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Security Council unanimously passes Ebola Resolution

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council, in a highly unusual move, on Thursday declared the Ebola crisis in West Africa to be a threat to international peace and security, unanimously passing a resolution that calls on countries worldwide to urgently send medical personnel and supplies to contain the outbreak.

“It’s a call to action not just from the Security Council but from the whole United Nations family,” said Ambassador Samantha Power of the United States, which drafted the resolution.

In addition, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced a plan to set up an emergency mission to tackle the swiftly spreading disease that has already ravaged the nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and spread panic and fear. “The gravity and scale of the situation now require a level of international action unprecedented for a health emergency,” Ban said.

The 15-0 vote approving the resolution came as the Obama administration pledged medicine, equipment and 3,000 military personnel to help the countries of the region. The resolution was co-sponsored by 130 countries, Power said, the most co-sponsors of any council resolution ever.

—Somini Sengupta, The New York Times

‘Happy in Tehran’ dancers are given suspended sentences

TEHRAN, Iran — A group of young Iranian men and women known as the “Happy in Tehran” dancers, arrested in May for videotaping themselves cavorting to Pharrell Williams’ popular dance hit, were informed on Thursday of their punishments: 91 lashes and six months of imprisonment for each. One of the female dancers was given a punishment of 91 lashes and 12 months for uploading the video to the Internet, where it caused an international sensation.

All of the punishments were suspended, one of the dancers said. But they could be carried out if the six defendants committed further wrongdoing over the next three years, a common form of deterrence in Iran’s judicial system.

An official announcement of the punishments could come on Saturday. All were convicted of vulgarity and illicit relations because the video showed the female dancers, their heads illegally bared, jumping and jiving with the men. Public dancing is outlawed in Iran. One of the defendants said the prosecutors and judge presiding over the case described the video as pornography.

The video was notable partly because it garnered many views on YouTube around the world, portraying young Iranians to be as fun-loving as their counterparts elsewhere. The arrests of the dancers caused an outcry abroad, including from Williams and many Iranian Americans.

The conservative Islamic authorities in Iran are deeply suspicious of Western influence on the country’s youthful population. The crackdown on the video also was seen as a warning signal to President Hassan Rouhani, who had promised after his election last year to loosen some of the political and cultural strictures imposed in the country.

Rouhani had indicated his own dismay at the arrests of the dancers, proclaiming in a Twitter message at the time that nobody should be punished for expressing joy.

News of the punishments came as Rouhani was preparing to visit the U.N. General Assembly next week, in what may have been an effort by his more conservative political adversaries to embarrass him.

“It’s hard to say if it’s a coincidence or not,” said Haidi Ghaimi, the executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based advocacy group that has monitored the prosecutions of the dancers. “Our position is that they should never have been punished.”

—Thomas Erdbrink and Rick Gladstone, The New York Times