The Supreme Court of the Philippines overwhelmingly decided Tuesday to uphold President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the second largest island in the archipelago nation. According to the court’s spokesman Theodore Te, eleven of the court’s fifteen justices voted to dismiss petitions requesting Duterte’s move declared unconstitutional, while three voted to partially grant the petitions and only one voted to grant them in full. Duterte originally placed the island under martial law for 60 days in late May in response to clashes between militants linked to the Islamic State and local law enforcement. Since then, more than 460 people have died in battles to control Marawi City in the island’s north, including 82 members of government security forces and 44 civilians. Martial law in Mindanao is set to expire on July 22, but President Duterte’s administration has suggested that it might seek to extend it if the crisis does not end soon.


The ruling coalition of Spain’s north-west region of Catalonia declared its intention to break away “immediately” should voters elect to do so during an October referendum. Catalonia has long retained cultural differences from the rest of the Spanish nation, best embodied by the distinct, widely-spoken Catalan language that predominates in the region. Considering economic stagnation across the country over the last few years, the prosperous region has recently ramped up calls for full independence from Madrid, complaining, among other things, that it sends more tax revenue to Madrid than it receives back in services. Spain’s conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy opposes Catalonian independence and has stated that his government will employ every means possible to prevent the referendum from moving forward, leading to tensions Catalonian independence movement over how best to counteract the central government’s authority. Spain’s Constitutional Court previously blocked a resolution from Catalonia’s parliament calling for a referendum, but the region has introduced a new, controversial law, to be voted on in August, that intends to separate the region from the nation’s legal system and allow for a referendum to take place.


The small gulf nation of Qatar announced Tuesday that it would ramp up its production of natural gas by thirty percent in the next 5 to 7 years. But while normally international business interests might welcome increased production, the move comes during a tumultuous time, as a Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt meet Wednesday to discuss how to move forward with the diplomatic standoff between them and Qatar that began last month. The Saudi-led coalition has accused Qatar of funding terrorism, spreading propaganda via state-sponsored news networks like Al Jazeera, and colluding with Saudi Arabia’s traditional enemy, Iran. In response they cutoff diplomatic ties and imposed an air and sea blockade on the small peninsular nation, issuing a list of thirteen demands they claim are necessary to restore diplomatic ties. Additional natural gas production could become yet another inflection point in the crisis, especially if the Saudi-led coalition tries to persuade other nations not to do business with Qatar or if revenue from gas production allows Doha more independence from its fellow Gulf Cooperation Council members.


On American independence day Tuesday, more than 40 years after the end of US military operations in Vietnam, journalist Don North penned an op-ed in the New York Times recalling lessons learned while covering a brutal battle for a small, barren hill near the demilitarized zone in July 1967. As a reporter for ABC news, North covered the battle for Con Thien’s darkest days during the summer of 1967, at one point witnessing a macabre North Vietnamese ambush of American soldiers in which less than one in 10 soldiers escaped unharmed. Between the U.S. Secretary of Defense’s establishment of an artificial boundary just north of Con Thien in early 1967 and the U.S. military’s ultimate departure from the hill two years later, over 1,400 American soldiers died defending the border, along with approximately 7,500 North Vietnamese. “American commanders failed to recognize that loyalty should flow downward as well as upward,” North wrote in the piece. “American Marines died in droves at Con Thien; they deserved better of their commanders.”


After a career spanning nearly seven decades, the provocative Mexican painter Jose Luis Cuevas died Tuesday in Mexico City. Best known as a philandering, controversial leader of the Mexican artistic movement known as La Ruptura, Cuevas was unafraid of exploring sexual and obscene themes in his work. At times, he even criticized other leading Mexican artists like Diego Rivera for what he perceived as pro-government sympathies. Over time, Cuevas’ legacy became widely celebrated and  tributes to the late artist came from across the globe Tuesday. Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto, for instance, tweeted that “as an artist of Mexico and the world, José Luis Cuevas will always be remembered as a synonym of liberty, creation and universality.”


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