TRUMP DOUBLES DOWN ON NORTH KOREA
U.S. President Donald Trump doubled down Thursday on his previous statement threatening “fire and fury” against North Korea. Despite calls for a calming of rhetoric from across the political spectrum—including an impassioned column from former Obama administration National Security Advisor Susan Rice—Trump refused to retract his threats, suggesting instead that perhaps his remark “wasn’t tough enough.”
Trump’s rhetoric is only the latest chapter in a war of words between the White House and North Korea. Earlier this week, in response to Trump’s “fire and fury” comment, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un likewise heightened his threats, claiming he would create an “enveloping fire” around the American territory of Guam should the U.S. not comply with demands. China, North Korea’s strongest ally, responded to the escalations Friday by suggesting in a state-run newspaper that, should North Korea launches an attack against the U.S., it would stay neutral. On the other hand, the paper warned that if the U.S. attacks first and tries to overthrow the North Korean government, China would defend the Kim family regime.
BIBI FOLLOWS THE TRUMP PLAYBOOK
Mired in a corruption scandal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a page out of U.S. President Donald Trump’s playbook and turned his ire against his country’s media. Netanyahu said that the news media harbors a liberal bias and is conducting a “witch hunt against me and my family” in an effort to overturn his decisive victory at the polls.
“The thought police in the media work full-time to set the agenda, and woe to anyone who veers away from it,” Netanyahu said at a rally for his Likud Party Wednesday over chants of “Down with the Media.”
Court filings last week revealed that the Israeli prime minister is a suspect in multiple bribery, breach of trust and fraud cases. Though Netanyahu has maintained his innocence, his former chief-of-staff reportedly took a plea bargain and agreed to testify against his former boss. Netanyahu’s wife likewise currently faces corruption charges.
UN REPORTS DOZENS OF DROWNINGS OFF YEMENI COAST
More than 50 people are feared to have died after smugglers forced them off a boat off the coast a Yemen, the UN revealed Thursday. Survivors have told the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) that the deaths came as smugglers pushed approximately 120 people into the sea after one thought he saw authorities monitoring his boat. The migrants average age was approximately 16.
Though a civil war and cholera outbreak are currently enveloping Yemen, migrants hoping to continue on to wealthy gulf nations continue to arrive in the country. Most have come from countries in the horn of Africa that are themselves politically unstable, including Somalia and Ethiopia.
“The utter disregard for human life by these smugglers, and all human smugglers worldwide, is nothing less than immoral,” said the head of the IOM William Lacy Swing. “What is a teenager’s life worth? On this route to the Gulf countries, it can be as little as $100.”
‘THE WORLD’S DUTY TO VENEZUELA’
As Venezuela descends economically, politically and legally into chaos, French philosopher and public intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy called on leaders from across the world to treat Venezuela’s government as the threat to international security that it truly is. Decrying leftist European leaders who continue to defend Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro due to its socialist roots, Lévy called for the UN Security Council to condemn the regime publicly in accordance with its charter’s statement on the “responsibility to protect.”
“[T]he situation in Venezuela should concern all countries that have an interest in the fight against terrorism, and the money-laundering networks that finance it” Lévy added in the piece. Noting that Venezuela’s previous president Hugo Chávez had previously forged an alliance with Iran, Lévy said that Venezuelan chaos should alarm people from across the globe. Already, reports indicate Maduro’s government might be cooperating with international terrorist groups and rogue states and Lévy warned that, should Venezuela become more unstable, this could continue.
NEPAL BANS CHAAUPADI
Nepal passed a law Thursday banning the Hindu practice of chaaupadi, in which women are kept out of the home during menstruation due to fears of “impurity.” Though the Supreme Court had already banned chaaupadi in 2005, it remained common enough in Nepal’s west that two teenage girls have died due to exposure-related injuries in the past year.
The law, which came as part of a larger bill on women’s safety, would threaten a three-month jail sentence and a fine of 3,000 Nepalese rupees against anyone who forced someone to partake in chaaupadi. The law will not be introduced immediately though—authorities have planned a year of “social campaigns” to increase awareness of the change before it goes into effect.