Australia ends extradition with Hong Kong: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his country would suspend an extradition treaty with Hong Kong in response to China's new security law, which severely compromises the city's autonomy. Morrison also said Canberra would give around 10,000 Hong Kong students and visa holders in Australia a path to permanent residency. Australia-China ties have been deteriorating in recent months — in response to Morrison's calls for an investigation into China's handling of the pandemic, Beijing slapped fresh tariffs on Australian goods in May. Australia's latest move follows a similar one by Canada last week, while Britain has also condemned China's draconian security law and said it will offer 3 million Hong Kongers a path to citizenship. We're watching to see whether the international blowback will have any effect on Beijing's policy.
UK ends ban on Saudi arms sales: The UK is ready to resume weapons exports to Saudi Arabia after a one-year moratorium. In June 2019, a British court ruled that those sales were unlawful if the arms would later be used against civilians in Yemen, where the Saudi military has been fighting Houthi rebel forces since 2015. The UK government said it is now confident that the Saudis will not use British-made weapons in Yemen in any way that violates international humanitarian law. The decision to end the ban has raised ethical concerns about the UK's involvement in this war, where thousands of Yemeni civilians have been killed by Saudi strikes. Prior to the ban, the UK was the second top arms seller to Saudi Arabia after the US. Meanwhile, the war in Yemen — considered the world's worst humanitarian crisis right now — continues this week with a fresh Saudi campaign against the Houthis, following a short-lived ceasefire due to the coronavirus pandemic.
For years, the Philippines has struggled with domestic terrorism. Last Friday, Rodrigo Duterte signed into law a sweeping new anti-terror bill that has the opposition on edge, as the tough-talking president gears up to make broader constitutional changes. Here's a look at what the law does, and what it means for the country less than two years away from the next presidential election.
The legislation grants authorities broad powers to prosecute domestic terrorism, including arrests without a warrant and up to 24 days detention without charges. It also carries harsh penalties for those convicted of terror-related offenses, with a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. Simply threatening to commit an act of terror on social media can now be punished with 12 years behind bars.
Many countries around the world — mostly democracies in the Americas, Asia, and Europe — have condemned China's recent move to implement a draconian new security law for Hong Kong that in effect ends the autonomy granted to the territory when it reverted from British control to Chinese rule in 1997. However, last week 52 countries expressed support for China's decision at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Most of these countries either owe China a lot of money or are relatively authoritarian regimes themselves — but not all of them. Here's a look at the China-debt exposure and freedom rankings of the countries that took Beijing's side on the new Hong Kong law.
What We're Watching: A big blast hits Iran, Serbia and Kosovo sit down again, Dominican Republic has a new president
Iran's main nuclear site gets hit: An explosion at the Natanz nuclear site, Iran's main nuclear facility, will likely set back Tehran's nuclear program by months, the Islamic Republic confirmed Sunday. A powerful bomb evidently destroyed infrastructure that Iran has used in recent years to build more advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium — fuel that can be used to make an atomic bomb. The attack has been widely attributed to Israel, though the Israeli government rarely acknowledges actions carried out by its intelligence agencies. Since President Trump walked away from the Iranian nuclear deal in 2018, isolating the US from its European allies, Iran has flouted its own commitments by ramping up its production of enriched uranium and blocking international inspectors from key nuclear facilities. Now, analysts warn that this latest episode could push Iran to move more of its enrichment programs in harder-to-find places underground.
As the United States celebrates its Independence Day on July 4th, we thought we'd take a look at two places in the world that have emerged from the colonial rule of Uncle Sam, and a third that may do so in the future.
Liberia: The West African nation of Liberia was never formally a US colony, but from 1816 to 1847 it was administered by the American Colonization Society — founded to return freed American slaves to Africa. Liberia in 1847 became the first independent republic in Africa (and just the second Black republic after Haiti). Its first president was Joseph Jenkins Roberts, a former slave from Virginia. With a similar flag and a US-modeled Constitution, Liberia has remained independent despite several periods of extreme turmoil, including two civil wars. Its current president is former soccer star George Weah...whose son plays for the US national soccer team.
Putin Forever: Russian voters overwhelmingly approved a raft of constitutional amendments that will allow Vladimir Putin to serve two more six-year terms when his presidency ends in 2024. Putin's victory, which surprised no one, came after an independent election monitoring organization said that the Kremlin's referendum campaign was "rigged." Local government officials were told they could lose their jobs if turnout wasn't high enough, the group found. Meanwhile, some authorities had openly offered "prizes" for voting. The constitutional changes, which would allow Putin, now 67, to stay in power until he is 83, were packaged with other amendments, including a clause that outlaws same-sex marriage. Over the last year or so, Putin's popularity has sagged, in part because of specific missteps like a botched pension reform, but also because of a broader lack of clarity about what his plans are for Russia after two decades in power. On the upside, he just got himself another 16 years to figure it out.
Four years ago, Donald Trump promised to replace the "worst deal ever made" — known to the rest of us simply as NAFTA, the massive 1994 trade pact linking the US, Canada, and Mexico.
Now, he's officially done so. The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaces NAFTA, comes into effect on July 1st.
How did we get here, and what does it mean?