GLOBAL PULSE: Van attack in London, Pakistani army’s plan to move to Islamabad and Europe’s renewal

VAN ATTACK IN LONDON

A van struck a crowd of pedestrians, including late-night Muslim worshipers leaving a pair of mosques in London. Police said there were “a number of casualties” and Prime Minister Theresa May said police were treating the incident in Finsbury Park “as a potential terrorist attack”. The driver of the van – a man aged 48 – was detained by people at the scene and arrested by police. He will also be subject of a mental health assessment in due course. The Finsbury Park Mosque — located in a vibrant, multicultural area of north London — was once closely associated with extremism. In the past decade, the mosque has transformed its image and advocated interfaith harmony. The incident follows two attacks in London in which pedestrians were struck by vehicles, in March and a fortnight ago.

PAK ARMY WANTS TO MOVE

A Defence committee in Pakistan is meeting today to talk about its army’s plan to shift its General Headquarters from Rawalpindi to Islamabad. The expensive project, which was inaugurated in 2004 by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has been mired in controversies. The PML-N had criticized it as “a huge housing scheme” with 90 bungalows of six bedrooms, 300 bungalows of four bedrooms, 14,750 luxury apartments, three lakes covering 45 acres, 12 schools and two colleges. PPP had complained the military had procured land at below market price. Others have said this was the most expensive project in the country’s history. They had asked the military leadership not to put “this huge financial burden on the poor people of the country”. The army halted construction in 2008 because of the economic crisis faced by the country.

COSBY’S RETRIAL AND A NON-NEWSY JURY

The Bill Cosby retrial into allegations of sexual assault is expected to bear many similarities to the first trial, but there might be key differences that could affect the outcome. The jury that said it was “hopelessly deadlocked” last week was selected in Pittsburgh, then bused to suburban Philadelphia and sequestered during 11 days of testimony and deliberations. Defence attorneys had pushed to select a jury from another county because of intense pre-trial publicity. It’s possible the next jury could be selected in a different county. The saturation coverage of Cosby’s mistrial is sure to complicate jury selection. “You always find people who just don’t pay that much attention to the news or are able to set aside what they’ve heard,” said one lawyer.

AMERICA RETREATS, EUROPE RENEWS

A new mood is taking hold in Brussels and other European capitals these days, a wind of hope and optimism rarely felt in the last two decades, wrote a columnist in The New York Times. After so many existential crises, believers in the EU now realise that the reports of its death were greatly exaggerated. The eurozone has not collapsed. Brexit has propelled the 27 remaining members to regroup. British conservatives licked their wounds, French voters elected hundreds of rookies to Parliament, and Ukrainians celebrated the long-awaited era of visa-free travel to Europe, calling it “Ukraine’s Berlin Wall moment”. Populist movements are stalling. The economy is looking up after years of stagnation, and there is talk about a potential “golden decade”. And Europe is finding ways to move past the White House.

SERBIA’S FIRST FEMALE, FIRST OPENLY GAY PM

Serbia is not known for its gay-friendly policies. More than half of the country’s residents consider homosexuality a “sickness”, and 48 per cent said they’d try to find their son or daughter a “cure” if they came out. Nearly three-quarters of the country’s openly gay residents say they’ve faced discrimination or violence. In 2010, a lawmaker described homosexuality as an “illness, perversion, deviance and aberration, and a social problem which caused a confrontation between the representatives of a healthy, heterosexual Serbia”. Now, Ana Brnabic has become the country’s first female and first openly gay prime minister. She joins a handful of other openly gay leaders in Europe. This month, Ireland selected Leo Varadkar, the openly gay politician of Indian origin to head its governing party. Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel is also out of the closet. And Iceland elected its first openly gay prime minister in 2009.

 

 

 

 

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