Issue 58:2016 06 16:Week in Brief International

16 June 2016


UN Flag to denote International news


FRANCE:  Strikes have brought rubbish collection to a halt, resulting in piles of rubbish lying around in the streets.  Refinery workers, dockers, and railway staff continue to strike.  The Eiffel Tower and Versailles Palace were closed because of industrial action.  More than a million people joined protests across the country.  75,000 people protested in Paris, with hundreds rioting and engaging in violent conflicts with the police.

A police officer and his partner were stabbed to death at their home by a Frenchman of Moroccan origin who was then shot by police after a three-hour siege. The murderer was a known jihadist, having recently served a year in prison for terrorist offences.

There were violent confrontations between English and Russian soccer fans before and after their Euro 2016 match. A number of English soccer fans were arrested. The police were unable to arrest any Russian fans: the Russian so-called ‘ultra’ gangs are organised along para-military lines, and some Russian officials and politicians have applauded their actions. UEFA has fined Russia €150,000 and given the Russian team a suspended disqualification. Russia is due to host the World Cup in 2018.

Uber was fined by a French court for operating a ride-sharing service.  France banned Uber POP a year ago.

GERMANY:  A fire destroyed a hall housing almost 300 refugees in Dusseldorf.  Eight asylum seekers were arrested; the fire was apparently the result of a row over the correct observance of Ramadan.

11 MPs of Turkish descent have been criticised in Turkey for supporting the Bundestag’s decision to call the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 a genocide. They have been given police protection after receiving threatening emails.

ITALY:  Prime Minister Matteo Renzi condemned Silvio Berlusconi’s newspaper “Il Giornale” for giving away a free copy of Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” with its Saturday issue.

SPAIN:  The far-left party Podemos has joined the former Communist party United Left to form Unidos Podemos, in advance of this month’s re-run of last December’s inconclusive general election.

Middle East and Africa

BAHRAIN:  There are reports that the police have launched a crack-down on dissent.  The president of the Bahrain Centre For Human Rights, Nabeel Rajab, has been arrested, according to his family.  Another activist, Zainab al-Khawaja, has fled to Denmark.

ERITREA:  A UN report said that about 5000 Eritreans emigrate every month, and blames the country’s system of compulsory conscription, which it describes as a type of enslavement.   Eritrea responded by claiming that Ethiopia, from which it won its independence in 1919, attacked across the border this week.

IRAQ:  A suicide attack on a majority Shia neighbourhood in Baghdad killed 19 people and wounded 46 others.  Another suicide attack, on an Iraqi army checkpoint north of Baghdad, killed at least 12 people.  Isis have claimed responsibility.

The battle for Fallujah continues: Iraq forces are fighting Isis house-to-house through the southern suburb of Shuhada and the northern suburb Saqlawiyah. There are reports that Isis is killing its own wounded, and is suffering high levels of desertion and in-fighting; also that foreign recruitment is drying up.  Civilians who have fled are being screened to check whether they are Isis deserters, and there are reports of sectarian abuse.

ISRAEL:  Two Palestinian gunmen murdered four Israelis and wounded five others in an attack on a market in Tel Aviv.  Both men were arrested.

LIBYA:  Militia brigades backing the government of national accord are pushing into the Isis stronghold of Sirte.  There are reports of Isis fighters disguising themselves as civilians to escape.

12 officials charged with offences against the people during the rising against Gaddafi were murdered after being conditionally released from jail.

QATAR:  A Dutch woman has been convicted of extramarital sex and given a one-year suspended jail sentence after reporting to the police that she had been drugged and raped in a hotel in Doha.  She paid a £580 fine to be released for deportation.

SAUDI ARABIA:  The UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon admitted that references to Saudi Arabia were removed from the recent UN report “Children and Armed Conflict” which had initially documented child deaths resulting from bombing in the Yemen by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies.  He said that Saudi Arabia had threatened to withdraw millions of dollars of funding from UN programmes.

SOMALIA:  Fighters from the militant group al Shabaab over-ran a military base held by Ethiopian troops.  The base was later re-taken.  Casualty figures are uncertain.  The Ethiopian troops are part of an African Union coalition supporting the UN-backed Somali government.

SOUTH AFRICA:  A court began sentencing proceedings against Oscar Pistorius, found guilty of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp by the Supreme Court of Appeal last December when it overturned the 2014 conviction of culpable homicide.

SYRIA:  The Syrian Democratic Forces (an alliance of mainly Kurdish fighters with some Arab militias), backed by Western airstrikes, have surrounded the city of Manbij, a vital link in the Isis supply chain between Raqqa and the Turkish border.

Three hospitals in rebel-held areas of Aleppo were attacked by regime helicopters dropping barrel-bombs; 19 people (including some children) were killed. Airstrikes by Assad regime forces killed at least 25 people (including 5 children) in the rebel-held city of Idlib.  Airstrikes also killed 6 people (including a woman and her four children) in the town of Maarat al-Numan south of Idlib.  At least 100 barrel bombs were dropped in two days on the besieged town of Darayya where 8000 inhabitants are facing starvation, preventing the distribution of supplies which had just arrived on an aid convoy.

TURKEY:  The sale of fertilizers containing ammonium nitrate, an ingredient in explosives, has been banned.

The EU’s ambassador to Turkey, Hansjörg Haber, a German, has resigned after making undiplomatic and unflattering comments about Turks.

Far East, Asia and Pacific

BANGLADESH:  A Hindu holy man was hacked to death in northern Bangladesh, another murder by suspected Islamist militants.  The police have arrested more than 8,000 people in an attempt to crack down on such killings (there have been 30 in the past year); however, there are claims that the main targets of this exercise have been the government’s political rivals.

NEW ZEALAND:  The government has dropped the country’s ban on foreign ships armed with nuclear weapons from entering its ports.  The ban, imposed in 1985, angered New Zealand’s allies Australia, the USA and the UK, but was applauded by the anti-nuclear movement.

PAKISTAN:  A group of senior clerics, the Sunni Ittehad Council, has condemned honour killings and issued a fatwa against the practice.

PHILIPPINES:  Another Canadian hostage has been killed by Abu Sayyaf, the Islamic militant group which launches kidnapping raids, robberies and murders from its base in the country’s remote south-eastern islands.


BOLIVIA:  Five people have been arrested and charged with a conspiracy to present an imposter as the illegitimate son of President Morales.  The unmarried president knew that he had fathered a son with a mistress in 2009, but says that he was told that the child had died.  Rumours that he was alive surfaced during last year’s referendum about amending the constitution to allow the president extra terms.  The police said that the five people arrested are close to the mistress’s family.

BRAZIL: Police raided the headquarters of a building contractor during an investigation into fraud allegations about the construction of the Deodoro complex, one of the venues for the Rio Olympics.

MEXICO:  11 members of the same family were shot dead in a village in central Mexico.  Two other children were badly wounded.

PERU:  The run-off of the presidential election was very close; Pedro Kuczynski (former World Bank economist) won with 50.1% of the vote against Keiko Fujimori (the daughter of the jailed ex-president) with 49.9% of the vote.

USA:  A gunman murdered 49 people in an attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  The murderer was a US-born Muslim of Afghan parentage.  He pledged allegiance to Isis immediately before launching his attack on the LGBT community.   He was shot dead by police.

Hilary Clinton is assured the leadership of the Democratic Party, having won the primaries in California, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and Washington DC (the final primary). She has been officially endorsed as the party leader by President Obama.

The Democratic Party’s computer network has been broken into by hackers reportedly from the Russian government trying to access files about Donald Trump.

Thousands of mourners attended Mohammad Ali’s funeral in Louisville, Kentucky.

VENEZUELA:  Food shortages are triggering riots and unrest in the poorest quarters of Caracas, which have traditionally been loyal to President Maduro.  Three people have been killed.  There are fears that revolution or civil war could break out if the government continues to stall on the recall referendum, the vote on the president’s future constitutionally required by a petition, organised by the opposition, which collected almost two million signatures.

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