Lebanese president says Hariri must return, Uber loses employment appeal

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  • Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun told a Saudi official that the resignation of Saad Hariri, Lebanon’s prime minister, was unacceptable. Reuters, which cites unnamed sources, reports that Aoun told the Saudi envoy to Lebanon that Hariri must return to Beirut. Hariri abruptly resigned while in Riyadh on November 4 and other reports say that Lebanese officials believe he is being held there by the Saudi government.
  • A London employment tribunal dismissed an appeal by Uber against a ruling that its drivers should be given full employment rights. The U.S. tech company, which says its drivers consider themselves self-employed, intends to take the appeal to a higher court. The decision does not impact Uber’s ongoing appeal against Transport for London’s decision not to renew its operating licence, which was based on the company’s corporate governance standards.
  • The U.S. Justice Department announced that Russia Today, an international media outlet based in Moscow, must register as a “foreign agent,” a title of largely symbolic value, according to the Washington Post. President Vladimir Putin threatened retaliation against U.S. media outlets, including restricting social media access.
  • Eleven nations are trying to agree on the terms for a smaller Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement — one without the United States. President Donald. J Trump’s opposition to TPP was a key tenet of his 2016 campaign. Canada, one of the major countries involved in the deal, is holding up a final deal, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
    • Reuters reports that one reason for Canada’s reservations stem from the country’s current renegotiation for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), another trade deal involving Mexico and the U.S.


  • Saudi Arabia told its citizens in Lebanon to leave the country and not to travel there, according to state news agency SPA. Lebanon is at the center of regional tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran after the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, abruptly resigned on November 4 in a televised broadcast. From Riyadh. Hariri said he resigned in fear of assassination. However, Reuters cited two unnamed Lebanese government officials as saying Beirut believes Hariri is being “held” by the Saudi government. French President Emmanuel Macron made a dramatic intervention, flying unexpectedly to Riyadh in Thursday where he said he believed Hariri was not seeking asylum in France. Saudi Arabia has denied Hariri is being held under house arrest. According to the same Reuters report, Saudi Arabia says Hariri resigned because the Iranian-backed political party Hezbollah, which Hariri’s  Future Movement was in coalition with, had “hijacked” Lebanon’s political system.
  • Saudi authorities detained dozens more officials in a vast investigation characterized as a $100 billion corruption scandal that has already swept up scores of wealthy top princes and businessmen. The unprecedented purge also points to a consolidation of power by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and an unraveling of royal alliances, according to the Washington Post. Saudi Arabia’s attorney-general said the government was examining decades of systematic corruption and embezzlement.
  • Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen, who has effectively banned the opposition party, closed anti-government media and pushed out non-governmental organizations, told his supporters he didn’t believe next year’s national elections needed international recognition or monitoring, Reuters reported from Phnom Penh. Hun Sen, the world’s longest-serving leader after almost 33 years, has cracked down on the opposition after regional elections this year rocked his hold in power. Critics accuse him of trying to create a one-party state. A court will rule on November 16 whether to dissolve the opposition, the Cambodia National Rescue Party.
  • A woman accused the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Alabama of sexual misconduct with her when she was 14 years old and he was 32. The Washington Post first reported that Roy Moore, now 70, had approached Leigh Corfman when she was a teenager. The allegations prompted top Republicans to say Moore should step aside if they prove true. Moore denied the allegations, calling them “completely false and a desperate political attack” in a statement on Alabama.com. The allegations come as The New York Times reported that five women have accused popular comedian Louis CK of sexual misconduct and lewd behavior.

What we’re reading and watching

  • Investigative reporters at The Intercept obtained leaked files from the ambassador of the UAE to the U.S., which they say outline a large-scale plan to wage “economic warfare” on Qatar. The plan included using bond and derivatives manipulation to create a currency crisis that would drain Qatar’s cash reserves and cause it the humiliation of being unable to host the 2022 World Cup. Financiers and lawyers who act for UAE denied the claims. – Jack Barton
  • The Saudi Arabia story has been extraordinarily turbulent this week with an alleged anti-corruption purge against princes and billionaires, bellicose language against Iran and the plain weird resignation in Riyadh of Lebanon’s prime minister. Veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk explains in this analysis in The Independent why there is more to the Lebanon story than meets the eye, much more. – Peter Bale
  • After the fall of the Soviet Union, women’s soccer in Ukraine collapsed. Now there are about 200 professional players, mostly from deprived backgrounds. Their professional pay is so low that half of them quit the sport before they are 20 to find a job. This Guardian documentary chronicles one crucial year in the life of Alina Shilova, a young Ukrainian woman born and raised in the poor suburbs of Kiev, who is torn between playing football and looking after her family. — Charles Anderson
  • North Korea, one of the least Internet-friendly countries on Earth, is starting to expand online with texting, video conferencing and online banking, at least for the privileged classes. But there’s a hitch. Most of the activity is in service of the state. Still, a recent study reported by the New York Daily News, found the presence of online gaming, including a fan base for the game World of Tanks. — Jodie DeJonge

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