11 August 2020
LEBANESE GOVERNMENT QUITS AMID FURY OVER BEIRUT BLAST
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.
CHINA SENDS FIGHTER JETS AS US OFFERS TAIWAN 'STRONG' SUPPORT
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.
TRUMP EXITS BRIEFING AS MAN SHOT NEAR WHITE HOUSE
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
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.
PENTAGON OFFERS MILITARY AIRWAVES FOR 5G WIRELESS NETWORKS
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
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 MARKS 100 DAYS OF CORONAVIRUS ELIMINATION
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
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
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.
MAURITIUS RACES TO HALT OIL SPILL FROM SHIP
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 BAN ON L VISAS IS AGAINST WTO, STATES A PETITION FILED WITH US COURT
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
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.
BROOKLYN MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ATTEMPTING TO PROVIDE MATERIAL SUPPORT TO ISIS
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.