2019, May, Newsletter

World Newsletter May 30, 2019

World News May 30

IRAN BEHIND ATTACKS ON SHIPS: BOLTON

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Wednesday that naval
mines “almost certainly from Iran” were used to attack oil tankers off the
coast of the United Arab Emirates this month and warned Tehran against new
operations.
Mr. Bolton said the “prudent and responsible” approach taken by the United
States, which has beefed up its military presence in the region, had made it
clear to Iran and its proxies that such actions risked a “very strong” U.S.
response.
Emergency summit
He was speaking to reporters in Abu Dhabi ahead of an emergency summit of
Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia on Thursday called to discuss the implications
of the tanker attacks and drone strikes two days later on oil pumping
stations in the kingdom.
The UAE has not yet blamed anyone for the sabotage of four vessels,
including two Saudi tankers, near Fujairah emirate, a major bunkering hub
just outside the Strait of Hormuz.
Riyadh has accused Tehran of ordering the drone strikes, which were claimed
by the Iran-aligned Houthis who have been battling a Saudi-led coalition in
Yemen in a four-year conflict seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and
Iran.
Iran has denied involvement in either attack.
“I think it is clear these (tanker attacks) were naval mines almost
certainly from Iran,” Mr. Bolton said. “There is no doubt in anybody’s mind
in Washington who is responsible for this and I think it’s important that
the leadership in Iran know that we know.”
There was no immediate response from Iran to the comments by Mr. Bolton, who
did not provide evidence to support his statement.

BORIS JOHNSON FACES COURT HEARING OVER ‘BREXIT LIES’

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to become Britain’s next Prime Minister, must
attend court over allegations that he knowingly lied during the Brexit
referendum campaign, a judge announced on Wednesday.
Mr. Johnson will be summoned to appear before a court over allegations of
misconduct in public office, Judge Margot Coleman said in a written
decision, without specifying the date.
The case is over the claim that Britain sends £350 million ($440 million) a
week to the European Union (EU).
Businessmen Marcus Ball has crowd-funded the private prosecution.
Judge Coleman’s decision follows a hearing last week at Westminster
Magistrates Court in London.
The summons application made by Mr. Ball’s lawyers alleges that Mr. Johnson
“repeatedly lied and misled the British public as to the cost of EU
membership” and “knew that such comments were false or misleading”.
The maximum penalty for misconduct in public office is life imprisonment.

ISRAEL TO HOLD FRESH ELECTION AS NETANYAHU FAILS TO FORM COALITION

Israeli lawmakers have voted to dissolve parliament after Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government.
The vote triggered a fresh election, which will be held on 17 September.
Mr Netanyahu was unable to reach a deal for a fresh right-wing coalition
following last month’s election.
At the heart of the impasse was a military conscription bill governing
exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students.
It is the first time in Israel’s history that a prime minister-designate has
failed to form a coalition.
Parliament voted 74-45 in favour of dissolving itself after Mr Netanyahu
missed a midnight local time (21:00 GMT) deadline on Wednesday.

VIOLENCE IN PAKISTAN AFTER HINDU DOCTOR IS ACCUSED OF BLASPHEMY

Mobs set ablaze shops in Sindh belonging to Hindus after a veterinary doctor
from the community allegedly tore pages of a holy book and wrapped medicines
in them, according to a report.
The doctor, identified as Ramesh Kumar, was arrested on Monday under the
country’s strict blasphemy laws after a local cleric filed a police
complaint.
Under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, anyone accused of insulting Islam can be
sentenced to death.
The doctor was taken into custody while angry protesters set fire to a
clinic and shops owned by Hindus and burnt tyres on a road in Phuladyon town
in Mirpurkhas district in the province, The Express Tribune reported. There
were reports that the protesters also looted some shops.
With the situation spiralling out of control, local authorities called in
the paramilitary Rangers to deal with the mob violence.
Police also registered a case against those engaged in rioting.
“It’s an unfortunate incident. We have taken the doctor into custody and are
investigating incident,” Senior Superintendent of Police Mirpurkhas Javed
Baloch said. He said a case has been registered and police have established
a picket in the town to deal with any untoward incident.
“The situation is now normal,” he said, adding that the police would take
action against those who have ransacked properties of the Hindu community.
“We have detained some suspects on charges of damaging properties,” he
added.

IRAN PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI SUGGESTS US TALKS POSSIBLE IF SANCTIONS LIFTED

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani signalled on Wednesday that talks with the
United States might be possible if Washington lifted sanctions, days after
US President Donald Trump said a deal with Tehran on its nuclear programme
was conceivable.
Washington withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with
Tehran, and is ratcheting up sanctions in efforts to shut down Iran’s
economy by ending its international sales of crude oil.
Trump said on Monday: “I really believe that Iran would like to make a deal,
and I think that’s very smart of them, and I think that’s a possibility to
happen.”
Rouhani said in remarks carried by state television: “Whenever they lift the
unjust sanctions and fulfil their commitments and return to the negotiations
table, which they left themselves, the door is not closed.”
“But our people judge you by your actions, not your words.”

SCOTLAND EYES NEW INDEPENDENCE VOTE

Scotland’s pro-independence government has set out new rules on referendums
in the hope of holding another secession vote in the second half of 2020 if
Britain’s parliament gives the go-ahead.
A Bill presented to the devolved Scottish parliament on Wednesday aims to
give clear ground rules that are legally watertight for any referendum vote.
Nicola Sturgeon’s government aims to give visibility and purpose to
widespread discontent in Scotland over Britain’s exit from the European
Union.
That puts extra pressure on a UK government and parliament riven by
political acrimony and unable to decide the shape of Brexit.
“Just published a Bill to set the rules for an independence referendum — to
allow the Scottish people to choose our own future rather than having a
Brexit future imposed on us,” Sturgeon tweeted. The Bill also prepares the
ground for a secession vote which the British government says it will not
allow.

WITH CABINET OF MANY FIRSTS, MORRISON SWORN IN AS OZ PM

Scott Morrison was sworn in as Australia’s Prime Minister on Wednesday along
with a “hungry, committed and united” team of ministers after the ruling
Conservative Coalition led by him staged a surprise victory defying exit
polls in the general elections.
The new Coalition ministry for the 46th Australian parliament was sworn in
at the Government House in Canberra with Morrison taking the oath as a new
Prime Minister and Michael McCormack as the Deputy Prime Minister.
Morrison, 51, and Deputy Prime Minister McCormack were the first to be sworn
in by the Governor General Peter Cosgrove at the ceremony, accompanied by
their families.
A record number of seven women were sworn into the new Cabinet with
Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie becoming Australia’s first female
agriculture minister.
The Cabinet includes Australia’s first Aboriginal federal cabinet minister,
West Australian MP Ken Wyatt, who will be in charge of indigenous affairs.
Wyatt received a standing ovation from the gathering at the ceremony when he
stepped up to be sworn to become the first Aboriginal person to sit in
Cabinet.
The 46th Parliament is expected to open in the first week of July.

ROBERT MUELLER SAYS RUSSIAN PROBE FORMALLY CLOSED, RESIGNS AS SPECIAL
COUNSEL

In his first public statement since he began his probe into alleged Russian
interference in the US presidential elections of 2016, Special Counsel
Robert Mueller Wednesday said he is formally closing the counsel’s office
and leaving the Justice Department to “return to public life”.
Mueller said he has concluded the probe and that the Justice Department’s
report on Russian meddling in the elections has been made “largely”
available to the public.
Reacting to Mueller’s statement, US President Donald Trump said nothing had
changed and “the case is closed!”.
The special counsel said charging a president with a crime was “not an
option” his team could consider in the Russia investigation, adding that he
was bound by longstanding Justice Department opinions that say a president
can’t be indicted while in office, reported AP. Mueller did not take
questions from the media.
The statement came amid demands for Mueller to testify on Capitol Hill about
his findings and tension with Attorney General William Barr.

18 KILLED IN TALIBAN STRIKE NEAR JAM MINARET

Taliban fighters have stormed many security posts providing protection to
Afghanistan’s historic minaret of Jam, cutting access to the UNESCO World
Heritage Site and killing 18 security forces, officials said on Wednesday.
The attack comes less than a week after the revered 12th-century minaret,
located in a remote part of the western province of Ghor, was threatened by
surging floodwaters.
“The Taliban have captured some checkpoints around the minaret. We had to
retreat because more fighting would cause damage to the minaret,” said Sayed
Zia Hussaini, the deputy police chief of Ghor.
Abdul Hai Khatebi, the provincial Governor spokesman, said 15 pro-government
militias and three policemen had been killed in the attacks, which started
on Monday. “The Taliban have shut off telecommunication towers and have cut
any access to the area,” said Fakhruddin Ariapur, the Ghor province director
of information and culture.
On Monday, the government said it had hired about 300 local workers to
channel floodwaters away from the tower. The work appeared to have saved the
minaret from imminent danger. Located in an area largely under Taliban
control, the Jam minaret is the world’s second tallest made of bricks,
reaching a height of 65 m.

PAPUA NEW GUINEA CHOOSES JAMES MARAPE AS NEW PRIME MINISTER

Papua New Guinea has appointed a new prime minister after weeks of political
upheaval.
Lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to elect James Marape, a former finance
minister, who resigned in April in protest against a gas project.
His appointment comes after the outgoing leader Peter O’Neill resigned on
Wednesday.
Mr O’Neill faced calls for his resignation for weeks and was finally
pressured into stepping down.

3D-PRINTED ARTIFICIAL CORNEAS MIMIC HUMAN EYES

Seoul: Scientists have 3D printed artificial corneas that mimic the human
eye, using the bioink made of stem cells, an advance that may help reduce
the need for eye donations. When a person has a severely damaged cornea, a
corneal transplant is required. However, patients often have to wait for
years to receive eye donations. Many scientists have put their efforts in
developing an artificial cornea. The existing artificial cornea uses
recombinant collagen or is made of chemical substances such as synthetic
polymer.

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