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BLACKWATER USA | DAILY BRIEF


Beirut

  • Saturday’s protests in Beirut got bad: protesters stormed three government ministries, and PM Diab called for early elections. Some locals point out that this is probably the most united Lebanon’s fractured society has ever been (their unity happens to be against the government): “if there is ever a turning point for Lebanon, this is it.”

Afghanistan

  • U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said he expects the remaining 400 Taliban prisoners discussed at last week’s loya jirga to be released in the next few days.

  • A roadside bomb killed eight civilians in Kandahar, and a magnetic bomb killed at least two at a market in Kabul. The Taliban did not claim either, and probably wants to remain quiet while a prisoner release and peace talks are imminent.

Pakistan

  • A motorbike bomb targeting an Anti-Narcotics Force vehicle killed at least six people in Chaman, Pakistan.

China

  • Hong Kong police arrested Jimmy Lai, a pro-democracy media tycoon, for allegedly colluding with “foreign powers” to propagate democratic messaging—which is apparently illegal under the new national security laws.

  • China said it would sanction 11 U.S. citizens “who behaved badly on Hong Kong-related issues”—including Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio—in retaliation for U.S. sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials announced Friday.

India

  • India announced it will gradually impose a ban on imports of select military kit, including assault rifles, transport aircraft, and light combat helicopters, in order to improve self reliance in weapons production. India doesn’t currently have a strong weapons manufacturing sector, so the ban will be phased in through 2024 while capacity develops.

COVID

  • For anyone who wants to look fly but not get coronavirus, an Israeli designer has created a $1.5 million 18-karat white gold face mask adorned with 3,600 white and black diamonds and N99 filters. Apparently the U.S.-based Chinese buyer who commissioned it had two demands: it must be ready by the end of 2020 (presumably because he expects vaccines to come out after that and can certainly afford to be among the first to get a dose that would render a face mask obsolete), and it must be the most expensive in the world. Classy.

  • The U.S. hit five million coronavirus cases, per the count by Johns Hopkins. That means U.S. cases doubled in the last six weeks. The Midwest looks like it will be the next big region affected.

  • That said, the death rate has dropped quite a bit due to expanded testing and improved patient care. Among those diagnosed in California between June 1st and August 3rd, 1.2% died—vs. 3.6% of those diagnosed from March to May.

Other News

  • Pres. Lukashenko “won” Belarus’s election yesterday, according to a government-sponsored exit poll that showed him with 80% of the vote. Opposition supporters protested in force, and a police truck rammed into some of them who were blocking a major avenue in Minsk.

  • Gunmen on motorbikes killed six French aid workers and their two local guides at a giraffe park near Kouré, Niger (around 50 km / 31 mi from Niamey). French and Nigerien troops are searching for the killers. No group has claimed the attack yet.

  • Mt. Sinabung erupted on Sumatra Island in Indonesia for the first time in 400 years. There were no reports of deaths or injuries, as locals had been on alert because of recent minor eruptions.

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