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US and Iranian men released in ‘prisoner swap’

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US and Iranian men released in ‘prisoner swap’

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US Embassy Bern

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Xiyue Wang, who was held in Iran for three years, was greeted by US Ambassador to Switzerland Edward McMullen

The US and Iran have conducted a prisoner swap in a rare sign of co-operation between the two countries.The exchange involved a Chinese-American researcher convicted of spying in Iran and an Iranian scientist held by the US. Both deny wrongdoing. Iran’s foreign minister said he was glad as he announced the exchange.Hours later, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Thank you to Iran on a very fair negotiation. See, we can make a deal together!”Who were the prisoners? Xiyue Wang was arrested in Iran in 2016 for “collaborating with foreign governments”. Massoud Soleimani, a stem cell expert, was arrested at a Chicago airport last year. He was accused violating trade sanctions by trying to export biological material to Iran.Iran and the US have had an increasingly strained relationship in recent years and share no diplomatic links. Both have thanked the Swiss government for its assistance as an intermediary facilitator. What happened?Mr Wang was flown in a Swiss government plane from Tehran to Zurich, and then to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where he will undergo medical check-ups before heading home. Mr Soleimani was also flown to Zurich and then on to Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted photos of himself with Mr Soleimani after his release.He was the first to announce the news, via a tweet. “Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly,” he wrote.

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Javad Zarif Twitter

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Massoud Soleimani, right, with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif after his release

In a formal statement, US President Donald Trump said Mr Wang had been “held under the pretence of espionage”.”Freeing Americans held captive is of vital importance to my Administration, and we will continue to work hard to bring home all our citizens wrongfully held captive overseas,” the statement said.

Hua Qu, Mr Wang’s wife, wrote in statement: “Our family is complete once again. Our son Shaofan and I have waited three long years for this day and it’s hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue.”We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen.”

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Reuters

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Xiyue Wang (centre) with his wife and son before his arrest

Princeton University, where Mr Wang was studying as a postgraduate, said in a statement it was “overjoyed” with the news of his release and was looking forward to “welcoming him back to campus”.What were the men accused of?Mr Wang was arrested in Iran in August 2016 as he was leaving the country. He had been doing research in Iran for a university dissertation and was accused of seeking to gather “highly confidential articles” for US and British academic institutions. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail for spying.Mr Soleimani was detained in October 2018 on accusations of attempting to export biological materials to Iran in violation of trade sanctions on the country over its nuclear program. What is the background? US-Iran tensions have risen significantly in the last two years. After President Donald Trump took power, the US pulled out of a 2015 treaty that aimed to limit Tehran’s nuclear programme.Tehran has always insisted its nuclear programme is peaceful, but the US voiced concerns about potential weapon building. President Trump also reinstated sanctions on Iran, which have led to its currency plummeting and inflation soaring. Iran has recently been hit by major protests over rising petrol prices, which are partly linked to the US sanctions.

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Media captionFeeling the squeeze: Iran sanctions explained

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PrettyLittleThing features its first model to wear a hijab

Written by Alaa Elassar, CNNWant more inspiring, positive news? Sign up for The Good Stuff, a newsletter for the good in life. It will brighten your inbox every Saturday morningA Black, Muslim plus-size model is breaking barriers in the fashion industry after being chosen by PrettyLittleThing to model its new line of modest clothing.Billy Marsal,…

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PrettyLittleThing features its first model to wear a hijab

Written by Alaa Elassar, CNN

Want more inspiring, positive news? Sign up for The Good Stuff, a newsletter for the good in life. It will brighten your inbox every Saturday morning

A Black, Muslim plus-size model is breaking barriers in the fashion industry after being chosen by PrettyLittleThing to model its new line of modest clothing.

Billy Marsal, 21, is a London-based influencer who regularly posts photos of herself wearing trendy and modest outfits on Instagram. The online retail giant scouted her on social media shortly after entering the Middle East market.

Marsal’s work with PrettyLittleThing marks the first time the brand has featured a model wearing a hijab or headscarf, the UK-based company confirmed.

“I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until I started getting replies and messages from people who were so excited about it, then I realized, wow, this is amazing,” Marsal told CNN.

“It’s an insane feeling, Yes, I am Black, I am Muslim, I am plus size, but I never thought it would be me to make people feel like this.”

Marsal is new to the world of professional modeling, but is excited to represent young Muslim women and help them find fashionable clothes that uphold their religious values.

“As girls who wear the hijab, we grew up buying clothes and having to alter things to make them modest so for them now to tell Muslim girls, ‘Guys, we’re catering to you, too’ is a very big deal,” she said.

Marsal announced her work with PrettyLittleThing in a tweet on Monday that has since garnered more than 500,000 likes and 60,000 retweets. “Soooo… that’s me. THE FIRST HIJABI ON PLT!!! Still so wild to me,” she said.

PrettyLittleThing, which has collaborated with celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Hailey Baldwin, sells fashion “inspired from the catwalk and the coolest muses of the moment” at affordable prices.

The retailer aims to “inspire confidence” in customers with a message of equality and body positivity, according to its website.

“Following our successful launch into the Middle East we are delighted to be launching our ‘Modest clothing’ collection on site,” PrettyLittleThing said in a news release. “Our ethos of ‘EveryBODYinPLT is extremely important to us, so it’s been amazing seeing such positive customer feedback and working with models who represent all of our customer base.”

In recent years, models wearing a hijab have been featured in New York Fashion Week and Sports Illustrated magazine. But it’s still not common.

Marsal said she’s happy to see the industry change to include more Muslim women, and looks forward to the day when it’s no longer surprising to see a model wearing a hijab.

“I think what’s going to happen is this will one day be so normal it’s not surprising anymore, because competitors are noticing what brands like PrettyLittleThing are doing and it’s going to become the norm,” she said.

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Nebraska man hits jackpot twice in one year

Michael Christiansen of Norfolk, Nebraska, hit the jackpot for a second time this year. Earlier this month, Christiansen won $100,000 after purchasing a 20X The Money Scratch ticket. He collected his winnings on October 15 at the Nebraska Lottery’s office in Lincoln. It was his second trip to the office this year because he won…

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Nebraska man hits jackpot twice in one year

Michael Christiansen of Norfolk, Nebraska, hit the jackpot for a second time this year.

Earlier this month, Christiansen won $100,000 after purchasing a 20X The Money Scratch ticket. He collected his winnings on October 15 at the Nebraska Lottery’s office in Lincoln. It was his second trip to the office this year because he won $50,000 from a Money Clip Scratch ticket in March.

“I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “What are the odds? I didn’t think it was real,” Christiansen said in a press release.

He purchased both winning tickets from Louie’s Liquor in Norfolk.

When asked what he plans to do with the money, Christiansen gave a few ideas. He said he wants to build a new garage and put some of the money away for his retirement.

Christiansen said his daughter recently passed away, and he’s going to try purchase the house she lived in.

The 20X The Money game offers players a chance to win prizes from a free $10 ticket to $100,000. The chances of winning $100,000 are 1 in 80,000, according to the Nebraska Lottery.

In the Money Clip game, the odds of winning the top prize of $50,000 are also 1 in 80,000, according to the lottery.

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World reduced to ‘friends,’ ‘thugs’ and ‘filthy’ countries in Trump-Biden foreign policy debate

That was how Democratic candidate Joe Biden attempted to sum up President Donald Trump’s approach to foreign policy in Thursday’s debate, arguing that Trump cozies up to “thugs” in North Korea, China and Russia, while he “pokes his finger at all our allies.” It was a line that might play well among Biden’s base, but,…

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World reduced to ‘friends,’ ‘thugs’ and ‘filthy’ countries in Trump-Biden foreign policy debate
That was how Democratic candidate Joe Biden attempted to sum up President Donald Trump’s approach to foreign policy in Thursday’s debate, arguing that Trump cozies up to “thugs” in North Korea, China and Russia, while he “pokes his finger at all our allies.”
It was a line that might play well among Biden’s base, but, with its vague allusions to appeasement in the run up to World War II, it was indicative of a debate that had little genuine substance when it came to current foreign policy challenges, with both leaders choosing to use other countries as attack lines more than anything else.

Biden did promise to “get China to play by international laws,” an area where Beijing has arguably benefited from Trump’s America First strategy and suspicion of multilateral organizations. However, he offered little insight into how he would actually go about doing that, especially as China is far stronger both internationally and domestically than it was the last time Biden was in office, beyond working with allies to try and rein Beijing in.

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