Tue. Jul 23rd, 2019

Nov 5: Trump revives sanctions, Turkey breaks silence on Khashoggi, and Merkel steps down

All news extracted from BBC

North America

  • The Pentagon is sending over 5,200 troops to the border with Mexico as thousands of Central American migrants walk towards the US in a caravan. General Terrence O’Shaughnessy said Operation Faithful Patriot would focus on Texas, Arizona and California.
  • US President Donald Trump has offered condolences at the Pennsylvania synagogue where 11 Jewish worshippers were shot dead at the weekend. Hundreds of protesters gathered on the street chanting slogans against the president.
  • US President Donald Trump has launched a fresh assault on the US media, saying he has “forcefully condemned hatred and bigotry” but this goes unreported. Speaking at a rally in Florida ahead of next week’s mid-term elections, he said a third of Americans believed that the media was “the enemy of the people”. He did not provide evidence for this.
  • Two former Goldman Sachs bankers and Malaysian financier Jho Low have been hit with US criminal charges in connection with one of the world’s biggest financial scandals. The Department of Justice alleges the men participated in a scheme that stole billions of dollars from Malaysia’s development fund, 1MDB.
  • The Trump administration is to reinstate all US sanctions on Iran removed under the 2015 nuclear deal. The White House said it was “the toughest sanctions regime ever imposed” on Tehran. It targets both Iran and states that trade with it. However, temporary waivers will be granted to eight countries to allow them to continue importing Iranian oil.
  • Twitter has deleted an estimated 10,000 automated accounts that were posting messages discouraging people from taking part in next week’s US mid-term elections. Most of the accounts were posing as Democrats, the social media company said. They were taken down in late September and early October.
  • A cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers appeared to kneel during the US national anthem at an NFL game on Thursday, echoing recent player protests. The 49ers are the former team of Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the anthem as a protest back in 2016.
  • Over 1,600 scientists have signed a letter condemning a proposal by the Trump administration to define gender as biological and established at birth. Signatories to the letter, including nine Nobel laureates, accuse the Trump government of citing “pseudoscience”.
  • Wages in the US grew at their fastest pace for nine years last month, the latest official figures show. The US Labor Department said wages grew at an annual rate of 3.1% in October, accelerating from a rate of 2.8% the month before. The economy also added 250,000 jobs last month, beating expectations, while the jobless rate remained at 3.7%.

South America

  • In his first TV interview since being elected, Brazil’s far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro says he wants the country’s best-known anti-corruption judge Sergio Moro to be justice minister or to serve on the Supreme Court. Mr Bolsonaro also underlined his campaign pledge to loosen gun laws.
  • Brazil’s far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro will merge the ministries of agriculture and the environment, an aide says, in a move which critics say could endanger the Amazon rainforest. The controversial new Brazilian leader is supported by the agribusiness lobby.
  • A judge in Peru has ordered that opposition leader Keiko Fujimori spend three years in jail while she awaits trial for corruption. Judge Richard Concepción said there was a high risk of Ms Fujimori fleeing Peru. Ms Fujimori has been accused of taking $1.2m (£940,000) in bribes from the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht in 2011.

Asia

  • Sri Lanka’s unfolding political crisis threatens to turn into a “bloodbath”, the speaker of parliament has warned. The warning came after President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his cabinet and suspended parliament. But Mr Wickremesinghe is refusing to leave, saying the move is illegitimate.
  • A Pakistani court has overturned the death sentence of a Christian woman convicted of blasphemy, a case that has polarised the nation. Asia Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a row with her neighbours. The landmark ruling has already set off violent protests by hardliners who support strong blasphemy laws.
  • Pakistan’s authorities have struck a deal with a hard-line Islamist party to end a protest over the acquittal of Asia Bibi. As part of the deal, proceedings will begin to bar Asia Bibi from leaving the country. The government will also not prevent protesters legally challenging the Supreme Court decision to release her.
  • The husband of Asia Bibi has pleaded for asylum from the UK, US or Canada. Asia Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, said they were in great danger in Pakistan. The Supreme Court overturned her conviction last Wednesday, saying the case against her was based on flimsy evidence. But she has yet to be freed.
  • The Pakistani cleric Maulana Sami ul-Haq, known as the Father of the Taliban, has been killed in the northern city of Rawalpindi. Local media quoted his family members as saying that he was stabbed to death. But other reports say he was shot dead. The motive for the attack is unclear.
  • India has unveiled the world’s tallest statue, which cost 29.9bn rupees (£330m; $430m) to build. The 182m (600ft) high structure in the western state of Gujarat is a bronze-clad tribute to independence leader Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Locals say this is as a waste of public money and that the funds could have been put to better use.
  • An Australian nun who has spent almost three decades in the Philippines is returning home after losing her battle against deportation. Sister Patricia Fox, 72, has angered President Rodrigo Duterte by repeatedly denouncing his administration’s violent campaign against the drugs trade. Her missionary visa was downgraded to a temporary tourist visa last month.

Europe

  • Germany’s Angela Merkel has said she will step down as chancellor in 2021, following recent election setbacks. She also said she would not seek re-election as leader of the centre-right CDU party in December. She has held the post since 2000.
  • Denmark has accused Iran’s intelligence agencies of planning to assassinate an Iranian activist on Danish soil. Denmark has recalled its ambassador from Tehran and is consulting other EU countries about imposing new sanctions against Iran.
  • Voters in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia have rejected a bid for independence, partial results say. With almost all votes counted, 56.8% chose to remain part of France. Turnout was about 80%. The vote was promised by a 1988 deal that put an end to a violent campaign for independence.

Middle East

  • The US has called for a swift cessation of hostilities in Yemen, where three years of civil war have caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Defence Secretary James Mattis said all parties needed to take part in UN-led peace talks within the next 30 days.
  • Turkey has given its first official statement on how it believes Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi was killed, saying he was immediately strangled. The statement follows weeks of media reports about the murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October. Turkey has yet to provide evidence.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has for the first time accused the Saudi government directly of murdering journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In an article for the Washington Post, Mr Erdogan alleged that the hit job “came from the highest levels of the Saudi government”. But stressing Turkey’s “friendly” ties with Saudi Arabia, he added that he did not believe King Salman was involved, though he avoided mention of heir-apparent Mohammed bin Salman.
  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the US he considered murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi to be a dangerous Islamist, media reports say. Prince Mohammed’s reported phone call to the White House came before Saudi Arabia admitted he had been killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia has denied the reports in the Washington Post and New York Times.
  • A Saudi prince arrested for criticising a crackdown on corruption is reported to have been freed from detention. Prince Khaled bin Talal, who was held for nearly a year, is a nephew of King Salman. The latest move comes amid intense pressure on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
  • A UN aid convoy has reached about 50,000 civilians stranded on the Syria-Jordan border – bringing the first aid the camp has received since January. There have been reports of children dying due to poor sanitary conditions and a lack of healthcare at the camp. A cluster of about 10,800 makeshift tents and mud huts, the camp has been called “one of the most desperate places in Syria”.
  • Bahrain’s opposition leader, Sheikh Ali Salman, has been handed a life sentence after the Court of Appeal found him guilty of spying for Qatar. The ruling comes just months after the Bahraini High Court of First Tier acquitted Salman of the charge of “colluding” with the rival state. Bahrain cut ties with Qatar in 2017.
  • Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed a decision by Brazil’s president-elect to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Mr Netanyahu praised it as “historic, [and] correct”. Palestinians called the move “provocative and illegal”.

Africa

  • A court in Malawi has halted work on a statue of Mahatma Gandhi after critics accused him of using racial slurs. “Being black people ourselves, such remarks have invited a sense of loathing and detestation of Gandhi,” the Gandhi Must Fall group said in its court application. The effigy’s construction was part of a $10m (£7.8m) building deal with India.
  • Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced the discovery of potential oil and gas deposits in the north of the country. Australian mining firm Invictus Energy, in partnership with the government, is to determine whether commercial drilling is feasible. An exploration well would be sunk by Invictus in Muzarabani district within two years, the president said.
  • Gabon’s opposition leader Jean Ping has again claimed victory in elections held in 2016, as President Ali Bongo is being treated in a hospital abroad. Speaking in Libreville, Mr Ping urged the nation to overcome its divisions and rally around a common ideal.

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