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World Monthly Headline News August 2020 Page 1

Government critic who left Rwanda in 1996 arrested abroad in unnamed location on international warrant, police say.

Paul Rusesabagina - known for saving more than 1,000 people in the hotel he managed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, a story later told into the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda - has been arrested on terror charges. The Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) said in a statement on Monday the 66-year-old government critic had been arrested abroad in an unnamed location on an international warrant and taken to the country to face charges "of serious crime including terrorism, arson, kidnap and murder". The announcement came as officers brought Rusesabagina - in handcuffs and a face mask - to the RIB's headquarters in the capital, Kigali, where he was shown to the press. Rusesabagina did not speak to the media.

Tim Culpan - Bloomberg

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Imagine a bidder wanting to buy KFC, but being told the deal might not include the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs and spices. That’s effectively what Beijing has told the list of U.S. companies keen to purchase short-video app TikTok: The key ingredients may be out of reach. At first it looked like the Trump administration had it all figured out.  ByteDance Inc., it decided, was a risk to national security and the Chinese company’s main product for international markets had to be sold. For reasons that remain confounding, Satya Nadella entered the fray and Microsoft Corp. put in a bid. Soon, suitors were apparently lining up to buy the hip new product that claims 100 million U.S. downloads. A short deadline — Sept. 15 — helped build a sense of urgency. TikTok is essentially going through a forced sale.

Then Beijing stepped in. China’s Commerce Ministry added new items to its list of export controls late Friday. Now, artificial intelligence interface technologies such as speech and text recognition, as well as methods to analyze data and make personalized content recommendations, are matters of national security. That means ByteDance will need Chinese government approval to sell TikTok’s U.S. operations, Bloomberg News reported Sunday; a person familiar with the matter said the new rule is aimed at delaying the sale, not an outright ban. But with AI and its content recommendation engine among the key ingredients of the company’s success, Beijing becomes the arbiter of TikTok’s fate. Not the U.S. administration.

By Phil Black, Sebastian Shukla and John Torigoe, CNN

Berlin (CNN) For years Leonid Volkov has experienced the same terrifying dream about his best friend and colleague, the leading Russian opposition activist Alexey Navalny. "I used to have a nightmare many times that I wake up from someone calling me and saying, Alexey was killed or something very bad happened to him," Volkov recalls in an interview with CNN. "I had this nightmare at least 10 times in my life." Last week he lived that nightmare. An early morning phone call told him Navalny had collapsed while on a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk and he was now in a coma. He says having anticipated this moment didn't make the reality any easier to process.

"I was terrified. Of course, emotionally, it was a very dramatic blow," he says. "So it took me several hours to concentrate." But as Navalny's chief of staff he had a job to do: get him out of Russia and into trusted medical care. Volkov, along with the German NGO, Cinema for Peace, organized an air ambulance that was made to wait at a nearby airport while Russian doctors insisted Navalny was too ill to be moved. Navalny's allies believe that delay was deliberate and intended to make the poison in his body undetectable. He was eventually flown to Berlin where doctors at the Charite hospital determined he was likely poisoned by a substance from a group of chemicals known as cholinesterase inhibitors. The medical team's inability so far to determine the specific poison has been seized on by Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson as justification for Russian authorities not yet opening a criminal investigation. Volkov says that response is just one factor that points to the Russian state's involvement in an attempt to assassinate Navalny.

Ashley Collman

German Chancellor Angela Merkel looked mystified when she was asked whether President Donald Trump had "charmed" her. Richard Grenell, the former US ambassador to Germany, made the suggestion during a speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday. When asked about the comment during a Friday press conference, Merkel squinted at the reporter and said, "He did what?" When the reporter added that Grenell had said Trump "charmed" Merkel, Merkel paused and then smiled. People at the press conference started laughing, and Merkel joined in. She then declined to comment, saying she didn't speak about private conversations. When Grenell made the claim on Wednesday night, Twitter exploded with videos showing Merkel acting incredulous around Trump.

"We behaved much more restrained and neutral in relation to the events in Belarus than many other countries," the Russian president says.

Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the U.S. and Europe on Thursday for condemning Belarusian police brutality without doing the same on police violence in their own countries. When asked about police brutality in Belarus during an interview with state-owned television channel Russia-1, Putin referenced the Yellow Jackets movement in France and the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin. After the interviewer called the first two days of protests in Belarus “uncomfortable,” Putin said: “Was it comfortable when in some European countries people were dying almost every day? And was it comfortable when an unarmed person is shot in the back, despite the fact that he also has three children in his car?”

The example of Blake, an unarmed black man who was left paralyzed after being shot seven times in the back by a police officer, was used by Putin to suggest that the EU and the U.S. are not genuinely concerned about the police violence in Belarus. “Does anyone who now blames Belarus and the Belarusian leadership — President Lukashenko — for something, do they condemn these actions? Why such selectivity?” Putin asked. “This suggests that the point is not about what is happening in Belarus,” Putin added. “They want to influence these processes and achieve some decisions that correspond, as these people [U.S. and EU leaders] think, to their political interests.” The U.S and the EU have both called the Belarusian presidential election, which Alexander Lukashenko claims to have won, neither free nor fair. They have also strongly condemned Belarusian authorities for using violence against peaceful protestors.

Beijing — China verbally protested the alleged incursion of a U.S. Air Force U-2 spy plane into a no-fly zone imposed during live-fire military exercises in the country's north on Wednesday. Beijing test fired two missiles as an apparent warning to the U.S. military in response, including one described by the South China Morning Post newspaper as an "aircraft carrier-killer."

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the Ministry of National Defense said the alleged U-2 flight had "seriously interfered in normal exercise activities" and "severely incurred the risk of misjudgement and even of bringing about an unintended air-sea incident." "This was a naked act of provocation," the ministry said, quoting spokesperson Wu Qian. China has lodged a stern protest and demanded the U.S. cease such actions, Wu said.

Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS – The president of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday rejected the Trump administration’s demand to restore all U.N. sanctions on Iran, a move that drew an angry rebuke from the U.S. ambassador who accused opponents of supporting “terrorists.” Indonesia’s ambassador to the U.N., Dian Triansyah Djani, whose country currently holds the rotating council presidency, made the announcement in response to requests from Russia and China to disclose the results of his polling of the views of all countries on the 15-member council.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted last Thursday that the United States has the legal right to “snap back” U.N. sanctions, even though President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers that was endorsed by the U.N. Security Council. All the council members, except the Dominican Republic, had informed the council president that the U.S. administration’s action was illegal because Trump withdrew in 2018 from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

Council president Djani told members at the end of a virtual meeting on the Mideast on Tuesday: “Having contacted the members and received letters from many member countries it is clear to me that there is one member which has a particular position on the issues, while there are significant numbers of members who have contesting views.” “In my view there is no consensus in the council,” Djani said. “Thus, the president is not in the position to take further action.“ That means the U.N.’s most powerful body, at least during Indonesia’s presidency, is not going to take up the U.S. demand. Niger takes over the council presidency in September, and its ambassador also sent a letter calling the U.S. action illegal. So it is likely to ignore the U.S. demand as well.

By Owen Jarus - Live Science Contributor
They number in the hundreds and can be larger than an NFL football field.

They number in the hundreds, can be larger than an NFL football field and are found across Saudi Arabia, including on the slope of a volcano. Sprawling stone structures reported in 2017 now appear to be some of the oldest monuments in the world, dating back some 7,000 years, archaeologists now report. A new study of the mysterious stone structures — once called "gates" but now referred to as "mustatils," the Arabic word for "rectangle" —suggests they were used for rituals; and radiocarbon dating of charcoal found within one of the structures indicates people built it around 5000 B.C., a team of researchers report in an article recently published in the journal The Holocene.

"The mustatil phenomenon represents a remarkable development of monumental architecture, as hundreds of these structures were built in northwest Arabia," the researchers wrote in their paper. "This 'monumental landscape' represents one of the earliest large-scale forms of monumental stone structure construction anywhere in the world."

Ritual use
The structures are made from low stone walls that form what often looks like a field gate from above (hence their former name). They range in size with some measuring less than 49 feet (15 m) long and the largest measuring about 2,021 feet (616 m) long. When first constructed, many of the mustatils would have had a platform on either end of the "rectangle," the researchers found when analyzing some of the structures. On the platform of one mustatil, they discovered a painting with geometric designs on it. The design of the painting "is not currently known from other rock art contexts" in the region, the team wrote in the journal article.

But was Putin behind it? We may never know.
By Alex Ward

Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critic, is lying in a medically induced coma in a German hospital from what doctors say was poison — and his family and supporters allege Putin and his government are behind it. On Monday, the Charité hospital in Berlin, where Navalny was taken for treatment, said in a statement that the long-time Russian political dissident had been poisoned with a “cholinesterase inhibitor.” However, the exact substance used is still unknown. His prognosis doesn’t look promising: “The outcome of the disease remains uncertain and long-term effects, especially in the area of ​​the nervous system, cannot be ruled out at this point in time,” the statement reads.

Four days earlier, Navalny drank some tea at a Siberian airport before boarding a flight to Moscow. He became ill on the aircraft, with a video purportedly showing the politician moaning and needing immediate medical attention. The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, near Kazakhstan, where an ambulance waited to take him to a local hospital. But Navalny’s condition worsened, and he fell into a coma before he arrived at the facility. Russia’s Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1, where Navalny was first treated, became the site of a frustrating standoff between Navalny’s family and supporters and the doctors overseeing his care. Navalny’s wife and team alleged the doctors were controlled by the Kremlin and tried to cover up the poisoning attack instead of properly treating their patient.

Joseph Menn

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Russian government-supported organizations are playing a small but increasing role amplifying conspiracy theories promoted by QAnon, raising concerns of interference in the November U.S. election. Academics who study QAnon said there were no signs Russia had a hand in the early days of the movement, which launched in 2017 with anonymous web postings amplified by YouTube videos. But as QAnon gained adherents and took on new topics, with President Donald Trump as the constant hero waging a misunderstood battle, social media accounts controlled by a key Kremlin ally joined in. In 2019 the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll factory” indicted by Robert Mueller in his election interference prosecution, sent a high volume of tweets tagged with #QAnon and the movement slogan #WWG1WGA, short for Where We Go One, We Go All, said Melanie Smith, head of analysis at social media analysis firm Graphika. The company dissects propaganda campaigns and plans to publish an analysis of QAnon this week.

More recently, Russian government-backed media RT.com and Sputnik have stepped up coverage of QAnon, which began with a false proclamation Hillary Clinton would be arrested for an undetermined reason and now includes theories about child trafficking by Hollywood elites, the novel coronavirus and more. Academics who study QAnon said there were no signs Russia had a hand in the early days of the movement, which launched in 2017 with anonymous web postings amplified by YouTube videos. But as QAnon gained adherents and took on new topics, with President Donald Trump as the constant hero waging a misunderstood battle, social media accounts controlled by a key Kremlin ally joined in.

In 2019 the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll factory” indicted by Robert Mueller in his election interference prosecution, sent a high volume of tweets tagged with #QAnon and the movement slogan #WWG1WGA, short for Where We Go One, We Go All, said Melanie Smith, head of analysis at social media analysis firm Graphika. The company dissects propaganda campaigns and plans to publish an analysis of QAnon this week. More recently, Russian government-backed media RT.com and Sputnik have stepped up coverage of QAnon, which began with a false proclamation Hillary Clinton would be arrested for an undetermined reason and now includes theories about child trafficking by Hollywood elites, the novel coronavirus and more.

Sam Meredith

Tens of thousands of protesters marched in Belarus’ capital city of Minsk over the weekend, demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko following his contested re-election earlier this month. Demonstrators marched toward Lukashenko’s residence at the Independence Square on Sunday, brandishing red and white flags to symbolize their opposition to the president and chanting for the long-time ruler to step down and for new elections to be held. One Reuters witness estimated that as many as 200,000 people could be seen rallying in central Minsk for the second consecutive week. State television suggested the demonstration consisted of 20,000 people.

Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, claimed a landslide victory in the August 9 presidential election after official results gave him his sixth term in office with 80% of the vote. Opposition protesters have since taken to the streets to voice their anger over allegations of vote-rigging and reports of police violence. Lukashenko has denied allegations of electoral fraud and maintained that he won the election fairly. The 65-year-old has also ruled out holding another vote and vowed to crush the unrest.


Scientists from Leeds and Edinburgh universities and University College London analysed satellite surveys of glaciers, mountains, and ice sheets between 1994 and 2017 to identify the impact of global warming. Their review paper was published in the journal Cryosphere Discussions. Describing the ice loss as "staggering," the group found that melting glaciers and ice sheets could cause sea levels to rise dramatically, possibly reaching a metre (3 feet) by the end of the century. "To put that in context, every centimeter of sea-level rise means about a million people will be displaced from their low-lying homelands," Professor Andy Shepherd, director of Leeds University's Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, told The Guardian.

The dramatic loss of ice could have other severe consequences, including major disruption to the biological health of Arctic and Antarctic waters and reducing the planet's ability to reflect solar radiation back into space. The findings match the worst-case-scenario predictions outlined by the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientists have confirmed. "In the past researchers have studied individual areas – such as the Antarctic or Greenland – where ice is melting. But this is the first time anyone has looked at all the ice that is disappearing from the entire planet," said Shepherd, according to the Guardian. "What we have found has stunned us."

Fabrizio Bensch, Martin Schlicht

BERLIN (Reuters) - Gravely ill Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was evacuated to Germany for medical treatment on Saturday, flown out of the Siberian city of Omsk in an ambulance aircraft and taken to a hospital in Berlin. There was no word yet from the Charite hospital on his condition but the founder of the activist group that arranged the flight called Navalny’s health condition “very worrying”.

A long-time opponent of President Vladimir Putin and campaigner against corruption, Navalny collapsed on a plane on Thursday after drinking tea that his allies believe was laced with poison. Medical staff at the hospital in Omsk said on Friday evening, after clearing Navalny to be flown out, that he was in an induced coma and his life was not in immediate danger.

The air ambulance, arranged by the Cinema for Peace Foundation, flew to Berlin’s Tegel airport early on Saturday and Navalny, 44, was rushed to the Charite hospital complex. The hospital said in a statement it would provide an update about his condition and further treatment once tests have been completed and after consulting with his family. It added this could take some time.

Adam Payne

The Trump administration is on a collision course with its European allies after they refused to back a controversial move to reimpose sanctions on Iran. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday accused the UK, France, and Germany of "siding with the ayatollahs" after they said the US could not use a "snapback" mechanism to reimpose sanctions on Iran removed under the 2015 nuclear deal, the BBC reported. The Trump administration is seeking to reimpose sanctions on Tehran as it believes Iran has violated the terms of the 2015 agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Under the deal, the participating countries — the UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China — lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran accepting limits on its nuclear activity, with the goal of stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The US walked away from the agreement in 2018.


Greenland's massive ice sheet saw a record net loss of 532 billion tonnes last year, raising red flags about accelerating sea level rise, according to findings released Thursday. That is equivalent to an additional 3 million tonnes of water streaming into global oceans every day, or six Olympic pools every second. Crumbling glaciers and torrents of melt-water slicing through Greenland's two-to-three-kilometre thick ice block were the single biggest source of global sea level rise in 2019, accounted for 40 percent of the total, or 1.5 millimetres, researchers reported in the journal Communications Earth & Environment. Last year's loss of mass was at least 15 percent above the previous record in 2012, but even more alarming are the long-term trends, they said.

"2019 and the four other record-loss years have all occurred in the last decade," lead author Ingo Sasgen, a glaciologist at the Helmholtze Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany, told AFP. If all of Greenland's ice sheet were to melt, it would lift global oceans by seven metres (23 feet). Even a more modest rise of a couple of metres would redraw the world's coastlines and render land occupied today by hundreds of millions of people uninhabitable. Until 2000, Greenland's ice sheet - covering an area three times the size of France - generally accumulated as much mass as it shed.

Russian astronaut Ivan Vagner was hoping to capture something spectacular on camera from his current home aboard the International Space Station — the Aurora Borealis passing over the Antarctic. However, his timelapse footage, tweeted on August 19, captured something even more unusual; a group of five unidentified flying objects (UFOs). “At 9-12 seconds, 5 objects appear flying alongside with the same distance,” Vagner wrote. “What do you think those are? Meteors, satellites or…?”


Greenland lost a record amount of ice during an extra warm 2019, with the melt massive enough to cover California in more than four feet (1.25 meters) of water, a new study said. After two years when summer ice melt had been minimal, last summer shattered all records with 586 billion tons (532 billion metric tons) of ice melting, according to satellite measurements reported in a study Thursday. That’s more than 140 trillion gallons (532 trillion liters) of water. That’s far more than the yearly average loss of 259 billion tons (235 billion metric tons) since 2003 and easily surpasses the old record of 511 billion tons (464 billion metric tons) in 2012, said a study in Communications Earth & Environment. The study showed that in the 20th century, there were many years when Greenland gained ice. “Not only is the Greenland ice sheet melting, but it’s melting at a faster and faster pace,” said study lead author Ingo Sasgen, a geoscientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany.

Last year’s Greenland melt added 0.06 inches (1.5 millimeters) to global sea level rise. That sounds like a tiny amount but “in our world it’s huge, that’s astounding,” said study co-author Alex Gardner, a NASA ice scientist. Add in more water from melting in other ice sheets and glaciers, along with an ocean that expands as it warms — and that translates into slowly rising sea levels, coastal flooding and other problems, he said. While general ice melt records in Greenland go back to 1948, scientists since 2003 have had precise records on how much ice melts because NASA satellites measure the gravity of the ice sheets. That’s the equivalent of putting the ice on a scale and weighing it as water flows off, Gardner said.


The US is to controversially initiate a process at the UN Security Council to reinstate international sanctions on Iran lifted under a 2015 nuclear deal. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will submit a complaint accusing Iran of significant non-compliance and trigger the sanctions "snapback" mechanism. However, other world powers insist he has no legal right to do so. The US itself stopped complying with the accord two years ago, when President Donald Trump abandoned it. Once the complaint has been submitted, other countries on the Security Council will have 30 days to adopt a resolution to avert the snapback. But, as a permanent member, the US will be able to exercise its veto power. The Trump administration's move comes a week after the council rejected its bid to extend indefinitely an arms embargo on Iran that is due to expire in October.

How did we get here?
The nuclear deal saw the P5+1 group of powers - the US, China, France, Russia, the UK and Germany - give Iran sanctions relief in return for limits on its sensitive activities and international inspections to show it was not developing nuclear weapons. The accord has been close to collapse since the US withdrew and reinstated economic sanctions in 2018 in an attempt to force Iran to negotiate a replacement that would place indefinite curbs on its nuclear programme and also halt its development of ballistic missiles.

Fossils from Middle Triassic shed new light on dolphin-like creature’s eating habits
Nicola Davis

Fresh evidence of the dog-eat-dog world of prehistoric oceans has been revealed by fossil hunters who have unearthed the remains of a giant marine reptile with another huge beast in its stomach. Dug up in southwestern China in 2010, the animals are thought to have lived in the Middle Triassic. The team say the larger fossil, nearly 5 metres in length, is the remains of a marine reptile known as ichthyosaur – creatures with a long snout, similar in appearance to a dolphin – while the smaller fossil within it, about 4 meters in length, belongs to a species called Xinpusaurus xingyiensis, a type of marine reptile known as a thalattosaur.

The international team of researchers say the ichthyosaur, Guizhouichthyosaurus, was not previously thought to have been a top predator – not least because its teeth lacked cutting edges and were thought best suited to grasping soft prey such as squid. But the findings suggest otherwise, revealing its last meal was a creature larger than an adult human. “It likely represents the oldest record of megafaunal predation by a marine reptile,” the team wrote in the journal iScience, adding the discovery also broke records for the longest prey of such creatures.

CBS News

Moscow — Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was in a coma Thursday at a Siberian hospital after drinking tea laced with poison, according to his representatives. Russian doctors gave conflicting information on his condition, claiming his was stable but his life was still at risk. Earlier in the day Navalny's spokeswoman said he was comatose and on a ventilator after falling ill during a flight. The 44-year-old is a harsh critic of President Vladimir Putin, and he has been the target of years of harassment, including numerous arrests and a previous suspected poisoning. Spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter that he started feeling unwell on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia, suffering "toxic poisoning."  Video posted to social media appeared to show paramedics arriving inside the plane, as someone can be heard moaning loudly off camera. Other unconfirmed social media videos appeared show him lying motionless, being wheeled into an ambulance at the airport.

Leaders from across globe share condemnation after soldiers force embattled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign.
Military officers have taken charge in Mali after detaining President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita at gunpoint and forcing him to resign, in a coup d'etat that drew immediate international condemnation.

The 75-year-old Keita had been the target of weeks of mass protests demanding his resignation over what opponents said were his failure to restore security, address corruption and lift living standards. The organisers of the coup have pledged to restore stability and oversee a transition to elections within a "reasonable" period. Below is a roundup of regional and global reaction to the events in Mali:

African Union suspension
Cyril Ramaphosa, the chairman of the African Union (AU) and president of South Africa, condemned the "unconstitutional change of government" in Mali and demanded the release of Keita and other top government officials. The AU also said on Wednesday that it was suspending Mali's membership until constitutional order is restored. In a statement, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) expressed "great concern" over the "seizure of power by Malian military putschists". The 15-nation bloc, which had tried to mediate in the political crisis between Keita and the opposition, said its members would close land and air borders to Mali and demand sanctions against "all the putschists and their partners and collaborators". The 15-nation bloc also said that it would suspend the country from its internal decision-making bodies.

By Jeong-Ho Lee and Jon Herskovitz

Kim Jong Un issued a dire warning for North Korea’s economy amid reports that he delegated some power to his sister, including responsibility for relations with the U.S. Kim told a gathering a ruling party leaders that the country “faced unexpected and inevitable challenges in various aspects” and that his development goals had been “seriously delayed,” state media said Thursday. The unusually candid assessment came as sanctions, flooding and the coronavirus pandemic pushed the North Korean economy toward what was expected to be its worst contraction in more than two decades. Hours later, South Korean lawmakers told reporters that the country’s spy agency determined that Kim had delegated responsibility for relations with Seoul and Washington to his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong. While she had taken an increasingly public role in diplomatic matters, such as responding to a letter from U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this year, the lawmakers described a more formal power-sharing arrangement.

Intelligence committee member Ha Tae-keung, who was among National Assembly lawmakers briefed by the spy agency Thursday, said the move didn’t indicate that Kim was adopting a “collective leadership” system similar to China’s Communist Party. “The absolute power of Kim Jong Un is being shared under the current leadership style of North Korea,” Ha said, adding that Kim still retained ultimate control. North Korea also announced plans the first national congress of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea since 2016 next year. The key party meeting in January would provide another platform to promote prominent officials such as his sister, and purge others. Last week, Kim replaced the premier he appointed a little more than a year ago, in another sign of political tension in Pyongyang.

CBS News

Moscow — Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was in a coma Thursday at a Siberian hospital after drinking tea laced with poison, according to his representatives. Russian doctors gave conflicting information on his condition, claiming his was stable but his life was still at risk. Earlier in the day Navalny's spokeswoman said he was comatose and on a ventilator after falling ill during a flight. The 44-year-old is a harsh critic of President Vladimir Putin, and he has been the target of years of harassment, including numerous arrests and a previous suspected poisoning. Spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Twitter that he started feeling unwell on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia, suffering "toxic poisoning."

Video posted to social media appeared to show paramedics arriving inside the plane, as someone can be heard moaning loudly off camera. Other unconfirmed social media videos appeared show him lying motionless, being wheeled into an ambulance at the airport. The plane made an emergency landing in the Siberian city of Omsk and Yarmysh said Navalny was admitted to a hospital "in a coma in grave condition." While state media quoted some doctors at the hospital as saying his condition had improved and he was stable, Yarmysh said in tweets that his "condition has not changed yet," and that he remained unconscious without an official diagnosis.

By Ohio State University

Even if the climate cools, study finds, glaciers will continue to shrink. Nearly 40 years of satellite data from Greenland shows that glaciers on the island have shrunk so much that even if global warming were to stop today, the ice sheet would continue shrinking. The finding, published today, Aug. 13, in the journal Communications Earth and Environment, means that Greenland’s glaciers have passed a tipping point of sorts, where the snowfall that replenishes the ice sheet each year cannot keep up with the ice that is flowing into the ocean from glaciers.

“We’ve been looking at these remote sensing observations to study how ice discharge and accumulation have varied,” said Michalea King, lead author of the study and a researcher at The Ohio State University’s Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center. “And what we’ve found is that the ice that’s discharging into the ocean is far surpassing the snow that’s accumulating on the surface of the ice sheet.”

This power play by UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed is a boon for Trump and Netanyahu. It won't bring real peace
Medea Benjamin - Ariel Gold

"HUGE breakthrough today," crowed Donald Trump on tTwitter as he announced the new peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The deal makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state and the third Arab nation, after Egypt and Jordan, to have diplomatic ties with Israel. But the new Israel-UAE partnership should fool no one. Though it will supposedly stave off Israeli annexation of the West Bank and encourage tourism and trade between both countries, in reality, it is nothing more than a scheme to give an Arab stamp of approval to Israel's status quo of land theft, home demolitions, arbitrary extrajudicial killings, apartheid laws and other abuses of Palestinian rights.

The deal should be seen in the context of more than three years of Trump administration policies that have tightened Israel's grip on the Palestinians: moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, and creating a so-called peace plan with no Palestinian participation or input. While no U.S. administration has successfully brokered a resolution to Israel's now 53-year-long occupation, the Trump years have been especially detrimental to the Palestinian cause. Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi wrote on Twitter that with this deal, "Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it's been doing to Palestine illegally & persistently since the beginning of the occupation."

Crisis looms as UN Security Council overwhelmingly rejects US resolution to indefinitely extend an arms embargo on Iran.

The United Nations Security Council has resoundingly rejected a US bid to extend a global arms embargo on Iran, with Russian President Vladimir Putin proposing a summit of world leaders to avoid "confrontation" over a threat by Washington to trigger a return of all UN sanctions on Tehran. In the Security Council vote on Friday, Washington got support only from the Dominican Republic for its resolution to indefinitely extend the arms embargo on Iran, leaving it far short of the minimum nine "yes" votes required for adoption.

Eleven members on the 15-member body, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom, abstained. Russia and China strongly opposed extending the 13-year ban, which was due to expire on October 18 under a 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and six world powers. Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, announced the defeat of the resolution ahead of a very brief virtual council meeting to reveal the vote. "The Security Council's failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable," he said in a statement.

All Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, issued statements denouncing the UAE-Israel agreement.
by Walid Mahmoud & Muhammad Shehada

Gaza City - Palestinians reacted with shock and dismay after US President Donald Trump unveiled an agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel to normalise ties. The deal pledges full normalisation of relationships between the two countries in the areas of security, tourism, technology and trade in return for suspending Israel's annexation plans in the West Bank. Both the Palestinian leadership and public were caught by surprise when the announcement came on Thursday. "We absolutely had no prior knowledge of this agreement," Ahmed Majdalani, the Palestinian Authority's (PA) minister of social affairs, told Al Jazeera. "The timing and speed of reaching this agreement were surprising, especially that it came at a critical moment in the Palestinian struggle."

Roxanne Liu, David Stanway, Jake Spring

BEIJING/SHANGHAI/BRASILIA (Reuters) - Two cities in China have found traces of the new coronavirus in cargoes of imported frozen food, local authorities said on Thursday, although the World Health Organization downplayed the risk of the virus entering the food chain. A sample taken from the surface of frozen chicken wings imported into the southern city of Shenzhen from Brazil, as well as samples of outer packaging of frozen Ecuadorian shrimp sold in the northwestern city of Xian, have tested positive for the virus, local Chinese authorities said. Shenzhen authorities identified the chicken as originating from a plant owned by Aurora, Brazil’s third-largest poultry and pork exporter.

As confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise globally, the discoveries raise fresh concerns that the coronavirus that causes the disease can spread on surfaces and enter the foodchain. A day earlier, officials started investigating whether the first COVID-19 cases in New Zealand in more than three months were imported by freight. Viruses can survive up to two years at temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius, but scientists and officials say there is no strong evidence so far the coronavirus can spread via frozen food. “People should not fear food, food packaging or delivery of food,” the World Health Organization’s head of emergencies programme Mike Ryan told a briefing.

By Tom O'Connor

The Palestinian government has recalled its ambassador to the United Arab Emirates after the Arab nation formally made peace with Israel in a deal met with mixed reactions across the Middle East. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki announced Thursday that he had "immediately summoned" the Palestinian ambassador to the UAE in response to a trilateral statement in which the United States, the UAE and Israel announced that the latter two were normalizing relations, making Abu Dhabi only the third Arab government to do so since the 1948 war that displaced scores of Palestinians.

Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said the "agreement was reached to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories," but Palestinian leadership rejected this premise. Nabil Abu Rudeinah, spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called the agreement a "blow to the Arab Peace Initiative and the decisions of the Arab and Islamic summits, as well as an aggression against the Palestinian people" in a statement broadcast by Palestine TV. "The Palestinian leadership rejects what the United Arab Emirates has done and considers it a betrayal of Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian cause," he said, calling it "a de facto recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel" and demanding the UAE withdraw from this "disgraceful" agreement.

Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

Scientists and public health officials are skeptical about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that the country’s potential vaccine for the coronavirus “works quite effectively,” saying Tuesday that the vaccine still needs critical testing to determine whether it’s safe and effective. Hours earlier, Putin said Russian health officials approved what he said is the first coronavirus vaccine in the world, adding that one of his daughters has already taken it. Clinical trials of the vaccine have been completed in less than two months and phase three trials are set to begin on Wednesday, even as Russia lays out plans for a “massive release” to the public. Russian officials say they hope to soon start immunizing people with the vaccine, which, according to The Wall Street Journal, they’ve dubbed Sputnik V, named for the world’s first satellite, launched in 1957.

“As far as I know, a vaccine against a new coronavirus infection has been registered this morning, for the first time in the world,” Putin said at a meeting with members of the government, RIA Novosti reported. “Although I know that it works quite effectively, it forms a stable immunity and, I repeat, has passed all the necessary checks,” Putin said. Russia’s health minister has previously said it plans to roll the vaccine out for public use in October, the Journal reported.  


Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the approval of a coronavirus vaccine for use on Tuesday, claiming it as a "world first," amid continued concern and unanswered questions over its safety and effectiveness. #CNNI #News

CBS News

The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that Russia is actively seeking to boost President Trump's candidacy ahead of the 2020 presidential election. In an unprecedented statement outlining the candidate preferences of several foreign actors, National Counterintelligence and Security Center director Bill Evanina also said China "prefers that President Trump - whom Beijing sees as unpredictable - does not win reelection," and that Iran may try to "undermine" U.S. democratic institutions and the president, primarily through online and social media content.

There's no word on when Google and phone makers will incorporate fix from Qualcomm.
Dan Goodin

A billion or more Android devices are vulnerable to hacks that can turn them into spying tools by exploiting more than 400 vulnerabilities in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip, researchers reported this week. The vulnerabilities can be exploited when a target downloads a video or other content that’s rendered by the chip. Targets can also be attacked by installing malicious apps that require no permissions at all. From there, attackers can monitor locations and listen to nearby audio in real time and exfiltrate photos and videos. Exploits also make it possible to render the phone completely unresponsive. Infections can be hidden from the operating system in a way that makes disinfecting difficult.

Snapdragon is what’s known as a system on a chip that provides a host of components, such as a CPU and a graphics processor. One of the functions, known as digital signal processing, or DSP, tackles a variety of tasks, including charging abilities and video, audio, augmented reality, and other multimedia functions. Phone makers can also use DSPs to run dedicated apps that enable custom features.

BBC News

Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Lebanese capital Beirut, voicing anger at the country's leaders, after this week's devastating explosion in the port area of the city. Protestors occupied the Foreign Ministry building and declared that it was the “seat of the revolution”.   Riot police fired tear gas at some demonstrators who were throwing stones.  Gunfire was heard coming from the city’s  central Martyrs' Square. The country's Prime Minister has called for early elections.

“Certainly all the pieces that were in any way, could in any way, be construed as critical of the United States or atomic testing, were really stricken from the film,” one scholar said.
By Kimmy Yam

When the monster Godzilla, or “Gojira,” appeared before Japanese movie audiences in 1954, many left the theaters in tears. The fictional creature, a giant dinosaur once undisturbed in the ocean, was depicted in the original film as having been aggravated by a hydrogen bomb. Its heavily furrowed skin or scales were imagined to resemble the keloid scars of survivors of the two atomic bombs that the U.S. dropped on Japan nine years earlier to end World War II.

American audiences, however, had the opposite reaction, finding comedic value in what many interpreted as a cheesy monster movie. “Most Americans think if you left the movie in tears, it was just because you laughed so hard,” William Tsutsui, author of “Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters,” told NBC Asian America. The stark contrast reflects how Hollywood took the Japanese concept and scrubbed it of its political message before presenting it to American audiences to deflect from the U.S. decision to drop the bombs, critics say.

Legal action could be first of many moves as anger builds over disaster, with protests planned on Saturday
The Guardian Staff and agencies

The Lebanese owner of a cruise ship sunk by the huge explosion that destroyed the port of Beirut is filing a lawsuit “all those responsible”, the country’s state news agency has said, as anger builds over the disaster. Two crew members of the Orient Queen were killed and seven others wounded on Tuesday when a huge shipment of ammonium nitrate caught fire and caused an explosion that levelled the port and gutted entire swathes of the city. Angry Lebanese plan a major protest in central Beirut on Saturday, amid scrutiny of how 2,750 tonnes of the dangerous material could have been stored so close to residential neighbourhoods for years – despite repeated warnings of the risk it posed.

A former port worker, Yusuf Shehadi, told the Guardian he had been instructed by the Lebanese military to house the chemicals in warehouse 12 at the port despite repeated protests by other government departments. Dozens of bags of fireworks were stored in the same hangar. Shehadi said he had spoken to former colleagues at the port who said workers had been attempting to fix a gate outside warehouse 12 with an electrical tool ahead of the blast. “This was at 5pm, and after 30 minutes they saw smoke. Firefighters came, and so did state security. Everyone died.” The country’s president, Michel Aoun, said the cause of the blast was still unclear and did not rule out the possibility of a hostile act. The National News agency reported on Friday: “Entrepreneur Merhi Abou Merhi, the owner of the Orient Queen cruise ship, has filed a lawsuit against all those responsible for this catastrophic blast.”

By Jennifer Hansler, CNN

Washington (CNN)The US sanctioned Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Friday for her role in crackdowns on political freedom in the region. Sanctioning Lam is a significant escalation, experts say. Friday's action against Lam and ten others is likely to further inflame tensions between Washington and Beijing. It is the latest move in response to China's imposition of a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong that criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference. "The 11 individuals designated today have implemented policies directly aimed at curbing freedom of expression and assembly, and democratic processes, and are subsequently responsible for the degradation of Hong Kong's autonomy," the US Treasury Department said in a statement Friday. Lam has defended the controversial law as a "crucial step to ending chaos and violence that has occurred over the past few months."

"It's a law that has been introduced to keep Hong Kong safe," she said in July. "The legislation is lawful, constitutional and reasonable."
The Treasury Department cited her as being "directly responsible for implementing Beijing's policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes." "In 2019, Lam pushed for an update to Hong Kong's extradition arrangements to allow for extradition to the mainland, setting off a series of massive opposition demonstrations in Hong Kong," the Treasury Department said. "Lam is designated for being involved in developing, adopting, or implementing the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (National Security Law)."

By Mary Ilyushina and Katie Polglase, CNN

CNN) As Lebanon's investigation into the devastating blast in Beirut continues, officials have pointed to a possible cause: A massive shipment of agricultural fertilizer that authorities say was stored in the port of Beirut without safety precautions for years -- despite warnings by local officials.
Documents newly reviewed by CNN reveal that a shipment of 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate arrived in Beirut on a Russian-owned vessel in 2013. The ship, named the MV Rhosus, was destined for Mozambique -- but stopped in Beirut due to financial difficulties that also created unrest with the ship's Russian and Ukrainian crew.

Once it arrived, the ship never left Beirut's port, according Lebanon's Director of Customs, Badri Daher, despite repeated warnings by him and others that the cargo was the equivalent of "a floating bomb." "Due to the extreme danger posed by this stored items in unsuitable climate conditions, we reiterate our request to the Port Authorities to re-export the goods immediately to maintain the safety of the port and those working in it," Daher's predecessor, Chafic Merhi, wrote in a 2016 letter addressed to a judge involved in the case.

Lebanese authorities have not named the MV Rhosus as the source of the substance that ultimately exploded in Beirut on Tuesday, but Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the devastating blast was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate. He added that the substance had been stored for six years at the port warehouse without safety measures, "endangering the safety of citizens."

Geoff Brumfiel, photographed for NPR

New satellite photos show the aftermath of Tuesday's massive, deadly explosion at the port of Beirut. An image taken by the satellite company BlackSky shows extensive damage at the port following the blast. Several warehouses appear to be flattened and a cruise ship called the Orient Queen can be seen listing to one side, according to Allison Puccioni, an analyst and founder of Armillary Services, an independent firm partnered with BlackSky. "The entire warehouse infrastructure is leveled," Puccioni says. "You can see some of the foundation and load-bearing columns in some of the buildings, but it's just demolished." In the image, debris can also be seen covering a main road over 1,000 feet south of the blast site, a sign of the explosion's force. And Puccioni says heavy damage extends for over half a mile into the city. The blast killed at least 100 people and injured thousands more.


Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday accused Russia of lying over an alleged mercenary plot to destabilize his country and said unnamed forces were trying to carry out a revolution in Belarus but would fail.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has accused Russia of lying about a "mercenary" group arrested in Belarus last week and says another such group has infiltrated his country. "Today we heard of another unit sent into the south," he said in an address to the nation. "We'll catch them all." Russia has denied that the 33 Russians held were plotting terrorism and were linked to anti-Lukashenko activists. Anti-Lukashenko protests have grown, as he seeks re-election on 9 August. Russia has said the 33 - claimed to be members of the shadowy Wagner mercenary group - were only transiting via Belarus en route to Istanbul. And Russia insists they had no mission to interfere in the Belarus presidential election.

'Massacre plot'
"All this about Istanbul, Venezuela, Africa and Libya - it's a lie. These people - they have already given testimony - were sent into Belarus on purpose. The order was to wait," Mr Lukashenko said, in his televised annual address. He said the Russians could have flown directly to an overseas destination - there was no need for them to enter Belarus to do so. "So far there is no open warfare, no shooting, the trigger has not yet been pulled, but an attempt to organise a massacre in the centre of Minsk is already obvious," he alleged.

CBS News

Ammonium nitrate, which Lebanese authorities have said caused the devastating Beirut blasts, is an odorless crystalline substance commonly used as a fertilizer and has caused numerous industrial explosions over the decades. These notably include one at a Texas fertilizer plant in 2013 that killed 15 and was ruled deliberate, a North Korean railway blast that left 161 dead in 2004, and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. When combined with fuel oils, ammonium nitrate creates a potent explosive widely used in the construction industry, but also by insurgent groups such as the Taliban for improvised explosives.

Two tons of it were used to create the bomb in the 1995 Oklahoma City attack that destroyed a federal building, leaving 168 people dead. Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab said 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate that had been stored for years in a Beirut portside warehouse had exploded, killing dozens of people and causing widespread damage to the capital.

Analysis by Julia Horowitz, CNN Business

London (CNN Business) Six months ago, Prime Minister Boris Johnson celebrated Brexit by describing Britain as the Superman of global trade.
Now, the country risks becoming an also-ran, losing its easy access to the huge EU common market, unable to strike a groundbreaking deal with the United States and on the brink of a trade fight with China. Trade experts fear this will leave the United Kingdom more isolated than it has been for decades as it fights an unprecedented health and economic crisis. It's already on course for the deepest downturn of any major economy, in part a result of persistent uncertainty tied to Brexit. Johnson and other proponents of leaving the European Union made much of the ability of a "global Britain," once liberated by Brexit, to strike out and forge lucrative trade agreements on its own terms. However, one year since Johnson took office, such game-changing trade deals haven't materialized — muddying the country's future at a precarious moment.

"You're already weakening your relationship with the EU," said David Henig, a former trade negotiator and director of the UK Trade Policy Project at the European Center for International Political Economy. "If you're weakening [relations] with China and Hong Kong as well, you're putting up extra barriers to trade with quite a lot of your largest trading partners."

EU talks falter
When the United Kingdom left the European Union at the end of January, Johnson expressed confidence that the country was ready to engage in high-stakes talks with trading partners, and he promised major wins. "We are ready for the great multi-dimensional game of chess in which we engage in more than one negotiation at once," Johnson said on February 3. Half a year later, talks with the European Union and the United States — Britain's two largest trading partners — are close to breaking down, throwing the UK's economic future into doubt.

By Helen Regan and Angus Watson, CNN

Hong Kong (CNN) Hong Kong police have issued arrest warrants for six overseas-based democracy activists who are alleged to have breached the city's newly imposed national security law, according to Chinese state media. The six include United States citizen and resident Samuel Chu and Nathan Law, a former Hong Kong lawmaker and prominent pro-democracy campaigner who fled the city and is now living in London, according to the report. The issuing of the warrant appears to mark the first time that authorities have used the new national security law, imposed by Beijing on June 30, to target activists based outside of the city. The law criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference, and it applies to offenses committed "outside the region" by foreigners who are not residents of Hong Kong or China.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported that the six are wanted on suspicion of inciting secession and colluding with foreign countries, but did not give any further details. In response to a CNN request for comment, a Hong Kong Police spokesperson said the "police do not comment on media reports." US national Chu, who is the managing director of the Hong Kong Democracy Council, a Washington DC-based advocacy group promoting freedom and autonomy for Hong Kong, appears to be the first known non-Hong Kong citizen to be targeted under the new security law. In a twitter post Friday, Chu said in ordering his arrest, China was effectively targeting a US citizen for the act of lobbying his own government. "I might be the 1st non-Chinese citizen to be targeted, but I will not be the last. If I am targeted, any American/any citizen of any nation who speaks out for HK can-and will be-too, said Chu. "We are all Hong Kongers now," he added.

A day before, Trump suggested the vote in the United States should be postponed.
By Ben Gittleson

The White House on Friday condemned Hong Kong for delaying its upcoming legislative elections for a year even as President Donald Trump a day earlier elicited significant backlash for suggesting the United States postpone its own November vote. Earlier Friday, Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam used emergency powers to push back the city's hotly contested legislative council elections, a day after a dozen pro-democracy activists had been barred from running. "We condemn the Hong Kong government's decision to postpone for one year its Legislative Council elections and to disqualify opposition candidates," White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said at a news conference.

She went on, "This action undermines the democratic processes and freedoms that have underpinned Hong Kong's prosperity and this is only the most recent in a growing list of broken promises by Beijing, which promised autonomy and freedoms to the Hong Kong people until 2047 in the Sino-British Joint Declaration."

Lam cited the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus for her decision to delay the vote, in which pro-democracy candidates were expected to gain a historic majority in the legislature. They had gained support amid anti-Beijing protests and the unpopularity of a restrictive national security law enacted by mainland China. The White House's censure of a foreign government delaying its election came just one day after Trump had suggested postponing this year's general election in the United States.

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