EU sanctions on Venezuela, CO2 emissions rise

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  • The world’s carbon dioxide emissions will rise by two percent in 2017, according to the Global Carbon Project’s annual report. This is the first time carbon emissions have risen in three years. The “2017 Carbon Budget” was presented at the COP23 conference in Bonn, Germany (read our explainer).
  • The European Union approved targeted sanctions on Venezuela, including banning arm sales and imposing travel restrictions on some Venezuelan officials in an effort to pressurise President Nicolas Maduro. Earlier this year, the United States also imposed sanctions. Representatives of Maduro’s government are due to meet investors in Caracas to discuss renegotiating Venezuela’s foreign debt of $60 billion.
  • U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the U.S. military is committed to a long-term presence in Syria to prevent a return of the Islamic State or similar jihadist groups. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan claimed the U.S. already has 13 military bases in Syria, compared to Russia’s five. Secretary Mattis says he will not comment on the location of U.S. troops.
  • Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri says he will return home to formally submit his resignation despite his cabinet allies saying he is being held captive in Saudi Arabia. Hariri spoke to Future TV from Riyadh, his first public remarks since he announced he was stepping down last week. The Washington Post says the interview was full of “odd moments.” Hariri has blamed the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement for his resignation. Hariri, a Sunni leader and businessman, was nominated to form Lebanon’s government in November 2016. This summary by WikiTribune launch editor Peter Bale helps makes sense of what is going on in the region.
  • Saudi Arabia said it will reopen airports and seaports in Yemen, days after closing them over a ballistic missile attack in Riyadh. The reversal came after intense international criticism from the UN and aid groups who said that the closure was bringing millions of people closer to “starvation and death.”
  • Voting has begun in Somaliland in its first presidential election since 2010, according to Voice of America. The election is the third since Somalia’s northern region decided to separate from the rest of the country in 1991. President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Silanyo,” whose government has been accused of corruption and nepotism, is stepping down and three candidates are vying to replace him. Social media has been blocked in order to limit hate speech and “fake news.” The results are expected to be announced on November 17.
  • The UK Government Communications Headquarters raised concerns (may be behind paywall) that the Russian company, Kaspersky Lab, is using its anti-virus software as a snooping tool for the Russian government. Kaspersky anti-virus software is currently used by two million holders of Barclays bank accounts. Barclays said it was looking to end the deal with Kaspersky for purely commercial reasons. This comes roughly two months after the U.S. government announced (Washington Post) it banned federal agencies from using Kaspersky software because of fears of Russian spying.
  • United States Senate Majority Leader, Mitch Mcconnell, said Roy Moore should withdraw his candidacy for an Alabama senate seat. Moore’s candidacy has been rocked by political scandal after a woman accused the former state judge of sexual assault when she was 14 years old.
  • The exploitation of Rohingya children is widespread in refugee camps in Bangladesh, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), as detailed in this Reuters exclusive. The IOM found some children were targeted by labour agents and encouraged to work by their desperate parents. Some of the children experienced violence and sexual assault. One 14 year-old-boy was paid $6 after working for 38 days.
  • Former top U.S. intelligence officials say Russian President Vladi­mir Putin is manipulating U.S President Donald Trump with flattery. During his multi-day trip of Asia, Trump said he believed Putin when he said there had been no Russian interference in the 2016 general election, despite U.S intelligence agencies all confirming that there had been. Former CIA director John Brennan told CNN that Trump was “giving Putin a pass” in accepting the Russian leader’s word. “I think it demonstrates to Mr. Putin that Donald Trump can be played by foreign leaders who are going to appeal to his ego and try to play upon his insecurities, which is very, very worrisome from a national security standpoint.” In response, Trump referred to Brennan and former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper as “political hacks.”
  • Foreign ministers convened at a signing ceremony in Brussels, Belgium, to sign a pact to integrate European defences in 23 EU governments. The pact includes all European Union (EU) governments, except Britain, which is leaving after voting to exit the EU, Denmark, which has opted out of defence matters and Ireland, Portugal and Malta. EU leaders will formally launch the pact next month.
  • A 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck the border region between Iran and Iraq, killing at least 328 people in Iran and seven in Iraq. Around 70,000 people are in need of emergency shelter. The U.S. Geological Survey said the Sunday’s earthquake was centered close to the Iraqi city of Halabja. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake near the city of Bam, killed more than 20,000 people.

What we’re reading

  • South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has been accused of allowing members of the Indian-born Gupta family to wield undue influence. The country is the continent’s most important economy but as this Bloomberg Businessweek piece shows, it increasingly appears to function for the benefit of one powerful family. — Charles Anderson
  • The National Security Agency (NSA), and to a lesser extent, the CIA, have been profoundly affected by a series of hacks that have exposed many of their top-secret cyber weapons, as described in this New Yorker piece. The full extent of the damage isn’t known – leaks are still being drip-fed to the public and the hackers still taunt both agencies. Many of these weapons, experts fear, have been turned against Western institutions and businesses. The very purpose of the NSA – to collect intelligence undetected – has been rocked. — George Engels

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