Members of the Revolutionary Guards in an annual military march. Photo: Atta Kenare / AFP via Getty Images

Iran's Revolutionary Guards, an elite branch of the country's military, have been directed to sell assets and businesses that don't pertain to their function, Bloomberg reports. Iran's defense minister, Amir Hatami, told a local newspaper that the government "will pursue this matter until these forces withdraw from irrelevant economic activities."

Why it matters: This directive comes after weeks of protests in Iran over the corruption in its government. The Revolutionary Guards control close to a third of Iran's economy, and instructing the body to shrink its business empire could be a step toward moderation.

The scale of the Revolutionary Guards' influence, via NYT:

  • Iranian institutions like the Guards have been "allowed to gamble with deposits or run Ponzi schemes with impunity for years, in part because they were owned by well-connected elites."
  • "All the semiofficial holding companies have major advantages over private businesses in favorable access to capital, tax exemptions and political connections."
  • "And most or all of them have been plagued by accusations of inefficiency and mismanagement, in addition to insider dealing and other forms of corruption."

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Updated 2 hours ago - World

Pandemic plunges U.K. into "largest recession on record"

The scene near the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England in the City of London, England. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom slumped into recession as its gross domestic product GDP shrank 20.4% compared with the first three months of the year, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: Per an ONS statement, "It is clear that the U.K. is in the largest recession on record." The U.K. has faired worse than any other major European economy from coronavirus lockdowns, Bloomberg notes. And finance minister Rishi Sunak warns the situation is likely to worsen.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

The United Kingdom slumped into recession on Wednesday, as its gross domestic product GDP shrank 20.4% compared with the first three months of the year.

By the numbers: Over 741,400 people have died of the novel coronavirus globally and more than 20.2 million have tested positive, per Johns Hopkins. Almost 12.6 million have recovered from the virus.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 20,294,091 — Total deaths: 741,420— Total recoveries: 12,591,454Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,141,207 — Total deaths: 164,537 — Total recoveries: 1,714,960 — Total tests: 63,252,257Map.
  3. States: Georgia reports 137 coronavirus deaths, setting new daily record Florida reports another daily record for deaths.
  4. Health care: Trump administration buys 100 million doses of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine.
  5. Business: Moderna reveals it may not hold patent rights for vaccine.
  6. Sports: Big Ten scraps fall football season.
  7. World: Anthony Fauci "seriously" doubts Russia's coronavirus vaccine is safe