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The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

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Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

USA | Joe Biden picks Kamala Harris as his running mate

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(CNN) -- Joe Biden has named Kamala Harris as his running mate, making the California senator the first Black and South Asian American woman to run on a major political party's presidential ticket.
"I've decided that Kamala Harris is the best person to help me take this fight to Donald Trump and Mike Pence and then to lead this nation starting in January 2021," the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee wrote in an email Tuesday.
In selecting Harris, Biden adds a former primary rival who centered her own presidential bid on her readiness to take on Donald Trump and show Americans she would fight for them. She rose to national prominence within the Democratic Party by interrogating Trump nominees during Senate hearings, from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Harris' selection comes months after Biden committed to picking a woman to join him on the Democratic ticket. 
Harris, 55, is now the third woman to serve as…

Biélorussie | Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa, la principale rivale du président, a fui le pays et s'est réfugiée en Lituanie

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Click here to Google translate the following article into your own language Après le scrutin dimanche, elle avait enjoint le régime à "céder le pouvoir", contestant les résultats officiels donnant Alexandre Loukachenko vainqueur avec 80,08% des voix et ne lui en accordant que 10%. L'opposante Svetlana Tikhanovskaïa, rivale à la présidentielle de l'autoritaire président biélorusse, a fui en Lituanie mardi 11 août, après une deuxième nuit de protestations contre le pouvoir violemment réprimées et ayant fait un mort.
Le ministre lituanien des Affaires étrangères, Linas Linkevicius, a indiqué qu'elle était "en sécurité" dans son pays, voisin de la Biélorussie.
Lundi soir, son équipe avait indiqué que l'opposante était injoignable et introuvable depuis son départ de la Commission électorale, où elle avait été retenue durant des heures, alors qu'elle était venue déposer une plainte pour fraude électorale.
Elle conteste les résultats de l'élection…

Islamic State's ‘Beatles’ could finally face justice for alleged role in beheading Americans

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Six years ago this month, the Islamic State (IS) published its first video in what would become the prevailing image of the war: a jumpsuit-clad hostage kneeling before a knife-wielding executioner. For the parents of slain Americans James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller, justice has remained elusive.
But two of the families told Al-Monitor they were given fresh hope after a phone call with Attorney General William Barr on Aug. 6. Barr told them federal prosecutors will take the death penalty off the table as a potential sentence for two men alleged to have tortured and killed foreign hostages. News of the call was first reported by NBC News.
This decision would make it possible for the United Kingdom, the suspects’ home country, to share evidence that could be key to putting El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey behind bars in the United States. If the British government doesn't provide its evidence within six weeks, Barr told the families that Kotey and El…

USA | Feds push off appeal of ruling that threw out death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

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Federal prosecutors said Monday they need another month to decide whether to ask an appeals court to reconsider its decision to throw out the death sentence against Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
RELATED Boston Marathon Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Death Sentence Overturned By Federal Appeals Court
The Justice Department has asked the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to give prosecutors until Sept. 14 to file a petition asking the full court to hear the case. The current deadline to file a petition expires Friday.
“The process of determining whether to seek further review takes time, particularly in a case of this magnitude, because it requires input from various components within the Department of Justice. Additional time is needed to make the decision in this case,” DOJ attorney William Glaser wrote in a court filing.
The solicitor general will decide on the extension, according to Glaser. Tsarnaev’s lawyers did not object, according to the filing.
Prosecutors could be b…

Nigerian sharia court sentences singer to death for blasphemy

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An Islamic court in northern Nigeria on Monday sentenced a singer to death for blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed, judicial officials said. An Upper Islamic Sharia court in the city of Kano ordered 22-year-old Yahaya Aminu Sharif to die by hanging for derogatory expressions against the Prophet in one of his songs, spokesman for the Kano region justice ministry, Baba-Jibo Ibrahim, told AFP.
Sharia courts in majority Muslim northern Nigeria have handed down death sentences for adultery, murder and homosexuality before but to date no executions have been carried out.
"The court handed down the death sentence as enshrined in Islamic laws based on irrefutable evidence and the convict's admission of guilt," Ibrahim said.
Sharif was accused of blaspheming the Prophet in a song he shared on social media in March, which caused riots in the city.
Mobs burnt the singer's family home and took to the streets demanding his prosecution, leading to his arrest.
Ibrahim said Shar…

California executions on hold, but coronavirus killing San Quentin inmates

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In June, on death row at San Quentin State Prison, 58-year-old Jarvis Masters heard a rumor that the coronavirus was ripping through the aging structure. Condemned prisoners are confined to their cells for 23 hours a day, so Masters tracked the outbreak by watching news reports on his small personal TV.
He watched as 100 cases swelled to 300 in 2 days, then 1,000. Then he started to cough. Masters soon felt like he couldn’t breathe.
Over the next 2 weeks, as calls of “man down!” rang out every few hours, several of his neighbors disappeared and didn’t come back. Staff pulled them from their cells, leaving their TV sets on to drone.
“It’s like a crime scene,” said Masters, who has been on death row since 1990.
Less than 2 years ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom halted executions of condemned prisoners, saying the death penalty system is prone to error and is a “failure.” California has faced challenges to its lethal injection protocol and has not executed a prisoner since 2006.
Now the virus has…

Malaysia | Iranian escapes gallows, gets 20 years’ jail for possession of drugs

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An Iranian escaped the gallows when his charge of trafficking in methamphetamine was changed to possession of drugs today, leading to him being sentenced to 20 years’ jail and 10 strokes of the rotan.
A Court of Appeal three-member bench comprising Justices Datuk Yaacob Md Sam, P. Ravinthran and Datuk Nordin Hassan set aside Baladastian Hamid Mohammadebrahim’s conviction and death sentence for the 1st charge of trafficking in 1,146.9 grammes of methamphetamine.
The bench substituted Baladastian’s charge to one of possession.
Baladastian, 45, was ordered by the court to serve the jail term from September 14, 2014, the day he was arrested.
“We are of the view that the offence of possession has been proved by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt,” he said, adding that Baladastian’s conviction for trafficking was unsafe to be maintained.
The court, however, allowed Baladastian’s appeal for an acquittal and a discharge for the second and third charges of trafficking in 5,068.1 grammes …

Opposition in Belarus refuses to recognise official election win by Lukashenko

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MINSK (Reuters) - Belarusian opposition politician Svetlana Tikhanouskaya said on Monday she refused to recognise official results that showed incumbent Alexander Lukashenko had won a landslide re-election victory.
Preliminary official results earlier on Monday showed that Lukashenko had won 80% of the vote in Sunday’s election. 
Tikhanouskaya, a former English teacher who emerged from obscurity to become his main rival, won 9.9% of the vote, the data showed.
Tikhanouskaya told reporters in Minsk she considered herself the election winner not Lukashenko. 
She said the election had been massively rigged.
RELATED The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus
RELATED Belarus election: Clashes after poll predicts Lukashenko re-election
Her aides said the opposition wanted a vote recount at polling stations where there were problems.
They also said the opposition wanted to hold talks with authoritie…