Newscoop Footnotes: June 29, 2019

Welcome to Newscoop Footnotes — the weekly review of important news no one’s talking about.

Hi, I’m Zoe Licata.

We’re back. With a rundown of the news in what’s been a very chaotic world of late.

  • First, to Hong Kong — a special autonomous region of China that operates under its own government and economic system. The nearly month-long protests there over a proposed new extradition agreement with China finally forced China-friendly Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam to suspend discussions on a bill that would expose Hong Kong visitors and residents to extradition. The fear of many is that the bill would be used by China as a means of silencing or punishing democracy activists.

    Now, protestors are back in the streets. They want the bill to be formally withdrawn. And they want to draw attention of the upcoming G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan to the protection of democracy in Hong Kong. In a June 27 piece for The Guardian, student activist Joshua Wong emphasized: “Beijing has effectively penetrated Hong Kong’s bureaucracy…weakening the very foundation of freedom…” 

    Sources:  NYTimes, The Guardian

  • Next, the determination and brutality of the Sudan regime against their own peaceful democracy protestors continues. After Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was deposed last May, a Transitional Military Council took control. The problem is that the Transitional Council has been co-led by the RSF, largely Janjaweed militias responsible for the Darfur genocide a decade ago. So the Sudanese civilian protests have continued, with the people demanding transition to a democratically-elected government.

    On June 3rd, the RSF militias opened fire on peaceful protestors in Khartoum, killing 118 and raping dozens of women. Since that time, the protests have been smaller, sporadic, and more subdued. But still very much alive. The UN has proposed sending a human rights monitoring team to Khartoum to investigate the government brutality.

    Sources: CNN, MiddleEastEye

  • And in the streets of Prague this month, in the Czech Republic, we’ve seen the largest protests there in more than 30 years. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets demanding the resignation of billionaire Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. This was following a complaint by Transparency International and a leak of European Commission audit documents that cited serious conflict of interest on the part of the Slovak politician. 

    For the moment, Babiš has survived a no-confidence vote in the Czech parliament. But the protests continue. 

    Sources:  The Guardian, DW

  • And Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner has been conducting a two-day economic workshop in Bahrain this week, as the first leg of his long-promised proposed peace agreement for Israelis and Palestinians. Kushner proposed international investment in the West Bank and Gaza of more than $60 billion dollars, although he has not committed the U.S. to any of that money. Kushner has also not released any details of his proposed political solution, though most people expect his plan to greatly favor Israeli interests.

    The Palestinian leadership has boycotted the event, calling it a clear attempt by the U.S. to buy off the Palestinians and give Palestinian lands to Israel. Skeptics say that investors are unlikely to be interested without a stable political solution in the region.

    Sources:  Times of Israel, Newscoop

  • And at the southern U.S. border, the separation of immigrant families from their children, and the detention of those children in conditions described as “torture,” has horrified the country and the world. The ACLU and others continue to fight the Trump immigraiton policies in court, and the courts continue to require that families be reunited and detention facilities be humane. But the Trump policy continues to be wildly chaotic. It appears the administration separated families without a clear idea of how to bring them back together.

    It has been widely reported that the primary architect of Trump’s immigration policies is his senior advisor Stephen Miller. Miller has long been associated with white identity politics, and mentored by white nationalists, as far back as high school. Most recently, he has been pushing for a mass arrest blitz of undocumented immigrants in 10 cities across America. With Miller less interested in creating effective policy than in far-right messaging, it’s easy to understand how his ideas and ideology have led to chaos.

    Sources: Vanity Fair

  • An expert at the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Agnes Callamard, has called for an investigation into the role played by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his top aide Saud al-Qahtani in the death and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Callamard clarified that the UN secretary-general “should be able to establish an international follow-up criminal investigation without any trigger by a State.”  

    Donald Trump continues to protect the crown prince, blocking U.S. involvement into further investigation of Khashoggi’s death.

    Sources: Bloomberg

  • Of enormous concern is that the Trump administration has for months been raising the ante with Iran, engaging in increasingly provocative actions that make war with Iran more likely.

    Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, has been pushing Trump toward war with Iran. Bolton is the most hawkish U.S. national security advisor in recent memory. His objectives were made very clear in an August 2017 piece he penned for the National Review: “How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal.” In Trump’s June 23 interview with Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, he said of Bolton: “If it was up to him he’d take on the whole world at one time.”

    Sources: Real Clear Politics, National Review

  • And finally, in Turkey last week, the rerun of the mayoral election in Istanbul produced a result other than the one President Erdogan was seeking — it increased the margin of victory for the opposition candidate from 13,000 votes to 775,000 votes. After 25 years of AKP rule, Erdogan’s party has now lost control of the major Turkish cities of Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. The Turkish opposition is calling it a new day for Turkish democracy.

    Sources:  BBC

And so much more we’re not able to get to here.

This has been the latest edition of Newscoop Footnotes – important events getting too little attention. We’ll be back soon with more.

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