Weekly Links

By Patrick Pierson.

Paul Gauguin, The Siesta, c. 1892-1894. Photo via The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 US authorities uncovered a drug tunnel this week that stretched under the US-Mexico border for more than 600 feet before ending in an abandoned KFC. The US State Department has issued a travel warning for Mexico. El Salvador dropped ties with Taiwan in favor of China this week, the fifth country to switch allegiances in the past two years. Protests erupted in Costa Rica in response to increasing flows of Nicaraguan refugees. As refugees continue to flee Venezuela, the UN says we are reaching a ‘crisis point’—Peru is tightening its borders, officials in Guyana are trying to craft a response, and Venezuelan refugees in Brazil are facing violence and threats. Colombia is hosting representatives from neighboring countries next week to try and form a coordinated regional response. In Argentina, former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner remains under scrutiny as part of a corruption investigation. Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is still a political force, even from behind bars.

The Spanish government has approved plans for the remains of former dictator Francisco Franco to be exhumed. Police officers in Catalonia killed a knife-wielding man this week after he attacked a police station in a perceived terrorist incident. Are German security forces harboring far-right extremists? Amid ongoing fears that Austria is drifting closer to Russia, former German intelligence chief August Hanning says it is not safe to share NATO secrets with Austria.  EU and Italian officials remain at odds with one another about housing migrants. The Hungarian government is accused of intentionally denying food to asylum seekers. Microsoft is under investigation for potential bribery and corruption in its efforts to expand into the Hungarian market. US national security advisor John Bolton says the Trump administration will not weigh in on the proposed territory swap between Serbia and Kosovo. Sweden has officially launched a ‘feminist foreign policy’.

Russia is pushing for the return of Syrian refugees currently housed in neighboring countries. A video released by the Russian government alleges that more than 60,000 Russian personnel have seen combat experience in Syria. A UN team is collecting evidence of war crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released a video this week urging supporters to continue attacking Western targets. In Saudi Arabia, a number of activists are facing the death penalty for documenting anti-government protests. Saudi airstrikes in Yemen continue to kill untold numbers of civilians. Pakistan and the US are in a row over what was discussed in a recent phone call between PM Imran Khan and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Activists are concerned that a new law in Nepal will threaten press freedom. Civil-military relations in Myanmar continue to threaten the country’s future. In Malaysia, authorities are searching for missing radioactive material. Kem Sokha, a prominent Cambodian opposition leader, was denied bail this week in yet another sign of increasing authoritarianism in the country. An Indonesian woman has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for complaining that the call to prayer emanating from a mosque near her home was too loud. Check out this article on the US-based Provisional National Government of Vietnam and its ongoing fight against the Vietnamese government. President Trump has cancelled a planned trip between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un—China called the move ‘irresponsible’. Australia has a new prime minister, the country’s sixth PM in the last ten years.

Four Egyptian soldiers died this week in a clash with militants in Sinai. ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a checkpoint in Tripoli. Algeria is confronting a cholera outbreak. A new rebel group is seeking to overthrow Chadian President Idriss Deby. In Nigeria, senior military officers are accused of embezzling money designated for counter-terrorism operations. Nigerian police have arrested a traditional priest after he pronounced a curse on suspected perpetrators of recent violence. Self-defense groups in Cameroon are turning violent. The DRC’s electoral commission has deemed Jean-Perre Bemba ineligible to run in the country’s December elections. An Ebola outbreak continues to spread in North Kivu. A UN peacekeeper was killed in CAR this week during a clash with anti-Balaka militants. Angolan President Joao Lourenco is pushing for Germany to sign off on a deal to provide his country with warships. Authorities in Mozambique have detained a suspected rebel leader in the country’s restive north. Activists argue that a new tax law will curtail freedom of the press in Mozambique.

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