World briefs

VIETNAM Facebook was defending itself yesterday against allegations that it allows illegal content in violation of Vietnam’s new cybersecurity law. The social media giant said it has restricted illegal content and is in discussions with the government.

PHILIPPINES A mammoth crowd of mostly barefoot Filipino Catholics joined a raucous procession yesterday of a centuries-old black statue of Jesus Christ despite terrorism fears and amid the president’s attacks on the Catholic faith.

AUSTRALIA Several foreign diplomatic missions were evacuated in the Australian cities of Melbourne and Canberra yesterday after they received packages containing suspicious substances.

IRAN-US Iran’s supreme leader yesterday called U.S. officials “first-class idiots,” mocking American leaders as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo toured the Mideast to promote the White House’s tough stance on Iran.

SYRIA Russian military police have started patrolling the surroundings of the northern Syrian Kurdish-held town of Manbij. A representative for the military police told reporters that Russia’s mission is to ensure safety in the Manbij area, and monitor moves of militant groups.

PALESTINE The Palestinian Authority has cut off the salaries of Hamas lawmakers in the West Bank, the latest in a series of recent measures that have escalated tensions between the rival factions.

MALTA Military vessels will soon take ashore 49 migrants who have been stranded aboard private rescue vessels since last month and the asylum-seekers will be distributed among eight European Union nations, Malta said yesterday.

GERMANY A lawmaker from the far-right Alternative for Germany party was attacked and seriously wounded by several men in the northwestern city of Bremen in what police said may have been a politically motivated assault.

BRITAIN Lawmakers have dealt Prime Minister Theresa May her second defeat in two days in battles over the government’s plans for Brexit. The House of Commons voted for a motion designed to prevent the government delaying key decisions as Brexit approaches on March 29.

VENEZUELA Law enforcement forces in Venezuela have detained and tortured military personnel accused of plotting against the government of President Nicolas Maduro, according to two prominent human rights organizations.

BRAZIL Ongoing attacks by criminal gangs in the northeastern Brazilian state of Ceara are quickly becoming a first security test for the freshly inaugurated government of President Jair Bolsonaro.

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