Singapore confiscated 11.9 tons of pangolin scales and 8.8 tons of elephant ivory on July 21. Courtesy of Creative Commons

This Week Around the World – July 21–25

July 21 Singapore: Together the Singapore National Parks Board and the Customs and Immigrations Checkpoints Authority confiscated 11.9 tons of pangolin scales and 8.8 tons of elephant ivory from three separate shipping containers on their way to Vietnam from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The pangolin scales—which are from Giant Anteaters—have an estimated value of $35.7 million, while the elephant ivory has an estimated worth of $12.9 million, according to the ICA’s press statement. The ivory came from nearly 300 different African Elephants and is the largest seizure of the illegal product in Singapore’s history. The pangolin scales likely came from as many as 2,000 Giant Anteaters, according to Al Jazeera. Reuters reported pangolins are one of the most trafficked animals in the world, and the animal’s scale often pass through Singapore illegally. 

July 22 Tehran, Iran: An unidentified representative of the counterintelligence sector at the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence announced authorities had detained 17 individuals who were acting as spies for the United States Central Intelligence Agency. All 17 individuals were working in military and nuclear facilities described as “sensitive centers” by Iranian authorities. The arrested individuals have already been sentenced, some to death and others to prison time. “Those who deliberately betrayed the country were handed to the judiciary,” the representative told reporters, according to Al Jazeera. President Donald Trump denied the Iranian claim on Twitter, calling it “totally false” and “just more lies and propaganda.” 

July 24 Washington D.C., United States: Sticking to the promise he made at a May press conference, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller kept his answers brief and in line with that of his report during his seven hour testimony in front of Congress. Mueller maintained his stance that his 448-page report did not exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice, despite the president’s earlier claims. According to TIME, Mueller did not reveal any information not already available to the public in the redacted version of the report, claiming the redacted information could impact ongoing legal investigations. During his testimony, Mueller confirmed there were several instances of correspondence between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, which allegedly interfered in the election process. It remains unclear if the testimony will influence how Congress moves forward regarding the future of Trump’s presidency

July 24 Marrakesh, Morocco: A landslide caused by heavy rain in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains buried a van and its 15 passengers—11 women, three men and one child—under 65 feet of dirt and other debris. There were no survivors. The landslide blocked the road that authorities needed in order to reach the van and made rescue efforts difficult. Once the authorities reached the buried van, it took 24 hours for it to be dug out of the earth. The Interior Minister of Morocco announced the incident on July 26.

July 25 Jakarta, Indonesia: Despite the Indonesian Supreme Court upholding Baiq Nuril Maknun’s six-month jail sentence in July, President Joko Widodo granted her amnesty. Nuril secretly recorded a phone call with her boss—who was the headteacher at the school she worked at in Mataram—after several previous calls between the two, during which the boss had allegedly made sexual and inappropriate comments. “I would tell him to stop,” Nuril told CNN. “I don’t want to listen to that. I was scared if I spoke out he would fire me. He knew he had the power.” The recording of the phone call between Nuril and her boss was later spread around their workplace, and the headteacher later lost his job as a result, according to BBC. While she was held in police custody for several months, Nuril served no time in prison and is a free woman as of July 25.