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Trump Warns Iran To Never Threaten U.S.

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U.S. President Donald Trump warned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday not to threaten the United States or face the consequences, hours after Rouhani told Trump that hostile policies toward Tehran could lead to “the mother of all wars.”

In a late night Twitter message directed at Rouhani, Trump wrote:

“Never, ever threaten the United States again or you will suffer consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before. We are no longer a country that will stand for your demented words or violence & death. Be cautious!”

The escalation in rhetoric came as the Trump administration has launched an offensive of speeches and online communications meant to foment unrest and help pressure Iran to end its nuclear program and its support of militant groups, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

Iran has faced increased U.S. pressure and looming sanctions following Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from a 2015 international deal over Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran has said its nuclear work is just for electricity generation and other peaceful projects.

In a speech late on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced Iran’s leaders as a “mafia” and promised unspecified backing for Iranians unhappy with their government.

Addressing a gathering of Iranian diplomats earlier on Sunday, Rouhani said: “Mr Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret,” according to a report by the state new agency IRNA.

“America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said, leaving open the possibility of peace between the two countries, at odds since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Rouhani also scoffed at Trump’s threat to halt Iranian oil exports and said Iran has a dominant position in the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, a major oil shipping waterway.

Rouhani’s apparent threat earlier this month to disrupt oil shipments from neighboring countries came in reaction to efforts by Washington to force all countries to stop buying Iranian oil.

Washington initially planned to shut Iran out of global oil markets completely after Trump abandoned the deal that limited Iran’s nuclear ambitions, demanding all other countries stop buying Iranian crude by November.

But the United States has somewhat eased its stance, saying it may grant sanction waivers to some allies that are particularly reliant on Iranian supplies.

Health News

General: COVID-19 Vaccines Will Be Ready For Delivery 24 Hours After FDA Authorization

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Four-Star general Gustave Perna who is leading the U.S. government’s operation warp speed, the crash program to develop, produce, and distribute enough COVID-19 vaccine doses to inoculate 300 million Americans, says he is confident vaccines will be “on the streets 24 hours after being authorized by the food and drug administration.

The operation is stockpiling anticipated vaccines made by six different drug makers.

While the first two vaccines to be distributed will likely be from Pfizer and Moderna, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Affairs, Alex Azar, described the news from Astra zeneca’s clinical trials as “very promising” and noted that the company’s vaccine is already being produced in the country so it too can be ready for distribution once authorized by the FDA.

Azar confirmed the drugmaker is already producing mass quantities of the vaccine in the U.S.

Last week, Pfizer applied for authorization from the FDA and a hearing date was set for mid-December.

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Formal Transition Of U.S. Power To Biden Begins After Lengthy Delay

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US president-elect Joe Biden has been informally introducing his cabinet choices as formal transition begins.

Many of the choices, already announced, are Biden’s colleagues from his years in the Obama administration.

Former secretary of state, John Kerry, will be climate envoy, while foreign policy veteran Antony Blinken is nominated for secretary of state.

Avril Haines has been nominated for the post of director of national intelligence.  If confirmed, she will be the first female to hold that position.  Alejandro Mayorkas is named as homeland security boss.  If confirmed, she would be the first Latino in that job.

President-elect Biden has highlighted the need to rebuild alliances, as well as tackling coronavirus and climate change.

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Jamal Khashoggi Killing: Turkey’s Trial Of Saudi Suspects Resumes

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The trial has resumed in turkey of the men accused in the murder of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul two years ago.

Twenty Saudi officials, who are not in turkey, are being tried in absentia.

Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, was said to have been suffocated to death, and then dismembered allegedly by a team of Saudi agents inside the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.

The defendants include two former aides to the prince, who have both denied any involvement.

Egyptian political dissident Ayman Noor, a close friend of Khashoggi, told the court the journalist felt threatened by people close to crown prince Mohammed.

The trial has now been adjourned until march.

Saudi arabia, which rejected turkey’s extradition request, convicted eight persons last year over the murder.  Five of them were sentenced to death for directly participating in the killing, while three got prison sentences for covering up the crime.

The 59-year-old journalist, who went into self-imposed exile in the us in 2017, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in October 2018 to obtain papers he needed to marry his fiancee.

The Saudi government said the journalist was killed in a “rogue operation” by a team of agents.

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