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A Lebanese man who held bank staff hostage in Beirut last week to demand access to his trapped savings has been released from custody after charges against him were dropped.
Judge Ghassan al-Khoury ordered the release of Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein, who stormed a Federal Bank branch in Beirut with a rifle, after the bank dropped the charges against him, the state-run National News Agency reported on Tuesday.
A judicial official told AFP on Wednesday that Hussein has since been released but still faces possible charges by the state.
Following an hours-long standoff last Thursday, Hussein turned himself in after the bank agreed to let him draw out $30,000 of his more than $200,000 in trapped savings, media reports said.
He took the drastic action to access his savings so he could pay for surgery for his father, state media reported.
The incident was the latest between Lebanese banks and angry depositors unable to access savings that have been frozen since 2019.
Hussein has been hailed as a hero by many in Lebanon who blame the country's political and banking elite for a financial crisis branded by the World Bank as one of the worst in modern times.
In a report this month, the World Bank blamed authorities for misusing and misspending people's deposits over the past 30 years, accusing them of a "Ponzi" scheme approach to public finance that benefited key political and economic actors at the expense of regular depositors.
"The government consistently and acutely departed from orderly and disciplined fiscal policy to serve the larger purpose of cementing political economy interests," it said, calling the economic crisis a "deliberate depression."
© 2022 AFP
The French weather service warned Wednesday of flash flooding risks across much of the south, where a historic drought has parched the rugged Mediterranean hills, a day after fierce rainstorms lashed much of the country.
Alert levels remained in effect for five southern departments hit by storms overnight that dumped two to four centimeters (0.8-1.6 inches) of rain in less than an hour, with some areas reporting up to seven or nine centimeters.
With the ground hardened by this summer's extreme drought -- July was the driest month recorded since 1961 -- much of the rain could not be absorbed by the soil and instead overflowed into streams and roads.
No injuries were reported, but public transport was disrupted including in Paris, where videos of inundated metro stations swamped social media.
"The storms are making their way east... and can be violent with intense rain that in some places could see up to eight centimeters fall in a short amount of time" and potentially causing tornado-like conditions, the Meteo France weather agency said.
Authorities also urged people to postpone travel plans if possible, and to avoid waterways or trying to seek shelter under trees.
"Just 30 centimeters of water is enough to sweep away a car," the prefecture of the Var department on the French Riviera said.
The rain was nonetheless a relief for firefighters who have been battling a string of wildfires across France, in particular in the southwest, with most blazes now contained after burning thousands of hectares.
© 2022 AFP
Morning Joe reveals 'disturbing' talk with 'Washington fixture' who wants to 'destroy our country' to save Trump
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough revealed a pair of "disturbing" phone calls he had this week with a friend and family member calling for the destruction of the U.S. government as investigators move closer to Donald Trump.
The FBI search of Mar-A-Lago has spooked the former president and enraged his supporters -- which Trump has tried to use as leverage to reduce the heat on himself -- and the "Morning Joe" host said that included some previously "boring" moderates who were now willing to destroy the constitutional republic rather than hold Trump accountable.
"If people want to understand the depths to which this anti-American sentiment is running in the Republican Party, I had two conversations yesterday," Scarborough said. "One with a family member and one with a Washington fixture, since the days of Ronald Reagan. Both were talking about how the FBI was the gestapo and they needed to be stamped out, spoke of revolution, and the Washington fixture, a guy who I always considered to be a mainstream conservative, a guy who, in the past at least, expressed concerns about some of Donald Trump's extremities, said to me, 'Joe, we can replace the U.S. government."
"It's not about the government, it's about an individual," he added. "Here's a guy that said we can throw away Madisonian democracy, we can throw away the Bill of Rights, we can throw away the Constitution. We can just get rid of a government that has fed and feeds more people, that's liberated more people throughout history, that's keeping the flames of freedom alive right now in Ukraine and in Central Europe, than any other country on the planet, and we can replace the U.S. government. That is the depths to which this cancer has spread among mainstream Republicans, and Liz Cheney is right. These people are angry, and they want to destroy our country -- the country where we have democratic elections and the winners who get the most votes are recognized as the winners, and the losers concede to those winners, and Donald Trump has changed all of that now."
Cheney, who until last year was the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. House and had one of the most conservative ratings in Congress, lost her GOP primary to pro-Trump candidate Harriet Hageman after voting to impeach the former president and serving on the Jan. 6 Committee investigating his attempt to overturn his 2020 election loss.
"Well, the hatred and the animosity spewed towards [president] Joe Biden from these people I spoke to yesterday, said -- they said, he's a moderate -- like boring guy from Delaware," Scarborough said of his friend. "Like, he used do do this to [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez], you used to do this to [Sen.] Bernie Sanders and used to do this to [House speaker] Nancy Pelosi, and now Joe Biden is the radical who is destroying them?"
"It's just, it's nonsense," Scarborough added. "The problem is, it's dangerous nonsense when they start talking about the FBI being the gestapo and how the FBI needed to be defunded and how the FBI needs to be wiped out, and how we can replace the U.S. government. That's treasonous talk. Five years ago, that would be considered treasonous talk."
Watch the video below or at this link.
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