The E.U. supports the Iranian nuclear deal as the Trump administration announces new sanctions. Iran's Revolutionary Guard on Saturday threatened to avenge the killing of its top general, saying it would go after everyone responsible for the January U.S. drone strike in Iraq. The guard's website quoted Gen. Hossein Salami as saying, "Mr. Our revenge for martyrdom of our great general is obvious, serious and real." FILE: Chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Gen. Hossein Salami speaks at a pro-government rally, in Tehran, Iran.
The chief of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard threatened Saturday to go after everyone who had a role in a top general's January killing during a U.S. drone strike in Iraq. The guard's website quoted Gen. Hossein Salami as saying, "Mr. Our revenge for martyrdom of our great general is obvious, serious and real." U.S. President Donald Trump warned this week that Washington would harshly respond to any Iranian attempts to take revenge for the death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, tweeting that "if they hit us in any way, any form, written instructions already done we're going to hit them 1000 times harder." The president's warning came in response to a report that Iran was plotting to assassinate the U.S. ambassador to South Africa in retaliation for Soleimani's killing at Baghdad's airport at the beginning of the year.
Two men have been indicted on charges stemming from the hacking of dozens of websites based in the United States, actions that the federal authorities said were taken in retaliation for the death in an American drone strike of Maj. The men, Behzad Mohammadzadeh and Marwan Abusrour, were charged with conspiracy to commit intentional damage to a protected computer and intentional damage to a protected computer, according to the indictment, which was dated Sept. 3 and unsealed on Tuesday. Mr. Mohammadzadeh, a citizen of Iran who the authorities believe is about 19 years old, and Mr. Abusrour, who is about 25 and whom the indictment identifies as "a stateless national of the Palestinian Authority," are believed to be in their home countries. The indictment, announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts, did not identify or describe the approximately 51 websites that were attacked. The attacks began days after American officials announced the death of General Suleimani, Iran's most powerful security and intelligence commander, in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport on Jan. 2, according to the indictment.
Iran has warned the United States against making a "strategic mistake" after President Donald Trump threatened Tehran over reports it planned to avenge the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani. "We hope that they do not make a new strategic mistake and certainly in the case of any strategic mistake, they will witness Iran's decisive response," government spokesman Ali Rabiei told a televised news conference on Tuesday. Trump on Monday promised that any attack by Iran would be met with a response "1,000 times greater in magnitude," after reports said Iran planned to avenge Soleimani's killing in a US drone attack in January this year. A US media report, quoting unnamed officials, said an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the US ambassador to South Africa was planned before the presidential election in November. "According to press reports, Iran may be planning an assassination, or other attack, against the United States in retaliation for the killing of terrorist leader Soleimani," Trump tweeted.
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Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Iran is allegedly mulling over an attempt to assassinate the United States' ambassador to South Africa as retaliation for the American drone attack earlier this year that killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds Force. The news of Tehran's purported plans was first reported by Politico, who spoke with one official familiar with the issue and another official who has seen the intelligence. If Iran does attempt to carry out the assassination, it would severely ratchet up the already tense relations between Washington and Tehran, along with giving the Trump administration impetus to retaliate.
SCI COMMUN### Computer science The United States will establish a dozen centers to study artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum information science (QIS), the White House announced last week. The seven university-based AI centers will receive $20 million each over 5 years from the National Science Foundation or the Department of Agriculture and will use AI—algorithms that can learn to recognize patterns—to tackle problems in areas ranging from farming to particle physics. The five centers on QIS, located at the Department of Energy's national laboratories, will focus on topics such as developing quantum computers that could solve challenges that would overwhelm conventional computers. Each of these centers will receive $125 million over 5 years, as Congress called for in the 2018 National Quantum Initiative Act. ### Archaeology Tiny parasitic worms known as helminths cause malnutrition and developmental disorders in some 1.5 billion people around the world, mostly in developing countries. Scientists now report new evidence that better sanitation can alleviate this scourge. During the Middle Ages and for centuries after, worm infections were as prevalent among Europeans as they are today in people living in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and East Asia, the authors report in a paper published on 27 August in PLOS Neglected Tropical Disease . They based the conclusion on an analysis of 589 samples from skeletons in medieval cemeteries in the Czech Republic, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Because such worms were eradicated in Europe before effective antiparasite drugs were developed, the results reinforce the idea that improvements to water supplies, sanitation, and hygiene can dramatically reduce the disease burden they cause today. ### Disasters When it roared ashore last week in Louisiana, Hurricane Laura packed a double whammy, endangering public safety with its wind and water and slowing efforts to stem the COVID-19 pandemic. Its top wind speed at landfall, 241 kilometers per hour, was the fifth highest documented for any U.S. hurricane. Laura tied a record for the fastest intensifying storm in the Gulf of Mexico, with its wind increasing on 26 August by 105 kilometers per hour in just 24 hours; the causes of such rapid strengthening are little understood. The storm led to at least 19 deaths in Louisiana and Texas. It also threatened to accelerate the spread of COVID-19; testing centers were temporarily closed, and residents of southwest Louisiana, which bore the storm's brunt and had been recording some of the state's highest rates of positive test results, evacuated elsewhere. Seven hurricanes and tropical storms have hit the United States so far this year, one of the most active seasons on record. ### Agriculture The Dutch government last week decided to end mink farming to prevent the animals from becoming sources of the virus that causes COVID-19. More than 40 mink farms in the Netherlands—almost one in three—have had outbreaks of the virus since late April, triggering massive culls. A Dutch law adopted in 2012 banned mink farming by 2024 for ethical reasons, but now the remaining farms must close by March 2021. The government has set aside €182 million to indemnify farmers. Although farms implemented hygiene rules, scientists suspect infected people carried the virus into them. Denmark, Spain, and the United States have seen outbreaks at mink farms as well. ### Public health By testing dormitory wastewater for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, the University of Arizona may have stamped out a potential outbreak before it could spread. Several countries, U.S. municipalities, and some universities have been checking sewage for RNA from the virus, which can signal infections shortly before clinical cases and deaths are recorded. In Arizona, officials announced last week that wastewater from a student dormitory contained the viral RNA just days after students had moved into their rooms in August; all 311 residents and dorm workers had previously tested negative on a mandatory test for COVID-19. The university retested all of them and found two students who were asymptomatic but positive for the virus; they were then quarantined. ### Diagnostics The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week issued an emergency use authorization to Abbott, a laboratory company, for a 15-minute test for the COVID-19 virus that could help expand the number of Americans regularly tested. The new diagnostic, called BinaxNOW, detects proteins, or antigens, that are unique to the virus with high accuracy and at a cost of only $5 each. Other coronavirus tests that identify genetic material unique to the virus typically cost $100, and laboratories often take days to provide results. The genetic tests and other, antigen-based ones require specialized lab equipment; Abbott's does not, although a health care professional must administer it. The company says it plans to produce 50 million tests in October. Last week, the Trump administration announced it would buy 150 million. The United States currently conducts about 700,000 tests for the virus per day. ### Policy The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drew criticism last week for revising its guidelines to state that people exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 “do not necessarily need a test” if they lack symptoms and do not have medical conditions that make them vulnerable. Scientists and public health specialists slammed the 24 August revision, noting that people who do not feel sick can still spread the virus and that the United States continues to lead the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths. Trump administration officials have said too many people have been getting tested out of fear and tests should be reserved for those at highest risk, The New York Times reported. But CDC Director Robert Redfield appeared to muddy the message when he said on 26 August that testing “may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.” ### Infectious diseases The EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit whose highly scored grant to study bat coronaviruses that could jump to humans in China was summarily defunded after President Donald Trump targeted it, has received new funding worth $7.5 million over 5 years, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced last week. In April, Trump alleged without evidence that the COVID-19 virus escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology; the EcoHealth Alliance had collaborated with scientists there on the canceled grant. NIH ended it days later, drawing strong protests from scientists. The newly funded work will not revive the earlier project but instead will focus on risks of animal viruses jumping to humans in Southeast Asia, but not China. The EcoHealth Alliance is one of 11 groups NIH plans to fund with $82 million to study such risks. “It's a relief for us to know that NIH isn't going to blackball our organization because of political interference,” EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak says. ### Funding China continued in 2019 its yearslong run of double-digit annual percentage increases in spending on R&D. But it has not yet reached its long-standing goal of increasing R&D expenditures to 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP). Total public and private science and technology expenditures in 2019 rose 12.5% to 2.21 trillion Chinese yuan ($322 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics of China reported last week. Most (83%) went to development, while basic research received 6% and applied research 11%. Relative to other countries, China has been spending more on development and less on basic research. Its total R&D spending in 2019 amounted to 2.23% of GDP, still short of the United States's 2.83%. China was the world's second biggest spender on R&D behind the United States in 2018, the latest year for which a comparison is available, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Analysts expect China to continue to close the gap. ### Astronomy Gravitational wave hunters have netted a big fish: the signal from a pair of black holes merging to produce one with a mass of about 142 Suns. That heft makes it the first confirmed intermediate-mass black hole, with a mass between those produced by collapsing stars and the giant black holes at the hearts of galaxies. Detected in May 2019 by the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory facilities in the United States and the Virgo detector in Italy, the merger is also the most distant seen, at 7 billion light-years away, as well as the most powerful, with the mass of eight Suns converted into energy. The masses of the individual black holes—85 and 66 solar masses—before they merged pose a puzzle, as theorists believe it impossible to make a black hole heavier than 65 Suns from the collapse of a single star. The discovery is reported this week in Physical Review Letters and The Astrophysical Journal Letters . ### Nonproliferation After a monthslong impasse, Iran has agreed to allow international inspectors access to two sites that were allegedly part of a clandestine nuclear weapons program. The move preserves, for now, what remains of a multination nuclear deal reached in 2015, from which the Trump administration has withdrawn. The inspections will take place at Abadeh, a testing range for high explosives in central Iran, and at an undisclosed site, which intelligence reports revealed might have contained undeclared nuclear materials and activities. Iran had rebuffed requests from the International Atomic Energy Agency to take samples at the sites; continued stonewalling could have prompted the agency to declare Iran out of compliance with its commitments. The United States maintains that Iran has violated the nuclear deal, and banking and other sanctions lifted after the 2015 accord must automatically resume. But members of the United Nations Security Council last week reiterated their disagreement with that interpretation, and the United States now plans to reimpose those sanctions unilaterally on 20 September. ### Environment The Trump administration on 31 August eased rules on toxic wastewater created by coal-burning power plants, which operators discharge into rivers and streams. The move changes a rule adopted in 2015 by former President Barack Obama's administration requiring plant operators to treat and recycle water used to store coal ash, which contains mercury and arsenic, by 2023. The Trump administration's version instead exempts plants set to close or switch to natural gas by 2028 and allows other plants to delay compliance until that year if they voluntarily adopt advanced biological treatment. The administration says its rule will save the industry money and retain coal-industry jobs while reducing total pollution by 1 million pounds annually, over and above the 1.4 million pound reduction anticipated under the Obama rule. But environmental groups rejected those assertions and predicted that power plants—now the largest contributors of industrial water pollution—will discharge even more. The critics add that the move will prop up coal power, which is responsible for emitting a significant share of global warming gases. ### Conservation A Norwegian wind farm has devised an inexpensive method that may prevent birds from being killed by turbines' rotating blades. By painting only one turbine blade black, the farm reduced bird collisions by more than 70%, say researchers who conducted the first field study of the approach. Fast-moving, monotone blades can be difficult for birds to see; in the United States alone, collisions with wind turbines kill 140,000 to 500,000 birds each year. But a single contrasting black blade makes this rotating obstacle easier for birds to identify and avoid, researchers report in the 27 August issue of Ecology and Evolution . The approach needs further validation, other researchers say. And they note that windmills still rank low on the list of threats to birds: Collisions with power wires and communication towers kill an estimated 32 million birds in the United States annually, for example, and cats are believed to kill 2.4 billion each year. Loss of habitat is another leading threat. ### Infectious diseases Togo is the first African country to have eliminated Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), better known as sleeping sickness, as a public health problem. The World Health Organization (WHO) on 25 August certified the country as free of HAT, which is caused by two subspecies of the Trypanosoma brucei parasite and spread by tsetse flies. Occurring only in sub-Saharan Africa, HAT causes neurological damage and is fatal when left untreated. Surveillance and control programs have helped bring reported cases down sharply, from more than 25,000 in 2000 to 980 last year. WHO hopes the subspecies T. b. gambiense , which occurs in West and Central Africa and is responsible for more than 98% of cases, can be eliminated altogether by 2030. “I am sure [Togo's] efforts will inspire others,” Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement. 3.4 million —Square kilometers of sea floor changed by human activities, such as the construction of ports, communication cables, oil rigs, and wind farms, as of 2018, representing an estimated 1.5% of all coastal areas. ### Why it matters The modified area equals that of cities on land, and its marine ecosystems may have sustained damage ( Nature Sustainability ).
Iran's Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari says the domestic companies and start-ups engaged in developing artificial intelligence technologies have made such progress that are competing with the foreign countries. In a ceremony held in Tehran on Saturday, Sattari unveiled two homegrown AI systems and an artificial intelligence product developed by the local experts and commercialized under the patronage of the Vice Presidency for Science and Technology. In remarks at the event, Sattari highlighted the administration's support for the AI companies and the targeted projects set up for development of artificial intelligence in the country, hoping that Iran would soon enter a competition with the world's top-notch countries in the AI field. "However, it must be mentioned that even at present, a series of products and services provided by the Iranian technological companies active in the artificial intelligence fields can compete with the similar foreign products," the vice president added. A comparison with the advanced countries in the AI arena, such as China, shows that the Iranian-made products developed by the local knowledge-based companies are comparable with the foreign ones, he noted.
Iran has retrieved some data, including a portion of cockpit conversations, from the Ukrainian plane accidentally downed by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) forces in January, killing all 176 people on board. Analysis of the black boxes showed it was hit by two missiles, 25 seconds apart, and that passengers were still alive for some time after the first impact, an Iranian official said on Sunday. The announcement by the head of Iran's Civil Aviation Organisation marks the first official report on the contents of the cockpit voice and data recordings, which were sent to France for analysis in July. Tehran has said it accidentally shot down the Ukraine airliner at a time of extreme tensions with the United States. In remarks quoted by state media, Captain Touraj Dehghani Zangeneh said the black boxes have only 19 seconds of conversation following the first explosion.
Iran on Saturday said it had detained an Iranian-American leader of a little-known, California-based opposition group for allegedly planning a 2008 attack on a mosque that killed 14 people and wounded over 200 others. Iran's Intelligence Ministry also asserted that the detained man, Jamshid Sharmahd of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, planned more attacks around the Islamic Republic amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the United States. Mr. Sharmahd's reported arrest comes as relations between the U.S. and Iran remain inflamed in the wake of President Donald Trump's 2018 decision to withdraw America from the 2015 multinational nuclear deal. In January, a U.S. drone strike killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad. Iran responded by launching a ballistic missile attack on U.S. soldiers in Iraq that injured dozens.