GLOBAL PULSE: Chemical Attacks On Russian Opponents, Trump Embraces Too Many Strongmen, And A Call To Scrap The White House Correspondents Dinner Tradition

MYSTERIOUS  CHEMICAL  ATTACKS  ON  RUSSIAN ACTIVISTS

Activists and opponents of President Vladimir Putin continue to be targeted in mysterious attacks in Russia. Two opposition activists partially lost their sight recently after unidentified assailants hurled liquid chemicals – a green antiseptic known as zelyonka – in their eyes.

The latest victim was opposition leader Alexei Navalny who had chemicals thrown at his face as he was leaving the office of his Anti-Corruption Foundation.

Zelyonka attacks have become part and parcel of Russian politics in recent months. Since February, at least eight opposition activists and journalists have been targeted. Doctors say that damage may be irreparable in some of these attacks.

The attackers are now moving on to harsher chemicals. The victims blame the Kremlin, but the police say these are not political attacks.

In March, another Kremlin foe, Denis Voronenkov was gunned down in Kiev. In 2015, a charismatic Putin critic, Boris Nemtsov was also fatally shot outside Kremlin.

TRUMP LIKES GLOBAL STRONGMEN

For decades the United States has prided itself in being the defender of human rights around the world. Now, some worry that Donald Trump is embracing and praising too many authoritarian leaders and strongmen. No, this is not just about Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s affection for totalitarian leaders is worrying critics. He said Egyptian President Abdel ­Fatah al-Sissi, who had his opponents gunned down, is doing “a fantastic job.” He invited Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, whose military jailed dissidents after taking power in a coup. He made a congratulatory call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has eroded basic freedoms.

He has now invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, accused of the extrajudicial killing of hundreds of drug users.

Is this “an effort to reset relations following an era of ostracism and public shaming by Obama and his predecessors”?

HAMAS AND THE 1967 PALESTINIAN BORDERS

Hamas has presented a new political document that accepts the formation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, without recognising the statehood of Israel, and says that the conflict in Palestine is not a religious one.

In Qatar’s capital, Doha, the Palestinian leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal, accepted the proposal of 1967 borders as the basis for a Palestinian state, one that existed before the war in which Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.  He said Jerusalem will be the capital, and refugees must go back to their homes.

The document does not accept the two-state solution that came out of the Oslo Accords. But it did not mention all of Israel as its territory. Analysts said this is an attempt by Hamas to seem more pragmatic and help it to avoid international isolation.

NEPAL’S GOVERNMENT TOTTERS

One of the major ruling coalition partners, Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), withdrew support from the government in Nepal, leaving it shaky and with a slim majority just ahead of the local elections.

It is the coalition’s third-largest ally and it pulled out four cabinet ministers and state ministers, but it said it will support the election process and vote for the crucial constitution amendment bill.

Another party with 17 seats is also considering quitting the government. If that happens, the government’s days may be numbered.

Both the parties are opposing the impeachment motion filed against the country’s first female Chief Justice Sushila Karki, who has been accused of bias and interference in executive powers. The Supreme Court had overturned the government’s choice of chief of police last month.

IS THE WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS DINNER TOO ELITIST?

If you enjoyed the stand-up act by comedian Hasan Minhaj at the White House Correspondents dinner, then here is a writer who is telling you that the dinner tradition is elitist, outdated and must be scrapped.

“It is one of the worst traditions a moneyed, out-of-touch Washington media class ever concocted. It deserves a deathblow – even if delivered by Trump,” said an essay in The Guardian.

Referring to the gala dinner, Trump said at a public gathering that he “could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington’s swamp.”

Founded in 1921, the White House correspondents’ dinner technically exists to raise money for scholarships and underscore the importance of accountability journalism in America. Over time, it’s morphed into “a navel-gazing orgy of self-congratulation”.

 

Picture Courtesy: http://navalny.feldman.photo

 

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