U.S. President Donald Trump warned Iran Saturday that America has targeted 52 Iranian sites and Iran will be hit "very fast and very hard" if it attacks any American or U.S. assets.
"We have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level and important to Iran and the Iranian culture," Trump tweeted on Saturday evening.
Trump's threat came after a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad International Airport on Friday killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps Quds Force, sparking outrage and vows to revenge from Tehran.
Earlier Saturday, the White House reportedly formally notified Congress of the U.S. operation that killed Soleimani.
Major cities in America, including Washington, New York and Los Angeles, are on alert after the deadly incident while local authorities said there is no credible or specific threats toward the cities.
Meanwhile, anti-war protests took place across the United States on Saturday.
"For all who believe in peace, for all who are opposed to yet another catastrophic war, now is the time to take action," a coalition known as ANSWER, for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, which organized the events, said in a statement.
The death toll from the collapse of a building under construction in Cambodia surged to 36 on Sunday, even as an additional survivor was pulled from rubble, officials said.
At least a dozen bodies were found in overnight operations at the site in the coastal province of Kep, where the building toppled on Friday. Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the end of the rescue operation.
Twenty-three people were found alive, according to a statement from Kep provincial authorities. It said that at least 13 women and six children were among the dead.
Women are often employed as construction workers in Cambodia and neighboring Thailand, but families of workers also often live at the construction sites.
In a news conference, Hun Sen said the couple who owned the building and hired the construction crew had been detained and sent to court to face charges. He did not specify the charges.
Kep provincial authorities said earlier that a committee had been formed to officially investigate the cause of the accident, which a provincial police official earlier said occurred when concrete was being poured on its top level.
The survivor found Sunday morning was a young woman pulled from the rubble by members of Rapid Rescue Company 711, a military unit that is the country's elite specialized emergency rescue team.
Hun Sen posted a video of the rescue on his Facebook page. He traveled to the site Friday "to lead the rescue team," he announced on Facebook. He also visited the provincial hospital where the injured were being treated.
Last June, a seven-story building collapsed in Sihanoukville, another coastal area, leaving at least 28 people dead and 26 injured.
Such accidents underline concerns about the area's rapid development to cater to a booming tourism industry and inattention to safety.
In December, a Buddhist temple collapsed while under construction in Siem Reap, home of Cambodia's famed Angkor temples, killing at least three people and injuring 13, including two monks.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó faces an internal test of his authority in a key vote Sunday as he campaigns to oust President Nicolás Maduro and end Venezuela's economic and humanitarian crisis.
The opposition-controlled National Assembly will decide whether to keep Guaidó as its leader for a second year. Guaidó will also come under pressure to articulate a fresh vision for removing Maduro — something he has not been able to accomplish.
"The big question for this year is whether Guaidó will be able to use his waning political strength to guide his coalition through such a rocky period," said Geoff Ramsey, a researcher at the Washington Office on Latin America research center. "Opposition unity is already fraying at the edges, and the armed forces appear less likely than ever to abandon Maduro."
Guaidó declared presidential powers over Venezuela on Jan. 23, 2019, saying Maduro's reelection was illegitimate because the most popular opposition parties and political leaders had been disqualified from running. The U.S. and more than 50 other nations declared Maduro's leadership invalid and endorsed Guaidó.
Venezuela sits atop vast oil and mineral resources, but it has been imploding economically and socially in recent years. Critics blame the plunge on years of failed socialist rule and corruption, while Maduro's allies say U.S. sanctions are taking a toll on the economy. The South American nation's 30 million people suffer soaring inflation and shortages of gasoline, running water and electricity, among basic services.
An estimated 4.5 million Venezuelans have abandoned their nation in an exodus rivaling war-torn Syria.
Maduro, who took over after the 2013 death of former President Hugo Chávez, says Guaidó is a puppet of the United States. Maduro also says he's determined to win control of the National Assembly in elections later this year.
"Despite perversions of the imperialist United States against Venezuela during 2019, we've managed to hold onto our independence, peace and stability," Maduro tweeted. "I know that in 2020, with all of our efforts we will enjoy more economic prosperity."
The two men remain locked in a power struggle. However, Maduro maintains military backing and control over most branches of the government, despite the deepening crisis and hard-hitting financial sanctions from the United States.
Guaidó says he's confident he will maintain his seat as head of the congress and press ahead with the campaign to oust Maduro.
Weeks ahead of the vote deciding Guaidó's leadership, the opposition-dominated congress changed its rules, allowing lawmakers who have fled Venezuela for fear of persecution by Maduro's government to debate and vote from a distance. U.S. officials recently brought several key opposition leaders to Washington to discuss strategies for rallying around Guaidó.
Ramsey said this is an important moment for Venezuela's opposition.
"Guaidó will have to not only re-energize his base and convince them to stay engaged, but keep his coalition in line as well," he said. "And the clock is ticking."
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended his leadership and his government's record on climate change Sunday as milder temperatures brought hope of a respite from wildfires that have ravaged three states, claiming 24 lives and destroying almost 2,000 homes.
Morrison has faced widespread criticism for taking a family vacation in Hawaii at the start of the wildfire crisis, his sometimes distracted approach as it has escalated and his slowness in deploying resources.
He was heckled last week when he visited a township in New South Wales in which houses had been destroyed and which was home to one of three volunteer firefighters who have died in the crisis so far.
On Saturday Morrison announced that, for the first time in Australian history, 3,000 army, navy and air force reservists will be thrown into the battle against the fires. He also committed $14 million to leasing fire-fighting aircraft from overseas.
But those decisions attracted complaints that he had taken too long to act as fires have burned through millions of hectares (acres) in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, an area twice the size of Maryland.
Morrison told a news conference Sunday it was not the time for blame.
"There has been a lot of blame being thrown around," Morrison said. "And now is the time to focus on the response that is being made. ... Blame doesn't help anybody at this time and over-analysis of these things is not a productive exercise."
Morrison has been chided for past remarks that appear to minimize the link between climate change and Australia's escalating threats of drought and wildfires.
"There is no dispute in this country about the issue of climate change globally and its effect on global weather patterns and that includes how it impacts in Australia," he said.
"I have to correct the record here. I have seen a number of people suggest that somehow the government does not make this connection. The government has always made this connection and that has never been in dispute."
Cooler temperatures and lighter winds on Sunday brought some relief to threatened communities, a day after thousands were forced to flee as flames reachedthe suburban fringes of Sydney.
Thousands of firefighters fought to contain the blazes but many continued to burn out of control, threatening to wipe out rural townships and causing almost incalculable damage to property and wildlife.
As dawn broke over a blackened landscape Sunday, a picture emerged of disaster of unprecedented scale. The Rural Fire Service said 150 fires were active in the state, 64 of them uncontrolled.
"It's not something we have experienced before," New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
The latest fatality occurred at Batlow in New South Wales, where a 47-year-old man died Saturday night while defending the home of a friend from encroaching fires. New South Wales police said the man was found unconscious in a vehicle and could not be revived.
Earlier Saturday, a father and son who were battling flames for two days died on a highway on Kangaroo Island, off South Australia state. Authorities identified them as Dick Lang, a 78-year-old acclaimed bush pilot and outback safari operator, and his 43-year-old son, Clayton. Their family said their losses left them "heartbroken and reeling from this double tragedy."
Lang, known as "Desert Dick," led tours for travelers throughout Australia and other countries.
The deadly wildfires, which have been raging since September, have already burned about 5 million hectares (12.35 million acres) of land. That's more than any one year in the U.S. since Harry Truman was president.
The early and devastating start to Australia's summer wildfires has also been catastrophic for the country's wildlife, likely killing nearly 500 million birds, reptiles and mammals in New South Wales alone, Sydney University ecologist Chris Dickman told the Sydney Morning Herald. Frogs, bats and insects are excluded from his estimate, making the toll on animals much greater.
Morrison's handling of the deployment of reservists also came in for criticism Sunday. Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who is leading the fight in New South Wales, said he learned of the deployment through media reports.
"It is fair to say it was disappointing and some surprise to hear about these things through public announcements in the middle of what was one of our worst days this season with the second-highest number of concurrent emergency warning fires ever in the history of New South Wales," he said.
Morrison was also forced to defend a video posted on social media Saturday, which promoted the deployment of reservists and the government's response to the wildfires.
The non-partisan Australia Defence Association said the video breached rules around political advertising.
"Party-political advertising milking ADF (Australian Defence Force) support to civil agencies fighting bushfires is a clear breach of the non-partisanship convention applying to both the ADF and ministers/MPs," the association said.
In a tweet, Morrison said "the video message simply communicates the government's policy decisions and the actions the government is undertaking to the public."
Meanwhile, Australia's capital Canberra was enveloped in a smoky haze Sunday and air quality at midday was measured at 10 times the usual hazardous limit.
In New Zealand the skies above Auckland were tinged orange by smoke from the bushfires and police were inundated with calls from anxious residents.
Abdullah Abu Rahma has been arrested by Israeli soldiers eight times in the last 15 years, spending weeks or months in prison and paying tens of thousands of dollars in fines for organizing protests.
He's among a growing number of Palestinians who have embraced non-violent means of protesting Israel's military rule and expanding settlements, and who are increasingly finding those avenues of dissent blocked.
Israel says the Palestinians should address their grievances in peace talks. But negotiations ground to a halt more than a decade ago, and the current government's position on core issues is rejected by the Palestinians and most of the international community.
More than 50 years after occupying the West Bank, Israel is still systematically denying Palestinians civil rights, including the right to gather, Human Rights Watch said in a report released last month. Israel has also stepped up its campaign against the Palestinian-led international boycott movement, and the United States and other countries have adopted legislation to suppress it.
Israel has also come down hard on Palestinian attempts to seek redress at the International Criminal Court. Last month, after a five-year preliminary investigation, the court said it was ready to open a full investigation pending a ruling on territorial jurisdiction. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the court's decision "pure anti-Semitism."
Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch, said Israel has "all but declared Palestinian opposition to the systematic discrimination they face illegitimate." Shakir himself was deported from Israel in November over his alleged support for the boycott movement.
If it succeeds in banning forms of peaceful advocacy, he says, Israel will have "effectively left Palestinians no choice but submission to a regime of systematic repression, or violence."
For decades, the Palestinians were branded terrorists because of their armed struggle against Israel, which included suicide bombings and other attacks on civilians. At the height of the Second Intifada, the violent uprising in the early 2000s, and for years afterward, observerswonderedwhy there was no "Palestinian Gandhi."
One candidate for such a title might be Abu Rahma, who for several years organized weekly protests outside his West Bank village of Bilin against Israel's controversial separation barrier. Israel says the barrier is needed for security, but would have cut off village residents from their land. The protesters eventually forced authorities to reroute the barrier following a court order.
The protests often saw Palestinian youths hurl rocks at Israeli security forces, who responded with tear gas and rubber-coated bullets. But Abu Rahma says he never threw stones and told others not to do so, partly out of concern they would hurt other protesters.
That didn't keep him from being arrested.
Over the years he was charged with entering a closed military zone — referring to land outside the village — and hindering the work of soldiers, who were overseeing the construction of the fence.
"I don't go to them, they come to us," he said.
In 2009 he was charged with stockpiling weapons after he collected spent tear gas canisters fired by Israeli soldiers and put them on display. He later served a 16-month prison term after a military court convicted him of incitement and participation in illegal protests.
"There have been various, multiple charges of this kind, but not once have they accused me of striking a soldier or throwing a stone," he told The Associated Press. In 2009, he was acquitted on the weapons possession charge and a charge of throwing stones.
Issa Amro, another prominent activist who has organized protests against Israeli settlements in the West Bank city of Hebron, faces 16 charges, including calling for disobedience and disrupting Israeli life — the lives of settlers.
He says he has been detained on 10 occasions this year alone, usually after being beaten by settlers.
"The soldiers never did anything to stop the attackers, but they arrested me every time a settler said I attacked him," he said. As a Palestinian, he is governed by Israeli military law, while the Jewish settlers in Hebron enjoy full rights as Israeli citizens.
"Israeli authorities ban any political expression in the Palestinian territories," Amro said. "They want us basically to accept the occupation, the discrimination, the land grab, the restrictions, and not to speak up against it."
Human Rights Watch said Israel relies on sweeping military orders, many of which date back to the 1967 Mideast war, when it seized the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza, territories the Palestinians want for their future state.
Civilians can be jailed for up to 10 years for attending political gatherings of more than 10 people or for displaying flags or political symbols without army approval, Human Rights Watch said. Military orders ban 411 organizations, including every major political movement, it added.
"After 52 years, Israel's sweeping restrictions of the basic rights of Palestinians can no longer be justified by the exigencies of military occupation," Shakir said. "Palestinians are entitled at minimum to the same rights Israel provides its own citizens."
In response to questions about the Human Rights Watch report and the restrictions on protests, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the Palestinian leadership of seeking to "attack Israel in the international arena" rather than trying to end the conflict through negotiations.
Peace talks broke down after Netanyahu was elected in 2009. In September, he vowed to annex large parts of the West Bank, a move that would almost certainly extinguish any remaining hope of creating a Palestinian state.
The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, have also cracked down on dissent in recent years. The PA has detained hundreds of people, including Amro, who was jailed for a week in 2017 over a Facebook post. Hamas violently dispersed protests last March, arresting dozens of people.
In addition to protesting, many Palestinians have also rallied behind the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, a nonviolent campaign that claims to be modeled on the struggle against South African Apartheid.
The campaign has sparked a major backlash by Israeli authorities, who say its true aim is to delegitimize the state and eventually wipe it off the map.
BDS endorses the Palestinian claim of a right of return for the descendants of refugees who fled or were driven out of Israel in the 1948 war that attended its creation. If fully realized, that would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish-majority state. Critics have also seized on statements from prominent BDS supporters to brand it as anti-Semitic, something organizers vehemently deny.
A 2017 law bars entry to foreigners who have called for economic boycotts of Israel or its settlements. Israel invoked the law when it deported Shakir and when it refused entry to U.S. congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib earlier this year.
In May, German lawmakers passed a resolution that denounced the boycott movement and described its methods as anti-Semitic. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution opposing the boycott movement in July.
At least 25 U.S. states have enacted laws aimed at suppressing the BDS movement, including Texas, which passed a law forcing state contractors to sign a pledge that they do not support the campaign. A federal judge blocked enforcement of the law in April, saying boycotts are a form of protected free speech.
Gerald Steinberg, who heads a pro-Israel group called NGO Monitor that campaigns against BDS, said its "demonization paints Israelis as blood-thirsty war criminals, land-thieves and child killers."
"These accusations contribute to or are used to justify attacks against students and speakers on university campuses, harassment in other venues and in some cases, violent terror," he said.
Abu Rahma and other activists reject such characterizations, saying their struggle is not against Israelis but against the occupation.
"I see how the occupation is an obstacle to everything," he said. "The path that I am on, I have to continue. I have to struggle. It's not easy."