By: Andrey Prigov
We're not going to fault you for not staying on top of this week's news. We're only here to help.
- Troops in northern Niger rescued 92 migrants who were stuck without food and water in the Sahara Desert. Smugglers had abandoned the group, which included many young children, in a move that is common in the perilous, ungoverned region. It is not known for certain just how many people attempt to get to Europe through the desert.
- In Ethiopia, archaeologists have uncovered a forgotten city thought to date back as far as the 10th century AD. The city—which housed artifacts from as far off as China—is thought to have been an important center of material and cultural exchange.
- After heavy monsoon rains struck southeast Bangladesh on Monday subsequent landslides and flooding have been responsible for the deaths of more than 130 people. The remoteness of the region has made rescue operations logistically difficult to coordinate. Some say that to prevent landslide deaths, especially on this scale, the government should try to evacuate those living in hilly areas during the monsoon season.
- The Japanese Liberal Democratic Party, the ruling party led by conservative Shinzo Abe, passed through the parliament a comprehensive anti-terrorism law that seeks to strengthen Japan’s security ahead of the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. The bill has encountered enormous opposition not just from the Japanese public, who fears that the anti-terrorist protections will infringe on basic civil liberties, but also from the UN, which has also warned of the sweeping powers that it gives to the state.
- Otto Warmbier, an American citizen who had been detained by North Korean authorities during his trip to the country in late 2015, was finally brought back home on Tuesday. Although foreign prisoners are not generally physically tortured by Pyongyang, Warmbier arrived unconscious with extensive brain tissue loss (doctors have said that he is in "a state of unresponsive wakefulness," i.e., a persistent vegetative state) thereby raising serious questions about how he was treated.
- In France, President Emmanuel Macron’s La République En Marche (REM) party is set to secure a historic majority in parliament after the first round of elections on Sunday gave it 33% of the vote. The results of next Sunday’s run-off second round could grant REM an unprecedented 77% of parliamentary seats. Macron’s critics point to historically low turnout rates and the drastic shakeup of the old political order as being antithetical to the stability of France, but it does not seem like REM is losing any of its steam at the moment.
- During Russia’s national day on Monday, hundreds of people were arrested at random for participating in rallies in Moscow and other Russian cities. Alexei Navalny, the man behind the rallies who intends to stand for the presidency next year, was detained at his home prior to the start of the protests. The demonstrations, the largest in the country since 2012, looked to address widespread corruption and the lack of a democratic voice.
- A massive fire engulfed Grenfell Tower, a block of public housing flats, in London on Wednesday morning. At least 30 people have been killed in the ensuing catastrophe, with the official death toll expected to rise substantially in the next couple of days. Although the cause of the fire remains unidentified, blame for the high number of casualties has largely fallen on the tenant management organization overseeing Grenfell for their piecemeal approach to fire safety and building maintenance.
- On Wednesday, Qatar signed a $12 billion deal to buy F-15 fighter jets from the United States. The news comes only days after other Gulf states cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and President Trump accused Doha of funding terrorism. Qatari officials expressed that, with this new deal in place, they are reassured of American support for their nation’s interests.
- Egypt’s parliament gave its approval on Wednesday to transfer sovereignty of two uninhabited Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. Although President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has claimed that these islands have always belonged to Saudi Arabia, his opponents accuse him of handing over the islands out of a desire to please the Saudis, who have provided his government financial support.
- On Thursday, the US Senate, in a showcase of rare bipartisanship in foreign policy, overwhelmingly passed a bill passed a bill supporting greater sanctions against Russia and Iran in response to the provocative military behavior of the two nations. In a further rebuke of Trump’s foreign policy, an amendment attached to the bill reaffirmed the commitment of the United States toward their NATO allies. As the level of support for the bill can override any possible presidential veto, the Trump Administration may now have its hands tied on these issues.
- During a practice session, for the annual Congressional Baseball Game, Steve Scalise, the House majority whip, and three others were shot by a gunman in Alexandria, Virginia. Scalise, the first sitting member to have been shot since the 2011 Tucson shooting, is reported to be in critical condition. Politicians from both sides of the aisle released statements condemning the shooting.
- A top general in Venezuela has vacated his rank for Nicolás Maduro’s plan to create a citizen’s assembly to rewrite the constitution. Since the armed forces have remained steadfastly loyal to Maduro during the course of many months of anti-government protests, the general’s decision to resign has re-sparked old hopes that the armed forces will play a salient role in limiting Maduro’s ambitions.
- Researchers are concerned about an extensive hydroelectric dam-building program could undermine the biodiversity of the Amazon. Although tests have been carried out on each dam in isolation, opponents of the dams hope that proper research focusing on the greater picture of potential consequences will also be completed.
News To Restore Your Faith in Humanity
- After the cost of electricity from solar panels significantly dropped India’s coal-power plant developers are rethinking their long-term production strategies in a market set to be supported mostly by renewables by 2027. Home to nearly half of the world’s thirty most polluted cities, India hopes to significantly reduce its fossil fuel footprint within the next few decades.
- Following his death last Friday, Adam West, famous for his role as Batman in the 1960s television series, was honored by the city of Los Angeles with a ceremonial lighting of the Bat-signal.