German Chancellor Angela Merkel | Photo by Wikimedia Commons
German Chancellor Angela Merkel | Photo by Wikimedia Commons
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Donald Trump to deploy armed soldiers to stop Central American refugees, and China allows tiger bone and rhinoceros horns in medicines.  

Angela Merkel to exit politics after 13 years as Europe’s leader 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not seek re-election after her term expires in 2021, she announced Monday, CNN reported.

Speaking at press conference in Berlin, Merkel announced that she is set to step down as the chairwoman of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, after holding the post for 18 years. “It is time today for me to start a new chapter,” she said.

“The announcement is a sign of Merkel’s weakened power within her own party, and waning popularity in the country,” CNN added.

Merkel’s decision marks an end to her 13-year dominance of European politics.

Donald Trump to send 5,000-plus armed soldiers to keep refugees out 

US President Donald Trump is sending 5,200 soldiers equipped with weapons towards the country’s southern border to stop central American migrants moving towards the north, CNN reported. The decision comes days ahead of the 6 November US midterm election, which is largely seen as a referendum on Trump.

According to Pentagon and Homeland Security officials, the troops will reach the border by the end of the week along with medical units, command posts, military police units and strategic airlift capabilities, the report added.

The effort is to stop the caravan of migrants, which is currently estimated to be over 1,400 km away from the border and moving at a pace of 20 to 30 miles (approx. 30 to 50 km). Many of them reportedly hope to seek asylum in the US.

Trump tweeted Monday that the group included “gang members and some very bad people”, invoking one of his most prominent campaign promises that has earned him deep appeal among conservative Americans.

“Please go back,” Trump tweeted Monday, adding, “You will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our country and our military is waiting for you!”

Why Tamils in Sri Lanka are in danger again

Tamil-speaking people in Sri Lanka have reason to worry with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa returning to power as prime minister following President Maithripala Sirisena coup, Sri Lankan social activist Mario Arulthas writes in an op-ed for Al Jazeera.

Under Rajapaksa, who was known for his dictatorial ways during his 10-year stint in power from 2005-2015, Tamils suffered regular violence at the hands of the government, he adds.

Rajapaksa’s return is also expected to bring his brother, former defence secretary Gotabaya, out of the woods. Gotabaya is believed to have overseen the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils during the final days of the crackdown against the LTTE in 2009.

Highlighting the atrocities faced by the Tamils as well as dissenters under Rajapaksa, Arulthas writes, “Now that the Rajapaksa brothers are back in power, the threat facing Tamil activists and journalists is more imminent than it has ever been since 2015. Journalists have already begun to self-censor.”

China allows use of rhinoceros horns and tiger bones in medicines 

The Chinese government Monday lifted a 25-year-old ban to make the use of rhinoceros horns and tiger bones for medicinal purposes legal, The New York Times reported.

China’s argument — that only certified hospitals and doctors will be allowed to use it, and the parts derived from rhinos and tigers raised in captivity, excluding zoo animals — failed to pacify environmentalists, who fear the move will inadvertently fuel a black market and put the fewer than 30,000 rhinos and 3,900 tigers remaining in the wild at greater risk of poaching.

Criticising China’s decision, Leigh Henry, director of wildlife policy at the World Wildlife Fund in Washington, said, “It’s a devastating decision… I can’t overstate the potential impact.”

Monday’s announcement threatens President Xi Jinping’s efforts to promote China’s image as a responsible environmental steward capable of tackling global environmental issues, the NYT report said.

Rescued Thai boys meet Manchester United players

The 12 members of the youth football team rescued from a cave in Thailand this July met players of the football club Manchester United and their manager Jose Mourinho last week, CNN reported.

The Wild Boars, whose members are aged between 11 and 16, spent Saturday at United’s training ground and visited the Manchester club’s Old Trafford stadium for a tour. The team also watched the team play against Everton in an English Premier League match Sunday.

The team and their young coach were the subject of prayers worldwide three months ago as reports emerged that they were stuck in a flooded cave with no way out. The rescue operation that followed was followed closely by people around the world, and reports of their rescue nine days after they got stranded were widely celebrated, with the team emerging as international heroes.

Just last month, the team was invited by the International Olympic Committee to attend the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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