Colin Dwyer

As Iranian voters prepare to head to the polls Friday, there's one thing the high-stakes presidential election certainly will not decide: the country's commander in chief.

That post, at least, is already filled by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader for nearly three decades. As long as he maintains control over the highest seat in the land, Khamenei enjoys wide-ranging authority over the security forces and effective veto power over matters both diplomatic and domestic — including the council that vets and approves presidential candidates.

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

For years, Puerto Rico has grappled with an ever-mounting debt crisis, watching as its public-sector bills have grown to more than $70 billion. Including what the U.S. territory owes to pension funds, that debt exceeds $120 billion.

Now, Puerto Rico's struggle with its creditors has stepped into U.S. federal court, where an unprecedented debt-restructuring case opened with a hearing Wednesday.

A revolt that lasted for days appears to have reached a peaceful conclusion in the Ivory Coast. The soldiers who had taken their weapons into the streets, leaving their barracks to clog city thoroughfares in protest of delayed bonus payments, have agreed to a deal with the government.

"We accept the government's proposal," mutiny spokesman Sgt. Seydou Kone said Tuesday, according to Reuters. "We are returning to barracks now."

More than six weeks into ever-deepening demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro's government, Venezuelans have found themselves staring down some stark numbers:

A federal court in Mississippi handed down a 49-year prison sentence on Monday to Joshua Brandon Vallum, the first person prosecuted under the Hate Crimes Prevention Act for targeting a victim because of gender identity.

Vallum had pleaded guilty last year to the 2015 assault and murder of Mercedes Williamson, a 17-year-old transgender girl whom he says he once dated.

Updated at 11:20 a.m. ET Tuesday

The U.S. State Department laid out a new case against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime on Monday: Not only has the Syrian government committed mass atrocities at its military prison complex outside Damascus, but for years, it has also added to the structure in order to burn and secretly dispose of thousands of its victims' remains.

Major cities across Ivory Coast awoke to the clatter of gunfire Monday. In the country's commercial center and in several cocoa-producing hubs, disgruntled soldiers broke out weapons and blocked thoroughfares to protest stalled bonus payments and what they view as broken promises from President Alassane Ouattara.

It marks the fourth day of renewed tensions in a dispute that had appeared to be tentatively resolved months ago between the government and more than a third of its soldiers. Now, the country teeters anew on the brink of widespread violence.

At least one person has died of the Ebola virus in Democratic Republic of the Congo in recent weeks, according to the World Health Organization. WHO says tests reflected the disease's presence in the body of the victim — one of nine people in the remote northern corner of the country to contract hemorrhagic fever since April 22.

Three of them have died, though at this point, only one case has been confirmed by the country's National Institute of Biomedical Research as the Zaire strain of Ebola.

A muggle mystery is afoot in the U.K.

Sometime over a span of a week and a half in mid-April, a burglar (or several) broke into a property in a Birmingham suburb, stealing jewelry and one item that's even more valuable — certainly to Harry Potter fans, at least: an 800-word, handwritten prequel to the series, scrawled on a postcard by J.K. Rowling herself.

Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET

In a memo to staff, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to "charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense" — a move that marks a significant reversal of Obama-era policies on low-level drug crimes.

The two-page memo, which was publicly released Friday, lays out a policy of strict enforcement that rolls back the comparatively lenient stance established by Eric Holder, one of Sessions' predecessors under President Barack Obama.

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