We're not going to fault you for not staying on top of this week's news. We're only here to help.
- Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign that is proving to be popular with the general public. Following the 2010 uprising that brought down 23 years of dictatorship in the country, corruption has helped prop up crime bosses that now control large swathes of the public sector. The large-scale investigations have already made significant inroads, but, as analysts contend, Chahed’s government should make even greater efforts to protect the country’s nascent democratic institutions.
- The United Nations will send experts to investigate reports that civilians have been indiscriminately killed by pro-government forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The independent inquiry, which will be conducted with the full cooperation and support of the Congolese authorities, hopes to provide “the first step toward accountability and justice for the victims.“ Previous council resolutions on human rights investigations have, however, been marred by significant obstacles.
- A new type of domestically built destroyer was launched by the Chinese military on Tuesday as part of a larger move to rapidly modernize the country’s increasingly prominent navy. The war ship has been equipped with new air defense, anti-missile, anti-ship, and anti-submarine weapons. Bound to further raise concern among China’s neighbors, the announcement does not look to placate fears that Beijing is tightening its grip over the South China Sea.
- Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo was released from prison on medical parole to receive treatment for late-stage liver cancer. Formally arrested in 2009 for his participation with the human rights-minded Charter 08, Liu was charged by Beijing with "inciting subversion of state power." Although information about Liu is likely to be censored in the Chinese press, the activist’s illness at the state’s hands could serve as a rallying call for the wavering democratic movement.
- Google was hit by a record fine of 2.7 billion USD from the European Union for engaging in unfair business practices in the promotion its own shopping comparison service—over all others—at the top of search results. The European Commission has been investigating Google Shopping for many years and insists that it is looking to protect European small business interests in regards to American tech giants. Google plans to appeal the verdict.
- A Dutch appeals court upheld a 2014 ruling finding the Netherlands partially liable for the deaths of 350 Bosniak men who had sought shelter from Bosnian Serb soldiers in a UN base defended by Dutch peacekeepers during the Bosnian War. Handed over to the Serb soldiers and assured of their safety by the peacekeepers, the men were soon after killed as part of the Srebrenica massacre. Families of the victims have chastised the ruling for not going far enough in pinning the blame on the Netherlands for reckless endangerment.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a January 2016 decision to create a new egalitarian space at the Western Wall in Jerusalem where both men and women could pray together. The cancellation was heavily lobbied for by the highly influential ultra-Orthodox parties in the Israeli parliament. Non-Orthodox Jews, however, have labelled Netanyahu’s backtracking on the original resolution as disappointing and insulting.
- Iraqi government forces recaptured the Al Nuri Mosque in Mosul from Islamic State militants on Thursday, marking significant progress in efforts to completely push the terrorist group out of the city. The mosque, which had previously served as a symbol of Mosul’s Old City, lies largely in rubble after it was blown up by the militants last week. Humanitarian groups issued a muted response to the news, saying that the conflict in Mosul is still far from being over.
- The U.S. Supreme Court partially reinstated parts of President Donald Trump’s travel ban citing the government’s "compelling need to provide for the nation’s security." The Supreme Court is set to fully consider the constitutionality of the case in the fall, but, in the meanwhile, the ruling allows Trump’s 90-day ban on people from six predominately Muslim countries and 120-day ban on refugees to be enforced against all those foreign nationals who do not have a "bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S."
- U.S. Senate Republican leaders postponed a vote on a healthcare overhaul bill that is meant to repeal major elements of Obamacare and reduce Medicaid benefits. Given the opposition of all Democrats, the Republicans can only afford to lose two of their own senators for their proposal to pass. Be that as it may, the bill has proved to be controversial for both moderate and conservative Republican wings—it’s now up to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to unite all his party members ahead of a possible vote after the Independence Day congressional break.
- The political crisis in Venezuela continued to escalate this week after armed civilian groups attacked the parliament building on Tuesday. The following day, a rogue helicopter fired shots and dropped grenades on the Supreme Court. The government has alleged that this attack was a coup attempt; President Nicolas Maduro has, however, been accused of making such claims in the past to consolidate his popular support. Opposition leaders are anxiously looking to prevent a vote scheduled for July 30 that would, if passed, allow Maduro to rewrite the constitution.
- Brazilian President Michel Temer became the country’s first sitting head of state to be formally charged with corruption. Accused for taking millions of dollars in bribes from JBS, the world’s biggest meat producer, Temer denounced what he considers to be politically-motivated charges and pledged to not allow his accusers to continue to paralyze his government. Temer, whose approval ratings are as low as 7%, has so far resisted calls to stand down, but such pressure continues to mount ahead of next year’s presidential election.
- Petya (also known as NotPetya), a malware that targets Microsoft Windows-based systems, hit businesses all over the world this week. Initially believed to have been a ransomware (i.e. software that prevents access to the victim’s data until a ransom is paid), the current variant of Petya seems to have been created for the sole purpose of destroying data—meaning that even if the ransom is to be paid, the data remains lost. Cyberspace analysts are worried that ‘wiper’ attacks such as this will increasingly be replicated in the future.
News That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity
- A study released by PLOS Medicine this month revealed that the President’s Malaria Initiative, an American foreign aid measure started by President George W. Bush, has been responsible for saving the lives of nearly two million babies and toddlers in Africa since its inception in 2005. The results confirm that foreign aid could definitely have a long-term positive impact on the communities that it aids.
- Senegalese former professional footballer Salif Diao has been giving back to his home country by setting up a football academy that focuses on not just the game but also on providing aspiring young players with the education they would need if their prospects do not exactly go to plan. Diao, who had to forgo much of his own education to become a professional, explains that "other academies focus on putting maximum effort into building facilities and having coaches that can produce the best footballers. We don't talk of coaches, we talk of educators."