Saturday's world stories

Aug 8, 2020 - World

Venezuelan court sentences 2 former Green Berets to 20 years in prison

Identification cards of people linked to the operation, including Airan Berry. Photo: Miraflores Presidential Palace/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A Venezuelan court on Friday sentenced two ex-U.S. special forces soldiers to 20 years in prison for their part in a failed operation to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, AP reports.

Why it matters: The case comes amid heightened tensions between Washington, D.C., and Caracas after the Trump administration last year publicly supported opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who has vowed to oust Maduro through a military uprising.

Aug 8, 2020 - World

Security forces and protesters clash in Beirut after devastating explosion

Protesters clashing with security forces in Beirut on Aug. 8. Photo: Joseph Eid/AFP via Getty Images

Lebanese security forces fired tear gas at protesters on Saturday who threw stones in Beirut over a massive explosion that devastated the city earlier this week, injuring roughly 6,000 people and leaving nearly 160 dead, AP reports.

Why it matters: Activists say political corruption and negligence are to blame for Tuesday's blast, caused by a store of ammonium nitrate left unsecured near the city's port for more than six years.

Aug 8, 2020 - World

What's next for Lebanon after the Beirut explosion

Photo: Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Beirut residents are still clearing rubble from streets that appear war-torn, days after a blast that shocked the country and horrified the world.

Why it matters: The explosion is likely to accelerate a painful cycle Lebanon was already living through — discontent, economic distress, and emigration.

Aug 8, 2020 - World

Trump and Macron talk over aid for Lebanon after massive blast

Photo: Ludovic Marin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump tweeted on Friday that he and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke over the phone to discuss sending immediate aid to Lebanon following a massive explosion in Beirut this week that killed more than 100 people and injured thousands.

What he's saying: "Had a lengthy discussion this morning with President Macron of France concerning numerous subjects, but in particular the catastrophic event which took place in Beirut, Lebanon..." Trump tweeted.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Aug 7, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump's swift, sweeping China offensive

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump's rhetoric on China has tended to run hotter than his actions — until now.

Why it matters: Even at the height of Trump's trade war, his administration never hit China as hard, as fast, and on as many fronts as it is right now.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Aug 7, 2020 - Economy & Business

There's little consensus on TikTok's specific national security threat

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

TikTok has become a Rorschach test for how U.S. politicians view China, with little consensus on the specifics of its threat to homeland security.

The big picture: Much of what D.C. fears about TikTok is fear itself, and that's reflected in President Trump's executive order to ban the app by Sept. 20 if it's not sold by parent company ByteDance — alongside another focused on Chinese messaging app WeChat and its parent company Tencent.

U.S. sanctions Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam

Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

The Treasury Department on Friday placed sanctions on Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, following months of tension as she has allowed continued overreach by Beijing to subvert Hong Kong's autonomy.

Why it matters: It's the toughest sanction yet imposed on China for its destruction of Hong Kong’s relatively free political system.

Trump's TikTok and WeChat actions ratchet up the pressure on China

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump escalated his campaign to claw apart the Chinese and American tech worlds Thursday evening, issuing executive orders that threaten to ban both TikTok and massive global messaging app WeChat.

The big picture: Trump's orders come against a backdrop of heightening tension with China, the steady unfolding of a hard "decoupling" between the world's two largest economies, and the Trump campaign's effort to wave a "tough on China" banner.

Aug 7, 2020 - Technology

TikTok responds to Trump executive order: "We are shocked"

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

TikTok said Friday that it was "shocked" by President Trump's executive order that will ban Americans from dealing with ByteDance, its China-based owner, in 45 days.

Why it matters: TikTok argued that Trump's move "risks undermining global businesses' trust in the United States' commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth."