The staggering videos from the Lebanese capital are grimly familiar to Tommy Muska thousands of miles away in Texas: a towering blast, a thundering explosion and shock waves demolishing buildings with horrifying speed. It is what the mayor of West, Texas, lived seven years ago when one of the deadliest fertilizer plant explosions in U.S. history partly leveled his rural town. On Wednesday, Muska also couldn't shake a familiar feeling — that yet again, no lessons will be learned.
The State Department says Russia is using a well-developed online operation that includes a loose collection of proxy websites to stir up confusion around the coronavirus by amplifying conspiracy theories and misinformation. The disclosure on Wednesday was rare for the Trump administration, which has been cautious about blaming the Kremlin for disinformation campaigns, especially around the U.S. election. Despite evidence that Russia launched a divisive disinformation operation on social media during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the State Department’s report did not examine how — if at all — Russia is waging another online influence campaign in this year’s election.
Investigators probing the deadly blast that ripped across Beirut focused Wednesday on possible negligence in the storage of tons of a highly explosive fertilizer in a waterfront warehouse, while the government ordered the house arrest of several port officials. International aid flights began to arrive as Lebanon's leaders struggled to deal with the widespread damage and shocking aftermath of Tuesday's blast, which the Health Ministry said killed 135 people and injured about 5,000 others.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday continued to suggest that the massive explosion that killed at least 135 people in Lebanon might have been a deliberate attack, even as officials in Lebanon and his own defense chief said it's believed to have be an accident. "Whatever happened, it's terrible, but they don't really know what it is," Trump insisted. "Nobody knows yet."
As Lebanese rescuers counted the dead and combed rubble for signs of life a day after a huge explosion shattered swaths of Beirut, nations near and far pledged Wednesday that the country, already trapped in a deep economic crisis, would not be left alone. The explosion at the capital's port that killed at least 135 and injured thousands, with shock waves smashing deep into the city, stunned the world. From Australia to Indonesia to Europe and the United States, countries readied to send in aid and search teams.
Three men have been rescued from a tiny Pacific island after writing a giant SOS sign in the sand that was spotted from above, authorities say. The men had been missing in the Micronesia archipelago for nearly three days when their distress signal was spotted Sunday on uninhabited Pikelot Island by searchers on Australian and U.S. aircraft, the Australian defense department said Monday.
A massive explosion rocked Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the city's port, damaging buildings across the capital and sending a giant mushroom cloud into the sky. More than 70 people were killed and 3,000 injured, with bodies buried in the rubble, officials said. It was not clear what caused the blast, which struck with the force of a 3.5 magnitude earthquake, according to Germany’s geosciences center GFZ, and was heard and felt as far away as Cyprus more than 200 kilometers (180 miles) across the Mediterranean. Lebanon's interior minister said it appeared that a large cache of ammonium nitrate in the port had detonated.
U.N. experts say North Korea is flouting U.N. sanctions by expanding its nuclear arsenal and ballistic missile program and by exporting coal and illegally importing refined petroleum products in excess of its annual quota. The experts said in key sections of a report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press that North Korea has also evaded sanctions through "targeted" cyber attacks against officials of countries on the U.N. Security Council and on members of its expert panel. They did not elaborate or identify which of the 15 council nations were targeted.
Malaysian police raided the office of news broadcaster Al Jazeera and two local TV stations on Tuesday, seizing computers as part of an investigation into a documentary on undocumented migrants that enraged the government. Al Jazeera, a Qatari-state owned broadcaster, said in a statement that police seized two computers during the raid, which it called a "troubling escalation" in a government crackdown on media freedom.
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is scheduled to visit Taiwan in coming days in the highest-level visit by an American Cabinet official since the break in formal diplomatic relations between Washington and Taipei in 1979. The visit, and especially a planned meeting with Taiwan's president, will likely create new frictions between the U.S. and China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary. Taiwan is a key irritant in the troubled relationship between the world's two largest economies, who are also at odds over trade, technology, the South China Sea and China's response to the coronavirus pandemic.