WASHINGTON – The Obama administration will launch a lobbying push today to stop Congress from approving harsh new penalties against Iran, which the White House warns could sink international negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., has nearly completed sanctions legislation that it hopes to attach as an amendment to the annual, must-pass defense authorization bill, which could face a vote this week before Congress adjourns for the holidays.
The amendment would seek to reduce Iran’s remaining oil revenue – which has been cut by more than half as a result of earlier sanctions – almost to zero within a year after the new sanctions take effect.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry is expected to argue against the proposal when he testifies today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
DOHA, Qatar – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the U.S. military to transport troops from Burundi into the Central African Republic to help quell the latest upsurge in violence there.
Hagel approved the order after speaking with French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian Monday night from Afghanistan where he was visiting troops. Le Drian asked the U.S. to help get African troops quickly into the country to prevent the violence there from spreading, said Pentagon spokesman Carl Woog. There are more than 1,000 French troops in the Central African Republic, where more than 400 people were killed in two days of violence last week between Christians and Muslims.
Thai prime minister won’t step down
BANGKOK – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said today she would not resign ahead of national elections set for Feb. 2, despite opposition demands she step down as the caretaker head of government.
Yingluck spoke one day after she announced elections – and one day after the main opposition leader ended a massive protest rally by insisting his movement had now assumed broad political power.
Brotherhood leader denies causing violence
CAIRO – The leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood denied his group was to blame for violence as he appeared in court Monday for the first time since being detained following the ouster of the Islamist president last summer.
The trial against Mohammed Badie and other senior Islamists comes as authorities tighten a crackdown on dissent, arresting dozens of protesters in a raid on Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s most prominent educational institution.
18 L.A. deputies face federal charges
LOS ANGELES – Federal officials said 18 current and former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies saw themselves as being “above the law” when they engaged in crimes that included beating inmates and jail visitors, falsifying reports, and trying to obstruct an FBI probe of the nation’s largest jail system.
The investigation into corruption and civil rights abuses led to the arrests Monday of 16 of the 18 defendants. At least two no longer work for the department. The 16 who were arrested appeared in court later Monday. Thirteen pleaded not guilty, and three did not enter pleas.
Princeton vaccinates nearly 2,000 students
PRINCETON, N.J. – Princeton University has vaccinated nearly 2,000 of its students to try to stop an outbreak of type B meningitis in an unusual federal government-endorsed administration of a drug not generally approved for use in the United States.
Seven students and one prospective student who was visiting campus have been stricken by potentially life-threatening type B meningococcal disease since March. None of the cases has been fatal.
Princeton officials said Monday that 1,959 of the university’s 6,000 students had received shots.
Ex-San Diego mayor sentenced
SAN DIEGO – Bob Filner was sentenced Monday to three months of home confinement and three years of probation for harassing women while he was mayor of San Diego, completing the fall of the former 10-term congressman who barely a year ago achieved his long dream of being elected leader of the nation’s eighth-largest city.
Filner, 71, who resigned amid widespread allegations of sexual harassment, pleaded guilty in October to one felony and two misdemeanors for placing a woman in a headlock, kissing another woman and grabbing the buttocks of a third.
‘Sound of Music’ actress Parker dies at 91
LOS ANGELES – Eleanor Parker, who was nominated for Academy Awards three times for her portrayals of strong-willed women and played a scheming baroness in “The Sound of Music,” has died at 91.
Family friend Richard Gale said Parker died Monday morning due to complications from pneumonia.
Her last memorable role came in 1965’s “The Sound of Music,” in which she played the baroness who loses Christopher Plummer to Julie Andrews.
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