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China flouts Iran sanctions on oil as Trump-era pressure campaign crumbles
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China flouts Iran sanctions on oil as Trump-era pressure campaign crumbles

The Biden administration claims to be upholding the Trump-era pressure campaign on Iran, but there are clear signs sanctions are crumbling as China dramatically increases its purchases of embargoed Iranian crude oil. A tripling of Chinese purchases since President Biden took office has given Tehran a financial lifeline and new leverage to fend off outside pressure, complicating the administration’s hope for a quick revival of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal that President Trump repudiated. Mr. Trump spent his last two years in office ramping up U.S. sanctions on Iran and on the countries and companies that tried to deal it. With China now openly flouting the sanctions, some analysts say, Tehran is emboldened to ignore Mr. Biden’s demand that it make the first concessions to come back into co...
Joe Biden puts GOP on notice in long-delayed press conference
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Joe Biden puts GOP on notice in long-delayed press conference

President Biden survived his long-delayed first formal press conference in a very Bidenesque fashion, mixing calls for bipartisanship with partisan threats and long-winded responses on policy that marked a dramatic break with his predecessor in both style and substance. Breaking some new ground, Mr. Biden said his “expectation” is to run for re-election in 2024 and he put the GOP on notice that he could support scrapping the Senate filibuster if they get in his way. It was Mr. Biden’s most pointed threat yet that could support the so-called nuclear option to blow up Senate rules and ram through legislation with 51 votes. It currently takes 60 votes for legislation to survive in the upper chamber, which is divided 50-50 between the parties with Democrats in control because Vice President Ka...
Jack Phillips, Christian baker, back in court for rebuffing gender-transition cake
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Jack Phillips, Christian baker, back in court for rebuffing gender-transition cake

Not even his high-profile 2018 victory at the Supreme Court could halt the legal saga of Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips. The Christian dessert maker was back in court this week to fight a civil lawsuit over his refusal to create a cake celebrating a gender transition, a case described by his legal team as a “setup” aimed at ensnaring Colorado’s best-known cake maker. “This week, we saw what represents a disturbing trend: the use of the justice system to ruin people who want to live and work according to their beliefs,” Mr. Phillips said in an email. “In this case, a custom cake request was made to ‘test’ me and ‘correct the errors’ of my thinking. No one should be forced to create expression or speak a message that violates their conscience.” The three-day trial in Denver Distric...
Biden’s corrupt state press corps would make Putin jealous
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Biden’s corrupt state press corps would make Putin jealous

ANALYSIS/OPINION: When Russian President Vladimir Putin made the extraordinary offer a few weeks back to debate President Biden, he set only one condition. He insisted that the debate be live. In other words, not recorded in order to be filtered by the media before being aired later. Now we know why. It wasn’t a ploy by the Russian president to set up the hopeless gaffe-machine for a high-wire act without a safety net — although Mr. Biden would most assuredly embarrass himself in any face-off against Mr. Putin. No, the reason that the authoritarian strongman “killer” insisted the debate be live was so that Mr. Biden would not benefit from the slobbering house press in America constantly covering for him. At an actual press conference Thursday inside the actual White House, an alleged repor...
Bump stocks not ‘machine guns’ and not subject to ATF ban, federal appeals court rules
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Bump stocks not ‘machine guns’ and not subject to ATF ban, federal appeals court rules

A federal appeals court Thursday ruled that a federal regulation barring bump stocks is likely illegal and was incorrect in claiming that the devices make a weapon a machine gun. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the accessories are not subject to a 2018 ban imposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) at the order of then-President Donald Trump. Bump stocks are plastic accessories that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire continuously in the manner of a machine gun, which have been more-or-less banned for decades. But, the 6th Circuit ruled in a 2-1 decision, the 2018 finding by BATF that bump stocks were machine guns, which reversed a 2010 finding on the same subject, was in error and the lower-court was wrong to refuse to issue an injunction a...
Nancy Pelosi: Bipartisanship will take back seat in Joe Biden infrastructure plan
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Nancy Pelosi: Bipartisanship will take back seat in Joe Biden infrastructure plan

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said bipartisanship will take a back seat to what’s needed to save the Earth in President Biden’s massive infrastructure plan. “We cannot settle for what we can agree on. We have to recognize that this bill is about the future, recognizing the climate crisis and the need for greening,” Mrs. Pelosi told reporters. That doesn’t mean she’s ruling out some areas of agreement with Republicans. Bipartisanship just isn’t the only priority, said Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat. “We cannot abandon our responsibility to make this a bill for the future, to save the planet,” she said. Her remarks set a familiar tone on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both chambers and rammed through a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package without the supp...
Thailand ‘land bridge’ could rewire trade, balance of power
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Thailand ‘land bridge’ could rewire trade, balance of power

BANGKOK — When God closes a canal, sometimes he opens a land bridge. As a stuck supertanker in the Suez Canal focuses global attention on chokepoints in major commercial transportation networks, Thai officials say they are moving ahead with an audacious plan to build a “land bridge” across the country’s narrow southern peninsula that could transform shipping routes and tilt the geopolitical landscape in the world’s most dynamic economic region. The vast bulk of oil and other cargo shipments between the Middle East and Asia now passes through the narrow, congested Strait of Malacca, linking the Indian and Pacific oceans. Building on a dream dating back centuries, Thai officials want to construct a short overland connection linking the Andaman Sea to the Gulf of Thailand. The “land bridge” i...
Joe Biden says border surge ‘happens every year’
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Joe Biden says border surge ‘happens every year’

President Biden downplayed the severity of the border surge Thursday, saying it “happens every year,” and suggested things seem worse now because the Trump administration left him with a broken system unable to deal with the problem. Even as he announced a crash effort to place children in beds at military bases to ease horrific conditions at Border Patrol facilities, he said most of them aren’t young children who tug at the heartstrings, but rather are 16 and 17 years old. Mr. Biden also suggested one solution might be deportations of some of the younger children, a prospect that is unlikely to sit well with immigration advocates. Speaking at his first press conference as president, Mr. Biden was peppered with questions about what most analysts argue is a migrant crisis, as families and c...
AstraZeneca after data-monitoring dust-up: Shots are 76% effective against all COVID-19
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AstraZeneca after data-monitoring dust-up: Shots are 76% effective against all COVID-19

Drugmaker AstraZeneca on Thursday said its vaccine is 76% effective against all forms of COVID-19 disease — a tad lower than the 79% it touted earlier in the week, sparking a confrontation with trial-monitors who accused them of cherry-picking data. The new statement affirmed the two-dose vaccine is highly effective at staving off all hospitalization and severe disease. “The primary analysis is consistent with our previously released interim analysis, and confirms that our COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective in adults, including those aged 65 years and over,” said Mene Pangalos, executive vice president. “We look forward to filing our regulatory submission for Emergency Use Authorization in the U.S. and preparing for the rollout of millions of doses across America.” The drugmaker released...
North Korea launches two more missiles in latest provocation aimed at Biden administration
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North Korea launches two more missiles in latest provocation aimed at Biden administration

North Korea on Wednesday escalated its provocations toward the Biden administration and U.S. allies in Northeast Asia by launching two ballistic missiles into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un fired the missiles roughly 24 hours after the Biden administration had sought to downplay a pair of previous launches that U.S. officials say the regime carried out last weekend. There was no immediate reaction from the administration to Wednesday’s launches. South Korean officials said the launches originated from North Korea‘s eastern South Hamgyong Province and occurred early in the morning. A report by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said North Korea fired “two unidentified projectiles.” Yonhap quoted a South Korean military statement a...