World In Brief
The Syrian conflict has been escalating this week. First, a drone attack that killed a U.S. contractor, which the Pentagon claimed was of Iranian origin. Following that were US reprisal airstrikes against militant sites connected to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard. And then on Friday, rocket and drone attacks on coalition bases by Iran-backed militias.
As protests continue across Israel, the Israeli Knesset has just passed legislation that would make it harder to declare Prime Minister Netanyahu unfit for office. Netanyahu is now vowing to proceed with plans to eviscerate the judiciary.
Following his conviction on Thursday of "criminal defamation" against India's prime Minister Narendra Modi, opposition leader Rahul Gandhi has been expelled from parliament. With Modi's government having launched a number of criminal cases against political opponents, and raided the BBC's offices in India after an unflattering documentary was aired, doubts continue to be raised about the strength of India's democracy.
Indian opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, has been convicted by the court in Gujarat state of criminal defamation against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and sentenced to two years in prison. He will appeal. Gandhi is the great-grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru (first PM of India), grandson of Indira Gandhi (first woman PM), and son of Rajiv Gandhi (youngest PM). Recent attacks by India's government on freedom of speech been widely criticized.
Focused on curbing inflation, the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter of a point yesterday, despite the turbulence in the banking system over the last weeks.
Rafael Grossi, head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, announced yesterday that following a Russian strike on March 9, Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been dependent on just one backup power line that remains “disconnected and under repair." Grossi said: "The situation at the plant remains perilous."
As protests in Israel continue to heat up, the US State Department summoned the Israeli ambassador to express grave concern over a new Israeli bill lifting the ban on settlements evacuated in 2005. And the Israeli ambassador to Jordan was summoned after Israeli Finance Minister Smotrich displayed his map of a "Greater Israel" that incorporated the land of Jordan.
The US and other strong allies of Israel have condemned the latest coming from Israel: 1) the Knesset's approval of the Disengagement Law, permitting Israeli settlers to return to areas of the West Bank evacuated in 2005; 2) Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich declaring that "there’s no such thing as a Palestinian people"; and 3) Smotrich displaying a map of "Greater Israel," showing Jordan as part of Israeli territory.
Chinese President Xi Jinping met on Tuesday in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Referring to China's 12-point plan published last month, Putin said it could provide the basis for ending the war when "the West and Kyiv" are ready. Ukraine has made clear that Russia's withdrawal from Ukrainian territory is a prerequisite for talks, but Russia shows no signs of accepting that.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Russia for a two-day visit, said to be discussing with Putin his plan to end the war in Ukraine. He also released a statement that China was “ready to resolutely defend the UN-centric international system, stand guard over the world order based on international law."
The latest report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) tells us that we have less than a decade to address the changes needed in the fight against climate change, or the planet is likely to overheat to a catastrophic degree.
The International Criminal Court in The Hague has issued warrants for the arrests of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, for the abduction and forced deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children and teenagers since the start of Russia’s invasion.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu continues with his planned judicial overhaul, rejecting the compromises proposed by President Isaac Herzog. Massive country-wide protests are now in their 11th week. Nadav Argaman, former director of Israel's Shin Bet security service, calls Netanyahu's planned overhaul of the judiciary "regime change," describing the planned changes as “a car hurtling toward the abyss.”
France's Parliament has been scheduled to vote this week on President Macron's plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Without sufficient votes supporting the effort, Macron has now used a constitutional measure to pass the bill without a vote. Two-thirds of French people oppose the move, and widespread strikes and protests are embroiling the country.
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