The international stories making headlines around the world.

Huawei launches legal action against the US government

The Chinese telecommunications company Huawei has announced it’s suing the United States government over a ban on its products.

It’s challenging a law passed last August which prohibits US government agencies from buying Huawei equipment, or contracting work to third parties who do.

It’s the latest attempt by Huawei to fight back against a US campaign to urge Western countries not to use Huawei in the rollout of new 5G networks, over fears its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.

Speaking at a press conference in Shengzen Huawei Chairman Guo Ping said Washington had not produced any evidence to support the allegation and the law is unconstitutional.

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  • Huawei sues US govenment over ban on federal agencies using its gear
  • IS fighers captured trying to escape

    About 400 Islamic State fighters have been captured trying to escape the last piece of land the group holds in Syria, according to US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

    An SDF commander said the militants were caught as they attempted to slip out of Baghuz with the help of smugglers.

    Hundreds of others have surrendered and been evacuated from the village with thousands of civilians in recent days.

    Read more:   Taliban attack on Afghan security base: Over 100 killed

    It comes after US forces and the SDF stepped up their bombardment of Baghuz.

    Once the village is taken, the US and its allies are expected to formally declare the end of the “caliphate” proclaimed by IS in 2014.

    – BBC

    R Kelly back in custody

    In this photo taken and released by the Chicago Police Dept., Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, R&B singer R. Kelly is photographed during booking at a police station in Chicago, Il. R. Kelly.

    R Kelly is photographed during booking at a police station in Chicago. Photo: AP / Chicago Police Department

    American R&B singer R Kelly has been arrested for a second time in recent weeks – this time for failure to pay child support.

    The 52-year-old was taken into custody in Chicago for owing more than $161,000 in child support to his three children with ex-wife Andrea Kelly.

    He must pay the full amount to get out of jail.

    The arrest comes just hours after an explosive television interview in which he lashed out against charges that he had sexually assaulted teenage girls.

    He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

    – Reuters

    Promises of a ‘privacy-focused’ Facebook

    Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has said he believes secure, private messaging services will become more popular than open platforms.

    In a blog, Mr Zuckerberg outlined his vision to transform Facebook into a “privacy-focused platform”.

    Facebook owns Messenger and WhatsApp, but message encryption limits its ability to make money through targeted adverts.

    Read more:   Oil drops after U.S. President Trump threatens new China trade tariffs  

    The social media giant has come under fire for a series of privacy scandals.

    In 2018, it emerged that the data of about 50 million users had been harvested and passed on to a political consultancy.

    – BBC

    Suspicious packages linked

    British police say a suspicious package detonated at Glasgow University in Scotland is linked to three incendiary devices discovered around London yesterday which had been posted from Ireland.

    The package was discovered at the main campus mailroom and was detonated by bomb disposal officers.

    Yesterday, three explosive parcels were sent to London’s Waterloo train station, City Airport and Heathrow Airport.

    All had been posted from the Irish Republic. Irish police are helping with the investigations.

    Postal sorting offices and transport hubs have been told to be on high alert for more suspicious parcels.

    – Reuters

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  • Plans for Chinese-backed coal-fired plant could reignite the climate wars
  • Australian Greens protest new coal plants

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    The massive Chinese state-owned China Energy Engineering Corporation (CEEC) has plans to build 2000MW of new coal generation in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, north of Sydney. Photo: 123RF

    The Australian Greens party has threatened to launch the biggest protest Australia has ever seen if the government signs off on new coal-fired power plants in New South Wales.

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    Last week a Chinese state-owned energy company struck a deal with a Hong Kong investment firm and an Australian company to develop to power stations in the Hunter Region, north of Sydney.

    The proposal needs to be approved by both state and federal governments, something Greens MP Adam Bandt is adamant should not happen.

    The Australian Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s office issued a statement saying it was aware of the deal, but declined further comment.

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  • Plans for Chinese-backed coal-fired plant could reignite the climate wars
  • Approval for anti-depressant nasal spray

    The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a nasal spray to treat depression in what is the first new type of anti-depressant in 30 years.

    The medication, called eskatamine, hsa been developed by Johnson & Johnson.

    It contains Ketamine – a commonly-known drug which has been used as an anaethestic for decades.

    The medication will be restricted to people who have “treatment-resistant depression,” or patients who haven’t responded to at least two other medications and the FDA has warned it could be misused or abused.

    – Reuters