Kingdomo and a wide network of collaborators in the field, seven dead on that side of the divide belonged to the ranks of the Popular crowd.
In Iraqi territory, four militiamen died, according to the report itself. armed group, acting in coordination with ordinary Iraqi forces under the command of the army and with the approval of the Executive.
“At 02:00 in the morning of Monday, the american aviation It targeted three positions of the Popular Crowd forces (14th and 46th brigades) at a distance of 13 kilometers from the Iraqi border andn the Al Qaim region “in western Iraq, said in a statement the general direction of media of the Popular Crowd.
In a statement, the Kataeb Said al Shuhadá militia confirmed that there were casualties in its ranks, although it did not specify the death toll, and threatened take revenge for this attack, which is the latest in a series of blows inflicted by Washington at Shiite militias since the end of 2019.
BIDEN’S SECOND BOMBING
According to the version ofthe Pentágono, that did not offer a balance of victims, the air attack was ordered by the president, Joe Biden, and it was a “precision” action of a defensive nature against installations of armed groups backed by Tehran.
See: Irak denounces attacks against Iranian militias on its territory
Washington argued that pro-Iranian militias, among which it cited Iraqis Kataeb Hezbollah and Kataeb Said al Shuhada, have been launching from these points attacks with drones against positions and American soldiers in Iraq.
Al Bukamal was already the object at the end of last February of a very similar action by the US aviation, which bombed positions and a shipment of weapons from the Popular Crowd, with a balance of victims thatIt ranged from one dead to 22, according to different sources.
US President Joe Biden ordered bombing this Sunday night against bases used by Iranian-backed militias along the Iraq-Syrian border, in response to increased drone attacks against US interests in Iraq .
The information was advanced in a press release from the US Department of Defense, cited by CNN.
“The targets were selected because these facilities are used by Iran-backed militias that are involved in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks against US personnel and facilities in Iraq. weapons in two locations in Syria. and one location in Iraq, both close to the border between those countries,” said Pentagon press secretary John Kirby. Quoted by Al Jazeera, the Syrian state news agency, SANA, reports that a child was killed and that at least three other people were injured.
The US now has 2,500 troops in Iraq, deployed as part of an international coalition to fight the Islamic State. Al Jazeera.
Remember that this is not the first attack carried out by the Joe Biden administration. The first action came in February, when an attack hit a site in Syria used by pro-Iran militias in response to attacks on US forces in that region.
The ultra-conservative president-elect of Iran, Ibrahim Raisi, whom Israel defines as the “Butcher from Tehran“He has already outlined the future of his” hard-line “government that will begin in August: there will be no summit with Joe Biden, he will be intransigent on the nuclear and ballistic missile program and will continue to support the armed militias of the Middle East.
Raisi, winner of the elections held on June 19, will take office in August as the country holds negotiations to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal with which it pledged to limit its atomic activities in exchange for relief from economic sanctions against its country.
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“In his first statements as president-elect, he made it clear that he would not negotiate directly with the United States and that it should be Biden who would return unconditionally to the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan about the Iranian nuclear program, “the Argentine analyst told TN.com.ar Luciano Zaccara Research professor at the Center for Gulf Studies at Qatar University and director of the Political and Electoral Observatory of the Arab and Muslim World.
This agreement was signed in Vienna on July 14, 2015 with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) plus Germany. But in May 2018, the then US president Donald Trump unilaterally announced its withdrawal from that treaty and the reestablishment of tough sanctions on Tehran.
The complaints were mutual and repetitive: Trump and Israel accused Iran of secretly wanting to acquire atomic weapons, Tehran denied it and blamed the Israelis for sabotaging some of its uranium enrichment facilities. And the burden of sanctions then fell on the Iranian people.
“Iran has always maintained the same narrative regarding its nuclear program: that it has the inalienable right to have a complete cycle of nuclear production for civilian use within the framework of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and under the supervision of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency, dependent on the UN) ”, said Zaccara.
He added: “The negotiations in Vienna are taking place because Iran’s own supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has authorized it. It is to be hoped that if there is a satisfactory agreement during the mandate of the outgoing president, Hasan Rohani, it will be respected by Raisi, who would not have to negotiate directly with the United States to achieve a nuclear agreement.
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The Butcher of Tehran
In his first press conference as president-elect, Raisi was questioned about his role in a mass slaughter of political prisoners in 1988, at the end of the Iraq-Iran war. In response, the until now head of the Judicial Power Iranian declared himself a “human rights defender”.
But Israel and Amnesty International do not think the same. The new Israeli Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, said that “the new president of Iran, known as the Butcher from Tehran, it’s a extremist responsible for the death of thousands of Iranians. He is committed to nuclear ambitions of the regime and with its campaign of global terror ”.
International Amnesty he was not far behind. He asked to investigate the president-elect “for crimes against humanity such as murder, enforced disappearance and torture ”against left-wing militants, most of them from the Organization of the People’s Mujahideen of Iran, during the years after the Islamic Revolution of 1979.
“We continue to ask that Ebrahim Raisi be investigated for his involvement in past and present crimes against international law,” claimed the organization, which accused the president-elect of having been a member of an official body popularly known in Iran as the Death Commission, in charge of deciding the fate of thousands of opposition prisoners arrested in 1988.
Raisi, 61, who defines himself as “hoyatoleslam”, a lower clerical title than the ayatollah in status and privileges, always denied his responsibility in the facts. The murders still represent today the biggest political purge in the modern history of the country, although the number of victims – whose figures in thousands vary according to different sources – was never specified. For Israel they were no less than 30,000 people.
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What will be its real power
Raisi is a member of the Assembly of Experts charged with electing the supreme leader and was a former attorney general. Will succeed in office Hasán Rohani, a reformer who opted for greater international openness and an expansion of individual freedoms, but who collided with Trump’s intransigence, his unilateral breakdown of the nuclear agreement and a renewed bilateral confrontation. Rohani had beaten Raisi in the 2017 presidential elections.
For Zaccara, “if his ultimate goal is to become Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s successor in the leadership of the Republic, Raisi will need to carry out a more pragmatic domestic policy, avoiding taking more restrictive measures with a society that has gone through harsh unilateral sanctions from the United States and the devastating economic effects produced by the pandemic ”.
“However, and even without knowing the members of his ministerial cabinet, it is difficult to predict what his social, economic or cultural agenda will be,” he said.
And he added: “The presidency is relatively powerful within the Iranian political system, but it also depends on the person occupying the position, his support within the political elite, popular support and his international prestige.”
“For the moment, Raisi has the support of Supreme Leader Khamenei, the Guardian Council, and the Revolutionary Guard, who explicitly congratulated the winner. This does not mean that he will rule without opposition from other conservative sectors, but it will have less difficulties to impose its political agenda with the support of Parliament and other non-elective institutions in the country ”, he analyzed.
The great internal challenge: economy and coronavirus
In his dialogue with TN.com.ar, Zaccara said that Raisi will run into a tough situation derived from the North American sanctions and the pandemic.
“The combined effect of the unilateral sanctions reimposed by Trump in 2018 and the effects of the pandemic, which include the reduction of domestic economic activity and the fall in exports and oil prices, brought about an unprecedented economic crisis,” he said. .
According to the analyst, the outgoing president “Rohani could not respond” to this emergency and now “Raisi will have to respond quickly and effectively if he wants to avoid popular protests” such as those that broke out in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
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And he affirmed: “COVID-19 has also left a significant number of deaths and cases that put the health system on the brink of collapse.”
But without a doubt his presidency will be marked by the conflict with Washington and its nuclear pretensions. For now, Raisi warned that he will not abandon his atomic and ballistic missile programs and will continue to support armed organizations such as Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah. The Department of State He responded in his own way: he considered that the elections won by Raisi had taken place without the adequate conditions to guarantee Iranian society that they would be “free and fair”. And it blocked several official Iranian media websites. The new arm wrestling started with the left foot.