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U.N. tribunal convicts main defendant in Hariri assassination case

UN tribunal convicts man of Harriri assassinationA U.N.-backed tribunal on Tuesday convicted a member of Iran-backed Hezbollah of conspiring to kill former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in a 2005 bombing that set the stage for years of confrontation between Lebanon’s political forces.

Hariri, a Sunni Muslim billionaire, had close ties with the West and Sunni Gulf Arab allies, and was seen as a threat to Iranian and Syrian influence in Lebanon. He led efforts to rebuild Beirut following the 1975-1990 civil war.

Hariri’s son, Saad, like his slain father a former Lebanese prime minister, reacted to the verdict by vowing he would not rest until punishment is served, and it was time for the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement to assume responsibility.


'I'm not a saint': Lukashenko offers to hand over power after referendum

Lukashenko of BelarusAlexander Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus, said on Monday he would be ready to hold new elections and hand over power after a constitutional referendum, an attempt to pacify mass protests and strikes that pose the biggest challenge yet to his rule.

He made the offer, which he insisted would not be delivered on while he was under pressure from protesters, after exiled opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said she was willing to lead the country.

In a sign of his growing vulnerability, Lukashenko faced heckling and chants of “step down” during a speech to workers at one of the large state-run factories that are the pride of his Soviet-style economic model and core support base.


U.N. Security Council Rejects U.S. Proposal to Extend Arms Embargo on Iran

UN smacks TrumpThe United States suffered an embarrassing diplomatic defeat on Friday when the United Nations Security Council rejected a proposal to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran, with even America’s strongest allies refusing to buckle under pressure from the Trump administration to take a harder line.

The defeat underscored America’s deepening global isolation on the issue of Iran. But for the Trump administration, the vote could open a separate path to try to inflict maximum damage on Iran ahead of November’s U.S. presidential election.

For months, Trump administration officials have warned that if the vote to extend the embargo failed, the United States would try to invoke a provision built into the Obama-era nuclear accord to punish any Iranian violations by reimposing all sanctions lifted when the deal took effect. That could include the prohibition of not just arms deals, but also oil sales and banking agreements. In theory, all U.N. members would have to adhere to the sanctions.


Japanese ship involved in Mauritius oil spill breaks apart

MV Wakashio

A Japanese bulk carrier that ran aground on a reef in Mauritius last month threatening a marine ecological disaster around the Indian Ocean island has broken apart, authorities said on Saturday.

The condition of the MV Wakashio was worsening early on Saturday and it split by the afternoon, the Mauritius National Crisis Committee said.

“At around 4.30pm, a major detachment of the vessel’s forward section was observed,” it said in a statement. “On the basis of the experts’ advice, the towing plan is being implemented.”



UAE, Israel Move To Normalize Relations As Israel Halts Planned West Bank Annexations

Israel and UAE reach peace dealIsrael and the United Arab Emirates have agreed to forge a path toward normal diplomatic relations, and Israel says as part of the agreement it will suspend its controversial plans to annex more territory in the West Bank.

The historic deal was brokered during a call between leaders of the two nations and President Trump.

The UAE's leader, crown prince Mohammed Bin Zayed, announced on Twitter that the deal calls for "setting a roadmap towards establishing a bilateral relationship."


Reuters:Germany and France quit WHO reform talks amid tension with Washington

WHO: Frand and Germany leave talks with US

The move is a setback for President Donald Trump as Washington, which holds the rotating chair of the G7, had hoped to issue a common roadmap for a sweeping overhaul of the WHO in September, two months before the U.S. presidential election.

The United States gave the WHO a year’s notice in July that it is leaving the U.N. agency - which was created to improve health globally - after Trump accused it of being too close to China and having mishandled the coronavirus pandemic.

The WHO has dismissed his accusations. European governments have also criticised the WHO but do not go as far as the United States in their criticism, and the decision by Paris and Berlin to leave the talks follows tensions over what they say are Washington’s attempts to dominate the negotiations.


What we know about the massive explosion in Beirut that killed at least 135, injured thousands

Beirut after explosions

Residents of Beirut are surveying the damage Wednesday after a massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital, killing at least 135 people, wounding thousands and causing widespread damage.

Videos shared online showed a dark cloud rising from the port, what normally might be expected from an industrial-area fire, followed by an explosion creating a massive white cloud that enveloped the area. A moment later, the shock wave hit.

As residents of the city search for missing relatives, bandage their wounds and retrieve what’s left of their homes, the Lebanese government said it is putting an unspecified number of Beirut port officials under house arrest pending an investigation and declared a two-week “state of emergency,” effectively giving the military full powers during this time.


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