Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday presented to parliament what he called a “budget of resistance” against crippling sanctions imposed by arch-enemy the United States.
“Next year, similar to the current year, our budget is a budget of resistance and perseverance against sanctions,” Rouhani told parliament in remarks broadcast on state radio.
“This budget announces to the world that despite sanctions we will manage the country, especially in terms of oil,” he added.
The budget for the financial year starting late March 2020 comes after fuel price hikes that were imposed in mid-November triggered deadly demonstrations across the Islamic republic.
In his speech, Rouhani announced a 15 percent increase for public sector wages in a country whose economy has been battered by US sanctions.
US President Donald Trump began imposing punitive measures in May 2018, after unilaterally withdrawing from an accord that gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for limits on its nuclear programme.
The International Monetary Fund has forecast that Iran’s economy will contract by 9.5 percent this year.
US Senators Play Video Games, Sleep During Trump Impeachment Hearing
US President, Donald Trump’s trial over alleged abuse of power, reportedly saw senators of the United States present at the trial, playing games, nodding off and engaging in other unrelated activities during the trial.
BBC reported that US senators have been accused of falling asleep, playing games and breaking other rules during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Jim Risch and Jim Inhofe are among members who have apparently nodded off during the lengthy hearings.
Crossword puzzles, fidget spinners and at least one paper airplane have been spotted with senators.
The trial has heard that Mr Trump’s alleged abuse of power threatens American democracy.
The senators are acting as the jury to decide whether the president should be removed from office.
The upper chamber of US Congress prides itself as a hallowed sanctum of decorum.
But some of its members – Republican and Democrat alike – have this week been accused by US media of acting like bored schoolchildren.
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The rules call for senators to remain seated during the impeachment trial.
But at least nine Democrats and 22 Republicans left their seats at various times on Thursday, according to Reuters news agency.
They included Democratic White House hopefuls Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar and Michael Bennet.
Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, defended herself on Thursday after she was spotted reading a book in the chamber.
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She tweeted that the tome – How Trump Haters Are Breaking America, by Kim Strassel – “provides good insights into today’s proceedings”.
“Busy mamas are the best at multi-tasking,” she added. “Try it.”
Mr Risch, a Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was seen this week slumped motionless with his eyes closed at his desk during the hearings.
A spokesman for the Idaho senator denied he had been asleep, telling the Wall Street Journal he was just listening closely “with his eyes closed or cast down”.
Mr Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican, was spotted on Wednesday by an NBC reporter appearing to briefly doze off before he was nudged by Senator Todd Young, an Indiana Republican who sits next to him.
Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, was observed leaning on his right arm with his hand covering his eyes for 20 minutes.
On Thursday, Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, handed out fidget spinners, a children’s toy, to fellow senators to help them while away the hours in the chamber.
“I saw somebody grab up a few of them, so they must have some real anxiety going along with this,” said Mike Braun, an Indiana Republican. He said he did not require one of the gizmos.
Phones, laptops and tablets are a regular accessory during normal Senate hearings, but all electronics have been banned in the chamber for this trial, leaving many restless.
Pat Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, was heard drawling “my precious” as he retrieved his phone from the cubby outside the chamber.
Some senators have apparently found a way around the strict rules by wearing smart watches.
Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, reportedly worked on a crossword puzzle and made a paper airplane as Democratic prosecutors laid out their case on Wednesday.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic front-runner for the 2020 White House nomination, was spotted by an ABC News reporter playing an unspecified game on paper.
Talking is banned on the floor during arguments and senators are daily admonished by the Senate sergeant-at-arms to remain silent during proceedings “on pain of imprisonment”.
But on Wednesday, two Republicans – Tim Scott of South Carolina and Ben Sasse of Nebraska – threw caution to the wind and began whispering after hours of passing notes to each other.
There are also strict rules against food, but senators have been spotted munching chocolate and chewing gum.
Press access to the chamber has been heavily restricted during the Senate trial, meaning there are fewer cameras to catch senators’ unguarded moments.
But other senators have appeared to pay close attention to the trial with some diligently taking notes.
Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, was observed scribbling away with what appeared to be a quill pen.
Mr Trump is only the third president ever to be impeached, but he is unlikely to be convicted in a chamber that is controlled by his fellow Republicans.
Before Thursday’s arguments began, some Republican senators said they had heard nothing new in Democratic prosecutors’ arguments and had already made up their mind to clear the president. A two-thirds majority votes is required to remove Mr Trump from office.
Trump Moves To Block Pregnant Women From Entering US To Give Birth
The Donald Trump administration has concluded plans to block pregnant women in foreign countries from obtaining United States tourist visas.
The move is to stop, “birth tourism”, the term coined for persons who travel to another to give birth.
“Under this rule, if a consular officer has reason to believe a B nonimmigrant visa applicant will give birth in the United States, the applicant is presumed to be seeking a visa for the primary purpose of obtaining US citizenship for the child,” a draft rule obtained by BuzzFeed News reads.
“To rebut this presumption, the visa applicant must establish, to the satisfaction of a consular officer, a legitimate primary purpose other than obtaining US citizenship for a child by giving birth in the United States.”
The draft guidance to be issued for consular officers reads: “Any B nonimmigrant visa applicant who you have reason to believe will give birth during her stay in the United States is presumed to be traveling for the primary purpose of obtaining US citizenship for the child.
“The applicant can overcome this presumption if you find that the primary purpose of travel is not obtaining US citizenship for a child.”
A State Department spokesperson told the platform that, “this change is intended to address the national security and law enforcement risks associated with birth tourism, including criminal activity associated with the birth tourism industry.
“We expect the rule will be published shortly. More details will be available when the rule is published.”
However, officers, however, are told not to ask as a matter of course whether the applicant is pregnant or intends to become pregnant, or require an applicant to provide evidence that they are not pregnant.
Meanwhile, the U.S President, Donald Trump is set to slam travel ban on more countries including Nigeria, Africa’s biggest nation.
An announcement is expected on Monday, January 27, exactly three years after Trump signed the original travel ban on January 27, 2017, just a week into his tenure.
It would be recaled that the ban was upheld by the US Supreme Court in June 26, 2018.
It affected Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea.
For the new restrictions, countries on the list include Belarus, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania,
White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said: “The travel ban has been profoundly successful in protecting our country and raising the security baseline around the world.”
US Senate Rejects Democrats’ Demand For Documents In Trump Impeachment Trial
The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate on Tuesday rejected three separate motions proposed by the Democrats to acquire documents and evidence in the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump.
The motions, brought up by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, are amendments to the Republican-proposed resolution guiding the trial process.
The first one, rejected in a 53-47 party-line vote, called for subpoenaing any “documents, communications and other records” kept by the White House that were stonewalled from Congress during the House-led impeachment inquiry.
An earlier four-page resolution proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does not require additional witnesses to be subpoenaed and does not allow House prosecutors to admit evidence into the Senate trial record until the opening arguments from the two opposing sides are heard.
Schumer then introduced a second amendment seeking to subpoena the State Department for certain documents and records.
But the second one was rejected by the same voting result as the first one.
The Democratic senator from New York later offered a third amendment to subpoena relevant documents from the Office of Management and Budget.
The third amendment was unsurprisingly nullified along party lines.
The trial then went into a 30-minute recess for dinner.
McConnell in a floor speech earlier in the day vowed to block any early votes on witnesses.
“If a senator moves to amend the resolution in order to subpoena specific witnesses or documents, I will move to table such motions because the Senate will decide those questions later in the trial,” said the Kentucky Republican.
Tuesday marked the formal start of the impeachment trial against Trump, who was accused by the Democratic-controlled House of abusing power and obstructing Congress.
The task for Tuesday was to debate and vote on rules governing the trial.