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Israeli Army's Idea Lab Aims at a New Target: Saving Lives

NYT > Middle East

A number of projects are aimed at minimizing direct contact between health workers and patients. Temi had already identified a market for personal robotic assistants, costing about $2,000, that resemble an iPad on a parking-meter-high wheeled pedestal. Rafael and Elbit have now adapted them to operate in fleets, and to allow doctors to monitor patients or deliver them medicine without ever entering their rooms, said Yossi Wolf, who previously developed robots to help Israeli soldiers deal with Hamas tunnels or chemical weapons.


How Are You Feeling? Surveys Aim to Detect Covid-19 Hot Spots Early

NYT > Middle East

Teams of epidemiologists and computer scientists on three continents have started mass population surveys to try to get ahead of the coronavirus and ensure that scarce diagnostic tests, and even scarcer ventilators, are sent where they can do the most good. More than two million people in Britain and 150,000 Israelis have already completed simple questionnaires, and many are updating their answers daily. Analysts of the data -- including symptoms of Covid-19 and test results, as well as risk factors and demographics -- say they have been able to identify incipient outbreaks days ahead of the authorities. Three groups in the United States -- led by Massachusetts General Hospital, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Weill Cornell Medicine in New York -- are now vying to attract enough survey participants nationwide to detect impending hot spots. In Israel, where artificial-intelligence experts at the Weizmann Institute of Science have played a leading role in the effort, computer models that were fed the results of questionnaires accurately predicted surges in cases in cities like Bnei Brak, Jerusalem and Beersheva five days in advance, researchers said.


Rocket Attack Kills Three U.S. Coalition Members in Iraq

NYT > Middle East

The American retaliation led to a siege of the United States Embassy in Baghdad and then an American drone attack that killed the leader of Iran's elite Quds force, Maj. The cycle of attacks and counterattacks ended more than two weeks later after Iran launched 16 cruise missiles at bases in Iraq that house American forces. No one was killed by the Iranian missile attacks and tensions had appeared to subside. An Iraqi military official said that hours after the attack on Wednesday, the American-led coalition responded with airstrikes on camps used by Kataib Hezbollah near Abu Kamal in Syria, just across the border from Qaim, Iraq. However American officials said the United States had not carried out those strikes.


New Iranian Missiles Pose Threat to U.S. Aircraft in Yemen, Pentagon Says

NYT > Middle East

According to an American military official, the 358 missile in flight is about nine feet long and can run on kerosene or diesel fuel contained in flexible containers that do not require a separate fuel pump. A dozen infrared lenses arranged in a ring around the missile are believed to be able to defeat heat-seeking countermeasures that coalition helicopters typically use. Another United States military official said that the 358 missiles from Iran had been fired against American drones flying in Yemeni airspace, but they had not yet succeeded in hitting any. Three of the 358 missiles were captured in November by the Forrest Sherman, a Navy destroyer, and five more were recovered this month in an operation by the Normandy, a Navy cruiser. Those shipments also included more than 170 antitank guided missiles made in Iran, as well as 13,000 blasting caps, which are critical to making modern roadside bombs.


More Than 100 Troops Have Brain Injuries From Iran Missile Strike, Pentagon Says

NYT > Middle East

And as the injury toll has mounted, veterans groups and others have levied criticism at the White House, in part because, in January, President Trump dismissed the injuries as "not very serious." "I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things," Mr. Trump said at a news conference Jan. 22 in Davos, Switzerland. "I don't consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen." At least a dozen missiles were fired during the attack, which was a retaliation for the killing of a top Iranian general, Qassim Suleimani, by an American drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3. The Trump administration at first said there were no injuries, but a week later said several service members were evaluated for possible concussions.


White House Confirms Killing of Terrorist Leader in Yemen

NYT > Middle East

The United States killed the leader of Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen, the White House confirmed on Thursday. The confirmation came about a week after The New York Times first reported that the United States believed it had killed Qassim al-Rimi, the Qaeda leader, in January after months of tracing him. The C.I.A. carried out the airstrike using an unmanned drone, an intelligence official said. The White House statement had little detail about the operation, but said it was carried out at the direction of President Trump. The statement said Mr. al-Rimi's death will degrade the Yemen affiliate and the global Qaeda movement and "brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security."


34 Troops Have Brain Injuries From Iranian Missile Strike, Pentagon Says

NYT > Middle East

The comments of the president, who avoided the Vietnam War draft thanks to a diagnosis of bone spurs, drew swift criticism from veterans groups. "Don't just be outraged by #PresidentMayhem's latest asinine comments," Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, wrote in a Twitter post that day. "Take action to help vets facing TBIs," meaning traumatic brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries result from the powerful changes in atmospheric pressure that accompany an explosion like that from a missile warhead. The missiles were launched by Iran in retaliation for the killing of a top Iranian general, Qassim Suleimani, by an American drone strike in Baghdad on Jan. 3.


Iran Cracks Down as Protests Over Downing of Airliner Grow

NYT > Middle East

We first learned that it was a missile that took down a Ukrainian airliner over Iran because of this video showing the moment of impact. All 176 people on board were killed. To find out what happened to Flight 752 after it left Tehran airport on Jan. 8, we collected flight data, analyzed witness videos and images of the crash site, to paint the clearest picture yet of that disastrous seven-minute flight. We'll walk you through the evidence, minute by minute, from the plane's takeoff to the moment it crashed. Iran has just launched ballistic missiles at U.S. military targets in Iraq in retaliation for an American drone strike that killed Iranian military leader Qassim Suleimani.


U.S. Says It Won't Discuss Withdrawing Troops From Iraq, as Iraq's Leader Requested

NYT > Middle East

"But as times change and we get to a place where we can deliver up on what I believe and the president believes is our right structure, with fewer resources dedicated to that mission, we will do so," he added. Mr. Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin also announced new sanctions on Iranian officials and on a few companies, including two in China, involved in the production and export of Iranian steel and other metals. The Trump administration had already imposed major sanctions on Iran's metals industry after Mr. Trump's withdrawal in 2018 from a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, so analysts said the new sanctions would have little additional impact. Iraqi lawmakers voted on Sunday to expel United States forces after the American drone strike that killed 10 people in a two-car convoy -- Maj. The prime minister has not signed the bill yet, but had been criticizing the American troop presence in Iraq since a series of recent actions by the United States military.


Iran's Long Night Is Capped by an Earthquake

NYT > Middle East

It had already been an eventful day in Iran: The country had just launched missiles at United States forces based in Iraq and an airliner carrying at least 176 people crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran on Wednesday, killing everyone on board. Then just before dawn, a 4.5-magnitude earthquake struck southern Iran at a depth of about six miles, the United States Geological Survey reported, in the same region as the troubled Bushehr nuclear power plant. It struck just as Iranian leaders were trumpeting their strike on two Iraqi bases housing United States forces, in retaliation for last week's American drone strike that killed Maj. No casualties were immediately reported, but rescue teams were working at the site, Jahangir Dehqani, managing director of the Bushehr crisis management agency, told the state-run IRNA news agency. The quake was reported about 30 miles from the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear plant.