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Lebanon arrests ‘prankster’ for threatening to behead Syrian refugee children

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Lebanese police have arrested a man who staged a sick prank by filming himself threatening to behead three Syrian refugee children left in his care, a security official told AFP on Saturday.

The police also briefly arrested the children’s mother, who confessed to enjoying the scene she found when she returned from work.

The video, which was posted on YouTube Friday and shared widely, shows the three terrified children crying as a man standing behind a camera waves a knife and asks: “Whom do we behead first?”

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Adding to the pathos of the incident, the crying children respond by pointing at each other.

A security official said the video proved to be a “sick joke,” and that the children had been left in the man’s care by their mother, his neighbour, while she was out at work.

“The intelligence branch of the Internal Security Forces has detained the man who made the video,” said the police official, adding that the incident had taken place in the southern Nabatiyeh province.

In security forces statement added that the children’s mother was also briefly detained.

“At the very end of the filming, the mother arrived from work and (said she) enjoyed the scene and asked (her neighbour) to send her the video.”

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The woman was released shortly afterwards, after pledging to treat her children better.

While describing the incident as “an isolated incident,” the official said the video was yet another sign of the effect of the Syrian war on Lebanese society.

Lebanon hosts more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees, and fighting related to the conflict frequently breaks out in the tiny country.

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Last month, jihadists took a number of Lebanese soldiers and police hostage after battles with them. They subsequently beheaded two of the soldiers, and widely distributed images of their corpses.

“We call on everyone to make sure we maintain our awareness, but of course this video shows the depth of the impact of the Syrian crisis,” said the police official.

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“People are affected by seeing images of beheadings, and some people will start to imitate them. Poor children; they were terrified,” he added.

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2020 Election

Democrats have a powerful case against Trump — but they keep making a key mistake

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On the floor of the Senate, House impeachment managers have delivered a thorough, factual and compelling case for removing President Donald Trump from office. He abused his power by using his office to induce Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky into launching investigations of his political enemies, and then he obstructed Congress in its efforts to uncover the details of this scheme.

The managers’ ability to present the evidence for these charges for hours on end has been impressive, and they’re earning plaudits for their furtive efforts, even though removal of the president remains supremely unlikely.

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Internet cheers as Val Demings lays out President Donald Trump’s wrongdoing in powerful speech

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On the third night of the impeachment trial, Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) stood up and forcefully laid out President Donald Trump's misconduct in Ukraine on the floor of the Senate.

Demings, a former police chief and a longtime voice for the president's removal, was roundly cheered on by commenters on Twitter:

I had never heard of Rep. Val Demings of Florida, until now on @NPR, but man, #valdemings for President. She was fantastic. Excellent speech. @RepValDemings #impeachment

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Even Ronald Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan agrees the Senate must call witnesses

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In a Thursday evening column, far-right commentator Peggy Noonan agreed that there should be witnesses called in the impeachment trial.

CNN capitol correspondent Manu Raju reported late in the evening that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) was leaning against calling witnesses because it would be opposed by the White House and they will fight it at all costs.

The comments drew anger from CNN legal analyst Jeff Toobin and former Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein, who explained this is exactly what President Donald Trump wants.

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