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Moody's Downgrades Lebanon's Rating; Outlook Negative

Moody's Investors Service downgraded on Tuesday Lebanon's government bond ratings to B2 from B1 and maintained the negative outlook.

The key drivers of the rating action according to Moody's are the rise in the main government debt metrics, the harmful repercussions of the spillover from the Syrian crisis on government finances, economic growth and political stability.

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Army Foils Infiltration Attempt in Outskirts of Ras Baalbek

The Lebanese army foiled an infiltration attempt overnight when some gunmen tried to infiltrate the outskirts of Ras Baalbek and Wadi Rafek near of al-Qaa, the state-run National News Agency reported on Monday.

Lebanese troops engaged in heavy armed clashes with the infiltrators, NNA added.

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Miss South Africa Crowned Miss World

Miss South Africa, 22-year-old Rolene Strauss, was crowned Miss World 2014 at the pageant's final in London on Sunday, with an estimated billion viewers watching on television around the globe.

Miss Hungary, Edina Kulcsar, was the runner-up and Miss United States, Elizabeth Safrit, came third in the 64th annual competition, contested by women from 121 countries.

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Jumblat in Joint Statement: Legalize Hash in Lebanon

The controversial and outspoken Druze leader Walid Jumblat called in a "joint statement" on Twitter Saturday for the cultivation of marijuana to be legalized.

"It's time to allow hash to be grown and to overturn arrest warrants against people sought for doing so," the veteran politician wrote in Arabic on his Twitter account.

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Report: Security Measures Intensified during Holiday Period over Terror Concerns

Security measures throughout Lebanon will be intensified during the Christmas and New Year holiday period, reported As Safir newspaper on Saturday.

A widely-informed source told the daily: “This is a critical stage and security measures will be bolstered in all Lebanese regions without exception.”

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Deputy U.N. Secretary General Travels to Beirut to Tackle Syrian Refugee File

Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson is scheduled to arrive in Lebanon on Sunday on a three-day visit aimed at discussing the case of Syrian refugees, reported the daily An Nahar on Saturday.

Eliasson will arrive on Sunday for talks with Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi, and a number of high-ranking officials.

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Swiss Attorney General: Former Analyst Transferred Stolen Data to Lebanese Banks

Swiss authorities have charged a fugitive banking analyst with data theft and their transfer to several institutions abroad, including Lebanese banks, in what is considered to be one of the biggest security breaches in the country's often-secretive banking sector.

The case of Herve Falciani, a former employee of global banking group HSBC, has been making headlines in Europe since he fled Switzerland in 2008. He has been accused of stealing information between 2006 and 2007 relating to 24,000 customers of the Swiss division of HSBC.

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Israeli Military Sees No Hizbullah Reaction to Syria Strike, Mulls 'Cooperation' with Lebanese Army 

Israel doesn't expect a Syrian or Lebanese response to an airstrike in Syria attributed to Israel earlier this week since they are too tied up with that country's bloody civil war and can't afford to open another front, a senior Israeli military officer said Wednesday.

The officer said Hizbullah fighters had the capability, but not the motivation, at this time to harm Israel and there was no "logic" to picking a fight with Israel while it was knee-deep in battling a Sunni insurgency.

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Report: ISIL to Release Hostage ahead of Holidays as Goodwill Gesture

The relatives of abducted soldiers and policemen were informed by an international side that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group is ready to release a hostage before the holidays as a goodwill gesture.

According to Ad Diyar newspaper published on Thursday, the relatives said that ISIL's initiative is to press the Lebanese state to change its maneuvers and its techniques in dealing with the abduction ordeal.

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Palestinian Official Dies after Beating by Israeli Troops, Abbas Says 'All Options Open' in Response to Incident

A senior Palestinian official died Wednesday after he was struck by Israeli forces during a protest march in the West Bank, prompting international calls for an investigation into the incident.

The Palestinian leadership vowed to respond to what President Mahmoud Abbas called the "brutal assault" on Ziad Abu Ein, who was in charge of the issue of Israeli settlements for the Palestinian Authority (PA).

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