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.

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