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Congress rebuffs easing of Iran sanctions

Republicans and Democrats determined to look tough on Iran and avoid any election-year challenges to their pro-Israel bona fides are rebuffing Obama administration pleas to ease proposed penalties on Iran's central bank.

(AP) Washington - The administration argues that the crippling penalties would undercut a carefully calibrated international effort targeting Tehran and would drive up oil prices, a potential economic boon that would help finance Iran's suspected pursuit of a nuclear weapon while hitting cash-strapped Americans at the gas pump.

Just weeks after announcing a new round of restrictions, President Barack Obama on Thursday dismissed "some of the political noise out there" and said his "administration has systematically imposed the toughest sanctions on Iran ever."

Obama said he was considering all options for dealing with Iran, but declined to be more specific.

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Coronavirus

Xi's Burden — Why China Is Sticking With Zero COVID

Too much has been put in to the state-sponsored truth that minimal spread of the virus is the at-all-cost objective. But if the Chinese economy continues to suffer, Xi Jinping may have no choice but to second guess himself.

COVID testing in Guiyang, China

Cfoto/DDP via ZUMA
Deng Yuwen

The tragic bus accident in Guiyang last month — in which 27 people being sent to quarantine were killed — was one of the worst examples of collateral damage since the COVID-19 pandemic began in China nearly three years ago. While the crash can ultimately be traced back to bad government policy, the local authorities did not register it as a Zero COVID related casualty. It was, for them, a simple traffic accident.

The officials in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou, of course, had no alternative. Drawing a link between the deadly crash and the strict policy of Zero COVID, touted by President Xi Jinping, would have revealed the absurdity of the government's choices.

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