World News Briefs — May 18, 2020

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WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will address the meeting. Photo: Reuters

SCMP: All eyes on China as World Health Organisation body meets on coronavirus response, Taiwan

* More than 100 countries reportedly support the push for an independent inquiry into Covid-19’s origins
* WHO decision makers must also decide whether to allow the island to be an observer at its gatherings

China will be in the spotlight at the World Health Organisation’s
(WHO) annual health forum, with major powers pushing for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic and for Taiwan to be granted a seat at the table.

The World Health Assembly (WHA), the WHO’s decision-making body, will meet online for a shortened agenda on Monday and Tuesday, when Beijing and Western countries – particularly the United States – are expected to debate responsibility for the pandemic.

Read more ….

MIDDLE EAST

Iran tankers sailing to Venezuela in effort to undermine US sanctions.

Iran warns U.S. of ‘firm response’ over interference against Venezuela-bound fuel tankers.

Iran Supreme Leader says Americans will be expelled from Iraq and Syria.

Israel’s outgoing defence minister says Iran starting to withdraw from Syria.

Yemen gov’t accuses Houthis of covering up coronavirus outbreak.

Amid ‘some calm’, U.N. envoy urges U.S., Russia push for Syria peace.

After 3 elections, Israel finally has a government.

Chinese troops tighten control in Galwan valley after India crosses border for fortification.

More than 100 million people in renewed lockdown in China after spike of new coronavirus cases. Coronavirus: Shulan goes into lockdown as fears grow over China’s northeast cluster .

Ghani, Abdullah sign Afghan power-sharing deal ending political turmoil.

Taliban talks in sight as Afghan political rivals end feud.

Afghan intelligence officials killed in Taliban car bombing.

Australia says China ignores calls to ease trade tension.

Japan just fell into recession, and much worse could be on the way.

India extends coronavirus lockdown by two weeks. India extends lockdown through May 31 as reported Covid-19 cases exceed China’s.

Hong Kong charges 15 activists for mass protests in 2019.

India evacuates thousands as cyclone Amphan set to hit east coast.

UN-backed Libyan forces take key airbase from rebel general.

Turkey demands new NATO intervention in Libya: “Haftar must be stopped”.

Nigerian army kills 20 Boko Haram insurgents in Borno.

Benin votes in controversial elections despite Covid-19 threat.

Burundi vote: Political campaigns end ahead of elections.

Lesotho PM Thabane says stepping down amid ex-wife’s murder probe.

Man accused of inciting Rwandan massacre finally arrested after 26 years.

France’s Macron and Germany’s Merkel to present joint initiative amid coronavirus crisis. Covid-19: France and Germany propose €500 billion EU recovery fund.

UK PM Johnson accepts public frustration with lockdown easing rules.

Coronavirus: Italy carefully reopens for business.

French hospitals see number of critical Covid-19 cases drop below 2,000.

Cafes and churches open in Italy and Greece; Spain eyes summer reboot.

70 percent of Spain emerges from lockdown amid large protests calling for govt to resign (VIDEOS).

Montenegro: Coronavirus ban feeds clash between state and Serbian Orthodox Church.

Federal Reserve Chair Powell says US faces severe downturn but not depression. Coronavirus: Fed chairman Powell warns downturn ‘may last until late 2021’.

As more Americans emerge from lockdown, virus vaccine potential lifts markets.

Barr doesn’t expect Obama, Biden criminal investigations.

US Democrats launch probe of President Donald Trump’s firing of State Department watchdog.

Brazil surpasses Italy, Spain as coronavirus cases surge in Latin America. Coronavirus deaths, cases surge in Brazil as other nations stabilize.

Coronavirus: Hospitals in Brazil’s São Paulo ‘near collapse’.

Mexico at ‘peak moment’ of coronavirus crisis after biggest daily rise in cases.

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes, killing one, during coronavirus morale-boosting flyover.

TERRORISM/THE LONG WAR

FBI finds al Qaeda link after breaking encryption on Pensacola attacker’s iPhone. NAS Pensacola shooter had prior contact with Al Qaeda, FBI says, after finally accessing gunman’s phones.

AFRICOM: ‘No pause’ in fighting Al-Shabaab despite 5-week halt in Somalia airstrikes.

Norway’s top military official in Iraq says virus helps ISIS.

ECONOMY/FINANCE/BUSINESS

U.S. mulls paying companies, tax breaks to pull supply chains from China.

A huge fleet of 117 tankers is bringing super cheap crude to China.

Back to work. Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler restart US factories.

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