US Treasury Starts Implementing CAATSA

IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari speaks with journalists after he addressed a conference in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. AP
IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari speaks with journalists after he addressed a conference in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. AP
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US Treasury Starts Implementing CAATSA

IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari speaks with journalists after he addressed a conference in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. AP
IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari speaks with journalists after he addressed a conference in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. AP

The US Treasury Department announced Tuesday the expansion of sanctions on individuals and entities linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), under the pretext of the implementation of the US Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

CAATSA is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. The bill was passed in the Senate on August 2, 2017, and was signed by President Trump.

The law requires the US government to implement sanctions on Iran within 90 days after the bill is passed. In the list released by the US Department of Treasury, 41 individuals and companies were included.

The new sanctions apply to the IRGC Air Force, the Al-Ghadir Missile Command, the Aerospace Force Self Sufficiency Jihad Organization and the Research and Self-Sufficiency Jihad Organization, as well as IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari, Head of Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Hussein Taib, top military adviser to Ali Khamenei Yahya Rahim Safavi and former chief of staff Mohammad Reza Naqdi.

Properties of these individuals and companies in the USA are blocked, US citizens are not allowed to have any kind of deal with them and they don’t have the permission to enter the USA, according to CAASTA law.
IRGC Commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari hinted again that his country would target US forces in the region and increase the range of its ballistic missiles to more than 2,000 Kilometers if Washington starts implementing CAATSA.

Meanwhile, following a closed meeting with Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and Judiciary Chief Sadeq Larijani, President Hassan Rouhani announced Iranian scenarios to face these sanctions.

Addressing a conference entitled “A World Free of Terror” in Tehran on Tuesday, Major General Jafari said, “The Americans are trying to implement the plan against the IRGC under the pretext of Iran’s missile power.”
However, this plan is targeting the Iranian economy in nature, he said, adding that the IRGC and missile capabilities of the Islamic republic are only pretexts for the US sanctions.

Iran has no need to extend the current 2,000 km range of its ballistic missiles as they can already strike enemy targets in case of aggression, the head of the Revolutionary Guard has said.

Jafari told reporters that the missile range can cover "most of American interest and forces" within the region, even as he underlined the program's defensive purpose.

Jafari said the ballistic missile range is based on the limits set by the country's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, but he warned Iran's enemies of the "high costs" of provoking his country.



France Mulls Penalties to Rein in Ultra-fast Fashion Brands

The ultra-flexible supply chain has allowed Shein to create a different business model than established fast-fashion players like Zara and H&M, which pioneered shorter production timelines but still largely rely on predicting shoppers’ preferences. Reuters pic
The ultra-flexible supply chain has allowed Shein to create a different business model than established fast-fashion players like Zara and H&M, which pioneered shorter production timelines but still largely rely on predicting shoppers’ preferences. Reuters pic
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France Mulls Penalties to Rein in Ultra-fast Fashion Brands

The ultra-flexible supply chain has allowed Shein to create a different business model than established fast-fashion players like Zara and H&M, which pioneered shorter production timelines but still largely rely on predicting shoppers’ preferences. Reuters pic
The ultra-flexible supply chain has allowed Shein to create a different business model than established fast-fashion players like Zara and H&M, which pioneered shorter production timelines but still largely rely on predicting shoppers’ preferences. Reuters pic

Fashion brands with ultra-fast product turnover such as China's Shein should be subject to penalties of up to 50% of their garments' selling price to offset their environmental impact, French ruling-majority MPs have proposed in a new bill.
The MPs say that ultra-fast fashion brands, rather than renewing their collections four times per year like traditional clothing brands, offer thousands of new products per day, inciting excessive spending and unnecessary pollution, Reuters reported.
"This evolution of the apparel sector towards ephemeral fashion, combining increased volumes and low prices, is influencing consumer buying habits by creating buying impulses and a constant need for renewal, which is not without environmental, social and economic consequences," the bill said.
The bill singled out Chinese ready-to-wear company Shein, saying that it on average presents more than 7,200 new garment models a day, and makes more than 470,000 different products available to consumers.
To offset the environmental impact of ultra-fast fashion, the MPs propose penalties of up to 10 euros ($10.86) per item sold, or up to 50% of the selling price, by 2030.
Shein, in a statement to French news agency AFP, said it follows "best international practices in terms of sustainable development and social commitment".
Following discussion in a parliamentary committee, the bill will be presented to parliament in the second half of March.
French Environment Minister Christophe Bechu said in a statement on Monday that following a meeting with industry players, activists and researchers, his ministry plans several measures to reduce fashion's environmental impact.
He said France plans a ban on advertising by ultra-fast fashion companies and the introduction of a financial incentives system to make ultra fast-fashion more expensive while sustainable fashion will become cheaper.
The popularity of fast fashion e-commerce retailers like Shein and Temu has disrupted the retail sector. Shein taps a network of largely China-based suppliers, bucking traditional manufacturing trends by accepting small initial orders, then scaling up based on demand.
The ultra-flexible supply chain has allowed Shein to create a different business model than established fast-fashion players like Zara and H&M, which pioneered shorter production timelines but still largely rely on predicting shoppers' preferences.


French 'Spiderman' Scales Philippines Tower

Urban climber Alain Robert, also known as the "French Spiderman" climbs the G.T. International Tower in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 5, 2024. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Urban climber Alain Robert, also known as the "French Spiderman" climbs the G.T. International Tower in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 5, 2024. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
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French 'Spiderman' Scales Philippines Tower

Urban climber Alain Robert, also known as the "French Spiderman" climbs the G.T. International Tower in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 5, 2024. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
Urban climber Alain Robert, also known as the "French Spiderman" climbs the G.T. International Tower in Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 5, 2024. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

A free climber known as the "French Spiderman" scaled a Manila skyscraper on Tuesday to support the Philippines' maritime claims in the disputed South China Sea.
Frenchman Alain Robert, who has scaled more than 150 structures worldwide, including Dubai's Burj Kalifa and France's Eiffel Tower, drew a crowd and disrupted traffic in the Philippine capital's financial district.
He climbed the 47-storey GT Tower without a harness, and was promptly arrested after successfully descending from the skyscraper, Reuters reported.
Robert said he climbed to raise awareness on the maritime disputes between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea.
"I know that there is tension, you know, with the Philippine Sea, and then just to remind people that the sea and the islands belong to the Philippines and no one else, so that's the purpose of my ascent today," Robert said, without explaining why he was drawn to the cause.
Robert climbed the same skyscraper in 2019. He was arrested and fined 1,000 pesos ($18) for his stunt.
The Philippines accused China of "dangerous maneuvers" on Tuesday that led to a collision between its coast guard ship and a Chinese vessel.
The incident was the latest in a series of maritime run-ins between the Philippines and China, which have been locked in a territorial dispute in the South China Sea despite a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration which found that China's claims had no legal basis. Beijing rejects that ruling.


Iran Executed 834 People Last Year, Highest Since 2015, Say Rights Groups 

General view of the traffic in Tehran, Iran, 04 March 2024. (EPA)
General view of the traffic in Tehran, Iran, 04 March 2024. (EPA)
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Iran Executed 834 People Last Year, Highest Since 2015, Say Rights Groups 

General view of the traffic in Tehran, Iran, 04 March 2024. (EPA)
General view of the traffic in Tehran, Iran, 04 March 2024. (EPA)

Iran executed a "staggering" total of at least 834 people last year, the highest number since 2015 as capital punishment surged in the country, two rights groups said Tuesday.

The number of executions, which Iran has carried out by hanging in recent years, was up some 43 percent in 2022.

It marked only the second time in two decades that over 800 executions were recorded in a year, after 972 executions in 2015, Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) and Paris-based Together Against the Death Penalty said in the joint report.

The groups accused Iran of using the death penalty to spread fear throughout society in the wake of the protests sparked by the September 2022 death in police custody of Mahsa Amini that shook the authorities.

"Instilling societal fear is the regime's only way to hold on to power, and the death penalty is its most important instrument," said IHR director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam in the report, which described the figure of 834 as a "staggering total".

Iran has executed nine men in cases linked to attacks on security forces during the 2022 protests -- two in 2022, six in 2023 and one so far in 2024 -- according to the rights groups.

But executions have been stepped up on other charges, notably in drug-related cases, which had until recent years seen a fall.

"Of particular concern is the dramatic escalation in the number of drug-related executions in 2023, which rose to 471 people, more than 18 times higher than the figures recorded in 2020," said the report.

Members of ethnic minorities, notably the Baluch from the southeast of Iran, are "grossly overrepresented amongst those executed" on drug-related charges, it said.

At least 167 members of the Baluch minority were executed in total, accounting for 20 percent of the total executions in 2023, even though the minority accounts for only around five percent of Iran's population.

Most hangings in Iran are carried out within the confines of prison but the report said that in 2023 the number of hangings carried out in public in Iran tripled from 2022, with seven people hanged in public spaces.

At least 22 women were executed, marking the highest number in the past decade, the report said.

Fifteen of them were hanged on murder charges and NGOs have long warned that women who kill an abusive partner or relative risk being hanged.

In 2023, only 15 percent of the recorded executions were announced by official Iranian media, with IHR confirming the other executions with its own sources.


Saudi-Turkish Business Forum Helps Boost Economic Ties

Saudi Arabia's flag.
Saudi Arabia's flag.
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Saudi-Turkish Business Forum Helps Boost Economic Ties

Saudi Arabia's flag.
Saudi Arabia's flag.

The Saudi-Turkish Business Forum and Turkish Products Fair was held on March 4, 2024 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, SPA said on Tuesday.
The Riyadh Chamber of Commerce hosted the forum.
Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi emphasized the strong relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkiye, and the potential for increased collaboration.
He highlighted Saudi Arabia's "unprecedented transformation", driven by the "wise leadership, an ambitious vision, and a population of which 80% are young people".
The Minister also said that the Kingdom's vast oil and mineral resources, estimated at $1.5 trillion, are contributing significantly to its ongoing transformation.
Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih met with representatives of Turkish construction companies and highlighted the growing Saudi economy and the numerous investment opportunities, particularly in the construction sector, valued at $152 billion.
The targeted capital expenditure exceeded $3.3 trillion from 2022 to 2030, he said, reiterating that potential construction contracts range from $1.6 trillion to $$1.8 trillion.
Turkish Minister of Trade Omer Bolat emphasized the forum's significance to bolstering trade and economic ties between the two nations. He highlighted the $6.2 billion trade volume achieved in 2023, and expressed optimism for further growth.
He also underlined the Turkish companies' keenness to capitalize on investment opportunities arising from Saudi Vision 2030.
Second Vice Chairman of the Riyadh Chamber Naif Al-Rajhi emphasized the forum's role in building on the partnerships established at the Saudi-Turkish Business Forum held in Istanbul last October, which resulted in several cooperation agreements.
The forum concluded with the signing of new agreements between Saudi and Turkish companies.


WHO: Malnutrition 'Particularly Extreme' in North Gaza

A Palestinian child is tended to while receiving treatment, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at Al-Awda health centre, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip March 4, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
A Palestinian child is tended to while receiving treatment, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at Al-Awda health centre, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip March 4, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
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WHO: Malnutrition 'Particularly Extreme' in North Gaza

A Palestinian child is tended to while receiving treatment, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at Al-Awda health centre, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip March 4, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem
A Palestinian child is tended to while receiving treatment, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, at Al-Awda health centre, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip March 4, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that malnutrition in northern Gaza was "particularly extreme."
"The situation is particularly extreme in northern Gaza," said Richard Peeperkorn, WHO representative for Gaza and the West Bank.
He said that 1 in 6 children under two years of age were acutely malnourished in northern Gaza.
"This was in January. So, the situation is likely to be greater today," Peeperkorn added.

Gaza health authorities say 15 children have died of malnutrition or dehydration at one hospital in northern Gaza.

Nearly five months into Israel's air and ground assault on the Gaza Strip and resulting mass displacement, acute shortages of food have led to what the United Nations is describing as a nutrition crisis, part of a wider humanitarian catastrophe.


Aston Villa Confirm Significant Losses in End of Year Accounts 

Football - Premier League - Luton Town v Aston Villa - Kenilworth Road, Luton, Britain - March 2, 2024 Aston Villa's Lucas Digne celebrates scoring their third goal as Luton Town's Thomas Kaminski reacts. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Luton Town v Aston Villa - Kenilworth Road, Luton, Britain - March 2, 2024 Aston Villa's Lucas Digne celebrates scoring their third goal as Luton Town's Thomas Kaminski reacts. (Reuters)
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Aston Villa Confirm Significant Losses in End of Year Accounts 

Football - Premier League - Luton Town v Aston Villa - Kenilworth Road, Luton, Britain - March 2, 2024 Aston Villa's Lucas Digne celebrates scoring their third goal as Luton Town's Thomas Kaminski reacts. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Luton Town v Aston Villa - Kenilworth Road, Luton, Britain - March 2, 2024 Aston Villa's Lucas Digne celebrates scoring their third goal as Luton Town's Thomas Kaminski reacts. (Reuters)

Aston Villa confirmed a £119.6 million loss in their end of year accounts on Monday, despite a season that saw their return to European football after more than a decade.

The losses fuel concern around Villa's future transfer strategies amid the need to avoid running afoul of the league's tightened financial rules.

Profit and sustainability (PSR) regulations permit teams to lose a maximum of £105m over a three-year period, although investments in infrastructure, the academy, charity foundation and women's football can be deducted so teams are compliant with PSR rules.

"These figures are in line with the strategic business plan, and we continue to operate within the Premier League's Profit and Sustainability rules," the club said in a statement.

"The owners of Aston Villa remain committed to the long-term and sustainable development of the club, and we look forward to continued progress on the delivery of our strategic plan."

Aston Villa, who are currently on pace to play in the Champions League next season in fourth in the Premier League.

Villa reported an increase in revenue of £217.7m, up from £178.4m in the previous year.

The PSR calculation also allows teams to deduct any losses due to COVID-19 costs during the two seasons impacted by the pandemic.

Everton were docked 10 points in November for violating the Premier League's profit and sustainability rules. The penalty was reduced to six points last week following an appeal.

The Merseyside squad face another potential points deduction after being charged with a separate breach of the league's financial rules in January, along with Nottingham Forest.

Villa are in action on Thursday at Ajax in a Europa Conference League last-16 game, and then host Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Sunday. They are five points ahead of fifth-placed Spurs although Tottenham have a game in hand.


IT Minister: Google Agrees to Restore Deleted Indian Apps

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen on its office building in Hyderabad, India, January 29, 2024. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen on its office building in Hyderabad, India, January 29, 2024. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo
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IT Minister: Google Agrees to Restore Deleted Indian Apps

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen on its office building in Hyderabad, India, January 29, 2024. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A logo of Google is seen on its office building in Hyderabad, India, January 29, 2024. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

Alphabet's Google has agreed to restore dozens of Indian apps it deleted from its app store after a dispute over service fee payments, India's Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Tuesday.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Google on Friday removed from its Play Store many Indian apps, including Matrimony.com's popular Bharat Matrimony and job search app Naukri, saying the companies were not abiding by its in-app payment guidelines.

The removal has sparked criticism from many startups who have for years protested and legally challenged many of the US giant's practices, including its in-app fee. Google says the fees help develop and promote the Android and Play Store ecosystem.


Arteta Delighted with Impact of Arsenal’s Summer Signings 

Arsenal's German midfielder #29 Kai Havertz celebrates scoring the team's fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Arsenal at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on March 4, 2024. (AFP)
Arsenal's German midfielder #29 Kai Havertz celebrates scoring the team's fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Arsenal at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on March 4, 2024. (AFP)
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Arteta Delighted with Impact of Arsenal’s Summer Signings 

Arsenal's German midfielder #29 Kai Havertz celebrates scoring the team's fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Arsenal at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on March 4, 2024. (AFP)
Arsenal's German midfielder #29 Kai Havertz celebrates scoring the team's fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Sheffield United and Arsenal at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, northern England on March 4, 2024. (AFP)

Arsenal's close-season signings have added a new dimension to the squad and are helping their team mates reach a higher level, manager Mikel Arteta said after their 6-0 Premier League win over Sheffield United on Monday.

Declan Rice and Kai Havertz, signed from West Ham United and Chelsea in the summer, were among the scorers as Arsenal matched their biggest Premier League away win with a free-scoring display at Bramall Lane.

Arsenal have won their last seven league games and are third with 61 points, two points behind leaders Liverpool.

Asked if the players signed in the summer had helped Arsenal hit top gear at the right time, Arteta told reporters: "Yes for sure.

"Obviously picking the right players that could bring something that we didn't have to the squad, and they're certainly doing that and improving every single player, and the mechanisms and culture around the team.

"They are doing that but there's still the most important part of the season ahead and we know that that's the case."

The Spanish manager also provided an injury update on Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, who did not play the full 90 minutes.

"(Saka) was feeling a bit sick and as well we have Fabio (Vieira) who we have to give minutes," Arteta said.

"It was great opportunity (for us) and then we had a little issue with Gabi Martinelli as well, he had a slight cut on his foot and we have to wait and see how he is."

Arteta added that Japan international Takehiro Tomiyasu is "very close" to returning from a calf injury.

Arsenal next host Brentford in the Premier League on Saturday.


Rublev Calls on ATP to Review Rule That Led to Default in Dubai 

Russia's Andrey Rublev argues with an official after he was defaulted against Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan after their semi-final match at the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai on March 1, 2024. (AFP)
Russia's Andrey Rublev argues with an official after he was defaulted against Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan after their semi-final match at the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai on March 1, 2024. (AFP)
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Rublev Calls on ATP to Review Rule That Led to Default in Dubai 

Russia's Andrey Rublev argues with an official after he was defaulted against Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan after their semi-final match at the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai on March 1, 2024. (AFP)
Russia's Andrey Rublev argues with an official after he was defaulted against Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan after their semi-final match at the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai on March 1, 2024. (AFP)

Andrey Rublev has called on the ATP Tour to change the rule that led to him being defaulted at the Dubai Tennis Championships last week.

Rublev was defaulted by the chair umpire after a Russian-speaking official said he had used an obscenity while yelling at a line judge over a call during his semi-final with Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik on Friday.

Rublev denied the accusation and urged the officials to review video of the incident, a request which was rejected.

Bublik was ahead 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 6-5 when he was awarded the win but world number five Rublev later successfully appealed the decision and will retain the ranking points and prize money he earned, barring a fine of $36,400 for a code violation.

In a post on Instagram, Rublev thanked the appeals committee but said the rules needed a rethink.

"I hope that in the future, the ATP will take a closer look at this rule and make changes to it, so that an official can't force a match outcome without having clear evidence and not letting the player have a video review," Rublev said.

Reuters has contacted the ATP for comment.

"While I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to finish my semi-final in Dubai, I am grateful for all the support I had from you the last two days, I received a lot of messages," Rublev added.


Bezos Dethrones Musk to Reclaim Title of World’s Richest Man 

Jeff Bezos' net worth stands at $200 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, surpassing Elon Musk's $198 billion. (AFP)
Jeff Bezos' net worth stands at $200 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, surpassing Elon Musk's $198 billion. (AFP)
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Bezos Dethrones Musk to Reclaim Title of World’s Richest Man 

Jeff Bezos' net worth stands at $200 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, surpassing Elon Musk's $198 billion. (AFP)
Jeff Bezos' net worth stands at $200 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, surpassing Elon Musk's $198 billion. (AFP)

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos took back his spot as the world's richest man on Monday, dethroning Elon Musk on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Bezos' net worth stands at $200 billion, according to the tracker, surpassing the Tesla chief's $198 billion.

Musk, who also heads X (formerly Twitter) and SpaceX, has seen his riches fall by more than $30 billion as Tesla's share price has dropped 25 percent in recent months.

Adding to Musk's woes, a court in January approved the annulment of his enormous Tesla compensation agreement, worth $55.8 billion and originally struck in 2018.

Bezos, who no longer runs Amazon, has meanwhile benefited from the ecommerce giant's rising stock price.

Even after recently selling off $8.5 billion in stocks he remains the company's largest shareholder.

The French CEO of the luxury group LVMH, Bernard Arnault, remains in third place in the rankings of the world's richest people, worth $197 billion.