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US sells oil seized from Iran to Venezuela for $40 million

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Bella, one of four oil tankers that the United States said in August 2020 that it had seized en route from Iran to Venezuela - US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE/AFP/File

The United States said Thursday that it had sold Iranian oil seized on its way to Venezuela for more than $40 million.

Washington announced in August that it had confiscated 1.1 million barrels of petroleum from four tankers en route between the two countries, which are both under US sanctions.

“We estimate that in excess of $40 million will be recouped by the United States related to the sale of petroleum from those four vessels,” Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, told reporters by telephone.

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He said a “great portion” of it would be contributed to a US fund for victims of “state-sponsored terrorism.”

US courts have ordered Iran’s clerical regime to pay damages over attacks, most recently in July when a judge told Tehran to pay $879.1 million over a 1996 bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 US airmen.

Iran denies responsibility and states it has no intention of paying, saying the United States should instead compensate for past episodes including its support of Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War.

Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves but its economy and infrastructure have collapsed to the point that it suffers blackouts and needs help from Iran, which it pays in gold.

President Donald Trump has been seeking to weaken Iran regionally and to remove Venezuela’s leftist leader Nicolas Maduro, who shows little sign of leaving soon.

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Days before an election in which Trump faces Democrat Joe Biden, who favors diplomacy with Iran, the administration has been ramping up pressure further.

On Thursday, the Treasury Department announced sanctions against eight entities based in Iran, China and Singapore for exporting petrochemical products.

Trump in 2018 walked away from a deal brokered by former president Barack Obama under which Iran scaled back its nuclear program drastically in return for sanctions relief.

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© 2020 AFP


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Armed ‘sovereign citizen extremist’ arrested at Boston train station: report

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Authorities in Boston arrested an armed extremist at a train station on Thanksgiving.

"A Boston man was arrested last night and charged with illegally carrying a loaded pistol. The defendant, who allegedly purchased a firearm and body armor, and material that could be used to assemble explosives, adheres to the anti-government/anti-authority sovereign citizen extremist ideology," the Department of Justice announced Friday. "Pepo Herd El a/k/a Pepo Wamchawi Herd (El), 47, of Dorchester, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition."

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Texas Republican hasn’t even been sworn in yet and already a GOP congressman is publicly dunking on him

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There was some drama on Twitter on Friday when a four-term Republican congressman dunked on a Texas Republican who won a seat in Congress but has yet to be sworn in.

It started when Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) urged President Donald Trump to pardon Edward Snowden and Julian Assange.

Rep.-elect Tony Gonzales (R-TX) called out Gabbard for being "full of more than just turkey."

Snowden and Assange are Russian agents who pose a direct threat to US National interests. Clearly @TulsiGabbard is full of more than just turkey. https://t.co/RI4XgdZRUy

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2020 Election

Biden’s lead in Milwaukee increases after Trump blew millions on Wisconsin recount: report

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President-elect Joe Biden's lead over Donald Trump in Wisconsin extended on Friday as Milwaukee finished their recount.

The Trump campaign had to pay $3 million for the recount in Wisconsin.

"Milwaukee County concludes its recount of the presidential election -- one of two counties where Trump sought a recount in Wisconsin. The results: Biden's lead, currently at about 20,000 statewide, grew by 132 votes," Rosalind Helderman of The Washington Post reported Friday.

Edward-Isaac Dovere of The Atlantic did a quick, back-of-the-envelope economic analysis.

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