Briefing: Muslim crackdown in China, Iraq bans Iraqi Kurdistan flights, Uber to talk license renewal

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  • U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price resigned from his cabinet post after it was learned that he was using private jets for personal matters at the expense of the federal government. The White House officials must approve the use of all chartered flights for Executive branch employees going forward.
  • The U.S. is withdrawing about 60 percent of its embassy staff from Cuba. The move is in response to its diplomats experiencing strange health problems due to suspected sonic radar use. Washington have also warned Americans not to visit Cuba because some of these health attacks are said to have occurred in hotels. Full story here.
  • Cameroon has banned public meetings and travel in Anglophone, ahead of pro-independence marches planned for Sunday.


  • Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will meet the head of London’s transport system Mike Brown next week to try and retain the license for the taxi-app company. Last week, Transport for London (TfL) said it would not renew Uber’s license after the company failed to meet standards and regulations. TfL said Uber has until October to appeal the decision. In a bid to reverse the decision, more than 800,000 signed a petition in support of Uber.
  • Chinese officials have told mostly Muslim Uyghurs living in Xinjiang in northwestern China to hand over all religious items, including copies of the Qur’an. If not, they will face harsh punishment. The instruction was broadcasted across Chinese social media network, WeChat. For the last five years, the Qur’an has been targeted by the government which deems its content “extremist.”
  • Iraq banned flights to Iraqi Kurdistan following the referendum on Monday when an overwhelming 93 percent majority of Kurds voted yes for independence. International airlines in and out of cities Erbil and Sulaimaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan will halt on Friday from 6 p.m.
    • United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that the U.S. does not recognize the Kurdistan region government’s referendum of independence,
  • The Catalonia government will move ahead with an independence referendum for the region on Sunday despite its constitutional illegality. UN rights experts warned that Spanish authorities are jeopardizing the voting rights of citizens at “a critical moment for Spain’s democracy.” Police will take control of voting booths on October 1 when the vote will be held.
  • Elon Musk shared his plan to colonize Mars on Friday at an international event in Australia. Musk said he has a new, smaller rocket, a spaceship and business plan with his company SpaceX. However, he lacked financial figures to back up his claims, the New York Times reports.
  • Twitter executives told a U.S. Senate committee that it suspended 200 Russia-linked accounts in an investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. However, Democratic Senator Mark Warner said the briefings were “deeply disappointing.”
  • The UN leadership in Myanmar tried to stop talks about human rights abuses against Rohingya being raised with the government, the BBC reports. One former UN official said the head of the UN in Myanmar tried to prevent human rights advocates from visiting sensitive Rohingya areas. More than 500,000 Rohingya have fled an offensive by the military, with many now sheltering in camps in Bangladesh. The UN in Myanmar “strongly disagreed” with the BBC findings.
  • The bacteria inside mosquitos may hold the secret to fighting malaria. Bed nets and insecticides are the chief means of preventing malaria, which sickens about 200 million people around the world and kills 400,000 a year, mostly children in Africa. However, according to Science magazine, Johns Hopkins University researchers have found that beneficial bacteria living inside a mosquito’s gut can help hatch malaria-resistant mosquitoes.
  • The White House launched an investigation into the use of private email by senior aides. Politico reports the move occurred after reports that President Donald J. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner had used private email accounts to exchange messages for government business. “The White House has been clear and instructs all staff to fully comply with the Presidential Records Act. All staff has been briefed on the need to preserve those records, and will continue to do so,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

What we are reading and watching

  • As hackers and thieves take advantage of the wildly unregulated cryptocurrency market, a Reuters investigation delves into the future Bitcoin and other digital currencies which have exploded with investment in the past three years.
  • The Washington Post explains how the Trump administration is quietly damaging the efficacy the World Trade Organization in order to raise the power of the United States in international commerce.
  • Reuters launched a new project which aims to monitor the effect U.S. President Donald J. Trump is having in the world. “The Trump Effect” will cover topics ranging from energy and environment, health care, immigration and jobs and trade. Readers can dive deeper into these areas via interactive graphics that explain how policies have translated into real-world changes. Its first major project is looking at immigration and how Trump’s hardline policies on Mexico are playing out across the country.
  • LGBT Australians from ethnic minorities tell the BBC how they feel about a national vote on same-sex marriage. For some, the referendum has renewed sensitivities on multiple fronts. Here, they explain how the referendum has reminded them of the relationship between homophobia and racism, between culture and sexuality. The non-binding survey on legalising same-sex marriage will end in November.
  • Quartz piece on Hugh Hefner in light of his death takes a look at the Playboy founder’s contradictions between celebrating and objectifying women, and exploiting women for male gain.
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