Issue 74: 2016 10 06:Week in brief (international)

06 October 2016




AUSTRIA:  A re-run of the recent elections has been postponed for two months until December.

GERMANY:  The interior minister Thomas de Mazière said that the Dublin convention should be reinstated.  This insists that immigrants should be returned to the first EU country they enter.

Prosecutors have found no evidence that TV comedian Jan Bohmermann’s satirical poem attacking President Erdogan of Turkey committed any crime, and so have abandoned their investigations.

GREECE:  Police used tear-gas and pepper-spray against pensioners when thousands of elderly citizens demonstrated against pension-cuts in Athens.  The use of tear gas against the elderly was subsequently banned.

HUNGARY:  In the referendum about EU-imposed migrant quotes, 98.3% (over 3 million voters) rejected the quotas – but the vote is invalid because the turn-out was only 39.8% (43.9% with 4% spoiled), below the required 50%.  Nevertheless, Prime Minister Victor Orban is proposing to change the constitution to ban large-scale immigration.

ITALY:  Coastguards rescued over 6000 migrants in a single day, as people-smugglers in Libya made the most of calm weather in the Mediterranean.

RUSSIA:  The trial of five men accused of murdering Boris Nemtsov has begun in Moscow.  Mr Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, opposition leader and a critic of President Putin, was shot dead near the Kremlin last year.  The five accused men are all Chechens.

President Putin suspended the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PDMA) with the USA.  Mr Putin and Mr Clinton reached the agreement, enabling the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium, in 2000.  Russia claims that the USA is not fulfilling the terms of the PDMA.

SPAIN:  The leader of the Socialist party, Pedro Sanchez, has resigned.  With Mr Sanchez no longer insisting that his opposition Socialist party must force ‘no confidence’ votes, acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy may now be able to form a minority government.  Mr Rajoy has until the end of the month to form a government or Spain will face its third general election in one year.

Thirty-seven former members of Prime Minister Rajoy’s Popular Party (including its former treasurer) have gone on trial, facing charges of corruption.

SWEDEN:  Sweden intends to re-introduce compulsory military service in 2018.  It is thought that the move is in response to what is seen as increasing Russian aggression.

UKRAINE:  An international report on the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet Flight MH17 in July 2014 has concluded that it was brought down by a Russian Buk missile, fired from a launcher which had been driven into rebel-held Ukraine from Russia a few hours earlier, and driven back into Russia after the attack.  There are now calls for Russia to be prosecuted for this war crime.

Middle East and Africa

ETHIOPIA:  52 people died when crowds of protestors calling for freedom and justice stampeded after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at them.

IRAQ:  Preparations continue for the imminent attack on the Isis-held city of Mosul.

Two suicide bomb attacks on Shia districts of Baghdad killed at least ten people and wounded more than 30.

ISRAEL:  Shimon Peres, the former president and champion of the two-state peace plan, died.  Leaders from all around the world attended his funeral.

SYRIA:  The siege and aerial bombardment of rebel-held Aleppo continues, with civilians, hospitals and medical centres hit.  Regime ground troops beginning to advance into the suburbs.

The USA suspends talks with Russia about cease-fire and joint military action.

Free Syrian Army rebel forces have begun an advance on the Isis stronghold of Dabiq, a village between Aleppo and the Turkish border. The FSA are supported by Turkey and the USA.

A suicide bomb attack on a Kurdish wedding killed at least 22 people and wounded many more in Hassakeh, north east Syria.

TURKEY:  The deputy prime minister announced a three month extension to the country’s state of emergency.

Far East, Asia and Pacific

AFGHANISTAN:  Taliban forces claimed to have taken the city of Kunduz, after weeks of fighting.  Government forces are counter-attacking.  The cities of Lashkar Gar and Tarin Kot are also under Taliban attack.

CHINA:  Scientists and astronomers have begun operating the world’s biggest single-aperture radio telescope – the 500 metre Aperture Spherical Telescope in Dawodang, Guizhou province.

The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge has been built between Hong Kong and Macau, across the Pearl River estuary. The 34 mile long bridge will not be open to traffic for another three years.

INDIA: Security forces ‘arrested’ a pigeon allegedly carrying a threatening note from the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba to President Narendra Modi. The bird was intercepted close to an army base in Pathankot, Punjab.

JAPAN:  The mayor of Tokyo announced that the 2020 Olympics would be scaled down, due to rising costs.

KOREA, SOUTH:  In a speech on Armed Forces day, President Park Geun Hye made a direct appeal to the people of North Korea, encouraging them to defect to the south.

KOREA, NORTH:  Satellite images suggest that North Korea is building new submarines to launch ballistic missiles.

PAKISTAN:  Two soldiers were killed and nine wounded in attacks by India across the Line of Control in Kashmir, in response to last week’s attack by militants on Indian soldiers in Uri.

PHILIPPINES:  President Duterte has announced that the Philippines will no longer take part in joint military exercises with the USA, in order to avoid Chinese ill-will.  He announced he would be happy to emulate Hitler’s genocide of the Jews with a genocide of drug-dealers and drug addicts.  The USA, the UN and the EU have criticised his support of the extra-judicial killings of at least 3000 people, but he has responded with obscenities.


The World Health Organisation announced that the Americas are now free from measles. The disease was carried across the Atlantic by Europeans five hundred years ago and killed millions of the original population, who had no immunity. Its elimination follows a 30-year vaccination campaign.

COLOMBIA:  Sunday’s referendum rejected the peace deal between the government and FARC rebels.  The turnout was low (13 million voters out of 35 million) and the result was close; 50.21% voted against, 49.78% voted for.  The opposition leader Alvaro Uribe, who argued that the deal was too lenient in its provision for amnesties and the acceptance of FARC leaders into mainstream politics, will now join the negotiations which will attempt to keep the peace-talks alive and avoid a return to war. See comment Peace in Colombia?

HAITI:  Haiti was hit by Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful storm in the region for fifty years.  Gusts of 150mph and flash floods have devastated towns in the south west of the island, which is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake.

USA:  Congress overturned President Obama’s veto of the bill which would enable victims of the 9/11 attack to sue Saudi Arabia.

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