Briefing: Protest in Bangladesh against Rohingya crackdown, UN gathers in New York to discuss North Korea

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  • The United States Senate overwhelming voted for $700 billion defense bill, a military budget that is well above the $603 billion that President Donald J. Trump requested in June 2017. This Senate bill would increase Pentagon funding by 19.6 percent from 2016 levels under former President Barack Obama. The House of Representatives, the other legislative body, offered a similar bill of $790 billion earlier this year.
  • In the fight against the Islamic State, the Syrian Army crossed the Euphrates River in a move to gain control the lucrative Omar oilfield, breaking the “deconfliction line” agreed upon by the US and Russia governments, reports the Financial Times. Hours later, Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the United Kingdom, United States and other coalition governments will not support any “reconstruction” effort in Syria unless President Bashar Al-Assad is deposed.
  • More than 10,000 Muslims in Bangladesh marched to the Myanmar embassy to protest against the crackdown on Rohingya Muslims. The march, which was organised by Islamist Group Hefazat-e-Islam, began from Bangladesh’s main mosque in its capital Dhaka, before heading to the embassy. In the past month, more than 412,000 Rohingya Muslims fled from Myanmar, a Buddhist-majority country. Its leader, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, has yet to condemn the violence.
  • The Metropolitan Police have searched three properties in Greater London and are questioning two suspects in relation to an attack on a London train on Friday. An 18-year-old and a 21-year-old have been detained as part of investigations into an improvised explosive device that injured 30 people. The UK’s threat level was raised to critical on Friday but was lowered to severe on Sunday. The “severe” terror threat level means an attack is no longer imminent but is still highly likely. Full story.


  • The escalating war of words between North Korea and the United States is expected to dominate proceedings at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations in New York. For the first time U.S. President Donald J. Trump will address the body while diplomats work to figure out a solution to the accelerating nuclear program of Kim Jong-un, whom Trump recently referred to as “rocket man” in a tweet.
    US President Donald Trump calls Kim Jong Un “rocket man” in a tweet.


  • Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma last month are braced for further damage by a new threat. Tropical storm Maria was upgraded to a category one hurricane force on Sunday by the US National Hurricane Center. It is expected to strengthen. The hurricane appears to be tracking along the same path as Irma. Warnings have been issued for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, and Montserrat. Some of these faced the brunt of Irma, a category five storm, which killed at least 37 people and caused widespread damage. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Maria was expected to gain power and could be near major hurricane strength while crossing through the Leeward Islands late Monday on a path aiming toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
    The likely path of Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean islands. Image from U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency.


  • Protesters in St. Louis entered a third day of protests over the acquittal of a former white police officer who fatally shot a black man in 2011. Events had been peaceful over the first two nights but violence broke out on Friday and Saturday evenings with shopfront windows broken. The protests began after a jury found Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.

What we’re reading and watching

  • The Washington Post chronicles the harrowing ordeal of Carter Hill, a four year-old who was shot in the head in an “extraordinary act of road rage.” Hill is one of almost two dozen children who became victims of gun violence in the U.S. on August 6, 2017.
  • The Guardian has gone behind the lines of America’s free speech debate with a group known as the “Juggalos”. This is the name given to fans of the band Insane Clown Posse who were in Washington to demonstrate against the FBI labelling them a “gang”, a designation they say has led to discrimination from police and in the workplace. Accounts from the full face-painted music enthusiasts make for colorful reading.
  • Still on North Korea, CNN’s Will Ripley has put together a fascinating insight into life around the country. The correspondent and his team spent two weeks speaking to people from all walks of life, beyond Pyongyang and into the North Korean hinterland.
  • New Zealand’s has graphic accounts from addicts of synthetic cannabis who say that the proliferation of the drug is now a major public health issue. Twenty people are said to have died as a result of the drug but there fails to be a community outcry or appropriate government response.
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