Briefing: Irma weakens but still threatens after Caribbean mauled

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  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has called for an international investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Venezuela. Calling current mechanisms “inadequate”, Al Hussein said in a published statement that his initial investigation found “excessive use of force by security officers, and multiple other human rights violations, in the context of anti-Government protests”. He warned that the government’s abuses against protestors were at risk of escalation and greater international scrutiny is needed.


  • In an exclusive, The Guardian revealed that the UK government will be investigating evidence of discrimination against EU nationals, such as being blocked from buying or renting properties, getting jobs and booking holidays. Examples show job and housing opportunities restricted to applicants of UK or Irish citizenship only. The investigation was prompted by a submission by Paul Blomfield, Labour’s shadow Brexit minister. Despite the UK having strong anti-discrimination laws, the growing problem between Brexit and EU immigration poses a major threat.

  • Hurricane Irma eased in intensity as it swept towards Tampa Bay, Florida but authorities still warned of huge storm surges and high winds and millions of homes and businesses were without electricity. Across the Caribbean Cuba and British, French and Dutch colonies were struggling to cope with the devastation as Hurricane Jose threatened. WikiTribune intends in general not to cover every twist and turn of natural disasters unless they evolve into major political or human stories. The spread of weather “pornography” with television reporters even strapping themselves to fixed points and barely being able to stand was highlighted in this piece by the New York Times which also reflects the scale of coverage on Florida as opposed to the less-reported Caribbean. What do you think?
  • The effective leader of Myanmar under its shift to democracy from military rule, Aung San Suu Kyi, is taking a battering to her reputation as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, as outlined in this profile in London’s The Observer. She’s failed to condemn attacks on the Muslim Rohingya minority and blamed Islamist factions within Rohingya. The UN’s leading human rights official accused Myanmar of a clear example of ethnic cleansing.
  • In typically florid language, calling the United States “gangsters”, North Korea tried to pull the world spotlight back to itself, saying it would retaliate if tougher United Nations sanctions are imposed over its nuclear tests and missile flights. China, inevitably seen as having the greatest leverage of its neighbour, again urged diplomacy to cool tensions on the Korean Peninsula ahead of a UN Security Council vote on sanctions.
  • UK Parliament is due to vote today on a Brexit withdrawal bill which will decide whether to allow the legislation to leave the European Union to continue to the next stage of the process. The aim of the bill is to transpose EU laws into British law to provide continuity when the UK leaves the union.

What we’re reading and watching

  • The BBC’s South East Asia correspondent, Jonathan Head, recounts the efforts taken by the government of Myanmar to mislead journalists and persuade them that the persecuted Muslim minority Rohingya were burning down their own villages. The BBC were able to show that pictures supplied by the government were misleading by tracking down one of the pictured “Rohingya” who turned out to be Hindu. The misleading government information is set against a backdrop of Myanmar’s de facto president Aung San Suu Kyi last week saying that there was an “iceberg of misinformation” around the persecution of Rohingya. Suu Kyi has been roundly condemned for failing to speak out against the violence.
  • In a measured but highly critical analysis, a reporter for The Guardian looks at the Wall Street Journal and its editor, accused of running a soft line on President Donald J. Trump, perhaps reflecting proprietor Rupert Murdoch’s closeness to the president. WSJ editor, Gerard Baker, has repeatedly told staff they need to be fair in covering the Trump White House and lot let commentary enter their news reporting.
  • The New York Review of Books uses reviews of two new releases to analyse the concept of “impeachment”, what it is, who can do it and why we keep comparing the Trump situation to Richard Nixon.
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