LEBANON

Currency plummets, price of bread rises

Protesters closed several major roads in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Tuesday amid rising anger as the currency hit a new low on the black market, power cuts increased and the government raised the price of bread for the first time in more than a decade.

Reflecting the deteriorating conditions in Lebanon and sharp increase in food prices, the army has stopped offering meat in meals given to soldiers while on duty, the state-run National News Agency reported.

Lebanon is going through an unprecedented economic meltdown in which the local currency has lost more than 80 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar in recent months amid soaring prices and public unrest.

The government has asked the International Monetary Fund for a bailout after defaulting on its sovereign debt, but the talks appear to be faltering.

As prices increased over the past weeks, people have been rushing to supermarkets and groceries to buy goods. On Tuesday afternoon, one of the largest retailers in the country closed its stores in Beirut.

On the black market, the dollar moved closer to 9,000 pounds, marking another blow to many Lebanese, who have seen their purchasing power crash over the past months.

— Associated Press

SUDAN

Protesters hit streets again, push for reforms

Sudanese protesters returned to the streets to pressure their nation’s transitional authorities, demanding justice for those killed in the uprising last year that led to the military’s ouster of longtime autocrat Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

As the rallies got underway, police used tear gas to disperse those marching on a road leading to the airport in the capital, Khartoum. One protester reportedly was shot in the chest and later died at a hospital.

The “million-man march” was called by the Sudanese Professionals Association and the resistance committees, which were instrumental in the protests against Bashir and the generals who took over power for months after his removal.

Security forces closed off major roads and streets leading to government and military headquarters in Khartoum ahead of the protests.

The rallies were the first major demonstrations since protests last year — three months after Bashir’s ouster — when hundreds of thousands took to the streets in the country to pressure the then-ruling military council to hand over power to a civilian government.

— Associated Press

Iran sentences journalist active in 2017 protests to death: Iran sentenced a once-exiled journalist to death over online work that helped inspire nationwide economic protests at the end of 2017, authorities said. Ruhollah Zam's website, AmadNews, and a channel he created on the popular messaging app Telegram had disseminated the timings of the protests and embarrassing information about officials that directly challenged Iran's Shiite theocracy. Those demonstrations represented the biggest challenge to Iran since the 2009 Green Movement protests and set the stage for similar unrest in November. The details of Zam's arrest were unclear. Though he was based in Paris, Zam somehow returned to Iran and found himself detained. He is the son of a reformist Shiite cleric who once served in a government policy position in the early 1980s.

Philippine broadcaster's digital TV, satellite services halted: The Philippines's top broadcaster, ABS-CBN, was ordered to stop transmitting satellite and digital television, just weeks after its free TV and radio operations were halted. The broadcaster had been at odds with President Rodrigo Duterte since his election campaign in 2016, and its main license was not renewed when it expired in May. The National Telecommunications Commission instructed Sky Cable, an ABS-CBN subsidiary and the largest cable company in the country, to "immediately cease and desist" its direct-to-home satellite transmission. NTC also directed the broadcaster to stop airing digital television.

Vatican prosecutors seize data from St. Peter's Basilica: Vatican prosecutors have ordered the seizure of documents and computers from the administrative offices of St. Peter's Basilica in an apparent new investigation into financial irregularities in the Holy See. The Vatican said Pope Francis also named a special commissioner to run the basilica, reorganize its offices, update its statutes to comply with new Vatican norms on procurement and contracting, and to "clarify its administration." The Vatican said both decisions stemmed from a report from the Vatican's auditor general. The Vatican provided no details about what the auditor flagged or the specific problems the special commissioner has been tasked with fixing.

— From news services