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  • Trump to discuss Beirut response with Lebanese leaders news

    President Donald Trump will join world leaders, including senior figures from Lebanon, as the United States takes part in a global aid effort to help the survivors of a deadly blast that rocked the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Tuesday. Trump will join a conference call on Sunday, led by France and the United Nations, to rally aid and funds in the aftermath of the colossal explosion, which killed more than 150 people and injured at least 5,000, many of whom are now homeless. Later on Friday, at a news conference at his golf club in New Jersey, Trump called the massive explosion a "horrible event" and said that he had spoken to Lebanese President Michel Aoun, informing him that three U.S. aircraft were en route to the Middle Eastern country to deliver supplies and personnel.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 09:29:45 -0400
  • Census Bureau drop-outs complicate door-knocking efforts news

    Bob Garick was looking forward to being a field supervisor during the door-knocking phase of the 2020 census, but as the number of new coronavirus cases in Florida shot up last month, he changed his mind. With widespread home visits for the 2020 census set to begin next week, the Census Bureau is losing workers like Garick to pandemic fears. “Before, I thought it was my civic duty, to do my part, but now it’s like the health concerns are too great,” said Garick, 54, a software development director who is between jobs.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 08:55:34 -0400
  • Mogadishu: Several killed in attack at Somali military base news

    The militant group Al-Shabab has said it was behind the explosion that rocked the capital Mogadishu.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 08:51:40 -0400
  • AP FACT CHECK: Trump misleads on mail ballots, virus vaccine news

    It was a week of relentless attacks by President Donald Trump and his allies on mail-in voting for the November election, and truth took a beating at every turn. Fearing a pandemic-induced surge in such voting will work against him, Trump persisted in arguing that fraud is rampant for mail-in ballots yet quite fine and safe for absentee votes, which are also mailed. Meanwhile, on the coronavirus, Trump painted a far rosier picture than his own health experts on when a vaccine could become available.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 08:41:14 -0400
  • Why France is 'walking on the edge of a precipice' when it comes to Lebanon news

    Anger abounds in Lebanon following Tuesday's massive blast in Beirut's port that killed 154 people and injured 5,000 as it's become increasingly clear that the catastrophe stemmed from governmental neglect and mismanagement of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse for years. The Lebanese people's frustration with the country's political class is not new, however. For months before the explosion, protesters took to the street to demonstrate against corruption in the government and a severe economic crisis in the country. Now, some are looking abroad for help.One university student, Celine Dibo, told Reuters she wished "the United Nations would take over Lebanon," while psychologist Maryse Hayek said "I hope another country would just take us over." Indeed, more than 60,000 people have signed a petition asking France to restore the mandate it held between 1920 and 1946. But critics have pushed back against the idea.French President Emmanuel Macron — who himself has dismissed the idea he could "substitute" for Lebanese leaders — has received praise for visiting the country during the aftermath, promising aid, and even bringing the heads of Lebanon's divided political factions into the same room. But the French president has also been criticized for seeking a way to restore French influence over Lebanon and patronizing the politicians, The Associated Press reports, with one university student in Beirut wondering how Macron is "giving advice to us" when he "hasn't resolved issues with his country."Jack Lang, a former French government official told AP that France's position is difficult — ultimately, he said, France is "walking on the edge of precipice" when it comes to Lebanon, adding that "we have to aid, support, and encourage the Lebanese people, but at the same time not give the impression that we want to establish a new protectorate, which would be completely stupid." Read more at Reuters and The Associated Press.More stories from Trump's latest fundraising attempt is reportedly a Facebook scam against his own supporters Biden campaign reportedly making 'ruthless cuts' to convention speaking list Gates Foundation donates $150 million to push coronavirus vaccine doses below $3

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 08:17:00 -0400
  • AP PHOTOS: In flash, Beirut blast tore up thousands of homes news

    The gigantic explosion in Beirut on Tuesday tore through homes, blowing off doors and windows, toppling cupboards, and sent flying books, shelves, lamps and everything else. Within a few tragic seconds, more than a quarter of a million people of the Lebanese capital’s residents were left with homes unfit to live in. The sisters were both knocked unconscious for a few moments, before they woke up again to an apocalyptic scene.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 08:12:45 -0400
  • Latin America Infrastructure Woes Add to Inequality news

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Latin America’s baleful infrastructure is only too familiar. So, too, are the opportunity costs of years of underinvestment and neglect in ports, roads, water works and the electricity grid. Just ask the almost two thirds of private companies in Argentina, Venezuela and Ecuador that the World Bank says are trying to do business amid chronic power failures.If the region fails to put more money into infrastructure, Latin America and the Caribbean could forfeit as much as 15% of potential gross domestic product growth over the next 10 years, Inter-American Bank (IADB) manager for infrastructure and energy Jose Agustin Aguerre told me. With the region already forecast to lag behind the rest of the developing world in GDP growth, the misfortunes will likely increase. That’s just one of the takeaways of “From Structures to Services,” a new IADB study on the region’s infrastructure woes. Another is who suffers the most for the debacle.While all 33 nations in Central and South America and the Caribbean are at risk, it’s clear that the burden of shabby services is not shared equally. The poorest workers and households shoulder an inequitable share of the cost of ramshackle transportation, dirty water, serial power outages and patchy communications. Throw in the coronavirus pandemic, and the plight of those at the bottom is even more dire.It’s no secret that a robust infrastructure spurs growth. But politicians in the region have traditionally hurled up ill-conceived grand public works and crisscrossed their nations with asphalt and transmission lines to nowhere, too often lining their pockets along the way. (Build and bilk was the driving logic behind Operation Carwash, the Brazilian government procurement scandal.) Latin American and Caribbean companies pay twice as much in bribes on public contracts as do their peers in the wealthier nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.Running and maintaining all that showy hardware is another story, and this is where regional leaders have fallen down. Faulty oversight, lack of competition and corruption lead to inefficiencies that cost Latin America and the Caribbean 0.65% of gross domestic product a year, the IADB found.Latin America was just recently celebrating a dramatic drop in poverty and the narrowing of one of the world’s widest income gaps. Its targeted cash transfer programs to struggling families became a policy benchmark for fighting poverty without busting welfare budgets. The social gains came to a halt with the end of the commodities boom, and have reversed since the region became the pandemic’s new epicenter. “The most vulnerable populations and individuals are once again being hit the hardest,” United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said last month.Covid-19 has already laid bare the region’s class-centric digital infrastructure. School closings during quarantine left 154 million Latin American students to study online, according to UNICEF. And yet, at least six in 10 households among the lowest-earning fifth of society lack the fast and reliable web connections needed for remote learning. Compare that to the top fifth of earners, where eight in 10 households have access to fixed high-speed broadband connections at home, the OECD reports.While half of 15-year-olds in well-heeled homes log on to learning platforms such as Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams, just a fifth of those in poor zones have that ability, the OECD found. Worse, just 45% of students in poorer families have access to home computers, compared with 88% of their peers in higher income schools. In Bolivia, the poorest nation in South America after Venezuela, the government this week canceled the rest of the school year citing the lack of internet connections. The digital divide goes beyond the classroom. Even for Latin Americans who are wired, just connecting to the internet can be frustrating - and prohibitive. The bottom earning 40% of Latin Americans must shell out around 10% of their monthly wages for a basic - 1 gigabyte - broadband subscription. That’s more than three times what their low-earning counterparts in the richer OECD nations pay for the same service, and five times the baseline target set by the United Nations Broadband Commission for 2025.Urban mobility is also skewed toward the well-heeled. Consider that the poor, who often live farther from work, spend a greater share of their earnings on shaky public transportation systems. With few options for public transportation, or simply to save on bus and metro fares, some 40% of the lowest earners walk to work or the market, compared with just 10% of the wealthiest commuters.The poor also shell out dearly for energy, often consuming pricier bottled gas for cooking because the municipal street gas pipelines do not reach their communities. As late as 2016, some 80 million Latin Americans still relied on expensive and polluting fuels such as coal, kerosene and wood.And despite aggressive expansion of electric lines, many of the humblest homes – including almost half the poor in Panama, 30% in Guatemala and Honduras, and 20% in Bolivia and Peru – have no reliable access to electricity when they are not entirely off the grid. Overall, the bottom half of Latin American and Caribbean society spends almost 30% more on utilities than other developing regions, Aguerre and his research team concluded.Encouragingly, if the least fortunate are also the big losers in the infrastructure bust, they also stand to gain the most from the sorely needed upgrades. Consider urban mobility. Expanding rapid bus services, which now service 13 countries in the region, could slash urban travel times – by seven minutes in Lima and 11 minutes in Cali – for the lowest income passengers who have the longest commutes.Raising infrastructure efficiency through smart technology (digital metering, drones and GPS systems) could lower fares, fees and utility rates. Since the poor spend so much of their earnings on such services, they have proportionately more to gain from falling prices. The IADB estimates that a decade of infrastructure efficiency gains could raise the earnings of lowest paid consumers by 28% more on average than the rich. Poor Chileans could see their incomes jump 70% more than those of the rich, while the differential for poor Peruvians would be 40% over the wealthiest.This presents Latin America with a rare opportunity to reboot the region’s tapped out pipes, cables and bus queues and turn a rout into a win for development and social justice. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mac Margolis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Latin and South America. He was a reporter for Newsweek and is the author of “The Last New World: The Conquest of the Amazon Frontier.”For more articles like this, please visit us at now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 08:00:02 -0400
  • Tens of thousands in fresh anti-Kremlin rally news

    Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Russia's Far East for a fifth consecutive weekend as anti-Kremlin rallies showed little sign of dying down on Saturday. The rallies in the city of some 600,000 people on the border with China is a major show of defiance against Moscow's policies and present a headache for President Vladimir Putin, observers say. The demonstrations were sparked by the sudden arrest of Khabarovsk's popular governor in a murder probe but has since acquired a wider, distinctly anti-Kremlin agenda.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 07:31:54 -0400
  • MV Wakashio: Mauritius declares emergency as stranded ship leaks oil news

    Mauritius declares a state of emergency after Japanese-owned carrier MV Wakashio starts leaking oil.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 07:27:17 -0400
  • Unknown gunman kills 2 Lebanese in Iranian capital

    No description related. Click here to go to original article.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 06:49:14 -0400
  • Gaza students back to school with few virus safety measures news

    Hundreds of thousands of students in the isolated Gaza Strip returned to schools after five months of closure, despite the ongoing pandemic that has seen school years postponed elsewhere across the globe. There have been no known cases of community transmission among the 2 million residents of Gaza, which has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade since the militant Hamas group took power in 2007. From the outset, the blockade has restricted movement in and out of Gaza mostly to its residents with humanitarian causes and workers of international aid groups.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 06:16:59 -0400
  • The Fearless Journalist Targeted by a Murderous Dictator news

    Ramona Diaz’s latest documentary, A Thousand Cuts, stars former CNN correspondent and Rappler co-founder Maria Ressa, a formidable Filipino reporter who was born in the country yet spent much of her youth, as well as her college years, in the U.S. Ressa became famous herself when she began being targeted by the violent populist government of President Rodrigo Duterte and its online followers. The attacks have intensified to the level of political retaliation, and the government has levied multiple charges, from cyber-libel to tax fraud, against Ressa and Rappler, a news website. On June 15, Ressa was convicted of the first cyber-libel charge against her. A Thousand Cuts follows Ressa as well as a handful of her colleagues/employees at Rappler, from police beat reporter Rambo Talabong to investigative reporter Patricia Evangelista, who have spent years on the ground covering the graphic, out-in-the-open government-mandated murders of poor Filipinos who are deemed—rightly or wrongly—drug addicts and drug pushers. The film also follows two of Duterte’s most fervent and influential supporters, social media personality and former dancer Mocha Uson and former Police General Bato dela Rosa. Despite its panoptical view, A Thousand Cuts focuses on Ressa and the extreme nature of her predicament. The world over, journalists are targeted, jailed, disappeared, and even murdered (as was the Saudi exile Jamal Khashoggi) for doing their work. Ressa, who chose to live in the Philippines instead of the U.S. after the people-powered revolution that ousted the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, has repeatedly returned to the Philippines rather than try to escape the trouble that has awaited her for years. The Daily Beast spoke to Ressa about what the most important takeaways are during a global descent into authoritarianism. It's a very sensitive moment for you, Maria, where this film is being made while you're in the midst of various complicated processes involving the politically motivated retaliation against you. My need was, realizing that we were in quicksand, this is a unique moment and we knew that in 2016, that we were under attack. So we grappled with: how do you report on yourself? And then I wanted it documented, but I couldn’t use Rappler’s resources for the longer term because we’re very small. Our organization’s a hundred people total and we only have 25 editorial people. Even in our video group, we work like crazy. So I felt bad even thinking of having someone document us. And then if it’s someone who knows you well documenting you if it’s an internal thing, then it’s clouded with lots of things. There were several people who asked, who were following me for periods of time. So, that was the stage that Ramona came into. That was my context. I wanted it documented and I wasn’t going to pay for it. ‘Immigration Nation’ Filmmakers Reveal How Team Trump Tried to Block and Censor Their ICE Documentary‘The Kingmaker’: A Scathing Portrait of the Female Donald TrumpHow do you build trust? Of course, I knew Ramona’s work because in 2004, she turned me down for an interview for [her documentary] Imelda. And at that point I was at CNN. I knew she had a different framework, which is the fly on the wall kind of cinema vérité. But my thing [is] at a certain point, a journalist makes a decision because if you’re doing a daily story, you make a decision immediately in terms of framework, in terms of the story. And inevitably, there are only eight themes globally. Every story falls into that. And so you make a judgment about the person you’re talking about. You don’t tell it to people, but for instance, if someone is lying to you, you know they’re lying to you and you put context to it. So that’s what she had to hurdle because I wasn’t completely convinced about her framework. I felt that the film really followed closely along to what at least seemed to me to be your personality, Maria, which is this ability to take grave moments or chaos, and to constantly reframe and recontextualize, to tell the people around you (or the audience) that this is how we need to look at it. And that's a very journalistic trait, but the fact that you’re able to do that in your real life in real time is impressive. Everyone’s different when they’re being documented in any way, but were you thinking about this comportment as the film was rolling? No. At a certain point I really did forget they were there because they became part of Rappler in a weird way, you know? And yet really the things we were dealing with were off the wall. And this is something I learned from CNN when you’re in a conflict zone. I became a reporter for CNN in 1987, and in 1987, live shots were $10,000 for every 10 minutes. So you didn’t do a lot of live shots from the Philippines.The thing about live shots is you have max two minutes, maybe a minute and a half. And if you don’t have your thoughts organized, if you’re not on in that minute and a half, you lose your window. So that’s perfect, wonderful training because I learned to take a complex world and boil it to three points, because that’s all you can get in a minute. I’ve learned a ton just even in the last four years, but it’s been four years of these attacks [from Duterte and his administration]. That’s the big difference. I’m used to being a journalist and being in a war zone for two weeks. Three weeks, and you’re going stir crazy if you’re still in a conflict area. Three weeks, it frays your edges; it changes the way you look at the world. I’ve had colleagues—some of whom are not are no longer here—who get addicted to it because there’s a certain adrenaline of conflict and war zone coverage that isn’t constructive to you. That makes you lose your ties, the ties that really matter to your family and friends. So I got out of conflict reporting at just the right time, I think. And I wanted to build something. That’s why I’m in the Philippines. Let’s hope I didn’t make the wrong choiceThere’s comparisons made to the U.S. in the film and what’s going on here with Trump and his administration. The ways that populist dictator-types like Duterte and Trump function is that they try to manipulate the law. When the very premise of democracy, the very premise of fairness is being broken down, is it sufficient to react with the same tools you would have used in a fair and just society?I think that’s a great question. And I think that is playing out right now. We were talking about David Kaye—he was the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression—[because] his last day was last night. And the question I asked him, and this is connected to yours, is, “If facts are debatable,” because the biggest problem right now is that the world’s largest distributor of news is social media, and these platforms actually make sure lies laced with anger and hate spread faster than facts. But [the question I asked was], “If facts are debatable”—which is the biggest problem, this is the enabler of the rise of digital authoritarians, like a Trump and Duterte or Bolsonaro or Orbán in Hungary—”and we know that large groups of people are being manipulated by geopolitical forces, can we even have democracy? Do we have integrity of elections if we don’t have facts?” So if you think about it, that’s why journalists are under attack globally. Every report from Reporters Without Borders to CPJ will tell you that in the last decade, the attacks against journalists have just gone off the scale. Again, David Kaye, the U.N. special rapporteur, last night came out with a report that said that COVID-19 is closing the digital spaces.Law is the next phase, because facts are where everything begins, right? The facts are where two opposing sides—whether a journalist or someone else are at the water-cooler—can have a discussion. But if they have different facts, you have a big problem. And what is law? Law is still talking about the facts. It is to try to put order in society. So there is accountability, but if your facts are debatable, you cannot have laws. So that's also something I’ve learned in the last four years, working with like the people like Amal Clooney and Caoilfhionn Gallagher, the Covington lawyers who are [handling my case], I’m realizing that as journalists are fighting for facts and for truth, lawyers—both in the Philippines and the U.S., in international law, and, God forbid, international human rights law—all of this is quicksand right now, and they are trying to define it because the facts are debatable. So this is all connected in our world. I don’t think there’s any other time that epitomizes creative destruction as now. And I’ve lived through so many of these in Indonesia, in the Philippines before. I mean, today, really, truly everything that we thought we knew has been crushed and destroyed because facts are debatable. All the old systems we put in place can’t work when facts are debatable, when people are being manipulated. We have had courts and tribunals throughout history, but they haven’t always actually operated on the same set of facts as say, certain marginalized members of the population. You could take the Guatemalan genocide, for instance, and the impossibility of having indigenous voices fully heard by the system. But now these issues are coming up in a very disconcerting way. How do you reckon with the reality that there are all of these people in the Philippines who have legitimately felt marginalized by previous governments, even democratic governments, and so now they’ve turned to populism. It’s like COVID coming onto the world: the old problems are there, and they have not been solved. And then you come in with this added layer of technology that’s literally transforming all of us. I talk about social media as a behavioral modification system. And now it’s gone from governments to individuals. So, that’s happened. And then you add this layer of the pandemic. That’s what I mean, that everything is rubble. And again, I know this really well because I have been the target of these disinformation campaigns. Russian military doctrine includes these kinds of influence operations, as it does the U.S., which people forget. Influence operations are meant to change the way people think. So it changes the way they act.You don’t get justice by creating another wrong. You don’t. In our case, in the Philippines, it’s actually one of our reporters who said, “What does Duterte want and how does he get the crowd?” Because he promises them revenge, right? Again, the 1 percent versus the 99 percent, the inequality of the world has been there, but you don’t fix it with more injustice. And then I actually really think, because I had been the target of these misogynistic attacks, the kinds of exponential attacks that are meant to dehumanize me so that others will hate—this is inciting to hate. And the last time a German friend of mine actually said—because I’ve started showing some of the really nasty stuff that I wake up to—he said, “You know, this is exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews, because when you’re dehumanized, then it opens the door to violence.” And there’s absolutely no sense of fairness in that. I think this is one of those moments in history where it isn’t just one nation, local is global and global is local because Silicon Valley has made these decisions about how facts are distributed to all of us around the world. And it’s just wrong. The decisions they’ve made, they have caused genocide in Myanmar, deaths in the Philippines and the drug war, I could go to jail. I love the question because it does expand it to justice, which is in the end why I became a journalist! Now, for Filipinos, our institutions are weak at best, corruption is endemic, law and order is sometimes an illusion, regardless of who’s in power. But for decades, from 1986 to 2016,  if you look at all of the surveys, Filipinos would go to news organizations for a sense of justice. It is always a search for justice, right? That’s always what motivates us. That’s why we have civilized society. because we know that there should be rule of law, but the paradigm, the paradigm is busted. If you don’t have facts—even if some facts are debatable, at least let’s agree on the shared facts.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 05:17:15 -0400
  • Russia Looks to Africa to Extend Its Military Might news

    MOSCOW—From Russia’s cyber-meddling in the U.S. presidential elections to its alleged hacking of coronavirus research, it’s clear the Kremlin is keen to undermine the democratic West. And it’s now looking to a new front to extend its hard and soft power and prop up fellow authoritarian regimes: the continent of Africa.Last week, the German newspaper Bild raised alarms about Russia’s growing influence in Africa, citing a classified German Foreign Ministry report that Russia has concluded agreements with six African nations to install military bases abroad, including in Egypt and Sudan.A private pro-Kremlin Russian newspaper, seeming to offer an unofficial answer, called the report false and countered that the West is merely jealous of warming trade ties.  The Real Reason Behind Russia’s COVID-19 Vaccine HacksRussians Are Using African Troll Factories—and Encrypted Messaging—to Attack the U.S.Still, Vladimir Putin has made little secret of his interest in projecting the Kremlin’s influence around the world, and of making Africa a priority region for military cooperation. By forging military agreements with African countries, Russia is trying to “fit” the modern security system, pro-Kremlin experts say, competing with China and the United States. Russia’s military return to Africa began soon after the conflict in Ukraine in 2014. Moscow signed agreements for cooperation with more than 20 countries, including Madagascar, Angola, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Algeria is the largest recipient of Russian armaments in Africa, followed by Egypt, Sudan, and Angola. Many of these countries cooperated with the Soviet Union for decades. Soviet military surveillance planes, such as the Tu-95s and Tu-142s, used Luanda, the Angolan capital, as a base from which they could comb the Southern Atlantic Ocean for U.S. submarines.The Soviet Union had also teamed up with Angola’s Marxist leaders and backed a Cuban military intervention in Angola that continued from 1975 to 1991, poisoning relations between Moscow and Washington on African issues. Russian independent military expert Alexander Golts believes U.S. President Donald Trump’s isolationist policy has encouraged the Russian moves. America’s pullback, he said, makes it “comfortable” for Russia to expand its activity in the Middle East and Africa. Putin’s Man in the Central African Republic: Is Valery Zakharov at the Heart of Russian Skulduggery?Russian Trolls Are Staging a Takeover in Africa—With Help From Mercenaries“We can see that Russian military officers work in the Central African Republic, we see how Moscow increases its military activities in adventurous campaigns in Syria and Libya, while Trump prefers to stay away,” Golts told The Daily Beast. “Repeating the practice of Soviet leaders, who for decades threatened with expansion, Russia is trying to convince the United States and especially China that it can compete in Africa. But this time, it is much more a psychological thing by Putin—who’s been promising Russians to get them off their knees—than ideological,” as was the Russian support for African communist movements.   On Sunday, Bild cited a classified report by the German Foreign Office on “Russia’s new Africa ambitions.” It said the Kremlin had “contractually assured that it would build military bases in six states: the Central African Republic, Egypt, Eritrea, Madagascar, Mozambique and Sudan.”  The newspaper explained that African dictatorial regimes already use Russian mercenaries to gain or remain in power: “Russia, just like China, does not link its aid to questions of the rule of law” in the autocratic states on the continent, the report says. “In the secret paper, the Foreign Office analysts do not mince words: the capabilities of Russia’s armed forces and mercenaries are ‘of great interest to autocratic regimes in possible operations against their own people,’” the newspaper reported. In response, the Russian newspaper Arguments of the Week immediately countered: “Berlin is afraid that Russia will occupy Africa.”“Our country has a big part of the market on the Dark Continent,” the newspaper wrote, using a derogatory phrase for Africa, even in Russian. “Berlin is concerned that Russia can strengthen its position on the international arena, receiving Africa’s support for its policy at the United Nations.”  Indeed, last year Russia teamed up with African members of the U.N. Security Council to block statements regarding a coup in Sudan. “Russia has cultivated authoritarian regimes in Africa as potential allies in blocking international efforts to promote human rights and democratic governance through U.N.-affiliated organizations and agencies,” the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace warned.Additionally, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said two years ago, in March 2018, that at least 175 Russian military experts and instructors traveled to the Central African Republic to train local soldiers. Still, “it is one thing to train soldiers and sell weapons and a completely different thing to build military bases. That would require approval by the Russian parliament; besides, I cannot imagine Russia building a military base in Egypt,” where the United States already has close military cooperation with the country, Golts, the independent military expert, told The Daily Beast. “I think that the report published by Bild was a compilation of all the open sources that we have already heard about.”  After nearly a decade of absence in Africa, the Kremlin announced its full-scale return last year. Putin received more than 10,000 delegates from 54 African states at his summer residence in the resort city of Sochi for a conference on Russia and Africa. In meetings with leaders of dozens of African states, Putin toasted $12.5 billion worth of deals for building nuclear plants, selling missile defense systems and military jets: “Let’s drink to the success of our joint efforts to develop full-scale mutually beneficial cooperation, well-being, peaceful future and prosperity of our countries and people,” he proclaimed. At the summit, Russian officials promised to expand joint cooperation between Russian and African special services, exchange information, and continue training soldiers in African states. After Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014, and the war in Eastern Ukraine, Moscow actively looked southwards for new bases, building one in Syria’s Latakia for the Russian air force and re-enforcing a Mediterranean naval base at Tartus, which Russia has held since Soviet times. The bases in Africa appear to be the next step in global expansion. “A few new Russian bases in Africa would be nothing compared to thousands of the U.S. military bases, which are like a net covering our entire planet,” Yuriy Krupnov, a pro-Kremlin geopolitical analyst, told The Daily Beast. “Russia has around 100 various projects around the strategically important continent of Africa, with [its] population of one billion people, with Russia-educated experts in nearly every country; but compared to China’s more than $60 billion investments, Russia’s hardly developing any infrastructure,” Krupnov added. Russia’s military comeback in Africa partners the country with a list of states notorious for violating human rights, suggesting an alternative source of military and secret service expertise for governments that fall from favor with Western Europe or the United States. Compared to China’s investments in Africa, Russia’s financial outlays are tiny. But as an exercise in extending influence, Russia’s moves in Africa are now undeniable. Says the pro-Kremlin analyst Krupnov: “Our return is just an effort to fit into the modern security system.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 05:14:35 -0400
  • The Latest: Syria says Beirut blast killed 43 Syrians news

    Syria’s state TV says 43 Syrian citizens were killed in this week’s blast in Beirut. The TV quotes the Syrian embassy in Lebanon as saying that the number is not final as search operations for dozens of missing are still ongoing. Lebanon is home to more than a million Syrians many of them refugees who fled civil war in their country.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 05:08:25 -0400
  • Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at Beirut protesters news

    Lebanese security forces are firing tear gas at stone-throwing protesters after they tried to reach the Parliament area in downtown Beirut. Thousands of people had poured into Beirut’s main square Saturday hanging up symbolic nooses that they say officials should be hanged on over this week’s blast while protesters and riot police clashed near parliament. The violence by a small group of young men began at the start of anti-government protests planned in the wake of the deadly explosion at Beirut port that devastated large parts of the capital and killed more than 150 people.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 04:49:17 -0400
  • At least 8 soldiers dead in blast outside Somali army base

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    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 04:19:54 -0400
  • Bison, other beasts return life to a former Soviet army base news

    Wild horses, bison and other big-hoofed animals once roamed freely in much of Europe. Now they are transforming a former military base outside the Czech capital in an ambitious project to improve biodiversity. Where occupying Soviet troops once held exercises, massive bovines called tauros and other heavy beasts now munch on the invasive plants that took over the base years ago.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 03:54:14 -0400
  • Is France helping Lebanon, or trying to reconquer it? news

    It was almost as if Emmanuel Macron forgot that Lebanon is no longer a French protectorate. Visiting explosion-ravaged Beirut this week, France’s leader comforted distraught crowds, promised to rebuild the city and claimed that the blast pierced France’s own heart. “France will never let Lebanon go,” Macron said.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 03:43:43 -0400
  • Coronavirus in South Africa: Why the vuvuzelas fell silent news

    The country's fight against Covid-19 was initially celebrated, but the public mood has now soured.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 03:39:52 -0400
  • A father, a sister, a son: Beirut blast takes a heavy toll news

    A close twin sister, now separated forever. Tuesday's enormous explosion that killed scores of people, injured thousands and caused widespread destruction across Lebanon's capital touched off widespread mourning for the victims.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 03:03:50 -0400
  • UN set for showdown over US Iran arms embargo push news

    The UN Security Council is set next week to roundly reject a US resolution to extend an Iranian arms embargo, diplomats say, setting up a lengthy showdown with repercussions for the Iran nuclear deal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that the United States would put forward its long-awaited resolution despite ardent opposition from Russia and China. "The resolution takes a maximalist position on Iran," one diplomat told AFP.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 02:22:59 -0400
  • Belarus' leader faces toughest challenge yet in Sunday vote news

    After 26 years in office, the authoritarian leader of Belarus is facing the toughest challenge yet as he runs for a sixth term. Discontent over a worsening economy and the government's dismissive response to the coronavirus pandemic has helped fuel the country's largest opposition rallies since Alexander Lukashenko became its first and only elected president following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Rumblings among the ruling elite and a bitter rift with Russia, Belarus's main sponsor and ally, compound the reelection challenge facing the 65-year-old former state farm director on Sunday.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 02:15:17 -0400
  • US intel: Russia acting against Biden; China opposes Trump news

    U.S. intelligence officials believe that Russia is using a variety of measures to denigrate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ahead of the November election and that individuals linked to the Kremlin are boosting President Donald Trump’s reelection bid, the country’s counterintelligence chief said in the most specific warning to date about the threat of foreign interference. U.S. officials also believe China does not want Trump to win a second term and has accelerated its criticism of the White House, expanding its efforts to shape public policy in America and to pressure political figures seen as opposed to Beijing’s interests.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 02:13:10 -0400
  • Survivors of deadly India crash say plane swayed violently news

    The plane swayed violently as it approached a hilltop runway soaked by monsoon rain, and moments later the special return flight for Indians stranded abroad by the pandemic skidded off, nosedived and cracked in two, leaving 18 dead and more than 120 injured. Among the injured on Friday night, at least 15 were in critical condition, said Abdul Karim, a senior police officer in southern Kerala state. The dead included both pilots of the Air India Express flight, the airline said in a statement, adding that the four cabin crew were safe.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 02:12:19 -0400
  • 2 ex-Green Berets sentenced to 20 years for Venezuela attack news

    A Venezuelan court has sentenced two former U.S. special forces soldiers to 20 years in prison for their part in a failed beach attack aimed at overthrowing President Nicolás Maduro, prosecutors announced. Former Green Berets Luke Denman and Airan Berry admitted to taking part in the May 4 operation orchestrated by a third ex-U.S. soldier who remains in the United States, Venezuelan's chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab announced on Twitter on Friday. “THEY ADMITTED THEIR RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FACTS,” Saab wrote, adding that the case will continue for dozens of other defendants.

    Sat, 08 Aug 2020 01:25:11 -0400
  • Iran asks UN to hold US accountable for plane interception

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    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 23:46:19 -0400
  • AP sources: Whitmer met with Biden as he nears VP decision news

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer traveled to Delaware last weekend to meet with Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee's first known in-person session with a potential running mate as he nears a decision. Whitmer visited Biden Sunday, according to two high-ranking Michigan Democrats who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Flight records show a chartered plane left Lansing's Capital Region International Airport for Delaware Coastal Airport at 5:33 p.m. and returned at 11:16 p.m.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 20:45:12 -0400
  • Russia, China and Iran seeking to influence US ahead of elections, top intelligence official says news

    Statement says China is opposed to Trump but offers more concrete evidence of Russia’s efforts to undermine BidenRussia is backing Donald Trump, China is supporting Joe Biden and Iran is seeking to sow chaos in the US presidential election, a top intelligence official has warned in a sobering assessment of foreign meddling.The statement on Friday by William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, raises fears of a repeat of the 2016 election, when Russia manipulated social media to help Trump and hurt his opponent Hillary Clinton.“Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia ‘establishment’,” Evanina said. “This is consistent with Moscow’s public criticism of him when he was Vice President for his role in the Obama Administration’s policies on Ukraine and its support for the anti-Putin opposition inside Russia.”Evanina identified Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russia Ukrainian politician, as “spreading claims about corruption – including through publicized leaked phone calls” to attack Biden’s campaign. The Washington Post reported that Derkach has met repeatedly with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who has pushed conspiracy theories about the former vice-president.Evanina also warned that some “Kremlin-linked actors” were spreading false claims about corruption to undermine Biden, while others were trying to “boost President Trump’s candidacy via social media and Russian television”.Evanina, the top intelligence official monitoring threats to the election, is a Trump appointee. His statement lists China before Russia but presents less specific evidence of direct interference by Beijing.“We assess that China prefers that President Trump – whom Beijing sees as unpredictable – does not win re-election,” Evanina said. “China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States, pressure political figures it views as opposed to China’s interests, and deflect and counter criticism of China.”He added: “Beijing recognizes that all of these efforts might affect the presidential race.”Evanina highlighted China’s criticism of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the closure of China’s consulate in Houston and the White House responses to Chinese actions in Hong Kong and the South China Sea. On Friday, the US imposed sanctions on Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, and 10 other senior officials. Trump has also ordered crackdowns on the Chinese owners of the popular apps TikTok and WeChat.Iran, meanwhile, was seeking to undermine US democratic institutions and Trump, and to divide the country ahead of the 2020 elections, Evanina’s statement said.“Iran’s efforts along these lines probably will focus on on-line influence, such as spreading disinformation on social media and recirculating anti-US content. Tehran’s motivation to conduct such activities is, in part, driven by a perception that President Trump’s reelection would result in a continuation of US pressure on Iran in an effort to foment regime change.”Trump pulled the US out of a nuclear deal agreed by Barack Obama and imposed various sanctions on Tehran.The anti-Trump pressure group National Security Action denied that China’s public actions rose to the level of Russia’s covert election interference. “Jarringly, the statement attempted to minimize what Russia is doing – again attacking our democracy in a bid to secure Trump’s reelection – by comparing it to China’s public criticism of the administration’s recent punitive measures against Beijing,” a spokesperson, Ned Price, said. “Any interference in our democracy is unacceptable, but there is no equivalence between the two efforts.”In a press conference at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Friday evening, Trump reacted to the assessment by insisting: “I think that the last person Russia wants to see in office is Donald Trump because nobody’s been tougher on Russia than I have, ever. “China would love us to have an election where Donald Trump lost to ‘Sleepy’ Joe Biden. They would own our country. If Joe Biden was president, China would own our country ... Iran would love to see me not be president.” The president added: “I’ll make this statement. If and when we win, we will make deals with Iran very quickly. We’ll make deals with North Korea very quickly. Whatever happened to the war in North Korea? You haven’t seen that, have you?”A hacking and social media campaign by Russia in 2016 is credited by US intelligence with helping Trump to victory. It triggered the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, which described Russian meddling but did not conclude that there had been direct collusion by Trump or his campaign.The November election is already under siege from the coronavirus pandemic, concerns over whether the system can handle a surge in mail-in voting and constant attacks by Trump on the integrity of the process.Evanina warned that foreign adversaries may try to interfere with election systems by trying to sabotage the voting process, stealing election data or questioning the validity of results: “Foreign efforts to influence or interfere with our elections are a direct threat to the fabric of our democracy.”The report raised concern on Capitol Hill. Marco Rubio and Mark Warner, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said they “encourage political leaders on all sides to refrain from weaponizing intelligence matters for political gain”.Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader, said: “It is no surprise our adversaries have preferences in our elections. Foreign nations have tried to influence our politics throughout American history. As Director Evanina’s statement makes clear, Russian malign influence efforts remain a significant threat. But it would be a serious mistake to ignore the growing threats posed by China and Iran.”

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 20:44:37 -0400
  • UN: Up to 9 children killed by airstrikes in northern Yemen

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    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 18:43:32 -0400
  • Russia trying to hurt Biden while China, Iran work to damage Trump before election: U.S. intel news

    The U.S. intelligence community provided the clearest picture yet Friday of how foreign countries are trying to influence November’s election, charging that Russia is seeking to “denigrate” Joe Biden while China and Iran are working to undermine President Trump. William Evanina, the Trump-appointed director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, provided the assessment in a rare statement that broke down each country’s alleged interference schemes. Russia is pursuing efforts that echo its attack on the 2016 U.S. election, Evanina said.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 18:07:52 -0400
  • Bipartisan group of senators introduce bill to stop Trump from allowing drone sales to Saudis, fearing an arms race with Iran news

    The senators are concerned selling drones to the Saudis could exacerbate the Yemen conflict and fuel an arms race with Iran.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 17:02:58 -0400
  • Intelligence community warns Russia wants to hurt Biden, while China 'prefers' Trump not be reelected news

    Following a push from Democratic lawmakers to be more forthcoming in declassifying evidence of foreign interference in the upcoming presidential election, a top counterintelligence official on Friday published new, specific details about how Russia, China and Iran are seeking to manipulate American voters.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 16:51:48 -0400
  • Endangered Brazilian monkeys get a bridge to themselves news

    The overpass juts from a forest over a four-lane highway in a rural area outside Rio de Janeiro. It's meant for a very special sort of pedestrian: golden lion tamarins, small orange primates that for decades have been at risk of extinction. About 20 meters (65 feet) wide and twice as long, the bridge connects the Poco de Dantas biological reserve in Rio state’s Silva Jardim municipality with a farm that the Golden Lion Tamarin Association acquired to transform into an ecological park.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 16:37:09 -0400
  • Top U.S. intel official: China wants Trump defeated, Russia is sabotaging Biden news

    Kremlin-linked operatives are trying to boost President Donald Trump's candidacy while China wants to see him defeated, the top U.S. counterintelligence official said Friday in a strikingly detailed update on American intelligence assessments about foreign preferences in the upcoming presidential election. Bill Evanina, a former FBI agent who is leading election security efforts at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, provided new information about what U.S. intelligence analysts have determined regarding the election interference goals of China, Russia and Iran. Evanina said the Russians, in a reprise of the 2016 presidential election, were once again trying to help Trump by sabotaging his opponent.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 16:29:00 -0400
  • Intelligence official says Russia and China are lining up on opposite sides of the U.S. election news

    A top intelligence official says Russia is using a "range of measures" to take down former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 presidential election, while China prefers that President Trump doesn't win.William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, released a statement on Friday detailing the "intentions and activities" of U.S. adversaries in the presidential election, which describes how intelligence officials are "concerned" primarily about China, Russia, and Iran.By the U.S. assessment, China "prefers that President Trump — whom Beijing sees as unpredictable — does not win re-election," Evanina wrote. Additionally, Russia is "using a range of measures to primarily denigrate" Biden, and "some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Trump's candidacy on social media and Russian television," the statement said.Finally, Evanina said that Iran seeks to "undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country in advance of the 2020 elections," driven by its belief that Trump being re-elected would "result in a continuation of U.S. pressure."Senate Intelligence Committee Acting Chair Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-Va.) on Friday said this statement "highlights some of the serious and ongoing threats to our election." They also said that additional information has been provided to members of Congress in recent weeks and that more of it "can, and at the appropriate time should, be shared with the voting public."More stories from Trump's latest fundraising attempt is reportedly a Facebook scam against his own supporters Biden campaign reportedly making 'ruthless cuts' to convention speaking list Gates Foundation donates $150 million to push coronavirus vaccine doses below $3

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 16:28:00 -0400
  • How ‘success’ of a tough US policy on Iran has benefited China

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    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 16:24:46 -0400
  • US intelligence warns China opposes Trump's re-election but Russia is working against Biden news

    US intelligence agencies have issued an update on election meddling which warns that Russia is seeking to undercut Joe Biden but China and Iran are trying to undermine Donald Trump. The statement said that Moscow is using a “range of measures” to “primarily denigrate” Mr Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, who is seen as part of the “anti-Russia establishment”. But it also says that Beijing prefers that Mr Trump “does not win reelection” and sees him as “unpredictable”, while Tehran is opposing the president due to his hardline "pressure campaign" towards it. The remarks were issued by William Evanina, director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Centre, who is helping lead the American intelligence efforts against election meddling. The 900-word statement, headlined ‘Election threat update for the American people’, spells out in detail how the three countries are attempting to influence the election.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 16:09:02 -0400
  • U.S. counterspy chief warns Russia, China, Iran trying to meddle in 2020 election

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    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 16:06:53 -0400
  • North Carolina to relax 10-person limit for GOP convention news

    North Carolina will ease gathering restrictions for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte this month after a push by the national party for the state to be more accommodating. The RNC has estimated it would have no more than 500 delegates per day at the Charlotte Convention Center and the Westin hotel. In a letter written to the RNC on Thursday, the state's health director and chief medical officer, Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, said the Department of Health and Human Services understands more than 10 people may need to assemble indoors to conduct party business.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 15:56:49 -0400
  • Harleys everywhere, masks nowhere: Sturgis draws thousands news

    Thousands of bikers poured into the small South Dakota city of Sturgis on Friday as the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally rumbled to life despite fears it could lead to a massive coronavirus outbreak. The rally could become one of the largest public gatherings since the pandemic began, with organizers expecting 250,000 people from all over the country to make their way through Sturgis during the 10-day event.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 15:50:16 -0400
  • Canada's last intact ice shelf collapses due to warming news

    Much of Canada's remaining intact ice shelf has broken apart into hulking iceberg islands thanks to a hot summer and global warming, scientists said. Canada's 4,000-year-old Milne Ice Shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island had been the country's last intact ice shelf until the end of July when ice analyst Adrienne White of the Canadian Ice Service noticed that satellite photos showed that about 43% of it had broken off. The biggest is nearly the size of Manhattan — 21 square miles (55 square kilometers) and 7 miles long (11.5 kilometers).

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 15:38:03 -0400
  • Russia targets Biden in election-meddling effort, U.S. intelligence says news

    In a preelection report, the director of national intelligence's office says Russia is actively trying to denigrate Joe Biden, China "prefers" that President Trump loses reelection, and Iran is seeking to undermine U.S. democracy.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 15:26:18 -0400
  • China and Iran trying to undermine Trump re-election while Russia looking to hurt Biden, top US intelligence official says news

    A top US counterintelligence official has issued a public statement warning that foreign states are continuing to use both overt and covert methods to influence the 2020 election.William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Centre, raises specific concerns over activity by China, Russia and Iran.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 15:20:00 -0400
  • Mauritius declares emergency as stranded ship spills fuel news

    The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius has declared a “state of environmental emergency” after a Japanese-owned ship that ran aground offshore days ago began spilling tons of fuel. Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced the development late Friday as satellite images showed a dark slick spreading in the turquoise waters near environmental areas that the government called “very sensitive.” Mauritius has said the ship was carrying nearly 4,000 tons of fuel and cracks have appeared in its hull.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 15:05:14 -0400
  • US intel: Russia acting against Biden; China opposes Trump news

    U.S. intelligence officials believe that Russia is using a variety of measures to denigrate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden ahead of the November election and that individuals linked to the Kremlin are boosting President Donald Trump’s reelection bid, the country’s counterintelligence chief said in the most specific warning to date about the threat of foreign interference. U.S. officials also believe China does not want Trump to win a second term and has accelerated its criticism of the White House, expanding its efforts to shape public policy in America and to pressure political figures seen as opposed to Beijing’s interests.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 14:56:06 -0400
  • Africa's week in pictures: 31 July - 6 August 2020 news

    A selection of the week's best photos from across the continent.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 13:44:07 -0400
  • Trump news - China, Iran and Russia all exposed to be interfering in the US election as Covid rescue bill falters in Congress news

    President Donald Trump could issue executive orders to address student loans, jobless benefits and the eviction moratorium after talks with Congressional Democrats regarding a coronavirus relief bill broke down on Friday.A top US counterintelligence official has issued a public statement saying that China and Iran prefer that president Donald Trump does not win re-election; while Russia is seeking to hurt former vice president Joe Biden’s electoral chances.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 13:04:00 -0400
  • US imposes sanctions on leader Carrie Lam over Hong Kong crackdown news

    * Other senior Chinese and Hong Kong officials sanctioned by US * Tensions between Beijing and Washington escalate sharplyThe US government has imposed sanctions on Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam, and 10 other senior Chinese and Hong Kong officials, in response to the crackdown on free speech and political freedoms in the city, the US treasury department said.The measures are among the most high-profile taken by the US administration in a broad campaign to challenge China at home and internationally, as tensions between the world’s two largest economies escalate sharply.In addition to Lam, the sanctioned Hong Kong officials include the current and former head of the city’s police force – criticised by protesters for its brutal tactics – and the cabinet secretaries for justice, Teresa Cheng, and security, John Lee Ka-chiu.From the mainland, targets include Luo Huining, who heads the Hong Kong liaison office and is the most senior Chinese figure in the city, and Zheng Yenxiong, a hardliner appointed to the newly created position of security chief.“The United States stands with the people of Hong Kong and we will use our tools and authorities to target those undermining their autonomy,” said the secretary of the treasury, Steven Mnuchin.It is relatively unusual for Washington to directly a sanction the leader of a country or region and the move puts Lam in company with Venezuela’s president, Nicolás Maduro, and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.The sanctions have been brought in under an executive order that Donald Trump signed last month, in response to China’s introduction of a sweeping new security law in Hong Kong.Beijing said the law was needed to restore stability and would not threaten Hong Kong’s freedom of expression. But it has already been used to crush dissent, cited in the barring of moderate pro-democratic candidates from elections, the arrest of teens for social media posts, and the suppression of popular protest slogans.It has been widely condemned by western governments, and has led many to reconfigure their relationship with Hong Kong, including ending extradition agreements. The US has ended special economic status for the city, which is likely to batter an economy already badly damaged by Covid-19.“This law, purportedly enacted to ‘safeguard’ the security of Hong Kong, is in fact a tool of Chinese Communist Party repression,” said the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, after the sanctions were announced.He is one of a group of China hawks in the Trump administration, along with the trade adviser, Peter Navarro, and deputy national security adviser, Matthew Pottinger, who recently appear to have gained the upper hand in the White House.The coronavirus pandemic, the suppression of dissent in Hong Kong and increasing information about the mass internment of Uighurs and other minorities in western Xinjiang have all been cited as reasons for the shift in Washington’s stance.These latest sanctions come the day after Trump announced that he would ban transactions with the Chinese companies that own popular apps TikTok and WeChat.Last month the administration also imposed sanctions on a senior Chinese communist party official, Chinese companies and a paramilitary government organisation it alleged were complicit in forced labour and other abuses in the western Xinjiang region.US and Chinese officials are due to meet in mid-August to discuss how to revive a partial trade deal agreed in January, amid US allegations that Beijing is not keeping its promises on buying US agricultural products and energy.But hopes of success are limited. Trump has said his support for the deal has been undermined by China’s role in the coronavirus outbreak, and his re-election campaign has so far leaned heavily on anti-Chinese rhetoric.There was no immediate response to the sanctions from Hong Kong or Beijing. Lam has previously said she is not worried about sanctions. “I have no assets in the US, and I don’t particularly like going to the US. If they won’t grant me a visa, then I will just not go there,” she said in a TV interview last month.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 12:58:48 -0400
  • State Department: We're responsible for Russian, Iranian text message campaign news

    The U.S. State Department said on Friday that it was responsible for a text message campaign that left a trail of confusion and ridicule across Russia and Iran.

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 12:19:19 -0400
  • EU mulls offering British expats additional freedom of movement rights news

    British people living in the EU when the Brexit transition period ends will be given additional freedom of movement rights under plans being considered by Brussels. European Commission officials are mulling plans that will allow British citizens living in an EU country at the end of 2020 deadline to move to and work in another country in the bloc in a similar fashion to EU citizens. The unilateral offer is expected to come with strings such as a requirement to show five years continuous residence in the EU. Details of the offer on onward free movement were explained at a Thursday meeting of the EU-UK Joint Specialised Committee on citizens rights, Politico reported. “We received good news on combining our Withdrawal Agreement status with other EU immigration statuses, which should provide some UK citizens in the EU with some further mobility rights,” Fiona Godfrey, co-chair of the British in Europe campaign told the news website. “We now need clarity on how those rights will be evidenced.” There are about 1.1 million British citizens living in the EU. Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, they would only be granted residence rights in the EU country they lived in, rather than keep free movement rights for the whole bloc. EU citizens living in the UK must apply for settled status to secure their residency rights in Britain. There have been 3.7 million applications and more are expected ahead of the June 30 deadline next year. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said, “Citizens’ rights has been an absolute priority and the Withdrawal Agreement protects the rights of UK nationals living in the EU by the end of the transition period on December 31 2020, ensuring that they can continue to live their lives in the EU broadly as they did before.”

    Fri, 07 Aug 2020 12:10:59 -0400
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