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August 9, 2020

In Belarus, protesters took to the streets of Minsk on Sunday night after a government exit poll predicted the authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko will win a sixth term, with 80 percent of the vote.

Witnesses said riot police fired stun grenades, rubber bullets, and water cannons at the demonstrators in order to break up the crowd, BBC News reports. Lukashenko, 65, has been in power since 1994, and is often referred to as "Europe's last dictator." Leading up to the election, the government cracked down on journalists and activists, and officials blocked two challengers from appearing on the ballot and arrested another.

Opposition leaders said they expected the vote to be rigged, and observers were not allowed to monitor the election. The exit poll gives Lukashenko's primary challenger, former teacher Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, seven percent of the vote, but she said during a press conference that she believes "my eyes, and I see that the majority is with us." Catherine Garcia

October 10, 2019

Following six hours of Turkish airstrikes Wednesday on five towns in northeastern Syria, Turkish ground troops made their way across the border, accompanied by Syrian rebels.

A Syrian activist group told The New York Times that at least seven people have been killed. Turkey launched its attack against the Kurdish fighters who control the region just a few days after President Trump abruptly announced that he would pull back U.S. troops from the area, allowing the operation to take place. Despite agreeing to move U.S. troops and paving the way for Turkey to attack, Trump on Wednesday said such an assault was "a bad idea."

The U.S. and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are allies, and there has been bipartisan condemnation of Trump's decision; Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), typically one of Trump's biggest defenders, said the president "shamelessly abandoned" America's allies. The Kurds were instrumental in ridding Syria of the Islamic State. Experts warn that the Turkish operation makes it easier for ISIS to re-emerge in their former northeastern Syria stronghold.

Turkey's authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, considers the Syrian Democratic Forces a terrorist organization. Two U.S. military officials told the Times that the U.S. is not offering support to either side, but recently gave Turkey intelligence gathered from a reconnaissance aircraft. Catherine Garcia

August 7, 2019

After the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Pedro Pierluisi should not have been sworn in as governor on August 2 and needed to resign, Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez stepped into the role, becoming the island's third governor in one week.

The Supreme Court unanimously decided that Pierluisi's swearing in was unconstitutional, because former Gov. Ricardo Rosselló did not have the authority to name him as his successor. Rosselló announced last month he would resign on August 2, following public outrage over leaked group chats that showed Rosselló and his aides making misogynistic and homophobic comments. Under Puerto Rico's constitution, the secretary of state replaces the governor should they step down, but the role was vacant before Rosselló appointed Pierluisi, as former secretary of state Luis Rivera Marín resigned due to his involvement in the chat scandal.

As justice secretary, Vázquez was next in the line of succession. Earlier this month, she said she did not want to become governor, but on Wednesday declared she will serve Puerto Rico "with the greatest respect and determination." Catherine Garcia

June 25, 2019

The House passed a $4.5 billion bill Tuesday night to aid migrants, with a vote of 230-195.

Last week, lawyers reported on the "deplorable" conditions at a Border Patrol facility in Texas housing migrant kids, and before the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) likened the situation to "child abuse," adding that supporting the bill was "a vote against the cruel attitude toward children of this administration."

Democrats came into the vote divided on whether to support the bill, worried that they would actually be helping President Trump and his aggressive immigration policies; Pelosi reassured them this would only provide humanitarian aid, Politico reports. Before the vote, several changes were made to the bill, lawmakers and aides told Politico, including making it so no child can be in a shelter for more than 90 days, ensuring that private detention centers meet certain standards within six months, and providing migrants translation services.

The Senate is expected to vote on its own bill this week, but it's unclear if Trump will sign anything that doesn't include changes to asylum law. Catherine Garcia

June 11, 2019

The streets of Hong Kong were once again filled with tens of thousands of protesters on Wednesday, as they demonstrated against a controversial bill that would allow the extradition of people arrested in Hong Kong to mainland China.

The protesters jammed Lung Wo Road, near the offices of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, and put up barricades so drivers couldn't get to the financial center. There are hundreds of riot police on the scene, and they have been using pepper spray and water cannons to push some of the demonstrators back, The New York Times reports.

Hong Kong's legislature had planned on debating the bill on Wednesday, but postponed the action after throngs of protesters surrounded the council's complex. Multiple groups are united against the bill, including students, teachers, and business leaders who worry about the creeping influence of Beijing. After decades of British rule, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, with the understanding there would be "one country, two systems." Hong Kong has its own independent justice system, while China's courts are controlled by the Communist Party. Catherine Garcia

April 7, 2019

President Trump announced on Twitter Sunday evening that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has resigned.

In a separate tweet, Trump said Kevin McAleenan, the current commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, will serve as acting DHS secretary. About an hour later, Nielsen confirmed the news in a tweet of her own, saying she submitted her resignation to Trump on Sunday afternoon and felt it was the "honor of a lifetime to serve with the brave men and women" of the department.

Nielsen stepped into the role in December 2017, and has become the public face of the Trump administration's immigration policies, including separating undocumented migrant children from their families. Catherine Garcia

May 29, 2018

On Tuesday morning, 25 mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, with most intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile defense system.

Sirens went off at least twice warning people to take caution, and The Jerusalem Post says one of the mortars that made it to the ground landed at a kindergarten; no students were there at the time. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip told the Post that almost immediately, the Israeli Air Force and Israeli Defense Forces artillery units retaliated by targeting Hamas positions. No injuries have been reported.

Tensions are high in the region, and at least 116 Palestinians have been killed over the last few weeks during protests along the border. Israel says that Hamas is inciting violence, a charge leaders have denied. Catherine Garcia

May 9, 2018

Just after midnight Thursday, Iranian forces in Syria fired roughly 20 rockets or projectiles at the Israeli army in Golan Heights, Israeli Defense Forces said.

A spokesman told reporters that most of the rockets were intercepted by Israeli defenses, and there was minimal damage done. Iran is backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in his country's civil war, and Israel has warned Tehran not to establish a permanent military presence in Syria.

On Tuesday, the Israeli military said it spotted "irregular activity" by Iranian forces in Syria, and authorities in the Golan Heights were told to prepare bomb shelters and mobilize some reservist forces. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967, a move not recognized by the international community. Catherine Garcia

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