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Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Quits Over Lack Of “Will To Reform”

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Lebanon's Foreign Minister Quits Over Lack Of Will To Reform

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti has on Monday resigned over what he described as lack of political will to reform as his nation wrestles with a financial crisis posing the biggest threat to stability since a 1975-1990 civil war.

Hitti said in a statement “given the absence of an effective will to achieve structural, comprehensive reform which our society and the international community have urged us to do, I have decided to resign.”

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The former Lebanese ambassador to the Arab League who was named foreign minister in January when Prime Minister Hassan Diab took office with the support of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and its allies said that “I took part in this government to work for one boss called Lebanon, then I found in my country multiple bosses and contradicting interests,”

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He added, “If they do not come together in the interest of rescuing the Lebanese people, God forbid, the ship will sink with everyone on it.”

Foreign donors have made it clear there will be no aid until Beirut enacts long-stalled reforms to tackle state waste and corruption, root causes of the collapse. Talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been put on hold amid a row over the scale of financial losses.

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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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