August 15, 2020

This is VOA news. Reporting by remote, I'm David Byrd.

The U.S. Postal Service has warned 46 states and the District of Columbia it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail in November's election will arrive in time to be counted. AP's Ed Donahue reports.

The Washington Post reports letters were sent to 46 states and the District of Columbia warning there is no guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted. It could mean tens of millions of Americans eligible for a mail-in ballot this fall will not be able to use it even if they follow election rules.

There have recently been some cost-cutting moves at the post office.

President Trump is opposed to attempts to allow more people to vote by mail during the pandemic, arguing without evidence it will lead to increased voter fraud.

Ed Donahue, Washington.

The United States says the U.N. Security Council has rejected an American resolution to indefinitely extend a U.N. arms embargo on Iran.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the defeat of the resolution Friday ahead of a council meeting to reveal the vote.

Russia and China opposed expending the weapons ban, which is due to expire in October under a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Eleven Security Council members abstained, including France, Germany and Britain, while the United States and the Dominican Republic were the only yes votes.

Secretary of State Pompeo denounced the vote in a statement saying that the Security Council had rejected direct appeals to extend the arms embargo from numerous countries in the Middle East endangered by Iran's violence.

The Trump administration has said repeatedly it will not allow the arms embargo provision in the Security Council resolution to expire as it is scheduled to October 18.

This is VOA news.

The United States on Friday said it has seized four Iranian fuel shipments en route to Venezuela and confiscated the cargoes, disrupting a key supply line for both Tehran and Caracas as they defied U.S. sanctions.

A Justice Department statement said "With the assistance of foreign partners, this seized property is now in U.S. custody," adding that the amount confiscated from four tankers was approximately 1.116 million barrels of fuel. That makes it the largest-ever U.S. seizure of Iranian fuel. The statement did not specify when, where or how the seizure took place.

Washington has imposed sanctions on both countries to choke oil exports and deprive them of their main source of revenue in its bid to see the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicholás Maduro and change the behavior of Iran's government.

Tens of thousands of people flooded the heart of the Belarus capital of Minsk on Friday in a show of anger over a brutal police crackdown this week on peaceful protesters that followed a disputed election. The demonstrations came as authorities sought to ease rising public fury by freeing at least 2,000 people who were jailed after earlier demonstrations.

Factory workers marched across the city shouting "Go away!" in a call for authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to resign.

The president alleging a foreign-backed plot to destabilize the country has dismissed the demonstrators as criminals and unemployed.

European Union ministers agreed Friday to draw up a list of targets in Belarus for a new round of sanctions in response to strongman Alexander Lukashenko's post-election crackdown.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde said in a tweet that the "EU will now initiate a process of sanctions against those responsible for the violence, arrests and fraud in connection with the election."

Once the list is finalized, each individual or entity on it will have to be approved unanimously by member states, but officials said none of the 27 countries raised objections to the idea of sanctions.

Spain has announced new nationwide restrictions largely focused on nightlife as COVID-19 cases have surged in the country.

At a news conference Friday, Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illa announced that all night clubs and dance clubs, with or without live music, will be closed.

Officials have recorded almost 50,000 cases in the past two weeks, an average of more than 3,000 new cases a day.

For more on these stories, visit voanews.com. Reporting by remote, I'm David Byrd.