07 September 2017
Week in Brief: International
FRANCE: The prime minister announced 36 measures to reform the country’s labour laws.
GERMANY: Chancellor Merkel faced the SDP leader Martin Schultz in a live TV debate, but there was little conflict; they agreed on most things, including keeping Turkey out of the EU. Brexit wasn’t mentioned. Campaigning for the elections in three weeks time has been so dull that Der Spiegel published the headline “Wake up!” in an attempt to invigorate it.
There has been an increase in the number of applications for asylum from Turks fearing detention and arrest by President Erdogan. Those applying include judges, journalists and members of the armed forces. More than 50,000 people have been arrested in Turkey and approximately 150,000 dismissed from their jobs following the attempted coup in July 2016. Turkey has asked that those accused of complicity in the coup be extradited.
60,000 people were evacuated from central Frankfurt after a massive 1.4 tonne WWII British bomb was found. It was successfully defused by bomb disposal experts.
ITALY: The government is proposing to use houses and villas confiscated from the Mafia to house immigrants. The announcement followed criticism of the authorities after Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees were removed from an office block in Rome.
POLAND: The government is planning to demand up to $1 trillion in reparation from Germany for damage suffered during World War II, in spite of an agreement in 1953 which was intended to resolve the issue. Angela Markel has criticised the Polish government for continuing with changes to the machinery for the appointment of judges.
Middle East and Africa
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: 2000 Muslim civilians have taken refuge in a Catholic seminary in Bangassou and are being protected by its Catholic bishop. Christian militias are fighting a civil war against Muslim rebels who overthrew President Bozize in 2013.
LIBYA: A militia commander signed a deal with the Tripoli government to help stem the migrant flow in return for recognition, funding and equipment.
KENYA: The Supreme Court ordered a rerun of last month’s elections, saying that the electoral commission had “committed irregularities and illegalities in the transmission of results”. Defeated opposition leader Raila Odinga claims that the commission’s computers were hacked and votes disappeared. Observers from the US, the EU and the African Union said that the elections were free and fair.
RWANDA: Opposition politician Diane Rwigara has apparently disappeared, following a police raid on her home. Last month she was disqualified from standing in the presidential elections.
SYRIA: Shia militias and regime forces bussed 300 defeated Isis fighters, ejected from an enclave on the Libyan border, across country to Iraq. Coalition airstrikes destroyed a road and bridge to stop them from getting to Iraq, and also destroyed an Isis convoy trying to link up with them.
Western-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have driven Isis from Raqqa’a Old City.
Regime forces have begun the attack on Deir Ezzor in the eastern desert, one of Isis’ last strongholds. They have lifted the siege of a regime military base in the west of the city, and are advancing into the Isis-held east of the city. They are being supported by the Russian airforce and special forces; two Russians have been reported killed. Western-backed Free Syrian Army rebels were advancing on the town, but they were threatened by regime forces and held back rather than risk confrontation.
Amnesty International has published claims that 75,000 people have disappeared after being detained by the Assad regime. The figure comes from the Syrian Network for Human Rights, based in the UK.
TURKEY: President Erdogan has taken over control of the country’s intelligence agency in advance of the implementation of the new constitution. An emergency decree was used to transfer control from the Prime Minister’s office to that of the President.
Far East, Asia and Pacific
BURMA: Tens of thousands of Rohingya muslims have fled to Bangladesh, to escape conflict between Rohingya insurgents and the security forces, which is taking its toll on civilians.
CAMBODIA: The government has closed down the opposition newspaper The Cambodia Daily.
INDIA: Extreme monsoon conditions have caused widespread damage throughout the region, including in Banladesh,Nepal and Pakistan. At least 33 people were killed in Mombai when floods caused a building to collapse.
KOREA, NORTH: Seismic analysis suggests that the Pyonyang regime carried out an underground test of a 50 killoton hydrogen bomb. In response, President Trump threatened to cut of US trade with any country (ie China) trading with North Korea, and agreed with President Moon of South Korea to lift the self-imposed limits on the range and size of missiles deployed in South Korea. With Japan also seeking to boost its defences against North Korean aggression (which would alarm China), an arms race in the region looks likely.
TAIWAN: Premier Lin Chan resigned, and there are calls for President Tsai Ing-wen to resign. There is widespread public discontent about the economy.
COLOMBIA: The ELN, a guerrilla group, has agreed a ceasefire with the government. It is to begin on October 1 and last until January 2018.
The president announced that the leaders of the Golfo crime gang (also known as the Usuga clan) are “prepared to submit to justice”.
URUGUAY: One of Italy’s most wanted men, Rocco Morabito, was arrested after 23 years on the run. He is thought to be a member of Calabria’s ‘Ndrngheta organised crime group who fled Italy to escape drug-smuggling charges.
USA: Hurricane Harvey hit Texas with extreme flooding. At least 40 people died, and the cost of repairs and rebuilding could reach $180 billion.
Trump announced that he will cancel DACA (Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals; a program set up by Barack Obam in 2012 to prevent the deportation of immigrants under the age of 36 who came to the US as children and who have no criminal record), challenging Congress to give them some sort of legal status instead of deporting them.
Yale University’s Calhoun College has been renamed Hopper College. John Calhoun, vice-president 1825-1832, supported slavery; Rear Admiral Grace Hopper received a PhD in mathematics from Yale and became an information technology pioneer in the 1940s.
VENEZUELA: The president and vice-president of the elected national assembly are visiting Europe to meet national leaders to discuss the threat to democracy posed by President Mduri’s new constituent assembly. President Macron of France called President Maduro’s government “a dictatorship trying to survive at the cost of unprecedented humanitarian distress”.
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