Europeans struggle to preserve Iran nuclear accord
BERLIN — The world powers struggling to preserve a nuclear deal with Iran are facing an increasingly uphill battle, with a new deadline from Tehran on finding a solution to make up for last year’s unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the accord and the increasing economic hardship that has put on the Islamic Republic.
After Iran notified Britain, Russia, China, the European Union, France and Germany of its intentions in a letter, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised address Wednesday that the nations have 60 days to come up with a plan to shield his country from the sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump after he pulled Washington out of the deal.
“If the five countries join negotiations and help Iran to reach its benefits in the field of oil and banking, Iran will return to its commitments according to the nuclear deal,” Rouhani said.
The 2015 deal, intended to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, promised economic incentives in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities. Despite efforts so far by the others to keep the deal from collapsing, Iran’s economy has been struggling and its currency has plummeted in value after the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions.
Later Wednesday, Trump issued an executive order announcing new sanctions targeting Iran’s steel, aluminum, copper and iron sectors, which provide foreign currency earnings for Tehran.
Trump administration seeks to target nationwide injunctions
WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that the Trump administration intends to try to challenge the right of federal district courts to issue nationwide injunctions.
In a speech at the Federalist Society conference in Washington, Pence argued that nationwide injunctions issued by federal judges “prevent the executive branch from acting, compromising our national security by obstructing the lawful ability of the president to stop threats to the homeland where he sees them.”
He said the administration will seek opportunities to put this question before the Supreme Court “to ensure that decisions affecting every American are made either by those elected to represent the American people or by the highest court in the land.”
Top administration officials have often complained about the proliferation of nationwide injunctions since Trump became president on issues ranging from immigration to health care, so the idea of pushing back is not new.
Indeed, the administration has asked the Supreme Court to deal with nationwide injunctions in the past, including in the travel ban case. But the court never addressed the nationwide extent of the injunction against the ban issued by lower courts because the justices upheld the ban in its entirety.
Travel ban forces Americans to wait years for loved ones
NEW YORK — Eight-year-old Mutaz cries when he sees his classmates with their mothers at teacher conferences. His 9-year-old brother, Adel, gets into trouble at school.
In hourslong weekend calls with their mother, the children always have the same question: When are you coming to America?
It’s a question with no answer. Their mother, Amena Abdulkarem, is stuck in Yemen with her two younger sons, the boys’ brothers. She’s been waiting three years for a visa to come to the United States to join her husband, Sadek Ahmed, and the children.
Their family’s situation is representative of the toll that the Trump administration’s travel ban has taken on an untold number of families. Ahmed, a 31-year-old school maintenance worker in New York and a U.S. citizen, and other Americans with relatives from countries targeted by the ban see no end to their separations. And they say they have no idea how to get a coveted waiver created, but seldom issued, by the government to help families avoid being apart for so long.
“I really don’t understand how long it’s going to take … I have two kids here. I need to know when she’s going to come. The kids keep asking me,” said Ahmed, tears in his eyes. “It’s hard for them, because they’re so young.”
Midwest downpours prompt more evacuations, flash flood fears
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rain swamping the nation’s midsection forced people from their homes in Kansas, stranded dozens of Texas children at school overnight and strained levees along the surging Mississippi River in Illinois, Missouri and elsewhere Wednesday prompting yet more flash flood concerns.
The flooding began in earnest in March, causing billions of dollars of damage to farmland, homes and businesses across the Midwest. Rivers in many communities have been above flood stage for more than six weeks following waves of heavy rain.
Some parts of Kansas received up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) from Tuesday through Wednesday morning, said Kelly Butler, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wichita. She described that as a “ridiculous amount of water” on top of grounds that already were saturated by days of rains. Several Kansas districts canceled classes, and numerous water rescues were reported.
Emergency management officials began evacuating people from their homes near the Kansas college town of Manhattan around 5 a.m. Wednesday as Wildcat Creek overflowed its banks. The Cottonwood River spilled over in Marion County, prompting more evacuations and the surging Slate Creek also forced people from their homes in Wellington and closed a stretch of the Kansas Turnpike near the Oklahoma border.
“It seemed like our poor fire department folks were going out constantly overnight, whether it was sandbagging, barricading streets or assisting citizens,” said Keri Korthals, the emergency management director in Butler County, where crews rescued around a dozen people from vehicles stuck in rising water from the Walnut and Whitewater rivers.
South Africa votes with corruption, jobs as big issues
JOHANNESBURG — South Africans voted Wednesday in presidential and parliamentary elections, with signs of a relatively low turnout and voters saying they were disillusioned by widespread corruption and unemployment.
Despite the demise of apartheid 25 years ago, South Africa remains divided by economic inequality .
The African National Congress, the party of Nelson Mandela that has been in power since 1994, is likely to win a majority but it will face a difficult challenge to match the 62% of the vote it got five years ago.
The party has been tarnished by corruption scandals and a national unemployment rate of 27%. President Cyril Ramaphosa, who leads the ANC, has campaigned on promises to clean up his party, an acknowledgment of the problems that forced out his predecessor last year.
“Corruption got into the way,” Ramaphosa said after voting, saying graft has prevented his party from serving the people.