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Rocket

Two rockets hit Baghdad's Green Zone - UPDATE: Another rocket fired toward American Embassy

U.S. Embassy Iraq

An Iraqi security source said the intended target appeared to be the U.S. Embassy. (file photo)
Two rockets struck inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign missions, early on March 26, but there were no casualties, the Iraqi military said.

"Two Katyusha rockets fell near Baghdad operation command. Details to follow," the military statement said.

An Iraqi security source said the intended target appeared to be the U.S. Embassy, located several hundred meters south of where the rockets hit.

It is the 26th such attack targeting installations where foreign troops and diplomats are based across Iraq since late October. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP

Comment: Update: Another rocket has targeted the Green Zone in Baghdad. RT reports:
At least one rocket was fired in the vicinity of the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, where the American Embassy is located, according to local reports. Military aircraft were spotted hovering in the area afterwards.

An explosion rocked the Iraqi capital early on Friday morning local time, according to Al-Arabiya, with some reports stating a "massive" number of armed American helicopters were spotted circling over the area a short while later.




Corona

COVID-19: Member of Putin's staff infected; cases in Iran top 32,000; US Congress passes stimulus bill

russian employees
© Reuters
Employees wearing protective masks process potatoes in a vegetable storage facility in the village of Vinsady in Russia's Stavropol region on March 27.
The global death toll from the coronavirus has exceeded 24,000 with more than 550,000 infections confirmed, causing mass disruptions as governments continue to try to slow the spread of the new respiratory illness.

Here's a roundup of developments in RFE/RL's broadcast countries.

Russia

The Kremlin says a member of President Vladimir Putin's administration has been infected with the coronavirus, but the person had not been in direct contact with Russia's leader.

The announcement came as the government widened restrictions aimed at fighting the disease, ordering all restaurants and cafes to close, beginning March 28.

As of March 27, the country's total number of confirmed cases was 1,036, up 196 from a day earlier. Three deaths have also been reported.


Comment: More details on these deaths:
The latest victim was a 70-year-old woman with a number of underlying conditions. She had suffered from diabetes for 20 years and also had terminal renal failure and other diseases.

The two other Russian deaths, announced on Wednesday, also involved elderly patients, aged 88 and 73 respectively. Last week, a 79-year-old woman was initially thought to have succumbed to coronavirus, but a post-mortem showed that a blood clot was the actual cause.

Forty-five people in Russia are known to have recovered from Covid-19, according to officials.
Over 220,000 people have been tested in Russia so far, and as Russia's newly developed test system enters serial production, it will be used in up to for 10k tests per day, then 50k per day. The military is conducting quarantine exercises, including fortification and evacuation, sanitation and overall logistics.


Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies that a man working in the presidential administration had been infected with the coronavirus.

"Indeed, a coronavirus case has been identified in the presidential administration," Peskov was quoted as saying.

"All necessary sanitary and epidemiological measures are being taken to prevent the virus from spreading further. The sick man did not come into contact with the president," he added, saying this was the only known case at the Kremlin.

He gave no further details.

Comment: The U.S. Congress approved the $2.2 trillion stimulus bill today, to be sent now to the White House. The U.S. military will stop providing specific data about infections in its ranks (currently there are 280 reported military cases), providing only aggregate data and not breakdowns which could show which areas are more affected and thus weaker. Unemployment may reach its hightest levels ever. The official number of cases in the U.S. passed 90k, more than China has reported. Wall Street stocks tumbled in response. European markets also crashed. E-commerce is doing just fine, though (e.g., Amazon) - as is the retail food market. The IMF chief says the world economy has entered a recession as bad or worse than the global financial crisis.


(Another visualization of the same data.)

UK PM BoJo tested positive. He's got mild symptoms and is self-isolating. (Meanwhile ordinary UK citizens with worse cases are struggling to get tested. #prayforboris) Johnson's announcement was followed by UK health secretary Hancock, also now in isolation. The UK government is requesting all homeless people be housed by the weekend. UK cases jumped by almost a third in the last day. Irish PM Leo Varadkar warns that Ireland's ICUs could be at full capacity in a few days. (Ireland has one of the lowest ICU bed capacities across Europe, with only 50 beds per million people. By comparison, Italy, which has seen its hospitals overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases, has 125 ICU beds per million people.") The case load of Europe as a whole surged in the past day, with the death toll reported as over 25k. But these statistics shouldn't be taken at face value. The include a lot of guesswork without proper testing. Italy - which as far as we can tell, only reports lab-tested cases, but which doesn't exclude comorbidities from their numbers - experienced its worst day so far, with 919 deaths in a single day.

See also:


Pirates

Greek authorities discover tunnels packed with military-grade weapons; extreme-left Turkish terrorists arrested

Turkish terrorists
Greek authorities have arrested several members of an extreme-left Turkish terrorist organization following a series of raids which led to the discovery of a tunnel in Athens filled with military-grade weapons.

A total of eleven members of the Marxist-Leninist Revolutionary People's Liberation Party (DHKP-C) - all of whom are Turkish citizens - were rounded up during sweeps carried out by Greece's National Intelligence Service and Anti-Terrorism service, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reports.

During the sweeps, which were conducted at various properties in the Sepolia and Exarchia districts in Athens, security forces found a 47-meter tunnel filled with a cache of military-grade weapons which included an anti-tank rocket launcher, grenade launchers, AK-47 rifles, and other firearms and firearm parts.

Bullseye

Professors worry on-line classes will expose their radical leftist bias

Charlie Kirk
© Gage Skidmore/Flickr
Charlie Kirk, founding of Turning Points USA (TPUSA)
Professors are now worried that the political bias they bring to the classroom will be easily recorded and exposed to the public now that their courses have been moved online due to the Wuhan coronavirus.

"The coronavirus-prompted shift to remote teaching was stressful enough for faculty members before Charlie Kirk weaponized online learning," reported the Chronicle of Higher Education on Tuesday, noting a recent tweet by the Turning Point USA (TPUSA) founder calling on students to share videos of their professors' "blatant indoctrination."

Comment: Indeed. If Leftist academics truly stand by what they are espousing, they would welcome the increased exposure of their ideas. Why aren't they happy?


Telephone

Yanis Varoufakis: Last night Julian Assange called me. Here is what we talked about

Julian Assange
Last night, immediately after our first DiEM25 TV event, my phone rang. It was Julian. From prison. It was not that first time that he honoured me deeply by using the few phone calls prison allows him to make to call me. Like every other such occasion, when I unexpectedly recognise his voice a torrent of emotions comes flooding in. Guilt, primarily, at the thought that, the moment the line is disconnected, he will remain there - in the exceedingly dark place to which he has been confined because of a decision he made long ago to help the rest of us grasp what the powers-that-be have been doing on our behalf without our knowledge or consent.

Julian wanted to talk about the effects of Covid-19 on the world we live in and, of course, on his case. He remarked that Jeremy Corbyn's election manifesto, that the establishment had lambasted for being too radical, now seems unreasonable moderate. We laughed at the audacity of those who were telling the people of Britain that it was irresponsible to spend a few tens billions on providing proper funding to the NHS and social care for all, on turning broadband into a public utility, and on taking the railways into public ownership to make them work properly - the very same people who, now that big business and capitalism more generally, are in serious trouble seem to have discovered the money tree, announcing trillions to be pumped into the economy. Julian did not know (how could he, when the prison authorities deny him access to newspapers, the internet, even to BBC Radio 4?) that Boris Johnson had, earlier yesterday, announced the temporary nationalisation of the railways - seeing that privateers can never provide a decent service in the midst of a national emergency.

After a few minutes during which we allowed ourselves to bask in the neoliberals' Waterloo, in the hands of some RNA that the system could simply not cope with without abandoning all its certainties, we discussed what this means for the future. Julian said, quite correctly, that this new phase of the crisis is, at the very least, making it clear to us that anything goes - that everything is now possible. To which I added that anything ranges from the best to the worst possible developments. Whether the epidemic helps deliver the good or the most evil society will depend, of course, on us - on whether progressives manage to band together. For if we do not, just like in 2008 we did not, the bankers, the spivs, the oligarchs and the neofascists will prove, again, that they are the ones who know how not to let a good crisis go to waste.

Will we succeed? Julian had a hopeful comment on this: At the very least, transnational organisations like Wikileaks and DiEM25 had honed the digital tools for online debates and campaigns well before Covid-19 came on the scene. In some measure, we are better prepared than others.

House

Since Covid-19 has sparked a huge state intervention, why not requisition empty homes of the rich for hospitals or key workers?

empty homes london
© Klovovi/Flickr
A 2018 study showed that there were more than 22,000 homes in London that had been lying vacant for at least six months, many of them for years.
After bailing out businesses and paying everyone's wages, governments should now commandeer the vacant houses of the wealthy and turn them into emergency hospitals, or accommodation for key workers and the homeless.

Residents in large cities across the globe over the last decade have watched and suffered the consequences of huge glass-and-chrome blocks of ultra-luxury apartments rising as almost a violent act onto their skylines. While the poor and the homeless have faced benefit cuts and been subject to social engineering, the international wealthy have poured their money into these giant safety deposit boxes that now blight all major cities.

Most are what's euphemistically termed 'buy-to-leave' investments, where the owner, often from abroad, is so wealthy that they don't need to let the property out, and it stands empty rather than being used to house people.

A 2018 study showed that there were more than 22,000 homes in London that had been lying vacant for at least six months, many of them for years. Unsurprisingly, the worst place was the City of London, the tiny central area that is home to the investment banks and their rich fund managers, and where the average price for a house runs into the millions. Here, 38 homes in every 1,000 sit empty.

Comment: Brilliant idea - but we aren't holding our breath!


Arrow Up

Ironic: Mexicans demand crackdown on Americans crossing the border, due to coronavirus

US mexican border
© Getty Images
A border wall divides Nogales, Arizona from the Mexican state of Sonora.
Mexican protesters have shut a US southern border crossing amid fears that untested American travellers will spread coronavirus.

Residents in Sonora, south of the US state of Arizona, have promised to block traffic into Mexico for a second day after closing a checkpoint for hours on Wednesday.

They wore face masks and held signs telling Americans to "stay at home".

Comment: See also:


Magnify

Does the coronavirus pandemic serve a global agenda?

covid-19 coronavirus


Health Authorities Remain Silent on Efficient Covid-19 Treatment


For those who follow the global immunization agenda and its implementation on different continents, the announcement of a new pandemic didn't come as a surprise. "Pandemic preparedness" has been well-funded and a buzz word for a long time before becoming a priority at the last G7 summits, the Davos World Economic Forum and other meetings of global governance. The latest simulation for preparedness was Event 201,[1] a rehearsal of a coronavirus pandemic organized on October 18, 2019 in New York by Johns Hopkins University, the Gates Foundation and the World Economic Forum.

The Presidential election campaign in the United States and the controversial mandatory measles vaccination law in Germany provided perfect timing. What better than viral terror to influence public opinion and health policies on vaccine battles raging on both sides of the Atlantic?

Magnify

The total number of coronavirus deaths to date in the world still less than total number of flu deaths in the US this flu season

coronavirus
The governments around the world have shut down the world economy for two months due to the coronavirus. These efforts which may have economic ramifications for years to come are in response to the Wuhan coronavirus which hasn't yet killed as many people worldwide as the flu killed in America this year.

As we have reported several times now — the Director of the World Health Organization created an international panic when he miscalculated the coronavirus mortality rate at 3.4%.

The controversial Ethiopian politician and Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, claimed in a press conference in early March that the fatality rate for the coronavirus was many multiples that of the fatality rate of the common flu.

Comment: See also:


Megaphone

Imperial College scientist who predicted 500K coronavirus deaths in UK adjusts to 20K or fewer


Comment: The catch is that he's claiming this massive reduction will have been thanks to the global lockdown.

Fake news, fake science.


imperial college london
A scientist who warned that the coronavirus would kill 500,000 people in the United Kingdom has presented evidence that if current measures work as expected the death toll would drop to roughly 20,000 people or fewer.

Scientist and Imperial College author Neil Ferguson said Wednesday the coronavirus death toll is unlikely to exceed 20,000 and could be much lower if lockdown measures continue, according to New Scientist. He added that he is "reasonably confident" that Britain's health system can handle the burden of treating coronavirus patients.

"There will be some areas that are extremely stressed, but we are reasonably confident — which is all we can be at the current time — that at the national level we will be within capacity," Ferguson said.

Comment: Alternate headline: 'Fear mongers walk back original fear mongering, but hold that results of fear mongering is what lead to less need for more fear mongering, continue to fear monger'.

What a shower of utter dimwits.

See also: