By Patrick Pierson.
Protests in Portland, Oregon, turned violent this week. An American man has been arrested for attempting to smuggle 67 pounds of marijuana across the Mexican border in a hearse. A gun battle between Mexican naval officers and gang members left eight people dead in Los Cabos, Mexico, on Monday. The US trial of notorious Mexican drug kingpin ‘El Chapo’ is scheduled for April 2018. Another Mexican drug lord, Damaso Lopez, was arrested by Mexican authorities on Tuesday. An armed self-defense group in El Salvador is seeking legal recognition from the central government. In a rather rare event, an anti-immigrant rally in Brazil turned violent this week. Eight men have been jailed in Brazil for plotting attacks during the country’s 2016 hosting of the Olympics. Increasingly violent police tactics in the country have some groups calling the trend a human rights crisis. Venezuela’s President Maduro has called for the rewriting of the country’s constitution. Well-known Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel has denounced Maduro’s repressive tactics. US lawmakers are seeking an appropriate response to the growing crisis. A visit by the UN Security Council to Colombia was disrupted this week as a UN employee was kidnapped by a dissident FARC faction.
In a thinly-veiled condemnation of Brexit, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker chose to deliver a key speech in French, rather than English, this week. German Chancellor Angela Merkel compared G20 preparations to “herding cats.” In a visit to Russia, Merkel called on Vladimir Putin to protect gay rights in Chechnya. Denmark has taken steps to ban six “hate preachers” from entering the country. Italy has won backing for a UN peacekeeping force to protect world heritage sites. The president of Austria has signaled solidarity and support for Italy’s role in handling the Mediterranean migrant crisis. Citing terrorism threats, the US State Department has issued a travel alert for Europe.
Tunisian authorities killed two men suspected of planning attacks during Ramadan in the midst of a raid on Sunday. Eighteen people have been jailed on terrorism charges by a Tunisian court. The frequency of pirate attacks off West Africa nearly doubled in 2016. An attack by jihadist groups in central Mali killed nine soldiers and wounded several others. The secrecy surrounding Nigeria’s President Buhari’s health has observers concerned. The US AFRICOM commander met with Somalia’s President Farmajo during a visit to Mogadishu this week as the US and Somalia prepare to step up attacks against al-Shabaab. A US Navy SEAL was killed in a clash with al-Shabaab militants on Thursday, the first US military death in the country since 1993. A Somali government minister was shot this week by another government official’s bodyguards. An advance team of UN peacekeepers has arrived in Juba, South Sudan. Two men in Malawi have been arrested for illegally posing as soldiers. South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma was booed so heavily at a May Day rally that he was forced to leave.
India has accused Pakistani forces of killing two Indian soldiers and mutilating their bodies. A pair of Pakistani naval ships are on a goodwill visit to Sri Lanka. Authorities in Bangladesh have arrested the IT chief of an al Qaeda-inspired terrorist group. Cambodia has officially broken ground on the country’s first oil refinery. Controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warmly welcomed Chinese navy ships this week. Two Turkish citizens have been kidnapped in Malaysia, and the families are worried that the men will be quickly extradited to Turkey. In Papua New Guinea, locals have threatened to take up arms if a seabed mining project goes ahead as planned. North Korea has accused the US and South Korea of plotting an assassination attempt against the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.