2019, June, Newsletter

India Newsletter June 16, 2019

World News June 15


US President Donald Trump has dismissed Iran’s insistence it had no
involvement with the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Mr Trump cited footage that Washington says shows Iranian forces in a small
boat taking an unexploded mine off the hull of one of the ships.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the truth needed to be “clearly
Russia has warned against drawing “hasty conclusions”.
The blasts came a month after four oil tankers were damaged in an attack off
the coast of the United Arab Emirates. The US blamed Iran for that attack,
but did not produce evidence. Iran also denied those accusations.
Speaking to Fox News, he said Iran “did do it”.
“I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got essentially
Iran written all over it. And you saw the boat at night trying to take the
mine off and successfully took the mine off the boat, and that was exposed,”
he said.
He also said it was unlikely that Iran could close the Strait of Hormuz – a
vital shipping lane through which a third of the world’s seaborne oil passes
every year – but if it did, the strait would not remain closed “for long”.
Mr Trump’s intervention came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the
weapons used, the level of expertise needed to carry out the attacks and,
recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping showed Iran was behind it.
US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the US would be sharing
intelligence to try to “build international consensus to this international


China summoned a senior U.S. diplomat on Friday to lodge a formal complaint
about U.S. comments on Hong Kong, after proposed U.S. legislation that would
require the government to justify the continuation of special treatment for
the territory.
The bipartisan Senate legislation would require the U.S. Secretary of State
to issue an annual certification of Hong Kong’s autonomy to justify special
treatment under the U.S. Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992.
The proposed law would also require the U.S. President to identify those
responsible for the abduction of booksellers and other individuals from Hong
Kong and subject them to U.S. sanctions.
The planned legislation comes amid a political crisis in the former British
colony, where protests have boiled over against a proposed law that would
allow extraditions to mainland China.
Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Robert Forden, the U.S.
Deputy Chief of Mission in Beijing, to lodge stern representations over
recent U.S. comments and actions on Hong Kong and the extradition law and
urged Washington to stop interfering in the city’s affairs immediately.
Mr. Le urged Washington not to not take any actions that harm Hong Kong’s
prosperity and stability, the Ministry said in a statement. “We urge the
U.S. side to treat the Hong Kong government objectively and fairly and
respect its normal legislative process,” the statement cited Mr. Le as


Hong Kong protest leaders announced plans for another mass rally on Sunday,
escalating their campaign against a China extradition Bill a day after the
police cleared them from the streets using volleys of tear gas and rubber
bullets. The move sets up a fresh confrontation with the city’s leaders who
have refused to withdraw the proposed law and have the staunch backing of
Beijing, which described the protests as “riots”. The international finance
hub was rocked by the worst political violence since its 1997 handover to
China on Wednesday as tens of thousands of protesters who had surrounded the
city’s parliament were dispersed in chaotic scenes.


UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed on Thursday that he has signed an
order following a request from the US government to extradite Wikileaks
co-founder Julian Assange to face charges of computer hacking before the
American courts.
The senior Pakistani-origin minister said the decision now lay with the UK
courts to analyse if the case met all tests required for Assange’s
extradition to the US.
“He’s rightly behind bars. There’s an extradition request from the US that
is before the courts tomorrow (Friday) but yesterday (Wednesday) I signed
the extradition order and certified it and that will be going in front of
the courts tomorrow,” Javid told the BBC.
“It is a decision ultimately for the courts, but there is a very important
part of it for the home secretary and I want to see justice done at all
times and we’ve got a legitimate extradition request, so I’ve signed it, but
the final decision is now with the courts,” he said.
Assange, who faces an 18-count indictment by the US Justice Department, was
too ill to appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court at a scheduled
hearing last month and his next hearing is expected to take place at the
high-security Belmarsh jail in London, where he is being held.


Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan seems to have broken the diplomatic
protocol at the opening ceremony of the SCO Summit in Bishkek when he sat
down even as all other leaders were standing, an embarrassing gaffe for
which he was heavily trolled online.
His party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf shared a video on its official handle
today in which Khan is seen sitting while the rest of the world leaders and
dignitaries at the event in the Kyrgyz capital stood when head of states of
the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation arrived for the opening ceremony.
In a breach of protocol, he stood briefly when his name was announced and
then seated himself again before the other leaders. As the video went viral,
the cricketer-turned-politician, who has not attended many international
summits, was trolled online by netizens for the seating gaffe.
“Imran Khan again caused national embarrassment at Bishkek,
ShanghaiCooperation Organisation. When everyone was standing. He sat, stood
when the presenter took his name but sat again. Arrogant, ill-mannered, or
an idiot?” one Twitter user wrote.
“Must study the decorum of diplomatic visits to make some mark in future Mr
Imran Khan,” wrote another. “He came, he sat, he got up, he sat again.
Haters gonna say PM Imran Khan has no manners, I’d say he’s still handsome,”
another tweet said.
The Pakistani prime minister was criticised for his “high-handed” attitude.


Thousands of Venezuelans have rushed to cross into Peru in a bid to beat the
introduction of tougher migration laws.
From midnight local time (05:00 GMT) on Saturday, Venezuelans will need to
have a valid passport and visa to enter Peru.
The new requirements prompted a dash to the border from those fleeing
Venezuela’s years-long economic crisis.
Prior to Saturday’s deadline, Venezuelan citizens wanting to enter Peru only
require a national ID card.
Nearly 6,000 Venezuelans entered through the border town of Tumbes on
Thursday, officials said, which is almost three times the daily average.
Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra defended the tougher migration restrictions
on Thursday.
“Our country has opened its arms to more than 800,000 Venezuelans,” he told
reporters at an event in the northern city of Piura. “I think it’s
completely logical and justified to ask them to bring visas to ensure better
control of who enters.”
Latin American countries host the vast majority of Venezuelan migrants and
refugees. Colombia has the most at 1.3 million, followed by Peru with
768,000, according to UN figures.


White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who famously said that God
“wanted Donald Trump to become president” has resigned, becoming the latest
senior aide of the US president to exit his administration.
President Trump made the surprise announcement on Twitter that Sanders will
step down at the end of the month.
“After 3 ½ years, our wonderful Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be leaving the
White House at the end of the month and going home to the Great State of
Arkansas….,” Trump said in a tweet on Thursday.
“She is a very special person with extraordinary talents, who has done an
incredible job! I hope she decides to run for Governor of Arkansas – she
would be fantastic. Sarah, thank you for a job well done!” tweeted the US
Sanders, 36, has been a loyal mouthpiece, famously saying that God “wanted
Donald Trump to become president”.
Only the third woman to serve in the prestigious position, Sanders is the
daughter of popular Republican politician and former Arkansas Governor Mike
Later at a White House event, Trump praised Sanders.


Hong Kong social media lit up on Friday when protesters noticed Google’s
translation software was briefly churning out a rather odd suggestion during
a week that has seen the worst political violence to hit the city in
Eagle-eyed Google users discovered that when people entered the phrase “I am
sad to see Hong Kong become part of China” the suggested translation in both
Simplified and Traditional Chinese converted the word “sad” to “happy”.
It was not immediately clear what sparked the gaffe but Danny Sullivan, an
official at Google, said in a tweet “we’re looking into why we had this
translation and expect to have a fix to resolve it soon”.
“Oh my god, I can’t believe my eyes,” one Facebook user commented under one
of the many screen grabs of the false translation that went viral on Friday.
“The app intentionally mistranslates the English to ‘so happy/content’
instead of ‘so sad’,” added student Rachel Wong on Twitter. “I hope Google
fixes this.” When AFP entered the sentence “I am sad to see Hong Kong become
part of China” on Friday morning it did show the wrong translation,
replacing sad with happy.
An hour later a correct translation was showing.
The company’s hugely popular software tool uses complex algorithms and deep
learning, as well as allowing users to make suggested translations to
improve accuracy.
“Google Translate is an automatic translator, using patterns from millions
of existing translations to help decide on the best translation for you,” a
spokesman for Google told AFP.
“These automatic systems can sometimes make unintentional mistakes like
translating a negative to a positive.”


Facebook-owned Instagram suffered a major outage with users around the world
reporting that they weren’t able to access the photo sharing platform’s app
and website.
The photo-sharing platform was also hit by a massive outage almost 10 days
ago that hindered app logins, page refreshes, commenting on posts and
uploading content on the platform.
“We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing their Instagram
accounts. We’re working quickly to fix the issue. #instagramdown,” Instagram
tweeted on Friday.
According to Down Detector, over 38,000 reports (of outage) came in as of 3
p.m. PT which leaped to almost 57,000 reports within the next 40 minutes.
The live outage map showed the issue was reported worldwide from across
North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
The service, now restored, showed “couldn’t refresh feed” message when
users tried accessing it.
“We are now fully recovered and apologise for the disruption!
#instagramdown,” the company posted after the services were restored.

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