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Swedish prosecutors have dropped part of their sexual assault inquiry against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, but the most serious part of the probe remains in place. The announcement was made as the statute of limitations ran out on three parts of the investigation. Assange has been holed up for three years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he’s received political asylum. He fears he will be extradited to the United States to face prosecution for his role at WikiLeaks if he leaves the embassy. Both Ecuador and Sweden accuse the other of delaying a possible Swedish police interview with Assange inside the embassy. Sweden has never charged him with any crime.
In China, at least 44 people have died following massive explosions at a warehouse storing toxic chemicals and gas in the northeast port city of Tianjin. Five hundred more people have been hospitalized. The explosions were so powerful, they could be seen by satellites in space. The exact cause of Wednesday night’s blasts is still unknown.
In news from Greece, Doctors Without Borders says as many as 1,000 refugees have been locked in a stadium on a Greek island overnight without access to food and with very little water. Riot police were deployed across the island of Kos on Tuesday to round up the refugees and force them into the stadium. The migrants are mostly from Syria and Iraq. A Doctors Without Borders spokesperson described the scene.
Doctors Without Borders coordinator Vangelis Orfanoudakis: “Until today, one day after, still there is no food there, only local solidarity groups giving biscuits and milk for the babies. It is Médecins Sans Frontières who are doing medical assistance inside, and we are also mostly treating patients that have fainted because of the horrible situation that’s inside there. There is a lot of tension, a lot of waiting and a lot of misunderstanding of why the people are there. And nobody knows why they are there, how long it’s going to take or when it’s going to finish.”
Manned U.S. warplanes taking off from a base in Turkey have begun attacking sites in Syria in the latest escalation of the U.S.-led war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIL. The U.S. strikes come as the Syrian government bombarded areas surrounding Damascus on Wednesday, killing 31 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Another 13 people died from rocket strikes launched into Damascus by rebel groups.
In news from Iraq, officials say more than 50 people have died after a truck bomb exploded in a market in Baghdad today. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack.
Meanwhile, in Yemen, officials say a suspected U.S. drone strike killed five men on Wednesday. The officials say the men were suspected of being militants with the group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The director of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic has resigned under pressure following a new round of accusations of sexual abuse and excessive use of force by peacekeeping forces. Earlier this week, Amnesty International accused peacekeepers of raping a 12-year-old girl in the capital city of Bangui. The organization also accused peacekeepers of killing a child and his father. This comes on the heels of earlier accusations that French soldiers deployed as peacekeepers had been trading sex with young boys for food and money at a displaced persons’ camp near Bangui.
In news from the campaign trail, Black Lives Matter protesters interrupted Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s town hall in Las Vegas, Nevada, Wednesday night. The group began chanting “Black Lives Matter” after a woman asked him about the disproportionate number of people of color killed by the police. As Bush quickly made his way to the door, some of the town hall attendees also began chanting “White Lives Matter.”
Protesters: “Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!”
Lawyers for U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning say she could face punishment of indefinite solitary confinement for having an expired tube of toothpaste, an issue of Vanity Fair in which transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner describes her new life living openly as a woman, the U.S. Senate report on torture and other “prohibited property” in her cell. She is also accused of “showing disrespect” for asking to see her lawyer in a discussion with a prison officer. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking U.S. government cables to WikiLeaks.
Three more women have come forward accusing comedian Bill Cosby of sexual assault, bringing the number of public accusers to nearly 50. Cosby is accused of drugging and raping dozens of women in cases that date back decades. Lawyer Gloria Allred announced the new accusations on Wednesday.
Gloria Allred: “Recently New York magazine had a photograph on their cover of more than 30 women who had come forward publicly to accuse Bill Cosby of having victimized them. That cover also featured an empty chair, right here, which in the opinion of many people represented all of the accusers who have not yet come forward. Today that empty chair is filled by three new women.”
And former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said that he has an advanced form of cancer that has spread throughout his body. He will undergo treatment in Atlanta.
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