2019, June, Newsletter

World Newsletter June 16, 2019

World News June 16

HONG KONG GOVT SUSPENDS DIVISIVE EXTRADITION BILL

Hong Kong’s embattled leader on Saturday said a divisive bill that would
allow extraditions to China would be “suspended” in a major climbdown from
her government after a week of unprecedented protests.
The city’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam has come under huge pressure to
abandon the controversial legislation, including from her own political
allies and advisers.
“The government has decided to suspend the legislative amendment exercise,
restart our communication with all sectors of society, do more… work and
listen to different views of society,” Lam told reporters Saturday.
The South China Morning Post said Lam held an emergency meeting on Friday
night with her advisers while Chinese officials were also meeting in the
nearby city of Shenzhen to map a way out of the impasse.
Tensions were running high with protest organisers planning another mass
rally on Sunday.
Lam, who is appointed by a committee stacked with Beijing loyalists, had
previously refused to consider abandoning the bill, despite months of
criticism from business and legal bodies-and a record breaking rally on
Sunday where organisers said more than one million protesters hit the
streets.
“I feel deep sorrow and regret that the deficiencies in our work and various
other factors have stirred up substantial controversies and disputes in
society following the relatively calm periods of the past two years,” Lam
said.

SAUDI SEEKS OIL SUPPLY PROTECTION AS US, IRAN FACE OFF

Saudi Arabia called for swift action to secure Gulf energy supplies, after
the United States blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in a vital oil
shipping route that have raised fears of broader confrontation in the
region.
Thursday’s tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman exacerbated the antagonistic
fallout from similar blasts in May that crippled four vessels. Washington,
already embroiled in a standoff with Iran over its nuclear programme, has
blamed Tehran.
Iran has denied any role in the strikes on the tankers south of the Strait
of Hormuz, a major transit route for oil from Saudi Arabia, the world’s
biggest crude exporter, and other Gulf producers.
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih said “there must be a rapid and
decisive response to the threat” to energy supplies, market stability and
consumer confidence after the attacks in the Gulf area, the Saudi Energy
Ministry reported on Twitter.
Tehran has said that if its oil exports were halted, it could block the
Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the oil consumed globally passes.
Oil prices have climbed 3.4 per cent since Thursday’s attacks. Ship insurers
said insurance costs for ships sailing through the Middle East have jumped
by at least 10 per cent.

DONALD TRUMP HITS OUT AGAIN AT SADIQ KHAN OVER LONDON VIOLENCE

US President Donald Trump has once again criticised London Mayor Sadiq Khan,
calling him a “national disgrace” who is destroying the UK’s capital.
His comments came after five attacks in London in less than 24 hours left
three men dead and three others injured.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded by saying it was “absolutely awful” Mr
Trump was using the “tragedy of people being murdered to attack the mayor”.
President Trump’s tweets follow a long-running feud between the two men.
Retweeting a post by right-wing commentator Katie Hopkins about this
weekend’s violence in London, the president said Mr Khan was “a disaster”
and the capital needed a new mayor.
Mr Trump later followed it up with another post saying: “He is a national
disgrace who is destroying the city of London!”
In response, Mr Khan’s spokesman said the mayor’s thoughts were with the
victims’ families and he “is not going to waste his time responding to this
sort of tweet”.
The mayor was focused on supporting the city’s communities and
“over-stretched” emergency services, he added.
Mr Corbyn tweeted in defence of Mr Khan, saying he was “rightly supporting
the police to do their job while Katie Hopkins spreads hateful and divisive
rhetoric”.

IRAN SEEKS ‘POSITIVE SIGNALS’ ON N-DEAL

Iran will continue scaling back compliance with a nuclear deal unless other
signatories to the pact show “positive signals”, the Iranian President said
on Saturday.
Iran stopped complying in May with some commitments in the 2015 nuclear deal
that was agreed with global powers, after the U.S. unilaterally withdrew
from the accord in 2018 and ratcheted up sanctions on Tehran. “Obviously,
Iran cannot stick to this agreement unilaterally,” President Hassan Rouhani
told Russian, Chinese and other Asian leaders at a conference in Tajikistan.
“It is necessary that all the sides of this agreement contribute to
restoring it,” he said, adding that Iran needed to see “positive signals”
from other signatories to the pact, which include Russia, China, Britain,
France and Germany.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would adhere to the agreement
and urged other signatories to follow suit. “We believe that the only
sensible decision is for all deal participants to honour commitments,” Mr.
Putin told the conference. France and other European signatories to the
nuclear deal have said they wanted to save the accord, but many of their
companies have cancelled deals with Tehran, under pressure from the U.S.

MALDIVES SEEKS FOREIGN HELP TO DEAL WITH IS FIGHTERS

The Maldives on Saturday called for international help to rehabilitate up to
160 of its nationals languishing in Syrian detention camps after the defeat
of the Islamic State group.
Speaker Mohamed Nasheed said the Maldives kept a close tab on citizens who
had joined the militant group, but that the island nation was not ready to
accept them back without an internationally supervised reintegration
programme.
Visiting neighbouring Sri Lanka where 258 people were killed in jihadi
attacks recently, Nasheed said the question of foreign Islamic State
fighters in Syria should be addressed as a global issue.
As many as 160 Maldivians are thought to be held in detention camps after
the fall of Islamic State in March.
“We do not know the situation they have gone through. We don’t have the
capacity to rehabilitate these people to the extent that they will not have
a further impact on society,” Nasheed said. “I think the international
community should join together and decide what we should do to the
returnees. Hopefully, there is an international arrangement where they are
first received, not necessarily to their countries of origin or
nationality.”
He said the Maldives was concerned about the 30 to 40 children said to be of
Maldivian parents now living in detention camps in Syria, but insisted that
there should be international involvement to screen the parents.
“I don’t think we should say they can come back in the first flight they can
catch,” he added.
Nasheed said the nation of 340,000 Sunni Muslims was keeping a close watch
on any attempt to radicalise its population, which is known to practise a
liberal form of Islam-and relies heavily on luxury tourism.

31 TEST POSITIVE FOR HIV IN PAKISTAN

As many as 31 people were tested HIV positive during a screening programme
conducted in Pakistan’s Sindh province on Saturday, health authorities said
amid a probe by international experts from the WHO to check the outbreak of
the deadly virus.
The new cases in Shikarpur district see a surge in cases of HIV (Human
Immunodeficiency Virus) in Sindh after 215 positive cases, including 181
children, were reported in Ratodero district of Larkana last month, Geo News
reported.
According to District Health Officer Shabbir Sheikh, 2,500 people were
screened out of which 31 tested positive, the report said.
Those that have tested positive were being provided treatment and other
amenities according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) regulations.
A delegation of the United Nations bodies, including the WHO, UNAIDS and
UNICEF, are already in Karachi to help the Sindh health authorities to
investigate the alarming outbreak of the HIV in the district.
Main reason behind the spread of HIV virus was revealed to be the use of
unsafe blood, unsafe injections and unsafe practice, the WHO Representative
Palitha Mahipala said.
Those affected have urged the Sindh government to make HIV medicine readily
available at private medical stores apart from government hospitals for easy
access.

CHINA CONFIRMS THAT ITS VESSEL HIT PHILIPPINE BOAT

Beijing confirmed on Saturday that a Chinese vessel hit a Philippine fishing
boat in a collision which has increased tensions in the disputed South China
Sea, but denied claims that it was a “hit and run”.
The Chinese trawler sailed away after the incident near Reed Bank that sank
the fishing boat, sparking outrage from Philippine authorities and media.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila said the crew of trawler Yuemaobinyu 42212
“bumped into” the Philippine boat and then left due to safety fears. “The
Chinese captain tried to rescue the Filipino fisherman, but was afraid of
being besieged by other Filipino fishing boats,” the statement said.
It went on to say the incident was not a “hit-and-run”, as some Philippine
authorities had claimed, because the trawler “confirmed the fishermen from
the Filipino boat were rescued”. However, the 22 fishermen told a very
different story, saying they had spent hours in the water awaiting help.
They were eventually picked up by a Vietnamese boat and brought home on
Friday aboard a Philippine Navy vessel.
The Philippine Coast Guard has started an investigation of the incident
which President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman branded as “outrageous and
barbaric”.
Reed Bank, claimed by Manila and Beijing, is within the Philippines’s
200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone and far from China’s nearest major
landmass.

NEPAL SCHOOLS MAKE MANDARIN COMPULSORY AFTER CHINA OFFERS TO PAY TEACHERS’
SALARIES

A Chinese government’s proposal of covering salaries of teachers in Nepal
who teach Mandarin have prompted many private schools in the Himalayan
kingdom to make it mandatory for students to learn the language, according
to a media report.
The move came at a time when the Chinese involvement in Nepal is surging,
largely on the back of Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a
project boycotted by India as it comprises the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan
Economic Corridor (CPEC) being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Many schools across Nepal have made it mandatory for students to learn
Chinese lured by the Chinese government’s offer to cover salaries of
teachers who teach Mandarin, the Himalayan Times reported.
However, as per the guidelines laid down by the Curriculum Development
Centre (CDC), a government body which designs school-level academic
curriculum, schools in Nepal are allowed to teach foreign languages, but
they cannot make those subjects mandatory for students.
The schools were aware of the provision, but they overlooked it as they are
getting Mandarin teachers for free, the report said.
Also, as per the CDC rules, schools are not allowed to teach any foreign
language within school hours, but none of the schools has obliged despite
being aware of the

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