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Iran says it will quit global nuclear treaty if case goes to U.N.

Iran will leave nuclear deal if it goes to  UNIran said on Monday it could quit the global nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if European countries refer it to the U.N. Security Council over a nuclear agreement, a move that would overturn diplomacy in its confrontation with the West.

The 1968 NPT has been the foundation of global nuclear arms control since the Cold War, including a 2015 deal Iran signed with world powers that offered it access to global trade in return for accepting curbs to its atomic program.

The fate of the 2015 pact has been in doubt since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of it and reimposed sanctions. Iran has responded by scaling back its commitments, although it says it wants the pact to survive.


Dust storms, hail and flash floods batter Australian cities amid raging wildfires

Australia wildfires, floods, hail, hit CanberraDust storms, hail and flash floods battered beleaguered Australian cities, extreme weather that diminished the threat from scores of wildfires  blazing across the country’s southeast.

A hailstorm Monday in the national capital, Canberra, damaged public buildings, businesses, homes and cars, cut power to some suburbs, brought down trees, caused flash flooding and injured two people.

To the west, a 186-mile-wide cloud of red dust was carried by wind gusts up to 66 mph and descended on the drought-stricken towns of Dubbo, Broken Hill, Nyngan and Parkes. Much of the dust is topsoil from New South Wales state farms.



Police fire tear gas to disperse thousands in central Hong Kong

Hong Kong protestsPolice fired tear gas on Sunday to disperse thousands of anti-government protesters who gathered in a central Hong Kong park but later spilled onto the streets, briefly barricading roads and spray-painting buildings.

Out in numbers before the demonstration began, police intervened promptly when the rally turned into an impromptu march. Several units of police in riot gear were seen chasing protesters and several arrests were made.

A water cannon truck drove on central streets, flanked by an armored jeep, but was not used.

Organizers initially applied for a permit for a march, but police only agreed to a static rally in the park, saying previous marches have turned violent.


Fake study program for Israelis in Michigan allegedly defrauded U.S. of $40 million

Michcigan Jewish institute fraudA  Jewish college in Michigan enrolled thousands of fictitious and actual Israeli students in a fake study abroad program as part of a scheme to pocket federal financial aid money, court documents unsealed Tuesday claim.

The documents, which include a complaint filed by a former employee and whistleblower, describe in detail how the Michigan Jewish Institute allegedly defrauded the government of more than $40 million over the course of at least ten years since about 2007.

The government unsealed the records after deciding not to take on the case, but the whistleblower may proceed with her private lawyers, and the Department of Justice may decide to intervene later on. If she wins her case, the government will still collect damages.


Ukraine launches criminal investigation into alleged surveillance of US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch

Ukraine investigating threats against Yovanovitch

Ukraine on Thursday announced it would launch a federal criminal investigation into alleged threats against Marie Yovanovitch while she was serving as the US ambassador to Ukraine.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs released a statement saying it was aware of "the materials published by the investigators, related to possible illegal surveillance on the former US ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on the Ukrainian territory."

It added that it "with regard to international and national legislation, guarantees protection, safety, and untouchability for diplomats of any foreign state on the territory of Ukraine, including the representatives of the diplomatic corps of the United States of America."


Democrats Call Trump's 'Phase One' China Trade Deal an 'Extreme Disappointment' and a Political 'Photo Op'

US China phase one trade dealDemocratic lawmakers criticized President Donald Trump's "phase one" trade agreement with China, which was signed on Wednesday.

The signing of the initial deal suggested that significantly heightened trade tensions between China and the U.S. are easing, after the president started placing tariffs on billions of Chinese imports nearly two years ago. Under the new deal, Beijing said it will begin purchasing an extra $200 billion in American products and services by 2021 while also reducing some of the retaliatory levies it has placed on imports from the U.S.

With China agreeing to buy more U.S. goods, the Trump administration said it would cancel planned tariffs that would have targeted laptops, mobile phones and toys imported from China. The White House also agreed to cut the tariff rate in half—to just 7.5 percent—on roughly $120 billion of imported Chinese goods.


Russian gov't quits after Putin proposes constitutional reform

Russian gov't quits

The Russian prime minister and entire government resigned on Wednesday as part of sweeping constitutional changes that could see President Vladimir Putin extend his hold on power.

Putin, in his annual address to parliament, proposed a referendum on amending Russia's constitution to increase the powers of parliament - while maintaining a strong presidential system.

"I consider it necessary to conduct a vote by the country's citizens on an entire package of proposed amendments to the country's constitution," Putin said, without specifying a date for a referendum.

He suggested amending the constitution to allow lawmakers to name prime ministers and cabinet members.

The president currently holds the authority to make those appointments.


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