Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, during a news conference
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, during a news conference | Bloomberg
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Valuables worth $273 million seized from former Malaysian PM, and an end to the civil war in the world’s newest country.

Iran wants to ‘bring America to its knees’

In a televised broadcast, Iran President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that citizens of the country must unite against US pressure and “bring America to its knees”.

“We will take problems. We will take pressure. But we will not sacrifice our independence,” said Rouhani. Reuters reports that Rouhani has “talked increasingly tough” since President Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran is currently facing massive demonstrations by traders and the merchant class against the deteriorating economy and the collapsing currency.

The US is expected to place fresh sanctions on the country, which Rouhani has said Iran can handle.

The Chinese masses now have ‘sharp eyes’

“China’s mass surveillance network, the largest in the world, expands into rural regions,” reports the Global Times. The project uses artificial intelligence, facial recognition and big data, and aims to reduce crime rates in the countryside by connecting television sets and mobile phones to surveillance cameras.

The project is called Xueliang, or ‘sharp eyes’, which comes from the Chinese saying ‘the masses have sharp eyes’. Security forces are low in number in rural China, and the initiative is aimed at controlling crime rates through community participation.

“‘Sharp eyes’ was also mentioned as one of the key tasks for 2018 in the government work report of many provinces… So far, construction of the project is in full swing in many areas,” reports Global Times.

“Although China boasts the biggest surveillance network in the world, it still lags behind developed countries in the density of surveillance cameras, especially in its second- and third- tier cities and rural areas,” it adds.

Xi Jinping delivered a ‘very clear message’ to James Mattis

US defence secretary James Mattis Wednesday met Chinese President Xi Jinping inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, reports CNN.

Xi reportedly told Mattis that the US-China relationship, strained of late on account of the trade war, is among the most important in the world.

Global Times reports that, during the meeting, “Xi made China’s stance clear and firm on issues affecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Experts say that this meeting delivered a “clear message” that Chinese activity in the South China Sea and Taiwan Straits was legitimate, and that it won’t be affected by the US.

Mattis, on a three-day trip to China, is the first Pentagon chief to visit the country since 2014.

BNP demands re-election for Bangladesh’s largest civic corporation

The Awami League triumphed in the crucial Gazipur City Corporation polls, but the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) rejected the results by alleging irregularities, reports The Daily Star. 

Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, the BNP secretary general, said the election was a “mockery” and that “various strategies of rigging the vote were both invented and used”.

“With much hatred we reject the Gazipur City Corporation election results,” he said.

The Awami League’s candidate Md Jahangir Alam defeated the BNP’s Hasan Uddin Sarker by a huge margin, and is now the mayor. These polls are an indicator of which way the general election, scheduled for December, might swing. Three more city polls will take place in July.

Defending champions Germany out of World Cup 2018

Germany is out of FIFA World Cup 2018 after losing to South Korea by 2-0 Wednesday. It was the earliest exit for a German team at the World Cup since 1938, reports The New York Times. 

“We tried to improve and lift our game, but we just couldn’t do it today,” NYT quoted Toni Kroos, Germany’s star midfielder, as saying.

Former English player Gary Lineker once said, “Football is a simple game, twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

On Wednesday, Lineker, now a BBC pundit, updated his old quip, tweeting: “Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans no longer always win. Previous version is confined to history.”

Valuables worth $273 million seized from former Malaysian PM

As much as $273 million worth of jewellery, purses and other valuables, and $30 million in cash, have been seized from former Malaysian PM Najib Razak’s properties in the “biggest seizure in Malayasian history”.

As many as 12,000 pieces of jewellery worth $109 million were seized, along with 423 watches worth $19 million and 234 sunglasses worth $93,000.

Razak, embroiled in a corruption scandal, is accused of funnelling billions of dollars from a state fund into his private accounts. His wife’s “penchant for luxury goods has been widely discussed in Malaysia, but the announcement offered new details of the extent of the couple’s trove”, The New York Times reported.

Last month, Razak and his wife were banned from leaving the country. They will be called in for questioning soon, to determine the ownership of the seized properties.

South Sudan’s conflicting parties sign a permanent ceasefire

On Wednesday, the two warring factions in South Sudan agreed to sign a permanent ceasefire, ending the civil war in the world’s newest country, reports Al Jazeera. It will take effect in 72 hours.

The agreement calls for a transitional government to be formed in four months, that will govern the country for 36 months. It also allows for the opening of corridors for humanitarian aid, the withdrawal of forces, and the release of political detainees and prisoners of war.

The peace agreement brings to an end the four-year civil war, which has “killed tens of thousands, left millions near famine, and created Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide”.

Several precious ceasefires have been violated, but this agreement is timely as the country was facing a deadline to avoid UN sanctions and an embargo on trade

EU could be crumbling over the migrant crisis

“The fragility of the EU is increasing… The cracks are growing in size,” EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has warned, reports BBC.

Highlighting the migrant crisis many European nations are grappling with, the report adds, “Italy and Greece smoulder with resentment at having been left alone to deal with migrant arrivals.”

While German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing for compromise on burden-sharing and prevention, Austria upholds the ‘keep them out’ policy. Many other leaders of the EU are increasingly pushing towards a migrant deterrent policy.

The German interior minister had reportedly threatened Merkel, saying, “By the end of this Brussels summit (Thursday), you need to come home with a workable pan-European solution to stop irregular migrants bleeding into Germany… Or I will unilaterally slam Germany’s borders shut.”

While the EU seems to be looking at possible solutions to contain the migrant crisis, summit host Donald Tusk said to EU leaders on the eve of their arrival: “The stakes are very high. And time is short.”

Trump and Putin will announce details of their meeting today

US national security adviser John Bolton finalised a deal with the Kremlin in Moscow Wednesday for a summit between President Trump and President Vladimir Putin.

The time and place will be announced Thursday, simultaneously by the White House and the Kremlin, reports The Washington Post

This will be the first independent, official encounter for the two world leaders. It is expected to be scrutinised because of FBI special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into the possibility of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections.

“And it could overshadow the July meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, raising fresh questions about Trump’s commitment to America’s traditional alliances,” The Washington Post report adds.

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