Reuters World News Summary

| Wed, 25 Jan 2023 23:54:39 GMT

Following is a summary of current world news briefs.

Beirut port blast justice postponed as renewed probe is rejected

Lebanon’s top public prosecutor on Wednesday charged the judge investigating the Beirut port blast and ordered the release of those detained in connection with the explosion, derailing an attempt to resume the probe into the devastating event. The moves by Ghassan Oweidat signal escalating opposition by Lebanon’s ruling establishment to efforts by Judge Tarek Bitar to reopen the probe into the Aug. 4, 2020, blast that killed more than 220 people.

Israel’s Netanyahu says contested judicial overhaul would strengthen economy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday remained steadfast in his stance that a plan by his new right-wing government to overhaul the judiciary, which has come under increasing criticism, would not harm the country’s economy. “In recent days, I have been hearing concerns regarding the impact of the judicial reform on our economic resilience. … The exact opposite is true,” Netanyahu said at a news conference with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich of the far-right Religious Zionism party.

Portuguese criticise Lisbon mayor over pricey altar for Pope

Lisbon’s mayor has been sharply criticised on Portuguese social media after it was revealed his office would spend over 5 million euros ($5.4 million) to build an altar for Pope Francis to celebrate a mass at this year’s World Youth Day. The Portuguese capital will host from Aug. 1-6 the international festival bringing together the Pope and hundreds of thousands of young Catholics from all over the world.

At least one dead, several injured in machete attack at southern Spain churches

Spanish authorities said they were investigating what they called a possible “terrorist” incident after a machete-wielding man attacked several people at two churches in the southern port city of Algeciras, killing at least one person. The man attacked clergymen at two different churches – San Isidro and Nuestra Senora de La Palma, around 300 metres (1,000 feet) apart – just after 8pm on Wednesday evening in downtown Algeciras, a spokesperson for the city said. A source at Madrid’s High Court said the incident was being investigated as terrorism.

Explainer-The Beirut port blast: Why has there been no accountability?

Lebanon’s top public prosecutor on Wednesday charged the judge investigating the 2020 Beirut port explosion that killed at least 220 people, stymieing his effort to hold members of the ruling elite accountable. Public prosecutor Ghassan Oweidat, who rejected Judge Tarek Bitar’s decision to resume the inquiry, also ordered the release of people detained in connection with the blast.

Iranian chess player who competed without hijab meets with Spanish PM

An Iranian chess player who defected to Spain after she competed without a hijab and was warned not to return to her country met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Madrid on Wednesday. Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, 25, better known as Sara Khadem, arrived in Spain in early January. She had taken part in the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships held in Kazakhstan’s Almaty in late December without a hijab – a headscarf mandatory under Iran’s strict Islamic dress codes.

Germany, U.S., to send battle tanks to help Ukraine fight off Russia

The United States and Germany announced plans to send Ukraine dozens of advanced battle tanks, hailed by Kyiv as a potential turning point in its fight to repel Russia’s invasion but denounced by Moscow as an “extremely dangerous” step. Saying Ukraine now has a “tank coalition,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy praised the commitments and urged allies to provide large quantities of tanks quickly. “The key now is speed and volumes. Speed in training our forces, speed in supplying tanks to Ukraine. The numbers in tank support,” he said in a nightly video address on Wednesday.

Blast kills at least 50 in north central Nigeria -officials

Dozens of cattle herders and bystanders were killed and several injured by a suspected bomb blast in Nigeria’s north central region, a state government official and spokesperson of the national cattle breeders said on Wednesday. The incident happened on Tuesday night between Nasarawa and Benue states in north central Nigeria.

Top U.N. officials seek to ‘water down’ bans on women in Afghanistan

The United Nations is pushing the Taliban administration in Afghanistan for more exemptions to its ban on most female aid workers, top U.N. officials said on Wednesday, while also expressing concern that foreign women working for international organizations and embassies could next be targeted. Speaking to Reuters during a visit to Kabul, U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths said that his message during meetings with Taliban officials had been: “If you can’t help us rescind the ban, give us the exemptions to allow women to operate.”

India police detain students gathered to watch BBC documentary on Modi

Students were detained by the Delhi police on Wednesday as they gathered to watch a recent BBC documentary about Prime Minister Narendra Modi that India has dismissed as propaganda and blocked its streaming and sharing on social media. This follows similar disruptions, some of which turned violent, at gatherings this week by students to watch the documentary that questions Modi’s leadership during deadly riots two decades ago, as his opponents raise questions of government censorship.

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