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Brian Hook. Photo: Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Iran envoy Brian Hook said at a press conference Thursday that the Iranian government "could have murdered over 1,000 Iranian citizens" during a crackdown on protests in recent weeks, calling it "the worst political crisis the regime has faced in its 40 years."

Why it matters: While the Iranian government appears to have carried out its deadliest crackdown since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Hook's number is far higher than most other credible estimates. Amnesty International has confirmed 208 deaths.

The big picture: The protests began several weeks ago after the Iranian government hiked gas prices by 50%, prompting anti-regime demonstrators to take to the streets within 72 hours.

  • Hook confirmed a New York Times report that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps opened fire on unarmed protestors in the southwest city of Mahshahr, claiming that videos received by the State Department show as many as 100 Iranians were murdered and loaded into trucks.
  • He added that "many thousands" of protestors have been injured and at least 7,000 have been detained. Hook said that two prisons to which many of the protestors have been taken "meet the criteria for gross human rights violations."
  • President Hassan Rouhani has called for many of the protesters to be freed, though it's unclear whether and when that will happen.

Go deeper: Iranian government meets growing protests with harsher crackdown

Go deeper

46 mins ago - Technology

Exclusive: Facebook's blackout didn't dent political ad reach

Photo: Valera Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Americans saw more political ads on Facebook in the week before the 2020 election than they did the prior week despite the company's blackout on new political ads during that period, according to Global Witness, a human rights group that espouses tech regulation.

Why it matters: The presidential election was a key stress test for Facebook and other leading online platforms looking to prove that they can curb misinformation. Critics contend measures like the ad blackout barely made a dent.

Wall Street wonders how bad it has to get

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street is working out how bad the economy will have to get for Congress to feel motivated to move on economic support.

Why it matters: A pre-Thanksgiving data dump showed more evidence of a floundering economic recovery. But the slow drip of crumbling economic data may not be enough to push Washington past a gridlock to halt the economic backslide.

3 hours ago - Health

Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine

Photo illustration by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Moderna announced that it plans to file with the FDA Monday for an emergency use authorization for its coronavirus vaccine, which the company said has an efficacy rate of 94.1%.

Why it matters: Moderna will become the second company to file for a vaccine EUA after Pfizer did the same earlier this month, potentially paving the way for the U.S. to have two COVID-19 vaccines in distribution by the end of the year. The company said its vaccine has a 100% efficacy rate against severe COVID cases.