US children ‘trained for school shooting’, and Syrian refugees find a friend in science.
Hamas militants hit Israel with rockets, Israel conducts airstrikes
Violence between Palestinians and Israelis led to at least three deaths in Gaza as the two sides traded fire over 24 hours beginning Wednesday night, The Guardian reported. While Hamas militants are alleged to have launched around 180 rockets and mortars into Israel, the latter reportedly conducted 150 airstrikes.
Tensions between Palestinians in Gaza, a narrow strip along the Mediterranean under a severe Israel- and Egypt-led blockade, and Israel have come to a head in recent past amid protests by Gazans.
While Israel has been called out for its actions on the border during the current standoff — shootings that have claimed more than 150 lives — Palestinians have been deploying ‘flaming kites’ to burn farmlands on Israeli soil.
United Nations envoy for the Middle East expressed concern over the escalation of violence and called for collective containment of the situation.
UN Envoy @nmladenov deeply alarmed by escalation of violence btw #Gaza & #Israel. "Our collective efforts ve prevented the situation from exploding until now. If current escalation isn't contained immediately, situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences 4 all" pic.twitter.com/nzfQ7DjixG
— UNSCO (@UNSCO_MEPP) August 8, 2018
The American envoy to the Middle East, Jason Greenbalt, blamed Hamas for the violence.
Children were possibly being trained for school shootings in US
An investigation into the discovery of emaciated children at a compound in New Mexico, US, has revealed that they were being trained to commit school shootings, CNN reported.
The discovery was the result of an investigation into the abduction of a young boy in Georgia. Although the boy — Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj — wasn’t found in the compound, the 11 starving children were. Two men and three women present at the compound were arrested, the report added.
Interestingly, the father of the missing boy was one of the two men arrested from the compound, CNN reported.
Investigators are said to have found an AR-15 rifle, loaded 30-round magazines, four loaded pistols and many rounds of ammunition at the site.
Canada PM suggests no apology for miffed Saudis
Diplomatic relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia have deteriorated further since 3 August, when Riyadh suspended diplomatic relations and halted new trade ties with Ottawa over its criticism of the arrest of rights activists, News.com.au reported.
Asked whether Canada would consider apologising to Saudi Arabia, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said, “Canadians have always expected our government to speak strongly, firmly, clearly and politely about the need to respect human rights at home and around the world. We will continue to do that.” However, the Saudi foreign minister told reporters that Canada needed “to fix its mistake”.
The Saudi response, experts said, speaks volumes about the kingdom’s modified foreign policy under Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud. Analysts say Salman was using the episode to send a message that it did not want criticism from the world, especially on its human rights records.
Cannabis is replacing wheat on Lebanese farms
Lebanon, where the legalisation of marijuana is under parliamentary consideration, is swiftly becoming a centre of cannabis farming owing to global warming, CNN reports.
Known as the breadbasket of West Asia, Lebanon is turning towards cannabis farming as the crop is drought-resistant and can be grown in semi-arid conditions.
Policymakers in Lebanon believe that legalisation will enable the economy to grow at a better pace with rising exports. It is also expected to boost the agricultural sector, and stoke the creation of an $800 million cannabis industry in Lebanon.
Science helps Syrian refugee teens beat dark memories of lost home
A robotics team based out of Lebanon, called the ‘Hope of Syria’ and comprising eight Syrian teenage refugees, has been achieving big feats, including participating in the Vex Worlds international robotics competition and winning the judges’ award in 2016, reports The Guardian.
The team is among the students receiving education through a charity, Multi Aid Programs (MAPS), which is a grassroots network of nine schools in Lebanon imparting education to around 3,500 Syrian refugees. The charity is run by a Syrian neurosurgeon, Dr Fadi al-Halabi. The report highlights that out of the 15 lakh Syrian refugees in Lebanon, 3 lakh refugee children might be out of school.
In the report, Weeam Salem, 17, one of the members of the team, is quoted as recalling traumatic memories of her escape from Syria. She said she hoped to go back to Syria one day and help people out there. “I am a refugee and, still, I can accomplish this. I can do it,” she was quoted as saying.
Hollywood’s Walk of Fame: A not-so-starry story
Film critic Pamela Hutchinson looks back at the “troubled history” of the Hollywood Walk of Fame in an opinion piece for The Guardian. The column follows the Hollywood City Council’s decision to strip the walk of US President Donald Trump’s star in view of its repeated vandalism on account of his deep unpopularity.
Hutchinson points out that the stars of several actors and politicians have raised concerns of validity and worth. “The Walk of Fame is both wildly inconsistent (Henry and Peter Fonda, but not Jane; no Madonna or Prince) and predictably biased,” she writes.
Contributed by Sankalita Dey, Avishek Jha and Aastha Singh.