Coming Up This Week
The Democratic National Convention kicks off (virtually) tomorrow, and runs through Thursday.
The UN’s Special Tribunal for Lebanon is expected to announce its verdict on the assassination of former PM Hariri on Tuesday, after a delay. Four alleged Hezbollah members are being tried in absentia for the killing. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah says he’s not concerned about the verdict either way, and insists the four are innocent.
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Fawzia Koofi, one of very few women participating in peace negotiations in Afghanistan, was shot in the arm during an assassination attempt. The Taliban denied being behind the attack, although it has a pretty clear motive—Ms. Koofi has been an outspoken critic of it for years.
France asked Afghanistan not to free “several” of the Taliban prisoners up for release in this final batch of 400. The ones that France wants to stay incarcerated are accused of killing French citizens in Afghanistan.
According to government data published by ToloNews, the remaining 400 are bad dudes. They include 105 murders, 34 kidnappers, 51 drug smugglers, and various other assorted criminals. 80 were already released.
Russia started producing its new “Sputnik V” coronavirus vaccine at scale, but Newsweek says half the country’s medics it surveyed won’t accept it because it hasn’t undergone the proper clinical trials (it essentially only passed the first stage of trials).
Iran says its “approach to the UAE will change” after the UAE agreed to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel, and threatened to hold the UAE responsible for any deterioration in regional security that may arise as a result of the deal.
An LNA plane apparently struck a convoy of GNA “militants and mercenaries” making their way to Sirte on Wednesday, and the LNA also fired on a boat it said was carrying Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries bound for Libya. Pro-LNA media celebrated the incidents as a 1-2 punch to the GNA, but often when you hear reports like that it’s because the LNA is trying to drown news it doesn’t like.
Tesla supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology said it’s developing a new kind of EV battery that doesn’t use nickel or cobalt. Limited supplies and high prices of both nickel and cobalt have threatened to limit EV growth; a different type of battery without them could lower EV costs.
Young demonstrators are leading new protests against Thailand’s strict lèse-majesté laws, which prohibit criticism of the monarchy. Apparently former King Bhumibol Adulyadej was a benevolent leader who Thais felt deserved the respect those laws accorded him, but his son the current King Maha Vajiralongkorn has made some highly questionable decisions that truly merit ridicule—for example, he promoted his pet poodle Foo-Foo to the rank of Air Chief Marshall Foo-Foo and dressed him up in military attire for diplomatic galas. (The lèse-majesté laws are so extreme that I could go to Thai jail for 15 years for writing that, even though it’s true!).
The cargo ship that was leaking oil off the coast of Mauritius has split in two. Thousands of local volunteers have been trying to contain the oil spill, and Mauritians across the island even donated hair to cordon off the polluted area.
Here’s a very Australian story: an Australian surfer punched a great white shark to save his friend who the shark had bitten. The friend suffered leg wounds, but will be fine. The shark is probably recovering too.