FROM Nicholas Blanford
Ramadan and the Arab Summer Ramadan began today for Muslims around the world, a month of abstinence from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. Its themes include personal commitment, purity and sacrifice. In politically troubled countries, will that mean more protest and more government retaliation or a stand down by both sides? In Syria, where the government conducted a bloody crackdown yesterday, protesters have plans for increased activity. In Egypt, youth leaders say they'll suspend sit-ins in Tahrir Square. Nicholas Blanford is a Beirut-based correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor .
Thousands Take to the Streets in Syria, Troops Respond with Violence In Syria today, thousands of protesters took to the streets after Friday prayers in Damascus and other cities. Some were met by heavily armed soldiers using tear gas, electrified batons, clubs and bullets. We speak with a reporter in Damascus who can't reveal her name or her affiliation for security reasons and with correspondent Nicholas Blanford, who's in Beirut, Lebanon for the Christian Science Monitor .
Setback for Hezbollah in Lebanese Elections Elections in Lebanon have produced a surprising result. The ruling coalition supported by the US and other western countries appears to have defeated an opposition challenge led by Hezbollah. Lebanon’s parliament has 128 seats, and a big turnout of voters seems to have delivered 70 seats to the ruling coalition. That doesn’t mean that forming a new government will be easy. Nicholas Blanford is based in Beirut for the Christian Science Monitor .
Hezbollah Says Lebanon's Government Has 'Declared War' Fierce gun battles erupted today in Beirut, Lebanon, after the western-backed government shut down the telecommunications network run by Hezbollah. Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, called that a "declaration of war…for the benefit of America and Israel." Nicholas Blanford is based in Beirut for the Christian Science Monitor .
Two Rival Funerals in Beirut, Hezbollah Declares 'Open War' There were two competing funerals today in Beirut, Lebanon. One, for former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri , assassinated three years ago. The second, for Imad Mughnieh, the Hezbollah leader gunned down Tuesday in Damascus, Syria. Nicholas Blanford covered both of today's events for the Christian Science Monitor .
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.
Trump plays scolder-in-chief with NATO allies At the opening of NATO’s dramatic new headquarters in Brussels today, President Trump acknowledged that Article 5 — promising that “an attack on one nation is an attack on all” -- has only been invoked one time: in the aftermath of September 11. But the President failed to provide what 27 other Alliance members have been waiting for: a re-commitment by America’s new leader to Article 5. Instead, they got a scolding.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.