Briefing: Trump urges UN reform, Hurricane Maria intensifies, hint of North Korean military option

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  • In his opening speech at the United Nations, President Donald J. Trump said that if forced, “we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea”. In a 41 minute speech he said he would always put America first and called for “a great reawakening of nations”. Full story.
  • In advance of the next Kenyan presidential election on October 17, the embassies of the U.S. UK and 14 other nations have issued a joint mission statement saying that leaders on all sides of the political spectrum should ensure baseless attacks and lies must stop.


  • A fifth day of demonstrations is set to take place in St. Louis, Missouri, following the acquittal on Friday of a white former police officer who shot dead Anthony Lamar Smith. The details of today’s protest have not yet been announced. Three days of peaceful demonstrations have been followed by three nights of vandalism. On Sunday night, police arrested more than 120 people after protests turned violent. Police claim protesters failed to disperse. Demonstrators, a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and some local residents claim police boxed them in.
  • A Russian military helicopter accidentally fired rockets at bystanders during the Zapad 2017 military exercises, according to Russian media. Two people were injured and two cars were destroyed in the incident.


  • The United Nations needs to focus “more on people, less on bureaucracy” according to President Donald Trump who has addressed the New York-based global body for this first time. However, he still offered America’s support for the organisation, despite having sharply criticised its mission when he was a presidential candidate. The short remarks came ahead of Tuesday’s main event, when Trump will speak to the U.N. General Assembly for the first time.
  • Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has condemned “all human rights abuses and unlawful violence” in a speech in the capital, Naypyitaw. The nobel laureate has been under increasing international pressure to speak out against the persecution of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority, which has been led by state forces and been compared to ethnic cleansing by the UN. Suu Kyi has previously cited “terrorism” and “misinformation” on the part of the Rohingya when pushed to condemn the violence. Meanwhile, Al Jazeera reports that India’s Supreme Court has ruled that the Rohingya there have ties to “terror organisations” and pose a security threat that justifies the government’s plan to deport up to 40,000 of the majority-Muslim group.
  • Category Five Hurricane Maria crashed into Dominica last night causing “mind boggling” destruction and is now headed toward Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Hurricane warnings have been issued for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts & Nevis, Montserrat, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Some of these islands are still recovering after being hit by Hurricane Irma last week. Irma was a category five hurricane which left at least 37 people dead and caused billions of dollars worth of damage. (Full story.)
  • A military option exists to resolve the North Korean crisis while sparing South Korea from a counterattack, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has suggested. However, he declined to say what these options were, or whether they involved military strikes. Options could include naval blockades to help enforce sanctions and waging cyber attacks along with positioning new weaponry in South Korea.
  • Global children’s retailer Toys ‘R’ Us has become one of the biggest retailers to ever file for bankruptcy. The global chain, which was established in 1948, is the latest retail victim of the market dominance of online players such as Amazon and retailers like Walmart. A $3 billion commitment of “debtor-in-possession” financing by JPMorgan Chase and a group of  other lenders will allow the chain to continue operating while it rearranges its debt through the court process, giving an indication that investors see long-term strength in the brand.

What we are reading and watching

  • If you were a New York-based multimillionaire how would you spend your money? It’s a bigger dilemma than you might think as outlined by a detailed study from Rachel Sherman in the Guardian. Sherman wanted to to see how people who were benefiting from rising economic inequality experienced their own social advantages.
  • Granta has published a powerful insight into the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees from a United Nations worker who has dealt with the victims for years.
  • The Guardian reported on the completion of the Sardar Sarovar dam in Northern India. Inaugurated by Prime Minister Nerandra Modi on Monday, the dam is the second largest in the world and took nearly 30 years to complete. Modi said that its completion was a victory in the face of a “misinformation campaign”, while activists warn that its “submerge zone” puts 40,000 homes at risk.
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