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US Denies Iran’s Zarif A Visa To Attend UN Meeting – US Official 

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Amid rising tensions between Iran and the United States over the assassination of Iran’s most prominent military commander by the US, Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif has reportedly been denied a visa to America to attend the UN Security Council meeting in New York on Thursday.

According to media reports, a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the US denied a visa to Zarif but the U.S. State Department declined immediate comment.

As quoted by Reuters, Iran’s mission to the United Nations said: “We have seen the media reports, but we have not received any official communication from either the U.S. or the U.N. regarding Foreign Minister Zarif’s visa.”

Zarif last traveled to New York in September for the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations – after the United States sanctioned him for implementing “the reckless agenda of Iran’s Supreme Leader.”

The killing of General Qassem Soleimani on Friday in Baghdad, along with Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis is “an obvious example of state terrorism and, as a criminal act, constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law, including, in particular … the Charter of the United Nations,” Iran’s ambassador to the UN, Majid Takht Ravanchi said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke with U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier on Monday. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement the pair discussed events in the Middle East and that Pompeo “expressed his appreciation” for Guterres’ diplomatic efforts.

Under the 1947 UN “headquarters agreement,” the US is generally required to allow access to the UN for foreign diplomats. But Washington says it can deny visas for “security, terrorism and foreign policy” reasons.

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UK Cuts Overseas Aid After Worst Recession In Over 300 Years

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The British government is facing so much criticism over its decision to cut overseas aid and divert the funds to finance other spending priorities in the wake of what it described as the deepest recession in more than three centuries.

Treasury chief, Rishi Sunak, says the move is widely expected to free up at least five and a half billion dollars for the conservative government to use for other concerns.

Sunak says government needed to make tough choices at a time of unprecedented crisis.

He said the government aims to return to the target introduced by the labour government of Tony Blair around two decades ago, but that even with the new target, the U.K. Will still be the second biggest aid spender among the group of seven leading industrial nations.

Critics from inside the political spectrum indicate the decision goes against the government’s promise in last year’s general election to maintain the aid target.

Chief executive of the non-governmental organization, save the children, Kevin Watkins, says the NGO is deeply disappointed by the cut, and that, the UK had “broken a promise” to the world’s neediest people that could lead to “100,000 lives not saved by immunization.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the world’s Anglican communion, Justin Welby, said the cut “is shameful and wrong,” and against the teaching of Jesus Christ.

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Turkey Jails Hundreds For Life Over 2016 Failed Coup Attempt

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A Turkish court has jailed for life, three hundred thirty-seven former pilots and other suspects over an unsuccessful plot to overthrow president Recep Tayyip Erdogan four years ago.

475 defendants were accused of carrying out the attempt to overthrow the government in 2016, from an airbase near the capital Ankara.

More than 250 persons were killed in the attempt as rogue soldiers commandeered warplanes, helicopters and tanks in a bid to take control of key state institutions.

Of the 337 life sentences given, 291 were aggravated life sentences, the most severe punishment in Turkish courts. This means there is no possibility of parole.

State news agency, Anadolu, and other sources, said at least 25 F-16 pilots were given aggravated life sentences.

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Smaller Thanksgiving Gatherings Disrupt US Turkey Market

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Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States—a day when millions of families get together, share turkey meals and revel. And it is a day of the famous Macy’s parade. But it’s a smaller occasion this year as COVID-19 has put a damper on large celebrations.

The turkey industry in the country is seeing both a shortage of smaller turkeys and a surplus of the bigger ones as more Americans plan to hold smaller gatherings for Thanksgiving as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Americans heed the advice of health authorities to hold smaller gatherings, they have had to downsize their turkeys from the usual thirty-pound birds.

A recent survey conducted by the American turkey and poultry company, butterball, found that three out of four of its respondents are opting for simpler, smaller dinners this year, which is in line with recommendations from the centers for disease control and prevention.

But that creates a problem for America’s turkey industry where at least forty million turkeys are usually consumed every Thanksgiving. The national turkey federation says most of the frozen turkeys one would find in the supermarkets now had gone into the field before the pandemic hit.  Now, there is a huge backlog, especially of the big size birds that people are not buying because of reduction in crowd sizes.

Nonetheless, Americans say they will make the best of this thanksgiving day and pray that next year would be coronavirus-free. Then, life can return to normal.

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