UN pleads for end to Yemen blockade, Hariri due to fly to France

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  • Three UN agency heads issued an urgent appeal on Thursday for the Saudi-led military coalition to lift its humanitarian blockade on Yemen. The World Food Program, UNICEF and the World Health Organization said in a joint statement that “untold thousands of innocent victims, among them many children, will die” without lifesaving supplies in “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.” The Saudi-led coalition recently-closed air, sea and land ports to Yemen in what it said was an attempt to stop weapons flows from Iran.
  • Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri is expected to fly to France from Saudi Arabia within 48 hours, a source close to Hariri told Reuters on Thursday. Hariri unexpectedly resigned his position in a televized address from Riyadh on November 4, sending shockwaves throughout the region (see our coverage). Lebanese politicians have accused Saudi Arabic of detaining Hariri. The office of France’s President Emmanuel Macron – who visited Lebanon amidst the crisis – later extended an invitation for Hariri to come to France, according to The Associated Press.
  • U.S. Senator Al Franken called for a Senate Ethics Committee hearing into himself after he was accused of touching a woman’s breasts while she slept and forcing a kiss on her in 2006. Franken was still a comedian at the time; the two were preparing to perform before U.S. troops in the Middle East.
    • The news comes as two more women are accusing U.S. senate candidate Roy Moore of pursuing them as teenagers at an Alabama shopping mall in the 1970s. The Washington Post, which detailed the encounters in an investigation, reports the Republican, then in his thirties, had a reputation for making unwanted advances to girls. A statement by Moore’s campaign, incorporated into the Washington Post article, reads as follows: “If you are a liberal and hate Judge Moore, apparently he groped you. […] If you are a conservative and love Judge Moore, you know these allegations are a political farce.”
  • Cambodia’s top court ruled to dissolve the government’s main opposition party. The move against the Cambodia National Rescue Party is the latest by Prime Minister Hun Sen to rid the country of dissenting voices before next year’s national election. Party leader Kem Sokha was charged with treason in September; more than half of the party’s lawmakers fled the country in the ensuing weeks in response to a crackdown also has targeted the independent media and NGOs. Full WikiTribune story here.
  • China’s top cyber authority rejected a report that ranked it last out of 65 countries for press freedom. Ren Xianliang, vice minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), said the internet must be “orderly” as well as “fully free,” and invited Europe and the U.S. to join it in addressing fake news. Ren did not elaborate.
    • U.S. NGO Freedom House released an annual report on Tuesday ranking China last for the third year in a row. The report criticized China for being the world’s “worst abuser of internet freedom.”
  • The United States House of Representatives voted on its version of tax reform Thursday afternoon. The vote on The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will most likely be the first of several, since the U.S. Senate has yet to put its version of the bill up for a vote. During debate, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi encouraged the house to go back to the drawing board and create a bipartisan bill. Speaker Ryan said that under the house plan, those struggling the most will get the most relief. The final vote was 227 in favor, 205 opposed.
  • China and Russia formally support a “dual suspension” approach to the North Korean missile crisis. The concept is that the U.S. and South Korea militaries discontinue joint exercises near the Korean Peninsula, and North Korea halts its nuclear program.

What we’re reading

  • Big game hunters will once again be allowed to import the heads of African elephants killed in Zambia and Zimbabwe to the United States. As reported by The Hill, an influential U.S. political website, the Trump administration has dropped the ban President Barack Obama put in place on such trophies, saying such hunts “will enhance the survival of the species in the wild.” ABC News reports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service supported the change. — Jodie DeJonge

What the WikiTribune community’s up to

  • WikiTribune member Dan Marsh sums up the reporting from the auction of the most expensive artwork ever. Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi sold for US$450 million, but some dispute whether it is really the work of the Italian master.

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