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US pushes UN to tighten Iran sanctions blacklist

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The United States has asked the UN Security Council to update its sanctions blacklist on Iran after complaining of lapses in enforcing travel bans and asset freezes, according to a letter seen by AFP on Wednesday.

The push for tougher enforcement of UN sanctions came amid soaring tensions between the United States and Iran following Washington’s decision to impose new sanctions on Tehran and recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf.

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The UN blacklist contains the names of 23 individuals and 61 entities linked to Iran’s nuclear activities, including the commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Qods force, Major General Qasem Soleimani.

All 81 people and entities are subject to a global travel ban and asset freeze to be enforced by all UN member-states.

In a letter sent to the council, the United States complained that the list had not been updated in over nine years to include aliases and other information to all UN member-states.

“Full implementation of these asset freeze and travel ban measures requires continuing attention to the details of the designation list,” wrote acting Ambassador Jonathan Cohen in the letter sent Monday.

The letter cited an aviation services company known as Pars Aviation which the US said had changed names to Pouya Air and a banned company, Oriental Oil Kish, which the US said was operating or had ties to two trading companies in another country.

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The United States raised Soleimani’s continued travel including to Iraq and Lebanon and offered to present “a fulsome list” of the commander’s visits abroad, in violation of the travel ban.

The United States did not, however, indicate that it would request that new names of individuals or companies be added to the sanctions blacklist.

On Monday, President Donald Trump slapped new unilateral sanctions on Iran, targeting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and eight Iranian commanders. The US said it would also slap sanctions Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

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Since the Iran nuclear deal was endorsed by the Security Council in 2015, 37 individuals and entities have been removed from the UN blacklist.


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GOP’s impeachment witness Kurt Volker tosses Giuliani under the bus – and makes a damning update to his testimony

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Ambassador Kurt Volker offered explosive testimony in his opening statement before the House Intelligence Committee.

Volker, the former U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations, was a witness requested by House Republicans.

On live television, Volker both threw Rudy Giuliani under the bus -- and poked a major hole in one of the right-wing conspiracy theories about former Vice President Joe Biden.

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7 out of 10 Americans – including majority of Republicans – oppose Trump letting adoption agencies refuse same-sex couples

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Seven out of 10 American disagree with a Trump administration decision to let child care agencies refuse to allow same-sex couples the right to adopt. The Dept. of Health and Human Services is moving to allow those agencies that wish to claim religious or moral opposition to same-sex marriage, homosexuality, or LGBTQ people to refuse to allow them to adopt of foster children.

new Hill-HarrisX poll finds 72% of Americans – including a large portion of Republicans – oppose allowing adoption agencies to refuse services to same-sex couples, The Hill reports.

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Don’t be too sure that impeachment won’t move public opinion

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Last week, I lamented about how the political press is incapable of conveying the gravity of a historic clash between two co-equal branches of government–one that has the potential to redefine a president’s powers and immunities going forward–in large part because most reporters are trained to cover political conflicts on the eve of an election first and foremost in the context of the horse race. So yesterday’s big impeachment news was that 70 percent of Americans believed Trump’s “actions tied to Ukraine were wrong” and a slim majority favored removing him from office, according to an ABC News/ Ipsos poll, and today we learn that “the first week of the House’s public impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump did not move public support for the inquiry in Democrats’ favor, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll.”

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