The Obama administration on Wednesday sanctioned eight senior Iranian officials for alleged human rights violations in an effort to sharpen pressure on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime.
The eight, who include prosecutors, top security officials and the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, are responsible for a variety of abuses since the disputed presidential election of 2009, U.S. officials said.
"On these officials' watch, or under their command, Iranian citizens have been arbitrarily arrested, beaten, tortured, raped, blackmailed and killed," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said.
The eight officials will have any U.S. assets frozen and will be barred from receiving visas or doing business in the United States. While none of the Iranians officials are known to have financial ties to the United States, U.S. officials said they hoped the moves would further discourage international businesses from doing business with Iran.
U.S. coordinator for Haiti response named
The U.S. State Department has named a special coordinator to oversee Washington's reconstruction plans in earthquake-ravaged Haiti amid complaints about the lagging of promised aid money. The Associated Press said it was told by two officials at the department that Thomas C. Adams has already started on the job. AP said the officials agreed to discuss the move only if not quoted by name because the appointment had not been made public. The disclosure came a day after AP reported that none of the $1.15 billion in reconstruction aid pledged by the U.S. at a donors' conference in March has arrived. About 1.3 million Haitians remain on the streets nearly nine months after the magnitude-7 earthquake, living in miserable conditions and dying in storms.
Panel backs report criticizing Israel
The U.N. Human Rights Council voted Wednesday to endorse the report of a U.N. fact-finding mission that accused Israeli commandos of summarily executing six passengers on a Turkish aid flotilla in May, among them a 19-year-old Turkish-American dual citizen who was shot four times in the back and once in the face. Upon its release last week, the 56-page report was dismissed by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office as "biased." The United States, the only country to vote against Wednesday's action, criticized the findings as unbalanced. Mark Kornblau, a spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said Washington has asked Israel to thoroughly investigate the killing of the Turkish-American, Furgan Dogan, and to share the findings with the U.S. government.
Serbia: A Belgrade court said Wednesday that it will sentence former Serb basketball player Miladin Kovacevic, 23, to about two years in jail for beating fellow Binghamton University student Bryan Steinhauer into a coma during an upstate New York barroom brawl in 2008.
Mexico: Mexican troops captured 30 suspected Gulf cartel members and seized an arsenal of weapons during two days of raids in Matamoros and Reynosa, two cities across the border from Texas in the state of Tamaulipas, Rear Adm. Jose Luis Vergara said Wednesday.
Nigeria: Authorities in Nigeria said as many as 40,000 girls and women have been trafficked to nearby West African countries to serve as sex workers, and slave camps were found in Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Niger, Libya, Morocco and Cape Verde.
India: The Indian government on Wednesday began the massive task of issuing unique identification numbers to its 1.2 billion people, many of whom don't have documents establishing their identity.
Ireland: Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen on Wednesday successfully resisted opposition calls to stage by-elections for three empty seats in parliament — long-delayed contests that the government expects to lose.
Italy: Coast guards were hunting for American balloonists Richard Abruzzo and Carol Rymer Davis who were participating in the 54th Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon Race and were last detected piloting their craft over the Adriatic Sea in rough weather, officials said Wednesday.
Italy: Premier Silvio Berlusconi won a confidence vote Wednesday night in the Chamber of Deputies by a wide margin, staving off, at least for now, the specter of early elections.