26 November 2015
Week in Brief: INTERNATIONAL
ARGENTINA: In the election’s second round of voting, opposition leader Mauricio Macri, the Buenas Aires mayor who stands for centre-right free-market liberalism, defeated the left-wing protectionist Daniel Scioli, the protégé of the out-going President Kirchner.
AUSTRALIA: Bushfires, thought to have been started by lightning, killed a farmer and three German tourists in Western Australia. High temperatures for early summer are being recorded and forecast across the country.
Australia has blocked the sale of the ‘Kidman estate’ – an area of private land almost half the size of Britain consisting largely of cattle ranches – to a Chinese investment firm, on the grounds of national security as part of it is inside the Woomera Prohibited Area, a military weapons-testing range. Australia was criticised this week by President Obama for leasing Darwin’s commercial port to a Chinese firm, as it could allow China to spy on defence facilities used by warships from the US and other countries.
BANGLADESH: An Italian priest cycling to church was shot in the head at close range by three men on a motorbike. Piero Arolari, who is also a doctor and has lived in Dinajpur for 35 years and treats the local poor at a missionary hospital, is in a critical condition. The bombs, bullets and blades of Jihadists have killed 17 people and injured 103 others in a score of attacks this year in Bangladesh.
BELGIUM: The prime minister announced an 18 point package of strong anti-terrorism measures, including the automatic imprisonment of jihadists returning from Syria or Iraq. Emergency measures remain in place in Brussels, though the underground is re-opening. The police have made dozens of anti-terror raids and arrests in the search for Salah Abdeslam, the only member of the Paris gang to remain at large.
BURMA: A collapsing spoil heap at a jade mine killed at least 100 people.
CANADA: The University of Ottawa has banned yoga classes because students consider the teaching and practice of yoga by Westerners to be cultural appropriation, a legacy of imperialism and colonialism.
CHINA: Police have broken a network of illegal gambling websites used by millions of gamblers to place bets worth billions of pounds. Gambling is popular in China but is illegal everywhere except Macau.
EGYPT: Russia signed a deal with Egypt to build a new nuclear power station in Dabaa, northern Egypt.
Airport authorities claim to have foiled a bomb plot when X-ray security equipment at Cairo airport spotted explosive materials in two parcels to be sent to the US via London.
EU: The EU’s border policies are in chaos following suggestions that terrorists have been able to enter and travel through the EU freely. Holland is proposing a core zone of Austria, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands with a strong external border and no internal borders.
FRANCE: Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the man thought to have planned the Paris attacks, was confirmed dead in the police raid on the St Denis apartment building. The search for Salah Abdeslam the last attacker to remain at large, continues. A suicide vest, thought to have been abandoned by him, was found in a rubbish bin. School trips to France were cancelled, on advice from French government. Further attacks (including chemical) are feared. A Jewish teacher stabbed by Isis members in Marseilles.
France drafted a UN resolution to eradicate Isis, which was endorsed by UN Security Council. President Hollande met with David Cameron, Angela Merkel, President Obama and the Kremlin to build alliance against Isis.
A migrants’ camp on the outskirts of Dunkirk has been cleared and dismantled after reports that it is being run by British criminals to smuggle immigrants over the channel on ferries.
GERMANY: A note released by the Kremlin appears to suggest that Germany has struck a deal with Russia to put down two more Baltic gas pipelines in defiance of EU aims to reduce reliance on Russian power.
One of the Paris bombers registered as a refugee in Germany last October, according to press reports.
GREECE: No refugees arrived on Greek shores in the three days following the Paris murders, as people-traffickers lay low.
A bomb exploded at the Federation of Greek Enterprises building in the centre of Athens. Greek anarchists are suspected to be responsible.
INDIA: A helicopter crash killed 7 people – 6 passengers and the pilot – near the Vishnu Devi Hindu shrine in the Trikuta mountains in northern India.
IRAN: The International Atomic Energy Agency (the UN’s nuclear watchdog) reported that Iran has begun to dismantle two of its uranium enrichment sites.
ISRAEL: An Israeli woman was stabbed to death by a Palestinian.
ITALY: Milan prosecutors accused Sivio Berlusconi of bribing witnesses in his prostitution trial, and called for him and 30 others to be tried on allegations of perverting the course of justice.
The FBI warned Italian police that a team of five suspected Islamic terrorists are planning an attack on tourist sites in Rome.
The police claim to have foiled an attempt by the mafia to murder the interior minister Angelino Alfano .
Three armed and masked men stole 17 paintings worth €15 million – including works by Rubens, Tintoretto, Bellini and Andrea Mantegna – from the Castelvecchio museum in Verona. They also stole the security guard’s car and used it as their getaway vehicle.
JAPAN: Prime minister Shinzo Abe announced that he is setting up a new intelligence agency to counter the threat of Islamic terrorism inside and outside Japan.
MACEDONIA: Macedonia is increasing border controls and preparing to build a fence along its border with Greece. Other Balkan countries – Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia – are also imposing border controls on migrants and refugees.
MALI: A terrorist attack on the Radisson hotel in Bamako killed more than 20 people. Mali, French and US troops stormed the hotel and killed the gunmen. Many Islamist extremist groups are operating in West Africa.
NEW ZEALAND: Voting began to choose a new national flag.
A helicopter crash on Fox Glacier in the Westland National Park killed its six passengers (including four Britons) and pilot.
NIGERIA: Sambo Dasuki, a former lieutenant-colonel and national security adviser, has been accused by President Buhari of appropriating over $2billion from funds allocated to fighting Boko Haram.
Two female suicide bombers murdered at least 15 people and wounded many more in northern Kenya. At least 34 people were murdered in a separate Boko Haram attack in western Nigeria.
NORTH KOREA: Kim Jong Un has purged another of his top aides. Marshal Choe Ryong Hae has been blamed for the collapse of a tunnel at a power station and has been sent to work at a collective farm, for ‘re-education’.
PAKISTAN: Four security guards outside a mosque in Karachi were murdered by gunmen on motorcycles.
PORTUGAL: President Cavaco Silva has asked the Socialist party leader Antonio Costa to form a government with the Socialist’s leftwing allies, the Communists and Left Bloc. The president asked for guarantees that the new government would keep to the fiscal reforms promised to the EU and not seek to remove Portugal from Nato.
PHILIPPINES: At the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Manila, President Obama called on China to stop land reclamation and militarisation in the disputed areas of the South China Seas. Riot police were deployed to control thousands of anti-globalisation protesters.
RUSSIA: Metrojet Flight 9268 was brought down by a bomb made from a soft-drinks can and smuggled on board, according to Isis.
Power-lines to Crimea were blown up, leaving it without energy and in a state of emergency. Crimea still relies on Ukraine for most of its food and energy.
A Russian court has banned the Church of Scientology in Moscow, ruling that it is not a religion.
SAUDI ARABIA: Human Rights Watch has reported that a Saudi poet and artist, Ashraf Fayadh, who was jailed and sentenced to 800 lashes for apostasy last year, has been sentenced to death by an appeal judge.
SENEGAL: The government is planning to ban the burka and the niqab, to prevent female suicide bombers from using them as cover. Senegal has a Muslim majority. Gabon, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville) and northern Cameroon have already banned them.
SOUTH AFRICA: Investigative journalists have claimed that President Zuma accepted the help of criminal gang leaders in Cape Town who promised to secure votes for him in return for dropping investigations against them by the South African Revenue Services.
SPAIN: Interior minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz has awarded the gold medal of merit to a statue of the Virgin Mary. The gold medal of merit is Spain’s highest police medal and is usually awarded to officers who are killed in the line of duty. The award was challenged by a secular group, but the National Court of Spain ruled in favour of the minister.
SYRIA: Russia and the USA continue to target oil installations and convoys of oil tanker lorries in an attempt to disrupt Isis’ oil-smuggling operations.
Anti-government forces have reported that Assad government artillery units are giving battlefield support to the Syrian Democratic Forces militia against Isis. The SDA is largely Kurdish and is backed by the USA. Although the Kurds are less anti-Assad than other groups, it is an indication of disparate forces in Syria beginning to come together against the common enemy, Isis, in an ad hoc way.
A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet crashed in northern Syria, near the border with Turkey, shot down by a Turkish F-16 jet. Turkey claims that the Russian plane was violating Turkish airspace when it was shot, and had been warned to leave ten times in the preceding five minutes. The fate of the two pilots in uncertain; the anti-Assad Turkmen fighters who were the jet’s intended targets claim to have shot one of them as he parachuted down (an illegal act under international law). They also destroyed one of the Russian helicopters sent to the area on a search-and-rescue mission. Turkey has repeatedly asked Russia to stop violating its airspace, and only days before had protested to the Russian ambassador and to the UN Security Council about Russian airstrikes against Turkmen villages. See comment article.
TUNISIA: A bomb exploded on a military bus carrying presidential guards in Tunis. At least 12 people were killed and 20 injured. Islamist militants are suspected. A state of emergency was declared.
TURKEY: Police have arrested a Belgian of Moroccan descent, suspected of helping the Paris attack. Two Syrians were arrested with him.
UKRAINE: The recent renewal of fighting between pro-Moscow rebels and Kiev government forces is intensifying.
USA: A new national historical park – the Manhattan Project park – has been established. It consists of the three sites where the atomic bomb was developed. They will be developed as visitor attractions, though the work of producing nuclear weapons still continues there.
The House of Representatives has passed legislation to obstruct the White House’s pledge to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the US. The Republican-led House of Representatives’ new bill insists that the FBI vets and passes every single refugee, which would be impractical. More than half of state governors and US citizens oppose the acceptance of refugees.
The number of Cubans migrating to the USA since the recent Cuban/USA détente has surged. Since 1995, few Cubans who make it to the USA are returned, but now Republicans in the House of Representatives are arguing that Cubans should be bound by the same immigration rules as everyone else. Tougher action by authorities in Florida has encouraged Cubans to seek entry via Mexico instead.
Donald Trump has caused further outrage by apparently advocating a database to keep track of all American Muslims, and continues to make controversial comments about race, gender and the 9/11 attack.
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