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What We’re Watching: Lebanon’s lackluster port probe resumes, Kanye’s troubles Down Under, Rwanda-DRC tensions

A general view shows the damage at the site of the Aug. 2020 blast in Beirut's port area. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Damage at the site of the blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon. Photo taken August 5, 2020

REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo

Will Lebanese port blast victims ever get justice?

The long-stalled investigation into the July 2020 Beirut port blast that killed at least 218 people got very messy this week. After a 13-month hiatus, the investigation resumed with Judge Tarek Bitar charging three high-ranking officials – including former PM Hassan Diab – with homicide with probable intent. (The charges related to the unsafe storage at a port warehouse of hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate that ultimately exploded, decimating large parts of the city.) But then, the chief prosecutor (yes, the prosecutor!) announced on Wednesday that he was charging the judge for reopening the case. It’s unclear what the exact charges against him are, but Bitar, the second judge to oversee this investigation, has been subject to intimidation for pursuing the case. Meanwhile, the prosecutor also ordered 17 suspects in pre-trial custody to be released. Indeed, this is the latest sign that a culture of impunity plagues Lebanon. Meanwhile, as the elite continue to line their pockets, Lebanon’s economic situation remains catastrophic. Just this week, the US said it was rerouting aid funds to help cash-strapped Lebanon pay security personnel’s wages over fears that the security situation could spiral.

Will Ye get to “Meet the Parents”?

Kanye “Ye” West isn’t getting much love Down Under these days with a host of politicians and academics calling for the rapper to be denied entry into Australia after his recent antisemitic tirades. (Unless you live in a cave, you’ll remember that several leading brands ditched their partnerships with Ye after he said that he “like[s] Hitler” and repeated classic antisemitic tropes about rich Jews owning the media.) Ye, formerly married to Kimmy K, is hoping to visit Melbourne to meet the parents of his new wife, Bianca Censori, an Aussie designer at Yeezy, his LA-based fashion house. Australian politicians across the political aisle have called on Ye to be banned from the country, and at least one senior minister confirmed that denying the famous American a visa wasn’t out of the question. To ban or not to ban? That’s the question. Let us know what you think the Aussies should do.

DRC-Rwanda on the brink?

Tensions are once again rising between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. On Wednesday, Rwanda's military opened fire on a Congolese fighter jet that the Rwandans claim had violated their airspace. The DRC, of course, denied it and called the shooting "an act of war." The jet landed safely at Goma International Airport in the DRC, but the Rwandans say this was the third time this has happened in recent months. What's more, this latest incident comes just a week before Pope Francis is scheduled to make the first papal visit to the Congolese capital of Kinshasa since 1985. The main goal of his trip is to shine a spotlight on the bloodshed of the conflict in eastern DRC, one of the world's most resource-rich yet conflict-ridden regions. (It's also quite complicated, so if you're interested, read our explainer here.) Why should you care? This is the closest the DRC and Rwanda have come to all-out war in years — the last time Rwandan troops invaded, they sparked the Second Congo War, a regional mega-conflict involving nine countries that killed and displaced millions.


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