Daily Digest: EU ban on Iranian oil, light-rail problems and baby bears

Cali Owings

Here’s your Daily Digest for Monday, January 23.

The European Union voted Monday to impose a ban on oil from Iran as part of a series of sanctions designed to curb the state’s nuclear program, the New York Times reports.

The phased ban calls for no new oil contracts between the 27 nations of the union and Iran while all existing contracts must be terminated by July 1. It will include all imports of crude oil, petroleum products and petrochemical products.

While the union suspects that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capability, the “government in Tehran insists that its nuclear program is for civilian uses only.” In the standoff, Iran has threatened to block off the Strait of Hormuz — a strategic channel for the West’s oil supply. European officials told the NYT that increasing sanctions were their best bet to prevent a military strike against Iran.

&undefined;To avoid any military solution, which could have irreparable consequences, we have decided to go further down the path of sanctions,&undefined; Alain Juppé, France&undefined;s foreign minister, told reporters. &undefined;It is a good decision that sends a strong message and which I hope will persuade Iran that it must change its position, change its line and accept the dialogue that we propose.&undefined;

A Minnesota Public Radio investigation into the first year of Central Corridor light-rail construction revealed widespread problems with Chicago-based Walsh Construction, the contractor responsible for building the St. Paul portion of the line.

&undefined;Through a data practices request, MPR News reviewed written correspondence between the Met Council and the general contractor building the eastern seven miles of the 11-mile line. On this stretch from downtown St. Paul to the Minneapolis border, documents from the Met Council show repeated environmental violations, sloppy work that threatened pedestrians, scheduling delays, failures to communicate, and a lack of oversight by the contractor.

From July to mid-December, the council issued more than ”00 “nonconformance” reports, which project officials say pertained to more serious issues in which Walsh did not comply with the contract.&undefined;

The project office is working with the contractor to make the &undefined;0”&undefined; construction season smoother.

The Associated Press reported that Jewel, a three-year-old bear from Ely, Minn., gave birth to at least two cubs Sunday while an internet audience watched.

“Lynn Rogers of the Wildlife Research Institute, affiliated with North American Bear Center, said Jewel gave birth in a den near Ely to the first cub at 7:&undefined;&undefined; a.m. Sunday and a second at ’:40. He said a third cub might have been born at 9:0’ a.m., but the den camera’s view was blocked.”

Jewel’s birth three years ago was captured on camera and millions of viewers watched the early days of the young bear and her sister, Hope.

You can watch the video here.