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Lebanon will ask United Nations to stop registering Syrian refugees

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Lebanon said Thursday it will ask the UN to stop registering refugees who enter the country from war-torn Syria, as it formalised a decision to all but close its borders to them.

“As far as the issue of restricting the number of (refugee) cases is concerned, the government agreed to stop welcoming displaced people, barring exceptional cases, and to ask the UN refugee agency to stop registering the displaced,” Information Minister Ramzi Jreij said.

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Only refugees whose files had been approved by the government would be given refugee status in Lebanon, he told reporters.

The announcement came less than a week after Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas was quoted as saying that Lebanon “no longer officially receives any displaced Syrians”.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) had previously confirmed increased restrictions at the border with Syria.

“Our understanding is that people who are coming to claim refugee status are not being permitted to enter in the way that they were previously,” Ninette Kelley, UNHCR’s representative in Lebanon, said on Saturday.

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Not all Syrian refugees enter Lebanon through official crossings, however, with many traversing the porous and difficult-to-patrol frontier.

Lebanon already hosts more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees, an enormous strain for a country with a population of just four million.

The influx has tested overstretched infrastructure, and created fresh tensions.

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Politicians have long warned Lebanon cannot continue to shoulder such a disproportionate refugee burden, and calls for the closure of the border with Syria have increased after numerous security incidents.

In August, jihadist groups crossed from Syria into the eastern town of Arsal, sparking clashes with the military that left dozens of people dead.

The retreating jihadists took with them some 30 Lebanese police and troops as hostages, and have since executed three of them.

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The UNHCR has regularly urged the international community to provide Lebanon with greater assistance to tackle the influx.

The agency has also called on other countries to open their doors to fleeing Syrians to ease the burden on Lebanon and other neighbouring states.

More than three million Syrians have fled their country since the uprising that began in March 2011, with most taking shelter in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq.

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Trump’s new argument: He’s immune from all criminal investigation in new tax return lawsuit

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Lawyers for President Trump argue that the president is immune from all criminal investigations in a new federal lawsuit seeking to block New York prosecutors from obtaining his tax returns.

This article first appeared in Salon.

Trump sued his longtime accounting firm Mazars USA and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance on Thursday, after Vance's office subpoenaed the firm to demand eight years of the president’s personal and corporate tax returns.

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HBO’s ‘Real Time’ panel provides roadmap for Democrats to get DNI’s Ukraine report and speed-up impeachment

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During the "Overtime" segment of HBO's "Real Time," Bill Maher and his guests took up the problems the Democrats are having acquiring Donald Trump'stax returns as well as other documents they need if they are going to impeach the president.

Responding to a question over whether the state of New York will indict the president, the conversation turned to prosecutors seeking Trump's taxes.

According to presidential historian Tim Naftali, there is precedent allowing the acquisition.

"Is it really that hard to get somebody's frigging, f*cking taxes? " host Bill Maher asked.

"Actually, there is a precedent," Naftali explained. "If the House started on the impeachment hearings, they could act on the precedent of 1974, where Nixon's taxes were turned over to the impeachment committee. So there is a precedent, but they have to make the decision that they are having an impeachment inquiry."

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2020 Election

Trump slams ‘partisan’ whistleblower, Biden pushes back

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US President Donald Trump on Friday vigorously rejected a whistleblower's claim of wrongdoing, amid reports he used a call with Ukraine's president to pressure him to investigate the son of Trump's Democratic rival Joe Biden.

The whistleblower's secret complaint has triggered a tense showdown between Congress, whose Democratic leaders are demanding to review the complaint, and the executive branch which has barred them from doing so.

It has also raised concerns Trump sought to strong-arm Ukraine into providing damaging information on the president's possible 2020 challenger, which would represent dangerous foreign meddling in the US election -- similar to the interference blamed on Russia in 2016, when Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.

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