17 August 2017
Week in Brief: International
FRANCE: A car was driven into a patrol of 16 soldiers in a Paris suburb, injuring six of them. Police arrested an Algerian suspect after a car-chase which ended near Calais. The suspect was shot and wounded.
ROMANIA: A sharp rise in illegal immigrants suggests that people traffickers are opening a new route into Europe by crossing the Black Sea from Turkey to Romania.
RUSSIA: Theatre director Kirill Serebrennikov has had his passport seized by the authorities. He is a critic of President Putin and a campaigner for LGBT rights. He and his Seventh Studio theatre group are facing fraud allegations, and last month the Bolshoi Theatre mysteriously postponed the premiere of his ballet about Rudolf Nureyev. Cultural figures and opposition politicians claim that he is a victim of political persecution.
The authorities are prosecuting an activist for putting up a small plaque on a building in Arkhangelsk to commemorate a former resident who was executed by Stalin in 1937 for counter-revolutionary crimes but found innocent posthumously in 1957. The activist had permission from the residents of the building, which is semi-derelict and due to be demolished, and was taking part in the Last Address project, which has put up hundreds of such plaques across Russia to commemorate the millions of victims of Stalin’s purges. He is accused of ‘damaging a cultural heritage site’ and could be fined 200,000 roubles.
SPAIN: The government of the Balearic Islands is to impose a cap on the number of tourist beds and introduce tough new rules for Airbnb lets, in order to combat the disruption and inflation which tourism causes for residents.
A Swedish/Turkish writer has been arrested at Barcelona airport on an international arrest warrant. He has been accused by Turkey of plotting terrorism. Spain has 40 days in which to decide whether the journalist and critic of President Erdogan’s regime should be sent to Sweden or to Turkey. If sent to Turkey, he would join 200 journalists awaiting trial. Interpol arrest warrants are not intended to be used against political critics of regimes.
A sharp rise in illegal immigrants crossing the sea from Morocco suggests that people traffickers are opening a new route into Europe from Africa to Spain.
Middle East and Africa
AFGHANISTAN: More than 50 civilians from the Hazara, a Shia minority, were murdered by insurgents in Sayad district. The Shia minority are being attacked by both Isis and the Taliban.
BURKINA FASO: Suspected Islamist terrorists armed with guns and mounted on motorbikes attacked diners in a restaurant in Ouagadougou, killing 18 of them and wounding several others. Two of the gunmen were killed by security forces.
IRAN: Parliament passed a bill relaxing the death penalty for drug-trafficking. The measure now needs the approval of the guardian council.
KENYA: Raila Odinga, the opposition leader defeated by Uhuru Kenyatta in last week’s elections, claimed that votes were rigged and the election’s computer system hacked, and called for a general strike. Violent clashes between rival supporters have left 24 people dead. International monitors, including those from the USA and the EU, have found no sign of tampering with the election or its results.
LIBYA: The Libyan coastguard, intercepting people traffickers and returning migrants to Libya, plans to extend a search-and-rescue zone beyond the 12 nautical miles of Libyan waters to an area 79 nautical miles out to sea, and has told charity rescue ships not to operate in the zone. The plan is backed by the Italian government.
NIGERIA: Three suicide bomb attacks, including a female bomber who blew herself up in a market place, killed 27 people and wounded another 83 near Maiduguri. It is thought that Boko Haram was responsible.
SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi Arabia is reopening its border with Iraq, which it closed in 1991 during the Gulf War. The two countries also announced a joint trade commission.
SIERRA LEONE: More than 300 people were killed when heavy rain caused a hillside to collapse and sent a mudslide sweeping through homes near Freetown. Another 600 are missing and feared dead. 3000 people have been left homeless.
SOUTH AFRICA: A young woman has accused Grace, the wife of President Mugabe, of assaulting her in a Johannesburg hotel room where the Mugabe’s two sons are staying.
SYRIA: The rebel group Jaish Usud al-Sharqiya claimed to have shot down a Syrian airforce jet and captured the pilot.
Far East, Asia and Pacific
AUSTRALIA: The deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce is under pressure to resign following the revelation that he has joint Australian and New Zealand citizenship. The constitution does not allow Australian MPs to have dual nationality. His resignation could bring down the government, as it has a majority of one. Allegations that a New Zealand MP played a part in the revelation are threatening the good relations between the two countries.
HONG KONG: Pro-democrasy activist Howard Lam claimed he was kidnapped and tortured by Chinese agents.
INDIA: More than 60 children died when oxygen supplies to a hospital in Gorakhpur was cut off because of an unpaid bill.
Two soldiers and three Kashmiri separatists were killed in a clash between security forces and armed militants in a village near Srinagar.
KOREA, NORTH: Kim Jong-un has threatened to bomb the Pacific island of Guam, an unincorporated US territory.
NEPAL: Heavy rain caused flash floods and landslides. 50,000 homes have been inundated.
THAILAND: A student has been jailed for two and a half years for sharing a BBC article about King Vajiralongkorn on Facebook.
CANADA: Up to 200 Haitian migrants a day are crossing into Canada from the US.
USA: A state of emergency was declared in Charlottesville when right-wing extremists (rallying to protest against the removal of a statue of General Robert E Lee) and counter-demonstrators clashed violently. One woman was killed and 19 people injured when a car was driven into a crowd of counter-demonstrators. President Trump issued a statement condemning violence on both sides, but was criticised for not specifically condemning extreme right-wing violence for the death until two days later.
The FBI raided the home of Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign manager, and confiscated documents and other material, as part of special council Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion with Russia during the presidential election campaign.
Trump ramped up rhetoric warning North Korea to behave.
A state of emergency was declared in New Orleans as heavy rain caused floods and knocked out power supplies.
President Trump is considering replacing US troops in Afghanistan with mercenaries.
President Trump signed an executive order instructing trade representatives to investigate allegations that China indulges in unfair trade practices such as stealing corporate secrets. It is feared that this might result in a trade war between the two countries.
VENEZUELA: President Maduro’s government is to establish a “truth commission”, a court which the president declared “can try anyone”, to be led by the president of the new constituent assembly.
Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and nine other Latin American countries signed a joint declaration refusing to recognise legislation passed by the new assembly and declaring that Venezuela is no longer a democracy.
As the new assembly begins to prosecute officials, two mayors have gone into hiding, five judges have taken refuge in the Chilean embassy and two in the Panamanian mission; five more have fled to Colombia and at least one to the USA.
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