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UN Security Council rejects US resolution to extend Iran arms embargo – Fox News

The U.N. Security Council on Friday rejected a U.S. resolution to extend a thirteen-years-old arms embargo on Iran due to expire in October — a move that will likely result in the Trump administration attempting to extend the embargo unilaterally.

The short resolution, which would have extended the embargo “until the Security Council decides otherwise,” mustered only two votes in the chamber — the U.S. and the Dominican Republic. It needed nine to pass, and even if it had gained that many, would likely have been shot down by a veto from China and Russia.

US INTRODUCES UPDATED DRAFT SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION TO EXTEND IRAN ARMS EMBARGO 

Russia and China voted no, but did not need to deploy a veto, while the remaining members of the Council abstained.

The embargo is due to expire on Oct. 18 as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal — formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). The U.S. has been engaged in a significant diplomatic effort to get allies to embargo extended, warning that it would give Iran access to weapons that it could use to destabilize the region and sell to countries like Yemen, Venezuela and Syria.

U.S. officials have warned that the expiration of the embargo would allow Iran to buy fighter jets, attack choppers, tanks, submarines and missiles with a range of up to 300 km.

In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Council “failed today to uphold its fundamental mission set.”

“It rejected a reasonable resolution to extend the 13-year old arms embargo on Iran and paved the way for the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism to buy and sell conventional weapons without specific U.N. restrictions in place for the first time in over a decade,” he said. “The Security Council’s failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable.”

U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft said the U.S. was “sickened – but not surprised – as the clear majority of Council members gave the green light to Iran to buy and sell all manner of conventional weapons.”

“Failing to step up to this moral challenge validates the world’s number one state sponsor of terror, just to save face and protect a failed political deal made outside the Council,” she said, saying the resolution’s failure “outlines perfectly this Council’s current condition of paralysis and inaction in the face of growing threats.”

Pompeo said that a number of Arab nations as well as Israel supported extending the embargo. But a number of diplomats were concerned that if it extended the arms embargo, Iran would leave the already-fragile deal, from which the U.S. announced its withdrawal in 2018.

Acting UK Ambassador Jonathan Allen said in a statement that while the U.K. had set out its concerns of Iran’s destabilizing behavior in the region, the UK abstained, “because it was clear that it would not attract the support of the Council and would not represent a basis for achieving consensus” and would therefore not contribute to regional stability.

“Nevertheless, we stand ready to work with Council Members and JCPoA participants to seek a path forward that could secure the support of the Council,” he said.

In a long statement to the Council, Iranian Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi accused the U.S. of creating a “manufactured crisis about Iran’s nuclear program,” and that it was now  “manufacturing a new crisis under the so-called label of “arms proliferation.”

Iranian dissidents were dismayed at the possibility of the embargo’s expiration, with Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), describing an embargo as as “indispensable to regional and global peace and security.”

“The regime’s unimpeded purchase and sale of weapons will have no result other than terrorism, warmongering, and export of fundamentalism,” she said.

Israel’s newly-installed Ambassador Gilad Erdan hard harsh words for the the Council, calling the rejection of the resolution “a disgrace.”

“The Council has utterly failed in its responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. This decision will further destabilize the Middle East, and increase the spread of violence around the world,” he said.

The U.S. has said in no uncertain terms that it intends to use other means to extend the arms embargo, and could do so as early as next week. U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft had said that the U.S. will “use every tool in our toolbox.”

BRIAN HOOK, US SPECIAL ENVOY FOR IRAN, TO STEP DOWN; ELLIOTT ABRAMS TO TAKE POST

Specifically, U.N. Resolution 2231, which enshrined the deal, includes a snapback mechanism that allows an individual nation to reimpose expiring sanctions on Iran — including the arms embargo. Although the U.S. left the Iran deal, it claims to still retain rights under 2231 and is likely to seek to use that power.

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow and Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), told Fox News that while Iran was the “big winner,” so too were Russia and China.

“From both a mercantilist and strategic perspective, selectively empowering Iran means more headaches for America in the Middle East, which translates to less time and resources spent on great power competition,” he said.

However, he warned that the diplomatic setback for the U.S. was likely only to be temporary: “Today’s vote means that Washington will almost certainly have to press ahead for a full ‘snapback’ of sanctions. A piecemeal approach does not work.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier Friday called for a meeting of leaders of the five permanent Security Council members, along with Germany and Iran, in what the Kremlin called an effort to avoid escalation.

”If the leaders are fundamentally ready for a conversation, we propose to promptly coordinate the agenda,” Putin said. “The alternative is to further build up tension, to increase the risk of conflict. This development must be avoided.”

French President Emmanuel Macron’s office confirmed France’s “availability in principle” to Putin’s proposal.

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Craft said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday that the United States was “keeping the space open” for talks with Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China.

However, she warned that “we will not take no for an answer.”

Fox News’ Rich Edson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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council Seattle

Seattle City Council approves plan to defund police department, slashes jobs and salaries – Fox News

The Seattle City Council voted Monday to move forward with a controversial proposal that would begin the process of defunding the police department.

The 7-1 vote comes despite objections from the city’s police chief, mayor and the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild.

The plan would ultimately slash funding to the department but not the 50% some had sought. Seattle currently has around 1,400 police officers, and the current plan would see about 100 cut. It was also cut the police department’s $400 million budget by about $3 million, according to KOMO.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant was the sole “no” vote because she felt the proposals didn’t go far enough, while Debora Juarez abstained, according to MyNorthWest.com.

SEATTLE POLICE CHIEF IMPLORES COUNCIL TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT AFTER PROTESTERS VISIT HER HOME

The council reviewed a final set of amendments Monday before the vote, which included reducing the police department by up to 100 officers through layoffs and attrition as well as cutting the $285,000 annual salary of the Police Chief Carmen Best and other top officers. Best is the city’s first Black police chief and the pay cut would put her salary well below her White predecessor.

The council’s plan also removes officers from a team that dismantles homeless camps.

“While we can’t do everything in this summer rebalancing package, we have set the path forward for tremendous work in front of us as a council and as a city,” Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda said.

The move to defund the city’s Navigation Team, and redirect the money to homeless outreach services such as REACH will “dramatically restrict the city’s ability to address unauthorized encampments,” Jason Johnson, Interim Director of Seattle’s Human Services Department, wrote in a letter to the council last week.

Some council members have said the initial cuts are a first step to more sweeping reductions and a rethinking of law enforcement in Seattle.

“It’s important to show community members that we hear them, that we’re working towards the same goal,” Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda said last week.

Mayor Jenny Durkan and Best have urged the council to slow down its discussions about police budgets, saying the issue can be taken up in earnest when the 2021 city budget is considered. They also argued any layoffs would disproportionately target newer officers, often hired from minority communities, and would inevitably lead to lawsuits.

SEATTLE COUNCIL MEMBERS UNVEIL PLAN TO LAY OFF COPS BUT BALK AT DEFUNDING DEPARTMENT BY 50 PERCENT RIGHT AWAY

Durkan has already targeted about $20 million in savings from the police budget this year, largely because of spending pressure due to reduced revenues because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, the mayor sketched out a plan to reduce the police budget by about $75 million next year by transferring parking enforcement officers, the 911 call center and other areas out of the department.

As U.S. attorney in Seattle, Durkan previously pushed a Justice Department investigation that found officers too quick to use force, leading to a 2012 consent decree with the federal government. Reviews by an independent monitor have determined that the changes under the consent decree have led to a drop in how often police use force. But critics have said the department’s actions during recent protests show not enough progress has been made.

Reducing funding for police departments has been championed by protesters in Seattle and other cities around the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In that case, a White police officer knelt on the back of Floyd’s neck for several minutes until he died. Floyd was Black.

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Protests, some of which started peacefully but turned violent, were reported across the country, including in Portland and St. Louis.

On Sunday night, vandals in Seattle targeted several stores in the city’s First Hill neighborhood, breaking glass doors at a Chase Bank and Key Bank branch. Vandals also took aim at a boarded-up Starbucks and several other businesses in the area, local media reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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backs council

New York City Council backs proposal to slash $1 billion from NYPD budget – Fox News

New York City Council leaders have issued a joint statement declaring their intent to back proposals slashing $1 billion from the NYPD budget.

Speaker Corey Johnson, Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, Finance Committee Chair Daniel Dromm and Public Safety Committee Chair Donovan Richards, among others,  said they support a plan to “get to $1 billion in cuts to New York City’s police spending in the Fiscal 2021 budget.”

NEWARK MAYOR RAS BARAKA CALLS DEFUNDING POLICE A ‘BOURGEOIS LIBERAL’ SOLUTION

The NYPD has a proposed budget of $6 billion, which Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged to cut in response to citywide protests after initially backing the department.

The loss of $1 billion in funding would limit the scope and function of the police, but the City Council believes it shows a clear commitment towards reform.

“There is no doubt that this is an ambitious goal, but it is one that the time we are in calls for – both here in New York City and nationwide,” read the statement, posted on the council’s website.

“This is possible,” the statement said, noting anticipated savings by “reducing uniform headcount through attrition, cutting overtime, shifting responsibilities away from the NYPD, finding efficiencies” and more.

NY TIMES OP-ED CLEARS UP ‘DEFUND THE POLICE’ CONFUSION: ‘YES, WE MEAN LITERALLY ABOLISH’

The council said it will work with “impacted communities” in deciding how to best spend the billion dollars.

In the wake of nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, cities and states across the country are responding to demands to “defund the police.”

Some cities have taken the message further, with Minneapolis council members intent on totally dismantling the force, though they have only voted to review how to reform the police.

The proposed NYPD cuts will likely be applauded by protesters, though it falls well short of the “abolish” the police demand by some activists as stated in an op-ed in The New York Times on Friday.

The Police Benevolent Association expressed disappointment with the council’s announcement and said it will bear the “blame” for the fallout from cuts in police services.

“For decades, every time a city agency failed at its task, the city’s answer was to take the job away and give it to the NYPD,” the PBA said in a tweet. “If the City Council wants to give responsibilities back to those failing agencies, that’s their choice.”

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“But they will bear the blame for every new victim, for every New Yorker in need of help who falls through the cracks. They won’t be able to throw cops under the bus anymore.”

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council Ex-aide

Ex-aide to L.A. council member confesses to massive bribery plot, implicates official – NBC News

LOS ANGELES — An aide to a longtime Los Angeles City Councilman agreed to plead guilty Wednesday to a federal charge in an ongoing FBI “pay-to-play” investigation inside City Hall that includes alleged distribution of $1 million in bribes and inducements, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.

The alleged bribery included payments from a Chinese firm seeking to construct a 77-story building slated to be the tallest west of the Mississippi.

George Esparza, 33 of East Los Angeles, served as a “special assistant” to council member Jose Huizar until 2017 and admitted to his role in a criminal enterprise from early 2013 through November 2018. Esparza, who faces up to 20 years in prison, began cooperating with federal authorities two years ago.

“This is the worst corruption scandal in modern Los Angeles history,” said Jack Weiss, a former federal prosecutor who served on the L.A. City Council from 2001 to 2009. “If anyone asks why, I say that the answer is the zeros. These are acts that have thousands if not millions of dollars attached to them.”

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Prosecutors describe a criminal enterprise that involved several schemes in which developers or their intermediaries paid bribes to ensure certain construction projects were approved by the council and its powerful Planning and Land Use Management, or PLUM, committee, which was headed by Huizar.

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Huizar is not specifically named in the court papers, but Esparza is described as having worked for “Councilman A” who represents the district that includes downtown Los Angeles, where developments named in the indictment were located.

Federal authorities allege Esparza and “Councilman A” received cash, consulting and retainer fees, favorable loans, casino chips, commercial and private jet flights, comped stays at luxury hotels, expensive meals, concert and sports tickets as well as prostitution services, according to the documents.

One of the most notable schemes centered on the skyscraper project described as Project E, which was being developed by a Chinese company run by a Chinese billionaire, referred to as “Chairman E”

The chairman of a Chinese development firm “facilitated the payment of $600,000” to help the council member “confidentially resolve a sexual harassment lawsuit” filed by a former employee in 2014 when he was facing re-election, according to the documents.

In exchange for $600,000, the council member routinely assisted with the firm’s chairman’s requests, including pushing through a City Council resolution recognizing their achievements and contributions to the economy in the district, the plea agreement states.

The ongoing corruption probe has already swept up a real estate consultant, a political fundraiser and former City Council member Mitchell Englander, who faces up to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to obstructing a public corruption investigation related to his acceptance of gifts — including cash, hotel rooms and expensive meals — from a developer during trips to Las Vegas and Palm Springs in 2017.

“This case feels like the end of a Netflix series where all of the seemingly unconnected plot lines seem to come together,” Weiss said, indicating he expects more charges or guilty pleas.

Andrew Blankstein

Andrew Blankstein is an investigative reporter for NBC News. He covers the Western United States, specializing in crime, courts and homeland security. 

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