Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Macaws offer feathered 'therapy' to suffering Venezuelans
Looking for an escape from the daily realities of crisis-ridden Venezuela, Carmen Gomez finds solace receiving visitors on the roof of her Caracas apartment building every morning: groups of blue and gold macaws that arrive at daybreak. Gomez, a 49-year-old alternative medicine therapist, sat one bright morning in May on top of her 11-story building with a can of sunflower seeds and a tray of bananas to await their arrival.
U.S. unsure about circumstances of tanker towed to Iran
U.S. officials say they are unsure whether an oil tanker towed into Iranian waters was seized by Iran or rescued after facing mechanical faults as Tehran asserts, creating a mystery at sea at a time of high tension in the Gulf. The MT Riah disappeared from ship tracking maps when its transponder was switched off in the Strait of Hormuz on July 14. Its last position was off the coast of the Iranian island of Qeshm in the strait.
Yemen's Houthis say they launched drone attack on Saudi's Jizan airport
Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group said it launched a drone attack on Jizan airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia early on Wednesday, part of an escalation of cross-border assaults in the 4-year-old conflict. The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen said it had intercepted and downed a Houthi drone heading towards civilian targets in Jizan.
From 'Asia's finest' to 'black dogs': Hong Kong police under pressure
Hong Kong's vaunted police force is facing a crisis of confidence and leadership amid the city's worsening political tensions, according to serving and retired officers, politicians and security analysts. The force is struggling to cope amid haphazard decision-making, worsening morale and anger among rank-and-file officers that they are taking the public heat for government unpopularity, they warned.
South Korea says to unveil plans to ease dependence on Japan industries
South Korea will unveil plans soon to reduce its economy's dependence on Japanese industries, its finance minister said on Wednesday, while repeating his call for Tokyo to end export curbs. "The government is working on comprehensive plans to reduce the country's dependence on Japan's materials, components and equipment industries and will announce them soon," Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said at the start of a regular meeting of economy-related ministers.
Vietnam, China embroiled in South China Sea standoff
Vietnamese and Chinese ships have been embroiled in a weeks-long standoff near an offshore oil block in disputed waters of the South China Sea, which fall within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone, two Washington-based think-tanks said on Wednesday. China's U-shaped "nine-dash line" marks a vast expanse of the South China Sea that it claims, including large swathes of Vietnam's continental shelf where it has awarded oil concessions.
Seeking to avoid escalation, ships deploy unarmed guards to navigate Gulf
Shipping companies are hiring unarmed security guards for voyages through the Middle East Gulf as an extra safeguard after a wave of attacks in the region, security companies involved said. Relations between Iran and the West are increasingly strained after Britain seized an Iranian tanker in Gibraltar this month. Britain also said last week that one of its warships had to fend off Iranian vessels seeking to block a UK-owned tanker from passing through the Strait of Hormuz.
Turkish foreign ministry says one consulate employee died in Erbil shooting
Turkey's foreign ministry said one Turkish consulate employee was killed in a shooting on Wednesday in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil. Kurdish security officials had told Reuters that at least three Turkish diplomats were killed in the attack on Wednesday, when gunmen opened fire at a restaurant where the diplomats were dining.
Path to power or poisoned chalice: Merkel protegee takes defense job
Chancellor Angela Merkel's protegee, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, took over as defense minister on Wednesday, entering the cabinet in a move likely to make or break her chances of succeeding her mentor as Germany's leader by 2021. Ursula von der Leyen's promotion to European Commission president vacated the defense post and Kramp-Karrenbauer, anxious to build her experience and chancellorship credentials, grabbed it.
UK's Johnson planning summer 2020 election: Times
Boris Johnson's team wants to hold a national election in the summer of 2020 and has started raising funds to hire more staff and prepare the Conservative Party for the contest, the Times newspaper reported on Wednesday. The former mayor of London is the clear frontrunner to replace Theresa May and become British prime minister when the result of the leadership contest with Jeremy Hunt is announced next Tuesday.