Politics this week

Politics this week

In its most ominous warning yet to protesters in Hong Kong, China said the demonstrators were “playing with fire” and on “the verge of a very dangerous situation”. A day earlier a strike hit the city’s transport system and led to more than 200 flight cancellations. The protesters, who initially wanted an extradition bill to be scrapped, are now calling for Carrie Lam to resign as Hong Kong’s leader and for direct elections. China’s spokesman in Hong Kong said Ms Lam was staying put.

’s Hindu-nationalist government unexpectedly ended the autonomy granted to Indian-administered Kashmir, splitting it in two, putting local party leaders under house arrest and ordering non-residents, including tourists, to leave. The government poured another 25,000 troops into the region. Pakistan said the move was illegal. Relations between the two countries were already fraught because of an attack by Pakistani-based jihadists on Indian troops in Kashmir six months ago.

The Taliban started a fresh round of talks with ’s envoy for Afghanistan. The talks, held in Qatar, are aiming for a deal under which America will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, but only if the Taliban starts negotiations with the government in Kabul. As they were talking, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a bomb that killed 14 people and wounded 145 in Kabul.

The  declared a national dengue epidemic. At least 146,000 cases were recorded from January to July, double the number in the same period last year. More than 620 people have died.

New Zealand’s government introduced a bill to decriminalise abortion and allow women to seek the procedure up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy. At present a woman has to get permission for an abortion, and may have one only if her pregnancy endangers her physical or mental health. New Zealand’s abortion rate is nevertheless higher than in most European countries.

Would you please just go

America imposed a complete economic embargo on the government of , freezing all its assets and threatening sanctions against firms that do business with it, unless they have an exemption. The move steps up the pressure on Nicolás Maduro’s socialist regime. America, along with 50-odd other countries, recognises Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader, as Venezuela’s president, though Mr Maduro is still supported by China and .

The head of Brazil’s institute for space research was fired after a spat with Jair Bolsonaro, the country’s president, over satellite images that showed a sharp increase in the ’s deforestation. Mr Bolsonaro had questioned the data and said it brought Brazil’s reputation into disrepute.

All too familiar

The latest mass shootings in America elicited more pleas for gun controls. Even some Republicans said they would support “red-flag laws” that would take guns away from those who are a violent risk. The gunman who slaughtered 22 people at a in heavily Hispanic El Paso was in custody, as police trawled through an anti-immigrant screed he had written. The shooter who murdered nine people, including his sister, in Dayton was killed by police officers on patrol after 30 seconds of mayhem.

America’s immigration agency arrested 680 illegal migrant workers at seven factories in Mississippi. Some were released and told to appear at an immigration court; others were sent to a detention centre in Louisiana. The operation, said to be the biggest of its kind in a single state, had been planned for months.

Donald withdrew his pick of John Ratcliffe as the new director of national intelligence, just days after putting his name forward. Many had criticised the selection, as Mr Ratcliffe’s only credentials seemed to be a staunch defence of Mr Trump at a recent congressional hearing on the Mueller report.

Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court ruled that the appointment of a new governor by Ricardo Rosselló, who was forced from office by street protests, was unconstitutional and he would have to step down. The court sided with the territory’s Senate, which had not been given a vote on the appointment. After the court’s decision Wanda Vázquez was sworn in as governor, though she had said she didn’t want the job.

Tributes were paid to Toni Morrison, the only black woman to have won the Nobel prize for literature, who died aged 88. Ms Morrison’s work was based on narratives about race and slavery.

City carnage

A car-bomb in central Cairo killed 20 people. Egypt’s government blamed a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood for the blast.

joined an American-led initiative to provide naval protection to ships travelling through the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions with Iran. In July Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker.

Mozambique’s president signed a peace agreement with the leader of Renamo, a rebel movement. Renamo said it will disarm some 5,000 fighters and peacefully contest elections scheduled to be held in October. It waged a guerrilla war from 1977 to 1992 before laying down its guns, but took up arms again in 2012.

The UN World Food Programme said that 5m people in Zimbabwe—a third of the population—are at risk of starvation. The country was the region’s breadbasket until the government began stealing farms and handing them to ruling-party cronies.

Rounding up the opposition

There were more demonstrations in Moscow against the authorities’ decision to exclude opposition figures from contesting next month’s municipal elections. Hundreds of protesters were arrested, including Lyubov Sobol, one of the leading candidates to have been barred from appearing on the ballot.

’s government tightened the laws on dealing with migrants, sharply increasing the fines that can be imposed on NGOs that rescue people at sea and bring them to Italy without permission. The government had to present the vote as an issue of confidence, but easily prevailed.

Politics this week

Powered by kerosene in a backpack, Franky Zapata flew across the English Channel on a hoverboard. The French inventor, who demonstrated his device at this year’s Bastille Day parade, took 22 minutes to make the 35km (22-mile) crossing. A handy alternative to the Eurostar when it is next disrupted by weather/strikes/ technical issues.