Democratic Debates: Top Quotes by Each Candidate

The first night of the second round of Democratic presidential candidate debates took place in Detroit Tuesday. The candidates answered questions on a range of issues, including health care, recent mass shootings, immigration and foreign trade.

Here are some quotes from each candidate:

Steve Bullock, in responding to a discussion on gun violence, discussed a personal story, saying: “I’m a gun owner, I hunt, like far too many people in America, I have been personally impacted by gun violence. I had an 11-year-old nephew, Jeremy, shot and killed on a playground. We need to start looking at this as a public health issue, not a political issue.”

Pete Buttigieg, who as South Bend, Indiana, mayor has been criticized for his handling of a recent racially tinged shooting, said about race: “As an urban mayor serving a diverse community, the racial divide lives within me. I’m not saying that I became mayor and racism or crime or poverty ended on my watch. But in our city, we have come together repeatedly to tackle challenges like the fact that far too many people were not getting the help they needed in their housing and so we directed it to a historically underinvested African American neighborhood. Right now in the wake of a police involved shooting, our community is moving from hurting to healing by making sure that the community can participate in things like revising the use of force policy, and making sure there are community voices on the board of safety that handles police matters.”

John Delaney, in criticizing health care plans by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, said: “We don’t have to go around and be the party of subtraction and telling half the country who has private health insurance that their health insurance is illegal. It’s also bad policy. It’ll under-fund the industry, many hospitals will close, and it’s bad politics. … Folks, we have a choice. We can go down the road that Senator Sanders and Senator Warren want to take us with bad policies like Medicare for All, free everything, and impossible promises that will turn off independent voters and get (President Donald) Trump re-elected.”

John Hickenlooper, in criticizing Senator Sanders’ health care plan, said: “I’m saying the policies of this notion that you’re going to take private insurance away from 180 million American, who many of them don’t want to give it, many of them do want to get rid of it, but some don’t, many don’t. The Green New Deal makes sure that every American’s guaranteed a government job if they want, that is a disaster. You might as well FedEx the election to Donald Trump. I think we have to focus on where Donald Trump is failing.”

Amy Klobuchar, answering a question on infrastructure, discusses the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, said: “I was just in Flint, and they are still drinking bottled water in that town, and that is outrageous, and my plan, and I am the first one that came out with an infrastructure plan and I did that because this is a bread and butter issue for people that are caught in traffic jams. I truly believe that if we’re going to move on infrastructure, climate change, you need a voice from the heartland.”

Beto O’Rourke, who lives in the border town of El Paso, Texas, in explaining his stance on decriminalizing border crossings by undocumented immigrants, said: “In my administration, after we have waived citizenship fees for green card holders, more than 9 million of our fellow Americans, free Dreamers who many fear of deportation, and stop criminally prosecuting families and children for seeking asylum and refuge, and for-profit detention, and so that no family has to make that 2,000-mile journey, then I expect that people who come here follow our laws and we reserve the right to criminally prosecute them.” 

Tim Ryan, who said he agrees in part with President Trump’s use of tariffs against China, saying: “I think President Trump was onto something when he talked about China. China has been abusing the economic system for a long time. They steal intellectual property. They subsidize goods. They eroded manufacturing. We transfer our wealth of the middle class either up to the top 1% or to China for them to build the military. So I think we need some targeted response against China.”

Bernie Sanders, in explaining his climate change agenda, said: “To win this election and to defeat Donald Trump, which by the way, in my view is not going to be easy, we need to have a campaign of energy and excitement and of vision. … I get a little bit tired of Democrats afraid of big ideas. Republicans are not afraid of big ideas. They could give a trillion dollars in tax breaks to billionaires and profitable corporations. … On this issue, my friends, there is no choice, we have got to be super aggressive if we love our children and if we want to leave them a planet that is healthy and is habitable. … What that means is we got to take on the fossil fuel industry.”

Elizabeth Warren, on a night when North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles, explained her position on the use of nuclear weapons, saying: “The United States is not going to use nuclear weapons preemptively. We need to say so to the entire world. It reduces the likelihood someone miscalculates or misunderstands. Our first responsibility is to keep ourselves safe. And what’s happening right now with Donald Trump is they keep expanding the different ways we have nuclear weapons. The different ways they can be used puts us all at risk.”

Marianne Williamson, in defending her plan to offer up to $500 billion in reparations to the U.S. descendants of enslaved Africans, said: “It is time for us to simply realize that this country will not heal. All that a country is a collection of people. People heal when there’s deep truth-telling. We need to recognize when it comes to the economic gap between blacks and whites in America, it does come from a great injustice that has never been dealt with. That great injustice has had to do with the fact that there was 250 years of slavery, followed by another 100 years of domestic terrorism.”

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Article Suggests Nuclear Sharing with Japan, S. Korea to Deter N. Korean Threat

Christy Lee contributed to this report which originated on VOA’s Korean Service.

The National Defense University, an institution funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, has published a journal article suggesting Washington should share its nuclear tactical missiles with Japan and South Korea to deter North Korea’s growing nuclear threat to East Asia and the U.S. 

“The United States should strongly consider … sharing of nonstrategic nuclear capabilities during times of crisis with select Asia-Pacific partners, specially Japan and the Republic of Korea,” according to “Twenty-First Century Nuclear Deterrence,” published by the university in the current issue of Joint Force Quarterly (JFQ). The Republic of Korea is the official name for South Korea.

Publication guidelines on the university’s site say “The views expressed by this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.”

Sharing American nuclear capabilities with Japan and South Korea would involve deploying its nuclear weapons in the territories of its two allies in East Asia so that the weapons can be used in such time as a nuclear war, as the U.S. does with five member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO), according to the article. 

Japan and South Korea are under the U.S. nuclear umbrella that promises defense against threats. The U.S. maintains military bases in both countries, which are currently embroiled in a trade dispute colored by historical animosities. 

The article’s release on July 25 coincided with North Korea’s launch of two short-range missiles. Then, early Wednesday local time, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that North Korea launched multiple unidentified projectiles off the east coast of its Hodo Peninsula.

The four authors, who serve in the U.S. army, navy, and air force, suggest U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Japan and South Korea would be used for exigent purposes during war but would mainly serve as an extended deterrence against North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons in peacetime, effectively preventing it from launching a nuclear attack. 

The article suggests American nuclear sharing with Japan and South Korea could be undertaken in a manner similar to an agreement the U.S. signed with five NATO member states. 

US weapons

Currently, the U.S. shares approximately 180 tactical nuclear weapons such as B61 nuclear bombs with Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey

NATO is a multilateral alliance now composed of 29 member-states from North America and Europe established in 1949 by 12 countries to serve as a collective defense against emerging threats in the region. 

American nuclear weapons have been deployed to the five NATO countries since the mid-1950s in an arrangement known as nuclear sharing.  Nuclear sharing allows these countries without nuclear weapons to use American deployed nuclear weapons in case of war at which time the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) will be disabled. 

The NPT, which entered into force in 1970, prohibits signatory states from transferring and accepting direct and indirect control of nuclear weapons.

The JFQ article came out as the process of denuclearization diplomacy with Pyongyang, stalled since the Hanoi summit in February, has started to inch forward.

In June, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump met for an impromptu summit at the inter-Korean border in June where they agreed to resume denuclearization efforts. North Korea has been reluctant to engage in the working-level negotiations since Hanoi where Washington rejected Pyongyang’s demand for sanctions lift.

The JFQ authors highlighted that the U.S. may face “difficulties in shaping [North Korean] behavior” if it does not give up its nuclear program.

“If left unchecked, North Korea will continue to threaten the East Asian region and perhaps one day the United States itself,” they noted.

North Korea threat

On June 25, North Korea fired what South Korea called new types of short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, the body of water between the Korean peninsula and Japan, rattling the East Asian countries.

The next day, Pyongyang said it had tested a new type of “tactical guided weapon” intended to send a “solemn warning” to South Korea to end its joint military exercises with the U.S.

North Korea said the weapons it tested had “rapid anti-firepower capability” and “low altitude gliding and leaping flight orbit…which would be hard to intercept.”  

In May, North Korea tested three short-range missiles off its east coast that experts considered to be similar to a Russian Iskander, a nuclear loadable short-range ballistic missile.

The article said, “Considering North Korea’s history of aggressive nuclear rhetoric and recent missile tests,” sharing U.S. nuclear weapons with its regional allies “would provide renewed physical evidence of U.S. resolve.”

The article also stated that nuclear sharing with Japan and South Korea will strengthen a “military partnership through joint-regional exercises” necessary to deter North Korea.

However, according to Gary Samore, former White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction during the Obama administration, the time may not be ripe for the U.S. to propose nuclear sharing with Seoul and Tokyo because of an on-going trade row between the two

“My sense is that [in] both South Korea and Japan, there is very little political support for such a step at this time,” said Samore, currently senior fellow at the Harvard Belfer Center’s Korea Project. “It could change, but, for now, I think it would be very controversial.”

Seoul and Tokyo have been involved in a trade dispute after Japan placed export restrictions on three high-tech items South Korean companies use to manufacture parts used in smart phones and other high-tech devices. The trade dispute is widely seen as rooted in Korean anger at Japan for decades of colonization and occupation from 1910 until Japan’s 1945 surrender to the U.S. to end World War II. During that period, many Japanese companies used Korean forced labor. 

Boycotts against Japanese-made products have been widespread in Seoul, and Japan has rejected Seoul’s call for talks to resolve the dispute. 

Samore said, “There may come a time when the domestic politics in South Korea and Japan have changed especially when North Korea continues to maintain and advance nuclear weapons and (a) ballistic missile program.” He added, “And then at that point it would make more sense.”

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Senators Warren, Sanders Under Attack at Democrats’ Presidential Debate

Story updated on July 31, at 12:18 am.

U.S. health care policies took center stage Tuesday night at the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate, with more moderate challengers attacking Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the leading progressives looking to oust President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Warren and Sanders have both called for a sweeping end to the country’s current health care system centered on private company insurance plans offered to 150 million workers through their employers. But their views were under attack almost from the start of the debate on a theater stage in Detroit, Michigan, the country’s auto industry hub.

“We don’t have to go around and be the party of subtraction and telling half the country who has private health insurance that their health insurance is illegal,” former Maryland Congressman John Delaney said. “It’s also bad policy. It’ll under-fund the industry, many hospitals will close, and it’s bad politics.”

Often political allies

Warren, a former Harvard law professor, and Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, are friends of long-standing and often political allies. They now are both looking for votes from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Both defended their position calling for a government-run health care system.

“This is not radical,” Sanders of Vermont shouted at one point, noting that numerous other Western societies already have adopted government-run systems. “I get a little tired of Democrats who are afraid of big ideas.”

Warren of Massachusetts rebuffed the critics, saying, “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.” 

But their challengers lobbed multiple attacks at the pair, saying their proposals would, over four years or longer, upend the long-standing U.S. health care system, including government-subsidized insurance for moderate and low-income families under the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who has called for more incremental health care policy changes, said, “I have bold ideas, but they are grounded in reality.”

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. talk during a break in the first of two Democratic presidential primary debates hosted by CNN Tuesday, July 30, 2019, in the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said that Democrats had picked up 40 seats in the House of Representatives in the 2018 mid-term elections and not one of them had pushed for the Warren-Sanders Medicare for All plan.

“I’m a little more pragmatic,” Hickenlooper declared.

‘Recipe for disaster’

Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan called for a plan allowing Americans to buy into government-run insurance if they want to, but said that closing down the insurance industry “is a recipe for disaster,” especially among union members who would face the loss of hard-won health care benefits through collective bargaining.

The moderate candidates also attacked Sanders and Warren on immigration issues, even as several candidates assailed Trump’s immigration policies, including his since-abandoned practice of separating migrant children from their parents.

The moderate challengers criticized Sanders and Warren for proposing to end the filing of criminal charges against the thousands of undocumented migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexican border.

“We’ve got 100,000 people showing up at the border right now,” said Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. “If we decriminalize entry, if we give free health care to everyone, we’ll have multiples of that.” He said that by effectively encouraging migration to the United States, “You are playing into Donald Trump’s hands.”

Ryan said, “If you want to come into the country, you should at least ring the doorbell.”

Sanders answered that he does not think that immigrants should be prosecuted, saying, “If a mother and a child walk thousands of miles on a dangerous path, in my view, they are not criminals.”

Warren called for civil penalties, not criminal charges against migrants arriving in the U.S. “The point is not about criminalization,” she said. “That has given Donald Trump the tool to break families apart.”

Throughout the night, the candidates sparred over foreign policy, Warren’s controversial plan for a wealth tax and debt-free college, payment of reparations to the U.S. descendants of slaves, trade, the city of Flint, Michigan’s prolonged drinking water crisis, and even the age of the candidates. Buttigieg, who is 37, stood next to Sanders, who is 77, and was asked by CNN’s Don Lemon whether Sanders was too old to be president.

Buttigieg demurred, saying, “I don’t care how old you are, I care about your vision. … We need the kind of vision that’s going to win. We can’t have the kind of vision that says, ‘Back to normal.'”

Sanders readily agreed with Buttigieg, boasting of the ideas he has advocated to dramatically alter the health care system and bring the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to heel. 

First of two nights

Tuesday’s debate, lasting more than 2.5 hours, was the first of two nights with two groups of 10 Democratic candidates sparring with each other over domestic and foreign policy differences, but more importantly trying to make the case that they are the party’s best hope to defeat Trump when he seeks re-election in 2020.

Trump’s relentless attacks on Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, a prominent African American political leader, and the predominantly black city of Baltimore that he represents, drew sharp criticism from some of the Democratic presidential candidates.

“Donald Trump disgraces the office of the presidency every single day,” Warren said. Klobuchar added: “I don’t think anyone can justify what this president is doing.”

The two debates are occurring six months ahead of the Democratic Party’s first presidential nominating contests. The debates could prove pivotal in both winnowing the field, forcing the weakest challengers out of the race before the next debate in mid-September, and in solidifying the list of front-runners. It largely depends on who is perceived by pundits in the post-debate analyses as making a plausible case to be the Democratic standard-bearer, or, conversely, flubbing their opportunity on CNN’s nationally televised broadcasts.

On Wednesday, former Vice President Joe Biden, currently the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in national surveys of Democrats and some independents, will be at center stage. Some party stalwarts say he is the more moderate, center-left, politically safe choice to take on the unpredictable Trump, whose populist base of conservative voters remains strong.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, speaks during the National Urban League Conference, Thursday, July 25, 2019, in Indianapolis.

Tuesday’s debaters never mentioned Biden, even though all of them would eventually have to overtake him to win the Democratic nomination.

Biden had a shaky first debate performance a month ago, faltering as California Sen. Kamala Harris challenged him to explain his opposition three decades ago to forced busing of schoolchildren to racially desegregate public schools. Harris said that she, as a black woman and the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, benefited from such a busing program to attend a better school while growing up in California.

Biden, a fixture on the U.S. political scene for four decades, and Harris, a former state attorney general before winning election to the Senate, will be standing alongside each other on the debate stage. Biden is promising a more robust performance than in the first debate, saying, “I’m not going to be as polite this time.” 

But questions remain about Biden’s standing, whether at 76 he is too old to lead the country, even though Trump is 73, and whether Democratic voters want a candidate with more progressive views than Biden on health care, prevention of crime, migrant immigration at the U.S.-Mexican border and other issues.

Some analysts think Biden’s top standing in national polls is at least partly a reflection of name recognition, from his 36 years as a U.S. senator, two unsuccessful runs for the presidency and two terms as vice president under former President Barack Obama.

Tough-on-crime legislation

On the same stage Wednesday, Biden is also likely to face a challenge from Sen. Cory Booker, an African American former mayor of Newark, New Jersey.

Booker has assailed Biden’s support 25 years ago for get-tough-on-crime legislation that led to the disproportionate imprisonment of black defendants.

Biden recently offered a new criminal justice plan, reversing key provisions of the 1994 measure, such as ending the stricter sentencing for crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. Booker scoffed that Biden was hardly the best candidate to lay out a new criminal justice plan and has called for slashing mandatory minimum sentences.

Despite Biden’s first debate stumbles, the ranks of the top Democratic candidates have changed little in national surveys.

Biden remains ahead of three challengers, all U.S. senators: Sanders, from the Northeastern state of Vermont; Warren, from neighboring Massachusetts, and Harris. Booker has edged up a bit in the polling, while South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has slipped a notch. The remaining candidates are far down the ranks and struggling to gain a foothold.

A new Quinnipiac University national poll this week shows Biden leading the pack with 34% of Democrats and independents leaning Democratic, followed by Warren at 15%, Harris with 12% and Sanders with 11%.

Biden claims he has the best chance of making the Republican Trump the country’s first single-term president in nearly three decades, denying him a second four years in the White House. 

National surveys, 15 months ahead of the Nov. 3, 2020, election, consistently show Biden winning a hypothetical match-up over Trump, whose voter approval ratings remain mired in the mid-40% range. Sanders often defeats Trump as well, although not by Biden’s margin, while surveys show the other top Democrats potentially locked in tight, either-or outcomes with Trump.

Aside from Biden, Harris and Booker, the Wednesday debate stage also includes former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Five other Democratic candidates did not qualify for the Detroit debates, but the 20 who did had to have collected campaign donations from at least 65,000 individuals and hit a 1% threshold in at least three separate polls.

It gets tougher to appear on the stage at the third debate six weeks from now. To qualify then, candidates must have 130,000 campaign contributors and at least 2 percent support in four polls.

Only seven of this week’s 20 debaters have already met the third debate criteria: Biden, Harris, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, Booker and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke.

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Trump Warns China to Negotiate Trade Deal Now Rather Than Later

As U.S.-China trade talks are set to begin, U.S. President Donald Trump is warning China against negotiating a deal after the 2020 U.S. presidential election  — declaring a delayed agreement would be less attractive than a deal reached in the near term.

“The problem with them waiting … is that if & when I win, the deal that they get will be much tougher than what we are negotiating now … or no deal at all,” Trump said in a post Tuesday on Twitter.

…to ripoff the USA, even bigger and better than ever before. The problem with them waiting, however, is that if & when I win, the deal that they get will be much tougher than what we are negotiating now…or no deal at all. We have all the cards, our past leaders never got it!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2019

The tweet came as U.S. and Chinese officials gathered in Shanghai to revive talks, with both sides trying to temper expectations for a breakthrough.

The world’s two largest economies are engaged in an intense trade war, having imposed punitive tariffs on each other totaling more than $360 billion in two-way trade.

The negotiations come after Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed at June’s G-20 summit to resurrect efforts to end the costly trade war over China’s technology ambitions and trade surplus.

China is resisting U.S. demands to abolish government-led plans for industrial leaders to enhance robotics, artificial intelligence and other technologies.

The U.S. has complained China’s plans depend on the acquisition of foreign technology through theft or coercion.

Days prior to the Shanghai meeting, Trump threatened to withdraw recognition of China’s developing nation’s status at the World Trade Organization. China responded by saying the threat is indicative of the “arrogance and selfishness” of the U.S.

The U.S. delegation in Shanghai will be represented by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. They are due to meet with a Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He, who serves as the country’s economic czar.

 

 

 

 

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UN Official Says War in Yemen Knocked Country Back 20 Years

A top U.N. official warned Monday that Yemen’s devastating five-year civil war has knocked the country back 20 years in terms of development and access to education.

Yemen was already the Arab world’s poorest nation before the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people. In 2014, rebels known as Houthis took over the capital, Sanaa, prompting a Saudi-led military intervention. The stalemated conflict has claimed tens of thousands of lives, thrust millions to the brink of famine and spawned the world’s most devastating humanitarian crisis.
 
“Much of the Yemeni economy has collapsed. People literally do not have any money to buy food,” Achim Steiner, U.N. Development Program administrator, told The Associated Press.

“Thousands of schools are closed, millions of children aren’t able to attend school, missing a generation of education,” he said. “Yemen has lost… 20 years of development.”
 
Steiner recently returned from a visit to Yemen, including the strategic port city of Hodeida. He waned that one in every three Yemenis are at risk of starving to death, out of a population of 30 million.
 
In Hodeida, he said the U.N. Development Program has been working to remove land mines from Hodeida’s port, which handles 70 percent of Yemen’s food imports and humanitarian aid. He said he met with local authorities to create an agreement on “the priorities that are now needed in terms of repair spare parts, technologies that are needed in order to be able to allow the port to function again.”
 
Both sides of the conflict agreed in December to withdraw from Hodeida, considered an important first step toward ending the war. But the implementation of the U.N.-brokered deal has since been delayed, as the agreement was vague on who would control Hodeida’s key port facilities after the withdrawal, saying only that a “local force” would take over.
 
Steiner urged both sides to help U.N. agencies “deliver fast and with little obstruction, the kinds of services, support, food, medicines” that ordinary Yemenis need.

A boy and his sisters watch graffiti artists spray on a wall, commemorating the victims who were killed in Saudi-led coalition airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, May 18, 2015.

“We would like to see that port up and running again in a matter of months. It can be done but only with the full cooperation of both sides,” he said.
 
Steiner said the UNDP in Yemen faces financial difficulties, as the pledges for humanitarian support in Yemen were close to $3 billion this year, but less than $1.1 billion has been delivered.
 
“We will have to stop programs, we will have to cut rations, and probably in the next two to three months, 21 support programs in the country have to be stopped,” he warned.

 

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Ex-Tehran Mayor Sentenced to Death over Wife’s Murder

Former Tehran mayor Mohammad Ali Najafi was sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering his wife, the judiciary said Tuesday, after a high-profile case that received extensive media coverage.

A prominent reformist, Najafi was found guilty of shooting dead his second wife Mitra Ostad at their home in the capital on May 28, said Iran’s judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili.

According to Iranian media reports, her body was found in a bathtub after Najafi, 67, turned himself in and confessed to killing her.

“The charge sheet included premeditated murder, battery and possession of an illegal firearm,” Esmaili said, quoted by the judiciary’s official news agency Mizan Online.

“The court has established premeditated murder and passed the execution sentence,” he added.

Najafi was acquitted of the battery charge but received a two-year jail sentence for possessing the illegal firearm, the spokesman said without elaborating.

“The sentence is not yet final and can be appealed at the supreme court,” said Esmaili.

Ostad’s family had appealed for the Islamic law of retribution to be applied — an “eye for an eye” form of punishment which would see the death penalty served in this instance.

Najafi’s trial received detailed coverage in state media where scandals related to politicians rarely appear on television.

A mathematician, professor and veteran politician, Najafi had previously served as President Hassan Rouhani’s economic adviser and education minister.

He was elected Tehran mayor in August 2017, but resigned the following April after facing criticism from conservatives for attending a dance performed by schoolgirls.

Najafi married Ostad without divorcing his first wife, unusual in Iran where polygamy is legal but socially frowned upon.

Some of Iran’s ultra-conservatives said the case showed the “moral bankruptcy” of reformists, while reformists accused the conservative-dominated state television of bias in its coverage and highlighting the case for political ends.

 

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Iraq Displays Stolen Artifacts Recovered From UK, Sweden

Iraqi officials are displaying stolen artifacts from the country’s rich cultural heritage that were recently recovered from Britain and Sweden.

Many archaeological treasures from Iraq, home of the ancient “fertile crescent” considered the cradle of civilization, were looted during the chaos that followed the 2003 U.S. invasion and whisked out of the country.

Now Iraq is making a massive effort to bring these pieces home, working closely with the U.N. cultural organization.

The artifacts on display Monday at the foreign ministry in Baghdad include archaeological and historical items, such as pottery fragments and shards with writing dating back at least 4,000 years to the ancient Sumerian civilization.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim said his country is determined to recover its lost heritage, whatever it takes.

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IMF: Venezuela’s Economic Decline Among Most Severe Globally

The International Monetary Fund says the cumulative decline of the Venezuelan economy since 2013 will surpass 60% and is among the deepest five-year contractions the world has seen over the last half century.

Alejandro Werner is director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department. He describes the Venezuelan decline as a “historical case” because it is unprecedented in the hemisphere and also because it is the only one of the top global five-year contractions that is unrelated to armed conflicts or natural disasters.    

The IMF on Monday also adjusted its 2019 forecast for the South American country to a contraction of 35% — up from the 25% decline expected back in April — due to a sharp fall in the oil production, which has already plunged to its lowest level in seven decades. 

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