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Eat your heart out at the Pizza Museum

NEW YORK (AP) — There is now a museum for pizza lovers everywhere that’s popped-up in arguably America’s pizza capital, New York City.

The Museum of Pizza is dedicated to all things cheese and sauce, but there’s more to it than meets the tongue.

“It’s often that the simplest ideas are the best. And we wanted to use pizza’s ubiquitous appeal to get people through the door and looking at art and hearing about history in a different format,” said Alexandra Serio, Chief Content Officer at Nameless Network, the group that baked the Museum of Pizza idea.

“Our approach to this Museum of Pizza is a fine art approach, so we went out to multiple artists contemporary in many mediums, and asked them for their interpretation of pizza,” said Serio. “And what we got back is_it ranges the gambit, let’s just say that. That’s an understatement.”

Located on the street level of Brooklyn’s William Vale hotel, the museum is an expansive, one-floor space that houses a wide variety of art, from giant photographs to sculptures to large installations that engulf visitors. And the pop-up museum, also known as “MoPi,” has already drawn a lot of interest_more than 6,000 people came through the doors when they opened this month.

Another instantly recognizable attribute of the space is the bright colors that are weaved throughout the exhibits_perfect for taking social media-ready pictures.

“Honestly, I thought it would be like more of a museum like at the beginning, with the pizza boxes and it kinda tells you when it was developed and stuff like that,” said Nene Raye, visiting from New Jersey. “Then I was kinda hoping they had something artsy in it because I love taking pictures. So this is a mashup of everything_so you get a little bit of education and then some fun, which I love.”

Serio said selfie-friendly exhibits are becoming a priority for museums as they try to get younger legs to walk through their doors.

“It’s a kind of paradigm shift with museums,” she said. “You’ll see, I think in the next few years because of museums like the Museum of Ice Cream, and multiple pop-ups of this ilk, museums kind of courting a younger audience and seeing how they can make their exhibitions more tactile, touch and photography friendly.”

Lydia Melendez, a self-described “pizza aficionado,” bought her tickets in April. For her, this experience was worth the wait.

“I thought it was going to be kinda boring, like I’m going to walk in and there’s just going to be a book about pizza and how to make it. But this is definitely one for the books.”

While pizza may be the hook that draws those interested to the museum, the focus of MoPi is to expose visitors to the fine art world_even if the education is fed one slice at a time.

“The Museum of Pizza’s target demographic isn’t necessarily the same type of people that are making a quarterly trips to the MoMA or the Frick collection or the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) “, said Serio. “We’re really putting fine art in a place that’s easily accessible for a wide range of people.”

Voters head to the polls with 1 man mostly in mind: Trump

It’s Election Day in America, and voters will deliver their first verdict of President Donald Trump’s tumultuous tenure in a midterm that’s expected to draw historic numbers to the polls.

Immigration, the economy, women’s issues, partisanship — all weighed heavily on voters’ minds as they cast ballots to decide control of Congress and put Trumpism to the test. Though not on the ballot, the president looms large over decision day, among both supporters and detractors. Across the country, people are talking about this election as one of the most momentous in their lifetimes — a fight for the very soul of America.

Here’s what some of them had to say.

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FIRST-TIMERS HIT THE POLLS

The extreme divisions in politics helped motivate Lance Whatley, 29, to vote for the first time in his life Tuesday. Whatley was among dozens of people standing in line as a cold rain drenched their clothes outside the Vinings Library northwest of Atlanta. “I feel like there’s a lot of polarization with the rhetoric you’re hearing on both sides,” he said. Whatley, a software engineer, was still unsure whom he would vote for in the hotly contested race for Georgia governor. His wife favors Democrat Stacey Abrams, but he was leaning toward the Republican, Brian Kemp. “It might be a game-time decision for me when I get in the voting booth.”

Rafael Acosta, a college student in McAllen, Texas, rose early on the first day of early voting in his state. The 22-year-old wanted to be sure he was at the head of the line for his first time voting. In doing so, he said he was making a statement for his many friends who are part of the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrival, or DACA, program that has protected young immigrants from deportation. The son of Mexican immigrants, Acosta has watched as Trump stirs fears over the migrant caravan in Mexico, and it troubles him that troops have been dispatched to his community. “I’m not going to say I’m fully for them to come over here,” Acosta said. “But I think (the Republicans) are exaggerating. They don’t need the Army here.”

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WASHINGTON “OUT OF CONTROL?”

Bonnie Slade, a 45-year-old federal employee who lives in Potomac, Maryland, said politics in the nearby nation’s capital shaped her vote this year. “Washington is out of control,” she said. “The politics are kind of dirty always, but this time is a bit much … like do I want to vote? Does it really make a difference? But I felt like it’s my duty.” Slade, who is black, said Trump was part of what motivated her to vote. “He doesn’t stand for anything that I believe in, period,” Slade said. “I’m a minority. I’m a woman. And he’s just not the best choice for me, personally, or my family.”

Keith Lesage, a 50-year-old design engineer in Plainfield, Connecticut, said he’s focused more on state issues but is concerned by the division he sees in the country. “It’s horrible, some of the rhetoric that’s coming out of Washington. I’m not picking on Republicans or Democrats, but we’re all adults. Let’s come together for the American people — not this is what the red side wants, this is what the blue side wants. It’s getting to the point where it’s just dividing the country — and it’s real sad to watch.”

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STAY THE ECONOMIC COURSE

Richard and Aleshia Murphy took their 7-month-old daughter when they voted early in suburban Los Angeles. The couple, who moved seven months ago from Reno, Nevada, to Lakewood, California, said the economy was foremost on their minds. “I want to keep things going,” said Richard, a Republican train operations manager. “My work feels the booming economy. We’re hiring more people, all positions, from the bottom to the top.” Both Murphy and his wife, an independent, voted for Trump in 2016 and like where the country’s headed. “I’d rather have somebody who’s going to come off as a complete jerk — but you know exactly what they’re thinking because they have no filter — than a slick-haired politician that literally tells you anything you want to hear just so that you support them,” Aleshia Murphy said.

Republican Susan Riebold, a 53-year-old who owns a home-building business in Imperial, Missouri, describes herself as a nationalist and calls Trump’s tariffs “amazing.” She said business in Imperial, south of St. Louis, is thriving, and she decried Democrats — including Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill — for voting against the recent tax overhaul. “Trump has fought for the middle class and the small businesses, and Claire voted against everything that is benefiting us in the middle class,” Riebold said. “The country is more strong, confident and unified than it’s ever been, and most of the confidence and people feeling unified and patriotic again has come right before Trump got in and since he’s been in.”

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SWITCHING SIDES

Josh Rent, 43, a small business owner and registered Republican in Portland, Maine, voted mostly for Democrats this time as “a protest vote to Trump.” ”I’m generally a fairly reliable Republican,” he said. “This is the first time I ever voted pretty much Democrat all the way down the ballot.” Of the president, he said: “I don’t think that dividing us is getting us anywhere. We need to actually solve this stuff.”

Kevin Benson, a 38-year-old graphic designer from Westerville, Ohio, said he’s registered as a Republican, considers himself an independent, and voted all Democrat on Tuesday. Why? “Mostly Trump, just as a check. I’m frustrated with the way he’s acting. Plus just Republicans in general. … I’m just kind of dissatisfied across the board with them.” Benson said health care is his No. 1 issue and that he’d like to see a single-payer system. “We’re heading in the wrong direction.”

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CONCERNS OVER HEALTH CARE

Fred Hoy, a 61-year-old from Reno, Nevada, said he’s been out of work for 13 years but is scraping by to pay his rent and care for several ill family members and friends. Hoy has diabetes and is on Medicaid. He was taking care of his aunt in California but returned to Reno to make sure he could vote in time — and he’s voting Democratic because he’s worried Republicans will cut Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security and threaten protections for pre-existing conditions. “If we don’t have some kind of medical,” he said, “we’re going to collapse as a nation.”

In Juneau, Alaska, 34-year-old Will Muldoon considers himself nonpartisan. Health care is an issue he’d like to see Congress take up, “but that’s scary. It’s almost, I don’t know that they could come up with better than what we have right now, type of thing. My confidence in them having the competency to do OK on that’s not too high,” said Muldoon, a mainframe technician.

Cordell Chaney, 30, works at Superior Essex, a company that manufactures wire and cable products in Fort Wayne, Indiana. A member of the steelworkers’ union, Chaney is a father of four with a fifth on the way. He says affordable health care —including maintaining pre-existing conditions — is the most important issue for him. He voted straight Democratic Tuesday, which includes supporting U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly. Chaney worries that if the Republicans remain in control of Congress, they’ll get rid of Obamacare. “It really upsets me. … Decent health insurance should be a right. Everybody should have that. Right now, it’s endangered.”

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AT ODDS OVER IMMIGRATION

Rachel Geiger’s purple hair matched her black and purple dress and helped her stand out among hundreds of people waiting to get into an arena in Orlando, Florida, where U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke ahead of the election on behalf of Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee. Geiger, 33, a blogger from Ocala, Florida, said “Trump and immigration” were the two motivating issues for her when she early-voted. “It’s completely inhumane what he’s doing,” she said, referring to policies that have included sending troops to the border, separating immigrant children from their parents and efforts to build a wall. She voted a straight Democratic ticket.

Jennifer Rager, 55, of Bozeman, Montana, said she feels safer since Trump became president. “It just feels like he’s really trying to do a good job of protecting our country, you know? I can’t wrap my head around why the other side is so unhappy and so terrified.” Rager is especially worried about the migrant caravan heading toward the U.S. border. “This whole thing with this caravan is pretty scary. There’s a right way and a wrong way to (immigrate). So I feel like we definitely need protection.”

In Phoenix, substitute teacher and lifelong Republican Kay Matthews said that while the economy is important to her, immigration is just as important. She’s troubled by any influx of immigrants entering the country illegally. “I’ve been taught as a young child that you respect the law. You don’t have to always agree with it, but you do respect it,” the 72-year-old said. Matthews doesn’t want Democrats taking control of either chamber of Congress, because she fears they would try to impeach Trump.

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#METOO STILL ON MINDS

Lea Grover, 34, a mother of three young daughters in Cary, Illinois, sees the midterms as a referendum on Trump and “a referendum on empathy, and whether or not we as a nation have any.” Grover, a former independent and now a registered Democrat, was particularly outraged by the hearings over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who faced allegations of sexual misconduct. “The Kavanaugh hearings were so upsetting, for every woman I know, not just because of Kavanaugh specifically but because it was an opportunity for the entire Republican establishment to say (to women), ‘We don’t care. Not: ‘We don’t believe you,’ but ‘we don’t care.'” Grover is a victim of sexual violence and works for a nonprofit that helps survivors. “My congressman has refused to speak out in defense of survivors of sexual violence. He refused to speak out against Brett Kavanaugh. He refused to speak out against the president. He has been utterly silent in the face of MeToo.”

Natalie Pig, a 31-year-old attorney in Arnold, Missouri, said she’d back Republican candidates because she wants to see Congress do more to support Trump. She cited what she called the “smear campaign” against Kavanaugh, calling him “a victim of the current political environment.” ”If there are facts that someone has committed a crime, I’m the first person to want to hear all about that,” she said. “But at the same time, if we’re taking measures to slander someone or defame them in a way that is going to inhibit the American process, then that’s not helping us. So we need people who are going to support President Trump.”

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A MOMENT FOR YOUNG VOTERS?

At 22, Porter Nelson considers himself an independent and says he is a regular voter, but a ballot measure in Washington state creating a carbon tax motivated him even more this year. “It seems kind of like the world’s ending and if we don’t do something pretty quick, you know, I would like to have kids that have a planet. I would like to have a planet. So anything on any ballot anywhere that I see as being for the environment … I’m all for that.” Nelson thinks Congress, too, needs to take climate change more seriously. “I would love to see our political body finally get it through their heads that the gerrymandering, the politicking, the races, the runoffs don’t matter if in 20 years the whole West Coast is on fire.”

Adam Alhanti was a typical high school student looking forward to graduating. Turning 18 and voting wasn’t really on his mind. But after his classmates and teachers were gunned down at his Parkland, Florida, school in February, everything changed. “I realized there’s so much more going on than what’s in my city. There are so many things that we need to take charge of, and we can really make a difference — not just in our nation but right down to our local communities with who represents us in office,” said Alhanti, who voted for the first time in this midterm. He’d like to see Congress take up gun reform. “Gun violence … is something we really need to talk about more. Even though it seems like it’s something being spoken about day after day, there’s nothing being done — not a single thing that will really save the lives of American citizens.”

A steady stream of voters turned out in a light drizzle in the Albany suburb of Guilderland, New York, on Tuesday morning. Lauryn Schrom, a 27-year-old graphic designer, did not vote in the last off-year election but made a point to do it this time because of her dissatisfaction with the Trump administration. She said recent political events had “opened my eyes” on issues like civil rights and women’s rights. “If you are not engaged enough in the political process then you can lose your rights,” she said, holding an “I Voted” sticker. “I have a significant number of friends who are LGBT, and it’s disturbing that they could lose civil rights as well.”

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STRAIGHT TICKET THIS TIME

Keri Cook, 47, a Democrat from Westerville, Ohio, said she voted for Democrats straight down her ballot, including Danny O’Connor in his U.S. House rematch against Republican Rep. Troy Balderson. “I’m hoping that the House flips,” Cook said, adding that Democrats’ stances on health care and gun control factored into her vote and she wants Trump out of office. “I think he’s poison. … His stance on the LGBTQ community, on women, on African-Americans, on immigrants — is just, to me, hate.”

Judy Jenkins, a 60-year-old Republican who works in accounting, also cast her ballot in Westerville, Ohio, and also went straight ticket: for all GOP candidates. She said she used to vote for people from both major parties but was so upset by how Kavanaugh was treated that she vowed not to vote for a Democrat again. “I’m not even going to consider it because of the hell they put his family through. No one should have to go through that, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican.”

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A TEST OF TRUMPISM

If the midterm elections are a referendum on Trump, then Patricia Maynard, a 63-year-old retired teacher in Skowhegan, Maine, is clear: “I think he’s doing a great job. … He’s doing better than I expected. I’m not saying that I always like his rhetoric; I wince when I hear that. But I feel like he really loves this country and has a good head on his shoulders as far as his ability to get things done.” She goes on: “I think he’s very capable and very smart, a lot smarter than people think he is. Some people think he is too high and mighty to get along with the common people, but I think that’s where he feels most comfortable, with average people. And he feels their pain.”

Republican Tina Kazee, a 50-year-old hospital worker from Canal Winchester, Ohio, said she stuck with her party when voting early. She said Trump has “his flaws,” but she feels he and the Republicans have done a good job for the country. “I think he’s helped our economy. I think there’s more for him than there is against him, as far as my standards and my beliefs. I don’t think he’s a perfect man, but I think he loves America — I think his heart is for America — and I stand for that. … It’s just that his tone needs to be turned down a little bit. Speak from the heart, but do it a little bit softer.”

Morris Lee Williams, a 67-year-old member of Zion Travelers Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis and an Army veteran, said he’s worried the country “is going down the tubes.” ”We’ve forgotten our decency. We’ve forgotten the truth. We’re supposed to be a group of people, Americans, who are supposed to be that light in the world. Instead of a light, it’s turned into a nightmare.” Williams said Trump is the catalyst “for a lot of crazy stuff going on, inciting people into hatred, to doing things that go against what this country stands for. It’s just so divisive. It’s almost as if he wants the country to go back to the way it was in the 1920s and before. Everybody’s got their place and a certain group of people rule. … This is supposed to be a place where if you have the desire, the education, the guts and the fortitude to do better, you can do better.”

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MOURNING THE LOST MIDDLE

Family law attorney Patrick Markey, 43, voted in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park. He generally votes Democratic but has supported Republican candidates in Illinois, including in this election. Markey dislikes the two-party system because the polarization that dominates Capitol Hill creates a logjam. “It’s almost two tribal camps. I’d like to see more (elected officials) with middle-ground views who can vote conservatively sometimes and sometimes more liberally. … I think that most of the country is like that. But in order to get into politics, you have to kiss the ring of the party. … A lot of the normal moderate people just feel left out.”

Virginia Gollin, 75, describes herself as a moderate Republican but says she changed parties to become a Democrat because moderates are “like a dinosaur.” ”I’m not by nature a progressive. But we’re at a point in our country where all of the things I think we should have are being fiercely attacked,” said Gollin, a retired airline worker in Hopatcong, New Jersey. She cited as an example the Affordable Care Act, which she does not want to see gutted.

Tory Dibbins, a physical therapist from Portland, Maine, said she’d like to see more independent candidates, but she understands that many voters believe there’s too much at stake to risk vote-splitting. The 53-year-old Democrat cast her ballot Tuesday. If Democrats do win big, she said, they should show they’re willing to compromise. “If you’re going to talk about ‘let’s end the divisiveness and be inclusive,’ then you have to try to get people to be more bipartisan. … You have to win people back to the center.”

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Contributing to this story were AP reporters Jeff Martin, Martha Irvine, Brian Witte, Susan Haigh, Amanda Lee Myers, Michelle Price, Becky Bohrer, Sharon Cohen, Summer Ballentine, Mike Schneider, Terry Tang, Matt Volz, Jocelyn Noveck, Rachel La Corte, Kelli Kennedy, Michael Hill, Jim Salter, Kantele Franko, Julie Carr Smyth, Mike Catalini and David Sharp.

States to decide marijuana, Medicaid, redistricting measures

NEW YORK (AP) — As they weighed in on the Republican-vs.-Democrat power struggle, voters in many states also were considering an array of intriguing ballot measures — ranging from marijuana legalization to boosting the minimum wage to civil rights protections for transgender people.

In all, 155 statewide initiatives are on the ballot Tuesday in 37 states. Most were drafted by state legislatures, but 64 resulted from citizen-initiated campaigns, including many of the most eye-catching proposals.

In North Dakota and Michigan, for example, voters had a chance to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, a step already taken by nine other states. The ballots in Missouri and Utah included proposals to legalize the medical use of pot.

A minimum wage increase was up for a vote in two states. An Arkansas measure would raise the wage from $8.50 an hour to $11 by 2021; Missouri’s would gradually raise the $7.85 minimum wage to $12 an hour.

Medicaid expansion was another multistate topic, on the ballot because Republican-led legislatures refused to take advantage of expanded coverage offered under President Barack Obama’s health care law. Measures in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah would expand Medicaid coverage to tens of thousands more residents; a Montana measure would to raise tobacco taxes to extend an existing expansion.

Proposals to change the redistricting process so it’s potentially less partisan were on the ballot in Missouri, Michigan, Utah and Colorado.

The goal is “giving citizens, not politicians, a greater voice in the drawing of their voting district lines,” said Sam Mar of the Action Now Initiative, which provided more than $7 million in support of the measures.

Another measure that could influence future election outcomes was on the ballot in Florida, the most populous swing state. It would restore the right to vote for most people with felony convictions upon completion of their sentences, potentially adding more than 1 million Floridians to the voting rolls.

The Democrats in Florida’s two highest-profile election contests supported the amendment — Andrew Gillum, who is running for governor, and Bill Nelson, who is seeking a fourth term in the U.S. Senate. Nelson’s GOP opponent, Gov. Rick Scott, opposed the amendment, as did Ron DeSantis, the Republican seeking to succeed Scott as governor.

Ohio’s ballot included an ambitious proposal to make drug possession a misdemeanor in an effort to reduce the state prison population and divert any savings to drug treatment.

While liberal-leaning groups succeeded in getting some of their favored policy proposals on the ballot in Republican-controlled states, the partisan pattern was reversed in Democratic-leaning Oregon and Massachusetts. In both states, conservatives used the initiative process in a bid to overturn existing policies.

The target in Massachusetts was a 2016 law extending nondiscrimination protections to transgender people in their use of public accommodations. It was the first-ever statewide vote on this question, occurring as President Donald Trump’s administration moves to weaken civil rights protections for transgender Americans.

Conservatives in Oregon targeted two policies — one allowing use of state money to pay for low-income women to have abortions, the other forbidding law enforcement agencies from using state resources or personnel to arrest people whose only crime is being in the U.S. illegally. Oregon adopted its “sanctuary state” law in 1987, becoming the first state to do so.

Oregon and its northern neighbor, Washington, each had measures that would prohibit local governments from imposing new taxes on soda or grocery items.

Washington voters also had a chance to toughen background checks for people buying semi-automatic rifles and to make their state the first to charge a direct fee on carbon pollution to fight climate change.

Climate change also was an issue in Arizona and Nevada, where voters considered measures requiring that 50 percent of electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. A measure in Colorado could sharply reduce oil and gas drilling, including the method known as fracking, by requiring new oil and gas wells to be further from occupied buildings than allowed under current law.

Curiously, slavery also was on the Colorado ballot. A proposed amendment would remove language in the state Constitution allowing slavery and involuntary servitude to be used to punish a crime.

The two most expensive ballot-measure campaigns — each generating more than $100 million in contributions — were in California. One of those would cap profits for dialysis clinics; the other would allow local governments to expand rent control.

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Follow David Crary at https://twitter.com/CraryAP

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For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics

Iran officials mock, warn US over renewed sanctions

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The “largest-ever” U.S. sanctions list targeting Iran drew mockery from Iranian officials on Tuesday for including mothballed Boeing 747s, a bank that closed years earlier and a sunken oil tanker that exploded off China months ago.

However, the new list of sanctions, which also aims to cut Iran’s vital oil industry off from international sales, also included for the first time its state airline and its atomic energy commission, further highlighting the maximalist approach of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Trump pulled America out of the 2015 nuclear deal Iran struck with world powers in May. United Nations monitors say Iran still abides by the deal, in which it agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

The U.S. Treasury Department imposed penalties on more than 700 Iranian and Iranian-linked individuals, entities, aircraft and vessels in the new sanctions. Among those are 50 Iranian banks and subsidiaries, and more than 200 people and ships.

However, scattered among the list are surprising entries, like the crude oil tanker Sanchi. That vessel collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s east coast in January, killing all 32 sailors aboard.

Another entry was Iran’s Tat Bank, which closed in 2012.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif took to Twitter to mock some of the targets of the sanctions, describing it as a “desperate” psychological ploy.

“The U.S. designated a bank that was closed 6 years ago, and a ship that sank . in a widely televised saga,” he wrote, ending the tweet with “(hashtag)USisIsolated.”

But for the first time, the United States targeted Iran Air. It also sanctioned the state carrier’s mothballed fleet of Boeing 747s, which were manufactured in the 1970s.

It also appeared that the U.S., in another first, was directly sanctioning the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the government agency that oversees Iran’s nuclear program. Prior sanctions targeted specific subsidiaries of the organization.

Eshaq Jahangiri, President Hassan Rouhani’s senior vice president, also criticized the sanctions.

“Americans think their list is more effective if it is longer,” Jahangiri said, according to the state-run IRNA news agency. He said he had discussed the list with other officials, with many saying it was “less than what we expected.”

Still, Jahangiri warned that “Americans intend to damage economy of the country” through psychological warfare.

Zarif later issued an online video criticizing America’s “indiscriminate assault” on his country.

“The U.S. administration appears to believe that imposing illegal draconian sanctions on Iran will bring about such pain to our nation that it will force us to submit to its will, no matter how absurd, unlawful or fundamentally flawed its demands are.”

Zarif urged America to re-examine its “catastrophes” in the Mideast, including its support for Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Iran is already in the grip of an economic crisis. Its national currency, the rial, now trades at 150,000 to one U.S. dollar; a year ago, it was about 40,500. The economic chaos sparked mass anti-government protests at the end of last year, resulting in nearly 5,000 reported arrests and at least 25 people being killed.

Sporadic smaller demonstrations still reportedly erupt from time to time.

The new sanctions particularly hurt Iran’s vital oil industry, which provides a crucial source of hard currency. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the sanctions already had cost Iran the sale of over 1 million barrels of crude oil a day.

Analysts feared in the run-up to the sanctions that global oil prices could spike on tight supply and increasing demand. However, the Trump administration allowed some of its allies — Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey — as well as rival China to continue to purchase Iranian oil as long as they work to reduce imports to zero. The price of benchmark Brent crude has dropped from over $80 a barrel in recent days.

During a visit to Madrid on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the U.S. decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran was “not legitimate” and that the rest of the parties to the 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by Washington are working to make economic cooperation with Tehran possible.

Lavrov’s remarks were Russia’s first reaction to Washington’s new list of sanctions against Iran. The Russian diplomat said the sanctions go against international law and practices, and that the U.S. “policies of issuing an ultimatum and making unilateral moves are unacceptable these days.”

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Associated Press writer Aritz Parra in Madrid contributed to this report.

Fox News doesn't condone Hannity appearance with Trump

NEW YORK (AP) — Fox News said Tuesday that it has addressed the “unfortunate distraction” of Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro speaking at President Trump’s campaign rally in Missouri the night before, and that it doesn’t condone such behavior.

The network did not say what, if any, discipline that the two network personalities would face.

Meanwhile, Hannity tweeted that he was being “100 percent truthful” earlier on Monday when he tweeted that “I will not be on stage campaigning with the president.”

“When the POTUS invited me on stage to give a few remarks last night, I was surprised, yet honored by the president’s request,” Hannity tweeted. “This was NOT planned.”

Hannity, who told the audience at Trump’s rally that “all these people in the back are fake news,” also tweeted Tuesday that he was not referring to any of his Fox News colleagues.

It’s considered standard for employees of news organizations not to engage in political campaign activities so their outlets do not appear unfair; some journalists go so far as to not vote at all for this reason. Fox News had resisted Monday when the Trump campaign had advertised to its followers that Hannity would appear as a “special guest” at the Missouri rally, saying Hannity was only there to cover the event.

Hannity, cable news’ most popular personality and a vocal Trump defender, has twice been rebuked by Fox for campaign activity. Hannity was made to cancel a 2010 appearance in Cincinnati when it was revealed it was to be a fundraiser for the Tea Party, and when he was featured in a 2016 Trump campaign video Fox told him was told never to do it again.

Since then, Fox opinion personalities have doubled down on their support of Trump and Hannity’s popularity has soared, making for an uncomfortable relationship with the organization’s news side.

Duncan Hines recalling 2.4m boxes of cake mix

CHICAGO (AP) — Duncan Hines is recalling 2.4 million boxes of cake mix because of a link to salmonella.

The recall affects Classic White, Classic Butter Golden, Signature Confetti and Classic Yellow varieties of cake mix, according to Conagra Brands, Duncan Hines’ parent company. The affected boxes have expiration dates between March 7-13, 2019.

Most of the boxes were distributed in the U.S. but some were shipped internationally. Chicago-based Conagra said it is still determining what other countries may be impacted.

In a statement, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it informed Conagra after it tested a sample of cake mix and found that it contained salmonella. It was the same strain that sickened people in five cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control.

The FDA says consumers should not eat or bake with the mix.