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8 convicted in Saudi Arabia over killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi




Saudi Arabian courts have handed down guilty verdicts to eight people involved in the killing of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi. Five received 20-year prison sentences, while three received lesser terms.

The Saudi public prosecutor handed down its guilty verdict on Monday, according to local media. Five defendants were sentenced to 20 years in prison, while the other three defendants were locked up for a period of seven to 10 years. The verdict is final, the Saudi Press Agency reported, meaning it cannot be appealed. 

Monday’s sentencing was the second round of judgments handed out to the group of Saudis said to be responsible for Khashoggi’s murder.

In December, five Saudis accused of direct involvement in the journalist’s killing were sentenced to death, while another three received jail terms totaling 24 years.

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Saudi Arabia sentences 5 people to death over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

That verdict was handed down in private, and international authorities condemned the proceedings for failing to get the facts on record.

In July, a separate proceeding against the 20 Saudis alleged to have taken part in the killing began in Istanbul. The defendants there are being tried in absentia, as Saudi authorities have refused to have them extradited.

Khashoggi, who wrote for several western outlets including the Post, was a known critic of the Saudi royal family. He was killed at the Saudi embassy in Istanbul in October 2018, having apparently been lured there on the pretext of obtaining paperwork for his upcoming wedding. While he was reportedly dismembered and buried on the property, his remains have not been found.

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Khashoggi family announces PARDON for slain journalist’s killers as Muslims mark the end of Ramadan fest

The journalist’s family released a statement in May saying they pardoned Khashoggi’s killers – which under Saudi law spa

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Asian stock markets continue the global fallout





The biggest faller in the region was the Australian shares which hit a three-month low.Image copyright
Getty Images

Stock markets in Asia suffered on Tuesday from the fallout from UK and US investors worried about a rise in coronavirus cases.

The biggest falls in the region were recorded in Australia, where shares hit a three-month low.

Investors have also been rattled by dimming hopes for more financial support for the US economy.

Stock markets fell across South Korea, Hong Kong and China, while Japan was closed for a public holiday.

On Monday, UK and US stock markets suffered heavy losses over fears that a renewed rise in coronavirus cases will blight economic prospects.

More than £50bn was wiped off UK shares, and caused similar falls across European and US stock markets.

The negative sentiment spread into Asia, which has previously been the focus of optimism from China’s continued economic recovery.

Australian shares were dragged to their lowest level since mid-June, under pressure by its mining and energy stocks.

Major mining firms BHP Group and Rio Tinto both fell around 2%.

Multiple tensions

“The biggest issue for local markets is how the battle for tech sector super dominance plays out between the US and China, which is getting viewed through the lens of the ByteDance /Oracle -Walmart d

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‘Without any basis in intl. law’: Venezuela blasts US sanctions on Maduro & Iran as ‘sustained aggression’





Venezuela has slammed a new round of US sanctions on President Nicolas Maduro and Iran as aggressive and illegal, while also contesting a new UN report alleging official abuses, saying it used “human rights as a political weapon.”

“Venezuela denounces the new US aggression to the international community, announcing alleged unilateral sanctions against President Nicolas Maduro, as part of a sustained campaign of aggression against the Islamic Republic of Iran and our country,” Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza wrote in a tweet on Monday.

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Caracas said Washington’s actions showed it had “no respect whatsoever” for the UN and that the new sanctions were imposed “without any basis” in international law. It also vowed that “no intimidating and arrogant action by the US government” would deter Venezuela from friendly relations with Iran.

Hours prior, the US State Department announced a fresh round of penalties on both Tehran and Caracas – including Maduro and a number of Iranian entities – accusing the two nations of working together to “flout the UN arms embargo” on Iran.

“Our placing sanctions on Maduro today is a warning that should be heard clearly worldwide: no matter who you are, if you violate the UN arms embargo on Iran, you risk sanctions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said while announcing the new measures on Monday.

Though the weapons ban is set to expire in October, Washington has insisted it would remain in force “indefinitely,” despite a failed US-led effort to extend the embargo in the UN Security Council last month. The new penalties also come days after the US unilaterally declared the resumption of the UN’s “snapback” sanctions on the Islamic Republic, invoking the Iran nuclear deal that Washington withdrew from as far back as 2018. The move has faced nearly unanimous opposition in the Security Council.

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Venezuelan police & security forces committed ‘arbitrary killings and systemic torture,’ UN fact-finding mission claims

Arreaza also took aim at a recent UN fact-finding report which alleged serious abuses by Venezuelan authorities, including extrajudicial killings and torture. The FM rejected the report as “false” in a separate tweet, accusing the international body of “using human rights as a political weapon” while sharing an analysis by local investigative outfit Mission Truth, which slammed the report as inaccurate and politically motivated.

The FM previously denounced the UN report after it was issued last week, insisting it is “plagued with falsehoods,” lacking in “methodological rigor” and “created for ideological purposes by countries with terrible human rights records” in order to “attack Venezuela.”

Washington has continued to step up its sanctions campaigns on both Iran and Venezuela in recent months, frequently expanding “maximum pressure” penalties on Tehran as it seeks to drive the country’s oil exports to “zero,” while also pushing for a reimposition of the UN sanctions despite near-universal opposition internationally, including from US allies. Meanwhile, the US has indicted the Venezuelan leader on “narco terrorism” charges and brought several layers of sanctions over the last year, largely taking aim at Iranian fuel shipments into the country, even seizing four gas tankers bound for Venezuela last month.

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Venezuela’s oil exports crash to 77-year low amid crushing US sanctions

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Ava Max: ‘I need to make it, no matter what’





Ava MaxImage copyright
Charlotte Rutherford

Image caption

The star recorded her first EP when she was just 12 years old

Ava Max is running late. The pop star is meant to be promoting her debut album, Heaven & Hell, with a day full of Zoom interviews, but her laptop has disappeared.

It takes 30 minutes to track it down, while her PRs fire off apologetic emails to journalists sitting in online waiting rooms.

Then, as if by magic, she pops up on the screen, sitting on her sofa in LA, without a single, asymmetric hair out of place.

“I’m so sorry!” she says. “I was playing music outside yesterday and I left my laptop out there. When I couldn’t find it in the house, I was freaking out.”

Max is speaking two years after the release of her breakthrough single, Sweet But Psycho, which topped the charts in 20 countries, and sold two million copies in the UK alone.

Since then, the singer-songwriter – who was born Amanda Koci in 1994, to Albanian-immigrant parents in Milwaukee – has released enough thundering, maximalist pop anthems to destroy a spin class, from the outsider anthem So Am I to the current chart hit Kings And Queens.

Her debut album combines those seven singles with a clutch of new songs (“no ballads,” she points out). With early reviews comparing it to Abba and Lady Gaga, it’s on course to be the UK’s number one on Friday.

“It’s crazy to be releasing my debut during a global pandemic,” says the star. “I miss being on tour – but I know that day will come, so as long as everyone’s healthy, that’s all that matters.”

What’s your first musical memory?

I’d have been seven or eight years old. My mom would just walk around the house singing opera – and I started singing with her.

Was she a trained opera singer?

She did go to school for it – so yeah, she was trained.

Did she ever sing professionally?

No, she wasn’t able to. It’s always been her dream but she came to America and got lost in working and taking care of me and my brother. It was a tough one for her to say no to.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The singer has been performing since she was 10 years old

Who were your inspirations growing up?

I was listening to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, all the big pop artists – and a little R&B with the Fugees, you know?

Who was the first person outside the family who told you that you could sing?

Man, that’s a tough one. I was never consistent with vocal coaches. I was like a little girl who was always running around being rebellious – but I had this one vocal coach who told me, ‘It’s not special that you can sing. A lot of people can sing. It’s more about how badly you want it. How hard are you going to work for it?’ That really stuck with me.

Do you still do the scales now? Do you practise every day?

You know, here and there.

That sounds like a ‘no’.

No, I do! I do! If I didn’t, I’d mess up my vocal cords.

You entered a lot of singing competitions as a child. What was that like?

There was a thing called Talent Rock down in Florida, and I drove there from Virginia with my mom. There was, like, 3,000 kids auditioning and I got in the top three.

The only reason I didn’t get number one was because the winner did three back backflips before singing. I was just crying like, ‘That’s not fair!’

Yeah, that’s not really got anything to do with vocal talent, has it?

But it looked cool.

You released an EP when you were 14 under the name Amanda Kay. How did that come about?

I released a couple of EPs actually. You don’t want to uncover those!

Too late! But I think I Need You holds up as a decent mid-2000s pop song.

It’s a very old song, but thank you. I was about 12 years old when I recorded that in Miami.

I love that time in my life but, you know, the music? I’m like, ‘Meh.’

Image copyright
Charlotte Rutherford

Image caption

The singer is one of several pop stars with Albanian heritage to emerge – including Rita Ora, Bebe Rexha and Dua Lipa

What’s the first song you wrote where you felt, ‘This is it. This is who I’m supposed to be’?

It’s a mixture between Not Your Barbie Girl and Sweet But Psycho – because they both feel very strong and bold, which is what I’m like as a person.

Your lyrics avoid a lot of the pop clichés about love and romance. What’s your writing process like?

It’s like surgery. We take our time, and we go one by one, dissecting everything because if I don’t love the message I cannot sing it.

So, most likely I’ll be in the studio, in my headphones and writing a melody on the beat. Whatever I’m feeling in my heart is what comes out, if that makes sense.

So it’s totally spontaneous? You don’t keep notes or a book of ideas?

Literally, that’s me.

There’s a fantastic line in OMG What’s Happening: ‘There’s something about your face / I don’t know whether to kiss it or punch it.’

Oh my god! I did that in the beginning of quarantine, and I was laughing so hard because actually, at first, it was a joke, and then I’m like, ‘Wait, this is awesome.’

Who did you have in mind when you wrote it?

Every ex-boyfriend!

Sweet But Psycho was your big break. What was it like to see it conquer the world?

Oh gosh, there were just so many big accomplishments every single day

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