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  • US aid begins flowing to Lebanon in wake of deadly explosion

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    The United States on Thursday began delivering aid to Lebanon in the aftermath of a massive deadly explosion, amid longstanding concerns about how officials can ensure that supplies get to those in need, and not to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. The first C-17 transport aircraft with 11 pallets of food, water and medical supplies from the U.S. military's Central Command arrived from Qatar and two more were expected in the next 24 hours. U.S. officials said the administration also plans to provide at least $15 million in disaster assistance.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 16:20:57 -0400
  • U.S. envoy for Iran policy Brian Hook steps down

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    The Trump administration's special envoy for Iran, political appointee Brian Hook, is stepping down from his post, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed Wednesday. Hook has been the point person for the State Department's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, a key foreign policy initiative that saw the U.S. withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the reimpose crippling economic sanctions.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 16:07:00 -0400
  • U.S. envoy for Iran policy Brian Hook steps down

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    Hook’s departure comes as the U.S. pushes to extend expiring arms embargo on Iran.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 16:07:00 -0400
  • Elliott Abrams named special representative for Iran

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    Brian Hook, the administration's longtime Iran expert, is leaving.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 15:57:06 -0400
  • Trump's top Iran envoy quits as US bids to extend Tehran embargo

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    * Elliott Abrams, key figure in Iran-Contra affair, to take over * US intends to bring UN resolution to extend arms embargoThe Trump administration’s lead diplomat on Iran, Brian Hook, has announced his resignation days before the US attempts a high-stakes gambit against Tehran at the United Nations.He will be replaced by Elliott Abrams, who will combine the Iran special representative job with his current role as special envoy for Venezuela. Abrams is a hawk on both countries – and has combined Iranian and Latin American issues before, when he was a significant figure in the Iran-Contra affair under the Reagan administration.Hook, until now a rare survivor at the top levels of the state department in the maelstrom of the Trump era, did not give a reason for his resignation, claiming the “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran had been “very successful”.The secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, confirmed Hook’s departure and referred to him as “a trusted adviser to me and a good friend”, but did not give any reasons for his departure .Pompeo added that Hook had “achieved historic results countering the Iranian regime”.Hook played a central role in the effort to squeeze the Iranian economy over the two years since Donald Trump withdrew the US from a multilateral 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.The “maximum pressure” campaign inflicted considerable hardship on Iran, but backfired in its aim of further constraining the country’s nuclear activities. Those have been stepped up, and Iran’s breakout time – the period the country would need to make its first nuclear weapon, if it so decided – has shrunk from over a year to a few months.Next week, the US plans to escalate its campaign by putting forward a UN security council resolution calling for an extension of an international arms embargo on Iran, with the threat that if the resolution is rejected, it will take a drastic and legally controversial step: claim to be still technically a participant in the JCPOA and use the terms of the deal to “snap back” UN sanctions on Iran.Hook had been trying to rally support among US allies for such a move, with very little success.“The easy way is to do a rollover of the arms embargo,” Hook told the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday. “It’s not difficult – there’s all the reasons in the world to do it. But we will do this one way or another.”Reflecting on his role, Hook told the New York Times: “Sometimes it’s the journey and sometimes it’s the destination. In the case of our Iran strategy, it’s both. We would like a new deal with the regime. But in the meantime, our pressure has collapsed their finances.”“By almost every metric, the regime and its terrorist proxies are weaker than three and a half years ago,” Hook added. “Deal or no deal, we have been very successful.”At one point in his efforts to isolate Iran, Hook personally emailed the captain of a tanker suspected of carrying Iranian oil to Syria, offering him money to divert the cargo, according to an account in the Financial Times.Ariane Tabatabai, a research fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the US, argued the US campaign had not changed Iranian policy in the region, and led to a shrinking of Iran’s nuclear breakout time.“At best, the policy he helped craft produced minor tactical successes at worst it was counterproductive, and on the big issues it has been an abject failure,” said Tabatabai, who published a report on Thursday on Iranian nuclear decision-making.In his job as special envoy on Venezuela, Abrams has also been unsuccessful in isolating the government of Nicolás Maduro and bolstering the position of the rival claimant to the presidency, Juan Guaidó.David Smilde, a Venezuela specialist from the Washington Office on Latin America, said he suspected Abrams would not be replaced as special envoy for Venezuela, and said his move suggested removing Maduro had slipped down Trump’s to-do list.Smilde said: “This should be a message to the Venezuelan opposition that they are not a top priority for the United States and that they really have to defend their own ship and make sure that they come up with a plausible strategy to address Maduro’s authoritarian government. If they were a priority they wouldn’t be taking a key person and moving him somewhere else.”He said administration officials appeared to have lost faith in their original conviction that an “easy win” could be achieved in Venezuela, forcing Maduro from power and replacing him with Guaidó.“They just don’t see that this situation is going to be resolved any time soon,” Smilde added.Abrams was a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, in which the Reagan government orchestrated arms sales to Iran to raise off-the-books funds for Contra rebels in Nicaragua. He was convicted in 1991 on two misdemeanor counts of unlawfully withholding information from Congress, but later pardoned by George W Bush.“Perhaps Trump is internally blaming Hook for the failure to get Iran to agree to negotiate with a president no one respects or trusts,” said Trita Parsi, the executive vice-president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.“Nevertheless, replacing him with Abrams – a more sophisticated and shrewd operator who is even more hawkish – certainly does not seem to suggest much of a policy change. As much as Trump says he wants talks, he keeps on surrounding himself with neocons and war hawks who are revolted by the idea of diplomacy.”

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 15:46:02 -0400
  • AP Analysis: Will Beirut's blast be a catalyst for change?

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    The massive explosion and devastation triggered by thousands of tons of chemicals improperly stored in Beirut’s port is the culmination of decades of corruption that has driven one of the Middle East's most spirited countries to ruin. The staggering destruction, with losses in the billions of dollars, will compound Lebanon’s multiple humanitarian catastrophes. Lebanon’s rulers, many of them warlords and militia holdovers from the days of the 1975-90 civil war, have proven to be extremely resilient.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 15:40:51 -0400
  • The Unique U.S. Failure to Control the Virus

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    Nearly every country has struggled to contain the coronavirus and made mistakes along the way.China committed the first major failure, silencing doctors who tried to raise alarms about the virus and allowing it to escape from Wuhan. Much of Europe went next, failing to avoid enormous outbreaks. Today, many countries -- Japan, Canada, France, Australia and more -- are coping with new increases in cases after reopening parts of society.Yet even with all of these problems, one country stands alone as the only affluent nation to have suffered a severe, sustained outbreak for more than four months: the United States.When it comes to the virus, the United States has come to resemble not the wealthy and powerful countries to which it is often compared but instead to far poorer countries, like Brazil, Peru and South Africa, or those with large migrant populations, like Bahrain and Oman.As in several of those other countries, the toll of the virus in the United States has fallen disproportionately on poorer people and groups that have long suffered discrimination. Black and Latino residents of the United States have contracted the virus at roughly three times as high of a rate as white residents.How did this happen? The New York Times set out to reconstruct the unique failure of the United States through numerous interviews with scientists and public health experts around the world. The reporting points to two central themes.First, the United States faced long-standing challenges in confronting a major pandemic. It is a large country at the nexus of the global economy, with a tradition of prioritizing individualism over government restrictions. That tradition is one reason the United States suffers from an unequal health care system that has long produced worse medical outcomes -- including higher infant mortality and diabetes rates and lower life expectancy -- than in most other rich countries."As an American, I think there is a lot of good to be said about our libertarian tradition," Dr. Jared Baeten, an epidemiologist and vice dean at the University of Washington School of Public Health, said. "But this is the consequence: We don't succeed as well as a collective."The second major theme is one that public health experts often find uncomfortable to discuss because many try to steer clear of partisan politics. But many agree that the poor results in the United States stem in substantial measure from the performance of the Trump administration.In no other high-income country -- and in only a few countries, period -- have political leaders departed from expert advice as frequently and significantly as the Trump administration. President Donald Trump has said the virus was not serious, predicted it would disappear, spent weeks questioning the need for masks, encouraged states to reopen even with large and growing caseloads, and promoted medical disinformation.In recent days, Trump has continued the theme, offering a torrent of misleading statistics in his public appearances that make the situation sound less dire than it is.Some Republican governors have followed his lead and also played down the virus, while others have largely followed the science. Democratic governors have more reliably heeded scientific advice, but their performance in containing the virus has been uneven."In many of the countries that have been very successful, they had a much crisper strategic direction and really had a vision," said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who wrote a guide to reopening safely for the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research group. "I'm not sure we ever really had a plan or a strategy -- or at least it wasn't public."Together, the national skepticism toward collective action and the Trump administration's scattered response to the virus have contributed to several specific failures and missed opportunities, Times reporting shows:-- a lack of effective travel restrictions,-- repeated breakdowns in testing,-- confusing advice about masks,-- a misunderstanding of the relationship between the virus and the economy,-- and inconsistent messages from public officials.Already, the U.S. death toll is of a different order of magnitude than in most other countries. With only 4% of the world's population, the United States has accounted for 22% of coronavirus deaths. Canada, a rich country that neighbors the United States, has a per capita death rate about half as large. And these gaps may worsen in coming weeks, given the lag between new cases and deaths.For many Americans who survive the virus or do not contract it, the future will bring other problems. Many schools will struggle to open. And the normal activities of life -- family visits, social gatherings, restaurant meals, sporting events -- may be more difficult in the United States than in any other affluent country.A Travel Policy That Fell ShortIn retrospect, one of Trump's first policy responses to the virus appears to have been one of his most promising.On Jan. 31, his administration announced that it was restricting entry to the United States from China. Many foreign nationals -- be they citizens of China or other countries -- would not be allowed into the United States if they had been to China in the previous two weeks.It was still early in the spread of the virus. The first cases in Wuhan, China, had been diagnosed about a month before, and the first announced case in the United States had come on Jan. 21. In announcing the new travel policy, Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, declared that the virus posed "a public health emergency." Trump described the policy as his "China ban."After the Trump administration acted, several other countries quickly announced their own restrictions on travel from China, including Japan, Vietnam and Australia.But it quickly became clear that the policy was full of holes. It did not apply to immediate family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents returning from China, for example. In the two months after the policy went into place, almost 40,000 people arrived in the United States on direct flights from China.Even more important, the policy failed to take into account that the virus had spread well beyond China by early February. Later data would show that many infected people arriving in the United States came from Europe. (The Trump administration did not restrict travel from Europe until March and exempted Britain from that ban despite a high infection rate there.)The administration's policy also did little to create quarantines for people who entered the United States and may have had the virus.Authorities in some other places took a far more rigorous approach to travel restrictions.South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan largely restricted entry to residents returning home. Those residents then had to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival, with the government keeping close tabs to ensure they did not leave their home or hotel. South Korea and Hong Kong also tested for the virus at the airport and transferred anyone who was positive to a government facility.Australia offers a telling comparison. Like the United States, it is separated from China by an ocean and is run by a conservative leader: Scott Morrison, the prime minister. Unlike the United States, it put travel restrictions at the center of its virus response.Australian officials noticed in March that the travel restrictions they had announced Feb. 1 were not preventing the virus from spreading. So they went further.On March 27, Morrison announced that Australia would no longer trust travelers to isolate themselves voluntarily. The country would instead mandate that everyone arriving from overseas, including Australian citizens, spend two weeks quarantined in a hotel.The protocols were strict. As people arrived at an airport, authorities transported them directly to hotels nearby. People were not even allowed to leave their hotel to exercise. The Australian military helped enforce the rules.Around the same time, several Australian states with minor outbreaks shut their own borders to keep out Australians from regions with higher rates of infection. That hardening of internal boundaries had not happened since the 1918 flu pandemic, said Ian Mackay, a virologist in Queensland, one of the first states to block entry from other areas.The United States, by comparison, imposed few travel restrictions, either for foreigners or U.S. citizens. Individual states did little to enforce the rules they did impose."People need a bit more than a suggestion to look after their own health," said Mackay, who has been working with Australian officials on their pandemic response. "They need guidelines, they need rules -- and they need to be enforced."Travel restrictions and quarantines were central to the success in controlling the virus in South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia as well as New Zealand, many epidemiologists believe. In Australia, the number of new cases per day fell more than 90% in April. It remained near zero through May and early June, even as the virus surged across much of the United States.In the past six weeks, Australia has begun to have a resurgence -- which itself points to the importance of travel rules. The latest outbreak stems in large part from problems with the quarantine in the city of Melbourne. Compared with other parts of Australia, Melbourne relied more on private security contractors who employed temporary workers -- some of whom lacked training and failed to follow guidelines -- to enforce quarantines at local hotels. Officials have responded by banning out-of-state travel again and imposing new lockdowns.Still, the tolls in Australia and the United States remain vastly different. Fewer than 300 Australians have died of complications from COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. If the United States had the same per capita death rate, about 3,300 Americans would have died rather than 158,000.Enacting tough travel restrictions in the United States would not have been easy. It is more integrated into the global economy than Australia is, has a tradition of local policy decisions and borders two other large countries. But there is a good chance that a different version of Trump's restrictions -- one with fewer holes and stronger quarantines -- would have meaningfully slowed the virus' spread.Traditionally, public health experts had not seen travel restrictions as central to fighting a pandemic, given their economic costs and the availability of other options, like testing, quarantining and contact tracing, Baeten, the University of Washington epidemiologist, said. But he added that travel restrictions had been successful enough in fighting the coronavirus around the world that those views may need to be revisited."Travel," he said, "is the hallmark of the spread of this virus around the world."The Double Testing FailureOn Jan. 16, nearly a week before the first announced case of the coronavirus in the United States, a German hospital made an announcement. Its researchers had developed a test for the virus, which they described as the world's first.The researchers posted the formula for the test online and said they expected that countries with strong public health systems would soon be able to produce their own tests. "We're more concerned about labs in countries where it's not that easy to transport samples, or staff aren't trained that thoroughly, or if there is a large number of patients who have to be tested," said Dr. Christian Drosten, director of the Institute for Virology at the hospital, known as Charite, in Berlin.It turned out, however, that the testing problems would not be limited to less-developed countries.In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed its own test four days after the German lab did. CDC officials claimed that the U.S. test would be more accurate than the German one, by using three genetic sequences to detect the virus rather than two. The federal government quickly began distributing the U.S. test to state officials.But the test had a flaw. The third genetic sequence produced inconclusive results, so the CDC told state labs to pause their work. In meetings of the White House's coronavirus task force, Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC director, played down the problem and said it would soon be solved.Instead, it took weeks to fix. During that time, the United States had to restrict testing to people who had clear reason to think they had the virus. All the while, the virus was quietly spreading.By early March, with the testing delays still unresolved, the New York region became a global center of the virus -- without people realizing it until weeks later. More widespread testing could have made a major difference, experts said, leading to earlier lockdowns and social distancing and ultimately less sickness and death."You can't stop it if you can't see it," said Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to the director general at the World Health Organization.While the CDC was struggling to solve its testing flaws, Germany was rapidly building up its ability to test. Chancellor Angela Merkel, a chemist by training, and other political leaders were watching the virus sweep across northern Italy, not far from southern Germany, and pushed for a big expansion of testing.By the time the virus became a problem in Germany, labs around the country had thousands of test kits ready to use. From the beginning, the government covered the cost of the tests. U.S. laboratories often charge patients about $100 for a test.Without free tests, Dr. Hendrik Streeck, director of the Institute of Virology at the University Hospital Bonn, said at the time, "a young person with no health insurance and an itchy throat is unlikely to go to the doctor and therefore risks infecting more people."Germany was soon far ahead of other countries in testing. It was able to diagnose asymptomatic cases, trace the contacts of new patients and isolate people before they could spread the virus. The country has still suffered a significant outbreak. But it has had many fewer cases per capita than Italy, Spain, France, Britain or Canada -- and about one-fifth the rate of the United States.The United States eventually made up ground on tests. In recent weeks, it has been conducting more per capita than any other country, according to Johns Hopkins researchers.But now there is a new problem: The virus has grown even more rapidly than testing capacity. In recent weeks, Americans have often had to wait in long lines, sometimes in scorching heat, to be tested.One measure of the continuing troubles with testing is the percentage of tests that come back positive. In a country that has the virus under control, less than 5% of tests come back positive, according to WHO guidelines. Many countries have reached that bench mark. The United States, even with the large recent volume of tests, has not."We do have a lot of testing," Rivers, the Johns Hopkins epidemiologist, said. "The problem is, we also have a lot of cases."The huge demand for tests has overwhelmed medical laboratories, and many need days -- or even up to two weeks -- to produce results."That really is not useful for public health and medical management," Rivers said.While people are waiting for their results, many are also spreading the virus.In Belgium recently, test results have typically come back in 48 to 72 hours. In Germany and Greece, it is two days. In France, the wait is often 24 hours.The Double Mask FailureFor the first few months of the pandemic, public health experts could not agree on a consistent message about masks. Some said masks reduced the spread of the virus. Many experts, however, discouraged the use of masks, saying -- somewhat contradictorily -- that their benefits were modest and that they should be reserved for medical workers."We don't generally recommend the wearing of masks in public by otherwise well individuals because it has not been up to now associated with any particular benefit," Dr. Michael Ryan, a WHO official, said at a March 30 news conference.His colleague Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove explained that it was important to "prioritize the use of masks for those who need them most."The conflicting advice, echoed by the CDC and others, led to relatively little mask-wearing in many countries early in the pandemic. But several Asian countries were exceptions, partly because they had a tradition of mask-wearing to avoid sickness or minimize the effects of pollution.By January, mask-wearing in Japan was widespread, as it often had been during a typical flu season. Masks also quickly became the norm in much of South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan and China.In the following months, scientists around the world began to report two strands of evidence that both pointed to the importance of masks: Research showed that the virus could be transmitted through droplets that hang in the air, and several studies found that the virus spread less frequently in places where people were wearing masks.On one cruise ship that gave passengers masks after somebody got sick, for example, many fewer people became ill than on a different cruise where people did not wear masks.Consistent with that evidence was Asia's success in holding down the number of cases (after China's initial failure to do so). In South Korea, the per capita death rate is about one-eightieth as large as in the United States; Japan, despite being slow to enact social distancing, has a death rate about one-sixtieth as large."We should have told people to wear cloth masks right off the bat," Dr. George Rutherford of the University of California, San Francisco, said.In many countries, officials reacted to the emerging evidence with a clear message: Wear a mask.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada began wearing one in May. During a visit to an elementary school, President Emmanuel Macron of France wore a French-made blue mask that complemented his suit and tie. Zuzana Caputova, president of Slovakia, created a social media sensation by wearing a fuchsia-colored mask that matched her dress.In the United States, however, masks did not become a fashion symbol. They became a political symbol.Trump avoided wearing one in public for months. He poked fun at a reporter who wore one to a news conference, asking the reporter to take it off and saying that wearing one was "politically correct." He described former Vice President Joe Biden's decision to wear one outdoors as "very unusual."Many other Republicans and conservative news outlets, like Fox News, echoed his position. Mask-wearing, as a result, became yet another partisan divide in a highly polarized country.Throughout much of the Northeast and the West Coast, more than 80% of people wore masks when within 6 feet of someone else. In more conservative areas, like the Southeast, the share was closer to 50%.A March survey found that partisanship was the biggest predictor of whether Americans regularly wore masks -- bigger than their age or whether they lived in a region with a high number of virus cases. In many of the places where people adopted a hostile view of masks, including Texas and the Southeast, the number of virus cases began to soar this spring.The First Rule of Virus EconomicsThroughout March and April, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia and staff members held long meetings inside a conference room at the state Capitol in Atlanta. They ordered takeout lunches from local restaurants like the Varsity and held two daily conference calls with the public health department, the National Guard and other officials.One of the main subjects of the meetings was when to end Georgia's lockdown and reopen the state's economy. By late April, Kemp decided that it was time.Georgia had not met the reopening criteria laid out by the Trump administration (and many outside health experts considered those criteria too lax). The state was reporting about 700 new cases a day, more than when it shut down April 3.Nonetheless, Kemp went ahead. He said that Georgia's economy could not wait any longer, and it became one of the first states to reopen."I don't give a damn about politics right now," he said at an April 20 news conference announcing the reopening. He went on to describe business owners with employees at home who were "going broke, worried about whether they can feed their children, make the mortgage payment."Four days later, across Georgia, barbers returned to their chairs, wearing face masks and latex gloves. Gyms and bowling alleys were allowed to reopen, followed by restaurants on April 27. The stay-at-home order expired at 11:59 p.m. April 30.Kemp's decision was part of a pattern: Across the United States, caseloads were typically much higher when the economy reopened than in other countries.As the United States endured weeks of closed stores and rising unemployment this spring, many politicians -- particularly Republicans, like Kemp -- argued that there was an unavoidable trade-off between public health and economic health. And if crushing the virus meant ruining the economy, maybe the side effects of the treatment were worse than the disease.Dan Patrick, the Republican lieutenant governor of Texas, put the case most bluntly and became an object of scorn, especially from the political left, for doing so. "There are more important things than living," Patrick said in a television interview the same week that Kemp reopened Georgia.It may have been an inartful line, but Patrick's full argument was not wholly dismissive of human life. He was instead suggesting that the human costs of shutting down the economy -- the losses of jobs and income and the associated damages to living standards and people's health -- were greater than the costs of a virus that kills only a small percentage of people who get it."We are crushing the economy," he said, citing the damage to his own children and grandchildren. "We've got to take some risks and get back in the game and get this country back up and running."The trouble with the argument, epidemiologists and economists agree, was that public health and the economy's health were not really in conflict.Early in the pandemic, Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist and former Obama administration official, proposed what he called the first rule of virus economics: "The best way to fix the economy is to get control of the virus," he said. Until the virus was under control, many people would be afraid to resume normal life, and the economy would not function normally.The events of the last few months have borne out Goolsbee's prediction. Even before states announced shutdown orders in the spring, many families began sharply reducing their spending. They were responding to their own worries about the virus, not any official government policy.And the end of lockdowns, like Georgia's, did not fix the economy's problems. It instead led to a brief increase in spending and hiring that soon faded.In the weeks after states reopened, the virus began surging. Those that opened earliest tended to have worse outbreaks, according to a Times analysis. The Southeast fared especially badly.In June and July, Georgia reported more than 125,000 new virus cases, turning it into one of the globe's new hot spots. That was more new cases than Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Australia combined during that time frame.Americans, frightened by the virus' resurgence, responded by visiting restaurants and stores less often. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits has stopped falling. The economy's brief recovery in April and May seems to have petered out in June and July.In large parts of the United States, officials chose to reopen before medical experts thought it wise, in an attempt to put people back to work and spark the economy. Instead, the United States sparked a huge new virus outbreak -- and the economy did not seem to benefit."Politicians are not in control," Goolsbee said. "They got all the illness and still didn't fix their economies."The situation is different in the European Union and other regions that have had more success reducing new virus cases. Their economies have begun showing some promising signs, albeit tentative ones. In Germany, retail sales and industrial production have risen, and the most recent unemployment rate was 6.4%. In the United States, it was 11.1%.The Message Is the ResponseThe United States has not performed uniquely poorly on every measure of the virus response.Mask-wearing is more common than throughout much of Scandinavia and Australia, according to surveys by YouGov and Imperial College London. The total death rate is still higher in Spain, Italy and Britain.But there is one way -- in addition to the scale of the continuing outbreaks and deaths -- that the United States stands apart: In no other high-income country have the messages from political leaders been nearly so mixed and confusing.These messages, in turn, have been amplified by television stations and websites friendly to the Republican Party, especially Fox News and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which operates almost 200 local stations. To anybody listening to the country's politicians or watching these television stations, it would have been difficult to know how to respond to the virus.Trump's comments in particular have regularly contradicted the views of scientists and medical experts.The day after the first U.S. case was diagnosed, he said, "We have it totally under control." In late February, he said, "It's going to disappear. One day -- it's like a miracle -- it will disappear." Later, he incorrectly stated that any American who wanted a test could get one. On July 28, he falsely proclaimed that "large portions of our country" were "corona-free."He has also promoted medical misinformation about the virus. In March, Trump called it "very mild" and suggested it was less deadly than the common flu. He has encouraged Americans to treat it with the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, despite a lack of evidence about its effectiveness and concerns about its safety. At one White House briefing, he mused aloud about injecting people with disinfectant to treat the virus.These comments have helped create a large partisan divide in the country, with Republican-leaning voters less willing to wear masks or remain socially distant. Some Democratic-leaning voters and less political Americans, in turn, have decided that if everybody is not taking the virus seriously, they will not either. State leaders from both parties have sometimes created so many exceptions about which workplaces can continue operating normally that their stay-at-home orders have had only modest effects."It doesn't seem we have had the same unity of purpose that I would have expected," Rivers, the Johns Hopkins epidemiologist, said. "You need everyone to come together to accomplish something big."Across much of Europe and Asia as well as in Canada, Australia and elsewhere, leaders have delivered a consistent message: The world is facing a deadly virus, and only careful, consistent action will protect people.Many of those leaders have then pursued aggressive action. Trump and his top aides, by contrast, persuaded themselves in April that the virus was fading. They have also declined to design a national strategy for testing or other virus responses, leading to a chaotic mix of state policies."If you had to summarize our approach, it's really poor federal leadership -- disorganization and denial," said Andy Slavitt, who ran Medicare and Medicaid from 2015 to 2017. "Watch Angela Merkel. Watch how she communicates with the public. Watch how Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand does it. They're very clear. They're very consistent about what the most important priorities are."New York -- both the city and the state -- offers a useful case study. Like much of Europe, New York responded too slowly to the first wave of the virus. As late as March 15, Mayor Bill de Blasio encouraged people to go to their neighborhood bar.Soon, the city and state were overwhelmed. Ambulances wailed day and night. Hospitals filled to the breaking point. Gov. Andrew Cuomo -- a Democrat, like de Blasio -- was slow to protect nursing home residents, and thousands died. Earlier action in New York could have saved a significant number of lives, epidemiologists said.By late March, however, New York's leaders understood the threat, and they reversed course.They insisted that people stay home. They repeated the message every day, often on television. When other states began reopening, New York did not. "You look at the states that opened fast without metrics, without guardrails; it's a boomerang," Cuomo said June 4.The lockdowns and the consistent messages had a big effect. By June, New York and surrounding states had some of the lowest rates of virus spread in the country. Across much of the Southeast, Southwest and West Coast, on the other hand, the pandemic was raging.Many experts now say that the most disappointing part of the country's failure is that the outcome was avoidable.What may not have been avoidable was the initial surge of the virus: The world's success in containing previous viruses -- like severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS -- had lulled many people into thinking a devastating pandemic was unlikely. That complacency helps explains China's early mistakes as well as the terrible death tolls in the New York region, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Britain and other parts of Europe.But these countries and dozens more -- as well as New York -- have since shown that keeping the virus in check is feasible.For all of the continuing uncertainty about how this new coronavirus is transmitted and how it affects the human body, much has become clear. It often spreads indoors, with close human contact. Talking, singing, sneezing and coughing play a major role in transmission. Masks reduce the risk. Restarting normal activity almost always leads to new cases that require quick action -- testing, tracing of patients and quarantining -- to keep the virus in check.When countries and cities have heeded these lessons, they have rapidly reduced the spread of the virus and been able to move back, gingerly, toward normal life. In South Korea, fans have been able to attend baseball games in recent weeks. In Denmark, Italy and other parts of Europe, children have returned to school.In the United States, the virus continues to overwhelm daily life."This isn't actually rocket science," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, who ran the New York City health department and the CDC for a combined 15 years. "We know what to do, and we're not doing it."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 15:05:31 -0400
  • Atomic bomb survivors mark 75-year anniversary in Hiroshima, plead for nuclear ban

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    Survivors of the atomic bomb blast that took the lives of 140,000 people on Aug. 6, 1945 gathered with their families near ground zero in Hiroshima to mark the anniversary of the devastating event that all but ended the Second World War. Several survivors confronted Abe at Peace Memorial Park. Japan has no nuclear arsenal and Abe has stated he wants to see such weapons eliminated, but the prime minister has resisted signing the United Nations treaty that would push for that to happen.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 14:59:19 -0400
  • Commission rejects Trump push for add debate against Biden

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    The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates has rejected a request from the Trump campaign to either add an additional general election debate or move up the calendar for the contests. In a letter to Trump private attorney Rudy Giuliani, his liaison to the commission, the commission writes that it is committed to its existing schedule of three debates between Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, saying it would consider adding a fourth debate only if both sides agree to it. “If the candidates were to agree that they wished to add to that schedule, the Commission would consider that request but remains committed to the schedule of debates it has planned as reflected in the attached release,” the commission wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 14:58:04 -0400
  • UK ambassador to China to head British mission to the UN

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    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 13:47:32 -0400
  • Trump's Iran envoy quits administration as US pushes embargo

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    The Trump administration’s top envoy for Iran is stepping down just as the United States tries to moves ahead with a major diplomatic effort that would extend a U.N. arms embargo against Tehran in the face of widespread international opposition. Brian Hook announced his departure on Thursday, a day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. would call for a U.N. Security Council vote next week on a resolution to indefinitely extend the embargo, which is due to expire in October.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 13:38:50 -0400
  • In devastated Beirut, French leader offers comfort and a hug

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    It was one of the most powerful moments of Emmanuel Macron’s lightning visit to devastated Beirut: confronted by a distraught woman in a sea of enraged residents, the French leader stopped and offered her a hug. On a tour of the destruction, Macron got a first-hand glimpse of the public fury toward the Lebanese leadership, who are widely blamed for corruption and neglect that allowed 2,750 tons of highly explosive ammonium nitrate to ignite in a massive blast that killed more than 130 people and left tens of thousands homeless. A large crowd gathered around Macron and began chanting anti-government slogans.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 12:51:38 -0400
  • Developing tropical system looms for flood-weary South Korea, Japan

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    AccuWeather meteorologists are monitoring the opportunity for a new tropical system to form in the West Pacific Ocean that could eventually result in more heavy rain for an already flood-weary portion of Asia.A tropical disturbance that caught forecasters' eyes earlier this week in the Philippine Sea continues to meander to the northwest toward the northern island of Luzon. The above satellite image shows a tropical disturbance moving westward towards the Philippines on the evening of Thursday, Aug. 6 (Photo/RAMMB) This westward motion will continue into late Friday and take the disturbance into a more favorable zone for tropical development. As the disturbance is redirected northward, ahead of reaching the Philippines, it is expected to become better organized into a tropical low."The tropical low will turn north-northwestward into the weekend and may become a tropical depression or tropical storm by the time it passes near the southern Ryukyu Islands on Sunday," said AccuWeather Lead International Forecaster Jason Nicholls.CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE ACCUWEATHER APPThe Ryukyu Islands are expected to be lashed with heavy rainfall and gusty winds Saturday night into Sunday as the system passes by."The overall wind intensity will be determined by how strong the tropical system is able to get as it tracks over the Philippine Sea," explained Nicholls. As the tropical system moves farther north, it will encounter more wind shear, or winds disruptive to a tropical system, into Monday. Still, tropical moisture looks to reach parts of South Korea and Japan by early next week."The tropical system is likely to weaken as it nears southwestern Japan and South Korea early next week, but regardless of development, spells of heavy rain are expected to hit the region," Nicholls said.As this tropical low shifts northward, it will move into the East China Sea and threaten some areas that have already been hit very hard rain so far this summer, increasing the chances of flooding early next week.Hagupit moved away from the Korean Peninsula late Thursday, after bringing drenching downpours that left more than 190 mm (7.5 inches) of rain and caused river flooding and hitting several cities in North Korea and South Korea.Torrential rains from early in July left at least 60 people dead in Kumamoto, Japan. The island of Kyushu received a historic 381 mm (15 inches) of rainfall in just six hours, triggering landslides and causing 3 million residents to evacuate.Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 12:49:54 -0400
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive ahead of Trump visit

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    Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, an early advocate among Republicans of wearing masks and other pandemic precautions, tested positive Thursday for the coronavirus just ahead of a planned meeting with President Donald Trump. The Republican governor's office said he took the test as part of standard protocol before he was to meet Trump at an airport in Cleveland.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 12:46:49 -0400
  • Egypt, Greece sign maritime deal to counter Libya-Turkey one

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    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 12:29:59 -0400
  • How Africa Can Lead on Global Racial Justice

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    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 12:00:02 -0400
  • Dozens feared dead after boat capsizes off Mauritania coast

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    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 11:47:30 -0400
  • Hurricane Alpha? Amped up season forecast, names may run out

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    Already smashing records, this year’s hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season is about to get even nastier, forecasters predict. In the coming months, they expect to run out of traditional hurricane names and see about twice as much storm activity as a normal year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday upped its seasonal forecast, now predicting a far-above-average 19 to 25 named storms — seven to 11 of them to become hurricanes and three to six of those to become major hurricanes with winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph).

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 11:45:23 -0400
  • Zimbabwe reporter denied bail as government arrests critics

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    A Zimbabwean investigative journalist will remain in jail after a judge dismissed his bail application Thursday, as the United Nations secretary-general raised “concern” about a wave of arrests in the country. Before his arrest, Chin’ono regularly posted on Twitter about alleged government corruption and encouraged Zimbabweans to speak out and act against graft. Opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume was also arrested for organizing the anti-government protest, which was thwarted by police and the military which kept people off the streets of Harare, the capital, and other cities on July 31.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 10:49:32 -0400
  • Economy tanking, Cuba launches some long-delayed reforms

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    With its airports closed to commercial flights and its economy tanking, Cuba has launched the first in a series of long-promised reforms meant to bolster the country's struggling private sector. The island's thousands of restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts, auto mechanics and dozens of other types of private businesses have operated for years without the ability to import, export or buy supplies in wholesale markets.While the communist government began allowing widespread private enterprise a decade ago, it maintained a state monopoly on imports, exports and wholesale transactions. As a result, the country's roughly 613,000 private business owners have been forced to compete for scarce goods in Cuba's understocked retail outlets or buy on the black market.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 10:21:59 -0400
  • Cambodian butcher quits dog meat trade, shuts slaughterhouse

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    Animal rights activists in Cambodia have gained a small victory in their effort to end the trade in dog meat, convincing a canine slaughterhouse in one village to abandon the business. Animal activists are taking the 15 dogs that had been caged at the slaughterhouse to an animal shelter in the capital, Phnom Penh, for rehabilitation, after which they will be offered for adoption, either in Cambodia or abroad.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 10:15:35 -0400
  • Saudi Disinfo Accounts Jump on Beirut Blast

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    Almost immediately after the devastating Tuesday explosion that nearly destroyed Beirut and killed at least 137 people, a number of verified Twitter accounts linked to Saudi Arabia started firing off tweets blaming the Iran-backed group Hezbollah. Within 24 hours, the hashtag “Hezbollah’s Ammonia Burns Beirut” was trending, even though authorities and the group itself denies any involvement.Beirut Ignored Public Warning There Was a Russian ‘Bomb’ at the PortIntelligence sources say that the disinformation is being generated and spread by four verified Saudi-linked accounts that have been active in recent years in disinformation campaigns designed to hurt Iranian interests. Marc Owen Jones, an author and assistant professor of Middle East studies at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Doha, Qatar, told The Daily Beast by phone that it is coming primarily from a “core group of influencers” who have verified Twitter accounts, meaning they should have been vetted by the social-media giant. In just 48 hours since the explosion, he has already found 14,000 interactions involving 9,870 unique accounts spreading lies.Before the Beirut explosion diverted their attention, many of these disinformation accounts were on a rampage against female journalists who were then targeted and essentially silenced out of fear to respond, he says. “This part of the general trope coming out of Saudi,” he told The Daily Beast. “Obviously the impact of that is to create a vacuum of opposition voices, filled with government mouthpieces.”He says that as long as they are allowed on social media, “they will flourish without being controlled. They have created an ecosystem.”The purpose is to justify to the domestic audience in Saudi Arabia that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, not to be believed. “With these accusations, the risk is what they may spark,” he says. But Saudi-friendly accounts aren’t the only ones engaging in this dangerous blame game, which could potentially set off new unrest. Right after the blast, a now-deleted account with more than 100,000 followers analyzed the mushroom cloud seen after the explosion and tweeted about the blast being atomic, according to the BBC. Supporters of QAnon, the far-right deep-state conspiracy theory, are also doing their best to push the theory on Facebook and Reddit that the blast was part of a war between the Lebanese government and the central banking system.Weapons experts have also weighed in, tweeting a barrage of dubious “proof” that the adjacent fire was not at a fireworks depot as authorities suggested, but stored a weapons cache. Dark-web sites have also been going wild with accusations that the U.S. or Israel launched a missile, going so far as to quote President Trump’s seeming “admission” that the U.S. was involved or forewarned when he referred to it as a bomb.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.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 09:59:32 -0400
  • Playing electoral defense, Trump claims Biden opposes God

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    President Donald Trump billed his trip to Ohio Thursday as a chance to promote economic recovery, but he quickly pivoted to a deeply personal attack on Joe Biden, even questioning without foundation the former vice president's faith in God. Trump was expected to promote the economic prosperity that much of the nation enjoyed before the coronavirus pandemic and to make the case that he is best suited to rebuild a crippled economy. The virus already altered the trip even before Trump landed, with word that GOP Gov. Mike DeWine had tested positive for the coronavirus.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 09:51:37 -0400
  • Malaria in Africa: Parasite 'resistant to artemisinin'

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    Scientists in Rwanda find cases of resistance to artemisinin, a frontline drug used to treat malaria.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 09:20:12 -0400
  • Weekly poems elevate New Hampshire city's virus newsletters

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    Valerie Rochon is eager to read her email every Monday morning, even when it makes her cry. Tammi Truax, the city’s poet laureate, has been contributing to the newsletters since early April, elevating the collection of public health updates and community resources with a layer of emotion and introspection. “I think she’s absolutely brilliant,” said Rochon, who leads the Portsmouth chamber of commerce.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 09:07:52 -0400
  • Rappers and actors push Zimbabwe hashtag viral

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    The social media campaign tapping into the anger of the global BlackLivesMatter phenomenon.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 08:19:15 -0400
  • Blame for Beirut Explosion Begins With a Leaky, Troubled Ship

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    CAIRO -- The countdown to catastrophe in Beirut started six years ago when a troubled, Russian-leased cargo ship made an unscheduled stop at the city's port.The ship was trailed by debts, crewed by disgruntled sailors and dogged by a small hole in its hull that meant water had to be constantly pumped out. And it carried a volatile cargo: more than 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, a combustible material used to make fertilizers -- and bombs -- that was destined for Mozambique.The ship, the Rhosus, never made it. Embroiled in a financial and diplomatic dispute, it was abandoned by the Russian businessman who had leased it. And the ammonium nitrate was transferred to a dockside warehouse in Beirut, where it would languish for years, until Tuesday, when Lebanese officials said it exploded, sending a shock wave that killed more than 130 people and wounded another 5,000.The story of the ship and its deadly cargo, which emerged Wednesday in accounts from Lebanon, Russia and Ukraine, offered a bleak tale about how legal battles, financial wrangling and, apparently, chronic negligence set the stage for a horrific accident that devastated one of the Middle East's most fondly regarded cities."I was horrified," said Boris Prokoshev, the ship's 70-year-old retired Russian captain, about the accident, speaking in a phone interview from Sochi, Russia, a Black Sea resort town just up the coast from where the ammonium nitrate began its journey to Beirut in 2013.In Lebanon, public rage focused on the negligence of the authorities, who were aware of the danger posed by the storage of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate in a warehouse on the Beirut docks yet failed to act.Senior customs officials wrote to the Lebanese courts at least six times from 2014 to 2017, seeking guidance on how to dispose of the ammonium nitrate, according to public records posted to social media by a Lebanese lawmaker, Salim Aoun."In view of the serious danger posed by keeping this shipment in the warehouses in an inappropriate climate," Shafik Marei, the director of Lebanese customs, wrote in May 2016, "we repeat our request to demand the maritime agency to re-export the materials immediately."The customs officials proposed a number of solutions, including donating the ammonium nitrate to the Lebanese army or selling it to the privately owned Lebanese Explosives Co. Marei sent a second, similar letter a year later. The judiciary failed to respond to any of his pleas, the records suggested.Lebanese judicial officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.The Rhosus, which flew the flag of Moldova, arrived in Beirut in November 2013, two months after it left the Black Sea port of Batumi, Georgia. The ship was leased by Igor Grechushkin, a Russian businessman living in Cyprus.Prokoshev, the captain, joined the ship in Turkey after a mutiny over unpaid wages by a previous crew. Grechushkin had been paid $1 million to transport the high-density ammonium nitrate to the port of Beira in Mozambique, the captain said.The ammonium nitrate was purchased by the International Bank of Mozambique for Fabrica de Explosivos de Moçambique, a firm that makes commercial explosives, according to Baroudi and Partners, a Lebanese law firm representing the ship's crew, in a statement issued Wednesday.Grechushkin, who was in Cyprus at the time and communicating by telephone, told the captain he didn't have enough money to pay for passage through the Suez Canal. So he sent the ship to Beirut to earn some cash by taking on an additional cargo of heavy machinery.But in Beirut, the machinery would not fit into the ship, which was about 30 or 40 years old, the captain said.Then Lebanese officials found the ship unseaworthy and impounded the vessel for failing to pay the port docking fees and other charges. When the ship's suppliers tried to contact Grechushkin for payment for fuel, food and other essentials, he could not be reached, having apparently abandoned the ship he had leased.Six crew members returned home, but Lebanese officials forced the captain and three Ukrainian crew members to remain on board until the debt issue was solved. Lebanese immigration restrictions prevented the crew from leaving the ship, and they struggled to obtain food and other supplies, according to their lawyers.Prokoshev, the captain, said Lebanese port officials took pity on the hungry crew and provided food. But, he added, they didn't show any concern about the ship's highly dangerous cargo. "They just wanted the money we owed," he said.Their plight attracted attention back in Ukraine, where news accounts described the stranded crew as "hostages," trapped aboard an abandoned ship.The captain, a Russian citizen, appealed to the Russian Embassy in Lebanon for help but got only snippy comments like, "Do you expect President Putin to send special forces to get you out," he recalled.Increasingly desperate, Prokoshev sold some of the ship's fuel and used the proceeds to hire a legal team, and these lawyers also warned the Lebanese authorities that the ship was in danger "of sinking or blowing up at any moment," according to the law firm's statement.A Lebanese judge ordered the release of the crew on compassionate grounds in August 2014, and Grechushkin, having resurfaced, paid for their passage back to Ukraine.Grechushkin could not be reached for comment Wednesday.The crew's departure left the Lebanese authorities in charge of the ship's deadly cargo, which was moved to a storage facility known as Hangar 12, where it remained until the explosion Tuesday.Ammonium nitrate, when mixed with fuel, creates a powerful explosive commonly used in construction and mining. But it has also been used to make explosive devices deployed by terrorists such as the 1995 Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, and the Islamic State group.Sales of ammonium nitrate are regulated in the United States, and many European countries require it to be mixed with other substances to make it less potent.The general manager of Beirut's port, Hassan Koraytem, said in an interview that customs and security officials made repeated requests to Lebanon's courts to have the volatile material moved. "But nothing happened," he said."We were told the cargo would be sold in an auction," he added. "But the auction never happened, and the judiciary never acted."Koraytem, who has been in charge of the port for 17 years, said that when he first heard the blast Tuesday, he figured it might be an air attack.He had "no idea" what caused the initial fire at the storage facility that preceded the second, far larger blast, he said. Four of his employees died in the explosion. "This is not the time to blame," he said. "We are living a national catastrophe."But for many Lebanese, the story is another sign of the chronic mismanagement of a ruling class that steered the country into a punishing economic crisis this year.Prokoshev, who said he is still owed $60,000 in wages, placed the fault with Grechushkin, and with Lebanese officials, who insisted on first impounding the boat and then on keeping the ammonium nitrate in the port "instead of spreading it on their fields.""They could have had very good crops instead of a huge explosion," he said.As for the Rhosus, Prokoshev learned from friends who sailed to Beirut that it had sunk in the harbor in 2015 or 2016 after taking water on board, he said.His only surprise on hearing this, he added, was that it had not gone down sooner.This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 08:14:44 -0400
  • 'See you in court': ACLU files nearly 400 cases versus Trump

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    The day after Donald Trump’s election in November 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union posted a message to him on its website: “See you in court.” As president, Trump hasn’t personally squared off against the ACLU from the witness stand, but the broader warning has been borne out. As of this week, the ACLU has filed nearly 400 lawsuits and other legal actions against the Trump administration, some meeting with setbacks but many resulting in important victories.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 08:00:22 -0400
  • The US is offering bounties of $10 million to anyone who can catch hackers meddling in the presidential election

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    State-backed hackers from Russia, China, and Iran have already been detected trying to interfere with the 2020 election.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 07:44:07 -0400
  • U.N. says tens of thousands affected by floods in Sudan

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    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 04:48:04 -0400
  • Macron promises help, Beirut residents vent fury at leaders

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    Residents of Beirut vented their fury at Lebanon’s leaders Thursday during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, blaming them for the deadly explosion that ravaged the capital. A military judge leading the investigation into Tuesday's blast said 16 employees of Beirut's port, where the explosion took place, had been detained.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 04:07:41 -0400
  • The Latest: Macron says France doesn’t want to run Lebanon

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    French President Emmanuel Macron has denied that he's seeking to pull the strings in Lebanon and revive France’s colonial-era influence over a country reeling from a giant, deadly explosion. Macron was on a visit to devastated Beirut on Thursday.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 04:02:50 -0400
  • North Korea's escalating virus response raises fear of outbreak

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    North Korea has quarantined thousands of people despite inconclusive test results for a man suspected of being its first official coronavirus case, raising suspicions about a wider unreported outbreak in the reclusive country. Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, last week declared a state of emergency and imposed a lockdown on the city of Kaesong on the South Korean border after a defector who crossed back over the border to escape a rape investigation reportedly displayed suspected Covid-19 symptoms. North Korea experts said Pyongyang’s claim that the virus may have leaked in via a returning defector fit the North’s traditional narrative of blaming the South for its troubles.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 03:57:23 -0400
  • Is it safe to reopen schools during the pandemic?

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    Recommended safety measures include wearing face coverings in schools and limiting movement so kids stay in the same classroom all day. In the U.S., some school districts are planning a mix of in-person classes and online learning to help maintain social distancing.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 03:32:22 -0400
  • Polish LGBT people leaving as post-vote mood grows hostile

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    When a right-wing populist party won the right to govern Poland five years ago, Piotr Grabarczyk feared “bad things” might happen to gay men like him and other LGBT people. Friends and a job bound Grabarczyk to Warsaw, the relatively liberal capital city.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 02:05:58 -0400
  • Global Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Industry

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    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 01:53:00 -0400
  • Belarus Could Become Europe’s Next Nightmare

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    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 01:30:02 -0400
  • UN discusses Kashmir for 3rd time since India ends statehood

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    The U.N. Security Council discussed disputed Kashmir at Pakistan's request Wednesday for the third time since India’s Hindu nationalist government decided to end the Muslim-majority region’s semi-autonomy a year ago. The U.N.’s most powerful body did not take any action or issue a statement after the virtual meeting behind closed doors.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 01:10:56 -0400
  • Virus lockdown for world’s smallest and rarest wild pigs

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    Pygmy hogs — the world’s smallest and rarest wild pig — are under a virus lockdown. There is neither a vaccine nor cure for the highly contagious viral disease that has already killed over 16,000 domestic pigs, said Pradip Gogoi, an official at Assam state’s animal husbandry wing. The shy, 10-inch tall pygmy hogs suffered severe habitat loss and were thought to be extinct in the 1960s.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 01:10:54 -0400
  • Lack of study and oversight raises concerns about tear gas

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    Shortly into the march, police, who reported that water bottles and rocks were being thrown at them, unleashed a volley of tear gas on the entire crowd, including those who were marching peacefully. The Charlotte protest was one of the dozens around the country during the past few months where police unleashed tear gas on peaceful protesters. Tear gas has commonly been used as a defensive tool by law enforcement to make rioters disperse.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 01:09:49 -0400
  • Global Glycol Ethers Industry

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    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 00:53:00 -0400
  • Global Grow Lights Industry

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    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 00:33:00 -0400
  • VP contender Karen Bass' Cuba baggage a burden in Florida

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    Until recently, Robert Lewis had never heard of Karen Bass, the California congresswoman in contention to be Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's running mate. When he learned that Bass had called Castro's death “a great loss,” the 22-year-old considered it a disregard for the plight of those who suffered at the hands of Castro's government. Lewis' reaction is a blow to Democrats who in recent years have tried to pull young Cubans in Florida away from the Republican Party, the political home of many of their parents and grandparents.

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 00:30:18 -0400
  • Seeking refuge in US, children fleeing danger are expelled

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    When officers led them out of a detention facility near the U.S.-Mexico border and onto a bus last month, the 12-year-old from Honduras and his 9-year-old sister believed they were going to a shelter so they could be reunited with their mother in the Midwest. Instead, the bus drove five hours to an airport where the children were told to board a plane. “They didn’t tell us we were going back to Honduras.”

    Thu, 06 Aug 2020 00:13:18 -0400
  • N. Korea's escalating virus response raises fear of outbreak

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    North Korea is quarantining thousands of people and shipping food and other aid to a southern city locked down over coronavirus worries, officials said, as the country’s response to a suspected case reinforces doubt about its longstanding claim to be virus-free. In late July, North Korea said it had imposed its “maximum emergency system” to guard against the virus spreading after finding a person with COVID-19 symptoms in Kaesong city, near the border with rival South Korea. State media reported that leader Kim Jong Un then ordered a total lockdown of Kaesong, and said the suspected case was a North Korean who had earlier fled to South Korea before slipping back into Kaesong last month.

    Wed, 05 Aug 2020 21:27:20 -0400
  • Editorial Roundup: US

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    Wed, 05 Aug 2020 20:43:57 -0400
  • India’s Hindu Nationalists Reverse the Tide of History

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    Wed, 05 Aug 2020 20:30:02 -0400
  • Survivors mark 75th anniversary of world’s 1st atomic attack

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    Survivors of the world’s first atomic bombing gathered in diminished numbers near an iconic, blasted dome Thursday to mark the attack’s 75th anniversary, many of them urging the world, and their own government, to do more to ban nuclear weapons. An upsurge of coronavirus cases in Japan meant a much smaller than normal turnout, but the bombing survivors’ message was more urgent than ever. As their numbers dwindle — their average age is about 83 — many nations have bolstered or maintained their nuclear arsenals, and their own government refuses to sign a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

    Wed, 05 Aug 2020 19:25:24 -0400
  • Joe Arpaio clings to relevancy in what’s likely his last run

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    Arizona has grown more politically moderate in the past five years, but Republican primary voters haven’t entirely abandoned Joe Arpaio, the six-term sheriff of metro Phoenix who lost the job in 2016 amid voter frustration over his legal troubles and headline-grabbing tactics. In what Arpaio acknowledges could be his last political race, he was trailing Jerry Sheridan, his former second-in-command, by 541 votes as the count continued Wednesday. Mike O’Neil, a longtime Arizona pollster who has followed Arpaio’s career, said the lawman remains in contention because he has strong name recognition and is still popular in some Republican circles — even though he was trounced in 2016 and finished third in the 2018 U.S. Senate primary.

    Wed, 05 Aug 2020 19:08:21 -0400
  • 8 Western nations urge Russian forces to leave Georgia

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    Wed, 05 Aug 2020 19:04:10 -0400
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