Weekly Links

By Patrick Pierson.

Willem van de Velde II, Entrance to a Dutch Port, c. 1665. Photo via The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

As homicide rates rise in Mexico, morgues are overflowing. Former Guatemalan VP Roxana Baldetti has been sentenced to fifteen years in prison on corruption charges. Authorities in Costa Rica have granted asylum to Nicaraguan human rights activist Alvaro Leiva. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says the US is actively seeking to assassinate him. A Venezuelan opposition leader died in police custody this week—the government alleges suicide, but opposition activists have accused the government of murder. Peruvian opposition leader Keiko Fujimori has been arrested for alleged involvement in corruption and money laundering. Violence is escalating in the lead up to a presidential run-off in Brazil later this month. Protesters took to the street this week to march against far-right presidential candidate—and front-runner—Jair Bolsonaro.

French President Emmanuel Macron is asking Saudi Arabia for answers over the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last weekend. Belgium has charged an Iranian diplomat with planning to detonate a bomb at a meeting of an exiled Iranian opposition group in France. Germany’s far-right AfD party is encouraging students to denounce school teachers who express political opinions. Not surprisingly, the Italian government is at odds with the IMF. Should the US station permanent forces in Poland? The Danish government has extended border controls with Germany in fear of terrorism threats. The murder of a Bulgarian journalist has observers worried about freedom of the press.

Turkish authorities have released video evidence which they claim proves that Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Richard Branson cut business links to Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi’s disappearance. Saudi Arabia has been condemned by a UN committee for ongoing human rights abuses in Yemen, which includes the deaths of hundreds of children. Lebanon’s oldest newspaper, An-Nahar, sent out a blank paper on Thursday to protest the country’s political deadlock. A British PhD student has been held in solitary confinement in the UAE for more than five months on accusations of espionage. Are Iraqi politics moving in the right direction? Dozens of Taliban fighters have put down their arms and are now joining government efforts to provide security to local communities. Pakistan has reached out to the IMF for an emergency loan.

Read up on India’s #MeToo movement. In Bangladesh, rights activists worry that a new digital security law could hamper press freedoms. Officials in Bangladesh have approved a draft bill that would legalize the death penalty for drug offenses. Three journalists have been arrested in Myanmar after publishing a story accusing the government of corruption. Anwar Ibrahim is returning to Malaysian politics. Government officials in Malaysia have announced plans to abolish the death penalty. Officials from Vietnam and the Philippines continue to argue over maritime boundaries in the South China Sea. Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is set to visit China later this month in his first visit since 2011. South Korean President Moon Jae-in is optimistic about the possibility for an end to the Korean War. Apparently Kim Jong Un has invited Pope Francis to visit North Korea.

Tunisian authorities have extended the state of emergency that was first enacted following terrorist attacks in 2015.  Egyptian authorities have sentenced 17 people to death over bomb attacks on Coptic Christian churches in 2016 and 2017. Sierra Leone has cancelled plans to build a $300+ million airport with a Chinese company funded by Chinese loans. Africa’s youngest billionaire has been abducted by masked gunmen in Tanzania. Authorities in Burundi have detained three aid workers in contravention of a recent government ban on international NGOs. Mozambique held local elections this week. Police in Zimbabwe detained activists ahead of planned marches on Thursday. South Africa’s finance minister, Nhlanhla Nene, has resigned amid an ongoing corruption scandal.

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