World Newsletter

11 August 2020



Lebanon's government resigned Monday as the fallout from last week's deadly

explosion deepened a political crisis in the country's blast-ravaged


Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he would resign along with all of his


"We will back down and stand with the people. We need to open the door for

the people," he said in a televised address to the nation before presenting

his resignation to President Michel Aoun.

The move comes after enraged protesters and world leaders alike demanded

political reform following the Aug. 4 blast that killed almost 160 people

and injured thousands more.

Protesters took to the streets of Beirut again Sunday with video showing

what appeared to be tear gas canisters being fired at demonstrators who had

congregated in a street near the parliament.

"This disaster which has hit the Lebanese at the core, occurred as a result

of chronic corruption in politics, administration and the State," he said in

a televised address.

The former professor said his government had failed in his battle against


President Michel Aoun has asked the government to stay on in a caretaker

capacity until a new cabinet is formed.





Chinese air force jets briefly crossed over the mid-line of the Taiwan

Strait on Monday and were tracked by Taiwanese missiles, Taiwan's government

said, as US health chief Alex Azar visited the island to offer President

Donald Trump's strong support.

Azar arrived in Taiwan on Sunday as the highest-level US official to visit

in four decades, a trip condemned by China which claims the island as its

own, further irritating Sino-US relations.

China, which had promised unspecified retaliation to Azar's trip, flew J-11

and J-10 fighter aircraft briefly onto Taiwan's side of the sensitive and

narrow strait which separates it from its giant neighbour, at around 9 am

(0100GMT), shortly before Azar met Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's

air force said.

Azar is visiting to strengthen economic and public-health cooperation with

Taiwan and support Taiwan's international role in fighting the pandemic.

Beijing, meanwhile, sanctioned 11 US lawmakers and individuals in a

tit-for-tat move against a US move to sanction 11 Chinese and Hong Kong

officials over the passing of the security law. A foreign ministry

spokesperson said the US should stop official interactions and the upgrading

of substantive relations with Taiwan.





US President Donald Trump has said someone was shot near the White House,

after he was abruptly led out of a news conference by a Secret Service


Mr Trump told reporters the incident was "very well under control".

A member of his security detail had walked on stage during his remarks to

reporters and whispered in his ear.

Mr Trump was heard to say "Oh!" and "What's happening", as he left the

briefing room. The White House was placed on lockdown during the incident.

The president was interrupted mid-sentence by the agent at the podium during

Monday's incident.

When he returned about nine minutes later, Mr Trump told reporters he

believed the US Secret Service (USSS) had shot a suspect, who was armed

"from what I understand".

He said that someone was taken to hospital after the incident.

Mr Trump acknowledged it was an unusual situation, but praised the

professionalism of the USSS.

The USSS meanwhile tweeted: "The Secret Service can confirm there has been

an officer involved shooting at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Ave.

It later added that "a male subject a USSS officer were both transported to

a local hospital.





The Pentagon plans to free up a big chunk of its military airwaves in the

U.S. for high-speed internet service, part of a broader push to get ahead of

China in the deployment of 5G wireless technology.

The Trump administration announced Monday that it has identified radio

spectrum used for radar defense systems that can be shared with commercial

telecommunications providers without compromising national security.

5G is a new technical standard for the "fifth generation" of wireless

networks that promises faster speeds; less lag, or "latency," when

connecting to the network; and the ability to connect many devices to the

internet without bogging it down. 5G networks will ideally be better able to

handle more users, lots of sensors and heavy traffic.

But a June report by the Congressional Research Service said there aren't as

many frequencies available for 5G technology in the U.S. compared to other

countries because the American military holds so much of the usable


Much of the investment in the U.S. has centered around the higher-frequency

"millimeter wave" spectrum that offers fast data speeds but won't likely

work as well outside urban areas. That's in contrast to China, which has

been investing in building out networks using the less-expensive lower and

middle bands.

White House officials said Monday that the Federal Communications Commission

will be able to auction 100 megahertz of the military's "mid-band" spectrum

beginning in December 2021 for use as soon as mid-2022. It has previously

been used for shipboard and airborne radar systems.





New Zealand on Sunday marked 100 days since it stamped out the spread of the

coronavirus, a rare bright spot in a world that continues to be ravaged by

the disease.

Life has returned to normal for many people in the South Pacific nation of 5

million, as they attend rugby games at packed stadiums and sit down in bars

and restaurants without the fear of getting infected. But some worry the

country may be getting complacent and not preparing well enough for any

future outbreaks.

New Zealand got rid of the virus by imposing a strict lockdown in late March

when only about 100 people had tested positive for the disease. That stopped

its spread. For the past three months, the only new cases have been a

handful of returning travellers who have been quarantined at the border.

"It was good science and great political leadership that made the

difference," said professor Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at the

University of Otago. "If you look around the globe at countries that have

done well, it's usually that combination."

From early on, New Zealand pursued a bold strategy of eliminating the virus

rather than just suppressing its spread. Mr. Baker said other countries are

increasingly looking to New Zealand for answers.

"The whole Western World has terribly mismanaged this threat, and they're

realising this now," Mr. Baker said.

Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern's leadership has been widely praised. She

reassured people during the lockdown with daily briefings and a message that

resonated: "Go hard and go early."

Total infections were limited to just over 1,500 and the country has had

just 22 deaths. Opinion polls indicate support for Ms. Ardern's liberal

Labour Party has surged ahead of a general election next month.





Urgent efforts increased in Mauritius on Monday to empty a stranded Japanese

ship of an estimated 2,500 tonnes of oil before it breaks up and increases

the contamination of the island's Indian Ocean coastline.

Already more than 1,000 tonnes of fuel has washed up on the eastern coast of

Mauritius, polluting its coral reefs, protected lagoons and shoreline. High

winds and waves are pounding the MV Wakashio, which was showing signs of

splitting apart and dumping its remaining cargo oil into the waters

surrounding Mauritius. The bulk carrier had run aground on a coral reef on

July 25. and later started to leak oil.

The Mauritius PM's office said on Monday the situation was still very

serious and they were preparing for "a worst case scenario".

Mauritian Wildlife Foundation manager Jean Hugues Gardenne said, "We are

expecting the worst. The ship is showing really big, big cracks. We believe

it will break into two at any time, at the maximum within two days. So much

oil remains in the ship, so the disaster could become much worse.

Helicopters are taking out the fuel little by little."

Efforts were also underway to get other ships to pump oil out of the MV






Trump's proclamation temporarily banning entry of a variety of immigrant and

non-immigration visa holders has been at the receiving end of lawsuits. His

proclamation of June 22, has also banned (at least till the end of the

year)those seeking entry on L-1 visas. Such visas are used for intra-company


An amicus curiae brief has been recently filed in the Columbia district

court, on the grounds that this ban violates the obligations of the US under

The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The Trump administration

has until early next week to file its response and the first hearing is due

towards the end of August.

GATS came into effect on January 1, 1995, simultaneously with the creation

of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and governs trade in services between

signing countries. The agreement is binding on all WTO's member countries,

which includes the US.

Immigration attorneys Charles H Kuck, with Gregory Siskind and Johnna Main

Bailey have filed this brief. According to them, GATS requires the US to

admit L-1A and L-1B non-immigrants. This is the intracompany transfer

category that allows foreign-owned companies as well as US based

multinational corporations to bring in key executives, managers and

specialized employees.

The amicus curiae brief adds that it is very possible a large number of

countries will seek redress for the US violation of the treaty. Should the

dispute result in impacted countries retaliating as per the WTO's dispute

resolution process, the consequences for Americans working abroad and US

companies operating around the world could be severe. Nine million US

citizens are living overseas. In short, the June proclamation could put

millions of US. workers' jobs overseas at risk and cost American companies

an incalculable fortune.





A Brooklyn resident has pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material

support to terror group ISIS and posted calls for attacks on the public and

institutions in New York .

Zachary Clark, 41, who also had the alias 'Umar Kabir' and 'Abu Talha' pled

guilty to one count of attempting to provide material support or resources

to a designated foreign terrorist organisation, namely ISIS.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He entered the

plea Monday in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Naomi

Reice Buchwald and will be sentenced in February next year.

Having pledged allegiance to ISIS, Clark provided specific instructions for

how to conduct attacks in New York City, instructing others on knifing and

bomb-making, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers


Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss for the Southern District of New York

said Clark pledged allegiance to ISIS and posted calls for attacks on the

public and institutions in New York on encrypted pro-ISIS chatrooms as well

as detailed instructions for carrying out those violent acts.

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