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Violence in the lead-up to a contentious presidential election in Kenya led to the torture and murder of a senior election official who had been responsible for counting votes next week. Although the motives are still unknown, experts say that the killing will likely raise tensions in the country and make people all the more suspicious about unlawful internal interference.
Millions of Rwandans cast their votes on Friday in support of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the 59-year-old former military commander who has been credited with transforming the impoverished, war-stricken nation into one of the most economically successful countries in east Africa. Although admired by many for bringing economic development where there was not any before, Kagame still faces criticism that he has brutally suppressed the opposition and set up a quasi-police state. Nonetheless, the president’s supporters will likely be excited by a new seven year mandate.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reshuffled his cabinet his cabinet on Thursday in order to breathe new life into his conservative government and raise his ailing poll numbers. Abe hopes that the new appointments will also distance his party from the series of scandals that have plagued his administration in recent months. Analysts say that the move indicates that Abe will likely move away from its controversial push to amend Japan’s pacifist constitution in favor of more consensus-building policies involving the economy.
The Chinese government released its most blunt statement yet on its geopolitical standoff with India over a small mountainous strip of land on their border, saying that “India must dispel any illusions that it can hold for a change.” Although neither side appears to be preparing for military confrontation in the near future, Beijing’s stern position is likely to jeopardize warm bilateral relations and make it more difficult to negotiate mutually beneficial trade agreements. On Wednesday, as if to underscore its warning, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a report explaining its basis for claiming the territory.
In response to a flurry of new American sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the United States to cut 755 of its own diplomatic staff and end operations at two U.S. diplomatic properties in Russia. Putin further reiterated that the sanctions would only worsen what are already strained relations between the two countries. Other Russian officials warned that if the U.S. attempts to punish Russia further with “weird and unacceptable” sanctions, Moscow’s hand will be all but forced to retaliate in much more confrontational terms.
In a move to impose greater civilian control over the once-dominant Turkish military, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved new leaders for the army, navy, and air force. Experts say that by replacing the military’s former leaders with those loyal to the government, Erdogan will be able to consolidate more power around himself following an unsuccessful military coup against him last year.
Having made significant advances in the past couple of months, al-Qaida-linked militants threaten the stability of northwestern Syria and undermine the West’s policies in the country as a whole. The development will likely now be used as a pretext for bombardment by President Bashar al-Assad and his allies to root out terrorist cells. Many commentators fear that such a military campaign would be devastatingly indiscriminate in regard to affiliation and only strengthen Assad’s hand in the seven-year-old conflict.
International NGO Save the Children released a report on Wednesday declaring that more than a million malnourished children under the age of five in Yemen have been living in areas with high levels of cholera. Although the disease is easily treatable with proper access to healthcare, the destruction of hospitals has led to a shortage of medical supplies that has contributed to nearly 1,900 fatalities to date. The scale of devastation has largely been blamed by the international community on the interference of Saudi Arabia in Yemen’s ongoing civil war.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced a new bill to create a ‘merit-based’ immigration system that would place greater emphasis on job skills rather than family reunification in the choice of new immigrants. Moreover, the new legislation proposes to cap annual refugee admissions at 50,000, end the visa diversity lottery, and significantly cut the number of legal immigrants to the country as a whole. The bill’s supporters contend that the current immigration system prevents America from being competitive, while critics believe that it significantly undercuts America’s perception as a haven for “poor and huddled masses” and that it would cause more economic harm than benefit for the average worker.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law a bill that propped up sanctions against Russia and limits his own ability to change said sanctions. Although the bill’s bipartisanship prevented any serious challenge from Trump, the president warned that it “makes it harder for the United States to strike good deals for the American people, and will drive China, Russia, and North Korea much closer together. “ Trump also contended that the second provision of the measure seriously impeded the power of the executive to make deals on behalf of the American people without congressional interference.
Following Venezuela’s controversial constituent assembly election last Sunday, protests continued to rage as President Nicolas Maduro took further steps to consolidate his power. The election, which the opposition and the international community condemned, packed Venezuela’s assembly with government loyalists in charge of rewriting the constitution. A couple of days later, the Supreme Court, also dominated by Maduro stalwarts, ordered the arrest of two prominent opposition leaders.
Corruption charges brought against Brazilian President Michel Temer were overwhelmingly struck down down by Brazil’s congress in a move that contradicted the wishes of more than 80% of the electorate. Temer and his allies have been accused of propping up a wider nationwide system of graft that has beleaguered the legislative arena. Although he will stay on as president, Brazilians are looking forward to electing in sweeping political changes in next year’s presidential and congressional elections.
News That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity
A veteran of the battle of Dunkirk who watched director Christopher Nolan’s new epic-drama Dunkirk was moved to tears by just much the film reflected the reality of the tragedy.
Mountain goats at Glacier National Park in Montana have been caught hanging out among humans. Researchers found that the goats stayed among people because there were fewer predators and because there was salt-imbued urine.