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Friday 7th August 2020.

Starting in Asia today... In Lebanon rescue operations continue, 3 days after a huge explosion in the port of Beirut. Experts have called it one of the largest explosions in history. 157 people are now known to have died, although this number is expected to rise, as many people remain missing. It has been confirmed that the explosion was caused by the chemical ammonium nitrate, which had been in the port for 6 years. Hundreds of thousands of people have had to leave their homes because of the damage. Many governments have promised to help Lebanon, including the United Kingdom - foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that he had spoken to Lebanese Prime Minister Hasaan Diab...

“I've just spoken to the Lebanese prime minister Hassan Diab. We are going to stand by the Lebanese people in their time of need. We’re going to provide immediate response and aid package, an assistance package, search and rescue humanitarian assistance, up to 5 million pounds, as well as expert medical support. And what’s crucial at this time is that our support is tailored to the very specific needs that I've just talked through with the Lebanese Prime Minister.”

The Lebanese government has begun an investigation into the cause of the explosion, however French president Emmanuel Macron has asked for an independent investigation. Speaking yesterday in Beirut, Macron also said that an international conference for aid would be held in the next few days, in order to give help directly to the Lebanese people. Lebanon also recorded its highest daily rise in coronavirus infections yesterday - with 255 confirmed.

In China a Canadian citizen has been sentenced to death for producing drugs. Xu Weihong was found guilty of making Ketamine - an anesthetic. Last year two other Canadians, Robert Schellenberg and Fan Wei, were also sentenced to death for drug charges in China.

In South Korea flooding has killed at least 15 people during the last week. More people are missing. Mudslides have also been reported and many people have been evacuated.

Facebook has said that it has been deleting posts related to the sale of wildlife. Wildlife items have been found to be sold on Facebook in Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. Facebook is banned in China.

Europe

Greece has started voluntary repatriation flights of refugees. Yesterday 134 Iraqis chose to return to Iraq. The scheme, funded by the European Union, offers volunteers €2000 euros to return home.

Germany has charged 3 former directors of car-marker Audi. The former Audi staff are accused of fraud and criminal advertising. In 2015 Audi’s parent company Volkswagen admitted to cheating emission tests on 11 million vehicles.

Americas In the United States, presidential candidate Joe Biden has released a new advert, aimed specifically at African Americans... “The story of black America is the story of America. Its the story of a people who have pushed this country to live up to it’s stated ideals. For black people have always believed in the promise of a better America...” In 2016 the percentage of black people who voted fell by 7% compared to 2012. When Barack Obama was a candidate, a higher percentage of black people voted than white people, for the first time ever. Most polls show that Biden will beat Donald Trump in this year’s presidential election.

Colombia’s former president Alvaro Uribe has tested positive for COVID19. Alvaro was placed under house arrest earlier this week, during investigations of bribery and fraud.

Brazil has cut its interest rates to 2% - the lowest in Brazil’s history. Brazil is expecting a 6% recession this year, after developing the second highest number of coronavirus cases in the world. 2.8 million infections have now been recorded in Brazil and around 50,000 new cases are reported every day.

Africa

Mauritania has a new Prime Minister. Mohamel Ould Bilal was appointed by president Mohamed Ghazouani. The previous government resigned after corruption investigations began.

A South African animal rights group is starting legal action against a Kuwaiti shipping company. The South African NSPCA - National Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals - say that transporting live sheep across the equator during the summer is extreme cruelty. The NSPCA described the journey as being ‘cooked alive’. Australia has already banned the export of live sheep to the Middle East during the Northern Hemisphere’s Summer.

And in Somalia, an eight year old girl has become one of the internet’s most viewed stars. Muwado Abshir from Mogadishu has received millions of views on her TikTok and Youtube channels. She creates videos with her older brother, and she says that “people look better when they are happy and laughing”.

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