An explosion that rattled Iran´s capital came from an area in its eastern mountains that analysts believe hides an underground tunnel system and missile production sites, satellite photographs showed Saturday.
What exploded in the incident early Friday that sent a massive fireball into the sky near Tehran remains unclear, as does the cause of the blast.
The unusual response of the Iranian government in the aftermath of the explosion, however, underscores the sensitive nature of an area near where international inspectors believe the Islamic Republic conducted high-explosive tests two decades ago for nuclear weapon triggers.
The blast shook homes, rattled windows and lit up the horizon early Friday in the Alborz Mountains. State TV later aired a segment from what it described as the site of the blast.
One of its journalists stood in front of what appeared to be large, blackened gas cylinders, though the camera remained tightly focused and did not show anything else around the site. Defense Ministry spokesman Davood Abdi blamed the blast on a leaking gas he did not identify and said no one was killed in the explosion.
Abdi described the site as a “public area,” raising the question of why military officials and not civilian firefighters would be in charge. The state TV report did not answer that.
Satellite photos of the area, some 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) east of downtown Tehran, showed hundreds of meters (yards) of charred scrubland not seen in images of the area taken in the weeks ahead of the incident. The building near the char marks resembled the facility seen in the state TV footage.
The gas storage area sits near what analysts describe as Iran’s Khojir missile facility. The explosion appears to have struck a facility for the Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group, which makes solid-propellant rockets, said Fabian Hinz, a researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.
The Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies identified Khojir as the “site of numerous tunnels, some suspected of use for arms assembly.” Large industrial buildings at the site visible from satellite photographs also suggest missile assembly being conducted there.
The US Defense Intelligence Agency says Iran overall has the largest underground facility program in the Middle East.
Such sites “support most facets of Tehran´s ballistic missile capabilities, including the operational force and the missile development and production program,” the DIA said in 2019.
Iranian officials themselves also identified the site as being in Parchin, home to a military base where the International Atomic Energy Agency previously said it suspects Iran conducted tests of explosive triggers that could be used in nuclear weapons. Iran long has denied seeking nuclear weapons, though the IAEA previously said Iran had done work in “support of a possible military dimension to its nuclear program” that largely halted in late 2003.
Western concerns over the Iranian atomic program led to sanctions and eventually to Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The US under President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in May 2018, leading to a series of escalating attacks between Iran and the US and Tehran abandoning the deal’s production limits.
Woodberry reportedly falls ill at the Moshannon federal prison
Mr. Olalekan Jacob Ponle, also known as Woodberry, a close associate who was arrested with Ray Hushpuppi has fallen ill.
Moshannon Valley is a privately owned MINIMUM-SECURITY prison located in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania.
It is owned and operated by The Geo Group. It houses 1,780 male prisoners. The facility opened in 2006, and at the time it was the only private prison in Pennsylvania.
According to an unconfirmed scoop from popular Nigerian investigative journalist, Dr, Kemi Olunloyo, (the person who broke the news about the arrest of Hushpuppi and Woodberry), he fell ill nine days after his incarceration at the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center.
“Hushpuppi and Woodberry have spent 9 days in Moshannon federal prison. Sadly Woodberry has fallen ill and being treated. They did not expect this. Criminal Fraudsters $450M,” she said.
Popularly known as Moshannon Valley Correctional Center or Moshannon Valley CI is a federal prison for men located in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, privately operated by the GEO Group under contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It has a prisoner capacity of 1,878.
Naked in the Rain: ‘Jesus’ Descends on New York Park, Turns Drained Fountain Into Shrine
The man, who appears to be peaceful despite his mental issues, has been living in the park since May, according to his own words. New York’s homeless outreach officials have failed to remove the preacher, despite complaints from local residents.
A homeless man who claims to be a manifestation of Jesus Christ has settled in the famous fountain in New York City’s Washington Square Park and turned it into an “altar to God”, the New York Post reports.
The squatter was photographed on Saturday taking a (completely) naked shower in the rain undeterred; he was later seen covering himself with a sarong as officials looked on from beyond the fence.
He has been identified as Matthew Mishefski, 25, who comes from Pennsylvania and has been living in New York since 2017.
SEE PHOTOS BELOW
Mishefski, who calls himself the “Son of God Lord Saviour Jesus Christ”, says he has been living in the drained fountain since May. His makeshift home includes a table, several chairs, a recliner, a box of clothes, and a beach umbrella. The man has been rambling – sometimes obscene – prayers at passers-by.
Mishefski told the NY Post that he has autism and has checked into psychiatric wards multiple times. He also said that he had been going in and out of city shelters until November 2017, but chose to live on the streets because it was safer there.
“People bring in knives, weapons, they say they’re going to hurt you if you say something they don’t like, if you look at them”, he recounted. “I had a staff member pull a knife on me”.
City authorities, including NYPD officers and homeless outreach workers, have tried to convince Mishefski to leave his makeshift shrine after numerous 311 calls, but he declined. Homelessness in New York City is not a crime, and the Department of Homeless Services explained that he cannot be removed forcibly because he is not presenting a risk to himself or others or breaking the law.
However, the living “Jesus” was reportedly arrested earlier this month and charged with criminal trespass and failure to comply with signs. He was released without bail, pending trial on 14 September, according to the NY Post.
Beyoncé, Solange, Janelle Monáe call for end of voter suppression
Beyoncé, Solange, Janelle Monáe and more Black women in the entertainment industry have called for the senate to end voter suppression.
Tina Knowles-Lawson, Beyoncé and Solange’s mother, penned an open letter in support of ‘The HEROES Act.’ The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act is described in the letter as “step in the right direction toward a more inclusive democracy.”
Beyoncé posted the letter to her Instagram, adding that “this bill would help provide funding to ensure that our vote is protected this election cycle.”
Read the letter in full below:
The letter singles out Milwaukee, Pennsylvania and Georgia for being particularly unjust in their conduct.
“This is modern day voter suppression, plain and simple,” the letter stated.
“Voters [have] risked their health, and that of their communities, simply to make their voices heard. People should be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote and stay healthy, even during a pandemic.”
The letter outlines that The HEROES Act, formally referred to as H.R. 6800, promises a $3 trillion safety net “for those most impacted by COVID-19, including disproportionately Black and Brown communities”. This safety net would cover health care, housing, justice system reform and equal and safe access to voting.
Other people that have signed the letter include Halle Berry, Jada Pinkett Smith, Whoopi Goldberg, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. The families of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Sandra Bland have also shown their support.
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