This Week Around the World

42

May 27–June 3 Germany: Around 20,000 anti-far right protesters descended upon Berlin to counter a protest conducted by the far-right group Alternative for Germany (AFD), which numbered only around 5,000. AFD is known for being Islamophobic, anti-immigration and anti-European Union. At least 13 anti-AFD protests were registered with the city, including a techno music party called “Bass the AFD Away.”

On Wednesday, May 30, a knife attack on a train traveling in northern Germany has left one seriously injured and a police officer injured from confronting the attacker. The officer shot her weapon, most likely killing the assailant; however, this has yet to be confirmed. On June 3, the area around the Berlin Cathedral was put in lockdown after a knifeman went on a rampage with around 100 people inside. The knifeman was shot by police in the leg, and another officer was shot by a stray bullet. No other injuries were reported.

May 27 India: The External Affairs Minister of India Sushma Swaraj addressed the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal during a press conference, stating, “Our foreign policy is not made under pressure from other countries.” India will not accept U.S. sanctions for continuing to conduct business with Iran, which is a major source of oil for the country. Swaraj also met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif following the press conference.

May 27 South China Sea: Two United States military vessels sailed within 12 nautical miles of a string of islands China has claimed as its territory. According to anonymous U.S. officials, the Higgins guided-missile destroyer and the Antietam guided-missile cruiser were carrying out maneuvering operations, while China’s defense ministry stated the operations “seriously infringed upon Chinese sovereignty”.

May 27–June 1 Spain: Spanish officials rescued over 500 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea by the afternoon of May 27. Migrants from North and Sub-Sarahan Africa were attempting to cross the Strait of Gibraltar aboard 17 small boats—three of which sank—when they were rescued following plane and helicopter searches of the area.

The Spanish parliament voted in a no-confidence vote to depose Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. All 180 legislators voted in an absolute majority for his removal due to a scandal involving Rajoy’s center-right People’s Party. The scandal, known as Operación Gürtel and ongoing since 2009, alleges parallel accounts within the party were used for illegal financing and non-transparent donations.

May 29 Puerto Rico: A Harvard study released in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated 4,645 died during Hurricane Maria last year, which directly contradicts the official numbers estimating only 64 died during and immediately following the devastation.

May 29 Hungary: A bill has been proposed in Hungary’s parliament that would criminalize anyone or any group assisting undocumented migrants in their efforts to gain legal status in the country. Additionally, a separate bill has also been proposed to change the constitution in order to deny asylum to foreigners entering Hungary through a third country.

May 29 Pakistan; India: After weeks of crossfire in the disputed Kashmir region, Pakistan and India have agreed to cease-fire agreements outlined in 2003. Though fighting has intensified recently, the region has been experiencing violence from military and armed groups since 2016; 150 civilians and troops have been killed in the clashes since 2016 and thousands more since 1989.

May 29 Hawaii: The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s main island continues to spew fast-moving lava for the fourth week. Officials closed part of Highway 132 and told residents who had not already evacuated to do so immediately, warning that volcanic glass fibers carried by the wind may cause injury. A small explosion of ash from the summit reached around 15,000 feet high. About 2000 people have been evacuated, and more than 400 electric poles and at least 82 homes have been destroyed. According to The Independent, part of a man’s leg was shattered by lava spatter on May 19.

May 31–June 1 Washington, D.C.: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced May 31 that tariffs—25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports—against Canada, Mexico, and the European Union will take effect Friday June 1 at midnight. In a retaliatory measure, the EU announced American imports of steel and aluminum will also incur tariffs of the same amount and take effect at the same time.

President Trump met with the senior North Korean official Kim Yong-chol for two hours on June 1. Immediately after leaving the meeting, Trump announced he would in fact be holding talks with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12 as initially planned. Trump had previously cancelled the summit on May 24.

May 29–June 2 Israel; Palestinian Territories: According to a statement from the Israeli military, around 30 Israeli airstrikes hit Gaza on May 29, targeting the central Gaza Strip and Khan Yunis. Rockets were also fired from the Strip into southern Israel between May 29 and May 30. A short-lived cease-fire went into effect; however, two mortar shells were fired on the evening of June 2 from Gaza. According to Haaretz, Palestinian sources suspect mortar fire is being conducted by a group outside Hamas association.

A Palestinian paramedic was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper bullet on June 1 during continued protests along the Gaza-Israel border. The 21-year old medic Razan al-Najjar was attempting to reach protesters injured at Khan Yunis during Friday protests at the time of the fatal incident. Thousands attended her funeral Saturday, June 2.

May 30 Tunisia: Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission, which was established in 2014 to investigate human rights abuses, began their first trial on May 30 against former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who is accused of being in connection with the death and torture of a member of the Muslim democratic political party Ennahda.

May 30 Kiev, Ukraine: A Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, known for being critical of the Kremlin, was reportedly murdered by gunshot at his Kiev home after his wife found his body. However, in a bizarre turn of events, Babchenko came out during a press conference to reveal his death as a hoax. His death was faked after Ukraine’s Security Service became aware of a plot to assassinate the journalist in order to catch the perpetrators. His own wife and other close family and friends were unaware of the setup.

May 30 Malaysia: The finance ministry of Malaysia announced a bank account number the public can donate to in order to help the government repay its national debt. The move comes after the GoGetFunding account “Please Help Malaysia!” received over $3,500 in donations. The new Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad is making it a priority to cut Malaysia’s national debt, which currently amounts to approximately $250.8 billion.

May 31 Denmark: Danish legislators passed a new law banning full-face veils, with 75 for and 30 against. Though the Danish government says the law is not intended to target any religion, its popularly known as the burqa ban. Violations will incur a fine of around $156, with repeat offenders fined up to around $1,560.

May 30 Athens, Greece: Thousands protested in the streets of Athens against years of economic downturn and a new set of austerity measures scheduled to take effect this summer. According to Reuters and Al Jazeera, more than 10,000 workers, union members, youth, students and pensioners went on strike, putting the country at a standstill for 24 hours.

June 1 U.S.: According to NPR, protesters gathered in over two dozen cities, including New York, Atlanta, Santa Monica and Miami to bring attention to the more than 600 children immigration officials took from parents crossing the border illegally last month. The Trump administration enacted the policy to deter undocumented immigrants, and the Justice Department said the rule is necessary because children cannot go to jail with their parents while they face misdemeanor charges for migrating illegally. Instead, children are being placed in shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

June 1 Italy: Giuseppe Conte was sworn in as Italy’s new prime minister, which marks the end of the a three-month political deadlock and the beginning of new, uncertain territory for Italian political leadership. Conte will head a coalition of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement—which wants to implement a universal basic income for all citizens—and the far-right League, which wants to expel hundreds of thousands of undocumented migrants.

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