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Beirut violence

In the Lebanese capital, a protest against a judge investigating last year's Beirut port blast turned deadly. So far, at least six people are confirmed dead and 60 others wounded in heavy gunfire and blasts in the capital city. Meanwhile, army troops have moved to clear the protest site. The demonstrators are outraged at what they see as Washington’s interference in the investigation. They say the judge overseeing the case is being swayed by the United States.

Post-Brexit tensions

Dublin says the European Union will reject London’s demand to consider an alternative arbitrator to resolve post-Brexit disputes, including the Northern Ireland Protocol. Ireland's European Affairs Minister, Thomas Byrne says the European Court of Justice arbitrates on the bloc’s single market, in which, Ireland is allowed to remain. However, London says the court should not have a role in the matter. This comes as the EU put forward new proposals on Wednesday in an attempt to settle the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol. The proposals include reduced customs checks and paperwork on British products to smooth trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The Protocol is a key part of the Brexit deal. London has urged the bloc to re-write the deal, a request flatly rejected by Brussels.

New Zealand COVID-19 surge

New Zealand has reported its biggest rise in COVID-19 infections in six weeks, with all cases detected in the city of Auckland. The deputy premier further said that the surge was not unexpected and blamed it on illegal home gatherings. Some 1..7 million people in Auckland are under strict stay-at-home orders until Monday. A total of 71 new local cases were reported in Auckland, up from 55 a day earlier. All infections are said to be from the delta variant. The spike has raised the prospect for an extension of lockdown in the city beyond next week. According to New Zealand’s health ministry, the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic now stands at over 4,800.

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