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Eastwest Press Review – The world in ten news items – 14 July 2017


Eastwest Press Review offers a weekly geopolitical collection of recent global trends, beyond the main headlines. The world, one news at a time.


Chinese Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, the unwitting martyr

“I feel that, in a dictatorship, if you want to be a person with dignity, if you want to be an honest person, you must fight for human rights and fight for freedom of speech,” the writer and activist said in a 2007 interview. “Going to prison is part of that, and I have nothing to complain about.” Liu died of liver cancer on July 13 at a hospital in Shenyang in northeastern China. He was 61. He was granted medical parole in June after receiving his diagnosis in prison, but the Beijing government would not let him seek treatment abroad despite Liu’s wishes and international pressure. (Read more on CNN)

Indonesia’s President Signs Decree to Ban Radical Groups

Indonesia’s president has signed a decree giving the government the power to ban radical organizations, in a move aimed at outlawing groups behind an apparent rise in the political clout of hard-line Islam. The measure announced Wednesday by the country’s top security minister follows months of sectarian tensions in the world’s most populous Muslim nation that shook the government and undermined its reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam. (Read more on The Times of India)


Yes, Macron’s “civilizational” Africa statement is problematic but it’s also very French

Of course what Emmanuel Macron said was racist. At a press conference at the G20 summit in Hamburg, on July 8 he was asked about a “Marshall Plan for Africa.” The president gave a disquisition on Africa’s “real” problems – among them, in his view, demographics. The continent’s true challenge was “civilizational,” including failed states, shaky democracies, trafficking, extremism, and population growth. (Read more on Quartz)

Injured, hunted, lost: mapping journeys of refugee children aiming for UK

A new mapping exercise has revealed the extraordinary difficulties and dangers faced by refugee children trying to reach the UK. It traces the routes of 22 children who travelled 11,800 miles (19,000km) in eight weeks, sustaining injuries, sleeping rough or even going missing. (Read more on The Guardian)

Has the EU really solved its refugee crisis?

Less than two years after the European Union was confronted with an unprecedented influx of refugees, during which over a million people from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond flooded Europe’s borders, EU officials are saying that the migrant crisis is under control. Declarations of success have come despite criticisms by NGOs and experts, who have condemned the Turkey deal as an outsourcing of responsibility. (Read more on The Conversation)


Congressional Budget Office Casts Doubt on Trump Spending Plan

President Trump had promised that his mix of tax cuts, deregulation and reductions in wasteful spending would spur economic growth and cure America’s ailing fiscal health. On Thursday, an independent government analysis of those proposals effectively said, “Not so much.” The $4.1 trillion budget for 2018 that the White House proposed recommended a large increase in spending on the military and on border security. By assuming rapidly accelerating economic growth, Mr. Trump’s economic team was able to make the budget balance without making changes to Social Security’s retirement program or Medicare, the two biggest drivers of America’s federal government debt. (Read more on The New York Times)


Nigerian king takes oil spill battle to Italy

The Niger Delta has become synonymous with devastating oil pollution. King Ododo of a local community says he has been dismayed to discover how native communities in the Niger delta have had to struggle to get what they felt was meaningful compensation from Nigerian entities. So he decided to change the fate of his people through a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against an Italian oil giant ENI. (Read more on DW News)


The New Silk Road will go through Syria

The New Silk Roads, or One Belt, One Road Initiative (Obor), will inevitably feature a Syrian hub – complete with the requisite legal support for Chinese companies involved in investment, construction and banking via a special commission created by the Syrian embassy, the China-Arab Exchange Association and the Beijing-based Shijing law firm. Beijing has had a special representative for Syria since last year – and has already been providing humanitarian aid. (Read more on Asia Times)

Gaza electricity crisis: ‘It is the worst I can remember – but we expect it to get worse’

“For 10 years the siege has unlawfully deprived Palestinians in Gaza of their most basic rights and necessities. Under the burden of the illegal blockade and three armed conflicts, the economy has sharply declined and humanitarian conditions have deteriorated severely. The latest power cuts risk turning an already dire situation into a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe.” (Read more on The Guardian)


The Afghan Files: defence leak exposes deadly secrets of Australia’s special forces

Hundreds of pages of secret defence force documents leaked to the ABC give an unprecedented insight into the clandestine operations of Australia’s elite special forces in Afghanistan, including incidents of troops killing unarmed men and children. The documents, many marked AUSTEO — Australian Eyes Only — suggest a growing unease at the highest levels of Defence about the culture of Australia’s special forces as they prosecuted a bloody, secretive war against insurgents across a swathe of southern Afghanistan. (Read more on ABC)


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