Briefing: Tropical storm Ophelia kills three in Ireland, wildfires in Portugal claim 31 lives, U.S. calls for peace in Kurdistan

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  • Tropical Storm Ophelia has killed three people, injured another, and left at least 230,000 more without power as it batters the southern Irish coast with winds of more than 100 mph (160 kph). Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar described the storm’s impact on the country as a “national emergency”. The storm has blown the roofs off several buildings in southern Ireland – including a football stadium – and interrupted the filming of popular TV show Game of Thrones, according to The Guardian.
  • Portugal’s civil protection service said thousands of firefighters were still fighting a series of wildfires that erupted over the weekend, killing at least 31 people. A state of emergency was declared north of the Tagus river – roughly half of Portugal’s landmass. In Spain’s Galicia region, at least three people were killed by wildfires. The region’s leader claimed the fires were “terrorist acts” deliberately committed by arsonists.


  • Iraqi Kurdish officials said Iraqi federal forces and state-backed militias launched a “major, multi-prolonged” attack to gain control of the much-disputed, oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Kirkuk is part of Iraqi Kurdistan, a region that declared itself independent after a referendum last month. Kurdish forces have controlled the divided Iraqi city since 2014 after routing the so-called Islamic State (IS).
    • The U.S. embassy in Baghdad released a statement calling on all parties to “immediately cease military action” while they work with national and regional officials to restore peace. The statement says IS “remains the true enemy of Iraq” and urges all sides to focus on liberating the rest of Iraq from the terror group.
    • Iraq has claimed positions south of Kirkuk, including an airbase and a power plant. A video from AP (below) shows Iraqi forces in southern Kirkuk moving towards the city.

Raw: Iraqi Forces Move Toward Kurd-Held City

Iraqi Kurdish officials said early Monday that Iraqi federal forces and state-backed militias have launched a “major, multi-pronged” attack aimed at retaking Kirkuk from the Kurds. Kurdish forces have held the divided Iraqi city since 2014. (Oct.

  • Venezuelan electoral authorities said the Socialist Party has won 17 of 23 state governorships late Sunday night, marking a win for President Nicolas Maduro’s brand of socialism. But opposition leaders vowed to contest the results and demanded an audit after polls pointed to the opposition winning.
  • Filipino soldiers killed two top commanders of pro-Islamic State alliance in an operation in the southern city of Marawi on Monday, Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said. Isnilon Hapilon and Omarkhayam Maute were killed in a raid on a building in Marawi and their bodies had been recovered, Lorenzana said.
    • The operation is being presented as a boost to the military’s battle against of Islamist radicalism.
  • Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont did not confirm on Monday whether he had declared Catalonia’s independence following a referendum on October 1. He declared independence last Tuesday but suspended it seconds later, calling for further discussions with Madrid. Puigdemont now calls for an open a dialogue over the next two months with Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. This presents Madrid with the possibility of taking control of the region and impose direct rule.

What we’re reading and looking at

  • A feature in National Public Radio, details the importance of White Cane Day in the developing world where awareness of the blind remains low. –Charles Turner
  • A photo project by Carolina Arantes documenting France’s Afro-French women has won this year’s Firecracker Photographic Grant for female photographers. The series follows African descendants who moved to France in large numbers between 1975 and 1980. View the photos on the Guardian. – Lydia Morrish
  • A Washington Post and 60 Minutes investigation reveals how the drugs industry effectively curtailed the DEA’s ability to go after distributors at a time when the U.S. is going through the worst prescription opioid epidemic in its history – George Engels
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