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Amnesty Calls For Independent Investigation Into Beirut Explosion

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Morocco Sends Tonnes Of Emergency Aid To Lebanon

The Amnesty International has on Wednesday called for an independent probe into the explosion in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 137 persons and injuring more than 5,000.

Speaking on the need for the probe, the rights group acting chief Julie Verhaar said in a statement that an independent probe “free from any potential domestic political interference” in order to assure “truth, justice, and reparations” for the victims.

He added “the horrific scenes in the aftermath of the explosion were devastating for a country already suffering under the strain of multiple crises.”

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Verhaar said “whatever may have caused the explosion, including the possibility of a large amount of ammonium nitrate stored unsafely, Amnesty International is calling for an international mechanism to be promptly set up to investigate how this happened.”

On Wednesday, the president of Lebanon, Michel Aoun said that 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, used in fertilizers and bombs, had been stored for six years at the port without safety measures, a decision he said that was “unacceptable”.

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Many Lebanese are expressing immense shock and sadness at the destruction, and great anger towards those who allowed the explosion which sent shockwaves across the capital to happen.

Dazed, weeping and injured people walked through streets searching for relatives as many were also left homeless by the blast, and some residents said their destroyed homes had been burgled in the night as their windows and doors were blown open.

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French president, Emmanuel Macron on Thursday became the first world leader to visit the country – a former colony of France – since the tragedy.

He told crowds he would not let aid go to “corrupt hands”, and promised to call for a “new political pact” from the country’s leaders.

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NY Times: Trump ‘Paid $750 In Federal Income Taxes In 2016 And 2017’

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NY Times: Trump 'Paid $750 In Federal Income Taxes In 2016 And 2017’

New York Times has obtained a copy of president Donald Trump’s federal income tax and has revealed the president paid just $750 in taxes in 2016, the year he ran for the U.S. Presidency, and the same amount during his first year in office.  The newspaper also reports Trump paid no income taxes at all in ten of the previous fifteen years.

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Trump has faced and is still facing legal challenges for refusing to share documents concerning his fortune and business dealings.

He is the first president since the 1970s who has refused to make his tax returns public.  Even though making tax returns public is not legally required of presidential candidates or presidents, those who occupy the White House have always showed their tax returns in an act of transparency.

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Trump says the times report was “fake news.”  The newspaper says the information carried in the story was provided by sources with legal access to it.

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Switzerland Referendum: Voters Reject End To Free Movement With EU

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Switzerland Referendum: Voters Reject End To Free Movement With EU

Six in ten Swiss voters have rejected a proposal to end an accord with the European Union allowing free movement of people.

Switzerland is not an EU member, but it has a series of interdependent treaties with Brussels which gives it access to Europe’s free trade area.

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The move to rein in immigration was proposed by the Swiss people’s party but opposed by the government.    A similar initiative to introduce quotas on immigrants from the EU to Switzerland narrowly passed in a 2014 referendum, damaging Swiss-EU relations.

The Swiss are given a direct say in their own affairs under the country’s system of direct democracy.  They are regularly invited to vote on various issues in national or regional referendums.

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Supporters of the anti-free movement plan say it would allow Switzerland to control its borders and select only the immigrants it wants.

Opponents argue it would plunge a healthy economy into recession at an uncertain time and deprive hundreds of thousands of Swiss citizens of their freedom to live and work across Europe.

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North Korea Apologizes For ‘Unfortunate’ Killing Of South Korean Official

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North Korea Apologizes For 'Unfortunate' Killing Of South Korean Official

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has apologized for the killing of a South Korean official, an incident which could have been a disaster for any hopes of rekindling talks between the South and the North.

According to a report by Yonhap news agency on Friday Kim reportedly told his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in that the “disgraceful affair” should not have happened.

Earlier on Monday, a South Korean fisheries official disappeared from a fisheries patrol boat when it was about 10km (six miles) south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a disputed line of military control that acts as the de facto maritime boundary between the two Koreas.

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On Thursday, South Korea said on Thursday the 47-year-old man had been shot dead by North Korean troops and his body burned.

In a message to Seoul, Kim said he felt “very sorry” for “disappointing” South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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News agency reported that the North said it had conducted its own investigation into the incident and found that soldiers near its western sea border had fired at least 10 shots at the South Korean. The border between the Koreas is tightly policed, and the North is thought to have a “shoot-to-kill” policy in place to prevent coronavirus from entering the country.

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However, the North insisted that it had not burned the man’s body but rather the “floating material” that was carrying him.

Also, some experts were skeptical of claims that the man had been trying to defect to a country that has seen more than 30,000 North Koreans fleeing to South Korea in the past two decades, defections from South to North are rare.

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