We're not going to fault you for not staying on top of this week's news. We're only here to help.
The International Criminal Court ruled on Thursday that South Africa’s decision to not arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir―wanted on genocide charges―when he visited the country in 2015 constituted a breach in ICC responsibilities. The incident, and overarching criticism of ICC bias against African nations, led South African President Jacob Zuma to initially withdraw from the court. A judicial ruling in his country reversed the “unconstitutional” move, though Zuma is now seeking to rack up the approval of local lawmakers.
Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, has been reportedly “liberated” from the violent hold of Islamist forces that occupied parts of the city for the past couple of years. The news has been met divisively by locals. Though most locals are glad to have the fighting brought to a halt, many remain worried that the Libyan National Army (LNA)―the group responsible for stopping the Islamist forces―will bring with them further instability in the region. The eastern-based LNA, along with numerous other smaller factions, has been embroiled in a seemingly unending three-year conflict with Libya’s UN-backed government in Tripoli.
A border dispute concerning a strategically important sliver of land situated at the junction of China, India and Bhutan has evolved into a potentially destabilizing standoff between the three nations. China initiated the impasse three weeks ago when it sent a column of its troops into the remote area. Indian authorities have not accepted China’s tenuous, historically-based claims and criticized Beijing for breaking the territory’s undefined status quo. Rhetoric has escalated in recent days, but analysts do not expect any larger conflict to arise between the two Asian powers.
North Korea successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday that reportedly has the potential to reach Alaska. In response, the U.S. vowed to prevent any future escalation of North Korea’s nuclear program and reasserted their commitment to the defense of the region as a whole. The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley further warned that Washington is ready to go its own way in dealing with North Korea if China does not lend their full support to forthcoming U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang’s nuclear build-up capabilities.
The European Union laid out a far-reaching trade agreement with Japan on Thursday, in what could become the biggest bilateral trade partnership struck by the 28-member bloc. Although negotiations are still in progress, the landmark deal, which would encompass nearly a quarter of the global economy, would serve as a noteworthy rebuke of U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist, “America First” foreign policy. Experts say that as Europe and Japan, both stalwart American allies, forge stronger ties between themselves, the influence of the U.S. might be seriously diminished. That being said, if last year’s trade deal with Canada is any indication, the ratification process in Europe for the agreement could face significant obstacles.
U.S. President Donald Trump commenced his four-day trip to Europe this week; his first stop― Poland. Trump delivered a powerful speech in Krasinski Square in Warsaw, where he portrayed the West as threatened by external forces that can only be combatted by international solidarity and the resilience of citizens.
The G20 Summit is taking place in Hamburg on July 7-8. The first meeting between Trump and Putin has taken place, with high expectations of the relationship that will emerge between the two leaders. The talks, so far, have been dominated by the subject of international trade and climate change. Significant protests, however, have marred the conference, leading to the involvement of the German police. Though the majority of protests have been peaceful,a radical group of protesters has set fire to cars and broken shop windows.
The deadline for Qatar to meet the 13 demands imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt in its blockade of Qatar expired on Wednesday. Meeting in Cairo, the blockading coalition argued that Qatar’s response was negative and “lacked any content” as Qatar refused to concede to orders that would relinquish its sovereignty. Existing sanctions are set to continue but no further measures have been taken yet, which could be attributed to attempted diffusion of the crisis by the West.
Journalistic outlets all over the world have declared their support for al-Jazeera following threats of closure demanded by Arab countries blockading Qatar. The senior correspondent for al-Jazeera English, Jamal Elshayyal, confidently stated “this isn’t the first time we have come under threat” and argues that the TV channel will continue operating as normal. The Economist and the Times have labelled the attack on al-Jazeera an assault on freedom of the press.
U.S.-backed military forces continue the fight to capture Raqqa, the symbolic central bastion, from IS in Syria. The fate of Raqqa’s 60,000 civilians is worrying, due to continued air strikes and bomb raids. The operation is estimated to take another four months as troops are met with heavy resistance from IS fighters.
On Thursday, the federal ethics chief Walter Shaub stepped down six months before the end of his term. Shaub repeatedly clashed with the Trump administration, urging Trump to detach himself from his business empire and arguing that senior Trump advisors were breaching ethical standards. His resignation was not directly linked to his disagreements with Trump. With no prospects for a renewed contract, advocacy groups have already made Shaub offers.
Citing lower consumer confidence in the economy, Wall Street forecasters rounded down their growth estimates for the second quarter of 2017 to just over two percent. While hardly terrible, especially given that post-recession recovery has been stable, some analysts warn that the lack of a strong growth might point to larger, underlying programs with the U.S. economic framework. Unless the federal government addresses decreased productivity, an aging population, and rising costs on healthcare and education, it seems that slow growth will become the “new normal.”
Political tensions intensified in Venezuela when 100 supporters of the ruling government and the President, Nicolás Maduro, stormed the National Assembly - dominated by the opposition - and assaulted a number of lawmakers. The military police made no attempts to intervene. 350 people, including students and journalists, were held under siege for hours. The country’s deep economic crisis and food scarcity problems have led to a number of recent violent attacks amidst political turmoil.
In the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, at least 14 men were killed in a shooting battle between rival drug gangs on Wednesday. Earlier in the week, a shoot-out took place between security forces and gang members in the state of Sinaloa, which killed upwards of 17 people.
In Brazil, the infamous cocaine dealer Luiz Carlos da Rocha was finally arrested. He avoided capture for 30 years by altering his face and using a number of intimidation tactics, becoming the nation’s “most wanted” criminal.
News That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity:
The U.S. state of Louisiana has passed a total of 10 different criminal justice reform laws that are expected to drastically reduce incarceration rates. Currently, Louisiana has more of its citizens imprisoned than any other state, but experts predict this will no longer be the case. The new laws include more lenient sentencing practices involving shorter mandatory minimums, more flexibility in sentences for drug abuse, and making parole more accessible. Over 70 percent of the money saved from the prisons will be invested in rehabilitation programmes and support for the victims.